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Thursday, May 5, 2011

French Junior Championships Acceptances; Novikov, Kosakowski Reach Futures Quarterfinals; Boise State Reports NCAA Violations in Football, Tennis

The acceptances for the French Open Junior Championships, which begins May 29th, have been released on the ITF junior website.

The top 10 boys in the ITF world junior rankings are entered, including Australian Open champion Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, who hasn't played a junior event since winning in Melbourne.

There is a strong contingent of US boys traveling to Paris. In order, according to their ranking at the time of acceptance, they are: Shane Vinsant, Bjorn Fratangelo, Mitchell Krueger, Mac Styslinger, Dennis Novikov, Alexios Halebian and Marcos Giron. Connor Farren is qualifying, only five spots out of the main draw. Even though Sean Berman is still listed as USA by the ITF, he has played as an Australian for over a year now, so I am not including him among the Americans. The cutoff this year appears to have been 44 for the boys, although there are three spots, perhaps reserved?, for players from Mexico, Japan and South Africa. 2009 Australian Open boys champion Tiago Fernandes has entered, and is directly in due to his ATP ranking of 388. A boy must be inside the ATP Top 550 to be granted main draw entry.

While seven boys in the main is encouraging, it's discouraging that there are only two US girls directly in: Vicky Duval and Christina Makarova. Those eligible via their ranking who are not playing are Lauren Davis, Sloane Stephens, Grace Min, Madison Keys, Gabrielle Andrews and Kyle McPhillips. Krista Hardebeck would also have gotten in with her 332 WTA ranking, but I had heard in Carson that she was taking some time to work on her serve with Phil and Taylor Dent (she is still working with Robert Van't Hof too). The French Juniors is also scheduled around the same time as the $50,000 Carson Pro Circuit tournament very near where Hardebeck lives, so I'm not too surprised she is not among the entries.

Laura Robson has received direct entry based on her WTA ranking of 256, as have Kateryna Kozlova (329) and Maryna Zanevska (294) of Ukraine. A girl must be inside the WTA Top 350 to earn direct entry.

World No. 1 and Australian Open girls champion An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium, who has been playing on the ITF women's circuit since winning in Melbourne, is playing, as in the Australian Open girls finalist Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, who just won a $25,000 event on red clay in Switzerland. The cutoff for the girls appears to have been 51, with No. 54 Ashleigh Barty of Australia getting bumped up for the same reason the three boys did. Stephanie Nauta is the only US girl in qualifying.

In Pro Circuit action today, UCLA freshman Dan Kosakowski defeated top seed Greg Ouellette 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals of the $10,000 Futures in Orange Park, Fla. Dennis Novikov also reached the quarterfinals, having defeated No. 4 seed Matteo Marrai of Italy yesterday and qualifier Clayton Almeida of Brazil today.

At the women's $50,000 tournament at Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., which features free live streaming of matches, qualifier Chichi Scholl reached the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 8 seed Alexandra Stevenson. Jessica Pegula, who also qualified, reached the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 7-6(4) win over Timea Babos. According to the commentator on the live stream, Pegula is now working with Michael Joyce, who coached Maria Sharapova for so many years. Here's the link to the livestream. It is not the quality of the Dallas Challenger, but it is free and it is legal.

For complete results, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

Earlier this week the NCAA announced an investigation of Boise State athletics, and while the football program is the highest profile team involved, the men's and women's tennis team were also a part of the complaint. The women's tennis team has been categorized as committing a major violation, and it will vacate matches, surrender three scholarships and give up practice time as part of the school's self-imposed measures. For more details, see this article in the Idaho Statesman and this Associated Press article.

Mark Tichenor, the women's tennis coach was fired/resigned last fall, according to this Statesman article, as was assistant coach Tiffany Coll. Coll is not going away quietly however, disputing her firing, the allegations and the way she was treated. In yet another Statesman article, Coll says she is determined to have her name cleared.