Texas Christian University junior Alex Rybakov was one spot out from main-draw entry last week and fully prepared to play qualifying when he learned he was granted a USTA wild card and moved directly into the main draw.
The 20-year-old Rybakov from Florida has taken full advantage of the generosity shown to him. On Thursday in the second round of the Southern California Pro Futures Tournament at USC, Rybakov beat former USC star Emilio Gomez of Ecuador in three tough sets, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals in the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event.
“Coming out of the juniors it was tough for me to adjust because I really wanted to turn pro, but after playing two years in school I think have adjusted pretty well,” said Rybakov, who faces qualifier and former UCLA star Karue Sell at 10 a.m. on Friday.
The smooth left-handed Rybakov plays for TCU coach and former Southern Californian David Roditi. The team will be without star Cameron Norrie, the British player who has vaulted into the top No. 110 in the ATP Tour rankings since school let out in May.
Rybakov made the finals of two $10,000 Futures events when he was 18, and last June he won his first USTA Pro Futures title, a $15,000 event in Buffalo.
“I’ve been here since last Wednesday and was prepared to play qualifying,” Rybakov said. “I will play Long Beach next week then looking forward to going back to school.”
The other 10 a.m. quarterfinal will pit top-seeded Alex Sarkissian against Christopher Eubanks. The 27-year-old Sarkissian of Glendale beat UCLA senior Martin Redlicki, 6-1, 6-3.
Sarkissian holds six USTA Pro Circuit and ITF Pro Circuit singles titles, including two titles in 2017, and one doubles title. Last year at this time Sarkissian was in Australian and played a tune-up tournament before attempting to qualify for the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open. A hip injury slowed him in August at the US Open, and he basically has spent the past four months rehabbing. A sinus infection forced him to pull out of doubles earlier this week.
“I’m definitely not feeling 100 percent,” said Sarkissian, who is not entered into the Long Beach Pro Futures event next week as he still has his sights set Down Under. “I’m six spots out from getting into qualifying so still hoping enough guys pull out. Every morning I’m checking the entry list.”
The doubles final will be contested on Friday at 4 p.m., as the top-seeded team of Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico take on Sell and Redlicki.
Thursday’s Second-Round Singles Results
wc: wild card; q: qualifying; ll: lucky loser
Florian Lakat, France (q), def. Evan Song, U.S., 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2)
Alex Sarkissian (1) def. Martin Redlicki, U.S. (q), 6-1, 6-3
Alexander Lebedev, U.S. (q), def. Gianni Ross, U.S. (ll), 6-1, 6-1
Kaichi Uchida, Japan (6), def. Luke Bambridge, Great Britain, 6-2, 6-2
Karue Sell, Brazil (q), def. Ulises Blanch, U.S., 7-6 (8), 6-3
Christopher Eubanks, U.S., def. Guillermo Olaso, Spain, 6-1, 6-3
Jan Satral, Czech Repbulic (7), def. Roberto Marcora, Italy, 7-5, 7-6 (5)
Alex Rybakov, U.S. (wc), def. Emilio Gomez, Ecaudor, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5
Thursday’s Semifinal Doubles Results
Luke Bambridge, Great Britain/Hans Hach Verdugo, Mexico (1), def. Deiton Baughman, U.S./Christopher Eubanks, U.S. (3), 6-4, 6-2
Martin Redlicki, U.S./Karue Sell, Brazil, def. Andre Goransson, Sweden/Florian Lakat, France (4), 2-6, 6-3, 10-8
The following are community events taking place during the tournament at USC.
Friday, Jan. 5: SoCal Community Trojan Tennis Person of the Year, Jan. 5 from 3 to 5 p.m., Fred Williams, with the doubles final beginning at 4 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 7: USPTA PTR Coaches Clinic open to players, coaches and parents, 9 to 10:30 a.m. light breakfast. Speaker USC Men’s Coach Peter Smith. Topic: Pathway to College — Raising a Jr Tennis Player.
For more information on these event, email tournament director Phil Siordia at firstname.lastname@example.org.