Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bangoura and Pasha Snare US Open Doubles Wild Card; Korinek and Trinh Surprise Winners of 16s Doubles Title

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Kalamazoo, MI--

It isn't often that a Georgia Bulldog and a Florida Gator can coexist, let alone thrive together, but Nathan Pasha and Sekou Bangoura are the exceptions. After reaching the 18s doubles final last year in Kalamazoo, Pasha, who recently gave a verbal commitment to Georgia, and Bangoura, who played the dual season this year for Florida, emerged with the gold balls and the coveted wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open men's doubles, taking a 7-5, 6-3 victory from Matthew Kandath and Jack Sock.

"I actually took the time to write on their (Facebook) walls this morning to ask them to please let us win," joked Pasha. "Please let us win, and I'll be your friend forever."

Bangoura thought it might actually have been their play on the court that decided the match however.

"I don't think that was it," said Bangoura, who teamed with Pasha in 2008 to finish third in Kalamazoo. "I think the difference in the match was our serves and returns. This is only our second time playing together this year, but we click well together."

There were only two breaks of serve in the match, with Kandath being broked serving at 5-6 in the first set and the first time he served in the second set. Pasha was a bundle of positive energy throughout, and he and Bangoura never trailed.

As for New York, Pasha and Bangoura are not sure what draw would be best.

"Anybody who we can get our first win from," said Bangoura. "We want to stay there as long as possible."

"At the same time, I want to be on center court, get rocked in front of everybody," said Pasha, contemplating a match against the Bryan brothers, who won the 18s doubles title in Kalamazoo in 1995 and 1996. "It would be cool to play them, I just don't want to get booed. Oh, I don't care if I get booed. Let's play the Bryan brothers on center court."

As veterans of the U.S. Open junior tournament, Bangoura and Pasha know that they've ascended to a different level with the wild card. No more shuttle buses or junior locker rooms. It's courtesy cars and the same locker room as Federer and Nadal.

"I'm requesting a late match so we can stay as long as possible," Pasha said.

In the battle of Texas in the 16s doubles final, it was the underdogs who came out on top. Andrew Korinek and Tam Trinh became the first unseeded team to win the 16s doubles title since 1985, upsetting top seeds Mitchell Krueger and Shane Vinsant 6-3, 7-5 Saturday afternoon.

Korinek was originally planning to play with Alexios Halebian, but when Halebian received a wild card into the 18s instead, Korinek teamed up with Trihn, who was making his first visit to Kalamazoo.

Having never played together before, it was perhaps not surprising that they struggled in their opening match.

"We were playing on court 1 and up 4-0, and I think maybe he(Trinh) got a little nervous, and he actually started cramping" said Korinek, who, like the other three finalists, is from suburban Dallas. "We lost that set and we were down 5-3, 40-0, down three match points, and somehow we got through that one. We had a really close one in the quarterfinals, won 13-11 in the third set tiebreaker and also saved another match point in that one. It's really exciting when you can squeak through."

After a convincing win in the first set against Krueger and Vinsant, who have years of experience playing high level doubles both nationally and internationally, Korinek and Trinh hit a rough patch. Leading 3-1, they lost four straight games, and Krueger had an opportunity to serve for the set. He couldn't finish however, and Korinek and Trinh took the final four games and the gold balls that go to the champions, although the match ended on a strange note.

With Trinh serving at 6-5, 40-15, he missed his first serve, and on his second serve, Krueger and Vinsant heard an "out" call from a line umpire. They stopped playing, but the call had come from the other court, where Kudla and van Overbeek were playing, and a serve at the same time on that court was called a fault. There were several minutes of discussion before the chair umpire called it game set and match, and it was several more minutes before Krueger and Vinsant could believe that the match was over.

Trinh, playing only his third National Level 1 championship, put the win "right at the top" of his tennis accomplishments.

"I was looking forward to coming here," he said. "And it turned out pretty well."