Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Joffe Leaves Texas A&M for Texas; Neel, Mmoh and Opelka into Semifinals at Roehampton; Wimbledon Junior Qualifying Draws

The highest profile women's head coaching position open this summer has been filled, with Texas A&M's Howard Joffe leaving College Station to take over the University of Texas job in Austin.

Joffe was at Texas A&M for four years and led the Aggies to the finals of the NCAAs in 2013. Prior to his four years in College Station, Joffe was head coach at the University of Maryland and Miami of Ohio, and an assistant at Southern California, all in the women's programs.  The complete release is here.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, all three American juniors who reached the quarterfinals won today to move into the semifinals. Ingrid Neel, who has something of an old-school grass game, defeated No. 2 seed Shilin Xu of China 7-5, 6-1 and will play No. 3 seed Dalma Galfi of Hungary in Thursday's semifinal.  Top seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic will play No. 5 seed Katie Swan of Great Britain in the other girls semifinal.

No. 3 seed Michael Mmoh downed No. 6 seed Marcelo Barrios Vera of Chile 6-2, 6-3 and No. 16 seed Reilly Opelka defeated No. 12 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(5) to set up their fifth meeting since last August, with each having won twice. Mmoh defeated Opelka in the quarterfinals of the French Open junior championships last month.  The other boys semifinal will feature No. 7 seed Akira Santillan of Japan against No. 5 seed Viktor Durasovic of Norway.

Three US boys have reached the doubles semifinals.  Tommy Paul and William Blumberg, the No. 2 seeds, and unseeded Ulises Blanch and his partner Juan Pablo Ficovich of Argentia will play for a place in the final.

The qualifying draws for the Wimbledon Junior Championships are out, with play beginning at Roehampton on Thursday.  Seven US juniors are in qualifying: Raquel Pedraza, Mia Horvit, Meghan Kelley, Gabby Pollner, Catalin Mateas, Liam Caruana and Emily Reinberg.  Draws and the order of play can be found at the ITF junior website.

In the men's and women's second round Wednesday, seven Americans advanced, two men and five women making the third round, with No. 21 seed Madison also finishing off her first round match against Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland. No. 17 seed John Isner defeated wild card Matt Ebden of Australia 6-2, 7-6(8), 6-4 and wild card Denis Kudla topped 18-year-old Alexander Zverev 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.

Top seed Serena Williams (d. Timea Babos of Hungary 6-4, 6-1), Venus Williams (d. Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 7-6(5), 6-4) and Sloane Stephens (d. Lauren Davis 6-4, 6-4) all won as expected. CoCo Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands pulled off upsets, with Vandeweghe taking out No. 11 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-6(5), 6-4 and Mattek-Sands outplaying No. 7 seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-4.

Keys, Christina McHale and Sam Querrey are the Americans on the schedule for Thursday's singles play.

The links to the draws are here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Querrey, McHale Sole US Winners Tuesday at Wimbledon; Mmoh, Opelka and Neel Reach Roehampton Quarterfinals; William and Mary's Daub Retires

After a relatively good opening day Monday, only two Americans posted wins at Wimbledon Tuesday: Sam Querrey and Christina McHale.  No. 21 seed Madison Keys was at 2-2 in the third set of her match with Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland when play was suspended due to darkness.

Querrey defeated qualifier Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to a Thursday match with No. 2 seed Roger Federer, while McHale downed Joanna Larsson of Sweden 6-3, 6-2 and will play No. 18 seed Sabine Lisicki of Germany Thursday.

No. 31 seed Jack Sock fell to Sam Groth of Australia 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 and Tim Smyczek was beaten by No. 30 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.  Varvara Lepchenko lost to No. 20 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-4, 6-1 and qualifier Sachia Vickery fell to No. 8 seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-2, 6-4.

American men in action on Wednesday include No. 17 seed John Isner (vs wild card Matthew Ebden of Australia), wild card Denis Kudla (vs 18-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany) and Steve Johnson (vs No. 11 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria).

