Sophomore Irina Falconi played a series of tournaments over the summer that ended with titles in both singles and doubles play at the $10,000 Heartland Clinic USTA Women’s Classic at the Noyes Tennis Center in St. Joseph, Mo. On August 1, Falconi and Ashley Weinhold took the doubles title with a 6-4, 7-6 (6) win over recent Oklahoma graduate Chelsea Orr and Tennessee rising senior Caitlin Whoriskey. A day later, Falconi took her second straight USTA Pro Circuit singles title with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Whoriskey.
The Heartland Clinic Women’s Classic features a very diverse collection of players, with some 100 players from numerous countries coming together for a week-long tournament with a monetary prize and world rankings at stake.With Falconi’s win, she accepted a check for $1,568 and runner-up Whoriskey took home $980.
Falconi finished the summer with a 13-1 singles record, including the winning of 10 straight pro matches in a row. Two weeks prior to her win in St. Joseph, Falconi swept through the Norman Wikerson Tennis Experience at the Sugar Creek Tennis Center in Atlanta. Her accomplishments in these two USTA Pro Circuit tournaments have led Sports Illustrated to mention her in its upcoming August 24 issue.
Falconi saw immediate success in her rookie season at Tech, posting 30 singles wins and earning 2009 All-American and All-ACC honors. She finished 18-11 against ranked opponents with a notable 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 win over then-No. 1 Maria Mosolova of Northwestern. Winning nine out of the last 12 matches on the season helped earn her a national ranking as high as No. 5 at one point and helped the Jackets to their fifth straight NCAA Round of 16 appearance.
On the men’s side, sophomore Kevin King has also seen success this summer. The left-handed rising sophomore defeated the nation’s top overall junior tennis player, Alexander Domijan, 6-7 (0), 6-4, 7-6 (2) in the fourth round of the USTA National Championships on August 12 in Kalamazoo, Mich.
King came back after losing a first-set tiebreak to Domijan, and he managed to pull off a 6-4 win in the second set. The Tech sophomore took an early lead in the final set. Domijan fought back to force a tiebreak, but King held on for the win.
For King, who was the No. 19 seed in the tournament, the win was his highest ever over a ranked opponent and his first against a No. 1 seed. He faced Domijan in the same round last year but fell in two sets 2-6, 2-6. Domijan, who stands 6-foot-7, was handed the 16th loss of his junior career and his fourth in 2009. King, the highest ranked American recruit to ever play at Tech, posted an even 17-17 overall record in singles matches while playing primarily at the No. 2 position on the team behind junior Guillermo Gomez.