(March 22, 2016) CALABASAS, Calif., — While young up-and-coming Americans like Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and Jared Donaldson have received considerable attention the past few years as possible rising stars from the United States, a Southern California 19-year-old has gone virtually unnoticed.
The name Ernesto Escobedo is not usually associated with the ones listed above, but the 19-year-old from West Covina, Calif., has posted some solid wins over the past few years that have helped him get to No. 336 in the ATP World Tour rankings, and into the main draw of $25,000 Futures events.
Escobedo pulled out a nice 6-3, 6-4 first-round win over heralded 18-year-old Stefan Kozlov of Florida on Tuesday at the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships Calabasas taking place at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center.
Escobedo, who received a wild card into the 2014 US Open Qualifying Tournament and lost in the final round, reached the quarterfinals or better at three straight USTA Pro Circuit events in the summer of 2014. Last year, he qualified for two $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Challengers, in Binghamton, N.Y., and Winnetka, Ill., and reached the quarterfinals of the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures in Claremont, Calif. This year, Escobedo qualified for the $50,000 Challenger in Maui and advanced to the quarterfinals.
Kozlov, who got off to a great start in 2016 by winning the USC Pro Futures events in January, reached the final of the $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit Challenger in Sacramento, Calif., 18 months ago, losing to former Top 20 player Sam Querrey. In advancing to the Sacramento final at age 16, Kozlov became the youngest American to reach a Challenger final since Andre Agassi in 1986.
Escobedo will face No. 8 Matt Reid of Australia in the Round of 16 on Thursday.
In the first round on Wednesday, American Mitchell Krueger, the No. 3 seed, will face fellow young American Alexios Halebian, who won three rounds to qualify for the main draw.
Matthew Barton, the No. 2-seeded player from Sydney, Australia, had no problem with local Ventura College sophomore and tournament wild card Cory Karen, giving up just two games to advance to the second round.
2014 Calabasas doubles champion and tournament No. 4 Sekou Bangoura opened with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Luke Bamdridge of Great Britain. Bangoura won the second USTA Pro Circuit singles title of his career in January 2014 at the $10,000 Futures in Plantation, Fla. He also won an ITF Circuit event in the Dominican Republic last year. Bangoura holds 13 USTA Pro Circuit and ITF Circuit doubles titles, including four in 2015. The former University of Florida All-American Bangoura was named a doubles All-American during his sophomore year.
Tuesday’s First-Round Singles Scores
wc: wild card
Orlando Luz, Brazil, def. Deiton Baughman, U.S. (wc), 6-4, 6-0
Matt Reid, Australia (8), def. Adrien Puget, France, 6-4, 6-4
Sebastian Fanselow, Germany, def. Wil Spencer, U.S., 6-0, 6-1
Ernesto Escobedo, U.S., def. Stefan Kozlov, U.S., 6-3, 6-4
Matthew Barton, Australia (2), def. Corey Karen, U.S. (wc), 6-0, 6-2
Sekou Bangoura, U.S. (4), def. Luke Bamdridge, Great Britain, 6-4, 7-5
Liam Broady, Great Britain (5), def. Jonathan Star, U.S. (wc), 6-3, 6-3
Gonzalo Escobar, Ecuador, def. Blake Mott, Australia, 3-2, ret.
Tuesday’s First-Round Singles Scores
Alexios Halebian, U.S. / Evan Song, U.S. (wc), def. Tyler Hochwalt, U.S. / Gary Sacks, South Africa (wc), 7-6 (5), 2-0, ret.
Nick Meister, U.S. / Eric Quigley, U.S. (1), def. Raleigh Smith, U.S. / Wil Spencer, U.S., 6-3, 6-2
Alejandro Gomez, Colombia / Joao Pedro Sorgi, Brazil, def. Jean-Yves Aubone, U.S. / Gonzalo Escobar, Ecuador, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 10-6
Orlando Luz, Brazil / Marcleo Zormann, Brazil, def. Jan Choinski, Germany / Hubert Hurkacz, Germany, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 10-7