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Pros in Pan Am mode

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Pros in Pan Am mode

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Darian King and Haydn Lewis, the island’s top professional tennis players, are making serious preparations for the Pan Am Games which will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, from October 14 to 30.
The pair, who in June led the Barbados team to promotion to the 2012 Davis Cup Americas Zone Group II for the first time in 15 years, will be accompanied by coach Kevin Yarde.
They will compete in both men’s singles and doubles knockout events against top players from the North, South and Central Americas and the Caribbean.
King, 19, and still in his first year on the men’s professional circuit, achieved new career highs last week in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings, reaching No. 870 in singles and No. 622 in doubles.
He picked up ranking points from reaching two singles quarter-finals at recent Futures events in Mexico as well as a semi-final doubles placing.
The teenager also has more points pending from further wins at last week’s Futures tournament in Toronto, Canada, still to be added to his total.
These additional points will push him towards his yearend goals of ranking in the 700s in singles and mid-400s in doubles.
King, who has been receiving coaching from top United States coach Roger Smith in Los Angeles, is hoping to be based in California in 2012.
Smith is also the coach of up-and-coming 18-year-old American player Sloane Stephens who has just broken into the
Top 100 on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour after reaching the third round of the just-concluded US Open.
This week, King will be playing a Futures event in Claremont, California, where he has reached the second round after beating No. 7 seed Kiryl Harbatsiuk of Belarus in three sets.
Over the next four weeks he will play other Futures and Challenger tournaments in California before heading to the Pan Am Games.
Lewis, 25, is currently ranked 127th in singles and 433rd in doubles by the ATP.
He will be playing in Futures and Challengers events in Mexico and the United States in forthcoming weeks following time spent in Barbados improving his fitness.
Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and coached by former professional tour player Guillermo Rivas, Lewis recently reached a career high of 405th in doubles, having won his fourth Futures final for 2011.
He reached a career singles high of 583rd in October 2008 following good results at several tournaments in Australia where he was then based.
Both King and Lewis will be looking for good performances at the Pan Am Games which offer big opportunities for gaining qualification for the 2012 Olympics. (SAT/PR)