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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Boosarawongse One of Two Qualifiers to Advance to Eddie Herr ITF J300 Round of 16; Quarterfinals Set for 12s, 14s and 16s Divisions; Championship Results of USTA National Indoors

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Bradenton FL--

With half the seeds already eliminated from the boys field this week at the Eddie Herr ITF J300, it's not surprising that two of the 16 players remaining would be qualifiers. Thursday's boys third round action will feature just one match as projected by the seeds, when top seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico takes on No. 15 seed Danil Panarin of Russia in a rematch of the final at the J300 in Zapopan Mexico two weeks ago.

The other seven boys matches Thursday will feature at least one unseeded player, including qualifier Thanaphat Boosarawongse of Thailand, who will face No. 11 seed Reda Bennani of Morocco after defeating unseeded Keegan Rice of Canada 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-0.

Today's win was the fifth in five days for the 17-year-old Boosarawongse, who saved three match points in his 1-6, 7-5, 11-9 second round qualifying match with Ian Mayew.

"It was a crazy match, I was down 6-1, 2-0 and then 9-6 three match points down," said Boosarawongse, who recently committed to Columbia for the fall of 2024. "So now I'm just playing, just enjoying it."

Boosarawongse recently changed racquets, from the Yonex VCORE to the EZONE, and cites the new racquet as a reason for his recent success. 

"I was wondering for a while, hey, why aren't my shots really going, I can't really get control of the ball, but now that I've changed, it's a different sport, honestly," Boosarawongse said. "I have a lot more control of the ball, and when you have control of the ball, you have control of yourself. I'm calmer on the court, more composed, and I'm thinking. Sometimes you don't expect certain things to change you, but it just does, and you just take it."

In his match with Rice, the last singles match to finish due to Gloria Nahum's 7-6(6), 6-4 win over Victoria Osuigwe running three hours and 15 minutes in the first match of the day, Boosarawongse had ample opportunities to lose his composure, but refused to do so.

"I was up 5-3 in the first set and I couldn't close it out in my service game," Boosarawongse said. "Maybe six, seven months ago, if I had gotten broken at 5-3, I might have panicked, thought what's going on?, but instead I stayed patient, I stayed calm and I took it in a tiebreak instead."

Dropping the second set so decisively also didn't alarm Boosarawongse.

"He played a much better set obviously and the balls slowed down a lot, and I was on the passive side," Boosarawongse said. "In the third set, I just told myself, stay aggressive, be aggressive, you have to dictate, because win or lose, you're in control."

Boosarawongse got an early break and then after a long game with Rice serving at 0-3, broke again and held for a 5-0 lead. Eighteen-year-old Jerry Shang, currently 184 in the ATP rankings, was supporting Boosarawongse, a fellow IMG Academy student and training partner, as he navigated those final three games.

"It's a privilege to hit with Jerry, he's an unbelievable player and an unbelievable guy," said Boosarawongse, who has trained at IMG for more than four years. "And he's my good friend too. He's playing really good, but he's still supporting us, hanging out with us."

Boosarawongse admitted to some fatigue from the qualifying, but the cool weather and the day off Monday did help.

"I've kept my attitude good, even if I'm physically a little bit tired," Boosarawongse said. "But I got through it, and now it's time for recovery to keep on going for the next days."

The other boys qualifier to advance is 15-year-old Jacopo Vasami of Italy, who defeated Jagger Leach 6-4, 6-7(0), 6-4. Vasami, who was also on the precipice of defeat in the second round of qualifying before beating Kerem Yilmaz of Turkey 3-6, 7-5, 12-10, had a challenging final game today, serving at 5-4 in the third.

The left-hander, who turns 16 next month, got all his first serves in and hit three winners to build a 40-15 lead, but Leach continued to hit out in those match points, forcing errors after fierce rallies to get it to deuce. But another forehand winner gave Vasami a third match point and he converted it with a good first serve that Leach couldn't handle. Vasami will face No. 8 seed Maxim Mrva of the Czech Republic, who defeated Atakan Karahan of Turkey 6-2, 6-3.

With losses by Leach, Cooper Woestendick, Joseph Oyebog, Andrew Delgado and Jack Kennedy, No. 4 seed Alex Frusina is the only American advancing to the third round.

Last week's Merida J500 finalist Max Schoenhaus of Germany and No. 16 seed Daniil Sarksian of Russia engaged in a prolonged battle before Schoenhaus and his one-handed backhand came out on top 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(4).

The girls third round features 14 of the 16 seeds, with just one seed falling in today's second round. Elena Bertea of Romania defeated No. 9 seed Luna Maria Cinalli of Argentina 7-6(0), 6-4 at the Legacy Courts.

