Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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Aiea's Lajola meets Spaniard to open Honolulu Challenger

By Star-Advertiser staff


Hawaii's Dennis Lajola opens against Spain's Pablo Martin-Adalia at 10 a.m. today in the first round of the $50,000 Honolulu Challenger. The USTA Pro Circuit event runs all week at the Patsy T. Mink CORP Tennis Complex.

Lajola, from Aiea, is a senior at the University of Hawaii and has played No. 1 his first three years, helping the Rainbows to their first three conference titles and into the NCAA tournament.

Before he started at UH, Lajola won the 2007 Honolulu Futures, which is also part of the Pro Circuit. The circuit has been a pipeline for players such as James Blake, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova and, more recently, Melanie Oudin and John Isner.

Lajola earned a spot in the 32-man main draw by winning Hawaii Sectionals last year.

Jeremy Tweedt, a UH senior from Paris, won the Wild Card Tournament earlier this month. He plays American Ryler DeHeart in the opening round today.


Honolulu Challenger

» When: From 10 a.m. today -Friday, semifinals at 11 a.m. Saturday and singles final Sunday after 11 a.m. doubles final

» Where: Patsy T. Mink CORP Tennis Complex

» Defending champion: Michael Russell

» Prize money: $50,000 (winner gets $7,200 and 80 rankings points)

» Admission: Free

The top three seeds are Americans. Defending champion Michael Russell is No. 1 after reaching the second round of the Australian Open last week. He has won a record 22 Pro Circuit championships and is 100th in the world rankings -- fifth among American men.

Second seed is Robert Kendrick, last year's Pro Circuit money leader who has won 12 titles and is ranked 110th.

Ryan Sweeting, ranked 116th, is seeded third. He also reached the second round in Melbourne last week. Sweeting was ranked a career-high 111th last summer after reaching the third round at the U.S. Open.

Ryan Harrison, an 18-year-old American, is also on his way back from Australia. Harrison, the youngest player in the world's top 200 (No. 172), upset 15th-ranked Ivan Ljubicic in last year's U.S. Open.

Matches begin at 10 a.m. each day until Saturday, when semifinals start at 11 a.m. The doubles final is 11 a.m. Sunday, with the singles final to follow.

Admission is free.

The winner gets $7,200 and 80 rankings points.

Yesterday in the final matches of qualifying at CORP, the top four seeds won to claim the last slots in the main draw. Top-seeded Woong-Sun Jun swept Hawaii Pacific freshman Petr Michnev, from the Czech Republic, 7-5, 6-2.

Michnev was one of six Hawaii college players in qualifying and the only one to win in Sunday's opening round. He upset fifth-seeded German Alex Satschko.

A series of clinics will run in conjunction with the Challenger. Tomorrow is High School Tennis Appreciation Day, with a free clinic from 4 to 6 p.m. Family Tennis Night is the following day, with a free introductory team tennis clinic from 4:30 to 6 p.m. There is a 10-under clinic Saturday morning, from 9:30 to 10:30, and a 10-under Tennis Showdown exhibition between the doubles and singles finals Sunday.

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