Aviator Ryan Harrison, part of a grueling Friday closing set against the Orlando Storm. Photo credit: @sdaviators, via Facebook

The Orlando Storm held on to beat the San Diego Aviators Friday in dramatic fashion in World Team Tennis action, as the Aviators fell to 1-3.

Tennys Sandgren of the Storm played from behind in his singles match versus the Aviators’ Ryan Harrison. With the Storm clinging to an overall lead of 21-18 during the fifth and final set, Sandgren dropped the last regulation game of the set, the resulting tiebreaker and one game of Extended Play, wherein he squandered a match point.

That sent the proceedings to the all-important Supertiebreaker. But with some nifty shots of his own and some errors from Harrison, Sandgren was able to make it through that bear of a matchup and push his team to a 22-21 victory.

“It was really tough. He played tough in some big moments there, especially on his serve,” Sandgren said of Harrison after the match, steam rising from his back after a set that lasted nearly 70 minutes.

Sandgren did have an opportunity to end the match during the Extended Play game. But that match point went by the boards as Harrison unleashed a 128-mph serve that handcuffed Sandgren’s return.

World TeamTennis had gone without a Supertiebreaker through the first five days of its season. After the Chicago Smash and the New York Empire broke that streak on Friday afternoon, Sandgren and Harrison were on the stage for the league’s second first-to-seven, match-deciding overtime.

It began with Sandgren splitting his first two service points. Harrison couldn’t take advantage as he hit a couple of balls long to put Sandgren back on serve with a 3-1 edge.

But Sandgren returned the favors equally with a double fault – his fourth of the set – and an unsuccessful forehand return after nearly being brought to his knees by a deep backhand liner from Harrison.

At 3-3, Harrison scored a winner with a drop shot following a power-heavy rally from both men, but the score was knotted once again when his attempted lob over Sandgren went past the baseline.

Sandgren created some daylight at 4-4 with a service winner and then brought himself a point from victory yet again by smacking a passing shot past the drawn-in Harrison. But the All-Star would not relent; Harrison came back with an ace down the center at 132 mph.

Finally, the curtain fell on this 3-plus-hour match with an 11-shot rally and with Harrison putting a little too much muscle behind a backhand stroke. As the ball traveled out, Sandren let loose a primal scream. Harrison bent over with his head in his hands.

Directly before the men ended the evening, Harrison and CoCo Vandeweghe outlasted the Storm’s Jessica Pegula and Ken Skupski in a mixed doubles tiebreaker, 5-4 (4).

In women’s doubles, Pegula and Darija Jurak handed the team of Vandeweghe and Nicole Melichar their first loss of the season, triumphing 5-3.

Sandgren and Skupski made relatively quick work of Harrison and Jonny O’Mara in men’s doubles, 5-2. Christina McHale notched a 5-3 victory over Danielle Collins and Pegula, who was subbed into the women’s singles set with Orlando trailing 2-3 and love-30.

The Aviators face the Vegas Rollers at 6 a.m. Saturday on CBS Sports Digital and Facebook Watch.

– Reuters

Show comments