Rain sends Pacific Northwest Open indoors

The only things moving fast at the Pacific Northwest Open were the tennis balls.

Rain forced the tournament indoors for the first time in more than 15 years Wednesday, and the first round of the men’s main draw was played on two courts at Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club.

It was supposed to take place on six.

“Clearly we knew this was coming,” tournament organizer Nick Moxley said. “We looked at the weather forecast and saw it was a possibility. It’s a bummer, but it happens.”

Moving indoors almost caused the entire tournament to come to a halt. Matches started at 8 a.m., and by noon, only a fraction of the planned matches had been played.

Luckily, some quick matches helped pick up the pace. No. 1 seed Kyle McMorrow of Olympia cruised by Vicente Varas of Sammamish, 6-2, 6-2, and second-seeded Ben McLachlan of Berkeley, California, won just as easily, dispatching Gagan Jain of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, 6-0, 6-3.

But it wasn’t enough to salvage the day’s lineup. The women had been scheduled to play outdoors simultaneously with the men, but only two matches were squeezed in after the men finished indoors.

Most of the women who didn’t get a bye will have to play two matches Thursday.

“The pace of play was good,” Moxley said. “But it just wasn’t enough to overcome having four less courts than we planned. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little better.”

There was one benefit to moving indoors, however: faster tennis. Playing indoors puts the game in a sterile environment, making the ball travel faster. It also eliminates factors such as the wind, which can slow the ball, and the sun.

“It was noticeably quicker in there,” said Campbell Johnson of Rancho Santa Fe, California. “I didn’t play yesterday, but I hit, and the difference inside was big.”

Johnson used the speed to dispatch Seattle’s Christian Deisler, 6-0, 6-0.

“The rain kind of sucks, but it’s something that happens and I just have to adapt to,” Johnson said. “It makes it interesting, at least. Keeps us on our toes.”

The tournament will continue Thursday with the first two rounds of women’s singles, as well as men’s doubles matches. Women’s and mixed doubles will start Friday.