Sunday, May 10, 2020

A Look Back at 1983 Kalamazoo Nationals, with Krickstein, Brown Taking Titles

It's been nearly a month since I looked into the past for content, and today I'm going way back, to the 1983 USTA Boys 16 and 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo.

As I noted last month, when I reviewed the 1984 Kalamazoo Nationals, this information is all from my personal archives, which include the paper draw sheets and programs. The ustaboys.com website has pdf files of the draws that extend back to 1985 and go through 1999, but there is nothing publicly available prior to that. I apologize for the less than ideal photos of the draw sheets below, but pdfs, which are more legible but can't be uploaded to this website, can be found on google docs, with all the 1983 participants here, the 16s draw here, and the 18s draw here.

It certainly wasn't a year of surprises, with the top 4 seeds reaching the semifinals in the 18s, and No. 1 Ricky Brown claiming the 16s title, albeit over No. 12 seed David Pollack, in a 6-4, 6-4 final.

Top seed Krickstein defeated No. 3 seed Patrick McEnroe in the best-of-five 18s final 7-6, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 to win his second consecutive Kalamazoo title, having won the 16s in 1982. Krickstein had just turned 15 when he won the 16s in 1982, and had just turned 16 when he beat McEnroe for the 18s title. In consecutive years, he finished No. 1 in the 14s(1981), No. 1 in the 16s(1982) and No. 1 in the 18s(1983) in the USTA rankings.

Although Krickstein lost a set to McEnroe and needed a comeback to defeat Richey Reneberg 5-7, 6-0, 6-4 in the semifinals, I have always considered him one of the most impressive players I saw in my 40 plus years attending Kalamazoo, possibly because he was from Michigan, as I am, but probably because went on to instant success after his last match here.

His forehand was absolutely lethal, as the professionals he faced a few weeks later at the US Open soon learned. He beat Stefan Edberg, who at age 17 would go on to win the only Junior calendar grand slam in history by taking the boys US Open title during his second week in New York, in a fifth set tiebreaker in the first round. He easily beat Scott Myers-Lipton in the second round, then shocked No. 15 seed Vitas Gerulaitis, from two sets down, in the third round. Krickstein lost to No. 4 seed and reigning French Open champion Yannick Noah in straight sets in the fourth round, but he had certainly proved he no longer belonged in junior tennis competition. To put an exclamation point on that US Open performance, he won his first ATP title in October of that same year. Krickstein went on to win eight more ATP titles and reached a ranking high of No. 6 in 1990.

Like Krickstein, Ricky Brown would go on to claim back-to-back titles, taking the 18s title in 1984.

The 16s Bobby Kaplan Sportsmanship Award went to Buff Farrow and Steve DeVries won the Allen B. Stowe Sportsmanship Award in the 18s.

Below are the highest ATP rankings of Boys 18s seeds:
1. Aaron Krickstein, 6
2. Rick Leach, 110
3. Patrick McEnroe, 28
4. Richey Reneberg, 20
5. Bobby Blair, 490
6. Eric Amend, 234
7. Stephen Lang, none
8. Luke Jensen, 168
9. Brad Pearce, 71
10. Frank Grannis, none
11. Bill Stanley, 592
12. Larry Scott, 210
13. Dexter MacBride, 368
14. Craig Johnson, 318
15. Mike Wolf, 396
16. Douglas Pielet, 489