Kyle McMorrow certainly had more fun in the sun Sunday than his opponent.
The Olympia native used a relentless pace on a hot summer afternoon to force Ben McLachlan into a medical timeout for heat exhaustion symptoms, eventually rallying for a three-set victory in the 123rd annual Pacific Northwest Open men’s singles title match at the Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club.
The 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory gave McMorrow a $4,000 prize and the satisfaction of beating a quality opponent.
“It was really tough — (McLachlan) was playing really well for the first set and a half,” McMorrow said. “I just tried to have to faith that if I kept doing what I was doing that eventually I would break through. I think in the third set the heat got to him and he was just going for bail-out shots because he was so tired and not feeling well.”
The top-seeded McMorrow, a professional tennis player who competes on the International Tennis Federation men’s circuit, rallied after losing the opening set to McLachlan, who also competes on the ITP. The pair were tied, 4-4, in the second set until an aspect of McLachlan’s game, which McMorrow knew entering the match would be his strongest point, faltered.
“His serves just slipped a tiny bit,” McMorrow said. “That second set could have gotten away from me but I just scrapped it out and ran away with the third.”
In the third set, McMorrow and McLachlan battled in four consecutive games that went to extra points. But with each game that ended in McMorrow’s favor, McLachlan’s return game in turn seemed to slacken while his errors increased.
“The first few games were close, we scrapped it out,” McMorrow said. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to run away with the third, I was expecting another battle. I got a little fortunate, he made a few loose errors there. He’s probably been training in Berkeley so he’s just not used to this (kind of) heat.”
The finals match marked the fourth time the pair had met in competition. McMorrow was an All-American at the University of Washington, while McLachlan earned the same honors at the University of California. McMorrow won their last meeting but was surprised by the amount of fight McLachlan put forth.
“I know how he plays and he was playing a little better than I expected,” McMorrow said. “Honestly, I think he was beating me because he was serving a little bit better — he was getting more free points on his serves so he felt like he could swing away and take more chances in rallies.”
McMorrow and McLachlan are both are ranked in the top 1000 in the world as they continue progressing toward the Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour.
McMorrow hopes they’ll meet again in the future in a much bigger venue than the PNW Open.
Lehmicke wins another three-setter to claim title
It’s safe to say Maggy Lehmicke’s strong suit isn’t the first set. It’s in the sets that follow where she is the most dangerous, however.
She proved this again in a dominating, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory over second-seeded Riko Shimizu in the women’s final.
“The first set was a competition of nerves; we we’re both missing balls left and right and it was kind of expected,” Lehmicke said. “It was a little bit of (Saturday) where once I got fired up and I felt like I could move her, I couldn’t miss.”
To her credit, Shimizu was battling through tired legs. She was still in the running for a women’s doubles and mixed doubles championship before she faced Lehmicke.
“It was a little mental — I started losing focus,” Shimizu said. “I was focusing too much on my mistakes and I kind of let that get to me a little bit. I think another part was just physically. I played like nine sets (Saturday) and I probably have like nine more sets to go.”
Shimizu and her partner, and teammate at the University of Washington, Julija Lukac finished second in the women’s doubles final.
After watching Lehmicke defeat Lukac, the No. 1 seed in singles, in the semifinals, 4-6, 6-0, 6-0, Shimizu was wary of Lehmicke’s ability to remain dangerous during long points. But that’s exactly what Lehmicke wanted to happen.
“That was my goal — I didn’t mind having long points,” Lehmicke said. “I feel pretty decent now seeing that I’ve stayed in the matches fitness wise, so I thought, ‘I’m running her more than she’s running me and if I can keep in these long points she’s the one that going to be tired in the end.’ ”