Six US women play on Wednesday, with two of them playing each other in Lauren Davis and Sloane Stephens. Top seed Serena Williams faces Timea Babos of Hungary and No. 16 seed Venus Williams will take on Yulia Putintseva of Russia.  CoCo Vandeweghe is up against No. 11 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands plays No. 7 seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.

I neglected to mention yesterday the big win for 2014 Wimbledon girls champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on Monday. Given a main draw wild card by the All England Club (she had already earned a place in qualifying), the 18-year-old made good use of it, defeating Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-2, 6-0. She will play Kristina Mladenovic of France on Wednesday.

Draws are here; Wednesday's order of play is here.

The quarterfinals are set for the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, with three Americans advancing to the final eight in singles.  Ingrid Neel defeated No. 6 seed Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada 6-3, 6-3 and will face No. 2 seed Shilin Xu of China, who defeated No. 16 seed Caroline Dolehide 6-3, 6-4.

No. 3 seed Michael Mmoh downed unseeded Kenneth Raisma of Estonia 6-3, 6-4 to set up a meeting with No. 6 seed Marcelo Barrios Vera of Chile.  Reilly Opelka, the No. 16 seed, took out No. 2 seed Corentin Denolly of France 7-6(6), 6-4 and will play No. 12 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.  No. 4 seed Tommy Paul lost 6-3, 6-3 to Alex Molcan of Slovakia, ending Paul's winning streak at 13 matches. Ulises Blanch fell to No. 5 seed Viktor Durasovic of Norway 6-3, 6-4.

Blanch is still alive in doubles, with Argentina's Juan Pablo Ficovic, and No. 2 seeds Paul and William Blumberg have also advanced to the doubles quarterfinals.

Tornado Alicia Black, partnering Australian Naiktha Bains, is the only US girls still remaining in the doubles competition.

A few college notes:

Peter Daub has resigned from the men's head coaching position at William and Mary after 22 years. According to the release, a national search is being conducted for his successor.

Former University of Michigan star Brooke Bolender has been named assistant coach for the women's team at Western Michigan University. Former WMU assistant Ryan Tomlinson took over the head coaching position from the retiring Betsy Kuhle at the end of the season. Kuhle has not retired from tennis however, as she continues to be active in her role as tournament director for the upcoming USTA Zonals.

Madison Harrison, the sister of Ryan and Christian Harrison, has transferred from Kansas to Mississippi State.

The ITA Summer Circuit is underway (Harrison was one of the early winners) in venues across the country.  See the ITA website for draws and entry information.

The ITA's David Benjamin will retire Wednesday, with Tim Russell taking over as Executive Director.  Dave "The Koz" Kozlowski has prepared a video tribute, which can be found here.

There are again three USTA Pro Circuit events in the US this week: a $10,000 men's Futures in Pittsburgh, a $15,000 men's Futures in Wichita and a $25,000 women's event in El Paso.

A couple of notable results from today's action:  2014 Kalamazoo 16s champion John McNally, a wild card,  picked up his first ATP point in Pittsburgh, beating No. 7 seed Collin Johns 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-0 in the first round.

In El Paso, Cal junior Maegan Manasse, also a wild card, defeated No. 5 seed Samantha Crawford 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Nine Americans Advance to Second Round at Wimbledon; Top Seed Fritz Upset at Roehampton; Sampras Letter to Younger Self; Wawrinka as Anti-Prodigy

Nine of the 16 Americans on the schedule on Wimbledon's opening day won their matches, with the men going 3-1 and the women 6-6.

Top seed Serena Williams defeated Margarita Gasparyan of Russia 6-4, 6-1 and sister Venus, the No. 16 seed, overwhelmed Madison Brengle 6-0, 6-0.  Qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium 6-3, 6-2, CoCo Vandeweghe downed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-2, and Lauren Davis defeated Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-4, 7-6(3). Sloane Stephens was the only unseeded American facing a seed today, and she came through over No. 27 Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2. Alison Riske, Nicole Gibbs, Shelby Rogers, Edina Gallovits-Hall and Irina Falconi lost their opening matches today.

