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. 

 

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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. 

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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. 

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Friday, 02 December 2016 07:53

Hiltzik, Koepfer, & Shane into semis in Waco

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.

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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!!

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The Godfrey USA F22 Future Final was all you could have wanted and more as both Illinois rising senior Jared Hiltzik and 17-year old Michael Mmoh slugged it out point after point for the better part of 3 hours.  The match was originally scheduled to start at 10am central but rain in the area pushed the starting time back an hour to 11am.  Most of the match was played under cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid-70s until rain halted play for about 30 minutes early in the 3rd set. The 30-minute break would be big for Mmoh but we'll get to that in a little bit.

Mmoh, who had won 1 previous Futures title (2014 USA F29/Brownsville), came into the match without having dropped a set all week while Hiltzik, who was making his first appearance in a Futures final, had a pair of matches go the distance. Mmoh came into the final with an ATP ranking of #618 (also an ITF Jr Ranking of #3) while Hiltzik was ranked #704.

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)

Mmoh served first and held from 40-15 to take the early 1-0 lead but Hiltzik evened it at 1-1 with a hold from 40-30. Below was the opening point of Hiltzik's service game and this long point was the way many of the points went on Hiltzik's serve for the first few games.


Mmoh held at love to go up 2-1 before Hiltzik held from 40-15 to make it 2-2.  Here was a point Hiltzik finished at the net in the 1-2 service game.




Hiltzik would go up 15-30 on Mmoh's 2-2 service game before Michael won the next 3 points to hold for a 3-2 lead.  Hiltzik then went up 15-0 on his next service game when he stopped play because he heard a phone ringing. It turned out the ringing was coming from Mmoh's bag because Mmoh apparently had forgot to turn the ringer off before the match. It seemed kind of amusing at the time but after Mmoh went on to win the next 4 points to break from 15-40, Hiltzik definitely wasn't laughing.  

Hiltzik then had 2 break points to get the match back on serve with his best chance (if you call it that) coming on this point below where Mmoh passed him at the net. Mmoh managed to fight off both break points to hold for a 5-2 lead. 




Hiltzik held from 40-15 to cut the deficit to 5-3 with the below clip being game point


However Mmoh would serve the opening set out from 40-15 to take it 6-3.




Mmoh started off the 2nd set by taking 10 of the first 12 points with a break of Hiltzik from 15-40 and then holding from 40-15 to go up 2-0. If things didn't change pretty quickly this one was going to be over in the next 15 minutes because Hiltzik was still missing his mark while Mmoh was still dictating play.

Hiltzik then put together a nice service game and held from 40-15 to make it 2-1 Mmoh as the clip below shows


Hiltzik would then even the match at 2-2 by breaking Mmoh from 30-40 as the strong Mmoh ground game slowing started to break down.


Hiltzik held from 40-30 to go up 3-2 


Then he went up 0-40 on Mmoh's serve after Mmoh threw in a pair of double faults. Hiltzik seemingly had the love break to go up 4-2 after Mmoh hit one long but Hiltzik admitted that the ball nicked his hat and conceded the point to Mmoh.



Mmoh got it back to 30-40 before pushing a forehand long to give Hiltzik the break and a 4-2 lead.


The pace and precision that Mmoh had with his strokes in the first 11 games of the match had quickly faded and Hiltzik was now controlling the tempo and the points. 

Hiltzik then had a letdown on his next service game and fell behind 0-40 after a few loose errors. Hiltzik got it back to deuce but Mmoh managed to get the break to put it back on serve at 3-4. 

Mmoh would fall behind 15-40 on his service after putting the shot below into the net at 15-30.  


Hiltzik had a good shot at the break on this point with a mid-court overhead but he wasn't able to get enough on it and Mmoh ended up taking the point. 


Hiltzik managed to get the break on his 4th break point to go up 5-3 (clip below)




and then he'd hold at love with an ace (clip below) to take the 2nd set 6-3 



With the cloudy skies turning darker and the wind picking up it was a matter of time before the rain came.



