It was COLLLLLD when I woke up this morning. Like 5-“L” COLLLLLD. So, like a hopeful migratory bird, I decided to travel south from my Treasure Coast dwelling, seeking the greener (clay) pastures of the USA F1 Futures in Plantation, Florida. Alas, I still needed my winter jacket there.
Now, my Northernly Exposed friends probably don’t want to hear me whinge about windy, overcast 50-degree temperatures while their mercury hunts in vain for positive numerals (witness Exhibit A, directly below), but…
…my fingers were freezing up whilst trying to use the ETM*!
But enough about me. (Just know that I suffered for you, beloved readers.)
There were two round one matches I was keen to see on the day, and they both did not disappoint. The first featured 19-year-old*** American Mitchell Krueger following up a successful 2013 with his first match since early November versus the former Ramblin’ Wreck of a Georgia Tech standout, the 23-year-old Columbian Juan-Carlos Spir.
With both players ranked in the upper-400s, Spir’s penchant for slices and changes of pace, and Krueger’s attack-minded tennis, this first meeting between the two was certainly intriguing on paper.
Krueger won the toss and elected to receive, which seemed to work out well, as the tournament’s eighth seed broke Spir to 15 (actually, the Colombian helped with two double faults as well). Alas, it wasn’t the only break the first set was going to see, as the cold and wind combined for a scene-stealing cameo throughout the day, making first serves a rarity and holds of serve a dicey proposition.
After four breaks of serve in the first six games, the score was notted at 3-all, when Krueger broke to love with a couple of groundstruck winners combined with a Spir double fault and a backhand volley sliced wide. In the ever-so-crucial eighth game, the Dallas teen saved a break point with his nineteenth net approach of the set, forcing a diSpirited backhand error and consolidating his break with a roar.
Blistering winners off the ground from both wings and a perfect backhand dropper gave Krueger two set points. Spir saved them both, getting back to deuce, but Krueger took his third set point when Spir left a ball that ended up dropping in, the Colombian smiling ruefully. Six breaks of serve in all, with Mitch taking four of them. Advantage: wind. With a possible cold violation therein.
In the 2nd set, the Texan raced out to a 3-0* lead, Spir came back to tie it back up at 3-apiece, then Krueger untied it for good with a killer hold-break-hold combo to take the match 6-3 6-3. All in all, the American converted on six of his nine break point opportunities, while Spir was only able to reel in three of his seven.
Afterward, Krueger thought this match would rank pretty high on the Coldest Matches He’s Ever Played In Florida scale. “I think with the wind, too, it was not easy. The way [Spir] played, as well, kind of an orthodox game with a lot of slices and short bounces, along with the wind made it a lot tougher. In these conditions, it’s never going to be pretty.”
Asked about his large number of body serves on this day, Krueger said it’s something he’s been working on recently, mixing up the serve and making it less predictable. “Especially with the wind, it makes it tricky for the guy I’m playing. It’s also a higher percentage play — can’t miss it wide, can’t miss it long.”