For the last three years Miller Tennis Center has had resounding success hosting the Sargent & Collins LLP Women’s $10,000 Championships, a USTA Pro Circuit event.
This year they will host the Sargent & Collins LLP Men’s $10,000 Futures Tournament, a USTA pro circuit event. The qualifying draw is being played this weekend and Monday. The main draw will be from Tuesday through next Sunday.
On Saturday the first semifinal singles will be at noon, followed by the second semifinal about 2 p.m., and will conclude with the men’s doubles championships about 4 p.m. or shortly thereafter. The championship singles final will be played next Sunday at 1 p.m.
Both the men’s and women’s USTA Pro Circuits have helped many young players improve their games and eventually become stars in their tennis careers. Some great players who have won a Future’s event or reached a singles finals during their days playing on the Future’s Circuit are:
• Andy Murray, Scotland: Won the U.S. Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2013. He ranked as high as No. 2 in the world in 2009.
• Andy Roddick, United States: Won the 2003 U.S. Open and was ranked number one in the world at the end of the year. He had one of the fastest serves in the history of the game, timed in the range of 130-150 miles per hour.
• Justine Henin, Belgium: Won 43 World Tennis Association singles titles and 7 Grand Slam singles titles. She was the world’s No. 1-ranked women’s player in 2003 and 2006.
• Maria Sharapova, Russia: The 6-footer has won five Grand Slam singles titles including all four Grand Slams (Australian, French, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open).
Todd Miller, the owner of Miller Tennis Center, said, “In addition to the aforementioned stars who have gone on to outstanding success, we have had some recent players who have done well in our women’s Futures event that are now playing on the pro circuit full time.”
They include Lauren Davis, who was a winner here three years ago. A few months ago she defeated former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka at Indian Wells, Calif., 6-0, 7-6. Also doing well is Alisa Kleybanova, who was the Women’s Tennis Association Comeback Player of the year in 2013. After a few health setbacks she is ranked in the top 100 players in the world.
Other former Futures players are Nicole Gibbs, a two-time NCAA women’s singles champion, who is presently playing on the pro tour, and Jamie Loeb, who was recently recognized as the NCAA’s No. 1 women’s tennis player and is coached by John McEnroe.
“Having the tournament in Buffalo gives local followers of the game a chance to see future stars from all over the world,” MIller said.
Local stars include Tony Miller, one of the area’s top male players, who was awarded a singles wild card, and Alexey Kalinin, a former UB great, and Lee Nickell, the UB men’s coach. They were awarded a doubles card.
Some other players who will be competing in the men’s event are:
• Liam Brody (Great Britain): The No. 1 seed has won two International Tennis Federation singles titles and eight ITF doubles titles. He has been ranked as high as 387 in the world in singles and is currently 390.
His highlights include two Junior Doubles Grand Slams (2010 Wimbledon and 2012 Australian Open). The 20-year-old reached the junior singles Grand Slam finals of both Wimbledon (2011) and the U.S. Open in 2012.
• Facundo Mena, 21, is the second seed. He’s presently ranked 447 in the world. He has won 2 ITF singles titles and an ITF doubles title.
• Henrique Cunha, 24, is presently ranked 456 in the world. He is the winner of three ITF singles and two ITF doubles titles. He was a quarterfinalist at Junior Wimbledon in 2008 and defeated Milos Raonic, a Canadian, who is presently ranked in the world’s top 10 players.
He was twice a member of the ITA National Doubles Team of the Year with Reid Carlton in 2010 and in 2013 with Raphael Hemmeler. He had a legendary record at Duke University, where he was Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2010 and 2013.
• Brian Battistone is one of the oldest players in the tournament at age 34. He has been ranked as high as 88 in the world in doubles and just might be the most entertaining player to watch in the tournament. He uses a volleyball-styled jump serve where he literally jumps onto the court, switches his racket hand in mid-air and hits the ball before he lands on the court. Not surprisingly, he is the only player on the tour that does this.
Not to be outdone, his brother Dann uses a two-handed racquet that has been designed by Lionel Burt of the Natural Tennis Factory. Whether he wins or loses, I can guarantee that you will greatly enjoy Brian’s unique style of play.
Todd Miller’s contributions to the game of tennis in Western New York are truly admirable. “I feel that I have an obligation to do as much as I can to contribute to the promotion of Western New York tennis,” Miller said.
“Fortunately, I am in a position to do so, and I take that responsibility seriously. The tournament is open to the public free of charge, and I can assure you that they will be witnessing some of the finest tennis that has ever been seen in Western New York.”
The tournament wouldn’t even be possible without the generosity of Nick Sargent, the title sponsor. “To me, tennis is such a wonderful game,” Sargent said. “I just enjoy watching everyone having a great time and getting a great workout. Todd and Debbie Miller put so much time and effort trying to produce so many outstanding tournaments that I feel good about helping out wherever I can.”
For more information, call Miller Tennis Center at 632-8600.