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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tennis.com Looks Back at UCLA-Virginia NCAA Final; Kosakowski Qualifies at BNP Paribas Open; ITF Grade 1 Carson Acceptances

UVA's Mitchell Frank exhorts crowd in NCAA Team final versus UCLA

Last week I was contacted by Tom McFerson, who was putting together an oral history of last year's NCAA Men's Team final between UCLA and Virginia for tennis.com.  With the two teams meeting Thursday for the first time since that memorable final, McFerson spoke with Mitchell Frank, Adrien Puget, Billy Martin, Brian Boland and me about that dramatic and heart-breaking finish. If you weren't in Champaign that day last May, or even if you were, read what Tom has put together on a truly memorable match.  And if you are so inclined, please comment on that post, which may help assure future features on college tennis.

Yesterday, I was asked by tennis.com's online editor Ed McGrogan to do a short podcast on college tennis, which can be found here.  There is some discussion of the Virginia - UCLA rematch, but mostly I discuss the current contenders for the NCAA team championships, the value of college tennis for aspiring professionals, and the format experiments. Again, if there is enough interest, I think tennis.com might do another podcast on college tennis prior to the NCAAs in May, so please give it a listen.

Speaking of college tennis, two former college players qualified for the BNP Paribas Open.  Dan Kosakowski, who played one year at UCLA in 2010-11, defeated No. 3 seed and ATP No. 95 David Goffin of Belgium 6-3, 6-2 one day after breezing past No. 16 seed Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-2.  Kosakowski's win over Goffin wasn't his best, ranking-wise, as he claimed victories in 2012 over No. 82 Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia in the second round of US Open qualifying and No. 85 Benjamin Becker of Germany in the first round of the Sacramento Challenger a month later, but he is now competing in his first Masters 1000 event on the ATP tour.  Kosakowski went through the prequalifying tournament at the BNP Paribas, but found out before the final was played that he would received entry into qualifying based on his protected ranking.  In this article, Kosakowski explains the shoulder injury that kept him off the circuit for six months last year.

Australian JP Smith, the eight-time All-American at the University of Tennessee, also reached the main draw of an ATP 1000 event for the first time.  Smith beat No. 12 seed Wayne Odesnik 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(1) Tuesday, and earned his place in the main draw with a 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 13 seed Andrej Martin of Slovakia today.

Alex Kuznetsov, seeded No. 11, and Robby Ginepri also reached the main draw with wins today.

The women's main draw began today, with Madison Keys, Lauren Davis and wild card Shelby Rogers posting first round wins.  World No. 1 junior Belinda Bencic of Switzerland lost to qualifier Heather Watson of Great Britain 7-5, 6-4.

Results, draws and the order of play can be found at the tournament website.

The acceptance lists for the ITF Grade 1 in Carson, which begins late this month, are out.  The ITF's No. 2 junior Stefan Kozlov will not be defending his title, but Francis Tiafoe(8) and Michael Mmoh(9) have entered, as has 2013 finalist Henrik Wiersholm and 2012 semifinalist Noah Rubin.  Naoki Nakagawa of Japan is the highest ranked international player entered, at 24. No ITF Top 10 girls are entered--Tornado Black and Louisa Chirico are not playing, but Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and Sandra Samir of Egypt give the tournament two Top 20 players.  2013 semifinalist Christina Makarova is entered, as is Sofia Kenin, Johnnise Renaud, Dasha Ivanova and CiCi Bellis.

The complete list can be found at the ITF Junior site.


Suspenseful said...

I don't like either team :) but loved the write up of UVA/UCLA final. Great play by play, and getting into all those minds was intense. So many intimate details, one that sticks with me is Boland seeing Frank with the towel over his head and knowing he had it and importantly, to leave him alone. The college player/coach relationship can be something to behold. And Puget's anguish----ugh, but you win and lose as a team no matter what, is all I would say to that. Best tennis writing (no offense Colette, like yours too) but that was really a special read.