Two UVa men’s tennis alums, Jarmere Jenkins (2013) and Somdev Devvarman (2008), competed in the US Open Qualifying Tournament this past week in New York. Players needed to win three matches in order to advance to the main draw of the US Open this coming week. The competition featured emerging talent from all over the world and some wily veterans, including a couple of former top 20 stars.
Just three months ago, Jenkins, currently ranked No. 620 in the world, was busy leading the Hoos to their first ever NCAA Championship. After helping UVa win the team competition, Jenkins nearly completed the rare trifecta in men’s college tennis. He won the NCAA doubles title with his partner, Mac Styslinger, and made it all the way to the singles final before losing to Blaz Rola of Ohio State.
Playing at the pro level is a big step up from college, however, as Jenkins experienced this summer.
“They [pros] hit a lot more balls in the court,” Jenkins said after his first-round qualifying match on Tuesday. “Just mentally it’s stronger. In college you can kind of get away with the mental breaks. Here you gotta be honed in every single game. There’s less room for error. I think that’s the biggest difference.”
Jenkins rose to the challenge this week earning his first ever Grand Slam qualifying victories in the first and second rounds against Gerald Melzer of Austria and seventh-seeded Julian Reister of Germany. In his third and final match of qualifying, Jenkins struggled with windy conditions and finally fell to Thomas Fabbiano of Italy, 6-3, 6-4.
Although Jenkins failed to qualify for the main draw in singles at the Open, he remained positive after the match.
“[I] just want to continue to stay the course. Not get too high not too low. It’s all a process and I’m enjoying the game right now,” he said. “Excited to see what the future has to offer for my team and I.”
Devvarman, meanwhile, is no stranger to the pro tour. The back-to-back NCAA singles champion for UVa in ’07 and ’08 has reached the second round of every single Grand Slam tournament in his career. In the US Open qualifying tournament this past week, Devvarman had an easy first round before running into former US Open semifinalist, Robby Ginepri. It took three sets for Devvarman to prevail against Ginepri, who has struggled since breaking his elbow in 2011.
In the third round ‘money match,’ Devvarman faced James Ward of Great Britain with a spot in the main draw on the line. The match was a contrast of styles – Devvarman ‘s counter-punching effort against Ward’s more aggressive shot-making. A relieved Devvarman raised his arms in victory after breaking Ward at 5-4 to take the third and decisive set.
“Yeah definitely one of the best feelings is to qualify for a Slam,” Devvarman said. “It’s just a really fun feeling to be through.”
The qualifying success of Devvarman and Jenkins speaks volumes about the kind of program that men’s tennis coach Brian Boland has put together at Virginia. After all, with five players (school record for competitors in a Grand Slam event) in the main draw of singles and doubles, UVa has more players at this year’s US Open than any other school.
While Jenkins didn’t advance through singles qualifying, he earned a doubles wild card draw with his UVa doubles partner Mac Styslinger, a Cavalier sophomore, as a result of their NCAA Championship. Treat Huey (Class of 2008) and Dominic Inglot (Class of 2009) will compete as a team in doubles too.