Wallace Overcomes Age, Quickness Factors in Davenport Win
RTA Contributing Writer
Third-seeded Chris Wallace knew he was going to be in for a battle when he walked onto the court with 15-year-old Bryce DePew Friday night in the round of 16 at the Davenport City Tennis Championships at Byrd Park.
After all, Wallace is 38, more than 20 years older than DePew, who played No. 1 singles for James River High School this spring as a freshman.
“He’s certainly quicker,” said Wallace, a former No. 1 player for Collegiate High School and the University of Mary Washington. “I play a lot of 35s tournaments and 35s national tournaments. When you go back and play someone as young as he is, the quickness around the baseline is a big difference.
“I hit a couple of what I thought were good crosscourt backhands, and he was able to get over there, and not just get his racquet on it. He beat me down the line on one. Either that, or he would play a very good defensive shot and make me finish it.”
Despite the age differential and quickness factor, Wallace was more than able to hold his own and outlasted DePew 7-5, 6-4 in a match that took over two hours to complete.
Wallace had been scheduled to play Mark Scordo in a quarterfinal afterward but since it wouldn’t have started until about 9:30 p.m., he and Scordo agreed to come back on Saturday morning at 9. The winner gets top-seeded Eric Shulman at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Second-seeded Ryan Radke, runner-up to Shulman last year, won a pair of matches to reach the semifinals, where he will meet No. 4 seed David Genter at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Wallace’s opening set with DePew was close all the way. With DePew double faulting once or twice every game, Wallace was able to break at 5-all and serve it out. Wallace was up 5-2 in the second but couldn’t close it out until a backhand lob in the corner ended it on the fifth match point.
“He’s very quick and he plays good defensive tennis,” said Wallace, who is ranked No. 1 in the men’s 35s in the Mid-Atlantic and 20th nationally in the same age group. “The balls were getting kind of flat, and I was having a hard time getting enough on the ball to get it by him.
“I started coming in and closing some points out at the net in the middle of the second set. Had a few volley winners and some overheads. Then it got dark and the lights came on, and it got more difficult to see. He just made me earn every point.”
Wallace, who is a partner at Keiter, a CPA firm in Richmond, was very complimentary of DePew, the son of former junior standout John DePew.
“I thought he was very focused,” said Wallace. “He kept his composure. He didn’t try to do anything he wasn’t capable of doing. He double faulted a couple times. But even when he got down, he wouldn’t give up. He did a great job.
“He’s definitely someone to keep your eye out for. He’s got the talent.”
Radke, an assistant pro at Hermitage Country Club, fell behind 4-1 in the first set against Smyth before winning the final 11 games.
“He was playing better at first, then he let me off the hook,” said Radke. “He started missing more shots and I was more consistent. I was going for a lot of winners and made so many unforced errors in the first four or five games.
“Then I tried to put more spin on the ball to keep it in, and my serve started working better. I was able to turn it around.”
Men’s singles — First round: Ryan Radke d. James Smyth 6-4, 6-0; Chris Wallace d. Bryce DePew 7-5, 6-4. Quarterfinals: Eric Shulman d. Conner Moncure 6-0, 6-0; David Genter d. Taylor Napier 6-0, 6-2; Radke d. Clifford Foster 6-3, 6-3.