Pro Circuit Round-up:
Fratangelo, Hiltzik win titles
Arthur Kapetanakis | October 15, 2018
For the first time in over two years, Bjorn Fratangelo is a USTA Pro Circuit champion. After winning eight ITF Futures titles from 2013-14, and one Challenger crown in both 2015 and 2016, the 25-year-old suffered a dip in form recently, dropping to as low as No. 177 in the ATP rankings this August after briefly breaking into the Top 100 in June of 2016.
Now trending back upwards, at No. 138, the Orlando resident took out three seeded opponents at the $100,000 Challenger event in Fairfield, Calif., to claim his 11th career ITF-level title. Unseeded on the California hard courts, Fratangelo dropped the opening set of his campaign to Australia’s John-Patrick Smith, but settled into a groove soon after to win the final 10 sets of his campaign and claim the trophy.
After knocking out the top-seeded Jordan Thompson and No.
6 Casper Ruud to reach Sunday’s final, Fratangelo defeated No. 8 Alex Bolt, 6-4, 6-3 in the championship match, sealing the title with a cross-court backhand pass that earned him his third break of the match. The American was exceptional on his serve in the final, winning 18 of 21 second-serve points (86 percent) and saving the only break point he faced on the day.
“This is probably the most emotional victory I've had in my career,” he said in an ATP interview. “I don't get excited about a lot of things, but this one is pretty bittersweet, with how my year has gone and how I've been able to turn it around.”
The Pittsburgh native, who was named after Bjorn Borg, has overcome a difficult summer stretch to record a 14-4 record since the US Open, where he fell in the second round of qualifying. After tearing his quadriceps muscle in Madrid in May, Fratangelo struggled mentally after a one-month layoff and endured a slew of first-round defeats.
“When I was finally healed, I came back to the court without much enthusiasm and energy. I was in a slump emotionally and wasn't getting out of it,” he said. “But I had the support of my parents, coaches from the USTA and [my coach] Andres [Alarcon], who I am working with now, and [my girlfriend] Madison [Keys]. It was a team effort to get me back from the dead.”
With the Fairfield title, he is firmly back on track and now just 154 ranking points shy of regaining his spot in the Top 100, thanks to a 90-point haul for his most recent triumph.
JJ Wolf, a wild card entrant into the California event, also represented Team USA well with a quarterfinal appearance. The 19-year-old defeated the No. 3-seeded Noah Rubin, 6-3, 6-4, to reach the last eight.
There was more American success at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Houton, where Jared Hiltzik won a trifecta of three-settersen route to the title. The 24-year-old University of Illinois alum faced his toughest test against top-seeded Ronnie Schneider in an All-American final, where the No. 2-seeded Hiltzik edged his compatriot, 6-4, 6-7, 7-5, to win his second career Futures title.
Jordi Arconada was a singles semifinalist at the event, while Patrick Kypson and Evan Zhu reached the quarters. In the doubles event, Nicolas Meister teamed with France’s Maxime Cressy to defeat John-Paul Fruttero and his Portuguese teammate, Bernardo Saraiva, 7-5, 6-3, in the final.
Other notable results from Americans on the ITF Circuit include:
- Tyler Lu was a singles quarterfinalist at the $25,000 Futures event in Lagos, Nigeria.
- Ryan Shane was a singles semifinalist and a doubles champion at the $15,000 Futures event in Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal, where Maksim Tikhomirov reached the singles semifinals. Justin Butsch, a doubles champion with Shane, reached the singles quarterfinals.
- Felix Corwin was a doubles champion at the $15,000 Futures event in Hua Hin, Thailand.
- Junior Ore was a doubles champion at the $15,000 Futures event in Lima, Peru.
- Ingrid Neel was a doubles champion at the $25,000 Futures event in Obidos, Portugal.
- Jessican Ho was a singles quarterfinalist at the $15,000 Futures event in Monastir, Tunisia.
- Results from the Chicago Classic Futures event include:
- Chris Herman – men’s singles champion, doubles finalist
- Conner Stroud – men’s singles finalist, doubles champion
- Jason Keatseangsilp – men’s doubles finalist
- Emmy Kaiser – women’s singles champion
- Joanna Nieh – women’s singles finalist
- Taylor Graham – quad singles finalist
(Photo courtesy of Matt Miller)