GODFREY – Eight players earned spots in the main draw of the 18th Annual Lewis and Clark Community College Men’s Pro Tennis Classic.
Americans Kyle Koch, Gonzales Austin, Liam Caruana, George Goldhoff, Henry Craig, William Little, Sameer Kumar, and A.J. Catanzariti will play in the main tournament.
Koch, 22, of Irmo, South Carolina, upset No. 1 Dominic Cotrone 0-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Koch finished his senior year playing for the University of South Carolina.
“I am looking for my first ATP point. This is the first time I played through the qualies to the main draw. I made it in a main draw before on a wild card," Koch said.
"It was a tough match. I got in a hole early on. I got back in the match after the rain delay. I started playing better tennis but he made it tough on me at the end."
Koch was named 2015 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Second-Team All-SEC. Posting a 23-13 singles record, Koch's .639 SEC winning percentage is third-best in program history.
He led the Gamecocks in both singles and doubles victories this season and is a three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete.
No. 3 Gonzales Austin defeated Felix Corwin 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.
“It was a long tough match. Felix defended really well. It was a long grind," Austin said.
"I want to just work on things I have been working on with my coaches during the main draw. I don't want to look too far ahead. I plan on taking it day by day."
Austin, a recent Vanderbilt graduate and 2015 SEC Player of the Year, accepted a bid to play in the 2015 American Collegiate Invitational. This three-day single elimination tournament begins during the second week of the 2015 US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
The American Collegiate Invitational, open only to American college players, began last year as a way to spotlight college tennis during the US Open.
No. 4 Liam Caruana, 19, of New Braunfels, Texas, defeated American Mwendwa Mbithi 6-2, 6-4.
"It was a pretty physical match. The conditions were tough. It was really humid. I was up 4-2 in the first set and then we had the rain delay. It was tough mentally to come back strong but I played a solid match," Caruana said.
"I am expecting a tougher level of competition and more experienced players in the main. It will be good to see how my game matches up to tough players."
Caruana will begin his college career playing for the University of Texas this fall. He held rankings of No. 8 in the USTA Boys' 18-and-under and No. 280 in the ITF world juniors poll. He won the Texas Grand Slam B18 championship in College Station in 2014 and was singles finalist at the ITF G4s in Queretaro, Mexico and Claremont, California, respectively.
No. 5 George Goldhoff defeated Brian Shi 6-1, 6-1.
Goldhoff just finished his sophomore year playing for the University of Texas.
No. 9 A.J. Catanzariti, who just finished his freshman year at Texas A&M, defeated Sten Leusink, of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-3.
No. 10 Henry Craig, a University of Denver standout player, defeated No. 7 Gabe Tishman 6-2, 6-1. Tishman, will play his freshman year at the University of Michigan this fall.
Main draw play started at 8:30 a.m. today with some of the world’s top-ranked players.
No. 1 Dieton Baughman, 19, of Carson, California, is ranked No. 416. He will face American Clay Thompson who is No. 744.
Thompson was a standout player at UCLA who won the Mexico F 7 Futures earlier this summer 6-2, 6-3 against Lucas Gomez.
The Lewis and Clark tournament is Baughman’s first U.S. pro tournament stop this summer. He has been playing Futures tournaments in Europe and Mexico this spring and summer.
Baughman won the Bosnia & Herzegovina F5 Futures 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, against Duje Kekez, of Croatia, in June. He and Sander Arends, of the Netherlands, won the doubles championship at the Netherlands F4 Futures earlier this month.
To view, download and share images from the tournament, visit https://www.flickr.com/
The LCCC Futures is the first of four Futures tournaments on a swing through Illinois. The Edwardsville Futures follows from July 27 through Aug. 2, the Ursula Beck Pro Tennis Classic in Decatur is from Aug. 3-9 and finally the Champaign-Urbana Futures span from Aug. 10-16.