By Steve Pratt

CLAREMONT, CA. – Matej Bocko stayed back on the baseline and waited for the exact times to strike in his straight-set final win over Stanford sophomore Bradley Klahn on Sunday at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center USTA Pro Classic.

The fifth-seeded Bocko, who spent some of his most formative tennis-playing years as a junior in Southern California, now resides in South Florida. He earned $1,300 for his 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over a frustrated Klahn, who came in unseeded and starts his second year at Stanford on Monday.

“I really consider myself an American,” said Bocko, 25, after the match with no hint of an Eastern European accent. “I still have my working visa and am proud of my Slovakian citizenship but it’s just that I’ve spent most of my time over here in the States.”

He said he has never been asked to play Davis Cup for his country and has considered changing his citizenship to American but hasn’t gotten around to it. “Just the cost and hassle, I haven’t gotten around to it yet.” Plus, he says, he has a better chance of playing Davis Cup for Slovakia than he ever would playing for the U.S. “You never know,” he said. “Let’s say I get on a roll and my ranking is good enough for them to consider me.”

Karol Beck and Dominik Hrbaty are the top two Slovakian pro players recently but haven’t been involved in Davis Cup in a couple of years. “The top guy is like 150, 200 in the world,” said Bocko, who came into the tournament with a world ranking of 588. “But they’ve never really asked me to play or taken much of an interest in me because I’ve always been over here and have never trained with them.”

Like Bocko, Klahn plays an aggressive left-handed game and waits for just the right chance to chip and charge and put away points from the net. But he wasn’t able to do it enough on Sunday. “He just plays so patiently,” said Klahn, who was trying to become the third Stanford player to win the event. Ryan Wolters won it in 1999 and Geoff Abrams in 2000. “He’s so quick and he used his slice so effectively. He drives you in and he just tempts you into errors. I was just too impatient today.”

Klahn will next play in the ITA Collegiate All-American Oct. 8-11 in Tulsa, Okla.

Bocko moves on to the $10,000 Costa Mesa Futures event followed by Laguna Niguel. “This is a good start to this circuit,” Bocko said. “But I’m not the type of player who gets on a roll and can win three or four tournaments in a row. But we’ll see.”

Claremont Club Director of Tennis Barry Friedman commented that the Claremont Futures events is among the longest running on the USTA Pro Circuit in its 14th year. He said of the 14 past champions, 11 have gone on to make the Top 100 in the world, including Bobby Reynolds (2004) and Dmitry Tursunov (2002). On Saturday, last year’s winner Tigran Matiirosyan was a surprise semifinalist at the $50,000 Tulsa Challenger.

Sunday’s Final Singles Score
Matej Bocko (5), Slovakia, def. Bradley Klahn, U.S., 7-6 (4), 6-3
By Steve Pratt

CLAREMONT, CA. – Matej Bocko felt right at home on Saturday in his semifinal match at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center USTA Pro Classic.

Born in Slovakia, the fifth-seeded Bocko lived just 30 miles away from the Claremont Club in Irvine as a young child and played in Southern California junior events as a 12-year-old. “My dad’s job required us to move around a lot,” said Bocko, who beat American Marcus Fugate, 7-6 (2), 6-3. “Then we moved to Germany and then Florida.”

Ft. Lauderdale is the 25-year-old Bocko’s current home base. Matt, as he’s called by friends, moved there at age 18 and soon after started life on the professional tennis circuit. He took the last several years off to teach tennis but felt like playing the full 2009 USTA Pro Circuit Futures calendar. “I figured I was still young enough to be competitive,” said Bocko, who won the $15,000 Little Rock, Ark. Futures event earlier this year.

Fugate, 21 and from Fairport, N.Y., near Rochester, said he will keep on with his goal to get back near the 500s in the rankings where he got to last year. “That’s the goal,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty confident about my year and I think I still have enough events left to get my ranking back to where it was.”

Bradley Klahn won’t get a day off before he starts classes in Palo Alto on Monday. The 19-year-old from Poway, Calif., survived triple set-point in the first set, rallying for five straight points to win the first-set tiebreaker, 8-6, and eventually beat huge-serving Daniel Danilovic of Montenegro, 7-6 (6), 6-3, in the other semifinal.

“I was down 6-3 in the first set with him serving and I just relaxed and went for it,” said Klahn, who thought it would be good to get a tournament in before starting his second year at Stanford. “With those big serves you just kind of have to wait for your opportunities. You just have to stay calm because you know he’s going get his aces.”

