Columbia first-year Alex Keyser won seven consecutive singles matches over a four-day span to headline a strong weekend for men’s tennis at the ITA All-American tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Keyser’s family was on hand to witness his four victories—two on Saturday and two on Sunday—to advance to the qualifying round. The first-year then captured a win on Monday, followed by two more on Tuesday to complete the improbable feat of advancing to the main draw.
“It is the story of the year for men’s tennis,” head coach Bid Goswami said. “What he did was pretty incredible, I’ve never had anybody do that in all my years.”
Goswami added that Keyser’s mental toughness stood out above a litany of high-ranked opponents. The Danville, California native won six of seven matches in straight sets, but needed three sets to dispatch UCLA’s Joe Di Giulio and advance to the main draw.
The match ended at 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-1, as Keyser became just the fourth first-year in tournament history to advance all the way from the pre-qualifying to the main draw.
“What he [Keyser] did was truly remarkable,” Goswami said. “I have never seen anyone do that in all of my years of tennis.”
No. 113 ranked sophomore Victor Pham couldn’t top Keyser’s feat, but he also advanced to the main draw. Pham won three qualifying round matches, including a resounding 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8) comeback victory against Florida State’s No. 119 ranked Aziz Dougaz.
Not to be outdone was first-year Jackie Tang, who has played matches all over the globe throughout the past three months. The Hong Kong native won four pre-qualifying round matches, before falling in the first round of qualifying.
Tang’s highlight was arguably a 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5 victory over USC’s Jack Jaede in a match that lasted more than three hours. The Queensland, Australia native played in the fifth or sixth singles positions for the Trojans, who have won five national championships over the last eight years.
“It’s really exciting to see this team compete,” Goswami said of Tang’s play. “We proved this weekend that our recruits were the right recruits, and they really fit our team.”
Meanwhile, senior Miguel Alda went 1-1 on the weekend, dropping an opening-round pre-qualifying match, but capturing a victory in a consolation round match. First-year Adam Ambrozy went 1-1 in two three-set matches, and teamed with Tang in doubles, falling to Kennesaw St.’s Manuel Castellanos and Simon Pritchard 6-2, 6-0.
Sixty-four players still remain in the entire tournament, with Columbia boasting three singles players and one doubles pair. Keyser will battle Cal’s Filip Bergevi, Hadavi will face Oklahoma State’s Lukas Finzelberg, and Victor Pham will take on Cal’s Billy Griffith.
Hadavi and senior Richard Pham will also team up in doubles play, as the No. 7 ranked pair previously qualified for the main draw. The duo will face Florida’s pair of No. 38 ranked Maxx Lipman and Elliott Orkin, looking to replicate their strong play from a season ago.
“It’s a daunting challenge,” Goswami said. “But I’m sure, whatever they do, win or lose, they will give their best effort.”
The three matches begin at various times on Thursday, with the first commencing at 9 a.m.