After slow start losing the first game 15-4, James Stout got better each game, winning next three over Alex Titchener-Barrett 15-9, 15-4, and 15-1 to win the US Open Rackets Championship. ATB started the first game with a variety of off speed serves in an attempt to keep Stout off balance. Stout seemed to be playing a bit more back than usual, allowing ATB to win points cutting the ball to a shorter length. The strategy worked as ATB rolled to a first game victory. In the second game, Stout got up to a quick 7-1 lead. By 10-5, the pace had picked up and rallies were getting longer. ATB battled hard but was never able to make up for Stout’s early 6 point lead, losing 15-9. In games 3 and 4, Stout put more and more pressure on ATB. In addition to Stout’s effortless movement around the court, his ability to hold the ball and add deceptions to his shots is far beyond what any other player is doing in the game today. Stout again built quick, early leads of 5-1 and 9-1 respectively. These were hills too steep to climb with Stout closing out the last two games 15-4 and 15-1 to retain the US Open title.
The US Open Doubles Championship was also won by James Stout and his partner Mike Gooding. The two New York pros made relatively quick work of it, winning 15-9, 15-8, and 15-5, over World #4 and #5, Will Hopton and James Coyne. Despite the comfortable margin of victory, there were several rallies that many thought were among the best they had ever seen. With Coyne and Hopton up 7-6 in the second game, the crowd saw a tremendous rally with multiple balls that seemed to be sure put-aways before they witnessed miraculous retrievals to keep the rally alive. The crowd let out a huge ovation when Stout finally put the ball away 25 or so hits later. A few minutes on, with Stout and Gooding up 9-7, there was another rally nearly as good. But the best point many of us have ever seen, may have been at 10-8 during another rally of tremendous attacking shots and unbelievable retrievals. Late in the rally, Hopton caught both of his opponents in the back of the court and managed to lay down a short ball – almost a drop. Stout came flying out of the back court and dove for the ball. He managed to retrieve it while sliding semi—sideways on his chest. Coyne (I think) sent Stout’s return to the back of the court. Stout was already up, tearing after it when he realized it had gone to his partner who was in the act of returning it once again. His only option was to dive again, this time sliding just under Gooding’s return which sadly hit the telltale.
There were many exciting and well played matches in the earlier rounds. Of particular note to this writer, was the improving play of Richard Owen who took Alex Titchener-Barrett to five games in the quarter-finals, and Nick James who was a human barricade on the left side of the doubles court. NOTHING got past him.
Thanks to the professionals and staff at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia who made the weekend a great success and all those who travelled to participate.