CLAREMONT, Calif., (Sept. 12, 2014) – Playing the best tennis he’s played all year, top-seeded Dennis Nevolo beat three-week California traveling partner No. 6-seeded Jeff Dadamo, 6-1, 6-3, to advance to the semifinals of the 19th annual Claremont Club Pro Classic on Friday.
“I came out a little tight, but once I got the lead I got into a zone,” Nevolo said. “I felt like I’ve been struggling with my consistency the last couple of days, then today it just clicked. That’s probably the best I’ve played all year.”
The temperatures rose into the high 90s, and Nevolo admitted: “It’s getting warm out there, but I dealt with it OK.”
He added: “Practicing in Chicago it’s been a little more humid. Jeff’s got a very good serve and I neutralized him and then I did a good job of holding mine.
“We’ve been traveling together for three weeks. The good news is one of us was going to be in the semis, but I think we’d both rather play each other in the finals. It’s part of the game. Sometimes you play friends. It doesn’t really register anymore.”
Nevolo will play another friend and practice partner Jean-Yves Aubone in the one semifinal at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The two are both from the South Florida area. By way of his three-set win over lucky loser Reilly Opelka, Italy’s Salvatore Caruso waltzed into the final Sunday after Ecuador’s Roberto Quiroz pulled out of the tournament following his quarterfinal win with an injured left shoulder.
Caruso beat the 17-year-old USTA-trained Opelka, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The 6-foot-10 Opelka, who is still an amateur, was hitting 125-mph bombs in the first set to take a 6-3 lead. But the 21-year-old Caruso battled back and opened up a 4-1 second-set lead before Opelka broke Caruso’s serve to make it 4-3 with Caruso then closing out the set 6-3.
Up 4-3 in the third, Opelka called for a trainer for cramping. On break point at 4-all, Opelka double faulted and Caruso served out the match.
Dadamo and Nevolo captured the doubles title after Deiton Baughman and Opelka were forced to retire down 5-2 in the first set.
Opelka will play Costa Mesa and the Napa Valley $50,000 Challenger in the coming weeks, as well as some other ITF Futures events in South Florida. In December he will return to the junior circuit for the Eddie Herr tournament and Junior Orange Bowl.
With his size, of course Opelka gets comparisons to U.S. Davis Cup player John Isner, who is also 6-foot-10. “I hear that comparison a lot but I kind of do my own thing,” Opelka said. “I just happen to be tall, as well. All due respect to him, he’s the best American we’ve had for three years. The guy is unbelievable. He’s such a nice guy and I’ve hit with him. He has the best serve of all time.”
Friday’s Quarterfinal Singles Results:
q: Qualifying; wc: Wild Card; LL: Lucky Loser
Dennis Nevolo (USA)  def. Jeff Dadamo (USA) , 6-1, 6-3
Roberto Quiroz (ECU) def. Daniel Garza (MEX) , 6-1, 7-5
Salvatore Caruso (ITA)  def. Reilly Opelka (USA) [LL], 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Jean-Yves Aubone (USA)  def. Ty Trombetta (USA) [q], 7-5, 6-3
Friday’s Final Doubles Results:
Jeff Dadamo (USA) / Dennis Nevolo (USA) [wc] def. Deiton Baughman (USA) / Reilly Opelka (USA) 5-2, retired
The first of three consecutive $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit hard-court men’s events held in Southern California following the US Open, the Claremont Club Pro Classic is run by tournament director Barry Friedman and USTA Tour Supervisor Peter Kasavage. It is one of nine USTA Pro Circuit men’s events taking place in California this year.
For more information, check on the web at:www.procircuit.usta.com, www.claremontclub.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Claremont-Club/236147226396
Prize Money/Points – $10,000 Men
SINGLES: Prize Money Points
Winner $1,440 17
Runner-up $848 9
Semifinalist $502 5
Quarterfinalist $292 2
Round of 16 $172 1
Round of 32 $104 —
DOUBLES: Prize Money (per team)
Round of 16 $0