LAKEWOOD, Calif., July 18. 2022 (by Steve Pratt)
If there was a Most Valuable Player Award given to the top performer for the six men’s and women’s SoCal Pro Circuits that were completed on Sunday after seven weeks of play, it would go to redshirt USC sophomore Snow Han.
The 20-year-old Han – one of four Trojans who played among the final eight quarterfinalists at the Lakewood Open this past week – became the SoCal Pro Circuit’s only two-time women’s singles winner beating top-seeded Dabin Kim from Korea, 7-5, 7-5, at the Lakewood Tennis Center.
The No. 5-seeded Han completed the six tournaments with a 16-4 singles record notching her first ITF singles title during Week 2 at the University of San Diego, and also had three quarterfinals appearances and a first-round defeat. Han also had a final, semifinal and quarterfinal run in three doubles events.
On the men’s side, 22-year-old No. 3-seed Jaimee Floyd Angele of France, like Han, won his second career $15,000 ITF World Tour Tour event as he used his huge serve to down No. 4 Nathan Ponwith, 6-2, 7-5. The past three Los Angeles-area Pro Circuit events were the first time the 6-foot-11 Angele had been to Southern California.
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“It was a great three weeks of tennis,” said Angele, whose ranking will move him into the world top 600 on Monday. “Now it’s back to Miami where I will keep training and competing.”
Han – who takes home $2,160 and 15 WTA ranking points – was watched by her college coach Alison Swain, who after the match told her to take a few days off before she hits the road week after next to play in a Dallas $25,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event. With current Trojan Eryn Cayetano winning the singles title as a wild card during Week 4 at the Kramer Club, Han’s victory Sunday gave the Trojans half of the six singles titles on the women’s side.
Like Angele, Han’s opponent 25-year-old Kim was also visiting SoCal for the first time. She earned $1,272 and eight WTA points for the runner-up finish. Han joined Hermosa Beach’s Zachary Svjada as the only two-time winner on the SoCal singles circuit.
Up a set and serving at 4-2, 40-love, Han said she got nervous thinking about closing out Kim, who was ranked No. 557 coming into Lakewood, and made several unforced errors. After the players swapped breaks of serves, Han was once again unable to close out Kim serving for the match at 5-3 as she double-faulted on game point for Kim.
Asked what she was thinking at that point, Han said, “Breathe. I just had to settle down and finish the match.”
The No. 936-ranked WTA player Han could lay claim to being one of the most experienced ITF Pro Circuit players over the past few weeks having previously played 20 ITF Pro events, mostly in China, before the SoCal swing began. An ITF world-ranked Top 75 junior, Han has competed at Junior Wimbledon and the Junior US Open.
In the women’s doubles final on Saturday, University of Wisconsin’s Taylor Cataldi from Corona and Isabella Chhiv, a senior at Portola High in San Diego, lost to former NCAA Doubles winner Makenna Jones and the University of Michigan’s Brienne Minor, 6-4, 6-0. In 2017, Minor became the first African-American to win the NCAA singles title. In the men’s final Saturday, No. 2 Eduardo Nava and Ponwith took home the doubles titles over San Diego high school senior Bryce Nakashima and Bjorn Swenson, 6-3, 2-6, 10-4.