It’s been ten years since 40-year-old Christian Vinck of Germany played in a professional tennis event.
Now an international management consultant, Vinck was one of 64 winners Friday in the opening round of qualifying rounds of the $10,000 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships at The Boulevard Club defeating Nicolas Buitrago of Colombia 6-2, 6-3.
Vinck decided to enter the qualifying rounds of the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit event to relive some of his competitive “thrills” – of which he had some big ones in his career as an ATP-ranked tennis professional.
Most notably, Vinck handed Andre Agassi his only pro loss in his hometown of Las Vegas in the final of the 1997 Las Vegas Challenger, also a “minor league” USTA Pro Circuit event that marked the start of Agassi’s famous comeback from a ranking of No. 144 back to No. 1.
“Since it I beat Andre, it was in 1997. It was quite a while ago,” said Vinck of his famous win over Agassi. “Going into that event in Las Vegas, I had lost six matches in a row, so I gained a lot of confidence. When Andre was playing in the event, there were 3,000 fans watching. When Andre wasn’t playing, nobody was watching. So I got the spectators in the final. I had a day where I wanted to hit the lines and I could. He was playing, maybe not like he was No. 1, but I have beaten top 10 players and I had one of those days.”
See full Vinck interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQVdd2k9j8U&feature=youtu.be
Among the early winners Friday at The Boulevard was former University of Georgia All-American Nathan Pasha of Atlanta, Ga., who defeated Pratheek Mandalapu of Branchburg, N.J., 6-1, 3-0, ret. Pasha, 23, is just concluding his first year of pro tennis, playing on the “Futures” level and is playing in the qualifying event in Vero Beach ranked No. 755 in the world. He trains at Saddlebrook Academy in Tampa, where he trains and receives encouragement from fellow University of Georgia alum John Isner, the U.S. Davis Cup team standout and top-ranked American player.
What makes the life on the USTA Pro Circuit so fun for Pasha isn’t necessarily winning matches and earning money and points in the ATP rankings, but seeing the progress he has made as a person. “You have to try to conquer yourself and see how good you can become as a person,” stated Pasha about life on the pro tour. “From the discipline, to the sacrifices, and just dealing with struggles and pain of losing,” Pasha claims that finding success on the USTA Pro Circuit is a matter of winning the ultimate battle with yourself. Looking at the general adversity of professional tennis as the most fun part of his life on the tour is Pasha’s way of keeping himself going week in and week out and not being discouraged if he comes across a rough patch of performance during the year.
Pasha’s goal for the near future is to reach the “three or four hundreds” of the ATP rankings and begin playing in more challenger level tournaments, but he is not going to let himself be distracted and discouraged if those goals are achieved further down the road than he hoped. Overall, Pasha just wants “to be the best [he] can be each day and then hope that everything takes care of itself.”
One thing that Pasha had to take care of himself early in 2016 was having to sleep in his car during a wild card tournament to get into the USTA Pro Circuit event in Memphis when he was unable to find housing.
“I’m more than willing to do it and to be honest, it’s not the worst thing in the world because, you know, with phones these days you can watch TV on your phone and it’s like you have everything there,” said Pasha about sleeping in his car. The time was spent watching “a little bit of tennis, a little bit of HBO, a little bit of South Park, really anything.”
Pasha has not let the financial struggles of the lower levels of professional tennis get to him, though, as “it all depends on how you look at things.” Pasha continued by stating that “the money part is what takes the fun out of tennis…I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I’m just going to be broke sometimes.”
No matter how successful Pasha’s career winds up being, he will remain humble and will not forget those who helped him get to wherever it is he ends up. “My ultimate dream is to be top 20 in the world and ultimately be able to give back and help people as much as I can,” stated Pasha.
Among local entries in the event, Vero Beach high school senior Eric Zwemer was defeated by Jack Vance of Henderson, Nev. 6-1, 6-3 while Trevor Quenan was defeated by Syrry Can Korkmaz of Turkey 6-2, 6-1.
“It was a tough first set,” said Zwemer of his loss, played on the Grandstand court. “Then, in the second set I had a couple points to get back in it, I didn’t quite execute, but I was right there. So, it’s a good experience.”
After finishing his career at Vero Beach high school earlier this month, Zwemer will be heading to Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan to play tennis.
“I played this tournament the last two years and I benefited personally from the Mardy Fish Foundation while I was growing up from camps and clinics and all that other good stuff,” said Zwemer of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation taking over the management of the event that has been played in Vero Beach since 1995. “It’s nice that Mardy Fish Foundation is putting it on now and I get to participate still. I’ll be back again.”
Play continues Saturday with the second round qualifying matches followed by third-round matches on Sunday and the eight final-round qualifying matches on Monday that will determine which players will advance into the main draw of the event. Tickets for the qualifying event cost $10 and kids age 18 and under are free.
