Form held up in the US Open this year, but some hints of future landscape in the game at the highest level appeared. Rob Fahey showed why this extraordinary player continues to comfortably sit at the top of the ziggurat. He dropped only three sets on his way to a convincing 6-0, 6-5, 6-3 finals win over number two ranked player Steve Virgona. On the Doubles side Fahey and Virgona showed why they are the world doubles crown holders by soundly beating Ruaraidh Gunn and Camden Riviere 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in the finals.
In the doubles draw one of the early round matches drew particular interest as New York amateurs Lex Miron and Alexis Hombrecher took on former New York assistant professionals Charlie Crossley and Ged Eden. The match was close with the amateurs winning the first set 6-4. Crossley and Eden took the next two sets 6-4, 6-2, but the fourth was a tightly fought chapter, with Eden and Crossley eeking out a 6-5 win to advance. The semi-final in the bottom half of the draw promised to be interesting, for Riviere and Gunn, the fourth and third ranked players and number two seed took on the veteran team of Gooding and Wood. The match was close in the first set, with the younger team prevailing 6-5. Wood appeared to be bothered by a back ailment and could not force or get down to the ball the way he normally does, and he and his partner who made some extraordinary gets fell in the next two sets 6-2, 6-3. That set up the final, which Fahey and Virgona won and in the process, displayed power, quick hands, and great shot selection.
Tthe singles draw followed form, with the top four seeds moved with relative ease to the semis. In the top half Robby Whitehouse took the first set from Rob Fahey, before he moved into high gear and convincingly took the next three sets, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. After dispatching Bryn Sayers in three sets, Rob took on Camden Riviere and continued on his winning way with 6-2, 6-3 wins in the first two sets. But Camden served notice that he was not to be taken for granted by taking the next set 6-4 and the fourth 6-4 as well. He moved well on the court, showed smart shot selection, and produced surprising power from his small frame. The match continued to be tight in the fifth set with games at three apiece. But Rob raised his game a notch and closed out the set 6-3, setting up what looked to be a compelling final with Virgona.
Virgona in his semi match against Ruaraidh Gunn had been an undeniable force, playing perhaps the best tennis he had ever played. Rarely still on the court, he moved incredibly well, playing with both power and touch. Rarely has this writer seen hands as quick at Steve’s react to an unanticipated carom off the tambour or a ball coming irregularly off a dedan edge. No matter what Gunn offered, Virgona had the answer, and his intensity was palpable and, at least to the spectators, intimidating. In the end, Virgona walked of with a 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 win over the number three ranked player in the world.
Unfortunately, the singles final that many had anticipated was not to be. Whatever momentum and confidence Steve may have developed from his win over Gunn was diminished by a 6-0 thumping by Fahey in the first set. The second was close, but when Fahey prevailed 6-5, the match appeared to be over. Fahey answered the best that Virgona had and prevailed 6-3 in the third and final set.
The event was a great success with 22 entrants in the singles and 11 teams in the doubles. Superb play and sportsmanship was on display through and no one suffered an injury requiring withdrawal. New York Head Tennis Professional Mike Gooding and his assistance deserve thanks and praise for a tournament well run, and all the professionals who marked are to be commended. Committee co-head Lex Miron and members Greg Van Schaack, Peter Pell, and Charlie Johnstone also deserve thanks for helping to put the event together and raising a commendable prize purse.