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After a Year Off, Snow Looks Fresh in Victory : Wheelchair tennis: He wins semifinal and final matches in straight sets to take U.S. Open title. Vandierendonck wins women's championship.


IRVINE — Kai Schrameyer, a 25-year-old German who has won the five biggest tournaments this year, was a heavy favorite to complete a sweep with a victory this week at the U.S. Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships.

"I guess we all forgot this event is really the Randy Snow Invitational," said Ron Hastings, tournament director.

Snow, who took last year off to "recharge his batteries," shocked Schrameyer in straight sets Saturday in a rain-delayed semifinal and Sunday zapped defending champion Steve Welch in the finals, 6-0, 6-3, to record his 10th U.S. Open victory at the Racquet Club of Irvine.

'I was tired of it," Snow said. "I couldn't get challenged anymore, so I took the year off to recreate the hunger. I think it worked."

The match lasted only 48 minutes, but it was over long before that. Snow, a 34-year-old veteran from Heath, Tex., who won gold medals in singles and doubles at the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona, won the first nine games. He dominated with a combination of power and touch winners, along with a consistently deep slice backhand that kept Welch on the defensive during rallies.

"I was a clawless cat out there," Welch said. "I didn't have any of my stuff and I'm not sure how much of that he induced or what, but I couldn't put any pressure on him."

Welch, 21, thanked Snow for "kicking my butt so quickly" and rushed off to catch a plane home to Bedford, Tex. He hardly was at the top of his game, but the way Snow was rolling, it probably didn't matter. Snow hit the lines with topspin forehands down the line. He spun backhanded winners at untouchable angles and dropped in deep lobs when Welch ventured into the net.

Welch thrust his arms skyward in mock triumph when Snow hit a forehand long to give Welch his first game. The pressure of going down in a double bagel gone, Welch broke Snow in the next game, but had little else to celebrate.

"I went to his forehand early," Snow said. "It can be very good, but it can also be a little wild, so I wanted to test it. I had success there and then was able to go either way and really keep him guessing.

"I think I played even better against Kai, though. I trained really hard for this event. I studied videotapes. And if you can get out to a quick lead in the U.S. Open, then you can let the event work for you. There's a lot of pressure in this event. It's like our Wimbledon."

Monique Kalkman and Chantal Vandierendonck, the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the world, responded to the pressure with a three-hour collection of unforced errors that left winner Vandierendonck sounding as if she wanted to throw back her 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 victory.

"We both didn't play very well," said Vandierendonck, who teamed with Kalkman to win the gold medal in doubles for the Netherlands at Barcelona. "She made more mistakes, but neither of us hit many winners. Usually, we both hit a lot of winners. It wasn't a very good match for the crowd."

Kalkman has won the USTA National Outdoors, French Open, British Open, Swiss Open and Austrian Open this year, beating Vandierendonck in the finals of three of them.

"This is a big win," Vandierendonck said. "This event has the tradition as being the biggest tournament of the year. It used to be sort of an unofficial world championships. Tonight, it will hit me."

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