Matthew Segura, the ambidextrous, double-hand-hitting 20-year-old great nephew of Tennis Hall of Famer Pancho Segura, will face top-seed Diego Hidalgo, ranked No. 378 in the ATP World Tour rankings, Sunday in the final of the $10,000 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships at The Boulevard tennis club. The final will be played not before 2:30 pm following the 1 pm start of the tournament’s doubles final.
Segura advanced into final with a thrilling, come-from-behind victory over 16-year-old Jack Anthrop of Orlando, Florida, one of the top junior players in the United States and the world, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5). Segura trailed 6-4, 3-0 before rallying to win the second set and also move ahead 4-1 in the final-set before hanging on to win by the narrowest of margins. Hidalgo, a member of Ecuador’s Davis Cup team, defeated 2018 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships winner Juan Benitez of Colombia 6-4, 7-6(4).
The singles final will have some poetic symbolism and irony to it as Segura’s great uncle Pancho was born and raised in Ecuador, the country where Hidalgo was also born and raised and now represents in international competitions.
“I was rooting for him because I know his roots are from Ecuador,” said Hidalgo of Matthew Segura after his semifinal victory. “Pancho Segura is for sure a great name in Ecuador, the best player in history next to (1990 French Open champion) Andrés Gómez, so I’m really happy to play against one of his family members.”
Against Anthrop, Segura appeared out-matched trailing 6-3, 3-0, but rallied to turn-around the match, winning six of the next seven games, aided by numerous forehand errors from Anthrop, to win the second set 6-4. Segura then streaked to a 4-1 lead in the final set and himself seemed to run away with the match, but Anthrop made fewer mistakes and was able to even the final set at 4-4. The two players then each held serve easily twice to force the final-set tiebreaker. After Anthrop lead 2-1, Segura was forced to take an three-minute injury timeout for a thumb injury, but returned to the court, going for his shots and was able to squeak out the tiebreaker by the thinnest 7-5 margin.
“I just never gave up and it’s all work. I’m really proud,” said Segura, who does not have an ATP World Tour ranking. “This is my first big pro final. I’m really happy for that. I am very relieved.”
Segura, who lives in Apopka, Florida, is no stranger to Vero Beach having competed in this event the last three years, in 2017 in the qualifying tournament and in 2018 and 2019 in the main draw, having won the special Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation “Wild Card” tournament at the Sea Oaks Club to gain entry. Earlier this year in late February, before the COVID-19 shutdown, Segura won the “Wild Card” tournament for a third straight year. Since this October version of this year’s Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships is an open prize money event staged on the Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) platform – and a wild card entry is not needed for any player – the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation decided to still award Segura a wild card entry when the tournament eventually returns to an ITF World Tennis Tour event that awards ATP World Tour ranking points.
Hidalgo, 27, was a semifinalist at this event in Vero Beach last year, losing a heart-breaker match in the semifinals to American Sekou Bangoura after holding a match point. Hidalgo served for the match at 6-4, 5-4 against Benitez and almost suffered a similar disappointment as he did in 2019.
“Last year was a tough loss, I had a match point in the second set, almost the same situation here, but I didn’t think about that. I had a short memory so that was good,” he said. “I was definitely happy to close it out.”
Hidalgo is a former standout player at the University of Florida, where he was teammates with Quail Valley tennis professional Chase Perez-Blanco, with whom he is staying this week in Vero Beach.
Following his disappointing loss in the singles semifinal, Anthrop paired with 17-year-old Benjamin Kittay of Potomac, Maryland to advance into the doubles final with a 4-6, 6-4 (12-10) victory over No. 2 seeds Ricardo Rodriguez of Venezuela and Ignacio Martinez of Weston, Florida. The teenage pair will play top-seeds Alejandro Gomez of Colombia and Junior Ore of Miami. Ore, who won the 2018 Mardy Fish doubles title with fellow American Miles Seeman, is looking to join David Witt, the long-time coach of Venus Williams, as the only two-time winner of this event’s doubles championship.
The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships is regarded as one of the best entry-level professional tennis tournaments in the world. Proceeds from the event benefit the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the non-profit organization named for Vero Beach native son Mardy Fish, former top 10 tennis star and current U.S. Davis Cup caption, benefits at risk children in Indian River County.
While the tournament is popular with many of Vero Beach’s robust tennis community, the event is only accommodating about 35 percent of full capacity for social distancing purposes. No public daily tickets will be sold to the event this year, with only sponsors, season-ticket holders and randomly-drawn members of The Boulevard allowed to attend. The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation also asks all attending fans to wear masks while attending the event. For more tournament information, fans can email co-tournament director Randy Walker at Rwalker@NewChapter.com or go to www.MardyFishChidlrensFoundation.org
Some of the past competitors at the USTA Vero Beach Futures have gone on to succeed at the highest levels of professional tennis, winning major singles and doubles titles, Olympic medals and Davis Cup championships and earning No. 1 world rankings. Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion who attained the world No. 1 ranking and helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 2007, competed in Vero Beach in 1999. Thomas Johansson of Sweden, who reached the second round of the Vero Beach Futures in 1995, won the Australian Open seven years later in 2002. Nicolas Massu, the 1998 singles runner-up in Vero Beach, won the singles and doubles gold medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, beating Fish in the gold medal singles match. Kyle Edmund, the 2013 champion in Vero Beach, helped Great Britain to the Davis Cup title in 2015. Other notable former competitors in Vero Beach include former world No. 2 Magnus Norman, former world No. 4 Tim Henman, 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and most recently new top 10 start Denis Shapovalov, who played in Vero Beach in 2016. Former Vero Beach competitors have combined to win 19 titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at Grand Slam tournaments. Eight former Vero Beach players have gone on to play Davis Cup for the United States – Roddick, Fish, Taylor Dent, Jared Palmer, Donald Young, Ryan Harrison, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul.
Founded in 2007, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation (www.MardyFishChildrensFoundation.org and @MardyFishFound on Twitter) currently supports over 2,400 children in 15 elementary schools, six middle schools, and several other community organizations in Indian River County, Florida by funding after-school exercise, nutritional and enrichment programs in a safe environment to prepare them for healthy, productive and successful lives. The Foundation introduced the “Six Healthy Habits” in 2012 which are Get Sleep; Drink Water; Exercise Daily, Eat Healthy; Brush and Floss; Make Friends.
Leading tournament sponsors for 2020 include Presenting Sponsor: PNC Bank, Grand Slam Sponsors: Boston Barricade, George E. Warren Corporation, The Jake Owen Foundation, Tom Collins Insurance, Cabana/Box Seat Sponsors: Michael and Kathleen Pierce, Gene Simonsen, John and Charlotte Klein, Peter and Maureen Lee, John’s Island Real Estate, Wilmington Trust, Bob and Lace Milligan, Micky and Rob Stein, Lynn Southerly, John and Sara Marshall, John and Marie McConnell, Shirley Becker, Hadleigh Investments and Supporting Sponsors: Syde Hurdus Foundation, Mike and Meg Hickey/The M&M Group, Nalzarro Music, Coastal Van Lines, Diamond Resorts, Center Court Outfitters, Foglia Contracting, Offfutt, Barton, Schlitt, Inc, Vero Fitness, Treasure Coast Financial, Willem and Marion DeVogel, Ron Chesley, Dr. Collin Kitchell and Minuteman Press.