Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Tim Smyczek of the United States is not overwhelmed by the fact that he is the heavy favourite to capture the men's title at the second staging of the NCB Capital Markets Jamaica Tennis Open Championships, which started at Liguanea Club on Monday and runs through to Sunday.
Smyczek has a career-high ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) ranking of 130 and is fresh off a win at the 2012 JSM Challenger Tennis Tournament.
"I think there is always a little bit more pressure on the top seed, but I am not viewing it like that," Smyczek told The Gleaner, shortly after arriving at the Spanish Court Hotel on Monday. "I am looking forward to coming in here and getting some matches.
"I have never been to Jamaica before, so I jumped at the chance to come down here and I am really excited about the event," he added. "I am ready for whatever Kingston throws at me."
The 24-year-old is expected face his strongest competition from number four seed and defending champion, Hayden Lewis of Barbados; number-three seed Oliver Sarjous of Haiti, who won the Hi-Pro Ace Supercenter Tennis Open in August; and number-two seed Darian King.
"I know the three of them," Smyczek disclosed. "Darian King was at a couple of the tournaments I played this fall. I have played Hayden Lewis and Oliver Sarjous before, so I know a little bit about those three. I am sure they are different players now, as I am as well, so you never know what to expect."
Smyczek recorded two victories over Lewis and Sarjous in their previous meetings, which has allowed him some confidence ahead of his first match last night.
"I am coming here with some confidence; I just won my last tournament and I am playing some good tennis and I am at a career-high ranking right now," Smyczek said. "I had a great end to the year, so that kind of boost my ranking up several spots.
"I am really just looking to use it as a springboard to put myself in a good position to make the next jump, next year."
Smyczek's next goal is to take his ATP ranking below 100 by Wimbledon of next year so as to get into the main draw. He is, therefore, seeking to get some more tournament victories under his belt.
"When guys make a jump in the rankings, you see that they have won a lot of matches and they have a lot of confidence and have gone on a sort of run recently," Smyczek shared. "Winning matches is almost like a commodity in tennis, and I think that the more matches you win, the more confidence you gain."