The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 14, 2013

Solid field set for USTA tourney

By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — The field for the 2013 USTA Freeman $10,000 Men’s Futures tennis tournament will include several former college and junior competition standouts.

Among them will be 2012 NCAA singles runner-up Eric Quigley, 2011 NCAA singles semifinalist Michael Shabaz and 2011 USTA Boys 18 National Clay Court champion Alexios Halebian.

The main draw includes players from Barbados, Mexico, Brazil, Israel, Venezuela, Australia, Belarus and South Africa.

“Nine different countries will be represented,” USTA supervisor David Littlefield said. “That’s pretty good worldwide representation coming to Joplin. And we’re loaded with Americans this year in the main draw, which is nice to see.”

Qualifying singles matches for the USTA Pro Circuit event continued Saturday at Millennium Tennis and Fitness Club. Qualifying matches conclude today, and the main draw begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Prize money totals $10,000, but the focus for players is to acquire points and improve their rankings.

“What it’s all about is playing at this level to garner the points to play at the higher level events with bigger prize money and more at stake,” Littlefield said.

There will be 32 singles players competing in the main draw.

Darian King, of Barbados, enters the tournament ranked 427th in the world and has won $3,614 in prize money this year. King finished as runner-up at Joplin last year.

Mexico’s Daniel Garza is ranked 463rd and boasts $15,847 in prize earnings for 2013.

Quigley, who is ranked 515th, is one of the most decorated tennis players to ever play at the University of Kentucky, earning five All-America honors between singles and doubles competition.

Shabaz, ranked No. 634, won his first USTA Pro Circuit singles title earlier this month. He captured an NCAA doubles national championship with partner Steve Johnson while competing at the University of Virginia in 2010.

Halebian, ranked No. 853, climbed as high as No. 24 in the world ITF Junior Rankings for April 2012.

Jeremy Lynn, who won a state championship for Joplin High School this past spring, was forced to withdraw from the tournament because of a wrist injury. Lynn had received the club’s wild card draw, but he will be replaced by the University of Tulsa’s Jacob Coenraad de Klerk.

Doubles matches also will begin Tuesday. The doubles final will be at 5:30 p.m. Friday, and the singles final will be at 11 a.m. on July 21.

This is the second consecutive year and 12th overall for the tournament to be played in Joplin. Competition was moved to Tulsa in 2011 because of the tornado that hit Joplin earlier in the year.

“It’s a prime stop on the USTA Pro Circuit calendar,” Littlefield said. “Players like coming here. It’s a very nice club.”