Koepfer Wins Futures Opener, Sets Goals for 2017; Pro Events Underway in Surprise and Tempe Arizona; ITA Men's Team Indoor Draw
©Colette Lewis 2017--
Former Tulane All-American Dominik Koepfer has already tasted success in his first months as a pro tennis player. The 22-year-old German, who was ranked No. 1 in the country for most of last year's spring season, won his first Futures title last fall and reached another Futures final last month. This week, he is the No. 8 seed at the $15,000 Orlando Futures, and he began his tournament with a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1 win over 2012 ITF World Junior Champion Filip Peliwo of Canada today on the Har-Tru courts of the USTA National Campus.
Koepfer trailed 5-2 in the opening set, but got the break back, only to lose the tiebreaker. He regained his focus after the set break however, and by the end of the match Peliwo appeared to lack the motivation to fight back.
"It was the attitude and energy I brought on the court," Koepfer said. "I started out a little slow, kind of lost my mind, but I took my time in between the sets. I came out and played good tennis, had a lot of energy and just fought my way through it."
Koepfer, the 2015 ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate champion, said the Futures level is similar to the top Division I level in college, but the tennis experience is not the same.
"It's definitely different than college," said the 5-foot-11 left-hander. "Traveling by yourself, being by yourself all the time, playing good players every week. In college you already know who you're playing next week, but in pro tennis, it's a different guy every week. It's definitely different, but it's a lot of fun and going well."
Koepfer is now training at Saddlebrook, working with Christopher Williams and Billy Heiser, an arrangement that he credits Tulane with facilitating.
"My head coach at Tulane (Mark Booras) knew someone at Saddlebrook and he got in touch with Billy and Christopher," Koepfer said. "It's a lot of fun. He's a good coach and I like what both guys are doing and it's worked out well so far."
Koepfer, now ranked 481, has set a goal of reaching the qualifying for the 2018 Australian Open.
"The big goal is definitely to go to Australia next, at least qualies," Koepfer said. "I definitely want to reach the Challenger level pretty soon."
Having earned his degree in Finance at Tulane, Koepfer is able to pursue these goals without feeling constant stress.
"There's definitely less pressure than some of the other guys who have done this for a couple of years and don't have a college degree," Koepfer said. "There's always a backup option, which is really nice. And I have a lot of connections through Tulane to help me out whatever happens."
Two other former US collegians also advanced to the second round. Former Tennessee star Rhyne Williams, who has struggled with injuries and is hoping to play his first full year since 2014, won his first match of 2017, beating Fred Simonsson of Sweden 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Former TCU standout Nick Chappell defeated 17-year-old wild card Lukas Greif 6-2, 6-3.
No. 3 seed Andrea Collarini and No. 2 seed Juan Ignacio Londero, both of Argentina, won their first round matches in three sets.
All eight first round doubles matches were played today, with three of the four seeds picking up victories, including top seed Connor Smith and Williams and No. 2 seeds Farris Gosea of Great Britain and Jayme Pla Malfeito of Spain.
Qualifying is now complete at USTA Pro Circuit women's $25,000 tournament in Surprise Arizona, with ITF World Junior Champion and current No. 1 Anastasia Potapova of Russia among the eight earning entry into the main draw with wins today. The 15-year-old Potapova will play 16-year-old wild card Taylor Johnson in the first round. Potapova beat Johnson in the second round at the Wimbledon Juniors last year. Other Americans to advance to the main draw are Caroline Dolehide (UCLA recruit), Sabrina Santamaria(USC), Ashley Kratzer, Maria Sanchez(USC) and Sanaz Marand(UNC). Wild cards were given to Johnson, Danielle Lao(USC) and Megan McCray(Oklahoma State), with Claire Liu using a junior exemption for main draw entry. Tatjana Maria of Germany is the No. 1 seed.
In first round doubles action, lucky losers Sonya Kenin and Usue Arconada took out top seeds Catalina Pella of Argentina and Daniela Seguel of Chile 6-3, 4-6, 10-6.
The ATP has a $75,000 Challenger this week in Tempe Arizona, with young Americans Ernesto Escobedo and Stefan Kozlov the top two seeds. Both have advanced to the second round, as has Michael Mmoh.
The draw is up for this weekend's ITA National Men's Team Indoor at the University of Virginia. Unlike the Women's Team Indoor, all 16 teams are seeded. The schedule for Friday's eight matches:
Virginia vs Utah State 6:30 pm
UCLA vs USC 6:30 pm
Cal vs Baylor 3:30 pm
North Carolina vs Georgia 3:30 pm
Oklahoma St vs Northwestern 9:00 am
Oklahoma vs Ohio State 9:00 am
Texas vs Florida noon
Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest noon