International Players of Intrigue at Campbell’s Hall of Fame Championships
Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com
Tennis East Coast will provide daily coverage of the Campbell’s Hame of Fame Championships in one of the most surprisingly beautiful venues in the country. Jammed between a busy shopping center and downtown Newport commercial activity, the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame are an oasis of all things racquet-related in an otherwise tourist engulfed island.
It’s like Wimbledon without the excessive grunting, the unfavorable currency exchange rate and the terrible queues. Upside: Lobster rolls, Opportunity for everyone to take a free hit on the grass courts, Del’s Lemonade, Theme park-like volunteers who dress in full vintage on-court get ups throughout the sun-baked days. It all adds up to to you intermittently forgetting the real reason you are there: an actual ATP 250 event of modern-day players with space-age sticks.
The USA is well represented with John Isner, Sam Querrey, Michael Russell, Jesse Levine, Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock. Nothing is better than catching up with the American players, but sometimes I see blogger gold (OK, silver) when speaking with international players and their widely diverse backgrounds.
Here’s who I’m excited to see play, and, hopefully, ask a few questions:
#39 Denis Istomin:
The only Wimbledon Sweet 16’er in the Newport draw, Istomin has had incredible success in 2012. He beat David Ferrer in Indian Wells earlier this year, made the San Jose final against Milos Raonic, and just became the first Uzbeki to ever reach the 4th round of Wimbledon.
#23 Milos Raonic:
My daughter got her very first autograph from a pro tennis player at the tender age of a year and day from Raonic at Rogers Cup in Montreal in August 2009. Let’s just say that both of them have really blossomed since the day I accidentally gave my daughter that wedgie as witnessed in the above photo. Raonic was being MC’ed by a Montreal radio sportscaster whose English left something to be desired that day. Raonic’s wasn’t much better at the time, but he’s gone from #783 to #23 as an ATP player, as has his English proficiency since then. Let’s hope the Montreal sports jock has fared as well in that department.
The Other Canadians: Pospisil and Dancevic
Usually you have to head to the Rogers Cup to see all three of these guys (adding Coach Niemayer) in the main draw, but I’ll opt for skipping the 2 hour border crossing and catch them up the 95 instead.
21-year-old David Goffin is the hottest name out there in men’s tennis (if you don’t live in the United States), and he’s headed to Newport just off his loss to Mardy Fish at the 3rd round of Wimbledon. “La Goff” ran through Stepanek, Clement and Kubot after coming in as a lucky loser at Roland Garros. He then proceeded to take the first set off his idol, Roger Federer, before bowing in defeat to him in the Round of 16.
Then, there’s Igor Sijsling, the 24-year-old Amsterdam native and current resident who recently reached the Quarterfinals of the UNICEF Open, taking out Jarkko Nieminen in 54 minutes in that one.
And what sane tennis fan wouldn’t want to ask 2 time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt about the future of Aussie tennis, and specifically Ash Barty and Bernie Tomic?
This is going to be good. And, unless you’re a three hour drive or less from Aquidneck Island, you shouldn’t have to move a muscle to experience any of it. Let us take care of it for you next week. @TennisEastCoast on Twitter. Enjoy!