Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Arconada, Liu Post Wins as International Spring Championships First Round Completed; Mayo Beats Top Seed in 16s

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Carson, CA--

Top seed Usue Arconada and No. 12 seed Claire Liu both arrived in Carson after impressive results earlier this month, and both reached the second round of the International Spring Championships with victories Tuesday.

Arconada, who won the Grade 1 Banana Bowl and the Grade A in Porto Alegre in Brazil, defeated qualifier Riley McQuaid 6-1, 6-1, while Liu, who won the $10,000 Pro Circuit event in Orlando earlier this month, took a rockier road, beating Veronica Miroshnichenko of Russia 6-0, 1-6, 6-3.

Arconada admitted that facing an opponent who had already won three matches in qualifying could be tricky, especially since she had taken most of last week off following her two titles in South America.  But despite four three-set victories in the Banana Bowl, Arconada said she was pleased with her fitness during her winning streak, which now stands at 12 matches.

"Winning a lot of three-set matches gave me a lot of confidence for the second tournament," said the 16-year-old from Maryland, who is now up to No. 6 in the ITF Junior rankings. "When I first went down there I didn't see that coming at all, but after that first tournament I got a lot of confidence, and it was a lot of fun actually, getting through that.  I thought I was going to tired after the first week, with all the three-setters, but actually I felt really good."

For all her success on clay, Arconada also has good memories on the Carson courts, where she reached the semifinals last year, so three titles in a row is a possibility.

"We'll see what happens," said Arconada. "I just want to stay tough mentally, concentrate through the whole tournament. And if not, there's the Easter Bowl."

Arconada will play Ulyana Shirokova of Russia in the Wednesday's second round.

For Liu, an easy opening set became a struggle in the second, even though Liu was expecting Miroshnichenko to raise her game.

"She played better, and I just let that get to me," said Liu, who will be 15 in May. "I knew like from before, that she's a really good competitor, and she started winning points and I just freaked out."

Miroshinichenko, a left-hander with a service motion more at home in an archery competition, couldn't sustain the level she displayed in the second set however, falling behind 4-0 in the third set before she recovered to take three straight games. Liu held for a 5-3 lead and broke at love to take the match, and set up a meeting with fellow USTA-West player Emma Higuchi, whom she beat in Tulsa last October 6-0, 6-1.

Liu, the youngest player to win a USTA Pro Circuit event since Anna Kournikova in 1996, said the difference between that level and this top level of juniors not that pronounced.

"It's not like the pros were that much older," said Liu, who beat Sonya Kenin, the No. 2 seed this week in Carson, in the second round, and the No. 4 seed this week, Fanni Stollar of Hungary, in the final. "It's not that much difference, I guess."

As for the pressure that is added when returning to the juniors, Liu said, "I can't let that get to me. I need to just focus on playing, rather than like the expectations and stuff."

Two seeded players failed to advance to the second round, with Jessica Ho, the No. 11 seed, withdrawing, and No. 14 seed Olivia Hauger falling to qualifier Annette Goulak  6-3, 6-7(1), 6-2.  No. 9 seed Kayla Day was in trouble against qualifier Ashley Lahey, but she won the final five games of the match for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.   No. 4 seed Stollar advanced over wild card Jessica Failla 6-3, 6-3, No. 3 seed Michaela Gordon defeated Madison Bourguignon 6-1, 6-2, and No. 5 seed Francesca Di Lorenzo dominated qualifier Kenadi Hance 6-0, 6-0.

Only one boys seed fell in Tuesday's first round action, with qualifier Johnathan Small defeating No. 7 seed Sameer Kumar 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. No. 4 seed Alejandro Tabilo of Canada eliminated Claremont ITF champion Connor Hance 6-2, 6-4, and No. 6 seed Emil Reinberg topped Sam Turchetta 7-6(2), 6-1.

The seeded players in the 16s took the court for the first time today, and the top three seeds in the boys draw fell in the first round. Fourteen-year-old Keenan Mayo defeated No. 1 seed Jack Pulliam 6-2, 6-1, 15-year-old Ethan Prost beat No. 2 seed William Peters 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-3, and 15-year-old Diego Nava downed No. 3 seed William Grant 6-2, 6-2.

Mayo said his first round match against Steven Sun helped him against Pulliam.

