Hey Tennis Friends!
Last weekend, one of my local tennis venues had its third annual USTA sanctioned Open event. What follows is my comprehensive press coverage, as well as my video report, from the 2013 iTennis/Andulka Park Adult Open Tennis Championships.
GREAT WEATHER, GREAT TENNIS
RIVERSIDE, CA (Oct. 24, 2013) – The main draw has begun at the iTennis/Andulka Park Adult Open Tennis Championships at Andulka Park Tennis Center, in Riverside. The 1:30pm afternoon start accommodated many of the players who traveled from all over Southern California to be a part of the “Battle of the Pros”
In first round action, Moreno Valley resident, and RCC tennis standout, David Stanko made easy work of his opponent Abhit Singh of Los Angeles, 6-0, 6-1.
“We had some blowouts, which is typical of the first round, but we also had some great matches”, said Director of Tennis, Larry Loeb. “David Stanko won pretty handily, but he’s got a tough one tomorrow against Alessandro Ventre, who is from Riverside, and is one of our top seeds, and an excellent player, so, it should be a good match.”
Despite the foggy morning, by the time the matches began, the sun came out to mild temperatures to finish the afternoon, blending into a much cooler evening session.
“This weekend, we have zero chance of precipitation, which makes a tournament director really, really, really, happy!”, boasted Loeb, “We had a really good three-setter between two college kids today and look forward to some great action tomorrow. It’s going to be beautiful all weekend and we hope that everyone comes out for the marvelous weather and the high level of tennis.”
Players in men’s and women’s singles and doubles are competing for a minimum of $4,500 in total winnings. Proceeds from this event will benefit Let’s Teach, Inc., which provides life skills to socio-economically disadvantaged youth through the sport of tennis.
TOP SEEDS BREEZE THROUGH
RIVERSIDE, CA (Oct. 25, 2013) – The first full day session of main draw action
saw no upsets of the seeded players at the iTennis/Andulka Park Adult Open Tennis Championships at Andulka Park Tennis Center, in Riverside. The foggy 8:00am start burned off to a wonderful day of high level tennis. Tournament Director Larry Loeb declared that this event has, “Some of, if not thee best tennis ever played in Riverside!”
In an early women’s singles quarterfinal match, the number two seeded Kaitlyn Christian, of Orange, rolled over Claremont’s Victoria Santoro 6-1, 6-0. A pretty easy match for one half of the number one ranked college doubles team, and USC senior. “I made a friend today!”, said Christian, “I want to get better at singles. It’s my main goal. Doubles is easier when you have another person out there, I just want to get a few matches in before the (ITA Nationals).”
The biggest match of the day session was a women’s singles quarterfinal match between Hemet resident and Andulka teaching pro Bay Daniels, and former North High School star and UCR freshman Jasmine Almaguer. Under the eighty degree midday sun, center court drew the biggest crowd, turning the “Battle of the Pros” into the “Battle of the Inland Empire”.
Almaguer looked comfortable in the first set, taking control of the points at key moments, even though these players had never met before. “I prefer not knowing who my opponent is, and not knowing anything about them. Just going out there with a clear mindset, and then figuring it out on the court”, assessed Almaguer, who took the first set.
In the second set, it was Daniels who seemed to be the better player. She had not played a tournament in five years, and was a little nervous in the first set because of that. “I didn’t give up (in the second set). I wasn’t as nervous. I started to relax and wasn’t really doing anything different with my game”, said Daniels. Almaguer would disagree, “She started playing smarter, more shots, more angles, more spin. I just relaxed too much. I thought I had it, then obviously, I lost it .” Almaguer’s second set loss forced a third and deciding set.
“After losing that second set I was pretty frustrated, I should’ve wrapped it up, but I let it slip”, confessed Almaguer. Daniels looked to make easy work of her younger opponent in the third set, “I was up 5-2, but when it got close, I got nervous.”, said Daniels, “I couldn’t serve as good as I was in the previous sets. I was just exhausted and my body was aching.”
After three tough sets, and nearly three hours, the match came down to a tiebreak, with Daniels saving a few match points, which didn’t bother Almaguer too much, “I knew if I played smart, and if I kept fighting, it was just a matter of closing it up.” Almaguer finally took the match 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(6). “I’m going to go get some physical therapy and come in fresh tomorrow”, said Almaguer, “I’m excited to play!”