This was Klahn’s first tournament since a Futures event in mid-July in Peoria, Ill., where he suffered a strained stomach muscle.

Klahn’s parents moved him into his dorm at Stanford without him. “I thought I’d already be up there by now,” said Klahn, who couldn’t stop from smiling after this match. “But I’d much rather be here.”

Bocko meets Klahn in Sunday’s 10 a.m. final. Bocko will receive the $1,300 first-place prize money if he wins but because of his amateur status, Klahn is unable to accept that amount but instead will be reimbursed for expenses accrued during the tournament, according to tournament director Barry Friedman.

Saturday’s Semifinal Singles Scores
Bradley Klahn, U.S., def. Daniel Danilovic, Montenegro, 7-6 (6), 6-3
Matej Bocko (5), Slovakia, def. Marcus Fugate, U.S., 7-6 (4), 6-3

Steve Pratt can be reached at sprattt@aol.com   For more information: USTA Pro Circuit
By Steve Pratt

Bradley Klahn and fellow American Marcus Fugate have taken different paths to the semifinals, and both find themselves one win away from facing each other in the final at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center USTA Pro Classic being played at the Claremont Club.

The 21-year-old Fugate, of Fairport, N.Y. has won all three of his matches in straight sets giving up a total of just 11 games en route to the semifinals. Fugate advanced there on Friday by breezing past qualifier Ille Van Engelen of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-1.

Klahn, 19 and from Poway, Calif., is currently a Stanford sophomore and had to win three-set matches his first two rounds before upsetting top-seeded Yong-Kyu Lim of Korea, 6-3, 6-2, in his quarterfinal on Friday.

Klahn was the ITA Rookie of the Year last season at Stanford and is currently preseason ranked No. 15 in the nation according to the ITA rankings. A member of the 2009 All-Pac-10 team, Klahn is also preseason ranked No. 8 in doubles with fellow Southern Californian Ryan Thacher.

Daniel Danilovic of Montenegro and Matej Bocko of Slovakia also won straight-set quarterfinal matches to advance to the semifinals.

The semifinals will be played Saturday starting at 10 a.m. with Klahn facing Danilovic followed by Fugate and Bocko. The singles final will be played Sunday at 10 a.m.

Brett Joelson and Ashwin Kumar, the third-seeded doubles team in the tournament, won the doubles title and will split $630 with a victory over the U.S. team of Brian Brogan and Daniel Chu by default

Friday’s Quarterfinal Singles Scores
wc: wild card; q: qualifier
Daniel Danilovic, Montenegro, def. Luis-Antonio Perez-Perez (q), Spain, 6-3, 6-3
Matej Bocko (5), Slovakia, def. Jordan Cox (wc), U.S., 6-3, 6-2
Marcus Fugate, U.S., def. Ille Van Engelen (q), Netherlands, 6-3, 6-1
Bradley Klahn, U.S., def. Yong-Kyu Lim (1), Korea, 6-3, 6-2

Friday’s Doubles Final
Brett Joelson, U.S.-Ashwin Kumar, U.S. (3), def. Brian Brogan, U.S.-Daniel Chu, U.S., by default

By Steve Pratt

CLAREMONT, CA.– Stanford sophomore Bradley Klahn joined fellow Americans Jordan Cox and Marcus Fugate in the quarterfinals at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center USTA Pro Classic with big wins at the Claremont Club on Thursday.

The 17-year-old Duluth, Ga., resident Cox, who was the runner-up at the Wimbledon junior event in July, seemed to have no trouble with former Harvard player and fellow American Ashwin Kumar recording a 6-2, 6-2 victory. Fugate, of Fairport, N.Y., gave up just one more game than Cox, brushing aside Boris Nicola Bakalov of Bulgaria, 6-3, 6-2.

Fugate was ranked as high as No. 587 in the world at this time last year but has since fallen to No. 869. He reached the semifinals of the $10,000 Futures of Orange Park, Fla., in early May and the quarterfinals at the $15,000 Futures of Little Rock, Ark., in early April.

Klahn, a 19-year-old Stanford sophomore from Poway, Calif., was the only player in the Round of 16 who needed three sets to win his match with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over No. 8 seeded Dennis Zivkovic.

The quarterfinals continue today with the semifinals set for Saturday and the finals on Sunday.

