November 30th, 2016

Florida Teen Kozlov Beats Sandgren for 1st ATP Challenger-level Tennis Title

General News USTA Pro Circuit

kozlov-columbus-2016Eighteen-year-old Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Fla., won his first ATP Challenger-level tournament over the weekend, defeating fellow American Tennys Sandgren 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 in the final of the Columbus Challenger in Ohio.

The No. 4 seed en route to defeating the unseeded Sandgren in the championship match beat Jose Statham of New Zealand, German Dominik Koepfer, American Kevin King, and in the semifinals No. 8-seeded Sam Barry of Ireland, all in straight sets.

While it was his first Challenger-level win, it was his fourth USTA Pro Circuit/ITF title of 2016 after Los Angeles in January, Sherbrooke (Canada) in March, and Little Rock in April. He is 4-2 overall in finals this year, finishing runner-up at Le Gosier (Guadeloupe) in April and Suzhou (China) last month.

Kozlov had lost his previous three career appearances in Challenger finals.

“It’s still sinking in,” Kozlov told the Miami Herald. “I still feel like I’m ranked 150, but when I look at the rankings, I see my name next to 116. Hopefully, I can use this momentum to keep pushing ahead and break into the Top 100 and then Top 50.”

He is roughly six months into working with new coach Stanford Boster of South African, a relationship set up via the USTA. Boster worked with Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish when they were young players on tour.

It was the third time in the past four weeks that an American teenager from Florida won their first Challenger title, following Palm Coast’s Reilly Opelka in Charlottesville, and Bradenton’s Michael Mmoh in Knoxville.

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