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Fatkhiev Ends Aiken's Dominance

June 05, 2003|Steve Galluzzo | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Fairfax junior Artem Fatkhiev was relatively unknown before the start of the City Section singles final on Wednesday.

Despite being seeded second, Fatkhiev marched through the tournament in anonymity and was given little chance of beating top-seeded Bruce Aiken of Woodland Hills El Camino Real, who was poised to complete one of the most dominant senior seasons by any player in section history.

But Fatkhiev dealt Aiken his first loss of the year, 7-6 (5), 6-1, and by the time it was over, everyone at Balboa Tennis Center in Encino was talking about Fatkhiev.

"In the first set I stayed back more, which is what [Aiken] likes to do," said the 6-foot-6 inch Fatkhiev, who lost in the quarterfinals of last year's tournament. "But I started to use my power more in the second set and attack the net on every point."

Fatkhiev and his mother moved to Los Angeles two years ago from Ural, Russia, where 10 years of private coaching had earned him a No. 20 national ranking.

After double-faulting at 6-4 in the first-set tiebreaker, Fatkhiev followed a hard service return to the net and forced a forehand error by Aiken to give Fatkhiev the set.

Aiken broke Fatkhiev's serve to open the second set, but Fatkhiev broke back and Aiken never recovered.

"I've never played [Fatkhiev] and I didn't really know anything about him," said Aiken, who entered the match having won 45 of 46 sets this season. "I tried to be a little more aggressive in the second set, but that caused me to miss more."

In doubles, top-seeded Nick Kogan and Dan Escobedo of El Camino Real defeated second-seeded Eric Young and Ben Tom of Palisades, 6-2, 6-0, to cap an undefeated season. The Conquistadores' duo won all 42 sets this season and lost nine games in 10 sets in the tournament.

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