"It got me more ready," Mayo said. "Usually in tournaments, if you get an easy first round, you're not really into it that much. But a tough first round forced me to really get into the tournament, and by the time I got to this match, I was able to play my best."

Mayo credited his serve as an important factor in his win over Pulliam.

"I thought I served really well, returned well, and played the big points really well," Mayo said.

Mayo will be playing the 16s at the Easter Bowl, and then will play the three ITF events in Florida in April and May.

Girls top seeds Emma Decoste, Alexandra Belaya and Taylor Johnson avoided the fate of their male counterparts, all advancing to the Wednesday's third round with straight-set wins.

In the first round of the 18s doubles, Stollar and Ingrid Neel, the No. 2 seeds, and winners of two $10K titles earlier this month, lost to Caroline Dolehide and Ena Shibahara 6-1, 6-2.  Girls top seeds Arconada and Francesca Di Lorenzo advanced, as did boys top seeds William Blumberg and Nathan Ponwith.

For complete results and the order of play, see the tournament website.

Live scoring is available at

Boys' 18 Singles (Round of 64)
Ulises Blanch (3) (Deerfield Beach, FL)  def.  Sami Kirberg (Ft Lauderdale, FL)  4-6, 6-3, 6-3
William Blumberg (1) (Greenwich, CT)  def.  Vasil Kirkov (Tampa, FL)  6-4, 6-4
Gianni Ross (La Grange, IL)  def.  Bjorn Thomson (15)  6-2, 4-6, 6-3
Daniel Bennett  def.  Jason Legall (Palm Coast, FL)  6-2, 6-2
Alexander Lebedev (Island Park, NY)  def.  Bryan Husin (Riverside, CA)  6-2, 6-1
Miomir Kecmanovic (2) (Boca Raton, FL)  def.  Jake DeVine (Los Altos Hills, CA)  6-4, 6-3
Alex Phillips (Peachtree City, GA)  def.  alexis canter (10)  7-5, 6-0
Jake Van Emburgh (Verona, WI)  def.  Agustin Moreno  7-5, 6-0
Michael Genender (Los Angeles, CA)  def.  Denis Shapovalov (8)  6-4, 6-2
Jakub Wojcik (Delray Beach, FL)  def.  Piers Foley  7-5, 7-5
Trent Bryde (Suwanee, GA)  def.  Anudeep Kodali (Durham, NC)  6-3, 6-2
Sam Riffice (Roseville, CA)  def.  Pablo Sanchez Rivera  6-0, 6-0
Nathan Ponwith (5) (Scottsdale, AZ)  def.  Sebastian Mermersky (Chevy Chase, MD)  6-1, 6-2
Benjamin Hannestad (12)  def.  Evan Zhu (Irvine, CA)  2-6, 7-6(9), 6-3
Jeffrey Wolf (Cincinnati, OH)  def.  Hady Habib (9) (Bradenton, FL)  2-6, 6-4, 6-2
Liam Caruana (13) (New Braunfels, TX)  def.  Alexey Nesterov (Ojai, CA)  6-2, 6-3
Patrick Kypson (Greenville, NC)  def.  Kyryll Kryvchun (West Vancouver, BC)  6-3, 6-1
John McNally (Cincinnati, OH)  def.  Jack Van Slyke (Toronto, ON)  2-6, 6-3, 7-5
Nathan Perrone (Bluffton, SC)  def.  Nicolas Moreno de Alboran (London, Surrey)  3-6, 7-6(3)
John Jorgeson (Bradenton, FL)  def.  Pedro Fernandez del Valle (Wesley Chapel, FL)  6-0, 6-3

