Second seeds Suzanne Matzenauer and Julio Peralta each pulled off upsets to emerge victorious in the women’s and men’s singles tournaments at the 122nd Annual Pacific Northwest Open Tennis Championships at the Tacoma Lawn and Tennis Club on July 23-28.
“The weather, the fans and, of course, the play on both sides of the draw were fantastic,” said tournament co-director Mike Politeo. “It just keeps getting better every year.”
While the men’s side of the draw saw its share of great play all tournament long, the storylines to watch were on the women’s side. Both top seed Gail Brodsky and Matzenauer – the hometown favorite and Bellarmine Prep grad – had their sights set on being the first player since Teresa Dobson in 1993 to become a three-time winner.
Brodsky, the back-to-back defending champion, needed only three games against an injured Kady Pooler to get through to the finals. But Matzenauer was tested in the semifinals by 16-year-old defending runner-up Dasha Ivanova, who gave her everything she could handle with her quick feet and precision ground strokes. But in the end, Matzenauer pulled out a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 victory to earn the right to face Brodsky.
“Ivanova is really tough, she really extended me all day,” said Matzenauer.
On the men’s side, top-seeded Mohamed Abid cruised through to the finals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over third-seeded Malcolm Harrison after losing the first two games of the first set, and Peralta defeated unseeded Campbell Johnson 6-1, 7-5 to set up Sunday’s final.
But Peralta jumped out early and never looked back in the anticlimactic championship match, winning 6-1, 6-3 and winning seven consecutive games at one point.
“I played very patiently and stuck to my game plan and beat a real good player in the process,” said Peralta, who originally hails from Chile but will be instructing in California in the near future.
The stage was set for Brodsky or Matzenauer to achieve tournament history and equal Teresa Dobson’s feat in the early 90’s. Matzenauer took a 6-4 win in the first set, which featured four service breaks. Tied 1-1 in the second set, Matzenauer won three consecutive games, finally establishing a good serve and volley game to defeat Brodsky 6-4, 6-3.
“I’d like to thank my coach Gill Rigell, who has had a big influence on my game,” said Matzenauer, who also won the title in 2005 and 2010. “I started to play a lot better in the second set. To beat the two-time defending champ is something special.”
Matzenauer later teamed up with Pooler to take the women’s doubles title, defeating Megan Carter and Meghan Cassens 6-4, 6-2. She added the trifecta when she teamed with Luke Shields for an 8-4 win over Brian Battistone and Carter for the mixed doubles title. Battistone and Joel Kielbowicz defeated Abid and Oren Motevassel 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 for the men’s doubles title.
By Steve Mullen
TOP SEEDS CRUISE IN QUARTERFINALS
Early in the Pacific Northwest Open, the top few seeds in both the men’s and women’s singles tournaments proved exactly why they were placed there.
After cruising in two sets in his first two matches to advance to the quarterfinals, top seed Mohamed Abid proved to be too much for Boise State sophomore Thomas Tenreiro, who had battled for a three-set victory over Brian Patrick Foley in the round of 16. Abid slowly wore down Tenreiro, eventually claiming a 6-3, 6-3 victory that he finished with an ace. Similarly, second seed Julio Peralta made short work of eighth seed Emmett Egger, winning 6-0, 6-1 in the quarterfinals by repeatedly showcasing a solid backhand return.
The most interesting, and physically draining, match in the quarterfinals was between third seed Malcolm Harrison and fourth seed Joel Kielbowicz. The two – who have played doubles and trained together for several years – went back and forth with swings of momentum, as Harrison won the final two games to claim the first set 6-4. Kielbowicz answered right back, claiming four of the final five games in the second set for a 6-3 win. But Harrison shot out to a 3-1 lead in the third set, eventually taking the match with a 6-3 win.
“Joel is such a tough competitor,” Harrison said. “It’s always a difficult challenge playing him because he handles pace well and he handles aggressive players really well. I like to be aggressive, so we kind of counterbalance each other out on the court.”
Unseeded Campbell Johnson – a senior at the University of California – capped an impressive few days by taking a 6-3, 6-1 win over tournament regular Oren Motevassel in the final men’s quarterfinal. The two traded games in the first set, but Johnson turned it on to win the final three games, and took a commanding 4-0 lead in the second set by forcing Motevassel into some errors.
“I think the first set was so long and taxing physically,” said Johnson, in his first year at the PNW. “The second set I started to get on a roll a little bit in the beginning and just kind of ran with it. We were both pretty tired, it was just whoever could maintain the longest.”
The women’s quarterfinals went completely as expected, as the top four seeds advanced. Top seed Gail Brodsky got an easy pass when Megan Carter had to withdraw before the match, and third seed Dasha Ivanova won the first set 6-2 over fifth seed Denise Dy, who retired with Ivanova leading 1-0 in the second set.
Local favorite Suzanne Matzenauer found the road a lot tougher against seventh seed Maggy Lehmicke, a sophomore at the University of Nebraska.
Matzenauer jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first set, looking as if she would cruise to victory. But Lehmicke showed resolve in closing to within 4-3 before Matzenauer took the final two games to win the first set.
The second set was a back-and-forth affair, with each player taking turns seizing momentum and having moments of struggle. Matzenauer seemed to get an advantage by taking a 2-1 lead, but the two then exchanged sets, with Lehmicke refusing to let down. But Matzenauer finally closed it out with a 7-5 win, rallying for four straight points after being down 40-0 in the final game.
“I just changed my strategy the last couple games and kind of dictated more to her forehand side,” said Matzenauer. “I was just mentally tough and pulled it out. I didn’t want to go three sets because she’s young and she’s probably fitter than me.”
Fourth seed Kady Pooler displayed a dominant serve and battled through a late injury to earn a 6-2, 6-2 win over Tacoma native and eighth seed Meghan Cassens, a junior at Iowa State, in the other quarterfinal match.
By Jeremy Helling