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Monday, October 31, 2011

Revisiting the Economics of Zootennis


Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post explaining the financial side of this blog and the sources of revenue that help me pay for my travel throughout the year. I was amazed how many people mentioned that post to me in the months that followed, because frankly, although I enjoy economics, I realize it doesn't take much before most people's eyes glaze over.

I think it's time for an update, because although not a lot has changed, a few things have.

My affiliation with the Tennis Recruiting Network continues, and it remains my most reliable source of freelance income. I have lost one direct advertiser, but continue to enjoy the support of both OTZ Sports and Roddick Lavalle Tennis Academy. I thank them again for advertising on my site, and hope they have gotten the exposure and traffic they expected when they made their decision to renew their commitments. If you have a business or product you are interested in advertising on this site, I invite you to look at the media kit for more information.

During the grand slam summer season, you may have noticed advertisements for Head, Prince, Wilson and Babolat. These were placed by a third party agency that specializes in tennis sites, and I was pleased with the income that arrangement generated. Alas, once the big tournaments are over, that source of advertising drops drastically, and we're now heading into several very lean months on that front.

My affiliate agreements with Tennis Warehouse and Amazon continue, and with the holiday shopping season approaching, please consider clicking on the links on my site if you intend to shop at either site.

I have continued to avoid charging a subscription fee for access to any of the content on zootennis, but I have set up a link to allow donations through Paypal (see the donate button down and to your left). I appreciate all who have taken the time to donate in the past eight or nine months; it's not the first thing on your mind, I'm sure.

Traffic continues to grow, and although it isn't dramatically higher than last year, the steady increase helps with the google ads on the site.

So, if you've gotten this far, you probably have a natural curiosity about everything. But I believe that once a year I need to address this topic and provide suggestions for readers who ask me how they can contribute. I do feel extremely fortunate to have discovered this outlet and to have been able to fund my extensive travel from what I've made from freelance assignments and advertising and donations. I'm grateful for your support and look forward to many more years of providing junior and college tennis coverage.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Harrison, Boyce Take Titles in ITF Grade 4 in Atlanta; Belated Nike Junior Tour Results; Johnson vs. Frank in Charlottesville 75K Monday


Catherine Harrison and Charles Boyce won singles titles today at the ITF Grade 4 in Atlanta, held at the Racquet Club of the South. Harrison, the top seed, defeated unseeded Sydney Campbell 7-6(6), 6-2 to win the tournament, taking every match in straight sets. It was the Georgia Tech recruit's her first title in over a year.

Boyce, a blue chip junior from Texas, has had success in the fall ITFs here in the US, reaching the semifinals at both Waco and Wichita Falls, but he was still forced to qualify for Atlanta, meaning he had won nine matches by the time he took out unseeded Tommy Mylnikov of Canada 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in today's final. Boyce upset top seed Harrison Richmond in the round of 16, but Richmond got a measure of revenge in the doubles final, where he and Daniel Khanin, the No. 1 seeds, beat Boyce and his partner Stephen Watson, who were unseeded, 6-4, 6-7(4), 10-3.

The girls doubles title went to the unseeded team of Campbell and Josie Kuhlman, who beat No. 3 seeds Caroline Doyle and Mia King 6-2, 7-5 in the final. Campbell and Kuhlman weren't forced to a match tiebreaker in any of their five wins.

Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

This week's ITF junior event in the US is a Grade 4 in Lexington, South Carolina. The boys qualifying results can be found at the ITF junior site; it doesn't appear there was any qualifying for the girls. (Correction: there was qualifying for girls). The tournament's independent website is available here.

Back in September, I looked everywhere for the results of the US Nike Junior Tour Masters. I did manage to dig up the 14s winners--Stefan Kozlov(hard to figure how he wasn't the top seed) and Kenadi Hance--but I don't think I ever found the results for the 12s. In going through my USTA sectional emails, I found this article from the Midwest, which features the boys 12s winner Gianni Ross from Illinois. The girls 12s title went to Ryan Peus. The US champions will compete in December's International event at the Club Med Sandpiper resort in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Note: I was sent this link to the full results, with the information that it was only recently posted.)

It was a big day for 18-year-olds in the North American ITF circuit tournaments, with Jason Kubler of Australia taking the $10,000 Birmingham, Ala. Futures, Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal winning the $25,000 challenger in Puerto Rico and Timea Babos of Hungary capturing the $50,000 challenger in Saguenay, Canada. Babos defeated Julia Boserup of the US in the final 7-6(7), 6-3, and also teamed with Jessica Pegula of the US for the doubles title.

The qualifying is underway for the three upcoming tournaments, with the men's $10K Futures in Niceville Fla. in the final round Monday, while the women's $50K in Grapevine Texas just got started today.

At the $75,000 men's challenger in Charlottesville, the final round of qualifying will be Monday morning (with live scoring available through the ATP website). Virginia's Jarmere Jenkins, a wild card, will play third seed Alex Bogdanovic of Great Britain after beating Blaz Rola of Ohio State 7-6 in the third in Saturday's opening round of qualifying. The other current Cavalier still alive is All-American champion Mitchell Frank, who beat No. 2 seed Nick Monroe 7-6(2), 6-4 and will now play NCAA champion Steve Johnson for a spot in the main draw. The slower court surface (see this Daily Progress article for more on that) and playing at home probably favor Frank, who is obviously confident right now, but Johnson has an edge in experience. It's certainly a match everyone in college tennis will be watching closely.

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

Saturday, October 29, 2011

All-Teen Finals in Alabama and Puerto Rico Pro Circuit Events; Gibbs Feature; Golf Relaxes Rules for Amateurs


The finals are set at the two Pro Circuit events this week--the men's $10,000 Futures in Birmingham Ala. and the women's $25,000 Challenger in Puerto Rico--with none of the four finalists over the age of 18.

In Alabama, where there was only one seed left after the second round, 18-year-old Jason Kubler of Australia will play 16-year-old qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan for the title. It is extremely rare for a player without an ATP ranking to reach a final, even at the lowest level, which is what this Futures is. Nishioka is playing only his second Futures event, with his first last week in Austin, and with his four qualifying wins, he has already won eight matches in a row, all but one in straight sets. Today, he defeated top seed and ATP No. 305 Nicolas Devilder of France 6-2, 6-3.

Kubler's only junior tournament this year was Wimbledon, where he reached the semifinals, and he has reached a Futures final back in Australia in 2010, but he has yet to win one. He does have an ATP ranking of 761 however, and he was out with an injury earlier this year, so the former top-ranked ITF junior's appearance in the final is less surprising.

In Puerto Rico, 18-year-old Monica Puig, fresh from her silver medal at the Pan American games last week, is in the final at the $25,000 Bayamon tournament against another 18-year-old, Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal. Puig, the No. 8 seed, represents Puerto Rico, although she lives in Miami. She defeated No. 7 seed Olga Puchkova of Russia 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-4 in today's semifinal. Larcher de Briton, the No. 3 seed, beat unseeded 32-year-old Catalina Castano of Colombia 6-4, 6-2 today. Castano had upset top seed Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia, another 18-year-old, in the quarterfinals.

The unseeded American team of Allie Kiick and Vicky Duval reached the doubles final, but lost to No. 3 seeds Chanel Simmonds of South Africa and Tomljanovic 6-3, 6-1 today.

Complete draws can be found at the Pro Circuit results page at usta.com.

The Stanford Daily published an interview this week with Northwest regional champion Nicole Gibbs, and it's a fascinating read. I knew that Gibbs had lost in the finals of the 18s Nationals the past two years, but I had no idea she hadn't won a tournament in years. She talks about finally winning, her life as a student-athlete at Stanford, how she hated tennis early on, the different mindset required in college tennis, and her intention to play professionally.

This New York Times article explains rule changes by golf's sanctioning bodies to allievate some of the pressure on amateur players. This includes agreeing to representation by agents prior to turning professional and receiving living expenses from national governing bodies to ease the pressure to turn pro. The article doesn't mention the NCAA in any of this, but signing with an agent means the immediate and irreversible loss of amateur status in the NCAA's eyes, so these regulations are obviously at odds with NCAA rules. Whether this change will put any pressure on the NCAA to make changes on their end is certainly open to debate, and this is the only area where this may eventually affect tennis. The ITF, the international governing body of tennis, makes no distinction between amateurs and professionals, whether at junior or senior levels (although they do prohibit prize money at junior events); that is a division that exists only in golf, which still has major events confined to amateurs.

