FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. (Sept. 6, 2014) – A little bit of rain wasn’t going to stop UCLA’s Marcos Giron from winning the inaugural American Collegiate Invitational played at the US Open on Saturday.
The top-seeded Giron of Thousand Oaks, Calif., downed Ohio State’s Peter Kobelt, 6-1, 6-3, to win the men’s title, while North Carolina’s Jamie Loeb beat fellow New Yorker Julia Elbaba, 7-5, 6-1, of Virginia to capture the women’s championship in the eight-player event played at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
If Giron is ranked No. 250 or higher and Loeb No. 150 or higher in the world rankings at this time next year, the pair will receive a main draw wild card into next year’s US Open. Guaranteed at least a qualifying wild card, Giron and Loeb will also get wild cards into two USTA Pro Circuit events, while Kobelt and Elbaba will get one.
Playing a dominating all-court game, the reigning NCAA singles champion Giron took a commanding 5-1, 15-40 lead on Kobelt’s serve when the rain came. Kobelt won one point, and play was suspended. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” said Giron, who entered the locker room and began a 90-minute wait. “I had all the momentum to that point, but all of the sudden a rain delay can make you more relaxed once you come back out there.”
But Giron came back and took the set and eventually the match.
Currently ranked No. 419 in the ATP World Tour rankings, Giron has been in New York for two and a half weeks having played in the main draw of the pro event. “I’m ready to go back home,” Giron said. “This is a place I definitely want to be coming back to a lot in the future. This is the top of tennis, and I’m definitely looking forward to coming back and proving myself.”
Giron has had a good summer, including qualifying at the Winston-Salem tournament. “It’s attainable,” he said of reaching No. 250 by this time next year. “It’s been a steep learning curve since I turned pro, but I’m getting a grasp on it and slowly learning how to be a pro.”
Giron and Kobelt had split matches during their college days, and Kobelt said Giron has improved since he beat him two years ago. “Marcos played great,” he said. “He has a lot of confidence since winning the NCAA title and had a great summer. He’s really developed an all-around game.”
Inspired by seeing her hero Roger Federer earlier in the morning eating breakfast, Loeb was able to overcome a slow start to down Elbaba in front of a bunch of USTA Eastern Section supporters of both players, including USTA First Vice President Katrina Adams.
Unlike both men’s players who next begin life on the pro tour, both Loeb and Elbaba have started school and will be among the nation’s elite this coming season.
“I think I started off pretty slow,” said Loeb, of Ossining, N.Y., in Westchester County. “It was pretty hot out there, and it took me awhile to adjust to that. But as I got into the match I was able to get more serves in.”
Loeb said the key to the day was a break in a close second game of the second set. “Getting that break was huge,” she said, adding she felt a little nervous at the start and that might have attributed to her slow start. “I think I’m pretty mentally tough, and I’m always going to fight to the last point.”
Besides seeing Federer, Loeb her favorite memory of the week was “all the support of my family and friends. It’s great for college players to get the chance to succeed beyond college.”
Elbaba was disappointed with the loss. “I felt I left everything out there on the court,” she said. “I thought we put on a great match for all the supporters. Tennis is a big game on momentum, and I thought she just gained confidence throughout the match.”
Elbaba said her best memory was, “playing some of my best tennis in front of some of the biggest crowds I’ve played in front of.”
SATURDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
Jamie Loeb (North Carolina, Ossining, N.Y.) def. Julia Elbaba (Virginia, Oyster Bay, N.Y.), 7-5, 6-1
Marcos Giron  (UCLA, Thousand Oaks, Calif.) def. Peter Kobelt (Ohio State, New Albany, Ohio), 6-1, 6-3