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Familiar foes advance, meeting in today's final

by Pete Perkins | August 8, 2015 at 1:52 a.m.

The finalists know each other well.

Saud Alhogbani of Alexandria, Va., and Ben Kittay of Potomac, Md., advanced Friday through the singles semifinals at the United States Tennis Association Boys 12s National Championships at Burns Park Tennis Center in North Little Rock.

They live about a 30-minute drive apart in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, but it took a trip halfway across the country for the two to reach today's title match that is scheduled for 8 a.m.

Alhogbani needed only 52 minutes Friday to advance from his semifinal match with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Gavin Young. Kittay defeated Hugo Hashimoto of San Jose, Calif., 6-0, 3-6, 6-1.

Alhogbani said he and Kittay have competed against each other in eight singles matches and that he held a 7-1 advantage. Kittay said he didn't believe they had played eight times, but he clearly remembers his lone victory over Alhogbani. It came in the USTA Mid-Atlantic region 12s final last summer, when he won 6-3, 6-1.

It also came on a hard court, similar to the surfaces at Burns Park.

"I'll just need to play my game," Kittay said. "I expect a very tough match."

"We're very familiar with each other's game styles," Alhogbani said. "We've played many times. It should be a very competitive match.

"He's a very aggressive player. He goes for all his shots. He has a big serve, and he likes to move in. He's just a big hitter, and he's a tough competitor to beat. I've played him many times and most of our matches have gone over three hours."

"I hope this one doesn't go that long," Kittay said.

It will be their second championship match in two days. Kittay teamed with Karl Lee on Friday to win the doubles championship over Alhogbani and Samuel Landau, 6-4, 6-4. The doubles final began at noon, about three hours after the singles semifinals, and finished nearly two hours later as the temperature approached 100 degrees.

Neither Alhogbani, a native of Saudi Arabia, nor Kittay seemed hampered by the heat.

"It would be better for me if it were hotter," Alhogbani said.

"The heat doesn't bother me," Kittay said. "It gets hot and humid in Maryland."

Sports on 08/08/2015

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