On the men’s side of the draw, the number one seed, Kyle Dandan, from Los Angeles, defeated San Carlos’ Daniel Morkovine 6-2, 6-0 in a men’s Round of 16 matchl. “He had a pretty good serve and got a lot of balls back, I was just lucky enough to put them away”, said the 2012 Santa Clara University grad. While a standout at SCU, Dandan helped take his team to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history, and they reached the highest ranking ever, 29th. “I am very proud of those achievements.”
Looking forward in the draw, Dandan said, “I’ve played those guys and we’ve had some tough matches, so, I’m expecting them to play their best.”
SOME MEN’S SEEDS FALTER,
WOMEN’S SEEDS HOLD UP
RIVERSIDE, CA (Oct. 26, 2013) – It was a tough day on the men’s side of the draw at the iTennis/Andulka Park Adult Open Tennis Championships at Andulka Park Tennis Center, in Riverside. In a full-scheduled day, two rounds of singles were on the board, which resulted in many upsets.
First up in the men’s singles quarterfinal round, top half of the draw, the number eight seed, Logan Smith, downed the number one seeded Kyle Dandan 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-4.
In another three set marathon, Sierra Leon’s Tim Kpulun, the number three seed, fell to the number six seed, Israel’s Amit Inbar 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2).
In the men’s quarterfinal bottom half, unseeded Frenchman Maxime Tabatruong moved into the semis after only four games, up 3-1, as the number two seeded Xavier Smith retired from fatigue of a recent broken hand.
Wrapping up the quarterfinal matches, former Cal Baptist University standout and Riverside resident, Alessandro Ventre, had a tough first set as he took on the number four seed, Sebastian Rivera. Seeded number five himself, after a closely contested tiebreak first set, Ventre moved into the semifinal, over Rivera, 7-6(6), 6-2.
In women’s singles semifinal action, Riversider Jasmine Almaguer’s run came to a halt at the hands of the number one seeded Bettina Radke, from Germany. Despite some exciting points, Radke dominated the UCR freshman 6-0, 6-1.
In the other women’s semifinal, the number one college doubles player in the nation, Kaitlyn Christian, had her hands full with Katie Kuosman. Kuosman, from Colorado, and now a player for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, did not allow herself to be rolled over by the two-time ITA doubles champ. “It was a little bit tougher than yesterday”, said Christian, “I played a really good opponent. She gave me a good match.”
Christian won the first set, giving up three games. She was up 5-1 in the second, when Kuosman started rallying back, taking two more games off of the number two seed. “I got a little bit tired toward the end, I don’t think I ate a big enough breakfast”, said Christian, “She played really well, and I was losing a little bit of energy out there, so I was just happy to close it out with my serve.” Christian moved into the final, against Radke, with a 6-3, 6-3 win.
In the first men’s semifinal, Alessandro Ventre, had a game plan, “I think I started pretty well, hitting the lines a lot, hitting the ball early, and being aggressive.” Ventre’s big serve helped him dig out against Maxime Tabatruong of a number of points when he was down.
Ventre, originally from Brazil, reflected on his time at CBU, “My time there was nice. I played there three seasons and had really good fun, and really good matches. I had people I really care about around me, in a different place, and sharing those moments was really cool.” Ventre moved into the final over Tabatruong 6-3, 6-2.
The biggest surprise of the day happened in the second men’s semifinal, where sixteen year old high school junior Logan Smith, of Carlsbad, took out former UCLA team standout, Amit Inbar. After two tough sets of masterful play, the number six seeded Inbar ran out of energy in the third, catapulting the number eight seed, Smith, into Sunday’s final against Ventre with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory.
Here is my video report featuring highlights and interviews from Saturday’s event:
Women’s doubles finalists are UC Riverside’s Jasmine Almaguer / Courtney Pattugalan versus Katie Kuosman / Victoria Santoro, both CMS team members. Men’s doubles finalists are former UCLA players Amit Inbar / Maxime Tabatruong versus Skyler Butts / Neel Kotrappa, both CMS team members.
WARM TEMPS, SIZZLING ACTION
RIVERSIDE, CA (Oct. 27, 2013) – It was championship day at the 2013 iTennis/Andulka Park Adult Open Tennis Championships at Andulka Park Tennis Center, in Riverside. The four day professional tennis event had its largest crowd ever, including Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, who participated in the ceremonies. “The City of Riverside is really proud of this investment, and to have this continued professional footprint here in Riverside”, said Bailey.
First up on center court, Bettina Radke and Kaitlyn Christian, seeded first and second respectively, came out firing for the women’s singles final in front of the early morning crowd. The first set was peppered with drop shots and short angles where neither player was able to dictate play for too long, without the other coming back. Christian, the number one college doubles player in the nation, was able to hold her break and take the first set.
