Roscoe Bellamy - 2012 Little Rock Champion
by Ali Jones
, 14 August 2012
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Top seed Roscoe Bellamy, pushed to a third set by a 17th seeded finalist, calmly set aside the heat, humidity, fatigue, doubts, hopes and emotions that accompany a Level-1 championship match. In doing so, he overcame a spirited challenge by Danny (DJ) Thomas 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 to win the gold ball at the 2012 Hardcourts in North Little Rock.
Neither player had lost a set throughout the tournament, and it was expected that each would bring to the finals every weapon in his arsenal, among them Bellamy's ferocious forehand and Thomas' net play, which has resulted in two gold balls in doubles.
Three weeks ago at the Clay Court Championships, Bellamy was in a similar situation: he breezed through the field until the finals, and his sterling performance earned him the silver ball. He was a semifinalist at the Spring Nationals and made the quarters of the Winter Nats.
"He just kept persevering," said Beth Bellamy, Roscoe's mother who accompanied him to Arkansas. "I think he really wanted it and I give a lot of credit to him."
In the finals, up a set but down 0-5 in the second, Bellamy clawed his way back into the match. He lost that set, but was better prepared for the third and deciding set.
"Coming back from love-5 down to win 3 games in a row - I think maybe that's one of the things he learned from experience," said Mrs. Bellamy, who herself won the Easter Bowl, Hardcourts, Claycourts and U.S. Open juniors.
Sherry Thomas, mother of the runner-up, said that Bellamy had shifted to a higher gear for the third.
"I don't think DJ played that third set badly," she said, "but I think Roscoe took it to a whole other level. Same tennis game on the court, but mentally, there was a different player on the court."
Roscoe Bellamy, who had seen match leads slip away in the past, trusted himself, his game and his experience to neutralize Thomas' punishing groundies, pinpoint volleys and amazing overheads.
"I didn't focus on it being a final, I just focused like it was any match," the champion said.
Never having played each other before, the match required quick thinking and on-site adjustments, both of which Bellamy readily met.
"I tried to find a strategy in the middle of the match," the 12-year-old Californian said. "I was trying to play the best I can."
Recapping the match, Bellamy served to start and easily held, got up an early break on Thomas, but after that, it was a dead-even match.
"I was playing aggressive, mixed it up a little and opened up the court," Bellamy said. "He's a lefty, a very good player. He hit the ball nicely and very hard."