Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Illini start doubles at the Open

At the end of a scorching hot day at the US Open, one Illini fell in a tough one and another survived as the doubles began.

Playing doubles together is nothing new for former Rajeev Ram, the winner of the 2003 NCAA Doubles title while at Illinois, and Bobby Reynolds, a standout from Vanderbilt.   The duo actually landed in first place on the USTA Pro Circuit as the team with the most tournament wins (5) in 2007.  Though they haven’t played together that much in the past two years, they certainly had their rhythm together on Tuesday.  There was an early break that carried them through to a 6-3 first set.  Despite a good effort by Andre Sa and former Auburn player Stephen Huss, who won the 2005 Wimbledon title with Wesley Moodie, Ram & Reynolds were the winners with another 6-3 in the second.

It was a different story on Court 16, where Rajeev Ram’s former teammate, Ryler DeHeart, was playing doubles with Brian Battistone.  Brian and his brother Dann both attended BYU and are known for their unique two-handled racquets.  Brian also has a unique serve which always gathers a crowd as he jumps in the air volleyball style before swinging.  Battistone’s serve was right on, as was DeHeart’s serve and volley, but just one step better were their opponents, the 16th seeded Rohan Bopanna & Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi.  The match was a great display of incredible doubles, from winners to aces. 

A break at 3-2 for Bopanna & Quereshi was all that was needed to secure the first set at 6-3, but there was nothing easy about the second.  It was actually Battistone & DeHeart that took the first break for a 4-2 lead and a chance to serve out the set at 5-3, and were instead broken back.  At 5-4, with the points getting more exciting with each serve, there was another break opportunity, but the seeds held and it went all the way to a tiebreaker.  Everyone was on the edge of their seat during the breaker as Battistone & DeHeart saved two match points and had a set point of their own.  It wouldn’t come through, though, and they fell at 9/7 in the second set tiebreaker.

The only Big Ten player on court Wednesday is Rajeev Ram, who will be playing Mixed Doubles with Aravane Rezai of France. 
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