Sunday, April 18, 2021

Brooksby, 20, to crack top 200 after $52K Orlando title

Sacramento-area resident Jenson Brooksby, shown earlier
 this week in Orlando, did not lose a set en route to his
second Challenger singles title this year in three finals.
Photo courtesy of USTA 
 Only four months after turning proJenson "Mel" Brooksby will crack the top 200 in the world for the first time on Monday.
   The 20-year-old resident of Carmichael, Calif., in the Sacramento area appears headed much higher.
   Dismantling yet another veteran with his outstanding groundstrokes and high intensity, the unseeded Brooksby outclassed fifth-seeded Denis "The Little Engine That" Kudla of Arlington, Va., 6-3, 6-3 today to win the $52,080 Orlando (Fla.) Open.
  Brooksby did not lose a set en route to his second Challenger singles title of the year in three finals. He will jump 38 places in the world rankings to No. 194.
   "His serve needs to get bigger," live-stream commentator Mike Cation said of the 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) Brooksby. "What impresses you is how well he competes on every point. His (two-handed) backhand is very good. His forehand is good to above-average. His competition level is elite."
   The 28-year-old Kudla, who was seeking his eighth career Challenger singles title, will rise seven spots to No. 117. He reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and the final of the $100,000 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger in 2015 and climbed to a career-high No. 53 the following year.
  Brooksby claimed his second-highest-ranked victim. He stunned Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up who ascended to a career-high No. 4 in 2015, as a qualifier in the opening round of the 2019 U.S. Open. The Czech was ranked No. 98 at the time. Brooksby then lost to Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili, seeded 17th and ranked 18th, in four sets, coming within a tiebreaker of leading two sets to none.
   On another muggy day in Orlando, Brooksby bolted to a 5-1 first-set lead for the second consecutive match. Kudla broke serve at love for 3-5, but Brooksby immediately broke back, converting his fourth set point. Kudla double-faulted twice in the game.
   Brooksby recorded the only break of the second set to lead 4-2. He remained poised while serving for the match at 5-3, pounding an ace for 40-15 and capitalizing on his first championship point with a backhand cross-court passing shot.
   Brooksby — who has an endorsement contract with UomoSport, a men's activewear company — earned $7,200. Kudla took home $4,240.
   College men — No. 24 Stanford swept host Washington 7-0 to win the Pacific-12 Conference title. The Cardinal ended the regular season at 9-3 overall and 6-1 in the Pac-12. The Huskies fell to 10-10 and 1-6. 
   The Pac-12 Championships are scheduled for Friday through April 26 in San Diego.

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