Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lorenzo Jr., Ryan Take Care Of Amateurs

Long Beach, N.Y.--Jimmy Lorenzo Jr. and Rob Ryan grinded hard all summer, launching strong serves and getting their Beach Tennis USA teeth cut at the grassroots level.

They withstood long rallies with strong, angled forehands. The duo froze opponents with deceiving, cookie-cutting serves.

All of 15 years young, the local products defeated opponents twice their age (and some) under the scorching summer sun.

They trounced teams featuring top-tier and Division-I athletes. They held their own in pickup competition on their home court, roughly 10 minutes from Lorenzo Jr.'s Long Beach home.

During the amateur division of the tennis racquet version of the 2009 Beach Tennis USA National Championship, the Lorenzo-Ryan tandem faced a daunting challenge.

The elements.

Windy, turbulent, sand flying in your face conditions, unprecedented on this year's national tour, persisted.

How did the fresh-faced duo weather the storm?

"We went in to the final match knowing what we had to do with the wind," said Lorenzo Jr., a wiry workhorse etching his name in BTUSA grassroots lure.

"We had to overcompensate with it. When we were against the wind we put all of our power into the ball and when we were with the wind we just tried to tap the ball as light as possible and let mother nature do the rest."

The kids didn't flinch under the wind or outside pressure.

The pair of homegrown talent gutted out a victory against a nationally ranked doubles tennis team.

The vaunted team--heavily favored to win it all--had knocked them off in the paddle version of the tournament the previous day.

So, the childhood friends kept close tabs on the over-hyped opponent's tendencies. They discovered vulnerable spots executed methods to exploit these weaknesses.

They went hard like a couple of MIT math nerds, falling into meticulous observation when they weren't on the court. They remained focused, as if they'd each downed a 30-milligram pill of Adderall.

"We noticed that they had a lot of trouble returning the ball when it was hit to the back of the court," said Lorenzo Jr.

"They would either hit it into the net or out and they also had a lot of trouble when I would smash the ball directly at their body."

Lorenzo Jr. and Ryan didn't bludgeon the ball into the opponents' faces or blast one at their keester, but they kept them off balance in a yo-yo battle. They performed well at net and made their opponents hustle on each serve.

How does it feel to be a newly-minted national champion?

"It's a great feeling," said Lorenzo Jr.

"Rob and I are best friends. We worked every day during the summer for this. We knew what we had to do, we had a game plan that we bought into it 110 percent."

Ryan, an athletic high school sophomore who planted several balls in the sand and handcuffed teams with his concrete-hard serve, is a third-year amateur.

He's a big-bodied presence whose chemistry with Lorenzo Jr. comes a long way.

Both Ryan and Lorenzo Jr. play lacrosse for Kellenberg Memorial High School. The squad has lofty aspirations to make some waves in Long Island's lacrosse hotbed this spring.

Lacrosse players at heart, the tandem has carved their niche on the Beach Tennis grassroots circuit.

This weekend was indicative of this.