©Colette Lewis 2012--
At 9 p.m. on Friday night, Dan Kerznerman was just finishing his Yucatan Cup semifinal match with Thai Kwiatkowski in Merida, Mexico. With a win, Kerznerman would have received a special exemption and avoided qualifying for the Eddie Herr, but the 16-year-old left-hander lost 6-0, 1-6, 6-3, which meant the beginning of a very long and stressful journey to get to Bradenton in time for his first round qualifying match Saturday afternoon.
At midnight, Kerznerman and friend Luca Corinteli, who had lost in the doubles semifinals, began their trip back to the United States with a four-hour bus ride to Cancun.
"We got to Cancun at 4:15, and got a 6:00 a.m. flight to Miami," said Kerznerman, who put his total number of hours of sleep over the course of those two trips at four. "We got to Miami at 10, and at 11:50 took a flight to here. We got here at 1:20 pm, drove straight here from the airport, hit with Luca, and played my match."
Kerznerman's match, the last of the day, was scheduled for not before 3 p.m., but due to some long matches early in the day, he and his opponent, Luis Valero of Colombia, did not get on the court until 4:40 p.m.
Kerznerman's brief hit with Corinteli was on hard courts, so it was hardly surprising that he fell behind 2-0 in the first set before getting his measure of the clay courts and his opponent and posting a 6-4, 6-0 win as darkness set in.
"The first 20 minutes I was completely out of it, I felt really slow on the court," said Kerznerman. "Once I got into the match, got my legs moving, I started playing better over time."
Unseeded at the Yucatan Cup, Kerznerman said his run to the semifinals there gave him confidence facing so many obstacles, including the challenge of booking last-minute travel.
"Last week was the best week of tennis of my life," Kerznerman said. "My dad and Luca's dad were trying to find flights, and finally they found one flight--we spent like $600 each--but we got here. We have nowhere to stay tonight."
"I could have found another (earlier) flight," said Corinteli, who is already in the main draw. "But I couldn't let him do that by himself."
Kerznerman had the match well in hand, leading 5-0 in the second set and serving, when the fading light presented another variety of time pressure. After failing to convert two match points, Kerznerman was ready to serve the first deuce point when the roving official told him the match would be suspended at the completion of the game.
Kerznerman failed to convert another match point, but after another deuce he got the next one, as Corinteli stood at the fence, cheering him on.
" I wanted to win that last game," said Kerznerman, who needed less than an hour to complete the victory. "Last week was really fun and everything, but now I'm just really tired and I just want to rest for tomorrow."
Kerznerman was able to complete his match, but seven other first round 18s qualifying matches could not be finished, with no lights available on the clay courts at the IMG Bollettieri Academy. Five boys and two girls matches will have to be finished Sunday morning. With two rounds of qualifying scheduled for Sunday in the 18s, those who did not finish their first round on Saturday (and their opponents, of course) may have to play their final round of qualifying on Monday.
The second round of the 12s, 14s, and 16s qualifying finished Saturday afternoon, so those qualifiers should all be decided on Sunday.
For the complete results for all divisions, see the TennisLink site.