Tim Smyczek knew that if he kept the match close, it would be difficult for his opponent, Jarmere Jenkins, to continue hitting winners at a blistering pace.
Smyczek’s game plan worked as he defeated Jenkins, a recent Virginia graduate, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, to advance to the main draw of the Citi Open at William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center. This marked the second tournament in a row for which the world’s 124th-ranked player has qualified. He also reached the first round last week in Atlanta.
“[Jenkins] came up with some amazing shots, so I just went into the second set telling myself that if he could keep that up, then today he’s too good,”said Smyczek, who was on the receiving end of Jenkins’s many forehand winners and aces in the first set. “I just wanted to make him earn it.”
Standing at 5 feet 9 inches, Smyczek doesn’t have a go-to shot for easy points and instead relies on his defense and speed to win matches. It is a style Smyczek models after the No. 3 player in the world, David Ferrer of Spain.
“Ferrer is a really great example for any tennis player but especially for Tim since they have a similar body type and similar build,” said Smyczek’s coach, Billy Heiser. “We often ask ourselves, ‘Is this something that [Ferrer] would do?’ ”
Smyczek, a Milwaukee native, began working with Heiser, a childhood friend from Chicago, last summer and reached No. 101, a career-high ranking, under his tutelage. He advanced to the second round at the 2012 U.S. Open and took Ferrer to four sets before losing in the second round of this year’s Australian Open.
It was a moment the 25-year-old Smyczek won’t soon forget.
“That was a lot of fun,” he said. “[Ferrer] is a guy I look up to and model my game after a little bit, so that was a great moment for me.”
While Smyczek considers Milwaukee his home, he lives in Tampa with good friend and fellow ATP player John Isner and their strength coach.
“We never talk about tennis really,” Smyczek said. “[But] it’s good because we practice together some and train and push each other in the gym.”
Note: Usue Maitane Arconada, who trains at College Park’s Junior Tennis Champions Center, lost to American Alexandra Mueller, 6-1, 6-1, in 52 minutes. Arconada, 14, won her first professional level match in the first round of qualifiers Saturday.
Those advancing to the main draw include American Alex Kutznetsov and Virginia graduate Somdev Devvarman of India on the men’s side. For the women, Americans Irina Falconi and Jessica Pegula advanced.
Lucky losers Jesse Levine of Canada and Rhyne Williams of the United States will play in the main draw after France’s Gael Monfils and Spain’s Feliciano Lopez withdrew.