Alex Bogomolov of Long Branch, N.J. defeated Noam Okun of Israel 20-18, 17-20, 10-8 to win the $10,000 first prize at the First Annual Gotham Tennis Academy “Hamptons 20-Ball Open” at the Napeague Tennis Club, located at 2145 Montauk Highway in Amagansett, N.Y. The unique single day event featured first-to-20-point match formats beginning with a ground-stroke feed.
“It feels great to win this tournament,” said Bogomolov, ranked No. 179 in the ATP singles rankings. “I love this format and I challenge anybody to play me in a groundstroke game.”
Bogomolov has never been beaten in this unique competitive format. Last summer in Los Angeles, he won the only other known professional “20-ball” tournament, defeating John Isner in the semifinals and Philip King in the final. Bogomolov used the Hamptons 20-Ball as a preparation for his return to ATP tournament tennis. The bronze medalist for the United States at the 2003 Pan American Games team recently played in Newport, R.I. in his first ATP-level tournament since the 2008 Sony Ericsson Open and since he underwent surgery on his left wrist late last year. Since his surgery, Bogomolov, ranked as high as number 97 in 2003, has served as the touring professional for Gotham Tennis and worked with its officials to create the special formatted tournament for this summer at Napeague.
Okun, a member of Israel’s Davis Cup team from 1999-2008, traveled to the Hamptons from Winnetka, Ill., where he competed in the Nielsen USTA Challenger, losing in the round of 16.
“We both played really well and it was a great atmosphere and a great event here in the Hamptons,” said Okun, ranked number 309, but as high as 95th in 2002. “Alex was just too tough and too solid for me. This is the first time I have played a tournament in this format, and I enjoyed it. The Napeague Tennis Club is very nice. The courts here are great. They are so even, which is very unusual for a clubs with clay courts, where they have courts that have a lot of bad bounces, but not here.”
The tournament was played simultaneously as the epic men’s singles final at Wimbledon, where Roger Federer won his record-breaking 15th major singles title, defeating Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14. When not playing their matches, players were glued to the television watching the drama unfold at the All-England Lawn Tennis Club.
“Andy was outplaying Roger for most of the match,” said Bogomolov, who beat Roddick to win the 1998 USTA National Boy’s 16 Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich. “The match is a different story if Andy wins one of those points at 6-2 in the second set tie-breaker and goes up two sets to love. I think losing that set from being up 6-2 made Andy uncertain about himself for the much of the rest of the match, even though he won the fourth set.”
“It was a great match,” said Okun, who lost to Roddick 6-3, 6-3 in a round of 16 match in Indianapolis in 2005. “I feel really bad for Andy. He played unbelievable, but not well enough to beat Roger Federer. There are no words to describe Roger Federer. He is the best player ever. He is so great for tennis.”
The one-day “20-Ball” event featured many fast-paced and entertaining matches featuring men and women who have represented their countries in Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Pan American Games competitions.
Three women registered wins over men in the co-ed event. Former Slovenian Fed Cupper Petra Rampe, currently ranked number 375 in the WTA rankings, defeated Napeague member Rick Rudeman 20-12 in the first round, before losing to Felipe Meier of Sweden 20-16 in the second round. Former Ukrainian Fed Cupper Elena Jirnova of Kiev defeated Napeague member and film director Mark Levin 20-5 in the first round before falling to East Hampton junior standout Max Hirsh in the second round. Suzanne Sales of Boston defeated Scott Marden in the first round 20-1 before losing to Ytai Abougzir 20-6 in the second round.
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