Championship Wednesday at the Altec/Styslinger Foundation Exhibition went off without a hitch, thanks to player, tournament director and stringer JC Aragone, the brainchild behind the event. We also saw what might be the shot of the year, a ridiculous running/jumping tweener from Hubert Hurkacz:
It seems that Hurkacz has perfected his tweener during this hiatus, as the 6’5” Pole hit another shot-of-the-year candidate in May at the UTR Pro Match Series.
The tournament, complete with a full play-in consolation bracket, was undoubtedly the best collection of U.S. men's tennis talent since the coronavirus flipped the world upside down. In the end, Tennys Sandgren captured the inaugural title with a 4-1, 4-1 demolition of Sam Querrey.
“The backhand was clean today,” said Sandgren. “My forehand decided to be good at times too, I think I played well.”
He certainly did. You don’t break the Querrey serve three times in 10 games without seeing the ball perfectly.
In the third-place match, world No. 220 Brandon Nakashima secured another Top 40 upset with a straight-set, two-tiebreak win over Reilly Opelka. Nakashima defeated world No. 29 Hurkacz in straight sets on Monday.
While Opelka didn’t have his best serving day, Nakashima seemed to dominate the seven-footer in almost every baseline rally. Once the point evolved past the first few shots, it was clear Nakashima owned a significant advantage from the baseline.
To be clear, this was not one of Opelka’s best performances, but it’s yet another promising sign for Nakashima, who is quickly climbing up the U.S. tennis ladder.
All in all, the event was a success, despite Aragone not being sure he could actually pull it off.
“At first I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing because I wasn’t sure I could actually do it,” Aragone said of securing the player field and raising over $80,000 for the event.
“Banks aren’t going to pay for sponsorships if their clients can’t come, and advertising space on TV is great, but they wanted things I couldn’t give them right now because of the virus.”
But Aragone sealed the deal at the last minute, much to the delight of fans watching on TV and players on the court.
“The best part about this was watching all the hard work come to fruition.”