We're at another one of those times of year when everything is going on at once, yet summer has barely begun. Here's a little bit of what I have been following with regard to the tennis scene in the Greater Fort Worth area, in no particular order.
I'll start with Aledo's Mitch Krueger's large performances at the French Open and Wimbledon, where he made back-to-back runs to the junior boys' singles semifinals. The websites for the majors include live scoring, which is the next-best thing to actually watching the matches, so it was exciting to follow Mitch's matches point-by-point--especially the second-set tiebreaker on Friday, July 6, that would have put him in the Wimbledon boys' final if he had managed to win it. Alas, he lost the tiebreaker and the third set to Canadian Filip Peliwo, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-3.
Peliwo went on to win the boys' singles, downing the top seed, Aussie Luke Saville, in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4.
The day before, Mitch had beaten Belgium's Kimmer Coppejans, the kid who beat him in the French Open boys' semis en route to winning that tournament a couple of weeks ago. This time, Mitch beat Kimmer, 6-2, 7-6 (5), in the Wimbledon boys' quarterfinals.
After beating Kimmer on Thursday, Mitch was feeling on top of the world, saying, "I played very well today and served especially well, too. I had 11 aces and didn't lose a single point on my serve in the entire first set. It felt great to get some revenge on him after Paris!"
The U.S. Open will be Mitch's last junior major, now that he is 18 and a high school graduate. His plan is either to play for Texas A&M or to turn pro, with a big assist from the USTA, which would take him under its huge wing. Very difficult decision, but a nice problem to have.
"The USTA is offering me a deal where they pretty much pay my expenses for tournaments and training and coaching and everything for three years," Mitch explained. "It's pretty hard not to consider it."
I know we talk about Mitch a lot here, but obviously there's a reason for that: He is a spectacular young player, and if you think we talk about him a lot now just wait until we see what his bright future holds.
Same thing with Keller's Shane Vinsant, who already has aged out of the junior majors and committed to Texas A&M, where he might get reunited with his old (young?) pal Mitch. Also, Mansfield's Andrew Korinek, who trains with former ATP pro Taylor Dent, has signed with the Texas Longhorns. Andrew, a former UIL state champion, has a big junior resume, too, so keep your eyes open to see what he does.
Memorial Service for Lee Hamilton Inspiring
My husband, Steve, and I went to Dallas on July 6 to attend the memorial service for Dallas' Lee Hamilton, whose contributions to local, state and national USTA tennis are well documented. Lee, 75, died of cancer June 16.
My previous blog told of my thoughts about Lee, an accomplished tennis player and a fine person. I learned a lot more about Lee at his service, which brought together at least 300 of his family members, friends and colleagues, many of whom had known him since his college days at Bucknell University, from which he graduated in 1957.
The stories people told at the gathering were about his love of photography, his travels, his close-knit-yet-large extended family and his passion for his beloved alma mater. And, of course, tennis.
I saw many familiar faces, both from the enormous Fort Worth-Dallas tennis community and other parts of the state. It was one of those occasions during which you find yourself saying, "It's so good to see you, but I wish it were under happy circumstances."
Lee Hamilton is missed already.
Keller's Wilder Defaults on Match Point Due to Injury
Val Wilder, whose achievements are so large that our website couldn't contain them, seemingly wins his age group at every national tournament. In fact, the only thing that could stop him at the recent National 50 Indoors in Irvine, Calif., was an injury.
"I had to default the finals as I pulled a calf muscle on match point in my semis," said Wilder, a teaching pro in Keller. "I was up 6-1 in the second-set tiebreak and felt it pop on a running shot. First time I have had to do that in a National!"
Despite having to quit the match, Wilder might advance from No. 4 to No. 1 in the world. Amazing.
Mike Estep Works with Coaches, Players
While bridge has been his thing for many years now, Hurst's Mike Estep has a playing and coaching resume you would have to Google to appreciate. So when he recently offered to help McLeland pro Linton Lewis teach the forehand, Linton was all over it.
"Mike Estep actually came out and donated his time to help the coaches--specifically me--learn how to coach. I have a kid [student] who is going to Bollettieri's, and we wanted to work on forehands.
"Well, Mike had one of the biggest forehands ever back when he was on the pro tour, and he taught me and the kid how to hit a forehand and how it has changed over the years. And he wouldn't let us pay him. I hope he helps us again."