Final Thoughts from Champaign

Written By: achangeofends - Nov• 21•10

I’m going to try to keep this one short. I’ve got a lot of tennis writing to do tonight and I’d like to turn in before dawn, plus I didn’t take very many notes today. I arrived at Atkins a little before noon for the start of the doubles final featuring Raven Klaasen/Izak van der Merwe and Ryler Deheart/Pierre-Ludovic Duclos. Now, I had some trouble deciding who to support, because both teams featured one member with a decidedly awesome name (i.e. Izak van der Merwe and Pierre-Ludovic Duclos.) Izak and Raven were kind of the underdogs, but Ryler and Pierre were a crowd favorite since Ryler’s an Illini. Tough call, but I think I was leaning towards Deheart/Duclos.

Before the match, I caught Izak chatting with some friends. Apparently he planned to drive 14 hours directly after the match so he could catch his flight back to South Africa. When asked why he booked a flight so close to the final, he told them that he didn’t think they would make it that far. Isn’t that always how things work out? Both teams elected for black shirts and white shorts. Klaasen/van der Merwe won the toss and elected to serve. I was quite impressed with Izak van der Merwe. He started off serving really well and even when he was pressured, he was often able to dig himself out of a hole. Plus, he took advantage of a lot of opportunities when they presented themselves. After facing match points in the second set, Klaasen/van der Merwe came back to win both the second set and the third set doubles tie-break. That was pretty much all my notes from doubles. Ryler Deheart gave a very nice speech about playing at his alma mater and jokingly apologized to Pierre. All four guys appeared at various points of the singles match to watch a few games. Ryler and Pierre stuck around for a long time talking to various Illinois staff.

I opted not to do a commentary like yesterday’s for the singles final between Amer Delic and Alex Bogomolov Jr, who is apparently called Bogey for short. I think the exhaustion was starting to set in. The match was basically a series of long baseline rallies. Both guys were hitting the ball big and serving well. One of the interesting differences between the two was the way they dealt with set backs. After a bad call or a poorly hit shot, Bogey was visibly frustrated, but Amer seemed to simmer quietly until a bad call in the second set set him off a bit. In a short argument with the chair umpire, Delic yelled out, “Who do you think you are? Are you hawkeye?” which I found fairly amusing. Each player was given a warning for ball abuse at some point in the match. I honestly didn’t even know that was a thing, players usually get warned for racket abuse or language when angry. Delic had several chances in the second set tie-break, including a match point. However, Bogomolov recaptured the lead, the second set, and a lot of momentum going into the third. Delic lost his serve early in the third and things wrapped up 5-7 7-6(6) 6-3 in Bogomolov’s favor. It was his first title since 2006, so you’ve got to admit the guy deserved it. He had very kind words for Amer in his speech. Delic also gave a short speech and stuck around for quite a while after the match. I’m fairly certain his sister and baby nephew were in attendance and he sat down on court to play with the baby. It was pretty adorable.

Since both matches went all the way, I was a little behind schedule and wanted to hit the road as soon as possible. After 3 long hours of driving, a pit stop at McDonald’s and the gas station, and a phone call from my favorite rockstar (yes, this seriously happened!) I was finally back in St. Louis.

Fun Facts for the Day:

To save some cash, many of the challenger players stay with host families, including both of today’s doubles teams as well as Amer Delic and his own doubles partner Bobby Reynolds.

Amer Delic warmed up for his match with a guy wearing jeans and loafers, an odd choice for playing tennis.

Bleacher seats are terribly uncomfortable.

Amer Delic bears an uncanny resemblance to Roger Federer.

I think Amer Delic gave his creepy mustache to Alex Bogomolov Jr.

I don’t think I will ever get the hang of pumping gas. Just in case you think I’m an idiot, I’m not, I’m just from New Jersey and we don’t do that. And yes, I know I’m opening myself up for a lot of jokes here.

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