Down 4-2 after splitting sets with former USC All-American and hometown favorite Prakash Amritraj, Darian King knew he had to change his game-plan and start playing more aggressively.
That’s exactly what the 20-year-old Barbados Davis Cup player did as he held his serve, broke the 29-year-old Amritraj, and then won another service game at love to record a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 victory and a spot in the second round of the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas, a $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit event, played on Tuesday at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center.
“I just kept my intensity up but knew I had to play better,” King said after the match. “I practiced with Prakash all last week so we know each other’s game.”
King said he loved playing in “his kind of weather” on a gorgeous 78-degree Southern California day. A year and a half ago, King advanced to the Claremont $10,000 Pro Circuit final losing to Steve Johnson in the final.
“I just love it here,” said King, who was watched by his coach Roger Smith on Tuesday. “I’m still training in Florida with Martin Blackman, but when I’m out here it’s great to have Roger working with me.”
King is the No. 1 Davis Cup player for a country that is one-fourth the size of Ventura County where the tournament is taking place.
“We have about 200,000 people there,” said King, whose country will next play Puerto Rico in a Group II Americas Relegation Playoff and is currently ranked No. 64 in the world Davis Cup standings.
On Wednesday night, former world No. 9 player Nicolas Massu of Chile will take on Matheson Klein of Australia not before 6:30 p.m., in his first-round match. Now 33-years-old, Massu made it all the way to No. 9 in the world rankings during his successful career and is a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
In 2004, Massu became the only male player to win both the singles and doubles gold medals during the same Olympic Games. Massu also reached the final of the 2003 Madrid Masters and won six ATP singles titles.
"I can't recall a Top 10 player ever coming back to play at this level ($15,000)," said longtime USTA Pro Circuit Tour Supervisor Pete Kasavage.
In a well-played doubles match pitting two current UCLA players against a former Bruin, Marcos Giron and Dennis Novikov defeated Daniel Kosakowski and former NCAA singles champion from Stanford Bradley Klahn, 6-4, 6-4.
Admission is free to the general public until Friday. Beginning then through the finals on Sunday, tickets will be $10 for adults and kids under 14-and-under free.
Check the tournament’s Twitter feed @calabasastennis. Check the tournament website for draws and scores at the official website, www.calabasasprotennis.com.