First Day Of Qualifiers Complete; Seven Americans will play for position in main draw
Eight players moved on in the singles qualifying draw during day one of the Levene Gouldin & Thompson Tennis Challenger, Saturday afternoon at Binghamton’s Recreation Park. Local connections Alex Van Cott and Thomas Caputo both fell in their opening round matches. Six of the eight players who advanced were seeded in the qualifying draw.
Van Cott, a Unadilla native, was the lone wild card to extend his match the full distance. After dropping the first set 6-4 to Sarvar Ikramov of Uzbekistan, the Tulane junior-to-be won the second set 6-2. In the third and decisive set, Ikramov took a 4-3 lead, but Van Cott rallied to win the next two games, breaking Ikramov in the process to take a 5-4 advantage. However, Ikramov, who is ranked No. 761 in the world broke Van Cott while serving for the match then went on to win the next two frames to take the final set 7-5. Ikramov will face Raymond Sarmiento (USA), who defeated Richard Del Nunzio (USA) 6-1, 6-2. Del Nunzio was the Binghamton Tennis Center Clay Court Tournament champion earning a wild card into the qualifying draw.
Caputo, a rising junior at nearby Binghamton University fell to Daniel Nguyen, 6-2, 6-2 in his first-ever professional appearance. Caputo will also play in the doubles qualifying draw. The Livingston, N.J. native won the opening game of the match, but Nguyen rattled off five straight games to take a 5-1 advantage. Caputo would win one more game before Nguyen took a one-game-to-none lead. Caputo battled in the second set, but Nguyen proved too strong throughout the set. Nguyen won 100 singles matches while attending the University of Southern California en route to four straight team national championships. Nguyen will face Taylor Geiger (USA) in tomorrow’s final round of qualifying.
In other action at the Challenger top qualifying seed Marus Copil won in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, over Nail Khabiyev. The 23-year old Copil is a native of Romania and is currently ranked No. 161 in the world with a high of 124. Copil will face Gerardo Lopez Villasenor (MEX) for a spot in the main draw tomorrow at 10 a.m. after Lopez Villasenor defeated Sam Swank (USA) 6-4, 6-1.
Second-seeded Sekou Bangoura (USA), a LG&T Challenger veteran, advanced in the qualifying draw by virtue of his 6-3, 6-2 victory over Keith Whittingham (USA). The former University of Florida All-American will face Clay Thompson (USA) for a position in the main draw after Thompson advanced following the retirement of Jason Tahir (USA). Thompson is a 6-foot-6 senior-to-be at UCLA.
The second round of qualifiers will begin at 10 a.m. tomorrow with two singles matches, with the final two singles matches immediately following. Attached is the order of play for tomorrow.