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Dennis Nevolo beats Italian to win Pro Classic

Dennis Nevolo sure picked a great time to play some of the best tennis of his career.
 
The 24-year-old former Illinois All-American and top-seeded Nevolo picked up his first USTA Pro Circuit $10,000 Futures singles title by beating No. 4-sseded Salvatore Caruso of Italy on Sunday, 6-4, 6-2, at the Claremont Club Pro Classic.
 
“I think the way I played in the quarterfinals and the semis and then the final, yeah, you can say I just played some of the best tennis of my career,” said Nevolo, who takes home the $1,440 first-place prize check and 17 valuable ATP World Tour points. “It was probably the most aggressive tennis of my career.”
 
Playing an experienced red-clay player like Caruso, who Nevolo had beaten last October in the pairs’ only previous meeting, Nevolo said he had to take time away from the steady baseline game of the 21-year-old from a tiny village outside of Sicily.
 
“It was time pressure,” said Nevolo, who became the first non-Southern Californian to win the title here since 2009. “I counterpunched well and I was always looking to sneak in when I had an opportunity to.”
 
Last year, Caruso got to as high as No. 320 in the world and played $50,000 Challenger events in Tiburon and Napa. Last year he won his first ITF Futures singles title in Italy.
 
Watched by his grandparents, Nevolo will drive to their home an hour northwest in Torrance and get ready for a Wednesday start at the Costa Mesa Futures tournament.
 
“The schedule doesn’t really change,” Nevolo said. “I checked the Napa Challenger ($50,000 event) cutoff and it’s pretty low. So I’ll stick with the plan and play these three Futures in a row, then Sacramento and Tiburon, three 10ks in Texas and then finish the year with two indoor Challengers.”
 
The final Challenger of the year on the USTA Pro Circuit schedule Nevolo referenced begins Nov. 10 and will take place on Nevolo’s college courts at the Atkins Tennis Center in Champaign, Ill.
 
Sunday’s Final Singles Result:
Dennis Nevolo (USA) [1] def. Salvatore Caruso (ITA) [4], 6-4, 6-2
 
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

—Steve Pratt

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