Kecki Wins Battle of the Wounded to Reach Semifinals
"I was really lucky to win that match, I don\'t think I deserved it."
Those were the words of Mateusz Kecki after he won the last four games against a cramping Kellen Damico in their quarterfinal contest Thursday afternoon.
Trailing 5-2 and serving underhand on occasion due to a sore shoulder, Kecki wasn\'t optimistic about his chances.
"I honestly thought I was going to lose the match," said the 17-year-old from Sacramento, Calif. "I wasn\'t really expecting anything. He was cramping up, but I couldn\'t serve. It doesn\'t really matter if he\'s cramping if I\'m servng at 20 mph."
Although Kecki said he noticed Damico\'s cramping early in the third set, and Damico didn\'t sit down during the changeovers, the 18-year-old from Parker, Colo., looked to be headed for a victory when serving at 5-3, 30-15, he fell over after double faulting. A trainer went to his aid on the court, and a few minutes later he was able to return to his feet, but lost the next two points.
After Kecki held to pull even at 5-5, Damico did his best to hold, hoping to reach the deciding tiebreaker, but despite a couple of game points, his underhand serving, which he did exclusively in the final game, produced several double faults--points he couldn\'t afford to lose. And when the game was Kecki\'s, Damico told the chair umpire he was done.
"Both of us were hurting, it was just who could hang in there longer," Kecki said. "I got really lucky, because two more points and the match would have been over."
Kecki\'s opponent in Saturday\'s semifinal is No. 3 seed Ryan Thacher, a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 winner over No. 16 seed Steve Forman in Thursday\'s other quarterfinal contest.
Thacher, who dropped the first set in his round of 16 match on Wednesday against unseeded Zach Nichols, and had begun to cramp as he closed out Nichols in the third, was eating a Jimmy John\'s sub sandwich on changeovers during the Forman match.
"He was having trouble breaking me if I was making serves, but in the second set there, I stopped making serves, I gave away my game, double faulted a couple of times," the left-hander from Studio City, Calif. said. "It\'s bittersweet when I double fault, because it tells me I need to re-fuel somehow."
After a bite or two of a Turkey Tom --no mayo, no sprouts-- Thacher revved up the serving engine, especially in the final game, when he hit two aces and two service winners to earn a spot in the semifinals.
The two 16s quarterfinals were more subdued affairs. Number three seed Evan King defeated No. 8 seed Walker Kehrer of Pacific Palisades, Calif., 6-2, 6-4, in what the Chicago left-hander called "the best match I\'ve played all tournament." Using his serve to maximum effect, King, who at 15 is already playing in Kalamazoo for the second time, has earned a day off Friday before taking on top seed Tennys Sandgren.
Sandgren had his first straight-set victory in four matches, but it was far from easy, as he defeated Frank Carleton 7-6 (5), 7-5.
Sandgren roared out to a 4-0 lead in the first set, but Carleton pulled even at 4-4. And in the tiebreaker Sandgren again took a substantial lead, 6 points to 1, but lost four straight points before coaxing an error from Carleton on his final set point.
"It was kind of weird, it could have gone either way," Sandgren said. "But today it went for me. He got a game penalty (for ball abuse after losing the tiebreaker) at the beginning of the second set which really helped me. There were a lot of breaks in the second set, but I hung tough and closed it out."
The 16s doubles quarterfinals were completed on Thursday evening, and except for top seeds Ryan Noble and Bo Seal, three lower seeded teams prevailed.
Noble and Seal won an unbelievable first set tiebreaker in their match against Lawrence Formentera and John Huang, the No. 8 seeds. On the 44th point of the tiebreaker, Huang netted a volley, giving Noble and Seal the first set 7-6 (21) and they used the momentum to win the second set 6-3.
The first set of the match on the adjacent court to decide Noble and Seal\'s opponents was started and finished before that titanic tiebreaker concluded, with No. 11 seed Chris Camillone and Raymond Sarmiento winning it, and taking the match from No. 6 seeds Ian Chadwell and Blake Davis 6-3, 6-2.
The No. 16th seeded team of Sekou Bangoura and Nelson Vick rallied to take a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory from the No. 12 seeds Matt Kandath and Robert Wong, and in the evening\'s final main draw match, No. 5 seeds Daniel Nguyen and JT Sundling upset the third seeds, King and Jordan Cox 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
The doubles semifinals are Friday in both age divisions.
Source: Colette Lewis (Tournament Office)