Saturday a Historic Day in Doubles
Ram and Stokke's latest championship victory culminates a series of impressive streaks for the duo. It marks their third consecutive doubles championship. They won the 2000 16s doubles title and the 2001 18s title. Ram and Stokke had to win 18 consecutive matches to pull off the three-peat. The victory in straight sets notches their consecutive set total to 25 in a row. The last time they dropped a set was in the 2000 16s double championship match, meaning the teammates never lost a set in the 18 doubles draw. Amazingly, their title streak could very well be longer. Ram and Stokke were the number one seeds in the 1999 16s doubles draw, but an injury in Stokke's back forced him out of tournament play in the third round of doubles play.
However, the partnership has established their dominance in an even more astounding arena. Saturday evening, Jonathon Stokke was presented the 2002 Allan B. Stowe Sportsmanship Award for the Boys 18s participant who best combined outstanding sportsmanship with outstanding tennis ability. Rajeev Ram won the 2001 Stowe Award. In 2000, Stokke earned the Bobby Kaplan Sportsmanship Award, the counterpart to the Stowe Award for the Boys 16s participants. Ram won the Kaplan Award in 1999. Whereas the longtime partners' title streak is only at three, their preminence in the major sportsmanship awards has been remarkable. They are a perfect 4-0.
In the 18s doubles third place match, James Pade and Doug Stewart (3)won over Prakash and Stephen Amritraj(2) in an injury walkover. Saturday's 16s doubles final had its own share of special history. Nick Rinks of Kalamazoo MI became the first local player in the history of the championships here to win a title in any draw. He and partner Vahid Mirzadeh of Wellington FL, who hastily paired up together for this event, beat the 11th seeds Brandon Wai of San Diego CA and Adam Loucks of Irvine CA by a score of 7-5, 6-2 to win the 16s doubles crown.
Throughout the tournament, Rinks and Mirzadeh looked more like a match made in heaven than by a last-minute phone call. Each player possesses quick hands at the net, and Rinks' powerful serve and unfailing overhead smash compliment Mirzadeh's accurate volleys and his devastating serve return. Both players had the chance to show off their strengths in Saturday's final. Rinks' serve was never broken in the match. Early in the second set, Wai and Loucks threatened the Rinks serve, but he staved off one break point with an ace out wide and another with a service winner. For his part, Mirzadeh converted three break points in the match with his serve return. The first came at 6-5 in the first set when his return dived at the feet of Wai, whose subsequent volley error gave Rinks and Mirzadeh the first set 7-5. Up 5-2 in the second set, Mirzadeh hit a forehand cross court return winner for the game and the match. The large crowd, which sensed history in the making from the first point of the match, embraced the participants as they always do: as if they are part of the family. On Saturday, with Rinks and Mirzadeh holding the 16 doubles championship trophy, for the first time in the history of the tournament, one of the winners was.
In the 16s doubles third place match, 10th seeds Alex Kuznetsov of Richboro PA and Michael Johnson of Bradenton FL defeated the 8th seeds Scoville Jenkins of Atlanta GA and Nathan Sachs of Alpharetta GA 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.