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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Florida's Lacroix Takes Shootout To Finish Undefeated at Land Rover Napa Valley Classic

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Napa Valley, Calif.--

Alex Lacroix of Florida is the only player who left the Meadowood Resort without a loss over the three days of competition in the Land Rover Napa Valley Classic. After going 3-0 in his round robin group with a 6-3, 6-1 win over USTA junior Jack Sock Sunday morning, Lacroix advanced with seven other players to the 10-point tiebreaker shootout that concluded the tournament. In rapid succession the senior from France defeated Nick Andrews of Cal 10-3, Alex Musialek of Kentucky 10-6 and in the final, Eric Quigley of Kentucky 10-7.

Lacroix has mixed feelings about the format for deciding the Pro Circuit wild card that the USTA has offered to the winner of the event, which prior to this year was reserved strictly for collegiate players, but he appreciated the opportunity it will give him down the road.

"It's not really the best one who wins," said Lacroix, who did not lose a set in his three round robin matches prior to the shootout. "I tried not to do mistakes, I won a couple of important points, and did it better, and I won it."

As the crowd built around the deck overlooking court 4, every point took on added significance.

Trailing 6-3 in the 10-point tiebreaker against Quigley, Lacroix took the next four points, with a Quigley double fault and a great get by Lacroix helping him change the momentum. At 7-7, Lacroix hit an excellent first serve that Quigley couldn't handle to make it 8-7 and the tiebreaker turned on the next point, surely the "important" point Lacroix referred to in his post-match interview.

After a lengthy rally with the two players alternately taking control of the point and relinquishing it, with great offense turning to even better defense, Lacroix found himself at the net. Quigley had his best shot, the forehand, lined up, but his attempt at the pass caught the tape, and Lacroix had his match point. Quigley then missed his first serve, and the second drifted just beyond the service line for a double fault that gave Lacroix the victory.

"He's a really good player, and that was just a tiebreaker," the ninth-ranked Lacroix said of his eighth-ranked opponent. "For sure he's one of the Top 10 college players, and I'll see him at the All-American and the National Indoors. He's a really good player and a nice guy, nice to play against."

The winners in the eight round robin groups included Lacroix's teammate Sekou Bangoura Jr. of Florida, and Quigley's teammate Alex Musialek of Kentucky, as well as Dennis Nevolo of Illinois, Ed Corrie and Jean Andersen of Texas and Mitchell Frank of the USTA junior team. Due to travel considerations, Corrie and Andersen were unable to participate in the shootout, so the second place finishers in their groups, Nick Andrews of Cal and Alexios Halebian of the USTA, were awarded the spots.

Jay Berger, head of men's tennis for the USTA, was pleased with the inaugural event that brought USTA-selected juniors to compete against players from six of the Top 20 teams in 2009-10.

"If every college tournament is like this, I might get back into college coaching," joked Berger. "It was a great event for our players to compete against the college kids, and it's something we would like to do every year."

Like everyone else associated with the event, Berger was not sure how the juniors would stack up against the college players.

"I was real happy with the way they played," Berger said. "I was a little surprised with some of the results, although I was unfamiliar with a lot of the college players and didn't know which numbers they play on their teams. But our kids came to play, and in talking with some of the college coaches, they said their players didn't expect it would be this tough against some of these young juniors. And then there is a lot of pressure for the college players."

Lacroix, who was very motivated and focused in his match with Sock, agreed that there was extra anticipation accompanying his contest with the highly-touted junior champion.

"People were talking about it yesterday, looking forward to the match," Lacroix said. "We had both won our first two matches, so there was a little bit more pressure in the beginning, but once on the court I didn't feel it and that's why I played good today."

Lacroix left impressed with all eight juniors who competed and who won 13 of the 23 matches they played over the tournament's three days.

"I knew Jack Sock because he just won the U.S. Open juniors, and the other juniors, watching them play, they're really good," said Lacroix, who was named winner of the Norma Miner outstanding player award. "They're a little bit younger, so maybe we have more experience, but they have beat college players. I was prepared for a Top 10 level college player, and that's why I played good today."