The NCAA did adopt several changes last week, including a permission for up to $2,000 in additional student-athlete aid for those on full scholarships or those in equivalency sports (like men's tennis) who have other financial aid that amounts to a full ride. Whether schools and conferences will be willing to adopt this rule for non-revenue sports remains to be seen. Another major change allows for scholarships to be granted for more than one year, up to the number of years of eligibility. For a complete review of the changes, see ncaa.org.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Live Blog for Indoor Intercollegiate; Wil Spencer in College Spotlight; Davis Helps Elton John's Team Win at Smash Hits; Washington Sets HS Record

I've been covering the ITA Indoor, which is now called the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, since 2004 and although it's always been distinguished by a very high level of play, given the 32-field draws, it really didn't have a lot of exposure or buzz until the USTA began its official sponsorship and started devoting its resources to improving the tournament's visibility. Hosting it at the USTA's Indoor Training Center in Flushing Meadows helps, and a trip to New York, even for those on the West Coast, adds a special excitement to the hours not spent at the courts.

Last year was the first year, and although I know there were complaints about the live scoring and a few other issues, mostly centering on transportation, I thought the tournament went very smoothly. It should be even better this year, with more players and coaches familiar with the venue, and with both the host school of Columbia and the USTA staff now having previous experience.

Today it was announced that there will be a live blog everyday via the "Cover It Live" technology, which is the internet chat software that I believe men's tennis SID Amanda Pruitt of the University of Tennessee pioneered for Division I college tennis a couple of years ago. The link has already been set up, and is available here. You can request a reminder via email now. If you can't make it to the tournament, join in. It's a great way to keep up with what's going on, and to get to know others in the college tennis community, if only by their chat nickname. For the USTA's release on the competitors, focusing on the Americans in the draw, as well as local players, see usta.com

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association has also stepped up this year, providing its own preview, photos of all competitors, including doubles teams, with links to their school's bio page. It's a great help in getting to put faces with the names you've been seeing in the draws this fall. See the ITA tournament page for all this and more.

A college tennis recruiting information session is also scheduled for Sunday morning. For more on that event, see this article from usta.com.

One of the participants at the Indoor, Georgia's Wil Spencer, is in the College Spotlight this week, and he explains the initiation to a new team, which he did twice--as a freshman at Texas A&M and again last fall, as a transfer to Georgia. Spencer also talks about missing competition, what he's learned from head coach Manny Diaz, and what he is working on now to improve his game.


Lauren Davis participated in last night's WTT Smash Hits, hosted annually by Elton John for AIDS charities, this year held in Cleveland, near Davis' hometown of Gates Mills Ohio. According to this account at the WTT website, Davis' 5-1 win over CoCo Vandeweghe in women's singles, helped John's team to a 19-18 win over Billie Jean King's team, although Andy Roddick also played a key role in the victory.

And congratulations to Amber Washington, who set a Minnesota state high school record with her sixth state title. This article from the Pioneer Press was prior to Washington's win, but she went on to beat Sonya Das 6-4, 7-5. For more on that match, see this article, also from the Pioneer Press.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Krueger Profile; Domijan Receives Wild Card into USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, A-A Champ Will Is Not Playing

My weekly article for the Tennis Recruiting Network is a profile of Mitchell Krueger, one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation. I have been covering Krueger since he won the Eddie Herr in 2006 (beating Liam Broady in the final, with Laura Robson taking the girls 12s title that year), and I've enjoy seeing him, and his game, grow over the years. I appreciated his candor in our interview in Tulsa, and I hope this profile provides a glimpse into the life of a world class junior who knows he is facing an important decision.



The ITA released the list of participants for the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, which start next Thursday, and there were definitely some surprises. Neither Riviera All-American champion Allie Will of Florida nor finalist Jacqueline Cako of Arizona State are in the field, while Alex Domijan of Virgina, the preseason No. 1 ranked player, received the USTA's wild card, although he hasn't played a match this fall.

With Domijan receiving the USTA wild card, and Jose Hernandez of North Carolina and Sebastian Fanselow of Pepperdine receiving the two ITA wild cards, all of the Top 10 in the men's preseason rankings are represented. Kyle McMorrow of Washington, at preseason No. 22, appears to be the final at-large selection. If a player did not reach the quarterfinals of the regionals, he or she is not eligible for an at-large berth.

That rule kept preseason No. 6 Zoe De Bruycker of North Carolina and No. 8 Josipa Bek of Clemson from a spot in the draw. For some reason, the ITA wild card went to Emily Fraser of Virginia instead of one of those two. Without Will, Florida still has Lauren Embree and Joanna Mather in singles, with Natalie Pluskota of Tennessee, whose preseason ranking is 29, the last to receive an at-large bid.

Zoe Scandalis, the USC freshman who lost to teammate Sabrina Santamaria in the regional final, received the USTA wild card.

The host school Columbia receives a wild card in both singles and doubles for men and women. The wild cards went to Haig Schneiderman and Bianca Sanon in singles. The doubles wild cards went to Nathaniel Gery and Winston Lin, and Nicole Bartnik and Crystal Leung.

For next week's schedule, see Columbia's tournament page, which will also be the source for live scoring. I encourage anyone living in the New York metropolitan area to come out to the tournament. The facility is beautiful, with great viewing, and you will see some fantastic tennis for free. For more information, see the ITA's tournament page.

Below is the full list of participants:

MEN'S SINGLES:

Remi Boutillier
Fresno State University
ITA All-American Quarterfinalist

Chase Buchanan
Ohio State University
At-Large Selection

Henrique Cunha
Duke University
At-Large Selection

Alex Domijan
University of Virginia
USTA Wild Card

Gonzalo Escobar
Texas Tech University
USTA/ITA Texas Regional Champion

Sebastian Fanselow
Pepperdine University
ITA Wild Card

Mitchell Frank
University of Virginia
ITA All-American Champion

Jose Hernandez
University of North Carolina
ITA Wild Card

Damian Hume
Boise State University
USTA/ITA Mountain Regional Champion

Jarmere Jenkins
University of Virginia
At-Large Selection

Lucas Jovita
Rollins College
USTA/ITA Super Bowl Champion

Roy Kalmanovich
University of Illinois
ITA All-American Quarterfinalist

Evan King
University of Michigan
At-Large Selection

Kevin King
Georgia Tech University
USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Champion

Alexis Klegou
Texas A&M University
ITA All-American Quarterfinalist

Kyle McMorrow
University of Washington
At-Large Selection

Chris Mengel
Duke University
USTA/ITA Carolina Regional Champion

Andreas Mies
Auburn University
USTA/ITA Southern Regional Champion

Tsvetan Mihov
University of Oklahoma
USTA/ITA Central Regional Champion

Vasko Mladenov
St. John's University
USTA/ITA Northeast Regional Champion

Alex Musialek
University of Kentucky
USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Champion

Dennis Nevolo
University of Illinois
ITA All-American Quarterfinalist

Daniel Nguyen
University of Southern California
ITA All-American Semifinalist

Costin Paval
University of Oklahoma
ITA All-American Semifinalist

Eric Quigley
University of Kentucky
ITA All-American Consolation Champion

Blaz Rola
Ohio State University
USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Champion

Ray Sarmiento
University of Southern California
USTA/ITA Southwest Regional Champion

Haig Schneiderman
Columbia University
Host Wild Card

Wil Spencer
University of Georgia
ITA All-American Runner-up

Finn Tearney
Pepperdine University
At-Large Selection

Ryan Thacher
Stanford University
USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Champion

Jamie Whiteford
College of William & Mary
USTA/ITA Atlantic Regional Champion


MEN'S DOUBLES:


Phil Anderson/Jadon Phillips
University of New Mexico
At-Large Selections

Nick Andrews/Christoffer Konigsfeldt
University of California
ITA All-American Consolation Champions

Christopher Aumueller/Benedikt Lindheim
University of Nebraska
At-Large Selections

Johan Backstrom/Jonas Lutjen
University of Mississippi
USTA/ITA Southern Regional Champions

Nikola Bubnic/Thibaut Visy
University of San Diego
USTA/ITA Southwest Regional Champions

Chase Buchanan/Blaz Rola
Ohio State University
ITA All-American Champions

Chris Camillone/David Holiner
University of Texas
USTA/ITA Texas Regional Champions

Louis Cant/Malte Stropp
Mississippi State University
At-Large Selections

Marius Cirstea/Andrew Dobbs
University of Idaho
USTA/ITA Mountain Regional Champions

