Local Juniors Earn Wildcard Entries Into Professional Tennis Event In Fountain Valley
Singles qualifying begins Sept. 23; main draw starts Sept. 27
Buena Park’s Robert Baylon, Ojai’s Michael Chan and Westlake Village’s Brandon Lam won the singles and doubles championships, respectively, in a junior tennis tournament Sept. 19 and earned slots in the main draw of the Los Cab USTA Pro Circuit men’s future event, which begins Tuesday, Sept. 27. All three players are juniors.
“This is the first time in Southern California that juniors have won wildcard entry through a junior’s tournament into the main draw in a USTA event,” said Hank Lloyd, tournament director for the 32nd annual Los Cal Junior Level 3 Tournament, which was held Sept. 10-19. “Along with the Southern California Tennis Association, we thought this was a great idea. We’re trying to set a precedent to help create a pathway for our juniors in Southern California to compete against some of the best players in the world.”
Baylon is a 16-year-old high school junior from Buena Park. Chan is from Ojai and Lam is a senior at Westlake High School. All three will compete in the main draw of the event, which begins Sept. 27.
Eighteen of the 32 main draw slots have been announced for the $10,000 event. Sweden’s Carl Soderlund, ranked 439th in the world, is currently the top seed. Marcos Giron, a former top player for UCLA and the 2014 NCAA men’s singles winner, is among the American early entries, along with Evan King, from Chicago, Alexios Halebian, from Hollywood, California, and Gonzales Austin, from New Jersey.
The rest of the main draw will be filled by the top 12 finishers in singles qualifying, which begins Friday, Sept. 23 at the Los Caballeros Racquet & Sports Club in Fountain Valley. Among the more than 50 Americans who will compete in singles qualifying is current UCLA men’s tennis player, Martin Redlicki, who lost in the semi-finals in last week’s USTA Pro Circuit event in Claremont.
Part of the developmental tour of the USTA, the free event, which ran for 18 years in Costa Mesa before moving to Fountain Valley this year, is an opportunity to see the future of professional tennis today.
“Los Caballeros Racquet & Sports Club is the hub of Southern California tennis,” Lloyd says. “This event is a great opportunity to bring future professional tennis starts through this venue and appreciate the pathway of the sport. Great relationships are made between club members and the pros, and it’s an opportunity for everyone to appreciate and grow the game.”
The rest of the main draw will be comprised of two wild cards and 12 players who will advance from qualifying, which begins Friday, Sept. 23 at 9 a.m. The singles and main draw begins Tuesday, Sept. 27, with the singles and doubles championship held Sunday, Oct. 2.
The final Sunday will also feature a free junior play day for kids designed to introduce them to the game of tennis. It will run from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Last year’s event, which was held in Costa Mesa, was won by Ryan Shane, who won the 2014-15 singles championship as a junior at the University of Virgina. Shane defeated West Covina’s Ernesto Escobedo. Escobedo also lost in the finals against former UCLA player Haythem Abid in 2013. The doubles championship was won by a pair of UCLA Bruins, and Mackenzie Donald and Martin Redlicki.
Other recent champions of the event include Steve Johnson, who won in 2011 and is currently ranked 22nd in the world, and Bradley Klahn, of Poway, who won the 2013 event and was ranked as high as 63rd until injuries set him back.
The Los Caballeros Racquet & Sports club is located at 17272 Newhope Street, In Fountain Valley. It is a comprehensive sports club, offering everything from swimming and volleyball courts, to personal fitness and group exercise classes.. For more information, call (714) 546-8560, or visit www.loscab.com.