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Down But Not Out: McEnroe wins CTCA Title

November 12, 2008 05:55 PM

Cancer Treatment Center of America Championships
Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex - Surprise, Ariz.
Nov. 5-9, 2008

Vintage performance: Facing a gusty wind and a dust storm in the final against Todd Martin, John McEnroe (left) proved he's still got plenty of game, even for 49 years old.

John McEnroe finally broke his final-round hex against Todd Martin, coming from a set and a break down to win a windy and wild final at the $150,000 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise Sunday at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in suburban Phoenix. After losing to Martin in three previous finals on the Outback Champions Series circuit, the 49-year-old McEnroe broke through to beat Martin 3-6, 7-6 (3), 11-9 (Champions Tie-breaker) to win $50,000 in prize money and his second career title on the New York-based global tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30.

Playing in severe desert wind gusts of up to 35 mph that knocked over courtside umbrellas and chairs, McEnroe fell behind a set and a break deep in the second set, and appeared on the verge of losing, with Martin a game away from the match, serving at 6-5 in the second.

Close but no cigar: Todd Martin was a game away from the title, but couldn't close out John McEnroe for the tournament title.

McEnroe, however, clawed his way back to break Martin’s serve and force a second-set tie-breaker. With the second-set tie-breaker tied at 3-3, McEnroe won the final four points, benefitting from a Martin double-fault on the final point, to force the decisive Champions Tie-breaker, a 10-point tie-breaker played in lieu of a third-set. McEnroe took an early 5-1 lead in the Champions Tie-breaker and held on to reach double-match point at 9-7.

McEnroe then committed two errors for 9-9, before Martin’s missed forehand gave McEnroe his third match point at 10-9. McEnroe then closed out the match with an ace, using his signature left-handed slice serve out wide on the ad-court to finish the epic match in style.

McEnroe said the gusty conditions were possibly “the windiest conditions I have ever played in” and credited the supportive and spirited Arizona crowd with giving him inspiration to win the title.

"I thought this may have been the best I played all year and I think a lot of that had to do with the crowds,” said McEnroe.

In typical McEnroe fashion, the histrionics were as much a part of the show as his great tennis.
“I was able to feed off of their energy all week. I think one of the keys was that I was able to shrug things off today. The older you get, it gets harder to do that but I really did a good job with that today.”

Martin, who earned $30,000 for the runner-up showing, was seeking his fourth career Outback Champions Series title, having won titles previously in Boston in 2006, Newport, R.I. in 2007 and Naples, Fla., earlier this year – all at the expense of McEnroe, his final-round victim in all three events.

“There were some totally bizarre points out there today given the conditions,” said the 38-year-old Martin of the windy conditions. “John has an advantage in those conditions because of the off pace ball that he hits. I’m 50-50 in those conditions and his tendencies give him an advantage. John just controls the ball so well and in those conditions you need to. If I played him in a tight-confined space, he may win every time.”

Wayne Bryan - father of Mike and Bob Bryan the world No. 1 ranked American doubles pair - was an on-court commentator, and host of this clinic, held on Friday for adults and kids.
McEnroe started the match by breaking Martin in the opening game of the match and held for a 2-0 lead. Martin, however, rolled through the next five games to take a 5-2 lead before holding on to win the set 6-3. Martin broke McEnroe to lead 3-2 in the second set, only to have McEnroe break immediately to get to 3-3.

After holding serve, McEnroe broke Martin again to lead 5-3, but was unable to serve out the set. Martin then held serve to even the second set at 5-5. He then broke McEnroe to serve for the match at 6-5, where McEnroe began his spirited comeback.

McEnroe won his only previous title on the Outback Champions Series earlier this year in Boston, where he defeated Aaron Krickstein in the final.

In the third-place playoff Sunday, Magnus Larsson defeated Anders Jarryd 6-1, 7-6 (0) in an all-Swedish affair.

For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com

Plenty of USTA members and non-members alike stopped off to try and win two Babolat racquets given out by the USTA Southwest.

The USTA Southwest also played a part in the event, placing a program booth in the tournament's Vendor Village throughout the five days of the tournament, manned by USTA Southwest employees and USTA Central Arizona volunteers.  A special USTA Member Appreciation Day was also held Friday, Nov. 7 between the day and night session for USTA members in attendance that included a special meet-and-greet with four of the event's players - Todd Martin, Karel Novacek, Wayne Ferreira and Magnus Larsson. Members also received free USTA keychains for attending.

The event was a great opportunity for the USTA to connect with members, as many stopped by the USTA Southwest/CAZ booth for program information and to put their names in for the two Babolat racquets that were being raffled off, or just to mingle with and ask questions to the USTA staff on hand.

One of several youths in attendance at the Kids' Clinic on Sat., Nov. 8. Professional players served as instructors allowing players like this young girl the chance to meet and learn from the pros.
T-shirts, water bottles and USTA CAZ bracelets were also given out to those who stopped off by the booth. Contest winners in the raffle included Laila Inger of Surprise, Ariz. and Russ Wagner of Prescott, Ariz.

Two clinics were also held on Friday and Saturday that drew big crowds, as Jim Courier, Jimmy Arias, Ferreira, Larsson and Novacek, along with Wayne Bryan got on court with Phoenix-area residents, including several from the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex in the Saturday kids' clinic.

The Cancer Treatment Center of America Tennis Championships will be in Surprise through 2010, as the city's contract with the Outback Champions Series Tour runs through then.   

Round-Robin - Wednesday, November 5

Todd Martin, United States, def. Karel Novacek, Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-1
Anders Jarryd, Sweden, def. Jim Courier, United States, 6-3, 7-6 (2)

Round Robin - Thursday, November 6
Magnus Larsson, Sweden, def. Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, 7-6 (9), 6-2
John McEnroe, United States, def. Jimmy Arias, United States, 6-2, 6-2

Round Robin - Friday, November 7
Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, def. Karel Novacek, Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-2
Todd Martin, United States, def. Magnus Larsson, Sweden, 7-6 (2), 6-3
John McEnroe, United States, def. Anders Jarryd, Sweden, 6-0, 6-4
Jim Courier, United States, def. Jimmy Arias, United States, 6-3, 6-4

Round Robin - Saturday, November 8
Anders Jarryd, Sweden, def. Jimmy Arias, United States, 6-4, 6-4
Jim Courier, United States, def. John McEnroe, United States, 7-6 (7), 4-6, 10-8
Magnus Larsson, Sweden, def. Karel Novacek, Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-1
Todd Martin, United States, def. Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 10-8 (Champions Tie-breaker)

Sunday, November 9
Third-Place Match
Magnus Larsson, Sweden, def. Anders Jarryd, Sweden, 6-1, 7-6 (0)

Championship Match
John McEnroe, United States, vs. Todd Martin, United States, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 11-9 (Champions Tie-Breaker)

Round-Robin Group Standings
Group A
Todd Martin 3-0
Magnus Larsson 2-1
Wayne Ferreira 1-2
Karel Novacek 0-3

Group B
John McEnroe 2-1
Anders Jarryd 2-1
Jim Courier 2-1
Jimmy Arias 0-3