John Collins/Maros Horny
University of Maryland
USTA/ITA Atlantic Regional Champions

Drew Courtney/Jarmere Jenkins
University of Virginia
USTA Wild Cards

Carlos Cueto/Ben McLachlan
University of California
USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Champions

Henrique Cunha/Chris Mengel
Duke University
USTA/ITA Carolina Regional Champions

Billy Federhofer/Nassim Slilam
University of Florida
USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Champions

Nathaniel Gery/Winston Lin
Columbia University
Host Wild Cards

Christian Hansen/Luis Loeffler
Valdosta State University
USTA/ITA Super Bowl Champions

Kevin King/Juan Spir
Georgia Tech University
ITA All-American Runners-up

Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese
University of Tennessee
USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Champions

Clifford Marsland/Ashley Watling
University of Tulsa
USTA/ITA Central Regional Champions

Matt Siow/Matt Spindler
Princeton University
USTA/ITA Northeast Regional Champions

WOMEN'S SINGLES:

Robin Anderson
University of California, Los Angeles
Riviera/ITA All-American Semifinalist

Anna Bartenstein
University of Miami
At-Large Selection

Nicole Bartnik
Columbia University
USTA/ITA Northeast Regional Champion

Emina Bektas
University of Michigan
USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Champion

Kristi Boxx
University of Mississippi
USTA/ITA Southern Regional Champion

Mallory Burdette
Stanford University
Riviera/ITA All-American Consolation Champion

Beatrice Capra
Duke University
Riviera/ITA All-American Quarterfinalist

Denise Dy
University of Washington
At-Large Selection

Aeriel Ellis
University of Texas
At-Large Selection

Lauren Embree
University of Florida
At-Large Selection

Emily Fraser
University of Virginia
ITA Wild Card

Kristy Frilling
University of Notre Dame
At-Large Selection

Nicole Gibbs
Stanford University
USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Champion

Chelsey Gullickson
University of Georgia
USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Champion

Aleksandra Josifoska
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
USTA/ITA Mountain Regional Champion

Jana Juricova
University of California
Riviera/ITA All-American Quarterfinalist

Danielle Lao
University of Southern California
At-Large Selection

Marta Lesniak
Southern Methodist University
Riviera/ITA All-American Quarterfinalist

Mary Anne Macfarlane
University of Alabama
Riviera/ITA All-American Quarterfinalist

Joanna Mather
University of Florida
At-Large Selection

Lauren McHale
University of North Carolina
USTA/ITA Carolina Regional Champion

Diana Nakic
Baylor University
USTA/ITA Texas Regional Champion

Petra Niedermeyerova
Kansas State University
Riviera/ITA All-American Semifinalist

Natalie Pluskota
University of Tennessee
At-Large Selection

Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar
Texas A&M University
At-Large Selection

Bianca Sanon
Columbia University
Host Wild Card

Sabrina Santamaria
University of Southern California
USTA/ITA Southwest Regional Champion

Zoe Scandalis
University of Southern California
USTA Wild Card

Cristina Stancu
University of Maryland
USTA/ITA Atlantic Regional Champion

Ana Veselinovic
Auburn University at Montgomery
USTA/ITA Super Bowl Champion

Sam Vickers
University of Tulsa
USTA/ITA Central Regional Champion

Jackie Wu
Vanderbilt University
USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Champion

WOMEN'S DOUBLES:

Robin Anderson/Skylar Morton
University of California, Los Angeles
USTA/ITA Southwest Regional Champions

Nicole Bartnik/Crystal Leung
Columbia University
Host Wild Cards

Josipa Bek/Keri Wong
Clemson University
USTA/ITA Carolina Regional Champions

Ana Belzunce/Welma Luus
University of Maryland
USTA/ITA Atlantic Regional Champions

Mallory Burdette/Nicole Gibbs
Stanford University
Riviera/ITA All-American Champions

Beatrice Capra/Ester Goldfeld
Duke University
USTA Wild Cards

Kerrie Cartwright/Audrey Leitz
Tyler Junior College
USTA/ITA Super Bowl Champions

Kaitlyn Christian/Sabrina Santamaria
University of Southern California
At-Large Selections

Kayla Duncan/Kathryn Talbert
Wake Forest University
At-Large Selections

Lauren Embree/Joanna Mather
University of Florida
Riviera/ITA All-American Consolation Champions

Kristy Frilling/Shannon Mathews
University of Notre Dame
USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Champions

Alexa Guarachi/Mary Anne Macfarlane
University of Alabama
USTA/ITA Southern Regional Champions

Chelsey Gullickson/Lilly Kimbell
University of Georgia
USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Champions

Marie-Pier Huet/Whitney Ritchie
University of Oklahoma
USTA/ITA Central Regional Champions

Alex Kelleher/Olga Khmylev
Boston College
USTA/ITA Northeast Regional Champions

Nida Hamilton/Linda Abu Mushrefova
Northwestern University
At-Large Selections

Millie Nichols/Olivia Smith
Texas Christian University
USTA/ITA Texas Regional Champions

Natalie Pluskota/Kata Szekely
University of Tennessee
USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Champions

Veronica Popovici/Simona Synkova
University of Wyoming
USTA/ITA Mountain Regional Champions

Stacey Tan/Ellen Tsay
Stanford University
USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Champions

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WTA Eyes Bollettieri Academy in Attempt to Reduce Grunting; Teaching to the Brain; Misc. Notes and Links

Where do you stand on the issue of decibels on the tennis court? Although there's no question that men can make a lot of noise on the court with their sounds of exertion, the higher register of the female voice seems to have laid this problem at the feet of the WTA. World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who is not one of the players regularly accused of the transgression, said in Istanbul that she thinks the practice can be intentional, and disruptive. Her friend, Victoria Azarenka, who is exceptionally loud on the court, is adamant she will not change.

The WTA's CEO Stacey Allaster has conceded it is an issue the tour may need to address, and the first place her team will turn look to solve the problem is the IMG Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

"The athletes of today have trained their entire lives and prepared to compete the way they do," Allaster is quoted as saying in this article from Great Britain's The Independent. "So [we need] some education with the juniors. We're working with the International Tennis Federation. Our team will go down to Bollettieri's and meet coaches and young players."

Earlier today I retweeted a link to Daniel Coyle's latest blog entry on the class he believes all schools should require but none do. The author of The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How, one of my favorite non-fiction books, Coyle also looks into the alternative to the now-famous "10,000 hours" requirement for mastery of a skill, in this post.

In other news:

Laura Robson, who is still only 17 years old, beat 19-year-old Heather Watson in the second round of the $75,000 ITF Women's event in Barnstaple, England 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. It was covered by the BBC and all the other major news outlets in Great Britain, as well as shown on television, providing those of us in the US with yet another reminder of the difference in the status of the sport in our respective countries.

Maciek Sykut, the former Florida State Seminole, won his first Challenger title last weekend, taking the doubles title at the $35,000 event in Quito Ecuador with last year's ITF World Junior Champion Juan Sebastian Gomez of Colombia. Sykut is now in the Top 200 in the ATP doubles rankings. For more on Sykut's win, see seminoles.com.

Columbia, which is the host school for the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate tournament next week, recruited sisters Adel and Renata Arshavakaia (Arshavakaya to the ITF) of Russia for this school year, and the twins, who trained and played in the US for most of the past four years, are featured in this article from the school's daily paper, the Spectator.

Next June, if you're curious how Danny Mack earned his wild card into the Futures event in Innisbrook, make a note now that he won the Tampa Bay High School championships Sunday to secure a place in the draw. For more on Mack's win, see this article from the Lakeland Ledger.

Phillip King, who won back-to-back titles in Kalamazoo in 1999 and 2000 over Mardy Fish and Robby Ginepri, and later went on to star at Duke, is still competing, although he's no longer playing the ITF men's circuit. According to this article, sent to me by a longtime reader, King won the SCAA Hong Kong Open in both singles and doubles, the latter with former Harvard All-American Jonathan Chu. King is the older brother of Vania, who is currently in Istanbul, as part of one of the four doubles teams competing in the year-end finals.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ITA Regionals Complete, All Final Results Here on One Page


I've collected the results of the finals at all 24 ITA Regionals, no easy task, and I hope you find them useful in this format.

All singles and doubles winners receive automatic entry into the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, which begin next Thursday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.

