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Blog: U.S. Men Win ITF 60-Over Cup

September 17, 2012 09:16 AM
turville_blog_9-9Larry Turville of Naples, Fla./North Carolina, the playing captain of the U.S. Von Cramm Cup (Men's 60 & over) team, blogs from the 32nd International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super-Seniors World Team Championships hosted by the Hrvatski Teniski Savez (Croatian Tennis Association), Sept. 10-15, 2012 in Umag, Croatia.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 14

Before the match against Germany the sun was shining, but unfortunately the wind was still howling. We played in the stadium which at least made watching better but the wind swirled around viciously.

Paul at #2 started well and took the first set 6-2, then went up 5-3 in the second. Unfortunately, the other guy hit a few great shots at the right time, and Paul missed the opportunities he had. The tough part was the guy either hit winners or made errors. As things go, being down he played loose, hit winners and won the second set 7-5. Third set Paul struggled with both the wind and winners. U.S. loses first match 6-4 in the third.  

Whenever the #2 loses, it adds just a bit of pressure to the #1. If you lose, match over. I had played the #1 for Germany before so I knew a bit what to expect. He is great runner, passer, and good volleyer.  His weakness is his second serve.  It was a dogfight and to win a point I had to come to the net most of time. I saw a lot of passing shots. I was up 5-4, 40-love and didn't win the first set until 7-5. The wind was blowing so much that 8 of the flags were torn up by the end of the match. Second set was a little better, 6-3 for me. 

After the singles Paul was a bit weary and suggested I play the doubles. He is such a good doubles player that I was a bit reluctant, but it did seem he was struggling in the wind. So Tony and I took up the cause. After missing a few we settled down and took charge 6-2, 6-0. U.S. def. German 2-1.

In the other semi's France upset #2 seed Australia. The #2 singles was a close three setter, but the French pulled it off. In #1 Andrew Rae, who seldom loses, had to default after a set. It appears he is having some hip issues and may have to withdraw from the World Championships. So finals of the Von Cramm Cup 2012 will be US vs. France.

Maybe the wind won't be blowing up the usual storm.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 15

Finals...US vs. France.

As the sun rose it looked like it was going to be a good day for hitting tennis balls; moderate wind and partly cloudy. By game time the clouds had parted and clear skies with 10 m.p.h. breeze. 

turville-team_with_trophyWe played in the stadium so wind is a little less of factor. I wasn't quite sure who the French would play (they have three lefties) at #2; Paul going for us again. They put in the groaner who says "enh" on every shot, and it's a bit annoying. He has a weak serve, but is a good runner, solid groundstrokes, and good volleys. I thought Paul would have a good day attacking second serves and mixing in serve & volley. The groaner played in the "zone" most of the day hitting perfect lobs, passing shots, and good volleys. Paul is a great hustler, running down every ball, but it wasn't enough and "enh" got him in straight sets. 

I knew I would play Bruno Renault, who is very crafty with a little similar game to "enh" but better at it. He has a very strong forehand and good slice backhand, but a bit of a weak second serve. My goal is to hit heavy top to his backhand off the FH and come in mostly down the middle off the short. 

I broke at 3-2 in the first and ran off the set 6-3. The second I started strong and went up 4-0. At that point he made a strategy change and started being more aggressive and hitting his slice BH low to my forehand. It was a good play as I missed a few passing shots and being the tall guy that I am, the low forehands are not always fun. Now it's 4-4, and I'm getting a little concerned.

There is an interesting dynamic that happens when you are down you play loose, but when you tie it up, you tend to tighten up a little. I dug my heels in and hit some good forehands; on my second ad I decided to chip and charge; he felt the pressure and double faulted. 5-4 my serve and I go up 40-15; he goes for broke, hits great return 40-30. Next point I have relatively easy approach on my forehand and mishit it, deuce. I hit big serve; ad Turville. Ad point I try to hit a serve at the body and he tries to run around and hit a forehand. In the net -- game, set, match. Whew, a bit of relief tied 1-1 and time for Tony the closer, and I joined him again.

Between Tony only missing one return and Bruno being a little tired, we win the first 10 games. Then they picked it up a little, but we continued to hold serve: final score 6-0, 6-2. Game, set, and World Championship to the USA. 

As always it's a great feeling to win not only for you, but your teammates and USA. I was on the losing in a few years against Australia, so I know what the other side feels like as well. It's a great accomplishment to reach the finals, but to win it sounds and feels a lot better. Two hours later the medal ceremony and the USA had another good year winning 6 of the 10 Cups. 

CLOSING OBSERVATIONS: The ITF World Cup matches offer a great opportunity for the best seniors in the world to compete in a team atmosphere. It's great stuff. This year was a 40% increase in the number of teams. 10 years ago they talked about not having the Cups any more (too much trouble). Glad they changed their mind. For one week you spend a lot of time with your teammates, and you develop lasting friendships. After the World Cups are the World Individual Championships which Wesley is the only one to stay and play. I did it a few years ago; it was thrilling to win it, but it is a long two weeks playing every day.  

The ITF officials are mostly very good and after doing this for 30 years they should have it figured out by now. However, they can't seem to figure out what the next days schedule is until 9 or 10 p.m. the previous night. This is not rocket science, the winner of A vs. B plays winner of C vs. D. Like a tournament they should be able to post the schedule for the entire week at the beginning of the week. If weather postpones things, then there are delays. But, gee whiz, by 6 p.m. each night we should be able to know the schedule for the next day not 10 p.m. (my bedtime).  

Umag, Croatia was a very good site for the ITF World Championships. It was very scenic, reasonable, and a good facility. Except for being a little hard to get to, I'd go again. Next year whoever makes the team will go to Austria. That should be nice; hope I can make it for another.  So as the sun sets in Umag, and it's back to Cruso, N.C. (population 99). I look forward to seeing my girlfriend Kelli and dog Playa. It's always nice to be back home.
 
 

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