Posted on Mon, Jan. 29, 2007
DELRAY BEACH INTERNATIONAL TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Gabashvili defeats Gambill at Delray Beach ITC
Despite being eliminated by Telmuraz Gabashvili, Jan-Michael Gambill said `I gave my all and I had fun.'
BY SANDRA HARWITT
Special to The Miami Herald
In the past, Delray Beach has been a lucky location for Jan-Michael Gambill.
At one time, the 29-year-old Gambill was considered a potential tour titan, someone who had the capability of doing great things on a tennis court, not to mention being considered a tour heartthrob.
He certainly showed signs of success when he reached a career-high ranking of No. 14 in 2001, and captured two of his three career titles here at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships in 2001 and 2003.
But during the past few years the now No. 687-ranked Gambill has been hampered with severe right shoulder tendinitis, an ailment for which numerous MRIs have indicated there is no surgical solution.
On Sunday, Gambill nearly created another serendipitous Delray moment for himself, but eventually fell short to Russian Telmuraz Gabashvili 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in the main draw elimination round, part of the 32-player round-robin format the tournament adopted this year.
Gambil has played little tennis of late, only taking to the court for five matches last year. He played in two Challenger events -- Waikola, Hawaii, in January and Binghamton, N.Y., in August -- and reached the third round of his sole ATP tournament appearance in Washington, D.C. last July.
The fact that people have questioned why he's attempting to continue playing comes as no surprise to him.
''I would ask those people why not, and I would ask those people if they've ever been in my shoes?'' Gambill said. ``No is the answer. I love this game and I love to play, and I had a great time on the court.''
Tournament Director Mark Baron is not one of the skeptics who question Gambill's desire to keep playing.
Having always been a soft touch when it comes to fulfilling players' wishes, especially players who have been loyal to his event, Baron granted Gambill's request for a wild card last week.
''I can't thank Mark Baron enough for giving me the opportunity to play this event,'' Gambill said. ``You never really deserve anything and I don't expect anything. He had a little faith in me. Unfortunately, I didn't win but I gave my all and I had fun.''
Gambill's hope is for his shoulder to feel good enough to give him a few more turns on the pro tour, and he remains convinced he is still tour-level talent.
He also has decided to jump-start his retirement plans, recently starting the small tennis academy he dreamed of for the future at his home in Kona, Hawaii.
''It's part of one of the things I wanted to do when I wasn't playing anymore anyway,'' he said. ``I figured since I'm not doing anything, I might as well start doing something now.''
In other play, Romanian Andre Pavel won his main draw elimination round match 6-3, 1-0 when Ilia Bozoljac of Serbia retired with gastroenteritis.
At Delray Beach Tennis Center
Qualifying: Jesse Levine d. Michael Lammer 7-5, 6-0; Scoville Jenkins d. Frederic Niemeyer 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-2; Dusan Vemic d. Santiago Giraldo 6-4, 6-4; Sergiy Stakhovsky d. Hugo Armando 6-4, 6-3.
Main Draw Elimination Round: Andrei Pavel d. Ilia Bozoljac, 6-3, retired; Telmuraz Gabashvili, d. Jan-Michael Gambill, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.
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