©Colette Lewis 2006
The first day of the Polo Ralph Lauren All-American Tennis Championships (which I'll shorten to the All-American in my reports) was full of surprises. The weather, which was an unseasonably warm 90+ degrees throughout the pre-qualifying and qualifying, changed dramatically overnight, and the cool cloudy morning left those who had been around all week unprepared. Jackets and warmups definitely came in handy in the first few hours, although by noon, the skies had cleared and the temperature rebounded into the upper 70s.
It wasn't just the weather that was up and down Thursday. Favored players also showed mixed results, with only seven seeds surviving both rounds of singles. Two of the top four seeds--no. 2 Luigi D'Agord of Miami and no. 3 Travis Helgeson of Georgia--were among those eliminated. Barely a game into his first round match with lucky loser Roy Sichel of Charlotte, D'Agord suffered a severe sprain of his left ankle, immediately retiring from the match. He also was unable to compete in doubles, where he and partner Daniel Vallverdu were seeded third.
Helgeson, who transferred to Georgia from Texas this fall, lost more conventionally. Illinois' Ryan Rowe upended his fellow lefthander 6-3, 7-6(3) in the afternoon's second round.
Helgeson was the only member of the Georgia Bulldog contingent to lose on the first day. Top seed and defending All-American champion John Isner won both his matches in straight sets, as did Luis Flores, a nine seed, and unseeded Matic Omerzel.
Rowe is joined in the Round of 16 by teammate Kevin Anderson, a nine seed, while the University of Virginia also had two players survive the long first day--fourth seed and 2006 NCAA runnerup Somdev Devvarman and unseeded Treat Huey. Huey upset seventh seed Jerry Makowski of Texas A & M in the first round.
Denver's Adam Holmstrom took out sixth seed Erling Tveit of Mississippi in the second round, reaching the final 16 in Tulsa for the second straight year.
Fifth seed Arnau Brugues, playing on his home courts, showed just how comfortable he is at the Michael Case Tennis Center, losing only three games in his two wins Thursday.
And speaking of the Case Tennis Center--wow. Not quite five years old, the facility is outstanding, with great spectator viewing on 12 outdoor courts, beautiful indoor courts and a design that emphasizes spaciousness. The lack of shade is being addressed with proposed awnings, the plans for which are on display. I'm now completely spoiled, as there is a separate media room set up (the Tulsa player lounge during the season) which includes internet access and a big screen TV to keep up with the baseball playoffs.
On Friday, two rounds of doubles and one round of singles is scheduled beginning at 10 a.m. central time.
For complete draws see the ITA website.