Saturday’s schedule of play can be seen here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ustaassets/assets/1/15/schedule520.pdf
Friday’s First Round Qualifying Results
(1/WC) Tigre Hank, Mexico d. (WC) Perris Burke, United States 6-3, 6-0
(WC) Ignacio Martinez, United States d. Michael Schlapfer, United States 6-1, 6-1
Austin Abbrat, United States d. Abhishek Bastola, Nepal 6-3, 6-4
Gabriel Carvajal, Ecuador d. Shubham Aggarwal, India 6-2, 6-4
(WC) Jericho Grollman, United States d. (WC) Andrew Bochte, United States 6-0, 6-0
Michael Zhu, United States d. Sebastian Rodriguez, Peru 6-4, 6-1
Christian Vinck, Germany d. Nicolas Buitrago, Colombia 6-2, 6-3
(15) Alexander Merino, Peru d. (Alt.) Christopher Tasker, United States 6-4, 6-1
(2) Eduardo Agustin Torre, Argentina d. Dennis Moses, Zimbabwe 6-0, 6-4
(WC) Ian O’Jon, United States d. Benjamin Adrian, United States 6-2, 6-0
Carlos Arana, Panama d. (WC) Alexander Hepburn, United States 6-0, 6-0
Yosuke Yoshikawa, Japan d. (WC) Erik Olliges, United States 6-4, 6-3
Joseph Rotheram, United States d. Keni Hadzic, United States 6-4, 6-0
Andrew Ely, United States d. Joshua Breault, United States 6-0, 6-1
Alexandru Gasca-Silav, Romania d. Fernando Vargas, Mexico 6-2, 6-4
(10) Benjamin Hannestad, Denmark d. Dejon Bivens, United States 6-1, 6-2
(3) Nathan Pasha, United States d. Pratheek Mandalapu, United States 6-1, 3-0 Ret.
William Howells, United States d. (WC) Ivan Pintado, United States 6-0, 6-0
Sean Burnette, United States d. W. Scott Cameron, United States 6-3, 6-1
Thomas Cook, United States d. Francesco Alejandro Cori Gamero, Peru 7-5, 2-6, 6-3
Hsiang-Yi Wang, Taiwan d. Andrew Blair, United States 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Kurt Thein, United States d. Stewart Block, Canada 6-3, 6-2
Curran Verma, United States d. Isaac Eck, United States 6-0, 6-0
(13) Patrick Kypson, United States d. Jamie Vance, United States 6-0, 6-1
(4) Janis Podzus, Latvia d. David Powell, United States 6-0, 6-0
Tommaso Carnevale-Miino, Italy d. Matthew Nicholson, United States 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-1
Yili Zheng, China d. Reece Wild, United States 6-0, 6-0
Rowland Phillips, Jamaica d. Santiago Garcia, United States 6-1, 6-2
Francesco Mowrey, United States d. Chanon Phunsawat, Thailand 7-5, 6-4
(WC) Ty Trombetta, United States d. Varun Jayaram, United States 6-1, 6-0
Johnathan Small, United States d. Roy Smith, United States 6-3, 6-3
(14) Antoine Leduc, Canada d. Michael Atlesonn Staff, Norway 6-0, 6-0
(5) Frederick Saba, United States d. Brian Cernoch, United States 4-6, 6-1, 7-5
Syrry Can Korkmaz, Turkey d. Trevor Quenan, United States 6-2, 6-1
Luca Gelhardt, Germany d. Lloyd Dillon, United States 6-0, 6-0
Vasil Kirkov, United States d. Karl Adrian Ringdal Noerstenaes, Norway 6-2, 6-2
Hady Habib, United States d. Thomas Tomczak, United States 6-1, 6-2
Aleksandar Kovacevic, United States d. Admir Tabak, Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-0, 6-0
Victor Segantini Bertoldo, Brazil d. Gafur Sirojiddinov, Uzbekistan 6-2, 6-3
(12) Juan Rocha, Argentina d. Andre Schoeman, United States 4-6, 7-5, 6-0
Jose Daniel Bendeck, Colombia d. Joel Vincent Link, Germany 6-0, 7-5
Eric Morris, United States d. Samuel Beddow, Great Britain 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4
Evgeny Korolev, Russia d. Federico Herrera Duran, Argentina 6-0, 6-2
William Genesen, United States d. Mason Beiler, United States 6-2, 6-2
Viju George Jr., United States d. Isaiah Strode, United States 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
Jonathan Chang, United States d. Dietrich Dernowski, Germany 6-2, 6-2
Alexandry Sturzu, Australia d. Parrish Preston, United States 6-2, 6-1
Drew van Orderlain, United States d. (9) Nicholas Reyes, United States 7-5, 3-6, 6-2
(7) Raleigh Smith, United States d. LeVaughn Price, United States 6-0, 6-0
Patrick Davidson, United States d. Robin Calais, Switzerlan 6-3, 6-2
Romain Nowaczyk, France d. Daniil Evseev, Russia 6-4, 7-5
David Pfister, United States d. Lazar Markovic, United States 6-2, 6-1
Javier Naser, Chile d. Mwendwa Mbithi, United States 4-6, 7-5, 6-0
(8) Juan Manuel Benitez Chavarriaga, Colombia d. Javier Renato Rodriguez Sanchez, Peru 6-2, 6-1
Brian Battistone, United States d. Agustin Moreno, Mexico 6-1, 7-6(0)
Aron Pierce, United States d. Geronimo Espin Busleiman, Argentina 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-4
Andrew Dottino, United States d. Alexander Reinke, United States 6-4, 7-6(4)
Michael Lippens, United States d. Norman Love, United States 6-0, 6-1
Jack Vance, United States d. (WC) Eric Zwemer, United States 6-1, 6-3
Bradley Holt, United States d. Kiril Gushterov, Macedonia 6-3, 6-2
Victor Krustev, Canada d. (11) Esteban Bruna, Chile 6-4, 6-2
It’s been ten years since 40-year-old Christian Vinck of Germany played in a professional tennis event.