There were more than a few surprises, with the Maryland women sweeping the Atlantic regional, despite Virginia's having five players in the singles quarterfinals and the top seeds in both singles and doubles. Cavalier Jarmere Jenkins' loss to William and Mary's Jamie Whiteford was also unexpected, with Jenkins, the top seed, having won the regional title as a freshman and sophomore.

I don't recall seeing an Idaho team at the Indoors before, but there is one now, as the unseeded Vandals team of Andrew Dobbs and Marius Cirstea won the Mountain regional.

Sabrina Santamaria of USC was the only unseeded regional winner, but two men's regionals did have unseeded finalists.

Emina Bektas of Michigan joined Santamaria as the only freshmen to take regional singles titles when she defeated Northwestern's Brittany Wowchuk today at the Midwest regional in Columbus.

Links to most of the complete draws can be found at the ITA Regional tournament page.

MEN:


Northwest Regional
Ryan Thacher(1) of Stanford def. Ben Mclachlan(7) of Cal 6-2, 2-6, 7-5

Carlos Cueto/McLachlan(4) of Cal def. Walker Kehrer and Robert Stineman of Stanford 9-8(8)

Southwest Regional
Raymond Sarmiento(2) of USC def. Francis Alcantara(15) of Fresno State 6-4, 6-3

Nikola Bubnic/Thibaut Visy of San Diego (9) def. Alcantara/Remi Boutillier(6) of Fresno State 8-2

Mountain Regional
Damian Hume(2) of Boise St. def. Jadon Phillips(4) of New Mexico 6-1, 6-3

Marius Cirstea/Andrew Dobbs of Idaho def. Phil Anderson/Phillips(1) of New Mexico 8-5

South Central Regional
Gonzalo Escobar(1) of Texas Tech def. Jeremy Efferding(9) of Texas A&M 6-2, 6-3

Chris Camillone/David Holiner of Texas def. Ben Chen/Daniel Whitehead(5) of Texas 6-3, 6-2

Central Regional
Tsvetan Mihov(14) of Oklahoma def. Anis Ghorbel of Drake 7-6(3), 7-6(5)

Ashley Watling/Clifford Marsland(1) of Tulsa def. Benedikt Lindheim/Christopher Aumueller of Nebraska(2) 9-7

Midwest Regional*
Blaz Rola(1) of Ohio State def. Evan King(3) Michigan 6-3, 6-4

Chase Buchanan/Peter Kobelt(2) of Ohio St. def. Rola/Connor Smith(1) Ohio State 8-3

Northeast Regional*
Vasko Mladenov(5) of St. John's def. Marc Powers(6) of Yale 6-1, 4-6, 6-3

Matt Siow/Matt Spindler(9) of Princeton def. Alistair Felton/Casey MacMaster(3) of Harvard, 8-5

Ohio Valley Regional
Alex Musialek(2) of Kentucky def. Eric Quigley(1) of Kentucky
6-3, 6-3

Mikelis Libietis & Hunter Reese of Tennessee def. Quigley and Musialek of Kentucky(1) 8-3

Atlantic Regional
Jamie Whiteford(15) of William & Mary def. Jarmere Jenkins(1) of Virginia 6-3, 6-3

Maros Horny/John Collins(1) of Maryland def. Drew Courtney/Julien Uriguen(3) of Virginia 6-3, 7-6(5)

Carolina Regional*
Christopher Mengel(3) of Duke def. Henrique Cunha(1) of Duke 7-6(8) ret. inj.

Cunha/Mengel(1) of Duke def. Brennan Boyajian/Joey Burkhardt of North Carolina 9-8(6)

Southern Regional
Andreas Mies(5) of Auburn def. Jonas Lutjen(9) of Ole Miss 6‐4, 4‐6, 6‐1

Lutjen/Johan Backstrom of Ole Miss def. Olivier Borsos/Chris Simpson of LSU 8-5

Southeast Regional
Kevin King(6) of Georgia Tech def. Ignacio Taboada of Georgia 7-6(5), 6-4

Nassim Slilam/Billy Federhofer(1) of Florida def. Garrett Brasseaux/Wil Spencer of Georgia 8-4


WOMEN:

Northwest Regional
Nicole Gibbs(4) of Stanford def. Mallory Burdette(2) of Stanford 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(3)

Stacey Tan/Ellen Tsay(8) of Stanford def. Clarisse Baca/Maria Meliuk of Sacramento State 8-4

Southwest Regional
Sabrina Santamaria of USC def. Zoe Scandalis(10) of USC 6-2, 6-1

Robin Anderson/Skylar Morton(10) of UCLA def. Kaitlyn Christian/Santamaria(2) of USC 8-4

Mountain Regional*
Aleksandra Josifoska(3) of UNLV def. Lucia Batta(2) of UNLV 6-0, 0-6, 6-2

Veronica Popovici/Simona Synkova(3) of Wyoming def. Heather Davidson/Laurence Pelchat of Montana 8-2

Texas Regional
Diana Nakic(4) of Baylor def. Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar(3) of Texas A&M 6-3, 6-1

Millie Nichols/Olivia Smith(6) of TCU def. Sanchez-Quintanar/Sun Wen(2) of Texas A&M 8-5

Central Regional
Samantha Vickers(4) of Tulsa def. Sonja Molnar(2) of Iowa 6-1, 6-2

Marie-Pier Huet/Whitney Ritchie(6) of Oklahoma def. Meghan Blevins/Mary Jeremiah(9) 9-8(5)

Midwest Regional
Emina Bektas(9) of Michigan def. Brittany Wowchuk(5) of Northwestern 6-4, 6-2

Kristy Frilling/Shannon Mathews(2) of Notre Dame def. Linda Abu Mushrefova/Nida Hamilton(1) of Northwestern 8-2

Northeast Regional
Nicole Bartnik(3) of Columbia def. Elizabeth Epstein(6) of Yale 6-4, 6-3

Olga Khmylev/Alex Kelleher(7) of Boston College def. Jessica Wacnik/Erina Kikuchi(5) of Boston College 8-6

Ohio Valley Regional*
Jackie Wu(5), of Vanderbilt def. Brynn Boren(2) of Tennessee 6-1, 6-1

Natalie Pluskota/Kata Szekely(6) of Tennessee def. Tiffany Welcher/Alyssa Hibberd of Memphis 6-3, 6-2.

Atlantic Regional
Cristina Stancu(16) of Maryland def. Hana Tomlijanovic(5) of Virginia 6-2, 1-6, 6-0

Ana Belzunce/Welma Luus(7) of Maryland def. Emily Fraser/Tomljanovic(2)of Virginia 8-4

Carolina Regional
Lauren McHale(9) of North Carolina def. Nelly Ciolkowksi(9) of Clemson, 6-3, 6-4

Josipa Bek/Keri Wong(1) of Clemson def. Beatrice Capra/Ester Goldfeld(3) of Duke 8-5

Southern Regional

Kristi Boxx(1) of Ole Miss def. Mary Anne Macfarlane(2) of Alabama 6-2, ret.

Alexa Guarachi/Mcfarlane(4) of Alabama def. Courtney McLane/Taylor Lindsey(2) of Alabama 9-8(3)

Southeast Regional
Chelsey Gullickson(4) of Georgia def. Lauren Embree(1) of Florida 6-2, 7-5

Gullickson/Lilly Kimbell of Georgia(4) def. Kate Fuller/Lauren Herring of Georgia(2) 8-2

*Regionals held earlier this month

Monday, October 24, 2011

Giving the Junior US Open Its Due; Licker Leaves T Bar M, Lands at Lakes Academy in Frisco, Texas; ITA Regional Winners Include Gullickson

I received my latest issue of Racquet Sports Industry in the mail Saturday, and found a very interesting piece in the "Your Serve" section, which proposes more exposure for, and better treatment of, the US Open Junior Championships. The author, Chris Nicholson, doesn't say anything I would disagree with, as I have always wanted the two singles finals to be played back-to-back instead of concurrently. The number of fans at the junior finals in New York is always a great disappointment to me, and I think Nicholson is on to something in advocating for more marketing to the local tennis community, which has made the US Open qualifying into an event the past several years.

The entire piece, including tournament director Lew Brewer's response to Nicholson's suggestions, can be found here, in the digital version of the current issue of the magazine. The easiest way to reach the article is to click the double arrows pointing right to get to the last page of the magazine, then clicking one page back. As we've seen with moving the Orange Bowl to clay, things can change if the USTA truly wants them to. The question with the US Open Junior finals is whether they are motivated to make changes there.



