VERO BEACH, April 26, 2018 (Press Release)
Matthew Segura, the great-nephew of International Tennis Hall of Famer Pancho Segura, played his first career main draw match in a USTA Pro Circuit “Futures” Wednesday at the $15,000 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships. Unfortunately for him, it only last one hour and 16 minutes.
Segura, the 17-year-old from Apopka, Fla., was defeated in the event’s first round, falling to Nicolas Mejia of Colombia 6-1, 6-2 at Grand Harbor Golf & Beach Club.
Segura had become a fan favorite in Vero Beach after he won a special “wild card” tournament at the Sea Oaks Beach & Tennis Club to earn an entry into the tournament. Segura’s tennis family lineage, as well as his ambidextrous playing style, also added to his following among Vero Beach tennis fans.
Despite his loss Wednesday, Segura said the experience he gained while winning the event last month at Sea Oaks and his match Wednesday will serve him well as his tennis career evolves.
“I think it was a good experience. The wild card tournament helped a lot,” Segura said. “It was kind of the first time playing in front of a crowd and getting used to it. I feel like I won the tournament (at Sea Oaks) feeling more comfortable playing in front of a crowd.”
There was another large crowd on hand at the Stadium Court at Grand Harbor, but Mejia, an 18-year-old from Colombia, was too good.
“Today was just one of those days. Things didn’t go my way today,” Segura said. “He played really well for the most part, he was not missing. I just couldn’t find the answers today.”
For Mejia, the win earned him his first ATP point, and he will now enter the ATP World Tour rankings in two weeks. This win wasn’t his first over Segura, as he remembered playing him in the qualifying stages of a Futures tournament in Tampa last spring.
“I was ready for a battle,” Mejia said, recollecting his three-set battle with Segura last year. “I think it was a tough match today even though the score doesn’t say so.”
Mejia is currently the No. 7 junior player in the world and is still focusing some of his tennis on that circuit for now. This is the last year that he is allowed to play on the junior circuit, and he is looking forward to bringing home some hardware.
“I’m still going to play the biggest events on the juniors circuit like the French Open and Wimbledon,” Mejia said. “I think it’s going to be a really exciting year and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Qualifiers continues good run of form
Another player who won on Wednesday and is looking to continue his success on the juniors circuit is Nicolas Hardt of the Dominican Republic. Hardt, a member of the Dominican Republic’s Davis Cup team, defeated American wild card Alexander Rotsaert of Boca Raton, Fla., in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1.
“I played a really good match, a really solid match,” Hardt said, before stating that winning four matches in qualifying for a key for him going into today’s match. “I was pretty confident because of those matches in the qualies.”
Hardt said that he and Rotsaert have been playing against each other since they were 13 or 14 years old and are now good friends.
Hardt had previously been ranked in the ATP World Tour rankings after reaching the quarterfinals of a futures event in the Dominican Republic in December of 2015. He had since fallen off the rankings, but the win will earn him another ATP ranking point.
“It’s really big to have the first ATP point again after two years,” Hardt said. “I’m really happy for it and hopefully I can get more ATP points here.”
When Hardt is done playing in Vero Beach, he will also travel over to Europe to play in two of the biggest junior events of the year, the junior French Open and junior Wimbledon. Hardt has set some lofty expectations for those tournaments.
“I’m in my last year of juniors. Hopefully I can win a slam this year,” he said.
Another player who came through qualifying to earn their first ATP point was Juan Alejandro Hernandez Serrano of Mexico. After grinding through four qualifying rounds, including overcoming a three-set battle with the No. 13 seed Julian Bradley in the final round, Hernandez had a much easier day on Wednesday.
Hernandez advanced after his opponent, Adam El Mihdawy, retired from the match after dropping the first set 6-1.
“I didn’t expect to win like that,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez was proud to earn his first ATP point at this tournament specificially because of how difficult he felt his road has been to this point.
“It feels good. I think this is one of the hardest to get your first ATP point,” Hernandez said. “All the guys play really well.”
Hernandez had the opportunity to play in the junior U.S. Open and junior Wimbledon last year, and he feels like those are some of the best memories of his young career.
“Those Grand Slams are amazing,” Hernandez said. “When I first stepped on the Wimbledon courts, the grass courts, it was something unbelievable. Like, no words.”
Second round play in singles and doubles continues Thursday at noon at Grand Harbor. For more information, go to www.TennisVeroBeach.com
The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships is the USTA’s $15,000 Futures-level tournament played in Vero Beach since 1995 and regarded as one of the best entry-level professional tennis tournaments in the world. Proceeds from the event benefit the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the non-profit tennis foundation benefiting children, named for Vero Beach native son Mardy Fish, the former top 10 tennis star and a U.S. Davis Cup standout.