Ciszek Enjoying His Stay in MATA Clay Court Tournament

By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer

Three years ago, Michal Ciszek won the McDonald’s Mid-Atlantic Open Clay Court Tennis Championships, upsetting University of Virginia standout Sanam Singh in the final.

The native of Poland also captured the Davenport city singles title on hard courts that same year (2010), giving him a sweep of the area’s two big tournaments.

But that was before he and his wife, Natalia, had two children, and Ciszek was a few pounds lighter.

“I was in little bit better shape than I am right now,” said the 35-year-old. “And there was no kids.”

Ciszek, seeded No. 11 in this year’s McDonald’s event, is still good enough to hold his own against many of his younger competitors, as he showed Thursday in beating high-school hotshot Brett Moorhead 6-4, 6-3 in the fourth round at Salisbury Country Club.

“I am still playing not bad,” he said. “It’s just physically, I have a hard time keeping up with the young guys from college and the tour guys who are here this week.”

Moorhead, who won back-to-back state Group AAA singles championships while playing for Cosby High School, gave Ciszek all he could handle in the grueling match.

“He’s good player,” said Ciszek. “He played well. I’m just happy that I won. I served very well, so that saved me. Short points. A lot of free points. In my case, that helps a lot.”

As he was being interviewed, little Sophie (21/2) was running all over the place, while Kate (five months) was in her mother’s arms.

With his family getting larger and his duties as a teaching pro at Willow Oaks Country Club keeping him busy, this is the only tournament that Ciszek plays now.

“It’s a nice event,” he said. “The facility is great. It’s well-organized. It’s fun to play here. There’s a lot of people always coming out to watch. I don’t come here and hope to win the tournament. I just come out because it’s fun to be part of it.

“I am busy at Willow Oaks. I don’t have time to practice or work out. With two kids at home, it’s just impossible. I keep saying I’m going to get in shape but it never happens.”

Ciszek will meet fifth-seeded Cameron Silverman, who plays No. 1 for Elon, in the round of 16 on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Ciszek and No. 10 seed Martin Stiegwardt were the only local survivors in the men’s draw. Stiegwardt, an assistant men’s and women’s coach for Virginia Commonwealth University, advanced by defeating Richmonder Christopher Radke 6-2, 6-1.

Former Collegiate star Max Schnur, a rising junior at Columbia University, put up quite a battle against fourth-seeded Michael Shabaz before falling 6-3, 7-6 (7-2). Schnur was up 4-1 in the second set but   the ex-U.Va. standout rallied.

Former Mills Godwin High ace Kyle Parker, co-seeded 17th, made third-seeded Frenchman Clement Reix sweat before pulling out a 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 victory.  Eighth-seeded Hunter Koontz (Deep Run) was ousted by No. 15 Adam Lee 6-4, 6-2.

Two other Richmonders went down in tight matches. Michael Holt (Mills Godwin) lost to No. 13 Gary Kushnirovich 6-3, 6-4, while Tyler Carey (Cosby) was beaten by No. 12 John Richmond 7-5, 6-2.

Top-seeded Somdev Devvarman and second-seeded Singh both took the court for the first time and neither had much trouble reaching the final 16.  Play is scheduled to get under way on Friday at 5 p.m. and run until midnight.