Tennis Prose



Tallahassee Final Features Resurgent Tommy Paul vs Emilio Gomez

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By Scoop Malinowski

Tommy Paul continues his remarkable sudden resurgence in Tallahassee by reaching the final, one week after raising the championship trophy in Sarasota which was his second Challenger title, the first being in late 2018 in Charlottesville.

Paul defeated Tennys Sandgren again today 63 64 in the semi, the same man he beat by the same score in the Sarasota final. He will meet Emilio Gomez, the former USC Trojan, who bested French lefty Corentin Moutet in the other semi 61 64.

Tallahassee is a wonderful professional tournament, if you’ve never been there, you would be wise to consider visiting it in the future. The venue at Forest Meadow, a public tennis facility, located on North Meridien Avenue, in a heavily wooded, nature setting, just miles north of downtown Tallahassee, the state capital.

Paul surged back into the top 158, after several hiatuses due to injury (quad) and poor results. He took two months off after Australia. These last two Challenger were his first two clay events since 2017. He is now the leader in the race for the USTA wildcard into the Roland Garros main draw, with Savannah Challenger the final stop on the circuit.

No. 9 seed Paul has shown promise as a potential American star, two years ago in Washington DC he beat Caspar Ruud, Lucas Pouille, Gilles Muller and was up a set and a break against Kei Nishikori. Since then it’s been two years of inconsistency and disappointments. Paul told me this week he had to sell his BMW 5 Series earlier this year and has been without a car since. Thank goodness for Uber.

Two straight Challenger titles should help fund a new car for Paul but he will have to beat the son of the 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez in the final.

Unseeded Ecuadorian Gomez beat Denis Novikov, Mats Moraing and Marc Polmans each in straight sets, and then Nino Serdarusic in three sets in the quarterfinal before bouncing Moutet today. Now Gomez will play his second Challenger final. After beating Moutet, Gomez accounted for his improved play, “It’s mental more than anything,” said the 27 year old now ranked 251, 36 spots below his career high of 215. “Training, eating, resting right. Competing on the court was tough for me. I was playing against myself and the opponent. Now I’m playing for me. I enjoy the tennis more, enjoying the match whether I’m winning or losing. Tennis is pressure. Managing the pressure…that is important.”

The Tallahassee Challenger has been run by former nurse Karen Vogter since 2004. The tournament is completely run by volunteers and all profits from the event go to the Vogter Endowment, which funds the Vogter Neuro Intensive Care Unit – named for Karen’s late husband Mark – at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.

The tournament has a homey, friendly feel, attracting large crowds each day and a special dinner crowd at night, where on one side of the court, tableclothed dining tables are arranged and delicious meals are served. One afternoon school buses brought in dozens of elementary school kids to watch the pro tennis up close. The tournament also gives tennis fans a 60-plus page program with player info and tournament history. This year marks the 20th year of the Tallahassee Challenger on the pro circuit.

The Tommy Paul vs Emilio Gomez final will be played on Sunday at noon, followed by the doubles final of Roberto Maytin and Fernando Romboli vs 2018 singles champ Noah Rubin and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, who played against each other in singles earlier in the week, won by Rubin 61 62.


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Rubin (top) and Paul show their backhand strokes on stadium court.



  • Dan Markowitz · April 28, 2019 at 6:17 am

    How about Medvedev. This guy has had a rise to the top like no other player in the game. Up until last year, it seemed that Khachanov and Rublev were the two Russians who were going to surge to the top. Medvedev did not look like he had the game or temperament to get to where he is now, in the fiinals of Barcelona an no. 14 in the world.

  • Hartt · April 28, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Scoop, the Tallahasse Challenger sounds terrific, especially the part about attracting large crowds. I’ve watched a lot of Challengers on TV where you could literally count the number of fans there.

    In other tennis news, the SF between Rafa and Dominic was wonderful. The match was played at a high level and Thiem was simply better than Nadal.

    As Dan said, Medvedev has been getting some great results lately, so the final should be enjoyable. Of course I will be rooting for Dominic, who is a treats-eligible player.

    Petra is also treats-eligible, so am anxious for her to win in Stuttgart. A title for her means Czech beer for me. 🙂

    Unfortunately, the 2 finals are on at the same time.

