February 5, 2006 – New York, New York – Nicolas Victoir became the first Frenchman ever to win the USCTA Amateur Singles or Doubles Championships; winning them both in the same year on his first attempts. Victoir defeated Alexis Hombrecher in the US Amateur Singles final today 6-4, 6-5, 6-3. In the Doubles, Victoir and Hombrecher teamed up to defeat Lex Miron and Peter Pell in the final 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, and 6-5.
As play got underway on Friday, the crowd was abuzz anticipating a tremendous weekend of court tennis as both the singles and doubles draws were dense with talent. When the draws were released on Monday, it was clear that Victoir and Hombrecher (with a team handicap of 2) were the top seeds and the team to beat in the doubles and with individual handicaps of +0.7 and 6.3 respectively the two to beat in the singles as well.
The early tournament rounds of both main draws fell to form, but the Racquet and Tennis club crowd waited with anticipation on Saturday morning for two marquee quarter-final singles match ups: Barney Tanfield playing Matt Porter and then Jonathan Larken against fellow New Yorker Lex Miron. However neither match lived up to its billing as Miron pulled a figurative “no-show,” while Tanfield delivered and literal no-show!
So we’d have to wait for Saturday afternoon’s doubles quarter-finals for the first competitive clashes of the weekend. There was much discussion about the intriguing pairing of Matt Porter and Simon Aldrich. Porter is likely just passing through the teen-handicap range and onto the upper echelon of the game; while at 48, Simon Aldrich is still among the top several amateur doubles players in country. Aldrich and Porter looked strong early on and got out to a 5-3 lead in the first set. However, Larken and Devereux are great competitors who regrouped and fought all the way back winning 9 of the next 11 games and the match 6-5, 6-2.
The final tussle on Saturday pit second-seeded Barney Tanfield and Nick Sonne against Jeremy Wintersteen and Shaun Herlihy. Wintersteen and Herlihy were like a pair of hyenas who got an early chomp hold on their prey and didn’t let up until Tanfield and Sonne were reduced to deafening vocal outbursts and desperate slugging. Then suddenly all went quiet. That evening, the Bostonian pride dined happily on their remarkable upset.
The singles semi-finals saw Victoir face up-and-coming phenom Matt Porter. Porter’s natural ability was very impressive, but in the end he was over-matched by the experience and exemplary shot-making of Victoir, who cruised to victory (6-2, 6-3).
On the bottom half of the draw Hombrecher faced Jonathan Larken (who has sadly announced his pending move back to England this spring). Hombrecher was a man on a mission in this match, (perhaps to avenge his Silver Racquet semi-final loss). Hombrecher never let the racquets-weaned Larken find his patented smash-mouth groove and prevailed 6-3, 6-1.
In the first doubles semi-final, Victoir and Hombrecher sent a message to the US court tennis world as loud as Ivan Drago’s final fatal upper cut to Apollo Creed. Hombrecher and Victoir trounced the perennial Racquet and Tennis Club multi-game champions Jonathan Larken and Guy Devereux 6-0, 6-0 in 33 minutes. Meanwhile, Lex Miron and Peter Pell slipped by Bruce Manson and Greg Van Schaack and then Wintersteen and Herlihy enroute to the finals.
Sunday morning’s singles final would showcase the top two USCTA amateurs vying for the National Amateur Championship. The 6’8” Hombrecher played lawn tennis at Stanford and Cambridge and rose to a top-200 world lawn tennis ranking, beating the likes of Tim Henman along the way. Several years later, after graduating to Court (Real) Tennis in 2001, Alexis defeated Julian Snow to take the British Amateur Doubles title and partnered reigning World Champion, Rob Fahey for numerous successful National League campaigns for Cambridge.
Nicolas Victoir has an equally impressive background. He was the 40th ranked under-18 lawn tennis player in France, later played for both Cambridge and Oxford and on two UK Prentice Cup Teams (2000 and 2002), while losing only one match in his University tennis career.
Victoir discovered court (“real”) tennis at Cambridge in1999, and began an impressive run; winning the French Amateur in 2001, leading France’s Bathurst Cup team to the final for the first time ever in 2002, winning the French National Championship in 2004, teaming with fellow Oxfordian Spike Wilcocks to reach the UK National League finals in both 2004 and 2005 and winning the 2005 New York Silver Racquet.
Hombrecher fought valiantly in the final but could not overcome Victoir’s patience and near-perfect length. Victoir defeated his friend and sparring partner 6-4, 6-5, 6-3.
The afternoon’s doubles final between Hombrecher and Victoir vs. Lex Miron and Peter Pell was closer than the bookmakers predicted as Hombrecher and Victoir may have worn each other out in the morning’s singles final, believing perhaps that their superior credentials, achievements, and handicaps would see them through the afternoon. However, Miron and Pell (the 2004 Champions) kept it close and even saw a set point in the 4th leading 5 games to 3 and defending better than 3 yards. But, alas it wasn’t to be, as Hombrecher and Victoir were too strong prevailing 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, and 6-5.
Since 1986, every USCTA Amateur Singles and Doubles Championship final has featured at least one of the three dominant amateur players of the era: Morris Clothier, Nigel Pendrigh, and Julian Snow. For the first time in twenty years, none of these names were featured in either the singles or doubles final. Despite the changing of the guard, the arrival of Hombrecher and Victoir insures that the standard of top amateur play in the US will not be compromised for years to come.
Meanwhile on the West Court, Greg Van Schaack, a rookie in the 55+ age division overwhelmed his elders in both the National Over-55 Singles and the National Over-55 Doubles Championships this weekend. Not one of his opponents –in singles or doubles- threatened to win a single set as Van Schaack lost only 18 games in five matches. Greg defeated Haven Pell, Dick Tanfield, and Chris Cline in the singles; and teamed with Cline to defeat John McLean & Peter De Svastich and then Tanfield & Steve Sader in the doubles final. Van Schaack (pronounced “vun-SCOCK”), recently returned from Melbourne where he teamed with Barney Tanfield to lead the US Bathurst Cup team to a third place finish.
All in attendance, particularly the host New Yorkers expressed their thanks to Tournament Director Mike Gooding for a superbly run event and to Gooding, Andrew Fowler, and Josh Bainton for their expert marking throughout the weekend.