“The Comeback” clearly a thing of the past, Marcos Giron is ready to take on 2017 and keep on winning.
The 24-year-old former UCLA star won the fifth USTA Pro Circuit Futures title of his career, and his second since coming back from a 14-month injury layoff in September as he defeated University of Virginia wild card Collin Altamirano, 7-6 (3), 6-1, on Sunday in the singles final of the Legends Long Beach USTA Pro Circuit tournament presented by USTA Southern California.
Giron opened up both sets with two breaks of serve and a 4-0 lead, but in the first set Giron allowed the Cavaliers junior back into match as Altamirano picked up his game and won five straight games from down 1-5 to 6-5, surviving two set points against him at 4-5.
“That kind of happened a lot this week,” Giron said. “I was up 4-0 in the second set against Evan (King) and he gets it right back to four-all. It’s kind of frustrating at the time and I don’t want it to happen because it only makes it harder, but it’s like I knew I could overcome it because it had happened before. I knew I could still do it, and we’re still on serve, and I was able to adjust to it and assess what I was doing wrong.”
Giron said the key point of the tournament was staring down two match points in Saturday’s semifinal against Sebastian Fanselow, a player he had lost to twice during his fall comeback in Futures events in Fountain Valley in Burlingame, Calif.
Giron played with a pulled quad muscle to start a disastrous 2015 two years ago at the Long Beach Futures tournament and battled injuries all year. After consulting with doctors that his right hip would not get better with rest, Giron elected to have hip surgery on Christmas Day, and had left hip surgery six weeks later in February of 2016.
“I think the toughest day was right after my second surgery,” said Giron, who won the Berkeley $25,000 Futures Tournament in just his fourth tournament back in mid-October. “I had done six weeks of rehab, and now I’m back at square one. But I was still good week by week. I think I always had the glass as half full mentality throughout but I definitely had times where I would see guys playing, and I haven’t been playing for awhile, and I’m thinking, ‘Am I going to be able to do this again?’ ”
He said a stint last season as a volunteer assistant coach at UCLA helped him get through 14 months of rehabbing and preparing to come back. “It just made me think a lot,” he said. “I think it was a bit of a blessing in disguise. I mean, obviously it sucks being out and not being about to do anything. I don’t wish it upon anyone. But I was able to be around the team, and be with Mackie (McDonald) at NCAAs and experience everything again that I did when I was in college.”
He slowly got back on the court. “Early on it was tough because I couldn’t go full out and I would feel pretty rusty,” Giron said. “There were definitely some days where I thought, ‘Oh, no. What am I doing?’ But it came back pretty quick and I always believed I could do it.”
Giron said the whole goal in 2016 was just to compete and get some matches in. “But at Berkeley I beat some good players like Ruben Bemelmans, Rhyne Williams and Connor Smith,” he said.
He added: ““I think I’m better now than I ever was before, like even before college. My right hip was also giving me a problem, even at NCAAs. I thought it was just tightness in my right quad. I feel like since the fall I’m finally able to move like I did before I was in school. I really feel like I’m playing my best tennis.”
Also posting a comeback story of his own on Sunday was Jack Withrow, who teamed with his former Texas A&M teammate Austin Krajicek to win the doubles title on Sunday after being down 1-6 in a super tiebreaker after splitting sets with the top-seeded British team of Luke Bambridge and Joe Salisbury, 6-3, 3-6, 10-8.
Withrow, from Omaha, Neb., was out for 22 months and has had four surgeries, including three on his wrist and one on his back. “Yeah, it was kind of a nightmare,” Withrow said.
He received a medical waiver from the NCAA and competed last year as a sixth-year senior, making it all the way to the final at the NCAA Individual Doubles tournament.
He spent the off-season training with his good friend ATP World Tour-ranked No. 20 Jack Sock, who he won Kalamazoo with in 2011. The pair received a wild card into the US Open where they lost to 15-seeded Xavier Malisse and Mark Knowles.
“I feel great,” said Withrow, who has his Masters degree in sports management. “My body hasn’t felt this great in a while.”
Sunday’s Final Singles Score
Marcos Giron, U.S., def. Collin Altamirano, U.S. (wc), 7-6 (3), 6-1
Sunday’s Final Doubles Score
Austin Krajiceck, U.S. / Jack Withrow, U.S. (2), def. Luke Bambridge, Great Britain / Joe Salisbury, Great Britain (1), 6-3, 3-6, 10-8