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US OPEN: Guys Work Overtime, Gals Cruise in Early Quals

Southern California men had to work on all cylinders Wednesday to advance in the #USOpen50 qualifying first round. The biggest clutch performance came from San Diego’s Brandon Nakashima, the nation’s top collegiate recruit who’s finishing his summer with a trip to New York on the nation’s grandest tennis stage.

San Diego’s Brandon Nakashima (USTA SoCal)

Just recently turned 17, Nakashima and Ante Pavic (CRO) battled for two-and-a-half hours in a match ultimately determined by Nakashima’s ability to capitalize on break chances (4 of 9), and Pavic’s inability to do the same, converting only five of 21 break opportunities. In a nailbiting tiebreak, Nakashima locked up the 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) victory and will face another young upstart, France’s 20-year old Ugo Humbert, in the second round.

Ernesto Escobedo (West Covina) worked overtime as well, controlling a third set tiebreaker and dispatching the qualifier’s top seed, Josef Kovalik, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4). Behind 14 aces and limiting errors (5) over three sets, Escobedo sets up a meeting with Aussie Marc Pulmans later today.

Should both Escobedo and Nakashima emerge from the second round, the two Americans would face off in their third round draw.

JC Aragone was the first SoCal player to tally a victory at Flushing Meadows, and it wasn’t easy. Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker put Aragone to the test, securing a second set tiebreaker with ease. But both players battled in the deciding set, again to a tiebreak, with Aragone delivering the final blow en route to a 6-4, 6-7, 7-6(5) victory. LATE UPDATE: JC Aragone cruises into the third round of qualifying with a 7-5, 6-1 win over #7 seed Thomas Fabbiano.

Nicole Gibbs was in fine form to open her US Open campaign, dominating Croatia’s Tereza Mrdeza in a routine 6-1, 6-1 victory. The #10 seed from Santa Monica now draws Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch in the second round.

Fellow American and USC standout Danielle Lao dispatched Poland’s Magdalena Frech in straight sets, a 6-3, 6-3 upset victory over an opponent who sits more than 100 slots above her in WTA rankings. Lao, nicknamed “The Little Giant”, meets Switzerland’s Conny Perrin in the second round.

Early exits included UCLA grad Martin Redlicki, Ashley Kratzer, and Santa Barbara’s Kayla Day, who continues to return from injury.

Play is currently underway in New York, including Nicole Gibbs. Live scores can be found here​.

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