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Krajinovic earns paycheck

He's barely old enough to drive in this country, and he's already a pro.

Serbian-born Filip Krajinovic, 16, advanced to the $50,000 Knoxville Challenger by winning his second and third matches in the qualifying tournament Sunday at the University of Tennessee's Goodfriend Tennis Center.

Krajinovic, who lives and trains at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla., upset the qualifier's No. 1 seed, Phillip Simmonds of Reston, Va. 6-4, 6-3 to reach the main draw and assure himself a paycheck. He makes $520 if he loses his first-round match Tuesday and is assured $860 if he wins.

"It's big," Krajinovic said. "I beat the No. 1 seed, which is 400-something (Simmonds is ranked No. 423 in the world). It's pretty cool."

Also earning spots in the main draw starting today at 11 a.m. were Gd Jones of New Zealand, Brian Battistone of Las Vegas and Chris Klingemann of Canada.

Jones completed his eligibility at Illinois in 2007 and has played the tour since then. His first name is pronounced "G.D." and spelled Gd.

"No periods," Jones said.

Highlighting the main draw are No. 1 seed Vincent Spadea (ranked 77 in the world), No. 2 Bobby Reynolds (83) and No. 3 Robert Kendrick (84). None play until Tuesday. Kendrick won the 2007 Knoxville Challenger.

This year's tournament winner earns $7,200 and the runner-up $4,240.

Krajinovic, who moved to the United States about 13 months ago, turned pro earlier this year.

"I started (pro) this year, played some Futures in Florida," he said. "I did pretty well, three quarterfinals in Futures and lost tough matches.

"My coach, my team (at Bollettieri) said you can play the bigger guys in the Challengers."

So here he is against players like Jones, whose best pro finish came when he qualified for the ATP Tour stop in Auckland, New Zealand, and lost in the first round.

Jones, however, has had a tough last month, losing in the two Challenger qualifiers and losing in the first round of the main draw at Champaign, Ill., after getting a wild card.

"Tennis is for sure one of the hardest sports to make it," Jones said. "The competition is so deep at all levels. It's not just the guys you see on TV that are good, strong professionals. It trickles pretty far down from there."

Simmonds received a "lucky loser" entry into the main draw as the highest-ranked player in the qualifier not advancing.

Vols Ousted: University of Tennessee players Matteo Fago and Tennys Sandgren lost first-round qualifying matches. Fago lost to Marcus Fugate 6-1, 7-6 (6) and Sandgren lost to Austin Krajicek 6-4, 6-4.

Former UT players Robert Cameron and Ben Rogers also lost in the qualifier.

Krajinovic beat Cameron 6-4, 6-3 in the first round. Rogers beat Jordan Cox 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the first round and lost to Milan Pokrajac 6-2, 6-3 in the second. Pokrajac, seeded No. 2 in the qualifier, lost to Battistone in the third match, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-4.

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