By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
CALABASAS, Calif. – A change of environment has done Lester Cook some good recently, as the hometown kid from Calabasas now calls the Saddlebrook Academy in Tampa, Fla., his new home.
Cook beat No. 8-seeded John Millman from Australia, 6-4, 6-4, on Wednesday in the first round of the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas. It was the pair’s third meeting this year, with Cook now holding a 2-1 lead over the 21-year-old who recently made headlines by winning the Sacramento $50,000 Challenger.
Cook said he did it without playing his best. "I was hitting like 25 percent of my first serves," said Cook, who grew up playing at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center and still has a number of local fans who came out cheering for him. "It was raining off and on and kind of hard to find my rhythm, but I played well enough to get through."
Cook will play Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round. Later in the evening, he teamed with Amer Delic to win a first-round doubles match against Daniel King-Turner and Fredrik Nielsen, 7-5, 4-6, 10-4. It’s the third consecutive tournament the pair has played together.
Also on Wednesday, 18-year-old Ryan Harrison took out No. 5-seeded Izak Van Der Merwe of South Africa, 6-4, 6-3, in a match that was carried over after a rain delay on Tuesday. Harrison next plays Bobby Reynolds, who just last month took out Cook in the final of the Tulsa $50,000 Challenger.
In the night match, two wild cards battled before a boisterous crowd, with former Calabasas High and USC standout Gary Sacks beating last year’s semifinalist and former USC star Cecil Mamiit, 6-4, 7-5, to complete the first round.
(wc: wild card; q: qualifier)
Marinko Matosevic, Australia, (6) def. Ryler DeHeart, U.S., 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Greg Jones, Australia, def. Daniel Kosakowski, U.S., (q) 6-2, 6-3
Ryan Sweeting, U.S., (2) def. Nicholas Monroe, U.S., (q) 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-2
Ryan Harrison, U.S., def. Izak Van Der Merwe, South Africa, (5) 6-4, 6-3
James Lemke, Australia, def. Rik De Voest, South Africa, 7-6 (5), 0-6, 6-1
Lester Cook, U.S., def. John Millman, Australia, (8) 6-4, 6-4
Gary Sacks, South Africa, def. Cecil Mamiit, U.S., (wc) 6-4, 7-5
Greg Jones, U.S. / Jesse Witten, U.S., def. Chris Klingemann, Canada / Michael Venus, New Zealand (q), 6-0, 3-6, 10-3
Alex Kuznetsov, U.S. / Tim Smyczek, U.S., def. Carsten Ball, Australia / Marinko Matosevic, Australia, 6-4, 6-4
John Paul Fruttero, U.S. / Izak Van Der Merwe, South Africa, def. David Martin, U.S. / Travis Parrott, U.S., (2) 2-6, 6-3, 11-9
Lester Cook, U.S., / Amer Delic, Bosnia, def. Daniel King-Turner, New Zealand / Fredrik Nielsen, Denmark, 7-5, 4-6, 10-4
Thursday’s Order of Play:
CENTER start 10 a.m.
[WC] T Smyczek (USA) vs  R Kendrick (USA)
R Harrison (USA) vs B Reynolds (USA)
[WC] G Sacks (RSA) vs  R Sweeting (USA)
[WC] M Ein (USA) / K Kim (USA) vs  R Harrison (USA) / T Rettenmaier (USA)
L Cook (USA) / A Delic (BIH) vs J Fruttero (USA) / I Van Der Merwe (RSA)
COURT 3 start 10 a.m.
G Jones (AUS) vs  M Matosevic (AUS)
 D Young (USA) vs J Lemke (AUS)
L Cook (USA) vs [Q] N Basilashvili (GEO)
 R DeHeart (USA) / P Duclos (CAN) vs N Monroe (USA) / D Young (USA)
 R de Voest (RSA) / B Reynolds (USA) vs [WC] A Gerst (USA) / G Sacks (RSA)
Not Before 11:00 AM
J Baker (GBR) vs A Delic (BIH)
F Nielsen (DEN) vs J Witten (USA)
 R DeHeart (USA) / P Duclos (CAN) or N Monroe (USA) / D Young (USA) vs P Bester (CAN) / A Kumar (USA) - To Be Arranged
 R de Voest (RSA) / B Reynolds (USA) or [WC] A Gerst (USA) / G Sacks (RSA) vs G Jones (AUS) / J Witten (USA) - To Be Arranged
A Kuznetsov (USA) / T Smyczek (USA) vs [WC] M Ein (USA) / K Kim (USA) or  R Harrison (USA) / T Rettenmaier (USA) - To Be Arranged
For a schedule of events and other details, check out the official website, calabasaschallenger.com
Round of 16
Round of 32
Doubles (per team)
Round of 16
Friday, Oct. 22
– Pro-Am Drill, 9-11 a.m.; Pro Exhibition, 6-7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 23
– USTA Junior Team Tennis Kids’ Day, 2-3:30 p.m.
Calabasas Past Champions:
- Donald Young (USA)
- Vince Spadea (USA)
- Robert Kendrick (USA)
- Mark Philippoussis (AUS)
- Brian Vahaly (USA)
- Ivo Karlovic (CRO)
- Jerome Golmard (FRA)
- Michael Chang (USA)
- Andre Sa (BRA)
- Santiago Gonzalez (MEX) – Simon Stadler (GER)
- Ilija Bozoljac (SRB) – Dusan Vemic (SRB)
- John Isner (USA) – Brian Wilson (USA)
- Robert Kendrick (USA) – Cecil Mamiit (PHI)
- Amer Delic (USA) – Bobby Reynolds (USA)
- Graydon Oliver (USA) – Travis Parrott (USA)
- Justin Gimelstob (USA) – Scott Humphries (USA)
- Paul Rosner (RSA) – Glenn Weiner (USA)
- Ota Fukarek (CZE) – Ivo Heuberger (SUI)
USTA Pro Circuit
With 94 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed on the USTA Pro Circuit for approximately $3.2 million in prize money and valuable ATP and WTA Tour ranking points. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Lindsay Davenport, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jelena Jankovic are among the top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA Pro Circuit is world-class tennis administered on the local level and played on local tennis courts as part of the fabric of communities nationwide — an opportunity for current and new fans to experience the excitement and intensity of the professional game in their neighborhood.