Stefan Kruger

The Journeyman: Open Season

Mark Keil, scribes this week on the final major of the year: the US Open.

It really has been great writing about my past tournament experiences. This nourishes my ego immensely and thank you for staying tuned.

In 1991, I played with Francisco Montana of Miami. Francisco was an All-American out of the University of Georgia. An All American is a player who play’s collegiate tennis and qualifies as one of the 64 best player’s in Division I university tennis in the year-end season individual championships. There are probably around 175 school’s that play Division I. If the player is seeded in singles, or gets to the round of 16 in the event, he get’s a plaque proclaiming his status.  If a player get’s to the quarterfinals in the 32-team doubles event, he also becomes a member of the team. Francisco was a stellar junior player, and once beat Jim Courier 6-0, 6-0 in the Orange Bowl.  He had more hitches in his serve than a Nebraska trailer park. We lost to Steve DeVries, the All-American out of Cal-Berkeley and the current Bryan brother’s coach David MacPherson.

The next time I competed at the Open I played with Stefan Kruger and we beat Danie Visser of South Africa and Laurie Warder of Australia 6-4,7-6.  Visser was a crafty lefty, who had tremendous success in doubles.  His partner Laurie was a scratch golfer.  Staying at the Open is always fun. I would always try and stay where Patrick Rafter was staying, usually the Hotel Elysse.  It was great to hang out in the lobby’s Monkey Bar and check out the female’s trolling.

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In 1994, I played with Rikard Bergh, nicknamed “the Liar” for always telling fibs.  He was cool, in that the year we played together I signed up with a partner, but he called me and told me we were not high enough to get in. He said if I played with him, we could squeak in.  So we got in, and beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov and David Rikl, Wade McGuire and Jeff Tarango and got a chance to play for a quarterfinal spot.  We faced Tom Nijssen and Cyril Suk.  In the third set we got hooked by the umpire Steve Ulrich, on a deep lab that landed out for us to go up a break in the third.  Ulrich is by far the worst chair umpire ever.  We lost 7-6, 4-6, 3-6. 

In 1995,  I played with Peter Nyborg and we lost to the NCAA doubles champions from Ole Miss Ali Hamadeh and Mahesh Bhupathi  6-7, 3-6.  In those days, the collegiate champion in singles and doubles would get a wild card into the main draw.  Now, only if American’s win the event, do they receive one, and I don’t think that applies to the doubles anymore.  The next year I played with Matt Lucena, the two-time college doubles champion with two different partners. We beat Brett Hansen-Dent and T.J. Middleton 6-4, 6-4.  Hansen-Dent got to the finals of the NCAA’s in singles once for the Trojans of USC.  We beat another SC boy Brian MacPhie and his partner Michael Tebbutt the next round.  They both had wicked lefty serves.  We lost to Sebastien Lareau and Alex O’Brien after that. O’Brien won the singles, doubles, and team title for Stanford in 1992. 

In 1998, Doug Flach and I lost to Macphie and Patrick McEnroe 6-7, 4-6.  Papa Mac was watching, and I felt like I was in a rerun episode of Johnny Mac playing Bill Scanlon and I was the ballboy.  In my final match at the US Open, I teamed up with Luis Lobo of Argentina. At that time, he was at the end of his career, and was coaching Marcelo Rios as well as playing doubles on the tour.  We defeated Garcia-Roditi and lost to Lareau and O’Brien again.

Enjoy the tennis on TV, or if you have the gumption, head to the Open and watch it live!

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