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Pain doesn't keep Kendrick from victory
By Ken Robison
The Fresno Bee
(Published Wednesday, October 2, 2002, 4:10 AM)
Robert Kendrick was struggling on center court in his hometown.
Start with a letdown from the emotional high of last week's tournament title run in Tulsa, add an aching back and the dicey proposition of playing before a home crowd, and you had the recipe for a first-round defeat.
But the 22-year-old Fresnan picked his game up a notch in the third set Tuesday night at Copper River Country Club, emerging with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over Tripp Phillips in the Herwaldt Motors Fresno Challenger pro tennis tournament.
Kendrick's victory was much appreciated by the hometown crowd, which lost one of its favorites when former Fresno State All-American Peter Luczak dropped his first-rounder to Bjorn Rehnquist of Sweden 6-4, 6-2.
That left Kendrick and ex-Bulldog Olivier LeJeune as the only local angles as the men's draw enters its second round. LeJeune faces eighth seed Paul Goldstein at 3 p.m. today; Kendrick faces Kevin Kim on Thursday. Kendrick and Luczak play doubles at approximately 5 p.m. today.
"Everything felt bad out there today," Kendrick said. A sore back -- tweaked in a morning practice -- and tough visibility at twilight threw off his serve in the second set, he said.
But the former Central Section champion (Clovis West and Bullard highs) and college All-American (Washington, Pepperdine) recovered nicely in the third set, getting an early break and keeping the pressure on Phillips with aggressive play.
The key came at 4-2, when Kendrick rallied from a love-30 deficit with two big service winners to hold serve. He then broke Phillips for the win.
"That's how I've been doing it lately," said Kendrick, who won his first challenger title last week in Tulsa, Okla. "Getting behind on my serve and then finding a way to climb back."
Luczak wasn't as fortunate, losing the first 10 points in his first match in Fresno since leaving school after the 2001 season. Rehnquist simply was too solid, never giving the 22-year-old Australian a foothold to climb back into the second set.
In the evening match, tour veteran Justin Gimelstob defeated former NCAA champion Bob Bryan 7-5, 7-5. Top-seeded Gimelstob, once ranked as high as 63 in the world and now at 130, faces Radoslav Lukaev of Bulgaria tonight.
The women take center court today, with No. 1 seed Amy Frazier (No. 46 in the world) facing Jana Nejedly of Canada at 6:30 p.m. Defending champion Marissa Irvin, the No. 2 seed, faces Svetlana Krivencheva of Bulgaria at 3 p.m.