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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Nakashima Wins Rancho Santa Fe $25K; Damm, Montgomery Fall at ITF Traralgon Grade 1; Bolton International 14U Tournament Underway

Brandon Nakashima won the title today at the $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Rancho Santa Fe, with the 18-year-old from nearby San Diego defeating Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Nakashima, the No. 8 seed this week, wasn't certain he was going to play this tournament when I talked to him during the Ann Arbor Challenger, but I'm sure he's happy he did now. Nakashima lost just one set in Rancho Santa Fe, in a third round contest with 18-year-old wild card Emilio Nava.

Claire Liu, the No. 6 seed, lost in the final of the women's $25,000 tournament in Malibu, dropping a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 decision to No. 2 seed Nadia Podoroska of Argentina.

Sofia Sewing(Miami), the No. 5 seed, defeated 16-year-old Anastasia Sysoeva of Russia, the No. 7 seed, 7-5, 6-0 in the final of the $15,000 World Tennis Tour tournament in Cancun, claiming her second career singles title. The 20-year-old Floridian won her first title last year, also at a $15K in Cancun.

At the $25,000 women's tournament in Daytona Beach, unseeded Marie Benoit of Belgium won the title, beating qualifier Andrea Lazaro(Florida International) of Spain 6-4, 6-0.  No. 2 seeds Dalma Galfi of Hungary and Kimberley Zimmermann of Belgium won the doubles title, beating unseeded Paula Ormaechea of Argentina and Prarthana Thombare of India 7-6(4), 6-2 in the championship match.

Hina Inoue, the No. 13 seed, reached the final of the ITF Grade 1 in Barranquilla Colombia, a first in her junior career, but she finished as runner-up, with No. 4 seed Dana Guzman of Peru taking the title with a 7-6(6), 6-3 victory over the 16-year-old from California, who trains in Florida. The boys title went to No. 2 seed Martin Breysach of France, who defeated No. 11 seed Pedro Boscardin Dias of Brazil, also a runner-up last week in Costa Rica, 6-2, 6-4.

Top seed Martin Damm and No. 2 seed Robin Montgomery both lost their third round matches at the ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon, the warm-up to the Australian Open Junior Championships. Damm lost to No. 16 seed Timo Legout of France 7-6(6), 6-4 and Montgomery lost to unseeded Celia Mohr of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Montgomery had beaten Mohr 6-4, 6-2  in the semifinals of last month's Orange Bowl. Not all the third round matches were completed Sunday, with Alex Bernard, the last American still in the singles draw, one of those that did not finish.

The Tennis Europe 14-and-under tournament in Bolton England, known for many years as Teen Tennis, which is the warm-up to the Les Petits As tournament in France, began today, with unseeded players taking the courts for their first round matches. Clervie Ngounoue is not competing this week, but there are four other American girls on the trip: Lexington Reed, Maya Joint[16], Mia Slama and Brooklyn Olson[9]. Reed lost her match today, while Slama won hers.

The US boys competing in Bolton are Kaylan Bigun[4], Nikita Filin, Mitchell Lee, Alexander Razeghi and Meecah Bigun. Meecah Bigun was not among those named to the team by the USTA, but he travelled to Bolton with his twin brother and made his way through qualifying. He won his first round main draw match today, as did Lee and Filin.

Live scoring is available via Tennis Ticker.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

McNally, Eubanks Qualify, Bring Number of Americans in Australian Open to 34; Nakashima, Liu Reach Finals of $25Ks in California

Caty McNally and Christopher Eubanks won their final round qualifying matches Saturday in Melbourne, bringing the number of Americans in the Australian Open main draw to 34. The win by former Georgia Tech star Eubanks, who defeated Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium 6-4, 7-6(3), gives the US 12 men in the main draw. Eubanks, who also qualified for the Australian Open in 2019, will be looking for his first main draw win at a slam when he plays fellow qualifier Peter Gojowczyk of Germany Tuesday.

