©Colette Lewis 2010--
The 2010 USTA Boys 18 and 16 National Championships had been a little short on drama--until today. When No. 3 seed Jack Sock and No. 15 seed Daniel Kosakowski walked onto Stowe Stadium's court 2 for their 18s quarterfinal match on another hot and humid afternoon, few of the spectators could have foreseen the enthralling three-hour rollercoaster ride they would witness. When Sock hit the second of his two forehand winners to earn a 7-6(3), 3-6, 7-6(5) victory, the loud and appreciative applause for both players said it all, and the stadium buzzed for many minutes after the match concluded. The most frequent comment was a simple "wow."
Sock saved two match points serving at 4-5 in the third set, and Kosakowski admitted he'll probably think about the second of those two points for a little while.
On the first match point, Sock hit a good forehand deep into Kosakowski's backhand corner, and Kosakowski's backhand reply didn't clear the net. After Sock hit a forehand into the net on the next point, Kosakowski had his second chance, and this time Sock made a mistake. Sock had a short ball with Kosakowski coming into the net for a drop volley, and instead of a passing shot, Sock went for a topspin lob. It was short, and Kosakowski had many options, but the one he took, a backhand volley, landed several inches wide.
"I wasn't going to move, I was so stunned at how bad I hit that lob," said Sock. "I was just going to stand there and say 'nice shot', I didn't know what to do. He might have been a little anxious to hit it, wanted to hit it quick and get it perfect, but he could have hit it anywhere and been in good shape. I was in disbelief, but that's tennis."
Kosakowski, who is the picture of composure on the court, did show a small sign of frustration after that volley, throwing his sweat-soaked hat to the ground.
"I just wasn't expecting him to give me that shot," said Kosakowski, who did not lose his serve in the match. "The shot that I gave him was pretty easy, and I thought he was just going to rip a winner, but he ends up lobbing me to my backhand."
Despite that miss, Kosakowski didn't let it bother him for long. He did make two unforced errors on the next two points, but he held at love in his next service game, and Sock again had to hold serve to stay in the match. Sock let a 40-15 lead slip away on a Kosakowski return winner and a double fault, but he won the next two points to force the tiebreaker.
Kosakowski took a 3-1 lead, serving an ace to open the tiebreaker and a service winner the next time he served. But at 3-1, a long rally of several dozen shots ended with a risky volley winner from Sock. Kosakowski took a 5-4 lead on his serve when Sock netted a forehand, but it was the last point he would win. After Kosakowski netted a backhand to make it 5-5, Sock missed his first serve, but got the second one in. After a brief exchange, Sock went for a forehand, and it found the sideline, giving him his first match point. Three hours and eight minutes after it began, Sock ended the match with a second clean forehand winner, and the tournament had its signature moment.
"I feel good," said Sock, who had struggled with dehydration earlier in the week. "He's a darn good player...I knew his forehand was good and he can literally hit a winner from anywhere in the court."
Kosakowski, who will be playing for UCLA this fall, obviously didn't get the result he wanted, but even less than a half hour after a crushing loss, he appreciated the level of competition.
"We both played really well," he said. "One point here and there and I could have easily won the match. I've just got to forget about it and keep working hard."
Sock will play top seed Jordan Cox in Saturday's semifinal. Cox had a much shorter day than Sock, posting a 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 29 seed Nelson Vick. Cox defeated Sock 6-3 6-3 in the first round of a Futures tournament last month in Illinois.
In the 16s, No. 1 seed Shane Vinsant earned a semifinal berth with a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 6 seed Anthony Delcore. Vinsant had a 5-1 lead in the second set, but Delcore stepped up his game and Vinsant was happy to finish it in two sets.
As in the 18s, the top half of the 16s will feature the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds in the semifinals. Nolan Paige, the No. 3 seed, put an end to the run of Michigan's Tyler Gardiner, the No. 16 seed, taking a 6-3, 7-5 decision.
In the boys 16s doubles quarterfinals, the top seeded team and three unseeded teams won. Mitchell Krueger and Vinsant beat No. 5 seeds Maxx Lipman and Gordon Watson 6-2, 6-3 and will meet unseeded Alex Gornet and Zack Lewis in the semifinals Friday. Fornet and Lewis beat Matthew Alves and Gardiner, the No. 8 seeds 2-6, 7-6(5) 10-5. The seeded teams in the bottom half were both upset. No. 2 seeds TJ Pura and Richard Del Nunzio had misread their match time and reported to their match with Sam Bloom and Ken Sabacinski 14 minutes late, so were facing a 3-0 deficit before a ball was struck. Bloom and Sabacinski won that set 6-3 and the second 6-4. They will play Andrew Korinek and Tam Trinh, who upset No. 4 seeds Mihir Kumar and Michael Redlicki 7-6(3), 3-6, 13-11.
On Friday, the bottom half of the draw will play their quarterfinal matches, and both divisions' doubles semifinals will be played.
For complete draws, see ustaboys.com.
Thursday, August 12, 2010