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Sandgren Cruises to Singles Title at Men’s Pro Tennis Classic

Article by: Daniel Winningham, for L&C Athletics
Tennys Sandgren earned his second singles championship in five years in Godfrey, winning this year’s Lewis and Clark Pro Tennis Classic Sunday. Sandgren, the top-seeded player entering the event, defeated No. 2 Facundo Mena 6-0, 6-4 at the Andy Simpson Tennis Complex.

Mena won the toss and deferred, giving Sandgren the opening serve, and the first point was perhaps the longest battle of the entire match.

Sandgren started with a couple aces, though the first point eventually went to deuce No. 5 before he prevailed.

“The first game was maybe the highest level of tennis, to be honest, we both kind of brought our best,” Sandgren said. “After I was able to squeak out that first game, I jumped on him early, being aggressive, I was coming up to the net on his second serve and he didn’t seem prepared for that, he was kind of caught off guard and didn’t know if he should be passive or aggressive after that.”

The finals match only had three points go to deuce. The first of the entire match, plus another in the second set, which went Mena’s way. The third came during a 3-3 tie with Sandgren serving.

“That 3-all game was very big,” Sandgren said. “He had a break opportunity. To be able to get out of that was big.”

Mena (of Argentina) was tied with Sandgren (from Gallatin, Tennessee) at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4 in the second set.

“I played really well for the week, to be able to make two finals in the first of these four (in Illinois) in plan to play,” Mena said.

Sandgren said Mena’s drop shot was effective and helped him get back into the second set.

But a longer Saturday match for Mena could have had an affect, according to Sandgren.

“His legs were probably gassed from yesterday’s three-setter,” Sandgren said, referring to Mena’s semifinal victory over Luke Bambridge (GBR). “It was nice to get that early lead and keep it.”

Sandgren felt great about winning again in Godfrey.

“It feels good to know I can come out here and play a high level of tennis,” Sandgren said.

The win comes with a payout of $3,600 for Sandgren, along with 27 points toward his season total. Mena receives $2,120 for his second-place showing.

After the match, Sandgren admitted it’s been a grueling week, though he prefers the exhaustion, which means he advanced further than others.

“I’d rather be tired because I played well than fresh as a daisy,” Sandgren said.

For the match, Sandgren held a 5-0 advantage in aces, won seven games in a row at one point and held a significant advantage in total points won (66-41).

Sandgren also had more double faults (6-4), but that didn’t seem to hurt his play much.

Mena and Sandgren both thanked those in attendance and the event staff when the match concluded. They will continue the second phase of the Illinois swing in Edwardsville later this week.

“It was a good experience,” Mena said. “Hardcourt is not my best surface, but I think I had a good week.”

Sandgren had 33 of 63 first serves in (52.4 percent) while Mena finished with 20 of 44 first serves in (45.5 percent). Sandgren took control by taking 28 of the 33 first serve scoring chances (84.8 percent). Mena was just at 50 percent for points won on his first serve (10 of 20).

Sandgren took all eight of his service games, and won four of eight break points. Mena was four of eight and didn’t earn any break points (0 of 3). 

Sandgren won eight points in a row. Mena’s longest streak was four. The match concluded with Mena striking a return volley short, his third unforced error in the final game.

Sandgren will likely start play in the Edwardsville event this Wednesday, though for now he plans on resting for the immediate future.

“I’m going to drink a lot of water, fluids and electrolytes, playing League of Legends on my laptop, staying in the AC trying to recover,” he said.

He alluded to playing the Pokemon Go! augmented reality game during a brief chat with Lewis and Clark President Dale Chapman after the win, but searching for Pokemon would involve being outdoors, and that isn’t preferable.

Practice is out of the question, for now, as well. The blister on his right hand will prevent him for holding a racket.

In Godfrey, Sandgren took part in both singles and doubles. But moving forward, at least for the Edwardsville event, it will only be singles for him.

“It’s not worth it, it’s too much,” he said.

Remembering Andy Simpson

Prior to the start of Sunday’s final, the life of Antigone “Andy” Simpson was recognized in a special ceremony led by Lewis and Clark Athletic Director Doug Stotler. Nancy Simpson, daughter-in-law of Antigone and Bud Simpson, who also is deceased, was presented with a blue vase commemorating the work of her mother-in-law, the matriarch of Riverbend tennis. Favorite treats of Baklava, PayDay candy bars and bananas were available for those in attendance. Andy Simpson, 92, died in late June of this year.