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Briton rolls into tennis quarterfinals at Mt. Lebanon |
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Briton rolls into tennis quarterfinals at Mt. Lebanon

| Thursday, July 5, 2012 7:30 p.m

Walk around Mt. Lebanon Tennis Complex, and it won’t be long before talk about Wimbledon surfaces.

Nadal’s out? Serena’s in the final? Who the heck is Brian Baker?

Pardon Alex Bogdanovic if he abstains. Bogdanovic played at Wimbledon from 2002-09, winning just three of 27 sets, first-round flops every time.

That was a long time ago, the British left-hander will tell you, back when his career was marked by injuries and unfulfilled promise.

Bogdanovic, the No. 1 seed at the PNC Men’s Futures of Pittsburgh, is in a different place these days, one without so much as a coach or sponsorship — but one with a renowned love of the game.

“When you get to my age (28) and with the ranking that I have (363), it’s very difficult to get sponsorships,” Bogdanovic said. “I’m out here trying to work my way back to where I was — and maybe do even better.”

Bogdanovic looked dominant during his 6-1, 6-0 win over Robert Rotaru on Thursday, showing off an effortless backhand, power and guile.

Bogdanovic will meet Joel Kielbowicz in the quarterfinals and could face local favorite Bjorn Fratangelo, the No. 3 seed, in Saturday’s semifinal round.

Fratangelo advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Daniel Stahl, though he received medical attention for back stiffness after breaking Stahl’s serve midway through the second set.

“I’ve learned how to manage myself pretty well,” said Fratangelo, who won three of the final four games as Stahl came unglued, double-faulting and committing several unforced errors. “I’m getting through it.”

Bogdanovic can relate.

After turning pro in 2002, Bogdanovic struggled to find consistency but chalked it up to inexperience. Logical for someone still in his early 20s.

By 2007, Bogdanovic had figured it out and achieved his best ranking (No. 132), but severe back spasms and a ruptured disc derailed his game.

“For it to happen at that moment, it was like, ‘Why now?’” Bogdanovic said. “But that experience was really good for me because I look back on it, and, at the same time, maybe I wasn’t ready for the top 100 yet.”

Though he admits the lack of success at Wimbledon was more mental than physical, the back pain didn’t help. Neither did shin splints, which came along in 2010.

After turning to yoga and Pilates, which Bogdanovic does three times a week, the back has never felt so good, his legs so mobile, his game so fluid.

“For me right now,” he said, “it’s just about trying to enjoy every moment.”

Notes: At the National Collegiate Clay Court Championships/West Penn Amateur, 13-year-old Anna Smith (Venetia) reached the final in girls singles after her semifinal opponent withdrew due to a death in the family. Smith plays the winner of Friday’s 10 a.m. semifinal between Sarah Shashura (Duquesne) and Taylor Washington. … Joseph Van Meter will face Alex Sidney in the boys singles final Friday. … Sidney teamed with Van Damrongsri to win the boys doubles title. … The girls doubles final featuring Spencer Caravaggio and Taylor Perz against Shashura and Chandler Consonery will take place after the girls singles final.

Jason Mackey is a freelance writer.

Categories: Other Local
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