The following condensed press release was supplied by the United States Tennis Association (USTA):
It wasn’t that long ago that T.J. Pura of Pacific Palisades wondered how he would ever be able to win a match against a college player.
Fast forward to last Saturday, and that's exactly what Pura did, beating Georgia’s Eric Diaz in three sets in one of five wins for the USTA Juniors against three defeats at the 12th Annual Audi Napa Valley Classic being played at the Meadowood Resort in St. Helena.
Pura also won his match on Sunday 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 over Robert Stineman of Stanford.
Another Palisades resident representing the USTA Juniors, Robbie Ballamy, competed last weekend and took a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Ben Wagland of Georgia on Saturday and a 6-4, 6-1 loss to Stephen Hoh of Illinois on during Sunday's matches.
"It’s really cool being here," said Pura, 17, who started and finished strong, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. "For a while when I would watch college guys I was like, ‘Oh, my God’ how can I compete at that level? It's a different level but it’s one that I realize is attainable right now to compete with these guys, which is really cool. Because there was a time not long ago when I thought I’d never reach that level."
Pura, who has committed to Duke and has recently been coached by former Texas A&M star Lester Cook, said energy was the key factor in pulling him through.
"I was down an early break in the third set 2-0 but got one back and that just fired me up," he said.
For more information on the Audi Napa Valley Classic and the USTA, visit their website.