Claremont, Calif. - Playing at the prestigious Claremont Club, North Carolina Wesleyan men's tennis junior Robert Kjellberg won his first round match in the qualifying of the $10,000 ITF Futures event, a part of the USTA Pro Circuit. Competing as an amateur, Kjellberg defeated Jesse Schneider of Canada in the first round 6-2, 6-1 in what was his first match at the professional level.
In the second round of qualifying, the Vetlanda, Sweden native faced off against Mico Santiago, currently ranked 1880 on the ATP World Tour. After a two-hour battle, Kjellberg fell in straight sets 6-4, 6-3, becoming the most recent victim of Santiago's winning ways. Santiago had recently posted wins this summer over two players currently ranked in the Top-15 of the ITA Division I National Singles Rankings.
When asked about his experience, Kjellberg, a 2012 Division III All-American, stated that "it was an inspiring experience that only makes me want to work harder as I realize I am close to beating world class players and top Division I athletes."
The qualifying draw at this stop on the USTA Pro Circuit included players from four-time defending Division I National Champion USC, as well as Stanford, UCLA, the University of Washington, Pepperdine and 2012 Division III singles champion Dillon Pottish of Emory.
As an ITF Futures event and part of the USTA Pro Circuit, tournaments like this serve as stepping stones to the big leagues of professional tennis. Eleven of the past fourteen winners of this tournament have gone on to be ranked in the Top-100 of the ATP World Tour, while past champions have included Steve Johnson, Dmitry Tursunov and Taylor Dent.
Kjellberg and other members of the men's tennis team will return to action next weekend when they face off against players from George Mason, Mary Washington, Washington & Lee and Longwood in Fredericksburg, Virginia at the Mary Washington Fall Invite.