2014 U.S. OPEN
By Barney Tanfield
From January 23rd– 31st the Racquet and Tennis Club hosted the 2014 U.S. Open Championship of Court Tennis. The Arctic Vortex pulverizing New York City greeted several of the players freshly having arrived from the Australian Open where temperatures were merely 100 degrees warmer. Sixteen players entered the singles draw and eight teams entered the doubles. Unfortunately with the World Eliminators just weeks away, the draw was missing a few big names (such as Fahey, Virgona and Sayers). This however meant there would be some particularly interesting but uncommon match ups, particularly as the rounds progressed.
The early rounds featured some notable performances. Racquet and Tennis Head Professional Mike Gooding put in a great effort against Tasmanian powerhouse Kieran Booth (in the Round of 16). Mike’s masterful giraffe and ability to control the flow and pace of the match posed issues for the Aussie early on. Kieran eventually settled in comfortably, himself serving the giraffe lethally and showing Impressive physical strength in his retrieving. The three-hour contest raised more than an eyebrow from a partisan New York gallery but ended in a four set win for the Australian.
In another Round of 16 match of note, Boston Tennis and Racquet Professional Tony Hollins continued his strong play against Tim Chisholm, taking the first set off the #2 seed with a nice attacking return of serve and opportunistic attitude. Chisholm responded quickly and efficiently with a strong surge taking the final three sets relatively convincingly.
The Quarter Finals featured two strong match ups. The first was between newly appointed Newport pro Richard (Ricardo) Smith (not to be confused with long time Newport head professional Richard Smith) and Kieran Booth. The match saw fantastic rallies and some brilliant play from both. The players exchanged sets and momentum for the duration of the match. In the end Kieran took the match in five deeply contested sets.
The second Quarter Final of note was between Racquet and Tennis Professional James Stout and Hatfield Professional Ben Matthews. Matthews, who, had strong results in Australia the week before was the slight favorite ranking wise but had not played in New York for two years. Stout took full advantage of his local knowledge pressing Matthews well in the rallies by moving forward frequently. Stout bewildered the gallery with a seemingly disastrous serving performance that luckily seemed to perplex Ben as much as the crowds. Matthews never truly found his stride and Stout took the match in four sets.
In the Semi Final round Camden Riviere (world # 1) played steadily against Kieran Booth (the world’s top amateur) and won in three smooth sets. The other Semi Final saw hometown favorite James Stout and the perennial Tim Chisholm in what was perhaps the match of the tournament. The rallies throughout the match were jaw- dropping, featuring blistering pace, staggering spin and ridiculous retrieving from both players. Stout started strong, taking the first set relatively quickly and racing out to a 5-3 leads in both the second and third sets. Chisholm staged awesome comebacks in both the second and third sets and took a strong momentum into the fourth. Stout fought through and won the fourth set only to face a massive deficit in the fifth and final set. Playing from 5-2 down the previously stoic Stout managed to embrace his emotion and the crowd and staged an astounding comeback, winning the last four games of the match in a do or die scenario. Stout had managed to pull off his second upset of the event (the only two throughout the Championship in both singles and doubles) and move through to the Final.
All hats were tipped to Camden Riviere in the Singles Final. Camden played an astounding level of Tennis throughout the match and claimed his third U.S. Open victory in rather straightforward fashion. Stout commented that nothing could have been done on the night to slow Riviere and that Camden was “too good”. Everyone agreed the young man from South Carolina looked poised and focus to take a very serious run at the World Championship this spring. The consensus was if Camden can play close to this level of Tennis over the Eliminators and then Final then he will be World Champion in a few months time.
The doubles draw proceeded as expected relative to seeding right thru the Finals. In the Quarter Final Richard Smith and John Lumley (Racquet Club of Philadelphia professional) played some good Tennis against Ricardo Smith and Ben Matthews (the #3 seeds), taking a set and making the seeded pair pay them some serious mind.
In the bottom Semi Final, #2 seeds Mike Gooding and James Stout put on a very steady show against the #3 seeds Ben Matthews and Ricardo Smith. The New York pair seemed very confident in the face of a worthy and talented opposition. Their straight set win meant that they would go on to face reigning champions Camden Riviere and Tim Chisholm, who earlier had a convincing win in the top Semi Final against Kieran Booth and Royal Melbourne Professional Nick Howell.
The Doubles Final was absolutely fantastic Tennis. The incredible quality of the rallies was consistently appreciated by the crowd and the players themselves were impressed at each other’s abilities. The pace was scorching and precision immaculate. It was not rare for the crowd to think a point over only to be followed by another dozen or so shots. The reactionary volleying was the best many have or ever will see and consistently flabbergasted the onlookers. In the end Riviere and Chisholm triumphed in four excellent sets, defending their title in classy fashion.
Special thanks to the 2014 U.S Open Tournament (Morris Clothier, Arthur Whitcomb, Charles Johnstone, Zachary Sacks and Mike Gooding) and the Racquet and Tennis club’s staff. Another special thank to the Hosts, Patrons and Supporters of the event who ensured the professionals were well looked after and playing for a generous purse.