US Men’s Clay Court Championship – “You Ought To Be Here”

Juan Monaco closed out the action on the red clay Monday night. (Photo: Greg Victor)

Juan Monaco closed out the action on the red clay Monday night (Photo: Greg Victor)

The tradition continues. Banners of tennis players blow in the breeze, telling you that this is the chosen spot in all of the U.S. as far as clay court tennis is concerned. Not even the anticipation of a slight April sunburn should keep you away. Winter is officially over when it’s ATP time on the red dirt. Hallelujah!

What’s more, the  2016 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship takes place in Houston, Texas—which makes it by far the friendliest tournament in the U.S.A. (Hey Newport, come down and learn a thing or two…) There’s so much to do in this town, that you could almost forgive someone for secretly hoping for a day of rain during the week. Almost. It looks like the weather is going to be perfect throughout the entire tournament (with highs in the low 80s), so my plans to hear some live country music while in town will have to wait until after the Monday-through-Saturday-night lights have gone out on Center Court.

Speaking of country music: the No. 1 song on Billboard’s “Hot Country” chart this week is Cole Swindell’s “You Should Be Here.” Swindell co-wrote the hit song with Ashley Gorley, one of Nashville’s most prolific (and award-wining) writers. If you’re a tennis fan and you’re anywhere but Houston, the lyric of the song applies:

“It’s perfect outside,

It’s like God let me dial up the weather.

Got the whole crew here,

I ain’t seen some of them in forever.

It’s one of those never forget it, better stop and take it in kinda scenes…”

So if you missed day one of the fun in the sun, there are still six to go. Days and nights full of tennis-savvy spectators, meticulous umpires, ball girls and boys with lightning speed, up-close-and-personal practice courts filled with competitors, and some of the finest renditions of the National Anthem that you’ve ever heard.

As if one needed yet another reason to come down to the Stadium on Tuesday, there’s always the Bryan brothers. Five-time tournament champions (and legends of doubles tennis) Bob and Mike Bryan return to River Oaks on Tuesday.

Did I say “always”? Would that that were true. In other words, you really should be here.

RESULTS – Monday, April 4, 2016
Singles – First Round

Denis Kudla (USA) d [Q] Mischa Zverev (Germany) 3-6 7-6(2) 7-6(2)
Hyeon Chung (Korea) d Victor Estrella Burgos (Dominican Republic) 6-4 6-7(5) 6-0
Juan Monaco (Argentina) d Gerald Melzer (Austria) 6-2 6-7(3) 6-4

Doubles – First Round
[4] Sam Querrey (USA)/Steve Johnson d Carlos Berlocq (Argentina)/Benoit Paire (France) 6-4 6-0
[WC] Tommy Paul (USA)/Reilly Opelka (USA) d Nicholas Monroe (USA)/Neal Skupski (Great Britain) 7-6(6) 4-6 10-4
Hyeon Chung (Korea)/Julio Peralta (Chile) d [Alt.] Guido Andreozzi (Argentina)/Nicolas Kicker (Argentina) 3-6 6-1 10-8

SCHEDULE – Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Stadium Court – Noon start

[7] Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus) vs Diego Schwartzman (Argentina)
Not Before 1 pm
[6] Steve Johnson (USA) vs Donald Young (USA)
[5] Sam Querrey (USA) vs [LL] Reilly Opelka (USA)
Night Session – 6 pm start
[1] Bob Bryan (USA)/Mike Bryan (USA) vs Denis Kudla (USA)/Donald Young (USA)
Fernando Verdsco (Spain) vs [Q] Carlos Berlocq (Argentina)

Court 3 – Noon start
[WC] Marcos Daniell (New Zealand)/Artem Sitak (New Zealand) vs [3] Eric Butorac (USA)/Scott Lipsky (USA)
[WC] Tommy Paul (USA) vs [8] Paolo Lorenzi (Italy)
Benjamin Becker (Germany) vs Michael Berrer (Germany)
[PR] Dmitry Tursunov (Russia) vs Lukas Lacko (Slovakia)
Chris Guccione (Australia)/Andre Sa (Brazil) vs Julian Knowle (Austria)/Igor Zeleny (Slovakia)

Court 7 – 1:00 pm start
[Q] Nicolas Kicker (Argentina) vs [WC] Tim Smyczek (USA)
[WC] Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs [Q] Matthew Barton (Australia)

Nicholas Monroe and Neal Skupski (Photo: Greg Victor)

Nicholas Monroe and Neal Skupski (Photo: Greg Victor)

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