Stefan Kozlov reaches semifinals of Southern California USTA Pro Circuit Futures

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Copyright © 2016. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.

USTA Pro Circuit ATP Challenger Tennis News

Seventeen-year-old American tennis player Stefan Kozlov decided to forgo college and head straight to the professional tour, but it still didn’t’ keep him from discussing grades at the Southern California USTA Pro Circuit Futures tournament taking played at USC.

Asked by a reporter what grade he would give himself in 2015, Kozlov quickly answered, “Probably a C. It was a pretty rough year. It was my first year playing the full year as a pro and I learned a lot. It’s tough to win matches on a consistent basis.”

Kozlov, the No. 6-seeded player currently ranked No. 351 in the ATP World Tour rankings, has been doing just that to start 2016, and he recorded a clutch three-set win over former junior nemesis Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, to advance to the semifinals of the $25,000 Pro Circuit Futures tournament on Friday.

The 19-year-old Quinzi of Cittadella, Italy, was born on the same day as Kozlov (Feb. 1) but two years earlier. The former ITF world-ranked No. 1 junior won the Wimbledon juniors in 2013 and owned three career wins over Kozlov before Friday, all in the juniors and all on clay.

Kozlov, who peaked as high as No. 2 in the junior world rankings, will take on top-seeded Tennys Sandgren in the semifinals on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. Sandgren had his hands full against fellow 24-year-old Sebastian Fanselow, the former Pepperdine star from Germany. After dropping the first set, Sandgren pulled through, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (2).

In the other singles semifinal at 10 a.m. on Saturday, it will be former college No. 1 Clay Thompson from UCLA against No. 4-seeded Philip Bester from Canada. Thompson quietly entered the semis with another solid performance, beating Great Britain’s Edward Corrie, 6-2, 6-2. Bester send 2015 NCAA singles champion Ryan Shane packing, 6-2, 6-3.

After winning three matches on Thursday, the University of Virginia senior Shane also fell in his second-round doubles match on Friday. Shane said he hasn’t spent a lot time in Southern California, but did recall a trip out west to play in the ASICS Easter Bowl in the Palm Springs area as a senior in high school in 2012.

“I got a wild card into the tournament and I think I lost to Noah Rubin 4 and 4 in the third round,” Shane said. Interestingly enough, Shane’s doubles partner Thursday Alexios Halebian made it all the way to the ASICS Easter Bowl final that same year, beating a 14-year-old Stefan Kozlov in the quarterfinals before falling to UCLA’s Mackenzie McDonald.

In 2014, as a sophomore, Shane also traveled to play in a dual match against UCLA, in which the Bruins won in a nail-biter, 4-3. Thompson beat Mitchell Frank at No. 1, and Shane lost to, you guessed it, McDonald in straight sets at No. 3.

This spring, Shane will try and become the first player since USC’s Steve Johnson to win back-to-back NCAA singles titles. “It wasn’t a tough decision to come back,” said Shane, who led the Cavaliers to their second NCAA team title in three years last May. “It’s such a great team and we only lost one guy. It’s a great environment and they’re helping me with my schedule and to get ready for the Tour. Besides, three out of four national championships wouldn’t be bad way to go out.”

Now that he’s out of the tournament, Shane said he will try and take in some sights before moving on to play in Long Beach next week. “I’ll try to go to Hollywood,” he said. “I’ve been to Santa Monica shopped around a little bit while it was raining.”

Before the tournament, Los Alamitos High senior Riley Smith said he and doubles partner Brandon Holt “fell in love” with the third-set super tiebreaker during the U.S. Open, where they advanced all the way to the finals as a wild-card team winning three matches after splitting sets. On Friday, the two won their second consecutive super tiebreaker after dropping the first set beating former Vanderbilt stars Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 10-7. But they were later eliminated by the strong pairing of Evan King and Raymond Sarmiento, losing to the No. 4 seeds in the semifinals, 6-1, 6-2.

This is the second consecutive year the Southern California Pro Futures Tournament is taking place to start the year. Prize money has increased, however, from a total of $15,000 to $25,000 (breakdown below).


Friday’s Singles Quarterfinal Scores

Stefan Kozlov (6), U.S., def. Gianluigi Quinzi, Italy, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1
Philip Bester (4), Canada, def. Ryan Shane (wc), U.S., 6-2, 6-3
Clay Thompson, U.S., def. Edward Corrie, Great Britain, 6-2, 6-2
Tennys Sandgren (1), U.S., def. Sebastian Fanselow, Germany, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (2)


Friday’s Quarterfinals Doubles Scores

Brandon Holt, U.S. / Riley Smith, U.S., def. Gonzales Austin, U.S. / Ryan Lipman, U.S., 6-7 (5), 6-4, 10-7
Evan King, U.S. / Raymond Sarmiento (4), U.S., def. Sebastian Bader, Austria / Sebastian Fanselow, Germany, 6-2, 7-6 (8)
Jean-Yves Aubone, U.S. / Dennis Nevolo, U.S., def. Robbie Bellamy, U.S. / Logan Smith (wc), U.S., 6-2, 7-6 (5)
Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, U.S. / Mac Styslinger, U.S., def. Alexios Halebian, U.S. / Ryan Shane, U.S., 6-3, 6-2


Friday’s Semifinals Doubles Scores

Jean-Yves Aubone, U.S. / Dennis Nevolo, U.S., def. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, U.S. / Mac Styslinger, U.S., 3-6, 7-6 (3), 11-9
Evan King, U.S. / Raymond Sarmiento (4), U.S., def. Brandon Holt, U.S. / Riley Smith, U.S., 6-1, 6-2

wc: wild-card; q: qualifier




Prize Money/Points

$25,000 Men SINGLES:

Prize Money    Points

Winner             $3,600             27
Runner-up       $2,120             15
Semifinalist     $1,255             8
Quarterfinalist $730                3
Round of 16    $430                1
Round of 32    $260                —


DOUBLES: Prize Money (per team)

Winner             $1,550
Runner-up       $900
Semifinalist     $540
Quarterfinalist $320
Round of 16    $180

Copyright © 2016. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.