Could Jaycer Lyeons go from last man into the main draw of the 2023 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships to the last man standing?
The 22-year-old Texan who now trains in Miami was the last player added into the main draw before the start of the qualifying event and after his thrilling 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 semifinal win Saturday over Duarte Vale of Portugal is only one match away from winning the title. Lyeons will play Sunday’s final against Canada’s Dan Martin, a Dartmouth transfer who now plays for the University of Miami.
With an ATP ranking of No. 1,337 Lyeons was the last player not directly accepted into the main draw as of last Sunday night when the sign-in for the tournament concluded. However, the U.S. Tennis Association had only issued two of its three main draw wild cards (or free direct entries) and decided to award the last entry to Lyeons as the highest-ranked American not in the main draw (and he was the leading entry in the qualifying field at the time). This allowed Lyeons to not have to win two qualifying round matches just to get into the main draw.
Once in the main draw, Lyeons had a crazy run into the final, least of which was his three-hour 18-minute marathon over Vale. After beating top American junior Kaylan Bigun in the first round, Lyeons battled top-seed and Romanian Davis Cupper Adrian Boitan. The two fought until 3-3 in the third set, when rain delayed the match. After a three-hour delay, they resumed the match with only about 45 minutes of daylight remaining. Just after sunset, Lyeons led 4-1 in the final-set tiebreaker when Boitan asked for the match not to continued due to darkness, which was accorded. Lyeons, then sleeping on being only three points from the biggest win of his career, needed four points to close out the 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-6(2) victory, saving three match points in the three-hour-plus epic. Lyeons then returned to the court a bit later on Friday and faced Dominican Davis Cupper Roberto Cid Subervi in the quarterfinals. Late in the first set, he became stricken with cramps, but was able to properly rehydrate and re-nourish himself and benefitting from Cid Subervi himself suffering from cramps and was able to advance when Cid Subervi retired due to his cramps after Lyeons won the second set.
Against Vale, Lyeons saved another match point in the second set (his fourth of the tournament) and held steady after blowing five match points of his own and a 5-2 final-set lead to prevail 7-5 in the third set.
Lyeons has only been playing pro tennis on the ITF World Tennis Tour since late July and this is his first career singles final.
WATCH Randy Walker’s post-match interview with Lyeons here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsE_Pb6_ynU
And WATCH Walker’s interview with Dan Martin after his 7-5, 6-1 win over Jacob Brumm in the first semifinal here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvVYH7fQMtc
In doubles, 53-year-old James Bragg of Vero Beach and The Boulevard Club and Sea Oaks Beach & Tennis Club teaching pro Ching Wang resumed their rain-delayed doubles match and lost to Cid Subervi and Sathi Reddy of Indian 6-2, 6-0.
WATCH Walker’s interview with Bragg and Ching here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeuDTGXrxGM
WATCH Walker’s interview with Cid Subervi and Reddy here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2__JbIlkrgU
Read former New York Post sports writer Marc Berman’s coverage from Saturday here