Rising Utah Tennis Star Franco Capalbo Dominates ITA Regionals


Jibon ASM Asib

Utah Mens’ Tennis players Gernonimo Busleiman and Franco Capalbo celebrate their win in doubles during an NCAA dual meet against the Idaho State Bengals at the George Eccles Tennis Center in Salt Lake City on Jan 30, 2021 (Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Frank Adler, Sports Writer


The University of Utah men’s tennis team had an excellent showing at the ITA regional final. The Utes’ own Franco Capalbo managed to capture the coveted title, beating the No. 1 ranked James Davis in straight sets. 

The tournament began in earnest on Monday with doubles action. The duo of Mathias Gavelin and Bruno Krenn lost their match 8-2, while Rian Ta and Jayson Blando cruised to an 8-3 victory.

Singles action went very well for the Utes. Every Ute advanced from the round of 64 except Ta and Blando. The pair was tired from their doubles match and couldn’t find the energy to compete in the grueling singles portion. 

The round of 32 did not go as well for the Utes. Geronimo Buslieman, Bruno Krenn, Matthias Gavelin and Bruno Caula all fell in straight sets. The only two Utes to advance were Franco Capalbo and Fransisco Bastias.

Capalbo defeated Sebastian Buxman 6-2, 7-6. Capalbo had to battle to win the final set tie break and ultimately prevailed. Bastias beat Bruno Casino convincingly and the match ended after a decisive 6-1 second set. The Utes’ doubles teams, Bastias/Caula and Capalbo/Buslieman also advanced through the round of 16. 

On day three, all the Utes remaining in the tournament managed to win and advance to the semifinals. The doubles pairing of Bastias/Caula fought past a feisty ISU pairing and won 8-6. Capalbo and Bastias competed in the round of 16. Capalbo faced off against Tristan Sarap from WSU. He won the match handily 6-2, 6-3, then Capalbo advanced to the quarterfinals and matched up against No. 5 Jack Barnett from rival BYU.

Capalbo faced far more of a challenge against Barnett. Both sets ended 7-5, 7-5, but Capalbo’s clutch factor, inertia and stamina proved to be too much for Barnett. Bastias defeated No. 11 Eban Straker-Meads and No. 31 Robert Baylon en route to the semifinals with Capalbo. 

The semifinal was a mixed day for the Utes. The unlikely run of Bastias/Caula came to end in a close-fought second set tie break. Bastias also saw his tournament end in heartbreak, as he came out strong winning the first set against No. 1 seed James Davis, but fell short in the latter two sets. Bastias certainly had reason to be proud, and played fantastically the entire tournament. Capalbo continued his dominance roundly beating Bodin Zarkovic despite a second set hiccup. 

After a grueling tournament the final was finally set between Davis and Capalbo. Capalbo started strong and finished strong. He won the first set 6-2, and the second and final set of the tournament 6-4. With this win, Capalbo captured the illustrious ITA regional final trophy.

The Utes have a lot to be proud of after this tournament. Although some doubles pairings might need to be reworked, the individual Ute performances were impressive. Utah will once again be on the courts on Oct. 1. They will compete in the Idaho State Invitational and look to build on a fantastic start to the season. 


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