Clay Court Championship Week
Hance upsets hometown favorite in Winston-Salem
by Ali Jones
, 26 July 2011
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Kenneth Connor Hance, a 12-year-old Californian who once played Agassi's son in a TV ad, dashed North Carolina's dream for a three-peat when he beat Greenville's Patrick Kypson in a dominating 6-2, 6-1 finals performance at the 2011 USTA National Clay Court Championships.
Hance, seeded 15th and nursing a sore knee, tempered his aggressive game with a little more patience and focus throughout the week. En route to the title, he defeated the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th seeds in straight sets.
Many thought his shot-making prowess against Taylor Dent in the Genworth Financial ad were edited, but this week Hance showed the tennis world that's not the case and that he's not just another pretty face. He's worthy of a gold ball, and no less on clay, the most punishing of surfaces.
Third seed Kypson, carrying Tar Heel hopes on his young shoulders, fell just a match short in his quest to follow in the footsteps of Tommy Paul and Anudeep Kodali, who kept the title in-state the past two years.
Nathan Perrone and Alexandre Rotsaert defeated John McNally and Gianni Ross in the doubles draw. Top seed Noah Makarome won the Sportsmanship Award.
Tournament director Chris Cagle described the singles finals match as "kind of like a Djokovic-Nadal match up."
"They played similar in style," he said. "They both move well, both moved the ball around well. It's just Connor got on top of Patrick pretty early and it just snowballed and got away from Patrick a little bit."
Hance, who goes by Connor, trains at his parents' South Bay Tennis Center near Palos Verdes in southern California. He last played on clay here in 2010, where he finished in the finals of the southwest draw. This year's expectations were modest.
"I really wanted to win, but I didn't expect to win," said the Blue Chip athlete. "I surprised myself."