McNally, 18, dispatched Elena-Gabriela Ruse of Romania 6-1, 6-1 to reach the main draw of a third straight slam. She qualified at Wimbledon and received a wild card at the US Open, winning her first slam match there against Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland. Unlike Eubanks, McNally will be in action Monday, taking on Australia's Samantha Stosur. With Ann Li and Shelby Rogers also qualifying, the number of American women in the draw is now 22.

Fifteen former collegiate players are in the singles draws--11 men and 4 women. In addition to Eubanks, these are the men and their schools:
Kevin Anderson(Illinois), Dominik Koepfer(Tulane), John Isner(Georgia), Cameron Norrie(TCU), Andrew Harris(Oklahoma), Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee), JP Smith(Tennessee), Steve Johnson(USC), Marcos Giron(UCLA), Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA).  The four women are: Kristie Ahn(Stanford), Astra Sharma(Vanderbilt), Danielle Collins(Virginia) and Jennifer Brady(UCLA).

An article on Marcos Giron's long journey to his first appearance in the main draw of the Australian Open appeared today in the Los Angeles Times. Steve Johnson warmed up for his first round match against Roger Federer by claiming the title at the ATP Challenger 80 in Bendigo.

With play beginning Sunday night in the US, here are the Americans in action on the first day of competition. The order of play is here.

Monday’s first round singles matches featuring Americans:

Women:
Serena Williams[8] v Anastasia Potapova(RUS)
Venus Williams v Coco Gauff
Sloane Stephens[24] v Shuai Zhang(CHN)
Kristie Ahn v Caroline Wozniacki(DEN)
Caty McNally[Q] v Samantha Stosur(AUS)
Madison Keys[10] v Daria Kasatkina(RUS)
Sofia Kenin[14] v Martina Trevisan[Q](ITA)
Ann Li[Q] v Lizette Cabrera[WC](AUS)
Christina McHale v Petra Martic[13](CRO)
Alison Riske[18] v Yafan Wang(CHN)
Madison Brengle v Caroline Garcia(FRA)
Bernarda Pera v Elena Rybakina[29](KAZ)

Men:
Steve Johnson v Roger Federer[3](SUI)
Sam Querrey v Borna Coric[25](CRO)
Reilly Opelka v Fabio Fognini[12](ITA)
Marcos Giron v Philipp Kohlschreiber(GER)
Tommy Paul v Leonardo Mayer(ARG)
Michael Mmoh[WC] v Pablo Andujar(ESP)
Mackenzie McDonald v Dan Evans[30](GBR)
Tennys Sandgren v Marco Trungelliti[Q](ITA)

Two young Americans have reached the finals at the two $25,000 Oracle Pro Series tournaments in Southern California this week. Eighteen-year-old Brandon Nakashima, seeded No. 8, defeated last week's Ann Arbor Challenger champion Ulises Blanch 6-0, 6-1 to advance to the Rancho Santa Fe final, where he will meet No. 4 seed Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France. Blancaneaux, who won the 2016 French Open boys title, defeated No. 5 seed Sandro Ehrat of Switzerland 6-3, 6-4 in the other semifinal today.  

The doubles title in Rancho Santa Fe went to top seeds Lloyd Glasspool(Texas) of Great Britain and Alex Lawson(Notre Dame). They defeated No. 2 seed Sekou Bangoura(Florida) and Boris Arias(LSU) of Bolivia 6-1, 7-6(1) in today's final. 

At the women's tournament in Malibu, 19-year-old Claire Liu has reached the final, with the No. 6 seed downing No. 5 seed Ana Sofia Sanchez Palau of Mexico 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in today's semifinals. Liu will face No. 2 seed Nadia Podoroska of Argentina, who beat No. 8 seed Jessica Pieri of Italy 6-1, 6-1. 

