Tennis Prose



Sarasota Open Day Two

Christian Harrison held off a good fight from 31 year old Colombian Cristian Rodriguez, ranked 418, 62 76 (9-7). Former Roland Garros finalist Brian Gottfried was watching the match on Elizabeth Moore Stadium court and praised Harrison as an inspiring example for younger players because of how he overcame the ten or eleven surgeries he’s endured already at age 27.

Wilcard Victor Lilov, the 2021 Wimbledon boys finalist from Delray Beach, FL and coached by Stan Boster, upset Zachary Svajda 76 63. 18 year old Lilov is ranked 931, Svajda is 19 years old and ranked 371. Svajda is coached by Taylor Fritz’s former coach David Nainkin. I saw Lilov practicing yesterday and he has a calm and demeanor that reminds of Federer, but he plays more like a Thomas Johansson. Also notable was seeing Lilov eating some kind of green salad on a changeover yesterday of his pratice match.

18-year old Martin Damm Jr, ranked 565, scored the upset of the day by beating Brazilian veteran 33 year old 290th ranked Daniel Dutra da Silva 63 57 63. Dutra da Silva’s best career ranking was back in 2009 when he reached no. 231. The son of the former doubles Grand Slam champion is towring lefty with a huge serve.

Former no. 1 junior Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria, age 20 and ranked 403 now, was too steady and consistent for 17 year old Arthur Fils, beating the French powerhouse 63 62. Andreev has had a slow progress to the ATP from juniors and so far has a 2-7 record on the ATP main tour.

Maybe the best match of the day was on the practice courts, featuring Tennys Sandgren vs Denis Kudla. It was friendly, casual but the points were intense. I don’t know who won, but the overall head to head is in Kudla’s favor at 3-0, each on hard courts back in 2012 Lexington, 2013 Maui and 2014 Charlottesville.

The most memorable part of Sandgren vs Kudla was between points Andrea Collarini walked by the court from his practice session. Sandgren spotted him and said, “I saw that forehand drop shot.” Somehow Sandgren saw it through two windscreens, Collarini smiled at the compliment.

Next to them were the Indian contingent of Sumit Nagal, Govind Nanda and a third player. Nagal is playing his first match since last September after a hip problem. Nagal is coached by former ATP top 60 player Somdev Devvarman.

I spoke with the mental coach of one of the players in the main draw. She’s from Savannah and started working with a player who was ranked in the 380s a couple of years ago, for no pay. A year later her advices and mental programs got the player to ascend to the 120s and his first Grand Slam main draw after three qualifying wins, including the third round from 1-4 down in the third set to a player he had never beaten before. She is still helping this player and was at the tournament today. Players and mental coaches don’t like to promote their names or business to the media, so the identities are off the record but I found the conversation with her to be fascinating just how integral mental coaching is for tennis players.

I was only at the venue till 1 today but still have not seen Jack Sock or Steve Johnson practicing.

The tournament as a 250 or even 500 level feel, there’s a lot of energy and tents for dinner and meals, emcee Ray Collins is as good as they get in the tennis announcer business. Most of the ballboys are seniors, one even looked in his 80s. The chair umpire of the Rinky Hijikata Christian Langmo saw two leaves on the court in a corner and on the changeover asked a ballwoman to pick the leaves up and dispose them, which she did, after at first not understanding he was saying “leaves.”

One fan wasn’t happy that there are no scoreboards on court and no names of who is playing. Also fans don’t have any programs or draw sheets or daily schedules to purchase anywhere.

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