This week, Tom McCune and I entered 65 singles and doubles in this newly-crowned Category II USTA tournament on Longboat Key, about two hours north of Naples. There was a big 39-man draw in the singles and a full 16-team draw in the doubles (with big-time players in both).
My first round singles match today was against #8 seed, Steve Lunsford of Stuart, Florida (across the state). I played him a couple of years back and lost in a good match. His unique style is that he has a good righty forehand; but when you hit to the add court, you will see either a two-handed backhand, one-handed backhand, or LEFTY forehand! And he serves both lefty and righty.
I chose to receive (Thanks to Brad Gilbert) and broke his serve; but he broke me back the next game. And we played tight games and stayed on serve to my serving 4-5. He played a combination of moon balls and attack, which took me by surprise and thus the first set to him.
The second set was similar start with seven games on serve and he broke me at 3-4. He was serving it for the match at 5-3 and went up 30-love; and I tried to do my best Rafa Nadal never-give-up imitation … and ran everything down to save four match points. But alas, he converted the fifth for the match.
Tom played a tough opponent as well, Jim Lazenby from Alabama… a good athlete, who uses one of those weird, two-handled racquets (and beat me last year). Tom played well and took the first set; and was serving 5-4 for the match. Jim raised his game to break, bring it to a tie breaker, and win that. They went to a grinding third set; and Tom worked hard and won it 6-3!
Trouble was: we then had to go back out on the court in about an hour to play our first round doubles match against the #1 seeds… Jimmy Parker, former #1 in the US and seeded #1 in the singles + Fred Drilling, former #1 in the US who just came back from winning the WORLD 65 doubles in Perth.
With Tom starting to cramp in both his calves, we still played pretty well and had our chances. But those two had such great hands at the net, with untouchable angle and drop vollies. The bright spot was that I felt I played well and we were able to hold my serve three out of four times (once at love). But they took us in two quick sets.
Tomorrow morning, Tom’s second round singles match is against Fred Drilling! And I will play a consolation singles.
Some other Naples notables:
• Bob Hayes played singles and lost to one of the top players.
• He also teamed with Bob Mazzola against Joe Bachman and partner in a losing effort
• Bill Simonton played well and easily one his first round singles
• Jack Lease will be playing 75 dubs, starting on Saturday (against Lorne Maine, Canada’s #1 senior)