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story.lead_photo.caption Karue Sell returns a ball during his 7-5, 6-2 victory over Nicolaas Scholtz during the championship match of the USTA Pro Futures Bolo Bash tournament Sunday at Rebsamen Tennis Center in Little Rock. - Photo by Thomas Metthe

It wasn't the most ideal day, weather-wise, Sunday afternoon at the $25,000 USTA Pro Futures Bolo Bash tournament.

But despite windy conditions at Rebsamen Tennis Center in Little Rock, Karue Sell persevered.

Sell, of Brazil, defeated Nicolaas Scholtz of South Africa 7-5, 6-2 to win the Bolo Bash title.

It was Sell's third Futures Tour title and second this year. He won in Los Angeles on the tour's season-opening tournament in January and in Claremont, Calif., in September.

Sell, 24, earned $3,760 for the victory on a day when temperatures were in the 40s.

"We played in such good conditions all week," Sell said. "At first, I was like, 'What is happening right now?' I wasn't feeling the ball so well. But eventually, I got my groove and used it in my favor, if I could.

"You've got to do what you've got to do out there."

Scholtz led 4-2 in the first set, but Sell capitalized on two break points to win the set 7-5.

"I caught a lucky break at 4-3," Sell said. "He missed on two forehands right there and I got the break back. From there, it got me going. I wasn't going for too much. The margin was too small today.

"The wind was starting to tick him off, so I wanted to step on him and keep it going."

In the second set, it was all Sell.

Sell had his third break point of the match to go ahead 2-0. Scholtz pulled within 3-1. Then, Sell recorded his fourth and final break point to win the match 6-2.

Scholtz was complimentary toward Sell after Sunday's match.

"Congrats to Mr. Sell for kicking my ass today," Scholtz told the crowd at the tennis center's stadium court. "You deserve it."

To reach Sunday's final, Sell, who is No. 521 in the ATP World Tour rankings, upset No. 1 seed Kaichi Uchida in the quarterfinals Friday and defeated Sam Riffice in the semifinals.

"I just tried to be mentally strong this week," Sell said. "My first match here, I was striking the ball well. It was a confidence thing. You're striking the ball well. You put everything together and you feel solid.

"At the end of the day, I started well and I was playing loose. I had a ton of fun playing. That's what makes me play looser and better. It was a great week."

Sell played collegiately at UCLA before turning professional in 2017. He said he hopes he can use the Little Rock tournament as a springboard to the rest of the season.

"I want to play like I played today, being aggressive and being solid," Sell said. "I did some good work on my serve going into this week. When my serve clicks, then everything else becomes much better. I hope to keep working and building on that. I don't know how much my ranking is going to go up, but I'm going to definitely be able to play in higher-level tournaments and compete for higher points."

Along with his prize money, Sell also received Apple Airpod wireless headphones.

"I kind of make fun of people wearing airpods," Sell said. "But I'm going to wear them now."

Photo by Thomas Metthe
Karue Sell celebrates his 7-5, 6-2 victory over Nicolaas Scholtz during the championship match of the USTA Pro Futures Bolo Bash tennis tournament on Sunday at Rebsamen Tennis Center in Little Rock.

Sports on 04/16/2018

Print Headline: Sell finds groove, Bolo Bash victory

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