Chang Ousted in Opening Round of First Serve Entertainment Men’s Tennis Championship

by Fred Sidhu

Tarzana, Ca. – Top-seeded Michael Chang was upset in the first round of the $50,000 First Serve Entertainment Men’s Tennis Championship as qualifier Brian Vahaly recorded a thrilling 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (6) victory over the former French Open champion.

Vahaly, an NCAA singles finalist last year, matched Chang stroke for stroke throughout the two-hour and two-minute match.

“I was just looking for a great experience against a top player,” Vahaly said after the match. “I was fortunate today, Michael just didn’t really play that well.”

After losing the first set, Chang rallied and charged to a 4-0 lead as he broke Vahaly three times to win the second set.

In the third set, Vahaly used two service breaks to take a 5-2 lead only to see Chang come back and tie the set at 5-5.

Chang broke serve to take a 6-5 lead, but could not serve the match out as Vahaly broke back to send the match to a third-set tiebreaker.

The tiebreak, which featured an intense baseline battle, saw Chang fall behind early 3-0. Vahaly could not hold the lead and Chang eventually took a 6-5 lead.

Chang wasted his only match point of the afternoon as he netted a hard-hit forehand.

Two points later, the match ended when Chang double faulted. 

“He went for his big shot (at match point) and he missed it,” Vahaly said.  “I never really thought I was going to win until he double faulted at the end.”

Vahaly, who lives in Atlanta, came into this week’s tournament, ranked 198 in the ATP Entry System.

In other first round matches involving seeded players, qualifier Eric Taino got past third-seeded Neville Godwin of South Africa, 6-4, 6-3 and fifth-seeded Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark eliminated wildcard entrant, Prakash Amritraj of Encino, Ca., 6-4, 7-5.

Fourth-seeded Cecil Mamiit, a former NCAA singles champion, overcame Michael Joyce of Los Angeles, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (2) and in an all-German match-up, qualifier Maximilian Abel defeated sixth-seeded Alexander Popp, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (5), 6-2.

General admission for each day of the tournament is $12. Kids under 18 can purchase tickets for $6. Series and box seats are available. For ticket information, call (818) 345-3230.

All tournament sessions through Friday begin at 10 a.m. Saturday’s semifinals and Sunday’s final, begin at noon.

The First Serve Entertainment Men’s Tennis Championship is a $50,000 Challenger event. The tournament is part of the United States Tennis Association Professional Circuit.



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