Altamirano Makes History in Kalamazoo 18s
by Colette Lewis
, 16 August 2013
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When seventeen-year-old Collin Altamirano returns to Kalamazoo next year to defend the USTA Boys 18s National Championship he won Sunday afternoon at Kalamazoo College's Stowe Stadium, he won't be an underdog, and he won't be rooting for one either.
After defeating No. 14 seed Jared Donaldson
6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in a best-of-five match, a win that gives him a US Open main draw wild card, Altamirano is now in the record books as the only unseeded player ever to win a singles title in the 71-year history of the Kalamazoo National Championships.
"There's a first time for everything, right?" said the sturdy right-hander, who lives and trains at the Arden Hills Tennis Club in Sacramento, California.
"I've got to root for all the seeds now."
Altamirano secured his place in Kalamazoo history on a partly cloudy and cool afternoon, displaying impressive power, touch and defense against Donaldson, himself a surprise finalist.
Donaldson started the tournament slowly, with a third-set tiebreaker win over AJ Catanzariti getting him to the third round, and he trailed No. 4 seed Connor Farren 7-5, 5-2 in the round of 16 before bouncing back for a 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-2 victory. In the semifinals, Donaldson ousted No. 2 seed Noah Rubin 7-6(4), 7-5, while Altamirano was blowing past top seed Gage Brymer 6-0, 6-1, the third seed he had beaten during the week, but the only one in the top 16. With the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds gone, establishing a favorite for the championship wasn't easy, with Altamirano's form in the latter stages of the tournament giving him a slight edge.
"He played really well and obviously has throughout the tournament," said Donaldson. "Maybe I had a little tougher draw getting to the finals, so maybe I was a little more spent than he was. But I thought he played really well, and I didn't make that extra ball or win the few key points as I did earlier in the week."
In the final, Donaldson struggled on nearly all of his service games, and on the two occasions that he led, early in the first and second sets, Altamirano quickly reasserted himself.
"He was very aggressive on the return, so I knew he could break me, but I knew I could break him," said Altamirano, who felt his own serve was also a bit erratic, although he was broken only three times in the match. "I wasn't too worried about it. I knew he wasn't holding, so it made me feel like I was going to be ahead in every set."