The doubles title was won by No. 2 seeds Rosalie Van der Hoek of the Netherlands and Laura Pigossi of Brazil, who defeated the Pepperdine wild card team of Astrid Brune Olsen of Norway and Anastasia Iamachkine of Peru 6-4, 7-6(4) in today's final. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

My Annual Eight Intriguing Questions; Anthrop, Inoue Reach Barranquilla ITF G1 Semis; Division II and Division III Preseason Rankings; Li, Rogers Qualify for Australian Open

Every year I step back a bit to look at the bigger issues in the world of college and junior tennis, with this year's edition available today at the Tennis Recruiting Network. The fate of the Orange Bowl is the one that strikes me as the most important, although the possibility that the NCAAs, all three divisions, will move to Lake Nona also stands out as a decision that will have a major impact long after 2020.  To go back to my article looking ahead to 2019, click here.

Two Americans have advanced to today's semifinals at the ITF Grade 1 in Barranquilla Colombia, both of them No. 13 seeds. Jack Anthrop defeated No. 10 seed Jerry Shang of China 7-6, 6-7(5), 6-4 and will play No. 11 seed Pedro Boscardin Dias of Brazil in tonight's semifinals. Hina Inoue defeated unseeded Maria Olivia Castedo of Boliva 6-2, 6-2 and will face No. 2 seed Lauren Anzalotta of Puerto Rico in the semifinals.  No US players advanced to the doubles finals, which will be played this evening.

The ITA announced the preseason rankings for Division II and Division III this week. Click on the headings to see the complete lists (scroll down) at the ITA pages for each division.

Division III preseason team rankings:

Men:
1. Emory
2. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
3. Middlebury
4. Chicago
5. Amherst
6. Wesleyan
7. Bowdoin
8. Brandeis
9. Washington St Louis
10. Williams

Women:
1. Wesleyan
2. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
3. Emory
4. Middlebury
5. Pomona-Pitzer
6. Amherst
7. Carnegie Mellon
8. Chicago
9. MIT
10. Brandeis

Division II preseason team rankings:

Men:
1. Barry
2. Columbus State
3. West Florida
4. Wingate
5. Saint Leo
6. Lander
T7. Flagler
T7. Azusa Pacific
9. Hawaii Pacific
10. Hawaii Hilo

Women:
1. Barry
2. Lynn
3. Columbus State
4. Indianapolis
5. Nova Southeastern
6. Saint Leo
7. West Florida
8. Hawaii Pacific
9. Central Oklahoma
10. North Georgia

At the Australian Open, 19-year-old Ann Li will make her slam debut next week after winning her final round qualifying match Friday in Melbourne. Li, the No. 31 seed, defeated top qualifying seed Ana Bogdan of Romania 5-7, 7-6(9), 6-2. Li saved two match points in that second set tiebreaker. Shelby Rogers defeated Caroline Dolehide 6-4, 6-4 in an all-US final round qualifying match to give the US 21 women in the main draw.  Three more can still advance, with Caty McNally, Danielle Lao(USC) and Sachia Vickery playing their final round qualifying matches Saturday (tonight in the US). Chris Eubanks(Georgia Tech) is the only American man to advance to the final round of qualifying and he did so when Viktor Troicki of Serbia retired leading 6-4, 1-2. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Texas Men Start NCAA Title Defense with Win over No. 1 Florida; Clemson's Harris Announces Retirement; Damm Top Seed at Traralgon Grade 1; Australian Open Draws Announced

Senior Yuya Ito clinched the win for the Longhorns
It's hard to imagine a better opening match for the Division I dual match season than the one that took place last night in Gainesville, with the 2019 NCAA champion Texas men, No. 2 in preseason poll, facing Florida, who topped last week's poll.  Florida took the doubles point, but Texas roared back to post a 5-2 win, with Yuya Ito clinching it for the Longhorns with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Oliver Crawford at line 1. Texas had three freshmen in the singles lineup--Siem Woldeab, Eliot Spizzirri and redshirt Cleeve Harper--with Woldeab at line 3 and Spizzirri at line 4 posting wins. Texas will certainly move to No. 1 in next week's team rankings, and when the computer rankings begin next month, getting a road win over such a good team will be especially valuable.

The recap from the Texas website is excellent, featuring plenty of match details and quotes from head coach Bruce Berque. An article this thorough is unfortunately rare in college tennis, so I want to make sure I recognize SIDs who are providing this quality of reporting. There are also video highlights here.

