Four years ago, Billy brock was an all-American tennis player at the University of North Carolina.
This weekend, just out of the University of Virginia School of Law, the top-seeded Brock passed up graduation ceremonies to capture the first Stroh's Clay Court Tennis Championships with a 6-7, 6-1, 6-3 win over Cincinnati's Bill Lofgren at Bethesda Country Club.
Brock, the 1975 Atlantic Coast Conference singles champion who was dethroned by Maryland's John Lucas the following year, recovered from a slow start and dominated the last two sets for the victory and the $500 first prize.
"Lofgren's serve started off good and I had trouble with it early," Brock said. "I missed a lot of key volleys in that first set."
Lofgren took a 3-0 lead in the first set as Brock won only three points in the first three games.
But Brock held serve despite a double fault in the fourth game and then broke Lofgren's serve in the fifth game.
Playing each other for the second time (Brock won the first encounter five years ago), the players exchanged winning games right to the end of the
With the set tied six games, Lofgren won a 12-point tiebreaker, 7-5, for a 7-6 first-set victory.
The rest of the match belonged to Brock. He served three aces in the seventh game of the second set to wrap up an easy 6-1 win. Meanwhile, Lofgren, who was connecting on less than half of his first serves, was noticeably frustrated, and he was struggling.
"As the balls got heavier, his serve got much weaker," Brock said. "I took advantage of his serves. I had the spins to play but I still couldn't get the shots by him. I just had to hit them over him."
In the final set, Lofgren's service problems continued. Brock, taking advantage of Lofgren's softer second serve, continually pulled Lofgren out of position with deep angling forehands to the back line and short backhand drop shots with fell inches from Lofgren's diving attempts.
Sixteen players sanctioned by the United States Professional Tennis Association were invited to the tournament by Bethesda pro Frank Hatten.
"I wanted a tournament that teaching pros of the Mid-Atlantic states could play in," Hatten said. "Stroh's (which contributed the $1500 prize money) thought it was a working format and it has turned out really well."
In the doubles final, Mike Eichenberry and Lofgren defeated Gene Russo and Fred Drilling, 7-6, 6-1, for the top prize of $300.