There was surprisingly little rust on day one of the "Home Court Advantage" exhibition in Rolling Hills, CA. Due to the abbreviated first to four game format fitness didn't play a factor, and the level of play remained high all day.
In the most anticipated matchup of the day, Sam Querrey fought from a dangerous 0-2 first set deficit to defeat rising star Zachary Svajda. The 17-year-old, who weighs about 135 lbs. soaking wet, struggled with Querrey's relentless weight of shot, ultimately falling 4-2, 4-1. "He hits huge," Svajda said of Querrey, "you can't leave anything short against him, you need to find ways to create offense for yourself." That's easier said than done when dealing with Querrey's gigantic serve, but Svajda embraced the learning experience.
It was more of the same in the second match for Svajda, who was simply overpowered by Bradley Klahn's massive lefty forehand. "Both Querrey and Bradley Klahn hit a massive ball," Svajda said, "I can't serve 140 like these guys, so every big point you have to find some way to get in control of the rally."
In the day's biggest upset, Klahn overcame a two-break, 0-3 first deficit to edge Querrey 4-3 (5), 0-4, 10-8. Querrey, one of the nicest players on tour, was still in great spirits despite the defeat. "I felt okay," said Querrey, who has been practicing just twice a week with Tommy Haas and Justin Gimelstob at a private court in Santa Monica, "my shoulder started getting sore in the second match just because I haven't served like this in a while."
Sam Querrey on his return to the court.— Cale Hammond (@Cale_Hammond) May 16, 2020
He defeated Svajda 6-2,6-1, but lost to Klahn 4-3 (5), 0-4, 10-8 pic.twitter.com/2sYnU0jYc4
Earlier in the day Brandon Holt took down Ernesto Escobedo, 4-2, 4-3 (4) at Scott Douglas' magnificent backyard green clay court.
For Holt, the No. 1 singles player for the University of Southern California, it really was a home court advantage, as the world No. 488 resides in the same neighborhood where the competition is taking place, and grew up training on the very court. He was sharp in his straight-set victory, while Escobedo admitted to "feeling surprisingly tight" in the defeat.
In the second match, Escobedo bounced back with a convincing 4-3 (6), 4-2 victory over world No. 102 Marcos Giron. Escobedo didn't leave the court after his loss as he believed that staying warm was the key to his victory over a cold Giron.
Brandon Holt takes the first match over Ernesto Escobedo 4-2, 4-3 (4) at the “Home Court Advantage” exo on the prettiest court you’ll ever see in Palos Verdes pic.twitter.com/VFtStYKwsZ— Cale Hammond (@Cale_Hammond) May 16, 2020
So far the advantage belongs to the player competing in their second consecutive match, as Giron dismissed Holt, 4-2, 4-2.
"Being able to stay on court in a short format like this is an advantage," Giron said. "I started my second match after the break very slow."
Marcos Giron advances to the semis with a 4-2,4-2 victory over Brandon Holt pic.twitter.com/yGek7cI7jL— Cale Hammond (@Cale_Hammond) May 16, 2020
But Holt isn't making any excuses, and is excited to watch the rest of the competition.
"At least I don't have to book a flight home," said Holt, who lives just a mile away from the tournament venue.
"You should be stretching," said Holt's coach Rylan Rizza.
"For what? The pro tournaments next week?" Holt responded with a smile.