Damico and Schnugg Triumph in 18 Doubles; Nguyen and Sundling are Doubles Champions in 16s
Top seeds Kellen Damico and Nate Schnugg added a National 18s title to their bulging trophy case, defeating the No. 5 seeded team of Tyler Hochwalt and Michael McClune 7-5, 6-3 on a balmy summer evening at Stowe Stadium.
The 2006 Wimbledon Junior champions, Damico and Schnugg reunited for the first time in 2007, but the chemistry of the childhood friends didn't seem to suffer. Schnugg was playing college tennis at the University of Georgia through May, partnering Jamie Hunt, with whom he won the US Open junior title last year, while Damico was competing on the ITF Junior circuit.
But after beating Jim Courier and Todd Martin in the exhibition that traditionally opens the Nationals in Kalamazoo, Damico and Schnugg were unstoppable--dropping only one set during the tournament and earning a US Open main draw wild card.
"Nate and I came into this tournament expecting to win the doubles," Damico said. "It's a great way to end a junior career, especially at Kalamazoo, a great tournament."
Hochwalt and McClune weren't about to concede in Saturday's final however. It wasn't until 5-6 in the first that Damico and Schnugg had an opening, and it took them seven set points on McClune's serve before they finally capitalized.
But their ability to anticipate and to volley, to lob and to serve big when required gave them an edge and in the second set, the pair relaxed and really displayed their teamwork.
"We've been playing together a long time; we're really comfortable with each other," Schnugg said. "And we're comfortable on a big stage; we've played a lot of big matches."
In a couple of weeks, Damico and Schnugg will debut on the big stage of New York, where they'll play the main draw of men's doubles. Who would they like to play in the first round?
"Bob and Mike," said Schnugg, referring to the Bryan twins, the top-ranked doubles team in the world. "We want to take them down."
"We want a night match on Ashe," Damico elaborated, "Against Bob and Mike."
There was no long-standing partnership for the 16s doubles champions, as No. 5 seeds Daniel Nguyen and JT Sundling decided to play together for the first time at Kalamazoo and jelled so quickly that they surprised the top seeded team of Ryan Noble and Seal 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in the final.
"We just asked each other at the beginning of the tournament to play doubles," said Nguyen, who like Sundling is from Southern California.
"We've played each other so many times--he has great returns and I usually serve well," said Sundling when asked how their games complemented each other. "In the whole match, I think we were the ones in control. They played well to win the second set, but we had chances. Then in the third, we played a lot better and came up with the good stuff."
Anticipating a wild card into the US Open Junior doubles that traditionally goes to the 16 doubles champion, Nguyen and Sundling are hoping to continue their winning streak in New York next month.
"This will be my first time going to New York, " said Nguyen, "so I'm pretty excited."
Source: Colette Lewis (Tournament Office)