10 Nov 2017

Finish line in sight, but Florida humidity takes toll

News Article

By Harvey Fialkov

Photo: Camerawork USAMarco Filippeschi (ITA)

As the weeklong ITF Seniors World Individual Championships comes to a climax it seems the winner is South Florida’s heat and humidity.

In the men’s 50s Thursday at North Shore Tennis Center, second-seeded Karsten Braasch of Germany, wilted, despite holding a 63 0-1 advantage and was unable to continue, thus handing the semifinal match to unseeded Martin Persson of Sweden.

“I could see he was running out of gas in the first set. He went downhill from there,’’ said Persson, 50, who’s in his first World final.

Persson lost 61 64 to Braasch, a former professional once ranked 38th, in last week’s Fred Perry Cup team event in which Sweden lost to Germany in the playoff for third place.

In 2013, Persson, who played tennis for four years at the University of Auburn in Alabama, routed Braasch 60 60 in the ITF Seniors Teams Dubler Cup in Turkey.

“This is definitely my best Worlds,’’ said Persson, who’s business is banking and finance in Stockholm. “I played teams last week, so I’ve had a lot of time to adjust to the weather. I’m in decent physical shape, so that helps me grind it out there.’’

Persson, a top junior in Sweden, played a few Satellite tournaments after college, but was already 24 and, “figured it’s not going to pay the bills".

Braasch regrouped and teamed with countryman Henrich Blasé to win their doubles semifinal match 63 57 (10-6) over Argentines Fernando de Marinis and Roberto Gattiker.

Persson will play ITF 50s’ rookie Marco Filippeschi of Italy, the top seed who coasted to a 60 61 victory over Carlos Costa Bou of Spain. Filippeschi, 50, is 41-4 in his first full year on the ITF Seniors circuit and after winning a Grade A event in Barcelona in July reached No. 1 in the world.

He was once ranked a career-high 221 on the ATP Tour (1987-90).

“I won a few Challengers, but after a year in the army I was 21 and had trouble getting back my game so I quit to teach tennis in a club near Florence,’’ Filippeschi said. “Still, it’s nice to be No. 1 at this time.’’

In the women’s 50s, American Jenny Klitch also succumbed to the 84-degree and 83 percent humidity and was forced to retire at 3-6 0-4 to the top-seeded Klaartje Van Baarle of Belgium. It’s surprising because Klitch lives in nearby West Palm Beach all year round.

Van Baarle, an amazing 190-3 during her amateur career, will seek to vanquish her third consecutive American in the final when she faces second-seeded Ros Nideffer, who eked out a 46 61 75 victory over fellow American Andrea Rice in the other semifinal.

Van Baarle, who also defeated Americans Gretchen Rush in the quarterfinals and Susan Kirby in the first round has yet to drop a set.

“I have so much respect for Ros,’’ said Van Baarle, who has never played Nideffer. “She plays effortlessly and the ball in on top of you. Hopefully, she’s tired from today’s match.’’

Nideffer, once ranked 15th on the pro tour, is 57 and playing down because she wants to “challenge’’ herself. She will also vie for a gold medal in the women’s doubles final along with Rush against Marian Matilde Metola and Monica Liliana Patron of Argentina.

There were no surprises in the men’s 60s semifinals as top-seeded Glenn Busby steamrolled fellow Aussie Wayne Pascoe 60 62; and second-seeded Pierre Godfroid of Belgium edged American Maxime Buyckx to set up a clash of Senior titans.

Busby is 4-3 against Godfroid, including a victory in the final of the 2010 World Individual Championships in Mexico. Busby is also alive in the doubles final.

Pascoe, a serve-and-volleyer, who reached No. 198 in 1980 during a four-year pro career, had wins over Bill Scanlon (career-high No. 9), a doubles win in the second round of the 1982 Wimbledon over Stan Smith and Bob Lutz – a five-time Grand Slam tandem – and once-ranked 44th Pascal Portes in the first round of the 1981 US Open.

“I’ve got great memories from tennis and I’ve been able to combine my love of tennis with business,’’ said Pascoe, a commercial property investor. “One time John Fitzgerald and I are playing John McEnroe and Peter Fleming in the Melbourne Indoors and we’re up a set and a break.

“McEnroe goes nuts, screaming, ‘Who are these people? They’re nothing.’ They eventually beat us.’’

Pascoe is vice president of the tennis association in New South Wales.

“Our purpose is to help people play tennis for life,’’ Pascoe said. “That’s what it’s all about. We don’t do this for money. It’s for fun.’’

In the women’s 60s, top-seeded Diane Barker and second-seeded Susan Wright set up an all-American final after double-bageling their opponents, Gundula Wieland and Kathy Foulk, respectively.

The two have battled for years, with Barker owning a 16-2 advantage, including 11-2 in finals and 3-0 in Worlds. Barker is seeking her seventh World singles championship (2002, ’04, ’07, ’10, ’12, ’13), while Wright is after her first.

In the men’s 55s played at Crandon Park Tennis Center on hard courts, American Mike Fedderly stunned the top-seeded Konstantinos Effraimoglou of Greece, 64 in the third set. He will play unseeded Peter Markes of Austin, Texas, who ousted Silvano Pozzi of Italy 61 64.

In the women’s 55s final, seventh-seeded Helga Nauck of Germany will meet eighth-seeded Vicki Buholz of America.