Sunday, October 6, 2013

Here's the scoop: Smyczek, Young to renew rivalry

Second-seeded Tim Smyczek drubbed ailing
Nick Kyrgios in the semifinals of the Sacra-
mento Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Tim Smyczek and Donald Young know each other better than Ben and Jerry.
   Smyczek (pronounced SMEE-chek) and Young will meet for the 11th time in the final of the $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger after easy victories Saturday.
   Smyczek, seeded second, drubbed ailing Nick Kyrgios, a potential star from Australia, 6-3, 6-1 in 1 hour, 10 minutes at the Natomas Racquet Club as glorious weather returned after two days of wind.
   Young, seeded eighth, needed only 58 minutes to dispatch his doubles partner and fellow Atlanta-area resident, wild card Jarmere Jenkins, 6-2, 6-2.
   Young is 7-3 against Smyczek, including two meetings this year. Smyczek prevailed 7-5, 7-6 (3) in the last round of qualifying in Atlanta in July on the elite ATP World Tour. Young won 6-3, 6-2 last week in the semifinals of the $50,000 Napa Valley Challenger en route to the title.
   "I was just lucky to get through (the Napa match) like that," said Young, the 2008 Sacramento Challenger champion in its last year at the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club. "It wasn't as easy as the score said. I played well on some big points, and he maybe wasn't playing his best.
   "It happens like that. He's beaten me pretty good a couple of times, and I've gotten him. (The matches) are normally close, and I expect a close one (today)."
   Smyczek said Young "played me a little differently (in Napa) that he has before, so I'll have to make some adjustments. He constructed points well. He played a lot of good one-two punches where he would go high to my backhand and then hard to my forehand. He was hitting a lot of winners."
   The rivals have several similarities.
   Most significantly in terms of their careers, both are small. Young is listed at 6 feet (1.83 meters) and Smyczek at 5-foot-9 (1.75), but both appear to be two or three inches (5.1 or 7.6 centimeters) shorter.
Eighth-seeded Donald Young needed only 58 minutes
to dispatch wild card Jarmere Jenkins.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Smyczek is 25, Young 24. Not only are both American, they were born 90 miles (145 kilometers) apart in the Midwest, Smyczek in Milwaukee and Young in Chicago, and moved to the Southeast to train. Smyczek is based in Tampa, Fla.
   Both skipped college to turn pro, Young at only 14 and Smyczek at 18.
   Both are excellent athletes.
   Smyczek on Young: "He has a lot of facets to his game. He has a lot of talent and a lot of shotmaking ability. He can win points a lot of different ways. That makes him difficult to play because even if your 'A' game is working, he's able to adjust a lot of times and change things around."
   Young on Smyczek: "He's quick. He hits pretty flat through the court. He's solid. He doesn't give you a lot. He's in good shape. He's just an all-around tough player."
   Smyczek cracked the top 100 in the world for the first time this week at No. 100. Young, once projected as the next great American, is ranked No. 125 after climbing to a career-high No. 38 in February 2012.
   Both have had success at the U.S. Open, Young reaching the round of 16 in 2011 and Smyczek advancing to the third round this year as the last American standing.
    Of course, they're also opposites in some ways. Young is black, left-handed and animated on the court. Smyczek is white, right-handed and stoical.
    Smyczek outsteadied the unseeded Kyrgios (pronounted KEER-ee-ose), a hard hitter at 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) who had played two straight three-set matches with a sore right (playing) arm. After Kyrgios, already ranked No. 191 at 18 years old, held serve for 3-3 in the first set, Smyczek won nine of the last 10 games.
   Afterward, a reporter found Kyrgios, his right forearm wrapped in ice, in an almost deserted fitness room.
   "Not today," snapped Kyrgios, the youngest player in the top 200 by 20 months.
   When the reporter persisted and asked how much of a factor his injury was against Smyczek, Kyrgios burst out laughing at the apparently needless question.
   "A pretty big one," he allowed.      
   Young improved to 2-0 against Jenkins, who graduated from the University of Virginia in anthropology in May, in a rare matchup of African-Americans. Young won by the same score in the second round of the $50,000 Winnetka (Ill.) Challenger in July.
   During Virginia's commencement, Jenkins led the Cavaliers to the NCAA team title, reached the singles final and won the doubles crown with then-freshman Mac Styslinger.
   Young will play for two titles today. After the 1 p.m. singles final, he and Jenkins will face second-seeded Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith of Australia.
   Reid and Smith defeated wild cards Robert Kendrick and Brian Martinez, the tournament director of the Sacramento Challenger and director of tennis at the Natomas Racquet Club. 7-6 (6), 7-5.
   Kendrick, a 33-year-old Fresno native, retired from the tour last year. He reached the Sacramento Challenger singles final in 2008 and 2010 and won the doubles title with Brian Wilson in 2007. In the second round at Wimbledon in 2006, Kendrick came within a tiebreaker of beating Rafael Nadal in straight sets before losing.
   Following are links to the singles and doubles draws and today's schedule:
   Here are links to the qualifying and singles main draws in the $100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger at the Tiburon Peninsula Club and today's schedule:
   The Tiburon doubles draw will be held today.

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