Two Days in Winnetka — Pics and Thoughts from the 2014 Nielsen Pro Tennis Championship

Denis Kudla Winnetka challenger Nielsen Pro Championships 2014 smash photos pics images
Denis Kudla warming up with a smash. The American tennis player nabbed wins                                in both singles and doubles at Winnetka this year.

The Nielsen Pro Tennis Championships has tricky timing for tennis fans, taking place in the same week as Wimbledon and our #Merican Fourth of July holiday. The lure of live tennis is tough to resist, however. When we checked the schedule for this local challenger event and saw Denis Kudla vs. Tim Smyczek on the schedule, that made it a no-brainer. About 75 minutes, five construction zones, and two tolls later, we had arrived at the Winnetka tennis club.

As expected, the crowd was largely a Ralph Lauren pinstripe and khakis crowd, with a VIP section of posh attendees sipping wine and taking in tennis in the comfier white folding chairs. The rabble were placed on wooden plank risers set a bit awkwardly above the action, the metal railings impeding the view of some of the court. Still, seeing quality players a handful of feet away is always an awesome experience.

Winnetka challenger posh crowd 2014 A C Nielsen tennis club championships photos

The interesting thing about the suburban crowd was that they seemed fairly knowledgeable about tennis, but not the players. There was an established hierarchy for cheering. The more local you were, the more support you got. The guy who was #347, but went to school with somebody in the crowd’s brother, got all the love over guys we’ve seen on TV playing the Big Four in Slams. Barring a local guy, the Americans naturally got more applause. We had a feeling that the farther away from America your country of origin was, the less applause you’d get. Still, it was a decent crowd, as even non-favorites got vigorous clapping and cheers for a well-executed shot.

Now’s the time we start sharing a bunch of pictures of the action. Some are clickable for larger sizes.

The evening session on Thursday started with a little doubles action, Americans Mackenzie McDonald and Martin Redlicki versus Thai twins Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana.

Marty Redlicki doubles Winnetka challenger 2014 tennis championships

Mackenzie McDonald forehand warm-up doubles Winnetka challenger 2014

Sanchai Sonchat Ratiwatana Nielsen pro tennis doubles Winnetka photos pics images

The Ratiwatanas had more of a steady, solid doubles game, while MacDonald and Redlicki had more surges of brash and flash. Two things stood out: the power of some of Redlicki’s winners, often delivered with a roar of triumph, and the way MacDonald had of volleying a shot that would just casually trickle over the net near the post…and die, irretrievable.

Martin Redlicki doubles with McDonald Winnetka challenger tennis

Two non-tennis things we still ponder. One, how Mackenzie McDonald’s parents essentially named him “Mac Mac.” Two, we still can’t figure out how Redlicki is a teenager. Dude looks, acts, and has the voice of a much older player.

Martin Mary Redlicki despair over a netted shot photo Nielsen tennis championships Winnetka challenger photos

Redlicki added a bit of drama to the match, with his sometimes loud reactions to missed or made shots. The crowd seriously got the giggles over he and McDonald’s hand signals–with Redlicki often rejecting many of his partner’s suggestions: “No, NO, no…yeah.”

Martin Redlicki kicking a missed ball after point Winnetka challenger Nielsen tennis champs

Much to the delight of the #Merican crowd, Redlicki and McDonald won the match in the supertiebreaker,  6-3, 5-7, 10-6.

Martin Redlicki Mackenzie McDonald Ratiwatana brothers Sanchai Sonchat photos Winnetka challenger handshake quarterfinal

(CLICK for PAGE 2 and the Kudla/Smee action!!!)

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