Aledo's Mitch Krueger and Keller's Shane Vinsant, two of the best young players North Texas has seen in a long time, have had some April. First, they won the USTA International Spring Championships, boys 18s division, in Carson, Calif. Then, a week later, they won the Easter Bowl USTA Junior Spring National Championships (now there's a mouthful) boys 18s Sunday in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
I caught up with them Monday, when they got back from California. First, I got a hold of Vinsant, who was on the court seemingly moments after touching ground, then I had a chat with Krueger. Both were happy about recent events--especially that they had managed to escape a third-set super-tiebreak in the Easter Bowl final, which they won, 6-2, 7-5, over Emmett Egger of Issaquah, Wash., and Mac Styslinger of Birmingham, Ala.
"I was really glad when Mitch put away that volley," Vinsant said of match point, a high forehand volley that Krueger admitted caused him some stress.
Krueger and Vinsant had been serving well all tournament long and said they had not really been tested. But when Krueger was serving for the match, up 5-4 in the second set, he said he "played a tight game. I double-faulted and missed a volley, and we lost the game. I really wanted to make up for that."
At 5-5, Krueger and Vinsant broke back, giving themselves another chance to serve for the match, this time with Vinsant serving. Up 6-5, they earned a 40-love lead on what Krueger called three easy points, only to lose three loose points to drop to deuce. (Actually, it was 3-3, because they were playing no-ad scoring, so match point for Krueger and Vinsant was set point for Egger and Styslinger.)
"Then Shane put in a hard first serve to the ad side, the guy floated back a return and I put away a high forehand volley," Krueger said. "I have to admit, that felt really good after I had gotten tight when I was serving for it. I kind of had all that in my head while I was putting that ball away. I was really pumped after that."
Vinsant said he loves playing with Krueger, because both possess strong backhand returns and can serve and volley well.
"As a team, I think we do everything well, which makes us hard to beat," Vinsant said. "Things have been going well for us." They have known each other for about six years but have been doubles partners for only a few months. Vinsant trains at Brookhaven and under the tutelage of his father, Dave, Keller High School's tennis coach. Krueger trains at T Bar M, where his mother, Marla, gives lessons.
Both boys are 17 and plan to play college tennis. Vinsant couldn't say where he might play, while Krueger said he would like to play locally but would weigh his options. Former TCU coach Tut Bartzen, a vocal advocate of the value of playing college tennis before turning pro, said players should dominate college tennis before trying to make the pro tour, and Krueger and Vinsant echoed his sentiments.
For now, the North Texas pair plans to travel to Europe to play the junior majors. They said they would keep in touch with us here at www.TennisFortWorth.com with frequent reports during their trip, which they hope results in more trophies.
"We were serving well and hardly even got broken," Krueger said of the Easter Bowl experience. "When we returned well, we were unstoppable."
Here's to more of the same overseas.