Claremont, Calif.– Marcos Giron played a near-flawless first set to beat former UCLA teammate and doubles partner Dennis Novikov 6-0, 7-5 in the singles championship Sunday at the USTA Claremont Club Classic, a $10,000 Men’s Pro Futures event taking place at the Claremont Club.
“I started off on fire and didn’t miss a ball,” said Giron, a 20-year-old UCLA junior. “”I put Dennis on his heels and I think he was shocked at how I came out. I had the momentum and could really go for my shots in the second set. He had all the pressure to come back.”
Giron and Novikov have competed against each other since their junior days, meeting as many as 15 times in singles matches over the years. Giron’s victory gives him the unofficial “current champion” crown in their long-standing rivalry. Novikov had won the previous meeting, a 2012 qualifying match at a $15,000 Futures event in Calabasas.
“We started playing against each other at age 11,” Giron said. “There’s no animosity but anytime we step on the court we don’t want to lose to the other guy.”
Giron started the tourney ranked No. 1,160 in the ATP World Tour rankings, and was excited for the chance to lower that number.
“It’s going to be great to get out of the thousands in the rankings,” Giron said. “It’s also nice to win my first Futures title and remove that monkey off my back. It’s all about moving on the next level in Futures so this win is big for me.”
Novikov and Giron were the Bruins’ No. 1 doubles team last season, and Novikov held the No. 1 singles spot as well, with Giron No. 2. As teammates, Novikov and Giron led the Bruins all the way to the NCAA Championship match in May where they eventually fell to Virginia.
Novikov, ranked No. 463, said he felt a little flat in the first set. Novikov turned pro just three weeks ago at the US Open, and was attempting to win his second pro singles title after capturing the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures title in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., in June.
“Marcos made every shot at the start,” said Novikov, 19. “He came out ready to play and it just wasn’t one of my better days. I felt I had a chance to win this tournament but not with the way I played in the final.”
“They know each other really well but Marcos just came out blazing,” said Grant Chen, the UCLA assistant men’s tennis coach. “Dennis found his bearings in the second set and tightened it up, but Marcos closed it out.”
A total of seven players with UCLA ties were in the main draw in Claremont, as Giron and Novikov were joined in the by former Bruins Haythem Abid, Nick Meister and Maxime Tabatruong. Current UCLA players Clay Thompson and Joseph DiGiulio were also in the tournament.
It is the second year in a row that a Bruin has captured the singles title in Clarmont, as Daniel Kosakowski claimed the championship in 2012.