Four US women are on Tuesday's schedule are: Varvara Lepchenko vs. No. 20 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain, Christina McHale vs. Johanna Larsson of Sweden, qualifier Sachia Vickery vs. No. 8 seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russiaand No. 21 seed Madison Keys vs. Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland.

No. 17 seed John Isner picked up a straight set win over Go Soeda of Japan 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4, while Steve Johnson and wild card Denis Kudla needed five sets to advance. Johnson defeated Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-3, 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and Kudla made an even more dramatic recovery, beating Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.  Donald Young lost his match to Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

There are three Tuesday first round matches for US men, with No. 31 seed Jack Sock taking on Australia's Sam Groth, Tim Smyczek playing No. 30 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy and Sam Querrey facing Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands.

The draws are here and the order of play for Tuesday is here.

The ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton produced several surprising results in today's second round, with the most notable Australian Marc Polmans' 6-4, 6-3 win over top seed and World No. 1 Taylor Fritz.   No. 8 seed William Blumberg fell to Alex De Minaur of Australia 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and Nathan Ponwith lost to No. 9 seed Yunseong Chung of Korea 6-0, 6-3.  But despite those three losses, the US still placed four US boys in the round of 16, with No. 3 seed Michael Mmoh, No. 4 seed Tommy Paul, No. 16 seed Reilly Opelka and Ulises Blanch winning today in straight sets.

Polmans dealt Fritz a second loss on Monday in doubles, with he and compatriot Jake Delaney beating Fritz and Mmoh, the top seeds, 6-4, 3-6, 10-7.  Paul and Blumberg, the No. 2 seeds, did advance to the second round.

Three of the four US girls remaining advanced to the round of 16. No. 16 seed Caroline Dolehide defeated Maia Lumsden of Great Britain 6-2, 7-5 and Kayla Day downed No. 14 seed Pranjala Yadlapalli of India 6-4, 6-3.  Ingrid Neel took out No. 10 seed and Australian Open girls champion Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.   Top seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic and No. 5 seed Katie Swan of Great Britain are the only seeds remaining in the top half of the draw.

In doubles, No. 2 seeds Sonya Kenin and Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada lost to Lesedi Jacobs of Namibia and Wushuang Zheng of China 2-6, 6-1, 10-4.

In this Player's Tribune post by American tennis great Pete Sampras, he writes a letter to his 16-year-old self, conveying what he wished he had known when he was embarking on his professional tennis career.

And in this article by Tom Perotta for the Wall Street Journal, French and Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka and several high profile coaches make the case for participating in other sports first and concentrating on tennis later.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Former Trojan Lao, Current Trojan Olmos Win Pro Circuit Titles; Battaglia Takes ITF Grade 5 in Bermuda; Excellent Start to Grass Season for US Boys

It was an excellent weekend for current and former Southern California Trojans, who picked up four titles in North American Pro Circuit competition.

Danielle Lao, who graduated in 2013, won her first title at the $25,000 level, beating rising Florida sophomore Brooke Austin 7-5, 6-3 in the USTA Pro Circuit final in Baton Rouge. Austin led 3-0 in the second set, but Lao finished the match by winning six straight games. When the points from this tournament are added after Wimbledon, Lao will be close to the WTA Top 300.  The Baton Rouge doubles title went to Samantha Crawford and Emily Harman of the US, who beat Storm Sanders of Australia  and Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 7-6(4), 6-1 in the final.

Lao was joined in the winner's circle by Giuliana Olmos of Mexico, who was a freshman on the USC team when Lao was a senior.  Olmos, a rising senior, won her third $10,000 title in Mexico yesterday, avenging her only loss in the four consecutive tournaments she played in Manzanillo. Former Texas A&M star Nazari Urbina of Mexico defeated Olmos in the second round last week, but wild card Olmos avoided her until the final this week, posting a 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 win. Olmos is 16-1 this month since bowing out of the NCAAs in the second round.

