Tag Archive: David Souto

On Day Number Four of our Players to Watch odyssey, I’m going to change things up. A lot.

So far, all of my Players to Watch have been righties. Today, we’re goin’ left. And all of 2014’s PTWs have been players from north of the equator. Today, we’re goin’ south.

Yesterday’s selection, Kyle Edmund, is a picture of comportment and calm. Today’s pick is so feisty that I contemplated making him a PTW a few years ago but promptly disqualified him due to his on-court behavior.

That said, this fiery South American lefty is so noisy and intense on the court that you cannot ignore him, even though you sometimes cringe internally (and cover your ears externally).

So, people, I ask you — are you ready for the David Souto experience? (Note: if you’re in the “tennis needs more personalities” camp, then you are.)

A Souto Salute

Souto Salute

Let’s rewind the paragraph machine to 2011, when I first contemplated making the volcanic Venezuelan a Player to Watch.  At the time, he was coming off a dynamic 42/24 first pro season of 2010, during which time he rose from #705 to #453 in the rankings. I arrived in Florida for the first four Futures of 2011, eager to see in person a talent I’d only seen on crappy streams.

Alas, after witnessing several spectacular meltdowns (that could make Lava look cold and inert by comparison), I decided I couldn’t fully endorse such a tempestuous talent.  Details of those meltdowns are here and here, if you’re interested. (Now that I have the perspective that distance lends, it all seems at least a tiny bit hilarious.)

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After the Jack SockDennis Kudla match (as recounted here), I head on over to the incongruously-placed bleachers between Court 6 and Court 7, mostly because I developed an abiding appreciation for Dimitar Kutrovsky’s game while watching him play the day before against Dennis Zivkovic, and partially because it’s the only place I can park my lazy butt and lean back as I watch the tennis – the Court 7 fence providing spartan but adequate support, and since I’ve struggled with a herniated disc, any backing at all is a welcome one.

Kutrovsky, the 23-year-old University of Texas standout from Bulgaria, plays two-handed off both sides (though he can go one-handed off either) and has a nice-looking, compact game and an intuitive-seeming court sense. He had already come from way down against Zivkovic in the first round, saving match points before winning 0-6 7-6(3) 6-4, and I catch him extracting himself from a fairly deep hole against veteran 27-year-old Todd Widom, breaking Widom as he serves for the match up 6-4 5-4.

I had last seen Widom on a livestream two years before as he played David Ferrer on an outside court at Indian Wells, but against Kutrovsky he’s playing only his fifth match in the past year, and at times he seems a bit detached, a bit bemused by it all, although perhaps this is an intentional affect to keep from getting too wound up. And though there are way too many differences in their games for me to make an embarrassingly lazy comparison between Ferrer and Kutrovsky, allow me just this one contrivance: I think both of them get a lot of mileage out of their respective games for not being the tallest guys in the world.

Anyway, Kutrovsky holds at 5-all and then Widom serves to try and force a tiebreak. He quickly finds himself down two set points against the three-time ITA All-American, but staves off the first with an ace and the next with a measured-almost-guided backhand down the line into the corner. He double faults at deuce to give Dimi a third set point, but then aces that one away as well. He issues a deep, exaggerated sigh. “Gotta have a little fun,”  he says.  He finally holds after a six-deuce game. Fun!

At *1-2 in the tiebreak, Dimi double faults to give Widom the mini-break, and I’m beginning to suspect I’ve brought bad luck to all DK-initialed players on this day. Up 3-2, Todd inside-outs a run-around forehand winner. “Woo!” he says. But Kutrovsky gets the next four points to lead 6-4*, with two more opportunities to close the second set at hand. He foul tips a backhand return into the high hedge behind court six on the first, then nets an overhead for 6-all. I check the sun, and it’s certainly not in an optimal position for that particular shot. But Widom trades in any momentum he’d have from this turn of events for two forehands long – a very unwise trade, in my estimation. “How stupid is that?” he asks aloud, seeming to agree with me. Second set to The Bulgarian Nightmare (as Jack Sock refers to his dubs partner), 7-6(8).

Over the long break, Todd’s crew tries to gee him up for the long haul, likely knowing his fitness might be a bit suspect. When play resumes in the third set, Widom goes first strike, trying to end points early. A succession of errors put him in a 15-40 spot. “I can’t move that well anymore,” he explains to his sideline contingent. Then he double faults to give the gift of breakage. Certainly can’t end the point much quicker than that, so credit where credit is due.

Meanwhile, on Court 5, all hell breaks loose in the David Souto vs. Hyun-Joon Kim match. Souto’s pitching another fit again, much like he did at the ‘rac. “You’re telling me the ball this out is in,” he yells at the chair ump, holding his hands a foot apart to illustrate and emphasize the extent of the ball’s outness.

Widom, who had lost to Souto the week before, tries to give him some helpful direction from the court next door: “Shut up, already! Give me a break, dude – I’m playing right next to you.”

“You’re not playing the US Open,” the lanky Venezuelan snipes back, “It’s the Futures.” David Souto, I have officially disowned you as a Player to Watch selection, no matter how nice Alex Ward insists you are.  Somehow I’m quite sure Souto will find a way to carry on, despite this potentially crippling career development, haha.

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Friday’s Tamarac USA F2 Quarterfinal Report

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!”

