Sock and Redlicki Crowned National Champions in Kalamazoo
by Colette Lewis
, 20 August 2010
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Any USTA gold ball is special, whether it's the second or the 20th. But a gold ball won at Kalamazoo has something extra attached - a place on the long list of National Champions and a trip to New York to play at the U.S. Open. Jack Sock, the 18s champion, and Michael Redlicki, who triumphed in the 16s, survived a week of heat, humidity and rain disruptions to finish atop the 192-player fields gathered for the tournament's 68th year.
The fourth-seeded Redlicki, who won his first gold ball last month at the Clay Courts, brought confidence and his 6-foot-7 frame to Kalamazoo, both of which served him well early in the tournament. In his fourth round win over No. 15 seed Andrew Korinek, Redlicki endured two rain delays and the only loss of a set he would experience all week.
In the quarterfinals, the left-hander from Hawthorn Woods, Ill. defeated No. 5 seed Gordon Watson
, who Redlicki had beaten a few weeks before to win the Clay Court championship. Then it was on to No. 2 seed Mitchell Krueger
, where Redlicki's ten aces were instrumental in his 7-6(6), 6-4 semifinal win.
In the final against top seed Shane Vinsant, Redlicki admitted that nerves kept him from playing his best at the start, but he recovered in time to post a 7-5, 6-4 victory.
"I was extremely nervous," said Redlicki, who had lost to Vinsant in straight sets at April's International Spring Championships in Carson. "This crowd, the really nice flowers, the big bowls, at the beginning I had to get used to it."
Vinsant was also not at his best in the opening stages of the match, with both players suffering numerous double faults and framed shots in the first set. Vinsant got the initial break, but Redlicki got it right back and two holds made it 4-3. With Redlicki serving down 3-4, Vinsant had three break points, but couldn't convert them, more due to Vinsant's errors than to Redlicki's clutch play. In the middle of that lengthy game, Vinsant could be heard saying "I'm playing awful," and once Redlicki held for 4-4, he gave a big fist pump and a loud c'mon.