ROLLING HILLS ESTATES, Calif., July4, 2022 (by Steve Pratt)
USC senior Eryn Cayetano came back against fellow wild card and Southern California resident Iva Jovic to capture the SoCal Pro Circuit women’s singles title on Sunday at the Jack Kramer Club, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
The most highly successful American junior player over the past three years, 19-year-old No. 2 seeded Zachary Sjvada earned a tough 7-5, 6-4 victory over top-seeded Brandon Holt to capture the $2,160 first-place prize money check at the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament, the fourth leg of six SoCal Pro Circuit events taking part across SoCal this summer.
More importantly for the two-time USTA Hardcourt Nationals Kalamazoo winner Sjvada were the 15 valuable ATP points he will garner to boost his current No. 399 world ranking.
All four Southern California singles finalists – three of which reside within 15 miles of the tournament site in the South Bay – thanked the enthusiastic Kramer Club crowds that showed up and supported pro tennis in the area all week.
“This feels like my second home,” Cayetano said after accepting her trophy from former USC Men’s Coach and current Kramer Club GM Peter Smith. “I just want to say thank you to the USTA SoCal for this wild card and the opportunity to play here this week.”
It was a wild-card double for Cayetano – who was playing in her first main-draw matches at the pro level this week. On Saturday she teamed with USC teammate Salma Ewing to once again take advantage of the wild card granted by USTA SoCal to upset the No. 3 seeds and eke out a 10-8 super tiebreaker win to capture the doubles title.
“Everyone got to see what an incredible player Eryn is this week,” Smith said. “And hopefully you got to see a glimpse of the person she is. I know what a great person she is. She is one of the most special humans I’ve ever met in tennis. She came up through First Break tennis and has just an incredible story. She plays No. 1 at USC now and I’m just so proud of her, to watch her play with such class and at such a high level.”
Cayetano congratulated the 14-year-old former Orange Bowl winner Jovic on an amazing run this week. “I know Iva’s future is so bright,” she said. Jovic will receive eight WTA points for her runner-up efforts.
Jovic was disappointed she couldn’t keep up her level of play in the final two sets, taking the first set behind her steady baseline game. Jovic will look back fondly on winning her first nine sets without a loss in her first pro event. “It’s been such a fun tournament and I had a blast competing here this week,” Jovic told the crowd.
If Covid wouldn’t have cancelled Kalamazoo in 2020, the 2019 and 2021 18s winner might well have become the first player to ever win three Kalamazoo 18s titles, instead earning the honor being the first to win back-to-back crowns since Jack Sock did it.
Svajda, who earned his first ATP point at age 15 at a $15,000 Futures in Claremont, beat fellow San Diegan Brandon Nakashima in the 2019 Kalamazoo semifinals. On Monday, Nakashima plays in the Round of 16 at Wimbledon against Nick Kyrgios.
“I knew it was going to be tough today against Brandon,” Svajda said. “We practice so much, sometimes even seven days a week. We know each others’ game and switch off. He’ll beat me in practice, and I’ll beat him. It was a good tournament for me.”
It was the second career ITF singles title for Svajda, who won a $25K in Austin last year. “Now it’s off to Fountain Valley to see if I can repeat,” Svajda said. “And then I’ll try and get into some Challengers and just take it week by week.”
Holt grew up at the Kramer Club and was supported by great crowds all week.
“I play all over the world, but there is no place I’d rather play than right here today,” Holt told the crowd after being presented his trophy and $1,272 check from his college coach Smith. “I was a ball kid right here on this same court. Thanks to all my family and friends who came out today and for my coach Peter for putting on this amazing tournament. The players have told me how great and hospitable everyone has been and I’m so happy to have been able to play in front of you guys.”
Holt will next travel to Newport, R.I., on Thursday where he switch from the SoCal hardcourts to the grass at the International Tennis Hall of Fame Championships. Holt received a wild card into qualifying for the ATP 250 event and next Sunday will play his first match.
Holt was attempting to win his sixth ITF singles title of the year and is now 38-10 in 2022. He was won seven career ITF singles tournaments and will see his ranking continue to rise from his current No. 336 spot.