In other Division I tennis news, Nancy Harris, who has led the Clemson women for 23 years, will retire at the end of this season. Harris posted more than 500 wins in her career, made the NCAA tournament 19 times and guided the Tigers to the Final Four in 2004 and 2005. For more on her accomplishments, see this article from the Clemson website.

The ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia is set to begin Friday (tonight in the United States) with four US girls and five US boys in the main draw. Martin Damm is the top seed and Dali Blanch is the No. 15 seed. Cash Hanzlik, who qualified, and Kalamazoo 16s finalists Alex Bernard and Aidan Mayo round out the American contingent in the boys draw.

None of the three US girls in qualifying won their final round matches. Robin Montgomery is the No. 2 seed and Savannah Broadus in the No. 16 seed. India Houghton and Ellie Coleman are the other two American girls in the Australian Open warmup event.

The men's and women's singles draws for the Australian Open were revealed Thursday, with 11 US men and 19 US women receiving direct entry.

Just two of the men are seeded: No. 19 John Isner(Georgia) and No. 29 Taylor Fritz. The remaining American men are Frances Tiafoe, Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee), Sam Querrey, Reilly Opelka, Tommy Paul, Steve Johnson(USC), Marcos Giron(UCLA), Michael Mmoh[WC] and Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA).

Paul has reached the semifinals of an ATP event for the first time in his career in Adelaide as a qualifier. Paul is now working with former USTA coach Brad Stine and the ATP published an article recently about their partnership.

In contrast to the men, the women have seven seeded players: Alison Riske[18], Madison Keys[10], Sloane Stephens[24], Sofia Kenin[14], Serena Williams[8], Danielle Collins[26](Virginia) and Amanda Anisimova[21]. The other American women in the draw are Bernarda Pera, Christina McHale, Venus Williams, Coco Gauff, Madison Brengle, Kristie Ahn, Cici Bellis, Jennifer Brady, Lauren Davis, Taylor Townsend, Jessica Pegula and Coco Vandeweghe[WC].  Venus and Gauff will have a rematch of their Wimbledon contest, with Townsend and Pegula also meeting in an all-US first rounder.

Collins, who reached the quarterfinals of the WTA event last week in Brisbane, is into the semifinals this week in Adelaide. The two-time NCAA champion, who beat No. 4 seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-1 Thursday, has two wins over Top 10 players now in the past two weeks, dropping six games total in them. She takes on No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia in Friday's semifinals.

The qualifying continues at the Australian Open, with Chris Eubanks, JJ Wolf and Ernesto Escobedo the US men who still have a chance to reach the main draw. Eight US women are still in the running: Ann Li, Sachia Vickery, Varvara Lepchenko, Allie Kiick, Danielle Lao, Shelby Rogers, Caroline Dolehide and Caty McNally. Six is the maximum number that can make the main draw, as four could meet in the final round of qualifying.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Anthrop Defeats Top Seed at Barranquilla Grade 1; Four Americans Begin Qualifying at Traralgon Australia G1; Wolf Wins First Grand Slam Qualifying Match

Eddie Herr 16s champion Jack Anthrop advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITF Grade 1 in Barranquilla Colombia today when top seed and last week's G1 Coffee Bowl winner Natan Rodrigues of Brazil retired trailing 7-5, 3-0. It's the first Grade 1 quarterfinal for Anthrop, the No. 13 seed, who broke into the ITF junior Top 100 this week after reaching the third round in Costa Rica and winning the doubles title.  The third round results other three US boys still alive--Stefan Leustian[5], Max McKennon and Benjamin Kittay[9]--have not yet been posted.

Three US girls have advanced to the quarterfinals in Colombia this week: Isabelle Kouzmanov[6], Hina Inoue[13] and Sofia Camila Rojas[12]. Kouzmanov plays top seed Ana Geller of Argentina and Rojas faces No. 2 seed Lauren Anzalotta of Puerto Rico.

