Day 5: USA vs. Italy…a bit of a heart-breaker, Italy advances 2-1
This entry will be written by my wife…she is convinced that I won’t comment on some of the details you might want to hear, claiming that my natural tendency towards “less is more,” might not serve those of you following our matches.
Italy is the #9 seed and they took out Sweden, the #8 seed, yesterday. Playing the Italians always brings a unique type of energy not just to the playing field, but also to the spectator field. There is always a significant amount of “bravo, bravo, bravissimo!” as the Italians cheer on their countrymen. In my experience, there is generally much contention over line calls and marks in the clay. If you enjoy the on-court drama, today’s match would not disappoint. It was emotionally charged, to be sure, those Italians are a passionate bunch.
Bill Moss, who didn’t play yesterday, was enthusiastic to start us off in #2 singles to get the ball rolling. He definitely brought a lot of energy, which was needed as was subjected to long, grueling rallies from the baseline but was repeatedly caught several feet behind the baseline as his opponent mercilessly executed drop shot after drop shot for many winners. Bill became increasingly frustrated as he could not find a weakness to pick on with this very solid Italian player. He went down 6-1, 6-1.
Mike Tammen is next in the line up, he meets up with an Italian Andre Agassi…compact, very fit, strong muscular legs and very quick, getting to just about everything Mike dished out. Mike starts of strong, holding his serve at love and breaking his opponent’s first serve. Unfortunately, his opponent successfully breaks back, putting them back on serve. The battle ensues, with well-strung together points. One point sticks out that began as a serve and volley, which turned into a half volley, which turned into a drop shot winner. This earned Mike the “racquet clap” from his opponent.
We are on serve, Italy 4 serving 5 when we decide to put on our rally hats. They guys turn their hats backwards (how Mike always wears his unless he’s playing in the sun) and Bill comes up with the chant, “What time is it? It’s BREAK time!” (see photo below). We think this made a difference in the momentum, but I’m sure the cross court forehand that hit the tape and turned it into an un-returnable drop shot, helped also. 6-4 USA
Second set, Mike starts us off in a way I have never witnessed before. Mike serving, ACE, (this is his 2nd of the match). His next 3 serves are a repeat of his first. Now that is efficiency! I asked him about it later and he had said it had been many years since he had pulled that off.
This set is filled with lots of interesting points, with varied play, lots of back hand slice approach shots, angling off to force his opponent into a lob, which he puts away. This happens on both sides of the net, unfortunately, making it a close set. There are also close calls made, causing the line judge to come out on the court (see photos of the men discussing the mark as well as the pretty woman with two cell phones – she is the line judge, responsible for 4 matches simultaneously being played.) It was a very exciting set, which had several break chances early on, but none capitalized until we were at 4-3. Mike gets the break, making it 5-3, then serves it out for the match. 6-4, 6-3. Comes down to the doubles once again. Sigh. This isn’t supposed to happen this early in the tournament!
Doubles begins with a bang…Italy serving and there is serious contention over a call Italy makes at deuce. If you know Mike, you know he rarely argues a call, more often than not, asking his opponent how he saw it, and giving them the call. Today is a different day. Line judge is called out, each opponent is pointing to two different marks on the court so the line judge, who didn’t see the actual point of impact has no choice but to make them replay the point. USA ends up getting the break. Ken gets fired up!
These are both very strong teams with lots of weapons. The Italians may have the edge here, as they grew up on this surface. Their comfort shows. There is no shortage of exciting points, and each team has a vocal cheering section. Ken serving in the first set at 4-5, started off strong with his booming serve that garnered a weak return making the put away by Mike. This game goes to deuce and we end up getting broke, losing the set 6-4.
There were more breaks than holds in this match, and we had our chances and did move ahead but didn’t stay ahead. Ken was serving for the second set at 5-4 and got broke, followed by a hold and a break on Mike’s serve to end the match. 6-4, 7-5, Italy advances. For the first time in 5 years, USA is now advancing in the tournament, but only to play for 5th place. Team is a bit dejected, but I’m confident they will rally for tomorrow’s match against Great Britain.
Tonight is our fancy, group dinner where all teams get dressed up and there is dancing following dinner. Will include photos from that in tomorrow’s edition.