In the second set, Radke’s lack of recent matchplay got the best of her as the college-match-tough Christian took control of the match. Radke had a few games with the scales tipped against her, and certainly had her chances to pull them out, but Christian was too solid, winning the championship 6-4, 6-1.
The men’s singles final brought sixteen year old high school junior Logan Smith, against former top Cal Baptist University player Alessandro Ventre. Ventre won the coin toss, elected to serve, and began blasting his serves. “I just came out to play more aggressive”, said the fifth seeded Ventre, “Really trying to take care of that first serve, as well as being aggressive on the second serve.”
Ventre went up 4-1, but Smith, ranked number five in SoCal boy’s 18s, had shaken off his final round jitters, and started breaking back. Ventre took it in stride, “I always get a little concerned, but I knew the problem there was me. I missed balls that I shouldn’t have, then he’d come out with one good shot to break back. So I knew that if I could avoid those really bad options I could stick with my game plan.” Blistering serves from both players saved break points throughout the match.
The twenty-eight year old Ventre took the first set with a close 7-5 win. Smith held his own at the beginning of the second set, but, Ventre’s strategy was working too well, “I tried to move in as much as I could, not to get into the rallies too much. I wanted to be the one dictating the points, and it worked, pretty much, for the whole tournament.”
Despite, or perhaps because, of the twelve year age difference, Ventre took home the championship trophy by taking the second set 6-3. “I just wanted to show him that he’d really have to fight against an older guy, to play, and if he wanted to win he really would have to deserve it.” Next up for Ventre is vacation time in his home country of Brazil, then a couple of futures, before coming back to compete in the United States next spring.
The women’s doubles was the first of the finals that pitted college against college. The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team of Katy Kuosman and Victoria Santoro went up against the team from University of California Riverside, Courtney Pattugalan and John W. North high graduate Jasmine Almaguer.
Pattugalan/Almaguer did not come out as strong as in their previous match, where they did not give up any games. “Honestly, we were struggling in the very beginning”, said Almaguer, “We were down 1-2, the games were really close, and we realized that we were making a lot of mistakes.”
The Highlanders were able to talk it out during the changeovers, “We were playing the wrong way”, said Almaguer, “Then we realized we just need to play smart, get the ball in play and wait for the opportunities, instead of just trying to put a ball away.” Their strategy worked, as they were able to overcome the initial deficit and take the first set.
The second set may have looked easy, but, it was just solid work by the junior, Pattugalan, and the freshman, Almaguer, “After we got a feel for our game and got comfortable, we went on a roll, and it all came together.” Pattugalan/Almaguer won the championship 6-2, 6-1.
Almaguer was grateful to be playing in front of a hometown crowd, “To see this amount of people here in Riverside watching us, I was nervous. I double faulted the first time (serving). It was really cool to see this group of people, it was a good environment!”
For the final match of the day, the fans were treated to an exciting showcase of professional level men’s doubles. The CMS team of Skyler Butts and Neel Kotrappa went up against the number four seeds, UCLA alumni Maxime Tabatruong and Amit Inbar. Butts/Kotrappa had not dropped a set in their run to the final, and since they were both eliminated in the earlier rounds of the singles draw, they were more rested than the singles semifinalists Tabatruong and Inbar, who each had to play two singles and one doubles match the previous day.
Butts/Kotrappa had the trophy in their sights as they took the first set from the former Bruins. Tabatruong/Inbar would not fold that easily, taking the second set and forcing a third full set in this standard format tournament.
It may have dwindled a little, but it sure was a mighty crowd that witnessed nearly ninety minutes of lighting fast doubles action, with reflexes that would make a club-level player question whether they could even step onto the same court as these young men.
Tabatruong/Inbar stepped it up in the deciding set, taking home the championship trophies and prize money 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. Tabatruong/Inbar were very complimentary to their opponents, and the tournament, in their post match acceptance speeches, with Inbar making a sincere off-court observation, “It’s not about the prize money, it’s about the experience.”
Fore more picture of players in action, please visit the event’s official Facebook page: Facebook.com/AndulkaParkAdultOpen
That concludes my reports from the 2013 iTennis/Andulka Park Adult Tennis Championships.
Located in Riverside, California, here is the link where you can find more information about Andulka Park Tennis Center:
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I’ll see you next time, with more tennis, . . . outside the lines!
– Marcus Tennis