First Time's A Charm
Seventh seeds Jean Yves Aubone of Miami FL and Jesse Levine of Boca Raton FL took advantage of terrific chemistry during their championship victory over 12th seeds Stefan Hardy of Santa Maria CA and Shan Sondhu of Laguna Niguel CA 6-1, 6-2 on Saturday afternoon on Court Three.
Aubone and Levine had been friends for a long time, but it was not until a month ago, when they ran into each other at TGIFriday?s in Maryland at the 16 Clay Courts, that they decided to play doubles together in Kalamazoo. "We were just happy to be seeded (here)," the two jubilant victors admitted. "It was our first time playing together."
Similar to the 16s doubles Champions Aubone and Levine, Dabir and Isner were also playing together for the first time, though they had been planning to team in Kalamazoo for months. But a mixup reminiscent of another Kalamazoo Doubles Championship, in the 16s in 2001, had Dabir wondering if he would play at all.
In 2001, Brett Joelson received a doubles-only wild card into the nationals at Kalamazoo after a mishap occurred with his entry qualifications. Joelson and partner Brendan Evans went on to claim the 16 doubles championship that year. So when Pramod Dabir of Saratoga CA faced a similar situation this year with his entry in the 18 division, he used Joelson?s example as motivation for he and his partner John Isner?s march to the 18 doubles championship match.
Awaiting 3rd seeded Dabir and Isner in the final was the unseeded tandem of Gregory Ouellette of Ormond Beach FL and Eric Riley of Rancho Santa Fe CA. Although Ouellette and Riley had no seed, Dabir and Isner did not take them lightly. "We knew they had beaten the 5th, 4th and 2nd seeds," Dabir said, "and we weren?t going to let them complete the series."
Ouellette and Riley were also partners for the 16 doubles in the prestigious ITF Junior Orange Bowl last December and beat an impressive field while seeded 8th. But Dabir and Isner proved too much to handle on Saturday, as their powerful serves and confident volleys earned them a 6-1, 6-4 championship victory. After the match, Ouellette and Riley lauded, "This is the best team we?ve played for sure."
And with the win, Dabir and Isner earn a wild card into the main men?s doubles draw at the U.S. Open later this month.
"I?m so excited," said Dabir. "I?ve only been to the Open to watch."
Isner, who played in the Junior Open last year, will be moving up to the professional locker room. When asked whose locker he hoped to be near, "Well, it?s alphabetical, so maybe Hewitt," he said.
Before they meet up again in New York, Dabir and Isner are temporarily parting ways. Isner and his famiy members are heading home to Greensboro NC. Dabir is going back to the University of Illinois, for an exam related to his study of electrical engineering. Dabir played on Illinois? NCAA national championship tennis team this past season. After the U.S. Open, the two teammates may see each other on opposites sides of the net, as Isner is on his way to the University of Georgia.
Source: Colette Lewis (Tournament Office)