Semi-finals super Saturday here on Skidaway Island, and St. Joseph’s/Candler Stadium Court was sold out! Great weather was upon us and the players were about to deliver terrific tennis to boot!
Singles matches were first up, as #5 seeded American Michael Mmoh took the court against #7 seeded Bolivian Hugo Dellien. Mmoh, who is quiet by nature, came to the court with a workman like persona. Showing little emotion he played smart, consistent and steady tennis, while Dellien frequently made unforced errors during the first set. Mmoh cruised to a 6-1 victory. However it was a different Mmoh in the second set- as he and Dellien traded service breaks throughout the set. Every time it looked like Mmoh would get close to securing the match, Dellien would dig deep and fight for the break again. Mmoh squandered several chance to serve out the set as he dropped the second set 7-5. As I always say, you never want to get into a 3 set match with a South American on clay courts. Well Mmoh must not have heard me…and it cost him dearly. Dellien just got stronger as the match went on, and the 3rd set was not as close as the 6-3 score indicated. Congrats to Hugo, as he advances to the finals by a count of 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
In the second match of the day, our two Americans Christian Harrison and Reilly Opelka went toe to toe. The giant serves of Reilly Opelka were awesome, but Christian Harrison managed to hold his serve as well. Headed into the match we all knew that if Harrison could simply protect his serve they were headed to a breaker for sure…but that is why they play the game! As it turned out, Christian and Reilly stayed on serve until 5-5 in the first set. Amazingly it was Opelka who was first to blink, as he found himself in a love-40 hole. His serve is the ultimate eraser though, and he worked his way back to deuce before the tenacious Harrison finally cracked him. Christian then held serve to close out the set 7-5. The second set went by even faster, as Harrison managed to get 2 early breaks and then closed out the set by a score of 6-2. Christian does not have the big weapons that his older brother Ryan possesses, but he certainly has the smarts, heart and hustle that will take him to great places in this game! What a finals it will be tomorrow between Hugo Dellien and Christian Harrison!!
Last up was the doubles semi-finals. Once again Hugo Dellien took the court, this time with Martin Cuevas as his partner against doubles specialist Luke Bambridge and Akira Santillan. Bambridge and Santillan came out swinging big from the baseline. It was apparent that their game plan was to test the volleys of the clay court baseline specialists. It paid off, as they ripped shots right at the net player time and time again. This helped them earn a 6-4 first set victory. However, as they always do, the South Americans rallied in the second set. Everything seemed to go their way, and the set got away from Bambridge and Santillan quickly, to the tune of 6-1. In the decisive 3rd set tie-breaker, it was nip and tuck the entire way. Neither team ever got out to a lead of more than a point the entire way. Sizzling groundstrokes were the story of the match, and it continued in the breaker. Finally at 7-7, Bambridge and Santillan got a mini-break and never looked back. They took the next 2 points and reached the finals!
Tomorrow’s finals action will start at 1pm, and we will begin with doubles action at 1pm. Luke Bambridge and Akira Santillan will play Jeevan and Enrique in what promises to be an entertaining duel. After that match we will then cheer on Christian Harrison as he looks to win his first ever Challenger Tour singles title against Hugo Dellien. Get here early and find a great seat!!