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Colombian Sensation Obando Set for Newport Beach

March 14, 2000|MELANIE NEFF

Colombia's Santiago Obando has only been in the United States for two years and he is already taking the tennis world by storm. Fans in Orange County will get a chance to watch him play Friday and Saturday at the National High School Tennis All-American tournament in Newport Beach.

Obando, a 5-foot-7, 145-pound junior at Dr. Michael Krop High School in Miami, arrived in the United States two years ago. He is currently 42nd in the world in the International Tennis Federation's junior rankings and was as high as 14 in the 16-and-under division in Colombia.

He recently received his first U.S. Tennis Assn. junior ranking--77th.

"That obviously isn't very impressive," said Michael Kypriss, Obando's coach. "But he has only been playing in tournaments since January. I expect him to be ranked between 15 and 25 by the end of the season."

Last season, Obando played an integral role in earning Krop its district's title, which was no small feat as the school was only a year old at the time and the team was made up of sophomores and freshmen. Krop is currently Florida's sixth-ranked team in the public school division.

Since last season, Obando, who trains with Colon Nunez, a top-rated juniors coach who has worked with Mary Pierce and Michael Chang, has taken huge strides. He has replaced sophomore teammate Brian Rechtman at No. 1 singles this season. Rechtman, who plays up a level in the 18s, is ranked 92 by USTA.

Kypriss says Obando has all the assets necessary to become a great professional some day.

"He really hits big," Kypriss said. "He is similar to [Andre] Agassi with his open-stance forehand, and he has great soft hands at the net."

Krop is the fourth-seeded team in this week's tournament and will meet L.A. Brentwood in a first-round match at 11 a.m. Friday at the Newport Beach Tennis Club.

The championship will be played at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Palisades Tennis Club.


Corona del Mar Coach Tim Mang, the tournament's executive director, has arranged for a doubles exhibition that will feature four of the top players in the tournament on Thursday night at the Palisades Tennis Club

Obando will be the partner of Dustin West from E.C. Glass. West is the defending Virginia state champion in both doubles and singles.

They will play Corona del Mar's Brian Morton and Bakersfield Centennial's Ryan Haymond. Morton is currently ranked No. 8 in Southern California in the 18s after upsetting Fallbrook's nationally ranked Ryan Redondo last month. Haymond is No. 4 in Southern California in the 18s.

The match will begin at 6 p.m. Admission is free.


In other first-round tournament matches, top-seeded Peninsula will play Connecticut's Chesire Academy at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center at 10 a.m. Peninsula's No. 1 singles player, sophomore Rylan Rizza, who is Southern California's No. 3 player in the 16s, will miss the tournament after possibly breaking a finger on his right hand Sunday.

Second-seeded Corona del Mar will meet Virginia's Woodberry Forest at Palisades Tennis Club at 10:30 a.m. Third-seeded Englewood (Colo.) Cherry Creek plays Bakersfield Centennial at the Park Newport Apartments at 11 a.m.

Clovis West and North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake play at 11 a.m. at Newport Beach Tennis Club. Atherton Menlo will play Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy College Prep at the Balboa Bay Club Racquet Club at 11 a.m., and Riverdale (N.Y.) Horace Mann meets Beverly Hills at Palisades at 10:30 a.m.


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