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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Forman Downs Second Seed Damico in Heated Battle at Easter Bowl

©Colette Lewis 2006
Palm Springs, CA--

The temperature in sunny Palm Springs reached the mid-eighties, but the real desert heat was felt on the Riviera Resort's court two where Steve Forman defeated the boys 18s second seed Kellen Damico 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in second round action Wednesday afternoon.

The match was only a few games old when the first argument occurred and Forman immediately asked the nearest roving umpire to come on court. Damico, known for his frequent emotional outbursts on the court, seemed intent on irritating Forman, directing several disparaging remarks at him during changeovers and across the net. The umpire, who never left the court, had all he could handle, several times instructing both players to stop talking to each other.

The usually placid Forman was not intimidated; instead he was determined to keep his focus.

"I think he was trying to get in my head," said the unseeded seventeen-year-old, who has beaten Damico in several intense battles in their younger years. "I didn't want him to take me out of my rhythm."

Damico rarely gets overpowered on a tennis court, but Forman hit the ball with just as much pace and depth, despite the disparity in their recent tennis experiences. Damico has been playing the Junior Grand Slams and is ranked in the ITF top twenty, while Forman, a finalist in the 16s in Kalamazoo last year, has been competing very little, focusing instead on his academics as a junior in high school.

"I've been training, but not competing much," said Forman, who has recently begun working with fellow Del Mar, California resident Larry Stefanki, coach of such ATP luminaries as Marcelo Rios, Tim Henman and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. "I wasn't sure myself how I would play."

After a long first round victory that went well into Tuesday evening, when he came back from a set down, Forman appeared confident that he could do so again. With Forman up two breaks in the second set, Damico began to show signs of cramping and down 1-4, he left the court with the trainer. When he returned to the court, Damico appeared willing to let the second set go for a chance for a fresh start in the third.

Forman got an early break however, and Damico's usual fire began to wane as Forman continued to blast forehand winners. Damico was not moving with his usual quickness and Forman took control of the match by continuing to retrieve everything Damico tried.

"I have a strategy against him," Forman said after the match. "I just don't want to say what it is."

When the match concluded, Damico went straight to his chair and bag, not offering the traditional post-match handshake.

"That wasn't my choice," Forman said. "If he didn't want to shake my hand, I wasn't going to force him."

Forman faces unseeded Kayvon Karimi in the round of 16 Thursday.

Two fifteen-year-olds have also earned spots in the round of 16. Rhyne Williams, the 2005 Junior Orange Bowl Champion, took out Bradley Mixson, also unseeded, 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 while Brad Klahn defeated 13th seed Tyler Hochwalt 7-5, 6-4. Jeff Dadamo won his match with 12th seed Mateusz Kecki 6-3, 7-5 in the only other upset in boys 18s.

The highest seed to fall in the girls 18s was eighth seed Chloe Jones, who fell to Hilary Barte 6-4, 6-2. After the year unseeded Reka Zsilinszka has had, it is difficult to call any victory of hers an upset, but technically her 6-3, 6-0 drubbing of 16th seed Gail Brodsky qualifies as one. Zsilinszka next meets another unseeded player, Logan Hansen, who followed up her win over second seed Chelsey Gullickson with a 6-1, 7-6 (5) decision over Alexa Guarachi.

The ITF event results and draws can be found here, the boys 16s event here, and the girls 16s & 14s and the boys 14s, which began on Wednesday, here.


Anonymous said...

Forman is a very talented player and it is nice to see him have such success while focusing on his school work more than itf's. I've been told that Damico and Forman used to be close friends, do you know anything about that?

Lastly, from what I've seen and heard Forman has great sportsmanship. Damico has had more than one poor demonstration of sportsmanship, should/could something be done about that? Not shaking your opponents hand after the match is an insult and should not be taken lightly.

Anonymous said...

Damico was so mad, even after the match he wanted to physically fight with Forman. His behavior is absolutely unacceptable, especially for a player of his caliber. I agree, every tournament I have seen Damico play at he has acted up. Something should be done about it. I'm guessing Damico won't be winning sportsmanship of the year award anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

I really think that when a young player displays this kind of behavior that he has some underlying problem that needs to be addressed. On court remarks are one thing but losing control after the match is another. He should be told that he is on probation and further behavior of this sort will result in a supension.

Anonymous said...

Look this usually means there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Remarks on court are one thing (hardly sportsmanlike) but trying to get into a fight afterwards should mean a suspension from competition until he works things out. Tennis is an aggressive game to be sure -something not often remarked on by fans of other sports- but hotheads rarely succeed until they master their temper or use it to fuel their game constructively.

Anonymous said...

Typical USTA team brat. Those USTA coaches don't care about manners on or off the court as long as their players win. Their players behave like second rate rock stars, typified by Damica. Not surprised USTA high performance does not have a great track record at producing real champions.

Anonymous said...

Damico's demonstration of his typical bratty behavior is the norm when it comes to his past matches. Just look at his track record of problematic unsportsmanlike conduct that is usually tolerated by the USTA because he is one of their sweathearts. It would be about time the USTA High Performance Team started chosing players based on criteria that includes past conduct, as well as performance. Damico is a continued embarrassment to the USTA, yet his on-court primadonna behavior is tolerated without any punishment. The condoning of this type of behavior by the USTA is the same as a silent approval, which is plain wrong. One wonders why the USTA holds Damico in such high esteem after repeated demonstrations of outbursts and lack of self-control on court. Damico was rude not only to his opponent and the chair umpire at the Easter Bowl, but to anyone watching in the audience. It is time for the USTA to stand up, take notice, and teach Damico some manners. On the other hand, it might already be too late. He is used to having no consequences following inappropriate behavior.