make US Open history
Andrew Eichenholz | August 30, 2019
Thirteen years ago, Martin Damm won the US Open men’s doubles title alongside Leander Paes. His son, also Martin Damm, was just two years old at the time. But on Thursday evening, the younger Damm made history.
A 15-year-old Damm (pictured above, left) and 16-year-old Toby Kodat (above, right), this year’s Kalamazoo champions, became the youngest men’s doubles team to win a US Open match in the Open era. The Americans defeated countrymen Mitchell Krueger and Tim Smyczek, 7-6, 7-5, on Court 15.
"What a day for us and what an amazing place to record our first Grand Slam win, and then to do it together," Damm said. "We have been friends since we were very young, and played in every level of the juniors together. To play here, get this experience, and then walk away with a win… it’s a dream come true."ADVERTISEMENT
Damm and Kodat were the No. 3 seeds at the USTA Boys’ 18 National Championships earlier this summer. But they won the title to earn a US Open wild card, and they were calm under pressure in the first round at Flushing Meadows. The teenagers saved seven of the eight points they faced.
"It was such an honor to receive a wild card at the US Open. A dream come true," Kodat said. "To win our first round here tonight is something I could only have dreamed about. Such an amazing experience for us."
Damm’s father, who competed in the main draw here 10 times in singles and 20 times in doubles, was in the stands to watch the record-breakers emerge victorious after one hour, 30 minutes.
"It was awesome. First time [being in a] Grand Slam main-draw doubles at this age, it’s already great stuff," the elder Damm said. "And the way they competed, being able to pull it off, it’s amazing. Really proud."
It’s said that sometimes it’s harder to watch a match in a player’s box than to compete on the court yourself. But while the father says that is the case, he was able to remain calm Thursday.
"To be honest, I wasn’t that nervous yesterday. I’m more nervous when he’s playing singles. In doubles, I’m more enjoying it. But it’s definitely tougher to watch,” the 47-year-old said. “When you’re on the court, you can control the situation, it’s up to you. But like this, if you watch your player, especially your son, obviously the emotions are there. I was calm, and I just took it pretty easy. My wife was very nervous; she was sitting next to me. But I was actually pretty calm."
There has only been one men’s doubles team with a combined younger age to compete at the US Open in the Open era, and that was in 1975: 15-year-old Larry Gottfried and 16-year-old John McEnroe. They lost in the second round after advancing via a first-round walkover.
In the next round, the younger Damm and Kodat will face Germans Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawietz, who triumphed at Roland Garros this year.
And the Damm dad, who has experienced that kind of glory, sees it as a massive opportunity for the American teens. "I think it’s incredible. To get to play Grand Slam champions in the second round, it’s obviously a huge experience," he said. "Hopefully they can put a good fight and they can get the most out of it."