Four Americans remain in the girls draw: No. 13 seed Alanis Hamilton, who plays top seed Laura Samsonova of the Czech Republic Thursday, No. 4 seed Tyra Grant, who plays No. 14 seed Emily Sartz-Lunde of Norway, No. 16 seed Mia Slama, who plays No. 3 seed Alena Kovackova of the Czech Republic and No. 2 seed Iva Jovic, who plays unseeded Mia Stojsavljevic of Great Britain.

The 12s, 14s and 16s divisions played their third round singles matches today, with the quarterfinals set for Thursday.

Top seed in the girls 14s, Nancy Lee of the United States, lost to the 2022 girls 12s champion Yeri Hong of Korea 6-0, 4-6, 7-5.  Three Japanese boys, all of them unseeded, have advanced to the boys 12s quarterfinals, and an American champion is already guaranteed in the girls 16s, with all eight quarterfinalists from the United States.

Times for Thursday's quarterfinals can be found here.

Xiaohan Jiang(CHN) v Luke Jones[7](USA)
Thamma Kosiri[3](USA) v Kazuki Nakajima(JPN)
Haruto Tamaki[WC](JPN) v Jang Junseo[4](KOR)
Nanato Agui[WC}(JPN) v Geonho Kim(KOR)

Caroline Shao[1](USA) v Sofiia Bielinska[8](UKR)
Nikol Davletshina[3](USA) v Adriana Khomyakova[6](USA)
Yui Watanabe[5](USA) v Yerin Lee[11](KOR)
Audrey Dussault[10](USA) v Paweenon Nualsri[2](THA)

Michael Antonius[1](USA) v Kaan Isik Kosaner[10](TUR)
Andrew Johnson[3](USA) v Jordan Lee[6](USA)
Matei Victor Chelemen(ROU) v Jerrid Gaines[4](USA)
Samim Filiz(ECU) v Achyuth Binu(USA)

Yeri Hong(KOR) v Reagan Levine[9](USA)
Charlie Celebrini[4](USA) v Renee Alame[16](AUS)
Chukwumelije Clarke[5](USA) v Giulia Safina Popa(ROU)
Ariana Ikwueme[6](USA) v Joyce Geng[14](CAN)

Jack Satterfield[1](USA) v Jeremiah Braswell(USA)
Ryan Cozad[3](USA) v Keaton Hance[5](USA)
Nischal Spurling[6](USA) v Benjamin Saltman[4](USA)
Wenbo Bai(CHN) v Jack Secord[2](USA)

Annika Penickova[1](USA) v Ishika Ashar[5](USA)
Alisa Ozgun[9](USA) v Katerina Shabashkevich[8](USA)
Ava Rodriguez[7](USA) v Sara Shumate(USA)
Kayla Moore[6](USA) v Kristina Penickova[2](USA)

The USTA National Indoor Championships concluded on Monday, with the results of the singles and doubles finals below. Tennis Recruiting Network has a post of results that includes links to the TRN profiles of the finalists here. Full draws are available by clicking on the headers.

Mark Krupkin[7] d. Jimin Jung 6-3, 6-2
Mitchell Shelton and Nolan Balthazor d. John Cross and Kosei Ogata 8-4

Drew Fishback[3] d. Gregory Bernadsky[14] 6-4, 6-2
Nicholas Patrick and Drew Fishback[1] d. Gus Grumet and Lukas Phimvongsa[2] 8-5

Safir Azam[1] d. Rafael Lopez[4] 7-5, 6-4
Rowan Qalbani and Izyan Ahmad d. Rafael Lopez and Keshav Muthuvel 9-7

Smyan Thuta d. Andres Quijada 6-1, 6-2
Sebastian Zavala and Andres Quijada[6] d. Vallab Kumar and Aidan Wu[2]

Elizabeth Ionescu[2] d. Capucine Jauffret[1] 6-3, 6-3
Olivia Benton and Campbell Ricci[8] d. Julia Werdiger and Natasha Rajaram[5] 8-4

Karlin Schock[3] d. Alexandra Wolf[13] 6-4, 6-2
Chloe Qin and Lucia Fuduric d. JoAnna Kennedy and Alexandra Wolf[1] 8-4

Margaret Sohns[9] d. Reiley Rhodes[1] 6-2, 1-0, ret. inj.
Bailey Scott and Sammie Mercer d. Madeleine Bridges and Autumn Xu[6] 8-3

Kathryn Cragg[4] d. London Evans[15] 6-2, 6-2
Daniela Del Mastro and Anna Scott Laney d. Isha Manchala and Oleana Zerres[6] 8-6

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

No. 1 Seeds Pacheco and Samsonova Post Eddie Herr ITF J300 Wins Despite Late Arrivals; Top Two Seeds Ousted in Boys 12s Division; IMG Announces Name Change for Eddie Herr Tournament

©Colette Lewis 2023
Bradenton FL--

On a day when the temperature didn't budge from 59 degrees, Eddie Herr ITF J300 top seeds and J500 Merida champions Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez and Laura Samsonova managed to put the conditions and their long travel days behind them to record first round victories on the IMG Academy Stadium Court this morning.

