Monday, June 11, 2012

Great Britton puts on jolly good show

Singles champion Devin Britton, above, and runner-up
Jeff Dadamo, below, address the crowd after Sunday's
final at Park Terrace. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The $15,000 Tennis Town Pro Tennis at Park Terrace tournament in Sacramento ended the way it began -- with high drama on the stadium court.
   And Jeff Dadamo, a powerful left-hander, was involved each time.
   Seventh-seeded Devin Britton saved two match points, the first on a self-described "lucky" shot, in a 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory over wild card Dadamo on Sunday at the Park Terrace Swim & Tennis Club.
   In the first match on the stadium court of the tournament, Dadamo escaped two match points to pull out a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6) win over top-seeded Tennys Sandgren.
   The final between the two Americans and former NCAA champions drew a nice gathering of about 100 spectators. In contrast, the covered temporary stands were empty for Tuesday morning's battle.
   Britton, 21, earned $1,950 for his first professional singles title three years after winning the NCAA singles title as a University of Mississippi freshman in his home state and then turning pro.
   "This is huge," gushed Britton, who has won seven pro doubles crowns. "It's always good to break down different barriers. Obviously, it's a pretty big confidence booster. It gets the monkey off my back, and it will help my ranking quite a bit."
   At 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, Britton has a big serve and forehand, and he's one of the few players who likes to come to the net. But he has struggled with his confidence after a rocky start to his career. Ranked No. 555 entering the Tennis Town tournament, he'll surpass his career high of No. 551 and approach or crack the top 500 on next Monday's list. 
   Dadamo (pronounced Du-DAH-mo), 22, of Tampa, Fla., won last year's NCAA doubles title with fellow Texas A&M senior and left-hander Austin Krajicek. The 6-foot-1 Dadamo, ranked No. 641, has a devastating serve and forehand and a beautiful one-handed backhand. But he also has a short fuse. One miss is enough to set him off. During Sunday's match, he bounced his racket off the cushioned hardcourt repeatedly, kicked his racket at least once and flung it against the fence three times.
   Dadamo, whose cross-court backhand slice also gave Britton fits, twice came within one point of winning 6-2, 6-4 on a 95-degree day with mercifully light wind after Saturday's gusts. On Dadamo's first match point, with Britton serving at 4-5 in the second set, Britton flicked a forehand half volley for a winner.
   "I serve-and-volleyed on my second serve, and he hit a low slice behind me," said Britton, who lost to Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of the 2009 U.S. Open in Arthur Ashe Stadium. "I was lucky to pick it up, and I put it in an awkward place for him."
   Said Dadamo, who earned $1,350 and also was seeking his first pro singles crown: "Would he make that half volley nine out of 10 times? It doesn't matter -- he made it today."
   On the second match point, two points later, Britton hit a deep second serve that handcuffed Dadamo for deuce. Britton then hit a cross-court forehand winner and a forehand volley to tie the set at 5-5.
   Both players held serve to force the tiebreaker. Britton bolted to a 5-1 lead, but Dadamo fought back to 6-6. Dadamo then double-faulted and netted a backhand return of Britton's second serve to even the match.
   Dadamo, who held his serve throughout the first and second sets, lost it twice in the third set. Meanwhile, Britton held his service games in the deciding set. He broke for 2-0 with the help of two double-faults and in the final game. Dadamo netted a forehand volley to end it.
   Dadamo denied suffering a letdown early in the third set.
   "He played a good game, and I didn't serve as well," he said. "He was going after the ball, and I had a tough time countering it."
   But as Britton said after evening his career record against Dadamo to 1-1, "It's hard not to get down after losing match points and the set. He threw in a couple of double faults, and you can't do that."
   In the doubles final, fourth-seeded Americans Vahid Mirzadeh and Phillip Simmonds edged unseeded Nicolas Meister of Trabuco Canyon in the Los Angeles area and ex-Cal star Pedro Zerbini of Brazil 6-4, 3-6, 11-9 tiebreak.
   French Open TV -- Tennis Channel will replay Rafael Nadal's record-setting victory over Novak Djokovic in the French Open men's singles final today at 4 p.m. PDT.
   Nadal completed his 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 triumph this morning to break Bjorn Borg's mark of six French Open crowns. The match had been suspended by rain early in the fourth set Sunday.   
   Men's Challenger in Nottingham, Great Britain -- Unseeded Benjamin Becker of Germany defeated fourth-seeded Dmitry Tursunov, who lives in the Sacramento suburb of Folsom, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the grass-court Aegon Trophy.

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