Vive Le Calvin!
Calvin Hemery, the energetic, outgoing shotmaker from France, reigned supreme at the 2017 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships ending the 10-day run of qualifier Sam Riffice in Sunday’s singles final by a 6-3, 6-1 scoreline in front of over 400 fans at Grand Harbor Golf & Beach Club.
Hemery came into the singles tournament as the No. 1 seed and accomplished the only goal he had in mind; winning the title. The Frenchman had lost in the final of the previous week’s tournament on the USTA Pro Circuit in Orange Park, just outside of Jacksonville, last week, and had no intentions of doing that two weeks in a row.
“It was a perfect week for me,” said Hemery, ranked No. 298 in the ATP World Tour rankings.
Riffice, an 18-year-old from Roseville, Calif., entered the match having won nine straight matches over the last 10 days – four in the qualifying tournament and five in the main draw. Sunday marked his first appearance in professional singles final and he appeared poised early on to notch his first title when he took an early 3-1 lead in the first set, breaking Hemery’s serve in the first game of the match.
“He got off to a very hot start. I didn’t play well and he pushed me,” the 22-year-old Hemery said.
The wear and tear of the previous 10 days finally began to show as Hemery then proceeded to win 11 of the next 12 games to claim the title and the 18 ATP World Tour ranking points that will push up to be in reach of potentially being included in the French Open qualifying tournament in late May.
Hemery, a resident of the east Paris suburb of Les Lilas, France, said he believed fitness was a factor in the match.
“I was a little bit more fresh, so I moved a little better,” he said.
Riffice had an opening to potentially get back into the match when Hemery served for the first set at 5-3 holding double-break point at 15-40. However, Hemery stepped up his game and won the next four points to close out the set, hammering an ace down the T as an exclaimation point.
“I knew I had to come out big and I executed well,” Riffice said of his fast start. “I just couldn’t keep it up. I felt like I played my game the whole time, but I was a little tired and he definitely picked up his game. I was happy with the way I played. He just outplayed me today.”
Despite the loss, the week marked a break-through for Riffice, who earned 10 ATP World Tour ranking points to move into the top 1,000 in the professional rankings. As the No. 30-ranked junior player in the world, he will compete in junior Grand Slam tournaments at the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He will also continue to work with Vero Beach resident Ivan Lendl, the tennis legend who works with Riffice as part of the USTA’s Player Development program. In the grand picture of his career, the loss was only a minor roadblock in what is looking to be a promising career for the American.
“I know that when I play my game, I have a chance against the top players,” Riffice said. “I take a lot of positives from this.”
For Hemery, it was his second professional singles title, also winning at this “Futures” level of professional events at an event in Italy in 2015. Immediately after the singles final, Hemery and Julien Cagnina of Belgium played in the doubles final, but were defeated by the Brazilian tandem of Alex Blumenberg and Thales Turini 6-4, 2-6, (10-7).
Blumenberg and Turini raced out to a fast start in the first set, gaining a 5-0 lead. Cagnina and Hemery fought back winning the next four games before the Brazilians finally closed out the first set, despite saving break points in the set’s final game.
The second set was won with relative ease by Cagnina and Hemery, before the Brazilians were able to regroup in the third-set match-tiebreak and close out the victory.
For Blumenberg, it was his first professional title of any kind, coming in a tournament in which he didn’t even intend to play doubles.
“He surprised me during the week and convinced me to play,” Blumenberg said about Turini. “Now, I am a champion for the first time after a lot of injuries and tough moments. So I am very happy.”
Vive Le Calvin!