Pacheco was first on, with the 18-year-old left-hander facing wild card Boxiong Zhang of China. After capturing his second consecutive Copa Mundial Yucatan title Sunday evening, Pacheco could have chosen to skip the Eddie Herr and the multi-connection trip to Bradenton, but with his goal of finishing as No. 1 and ITF World Junior champion in sight, he never considered withdrawing.

"I need to win all of them to become the No. 1," said Pacheco, who is currently tied with Joao Fonseca of Brazil, the US Open boys champion, at the top of the junior rankings. "If not, I will be No. 2. It's difficult, there's a lot of good players, but I won the last two tournaments, so now I'm confident to win this one."

Pacheco, currently on a 12-match winning streak with his 6-4, 6-1 win over Zhang, is open about the significance he places on ending the year at No. 1.

"I think it's a really good achievement, a really good goal," said Pacheco, who was runner-up at the ITF Junior Finals in China last month and won his first ITF Men's Pro Circuit title in August. "For the sponsors, for the people who support me, they would like it. It's my last junior year, so I think it's really important to be the best of the better players."

Pacheco is also looking ahead to 2024, when he will be eligible for the ATP Accelerator Program, receiving up to eight main draw Challenger wild cards by virtue of finishing in the Top 10 in the year-end ITF junior rankings.

"Because I'll finish Top 10 in the world for sure, next year I'm going to play almost full Challengers," said Pacheco, currently 682 in the ATP rankings. "I'm going to use the Accelerator Program, that is very good for the juniors."

Pacheco admits to some fatigue, but counters that with the confidence he's gained by winning both the J300 in Zapopan and the J500 in Merida.

"I feel a bit tired, but I feel I have a lot of confidence, because I've won a lot of matches, so I think it's going to be a good time to win this tournament," said Pacheco, who did not play the Eddie Herr last year. "It's hard with these conditions, it's cold for me, but I feel good and it's a great place to be. I like the United States, so I'm going to enjoy it."

Pacheco said he neglected to enter the J500 Orange Bowl next week, where he reached the final last year, but is not likely to ask for a wild card.

"I forgot to sign up, but also I have a commitment in Mexico, that is almost mandatory for me, so it's not for me to be at the Orange Bowl," Pacheco said. "I need to win this one, that's why I came here, but I like to play tournaments."

Girls top seed Laura Samsonova also arrived Monday night after claiming the Merida title Sunday evening, and she admitted to being a bit lost in the first two sets of her 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 win over Jana Hossam Salah of Egypt.

"We arrived yesterday, late at night, and I didn't have a chance to practice this morning," said the 15-year-old from the Czech Republic. "I practiced on the other (red) clay, and I have never played on this (Har-Tru) surface, so that was a little hard, but I'm happy I got used to it."

Samsonova trailed 3-5 in the first set before claiming the final four games, but couldn't sustain that momentum in the second set, with Hossam Salah capitalizing on her unforced errors and poor shot selection.

The third set was close for the first four games, but Samsonova finally found the level she needed in the fifth game, holding in a long, well-played game for a 3-2 lead.

"That was important mentally, because the next two went fast for me to 5-2," Samsonova said. "I was happy that I managed that game, because whoever won it would have an advantage."

Hossam Salah held to force Samsonova to serve out the match, but she had no trouble doing so with Hossam Salah netting a backhand on the first match point.

Samsonova flew to Merida from the Junior Billie Jean King Cup in Spain, where she played No. 1 for the Czech team that finished runner-up to the United States. Also entered in the Orange Bowl next week, Samsonova expressed surprise at her success in Mexico.

"Honestly, I don't expect myself to win Merida," said Samsonova, who has worked for several weeks this year with Thomas Hogstedt, who has coached Tommy Haas, Maria Sharapova and many other top professionals and is here in Bradenton this week. "I just came here to enjoy the matches and these tournaments are very prestigious, a lot of good players come here. It's tiring, but I really enjoy it."

One concession Samsonova made to this three-week stretch was to limit her participation to singles, which would not be remarkable for most players, but as the reigning Wimbledon girls doubles champion with partner Alena Kovackova, who is the No. 3 seed here, it is a sacrifice.

Kovackova won her first round match today, as did all the girls seeds who played their opening matches Tuesday; the only seed to fall in the first round was No. 15 seed Monika Stankiewicz of Poland, who lost yesterday.

Thirteen-year-old qualifier Victoria Barros of Brazil was defaulted from doubles Tuesday afternoon after her remarks to an official after her first round singles loss to Yoana Konstantinova of Bulgaria at the Legacy Courts were deemed egregious aggravated behavior. She and partner Eleejah Inisan of France, who were wild card entries, were replaced in the draw by alternates Kanon Sawashiro of Japan and Tianmei Wang.