Boys' 16 Singles (Round of 64)
Ryan Seggerman (Coronado, CA)  def.  Austin Di Giulio (Newport Beach, CA)  6-2, 6-2
Diego Nava (Woodland Hills, CA)  def.  Neil Tengbumroong (West Covina, CA)  6-0, 6-1
Christopher Steele (Mesa, AZ)  def.  Danilo Milic (Los Angeles, CA)  6-1, 6-1
Govind Nanda (Redlands, CA)  def.  Maximilian Wild (Carmel, IN)  6-3, 6-4
Adam Neff (Bradenton, FL)  def.  Blake Croyder (Marietta, GA)  6-3, 4-6, 6-4
Omni Kumar (Irvine, CA)  def.  Arjith Jayaraman (Gold River, CA)  6-2, 6-3
Andrew Whitehouse (Westlake Village, CA)  def.  Naara Shin (Downey, CA)  6-3, 4-6, 6-2
Keenan Mayo (Roseville, CA)  def.  Steven Sun (Boca Raton, FL)  6-2, 6-4
Ethan Prost (Peoria, AZ)  def.  Rishab Sardana (Union City, CA)  6-2, 2-6, 6-4
Ryan Goetz (Greenlawn, NY)  def.  Jaycer Calleros (San Antonio, TX)  6-4, 7-6(3)
Eric Hahn (Fullerton, CA)  def.  Nevin Arimilli (Austin, TX)  6-4, 6-1
Karapet Vardanyan (Granada Hills, CA)  def.  Carsyn Smith (Scottsdale, AZ)  6-0, 6-3
Adam Sraberg (Los Angeles, CA)  def.  Joshua Xu (Chandler, AZ)  7-6(6), 6-4
Adam Oscislawski (Scottsdale, AZ)  def.  Daniel Lin (Northridge, CA)  6-0, 6-2
William Woodall (Washington, DC)  def.  Arnav Dhingra (Darnestown, MD)  6-1, 6-0
Benjamin Gollin (Redlands, CA)  def.  Jacob Bullard (Brevard, NC)  7-6(4), 7-6(5)

Girls' 18 Singles (Round of 64)
Jessica Hinojosa Gomez  def.  Stephanie Hazell (Irvine, CA)  7-6(1), 6-4
Jenna Friedel (Mill Valley, CA)  def.  Gabriella Pollner (Boca Raton, FL)  7-5, 4-6, 6-1
Caroline Dolehide (8) (Hinsdale, IL)  def.  Meghan Kelley (Falmouth, ME)  6-0, 6-2
Ingrid Neel (7) (Bradenton, FL)  def.  Helen Altick (Monroe, LA)  6-3, 6-3
Caty McNally (Cincinnati, OH)  def.  Alexandra Sanford (10) (Westerville, OH)  6-3, 7-5
Emma Higuchi (Los Angeles, CA)  def.  Meible Chi (Weston, FL)  6-1, 7-6(5)
Sonya Kenin (2) (Pembroke Pines, FL)  def.  Mimi Levine (Santa Monica, CA)  6-0, 6-1
Dominique Schaefer (Ventura, CA)  def.  Anna Dollar (Lancaster, PA)  6-4, 6-3
Ulyana Shirokova (Boca Raton, FL)  def.  Alexa Corcoleotes (Hillsborough, CA)  6-3, 7-5
Usue Arconada (1) (Rio Piedras, PR)  def.  Riley McQuaid (Tustin, CA)  6-1, 6-1
Amanda Anisimova (Hallandale Beach, FL)  def.  Mia Horvit (13) (Palm City, FL)  6-2, 6-4
Chiara Lommer (skokie, IL)  def.  McKenzie Majerle (Paradise Valley, AZ)  4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Rachel Lim (Briarcliff Manor, NY)  def.  Sabrina Faybyshev (Marlboro, NJ)  6-1, 6-1
Morgan Coppoc (Tulsa, OK)  def.  Alexandra Sabe (Rye, NY)  3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Ndindi Ndunda (Burke, VA)  def.  Tereza Koplova (Bradenton, FL)  6-3, 6-4
Maria Mateas (15) (Braintree, MA)  def.  Andrea Kevakian (Glendale, CA)  6-7(5), 6-2, 6-0
Jade Lewis (Hilton Head Island, SC)  def.  Ally Miller Krasilnikov (Delray Beach, FL)  6-2, 6-2
Katherine Sebov (6) (Woodbridge, ON)  def.  Ena Shibahara (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA)  4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Seira Shimizu (Ojai, CA)  def.  Alana Smith (Fort Washington, MD)  6-4, 6-1

