The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

July 10, 2013

USTA Futures tennis tournament set to begin at Millennium

John Isner among past stars to play in tourney

— It’s fun for Brad Bigando to reflect on some of the players he’s seen at past USTA Futures tournaments in Joplin.

“John Isner played here two different years,” said Bigando, who serves as co-tournament director at the annual event at Millennium Tennis and Fitness Club.

Isner, who captured the doubles title at Millennium with Jeremy Wurtzman in 2005, is now the top-ranked American singles player and No. 19 in the world.

The next Isner may very well be competing in the 2013 USTA $10,000 Men’s Futures tournament. The event opens today with registration at 4 p.m. and a Junior Pro Am from 6-8 p.m. at Millennium. Qualifying matches begin Friday, and the main draw matches begin Tuesday. The doubles final will be 5:30 p.m. July 19, and the singles final is slated for 11 a.m. July 21.

Bigando expects another competitive field.

“These guys are going to be just right out of college,” he said. “Most of them played Division I tennis, so that’s a pretty high level in itself. They are just getting their pro careers started. I kind of compare it to single-A or double-A baseball. Most of those guys won’t make it, but they’re still very good tennis players. And there will be some who make the circuit.”

Leading the way in the main draw will be 426th-ranked Darian King of Barbados, 466th-ranked Daniel Garza of Mexico, and Americans Eric Quigley (552), Michael Shabaz (698) and Andrew Carter (813).

“Our No. 1 seed is ranked 426th,” Bigando said. “If I was the 426th best baseball player in the world, I’d be making some real good money.

“There’s not much separation,” Bigando said of the difference between the Futures players and the ones on the circuit. “There’s not a lot of difference really. I guess it’s a lot mental, and the big guys don’t make as many mistakes. Their strokes and everything aren’t a lot different.”

Jeremy Lynn, who captured a state championship for Joplin High School this past spring, will compete in the main draw as a wild card.

Brackets for the main draw will be announced Monday.

There will be no charge to watch any of the tennis from July 12-21.

“People are welcome to watch,” Bigando said. “It’s free admission. If they can stand the heat, they can come watch.”

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