Thursday’s Second-Round Singles Scores
wc: wild card; q: qualifier
Daniel Danilovic, Montenegro, def. Timothy Sahr Kpulun, Sierra Leone, 6-2, 6-4
Jordan Cox (wc), U.S., def. Ashwin Kumar, U.S., 6-2, 6-2
Matej Bocko (5), Slovakia, def. Mehdi Bouras (q), Algeria, 6-3, 7-6 (7)
Marcus Fugate, U.S., def. Boris Nicola Bakalov (q), Bulgaria, 6-3, 6-2
Bradley Klahn, U.S., def. Dennis Zivkovic (8), U.S., 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Ille Van Engelen (q), Netherlands, def. Aaron Yovan (q), U.S., 7-6 (4), 6-2
Yong-Kyu Lim (1), Korea, def. Sebastian Rivera, Ecuador, 6-2, 4-0, ret.
Luis-Antonio Perez-Perez (q), Spain, def. Sascha Heinemann (q), Germany, 6-2, 7-5

Thursday’s Semifinal Doubles Scores
Brian Brogan, U.S.-Daniel Chu, U.S., def. Ruben Gonzales, U.S.-Michael Rubin, U.S., 6-1, 6-2
Brett Joelson, U.S.-Ashwin Kumar, U.S. (3), def. Daniel Kosakowski, U.S.-Marcin Kosakowski, U.S., 6-2, 6-3

By Steve Pratt

CLAREMONT, CA. – It was a good day for the qualifiers on Wednesday at the Claremont Club as six of the eight qualifiers competing in the first round of the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center USTA Pro Classic advanced.

The top-seeded player in the tournament, Yong-Kyu Lim of Korea, eliminated his qualifying opponent Robbye Poole of the U.S. with a 6-3, 6-2 victory. Lim, 28, is currently ranked No. 402 in the world and has gained 315 spots this year in winning 25 of 36 matches. His opponent Poole is a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi.

Two seeded players were upset by qualifiers as Germany’s Sascha Heinemann beat No. 6 Tim Goransson of Sweden, in three sets and qualifier Aaron Yovan formerly of UCLA upset fellow American Nikita Kryvonos, the No. 3 seeded player, 6-2, 6-2.

Other qualifiers scoring wins on Wednesday included Mehdi Bouras of Algeria, Ille Van Engelen of the Netherlands, Boris Nicola Bakalov of Bulgaria, and Luis-Antonio Perez-Perez of Spain, who beat wild card Raymond Sarmiento from nearby Fontana, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

“He was good,” said the 17-year-old Sarmiento, who recently made the quarterfinals in the junior event at the U.S. Open. “I played him tough in the first set but then he just started hitting winners from all over the place.”

Sarmiento is a senior at the distance learning school Kaplan and is undecided about his collegiate plans for next year. He said he will spend 2010 playing USTA Futures and ITF events and the junior Grand Slams. He took third place at the USTA boys’ 18s National Hardcourts at Kalamazoo, Mich., during the summer.

Wednesday’s First-Round Singles Scores
wc: wild card; q: qualifier
Sebastian Rivera, Ecuador, def. Matt Simpson, New Zealand, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-4
Yong-Kyu Lim (1), Korea, def. Robbye Poole (q), U.S., 6-3, 6-2
Sascha Heinemann (q), Germany, def. Tim Goransson (6), Sweden, 0-6, 7-5, 6-1
Dennis Zivkovic (8), U.S., def. Ty Trombetta, U.S., 6-3, 6-4
Mehdi Bouras (q), Algeria, def. Benjamin Recknagel (q), Germany, 6-3, 6-2
Ille Van Engelen (q), Netherlands, def. Michael Rubin, U.S., 6-1, 7-5
Boris Nicola Bakalov (q), Bulgaria, def. Michael Venus, U.S., 6-3, 6-4
Aaron Yovan (q), U.S., def. Nikita Kryvonos (3), U.S., 6-2, 6-2
Luis-Antonio Perez-Perez (q), Spain, def. Raymond Sarmiento (wc), U.S, 7-6 (3), 6-3

Wednesday’s Second-Round Doubles Scores
Ruben Gonzales, U.S.-Michael Rubin, U.S., def. Matej Bocko, Slovakia-Ty Trombetta, U.S., 6-3, 3-6, 11-9
Brett Joelson, U.S.-Ashwin Kumar, U.S. (3), def. Alexander Konigsfeldt, Denmark-Benjamin Recknagel, Germany, 6-2, 6-4
Daniel Kosakowski, U.S.-Marcin Kosakowski, U.S., def. Boris Nicola Bakalov, Bulgaria-Mousheg Hovhannisyan, U.S., 4-6, 6-0, 10-8
Brian Brogan, U.S.-Daniel Chu, U.S., def. Raymond Sarmiento, U.S.-Jordan Cox, U.S., 6-2, 6-3


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