Qualifying for the Grade 1 warmup to the Australian Open Junior Championships has begun in Traralgon, with four Americans on Thursday's schedule. Cash Hanzlik[4] is the only US boy in qualifying, while three US girls are competing for a place in the main draw: Kailey Evans[3], Hibah Shaikh[6] and Tara Malik[7]. A surprise entry in the qualifying is Nicolas David Ionel of Romania, who took a wild card into qualifying after losing in the first round of the ATP Challenger in Bendigo. At 31 in the ITF junior rankings, he is the top seed; the boys qualifying did not fill in Traralgon, while the girls did. Both rounds of qualifying are scheduled to be played today. I believe they did not play the first round on Wednesday due to air quality problems from the fires.

The Australian Open qualifying is now into its third day, but due to delays from poor air quality and rain, the first round has yet to be finished, although some second round matches are on Thursday's schedule. A total of 48 first round matches had either not begun or were suspended Wednesday when rain suspended play for the day.

American men who have advanced to the second round are Chris Eubanks(Georgia Tech), Denis Kudla, Ernesto Escobedo and in a delayed match, JJ Wolf(Ohio State). Wolf, who won the last two ATP Challengers he played--in Champaign last November and in Noumea last week--defeated Zdenek Kolar of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2 to earn his first slam qualifying match. His other two attempts came last year at the US Open and in 2017, also at the US Open, earning that opportunity as a finalist at the Kalamazoo 18s Nationals.

American women who have reached the second round of qualifying in Melbourne are Hailey Baptiste, Ann Li[31], Shelby Rogers, Caroline Dolehide[30], Allie Kiick[28], Danielle Lao(USC), Francesa Di Lorenzo[16](Ohio State) and Nicole Gibbs[15](Stanford).

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Orange Bowl 16s and 18s Videos; Two $25,000 Events on Each Coast Kick Off 2020 USTA Women's Pro Circuit; Redlicki Ousts Top Seed in Rancho Santa Fe $25K

The videos of the finalists of the Orange Bowl 16s and 18s are below, with the champion first, followed by the finalist. This leaves me with just the Junior Orange Bowl 12s and 14s to process from last month's junior swing in Florida. If you missed the Eddie Herr videos, the 16s and 18s are here, and the 12s and 14s are here.

Thiago Tirante


Juan Bautista Torres

Robin Montgomery

Jana Kolodynska

Daniel Rincon

Gabrielius Guzauskas

Ashlyn Krueger

Clervie Ngounoue

While the men had two USTA Pro Circuit events last week, the women didn't have any, but they have two this week, both $25,000 events. Qualifying is now complete in Daytona Beach Florida, with Dasha Ivanova and 15-year-old Rachel Gailis the two Americans advancing to the main draw. Wild cards went to 17-year-old Charlotte Chavatipon, Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame), Kylie McKenzie and 17-year-old Jaleesa Leslie. Gleason didn't play today, but the other three wild cards lost their first round matches. The top two seeds are Paula Ormaechea of Argentina and Tessa Andrianjafitrimo of France.

The other women's tournament is an Oracle Pro Series event in Malibu California. Qualifying is still going on there, but wild cards went to four Americans: 18-year-old Peyton Stearns, 17-year-old Naomi Cheong, 16-year-old Orange Bowl quarterfinalist Maya Pitts and Pepperdine's  Jessica Failla. Amandine Hesse of France is the top seed, with Nadia Podoroska of Argentina the No. 2 seed.

The men have a $25,000 Oracle Pro Circuit tournament in Rancho Santa Fe California this week, with top seed Nino Seradusic of Croatia already ousted today by Michael Redlicki(Arkansas) 6-4, 6-2. American qualifiers are Alex Rybakov(TCU), Evan Zhu(UCLA), Brandon Holt(USC) and Riley Smith(USC). Wild cards went to Emilio Nava, Alafia Ayeni(Cornell), Vasil Kirkov and Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda. Svajda lost to No. 5 Sandro Ehrat of Switzerland 6-4, 6-2 in opening round action today.  Many of those competing at the Ann Arbor Challenger last week have entered this tournament, including champion Ulises Blanch, who is not seeded.