Prakash Amritraj Captures 18s Championship With Four Set Win Over Doug Stewart
Refusing to be intimidated by the circumstances or his opponent?s resume, Stewart traded breaks and holds with Armitraj until five all in the first set. He then broke and held his serve in a tense deuce game to take the first set, 7-5.
Down a set, but realizing that he had ample time to recover in the best of five set match, early in the second set Armitraj ordered two bananas and two Pepsi Colas that were passed from father Vijay to a ballrunner for delivery. He also adjusted to his waning energy level by toning down his emotional celebrations on big points. After both players held serve three times, Amritraj held at love in game seven. Stewart needed a strong service game to keep Amritraj under pressure, but a crisp volley winner at 30 all gave the second seed a break point, and his intimidating presence at the net forced Stewart into a passing shot error for the game. Serving for the set at 5-3, Amritraj jumped out to a 40-15 lead and when Stewart slammed a ball in anger after a forehand return, he was given a point penalty for ball abuse. It was the second straight day that Amritraj had won a set on an opponent?s point penalty, as he had won the first set tiebreaker against Robert Yim in the semifinals in the same fashion.
With the match now even, service holds were exchanged until game seven when Stewart was broken. Amritraj was unable to capitalize on the break, as he immediately lost his next service game to even the set score at four all. Stewart twice double faulted to give Amritraj break points in the next game, losing the game on the second one, when Amritraj ripped a forehand that Stewart managed to reach but could not quite keep inside the baseline. Serving for the third set at 30 all, Amritraj forced Stewart into a return error on a crafty second serve, then hit a forehand winner on the next point to win the set 6-4.
In the fourth set, Amritraj took the early lead at 2-0, but Stewart remained tenacious, retrieving ball after ball and returning them with similar depth and pace. But he needed to limit the damage to the one early break, which despite a valiant effort in game seven, he was unable to do. Though Stewart saved three break points to level the game at deuce, Amritraj hit a volley winner for the advantage and then came up with a lethal backhand crosscourt winner for the second break of the set. That gave him some breathing room when serving for the match, a luxury he didn?t need, as he held at love to win the set 6-2, and take the 2002 National Junior Championship title. Because he is 19 in October, Amritraj is ineligible to compete in the US Junior Open. Instead, with the wild card he has earned here, he will compete on one of tennis? grandest stages-- the main draw of the US Open. With this opportunity to challenge the world?s best, he takes an even larger step into the global tennis spotlight.
Fifth place in the 18s Super Nationals was also decided on Sunday, with [usta=11157355 year=2002]Kean Feeder[/usta] of Portland OR beating [usta=11187551 year=2002]Ryler De Heart[/usta] of Tampa FL, 6-4, 6-3. Third place went to [usta=11120665 year=2002]Robert Yim[/usta] of Glendale CA, who defeated [usta=10812995 year=2002]Brian Baker[/usta] of Nashville TN in a three hour battle, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4.
Source: Colette Lewis (Tournament Office)