Olmos's teammate Zoe Scandalis, also a rising senior, won the doubles title in Manzanillo, teaming with Camila Fuentes of Mexico for a 6-3, 5-7, 12-10 win over Carolina Betancourt of Mexico and Daniela Seguel of Chile.

Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, who left USC after his junior year in 2013, won the $10,000 Rochester Futures event, winning two matches today to claim his sixth Futures singles title and his first outside of South America.  Gomez defeated 18-year-old Alex Rybakov 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinal, which could not be played on Saturday due to rain. In the final, the No. 1 seed defeated former Florida star Sekou Bangoura Jr., the No. 2 seed, 7-6(3), 6-4. Bangoura had beaten qualifier Dominic Cotrone(South Florida) 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3 in the semifinals. Cotrone and Quinton Vega(Wisconsin) won the doubles title, beating Jordi Arconada(Texas A&M) and Stephen Madonia 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

At the $15,000 Futures in Tulsa, Noah Rubin led top seed Darian King of Barbados 6-2, 5-2, but lost the final 11 games of the match to leave his record in Futures finals at 0-4.

At the ITF Grade 5 in Bermuda, 17-year-old Madison Battaglia won her first ITF title in only her second tournament. The unseeded New Yorker didn't drop a set, beating unseeded 15-year-old Kate Paulus 6-1, 6-1 in an all-American final.  Katie LaFrance won the doubles title with Lillian Gabrielsen of Norway, beating Paulus and Cheyenne Lilienthal 7-6(4), 7-6(4) in the final.  Top seed Stephan Koenigsfest of Bolivia defeated qualifier Lane Leschly of the US 6-3, 7-5 in the boys singles final.  Nick Brookes and Harry Butler of Great Britain took the boys doubles title, defeating Sebastian Mermersky and Chase Burton of the US 5-7, 7-5, 10-5 in the final.

At the Grade 2 in Germany, Gabby Pollner and Meghan Kelley made the quarterfinals, with Raquel Pedraza reaching the doubles final. Unseeded Alexei Popyrin of Australia and unseeded Lara Salden of Belgium took the singles titles.   At the Grade 5 in Denmark,  Nicole Conard won the doubles title with a partner from the Netherlands.

This coming week's Grade 1 in Roehampton began well for the US boys, with seven of the eight getting first round wins today.  Taylor Fritz(1), Michael Mmoh(3), Tommy Paul(4), William Blumberg(8), Reilly Opelka(16), Ulises Blanch and Nathan Ponwith all picked up wins. Blanch defeated No. 11 seed Nam Hoang Ly of Vietnam 7-6(9), 4-6, 6-3. Mmoh barely got past wild card Ryan Storrie of Great Britain, taking that match 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(4).  Emil Reinberg, the eighth American boy in the draw, lost 6-4, 6-2 to Mikael Ymer of Sweden, who had to go through qualifying despite being the No. 10 seed once he reached the main draw.

The US girls posted four wins, with Ingrid Neel, qualifier Tornado Alicia Black, Kayla Day and No. 16 Caroline Dolehide advancing to the second round. Claire Liu, Francesca Di Lorenzo and Raveena Kingsley lost, with Kingsley again taking top seed Marketa Vondrousova to a third set, as she did in the first round of the French Open earlier this month, but falling 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. No. 8 seed Sonya Kenin had lost the first set to 15-year-old Olesya Pervushina of Russia and was at 5-5 in the second set when darkness suspended play in that match, along with several others.

Live scoring for Roehampton is available here.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Roehampton Grade 1 Begins Sunday; Austin and Rubin Reach Finals in Baton Rouge and Tulsa; US Open National Playoffs Update

The extremely short junior grass court season begins on Sunday with the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, held at the Bank of England Sports Grounds, also the site of Wimbledon men's and women's qualifying.

