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Sunday, January 8, 2017

McDonald Wins $25K LA Futures over Virginia Freshman Soderlund; Qualifying Underway at Three USTA Pro Circuit Events; Nedunchezhiyan Wins First ATP Doubles Title

Finalist Carl Soderlund(SWE) and champion Mackenzie McDonald
Mackenzie McDonald's two weeks training with Roger Federer in Dubai during the off-season may not be directly responsible for his title today at the $25,000 Los Angeles Futures, but spending hours on the court with one of the greatest players of all time certainly can't hurt a player as he begins his first full season on the ATP Tour.

The fifth-seeded McDonald, a UCLA junior when he won the 2016 NCAA singles and doubles titles, defeated University of Virginia freshman Carl Soderlund of Sweden, seeded eighth, 6-4, 6-0 in the final at the University of Southern California courts. Trailing 4-1 in the first set, McDonald won the last 11 games of the match to deny the 19-year-old Soderlund his third Futures title.  It was the second pro singles title for McDonald, who turned pro this past June, with his first coming last September, also in Southern California, at the $10,000 Futures in Irvine.  Since that first title, the 21-year-old from Piedmont, California reached the semifinals in three Challengers, but with his ATP ranking at 323, he will need a few more Futures titles to before he can begin playing slam qualifying.

Steve Pratt, press aide for the tournament, filed this report on the final:

Mackenzie McDonald Wins Second Pro Circuit Futures Tournament
LOS ANGELES (Jan. 8, 2017) – Mackenzie McDonald captured his second career USTA Pro Circuit Futures title with a solid 6-4, 6-0 win over University of Virginia freshman Carl Soderlund on Sunday at the Southern California Men’s Pro Futures tournament at USC.

Down 1-4 in the first set, the 21-year-old No. 5-seeded McDonald rallied off 11 consecutive games to put an exclamation point on the win, his first at a $25,000 event and good for a $3,200 prize-money check and 27 valuable ATP points.

“I was a little bit surprised at the start to be down 1-4, but it was only one break,” McDonald said. “And I kind of gave that one away. He was serving at 4-2 and I just felt like I just had to stay in every point and I did and got the break back.” 

McDonald added: “He was fighting hard but then he was missing a lot. He was going for broke, and I started ripping my forehand.”

Soderlund, who received $2,120 and 15 points, said he wasn’t hurt or feeling fatigued, and that McDonald just stepped up his game. “I was always under pressure and didn’t have time to play my game,” he said. “It rushed away pretty fast. Of course I could have played better, but it was good of him making me feel uncomfortable out there.”

Both players will now turn their attention to the second Pro Futures event in Long Beach, just 15 miles southwest of USC.

McDonald, who was coached all week by his USTA Coach Brad Stine, said he has matured a lot in the past six months, and that he didn’t think about the dollar difference in the checks for winner and runner-up.

“Nah, I don’t think about it,” he said, looking down at his trophy. “I love trophies. I just wanted the trophy. I’m a collector of them. I wanted to play well this morning. You don’t get to play finals every week so it’s nice to come out and play well. I didn’t want to put any added pressure on myself though. My job is to now win matches, so I’m pretty happy to get my second one.”

Final Singles Score
Mackenzie McDonald, U.S. (5), def. Carl Soderlund, Sweden (8), 6-4, 6-0

Final Doubles Score
Yannick Hanfmann, Germany / Roberto Quiroz, Ecuador, def. Luke Bambridge, Great Britain / Joe Salisbury, Great Britain (1), 3-6, 6-4, 10-8
Three USTA Pro Circuit events are on the schedule for next week, with a $25,000 Futures in Long Beach California and a $15,000 Futures in Plantation Florida for the men and a $25,000 tournament for the women in Daytona Beach.   The final round of qualifying is set for Monday in Long Beach, where Tommy Paul and Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador are again the top two seeds, and in Plantation, where the main draw is not yet out.  In Daytona Beach, the first of three rounds of qualifying was completed today.

At the ATP 250 in Chennai India, former University of Washington standout Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan won his first ATP doubles title. Nedunchezhiyan, 28, partnered Rohan Boppana to defeat Purav Raja and Divij Sharan 6-3, 6-4 in the first all-India final at the ATP 250 level in 22 years. Both teams were unseeded. Nedunchezhiyan moved to 86 in the ATP doubles rankings with the victory. For more on the final, see the ATP website.