Girls' 16 Singles (Round of 64)
Salma Ewing (Long Beach, CA)  def.  Carolyn Campana (Hillsborough, CA)  6-3, 7-5
Jessica Anzo (Temecula, CA)  def.  Madison Gallegos (Aurora, CO)  6-2, 6-2
Alexa Noel (Summit, NJ)  def.  Madeline Almeida (El Dorado Hills, CA)  6-2, 6-0
Luba Vasilyuk (Frisco, TX)  def.  Jadie Acidera (Anaheim, CA)  6-3, 7-5
Lauren Lemonds (Indianapolis, IN)  def.  Tammy Van (Garden Grove, CA)  6-0, 6-1
Ann Li (Devon, PA)  def.  Cali Jankowski (Carlsbad, CA)  7-5, 6-2
Malkia Menguene (College Park, MD)  def.  Sabrina Ramras (Paradise Valley, AZ)  5-7, 7-5, 6-4
Katie Chang (Rsm, CA)  def.  Jessica Aragon (Plano, TX)  1-6, 6-3, 6-3
Emilee Duong (Placentia, CA)  def.  Mackenzie Worsnop (Newport Beach, CA)  6-3, 6-4
Jenna Moustafa (Los Angeles, CA)  def.  Elena Van Linge (Menlo Park, CA)  6-4, 7-5
Jennifer Gadalov (Los Angeles, CA)  def.  Kacie Harvey (Braintree, MA)  7-5, 6-1
Dalayna Hewitt (Pepper Pike, OH)  def.  Jessi Muljat (Sacramento, CA)  6-1, 6-2
Vivian Cheng (Santa Monica, CA)  def.  Abigail Forbes (Raleigh, NC)  6-3, 6-3
Niluka Madurawe (Sunnyvale, CA)  def.  Britt Pursell (Oceanside, CA)  7-6(5), 6-3
Patria Aziz (Glendale, CA)  def.  Shuchen Lin (Irvine, CA)  6-2, 6-1
Rachel Eason (Union City, CA)  def.  Mackenzie Clark (College Park, MD)  6-0, 6-3

Monday, March 30, 2015

Top Seed Blumberg, Second Seed Kenin Open International Spring Championships with Wins; Young Wild Cards Impress

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Carson, CA--

Great weather greeted players on the opening day of the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships at the Stub Hub Center, with boys top seed William Blumberg and girls No. 2 seed Sonya Kenin claiming straight set victories, and seven wild cards posting first round wins.

Blumberg, who reached the final of the Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil just over a week ago, defeated Vasil Kirkov 6-4, 6-4, after trailing 3-0 in second set.

Blumberg admitted he has had difficulty adjusting to the hard courts after the red clay of South America.

"It's actually been really tough for me," said the 17-year-old from Connecticut. "I had a really good week two weeks ago in Gerdau, a really physical kind of week, playing all the South American guys. I had a tough one, 6-4 in the third in the semis. It was physical on my body, and I haven't had a chance to recover, I only took a day and a half off, and then came here and trained with the USTA."

In addition to the physical issues, Blumberg also said the match with Kirkov was difficult because of their relationship.

"I practice with Vasil quite a bit, and he's a very tough player," said Blumberg, who is still looking for a full-time coach. "He's on the smaller side, so he can't overpower you, but he's really scrappy and fights for every single point. When he has a short ball, he's been putting it away. It's tough on me mentally, being one year older, I put more pressure on myself, so I was a little more tentative and nervous, not going for my shots."

Blumberg won four straight games to go up a break in the second set after trailing 3-0, but Kirkov got the break back to make it 4-4. A terrific lob winner by Blumberg helped him get another break and he served out the match, benefiting from a net cord winner on match point.

He will face the winner of Tuesday's match between Zeke Clark and qualifier Chase Colton in the second round.

Kenin, who reached the finals of a $10,000 Pro Circuit tournament earlier this month in Gainesville, had a much easier time in her first round, beating Mimi Levine 6-0, 6-1.

The 16-year-old from Pembroke Pines, Florida said she has been working on her fitness and her transition game since winning the Orange Bowl in December.

"We have a hitting partner near my house, and my dad has been helping me out, working on my transition game, coming into the net and coming forward," Kenin said.  "I'd like to add that to my game."

Kenin said playing on the Pro Circuit had also helped in growing her game.

"Just seeing the level, seeing how they prepare," Kenin said. "It's not even the best, the $10Ks, but seeing what they do and how I can get better at a higher level."