While the girls have 15 of 16 seeds in the round of 32, the boys have just 10, with two more seeds ousted today. No. 5 seed Adhithya Ganesan lost to Keegan Rice of Canada 6-4, 6-4; No. 12 seed Timofei Derepasko of Russia, the 2021 Eddie Herr 14s champion, was beaten by qualifier Jacopo Vasami of Italy 6-2, 7-5.

The first round of doubles was completed Tuesday afternoon, with one major upset. No. 2 seeds Alexander Frusina and Oliver Ojakaar of Estonia were beaten by Hoyoung Roh of Korea and Atakan Karahan of Turkey 1-6, 6-3, 11-9.

All second round singles and doubles matches are scheduled for Wednesday, with the forecast calling for sunshine and warmer temperatures.

The top two seeds in the boys 12s were ousted today, with Tyson Grant, the brother of Tyra Grant, beating No. 1 seed Rafael Pagonis of Greece 6-4, 6-4, and Yitian Lou defeating Anthony Kirchner 5-7, 6-3, 10-8.

In the boys 14s, No. 2 seed Colin McPeek retired with an illness with Achyuth Binu leading 6-1, 1-0.

In the girls 16s, No. 4 seed Bella Payne was beaten by Sara Shumate 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.

Draws for the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions are available here. The third round matches are scheduled for 8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Wednesday.

A presentation was held at noon today at the IMG Academy to announce a rebranding of the Eddie Herr International Tournament. In the future, the tournament will be called the IMG Academy International Tennis Championships.

Monday, November 27, 2023

No. 2 Seed Jovic Ready to Build on Junior Billie Jean King Cup Title at Eddie Herr J300; Four Boys Seeds Fall in ITF First Round; G14s Loses Top Seed

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Bradenton FL--

Fifteen-year-old Iva Jovic admitted that winning a first round match at the Eddie Herr ITF J300 wasn't exactly a high bar, but after her first round exit last year, the No. 2 seed isn't taking anything for granted.

"The expectations are pretty low for this event," said Jovic, who lost to Monika Stankiewicz of Poland last year before going on to reach the semifinals of the Orange Bowl the following week. "Last year was not so great."

After defeating Francesca Maguina Bunikowska of Peru 6-0, 6-3 on the first day of main draw action today at the IMG Academy, Jovic can look forward to more of the success that she's had since returning from a five-month layoff due to a foot injury that derailed her summer.

Now, the Torrance California resident is coming off championship at the Junior Billie Jean King Cup in Spain earlier this month with teammates Tyra Grant and Alanis Hamilton. Jovic, who played No. 1 singles, clinched the second straight Junior BJK Cup title for the US with a win in the final over the Czech Republic's Laura Samsonova, the No. 1 seed this week in Bradenton. That triumph was preceded by her first Pro Circuit title at a $25,000 tournament in Redding California last month, another indication she's a threat to win any junior event she enters.

"I gained some confidence in Redding," said Jovic, who had returned to competition at the US Open Junior Championships, but fell in the first round in New York. "The first couple weren't pretty, but when you just get those wins under your belt, things just start to get better. I'm still being careful with my court time, not playing too many tournaments, keeping everything good, but yeah, it's definitely been a good fall."

Jovic was also on the 2022 Junior BJK Cup championship team, and that experience helped her step up to the No. 1 position this year.

"Experience definitely makes a difference, because it's a different kind of pressure and a different feeling when you're playing for your country and playing that event," Jovic said. "I didn't feel as nervous and steady and ready to go and that translated to the other two; everyone did great. We all carried each other really well and gave it our all."

Jovic is represented by Octagon for name, image and likeness sponsorships, which does not affect amateur status.

"To be honest, I don't know that much about it; my parents mostly talked to them about it," Jovic said. "Their my agency, they help me out, but it's not a professional contract, so I still have my college eligibility."

Jovic will have a chance to see college tennis in the winter and spring, with her sister Mia in her first semester at UCLA.

"I've already visited her twice and I'm excited to watch this season and cheer them on," Jovic said. 

The 19 girls matches on Monday's schedule produced just one upset, with No. 15 seed Stankiewicz losing to Mika Stojsavljevic of Great Britain 7-5, 6-2.

The boys seeds were not as successful, with four already eliminated. No. 3 seed Oliver Ojaakar of Estonia retired at 5-4 in the first set in his match with wild card Joseph Oyebog; No. 6 seed Kaylan Bigun lost to Henry Bernet of Switzerland 4-6, 6-2, 6-1; No. 7 seed Charlie Camus of Australia was beaten by Izan Almazan Valiente of Spain 6-3, 6-4 and Charlie Robertson of Great Britain fell to wild card Jack Kennedy 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3. Kennedy, 15, was down 3-0 in the second set before rallying.