After three days of unmatched hospitality, cloudless skies and enthusiastic fans watching the competition between the juniors and collegians, there was unanimous support for a repeat from all involved.

"It's one of the nicest tournament's I've ever played in," said 16-year-old Mitchell Krueger, who went 2-1 during weekend play. "I'm glad I was invited and I hope I get invited back. I guess I could be back for the next six years."

DAY 3: Sunday’s Final Round-Robin Results
Note: Bold names moved onto tiebreaker shootout
Alex Musialek (Kentucky) def. Vasko Mladenov (Texas), 6-4, 6-2
Marcos Giron (USTA) def. Bob Van Overbeek (Florida), 7-5, 7-6(5)
Jean Andersen (Texas) def. Alexios Halebian (USTA) 7-6 (3), 6-3*
Jaak Poldma (USC) def. David Holiner (Texas), 7-6(3), 6-4
Sekou Bangoura, Jr. (Florida) def. Mitchell Krueger (USTA), 6-3, 4-6, 6-0
Ed Corrie (Texas) def. Bruno Abdelnour (Illinois), 6-4, 7-6 (4)*
Johnny Hamui (Illinois) def. Christoffer Konigsfeldt (Cal), 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-6 (5)
Eric Quigley ( Kentucky ) def. Raymond Sarmiento (USC), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4
Anthony Rossi (Kentucky) def. Jonathan Dahan ( Cal ), 6-1, 7-5
Daniel Nguyen (USC) def. Nassim Slilam ( Florida ), wo, injury
Nick Andrews (Cal) def. Hunter Harrington (USTA) 6-3, 6-1
Alexandre Lacroix (Florida) def. Jack Sock (USTA) 6-3, 6-1
Bjorn Fratangelo (USTA) def. Carlos Cueto (Cal), wo, injury
Mitchell Frank (USTA) def. Abe Souza ( Illinois ), 6-2, ret.
Dennis Nevolo (Illinois) def. Maks Gold (Kentucky), 6-1, 6-0
JT Sundling (USC) def. MacKenzie McDonald (USTA), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (4)
Note: Both Andersen and Corrie from Texas won their respective flights but had to leave early. Halebian and Andrews took their spots in the tiebreak tournament.

Championship Tiebreaker Round
Eric Quigley (Kentucky) def. Alexios Halebian (USTA), 11-9
Alex Musialek (Kentucky) def. Mitchell Frank (USTA), 12-10
Dennis Nevolo (Illinois) def. Sekou Bangoura Jr. (Florida), 12-10
Alexandre Lacroix (Florida) def. Nick Andrews (Cal), 10-3

Eric Quigley (Kentucky) def. Dennis Nevolo (Illinois), 10-5
Alexandre Lacroix (Florida) def. Alex Musialek (Kentucky), 10-6

Alexandre Lacroix (Florida) def. Eric Quigley (Kentucky), 10-7


Austin said...

Sounds like Sock just wasn't mentally there yesterday. He might want to take a break in October and Novemeber, go to the Orange Bowl, then get revved up for next season. He has played a lot of tennis and achieved some great things these past two months.

I dont understand that shootout format. Sounds dumb to me. Why not just play pro sets in the elimination rounds? Could still knock out all three rounds on Sunday.

avid follower said...

Collette, were you at Sock's mathc with Lacroix? How did he look?

I'd have to agree with Austin from the outside. Sock has had a wirlwind the last couple months. Winning Kalamazoo in single and making it to the finals in dubs. He was at the Open for 2 weeks with heavy practices with top players a couple times a day then the storm that comes with winning. Back home for a week or so then fly to Cali. Played well the first 2 rounds.
Maybe just ran out of gas or is Lacroix that good?


Colette Lewis said...

I only saw the first set. Lacroix played extremely well, had a very high 1st serve percentage, and Sock was a little off, especially with his serve, which wasn't great during the weekend. As I mentioned in my story on Sunday, Lacroix was very motivated for the match and did not let up for even a point.