SAN DIEGO, September 22, 2022 (by Richard Osborn)
It was a banner day for UCLA tennis on Wednesday at the San Diego Open ATP 250, with a pair of former NCAA singles champions — onetime Bruins Mackenzie McDonald and Marcos Giron — posting victories at Barnes Tennis Center.
McDonald raced past an error-prone Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland, 6-0, 6-2, in the day session in a mere 54 minutes. The Piedmont, Calif., native, who swept the NCAA singles and doubles titles in 2016, set a rematch in the second round with fellow Northern Californian Jenson Brooksby of Sacramento, having come up short against the No. 2 seed this summer in Atlanta, 6-3, 6-4, in the Round of 16.
“I’m happy with how I’m playing. I love being in California,” said McDonald, who hadn’t been back to Barnes Center since his days in junior tennis. “Henri’s a great player. I just think I took it to him today, played my game.”
The No. 3 seed Giron of Thousand Oaks, Calif., the NCAA titlist in 2014, moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry. The world No. 58 converted four of six break-point opportunities, and finished with 30 winners to 17 unforced errors.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) September 22, 2022
“I’m pumped to get through this,” said Giron, who’ll next face Australia’s James Duckworth. “This is my first time being seeded, so it’s interesting coming into a tournament not having played a first-round match. But I’ve been playing well the last month. Tomas is Top 100 in the world for a reason.”
“Playing in Southern California, it really is home to me,” he added. “It’s amazing to play here.”
Alejandro Tabilo is making a name for himself in a hurry in the ranks of professional tennis.
The 25-year-old lefthander from Chile has achieved a new career-high ranking 12 times in 2022, breaking into Top 100 in February and peaking at No. 64 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in July. Now the sixth seed is into the second round at the San Diego Open ATP 250, a 7-5, 6-2 winner over American Steve Johnson on Wednesday night at Barnes Tennis Center.
Johnson, a native of Orange, Calif., was all but playing on his home courts. The former USC standout, 32, is arguably the most successful college tennis player of all time. He won two NCAA singles titles, in addition to four consecutive team titles, in his days as a Trojan. But on Wednesday night in Barnes Stadium, he found himself overpowered by the 70th-ranked Tabilo, who surrendered just four points on his serve in the one-hour, nine-minute matchup.
“It was a pretty solid match,” said Tabilo, who never faced a break point and finished with 11 aces. “I served unbelievable today. It gave me a lot of confidence and let me play looser in the returns. I’m very happy with the win.”
It was a quick turnaround for Tabilo, who didn’t arrive in San Diego until Monday after representing his homeland in Davis Cup play in Lima, Peru.
“I was pretty lucky that the conditions were kind of similar,” he said. “It’s pretty slow here, too. Lima was very slow. I adjusted pretty quickly.”
A pair of Davis Cup matches in Germany following the US Open may have proved too taxing for Australian Jason Kubler, who retired with a leg injury facing countryman Christopher O’Connell, 4-6, 6-3, ret. It was yet more hard luck for Kubler, whose luggage was lost during his trip to the U.S., forcing the 99th-ranked baseliner to borrow a few racquets from tour counterpart Ernesto Escobedo.
Also advancing on Wednesday was Colombia’s Daniel Elahi Galan, who defeated Marc-Andrea Huesler of Switzerland, 6-3, 7-5. The 26-year-old is coming off a career-best showing at the US Open, where he stunned fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, 6-0, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, en route to the third round.
In doubles, the wildcard pairing of 2010 NCAA singles titlist Bradley Klahn (Stanford) and Spaniard Fernando Verdasco dispatched Hans Hach Verdugo and Treat Huey, 6-4, 6-3.
Fifth seed Brandon Nakashima is sure to bring out the locals on Thursday night in Barnes Stadium. The San Diegan, ranked No. 69, advanced with a 7-5, 7-6(5) win over La Jolla’s Zachary Svajda, and is set to face another American in Denis Kudla. It will be their second encounter of the year, Nakashima having claimed a 6-1, 6-1 win in the opening round in Delray Beach, Fla.
Daniel Evans is racking up the frequent-flier miles these days. The 32-year-old Brit, No. 25 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, followed up his semifinal showing at the ATP Masters 1000 Canada (where he took out Top-20 opponents Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz) with a run to the third round of the US Open. Then he joined his countrymen for a Davis Cup outing in Scotland. On Thursday, the top seed will kick off his 2022 San Diego Open ATP 250 campaign against Japan’s Taro Daniel.
RESULTS – SEPTEMBER 21, 2022
Singles – Second Round
 M. Giron (USA) d T. Etcheverry (ARG) 64 63
 J. Duckworth (AUS) d [Q] M. Krueger (USA) 63 76(4)
 A. Tabilo (CHI) d S. Johnson (USA) 75 62
D. Galan (COL) d M. Huesler (SUI) 63 75
C. O’Connell (AUS) d J. Kubler (AUS) 46 63 00 Retired
M. McDonald (USA) d H. Laaksonen (SUI) 60 62
Doubles – First Round
 S. Gonzalez (MEX) / A. Molteni (ARG) d E. King (USA) / D. Kudla (USA) 63 75
 N. Barrientos (COL) / M. Reyes-Varela (MEX) d [WC] K. Smith (USA) / S. Verbeek (NED) 76(3) 67(5) 10-7
[WC] B. Klahn (USA) / F. Verdasco (ESP) d H. Hach Verdugo (MEX) / T. Huey (PHI) 64 63