Victory came on a side court, and it advanced him only to the quarterfinals, but Rodney Harmon's piercing scream and high leap into the air were as intense as if he had just won Wimbledon.
Harmon, a native of Richmond, had just knocked off sixth-seeded Raul Ramirez of Mexico, 6-3, 7-5, in the D.C. National Bank Tennis Classic, the biggest victory of his brief career.
"I just wanted to keep coming in, keep forcing him," said Harmon, who might reconsider whether to return to Southern Methodist for his junior year in the fall if he keeps winning.
"He served real well," Ramirez said. "He is a young, hungry player and had the crowd with him as well, so that gives a guy a big lift. I know when I play in Mexico, it always helps me. But he is one of the growing number of good young players that I see around lately."
The only time Harmon remembered playing someone of Ramirez's caliber was in a match two years ago in South Orange, N.J., against Jose-Luis Clerc.
"He beat me (7-)5 and (6-)4. He pretty much dominated the match," Harmon said.
Things are different now for the 6-3, 180-pound Harmon, who lists a spot on this year's Junior Davis Cup team and the help of SMU Coach Dennis Ralston as instrumental factors in his development.
Among others, Harmon practices with team members Mike Leach, NCAA champion from Michigan, and Marcel Freeman, college player of the year from UCLA. Those two have been eliminated; Harmon now goes against top-seeded Ivan Lendl.
"The younger guys are finally moving past some of the older guys," Harmon said, "but I know when I get to be 27 or 28 and have played for a few years, the same thing can happen to me."
"I'm kind of a step for him to move up," Ramirez said. "I've done it before. I did the same thing when I was young."
Harmon said he will not decide whether to return to SMU until after the U.S. Open.