Weekly Feature

2006-07-05 / Sports

Estrella makes history at Futures tournament

Neither Victor Estrella nor Marcus Fugate had won a professional tennis tournament but that all changed for Estrella at this year's 2006 Buffalo Bills Tennis Futures Tournament.

Estrella, of the Dominican Republic, defeated fifth seed Fugate, of the United States, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the finals held Sunday, July 2 at the Village Glen Tennis and Fitness Center.

The finals started off with great points and close games. In the end, Fugate, a 18-year old from Rochester, N.Y, won the first set, 6-4. However, after the two-minute break between sets, Fugate, ranked No. 741 in the world, lost focus in the second set and Estrella won 6-3. In the third set, Fugate struggled with his game and Estrella dominated. Up 5-2, the Dominican won his first match point to finish the match and take the title.

Estrella had to start all the way from the qualifier. On his way to the finals, he beat fourth seeded player and last year's finalist, Robert Steckley, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, Vahid Mirzadeh, 6-3, 6-7 (7-5), 6-0, in the quarterfinals and Ryan Sweeting, in a three set thriller, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, in the semifinals. Estrella and Sweeting held serve until Estrella was up 5-4 and it was Sweeting's turn to serve. Sweeting, who already received a warning in the first game, received a second warning at

15-30, which granted Estrella double match point. The qualifier took advantage of the first match point and won. Sweeting was last year's Junior U.S. Open champion. Sweeting beat Chris Lam, 7-5, 6-1, in the quarterfinals.

Fugate beat countrymen and youngster Alex Clayton, 6-7 (7-3), 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seed, Australian's Shannon Nettle, 6-4, 6-2, currently ranked No. 590, in the semifinals. Nettle defeated Canadian Milan Pokrajac, 6-1, 6-4, in the quarterfinals.

In the doubles finals on Sunday, the American team of Jonathan Chu and Clayton faced the Australian team of Nettle and Daniel Wendler. The Americans broke the Australians 5-3 and held serve to take the first set, 6-3. However, the Australians dominated the second set and won, 6-3. In the third set, Clayton and Chu started out strong and rolled over the No. 1 seed Nettle and Wendler, 6-1.

Nothing changed on day three of the the tournament held on Thursday, June 29. Just like the first round, the favorites continued to be eliminated by qualifiers or much lower ranked players. The second round was the last stop for Chu, ranked third and Steckley, the No. 4 in the tournament.

Last year's finalist, Steckley, from Toronto, Ont. Canada, lost a three-set fight to Victor Estrella from the Dominican Republic.

Steckley lost to Estrella and Clayton, who won the Junior doubles event at the U.S. Open the past year, sent Chu home, 6-4, 7-5.

Another unexpected win was the victory of Sweeting over the qualifier and No. 1 eliminator Adil Shamasdin, from Pickering, Ont. Sweeting rolled over Shamasdin, 6-2, 6-2. Lam, from UCLA, beat Chris Wettengel from Bettonville, Ariz. 7-6 (1), 6-4.

Fugate scored his second close victory in a row, defeating Denis Zivkovic, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-1. Fugate was also successful in his first round of doubles, where he paired up with countryman Timothy Neilly.

The first round on Wednesday, June 28, was packed with high class professional tennis. The first day of the tournament brought two unexpected losses with it; both the No. 1 seed as well as the No. 6 seed of the tournament lost their first rounds unexpectedly against players entering the main draw through the qualifiers.

The first shock was the victory of Lam over Canada's Dejan Cvetkovic, the No. 6 six seed and 758 in the world. After Lam lost the first set, 3-6, he rallied back and took the second set 6-3. The fight for victory in the third set brought out the best tennis in both players. In the end, the much lower ranked Lam, ranked No. 1207 in the world, had the overhand and won the set, 6-4.

The second upset of the day was the unexpected out of the number one seed, Philip Gubenco from Canada. As in the match between Lam and Cvetkovic, the Canadian No. 557 in the world lost to Shamasdin. Gubenco's

countryman Shamasdin showed his talent in today's match. After the Brown graduate lost the first set 6-1, he found his rhythm and fought back. Shamasdin took the last two sets, 6-4, 6-4.

Nettle showed his superiority and beat France's Pierreck Ysern, 7-6 (1) and 6-3. Chu scored a victory after a close first set against Australia's David To, 7-6, 6-3.

Fugate won his first match. Fugate, who trains at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy, was victorious; after he struggled in the first set, where he had to go into the tiebreaker he took the second set easily and won 7-6 (5) and 6-1.

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