Baseball has long dominated the sporting landscape in the Dominican Republic. But that is slowly changing.
Long represented by 36-year-old and three-time ATP World Tour titlist Victor Estrella Burgos, tennis in the Caribbean island is steadily becoming a significant presence in the nation’s culture. And, as the 2018 season kicks into high gear, the Dominicans have a new star to cheer for: Santo Domingo native Roberto Cid Subervi.
Last week at the San Luis Open, 24-year-old Cid Subervi made great strides in just his fifth ATP Challenger Tour appearance. The recent University of South Florida graduate, who was the school’s first-ever All-American, had largely been a presence on the Futures circuit since turning pro in 2016. But the Dominican reached his first Challenger final in San Luis Potosi, losing in a tight three-set match to Marcelo Arevalo, and skyrocketed nearly 100 spots in the ATP Rankings to a career-high of No. 329.
He joins Estrella Burgos as the only players from the island nation to reach a final on the circuit.
“It’s great, really,” said Cid Subervi on making the quick and successful transition to the ATP Challenger Tour. “I haven’t played many Challengers since I graduated from school a year and a couple months ago, so I’ve been mostly on Futures. So I’m really excited to be playing Challengers and to have been doing good right away. That’s huge for me early in my career. I hope I can continue to play at that level and hopefully I can move forward.”
The camaraderie that Cid Subervi has formed with his countryman has been a key to his transition from American collegiate competition to the pros.
“Obviously Victor, with his amazing career, has been giving me advice since a long time ago and I always speak to him,” said the Dominican. “Jose also, ever since I graduated from school, he has always been there and he has also given me [advice] and I travel with him a lot lately.
“It’s huge to get out of college and have two guys [who are] already pretty good in the rankings and with a lot of experience that can guide me a little bit. It’s been big for me,” he added.
Challenger Surge Sends Berrettini To Top 100 Debut
At the 32-year-old’s ATP Challenger Tour stop in San Luis Potosi – the second-longest running tournament at the level – Cid Subervi has made an improbable run, winning seven matches in seven days to make the final as a qualifier. He defeated compatriot Jose Hernandez-Fernandez en route, which proved to be his trickiest encounter of the week.
“It was good and bad. It was good because one Dominican would reach the semis, but also you’re playing against your best friend and your countryman,” said Cid Subervi. “It’s challenging, because you want to win but at the same time you don’t want to beat him. I was happy I got that match … and I wish him the very best.”
Like many players looking to make it to the highest level of the sport, the Dominican maintains that he isn’t focused on ATP Rankings goals; rather, he intends to spend most of the season looking to improve his game and gain valuable experience on the ATP Challenger Tour.
However, he does have one goal: to ascend to the ATP World Tour and then qualify for a Grand Slam.
“I really try not to think about [rankings] too much, because it can be a distraction and it can put a lot of pressure on you,” said Cid Subervi. “But my goal is to play the Slams – hopefully the US Open, if I can have a chance. If not, then my goal is to play the Australian Open in 2019. That’s really what my goal has been since last year.
“Like I said, I’m not really thinking about it too much, I’m just focused on getting my game better and that will come.”
Did You Know?
Roberto was a two-time All-American at the University of South Florida and finished his senior season in 2016 with a 25-3 singles record.
“Going to college was key for me. There were so many things that I improved on in college with my coach Matt Hill. I did really well there and I’m happy to translate that to the pros.”