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Former NCAA Champ Marcos Giron springs major upset at Las Vegas Pro Open

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Three former UCLA Bruin teammates went 2-1 in singles play on Monday during the final round of qualifying and first round of main draw play at the Las Vegas Tennis Open, an ATP Challenger Tour $50,000 Men's Tournament taking place at the Fertitta Tennis Complex on the campus of UNLV.

The 2014 NCAA singles champion from UCLA Marcos Giron was the most impressive as the unseeded 24-year-old Southern Californian upset No. 5 seeded Nilkola Milojevic of Serbia, 6-4, 7-6(1). Giron, who started the year hot by winning a USTA $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Long Beach, is looking to end it on a positive note playing in one of the final Challengers of the year. Milojevic is currently ranked No. 143 in the Emirates ATP Tour rankings. 

Giron has battled injuries since leaving school after winning the NCAAs. Giron had right hip surgery on Christmas Day of 2015, and six weeks later elected to have the same surgery on his left hip.

Former Bruin Karue Sell earned a spot in the main draw with a straight-set final qualifying win over Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe, 7-5 6-2. The third Bruin teammate Dennis Novikov suffered a tough loss to former Michigan All American Evan King, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4, in his first-round main draw singles match.

A fourth UCLA teammate of the three, and another NCAA champion (2016) Mackenzie McDonald, was forced to pull out of tournament just one day after winning the $100,000 ATP Challenger Tour event at Fairfield in Northern California because of an injured hamstring.

After finishing his fourth year at UCLA in May of 2016, Brazil’s Sell took a year off the tour and spent it as a volunteer coach at Pepperdine University. He returned to give the pro tour a try full-time and this past summer and began playing – and winning – Men’s Open events in Southern California. Then he hit the USTA Pro Circuit Futures tour hard immediately following the US Open winning four qualifying matches and five in the main draw to capture the $15,000 Claremont Club Pro Tournament. He made the doubles final the following week in Irvine, and then was forced to pull out of the quarterfinals in singles and the doubles final at Fountain Valley because of an injured back.

“My body just finally gave out,” Sell said Tuesday. “It was just way too many matches. I was up a set and a break in the quarterfinals and my lower back just started going into spasm. I took a week off and am feeling like I’m finally back in tournament shape here.”

Sell had plans to attend the Las Vegas Player Party on Monday night at Bailiwick at the Orleans Hotel & Casino, but will good a good night’s sleep as he will play his first-round match against unseeded Lucas Miedler of Austria on Tuesday around 1 p.m. If he wins that he could face the No. 1 seed in the tournament Tennys Sandgren, who opens up against qualifier Benjamin Lock.

On Tuesday, the veteran team of former ATP top 20 player Vince Spadea and former Navy star Cameron Lickle will open up play in the main draw doubles as a wild card. Spadea trained and coached Academy Award-winning actress Emma Stone in the hit movie “Battle of the Sexes” and acted as the Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell) double.

Joining Giron and Evan King in the second round with wins on Monday were fellow American’s Stefan Kozlov, Kevin King and Michael Mmoh.

Men's Singles - First Round

[4] S. Kozlov (USA) def. [WC] J. Aragone (USA) 7-5 6-3

M. Giron (USA) def. [5] N. Milojevic (SRB) 6-4 7-6(1)

[6] M. Mmoh (USA) def. J. Satral (CZE) 6-4 6-1

D. Koepfer (GER) def. A. Sarkissian (USA) 2-6 6-3 6-2

K. King (USA) def. [WC] R. Alberts (RSA) 6-2 6-3

E. King (USA) def. D. Novikov (USA) 6-7(4) 7-6(4) 6-4


Men's Doubles - First Round

J. Clarke (GBR) / M. Willis (GBR) def. L. Martinez (VEN) / R. Ortega-Olmedo (ESP) 6-3 7-6(7)

[WC] T. Johnson (USA) / P. Kawka (USA) def. L. Broady (GBR) / F. Nielsen (DEN) 4-6 6-4 10-8