Ross Duncan lost in the singles semifinals of the USTA National 40 Hard Court Championships in 2016 and 2017, but the second seed from Laguna Beach, Calif., broke through and won the title with a dramatic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory in the final over defending two-time champion Jeff Greenwald of San Anselmo, Calif.
On a bright, sunny day on Court No. 1 at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Duncan and the top-seeded Greenwald were deadlocked at 4-4 in the first set, when Duncan broke the 52-year-old Greenwald at love for a 5-4 lead and then served out the set in the next game.
In the second set, Greenwald took a 2-1 lead and after five consecutive service breaks increased his lead to 5-3. In the next game, to the delight of the large crowd, Greenwald held serve to send the match to a deciding third set.
Two years ago, the former Pepperdine star Duncan lost a tough three-setter to Greenwald in the semifinals that took over three hours, but today, the 42-year-old Duncan gained the upper hand in the third set and established an early 4-1 lead.
Greenwald mounted a strong comeback as he broke serve at love in the seventh game to cut Duncan’s lead to 4-3, but Duncan broke right back in the next game and went on to serve out the match to win the championship.
“It feels absolutely amazing. I just can’t tell you how gratifying it is,” Duncan said following the match. “I added a little more touch to my game. I threw in some drop shots that helped. The ‘feel’ shots helped me today.”
After being presented his USTA gold ball for winning the national title, Duncan admitted he thought about his loss to Greenwald in 2016 during the third set when his lead was slipping away.
“It totally came to my mind. In that match I was up 4-1 in the third and I lost the match. I said,
‘Oh my gosh, this is déjà vu.’ Fortunately, things went my way in those last two games and I was able to pull it out,” Duncan said.
Former three-time singles champion Tony Bujan of Santa Ana, Calif., captured the USTA bronze ball as he defeated 10th seeded Brett Masi of Lubbock, Texas, 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 in the third-place singles match.
Duncan added a second gold ball for the week when he teamed with Simon Shen of La Jolla, Calif., to win the men’s doubles title. They received a walkover in the final over Masi and Peter Smith of Long Beach, Calif. Smith suffered a leg injury and could not play the match.
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Designated one of the Top 100 Tennis Resorts in the world by Tennis Resorts Online, the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club’s reputation as a top tennis destination started in 1942, when it attracted its first major tournament, the Pacific Coast Men’s Doubles Championship. The Club will be hosting the 130th edition of this popular tournament February 28 – March 3, 2019, as well as both the USTA National Hard Court Championships for Women’s 50-90 age groups and the 46th Annual Men’s Senior Championships May 13-19, 2019.