  • Hartt · April 28, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    So my faves won in both finals. Thiem continued to play great tennis, winning over Medvedev 6-4, 6-0 in 1 hour, 14 minutes. Daniil had treatment for his shoulder, so that may have played a role in his 2nd set play. But Dominic played at such a high level that he would have won in any case.

    Petra prevailed in a 2nd set TB to take the Stuttgart title.

    So now Dominic and Petra have both won two titles this season. Petra broke the long run of a different WTA title winner (in 18 tourneys).

    So a wonderful day in the treats dept. It will be Czech beer for Petra and a dessert, perhaps apple strudel, for Dominic.

  • Dan Markowitz · April 28, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    How does one get on your treats-eligible program. Czech beer and apple strudel, yummy.

  • catherine · April 28, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Very good day for treats – I was so glad to see Petra win – in two sets – she’s had a lot of 3 setters. Now off to Prague I presume where Safarova is going to be announcing her retirement. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

    Martic won in Istanbul – another match where Vondrousova faded in the 3rd set.

    Rumour is that Serena will play in Rome but not Madrid. Don’t know if this is true.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 28, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    Hartt, it’s a fantastic tournament, nice atmosphere in a very nice setting and location, I’m sure if anyone went to it they would love it like I do. Surprised no tennis travel company does not offer tennis vacations to the Savannah Sarasota Tally 3 week circuit, might be a tough sell but tennis fans would love it if they tried it and tickets are inexpensive except for Sarasota which does charge a bit high.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 28, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    Gomez defeated Paul 62 62. Surprisingly easy final score. Paul I guess was due for a clunker of a match, he’s been so hot for two weeks. Nice that his mom was there this week, she graduated from Florida State. Paul did not have Moyano or Grossman there coaching him this week. Paul leads Sandgren by a couple of matches in the race for the French Open WC.

  • Hartt · April 28, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Dan, the treats idea was my own invention, so anyone could establish their own version. My treat-eligible players are all ones whom I enjoy watching, and are players I like as individuals. So there is an all-time great like Fed, but also a player like Kohli, who has had a more modest career. Of course there are several Canadians.

    At first I tried to link the treat to the player’s country, but that got too complicated, so now it is beer or a European dessert for European players, and a berry pie for the Canadians. Petra or Bianca could warrant a plant. Even if more than one treats-eligible player wins a title in a week, I can only have 1 treat per week, so there may be a backlog, which is helpful for the lean times.

    It makes the matches even more interesting. 🙂

  • catherine · April 29, 2019 at 5:49 am

    The latest on Sascha’s loss of form. Hope he gets things sorted – a lot for a young man to deal with.

    (A shame we no longer have a gossip columnist here on T-P.)

  • Hartt · April 29, 2019 at 6:34 am

    Catherine, that is indeed a lot for Sascha to have to deal with. Especially his father being in hospital. Beyond the worry, Sascha relied heavily on his father in his tennis.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 29, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Way too soon to count out Zverev, he’s running into turbulence and adversity like Dimitrov, Andrei Medvedev, Young, Philippoussis, Tomic, Enqvist, Rios, Kiefer, and many other projected future superstars.

  • catherine · April 29, 2019 at 11:42 am

    19 tournaments and 18 winners in the WTA. Is this good, bad or doesn’t matter ?

  • Hartt · April 29, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Things aren’t much different so far on the ATP tour. This season only Fed and Dominic have won 2 tourneys.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 29, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Catherine, it’s an amazing statistic and really shows how spread out the WTA is with even talent, aside from Osaka’s two majors in a row. So many baseliners, it’s such a fine line between losing and winning and who gets hot and who has confidence and who does not.

  • catherine · April 30, 2019 at 8:52 am

    Well – now Sloane Stephens is engaged maybe her performance on court will settle down a little.

    I’m expecting engagements/marriages to be the WTA theme for 2019 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 30, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Sloane looks like a player who gets bored with tennis now and then, she needs sparks now and then to get her going. We will see plenty of great tennis from her again maybe her best tennis is yet to come.

  • Hartt · April 30, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    In an article today on the Tennis Canada site Tom Tebbutt has a lengthy interview with Louis Borfiga, head of high performance for Tennis Canada.

    Borfiga has a few ideas on why Tennis Canada now has 3 exciting youngsters – these include the addition of clay courts at the National Training Centre several years ago, and coaches (including Shapo’s mother, Tessa) who prepared their players for the long run.