The remainder of the first round in singles will be played Tuesday, with top seeds and J500 Merida champions Samsonova and Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico in action on the IMG Stadium Court.

The first round of doubles is also scheduled for Tuesday, with Pacheco and partner Iliyan Radulov the top boys seeds and Jovic and Grant the top girls seeds.

The younger age divisions had a long opening day, starting at 8 a.m. and finishing after 9 p.m., with most of the top seeds moving into Tuesday's second round. 

The highest seed to fall was girls 14s No. 2 seed Lyla Middleton, who lost to Sabrina Balderrama of Venezuela 6-1, 4-6, 7-5.

Girls 12s No. 4 seed Daniela Davletshina retired with an injury down 3-1 to Chen-Yun Tsai.

Results and times for Tuesday's second round can be found here.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

List of All Eddie Herr Seeds as Play Begins Monday for 12s, 14s, 16s and ITF J300; Top Seeds Samsonova and Pacheco Earn ITF J500 Merida Titles; Italy Claims First Davis Cup in 47 Years

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Bradenton FL--

The weather in this part of Florida is generally excellent throughout the Eddie Herr International Championships, but this year it has presented more challenges than usual, although all qualifying was completed today in time for the scheduled start of the main draw on Monday at the IMG Academy.

The 12s, 14s and 16s qualifying had only one match to complete today, and they finished about 45 minutes ahead of the first shower of day around 1 p.m. The rain was brief, yet heavy enough to suspend play on the Har-Tru courts where the ITF J300 is played; the delay was a short one, with most matches resuming within 45 minutes, but the second round of the girls qualifying had not finished, putting a few of those matches in jeopardy of not finishing. Fortunately the rain that did return was light enough to avoid another suspension and only one match needed to be scheduled after 4 p.m. and it could move to the one lighted Har-Tru court.

Only one American qualified for the ITF J300: Sophie Llewellyn, a recent SMU signee who lives in nearby Tarpon Springs. Christasha McNeil, the top seed in qualifying lost in the final round of qualifying to 13-year-old Victoria Barros of Brazil, who has already won four ITF Junior Circuit singles titles including at J100 last month in Croatia. No. 11 seed Barros, who beat McNeil 6-2, 6-2, lost only eight games in her three qualifying wins and looked right at home on the Har-Tru, using her variety to keep McNeil off balance.

The other American in qualifying who made the main draw is Benjamin Sparks, who retired to Rafael Bortran Neutze of Guatemala in the final round trailing 5-3 in the first set, but received entry as a lucky loser. 

Late withdrawals included Alexander Razeghi and Roy Horovitz, who lost 7-5, 6-4 in the doubles final last night to Sebastian Eriksson of Sweden and Maxim Mrva of the Czech Republic at the J500 in Merida, and Great Britain's Hannah Klugman, who won the doubles title in Merida last night with Kaitlin Quevedo, beating Ariana Pursoo and her partner Laura Brunkel of Denmark 6-3, 7-6(5).  Nikolai Budkov Kjaer of Norway, who lost in the singles semifinals last night in Merida, also withdrew from the Eddie Herr.

The seeds for the ITF J300:
1. Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez (MEX)
2. Iliyan Radulov (BUL)
3. Oliver Ojakaar (EST)
4. Alexander Frusina (USA)
5. Adhithya Ganesan (USA)
6. Kaylan Bigun (USA)
7. Charlie Camus (AUS)
8. Maxim Mrva (CZE)
9. Lasse Poertner (GER)
10. Sebastian Eriksson (SWE)
11. Reda Bennani (MAR)
12. Timofei Derepasko (RUS)
13. Viktor Frydrych (GBR)
14. Charlie Robertson (GBR)
15. Danil Panarin (RUS)
16. Daniil Sarksian (RUS)

1. Laura Samsonova (CZE)
2. Iva Jovic (USA)
3. Alena Kovackova (CZE)
4. Tyra Grant (USA)
5. Teodora Kostovic (SRB)
6. Wakana Sonobe (JPN)
7. Gloriana Nahum (BEN)
8. Iva Ivanova (BUL)
9. Luna Maria Cinalli (ARG)
10. Alisa Oktiabreva (RUS)
11. Elizara Yaneva (BUL)
12. Rositsa Dencheva (BUL)
13. Alanis Hamilton (USA)
14. Emily Sartz-Lunde (NOR)
15. Monika Stankiewicz (POL)
16. Mia Slama (USA)

Both Pacheco Mendez and Samsonova will come into their first round Eddie Herr matches Tuesday as ITF J500 champions after tonight's finals in the Yucatan World Cup in Merida Mexico. Pacheco became the first Mexican player to win back-to-back titles at the tournament, with the top seed defeating unseeded Patrick Schoenhaus of Germany 6-0, 6-3. The 15-year-old Samsonova, also a No. 1 seed, beat No. 2 seed Kaitlin Quevedo 6-3, 6-4 in tonight's final for her first J500 title.

