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Abdulsalam Qualifies for Main Draw of ITF Futures

by Frank Mercogliano

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic — Rafael Abdulsalam got used to taking classes online during the pandemic, and it’s a good thing because he has a pretty good reason for an excused absence.  Abdulsalam qualified his way into the main draw of the ITF Futures Tournament in Santo Domingo where he will face off with No. 4 seed Roy Smith on Wednesday.

Abdulsalam, who advanced to the Round of 16 in the ITA Mountain Regionals in late September, went a perfect 3-0 in qualifying play to make it into the main draw, winning all in straight sets.  He opened with a 6-1, 6-3 win over 28-year old American Daniel Alonte.

From there, he played Canadians back-to-back.  First, he took a 6-1, 6-3 win over Razvan Baiant and then in the match that sent him into the main draw, he defeated Aurel Ciocanu 6-3, 6-3.  Ciocanu played last year at St. Leo in Florida and was named NCAA Division II’s ITA Most Improved Player as he led St. Leo into the NCAA Regionals.

Now, Abdulsalam will face off with Smith, who played collegiately at Baylor.  Ranked as high as No. 310, Smith was twice named All-Big XII before turning pro midway through the 2018-19 season.  Should Abdulsalam get past Smith, waiting would be either qualifier Osgar O’Hoisin of Ireland or Stefan Cizelj-Zivkovic of Serbia.