JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Michael Bruggeman returned a serve during last night's final of the Kailua Night Doubles tournament.
win Night Doubles
Michael Bruggemann and Erich Chen had often seen Taylor Bedilion and Chris Lam on the other side when all four were college teammates at Santa Clara. But last night was the first time they had met with a sizable chunk of cash at stake.
Bruggemann and Chen, the tournament's second-seeded team, relied on their experience as veterans of the Kailua Racquet Club Men's Night Doubles tournament to claim their second title with a 7-5, 6-2 victory in the championship match.
The Bronco tennis reunion was Bruggemann and Chen's third straight appearance in the Night Doubles final, and they added this year's title to their 2003 championship and last summer's runner-up finish.
"The first time and the second times we were pretty nervous," said Chen, who will split the $2,400 first prize with Bruggemann. "The third time, now we've been there before we know how to play.
"It can be a little intimidating playing in the finals of a tournament like this, but playing good friends makes it easier to play."
The fifth-seeded duo of Bedilion and Lam will make $800 each for reaching the finals of their first professional tournament, which they said would mostly go toward covering their travel expenses. They upset top seeds and defending champions Ikaika Jobe and Bradley Lum-Tucker in the quarterfinals en route to last night's match.
Bedilion just completed his career at Santa Clara, while Lam, the only player not wearing Broncos apparel on the court last night, transferred to UCLA after his freshman year.
"We had an idea of what each other does, but when you get in this kind of situation everything goes out the window," Bruggemann said.
Bedilion and Lam appeared ready to take control of the match in the first set, but couldn't convert on service-break opportunities in four games.
"Today every bounce went our way," Bruggemann said. "I was down love-40 in almost every service game I had. I guess our experience got us through this tournament. We were down in almost every match and found a way to come back."
Despite facing 12 break points in the first set, Chen and Bruggemann somehow held serve the entire match and took advantage of their first opportunity with a pivotal break of Bedilion's serve to take a 6-5 lead in the first set.
Lam and Bedilion threatened to force a tiebreaker by going up 0-40 against Bruggemann the next game. But Chen and Bruggemann again battled back and won the set when a Lam forehand hit the net cord and landed out and a backhand went into the net.
"That was our set to win and we just didn't close it out," said Lam, who received the tournament's Peter Isaak Sportsmanship Award prior to the match. "It was a big letdown not to win that set."
Chen and Bruggemann took advantage of the emotional swing by breaking Lam's serve to open the second set. They added another break to go up 4-1 and went on to pick up their second championship trophy.
"This was sweeter for me, because I feel old in this tournament," Bruggemann said. "Going into it I was out of practice, hadn't been playing, didn't expect much. So to win it all, it's kind of a weird feeling."
The tournament held a third-place match for the first time in its 35-year history, with the team of Malino Oda and Johnny Rosetti earning $500 each by defeating Wei-Yu Su and Art Lambert 8-6.