Pro Circuit Update; Duckhee Lee's Remarkable Story Continues Despite AO Loss; Djokovic's Coach is Tennis Dad
Former college stars Tim Puetz and Noelle Hickey won Futures events last week, while US veteran Robby Ginepri hopes to jump-start his stalled comeback with his victory at the $10,000 Futures in Sunrise, Fla.
The 25-year-old Puetz, a former All-American at Auburn who reached the 2010 NCAA singles semifinals, won his third career Futures singles title at the $10,000 ITF Men's Circuit event in France. The unseeded German defeated three seeds along the way, including No. 1 seed Yannick Mertens of Belgium in the quarterfinals. In the final, Puetz downed 2010 Wimbledon boys champion Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 6-0, 4-1 retired. He also reached the finals in doubles, paired with former Wisconsin Badger Moritz Baumann, also of Germany.
Hickey, who played at Georgia Tech, then transferred to UCLA, won her first ITF Women's title at the $10,000 event in Guadeloupe, defeating No. 4 seed Lea Tholey of France 7-5, 6-2 in the final. The 24-year-old from New Jersey, who like Puetz was unseeded, also picked up the doubles title with former Arizona State Sun Devil Kady Pooler. If you missed it, a few months ago I posted a link to this story about Hickey's return to the Pro Circuit after teaching at Court Sense, the club where the McHale sisters train.
Formerly in the ATP Top 20, Ginepri, whose ATP ranking is now 286, was the sixth seed in Sunrise. He defeated unseeded Benjamin Balleret of Monaco 6-4, 6-2 in the final. Unseeded Daniel Dutra da Silva and Pedro Sakamoto of Brazil won the doubles title over the unseeded Italian team of Alberto Brizzi and Enrico Burzi 6-2, 6-7(8), 12-10.
At the $25,000 women's tournament in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Canadian Sharon Fichman, who played the Australian Open qualifying, won her eighth career singles title on the ITF Women's Circuit, beating last week's Innisbrook champion Tadeja Majeric of Slovenia 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Fichman was the No. 2 seed, Majeric No. 4. Former Florida Gator Allie Will teamed with Angelina Gabueva of Russia to take the doubles title, beating last week's finalists Florencia Molinero of Argentina and Adriana Perez of Venezuela 4-6, 6-2, 10-7 in a battle of unseeded teams.
This week there is no women's event in the United States, but there are two men's tournaments. Qualifying is complete for the $10,000 Futures event in Weston, Fla., where 14-year-old Stefan Kozlov, Mitchell Krueger and Jean-Yves Aubone received wild cards into the main draw. Qualifying for the $50,000 Challenger in Maui will be finished tonight, with the main draw full of former college players, including Tennys Sandgren, Dan Kosakowski, Steve Johnson, Bradley Klahn, Austin Krajicek, Rhyne Williams and wild cards Devin Britton and Dennis Lajola.
There are also quite a few Americans in the $10,000 ITF Men's Circuit event in Ixtapa, Mexico, including California teens Deiton Baughman and Dante Saleh, both of whom qualified.
With Allie Kiick the only American remaining in the singles draw at the Australian Open junior championships, there's not much news from Melbourne to discuss, but a couple of interesting stories emerged about two juniors who lost in the second round Monday: Duckhee Lee of Korea and Natalia Vajdova of Slovakia. Lee's hearing impairment is only now getting noticed by mainstream tennis writers, since this is the 14-year-old's first junior slam, and Simon Cambers writes about it for Reuters, obviously getting huge assistance from an interpreter.
Vajdova is the daughter of Novak Djokovic's coach Marian Vajda, who obviously doesn't have the opportunity to travel with or even see her for long stretches due his responsibilities to the world's top player. But from this Straight Sets article by Ben Rothenberg, it's apparent that Vajda shares the same stress most parents feel when watching their child compete.