Fortunately for Mmoh he was able to fight off 2 double faults and a break point to hold for a 1-0 lead with the last point being played just as the rain started to come down.  1st clip shows Hiltzik's break chance and the 2nd clip is Mmoh holding serve.







The rain would only last for about 10 minutes and within 20 minutes the court would be dry and play would resume.  During the rain delay Mmoh was happy to get a chance to regroup with his serve all but abandoning him over the last several games. 

The momentum that Jared Hiltzik had built up before the rain delay didn't carry over to his first service game as Mmoh broke to go up 2-0 (just as he did in the 2nd set). 

Mmoh's 2-0 service game would be a long, long one that lasted 16 minutes and it ended with Hiltzik getting the break to put it back on serve. 




After changing sides, Hiltzik would hold at love with Mmoh tanking the last point (he walked away from the last serve and didn't attempt to return it).

Despite his movement becoming slower and slower Mmoh managed to fight off a break point and hold for a 3-2 lead. Mmoh motioned to the chair umpire about mid-way through his service game to let her know that he wanted to see the trainer after the game because of a tightness in his hamstring (wasn't cramps because it wasn't too hot and they were just coming off a 30-minute rain delay).



After the medical timeout Hiltzik would hold at love to even it at 3-3.  Mmoh's movement was poor at best during this game with him again taking the 40-0 point off to prepare for his next service game. Mmoh was basically saving all his energy for his service games and going for winners when he returned.

Mmoh then held in a 2-deuce 7 minute service game to go up 4-3. Mmoh's movement, which was poor in the last game, gradually improved during this service game. 


Hiltzik then held from 40-15 to even it at 4-4 with the only point that he dropped coming on a double fault.


Mmoh would then go up 40-15 on his serve but miss a backhand to make it 40-30 (1st clip). He'd follow that up with a little serve and volley (2nd clip) to earn the hold for 5-4 and he'd show his enthusiasm with a little chest thump towards his coach.


  

Hiltzik would be serving to stay in the match at 4-5 but he didn't he show any nerves and held again at love to even the match at 5-5 in the 3rd.


Mmoh would come back with a love hold of his own to go up 6-5 which meant Hiltzik was serving to stay in the match for a 2nd time. 


Hiltzik had won 16 of his last 17 points on serve going into this 5-6 service game so he had to feel pretty confident about getting another hold.  Hiltzik would start off the game with a double fault to go down 0-15 but then he came out on top of a 15 plus shot rally that ended with Mmoh putting a low volley into the net.  Hiltzik forced a Mmoh error to go up 30-15 but then Hiltzik pushed a forehand wide to make it 30-all (clip below)


On the 30-30 point, Mmoh jumped on Hilzik's 2nd serve and his deep return forced a Hiltzik error which brought up a match point for Mmoh.   


Hiltzik would get his 1st serve in play but Mmoh would bring him to the net with a backhand slice and while Hiltzik was able to handle the first volley he'd be unable to keep the second one in play as the ball sailed long.  Mmoh dropped to the ground in celebration and gave his shirt a toss on the way to the net to shake hands.  Mmoh had earned his 2nd Futures singles title with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win.



Final match statistics:




Post-match speech from Jared Hiltzik (missed the first few seconds)


Post-match speech from Michael Mmoh



All in all it was one heck of a final with Mmoh coming out hot in the 1st, then Hiltzik finding his groove in the 2nd while Mmoh started to fade, then Mmoh regrouped after the rain delay and regrouped against after taking the medical timeout.  

I talked to Mmoh's coach after the match and he said that the rain delay was pretty big because Mmoh's serve and confidence were hurting and without the stoppage of play he would have had a hard time regrouping.  

I was very impressed with Mmoh's game - nice serve, big forehand, nice two-hand backhand. He missed a few volleys where he didn't get down low enough and he left a few drop shots too short (some didn't reach the net) but all in all he's got a huge upside.  If he can stay healthy and maintain his focus he's going to keep climbing the rankings and should be playing Challengers and ATP events in no time. Mmoh's coach said he's heading back home this week and will be in Kalamazoo the week after.

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.  

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