Kevin Major Jr wins title in Florida tourney

By BRENT STUBBS

Senior Sports Reporter

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

Kevin Major Jr, now full-time on the professional tennis scene, won the men’s singles title at the 2018 UTR/Reel Tennis Open Circuit 9 Tournament.

On Monday at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Florida, playing as the No.3 seed, Major Jr upset top seed Zandrix Acob with a 7-6 (6), 6-1 decision.

“It was a pretty good performance,” Major Jr told The Tribune. “I have three tournaments coming up in the Dominican Republic, so I am just using these USTA Tournaments to get some practice matches in.

“Obviously it’s good to win the tournament, but it just shows how good I am playing right now.”

Major Jr, 23, advanced to the final with a 6-1, 6-3 decision over Ramazan Nureev. He won his quarter-final match 6-1, 6-0 over No.8 seed Ellis Guernsey.

In the round of 16, Major Jr beat Ricardo Pabon 6-2, 6-3. The round of 32 saw him win 6-2, 6-4 over Nicolas Rodriquez.

He was awarded a bye in the first round of 62 players at the start of the tournament. It was the second victory in three Futures Tournaments for Major Jr. In the other tournament, he was a runner-up.

The tournaments in the Dominican Republic are International Tennis Federation ranking and will start on November 26 in Santo Domingo.

The second one is set to start on December 3 and the trip will wrap up with the third and final tournament starting on December 10.

Major, who is coached by Lawrence Carpio and trains at the LAT Tennis Academy in Boynton Beach, Florida, said he is pleased with his performance, just six months full time on the pro circuit.

“The way I’m playing right now is just better than I expected,” he stated. “The only thing that has changed is my level of focus on the court and being able to stay in the match from the start to the very end.

“Before, my mental attitude to the game was one of my weaknesses, but now it’s one of my strongest strengths.”

One of the things that Major Jr said he’s been forced to learn is the fact that he has to play the match from start to finish.

“Unlike the junior division where when you start to win, the other guy just gives up, these guys play until it’s over,” Major Jr pointed out.

“So you can’t expect to win just because you are better. You still have to go out there and beat them every single time. But that’s the fun part of it because you get to test yourself and see how far you can really go.”

And as far as Major Jr goes, the sky is the limit.

“I’m just taking it step by step,” he said. “Every day is a new day and I get to progress. So it’s just a journey. The fact that I get to play tennis and win is an added bonus. Obviously I want to win, but that is just a bonus. I want to be playing as much tennis as possible. I will take the win any day, but I want to be able to play everyday.”

While he’s holding court in his Futures tournaments, Major participated in two ITF Tournaments in California in September. In the first one in Laguna Niguel, he was eliminated in the first round of qualifying.

Two weeks later, he advanced to the main draw in Fountain Valley, only to get ousted in the first round by American Govid Nanda 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

“I know what it takes now (to be able to compete at this level),” he said. “I thought I was far away, but I’m right there with everybody who is doing the same thing that I am doing.

“So once I play a little more, I know I can win some of these ITF tournaments. That is my goal. It may not happen this year, but I know I will be ready for it next year.”

While the tournaments in the Dominican Republic will be his final appearances overseas, Major Jr said he’s looking forward to coming home and competing in the Bahamas Lawn Tennis Association’s 2018 Giorgio Baldacci National Tennis Tournament and Davis Cup trials in late December at the National Tennis Centre.

“I will finish my season in Nassau,” Major Jr projected. “I’m looking forward to coming home. It’s the Davis Cup trials, so if I qualify, I want to play on the team again next year.”

The last time Major Jr suited up for the Bahamas at Davis Cup was in 2016 when the Bahamas advanced out of the American Zone III in Bolivia when he teamed up with brothers Baker and Spencer Newman and player/coach Marvin Rolle.

In 2017, Major Jr missed a return to the Davis Cup as he concentrated on school at Seminole State College in Oklahoma. The Bahamas ended up getting relegated to zone III.

This year in Costa Rica, the Bahamas advanced back to zone II for 2019. Major again didn’t participate because of his decision to test his hands at the pro level.

He said he’s now eager to return to play for the Bahamas with some professional experience under his belt.