OK. So. For the USA F2 Tamarac quarterfinals, I’ll be doing my match reports a bit differently. Instead of my usual 7,912-word treatise on who hit what shot on which point and the expression on their faces when they hit them, I’ll be giving you more of a big picture sense of how things unfolded on the day. You know, a sense of the larger drama and the overall context within which today’s tennis was framed (and sometimes even stringed). The devil is in the details, after all, and I’ve heard that distance can add perspective.
All of which is another way of saying: I spent most of the day socializing my fool head off, and blithely ignored most of the day’s details. But I regret nothing! The socializing, it was good.
Some snapshots from today’s play, which we’ll say is indicative of the larger whole:
Phillip Simmonds USA d David Souto VEN 7-6(3) 6-3: The 18-year-old Venezuelan is a big, lefty beast, more growling than grunting with every viciously topspun shot.
Beast Mode: Engaged
Unfortunately for me, my 2011 Player To Watch prospect exhibits behavior this match that is fairly beastly as well. Serving at 2-3 15-30, he ambles in to retrieve a poor Simmonds drop shot but dumps the ball into the middle of the net once he gets there. Then, for good measure, he throws his racquet into the middle of the net as well. He gets a code violation for racquet abuse, after which he mockingly intones “Warning, warning.” Simmonds closes out the break a few points later with a forehand crosscourt volley.
After the match, Souto self-destructs even more, slamming water bottles and coolers and chairs, saying “Warning, Warning, Warning” all the while and sounding like that annoying robot from Lost In Space. Perhaps the chair umpire’s name was Will Robinson too, as he gave Souto a wide buffer/berth as he warily left the court. “Danger, Will Robinson!”
 Alex Bogdanovic GBR d  Daniel Yoo KOR 6-3 6-2: The 26-year-old third seed in the spiffy pastel purple shirt serves at 0-15, the match just underway. Yoo sends one long on the second point (I thought I heard ball singing “Yoo Send Me” on its way out, too). “Love-thirty,” intones the chair ump. “What’s that?” asks Boggo. “Fifteen-all,” corrects the chair ump. Good thing for the Londoner, too, as he has to save break points before eventually holding.
Dan Smethurst GBR d  Nick Monroe USA 6-1 6-4: Smethurst, cruising impressively and putting away every shot in the book, comes up against his most unyielding opponents thus far on the day: Mother Nature and the Supervisor. A persistent rain begins to fall, and the Supe gives the signal to keep the players on the court even as play is halted. Smethurst begins to walk off court anyway.
“Stay on the court,” the supervisor orders, arms crossed. “I’m not going to sit there in the rain,” Smethy says, still walking, “that’s ridiculous.” “STAY ON THE COURT!” the supervisor boldly (and caps-lockedly) bellows. “Can you at least get an umbrella?” asks the player, halted in his tracks. “Get him an umbrella!” say the supe to another official, in much the same tone. And with that, the 20-year-old powers through another obstacle on the way to the semis.
Daniel Garza MEX d  Jesse Witten USA 6-1 2-6 6-4: At 30-all in what would turn out to be the final game of the match (SPOILER ALERT!), Witten hits a screamer of a backhand up the line that’s called out. Witten is incredulous. “That cleaned the line! That cleaned the line!” The ump comes out and circles a mark. Witten circles round the net to check it out for himself. “That’s not a ball mark! That’s a shoe mark!” He motions for the same supervisor from earlier, Peter Kasavage, to come onto the court, but Kasavage hangs back, shaking his head.
“Peter!” implores Witten, “Why can’t you just come and tell me whether that’s a ball mark or not?” Peter’s having none of it. Jesse snarks/snarls, “No wonder you guys are at Futures!” Oh boy, Jesse – that’s definitely not the way to chronicle and/or celebrate those who grind it out every day. I’m afraid your Challenger Tennis guest-editor spot will have to be put on hold for the time being.
After the match, no fewer than five people stand around the infamous ball/shoe mark, peering down at the court and trying to make their own determinations. But I’m not fast enough with my camera, the unfolding events having already unfolded, and everybody already moving on.
And with that, I too move on to Weston for the qualies of the USA F3’s. But more on that visit in my next report.