Jan. 3, 2018

By Steve Pratt (stevep@bzapr.com) for the USTA

Former ACC college rivals Ronnie Schneider and J.C. Aragone both sat in the Players’ Lounge at the Marks Tennis Stadium on the campus of USC on Tuesday lamenting losses and wishing their results from their first singles matches of the new year had gone differently.

Both players had lasted until the final day of dual-match play during the 2017 college tennis season with Aragone clinching the final singles point giving the University of Virginia a third straight national championship with a 4-2 win over Schneider’s University of North Carolina squad back in May.

The 23-year-old Schneider from Bloomington, Ind., lost to unseeded Evan Song of Las Vegas, 6-2, 6-3, and the 22-year-old Aragone of Yorba Linda, Calif., looked solid in his first-set win over top-seeded Alex Sarkissian, before losing 3-6, 7-5, 6-1, as Day 1 of main draw play was completed at the Southern California Pro Futures Tournament, a USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 event.

“It was pretty tough but Evan played a great match,” said the former All-American Schneider, who also fell in his doubles match later in the day with teammate and another former college star Jared Hiltzik. “I had game points and games where I was leading, but that’s tennis. That’s how it goes.”

Back in September, Schneider won his first career USTA Pro Circuit singles title at the $15,000 Futures just down the road in Fountain Valley, Calif., as well as winning the doubles at Fountain Valley and Laguna Niguel.

“I like it out here a lot,” said Schneider, the 2017 ITA Senior Player of the Year. “I’ve gotten to know the SC guys a lot and the coaches have been so nice and have helped me out with housing. It’s a good, homey feeling and nice to come home to some good housing.”

Schneider will play doubles next week with Aragone at the Long Beach Pro Futures. Aragone found himself warming up with his first-round opponent Sarkissian on Monday when he learned he would be facing the former NCAA singles finalist from Pepperdine in the first round.

“That happens out here, especially in the U.S. when all the guys play the same events it’s eventually going to happen,” said Aragone, who like Schneider graduated in four years from college.

Aragone qualified for the US Open last year as a last-minute wild card, and proceeded to win three straight three-set matches to qualify for the year’s final Grand Slam. He lost to eventual finalist Kevin Anderson in the first round in three sets. He broke a rib in New York and has been sidelined for the past four months recovering. “They gave me an opportunity and I was able to take advantage of it,” Aragone said.

Aragone, who competes with an insulin pump as a Type I diabetic, became one of the top storylines of the Open.

Tuesday’s First-Round Singles Results
Evan Song, U.S., def. Ronnie Schneider, U.S., 6-2, 6-3
Luke Bambridge, Great Britain, def. Tomas Papik, Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-3
Guillermo Olaso, Spain, def. Brandon Nakashima, U.S. (wc), 6-2, 7-6 (4)
Emilio Gomez, Ecaudor, def. Christian Garin, China (4), 7-5, 6-4
Alex Sarkissian (1) def. J.C. Aragone, U.S., 3-6, 7-5, 6-1
Alex Rybakov, U.S. (wc), def. Alexios Halebian, 6-4, 6-3
Jan Satral, Czech Repbulic (7), def. Deiton Baughman, U.S., 2-6, 6-0, 7-5
Roberto Marcora, Italy, def.Jared Hiltzik, U.S., 6-2, 3-6, 6-4