Team USA moves on to the final for the second straight year
© Marion Cordonnier
Six of the top American collegians have been selected to represent the United States in the fifth annual Master’U BNP Paribas, an international collegiate competition held Dec. 9-12 in Rouen, France. The event features eight teams composed of college and university players from around the world. The U.S., which defeated France to win the 2009 title, will be competing for the third consecutive year against a talented field that includes teams from Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Switzerland.
The 2010 U.S. team is being coached by Greg Patton, head coach of the Boise State University men’s tennis team, who helped lead the U.S. to the 2009 title, and Mark Guilbeau, head women’s tennis coach at the University of Virginia. Coach Patton and Coach Guilbeau are co-writing a blog for USTA.com during the team's stay in France.
One heck of a day!
Team USA on to the final!!! An incredibly gutsy performance from the entire group, climaxed by the Men’s doubles victory from Reid Carleton and Austin Krajicek – 1-6, 7-6, 10-8 – for a hard fought 4-2 team victory over a very, very strong German squad.
The spirit from within and surrounding this team is extremely strong and special.
No way to do justice to it all in this blog… especially as it is being started after 10 pm… but we will be sure to cover most of the details of the day.
Coach Guilbeau reporting in first…
Another noon start vs. Germany. The USA team prepared well and was very focused once again heading into play.
Our matches began with #1 Women’s singles – USA’s Maria Sanchez more than earning her stripes with a very composed and aggressive 7-5, 6-2 victory. Maria served beautifully throughout; holding serve the entire first set and closing it out with an attacking break at 6-5. The second set was tight through the first three games with Maria continuing to attack and play with great pace. She wore down her German opponent (a former top 120 WTA player) and closed out a great first match for her USA team.
Next on were Allie Will at #2 Women’s singles and Reid Carleton at #2 Men’s singles.
AllieGator got off to an amazing start (after an interesting little tumble in the warm-up… she was ok, but I think it was in an effort to try to rid herself of the Dorothy Hammel nick-name! J ), and never slowed down. She beat a very strong German opponent 6-2, 6-0. So many positive things coming from Allie throughout. Her court coverage, depth, ball movement and pace were extraordinary. Serving has also been a strength, and Allie continued this pattern with great percentage and placement on her serve. A great win, putting team USA up 2-0.
Reid faced the #1 ATP player in the world (seriously… that is what this guy has been playing like throughout the tournament).
Coach Patton will share his review below… but here is a recap of Women’s doubles:
Our Women’s doubles pair of Maria Sanchez and Allie Will had a tough, up and down match today. The German’s came out very strong and played a bit of an unorthodox style. Our women gave it all they had… battling back from a large first set deficit to force a tiebreak. Unfortunately the breaker did not go our way. Another slow start in the second set, and more toughness to battle back… this time winning 5 straight games to win a 6-3 second set. Now on to a 3rd set 10 point superbreaker for the match! This time the USA pair went out to a 4-1 lead, only to have the momentum swing back around to the Germans who went on to clinch the match with a 10-8 tiebreak victory. Despite the tough loss, Maria and Allie showed great character by immediately moving over to support the Reid and Austin in their doubles. This type of resiliency and spirit helped our team a great amount today!
Coach Guilbeau signing out! Thanks for the support back home… and congrats to this group of six great players. It will be another incredible battle tomorrow and I know we are all looking forward to the tennis and the competitive spirit that will be on display! Go USA!!!
Coach Patton back with you…
Austin Krajicek had a day to remember forever! With the team match building in intensity, Austin came out and battled with every ounce of energy and desire possible. AK won a strong first set 6-3; lost a long battle of a second set 7-6; maintained his toughness and determination – as well as physical strength – and dominated the third 6-2. It was a key to the day and gave the team a chance to win it all. AK’s performance at the net was huge… driving himself forward on red clay and refusing to allow the German to control play! It was inspiring to watch!!!
Lets continue by talking about our never say die Reid Carleton, who got beat in singles 6-1, 6-0.
Now we are up 3-2 in the team match, and Reid and Austin have to either bring the victory home so that we can get to the finals, or the match goes down to the Mixed doubles match.
The tension is building…….
Reid was getting dog piled by the Germans. In singles he was mauled 6-1, 6-0. Then in the doubles, the same tennis wizard who beat him in singles was continuing his flogging of our guys (The German was a 27 year old ATP Veteran. (In the first set of doubles, Reid and Austin were down 0-5 before they could eke out a game). So in 19 games of tennis, Reid was only able to come up with one game. Most players would throw in their hat and call it a day. But Reid is a warrior who even if he is getting pummeled , kept getting up, time after time after time. Finally, he got his mojo back, against his opponent who never stopped playing flawless (I think he played the way we all will play when we go to Heaven, where everything is perfect). Reid kept his composure, adjusted our game plan, and believed. What happened in the doubles, is that we started pinching the partner of the German Wunderkind (which means we started hitting every ball that we could at the partner), and Reid finally started making his shots. He never gave up, he just hung on as tight as he could until the sun finally started shining on him (in tennis, if you can survive long enough, the sun will break through the fog and brighten up your match).
We were down a break at the start of the second set, and non believers were already mailing in the loss for the Americans, but low and behold, playing 2 on 1, playing some Aussie formation, and still having faith, brought Austin and Reid back to win the 2nd set 7-6 (7-5 in the breaker). We play the ATP format of doubles which means that we play a 10 point super tiebreaker. We dug for every ball, played brilliant tennis, and low and behold we were able to make some magical shots and won the doubles match and cemented the team victory by taking the tie breaker 10-8.
Unfortunately, Mixed doubles was cancelled due to the late finish. Tons of credit to our Mixed doubles pair of Sekou Bangoura and Kristy Frilling for carrying the team with them all day. They both practiced, prepared and pushed each of their teammates throughout. And now they will be a bitter fresher for tomorrow. It’s an entire team effort and each of this group of six made a great impact!!!
There were tons of cheers and hugs abounding for the Americans. We have celebrated, and now we are back to getting ready to try to take down the French on their home facility, and on their unique, slow, red clay.
It will be a great battle!
Goodnight from Rouen.