Monday, July 12, 2010

Hamilton, DeBot Win ITA Summer Circuit Titles at Western Michigan; More on McHale


As I wrote on Saturday, the ITA Summer Circuit was in town this weekend, and I went back today for the finals. The women's championship was between two incoming freshmen, No. 4 seed Nida Hamilton, who will enter Northwestern this fall, and unseeded Nikki Chiricosta, who will join her older sister Christine at Bowling Green, with Hamilton taking a 7-6(1), 6-4 victory. The men's championship featured two unseeded players, incoming Dartmouth freshman Brandon DeBot and Detroit Mercy junior Nick Tolomei, with DeBot earning a 6-4, 6-1 win.

My Tennis Recruiting Network article on Thursday will be more of an overview of the circuit itself than an in-depth recap of this particular event, so I'll add a bit more about the two finals here in tonight's post.

In the women's final, which followed the semifinals earlier in the day, Oak Brook Illinois' Hamilton survived three double faults in the opening game and went on to take a 4-1 lead. Hamilton had three chances to make it 5-1 with Ohio's Chiricosta serving, but Chiricosta saved all three break points and then broke Hamilton the next two times she served to take a 5-4 lead. Chiricosta made too many unforced errors to put any pressure on Hamilton in the first five games, but she reduced them dramatically in the latter part of the set, while Hamilton seemed content to wait for the error, which was now a rarity.

Chiricosta served for the set twice, at 5-4 and 6-5, but never had a set point, and in the tiebreaker, Hamilton took control, playing more aggressively and forcing errors. With many lengthy points and deuce games, the set took more than an hour to complete, but with benign summer weather--humid, but not much over 80 degrees--neither looked tired.

There were three straight breaks to open the second set, but Hamilton held for a 3-1 lead and survived two break points serving at 3-2 to stay in front. After 45 more minutes, with every game going to deuce, Hamilton got her first match point with Chiricosta serving at 3-5, but Hamilton's forehand went wide and Chiricosta held. Fatigue finally seemed to become a factor in the next game, where the points were short, with Hamilton taking a 40-15 lead and a second match point. Chiricosta couldn't take advantage of a second serve from Hamilton, and her tired-looking forehand found the net to give Hamilton the win.

The men's final also featured a long first set, with seven breaks of serve, including four straight to start the match. DeBot, from Stevens Point, Wisc., had difficulty with his volleys to start the match, but he began to find his range, and took care of his serve from 4-4 in the first set until the end of the match. Tolomei, from Rochester, Mich., returned well but wasn't able to keep his error count down in the longer rallies. Once he was broken for a second time in the second set in a four-deuce game, Tolomei had trouble denting DeBot's increasing confidence, and the match ended quickly.

Hamilton, who has not played a junior event since February, told me she doesn't believe she'll get into the National Hard Courts in August, but DeBot, who did not lose a set in his six wins, is looking forward to returning to Kalamazoo, where he said he always seems to play well.

Although it is not yet updated, I was told the complete draws will be available by Tuesday at the Western Michigan athletic site.

There has been quite a bit of discussion about Christina McHale's professional status in yesterday's comments, but the three articles that I'm linking to here about her win over Victoria Azarenka in the Kennedy Funding Invitational Sunday don't leave much room for doubt.

Here is the northjersey.com article, the New City Patch article, and the Journal News article, all of which make reference to her new professional status.