LONG BEACH, January 14, 2018
Even dating back to his college years at USC, Emilio Gomez has always been known as a big-match player.
The 26-year-old former Trojan from Guayaquil, Ecuador, Gomez beat former University of Virginia player J.C. Aragone, 6-3, 6-4, on Saturday to advance to the singles final at the fourth annual $25,000 Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament Presented by the Southern California Tennis Association.
Gomez has played in 10 ITF Pro Circuit finals, and has been on the winning end of eight of those finals. “I really don’t want to break my really good finals streak tomorrow,” said Gomez, who was sidelined for seven months last year with a shoulder injury. “I always seem to get up for the bigger matches.”
In Sunday’s 11 a.m. final, Gomez will face another former Cavalier in Collin Altamirano, who will make his second consecutive Long Beach finals appearance as he fell to Marcos Giron in last year’s championship. The unseeded Altamirano beat No. 3 Kaichi Uchida of Japan, 6-3, 6-2.
It was the first time Gomez and Aragone had faced each other. “It was a tough match and J.C. had a great run at the US Open last fall qualifying,” Gomez said. “I knew this match was going to be a fight.”
He added: “My game plan worked perfectly against him. I had to make a lot of first serves and hold my serve to win.”
Because had had entered the Chandler, Ariz., Challenger, which ended up being cancelled, Gomez never entered Long Beach and said he had to “beg” the USTA to get a wild card into qualifying, which he did.
“And I almost lost in the second round of qualifying and now I’m in the final,” Gomez said. “This is a crazy sport, for sure.”
Gomez must return his home country Monday in order to be present at an important passport renewal meeting. He said he will likely play a Futures event next week in Weston, Fla., because of his travel plans.
The son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez, Emilio said he hopes to see his father while he’s home. “I’m not sure,” he said. “He lives in Guayaquil, which is a six-hour drive. He might come see me for a day. He loves to drive so we’ll see.”
Altamirano Returns To Long Beach Final
Altamirano took the first set from Uchida and the two played a tight sixth game in the second set with Altamirano returning serve up 3-2. On break point Uchida hit a backhand down the wide giving Altamirano, who screamed out “That’s it! Let’s go!”, the break he needed to close out Uchida.
“He played differently than all the other players I’ve played this week,” Altamirano said. “He was just very aggressive and I had to wait for my opportunities. I don’t know if he necessarily hit the ball harder than anyone else, but he was definitely going for a lot more on his shots.”
Altamirano will also contest the doubles final after the singles. He teamed with Alexander Lebedev and the pairing will face the top-seeded team of Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico.
Saturday’s Semifinal Singles Results
Collin Altamirano, U.S., def. Kaichi Uchida, Japan (3), 6-3, 6-2
Emilio Gomez, Ecuador (q), def. J.C. Aragone, U.S. (6), 6-4, 6-3
Friday’s Quarterfinal Doubles Results
Luke Bambridge, Great Britain / Hans Hach Verdugo, Mexico (1), def. Deiton Baughman, U.S. / Kaichi Uchida, Japan (3), 7-6 (5), 6-2,
Collin Altamirano, U.S. / Alexander Lebedev, U.S. def. Antel Pavic, Croatia / Jan Satral, Czech Republic (2), 7-6 (5), 6-3