USC Freshman Qualifier Upsets Sell at Long Beach Pro Futures

USC freshman Daniel Cukierman ended Karue Sell’s winning streak as the qualifier advanced to the quarterfinals at the Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament Presented by the Southern California Tennis Association with a 7-6 (6), 6-1 victory in the USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 event being played at the El Dorado Tennis Center.

Cukierman had four set points against him in the first set, and Sell missed an important overhead at 6-all in the tiebreaker.

Photo Credit: Darryl Nash/SCTA

“The first set was very close and I just got lucky,” said Cukierman, a native of Tel Aviv, Israel. “He was a little tired, I think, and the second set was a little easier. But winning that first set made the difference and I’m happy it went my way.”

The former UCLA player Sell won 13 straight matches since last Dec. 30, including the singles and doubles titles at last week’s Southern California Pro Futures at USC. “I tap out. That’s it. I’m toast,” Sell said with a smile to USC head coach Peter Smith as he walked off the court.

Cukierman won three rounds of qualifying last week at USC, including a win over former University of Virginia star Collin Altamirano, before losing to future Cavalier Gianni Ross in the in the first round. Cukierman recorded two singles victories on Wednesday as the tournament has had to play catch-up after losing two days because of rain.

The 22-year-old Cukierman spent the past three years in the Israeli Army, something every Israeli male is required to do. He said he was able to play a limited tournament schedule and train. He was released from his duties last March, but the government did not allow him to play tournaments for eight months after he left the Army.

“I was in a special program for athletes in the Army, so it wasn’t that bad,” said Cukierman, who also took college visits to Wake Forest, Virginia, Ohio State, and TCU. “I had gotten up to No. 528 in the world rankings, but lost all of my points with the layoff.”

He added: “I chose to go to college in case the tennis doesn’t work out. I chose USC because of the amazing coaches and the entire program, which is one of the best in the country, was such a good fit for me.”

Cukierman said he would like to attend USC for all four years, unless he goes on a run like former TCU star Cameron Norrie, who left college tennis a year early and has climbed as high as No. 110 in the world.

Cukierman played mostly local events growing up and said he “wasn’t a very good junior.” It wasn’t until he turned 18 and started training with Israeli tennis great Amos Mansdorf, who reached as high as No. 18 in the world, when his game took off.

Former ACC rivals Altamirano of Virginia and 2017 University of North Carolina graduate Ronnie Schneider played a spirited match on the show court, with Altamirano taking an early 3-0 lead in the final set and posting a solid second-round win, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.

Thursday’s Second-Round Singles Results

Austin Krajicek, U.S. (1) (wc), def. Or Ram-Harel, Israel, 6-2, 6-4

J.C. Aragone, U.S. (6), def. Logan Smith, U.S. (q), 6-2, 6-4

Jan Satral, Czech Republic (4), def. Josh Hagar, U.S. (q), 6-1, 6-4

Collin Altamirano, U.S., def. Ronnie Schneider, U.S. (q), 6-3, 4-6, 6-1

Kaichi Uchida, Japan (3), def. Sam Riffice, U.S., 2-6, 6-3, 6-1

Alex Rybakov, U.S., def. Evan Zhu, U.S., 6-1, 6-4

Daniel Cukierman, Israel, (q) def. Karue Sell, Brazil, 7-6 (6), 6-1

Emilio Gomez, Ecuador (q), def. Borna Gojo, Croatia, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2

Thursday’s First-Round Doubles Results

Luke Bambridge, Great Britain / Hans Hach Verdugo, Mexico (1), def. Kaptan Kaster, U.S. / Rajko Mladenovic, Serbia, 6-0, 6-1

Miles Seemann, Miles, U.S. / Alec Adamson, U.S., def. Alafia Ayeni, U.S. / Govind Nanda, U.S., 6-4, 6-3

Jordan Bridge, U.S. / Alexander Ward, Great Britain (wc), def. Eric Hahn, U.S. / Matthew Tsolakyan, U.S. (wc), 6-3, 6-0

Collin Altamirano, U.S. / Alexander Lebedev, U.S. def. Borna Gojo, Croatia / Evan Song, U.S., 6-4, 3-6, 13-11

Antel Pavic, Croatia / Jan Satral, Czech Republic (2), def. Henry Craig, U.S. / Isaiah Strode, U.S., 6-1, 6-3

Austin Krajicek, U.S. / Jack Pulliam, def. Filip Bergevi, Sweden / Or Ram-Harel, Israel, 6-2, 7-5

Riley Smith, U.S. / Tanner Smith, U.S., def. August Holmgren, Denmark / David Norfeldt, walkover

Deiton Baughman, U.S. / Kaichi Uchida, Japan (3), def. J.C. Aragone, U.S. / Ronnie Schneider, U.S., 6-2, 6-3

Community Events for the Long Beach USTA Pro Circuit presented by USTA Southern California:

Friday, Jan. 12: Military Appreciation Day, Presented by Long Beach Wounded Warriors, 3 pm-4 pm. Wheelchair exhibition with pros and amateurs.

Saturday, Jan. 13: High Performance Clinic, Presented by SC Tennis Academy & USTA Net Generation, 10 am-11 am.

 For more information on the Long Beach tournament or events, email: and for more information on the community events, email the SCTA’s Tiffany Mai at:


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