RELATED: International Spring Championships home
By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
CARSON, Calif. – Just two weeks ago, Deiton Baughman found himself playing in the main draw of one of the biggest professional tournaments in the world outside the Grand Slams, as he received a doubles wild card into the Sony Open in Key Biscayne, Fla.
But on Monday, it was back to his hometown of Carson as the 17-year-old – who has officially turned professional and has been playing mainly ITF Futures tournaments – returned to junior tennis with an impressive opening-round win in the boys’ 18s division at the USTA International Spring Championships, taking place at the StubHub Center.
Baughman struggled early on but held on to beat Kentaro Mizushima of Japan, 7-6, 6-4.
At the Sony Open, Baughman and partner Martin Redlicki faced fellow American wild cards Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock in the first round of the Miami-area ATP Masters 1000 tournament, losing, 7-5, 6-4. The pair split more than $9,000 in prize money in the event that was ultimately won by the world’s best doubles team, Mike and Bob Bryan.
“It’s great being back in my hometown, but it was an adjustment,” Baughman said of his play on Monday. “It’s certainly a different kind of ball I’m seeing and overall experience [playing] in the juniors. You could say it was a little shock to the system, and it wasn’t my best effort, but I’m glad I got through.”
Baughman, who is coached by his father Brad and has lived “just 30 seconds with no lights” from the Carson USTA Training Center-West facility since he was 9, played on an outside court at the Sony Open and was watched by more than 500 fans.
“It was an incredible experience,” Baughman said. “I’m so glad I got to do something like that and experience it.”
Baughman officially became a pro in February and is close to inking a contract with a major management company in a week or two.
Also winning matches during the first day of play were top-seeded Francis Tiafoe of College Park, Md., in the boys’ 18s; Gabby Andrews of Pomona, Calif., in the girls’ 18s and Brandon Holt of Rolling Hills, Calif., in the boys’ 16s. Holt is the son of tennis legend Tracy Austin.
In the girls’ 18s, CiCi Bellis, the No. 5-seeded player from Atherton, Calif., won her opening-round match with an easy 6-1, 6-2 decision over Madison Appel of Locust Valley, N.Y.