Aug. 10, 2003
August 2003
Aug. 10, 2003
August 2003

Sacks' Change of Style Leads to 16s National Title

16 singles

Third seed Gary Sacks is brave. Few 16 year olds with his impressive results would abandon the backcourt for the perils of the serve and volley game. But his courage was rewarded on Sunday afternoon at Stowe Stadium, when he beat 4th seed Matt Bruch 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 to claim the 16s singles title.

Gary Sacks played in the 16 singles draw last year in Kalamazoo as an unseeded player and reached the fourth round. But he knew he needed more.

?I told my parents I wanted to win this tournament," he said. "I knew I had to do something different, so I?ve been practicing serving and volleying the whole last year in training for this.?

He and his coach Steve McAvoy put together a strategy that worked brilliantly this week as Sacks dropped only one set while blazing his way into the 16 singles final.

His opponent Matt Bruch, the 16s Clay Court Champion, was equally dominant over the course of the week, leading to Sunday's intriguing matchup.

Sacks jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first set, mixing powerful shots from his forehand with biting slices and deft drop volleys. Bruch cut the lead to 3-2, but Sacks broke again and held on for the set, 6-3. Bruch responded with a 3-0 lead of his own in the second set and seemed to have the match firmly in his control. He solidified a 5-2 lead with a service ace and an emphatic forehand winner, and then quickly climbed to a 0-40 lead on Sacks? serve. Sacks saved four set points but ultimately failed to hold as Bruch won the second set.

When asked about the ebb and flow of the match, Bruch said, "Whoever got the first break was dictating the rest of the set." So it was the ten minute break after the split that was crucial to deciding strategy.

"I was disappointed," said Sacks, "but I got good advice." With McAvoy back in California, Sacks was relying on doubles partner Blake Muller's coach Aaron Webster. "Aaron told me to get off to a good start and concentrate on my first serve percentage," said the native South African.

Bruch's coach, Silviu Nistor, provided him with a third set strategy, but, said the Lake Forest IL standout, "I didn't execute it."

In the deciding set, Sacks again held a 3-0 lead. Bruch had a chance to earn back a break when he had Sacks in 0-40 bind. But it was here that all of Sacks? practice proved worthwhile. All three of his serves clipped the line at speeds over 100 mph, and he confidently volleyed Bruch?s weak returns. Sacks held for 4-0, and Bruch?s championship hopes deflated as Sacks took the set and with it the national title, 6-1.

With the win, Gary Sacks receives a wild card into the U. S. Open Junior Championships later this month. "Ever since I came here (from South Africa four years ago), it's been my dream to win Kalamazoo," Sacks disclosed. "It hasn't sunk in yet."

Sources: Colette Lewis (Tournament Office) & Matt