Late last month, Dave Licker, one of the top junior development coaches in the country, was let go from his position at T Bar M in Dallas, in what the club told him was a cost-cutting move. I spoke with Licker today for the Tennis Recruiting Network profile I'm doing this week on his student Mitchell Krueger, and he confirmed that he has a new position at the Lakes Academy in Frisco, Texas, and some of his students from T Bar M, including Krueger, have followed him there. Licker is now heading the Lakes Academy's High Performance Academy. For more on Licker's background and his new position, see the Lakes Academy website.

Many of the ITA regionals ended today, although several will extend until tomorrow, so I will have a complete list of results in Tuesday's post. The ITA regional page has been updated with today's winners, so check that out. I'm linking below to several schools' athletic websites for articles on some of the day's results.

Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia defeated Lauren Embree of Florida 6-2, 7-4 in the Southeast regional in Gainesville. For more on the 2010 NCAA champion's day, which also included the regional doubles title with Lilly Kimbell, see georgiadogs.com.

North Carolina's Lauren McHale earned a trip to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where her younger sister Christina trains, by beating Nelly Ciolkowksi of Clemson 6-3, 6-4. Both were 9-16 seeds. For more, see tarheelblue.com.

Alex Musialek of Kentucky took out teammate Eric Quigley in the final of the men's Ohio Valley regional 6-3, 6-3. As the article on ukathletics.com points out, Quigley was already assured of a place in the USTA/ITA Indoor after winning the consolation tournament at the All-American earlier this month.

Raymond Sarmiento of USC won the men's Southwest regional, and considering the Trojans elite status as a program, it's surprising to learn, as I did from this release at usctrojans.com, that it's the first USC men's regional singles title since 2000.

The women's Southwest regional title went to USC's Sabrina Santamaria, who beat teammate and fellow freshman Zoe Scandalis 6-2, 6-1. The doubles title also went to freshmen, with Skylar Morton and Robin Anderson of UCLA beating Santamaria and Kaitlyn Christian.

Stanford's Nicole Gibbs defeated 2011 NCAA champion Jana Juricova of Cal 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, avenging her semifinal loss to Juricova in the NCAA individual championships in May. Gibbs will play teammate Mallory Burdette in the final. Burdette, like Quigley, has already qualified for the Indoor by winning the consolation title at the All-American.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vesely Tightens Grip on ITF Juniors Top Spot with Win at Osaka Grade A; Embree and Gullickson Meet in Regional Final Monday


Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic moved closer to clinching the year-end ITF World Junior championship, winning both the singles and the doubles at the Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup this weekend. Vesely, the No. 1 seed, beat unseeded Lucas Pouille of France 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 in the final. He partnered with Kaichi Uchida of Japan to take the doubles title, with the top seeds beating No. 2 seeds Luke Saville and Andrew Harris of Australia 1-6, 7-5, 10-4.

Vesely, who won the Australian Open boys championship this year and reached the final of the US Open juniors, had less than a 100-point lead on US Open boys champion Oliver Golding of Great Britain prior to this week's tournament, but will expand that lead considerably when the new rankings are released Monday. Golding has been playing only Futures since his win in New York, going 3-4 in four tournaments; Osaka was Vesely's first ITF men's or juniors competition since the US Open.

The girls title went to No. 12 seed Zuzanna Maciejewska of Poland, who was ranked No. 95 in the ITF junior girls rankings last week. The 16-year-old left-hander defeated No. 7 seed Makoto Ninomiya of Japan 7-6(5), 6-1. The Osaka Mayor's Cup is Maciejewska's first trip outside Europe for ITF junior competition.

Japan did get a home country champion, with No. 8 seeds Mami Adachi and Eri Hozumi downing No. 6 seeds Miyu Kato and Riko Sawayanagi 5-7, 7-5, 10-7 in an all-Japanese final.

For more on the final day, see the article at the ITF junior website.

After a week's break, the US ITF junior circuit resumes at the Grade 4 in Atlanta. The qualifying is complete, but the main draw has not yet been posted.

At the Futures tournament in Mansfield, Texas, fourth-seeded Jesse Levine won his third singles title at that level in the past two months, beating unseeded JP Smith of Australia 6-4, 6-3. Levine did not lose a set in his five victories. Jordan Cox and Devin Britton beat Sekou Bangoura, Jr. and Blake Strode in the final 2-6, 6-2, 10-7 in a battle of unseeded teams.

At the women's tournament in Rock Hill, SC, top seed Romina Oprandi of Italy defeated qualifier Grace Min 7-5, 6-1 to claim her second consecutive Pro Circuit title. Top seeds Maria Abramovic of Croatia and Roxane Vaisemberg of Brazil won the doubles title 3-6, 6-3, 10-5 over the unseeded team of Madison Brengle of the US and Gabriela Paz of Venezuela.

Complete draws are available at the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

Also this week, former Pepperdine Wave Anamika Bhargava reached the final of the $10,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event in Jamaica. She had to qualify into this week's tournament in Jamaica, where she joins Chalena Scholl and Jennifer Brady in the main draw, along with former UCLA standout Noelle Hickey.

The ITA regionals are still in various stages throughout the country, with some not finishing until Tuesday, so a comprehensive look at those results will have to wait. But there's a marquee final at the women's Southeast regional Monday morning with top seed Lauren Embree of Florida, the 2011 NCAA Team Championships Most Outstanding Player, facing No. 4 seed Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia, the 2010 NCAA champion. See the gatorzone.com for more about their previous match last year.

In an unusual circumstance, the top four seeds have advanced to the semifinals of the women's Northwest regional at Stanford. Top seed Jana Juricova of Cal will meet No. 4 seed Nicole Gibbs of Stanford in a repeat of the NCAA semifinals this year, and No. 3 seed Denise Dy of Washington will play No. 2 seed Mallory Burdette of Stanford.

In the women's Southwest regional, it will be an all-Trojan affair, as freshmen Sabrina Santamaria and Zoe Scandalis of USC will meet in the final to decide who gets the automatic bid to the USTA/ITA Indoor in New York.

Not all the draws are updated, but for a complete list of the regionals, see the ITA Regional Tournament Central page.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Farah Takes Singles Gold at PanAm Games; Min Reaches Final in Rock Hill $25K; Upsets at Carolina Regional


Eighth seed Robert Farah of Colombia won the Pan American Games gold medal in singles tonight, defeating No. 4 seed Rogerio Dutra of Brazil 6-4, 6-3. Farah, who led USC to two NCAA titles in 2009 and 2010, won all of his six matches in the Guadalajara, Mexico competition in straight sets, just as women's gold medalist Irina Falconi had won all five of hers. They also share the honor of being named the 2010 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Player of the Year. Here's a photo of his celebration tonight.

I don't know exactly how the Olympic selections will be made for the Colombian team, but I assume this win can only help Farah's prospects. Falconi's too, for that matter, but I understand the Williams sisters are interested in playing in the 2012 Olympics in London, competition that Farah doesn't face in his selection.

Farah and his partner Juan Sebastian Cabal, the top seeds, will play for the doubles gold later tonight.

US Open girls champion Grace Min has continued her excellent play, reaching the finals of the $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Rock Hill, SC. As a qualifier, Min has already won seven consecutive matches; fortunately for her stamina, they have all been in straight sets. Today she beat WTA No. 141 and No. 4 seed Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-1, 6-3, repeating her victory from last week in the $50K in Troy. Min will play another Italian, top seed Romina Oprandi, who won in Troy last week. Oprandi defeated unseeded wild card Danielle Collins 6-1, 6-1 in today's other semifinal.

In the $15,000 Futures in Mansfield, Texas, recent Tennessee grad JP Smith meets former Florida Gator Jesse Levine in the final. Smith beat Peter Polansky of Canada 6-4, 6-4, avenging his loss to Polansky in the final last week in the Austin Futures, while the fourth-seeded Levine continued to roll, beating former Baylor standout Denes Lukacs 6-4, 6-1. Levine has lost 12 games in his four victories.

For complete results, and the qualifying draws for the women's Puerto Rico $25K and the men's Birmingham $10K next week, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

I haven't had the opportunity to review all the results from the ITA regionals going on this weekend, but there have been several surprising results. At the women's Carolina regional in Chapel Hill, Duke's Hanna Mar, a 9 seed, beat top seed Zoe DeBruycker of North Carolina, and Duke's Monica Turewicz, also a 9 seed, beat No. 2 seed Josipa Bek of Clemson in the round of 16. For more on those wins, see goduke.com.

