La ITF compara a Camiña con Nadal

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Jorge Camiña Borda Photo: Manuela DaviesOn first glance at the 5-foot-6, 138-pound, bowlegged Jorge Camina Borda walking briskly in around the court as if he were late for a bus, one would never imagine that he’s considered Spain’s senior tennis version of Rafael Nadal – in results, not style.

Camina Borda, the top seed in the men’s 70s draw of the Super-Seniors World Individual Championships, didn’t drop a game in his first two matches at the USTA National Campus. But a nagging calf pull forced him to dig deep in a 63 67(7) 60 victory on Tuesday over a game Wayne Hassett, the 25th seed from Australia, also hampered by an Achilles’ injury and two hamstring pulls.

“It was more like a paralympics match,’’ cracked Hassett, 71, a runner-up in the Australian Open 70s this year. “He’s so consistent and you don’t get easy points. You have to do a lot to beat him and you tend to go for a little bit too much. It’s an honor to play him.’’

Camina Borda has the touch of a diamond-cutter, whether it’s a feathery drop shot or pinpoint passing shot. He has the uncanny ability to place every shot within an inch of the lines. By plucking the ball out of the air from any spot on the court, the racket-wielding magician is able to surgically dissect his opponents by robbing them of time.

“I didn’t have to suffer because he either wrong-footed me or drop-shot me, so I didn’t have to run,’’ joked Christian Cabrol, Camina Borda’s third-round hit-and-run victim.

Playing seniors since he was 35, according to the Bilbao native he was won 150 ITF tournaments while dropping just 19 of 650 matches. He has won 17 world titles, including four singles. Last week he led Spain to his 13th world team championship (Jack Crawford 70s division) while not dropping a set in three singles matches.

It’s unlikely Camina Borda will add to his gold medal collection this week as his worsening calf pull has stolen his mobility, one of his super strengths. He said he will probably pull out of his quarterfinal match Wednesday against the seventh-seeded Richard Tutt of Great Britain.

“The ball travels better than me,’’ Camina Borda cracked.

Camina Borda, 70, a native of Bilbao in Northern Spain, was a natural athlete and top junior tennis player in his region, but he also excelled in field hockey.

“I couldn’t make any money in tennis so my father made me study instead of playing tennis,’’ Camina Borda said through a translator. “At 19, the governing body of field hockey asked me to play with a chance of making the Olympics.’’

Camina Borda was on Spain’s national field hockey team in the 1972 Munich Olympics and walked away in sixth place. He went on to a career in finance and banking while raising three children with his wife of 42 years, Conchita.

At 35, he played a then 45-year-old Andres Gimeno, a French Open champions 10 years prior, in a local tournament and took him to three tough sets.

“I thought if I did so well against [the former No. 3 player in the world] then I had the possibility to keep playing better,’’ Camina Borda said. “I was unable to get [financial] help from the Spanish federation or I believe I could’ve been in the Top 25 in the world if I stuck to tennis.’’

Camina Borda’s youngest of four grandchildren was an aspiring pro who often hit with two-time French Open champion Sergi Bruguera.

“I was his coach, but when I was 55 and beating him all the time it demoralized him so he quit,’’ Camina Borda said with a mischievous, yet proud look.

In other 70s’ matches, former Britain’s No. 1 Mark Cox, the 20th seed, fell to fourth-seeded Kenneth Dahl of Canada 61,75. Dahl will play U.S. James Pressly in another quarterfinal.






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