Kenin's next opponent is wild card Morgan Coppoc, who defeated Alexandra Sabe 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Coppoc was one of four girls wild cards to advance to the second round, including 14-year-old Rachel Lim, who defeated Sabrina Faybyshev 6-1, 6-1, and two 13-year-olds, Caty McNally and Amanada Anisimova, both of whom took out seeds.

Anisimova defeated No. 15 seed Mia Horvit 6-2, 6-4, and McNally beat No. 10 seed Alexandra Sanford 6-3, 7-5.  Although Anisimova had played five ITF tournaments last year after turning 13, McNally was playing in her first today.

"I was really nervous going into the match, because she's from my district and I'm really good friends with her," McNally said. "I made her move a lot, pulled her out of the court and went to the open court. She's not the best mover, so I tried to make her move."

McNally said the win can only help her confidence.

"She's really good, and goes all over the country and all over the world to play ITFs. I'm just really happy I got this win."

McNally also will be playing the 18s at next week's Easter Bowl, receiving a wild card there as well.

Boys wild cards who advanced were McNally's brother John, last year's 16s champion, who came back to defeat Jack Van Slyke of Canada 2-6, 6-3, 7-5; JJ Wolf, who beat No. 9 seed Hady Habib 2-6, 6-4, 6-2; and Jake Van Emburgh, who defeated Agustin Moreno of Mexico 7-5, 6-0.

In addition to Habib, three other boys seeds were eliminated Monday. Gianni Ross defeated No. 15 seed Bjorn Thomson of Ireland 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 and Michael Genender beat No. 8 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4, 6-2.  Lucky loser Alex Phillips took out No. 10 seed Alexis Canter of Great Britain 7-5, 6-0.

Top girls seed Usue Arconada, who won back-to-back ITF tournaments in South America earlier this month, plays her first round match on Tuesday against qualifier Riley McQuaid.

In the 16s, the seeded players all received byes into the second round and will begin play on Tuesday.

For complete draws, and the order of play, see the tournament website.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Novikov Edges Tiafoe In Calabasas Futures Final; Stewart Wins Palm Harbor $25K; International Spring Championships Draws

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Calabasas, CA--

Which was better, the serving in the finals of the $15,000 Futures tournament at the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center, or the weather it was played in?

After a brutal winter in Michigan, the cloudless skies with temperatures in the low 80s, with a refreshing breeze was just about perfect to me, but a 7-6(4), 7-6(6) win for No. 2 seed Dennis Novikov over unseeded Francis Tiafoe that featured 22 aces, 3 doubles faults and no breaks of serve didn't have much room for improvement either.

The 17-year-old Tiafoe, who won last week's $15,000 Futures in Bakersfield, spent the fall working on his serve and other facets of his game, and although there was no radar gun on the stadium court Sunday, he appeared to have added more pace and his placement was excellent.

The only two break points Tiafoe faced in the match were in the same game: serving at 3-4 in the first set, he netted a backhand to go down 15-40.  Tiafoe saved the first with a good serve and got lucky on the second, when Novikov lined up a forehand, but saw it clip the tape and drop back on his side to bring it to deuce. Tiafoe won the next two points and lost only one point on serve in his next two service games, leading to the first tiebreaker.

Novikov missed his first serve in the first point of the tiebreaker, but that was the only first serve missed by either player in the 11 points played.  Tiafoe hit consecutive aces to lead 2-1, and the good serves and forehand winners continued, with no breaks of serve.  After Novikov hit an ace for 5-4, he got the first mini-break, hitting a forehand winner, and followed that by rifling a forehand return winner to secure the first set.

In Tiafoe's nine-match winning streak the past two weeks, he had lost the first set four times, so he was hardly out of it, but Novikov gave him few opportunities.  It wasn't until Novikov served at 3-4 in the second set that he faced his first break point, and he saved that by controlling the point and eventually putting away a defensive short ball by Tiafoe. It was a forehand in the previous point that Tiafoe voiced more regret about however.

"At 15-30 3-4, I had a good look at a forehand and got a little too excited and missed it," said Tiafoe.

In the second set tiebreaker, Tiafoe got a mini-break to go up 2-0, with Novikov missing a backhand volley wide.  But with Tiafoe serving at 3-1, an extended backhand exchange, probably the longest point of the match, saw Tiafoe eventually miss wide and the server returned to dominating the point.  At 5-6, Tiafoe saved a match point with a sizzling forehand winner, but Novikov got another with a forehand winner after a let cord gave him time to set it up.  On match point No. 2, Novikov missed his first serve, but the second was excellent, and he crushed a backhand winner to claim his sixth Futures title.

