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Monday, August 5, 2019

Second Seed Damm Saves Match Point in Third Round 18s Play in Kalamazoo; Close Matches Make for Long Day Monday at Stowe Stadium

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Kalamazoo MI--

The top 8 seeds in the 18s division have all advanced to Tuesday's fourth round with seven of them getting through their matches in straight sets. But No. 2 seed and 2018 16s champion Martin Damm was perilously close to defeat against No. 33 seed Matthew Segura, coming from a set and two breaks down, then saving a match point in the second set tiebreaker to record a 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-0 win.

To say that Segura, the great-nephew of tennis Hall of Famer Pancho Segura, has an unconventional game is to understate it. He is ambidextrous when serving, left-handed when it comes to ground strokes, often hits two-handed from both sides and takes the ball early. Damm said he was not familiar with Segura's game and had no clue how to attack it, particularly since he was not serving well.

"Obviously this kid has a really different game style than anyone I've ever played," Damm said. "He plays with both hands, mainly serves right-handed and plays left, but he can switch it up. His backhand is money and you don't know where he's going. I didn't really expect that. It's nothing normal, but he can play and catches you off guard. I didn't adapt fast enough and once you go down that break and have trouble winning points on his service game it gets in your head and you get really down. That's what happened to me."

After losing his first two service games in the second set to go down 3-0, Damm cheered himself up by telling himself "it can't get any worse. So if I have to push, a six-six pusher from behind the baseline, that's what I'm going to do, if that's what I need to do to win."

Damm got a break back to make it 3-1 and held for 3-2 and at that stage, began to see his opportunity.

"At 2-3, I changed up my game, really making more balls, running, and I started getting more points on his serve," Damm said. "I thought maybe it would click one game."

Segura kept his one break lead, but as he prepared to serve out the match at 5-4, Damm asked for a medical time out, with the trainer working on his right leg.

Segura didn't earn a match point in that game when play resumed, with Damm getting back to 5-all with a drop shot winner at 30-40. He held for 6-5 and had a set point in the next game, but Segura saved it to force a tiebreaker. Two double faults in the tiebreaker didn't help Damm, but he managed to save a match point with a forehand winner serving at 5-6.

"I just went for it," Damm said. "I hit a really good [second] serve out wide which set up the forehand, and I went behind him and got that."

It took Damm three more set points to finally close out the tiebreaker, which meant a 10-minute break. Although coaching is allowed, Damm said most of that time was spent on more mundane chores.

"My dad (Martin Damm senior, a former ATP pro) really wasn't too happy, so he wasn't in the mood for talking," Damm said. "So I just changed my shirt, my wristbands and got my water. He told me like two things, but nothing tactical."

In the third set, Damm found the game that had eluded him in the first two sets.

"I played a different level of tennis in the third set," Damm said. "But I think it was mainly because there was a whole set to be played and I wasn't really scared of losing or I didn't have losing in the back of my mind. I felt really confident that once I'd turned it around from 3-5, saving match point; he's obviously not feeling great. After I calmed down, I realized what he's good at and what he's not. It took me time to realize his game style and just really focus."

Top seed Brandon Nakashima defeated No. 33 seed Keshav Chopra 6-3, 6-0; No. 3 seed Toby Kodat downed No. 33 seed Scott Sculley 6-4, 6-2 and No. 4 seed Cannon Kingsley beat No. 33 seed Micah Braswell 6-1, 6-1.

Two top 16 seeds were eliminated today, with No. 13 Will Grant losing to No. 33 seed Michael Andre 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(3).  That was one of ten three-setters in the 18s, which have definitely stepped up in competitiveness in this round. With all the lengthy matches in both 16s and 18s, the final match of the day, scheduled to go out at 5:30 pm, didn't get on court until 7 pm and ended at 10 pm, with Andre Ilagan defeating No. 14 seed Jacob Bullard 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

In the 16s, a top 8 seed did go out, with No. 8 Jack Anthrop retiring trailing No. 33 seed Ethan Quinn 4-6, 7-5, 3-1. No. 7 seed Ben Shelton did manage to escape, saving a match point in his 6-3, 0-6, 7-5 win over No. 33 seed Alexander Visser.

Top seeds Alex Bernard and Luke Casper had no difficulty, with Bernard beating Joshua Portnoy 6-1, 6-3 and Casper posting a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Grant Lothringer.  No. 3 seed Samir Banerjee was cruising on center court before Nathan Nguyen battled back to take the second set in a tiebreaker, but the Easter Bowl 16s champion recovered for a 6-0, 6-7(6), 6-3 victory. Aidan Mayo, the fourth seed, was also taken to a third set, by No. 33 Michael Zheng, but Mayo rebounded for a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 win.

In addition to No. 12 seed Gabrielius Guzauskas, who lost in the second round Sunday, and Anthrop, three other Top 16 seeds were eliminated.  Jake Krug defeated No. 13 seed Alexander Chang 7-6(4), 6-4; Gabriele Brancatelli outlasted No. 14 seed Nathan Mao 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 and No. 33 seed Jameson Corsillo defeated No. 16 seed Daniel Schmelka 6-4, 6-4.

No 18s doubles were played on Monday, and the second round of 16s doubles were played at Western Michigan University. Unfortunately, two of the top four teams went out before that round began, with top seeds Bernard and Mayo withdrawing due to Mayo's illness and No. 4 seeds Anthrop and Sheldon out due to Anthrop's injury in singles.

For complete results, draws and Tuesday's schedule, see ustaboys.com. Play begins at 9 a.m. with 16s fourth round singles at Stowe, followed by 18s fourth round singles and fourth round of 18s doubles at Stowe, with the third round of 16s doubles at Western.

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