Three of the top four seeds are US boys: ITF World junior No. 1 Taylor Fritz, No. 3 seed Michael Mmoh and No. 4 seed Tommy Paul.  William Blumberg is the No. 8 seed and Reilly Opelka is the No. 16 seed. The seeding for the Wimbledon juniors is likely to be similar, although current No. 5 Seong Chan Hong of Korea is not in Roehampton but is on the Wimbledon entry list. The other American boys in the draw are Nathan Ponwith, Emil Reinberg and Ulises Blanch.  Catalin Mateas lost in qualifying. 

Apparently there was a mistake by the ITF in the first boys draw, with the No. 13 seed, Argentina's Manuel Pena Lopez, left out of the field.  He was added, and the draw was redone, with the lucky loser vacating the place he was given in the first draw.

There are also eight US players in the girls draw, with No. 8 Sonya Kenin and No. 16 seed Caroline Dolehide the only American seeds.  Raveena Kinglsey drew ITF World No. 1 Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the first round, after losing to Vondrousova in the first round at Roehampton last year.  Kingsley also lost to Vondrousova in the first round of the French Open this year. Kayla Day, Francesca Di Lorenzo, Claire Liu, Ingrid Neel and Tornado Alicia Black, who qualified, are the other US girls in the draw. Usue Arconada, who lost in the semifinals of the Baton Rouge $25,000 tournament today, is playing Wimbledon Juniors but not Roehampton.

At the $15,000 Tulsa Futures, Noah Rubin defeated No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach his fourth career Futures final, but his first as a professional, having announced he would not return to Wake Forest for his sophomore year.  Rubin, who failed to serve out the match at 5-3 in the second but broke for the win, hopes to secure his first Futures title against top seed Darian King of Barbados.  King beat former Cal Poly star Andre Dome, the No. 8 seed, 6-4, 6-4 in Saturday's other semifinal. Dome did secure a winner's trophy however, teaming with Jean-Yves Aubone to take the doubles final 6-3, 7-6(6) over TCU teammates Nick Chappell and Will Stein.

Rain in Rochester, New York has caused that $10,000 Futures' semifinals to be pushed to Sunday.  Eighteen-year-old Alex Rybakov, seeded fifth, will play top seed Emilio Gomez, the former USC star in one semifinal, while No. 2 seed Sekou Bangoura will play qualifier Dominic Cotrone. Cotrone, who played at Florida State before transferring to South Florida, defeated former Virginia standout Michael Shabaz in the quarterfinals 6-2, 6-4.

In the women's Pro Circuit event in Baton Rouge, 19-year-old qualifier Brooke Austin has reached her first final at the $25,000 level, defeating No. 4 seed Samantha Crawford 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 in today's semifinal.  Austin will play Danielle Lao in the final, with the former USC star also in her first final at the $25,000 level.  Lao, who beat Usue Arconada 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals today, defeated Austin in the second round of the $25,000 tournament in Sumter last week 7-6(2), 6-3.

The Sectional Qualifying for the US Open National Playoffs wrapped up today with the completion of the Southern and Texas Sectional playoffs.  The results are below. I had already posted the results for those below the dashed line, but wanted to include them all in one place. Articles on those tournaments completed prior to today can be found at the US Open website, as can links to the complete draws for all events.  I'm not vouching for the accuracy of all of the articles however, as I don't think Southern Cal winner Megan McCray is a rising junior at Oklahoma and Florida winner Terrell Whitehurst's name is given as Whitehouse in the headline.

Grantland posted a humorous article by a writer who competed against Red Foo in the Northern California section's tournament.

