James Blake, retired ATP tennis star (10 time ATP World singles champ) is helping out 18 year old rising tennis player, Hudson Rivera, by partnering with him in next week’s RSF Pro Open doubles draw.
The tournament begins May 29th and is hosted at the RSF Tennis Club. It concludes with singles and doubles finals on June 4. Daily admission and parking is free to the public.
“We are delighted that James Blake and Hudson Rivera have accepted a wild card into the main draw of our doubles tournament at the ITF Rancho Santa Fe Open, and this tandem will certainly elevate our 16-team doubles draw,” RSF Pro Open tournament director John Chanfreau said. “The pairing of James, an accomplished ATP champion, and Hudson, a rising star on the American tennis scene, is a highlight that is sure to intrigue our tennis community as we open the second year of play on the SoCal Pro Series at the RSF Tennis Club.”
Blake, 43, advanced to Grand Slam singles quarterfinals at the US Open in 2005 and 2006, and at the 2008 Australian Open. His best Grand Slam doubles result was a semifinal berth achieved at Wimbledon in 2009. Blake has been the tournament director of the highly regarded Miami Open tennis tournament since 2018.
At the upcoming Rancho Santa Fe Pro Open, Blake will partner with Rivera, his Rancho Santa Fe neighbor, practice partner and tennis pupil who is headed to Stanford University in September to begin his collegiate tennis experience.
“I asked him,” Rivera said. “We’ve been practicing a bunch and I was like, ‘Hey, would you have any interest in playing doubles with me?’ There’s really no better experience, than to be playing with an all-time great, and going into an actual tournament with him. It’s a special, unique opportunity for me to share the court with him. He’s been a great mentor for me. I can’t wait to be playing with him, as opposed to against him in practice.”
Blake’s acceptance to play in the SoCal Pro Series could be seen as an on-court birthday gift of sorts to Rivera, who turns 19 on May 29, which is the start of RSF Pro Open week.
Rivera made his SoCal Pro Series debut a year ago at the Rancho Santa Fe Pro Open and earned his first ATP world ranking points in advancing to the singles quarterfinals before dropping a three-set match to eventual champion August Holmgren, the 2022 University of San Diego graduate who was the national singles runner-up at the 2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Championships.
Following the 2022 Rancho Santa Fe Pro Open, Rivera completed his time in junior tennis last summer by winning the top prize in Southern California junior tennis – the USTA SoCal (Boys’ 18s) Junior Sectional.
Playing in last year’s inaugural SoCal Pro Series was a litmus test that showed Rivera where his game stood amongst top collegiate players and professionals, and it gave him an edge and sharpness for competing on a higher tournament level that he never knew before, but now feels a sense of belonging to.
Said Rivera: “I’m playing a lot more tournaments now. I’ve gained confidence. I’ve also played some (ITF) 25Ks, and my game is there. I’m super lucky to have these events. They’re all a driving distance away. I don’t have to get on planes to go anywhere.”
Qualifying starts Monday May 29,with the main draw starting Tuesday May 30th. Monday/Tuesday starts at 9am, Wednesday onwards at 10:00am.
Go to this web page to see the latest draws and results.
Don’t forget the kick off tennis exhibition and happy hour 5pm to 7:30pm this Friday May 26. Click here for more details.