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Vallejo takes 6th Greater Urban Pro Tennis Classic

Mario Leguizamon headed the 15 players from Queens who competed in the sixth annual Greater Urban Pro Tennis Classic at Cunningham Park last week.

The Astoria resident, who was seeded fourth in a strong Men’s Open Singles Tournament, defeated Brian Yegidis of Oceanside, 6-2, 6-2, in the first round and Kevin Chin of Long Island City, 6-1, 6-0, in the second round before losing to a tough opponent in Johnny Ramirez of Manhattan, 6-2, 6-7, (5-7), 7-5, in the quarterfinals. Ramirez, who like Leguizamon, is a teaching pros, is also a solid player and wasn’t seeded.

Great Neck’s Ron Nano, who is very accustomed to the Cunningham Park courts, defeated three opponents before defaulting in semifinals, when he arrived at the site longer than the allowed 15 minutes late.

Meanwhile, top seeded Rodrigo Vallejo came through as expected, topping seventh-seeded Michael Ray Pallares of Leonia, New Jersey, who seemed to have trouble with his serve in the finals.

Vallejo, the No. 1 player in the Dominican Republic, played consistent tennis and kept the ball in play in winning the match.

Vallejo didn’t lose a set in his entire five matches. His toughest match came in the semifinals, when he defeated Ramirez 6-4, 6-3.

“The tournament is great,” Vallejo said. “But the surface here at Cunningham Park is a little too fast.”

“He played aggressive off my second serve,” Pallares said. “I was going for a little bit too much. He had trouble with the high back-handers. He played well and I give him credit. He came up with the big shots at the right time. We played a tough match.”

Meanwhile Pallares, who played his second Men’s Tournament of the year, said that he was happy with his own performance. He plays fourth singles at the University of Alabama, which is ranked 14th in the country. Pallares was ranked among the top 50 nationally during his junior days.

“We played in a good, well-run tournament,” Pallares continued. “We had a full draw. Every day a player has to play at his best in such a tournament. On any given day somebody can get hot and take you out.”

Vallejo won $250 in prize money.

Proceeds of the Greater Urban Pro Tennis Classic go to the Youth and Tennis Program of Jamaica, a junior program, headquartered at the Roy Wilkins Recreation Center. On the final day of the Men’s Open Tournament, Director Bill Briggs conducted a Level 3 tournament for the kids, most whom were already in the program.

“Our program has been around for close to 30 years,” Briggs said. “We have kids from all over Queens and from ages 4 and over. Most of our kids are from 8 to 18. We serve more than 1,000 youths.

“The purpose of the program is to get the kids involved with tennis,” he added. “It is also a developmental program to get them involved with the activities outside of tennis. Many former players from the PSAL are working with us.”

Some of the kids in the program enter into other tournaments and travel to different sites for competition.

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