©Colette Lewis 20045
Scottsdale Arizona's Tyler Hochwalt was facing a partisan crowd Saturday morning at the Woodmont Country Club when he took on local favorite and fifth seed Jared Pinsky of Potomac Maryland in the semifinals of the 16 singles.
But Hochwalt, 16, rode his powerful serve and forehand to a 6-3, 6-4 victory. The 6-foot three-inch righthander dominated his service games throughout the first set, while Pinsky struggled to find his form and energize his fans.
"The crowd helped me out," said Pinsky, 16. "They supported me, but he played too well."
Hochwalt, a ninth seed, praised Pinsky's effort. "Jared made me earn it. Especially in the second set, he really made me work hard for the points."
Hochwalt started the second set with a break, but Pinsky finally earned his first break chances of the match with Hochwalt serving at 2-1, and he converted. Pinsky held and was leading 3-2 when, in a four deuce game, Hochwalt held and then broke Pinsky. Both players held their next service games and Hochwalt had no breathing room when he stepped to the line at 5-4 to serve for the match. Pinsky had his chances, but ultimately Hochwalt closed the door with his power.
Hochwalt will face 15-year-old Waylon Chin, a 17th seed in Sunday's final. Chin, of Delray Beach Florida, downed Christopher Price of Houston Texas 6-2, 7-6 (2).
"I've been playing pretty well," said Chin, "getting through matches somehow. Today, I guess I was really nervous, but I went out and just tried to have fun."
Price expressed disappointment with the outcome.
"When you get this far, you want to get to the finals, or win the tournament," said Price, a ninth seed. "It's kind of depressing actually."
Attila Bucko, of Boca Raton Florida, came into the tournament a 17th seed, but he finds himself in the finals after a 6-2, 6-4 win over Andy Orban of Fayetteville North Carolina. Orban is something of a legend in Rockville, having made the round of 16 four straight years and winning all five of his gold balls on clay. But he had no answers for the native of Serbia, who grew up playing on red clay before moving to the United States four years ago.
"I really love the surface," said the 6-foot 3-inch lefthander. "But I love hard courts, too." When asked about the wild card into the Legg Mason main draw that awaits the winner, a wide smile appeared on Bucko's face. "I'm going for it," he said.
But a formidable obstacle stands in his path. Alex Clayton, the third seed, has yet to lose his serve in the tournament, and on Saturday afternoon, the 17-year-old from Fort Lauderdale Florida humbled yet another opponent, defeating Sasha Ermakov of Flower Mound Texas 6-3, 6-2.
Ermakov, a ninth seed, was granted a wild card to get into the tournament and he made the most of it, beating the number two seed and reaching the semifinals. But after a grueling three set win over Wil Spencer on Friday, he admitted that fatigue was a factor.
"Coming into today, I thought I felt decent, but I stepped on the court and after a few long rallies, I was just dead," said Ermakov.
But he did have one small victory. When Clayton was serving for the match at 5-2, he faced a 30-40 score, the first break point against him in his last four matches.
"I hit an ace, (on the next point) though," said Clayton. "I took care of it."
Clayton's pace on his serve and the depth of his ground strokes put Ermakov on the defensive throughout the match, and Clayton's return was lethal when Ermakov was forced to hit a second serve.
Although both are training in Florida, Bucko and Clayton have never played.
"I've watched him play and it looks like he likes to hit through the court," said Clayton. "I like to hit with spin, so it it should be a good match--I'm looking forward to it."
The welcome break in the heat and humidity Saturday proved a perfect backdrop to the evening's doubles championship matches.
In the 18s division, fourth seeds Orban and partner Michael Venus cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 win over a fifth seeded team of Clancy Shields and Christian Welte.
Orban has won a doubles title at the Clay Court Championships for three consecutive years, the first one with Welte, who was playing across the net this time.
"We just never really got into the match," said Welte.
"We're fast court players," said Shields, "and the clay just slows everything down."
In the 16s division, top seeds Will Guzick and Tyler Hochwalt, playing together for the first time, overcame the stubborn fifth seeds Calon Alpar and Alex Sanborn 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Guzick, who had played--and won--two matches in the backdraw earlier in the day didn't believe the extra matches were detrimental.
"Actually it worked a lot to my advantage," said Guzick, "because my returns were really grooved by that time."
And in the third set, that stroke was the key to Guzick's and Hochwalt's first break in a six deuce game. After taking a 4-0 lead, Hochwalt was broken and Sanborn held, but Guzick played a strong service game to reach 5-2 and Hochwalt served it out with an ace down the T the exclamation point.
In the 16 doubles match for third and fourth place, Jarmere Jenkins and Andy Magee defeated Donald Johnson and Nicolas Meister 6-3, 6-1.
The 18 doubles third place trophy was awarded to Ermakov and Conor Pollock when Clayton and Tim Smyczek withdrew due to illness.
Sunday’s schedule begins with three matches at 9:00 a.m.
The 16 singles consolation final is between top seed Guzick and second seed Dennis Nevolo. The 16 singles third and fourth place match features Jared Pinsky and Christopher Price. The 18 singles consolation final pairs Clancy Shields and Wil Spencer.
Scheduled for 10:30 a.m. is the 16 singles final between Tyler Hochwalt and Waylon Chin.
Following at 12:30 p.m. is the 18 singles final between Alex Clayton and Attila Bucko.
All matches will be played at Woodmont Country Club. Admission is free and open to the public.
Saturday, July 23, 2005