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Busy weekend on court for Duke's Tahir at Men's Futures in Mt. Lebanon

| Friday, July 5, 2013, 8:45 p.m.

Some players from top college tennis programs prefer to take the summer off and get away from the game a little.

Not Jason Tahir.

“He plays a bunch of these tournaments,” said Tahir's teammate at Duke, Fox Chapel native Chris Mengel. “I kind of take it easy in the summer; he loves playing. He grinds hard.”

The PNC Men's Futures of Pittsburgh at Mt. Lebanon Tennis Center represents the fourth consecutive week Tahir has played in an International Tennis Federation Men's Futures event.

“I get sort of antsy if I haven't played too many matches,” Tahir said.

Good thing. Tahir is playing well enough that he isn't suffering from a lack of matches this weekend. He hopes he'll have a busy championship Sunday.

Tahir, a native of upstate New York, advanced to the semifinals with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win against Connor Smith on Friday. Tahir also advanced to the final of the doubles tournament when he and Mengel defeated Hunter Callahan and Devin McCarthy, 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 (in lieu of a third set, doubles teams play a 10-point tiebreaker).

Tahir faces Jeremy Efferding on Saturday; the winner meets the winner of Saturday's Michael Shabaz-Shane Vinsant semifinal in the championship match Sunday.

Tahir and Mengel will play Marcos Giron and Smith in the doubles final Sunday.

“It would be awesome to be in the singles and doubles final on Sunday,” Tahir said. “That'd be really cool.”

This is the second consecutive year Tahir has performed well at the USTA Pro Circuit event. Last year, he won his first Futures tour doubles title, teaming with Duke teammate Michael Redlicki. He also reached the quarterfinals in the singles draw.

He's already one-upped his singles performance this year — and he has a chance to again win doubles with a college teammate. Tahir and Mengel, a Shady Side Academy graduate, are roommates at Duke, and Tahir is staying with Mengel and his family this week. The two are friends, but they hadn't played doubles together until this week.

“Chris had to change his returning side, so he's probably not returning as well as he normally would. But we've just toughed out a couple matches and are playing well,” Tahir said. “And here we are, one match away from winning it.”

Tahir is also one match away from his first singles championship match on the Futures tour, generally considered the third tier of professional tennis. Tahir beat Efferding last week at the Futures tournament in Rochester.

Efferding came back to beat Keith-Patrick Crowley, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. The other two semifinals also went three sets — Shabaz beat McCarthy, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), and Vinsant defeated Giron, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

The National Collegiate Clay Court Championships West Penn Amateur tournament going on simultaneously wrapped up Friday. A day after losing in the women's doubles final, Mt. Lebanon's Callie Frey was runner-up in singles, too, falling to the University of Florida's Alexandra Cercone.

Jeremy Dubin of Southampton, N.Y., won the men's tournament final against Australia's Luke Adamus.

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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