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Locals Kudla and Tiafoe enjoying doubles run

By: Anirudh Sridhar

Denis Kudla and Francis Tiafoe teamed up to compete in the doubles at the 2016 Citi Open. This is the local tournament for both players as Kudla is from Arlington, Virginia and Tiafoe hails from College Park, Maryland.

Denis Kudla

Denis Kudla

Both players singles’ competition came to an early close at the Citi Open as did their doubles run. The duo lost to the Romanians Mergia and Tecau in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. Despite their early exit, both were all smiles and have been enjoying the tournament.

“We had a lot of fun and it’s our first time playing together. I’ve known Francis forever, actually his entire tennis career. It’s a pretty special place to play together and it was a special match and we went out there and played our best match,” Kudla said.

Kudla, formerly from Ukraine, moved to Virginia with his family when he was a year old and quickly became an American citizen. Kudla has never won a match at the Citi Open and is still waiting for his first win at the venue.

“I’ve been here a long time and I’m yet to win a match. It was definitely nerve-racking the first couple years but now the expectations are low. They (friends and family) come out here and go it can’t get much worse,” Kudla said.

Francis Tiafoe

Francis Tiafoe

For Tiafoe, it’s only his second appearance at the Citi Open and he hopes his doubles play will help him in the singles game moving forward.

“Doubles helps a lot with the volleys, serves and returns,” Tiafoe said.

Kudla is a fan of local D.C area sports except for the Washington football team, and one ex-Washington quarterback and long-time team rival is to blame for that.

“When I was 10 years old, I jumped on the (Eagles) bandwagon with McNabb. I remember that super bowl with the Eagles and Patriots so I jumped on that bandwagon and stayed on it, it’s not the best bandwagon to be on but I am an Eagles fan.”

Although they both do not rank very high in the ATP rankings, they’re optimistic about their future and hope to have better success at next year’s Citi Open.

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