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John Breaux Cajun Tennis Classic: Bushamaka, Scott advance to Classic Finals

Bruce Brown, The Advertiser, Sept. 25, 2016

It was an easy choice, really.

Stay out in the steamy, south Louisiana midday sun for 45 or so more minutes while an underdog opponent got stronger with each point?

Or, shut the door, halt his rally, get a win, get treatment, catch a shower and relax until it was time for doubles.

It took no time at all for top-seeded William Bushamaka of Kentucky to opt for Plan B.

He rallied in the second set for a 6-1, 7-5 win over Oklahoma State’s Lukas Finzelberg in Saturday’s semifinals of the John Breaux Cajun Tennis Classic at UL’s Culotta Tennis Center.

The hard-fought victory sends Bushamaka into Sunday’s noon finals against No. 4 Harrison Scott of Texas, a 6-1, 6-3 winner over Texas Tech’s Bjorn Thomson.

That title match will be televised on ESPN3 by Cox Sports.

“I was worried,” admitted Bushamaka, who has not lost a set this weekend.

After a typically dominant first set, he saw a 3-1 second-set lead melt away to 3-4. The Wildcat junior needed an ace to get to 4-4, and another cannon shot down the middle to reach 5-5.

Finzelberg volleyed wide and was broken, and Bushamaka finally served out the victory that was impressive as the first difficult one he’s had.

“I changed my game just a little bit,” he said. “He likes pace, so I took some off. I was paying attention as the points played out, and where to put my serve.

“I was pleased with my backhand today. I’ve been working on it. I was pleased that I did not lose the second set. Coming back mentally was good.

“Playing college tennis for two years has helped me. I’m able to stay mentally tough, even when the crowd is against me.”

Perhaps the crowd just wanted to see Finzelberg make a game of it. He did, but it wasn’t enough once Bushamaka made up his mind.

The Longhorns’ Scott, meanwhile, kept his foot on the pedal once he found a formula against Thomson.

“I was patient, but aggressive at the same time,” Scott said. “I recognized opportunity and stepped into it to go for the point. I stayed in the point, and mostly stayed down the middle; not go wide on him.

“I was confident. I was moving well and felt I dictated all the rallies. I’m happy with the weekend so far, going against top competition.”

Which includes, of course, the imposing Bushamaka.

“He’s a great athlete,” Scott said. “He hits the ball hard and moves it around. I’ll need to bring my ‘A’ game.”

Good idea, although he wasn’t obsessing about the match.

“I’ll try to relax, and I’ve got some homework I need to do,” Scott said. “We’ll talk about him more tomorrow.”

Bushamaka, who just missed the doubles final with partner Beck Pennington, will be ready.

“We’re not going to do much scouting,” he said. “We’ll see how he plays, and figure it out then.”

The doubles title comes down to LSU’s top-seeded Jordan Daigle of Lafayette and Justin Butsch against No. 2 Thomson and Alex Sendegeya of Texas Tech.