On September 15th the New York Racquet & Tennis Club was privileged to host the first match of the National League 2010-11 season. The match was between New York the defending champions against the runners-up of last season Philadelphia. The first match has between Mike Gooding (NY) against Robbie Whitehouse (Philly). Things started off very well for Mike as he hit many winning openings and kept the pressure on Robbie. He managed to win the first set convincingly 6/2 with relentless attacking of the tambour and keeping Robbie on the back foot.
Things continued again in the second set with Mike dominating the service end with tight railroads and managed to take a 4/1 lead 40/0 and chase 1 and 2. Then from the receiving end Robbie equaled the chase and that game had about ten deuces with Robbie coming out on top. Then Robbie appeared to tweak an ankle and Mike lost concentration for a moment then after some long rests Robbie clinched the 2nd set 6/5.
Both players were now playing some excellent tennis but Mike managed to put the disappointment of the 2nd set behind him and started confidently in the beginning of the final set. Mike seemingly looked the fresher of the two and took a quick 3/0 advantage. Robbie had a few game points but failed to capitalize on his chances, Mike ran away with the final set 6/1.
The second match was between Steve Virgona (World No. 3) and James Stout (World No. 4). This match promised to be a beauty! James started off the stronger with consistent play and raced to a 3/0 lead. Virgona seemed a little out of sort’s early maybe thinking about his upcoming French Open campaign. James kept the pressure on Steve forcing him into unusual errors and took the first set 6/2.
In the 2nd set Virgona steadied and became a little more relaxed with his play. However, James was playing some very impressive tennis and was taking the fight right to him. James was extremely good at nullifying Steve’s power game and took a 5/4 advantage in the 2nd set. With a little guile and experience Steve pulled out the set 6/5.
The final set saw Steve really pick up his serve and won the key points at the start of the set. James had a couple of opportunities early but unfortunately hit the tape on important points. There was no stopping Steve as he powered through the final set 6/1. This was going to set up an intriguing eight game set doubles match between these two warrior teams!
The doubles started off at a cracking pace! Both teams were forcing with precison and using the galleries to their advantage. New York took the early lead and was dominant from the serving end. Robbie from Philly looked a little tired after his singles and New York tried to keep the pressure on him. Mike and James found another gear and had an impressive 6/1 lead. Virgona also made some uncharacteristic errors when trying to cover too much of the court. In the end NY were victors 8/3 and it was much appreciated from an enthusiastic New York crowd.