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Young talent fends off phenom

Former University of Texas standout takes out 15-year-old rising star from Piedmont
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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LOOMIS — At 23, Dimitar Kutrovsky is one of the youngest singles players in the RWI Pro Circuit Tennis Tournament main draw. The Bulgarian had trouble masking his surprise Wednesday when he learned his first-round opponent serving bullets across the net isn’t even old enough to drive a car. Mackenzie McDonald, a 15-year-old phenom from Piedmont, gave Kutrovsky all he could handle in a 6-2, 6-4 opener at Del Oro High that was much closer than the score indicates. “It was a different,” Kutrovsky said. “He’s definitely one of the youngest players in futures events like this. He played pretty well and I kind of had a slow start. He made some really good shots. This is a good experience for him.” McDonald, the 2009 Junior USTA Player of the Year and RWI Pro Circuit wild card entry, made Kutrovsky battle just to get back to deuce many times throughout the morning. The teen won the opening game in each set and dropped some tough points to Kutrovsky, who graduated from the University of Texas late last month as the winningest player in Longhorns tennis history with 230 singles and doubles victories in an illustrious collegiate career. “It was a really good experience,” said McDonald, who improved on last year’s result at the RWI Pro Circuit, his first futures tournament. “I got to hang with some of the big guys and got to see what it’s like to play this level again. Comparing t to last year, this is a good feeling. I can hang with these guys a lot easier than last year, and that feels good.” McDonald doesn’t remember picking up his first tennis racket at age 3, but it wasn’t long before he was fully immersed in the sport. The high school sophomore already dreams of making it to the top. “The biggest goal for me is I want to be No. 1 in the world and win some Grand Slams,” McDonald said. “I’m just waiting for it to happen when it happens.” McDonald is eagerly anticipating his return to the USTA Boys’ 16 National Clay Court Championships later this summer, but he’ll first compete in the Horizon West Healthcare Tennis Classic next week at UC Davis and a third USTA Pro Circuit Men’s Futures Tournament in Chico in late June. The Pro Circuit tournaments feature a $15,000 total purse. The Loomis event features 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams competing for a share of the prize. The singles winner will receive $1,950 and finalist $1,350. Each doubles winner gets $945, with $495 apiece going to the doubles finalists. The 32-player singles group is comprised of 18 players accepted purely based on their Association of Tennis Professionals rankings, eight hopefuls from a 64-man qualifying tournament, four wild cards selected by tournament directors and the United States Tennis Association and two special exempts. The tournament is a futures event, the first level of professional tennis. Challenger events with purses of $50,000 and $75,000 are the next step, followed by nationally televised tournaments. “This is where you start and if things go well here you play some challengers,” Kutrovsky said. “If things go well there, you keep moving up.” Players earn ATP points at the Pro Circuit events based on how far they advance in the main draw. Winning a first-round match garners a world ranking, and each successive round helps players accumulate enough ATP points to qualify for larger, more lucrative events. The quarterfinals begin Friday, with semifinals to follow Saturday and finals Sunday. Admission is free to the public. For tournament schedules and matchups, visit www.rwiprocircuit.org.