Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
I normally don’t like Mondays at a tennis tournament. You get leftover qualifying rounds and a few first round matches. The real red meat of the tournament always starts later in the week. So Monday is tennis subsistence day. Like watching Lucas Lacko, who reached the third round of Wimbledon, flame out in the first round at Newport. The best part of that match was learning that the victor, Dudi Sela, was traveling with his 2 year old and 7 month old, and he looked really busy after the match, like “we need you now” busy. Sela faces off against defending champ Rajeev Ram in the second round.
Ram cruised over Mackenzie McDonald later in the day to set up the second round match. As for McDonald, the UCLA champ was in great spirits just to have had the opportunity to play on Center Court in Newport. That made Monday better.
The first sign that it wasn’t going to be the usual Monday were the qualifiers: Old hands Frank Dancevic and Alex Kuznetsov advancing in three grueling, up-and-down sets.Then it was Brian Baker’s turn. Baker, after spending only 25 minutes on court yesterday due to the retirement of Jan Hernych, had a closer match against Great Britain’s Brydan Klein. Baker looked like his old self again, and he closed out the match to qualify in straights/ Seeing him out there was enough to make my Monday.
As he heads to the Olympics next month to represent the U.S., Baker told Tennis Atlantic, “I feel great. I’m getting fitter and better each week. I just need to get some more matches. This year has been a little bit of a struggle just because coming back from so much time off, and playing the bigger events with my protected (ranking), if you’re not winning a ton, you’re just not getting a lot of matches. It’s nice this week to already get two matches under my belt and hope to get more”.
One good thing about Mondays is a chance to see young players on the rise and local players of interest. Today, the crowds got to see Rhode Island’s own Jared Donaldson. In fact, they wouldn’t have been much of a press corps here today without Donaldson on the schedule. Donaldson is an intense young player with a bright future. I will let the entire local press corps tell you all about him, because going against the grain is what Mondays are all about. I will tell you that he lost in straights to Donald Young, but that is all.