    Borfiga was with the French federation before coming to Canada, and worked with players such as Tsonga and Monfils, so he knows his tennis. He is very excited about FAA.

    “FELIX: “He’s got a great personality. He has a special presence – he’s a boy who has been well brought up. He acknowledges and appreciates all the coaches that have worked with him. He has something special that, in my opinion, and I’m saying it now, in a few years he’s going to be – on the level of Canadian sport, all sports included – the star of Canadian sport.”

    On Bianca:
    BIANCA: “I talk to a lot of coaches on the tour and I remember I was speaking with Fabrice Santoro about Bianca. And all of sudden he said to me that he doesn’t watch much women’s tennis but by chance he watched the final at Indian Wells. ‘I couldn’t take my eyes off the match,’ he told me. ‘If women’s tennis is Bianca, I’d watch all the matches.’

    “That’s a heck of a compliment because he’s a guy who knows tennis.”
    (Tennis Canada site)

  • catherine · April 30, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for the link Hartt –

    I just hope Bianca can solve her injury problems and get back on court – the women’s circuit seems a bit flat to me at the moment. Maybe because Serena is more absent than present this year. And quite a lot of promising girls but no one making a breakthrough like FAA – at least not yet.

    Loved Simona’s one-handed backhand 🙂 And Stan’s response.

    BTW – do fans seriously expect their idols to answer tweets ? A lot of the time they probably don’t even read them – just skim for the compliments.

  • catherine · April 30, 2019 at 1:51 pm

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 30, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    This Santoro quote may be the all time greatest quote by any male pro about women’s tennis. I defy you to name another. Andreescu is a revolutionary with her creative style, let’s give credit to Nathalie Tauziat for helping create this new maestro and also Su We Hsieh who plays an even more entertaining stsyle.

  • catherine · April 30, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    All very well Scoop, but I’d like to see Bianca play through a whole season without injury. Not become one those shooting-stars who retires in their twenties. Hsieh’s a one-off, sui generis, – she can’t be a big influence and she doesn’t win tournaments. I suspect no player is going to dominate the game this year, or be a real drawcard. That’s what we’re waiting for.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 30, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Hsieh does not win singles titles, though she has won a few small ones, because she is a featherweight and not build strong enough to last through a whole week of tough matches. And she has to work so hard for each match against all these young powerful hitters. She wins major doubles titles though. Andreescu is a little on the heavy side so that pounding on her joints on hard courts will be an issue but she is a good mover and has a nice soft bouncy feel to her movements. let’s hope Andreescu can stay healthy for a long time, like the amazing Italian Paolo Lorenzi who told me in Sarasota he never had a serious injury until he was 35, two years ago, a foot injury.

  • Hartt · May 1, 2019 at 10:43 am

    The piece about Gimelstob was a few days ago, so will post this here. Christopher Clarey, in the NY Times, reported that Justin Gimelstob has resigned from the ATP board.

    “Under mounting pressure from some leading players after an assault conviction, Justin Gimelstob said in an interview on Wednesday that he was resigning from his post on the ATP board of directors immediately instead of seeking another term.

    The election is set for May 14 in Rome, but Gimelstob, 42, said he had withdrawn his candidacy and would focus on resolving his personal and legal issues.

    “I’m stepping down because my job is to work on the sport’s behalf and the players’ behalf, and in my situation I’ve become too much of a distraction and a liability,” Gimelstob said in a telephone interview from Spain. “I take responsibility for that, and I take responsibility for the mistakes I made Halloween night.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 1, 2019 at 11:23 am

    It seems the New York Times attempts to save Gimelstob and portray him as a sort of semi victim in this debacle by promoting his side of the story has gone up in smoke after Wawrinka bashed his fellow players for hiding from this issue.

  • Hartt · May 1, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    It was great to see Stan post a clear and unequivocal statement. I think his words carried a lot of weight.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 1, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Hartt, for sure Wawrinka’s words carried a heavy load of weight and it’s probably no coincidence that the very next day after Stan tweeted his distaste for the Gimelstob mess, Gimelstob finally decides to step down. Murray and Navratilova also spoke out against Gimelstob but it was Wawrinka who slayed the goliath.



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