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Birmingham Hosts First Futures Tournament At Highland Park

November 3, 2009 10:26 AM

A two-hour and 46-minute championship match wrapped up the final day of the USTA Pro Circuit Futures at Highland Park here in Birmingham on Sunday, Nov. 8. Conor Niland of Ireland, the number 1 seed in the tournament, was upended by James Lemke, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. Lemke, who earned 17 ATP Tour points, broke Niland four times in the final set. The match looked like it was going to be over quickly in the third as Lemke raced to a 3-0 lead. Niland battled back to take 5 straight games eventually running out of gas. Serving for the championship, Niland was broken and Lemke took the final two games to claim the title. Lemke, currently ranked 665 in the world, earned $1300 for the victory and should move up 100 spots in the ATP World Rankings

The doubles final of Michael Venus/Colt Gaston and Artem Sitak/Tigran Martirosyan was won by the Sitak/Martirosyan duo 6-3, 6-4. Jack Standifer, who runs Alabama’s Court Elite out of Highland Park Tennis Center, served as Tournament Director this week. Venus played at LSU in 2009.

NCAA Division I singles champion Devin Britton is among the headliners in the $10,000 Futures at Highland Park. The tournament is hosted by the Highland Park Tennis Center and is played on clay.

The competition is the first-ever USTA Pro Circuit $10,000 Futures event to be held in Birmingham and the first of three clay court Futures events that round out the 2009 USTA Pro Circuit season. Birmingham is one of two men’s events to be hosted in Alabama, as another Futures is held in Mobile in early April. From to 1991 to 2003, Birmingham hosted a $50,000 Challenger.

Southern players include:
Mississippi native Devin Britton, 18, of Jackson, Miss., burst onto the tennis scene by reaching the 2008 US Open boys’ final as a qualifier. After winning the doubles title at the Dunlop Orange Bowl in December 2008, he enrolled at the University of Mississippi and, this May, became the youngest man ever to win the NCAA Division I singles title. Britton then returned to junior competition this summer, sweeping the singles and doubles titles at the prestigious Roehampton event before reaching the semifinals at junior Wimbledon. He found himself on the big stage quickly, receiving a wild card into the 2009 US Open where he faced Roger Federer on Center Court in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Britton also made his ATP World Tour debut at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, an Olympus US Open Series, this summer, and was named as a Davis Cup Practice Partner for the quarterfinal tie between the United States and Croatia.

Tennys Sandgren, 18, of Gallatin, Tenn., has played exclusively on the ITF Junior Circuit throughout 2009. In spring 2009, Tennys (pronounced “tennis”) reached the final of both the Easter Bowl and the Gerdau Cup in Brazil, and reached the semifinals of the USTA International Spring Championships, where he won the doubles title. He also competed in the Junior Championships at Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open this year. After breaking into the Top 10 in the ITF World Junior Rankings in April, Sandgren is currently No. 19. He is coached by his aunt, Lia Sandgren.

Robbye Poole, 25 of Summerville, S.C., has qualified for 10 USTA Pro Circuit events in 2009 and won his first USTA Pro Circuit doubles title in September at $10,000 Costa Mesa, Calif., with Erling Tveit of Norway. In 2007, Poole reached the singles semifinals of $10,000 Godfrey, Ill., and advanced to the doubles final of $15,000 Chico, Calif., in 2006, with current ATP World Tour standout, John Isner. Poole attended the University of Mississippi where he earned All-America honors and compiled a 50-20 dual singles record.




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