Jamere Jenkins has played professionally for only a year, but he's already made a major impact on the United States Tennis Assn. Pro Circuit Tour. The 23-year-old Georgia native rolled to a surprisingly easy victory Sunday in the men's singles final at the Costa Mesa Pro Classic, his fourth title since turning professional last summer, at Costa Mesa Tennis Center.
In the doubles championship, Utah's Jeremy Hunter Nicholas, who played at San Diego State, and Junior Alexander Ore, a senior at Texas A&M, defeated UCLA teammates Mackenzie McDonald and Martin Redlicki.
Jenkins dispatched Dennis Novikov, 20, who played two years at UCLA, relatively easily, 6-4, 6-2, particularly considering the difficulty of his previous two matches, each of went three fiercely contested sets. Jenkins beat Great Britain's Daniel Manlow in the first round in two sets, but Gregory Oullette took him to three sets in the second round, as did former UCLA player Clay Thompson in the quarter-finals. In the semi-finals, he survived a grueling match against Florida's Tennys Sandgren, outlasting him in a tie-breaker in the third set.
However, he was firmly in control against Novikov, breaking his serve twice in the first set Sunday and using his blistering serve and powerful forehand to keep the Northern California off-balance.
"I don't think he played his game today, by far," said Jenkins, who had met Novikov twice in the past, splitting the matches. "I just got some breaks early and that helped me keep up my momentum."
Jenkins earned $1,440 for the victory and will pick up 17 points toward his world ranking. He entered the event ranked 280th in the world.
The next five weeks, his focus with be playing futures events in Australia.
"The circuit in America is usually the top American players beating up on each other, so it's good to get away and see different players in a new atmosphere," said Jenkins, who was the ITA National Player of the year in 2013, while competing for the University of Virginia, where he won the NCAA doubles championship and reached the NCAA singles final.
In the doubles championship, Nicholas and Ore won in only the second time they had played together. They met days before the Claremont event last week, where they lost in the first round. In Costa Mesa, they qualified in a wild card shootout before defeating the third-seeded McDonald and Redlicki in a tight contest.
"We haven't known each other long but we just hit it off and I think the fact we're both athletic and aggressive helped us out," said Nicholas.