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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Giron Downs Novikov to Claim First Futures Title; Rola, Hernandez, Venus Shine in Davis Cup Competition

UCLA junior Marcos Giron claimed his first Futures title today at the $10,000 tournament in Claremont, California, defeating former teammate Dennis Novikov 6-0, 7-5 in the final.  From this account of the final by Steve Pratt, it sounds as if Giron was in the zone at the beginning of the match, and anyone who saw Giron during his International Spring Championships/Easter Bowl championships run in 2011 knows exactly what that looks like.  A totally random observation, but the last three Easter Bowl boys champions are now UCLA Bruins: Giron, Mackenzie McDonald and Gage Brymer, with the latter two starting school this month.

At the $25,000 women's Pro Circuit final in Redding, Calif., unseeded UCLA junior Robin Anderson fell to No. 5 seed Adriana Perez of Venezuela 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. Anderson did leave Northern California with a title however, as she and Lauren Embree beat Jacqueline Cako and Allie Kiick 6-4, 5-7, 10-7.  Both teams were unseeded.  Anderson, Embree and Cako are all members of the USTA Collegiate Team, as are Giron and Novikov.

Davis Cup competition around the world provided its usual drama this weekend, with several current and former college players helping their countries improve or maintain their status in the format's complicated pecking order.

In Group I competition in the Europe/Africa zone, NCAA champion from Ohio State Blaz Rola won both his singles match and the clinching doubles match to give Slovenia a 4-1 win over South Africa and keep them in Group I.

Former North Carolina Tar Heel Jose Hernandez was instrumental in the Domincan Republic's surprisingly easy 4-1 win over Chile, relegating Chile to Group II for 2014.  Hernandez defeated ATP No. 151 Paul Capdeville 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-5 to give the Dominican Republic a 1-0 lead, and Victor Estrella's straight-set win over 17-year-old Christian Garin made it 2-0. Hernandez then teamed with Estrella in the doubles Saturday, beating Jorge Aguilar and 17-year-old Nicolas Jarry in straight sets to take the tie.

In Group II competition, the Philippines and New Zealand went to the fifth set of the fifth match, with former LSU All-American Michael Venus defeating former Virginia All-American Treat Huey 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 to send New Zealand into Group I in the Asia/Oceania zone.

Huey was expected to play only doubles, and he and Pepperdine's Francis Alcantara kept the Philippines alive with a straight-set doubles win on Saturday. After former University of Illinois standout Ruben Gonzales beat Jose Statham of New Zealand 7-6(2), 4-6, 1-6, 7-5, 8-6, Huey was named to replace Jonny Arcilla for the final singles match. Venus, who had beaten Gonzales in five sets on Friday, outlasted Huey in a match that finished after 1:30 a.m. local time.

Latvia won promotion to Group I in the Europe/Africa zone with a 3-2 win over Finland.  Tennessee junior Mikelis Libietis lost his singles match on Friday, but teamed with Ernests Gulbis to take the doubles point on Saturday, and Gulbis clinched the win with his second singles point on Sunday.

Congratulations to Serbia and the Czech Republic, who will play for the 2013 Davis Cup in November, after semifinal wins this weekend.

The Junior Davis and Fed Cup championships for 16-and-under players will be decided much sooner than that, with those competitions beginning September 24 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.