BAKER AND TWO OF NCAA’S BEST TO JOIN THE PLAYERS FIELD
ATLANTA – The BB&T Atlanta Open will be Brian Baker’s tour debut since suffering a torn lateral meniscus in January. The BB&T Atlanta Open will be held at Atlantic Station July 20-28 and is the first men’s event in the Emirates Airline US Open Series.
Baker has written one of the best comeback stories in tennis history. The American had an outstanding junior career that included reaching the 2003 French Open finals and a world No.2 junior ranking. He also recorded wins over some of today’s top players, including Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.
After turning pro in 2003, he suffered a string of severe injuries that caused him to miss six years of action. Upon his return in 2012, Baker proved he had not lost his talent by reaching his first career ATP World Tour final in Nice. The former Belmont University men’s tennis assistant coach continued to excel, reaching last year’s Wimbledon Round of 16 and No. 52 on the Emirates Airline ATP Rankings.
"We are thrilled to be Brian Baker’s first tournament back since his Australian Open injury," Tournament Director Bob Bryant said. "Brian has persevered for one of the greatest comebacks in professional sports and the BB&T Atlanta Open is glad to assist him in the next chapter of his career by granting a wild card into our main draw. Additionally, two-time champion Mardy Fish will be returning to action in Atlanta after playing in just one tournament since last year’s U.S. Open, giving Atlanta fans the opportunity to witness two great American tennis stories in 2013."
Two players from Georgia universities will be given the opportunity to compete against some of the top tennis players in the world, continuing a tournament tradition. Georgia Tech tennis standout Juan Spir and University of Georgia’s Nathan Pasha will receive wild cards into the singles qualifier. John Isner, who will probably be the tournament’s top seed, won an NCAA Division I championship with Georgia.
Colombian Spir achieved a No. 44 ITA singles ranking and a No. 10 doubles ranking with partner and Alpharetta native Vikram Hundal. The pair earned All-American honors by advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Doubles Championship. Spir’s results earned him All-ACC Men’s Tennis Honors for the third year in a row.
"Juan has been the backbone of the Yellow Jackets throughout his Georgia Tech career," Georgia Tech coach Kenny Thorne said. "We appreciate the BB&T Atlanta Open for giving our players the opportunity to play against world-ranked pros."
Georgia rising junior and Atlanta resident Pasha recorded a 14-1 record at the No. 6 slot as a freshman and was selected for the SEC All-Freshman Team and named ITA Southeast Region Rookie of the Year. Pasha finished 2013 with a No. 51 national ranking and a 32-15 record. The ITA named Pasha this year’s Southeast Region Player to Watch.
"We are very pleased to send Nathan Pasha to the BB&T Atlanta Open for the second year," said UGA men’s coach Manuel Diaz. "Pasha has been a standout player for us as a freshman and sophomore and I know that he will continue to shine at this level."