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Georgetown Law Student Wins Bracket Challenge

Sean Doran & Deryck CheneySean DoranSean Doran & Deryck Cheney

Georgetown Law student Sean Doran emerged as the winner of the ATP Bracket Challenge from a field of 23,033 participants, and will enjoy the Grand Prize of a VIP trip for two to an ATP tournament of his choice next season.

But first, Doran and Bracket 'co-pilot' Deryck Cheney have issued a shout out to ATP stats guru Greg Sharko: "We're coming for him next year. We want to challenge him to a Bracket-off."

The 26-year-old from Virginia made his way to the top of the leaderboard using a strategy centered not only around his tennis knowledge, but on percentages – that is, assessing which players his fellow bracketologists were choosing – which provided him with the boost he needed in the final stretch of the Challenge.

"I literally watch tennis every week, follow the scoreboard every week. I know what people are doing, who's on a hot streak," said Doran, who coached at the McLean Swim & Tennis Association for six years. "Also, it was about figuring in percentages about who you play. I was surprised by some of the competition in the Top 20 that a lot of people just had [Roger] Federer or [Rafael] Nadal finals for Paris, and they weren't going to be able to get enough points to catch up to the people ahead of them."

Doran made a solid start to the eight-tournament Challenge circuit, finishing 90th out of more than 11,000 participants in Miami and third out of nearly 7,000 in Monte Carlo. But he figured it was a long shot to win following lackluster showings at Rome, Hamburg, Toronto and Cincinnati.

"I thought I was pretty much out of contention halfway through the season or so, and I pulled myself back after Madrid," said Doran, who entered the second-to-last tournament at 96th place in the overall standings. "I knew I had to go with a low percentage guy to pick up any points and have a shot...Only five percent of the people in the Challenge had Andy Murray to win Madrid. For me that was a no-brainer. Arguably he was the hottest player on tour and I would've had him going far anyway."

ATP Bracket Challenge Winner Talks Strategy

Along with fellow 'tennis obsessed' friend Cheney, Doran tuned in on semifinal Saturday to watch Murray defeat Federer and Gilles Simon stun Nadal. "That's where it came down to be huge," said Doran. "It was kind of like, Holy Cow, I'm tied for first going into the last week."

As the front-runner, he decided to play it safe for the final tournament in Paris. Though Doran originally pegged eventual champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach the final, he ultimately selected Nadal over Novak Djokovic in the title match. He said: "I pretty much went conservative since I had to have people catch me to beat me. It was about percentages. I knew not many people would have [David] Nalbandian or Tsonga."

Doran, who lists Andy Roddick, James Blake and Roger Federer among his favorite players, has the European tournaments in Monte Carlo and Madrid at the top of his destination list before his graduation in May and ensuing relocation to California to work at law firm Morrison & Foerster.


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