©Colette Lewis 2005
I did make it in time to see Stanford's Matt Bruch squeak through in three sets, but I was stunned to find Ryler DeHeart already down a set to Mislav Hizak when I arrived at the Columbus Racquet Club. Hizak, a Croatian who won his slot in the 32-man field by taking the ITA National Small College title, served very effectively against the defending champion and top seed DeHeart, and the result was a surprisingly easy 6-3, 6-4 win. Casey Angle, the ITA's Director of Communications, handed me a paper detailing the upset almost before the players had left the court, and his synopsis is much more professional than mine.
Every subsequent match I watched was closely contested and a look at the draw reveals that more than half of the men's matches went three sets (with two going to 7-6 in the third). Most of the two-setters were exceedingly competitive as well. In the end, DeHeart was the only seed to fall in singles and doubles on the men's side. There's an odd sort of symmetry to DeHeart's 2004 and 2005 ITA Indoors. Last year, he was unseeded and won the whole thing. This year he is seeded one and loses in the first round.
And joining the Stanford and Notre Dame and UCLA players taking the court tomorrow, are Hizak, of NAIA Embry-Riddle and Martin Sayer of Radford. Sayer, of Hong Kong, was Sam Querrey's first round victim at the Junior U.S. Open just two months ago, and although Radford is a long way from Stanford both in geography and tennis accomplishment, in Sayer they have a freshman who is making an impact that mirrors Bruch's.
Marcia Frost of collegeandjuniortennis.com is also covering the event. Get her perspective here.