"I struggled a couple of times this week, but I just figured out a way to get through the match," said the 21-year-old, who turned pro in 2013 after his sophomore year at UCLA. "I wasn't playing my best tennis, but I played to win.  I didn't play my best tennis today, but I definitely served well, as good as I probably could," said Novikov, who had 13 aces and 1 double fault. "My returns could have been a little bit better, but I have to be happy that I got through today and won. I did enough."

Getting into qualifying in the remaining slams this year is now assured for Novikov, who also qualified for the BNP Paribas Open earlier this month.

"I missed Aussie, I was like 250, a couple out, so I set a goal to get into the qualies of the slams for the rest of the year. Right now I'll be top 200, so I'll easily be in for the rest of the year."

Novikov is planning on competing the next two weeks in the Mexico Challengers, before returning to the US for the Har-Tru Challengers.

"There's two Challengers in Mexico and we'll see how the first one goes," said Novikov, who is scheduled to play No. 2 seed Paolo Lorenzi of Italy in the first round of the $50,000 San Luis Potosi Challenger next week."If I do well, I might skip the second, just to get ready for the clay court swing in Florida, because we're playing for the [French Open] main draw wild card in Florida. I think I have a good chance of actually getting that, it I keep serving well."

Novikov said that his recent surge (he was ranked 290 in January) is the result of getting to play better players.

"One of the things is experience, just playing matches on the tour against older guys," Novikov said. "Just seeing how everyone structures points, how to play to my strengths and my opponents' weaknesses. I definitely think I can compete, it's just getting the points to get there."

Tiafoe is also targeting the US Challengers next month, and will play Kalamazoo this year, but he's unsure about the junior slams.

"That's still up in the air, it's not for sure," Tiafoe said when I asked him about the French Open Juniors. "I really just want to play pros. I've been there, and I've seen it, got to the semis of a slam. Winning a slam is great, but at the end of the day, I want to be a good pro. I've had some good success in the juniors, and I think I want to move on, but we'll see."

At the $25,000 Pro Circuit tournament in Palm Harbor, Florida, qualifier Katerina Stewart claimed her first title at that level, defeating top seed and WTA 136 Maryna Zanevska of Ukraine 1-6, 6-3, 2-0 ret.  It was the second straight match Stewart won by retirement, after advancing to the final when Allie Kiick retired on Saturday.  Stewart won eight matches in eight days to win her fifth Pro Circuit title, all of them on clay.

I'll begin my coverage of the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships in Carson on Monday, with the qualifying completed today at the Stub Hub Center.

William Blumberg is the top boys seed, followed by Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, Ulises Blanch, Alejandro Tabilo of Canada and Nathan Ponwith.  The two finalists at the Claremont ITF, Connor Hance and Alexandre Rotsaert, were given wild cards into the main draw.

Usue Arconada is the top girls seed, followed by Sonya Kenin, Michaela Gordon, Fanni Stollar of Hungary and Francesca Di Lorenzo.

In the 16s, Emma Decoste is the top girls seed, and Jack Pulliam is the top boys seed.

All draws and the order of play are available at the tournament website.

Live scoring is available at

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hance, Emma Win Claremont Titles; Katerina Stewart into Palm Harbor $25,000 Pro Circuit Final

I'm traveling today, so this post will be brief and unfortunately will not contain all the results I would usually update.

The results from the ITF Grade 4 in Claremont are in however. Fifteen-year-old Victoria Emma, who won two Grade 5 titles late last year, claimed her first Grade 4 title today, beating No. 4 seed Hanna Chang 6-1, 2-6, 7-5.   Emma, who reached the 16s semifinals at the Eddie Herr last year, was the No. 10 seed.

Connor Hance, who has played Claremont four times already, despite being only 16, but hasn't played any other ITF events (other than US Open junior qualifying), won the boys title, defeating 15-year-old Alexandre Rotsaert 6-2, 6-2.  Hance and Rotsaert were both unseeded.

Complete draws can be found here.

