Phil Williamson expected tough competition from Sean Austin yesterday in the semifinals of the ATA national tennis tournament. After all, Austin was a varsity player his freshman year at Arizona and highly ranked junior while at St. John's high school.
What Williamson got was a tired opponent, whose legs and spirit never were in the match. So, Williamson advanced to today's 1 p.m. final, 6-3, 6-1.
Williamson, unseeded, will face last year's winner and this year's top-seeded player, Young Kwon, who defeated Gregori Williams, 7-5, 6-1, in the other semifinal at Rock Creek Stadium.
In the women's 10:30 a.m. final today, top-seeded Kyle Copeland will meet the No. 2 seed, Kathy Foxworth. Both won their semifinal matches yesterday in straight sets.
In the men's semifinals, Williamson, 20, broke Austin in the second game and won 12 of the first 13 points to go up, 3-0. They each held twice, and with Austin serving at 2-5, 40-15, rain halted play for about 30 minutes.
When play resumed, Austin, the No. 9 seed, hit a perfect backhand cross-court passing shot for 5-3. When he hit a similar shot in the next game to make it 15-all, it appeared Austin might make the set close.
After he pushed a forehand volley wide, Austin followed with a backhand winner to reach deuce. But he made two unforced errors -- on a lob and return of serve -- to give the first set to Williamson.
Williamson, who is from Mount Vernon, N.Y., and is about to begin his junior year at Columbia University, put in 14 of 19 first serves in the opening set and, after breaking Austin at 15 in the first game of the second set, resumed his service efficiency. Four first serves led to three winning volleys and a netted return.
Austin won seven points the rest of the way and openly gave up in the last game. "I wanted to get it over with," Austin said.
"He was supposed to be my toughest competition, and I was looking forward to a good match," Williamson said. "I guess he didn't play as well as he could have."
Austin, 19, complained of exhaustion. "I had to play four matches yesterday (Thursday). I just wasn't in the match. I had no leg power and was a step behind on every ball."
Despite being decided in straight sets, the other semifinal lasted almost three hours. Kwon, a base-line player from Philadelphia, played to Williams' erratic forehand early and took a 5-2 lead. But Williams, who is also from the Philadelphia area and was the No. 2 player at Hampton Institute last year, came back to 5-5 and served for the lead.
But after falling behind, 15-40, Williams double-faulted to lose the game.
Ahead, 40-30, in the 12th game, Kwon netted a forehand to lose a set point. After a lengthy rally, Kwon approached but missed a forehand volley to give Williams break point.
Both continued to stay back, but Kwon's patience won out as Williams looped a backhand wide, then a forehand wide for the first set.
Williams double-faulted on break point to give Kwon a 1-0 lead in the second set. It was the only break Kwon would need as he closed out the set by winning four straight games.
"I should have come in more on the short balls and put more pressure on him," Williams said. "For some reason, I wasn't secure about coming in."