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Friday, August 1, 2008

Oudsema Edges Isner in Opening Night Exhibition in Kalamazoo

©Colette Lewis 2008--
Kalamazoo MI--

John Isner has won many tiebreakers, both in his collegiate career and as a professional, but he lost one Friday evening, when hometown favorite Scott Oudsema came back from a 5-1 deficit in the tiebreaker to defeat Isner 7-6(8) in the RxOptical Greenleaf Hospitality exhibition at Stowe Stadium.

Isner and Oudsema comfortably handled the No. 1 seeded 18s doubles team of Jarmere Jenkins and Austin Krajicek 6-3, in front of an estimated 2000 spectators, most of whom were supporting Oudsema, who remains the only player from Kalamazoo to ever reach the finals of the Nationals when he did so in 2004. Isner, the National 18s doubles champion with Pramod Dabir in 2003, also made fans during his years in Kalamazoo, and at the sponsors reception prior to the opening ceremonies, both spoke of their memories of Kalamazoo and their now-realized dreams of playing the exhibition.

Wearing his Georgia Bulldog baseball cap, Isner took the microphone to address the crowd after his introduction, and mentioned the professionals excellent record against the juniors in this annual challenge. "6-0 is the goal," he joked, and although he and Oudsema didn't approach that level of dominance, the serves of the 22-year-old Oudsema and 23-year-old Isner were ultimately too much for Jenkins and Krajicek. Oudsema was twice on the losing end of the exhibition as a junior--when he was part of the top seeded doubles team in 2003 with Phillip Simmonds and in 2004 with Brendan Evans--so he was pleased to finally get a win.

Once the singles set began, Oudsema got an early break but couldn't finish, with two net cords assisting Isner in breaking Oudsema when he was serving for the match at 5-4. In the tiebreaker, Oudsema started poorly, doublefaulted, and was down 5-1 at the change of ends, but worked it back to 5-4. Isner put the match on his racquet when he took advantage of his reach at the net to snare an Oudsema passing shot to go up 5-4, but Oudsema came up with a forehand winner, and back on serve, a difficult overhead smash to even it at 6-6. From there it was back and forth, with Isner finally hitting a forehand long to send the Kalamazoo fans home happy.

Isner, who is now working with Kelly Jones, is on his way to the ATP tournament in Los Angeles, while Oudsema will play the Challenger next week in Binghamton, New York. But both now have additional memories of Kalamazoo, with Oudsema's being especially satisfying ones.


Anonymous said...

I really hope that the Class of '04 gets it going. Oudsema, Simmonds, Evans, Jenkins, Kuznetsov and Odesnik. Wayne is the only one who has broken through. Evans seems to slowly but surely be moving up the rankings getting closer to being seeded at qualies for majors. Jenkins has a good result, then goes away. Kuznetsov looked to be the best out of the bunch a couple years ago, but he has regressed this year. Oudsema maybe should drop the singles and just try to be a doubles specialist, a la David Martin & Scott Lipsky. Simmonds has lost it, eerily similar to Levar Harper-Griffith about 7-8yrs ago. They all looked so promising in juniors, its a shame. Ive seen them all play in person multiple times and each has considerable talent. I think Oudsema & Simmonds could be a very good dubs team.

I usually dont criticize the USTA too much because I think its up to the player to be successful, but the fact that only one of them has ever won more than one match in a grand slam makes you wonder if they dropped the ball with some of the coaching.

Anonymous said...

Or perhaps the coaching was there and they made a mistake in the selection of who to train and fund. Talent ID is huge. It is similar to a mid-major college coach who has to recruit under-the-radar American kids, and pick who will develop. However, the USTA is looking at a higher talent level and trying to predict an even higher potential. Many times heart and desire are overlooked. People just look at the players current talent. That's not always a great predictor.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Egger lost first round again. Tough road. I understand if you are trying to install a more attacking game for the long run, but that shouldn't result in going from one of the top players in your age group to repeated first round outs within just a couple years. Too bad. Hope he can right the ship.

Anonymous said...


Whats going on with the ustaboys.com site? I cant seem to find where they have a live feed, is B2B networks not providing coverage this year? I also dont see pics or stories, have they just decided to no longer do those things? Thanks.

Colette Lewis said...

B2 is not coming this year.

I decided not to work on the ustaboys.com website this year, and am confining my efforts to zootennis, so it will be more like my coverage of all the other tournaments I visit throughout the year.