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What started out Monday as mediocre tennis at the Kentucky Bank Tennis Championships in Lexington turned into a full-blown, lengthy battle in the third set. Australian James Duckworth often used his serve to dig himself out of many key points in the match against former Wildcat standout and wild card entry Eric Quigley to win 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-5.
Up 6-5 in the third set, with Quigley serving and the crowd chanting its support, Duckworth, last year’s tournament runner up and this year’s No. 6 seed, had to change tactics and dig deep to end the match with winners.
“It was tough playing in front of a home-town crowd, but I like playing in front of a lot of people,” the 22-year-old Duckworth said. “They were cheering for him not against me.”
Needless to say, Quigley was disappointed, but he enjoyed being back on the courts where he won four high school championships and garnered the “winningest” record in University of Kentucky Wildcat tennis history and playing in front of his home crowd.
“It was great to be back where I played so much in college and a junior,” he said.
Quigley said he felt like he had chances, but Duckworth stepped on the gas toward the end to close the two-and-half hour match.
Both men came out looking nervous and tight but by the third set they seemed to have worked out their jitters, trading long service games, but with Duckworth collecting his game first to close out the match.
American Marcos Giron defeated Jordan Thompson of Australia, 7-6(2), 6-1. Giron is the 20-year-old NCAA tournament champion from 2014. Giron said he knew that Thompson would be a tough opponent and is “happy to be in the main draw.”
American Evan King fell to Erik Crepaldi of Italy, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3. The 24-year-old winner said he has “found his rhythm” the past couple of matches and feels good going into his first main draw match.
No. 2 seed Yoshihito Nishioki, 18, of Japan, knocked out 19-year-old American Mackenzie McDonald, 6-3, 6-4. Nishioki said he knew he’d have a tough match in McDonald from their junior games and that being the No. 2 seed in qualifying is a confidence booster for the main draw.
In the final qualifying match, American Ray Sarmiento, 21, played Richard Gabb, 22, of Great Britain, with Sarmiento taking the win, 6-0, 6-3. “It always helps to be here a few days before,” said Sarmiento when asked about the main draw. All four qualifiers will go on to play in the main draw on Tuesday.
The women had their second qualifying round with Asia Muhammad from the United States defeating fellow American Jennifer Elie. American Alexandra Mueller knocked out Justyna Jegiolka of Poland. Wild card American Kristie Ahn defeated Chiaki Okadaue from Japan. Marina Shamayko, from Russia, advanced past American Ashley Weinhold.
In the later matches, Canadian Carol Zhao defeated American Jacqueline Cako. Wild card American Jennifer Brady beat Sherazad Reix of France. American Maria Sanchez won against the Slovakian Petra Rampre. And Emily Webley-Smith of Great Britain was victorious over American Samantha Crawford. Those eight will advance to the final round of the qualifying matches and will play Tuesday to determine who goes to the main draw.
Tuesday Feature Matches
On court 1 at 7 p.m., Jesse Witten, 31, who played for the Kentucky Wildcats from 2001 to 2005 and was named the team’s first five-time All American and the first UK SEC Men’s Tennis Player of the year, will play 24-year-old Eric Crepaldi of Italy, who reached the main draw via the qualifying rounds.
Their match will be followed by doubles, with Quigley and Kevin Metka, 22, who currently plays for Ohio State taking on former Florida Gator Sekou Bangoura, 22, and former University of Michigan player Evan King, 22, all of whom have turned pro except Metka.
On court 2 at 7 p.m., Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame player Julie Ditty, 35, will continue her foray back from retirement as she faces No. 2 seed Madison Brengle, a 24-year-old from Dover, Delaware.
Doubles will follow with Chieh-Yu Hsu, a 22-year-old from Taiwan, and 26-year-old American Alexandra Mueller playing Americans Asia Muhammad, 23, and Melanie Oudin, 22.
From Ky. Bank