Southern California Tennis

Australian Barton Takes Home Calabasas Singles Title

Matthew Barton couldn’t have picked a better time to hit one of the best shots of his life. Down 4-6 in the first-set tiebreaker, the No. 2-seeded Australian 24-year-old battled back to take a 7-6 lead in the singles final at the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas.

With top-seeded finalist Henri Laaksonen on the attack and headed to the net, Barton ran down a backhand forehand, tripped over his feet but managed to fling the ball down the line for a winner and the first set, pushing him to a 7-6 (6), 6-3, win at the USTA $25,000 Pro Circuit event played at the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center.

“It was insane,” said Barton, who takes home the $3,600 first-place prize money. “I’ve hit a couple lucky ones like that but never on match point. I was pretty stoked that it happened then.

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He came in and put me on the run and I kind of tripped over my feet and got my arms out and hit it down the line.”

He said he played the tiebreaker tough. “I was up 3-1 in the breaker and thought I played really well. A tiebreaker is like the lottery; it’s all luck.”

In the second set, Barton survived a tough service game down 2-3, saving three break points to hold, then broke Laaksonen’s serve and served out the match.

Barton, currently ranked No. 241 in the ATP World Tour rankings, had a win earlier this year in the Auckland ATP tournament against Top 30 player Steve Johnson before falling to perennial top 10 player David Ferrer.

Barton said if he can stay healthy, he can play against the best in the world.

Barton looked up at the Calabasas Stadium Court banner where he will someday see his name as a past champion, along with guys like 2004 winner Ivo Karlovic, Michael Chang and Donald Young.

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From left to right: Top Seed Tennis President and tournament promoter Steve McAvoy, Calabasas City Councilman Fred Gaines, runner-up Henri Laaksonen, winner Matthew Barton and tournament director Jeff Richards.

Barton actually has a career win over Karlovic and once lost to Young at the U.S. Open. “It will be cool to have my name up there with all those great players. I even see (fellow Australian) Mark Philippoussis up there.”

In the doubles final, the top-seeded American duo of Nick Meister and Eric Quigley, will cash the $1,550 first-place check with their 4-6, 6-3, 10-3, win in the doubles final over Laaksonen and Marek Michalicka of the Czech Republic.

Tournament promoter and owner of Top Seed Tennis Academy Steve McAvoy was amazed at the level of play all week. “If you remember back to our first year in 2001 when Andre Sa won our ($50,000) Challenger, the level of play is actually better,” McAvoy said. “The serves are the same, and the guys’ forehands and backands and length of rallies are better. That’s how the game has changed and gotten better over the years.”

Sunday’s Singles Final

Matthew Barton, Australia (2), def. Henri Laaksonen, Switzerland (1), 7-6 (6), 6-3

Sunday’s Doubles Final

Nick Meister, U.S. / Eric Quigley, U.S. (1), def. Henri Laaksonen, Switzerland / Marek Michalicka, Czech Republic, 4-6, 6-3, 10-3

During 15 years of USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas, the tournament has boasted a prestigious field of past champions like Michael Chang, Mark Philippoussis, Ivo Karlovic, Vince Spadea, Robert Kendrick, and Donald Young among others. A number of members of the U. S. Davis Cup team have played the Calabasas Challenger, including current or former U.S. Davis Cup team members, Sam Querrey, John Isner, Donald Young and Mike & Bob Bryan. Recently, double Olympic gold medalist, Nicolas Massu, and former No 9 player in the world, played in the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas.

Past Calabasas finalists:

Year Singles Winner Singles Runner-up

2016: Matthew Barton (AUS) def. Henri Laaksonen (SUI)

2015: Dennis Novikov (US) def. Frances Tiafoe (US)

2014: Marcos Giron (US) def. Jason Jung (US)

2013: Sanam Singh (IND) def. Bradley Klahn (US)

2012: Tennys Sandgren (USA) def. Daniel Kosakowski (US)

2010: Marinko Matosevic (AUS) def. Ryan Sweeting (US)

2009: Donald Young (US) def. Michael Russell (US)

2008: Vince Spadea (US) def. Sam Warburg (US)

2007: Robert Kendrick (US) def. Donald Young (US)

2006: Mark Philippoussis (AUS) def. Amer Delic (US)

2005: Brian Vahaly (US) def. Denis Gremelmayr (GER)

2004: Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def. Alex Bogomolov Jr. (US)

2003: Jerome Golmard (FRA) def. Lars Burgsmuller (GER)

2002: Michael Chang (US) def. Cecil Mamiit (PHI)

2001: Andre Sa (BRA) def. Michael Russell (US)

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