Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

No. 1 Seed Next Up for Baxter

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

No. 1 Seed Next Up for Baxter

Article excerpt


50s NATIONALS: Riverview High grad advances to semis

Rill Baxter rarely likes to look too far ahead in the draw, but he could not help but believe that by the time Saturday rolled around, Mike Tammen would be there waiting for him on the Sarasota Bath and Racquet tennis courts.

Saturday is here and so is Tammen, rolling and ready.

And so is Baxter, eager for a little payback and excited about the opportunity to be the player who now stands between Tammen and a personal piece of history.

Each player took care of business Friday by winning quarterfinal matches in the Ken Wagstaff Memorial USTA National Men's 50 Clay Court Championships to set up a semifinal showdown.

Top-seeded Tammen, who is now just a pair of victories away from completing tennis' Grand Slam, brushed aside seventh-seeded Alexander Behar, 6-0, 6-4. He is hoping to add the clay court championship crown to the titles he earned earlier this year for winning at the national grass courts, hard courts and indoor courts events.

Baxter had a much tougher time Friday, but was at his best during critical points of the match to outlast big-hitting Ken White 6-2, 5- 7, 7-5 in a match that lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes.

Baxter, who stayed in the match against his doubles partner by hitting passing shots on big points, ended the biggest point with a beauty that left White shaking his head. "That last shot, I crushed the ball to the corner," White said. "In my mind it was over. And he pulls out a Rill."

It was a real beauty and White could only watch as Baxter thrust his arms in the air and screamed in satisfaction. "I am happy to beat him ... he is a nightmare to play," Baxter said, as he put his rackets away for the day. "He hits the heck out of the ball, ripping it all over the place. It was difficult."

The win puts Baxter into a rematch with Tammen, who won the last time they met -- in the semifinals of the 50s National Indoors. …

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