In the women's Southeast regional in Gainesville, Florida has four players in the quarterfinals, none of whom play each other, so there's a possibility of nothing but Gators in the semifinals.

At the men's Ohio Valley regional in Knoxville, Kentucky has five of the quarterfinalists, and four of them are in the bottom half, assuring a Wildcat in the final. For more, see ukathletics.com.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Falconi Wins PanAm Gold over Puig, Farah into Men's Final; Other News and Notes from Around College and Junior Tennis


With a 6-3, 6-2 victory over seventh seed Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, former Georgia Tech All-American Irina Falconi became the first US woman to win the singles gold medal at the Pan American Games since Pam Shriver in 1991. Falconi, the No. 2 seed, did not lose a set in her five victories in Guadalajara, Mexico this week. Top seed Christina McHale took home the bronze medal, beating Florencia Molinero of Argentina 6-1, 6-1. For an Associated Press story on Falconi and McHale, prior to their matches today, see usatoday.com.

The men's final will feature the other ITA Player of the Year in 2010, Rob Farah of the University of Southern California. The eighth seed, Farah defeated No. 7 seed Victor Estrella of the Dominican Republic 6-4, 6-4 in today's semifinal to earn his shot at a gold medal against No. 4 seed Rogerio Dutra of Brazil. Farah, who has already played five matches in the larger men's draw, also has yet to drop a set.

For results, see the Pan American Games website or the wikipedia page.

In other news, the University of North Florida has named former Wilson junior and college manager and Northwestern assistant Adam Schaechterle to the head coaching position there. Schaechterle joins former NCAA champion Audra Cohen, who was named the women's coach last June.

Taking over the men's head coaching position at Cornell is former University of Oklahoma assistant Silviu Tanasoiu. As Tony Bresky was before him, Tanasoiu will also be the Director of Intercollegiate Tennis at the Ithaca New York university.

Former University of Hawaii standout Dennis Lajola is embarking on his professional career after four years of collegiate tennis. Lajola is featured in this article, which was brought to my attention by a longtime reader.

The USTA's college spotlight shines on Division III All-American Gabrielle Clark of Emory. Clark talks about her decision to attend a Division III school, her goals for her sophomore year and how her hometown of Chicago compares to Atlanta.

In December, USTA Player Development is holding a Tennis Performance & Injury Prevention Conference. The two-day conference is December 10th and 11th in Tampa, Fla., with the cost $199. There will be a performance track and a injury/medicine track, and it is open to anyone. If I were not covering the finals of the Orange Bowl that weekend, I would consider attending myself. For more information, including a list of presenters, see the conference website.

And finally, I don't often run across articles critical of high school tennis fans, but there is one foreign exchange student in Mishawaka, Indiana who didn't enjoy his encounters with "rude" fans, according to this column in the South Bend Tribune.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pan American ITF Recap, Slideshow, Videos

Today I wrap up last week's ITF B1 Pan American Closed with my recap for the Tennis Recruiting Network, and the usual slideshow and brief YouTube videos below.



The videos of the champions can be watched below. For the videos of finalists Noah Rubin and Chalena Scholl, click on their names and you will be sent to the tenniskalamazoo YouTube channel to watch them.



Lagardere's Ken Meyerson Passes Away


The tennis world was stunned by the news today that Lagardere's Ken Meyerson, longtime agent for Andy Roddick and many other tennis players and athletes, has passed away. There are conflicting reports on his age, with both 47 and 48 given, but whichever is correct, it is obviously a life cut short much too soon.

I did not know Meyerson well, but saw him at junior matches in New York and here in Kalamazoo, as well as in Florida. He was a familiar presence at the Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl (where the above photo was taken several years ago) in his hometown of Miami, always on the lookout for new talent. Meyerson was the only agent Andy Roddick ever had, and he seamlessly made the transition from one agency to another, keeping his clients as he went from SFX to Best to Lagardere.

The ATP has a lengthy overview of his career on its website, with reactions from Lagardere.

Michelle Kaufmann of the Miami Herald has comments from IMG's Tony Godsick in her article on his death, and Tennis.com has reactions from Tom Ross, formerly of Octagon, and others in their news item.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Falconi, McHale and Puig Reach Pan American Games Semis; Dickson Joins Miami Staff; Bains Wins Third Straight ITF; Johnson Talks with ESPN

The women's singles draw at the Pan American Games is down to four, with three of the top four seeds and No. 7 Monica Puig of Puerto Rico into the medal round. Puig, an 18-year-old Miami resident, beat No. 3 seed Mariana Duque Marino of Colombia 6-2, 6-3 in today's quarterfinals, earning a berth against top seed Christina McHale of the US. Irina Falconi, the No. 2 seed, will play fourth seed Florencia Molinero of Argentina in the other semifinal. Falconi and McHale, the No. 2 seeds in women's doubles, have advanced to the semifinals in that competition too. This Associated Press article, about Monica Puig and her on-court notebook, appeared yesterday on foxsports.com.

Because it was larger, the men's draw is at the quarterfinal stage. All three US players--Denis Kudla, Nick Monroe and Greg Ouellette--have lost, with Kudla losing today 6-4, 6-4 to eighth seed Robert Farah of Colombia, the former USC All-American. Top seed Horacio Zeballos of Argentina and No. 2 seed Joao Souza of Brazil lost in the second round, as did No. 5 seed Eduardo Schwank of Argentina, who lost to Tulsa's Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador. Arevalo retired in his third round match today. Three Colombians and two Brazilians still remain in the gold medal hunt. Results can be found via this wikipedia page.

The University of Miami has announced that Mark Dickson has joined the men's tennis program as assistant coach.

At the Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup there have been no more major upsets since top seed Ellen Allgurin's departure on the opening day. Blair Shankle, the only American competing in Japan, lost to No. 3 seed Miho Kowase of Japan, the younger sister of Georgia's Maho Kowase, 7-5, 6-4 in the second round. For more, see the article on the ITF junior website.

A notable result last week in the lower level of ITF juniors was 13-year-old Naiktha Bains'second straight title this month in Australia, and her third in a row. Bains, who represents Australia, (see my post back in May for the link to the BBC story on why she chose to represent Australia rather than Great Britain, where she was born), is now 17-1 in her ITF junior career.

Steve Johnson continues to get quite a bit of media coverage centered on his decision to return to USC for the dual season, in an attempt to help the Trojans take their fourth straight national title.

ESPN.com spoke with him at the Tiburon Challenger, where he lost in the first round of singles to top seed Ryan Sweeting and made the doubles final with Sam Querrey. Johnson has three more Challengers on his schedule his year, and is hoping to accumulate enough points to get into the Australian Open qualifying. He is currently ranked 407 in singles and 242 in doubles on the ATP computers. For the complete interview, scroll to the bottom of this article.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Five Players Earn Regional Titles, Berths in USTA/ITA Indoor; Small College and Super Bowl Championships Complete; Capra Feature


Most of the ITA Regional Championships will begin this weekend, but five of them were held over the past five days. The winners receive a place in the 32-player field at the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships next month at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.

MEN:
Midwest Region at Ohio State:
Blaz Rola(1) of Ohio State def. Evan King(3) Michigan, 6-3, 6-4
Chase Buchanan/Peter Kobelt(2) of Ohio St. def. Blaz Rola/Connor Smith(1) of Ohio State 8-3

Carolinas Region at University of North Carolina:
Christopher Mengel(3) of Duke def. Henrique Cunha(1) of Duke 7-6(8), ret. inj.
Cunha/Mengel(1) of Duke def. Brennan Boyajian/Joey Burkhardt of North Carolina 9-8(6)

Northeast Region at Cornell University:
Vasko Mladenov(5) of St. John's def. Marc Powers(6) of Yale, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3
Matt Siow/Matt Spindler(9) of Princeton def. Alistair Felton/Casey MacMaster(3) of Harvard 8-5

WOMEN:
Mountain West Region at University of Nevada-Las Vegas:
Aleksandra Josifoska(3) of UNLV def. Lucia Batta(2) of UNLV 6-0, 0-6, 6-2
Veronica Popovici/Simona Synkova (3) of University of Wyoming def. Heather Davidson/Laurence Pelchat of University of Montana 8-2

Ohio Valley Region at University of Memphis:
Jackie Wu(5) of Vanderbilt def. Brynn Boren(2) of University of Tennessee 6-1, 6-1
Natalie Pluskota/Kata Szekely(6) of University of Tennessee def. Tiffany Welcher/Alyssa Hibberd of Memphis University 6-3, 6-2.

