Friday, October 17, 2014

Altamirano to attend Virginia, hold off on pros

Collin Altamirano of Sacramento practices with Ryan Harrison
during the recent $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Collin Altamirano has decided that professional tennis can wait.
   The Sacramentan, last year's USTA boys 18 national champion and this year's runner-up, said recently that he will enroll at the University of Virginia in January as planned.
   "I just felt like it was going to be good for me," Altamirano, 18, said after practicing with countryman Ryan Harrison during the $100,000 Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger at the Natomas Racquet Club. "It'll be good to be around a team and see something different."
   Altamirano said he chose Virginia over USC, UCLA and Wake Forest.
   "I like the team and the coaching staff the best. I like how (the Cavaliers) are coached and how motivated they are. I like the people on the team. I feel like they're all good guys. I just got along with them really well," Altamirano said.
  Virginia, coached by Brian Boland, won its first NCAA Division I men's tennis title last year, ending USC's four-year reign. The Trojans regained the title this year, defeating the Cavaliers 5-1 in the semifinals.
  When the 6-foot-2 (1.88-meter) Altamirano was asked how long he plans to stay at Virginia, he said: "Could be a semester, could be four years. We'll see. I'm just going to enjoy it."
   Altamirano verbally committed to Virginia in the spring but held out the possibility of changing his mind based on his results as an amateur in pro tournaments.
   "I had the results," he said. "I did better than the plan was. I just felt there's no rushing it. I didn't want to rush something that's not there. I felt like time is on my side."
   Altamirano achieved the best win of his life in the first round of qualifying for the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., in August. He beat then-No. 170 Luca Vanni of Italy 6-4, 6-2 before losing to then-No. 127 Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.
   In Futures tournaments this year, Altamirano has reached one semifinal and four quarterfinals in singles, and won one title and advanced to one final in doubles. He has struggled in Challengers.
   Altamirano is ranked No. 740 in the world in singles and No. 880 in doubles, both career highs.
   Altamirano said he sprained his left ankle in practice at the beginning of September and was "probably 80 percent" during the Sacramento Challenger. He received a wild card in his hometown tournament and lost to fifth-seeded Denis Kudla of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-1, 6-1 in the first round.
   Last year, Altamirano became the first unseeded player in the 71-year history of the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., to capture the title. Past winners include International Tennis Hall of Famers Michael Chang, Stan Smith and Dennis Ralston. 
   The title gave Altamirano a wild card into the U.S. Open men's singles draw, in which he lost to 22nd-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round. Altamirano then  reached the junior boys quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows.
   Altamirano trained with Roger Federer in Dubai, where the Swiss star has a residence, for two weeks in December and served as a practice partner for the U.S. Davis Cup team in late January and early February in San Diego.
   In this year's USTA boys 18 final, Altamirano lost to Wimbledon junior champion Noah Rubin 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Rubin is a freshman at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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