Tulsa, Ok. – UMBC senior Jaan Kononov (Talinn, Estonia) advanced to the second round of qualifying in the 2015 Saint Francis Health System ITA Men's All-American Tennis Championships with a dramatic 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over the host university's Dominic Bechard at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center.
Kononov, the 11th-ranked player in the qualifying round, will now face Florida's Alfredo Perez in the second round on Tuesday. Sixteen of the 128 players in the qualifying round will advance to the tournament's main draw.
An ailing Kononov struggled in the early stages of the match and was unable to hold serve in his first five service games. The Retriever second-year player managed to break Bechard twice in the opening set, but dropped it, 6-2.
Kononov steadied himself and held serve until he led, 5-4, in the second set. He then managed to break Bechard in the tenth game and the two combatants went to a deciding set.
Kononov would break Bechard in the eighth game of the set and served for the match at 5-3. But the Tulsa player broke back to get back on serve. Kononov took a 15-30 lead in Bechard's service game and pushed it to 15-40 with a brilliant offensive lob. Bechard would make a forehand error on the next point and Kononov emerged with the win.
Ranked No. 69 by the ITA, Kononov returned to a place where he had great success a year ago. He won four matches in the 2014 pre-qualifying round and defeated a ranked player in the first round of qualifying.
Senior Justin Carter (Randallstown, Md.) also competed in the 2015 pre-qualifying round and dropped a tough 6-4, 6-4 decision to Denver's David Fox, a player who advanced to the qualifiers. Carter would triumph in the consolation round, also defeating a Tulsa player, as he bested Chase Gordon, 6-0, 6-2.