At the $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Palm Harbor, Florida, qualifier Katerina Stewart reached the final, advancing when Allie Kiick retired trailing 6-1, 1-0.  The 17-year-old Stewart will meet top seed Maryna Zanevska of Ukraine, who beat No. 8 seed Maria Irigoyen of Argentina 6-1, 6-2. Stewart has four $10,000 level titles, but this is her first final at the $25,000 level.

Late last night, UCLA sophomore Mackenzie McDonald reached the semifinals of the $15,000 Futures tournament in Calabasas, defeating former teammate Clay Thompson 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.  He will play No. 2 seed Dennis Novikov, another former Bruin, in one of today's semifinals, with Francis Tiafoe and No. 6 seed Jason Jung in the other semifinal.

At the Miami Open, No. 22 seed John Isner and Jack Sock claimed second round wins, with Isner beating World No. 1 junior Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-3, 6-4, and Sock taking out No. 21 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy 7-6(4), 6-1.  Serena Williams won, beating Monica Niculescu  of Romania 6-3, 6-1, and will play CiCi Bellis in the third round.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bellis Wins Again in Miami; Stewart, Tiafoe into Pro Circuit Semifinals; ITF Grade 4 Claremont Finals Set; Swan Out of ISC Carson

Rain ended Friday's play early at the Miami Open, but it was again a disappointing day for Americans, with the notable exception of CiCi Bellis.

Bellis, who last year at this time was preparing to begin play at the International Spring Championships and Easter Bowl, both of which she won, advanced to the third round of the WTA Premier event, cruising past No. 29 seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-1.  Bellis, a wild card who will be 16 next month, avenged her three-set loss to Diyas in the second round of last year's USO Open, and will likely face No. 1 Serena Williams next. Williams was to play Monica Niculescu tonight, but that match was rained out.  For more from Bellis (thanks to freelancer Carole Bouchard, who did the post-match interview), see this AP article. Sloane Stephens, who beat No. 17 seed Madison Keys 6-4, 6-2, was the only other US player to win on Friday in singles play.

On the other side of the state, in Palm Harbor, qualifier Katerina Stewart reached the semifinals of the $25,000 tournament there, her first appearance that deep in a tournament at that level. The 17-year-old Stewart defeated Alex Glatch 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 and will play fellow Floridian Allie Kiick Saturday.  Kiick came back to beat Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 2-6 6-4, 6-3.  Stewart defeated Kiick 6-3, 6-3 back in January in the first round of the $25,000 tournament in Sunrise. Top seed Maryna Zanevska of Ukraine and No. 8 seed Maria Irigoyen of Argentina will meet in the other semifinal.

At the $15,000 Futures in Calabasas California, Francis Tiafoe, who, like Bellis, was playing Carson and the Easter Bowl last year at this time, continued his winning streak, beating No. 8 seed Mitchell Krueger 7-5, 6-4.  The Bakersfield Futures champion, who has now won eight straight Futures matches this month, will meet No. 6 seed Jason Jung, who again defeated Taylor Fritz, this time by a 6-3, 6-3 score.  No. 2 seed Dennis Novikov came back from a set and 1-4 down (according to Jonathan Kelley, @jokelley on twitter) to defeat Giovanni Lapentti of Ecuador 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 and will play another UCLA Bruin in the semifinals.  Mackenzie McDonald and Clay Thompson are scheduled to play after 8:30 p.m. Pacific time to decide the fourth semifinalist.

The finals are set at the ITF Grade 4 in Claremont, with 15-year-old Alexandre Rotsaert and 16-year-old Connor Hance, both unseeded, playing for the boys title.  The girls championship match will feature 17-year-old Hanna Chang, the No. 4 seed, against 15-year-old Victoria Emma, the No. 10 seed.

Chase Colton and Johnathan Small, the No. 5 seeds, won the boys doubles title, beating top seeds Piers Foley of Great Britain and Alexander Lebedev 6-4, 7-5.  The girls doubles champions are Annette Goulak and Kenadi Hance, who beat Carson Branstine and Taylor Johnson 5-7, 7-5, 10-5.  Neither of the girls teams was seeded.