The draws for the 12s, 14s, 16s are available here; the seeds, along with their countries, are below:

Boys 12s Seeds
1. Rafael Pagonis (GRE)
2. Anthony Kirchner (USA)
3. Thamma Kosiri (THA)
4. Jang Junseo (KOR)
5. Fu Wang Choi (HKG)
6. Daniel Gardality (USA)
7. Luke Jones (USA)
8. Rex Kulman (USA)
9. Siyun Kim (KOR)
10. Camelot Carnello (USA)
11. Matteo Limones (MEX)
12. Aryan Harwani (USA)
13. Michael Chervenkov (USA)
14. Juan Cruz More (ARG)
15. Reita Yamanaka (USA)
16. Simon Giambastiani (ARG)

Girls 12s Seeds
1. Caroline Shao (USA)
2. Paweenon Nualsri (THA)
3. Nikol Davletshina (USA)
4. Daniela Davletshina (USA)
5. Yui Watanabe (USA)
6. Adriana Khomyakova (USA)
7. Nadia Poznick (USA)
8. Sofiia Bielinska (UKR)
9. Isabella Yan CAN)
10. Audrey Dussault (USA)
11. Yerin Lee (KOR)
12. Emery Combs (USA)
13. Ceressa Jackson (NZL)
14. Olivia De Los Reyes (USA)
15. Sophia Khomoutov (USA)
16. Isabella Gonzalez (USA)

Boys 14s Seeds
1. Michael Antonius (USA)
2. Colin McPeek (USA)
3. Andrew Johnson (USA)
4. Jerrid Gaines (USA)
5. Navneet Raghuram (USA)
6. Jordan Lee (USA)
7. Emilio Camacho (ECU)
8. Mason Vaughan (USA)
9. Shaan Majeed USA)
10. Kaan Isik Kosaner (TUR)
11. Mark Mrcela (USA)
12. Teodor Davidov (USA)
13. Joshua Adamson (USA)
14. Daniel Patsula (USA)
15. Tabb Tuck (USA)
16. Andy Tchinda Kepche (CAN)

Girls 14s Seeds
1. Nancy Lee (USA)
2. Lyla Middleton (USA)
3. Giulia Popa (ROM)
4. Charlie Celebrini (USA)
5. Chukwumelije Clarke (USA)
6. Ariana Ikwueme (USA)
7. Hanne Estrada (MEX)
8. Welles Newman (USA)
9. Reagan Levine (USA)
10. Anastasia Malysheva (RUS)
11. Hannah Ayrault (USA)
12. Raya Kotseva (USA)
13. Anjani Vickneswaran (USA)
14. Joyce Geng (CAN)
15. Andrea Taylor (CAN)
16. Renee Alame (AUS)

Boys 16s Seeds
1. Jack Satterfield (USA)
2. Jack Secord (USA)
3. Ryan Cozad (USA)
4. Benjamin Saltman (USA)
5. Keaton Hance (USA)
6. Nischal Spurling (USA)
7. Ford McCollum (USA)
8. Sklar Phillips (USA)
9. Roshan Santhosh (USA)
10. Madhav Binu (USA)
11. Gordon Gallagher (USA)
12. Mason Taube (USA)
13. Arnav Bhandari (USA)
14. Avner Wong (USA)
15. Nikolas Stoot (USA)
16. Adrian Treacy (USA)

Girls 16s Seeds
1. Annika Penickova (USA)
2. Kristina Penickova (USA)
3. Kenzie Nguyen (USA)
4. Bella Payne (USA)
5. Ishika Ashar (USA)
6. Kayla Moore (USA)
7. Ava Rodriguez (USA)
8. Katerina Shabashkevich (USA)
9. Alisa Ozgun (USA)
10. Hadley Appling (USA)
11. Alston Myatt (USA)
12. Lauren Kettlewell (USA)
13. Kirsten Woods (USA)
14. Emerey Gross (USA)
15. Georgia Kulevich (USA)
16. Lillian Santos (USA)

The Davis Cup was decided today in Spain, with Italy defeating Australia 2-0 to claim its first title since 1976. Jannik Sinner saved three match points in his win over Novak Djokovic that clinched Saturday's victory over Serbia, and today he defeated Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-0 for the title, after Matteo Arnaldi had beaten Alexei Popyrin in the first singles match 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. For more on the final, see this article from the Davis Cup website.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Vijayakumar Ends Lyutova's Winning Streak, Top Seed in Boys Qualifying Falls in First Round at Eddie Herr ITF J300; Quevedo Reaches ITF J500 Merida Final, Ganesan Suffers First Loss in Five Tournaments

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Bradenton Florida--

I rarely watch a qualifying match from start to finish, with the first priority checking out as many matches as I can to put names with faces. But on the first day of the Eddie Herr ITF J300 qualifying, I had circled the match between Trinetra Vijayakumar, the No. 12 seed, and 13-year-old Christina Lyutova as one to watch and I wasn't disappointed, with Vijayakumar ending Lyutova's 18-match ITF Junior Circuit winning streak with a 3-6, 6-1, 10-4 victory.

