Byron Black, who goes to school at USC, won the Adidas Invitational Sunday and the right to play, well, maybe Boris Becker. This would surely be a wonderful moment for a college player, more like getting taken to school.
But Black is sort of curious about how he might fare in such a match. “Just to see if I could get a point,” he said.
Black defeated Alejo Mancisidor of Pepperdine, 6-4, 6-4, to earn a wild-card berth in the main draw of the $1-million Newsweek Champions Cup at Hyatt Grand Champions in March. Because he is still an amateur, Black can’t accept any money--he won a compact disc player Sunday--but he is certainly allowed to keep the memories.
“It’s going to be great to get a crack at those guys,” Black said of the pros.
He’ll also have a chance in doubles, which provided some frustrating memories last year when Black and USC teammate Kent Seton qualified for the Newsweek doubles field, won their first match, and then had to default their second-round match because they couldn’t get there on time.
The problem was that Black and Seton had to play doubles for USC on campus against Michigan and finished at 3 p.m. The Newsweek doubles match was scheduled for 5.
“We missed a flight and might have taken a helicopter, but we weren’t thinking that far ahead,” Black said.
Black and Seton’s opponents were Rick Leach and Jim Pugh, who would not wait any later than 5 p.m., even though Leach is the son of Dick Leach, the USC tennis coach. However, Black blamed Pugh for not permitting a longer delay.
“It was totally Jim Pugh’s decision,” Black said. “But I don’t want to get into trouble. That’s over.”
Sunday, he alternated getting in and out of trouble almost from the beginning, but so did Mancisidor, who turned out to be more consistent at staying in it. There were seven consecutive service breaks to start the match, but Black persevered and had a 5-2 lead in the second set.
Black’s cross-handed two-fisted backhands began missing and Mancisidor came back. A native of San Sebastian, Spain, Mancisidor was spotted by Jose Higueras and recruited for Higueras’ junior tennis academy at Mission Hills. Mancisidor graduated from Palm Springs High, then moved on to Pepperdine.
Black, the son of a tennis coach and onetime avocado farmer in Zimbabwe, began having trouble when he held a match point, serving at 5-2. Mancisidor broke his serve and closed to 5-4 before Black finished the match aggressively.
He dumped a drop volley just over the net, which Mancisidor sent back on the run only to see Black lunge to his right and poke a volley into the open court.
Later, Black lugged around a cardboard box with his new CD player in it and probably thought about the next time he would be back to play. In fact, Black has already checked the USC schedule so he won’t be defaulted again.
“It’s not going to be a problem,” Black said.