Aug. 8, 2003
August 2003
Aug. 8, 2003
August 2003

Last Remaining Number One Seed Eliminated; Rain Sends Doubles Semifinals Indoors


Last Remaining Number One Seed Eliminated; Rain Sends Doubles Semifinals Indoors
by Matt Hammond and Colette Lewis

16s top seed Marc Spicijaric is eliminated by 5th seed Timothy Smyczek; Third seed Gary Sacks fills fourth semifinal spot. 18s veterans Robert Yim(4) and Chris Kwon(5) meet Saturday after tough quarterfinal victories. Doubles semifinal matches plagued by rain and completed indoors Friday evening.

16 Singles

When fifth seed Timothy Smyczek of Hales Corners WI took Stowe Stadium's court 3 against the 1st seed Marc Spicijaric of Wesley Chapel FL, he showed no sign of nervousness. He ran out to a 5-1 lead in the first set and then settled in for an entertaining battle with the Easter Bowl champion. When, deep in the second set, match point was on his racquet, Smyczek looked to his precocious serve and volley game for a boost. "I?m comfortable with it and it sure keeps pressure on my opponent," Smyczek said. "He doesn?t want to see me up there."

Though Smyczek hit a strong serve and several crisp volleys on that match point, top seed Spicijaric ricocheted desperately across the court, finally forcing a short volley from Smyczek; Spicijaric then ripped a backhand passing shot to extend the match. Despite the disappointing late break, Smyczek remained resolute. His serve and volley tactics gave him a 6-1 tiebreaker lead and though Spicijaric held his two points on serve, Smyczek hit a textbook volley to take the set and the match.

In Friday?s other quarterfinal, 3rd seed Gary Sacks of Calabasas Hills CA hit repeated serve return winners against 29th seed Bryan Koniecko of Jericho NY during his 6-4, 6-1 victory. "I?ve been playing (in the 18s division) in Southern Cailifornia," Sacks revealed after the match. "It helps playing against players with bigger serves." Sacks, who is from South Africa, moved to the United States four years ago. He reached the fourth round in Kalamazoo last year by beating Alex Kuznetsov, but he said that the marked improvement in his play is a recent phenomenon. "I've really started playing better the last four months, since the Easter Bowl (Spring Super National), where I finished third."

Sacks and Smyczek join Matt Bruch and Marcus Fugate in Saturday's semifinals.

18 Singles

Fifth seed Chris Kwon of Boca Raton FL used his strong ground strokes and consistent return to neutralize the booming serve of 11th seed Phillip Simmonds of Reston VA during the first set of their quarterfinal match on Friday. Kwon prevailed in the set 6-4. Simmonds regrouped in the second set and Kwon quickly trailed 4-1. Kwon then won the next five games and the match 6-4. When asked for the secret to his resurgence, he answered, "Not thinking about the score." Comebacks are becoming something of a specialty for Kwon. He missed three months with injuries, healing just in time for the summer European Grand Slam events. "I got my confidence back after winning a few matches at Wimbledon."

Fourth seed Robert Yim of Glendale CA has been playing a lot of tennis recently. He came to Kalamazoo directly from Los Angeles CA where he won three qualifying matches to earn a spot in the main draw of the Mercedes-Benz Cup. Yim lost in the first round of that tournament 6-4, 6-4, to eventual champion Wayne Ferreira, but his strong showing last week left him tied for 236th place on the ATP Champions Race. "That tournament wore me out," Yim said. "This is my ninth match in two weeks."

That postmatch comment was unexpected because Yim showed plenty of energy during his quarterfinal match against 14th seed John Isner of Greensboro NC on Friday, and he needed it. Isner?s imposing presence and powerful serve kept last year's semifinalist off balance most of the afternoon. Standing several feet inside the baseline while returning, Yim attempted to play Isner?s tall kick serve before it jumped too high. The strategy paid off for Yim as he claimed the first set in a tie breaker 7-5, and again it helped him at the end of the second set. With Isner up 5-4, serving for the set, Yim returned aggressively and broke Isner twice in a row to close out the set 7-5. The lefthander came up with his winning strategy himself. "I do my own scouting," he said, "I?m my own coach."

Kwon and Yim will battle alongside Kean Feeder and Jamil Al-agba in the semifinal matches scheduled Saturday.

16 doubles

The 16 doubles championship match on Saturday will include two surprise finalists. In one of Friday?s semifinals, 7th seeds Jean Yves Aubone of Miami FL and Jesse Levine of Boca Raton FL ended the improbable run of the unseeded tandem Blake Muller of Santa Barbara CA and Gary Sacks of Calabasas Hills CA 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3. Aubone and Levine became the favorites to win the tournament after their 6-4, 6-3 upset of the 3rd seeds Andrew Orban and Timothy Smyczek in the quarterfinals.

In the other semifinal, 12th seeds Stefan Hardy of Santa Maria CA and Shan Sondhu of Laguna Niguel CA made short work of 4th seeds Matt Bruch of Lake Forest IL and Bryan Koniecko of Jericho NY 6-1, 6-3.

Hardy and Sondhu will meet Aubone and Levine Saturday afternoon in the championship final.

18 Doubles

An evening after unseating the top ranked doubles team in the world, 6th seeds Robert Cameron of Lenoir City TN and Chris Kwon of Boca Raton FL took on the 3rd seeds Pramod Dabir of Saratoga CA John Isner of Greensboro NC. The teams had played three games when a sudden downpour forced the match indoors to the Markin Tennis Center. Cameron and Kwon were unable to pull off a second upset in a row and fell to the 3rd seeds 6-3, 6-4.

On the other side of the draw, unseeded giant killers Gregory Ouellette of Ormond Beach FL and Eric Riley of Rancho Santa Fe CA were coming into the semifinals having survived two tough upset wins in a row. In the fourth round, they defeated 5th seeds Kean Feeder and Brett Joelson 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 and followed that up with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 victory over 4th seeds Christian Hand and Ashwat Sarohia. Friday evening, they earned their hardest-fought victory yet as they toppled 2nd seeds Alex Kuznetsov of Richboro PA and Vahid Mirzadeh of Wellington FL. Kuznetsov and Mirzadeh played well early in the match, taking the first set 6-4. However, as the second set reached 6-6, Kuznetsov?s sixth set of tennis in eight hours finally caught up with him. He and Mirzadeh watched match points slip away in the second set tie breaker. Ouellette and Riley took the breaker 11-9 and closed out the match with a 6-4 win in the third set.

Oullete and Riley will attempt to keep their upset streak alive as they play 3rd seeds Dabir and Isner in Saturday?s championship match.

Sources: Colette Lewis (Tournament Office) & Matt