I had taken the shuttle from the main tennis site on East Campus to the six Legacy Hotel courts, which are by the entrance to the West Campus. The viewing is much improved from the former alternate site at the closer Academy Park area, but there are no benches or awnings on the courts and no bleachers for any spectators. I was able to find a folding chair and within 20 minutes of my arrival, the match had begun.

The last time I had seen Lyutova was almost a year ago, when she won the Junior Orange Bowl 12s title, so I was eager to see the improvements she had made in the past 11 months that contributed to her titles at the USTA 16s Clay Courts and USTA 16s Hard Courts this summer, as well as the three consecutive ITF J60 titles she won this fall.

Lyutova started well, with the hitch that was a part of her service motion less obvious, while the depth and placement of her ground strokes kept Vijayakumar from taking control of points. Lyutova doesn't hit many first-strike winners, but she got the only break of the first set to take a 3-1 lead and was able to close out her next three service games without facing a break point.

Vijayakumar took a bathroom break after the first set, and when the 17-year-old from Maryland returned, she committed to a new strategy.

"My game plan going in just didn't seem to be winning a lot of points and I wasn't necessarily confident in what I was doing," Vijayakumar said. "I realized later in the first set I needed to be a lot more aggressive and take the girl's time away, just be more decisive when the short balls came."

Vijayakumar held to open the second set, and then broke on her third opportunity--her first three chances in the match--in the next game. Vijayakumar made good on her decision to go more aggressive and her unforced errors actually decreased, while Lyutova, who had played a very clean first set, began to donate more. Part of that was due to her first serve percentage dropping; although she defends her soft second serve well, Lyutova isn't able to dictate from a second serve return, and on several occasions Vijayakumar hit outright winners.

Vijayakumar got herself an insurance break at 4-1 with her forehand doing most of the damage, then closed out the set with a couple of backhand winners.

Vijayakumar had learned what she had to do to make Lyutova uncomfortable and was determined to go into the deciding match tiebreaker with the same mindset.

"In the tiebreak, it's anyone's game, so I just took it one point at a time and made sure that I just kept pressure on her," Vijayakumar said. "She's great on the run, she gives good quality balls back on defense and that makes it harder to get on offense, but you have to really take your time and keep constructing points."

The match tiebreaker was 3-3 at the first change of ends, but Vijayakumar's forehand produced three straight winners and Lyutova never recovered from dropping her two service points. Two more unforced errors by Lyutova on her next two serves made it 9-4 and Vijayakumar finished it on her first match point, with her shot appearing to skip off the baseline and handcuff Lyutova. She called it out, but the roving umpire immediately declared the ball good and confirmed it by checking the mark, or the absence of one.

While Lyutova no doubt entered the match with confidence, having won the J60 tournaments in Corpus Christi, Atlanta and Boca Raton, Vijayakumar also had success this fall, winning the J100 in Zapopan Mexico earlier this month and playing the past two weeks in the major ITF junior events in Mexico.

"This is my fourth week, so I'm definitely acclimating to the surface more and more," said Vijayakumar, who has not yet announced her college commitment for 2024. "If you get more time on clay courts, it's much easier for me on Har-Tru. It definitely helps."

Vijayakumar only began playing ITF Junior Circuit tournaments regularly this February, and is experiencing the Eddie Herr for the first time this year.

"I started late compared to a lot of my friends," Vijayakumar said of her recent transition to more international competition. "Every match seems to mean so much to every player on the ITF Circuit. It's a lot of good matches, because what's at stake, even at a small ITF makes a difference as to how kids play."

Vijayakumar will face Alden Russell in the second round of qualifying Sunday, with the third and final round also scheduled for Sunday.

The top girls qualifying seed had no trouble today, with Christasha McNeil defeating wild card Taylor Monfils 6-0, 6-0 in less than an hour this morning, but the Stadium Court wasn't as kind to boys No. 1 seed Rafael Segado Esteve of Spain this afternoon. Hayden Khoo Menon of Malaysia, who won the Boca Raton J60 earlier this month, defeated Segado Esteve 6-4, 6-3, breaking at 3-4 and holding serve easily for the win.

The match of the day in the boys qualifying saw Bruno Kokot of Poland defeat Jacob Olar 6-7(4), 7-6(7), 17-15. Most qualifying matches are expected to finish in less than two hours, but Kokot, who plays Menon next, needed almost three to complete that marathon victory.

The final round of qualifying for the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions will also be played Sunday, on the IMG Academy hard courts. The forecast is calling for a chance of rain in the afternoon, but the last matches to go on are scheduled for 9:30 a.m., so they may finish before any rain arrives. Results and draws with times are here.

