CLAREMONT, September 13, 2018
Zachary Svajda of Pacific Beach in San Diego County didn’t quite know what to expect when he walked onto the Stadium Court at the Claremont Club to face the tournament’s top-seeded player on Wednesday.
The 15-year-old wild-card entry Svajda proceeded to shock the world’s No. 601st ranked player Joao Lucas Reis Da Silva of Brazil, 6-3, 6-4, to earn his first ATP World Tour ranking point as first-round play was completed at the Claremont Club Pro Classic, a $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures event.
“I’m just really happy right now,” said Svajda, who beat San Diego’s Isaiah Strode to win the tournament wild card and also has a wild card into next week’s Futures event in Laguna Niguel. “I didn’t know what was going to happen out there because I don’t play many tournaments and he’s the one seed, but I went out there and stayed positive and I got it. I skipped juniors for three or four years and trained really hard. And now I’m starting back and going to be entering some Futures events.”
He said the reason he stopped playing tournaments was because “I saw the same people over and over and it’s tough to travel with the money and all.”
Svajda is a high school sophomore who is home schooled and coached by his father Tom Svajda, a teaching pro at the Pacific Beach Tennis Center near Mission Bay who is originally from Texas and played Kalamazoo as a junior. He trains with his 12-year-old brother Trevor and his Serbian coach Uros Petronijevic, the former No. 1 player for the University of San Diego who was on hand watching the match Wednesday along with Tom.
Svajda said he watched a Reis Da Silva match on YouTube recently and knew he had won a $25,000 Futures event on clay in his native Brazil back in May beating US Open Junior Boys’ champion Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil in the final.
“He’s really good and had a good backhand,” said Svajda, who said his forehand is his top shot and that he’s grown a lot recently standing 5-foot-8 and still growing.
Tom said he wasn’t shocked by the result of his son beating the top seed. “I think everyone thought it was going to be an 0-0 thing,” said Tom, who added that his sons UTR is 13.49 compared to his opponent’s 13.89. “He beat Isaiah Strode, who was ranked No. 972 in the world when Zach beat him a few months ago to win the wild-card tournament, so I knew he could do it. He’s just a very focused 15-year-old. He doesn’t show any emotion on the court or off. I mean none.”
Later in the day, Svajda and Strode met Reis Da Silva again in doubles and the local wild-card team lost in straight sets.
Svajda on Thursday will face college senior Nicolas Moreno de Alboran, 21, UC Santa Barbara’s top player. Moreno de Alboran is originally from New York City, but attended high school in London.
Svajda said he will try and put his big win behind him. “I’m very happy but you just have to forget about it,” he said. “You can’t celebrate because you have another match.”
Former UCLA star and two-time NCAA doubles champion Martin Redlicki won his first-round match in straight sets, as did his former Bruin teammate sophomore Keegan Smith, and USC’s Daniel Cukierman and Brandon Holt.
Wednesday’s First-Round Singles Scores
Zach Svajda (US) [wc] def. Joao Lucas Reis Da Silva (BRA) , 6-3, 6-4
Martin Redlicki (US)  def. Laurens Verboven (BEL) [q], 6-3, 6-3
Daniel Cukierman (ISR) def. Michael Shabaz (US) [q], 6-3, 6-3
Keegan Smith (US) [q] def. Guilherme Wojciechowski Osorio (BRA), 7-6 (4), 6-3
Brandon Holt (US) def. Alec Adamson (US), 6-2, 6-1
Alexander Cozbinov (MDA) [q] def. Dragos Constantin Ignat (ROU) [q], 6-4, 6-0
Igor Gimenez (BRA) def. Timothy Sah (US) [wc], 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
Adrian Oetzbach (GER) [q] def. Jianhui Li (CHI), 6-4, 6-4
Nicolas Moreno de Alboran (US) [q] def. Skyler Butts (HKG), 6-1, 6-4