Honolulu Advertiser Staff Writer
Aug. 4, 2003
The Santa Clara teammates overcame the tournament's most imposing element in last night's final, defeating six-time champion Ryan Ideta and partner Erik Sandblom, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5. Bruggemann and Chen lost the first four games of the final set, but won the last six - fighting off match point in the process - to capture the title.
They collected $2,400 but only Bruggemann, who graduated in May, can keep the cash. Chen, 21, from San Jose, Calif., returns to school this fall. Bruggemann, a 1998 Punahou graduate, is home to help coach the Buffanblu and work in the family hardware distribution business.
The drizzle-filled final, which lasted more than 4 hours with two rain delays, was played before about 600. The two-week tournament was watched by some 4,500.
Bruggemann and Chen, the seventh seeds, forced the 6-foot-6 Sandblom to play too many balls off his sneakers and broke Ideta's serve twice in a nearly flawless first set. When Sandblom and Ideta rallied to win the second, Bruggemann and Chen finally found a way to get to Sandblom's big serve.
They broke the former Hawai'i Pacific All-American's serve twice to take the third set. The players took a 10-minute break and Chen and Bruggemann won the first three games of the fourth set, breaking Sandblom's serve again.
But he and Ideta, seeded third, had one more rally. They broke Chen's serve and evened the match at 3. The quietest team in this tournament began to grow more animated after they broke Bruggemann's serve to go up 6-5, then closed it out on Ideta's serve.
Chen and Bruggemann, who had been two points from the title at 5-4, were too focused to know what they had missed.
"I haven't played that much tennis in my whole life," Bruggemann said. "I wasn't thinking at that time."
When they won the first four games of the fifth set, Ideta and Sandblom actually spoke out loud after points. Bruggemann and Chen, silent early, picked up the volume as they picked up their game.
Sandblom, whose game had risen to Ideta's level at the beginning of the fifth set, couldn't come through with match point on his serve. Bruggemann knocked that off with a volley, Sandblom double-faulted and Bruggemann tied the set at 5 with a laser return.
Bruggemann then held serve. The rally was complete when Chen and Bruggemann broke Ideta's serve at love.
Chen picked up his partner up.
"He has a big game," Bruggemann said of Chen. "I just clean up after him."
The big guy with the big game thanked the crowd for making a Californian feel so at home that he has come to this event three times. He'll be back to defend.
"I love it here," Chen said. "This is the best tournament I play."