Qualifying begins on Saturday for the ITF Grade 1 in Carson, with the draws now posted on the tournament website.  A preview of the event is also now available there.  Great Britain's Katie Swan, the Australian Open girls finalist who last week won her first $10,000 ITF Women's Circuit title, has withdrawn.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Claremont ITF Grade 4 Semifinals Set; Fritz, Tiafoe and Stewart Reach Pro Circuit Quarterfinals; Teens Continue to Impress in Miami

The semifinalists have been determined at the ITF Grade 4 in Claremont, all from the US, but none of the top seeds are among them. Three unseeded boys have reached the final four, with 17-year-old Johnathan Small, seeded No. 13 the oldest remaining competitor. Small will face 15-year-old Alexandre Rotsaert, while the other semifinal will feature two Southern California rivals, wild card Jacob Brumm and 16s Kalamazoo finalist Connor Hance.

The girls semifinals features three 15-year-olds, with No. 10 seed Victoria Emma facing No. 15 seed Meible Chi, younger sister of 2014 NCAA finalist Lynn Chi of Cal.  Seventeen-year-old Hanna Chang, the No. 4 seed, will play unseeded Anette Goulak in the other semifinal.

For complete draws and Friday's order of play, see the USTA site.

Seven of the eight quarterfinalists at the $15,000 Calabasas Futures are from the US, including 17-year-olds Taylor Fritz and Francis Tiafoe. Fritz, a wild card, overwhelmed top seed Fabiano De Paula of Brazil, ranked 211, 6-2, 6-0 and will face No. 6 seed Jason Jung in the quarterfinals. Jung defeated Fritz  1-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 in the semifinals of the January Futures tournament in Los Angeles.

Tiafoe, last week's Bakersfield champion, received a special exemption into the main draw, and he continued his winning streak, beating Alexander Ward of Great Britain 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.  In last night's first round, Tiafoe beat No. 4 seed Darian King of Barbados 6-7(5), 7-5, 2-0 ret., with King's retirement apparently not for injury or illness, but simply frustration.  Steve Pratt had this account of the match's ending out in his daily release. Next for Tiafoe is No. 8 seed Mitchell Krueger, who beat Ernesto Escobedo 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-3.

Former UCLA teammates Mackenzie McDonald and Clay Thompson will play in another quarterfinal, with qualifier McDonald downing Mico Santiago, also a qualifer, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 and wild card Thompson beating Stefan Kozlov 6-3, 6-3.  A third Bruin in the bottom half is Dennis Novikov, the No. 2 seed, who beat South African Fritz Wolmarans 7-5, 6-2. The 2012 Kalamazoo champion will face the only international player remaining, 31-year-old Giovanni Lapentti of Ecuador, who beat qualifier Sekou Bangoura 6-2, 6-4.

At the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Palm Harbor, Florida, Katerina Stewart, Allie Kiick and Alexa Glatch have reached the quarterfinals.  Stewart, a qualifier, defeated former WTA No. 66 Mindy Minella of Luxembourg 6-1, 6-1 and will next face Glatch, who beat No. 7 seed Olivia Rogowska of Australia 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.  Allie Kiick posted a fine comeback win, defeating No. 3 seed Paula Ormaechea of Argentina 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3. Kiick, who won the final six games of the match, will play Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in the quarterfinals.

Americans did not fare well today at the Miami Open, with Venus Williams posting the only win of the six US players in singles action today.  But the surge of teenagers continued, with three boys picking up first round wins, and wild card Paula Badosa Gibert of Spain reaching the third round. The 17-year-old Badosa Gibert defeated lucky loser Saisai Zheng of China 6-1, 7-5 to set up a meeting with No. 14 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

Unlike Badosa Gibert, whose best showing in a junior slam was the quarterfinals of at the French and Wimbledon last year, the three boys who reached the second round are all junior slam champions. Qualifier 2013 Australian Open boys champion Alexander Zverev of Germany, still just 17, defeated Sam Groth of Australia 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-4; 2014 French Open boys champion Andrey Rublev of Russia, also 17, defeated Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 and 18-year-old Borna Coric of Croatia, the 2013 US Open boys champion, defeated Andreas Haider-Mauer of Austria 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).  They join Hyeon Chung of Korea in the second round, and according to the ATP, four teenagers in the second round of Miami is the most since 2007.

Tonight, another former junior slam champion, Daria Gavrilova, who was Russian when she won the US Open girls title in 2010, defeated No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova 7-6(4), 6-3. Gavrilova, the world junior champion in 2010, is living in Australia now and has applied for citizenship there.