Veteran Denis Kudla was pushed hard by a 16-year-old phenom in his tournament debut on Wednesday at the NorthBay Healthcare Men’s Pro Championship, but he wasn’t surprised.
The 27-year-old American from Arlington, Va., scored a hard-fought 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 win over San Diego teen sensation Zachary Svajda. The two met just over a month ago in New York at the U.S. Open.
“We practiced at the Open, so I knew exactly what he is capable of,” said Kudla, the second seed this week. “I have all the respect in the world for him. I knew what he was going to bring, so I tried to step up the gas early. He kept hanging in there.”
The singles draw at the ATP Challenger event reached the Round of 16 with 10 singles matches on Wednesday. There were five more clashes in doubles to set up quarterfinals. Matches continued on the tennis courts at Solano Community College in Fairfield, despite PG&E’s mandated power outages in the area, thanks to a large generator.
Competition continues through Sunday.
In the evening match, American Jack Sock battled Jack Draper of Great Britain late into the night. Sock has been as high as No. 8 in his career, has major doubles titles to his resume and is coming off a strong performance for the World team at the Laver Cup in Switzerland. The 17-year-old Draper was the Wimbledon boys runner-up this year.
Sock takes on Donald Young tonight in a major matchup at 7 p.m.
Kudla is the No. 107 ranked player in the world with six career Challenger titles to his name and nearly $3 million in prize money. He has played in all four majors and is coming off an impressive trip to the third round at the U.S. Open before losing to top-seed Novak Djokovic.
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Svajda won the USTA Boys 18 National Championship in August and earned a wild card into the Open. He lost to Paolo Lorenzi in five sets at Flushing Meadows before being derailed by full body cramping.
Svajda fired shots with pace side to side against Kudla and also dropped some nice lobs with touch. Kudla just proved just to be a bit strong as he knocked in six aces en route to the victory.
“It’s really been a streaky year for me,” Kudla said. “I really haven’t won a match since the Open. My confidence hasn’t really been there. It’s hard to bring momentum from the Open here. I’m kind of in a reverse role where I don’t have as much pressure I had there.”
The veteran Young, 17th seed, started slow but closed strong for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over fellow American Alexander Sarkissian. The 30-year-old Young from Atlanta has had a long career that featured deep runs at the U.S. Open in 2011 and 2015.
In other second-round singles matches, it was fifth seed Blaz Rola (Slovakia) over Agustin Velotti (Argentina) 6-1, 6-4; 10th seed Nicola Kuhn (Spain) over Michail Pervolarkakis (Greece) 6-4, 2-6, 6-0; Kevin King (U.S.) over 15th seed Ernesto Escobedo 7-5, 6-4; James Duckworth (Australia) over qualifier Felix Corwin (U.S.) 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-0; Darian King (Barbados) over Sebastian Korda (U.S.) 5-7, 6-0, 7-5; wild card Brandon Nakashima (U.S.) over Dennis Novikov (U.S.) 6-2, 6-4; and Peter Polansky (Canada) over Alexander Ritschard (U.S.) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
In doubles, it was Santiago Gonzalez (Mexico) and Treat Huey (Phillippines) over Mitchell Krueger (U.S.) and Alex Lawson (U.S.) 6-3, 6-4; Deiton Baughman (U.S.) and Brandon Holt (U.S.) over Sekou Bangoura (U.S.) and Michael Mmoh (U.S.) 4-6, 7-6 (4), 10-7; fourth seed Andre Goransson (Sweden) and Sem Verbeek (Netherlands) over Kudla and Roberto Quiroz (Ecuador) 6-0, 6-4; Jamie Cerretani (U.S.) and Korey Lovett (U.S.) over top seed Robert Galloway (U.S.) and Roberto Maytin (Venezuela) 2-6, 6-4, 10-3; and, second seed Evan King (U.S.) and Hunter Reese (U.S.) over Martin Redlicki (U.S.) and Jackson Withrow (U.S.) 7-6 (8), 6-4.
The tournament benefits the Dr. Chris Cammisa Tennis and Education Foundation. The nonprofit helped start the men’s and women’s tennis programs at Solano Community College, and also brings the sport and an education program to underserved children throughout Solano County.