Aug. 4, 2006
August 2006
Aug. 4, 2006
August 2006

Clayton and Young Upend Krickstein and Martin at Friday's Opening Exhibition

Todd Martin wasn't confident he and partner Aaron Krickstein would survive their Friday evening encounter with the No. 1 seeded 18s doubles team of Alex Clayton and Donald Young. He was right to worry.

Clayton and Young, the 2005 U.S. Open Junior doubles champions, defeated the two former ATP top five professionals 8-5 as part of the Rx Optical/Greenleaf Trust and Greenleaf Hospitality Exhibition that kicks off the USTA Boys 18 & 16s National Championships.

Using their younger legs to advantage, Clayton and Young burst out to a 5-0 lead, but the Michigan veterans, returning to Kalamazoo for the first time since competing here as teenagers in the 1980s, fought back. With Young serving at 6-4, Krickstein and Martin held two break points, but couldn't convert, and they never had a chance when Clayton stepped to the line to finish it.

When Martin, a native of East Lansing, and Krickstein, from Grosse Pointe, faced each other in a pro set as dusk fell on a beautiful opening day in Kalamazoo, it was close from the outset.

Although Krickstein had the more distinguished Kalamazoo career, winning the 16s in 1982 at age 15 and the 18s the following year, it was Martin that triumphed Friday evening 9-8 (4). Martin didn't advance past the round of 16 in the three years he competed on the Stowe Stadium courts, but the 36-year-old Florida resident reached two Grand Slam finals, the Australian Open in 1994 and the U.S. Open in 1999.

And he compared Kalamazoo to those pinnacles.

"The community embraces it to such an extent," said Martin, who retired from the tour in 2003 and now coaches Mardy Fish. "You walk in here and you feel like you're in a tennis town. It's not much different than the way we feel when we come into places for professional tennis."

"I have a lot of fond memories, obviously," said Krickstein, 39. "It catapulted me into the U.S. Open (in 1983) where I had a good first U.S. Open, which I think was very important as my career gave me a lot of confidence." In New York that year, Krickstein defeated Stefan Edberg, Scott Lipton and Vitus Gerulaitis before falling to Yannick Noah in the round of 16. No Kalamazoo wild card has ever matched that performance at the Open.

Martin and Krickstein did not confine their performances to the tennis courts during their day in Kalamazoo. Martin met with nearly 50 young tennis players from his hometown of East Lansing, who were visiting the tournament as guests of his foundation. Later both Martin and Krickstein spoke during the 16s division player meeting, met with local news media and then spoke to a gathering of corporate sponsors. In all those settings, they spoke of what the tournament meant to them then, and what it means to them now as they look back on their successful professional careers. "These are some of the greatest times of their lives," Martin said, "and they should know it."

Source: Colette Lewis (Tournament Office)