(December 8, 2013) La Jolla, Calif. – As a teenager, Tony Bujan earned a gold ball for winning the United States Tennis Association Boys’ 18s doubles title. On Sunday, he added another gold ball to his tennis resume as he won the men’s singles title at the USTA National 40 Hard Court Championships.
Playing under sunny skies with temperatures in the 50s, the fourth-seeded Bujan of San Clemente, Calif. overcame fifth-seeded Michael Chang of Anaheim, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, in two-hours and 10 minutes at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.
During the week, tournament officials received inquiries asking if the Michael Chang entered in the event was Michael Chang, the former touring tennis professional who won the French Open in 1989 and was once ranked No. 2 in the word.
The player named Chang, who played in La Jolla this week, is an Orange County-based eye doctor. However just like his namesake, he carries solid tennis credentials. He arrived at the tournament ranked number one in the United States in the men’s 40 and over division.
Chang, who reached the final of the USTA National 40 Hard Court Championships in Georgia earlier this year, is a steady baseliner with a counter-punching style and rarely approaches the net.
In the men’s final, the 43-year-old Bujan jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Chang in the first set and at 5-2, fought off two break points and proceeded to serve out the first set, which took 42 minutes.
In the second set, the fourth-seeded Bujan began to tire as he felt the effects of his long match the previous day when he defeated two-time defending champion Oren Motevassel in the semifinals.
Chang began moving Bujan around the court and at 4-3, he scored a critical service break against Bujan and took a 5-3 lead. In the next game, Chang served out the set at love to even the match at one set all.
With the match tied, two factors worked in Bujan’s favor. There was a 10-minute break following the second set and new tennis balls were used at the start of the third set.
Following the break, a rejuvenated Bujan returned to the court. With the new balls moving through the air faster, Bujan took control of the rallies as he patiently waited for an opportunity to hit a winner or force an error. He won six consecutive games in forty minutes to close out the set and capture the championship.
“The key was the new balls in the third set. It helped a lot. He (Chang) played a good second set and I was getting tired,” said Bujan, a former three-time All-American at Texas Christian University.
“I knew we were getting new balls and that was going to be a big factor. I have a bigger game and he’s a retriever,” Bujan added. “I knew the faster balls were going to help me with serve and volleying. The 10 minute break helped. That was huge.”
Bujan, a hard-hitting left-hander, played on the men’s professional tennis circuit briefly in the 1990s, but left the game for nearly a decade. Several years ago, he began teaching tennis and playing mostly doubles.
According to Bujan, the USTA National 40 Hard Court Championships marked his first singles tournament in 15 years. “This tournament is run like a real professional event. They do a great job. The La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club is a beautiful spot and I’ll be coming back next year.”
In an entertaining USTA National Father and Son Hard Court doubles final, second-seeded Peter Smith of Long Beach, Calif., and Riley Smith of Los Alamitos, Calif., captured the title by defeating nine-time father and son champions, Brett Joelson and Brian Joelson of Beaverton, Ore., 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
For tournament draws and results, please go to: http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=125262