Weather perfect for Day 1 of Open

According to Bud Pettit, the showers that are scheduled to threaten Lawrence throughout the weekend “will either be here or there.”

He hoped for the latter. Friday night, the weather decided to cooperate: Any trace of rain clouds were far away from Pettit and his Lawrence Adult Open tennis tournament at the Lawrence Tennis Center.

When the event started with the opening round of the men’s open and men’s 3.5 player-rating divisions, participants played underneath a postcard-perfect blue sky.

“We’re giving thanks so far for the weather, but beyond that, this is all we could hope for,” said Pettit, director of the United States Tennis Assn.-sanctioned event.

Friday’s matches served as a warm-up for today, when more than 60 male and female players will compete in 10 divisions.

Pettit said today would start with the quarterfinals of the men’s open division – the top skill level – at 8 a.m. Although all times are tentative, the director said he wouldn’t be surprised if the last of the day’s matches went to 7:30 p.m. The semifinals and finals for all divisions are slated for Sunday.

One of the players surely to set an early alarm clock is Tommy Johnson, a recent Lawrence High graduate. Johnson defeated his first opponent, Joel Rook, a 30-year-old from Lawrence, 6-1, 6-2.

For Johnson, the local tournament afforded an opportunity to hone his game over the summer before he plays at Grinnell College in Iowa next fall.

Johnson took part in the event last year, but he fell to Free State’s Keith Pipkin, losing a tiebreaker in the third set.

“So it’s sort of like breaking the ice to win this one,” Johnson said.

His reward for winning the opening round will be Andrew Marchetti, the No. 2 seed in the open division.

Although participants were allowed to enter either by skill level or by age, most opted to go by skill level, which was just fine for Johnson, who said he could learn plenty from older competitors.

“I think a lot of people have a better mental attitude,” he said, “just because they’ve been playing for so long and they have confidence in their strokes.”

In the men’s 3.5 division, Ben Schraeder, a 2003 KU graduate, taunted his opponent before the match via telephone. By luck of the draw, he went up against his father, Ward.

“He called me and said, ‘Your worst nightmare has come true,'” Ward said.

The younger Schraeder won, 6-0, 6-1.

In the other opening-round match in the men’s open division, Nathan Roule, a 23-year-old from Lawrence, beat Brian Harris in three sets. Harris, 41, of Lawrence, won the first set, 6-1. But Roule fired back, winning the last two sets, 6-3, 6-4. Roule will face Baldwin High standout Chris Irick at 8 a.m. today.

“I just picked up my energy level more than anything else,” Roule said.