Tag Archive: Yoshihito Nishioka

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…

Cation v Plantation

Cation v Plantation

…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.

A Spirited Attempt At A Service Hold

A Spirited Attempt At A Service Hold

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.

And Hands Were Shaken

And Hands Were Shaken

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.”

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This far into the season, it’s time to dig deep — not just for the players, but for me as well, as this week’s W.A.T.C.H. List plumbs the depths of the rankings all the way down to #720 in the rankings.

As has been documented in previous Lists, as tournaments dwindle toward the end of the year, fewer guys are playing, which limits the potential career high ranking opportunities. In this week’s case, it’s limited to the following folk:

Player NATIONALITY Age New High Why
Mohamed Safwat EGY 23 198 others lost points
Roberto Ortega-Olmedo ESP 22 331 Qatar F4 SF
Wilson Leite BRA 22 371 Brazil F20 QF
Ivan Arenas-Guarda ESP 23 392 others lost points
Michael Shabaz USA 26 394 Qatar F4 F
Tihomir Grozdanov BUL 26 399 Qatar F4 W
Oliver Golding GBR 20 406 Qatar F4 SF
Erik Crepaldi ITA 23 416 Turkey F49 SF
Karunuday Singh IND 23 488 Cambodia F3 SF
Yoshihito Nishioka JPN 18 503 Chile F11 W
Mateo Nicolas Martinez ARG 19 581 others lost points
Jaime Pulgar-Garcia ESP 24 583 others lost points
Frederico Ferreira Silva POR 18 603 Turkey F49 R2
Eduardo Agustin Torre ARG 19 674 Chile F11 SF
Markos Kalovelonis GRE 19 689 others lost points
Marko Tepavac SRB 19 716 others lost points
Andrea Basso ITA 20 717 others lost points
Carlos Boluda-Purkiss ESP 20 718 Qatar F4 R2
Herkko Pollanen FIN 19 719 Turkey F49 R2
Adrian Partl SVK 20 720 others lost points

Before I zero in on some of these heroes, I come bearing the following bulletins:

1) If you’re someone who has backed into a personal best ranking by others losing points? Well then sorry, I won’t be doing a pro-file on you this (or any) week. *sniffs snobbishly*


2) If you made the final four at the Qatar F4? Well then congrats, ’cause you’ve got a career high ranking!

One of those Qatar Final Fourers is none other than former University of Virginia standout Michael Shabaz, who’s been bedeviled by illness and injury since making a professional splash as a finalist of the 2010 Charlottesville Challenger (as well as a popular participant of the 2010 USTA Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs). 

The two-time NCAA champ (and 2005 Wimbledon Boys doubles titlist) was only able to play fourteen pro matches in 2011 and twenty-six matches in 2012 before finding this current run of health and form at the end of 2013, in what amounts to his first full professional season.

The only downside to all this good news is that he’ll have to update his website sometime soon.

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