Dave Romero III didn’t allow a 5-1 deficit — or a recorded on-court temperature of 115 degrees — to melt him during the Southwest Regional tennis tournament, held recently in Tucson, Ariz.
Romero rallied with four straight wins and then prevailed in a 7-5 tiebreaker score to upset his division’s No. 3 seed, Adam Knox of Arizona.
That comeback for Romero, a 15-year-old freshman from Robertson High, helped him get on a roll. He went on to reach the semifinals and eventually finish fourth after losing to the 16-and-under silver bracket’s No. 1 seed.
The Southwest Regional is hailed as the largest tournament of its kind, drawing more than 350 players in age divisions from 8 to 18.
A week earlier, Romero placed second in an Albuquerque tournament. He defeated Brandon Mutz of Santa Fe, Dan Paulson of Sandia park and Ben Petry of Albuquerque before losing in the finals to Ryan Hardin of Florida.
Then, at the Southwest Regional, Romero kept his hot streak going even while the mercury kept rising in the southern Arizona desert.
Romero slipped past Knox for a 7-6 squeaker in the first set. Knox regained control with a 6-2 victory in the second set and seemed to be closing in on a match win, jumping out to a 5-1 lead — one point away from closing out Romero.
“Refusing to give up, Dave changed his strategy and survived the game,” said Romero’s father, Dave Romero Jr. “Using the unusual top-spin lob approach, (he) won the next four games before going into a tiebreaker, where he persevered to win the match 7-5.”
Romero went on to defeat players from El Paso and Tucson but fell against a Phoenix standout, the top seed in the 16 silver bracket.
Romero was also successful in doubles, teaming with a partner to defeat duos from Oro Valley, Ariz., and El Paso. They eventually lost to the region’s premier team.
Romero is expected to be a top singles player next spring for the Robertson boys’ team. A youngster who also loves basketball, he credits coaches Juan Carlos and Roman Fulgenzi and Sally and Martin Lopez for his tennis success.
He hopes to attend the University of California-Los Angeles.