The Clay is Heating Up: USTA Boys’ 18 & 16 National Clay Court Championships [Day 4]
Jul 13, 2023
Staying well hydrated and conserving energy as much as possible are key factors to success when competing in a weeklong tennis tournament, particularly during the steamy days that have prevailed this week at the USTA Boys Clay Courts National Championships in Palm Beach County, Fla.
Tanner Povey of Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., and Abhinav Chunduru of Plano, Tex., have found that winning matches in straight sets plays a big role when it comes to conserving their energy as the week wears on. So far, neither one has been extended to a third set en route to reaching their respective Round of 16 matches.
Povey, a No. 33 seed who received a first-round bye, dispatched his third consecutive opponent in straight sets Wednesday with a 7-5, 6-2 win against No. 10 seed Will Manning of Raleigh, N.C., and was selected the Boys 18s Player of the Day presented by Baptist Health.
“I’m used to it, but it still gets to me, I can’t say it doesn’t,” Povey said of dealing with the affects of triple-digit feel-like temperatures that have engulfed each of the first four days of the tournament.
Povey caught a break from the afternoon heat Wednesday when he and his doubles partner Mikel Anderson, a fellow Floridian from Delray Beach, won in a walkover when their opponents withdrew from the match, also advancing them to the round of 16.
Povey, a left-hander, became interested in tennis when his dad coaxed him into playing ping pong at their home when he was about 6. He said his dad would have him hit a small beach ball with his hand over the ping pong net, then progressed to using a paddle. Eventually, the young Povey was hooked.
“Ping pong is so fun. That was kind of my introduction to tennis,” said Povey, who also played baseball before deciding to concentrate solely on tennis. A rising homeschooled high school senior, he’s received a scholarship offer to play at Arizona State next year along with Anderson, with whom he teamed up with a few years ago to win a Level 3 12-and-under title the first time they were doubles partners.
Povey said he doesn’t pay much attention to how highly seeded an opponent might be, and that he actually enjoys playing on clay.
“My goal going into every match is just focus on my game and what I need to do on my side of the court that hopefully will get me the win,” he said. “It could be the No. 10 seed, the 1 seed, the 33 seed and it doesn’t really matter to me. I try to go in with the same mindset every time. . . . A lot people say my game is better suited for hard (courts) but I feel more comfortable on clay with all the movement.”
Chunduru also is used to hot summer temperatures living in Texas, but he said the heat in Florida this week has been especially tough to navigate during matches.
“A lot of players struggle with it,” Chunduru said after his fourth consecutive straight-sets victory Wednesday that earned him the Boys 16s Player of the Day presented by South Florida BMW Centers. “But I’ve been preparing pretty well, I would say, just hydrating and eating well and recovering after matches, so I think that’s helped me and I haven’t really faced an issue with it so far.”
Chunduru, who is unseeded, likewise has had an impressive week so far. Of his four straight-sets wins, three of them have come against seeded players, including Wednesday’s 6-1, 6-4 victory against No. 9 seed Zach Cohen of Media, Pa.
“Going into the match, I knew he can be a tricky player and if you’re not playing well he can really throw you off your rhythm,” Chunduru said of Cohen, whom he had not previously faced in a match. “So I went into the match knowing that I had to take control from the start and put him under a little pressure or that he would do the same to me. The match was tougher than it looks. I had not played him before but had seen him play. He’s a crafty player and his anticipation is really good.”
Chunduru and his 16-year-old twin brother Prathinav Chunduru lost their first-round doubles match earlier this week, so Abhinav’s concentration has been solely on his singles game the past couple of days.
“The past three or four weeks, I didn’t play in any tournaments, just practicing on clay quite a bit,” he said. “And we came here four days early to adjust to the courts and heat.”
So far, that plan has worked wonderfully for him.
Sunday, July 9 – Wednesday, July 12: Delray Beach Tennis Center (B18), Boca Raton Racquet Center (B18), Palm Beach Gardens Tennis Center (B16) and BallenIsles Country Club (B16)
Thursday, July 13: Delray Beach Tennis Center (B18), Palm Beach Gardens Tennis Center (B16)
Friday, July 14 – Sunday, July 16: Delray Beach Tennis Center (B18 & B16)