VERO BEACH, April 27, 2018 (Press Release)
Nicolas Mejia of Colombia is showing signs that he could perhaps become one of the next great South American tennis stars. The eighteen-year-old from Bogota advanced into the quarterfinals of the $15,000 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championship USTA Pro Circuit event Thursday with a dramatic 6-0, 4-6, 7-5 upset win over No. 2 seed and No. 418 world-ranked Samuel Bensoussan of France.
Mejia, the No. 7 ranked junior player in the world, showed the poise of a veteran by adjusting to the ups and downs of the turbulent match. He blasted his Bensoussan off the court in an easy first set not losing a game and appeared headed to a relatively easy victory. Bensoussan, however, did not relent. After the Frenchman won the second set, Mejia trailed 3-1 in the final set, but rallied to win four games in a row and served for the match at 5-4. Bensoussan kept himself alive in the match with the service break to tie the final set at 5-5, but was broken the very next game and Mejia did not falter on his second opportunity to serve out the match.
“It was a great battle,” said Mejia. “I knew it was not going to be easy. When you win the first set, no matter what the score is, it is just a set and you have to start again in the next set.”
By reaching at least the quarterfinals here in Vero Beach, Meija will return to the ATP World Tour rankings which will help him earn direct entries into other Futures and Challenger level tournaments in professional tennis. In Vero Beach, he had to win four qualifying matches to enter the main draw of the tournament. He still will be playing high-level international junior events for the rest of this year, including at the French Open, where he reached the quarterfinals last year, and Wimbledon and the U.S. Open before embarking on a full-time professional career.
Mejia will play the feature night match Friday night at 7 pm against fellow Colombian Juan Benitez, best known locally for his near win over Canadian upstart Denis Shapovalov two years ago at this event when held at The Boulevard club. Benitez defeated American qualifier Ryan Goetz of Long Island, N.Y. 6-4, 7-5.
Another South American, Eduardo Agustin Torre of Argentina, advanced into the quarterfinals in similar but more dramatic fashion, also hanging on after winning a “bagel” first set but needed a final-set tiebreaker to defeat Jordi Arconada of Argentina 6-0, 3-6, 7-6(4). Torre trailed 3-0 in the final-set tiebreaker before winning seven of the last eight points of the match.
“It was a tough match,” said Torre’s coach Luciano Cabeiro. “He knows that Jordi is a tough rival.”
The win for Torre puts him into the quarterfinals and continues a relative hot streak on the Futures circuit that has seen him win 17 of his last 23 matches. During Torre’s run, he has reached two semifinals and three quarterfinals at Futures events spanning from USA, to Chile, to Turkey.
“South Americans play a high level at these tournaments, the clay tournaments,” Torre said through his coach of the success of South Americans this week on the Grand Harbor clay.
Arconada had a great run of wins this week in Vero Beach, winning five matches, four in qualifying plus his first-round win that earned him an ATP world ranking point. The Texas A&M senior rushed to the airport following the loss to join his college teammates in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for their opener in the Southeastern Conference tennis tournament.
Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera of Chile, the No. 1 seed in this week’s event, also advanced to the quarterfinals as he defeated New Braunfels, Texas native Harrison Adams, 6-4, 6-4. Barrios Vera, 20, is also on a hot streak, as he has won 18 of his last 21 matches, including making three finals in Futures events in Greece and winning one title just last week in Orange Park, just outside of Jacksonville. He also won a Futures event earlier this year in Weston, Fla. without dropping a set.
Junior Ore of Miami, Florida, a former standout at Texas A&M, also advanced into the quarterfinals in a final-set tiebreaker, outlasting No. 6 seed Santiago Rodriguez Taerna of Argentina 1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6(4) in three hours and 15 minutes. Ricardo Rodriquez, the all-time leading singles player on Venezuela’s Davis Cup team, upset No. 3 seed Matias Zukas of Argentina 7-5, 6-1. Alejandro Tabilo of Chile, the No. 8, also won a nail-biting quarterfinal match, outlasting 17-year-old Nick Hardt, a Davis Cup team member from the Dominican Republic 7-6 (2), 1-6, 7-5.
“It was kind of a weird match as there was a lot of change in momentum” said Tabilo. “It was a struggle. It was a great match to win and pull through.”
Strong Kirchheimer of Cary, N.C. celebrated his 23th birthday with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over Juan Alejandro Hernandez Serrano of Mexico.
Play ended at 11:02 pm Thursday as four of the eight singles matches were either 7-5 or 7-6 in the third set scorelines.
Friday’s quarterfinal matches start at 1 pm with featured matches also at 5 pm and 7 pm. For more information go to www.TennisVeroBeach.com Saturday’s singles semifinals will start at 1 pm and Sunday’s singles final and doubles final will also start at 1 pm.