©Colette Lewis 2007--
Delray Beach, FL--
When the thermometer read 88 degrees at 8 o'clock this morning, there was no hope for any relief from the withering heat that has made the Clay Court Championships more about survival than tennis.
After the top two seeds Jordan Rux and Dennis Nevolo lost on Wednesday, any upsets in Thursday's round of 16 would pale in comparison, and as it turned out, there weren't any even minor surprises. There were also no three-setters, as the favorites kept themselves out of the sun, and avoided any drama. No. 10 seed Luke Marchese lost only one game in defeating Spencer Smith, who had shocked Rux on Wednesday. Marchese has cruised through his first four matches in straight sets, as has his Friday quarterfinal opponent, 2006 16s Clay Court Champion Brennan Boyajian, the No. 5 seed, who beat unseeded Evan Bernstein 6-3, 6-1. The other quarterfinal in the top half will pit No. 3 seed Reid Carleton against unseeded Clint Bowles. I watched quite a few games of Carleton's 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 16 seed Jon Jaklitsch, and was impressed by the quality of play despite the miserable heat. Carleton used his drop shot judiciously, and made few unforced errors, but Jaklitsch kept running shots down and getting them back, making Carleton work for every point.
Bowles, who won the Florida State Closed last month, subdued 15-year-old Ryan Harrison 6-3, 7-5, by using speed and depth, and putting away the short balls.
In the only quarterfinal that has gone to form, No. 6 seed Bradley Klahn will face No. 4 seed Wil Spencer. Spencer, who has finished sixth or better at the past three Clay Courts, beat No. 13 seed Bryant Salcedo 7-5, 6-2. Up 4-1 in the first, Spencer allowed Salcedo back in the match but at 5-5, he found another gear, and won eight of the next ten games. Klahn bested unseeded Aba Omodele-Lucien 6-3, 6-3.
Like Carleton and Bowles, the quarterfinal between No. 9 seed Jeff Dadamo and Joey Burkhardt will be Floridian vs. Floridian. Dadamo outlasted No. 17 seed Drew Daniel 6-3, 7-5, while Burkhardt followed up his win over Nevolo on Wednesday with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over fellow 17th seed Kayvon Karimi.
The day didn't end without drama however. A doubles match between the unseeded team of Spencer Smith and Jordan Bridge and No. 3 seeds Joey Burkhardt and Zach Nichols ended with a trip to the hospital for Nichols. Early in the third set, Nichols, who had won two back draw matches earlier in the day, went up for a backhand overhead and shortly thereafter complained of dizziness. A trainer was called, and he received treatment, mostly ice, for heat-related illness, but he refused to retire, although he could barely move. Eventually, having collapsed to the court once, he was kept on the courtside chairs until a EMT team could arrive to take him to a local hospital, where he was given IV's and treated for heat exhaustion. Bridge and Smith, who throughout the ordeal refused to take advantage of Nichols' obvious distress, won by the unusual score of 7-5, 4-6, 4-4 ret. inj.
The 16s, who wrapped up their last day at Broken Sound Country Club, did have a major upset on Thursday, when No. 2 seed Bo Seal lost to No. 13 seed Sekou Bangoura 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. No. 5 seed Mousheg Hovhannisyan also lost in a third set tiebreaker, to unseeded Devin McCarthy.
For complete results, see the TennisLink website.
Thursday, July 19, 2007