Another lengthy ITF Junior Circuit winning streak was halted today at the J500 in Merida Mexico, with No. 5 seed Adhithya Ganesan losing to No. 3 seed Nikolai Budov Kjaer 6-2, 7-5 in their rain-delayed quarterfinal. Ganesan had won four consecutive ITF events--three J200s and one J100--in Asia in the past five weeks.

No. 2 seed Kaitlin Quevedo has advanced to the final, beating No. 3 seed Alena Kovackova of the Czech Republic 7-6(4), 6-4 in today's semifinal. Quevedo will face top seed Laura Samsonova of the Czech Republic, who beat 2022 Merida finalist Ariana Pursoo 7-6(10), 6-1. 

Due to the rain Friday night, the boys finals in both singles and doubles are not yet set, but No. 3 seeds Alexander Razeghi and Roy Horovitz are into the boys doubles final, awaiting their opponents for a late night final. Razeghi and Horovitz defeated unseeded Thomas Faurel and Theo Papamalamis of France 6-7(4) 6-1, 10-7 in a rain-delayed match completed this morning. Quevedo and her partner Hannah Klugman of Great Britain have advanced to the girls doubles final; they are scheduled to play their final tonight as well, but don't yet have an opponent. Pursoo and her partner Laura Brunkel of Denmark had their Friday night semifinal match with top seeds Samsonova and Kovackova called after just one game. 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Eddie Herr ITF J300 Qualifying Begins Saturday at IMG Academy, 13-year-old Lyutova Aims to Extend Winning Streak; Ganesan, Quevedo and Pursoo Reach ITF J500 Merida Quarterfinals

The qualifying draws for the Eddie Herr ITF J300 are posted, and for this year's tournament the six new Har-Tru courts at the IMG Legacy Hotel will be used. Many of the Academy Park Har-Tru courts, which were a tram ride away from the IMG Tennis Complex, are no more, with a new dormitory going up there; some clay courts will continue to be located in the area, although they are not being used for tournament competition.

The courts at the hotel have a separate entrance, so an additional crew of tournament officials will set up at that facility. 

I plan to start at the main site, with top qualifying seed Christasha McNeil's 8:30 a.m. match with wild card Taylor Monfils on Stadium court (in the foreground of the photo) before heading to see the new courts. I'm interested in seeing if 13-year-old Christina Lyutova, who is playing No. 12 qualifying seed Trinetra Vijayakumar, can extend her winning streak. Lyutova, who last lost a match in March, won both the USTA 16s Clays and Hard Courts this summer, and this fall has collected three ITF J60 titles, the last one early this month in Boca Raton.

The wild cards for qualifying:
Nicolas Arredondo(MEX)
Sebastian Johnson(USA)
Ibrahim Deniz(TUR)
Benjamin Sparks(USA)
Andrew Sretavan(USA)
ZiYan Zhang(CHN)
David Cibrian(USA)
Mikel Anderson(USA)

Taylor Monfils(USA)
Cardona Carballosa
Kinsey Crawford(USA)
Owethu Makhanya(RSA)
Elona Simonov(USA)
Karine Kulidjian(USA)
Sophia Johnson(USA)
Townsend Penney(USA)

The top seed in the boys qualifying is Rafael Segado Esteve of Spain, with an ITF ranking of 148; girls top seed McNeil's ITF ranking is 150, so the strength of the fields is comparable. Both qualifying draws are a full 64-players.

The Eddie Herr 12s, 14s and 16s qualifying continues on Saturday with third round matches; the final round of qualifying is scheduled for Sunday. Draws and times can be found here.

Three Americans advanced to tonight's singles quarterfinals at the ITF J500 Yucatan World Cup in Merida Mexico: Adhithya Ganesan[5], Kaitlin Quevedo[2] and Ariana Pursoo[14].

Ganesan is also on a notable winning streak, having won four straight J100-200 tournaments in Asia in October and November. He is playing No. 3 seed Nicolai Budkov Kjaer of Norway in the last match on stadium court tonight.

Pursoo, who reached the final in Merida last year, falling to Clervie Ngounoue, beat No. 5 seed Hannah Klugman of Great Britain 6-2, 6-2 in the third round Thursday and is facing unseeded Yoana Konstantinova of Bulgaria in today's quarterfinals. 

No. 2 seed Kaitlin Quevedo is playing unseeded Daria Egorova of Russia in the quarterfinals.  Top seeds Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico and Laura Samsonova are also through to the quarterfinals.

Pursoo and Quevedo are both also in the doubles semifinals, with Pursoo partnering with Laura Brunkel of Denmark and Quevedo playing with Klugman, with the latter the No. 2 seeds. 

No. 3 seed Alexander Razeghi and Roy Horovitz are the American boys reaching the doubles semifinals.