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Day 1 - USTA Boys 18's & 16's National Clay Court Championships

July 16, 2007 10:36 AM

By Marlena Hall 

July 15, 2007, Delray Beach, FL—Nearly a fortnight since the Fourth, and yet there are still fireworks amidst—about 400—detonating in Delray Beach's summer skies.  Of the combined cream-of-the-crop top 384 Players, 64 seeds sat out today on Day 1 of the event, awaiting their competitors on Day 2’s Marathon Monday.

Meanwhile, from 8:45 AM through the early evening, junior tennis was truly at its best, with a multitude of 3-setters which tested the hearts of these mini Rockys. But these early rounds tested more than just their heart, but Heart Rate! All of the Nation’s Players came down to test their proficiency in Delray’s clay courts and South Florida’s Heat. At 9:45 AM, the “Big Apple’s” Brian Wee (Woodbury, New York) contested California’s Conor Berg (Greenbrae, California) in anything BUT a ‘New York Minute’—more like 200 ‘M.i.s.s.i.s.s.i.p.p.i’ minutes! In this Hella long match the Wizard, Wee, wowed the crowd and won, 5-7; 6-4; 6-2. Wee is on his way to Day 2—and for his wonderfully wild win, he is our Delray Beach Boys’ 16 Player of the Day—Weeeeeee! 

As we age towards the Boys’ 18 draws, we enter into a time when hair loss and wrinkles emerge. And I’m talking about the tournament staff and volunteers! On Day 1 of the Boys’ 18 Nationals, there were 16 matches that went into a 3rd set, additionally 12 sets went to a tiebreak, and there was not ONE ‘double bagel’ score!

But for Grant W. Fleming (Overland Park, Kansas) he certainly paid his dues to the morning sun at 8:00 AM as he took on Jordan A. Dyke (Alexandria, Virginia). At this Rooster hour, Fleming and Dyke crowed from Breakfast to Brunch, leaving Fleming as our victor, 3-6; 6-2; 6-2, AND, our Delray Beach Boys’ 18 Player of the Day! Taking on the top seed, and the nation’s #3, Jordan ‘T’-Rux (Kerrville, TX) at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning (Monday, July 16th), Kansas’ Fleming will have to nationally prove that there’s no place like Delray!               

Player's International Management, Inc. (PIM), the sister company of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships (ATP Tour event), is hosting the highest-level national junior tennis tournament in the country, and though Delray Beach is hosting this event for her first time, she has already begun a tradition for the Nationals by adding some flair and pizzazz to its inveterate prestige.

The College Expo started the tournament off with a serious bang—glamorous décor, a ballroom filled with university coach celebutantes, the star-struck paparazzi (aka the “determined tennis parents”), and of course, the contestants (aka “the prospective athletes”). Next station was Dede Allen’s ‘Mini Course’ in “Reality Tennis 101”—bestowing her knowledge of tennis and college tennis (“Go Wake!”) upon these junior prodigies, while promoting the advantages of a “scholar athlete.”

The final mission required the competitors to shift gears into autopilot and steer into the lanes of “Registration”, beginning with an inspiring message regarding nationally competitive tennis from Timon Corwin, Sr. Dir. of Junior and Collegiate Competition.

The championship swagger of many US Davis Cup and Fed Cup players, including Andy “Where’s My Mojo” Roddick, Andre “The Legend” Agassi, Lindsay “Top Gun” Davenport and Jennifer “J-Cap” Capriati was shaped by competing in these fiercely competitive events. So I ask you—what’s so special about the Clay Court Nationals??

In sum, “The Nationals” is the ultimate stepping stone for Junior tennis players; it’s the defining triple-championship-point, the major upset, the approach shot down-the-line, the big-serve-out-wide, the wildcard into a Grand Slam event—it’s the breaking point which uniquely separates the dilettantes from the bonafide ‘Players’. Or, perhaps it’s just “the Beach.”

Daily admission is FREE at Delray Swim & Tennis Club, Broken Sound Country Club and Boca West Country Club and continue through next weekend culminating with the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of both the 18's and 16's played at Delray Beach Stadium and Tennis Center to a national television audience.







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