Over the course of the weekend there was only one upset based on seedings with the top eight players advancing to the quarter-finals. In the quarters, Virgona dispatched fellow Philadelphia professional Barney Tanfield, New York’s Gooding dismissed Chicago’s Crossley, Newport’s Riviere excused New York’s Fowler and New York’s Victoir defeated Philadelphia’s Whitehouse in a hard fought three set match.
The semi-finals were played Saturday afternoon leading with Gooding and Riviere’s spectacular show of tremendous gets, strong forces and pinpoint accuracy into the grille and winning-gallery. Gooding’s straight set win in 1 hour and 45 minutes was the upset of the weekend but came at a high physical cost. The other semi-final saw Virgona and Victoir. Victoir had only a few hours to rest after his morning three set outing, but came out strong and found a 2-0, 30-love lead. Virgona quickly shifted gears and ran away with the first set 6-3. The second saw fewer long rests as Virgona precisely cut his way to a 6-0 win.
The finals were eagerly anticipated with the two top handicapped players advancing. Virgona (seeded #1) had a slight advantage with a smoother semi-final match but Gooding was playing on his home court where he had beaten Virgona in straight sets only weeks before.
In the first set, Virgona took a 2-0 lead. In the third game, Gooding ran to 40-15, but Virgona sliced and diced his way to deuce and eventually the game. 3-0. In the fourth, Gooding fought his way to deuce and found a friendly hazard side to win the game. 3-1. Gooding served and defended against an onslaught of well cut balls to capture the fifth game without giving up the service side. Gooding had closed the gap and looked strong at 2 games to 3. In the sixth game, Virgona found chase better than 2 and last gallery immediately. Winning both chases and leading 40-15, Virgona served a tight railroad. With little to do, Gooding pounded the return over the dedans penthouse for chase the line. Gooding defended his chase successfully, and at 30-40 the gallery saw the first of a number of athletic, anticipatory moves by Virgona. At 30-40 Gooding served well and the rest evolved to point where Gooding had an open ball in the center of the court at last gallery. With seemingly the entire court open for Gooding, Virgona stepped forward in the court near the hazard line and as Gooding struck for the winning gallery, Virgona lunged and hit a tremendous backhand volley to save the point and regain the service side with chase worse than two yards. Virgona served out the game taking a 4-2 lead which eventually turned into a 6-2 first set.
The second set started similarly with Virgona jumping ahead 2-0. In a straightforward third game Gooding closed to 1-2. The third game contained the first bad luck for Virgona. At love-all and 15-all Virgona clipped the tape to lose both points on the service side. Gooding could not convert though and at deuce Virgona hit a roller under the grille for his advantage and a near perfect railroad for the game. 3-1. The fifth game started with a straight force by Gooding only to be answered by bullets in the grille by Virgona. At 40-15, Gooding recaptured the service side, but again could not convert the game. 4-1. Virgona returned two incredibly heavy balls into the forehand corner for both a short chase and stroke leading to an eventual 40-0 lead and the serve. A routine 5-1 lead. The set ended with Virgona finding the winning gallery with some lefty inside-out spin from near the battery wall and some abuse of the tambour.
Virgona opened the third as aggressively as the prior two sets, but Gooding held onto the second game by finding the grille twice and digging out numerous very well cut balls. The third game was straightforward for Virgona holding the service side leading 2-1. In the fourth, Virgona again pounded the grille twice and hammered a backhand volley in the nick under the grille for a 40-0 lead. Described by the awed dedans, Virgona was “en fuego” and likely infallible. 3-1. The fire continued in the fifth and sixth games with Virgona demonstrating his shot making ability and Gooding digging consistently to stay even. A few errors put Gooding down 5-1 on the service side. With determination in his eyes, Gooding opened the seventh game with two main wall forces and jumped up 40-15 with chase the second gallery. Game Gooding, 2-5. The largely New York dedans rallied for Gooding, but Virgona proved to be too tough in the eighth game taking the third and final set 6-2 capturing his second U.S. Nationals in a row.
The weekend was complemented by a Pro-Am won by Temple Grassi of Washington and James Stout, up and coming New York squash, racquets and tennis phenomenon. Additionally, the weekend was supported by the USCTA and over thirty generous patrons without whom this tournament would not be a premier weekend in U.S. Court Tennis.