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USA F1 Futures Recap – (Ab)normal Service Is Restored

Apologies for my MIA-ness of late – I ran into a little bit of trouble down south (and no, that’s not a euphemism). Nothing big – just logistical snags for the most part. I see that gauloises and Christina Marie did a fantastic job of taking up the “toiling in semi-obscurity” torch I passed to them and running headlong with it into the enveloping darkness. Your checks are in the mail, ladies, but I’ll take it from here!

Well, I know that a few days ago I announced my impending absence/scarcity due to upcoming travel, moving and re-situating, and I know there are no challenger tournaments for the next two weeks… so why do I feel so guilty having been off the internet radar for 2 days? Who knows (and, probably more to the point, who cares)? All I know is, I’m here in Florida, I’m somewhat situated, and I’m ready to type things at you again. Look out, world!

So what have I missed? Tons. Tennis, it turns out, did not have the common decency to cease and desist whilst I was in transit. There may be no challenger events, but I am supposed to be covering the futures these next few weeks, after all. Plus, Australian Open qualifying holds no small amount of interest to Challenger Tennis fans – I’ll be typing more about the men’s qualifiers and what that achievement means later on, I premise.

For now – and finally, in the fourth paragraph (and possibly beyond) – let’s look at the past few days of futures, OK? We’ll start with The Plantation Open aka the USA F1 Futures in Plantation, Florida. Remember that one? It’s the one I was ostensibly supposed to cover for you in person. Well, that ship has sailed now. But let me tell you what went down while I wasn’t around. When I last left you, the Quarterfinals Were Set (actual article headline) – which means that you had to survive without me chaperoning you through the QF’s, semis and finals! I don’t know how you survived, really, but I applaud your courage.

In the quarterfinals, Slovenian Lukas Gregorc put an end to the oft-alleged scourge Wayne Odesnik’s run, 2-6 6-7(5) 6-4. So Big Wayne leaves Plantation $290 richer and with 2 brand spanking new ATP points to call his very own, and I’m not sure where he went after that, as he’s not playing in the USA F2 in Tamarac this week. What I am sure is that an anagram for “Wayne Odesnik” is “Disown Yankee.” Draw your own conclusions about that.

Meanwhile, one of the many Top 500 Dans of British Tennis (Smethurst variety), continued his fine play for the week into the QF’s, upending Phillip Simmonds in a decidedly trouncy fashion 6-2 6-2. Matej Bocko of the Slovak Rep continued his stellar comeback from an 8-month layoff, beating the previously unstoppable-seeming Alexander Domijan in straight sets, 6-4 6-4. And lucky loser Olivier Sajous continued his cinderella story of lucky loserdom with an improbably easy 6-1 6-2 romp over Venezuelan David Souto to round out the final four.

Incidentally, during his stay at the F1 tourney, the 18-year-old Souto wrote one of my favorite tweets of 2011 so far. To friend and player Jose De Armas, he typed: “jose estoy aqui en el imperio! Tu donde estas?” Or: “Jose, I’m here in The Empire! Where are you?” That made me giggle.

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This first U.S. men’s pro tournament of 2011 is unfolding in a most unusual fashion; all of the second rounds have been played at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation Central Park, and not a single seed is left standing. There are no seeds even left leaning or squatting.  Remarkable.  Let’s take a look at some of the surprising results:

Luka Gregorc SLO #464 d [Q] Andrea Collarini USA #580 7-5 6-1. Even though the 26-year-old Slovenian had ranking and experience on his side, I’m somewhat surprised that the 18-year-old ex-Argie and current 2011 Challenger Tennis Player To Watch, Andrea Collarini, was handed his first loss of the year in this match. I mean, sure, occasionally Gregorc’s been known to string together some wins – such as when he beat Jose Acasuso, Ivo Karlovic and Andreas Seppi on his way to the semifinals of the Pilot Pen New Haven in 2008 – but the big guy hasn’t made it past the 2nd round of any event since the Ojai Challenger in early June of last year. He also had a sub-.500 record on clay the past five years. Meanwhile, Collarini usually does quite well on the dirt. So, yeah. Tennis. It’s a weird game sometimes.

[W] Wayne Odesnik USA d [Q] Thomas Cazes-Carrere FRA #582 6-3 6-2. I’m sure you’ll find enough coverage of this result at other sites and outlets. I’m here to chronicle and celebrated the unsung athletes, remember? And, at least for the moment, Mr. Odesnik is well-sung enough. Moving on.

Dan Smethurst GBR #497 d [Q] Christian Harrison USA 5-7 6-4 6-1. So end’s Christian’s comeback after a year-and-a-half layoff, but there’s a tremendous amount of upside for the 16-year-old’s efforts this tournament: four wins, his first ATP point, and a set off of a very underranked (in my opinion) main draw opponent. That’s a terrific foundation from which he can continue rebuilding.  Meanwhile, if Smethurst can just become more consistent in this new year, I expect him to be a Top 300 player and start moving up to Challengers later this year.

Smethurst, Doing His Best Gulbis Impersonation

[Q] Phillip Simmonds USA #570 d [6] Roman Borvanov MDA #431 6-3 6-2. Another upset on paper, but not in my mind (that said, hardly any matches ever play out properly in that particular venue). Heck, Simmonds once racked up junior dubs titles with World Team Tennis stalwart Scott Oudsema and was a two-time Coffee Bowl finalist, taking sets off the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray back in the day. Dude’s got more than a little bit of game.

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