Women’s Singles: Ashley Weinhold
Men’s Singles: Josh Hagar
Mixed Doubles: Neil Kenner and Karina Traxler
Women’s Doubles: Liga Dekmeijere and Traxler
Men’s Doubles: Joshua Sheehy and Parker Wynn
Women’s Singles: Kaitlyn McCarthy
Men’s Singles: Jesse Witten
Mixed Doubles: Richard Doverspike and Caroline Price
Women’s Doubles: Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe
Men’s Doubles: Vahid Mirzadeh and Witten

New England:
Women’s Singles: Emma Davis
Men’s Singles: Hleb Maslau
Mixed Doubles: Maslau and Simona Weymar
Women’s Doubles: Carole Finke and Ree Ree Li
Men’s Doubles: Maslau and Daniel Sotomarino

Northern California:
Women’s Singles: Paige Cline
Men’s Singles: Victor Pham
Mixed Doubles: Lester Cook and Ayaka Okuno
Women’s Doubles: Yasmin Schnack and Katsiaryna Zheltova
Men’s Doubles: Brett Bacharach and Michael Meyer

Women’s Singles: Yukako Noi
Men’s Singles: Terrell Whitehurst
Mixed Doubles: Vahid Mirzadeh and Amy Sergeant
Women’s Doubles: Lauren Proctor and Miranda Talbert
Men’s Doubles: Richard Doverspike and Korey Lovett

Women’s Singles: Alexis Nelson
Men’s Singles: Felix Corwin
Mixed Doubles: Tony Larson and Nelson
Women’s Doubles: Jessie Aney and Nelson
Men’s Doubles: Jackson Allen and Toby Boyer
Middle States:
Women’s Singles: Jennifer Elie
Men’s Singles: Matija Pecotic
Mixed Doubles: Andrei Daescu and Anda Perianu
Women’s Doubles: Rima Asatrian and Katharine Fahey
Men’s Doubles: Ashley Fischer and Nathan Healey

Women’s Singles: Sara Daavettila
Men’s Singles: Martin Joyce
Mixed Doubles: Tyler Faulkner and Simone Jardim
Women’s Doubles: Daavettila and Alyvia Jones
Men’s Doubles: Charlie Emhardt and Jeffrey B. Schorsch

Southern Cal:
Women’s Singles: Megan McCray
Men’s Singles: Henry Craig
Mixed Doubles: Danielle Lao and Jonny Wang
Women’s Doubles: Lorraine Guillermo and Lao
Men’s Doubles: Haythem Abid and Joel Kielbowicz (Kielbowicz also won men’s singles & mixed doubles in Southwest section competition)

Women’s Singles: Julia Elbaba
Men’s Singles: Nikita Kryvonos
Mixed Doubles: Rima Asatrian and Ilia Shatashvili
Women’s Doubles: Magda Okruashvili and Ketevan Okruashvili
Men’s Doubles: Daniel M. Cochrane and Phillip Simmonds

Women’s Singles: Jacqueline Cako
Men’s Singles: Joel Kielbowicz
Mixed Doubles: Cako and Kielbowicz
Women’s Doubles: Savannah Slaysman and Allie Sanford
Men’s Doubles: Ben Newell and Zachary Newell

Women’s Singles: Gail Brodsky
Men’s Singles: Chris Wettengel
Mixed Doubles: Brodsky and Brian Wilson
Women’s Doubles: Jacqueline Cako and Keri Wong
Men’s Doubles: Jordan Kerr and Travis Parrott

Missouri Valley:
Women’s Singles: Sophie Chang
Men’s Singles: Dusty Boyer
Mixed Doubles: Boyer and Julia Schiller
Women’s Doubles: Katherine Cao and Jaci Cochrane
Men’s Doubles: Julio Peralta and Matt Seeberger

Women’s Singles: Nika Kukharchuk
Men’s Singles: Mikelis Libietis
Mixed Doubles: Sydney Rider and Matt Stillwagon
Women’s Doubles: Lizzie Baker and Mackenzie Clark
Men’s Doubles: Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Interview with USTA's Martin Blackman; 23 Americans in Wimbledon Singles Draws; Study of Past Junior Slam Boys Winners; Arconada Reaches Baton Rouge $25K Semis, Rubin Advances to Tulsa Semis

Last week I had an opportunity to speak with the USTA's new General Manager for Player Development Martin Blackman, who took over the position from Patrick McEnroe on June 1.  It was my third opportunity to ask him questions, with the first during the conference call that introduced him back in April, and the second in a small face-to-face conference with two other reporters when I was in Boca Raton for the ITF Team events.  In our phone conversation last week, I had an opportunity to explore topics in more detail, particularly from the junior and college tennis perspective, and he obviously has a better feel for the direction he wants to take now that he's officially in charge.

