Altamirano, Donaldson and Rubin Head Stellar Field at Kalamazoo
by Colette Lewis
, 2 August 2014
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Collin Altamirano returns to Kalamazoo to defend his 2013 18s title, but the fact that the 18-year-old Californian is not an overwhelming favorite, and the fifth seed, speaks to the tremendous field gathered for the tournament's 72nd year.
Altamirano, the first unseeded player in tournament history to capture the title, will be challenged by a host of young players with great success on the lower levels of professional tennis and in international junior competition.
Top seed Jared Donaldson lost 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to Altamirano in last year's final, but he returns to Stowe Stadium with an ATP ranking of 326, one of the best ATP rankings for a Kalamazoo participant in decades. The 17-year-old from Rhode Island, who trained with Roger Federer late last year, won three Futures titles in June, and just last weekend qualified for the ATP Citi Open in Washington DC. Donaldson reached the final round of qualifying at the US Open last year, just days after his Kalamazoo loss, but after falling just short of the main draw twice now, he undoubtedly is motivated to secure this year's wild card.
Second seed Ernesto Escobedo, an 18-year-old from Southern California who reached the quarterfinals last year, has yet to claim a professional title, but his consistent results in Futures and Challengers has boosted his ATP ranking to 514.
Third seed Noah Rubin is also just outside the ATP Top 500, reaching the finals in two Futures events in Europe this spring. The 18-year-old New Yorker, a semifinalist last year, wanted to play the junior slams in his final year of eligibility however, and although he lost early at the French, he peaked at Wimbledon, winning the boys title as an unseeded qualifier. Rubin, who announced shortly after Wimbledon that he would attend Wake Forest this fall, picked up the winner's trophy at Wimbledon, but he was far from the only young American to impress that week.
Fourth seed Stefan Kozlov, No. 2 in the ITF world junior rankings, lost to Rubin in three sets at Wimbledon, his second junior slam final in 2014. The 16-year-old from Florida, who lost in the final at the Australian Open in January, won the consolation draw in Kalamazoo last year after his shock third round exit as the No. 3 seed.