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Friday, August 3, 2012

Krueger and Vinsant Laugh Their Way to Win over MacPhie and Martin as Exhibition Kicks Off Kalamazoo Nationals

Mitchell Krueger and Shane Vinsant in Friday's Exhibition

©Colette Lewis 2012--
Kalamazoo MI--

The top-seeded 18s doubles team of Mitchell Krueger and Shane Vinsant  may have come out on top against the veteran team of Brian MacPhie and Todd Martin in Friday night's exhibition that marks the opening of the USTA Boys 18 and 16 National Championships. But the real winners where the area tennis fans, who not only saw great doubles play on a clear and warm evening at Stowe Stadium, but were also treated to a steady patter of quips from comedian Michael Kosta, the master of ceremonies.

Michael Kosta interviews a ballrunner

Kosta, who grew up in Ann Arbor and played his college tennis at the University of Illinois, is now a successful comedian, with appearances on Comedy Central, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. He joked with the chair umpire, the line judges, the ballrunners, but most of all the players, who count on his wisecracks after every double fault, missed return or botched volley.

Krueger and Vinsant fell behind early in the set, with MacPhie's returns particularly effective. But the two Texans got the break back and dominated the tiebreaker, much as they had done in the second round match in the actual tournament this afternoon, when they defeated Harrison Richmond and Nick Wood 6-3, 7-6(0).

Brian MacPhie and Todd Martin Enjoy Retuning to Kalamazoo

There was some amused confusion about whether the tiebreaker would be played at 6-6 or 7-7 or 8-8, with the sooner the better the ultimate decision. From then on, Krueger and Vinsant raised their games and dropped only one point to take the set 7-6(1).  With smiles that rarely left their faces, Krueger and Vinsant admitted they had never played tennis in quite that jovial an atmosphere before.

"I think with Michael here it added a lot more variety to it," said Krueger, who teamed with Martin to beat MacPhie and Vinsant 7-3 in the second set of tennis played Friday evening. "I think made it a lot more enjoyable for the people watching. It was a ton of fun to be a part of."

Kosta made fun of what he called Krueger and Vinsant's mumbling, but the two 18-year-olds took it all in stride.

"He was hilarious," said Vinsant. "I was laughing. It was kind of distracting a little, but it was a lot of fun, and for sure he made it better."

Kosta went on to give lessons of service line calling to one of the members of the Kalamazoo College men's tennis team, joked that some of the umpires had been around all 70 years that the tournament had been played in Kalamazoo, and never let a new set of ballrunners take a shift without quizzing them on their schools, experience and technique.

Kosta autographed nearly as many shirts, hats and programs after the match as the four competitors, but he made sure to get his photo taken with Krueger and Vinsant, just in case they become rich and famous.

During the day's 64 first round matches in the 18s, there were several compelling matches on the front courts at Stowe Stadium.

Joe DiGiulio, the 16s Easter Bowl champion, came from behind to beat Morgan Mays, but saw a 5-2 lead slip away in the final set before taking a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 win.  In the very late stages of his match with Andrew Korinek, Gordon Watson was sick to his stomach, using the flower pots behind Court 2 as the most convenient receptacle, and after several minutes, he requested a trainer. Korinek was serving at 3-5, 30-30 in the third set, and after a brief visit from the trainer, Watson returned to the baseline, won the next two points to record a tough 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory.

Two round of 18s doubles were played Friday afternoon, with all the seeded teams advancing save one.  Seventh seeds Ronnie Schneider and Yale Goldberg, last year's 16s champions, fell to Connor Clements and Elliott Orkin 7-6(5), 7-6(1) .

Complete results of all the day's action can be found at http://ustaboys.com/draws.html

On Saturday, the unseeded 16s players take the court in singles, and the 18s seeds will begin their singles tournament with second round action.