Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Worst. Week. Ever.™ Part 2: The Crumbling

Let's see. Where were we?

Ah yes. Day 2 (Tuesday, July 15, 2014): Dark Tuesday

This blog woke up expecting to see Peter Kobelt avenging his straight-set semifinal defeat to Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul (to be honest, I just love typing his name. I've always had a huge soft spot for Thai players and their often extraordinary names) at Hong Kong F1 the prior week.  Kobelt was up 61 42 and at deuce on the Thai's serve when we finally dozed off. And then we saw the score, in orange and black: Winner: Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul (THA) 16 76(4) 76(4).  It had been such fun following Kobelt's post-The Ohio State University career as he excelled in three Israeli Futures, and got to the semis of HGK 1 - going 17-4 in his first four tournaments as a professional. (He and fellow Buckeye Devin McCarthy went 15-1 in doubles in those tournaments.) It was a wild ride and seeing that result was a bit aback-taking. 

And portentous.

Next up was Jason Jung in his first round match in Granby, Quebec, facing high-energy Steven Diez. But, first, I want to clarify that I'm not one to traffick in signs or jinxes or anything like that. When I say "portentous" I mean in more of a literary sense: foreshadowing more than actually connected events.  American men weren't cursed this week, they just had a number of gutting losses, quite a few from a set up. Anyway, Jason has been undergoing some tough times lately, which you can read about in his highly recommended blog. Yet he's been hanging around #300 and should end this week not too far from his career high of #288, thanks to his tidy 62 64 win on Tuesday. So that was nice. Check it out here:

Next door to that match, Eric Quigley (UK) got a straight-set win against Michael Shabaz (UVA). The two fellow former NCAAers are separated by 17 months and a mere 3 ranking points but on Tuesday Quigley got the upper hand, losing only 6 games. I don't usually have too much of a rooting interest when one American plays another, but was happy for Eric, who may have the higher ceiling. Shabaz is the only one I've seen play in person, last fall in Champaign, and his inconsistency is what stood out to me. Thing is, consistency is in my opinion the biggest element separating the different levels of tennis players. It's why you OCDers do better than us ADDers. Anyway, not part of The Crumbling.

The true The Crumbling started in Binghamton with Jarmere Jenkins. Jarmere (yes, another favorite of this blog) just finished his first year as a pro after a sterling career at UVA. He's risen to the mid-200s with some good Futures results and a few challengers quarters and semis. But clearly his confidence is down right now, and it doesn't feel like he's matching his intensity from last year. Tough to tell if it's The Grind or something else. In any case, he lost his first-round match 63 62 to Daniel Cox (GBR), someone who will match or exceed anyone's intensity as we shall see later in the week.

Then Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) beat Raymond Sarmiento (USC) which surprised nobody but perhaps made a few American hearts yearn: where's our Big Kokk? (See also: where's our Kyrgios? See also: where's our Zverev? See also: where's our Noah Rubin? Wait, scratch that last one.) And Takanyi Garanganga (ZIM) beat NCAA champ Marcos Giron. The African diaspora in tennis is an interesting phenomenon, with a lot of children of sub-Saharan African immigrants achieving more or holding far more promise than those representing the continent (Tsonga, Ymer, and Francis Tiafoe spring to mind immediately). In any case, it's nice to see the Zimbabwean moving higher and higher, I just wish it weren't based on beating my guys <insert sobbing emoticon>. Giron won the first set, by the way. Bookmark that tidbit.

To nobody's surprise, Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) handled Chicago's Evan King, well, handily.

Continuing their match from last night, Bradley Klahn stayed even with Jordan Thompson (AUS) until 3-3 in the third and then a cold wind appeared suddenly out of the south.  A long game featuring a lucky deuce netcord set up break point #4, which Klahn converted on a netted backhand and went on to win a huge match for him. HUGE. He'd gone 0-9 since winning the West Lakes Challenger in February. Huge.  !

Other matches that day featured all-USAmerican match-ups in which the seeded player won: Wayne Odesnik [8] over Dennis Novikov (who won the first set); Rhyne Williams [8] over Robby Ginepri (who won the first set) in a 3rd set tiebreak (another epically long blog post - hell, a full novel - could be written about that match but I'd prefer not to dwell, I will leave the dwelling to Rhyne's most ardent fans, the poor things); Austin Krajicek [7] over Winston Lin (COLUMBIA) in a surprisingly tough two sets; and Denis Kudla [3] over Mitchell Krueger 76(3) 63. So four Americans through, four Americans gone. Inevitable. Not part of The Crumbling.

The real killer of the day was back down in Bogota. He was up a set and late in the second held match point on his opponent's second serve. As astute (that is, still awake) readers of yesterday's post will remember, had Kevin King converted that point on Thiemo de Bakker's serve he would've gained enough points to bust his way into the Top 300 and there all the treasures of the world would have awaited him (actually just an extra $5K but honestly that's a big deal to a guy who's career earnings are under $50,000). But King did not convert and into a tiebreak we went and King double faulted on the first point and neither lost a point on serve the rest of the tiebreak and so the Dutchman won it and then got the break in the third and that was it. King is yet another favorite of this blog and his ranking is steadily improving. He represented well in his first career ATP tour-level main draw match and nobody should cry for him. He's one to watch. But oh dang I wish he'd converted that match point. <Insert pouting emoticon.>

For an entertaining night cap, we got one of the craziest results you'll ever see.

Following this match up in Granby was a trip. You would think from the scoreline that it was a servefest but Escobar had ONE ACE in 135 points on his serve and Adam El Mihdawy had 4 in 113. Fourteen breaks is a lot for any match but particularly one that goes to a third set tiebreak. In any case, a great win for the 24-year-old, 29th-ranked USAmerican who is doing what he can to get back into the Top 400.

Day 3 (Wednesday, July 16, 2014): Humpday? More like Suckday.

Alex Kuznetsov lost 75 75 to Vasek Pospisil in Bogota. Everyone was like "yay Vashy" but I was like "sob".

In Binghamton, Dennis Nevolo lost 26 64 64 to Darian King. Jared Donaldson lost BY AN IDENTICAL SCORE to Daniel Cox. BOTH WERE UP A SET. Both seemingly in control versus their speedy counterpunching opponents. But the relative slowness of the courts combined with the relative awfulness of the universe in which we reside combined for two heart wrenching results. Donaldson will have his day, the should be no doubt, and if president at the time this blog will declare a national holiday the day he overcomes Cox in the rankings and never looks back. You can read The Tennis Nerds' great write-up of the match here.

For Novolo/King, I will direct you to the video.  It's a bit rough to watch at the end.

Good things did happen for USAmericans on Wednesday. Chase Buchanan put the beat down on Canadian hope Filip Peliwo 61 62 in Granby (really young Filip beat himself) and good ol' Wayne Odesnik took out Erik Crepaldi (ITA) 63 60 in Binghamton. Sekou Bangoura fought hard as hell but fell to fellow USAmerican Klahn 63 76(10), and seeing Klahn reach the quarters was like being kissed by a thousand butterflies in a field of lilies, but not in a creepy way.

Still, the three aforementioned losses left this blog with a deep emotional void. Particularly that Nevolo score. This blog really wants Nevolo to do well. <Insert forlorn emoticon.>

And the worst was yet to come.

Next: The Worst. Week. Ever.™ Part 3: The Worst. Forty-Eight Hours. Ever.™

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