The National Small College Championships were held last weekend in Mobile, Alabama, and the small college Super Bowl singles winners, who earn a spot at the Indoor Championships, were Lucas Jovita of Division II Rollins College, who spent his first three years at Division I University of South Florida, and NAIA Auburn-Montgomery's Ana Veselinovic. The doubles titles went to Division II Valdosta State's Christian Hansen and Louis Loeffler on the men's side and Tyler Junior College's Kerrie Cartwright and Audrey Leitz on the women's. For more on the Super Bowl finals, see the ITA story. The complete list of Small College champions is below:

Division II Men
Lucas Jovita (Rollins) def. Daniele Piludu (Concordia) 6-0, 6-2

Division II Women
Annie Hwang (BYU-Hawaii) def. Barbora Kritckova (Armstrong Atlantic) 6-4, 6-0

Division III Men
Dillon Pottish (Emory) def. Adam Putterman (Wash. University in St. Louis) 6-0, 6-1

Division III Women
Lok Sze Leung (Middlebury) def. Gabrielle Clary (Emory) 6-3, 6-2

NAIA Men
Chris Freeman (Embry-Riddle) def. Bruno Tiberti (Oklahoma Christian) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4

NAIA Women
Ana Veselinovic (Auburn-Montgomery) def. Hermon Brhane (Oklahoma Christian) 5-7, 6-1, 6-3

JUCO Men
Jair Assuncao (Laredo) def. Kyle Rowe (Collin County) 6-1, 7-6 (3)

JUCO Women
Kerrie Cartwright (Tyler) def. Barbora Bozkova (Laredo) 6-1, 7-5

The Duke Chronicle recently ran a feature on Blue Devil freshman Trice Capra. I don't believe the reporter was all that familiar with tennis, and she certainly made a mistake when saying Capra, because she was an amateur, left $250,000 on the table for her performance at last year's US Open. That is probably overstated by a factor of five. It makes me wonder about her statement that Capra is "the highest ranked player ever to choose collegiate tennis over the professional circuit." I can't think of anyone lately who has been ranked higher than Capra when entering college, so it may be true, but I would be more comfortable with a source on that claim.

In Pro Circuit results today, Allie Kiick had a big win at the 25K in South Carolina, beating No. 3 seed and WTA No. 121 Jamie Hampton 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Mitchell Krueger and Shane Vinsant were not successful in Mansfield, with Krueger failing to win a game against No. 4 seed Jesse Levine, and Vinsant falling to No. 8 seed Blake Strode. Complete results are at the usta.com Pro Circuit page.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Top Seed Allgurin Upset in Osaka Grade A; Pan American Games Tennis Competiton Underway; Gardiner Wins Michigan D-I High School Title

The first round of the ITF Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup is still in progress, but the top girls seed, Ellen Allgurin of Sweden, is already out of the competition. Allgurin lost to wild card Yukako Noi of Japan 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the opening day of competition today.

Top seed boys seed Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic was tested, but escaped with a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-1 win over Kazuma Kawachi of Japan. An article about the first day's results, which has an odd headline given the score, can be found at the ITF junior website.

The tennis competition at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara Mexico began today, with only Irina Falconi, the No. 2 seed, scheduled to compete yet this evening. Christina McHale, the top seed, has a bye, as do seeds Denis Kudla(11), Greg Ouellette(14) and Nick Monroe(15). The USTA's Tom Gullikson and Dustin Taylor arethe women's and men's coaches respectively.

I've had trouble getting the Pan American Games website to load throughout the day, but there is a wikipedia page with links to the various draws that has worked for me. Falconi is doing her blog for usta.com this week, and it is always an entertaining read. Tips for playing in the altitude are included.

The Daytona Beach News Journal spoke with Ouellette, the former Florida All-American, about his career and his selection for the PanAm Games for this article.

Other former or current NCAA Division I players competing at the games are:

Jose Hernandez, Dominican Republic, University of North Carolina
Marcelo Arevalo, El Salvador, University of Tulsa
Alex Llompart, Puerto Rico, Pepperdine University
Valeria Pulido, Mexico, University of Southern California
--
Olivier Sajous, Haiti, University of Texas
Chris Klingemann, Canada, Ohio State University
Nick Monroe, US, University of North Carolina
Robert Farah, Colombia, University of Southern California
Irinia Falconi, US, Georgia Tech

Junior competing are:
Patricia Ku Flores, Peru
Monica Puig, Puerto Rico
Domenica Gonzalez, Ecuador

If I've missed anyone in these categories, please post the additions in a comment.


The Michigan boys high school state championships were held over the weekend, and Tyler Gardiner of Northville won the Division I No.1 singles title indoors at the Midland Community Tennis Center. (The weather was cold, windy and wet most of the weekend here in Michigan). Gardiner, a quarterfinalist in the 16s at Kalamazoo in 2010, was the top seed in the tournament. Playing high school tennis for the first time as a junior, Gardiner beat No. 2 seed Andrew Cahn of West Bloomfield, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, coming back from a break down in the final set.

For more on the match and the high school Division I tournament, see this article from the Detroit News.

And finally, a note that Ken Thomas of radiotennis.com is in Mansfield, Texas for the $15,000 Futures there and is doing webcasts of matches this week. I listened to his call of Illinois' Dennis Nevolo's win over the No. 1 seed in the qualifying, Gilad Ben Zvi of Israel, today.

2011 Pan American Closed champion Mitchell Krueger and 2010 Pan American Closed finalist Shane Vinsant both received wild cards into the main draw and are up against veteran seeds. Krueger, who is now at No. 15 in the ITF world junior rankings, plays No. 4 seed Jesse Levine, and Vinsant meets No. 8 seed Blake Strode. There are many current and former college players in the field, but wild card Mikhail Vaks of Russia is the only other junior in the draw. The complete draw is here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pro Circuit Results; Grade A Osaka Mayors Cup Begins Monday

Covering the back-to-back tournaments in Tulsa is always fun, especially when the weather is so beautiful, but I've missed reporting on a lot of the Pro Circuit news the past two weekends.

As I reported briefly last week, Danielle Collins won the $10,000 Pro Circuit in Williamsburg, Va. as an unseeded wild card. Julia Cohen, who played for Florida and Miami as a collegian, won a $25,000 ITF women's circuit event in Armenia.

This week on the USTA Pro Circuit, JP Smith, the recent University of Tennessee graduate, reached the singles and doubles final of the $15,000 Pro Circuit tournament in Austin, Texas. The unseeded Smith lost to No. 8 seed Peter Polansky of Canada 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in today's singles final; Smith and former Volunteer Ben Rogers lost the doubles final to the third-seeded British team of Chris Eaton and former Texas Longhorn Ed Corrie 7-6(6), 6-2. Listed in qualifying for this week's Futures in Mansfield, Smith should receive a spot in the main draw via a special exemption.

At the $50,000 women's Pro Circuit event in Troy, Ala., top seed Romina Oprandi of Italy won the title with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 2 seed Vavarva Lepchenko of the US, who reversed her result from the previous week's final in the $50K in Kansas City. US Open girls champion Grace Min had a good run, qualifying and reaching the quarterfinals, posting wins over Madison Keys, Camila Giorgi of Italy (no. 146 in the rankings), and Ahsha Rolle.
Russians Elena Bovina and Valeria Savinykh won the doubles title in Troy.

At the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger, No. 2 seed Ivo Karlovic won his second straight title, beating third seed Sam Querrey 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-4 in this afternoon's final. Karlovic had beaten James Blake in Sacramento the year before.

The wild card team of Querrey and USC's Steve Johnson reached the doubles final, falling to Australia's Carsten Ball and Chris Guccione 6-1 5-7 10-6. Neither team was seeded.

This week the women will be at a $25,000 in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and the men are in Mansfield, Texas, at the $15,000 Futures. The qualifying for both is underway now.

All results can be found at the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

The Osaka Mayors Cup, the ITF Grade A held every autumn in Japan, is underway, with two junior slam boys champions in the draw: Australian Open champion Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic and Wimbledon champion Luke Saville of Australia. Both have a shot at earning the title of ITF World Champion this year, which likely contributed to their decision to play the tournament. Normally the field does not attract many European players, although it is popular with Australians. Japan has 28 boys in the 64-player draw, between qualifiers, wild cards and direct entries. There are no US boys playing the tournament.

