Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Aussie Bolt edges NorCal's Altamirano in thriller

Eighth-seeded Alex Bolt of Australia edged wild card
Collin Altamirano of Sacramento 7-6 (6), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5)
today in the second round of the $100,000 Fairfield (Calif.)
Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
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   FAIRFIELD, Calif. -- Some players want it more than others.
   Alex Bolt and Collin Altamirano belong in the first group.
   Bolt, a 25-year-old Australian left-hander, and Altamirano, a 22-year-old Sacramentan, battled fiercely for 2 hours, 50 minutes today in the second round of the $100,000 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship.
   Ultimately, the eighth-seeded Bolt prevailed 7-6 (6), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), as a breezy afternoon turned into a frigid evening at Solano Community College, to reach the quarterfinals.
   With the 6-foot-2 (1.88-meter) Altamirano serving at 5-5 in the decisive tiebreaker, he sailed a backhand long. Then the 6-foot (1.83-meter) Bolt, a two-time Australian Open doubles quarterfinalist who finished with 15 aces, pounded a service winner to end the marathon.
   "He's a good competitor," said Altamirano, a wild card ranked No. 306 in his first full year as a professional. "He won that match for that reason. Credit to him. That's why he won (Monday); that's why he is where he is."
   Bolt, ranked a career-high No. 155, beat childhood friend Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 in 2 hours, 16 minutes in the first round. Kokkinakis stunned Roger Federer in the second round in Miami in March and won the $100,000 Aptos (Calif.) Challenger in August. Aptos is a two-hour drive south of Fairfield.
   Bolt will play second-seeded Lloyd Harris of South Africa on Friday. Harris outlasted American qualifier Tommy Paul 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in tonight's late match before a handful of hardy souls, breaking serve in the final game with a brilliant backhand cross-court passing shot.
   Harris, who won last week's $100,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger, also beat former top-40 player Donald Young 7-5 in the third set on Tuesday.
Collin Altamirano expressed frustration between points
but showed great mental toughness during them. Photo
by Paul Bauman
   Both Bolt and Altamirano qualified for Grand Slam tournaments this year, losing in the first round at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, respectively.
   But whereas Bolt is businesslike on the court, Altamirano -- boyish-looking with a mop of dark hair -- is very emotional. Altamirano frequently yelled in frustration during today's match, made wisecracks to himself, gestured to his coach, Joseph Gilbert, in the stands and directed a running commentary at Gilbert. Yet when the points started, Altamirano showed great mental toughness.
   "Yeah, that's Collin," Gilbert, the founder and owner of the JMG Tennis Academy at the Arden Hills Club & Spa in Sacramento, said with a laugh. "Well, he's so competitive. Once he lets the emotion out, he re-engages in the competing.
   "He's fighting that battle of emotion versus competitiveness. That's a battle he always fights. You can see him look toward me with it a lot, but I thought today was actually pretty good, all things considered. His emotions got to him a little bit, but not too bad. I thought he stayed engaged in the match the whole time."
   The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Harris shocked 32-year-old Frenchman Gael Monfils, who has dropped from a career-high No. 6 in 2016 to No. 37, two weeks ago in Chengdu, China, for his first victory on the elite ATP World Tour.
   Paul, one of only three Americans to win the French Open boys singles titles (with John McEnroe and Bjorn Fratangelo) since the Open era began in 1968, reached ATP quarterfinals in Atlanta and Washington in consecutive weeks last year. The right-hander missed 4 1/2 months early this year with a right-elbow injury.
   Also advancing to the quarterfinals were sixth-seeded Casper Ruud of Norway and qualifier Sebastian Fanselow of Germany.
   Ruud, the 19-year-old son of former top-40 player Christian Ruud, defeated American JC Aragone, Altamirano's doubles partner at Virginia, 6-1, 7-6 (4).
   Ruud reached the second round of the Australian Open in his Grand Slam debut and the French Open, both times as a qualifier, this year. Altamirano and Aragone helped Virginia win the NCAA title in all three of their years there (2015-17).
   Fanselow, a 26-year-old former Pepperdine All-American who also advanced to last year's Fairfield quarterfinals as a qualifier, beat Lucas Miedler of Austria 6-4, 6-1.
   Here are the Fairfield singles and doubles draws and Thursday's schedule. The tournament is being streamed live.

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