If you have an interest in junior, college or American tennis, this Tennis Recruiting Network interview is one you should read.

The draws for Wimbledon came out today, with 16 US women and seven US men in singles.

The US men, with their opponents in parentheses:
No. 17 John Isner (Go Soeda JPN)
Denis Kudla (No. 28 Pablo Cuevas URU)
Donald Young (Marcos Baghdatis CYP)
Steve Johnson (Lukas Lacko SVK)
Tim Smyczek (No. 30 Fabio Fognini ITA)
No. 31 Jack Sock (Sam Groth AUS)
Sam Querrey (Igor Sijsling NED)

The US women:
No. 1 Serena Williams (Margarita Gasparyan RUS)
No. 16 Venus Williams (Madison Brengle)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Alison Van Uytvanck BEL)
Nicole Gibbs (Lesia Tsurenko UKR)
Shelby Rogers (No. 14 Andrea Petkovic GER)
Irina Falconi (No. 11 Karolina Pliskova CZE)
CoCo Vandeweghe (Anna Karolina Schmiedlova SVK)
Edina Gallovits-Hall (Urszula Radwanska POL)
Sloan Stephens (No. 27 Barbora Strycova CZE)
Lauren Davis (Polona Hercog SLO)
Alison Riske (No. 6 Lucie Safarova CZE)
Varvara Lepchenko (No. 20 Garbine Muguruza ESP)
Christina McHale (Johanna Larsson SWE)
Sachia Vickery (No. 8 Ekaterina Makarova RUS)
No. 21 Madison Keys (Stefanie Voegele SUI)

The complete draws are here. Although the schedule is not yet out, the top half of both draws plays Monday, the bottom half Tuesday.

I will be covering my fourth Wimbledon Junior Championships beginning Saturday, July 4th, and with the one Australian Open I have covered and the 11 US Opens, I have seen plenty of junior slam champions over the years.  Stefano Berlincioni recently researched and analyzed the boys champions over the period 1990-2010 and found that winning a junior slam guaranteed nothing, but most do go on to reach the ATP Top 100.  The US Open has been the most predictive of pro success and the Australian the least. Given the cost and distance the first doesn't surprise me, but I wouldn't have guessed that the US Open would beat out the French or Wimbledon.  Anyway, have a look at what he's found. He's said he will try to do a similar study for girls/women.

I didn't get the update from the Grand Slam Nations Challenge in Great Britain until today, but the US girls finished second by defeating France 5-1 on Thursday. Australia finished in first place, going undefeated in the three matches against Great Britain, France and the US.

The semifinals are set in the USTA Pro Circuit Baton Rouge $25,000 tournament, with an American assured of capturing the title.

Usue Arconada, who beat top seed Taylor Townsend in the first round, completed her second round earlier today after rain interrupted it Thursday, then went on to reach the semifinals with a 7-6(5), 6-0 win over recent Ole Miss graduate Julia Jones. Arconada will play former USC standout Danielle Lao, who beat former Penn star Connie Hsu of Taiwan, seeded No. 8, 6-3, 6-3.  The other semifinal features No. 4 seed Samantha Crawford against qualifier Brooke Austin. Crawford, who beat No. 7 seed Carol Zhao 7-5, 6-4 after finishing off a three-set win over Kelly Chen, and Austin, who beat LSU's Joana Vale Costa of Portugal are junior rivals, with Austin holding a 3-1 edge in the previous meetings, all at the junior level.

Noah Rubin has reached the semifinals of the $15,000 Tulsa Futures, his first tournament as a pro, beating No. 6 seed Ernesto Escobedo 6-4, 7-6(2). He will play No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren in Saturday's semifinal.