The girls field is much weaker, especially at the top, with the Ellen Allgurin of Sweden the No. 1 seed, ranked 27th. Well over half the players in the girls draw, 37 to be exact, are from Japan. Blair Shankle of the US is the sole US player competing there.

There is a preview on the ITF junior website, with a promise of daily coverage throughout the week.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Krueger, Townsend Take Titles at ITF Pan American Closed


©Colette Lewis 2011--
Tulsa, OK--

For all her excellent play over the past nine months, No. 11 seed Taylor Townsend was in something of a title drought. She put an end to that against No. 14 seed Chalena Scholl Saturday morning when she won a roller coaster second set to post a 6-1, 7-5 victory in the championship match of the ITF B1 Pan American Closed.

Top seed Mitchell Kruger also claimed his first ITF Grade 1 title, defeating unseeded Noah Rubin 6-4, 6-1 in the boys final, played under cloudless skies at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center on the University of Tulsa campus.

Townsend has reached the semifinals of two USTA Pro Circuit events this year, finished fifth at the USTA 18s Clay Courts, fourth at the USTA 18s Hard Courts and won two rounds at the US Open junior championships, but her last tournament title was at the Plaza Cup, at USTA Regional event back in January.

When Townsend took the first set from an error-prone Scholl 6-1--her 11th consecutive set without losing as many as four games--that second title seemed very close.

Townsend took a 4-0 lead in the second set, but then Scholl came alive, winning five games in a row. The 16-year-old from Florida eliminated her unforced errors and played her forehand more aggressively, while Townsend couldn't find the service box or the court for most of the middle of the set. When Townsend missed a routine backhand volley serving at 30-40, 4-3, Scholl had taken the momentum, and held in the next game for her first lead of the match.

"I think all the pressure was off her, because I was up a set and 4-0," said Townsend, who trains at the USTA National Center in Boca Raton. "It happens when you're down like that, you just keep swinging. She started playing a lot better, hitting good, heavy balls and using her forehand to dictate the points, and I started getting frustrated."

Townsend ended Scholl's streak with an easy hold for 5-5, and the set turned in the next game. Scholl was up 40-15 in the game, but Townsend began to reassert herself in the rallies, hanging with Scholl from the baseline until Scholl made two consecutive backhand errors. Scholl also didn't get more than one-third of her first serves in during the game, allowing Townsend to put her under pressure from the second serve on. Scholl saved one break point with a forehand winner, but made two forehand errors to give Townsend the chance to serve for the match.

Townsend got off to a shaky start serving at 6-5, falling behind 0-30, but her forehand winner on the next point was pivotal, as was Scholl's netted forehand on the next point. Townsend, who had not spent much time at the net in the match, unlike earlier in the week, approached and put away a forehand there to earn championship point. The 15-year-old from Atlanta missed her first serve, but Scholl's forehand return on the second serve went just long to give Townsend another straight-set victory.

Scholl did not attribute her slow start to nerves, but rather to Townsend's unexpected position behind the baseline.

"She definitely came in less than I thought she would," said Scholl, who was also playing in her first ITF Grade 1 final. "I think that's kind of what threw me off in the first set. Wrong strategy and too many mistakes in the first."

Although she felt she played better in the second set, more patiently, with fewer errors, Scholl still expressed disappointment with her play throughout the match.

"It still wasn't my best day," said Scholl, who is planning on playing several of the $10,000 ITF Women's Circuit events in Jamaica for her next competition. "I was starting to play a little better, but I couldn't keep the momentum going."

Townsend hopes to keep her momentum going in the ITF junior events later this year, but also plans to continue to play Pro Circuit events as an amateur.

"I definitely want to keep my ITF ranking up, but I want to work on my pro ranking so I can get it high enough where I can get into junior grand slams on my own, because of my pro ranking," said Townsend, currently ranked 427 on the WTA tour.

As for ending the title drought, Townsend smiled broadly when she was asked how it feels.

"I've been doing really well, but I haven't had a title in a really long time, since Plaza Cup, so it feels really good."



Like Townsend, boys champion Krueger saw his own comfortable lead melt away against 15-year-old Noah Rubin. Leading 4-0, 40-0 in the opening set, Krueger couldn't hold serve, and Rubin, as he had done in his upset of No. 2 seed Marco Aurei Nunez on Friday, found his way back into the match.

"I guess I just let up a little bit mentally," said the top-seeded Krueger, 17. "I think I double faulted on one or two of the points and he hit return winners. I wish I could have stepped on him a little more, but I'm glad I got away with that last deuce game."

After being broken serving for the set at 5-3, during which Krueger approached the net three times and got passed twice and missed a volley on the third, Krueger played one of his classic multi-deuce games on his opponent's serve. Although only eight deuces, short when compared to Krueger's previous 10-deuce and 11-deuce games in earlier wins, it was tense and dramatic nonetheless.

Krueger, telling himself to "step up man," on numerous occasions, had four set points before Rubin finally earned a game point. Alternating forced errors with outright winners, neither Rubin nor Krueger was tentative. Rubin had two more game points, Krueger had another set point before Krueger finally took it with a gigantic forehand winner just inches from the baseline.

"I just started playing not to lose, I think," said Krueger, who is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas. "When I was feeling I could take it, I started playing a little tighter. He definitely was playing free, hitting out on every shot, and I felt I wasn't hitting out on the ball very much, so I tried to make that adjustment later in that long deuce game, just go for my shots. That's the thing, I wasn't going for much, but still missing."

That forehand to win the opening set was evidence that Krueger had changed his approach, and he opened the set serving well to take a 1-0 lead. Rubin held for 1-1, but then began making unforced errors, which he had avoided in the later stages of the first set.

"He stepped up, and it was a windy day, so I'm not sure I played the wind as well," said Rubin. "He attacked when he wanted to and needed to. I won't say I played awful, but he played well and I didn't play my best."

Rubin didn't hold serve in either his next two service games, and Krueger served for the championship at 5-1. At 30-30, his drop shot, which hadn't been effective against the very quick Rubin, finally earned him a point, after Rubin got to it, but couldn't return it. On match point, Krueger hit an ace that Rubin disputed, but the chair and the line umpire were in agreement, ending the match.

Krueger believes his victory today could be a breakthrough for him, and it certainly assures him a place in all the junior grand slams next year.

"I've always had decent results, and I've been around a lot of guys that have had decent results, and then they have one good result and they shoot up," said Krueger, who will move up considerably from his current ITF junior ranking of 35. "I'm glad to finally get a good bump in the points. I think I did a good job of playing really smart this whole tournament, especially when I was having some bad streaks in my game in a couple of these matches and I was able to grind through them."

Krueger will return home to the Dallas area next week to play the $15,000 Mansfield Pro Circuit event, where he received a wild card into the main draw.



The boys doubles championship, played at the same time as the girls singles final, was won by the No. 4 seeded Canadian team of Filip Peliwo and Samuel Monette. They defeated the unseeded team of Ognjen Samardzic and Ryan Smith 6-3, 4-6, 10-3. Five of the first six games of the match were won on deciding points in the no-ad scoring format, a testament to how evenly matched both teams were. But in the tiebreaker, it was all Peliwo and Monette, who won seven straight points down 0-1, and were not challenged.


The same can't be said for the girls doubles final, which also ended in a match tiebreaker, but not for the seeded team. Unseeded Breaunna Addison and Catherine Harrison saw their 8-3 tiebreaker lead over No. 2 seeds Gabby Andrews and Townsend disappear completely, but they held on for a 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 win.

Addison and Harrison, who had never played together before, got a key error from Townsend, who missed an overhead to give them match point at 9-8, and Addison hit a unreturnable first serve for the championship.

"They came out strong," said Harrison, "and we were struggling to hold. But in the second set, once we broke Taylor's serve, even though we got broken right back, I felt a momentum shift."

At 4-4 in the second, Andrews was broken in her service game on a deciding point, with Harrison's return winner finding the corner of the alley. Addison served out the set to set up the first match tiebreaker Andrews and Townsend had played all week.

"Besides my one return to make it 8-all, we didn't make one error," said Harrison. "They just played good points. There may have been a little tightness in there, but they played well to get it back to 8-all."

At 8-7, pop music from the nearby softball field began blaring over the outside speakers, but Addison wasn't distracted.

"The music, when it started playing, relaxed me," Addison said. "I thought, darn, I know those lyrics, but focus, focus. Somehow, that energy helped us."

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.