By Kevin Craig
Antonio Balau and Igor Schattan earned entry into the doubles main draw of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation $10,000 Futures event in Vero Beach by winning the doubles wild tournament at the Tennis Resort at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, hosted by famed tennis coach Carlos Goffi. The Brazilian pairing from Montverde Academy defeated the American team of Jack Najjar and Joseph Sopko 6-4 in the one-set final.
Najjar and Sopko, both from the Orlando area, raced out to a 4-2 lead in the final and looked to be comfortably heading into the main draw of the Vero Beach Futures, until something clicked for Balau and Schattan.
The level of play on Najjar and Sopko’s side of the net dipped ever so slightly, and Balau and Schattan took full advantage of that and quickly broke back and won three games in a row to get back on serve with a 5-4 lead. With the momentum fully on the Montverde side of the net in that 5-4 game, Balau and Schattan held two match points at 30-40 (with no-ad scoring), but Sopko quickly erased the first with a booming serve out wide. On the deciding point, a long rally ensued before a volley off the racquet of Najjar sailed wide, allowing Balau and Schattan to celebrate exuberantly as the match was theirs.
Balau and Schattan, both 17 years old, beat their Montverde teammates – and the No. 1 doubles team for their school – Lucas Oncins and Kyle Frankel 6-4 in the semifinals.
Throughout the day, Balau and Schattan refused to give up and fought with their relentless mindsets, and it earned them their spoils. Admittedly, though, they were surprised to find themselves in a situation to win the wild card, after seeing that they would have to play their teammates in the semifinals. “We thought we would lose,” said Balau. However, they were able to earn some bragging rights on their teammates and continue an excellent spring that has seen them go undefeated in their matches for Montverde Academy.
Schattan, a senior at Montverde, played singles in two futures events in his native Brazil back in 2013. He lost in qualifying in the first one, before making it through qualifying in the second, before losing in the first round. Schattan will be deciding within the next few weeks where he will be playing his collegiate tennis.
Balau, a junior at Montverde, has not yet played a professional event, and is waiting to begin looking at colleges as he is waiting on test scores.
Balau and Schattan will play in the main draw of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation $10,000 Futures event that begins April 22 at The Boulevard Tennis Club in Vero Beach. To order tickets, go to www.VeroBeachTennisTickets.com
By Kevin Craig