Georgia Tech rising senior Chris Eubanks picked up his first career main draw win at the ATP-level and moved into the second round of the BB&T Atlanta Open with a straight set win over 19-year-old American Taylor Fritz. Both guys served well with each winning over 70% of the points on their serve but it was Eubanks who earned the lone break of the match and came away with the 7-6(5), 6-4 win. Eubanks was playing in the main draw of his hometown event for the third year in a row but this was the first time he was able to come away with the all-important win. Next up for Eubanks is the eighth seed Jared Donaldson.
Typically when you double fault 15 times in a match your name ends up in the loss column but on Saturday in Waco the guy that had a tougher time on his serve came out on top. Recent Virginia graduate Ryan Shane and recent Illinois graduate Jared Hiltzik went toe-to-toe for just over two hours and when the dust cleared Shane had won his second career pro singles title with a come from behind three-set win. Hiltzik rolled through the first set in 30 minutes after breaking Shane's 1-1 and 2-4 service games and then in the second set Hiltzik broke in a two-deuce game to take a 3-2 lead. Shane would immediately break back from 15/40 to even it at 3-3 but a few games later Hiltzik broke again to go up 6-5. Hiltzik would be unable to serve it out as Shane broke from 15/40 to send it a tiebreak.
The singles final is all set in Waco and it'll be a pair of recent college graduates meeting as Jared Hiltzik squares off against Ryan Shane. Hiltzik (14.57) dropped the opening set 6-1 to recent Tulane graduate Dominik Koepfe (14.31) but the recent Illinois graduate was able to turn the tide in the second and third sets. Hiltzik came back from 0/40 down to hold for 2-1 in the second and fought off another break point to hold for 4-3. Hiltzik then converted his only break point opportunity of the set when he broke Koepfer from 30/40 to go ahead 5-3 and then he served out the set from 40/15 to take it 6-3. In the third set Hiltzik got a huge hold for 3-3 after he went down 0/40 and then a few games later he broke Koepfer from 15/40 to go ahead 5-4. Hiltzik served it out from 40/30 to get the win 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 2 hours and 14 minutes.
Three of the four semifinalists in Waco just finished up their college eligibility in May but they felt right at home on Thursday on the indoor courts at Baylor University in the $25K USA F39 Futures. Ryan Shane, who won the 2015 NCAA Singles Championship on these same indoor courts, advanced to his first semifinal since Tallahassee last December after defeating the second seed Tim Van Rijthoven in straight sets. Shane started off the match by fighting off four break points and holding in a seven-deuce game (won't see that in college tennis) and then followed that up by breaking for an early 2-0 lead. Van Rijthoven came back and took five of the next six games but Shane held and then broke for 5-5 after Van Rijthoven had three set points up 40/0. Shane held for 6-5 and then went up 0/40 on Van Rijthoven's serve but he couldn't get the break and off to a tiebreak it went.
Steve Johnson (USC '12) started the day off by losing a heartbreaker to Andy Murray in the quarterfinals of the Olympics singles draw but he rebounded a few hours later in the doubles bronze medal match. Johnson, who was seeded 12th in the singles draw, dropped the opening set 6-0 to the second seed Andy Murray but Johnson fought back and nearly pulled off the upset. Johnson took the second set 6-4 and went up a break at 4-3 in the third but Murray broke back to even it at 4-4. The match went to a third set tiebreak with Murray pulling away for a 7-6(2) win.
Johnson was back on court a short while later with Jack Sock as the American duo took on Canada's Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil in the bronze medal doubles match. It only took 63 minutes for Johnson and Sock to beat Nestor and Pospisil 6-2, 6-4. Johnson became just the second USC tennis player to ever medal at the Olympics with the other being Rafael Osuna (doubles gold) in 1968. Congrats Stevie!!
Mmoh came out really focused in the first set and was hammering both his forehand and backhand with laser like precision while Hiltzik struggled a bit to keep the ball in play. Hiltzik had more errors in the 1st set than I remember seeing in his whole semifinal match against Clay Thompson.
(Note: the majority of the video clips were focused on Jared since he is the college player and my main focus is college tennis)
It was also a tremendous week for Jared Hiltzik. This was his first Futures final and in my opinion he would have won had it not been for the rain delay. Jared's footwork is top notch, he plays great defense, he returns well, and he doesn't get rattled easily. The future is bright for the Illinois rising senior and I'm looking forward to seeing how he does the rest of the summer and in his final year on the courts in Champaign.