The second National League match of the 2013/14 season featured a contest between Camden Riviere and Tony Hollins of New England vs. John Lumley and Will Hopton of Chicago. The match took place on the Saturday of the Jimmy Knott tournament and the combination of National League with a USCTA tournament was a success.
New England won the 2012/13 National League title with Camden winning all his matches at the #1 spot. With Steve Virgona out with an injury and a handicap differential of over 17 points, spectators anticipated that Camden’s streak would continue.
You have to play the game though. Camden won the first set 6/4 but John played well throughout with solid retrieving, steady play, and good force defenses. Camden did not appear to be moving well due to sore knees. In the second, Camden went up 5-4, 40-0 and most thought the match over. John fought back and evened it at deuce. He then won two more points for the game and stunned Camden and the crowd when he won the 11th game to even the match at one set apiece. With a short third set, you never know. Camden won the first game to go 4-3 and it seemed as if he would win out. However, John played incredibly steady tennis and Camden made several unforced errors. John soon found himself up 5-4, 40-15 with a quiet crowd. Camden hit a main wall force to get to 30-40 and it appeared as if he might force an 11th game. It was not to be as John played a good last point with a strong shot below the grille. Two questions came to mind for spectators as the players shook hands. Was this the first time Camden had lost to a younger player and when was his last singles loss at Newport?
The number of matches won by New England’s #2 in the 2012/13 regular season was similar to the letter in between N and P. Add to this that Will beat Tony in Chicago last year. Would Tony keep New England alive for the doubles or would Will prevail again? Based on handicaps, the players were about equal with Will at a 7.6 and Tony at an 8.2. Tony and Will traded games until midway through the set when Tony started to pull away. Tony played well and neutralized Will’s retrieving and won the first 6/4. Tony got off to a 5/0 lead in the second only to see Will then win three games in a row. Will elevated his intensity and focus and the match seemed to be shifting. Tony’s familiarity with the court seemed to pay off in a long ninth game. He cut out his unforced errors, capitalized on some loose balls, and prevailed 6/3 to take the match.
In the doubles, Tony and Cam got off to a quick start. Cam was moving better and Tony held his own as John and Will tried to find him. Great points were had throughout but New England prevailed 8/4.
Thanks go to National Tennis Club for stepping in to host the match, which was moved from Boston due to a delay in the roof project. Both National League matches of the season have been close and have come down to the doubles as the decider. Good luck to all four teams and may the best win the 2013/14 National League title!