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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sundling and Nguyen Capture 18s Doubles Title; Chappell and Giron are 16s Champions

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Kalamazoo MI--

Thousand Oaks, California can claim two national champions after residents JT Sundling and Marcos Giron shared the 18s and 16s doubles titles decided on Saturday evening.

Giron and partner Nick Chappell of Indianapolis, the No. 15 seeds, defeated No. 2 seeds Emmett Egger and Shane Vinsant 6-2, 6-2 on center court at Stowe Stadium.

Playing together for the first time, Giron and Chappell had played each other in singles a couple of times previously, but weren't really friends. Two weeks before the tournament, each was in need of a partner, and via Facebook, they agreed to play together. After several three-set matches early in the tournament, they began to play as a team, saving their best performance for the final.

"It was really the beginning of the points that we started dominating," said Giron. "We were making first serves, setting up the poaches, making returns at their feet, so they really couldn't come up with good shots."

Chappell and Giron admitted to surprise at the relative ease of their victory over Egger and Vinsant.

"At the beginning they got two easy holds," said Chappell. "And we thought, okay, this is going to be pretty tough, but we ended up breaking them."

Consecutive breaks of Egger and Vinsant gave Giron the chance to serve out the first set, which he did. In the second set, Vinsant double faulted twice, giving Chappell and Giron a 3-2 lead, and when Egger was broken at 2-4, the outcome was decided.

Even though they were barely seeded, and had no experience as a team, Chappell was confident they could contend.

"I thought if we played well we had a good chance, and we did."

Sundling, the other Thousand Oaks resident, and his partner Nguyen where teaming for the first time when they won the Kalamazoo 16s title back in 2007, but since then have established themselves as one of the top junior teams. Semifinalists in the 18s last year, top seeds Nguyen and Sundling added a second Kalamazoo title to their resume and secured a US Open main draw wild card with a 7-6(2), 6-3 victory over No. 8 seeds Sekou Bangoura Jr. and Nathan Pasha.

Nguyen and Sundling, who will be teammates in just a few weeks at the University of Southern California, shot out to a 4-0 lead, but Bangoura and Pasha roared back to tie it at 4. The tiebreaker was all Nguyen and Sundling, but Bangoura and Pasha regrouped in the second set, and were on serve until Bangoura was broken serving a 3-4. With Sundling serving for the match, he and Nguyen earned a match point, but a missed first volley brought it to deuce, and Bangoura and Pasha had a break point to get back on serve. They couldn't convert it and when Sundling and Nguyen got their second match point, they didn't let it get away, with Sundling delivering a second serve winner to take the title.

"We've been playing together for so long, we just pretty much know we'll find points when we're deep in matches," Sundling said. "That we're always in the right place at the right time."

The next right place and time for the pair will be Flushing Meadow, New York, where they will play in the main draw of the U.S. Open men's doubles competition.

Disappointed that they were not given a doubles wild card into the US Open junior championships two years ago, Sundling and Nguyen are especially looking forward to their debut on the sport's highest level.

"Hopefully we can go out there and have a solid match," Sundling said. "I can't even imagine it, if we play someone like the Bryan brothers. I haven't really thought that far yet."

Asked who he would like to see across the net in New York, Nguyen wasn't interested in the big names.

"Maybe another wild card," he said, laughing. "Or Kaes Van't Hof, former USC Trojan, that would be fun."

Sundling and Nguyen are two of the rare players who end their Kalamazoo experience with a victory, but Sundling has another way of assessing his performance during the tournament.

"You know if you make the Clambake you've had a pretty good week," Sundling said of the party for the semifinalists and tournament supporters held on the second Friday of the tournament. "The food is amazing."

Nguyen also mentioned the Clambake as a favorite memory, along with "being on center court Each day players leave and it's definitely a highlight being the last four people left in the tournament."

"Oh, and blueberries and cream."