US Teams Start ITF Team Qualifying with Easy Wins; Miami's Laurente Suspended; Altamirano Commits to Virginia
I thought today might be a quiet day, with the NCAAs, the big story this month for me, not beginning until Friday. All 16 women's regionals will get underway, and four men's regionals are also Friday-Saturday events. The remaining 12 men's regionals will be Saturday-Sunday. See the ITA's MatchDay Central page for the links to live scoring and video.
But today didn't want for news. The US teams began their attempts to qualify for the ITF's international team events in Montreal today, with three of the four--the two 14-and-under World Junior Tennis teams and both 16-and-under Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup teams--playing Mexico. Not surprisingly, the US teams didn't lose a point, or even a set. In Junior Davis Cup play, William Blumberg and Nathan Ponwith won their singles, with Blumberg needing only 38 minutes for his 0 and 0 victory. Usue Arconada also posted a 0 and 0 win in Junior Fed Cup, with Sofia Kenin losing just three games at the No. 1 position.
In the boys 14s, Andrew Fenty and Steven Sun lost one game in their four singles sets. The girls 14s, playing Guatemala, got wins from Rachel Lim and Claire Liu in singles.
For the Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup teams, the competition gets considerably tougher on Friday. In one of the enduring injustices of junior tennis, only one of the four teams competing this weekend will earn a place in the final 16 in Mexico, because Mexico is automatically granted a spot as the host country. This means a very good team from Canada or the United States will be left out, and it will be the loser of tomorrow's match. Canada's girls do not have the Top 40 ITF rankings that Kenin and Arconada have earned, but Katherine Sebov and Orange Bowl 16s champion Charlotte Robillard-Millette are excellent players. Robillard-Millette took Kenin to three sets in the third round at the Pan American Closed last fall in Tulsa, and Sebov, who will be playing No. 1 for Canada, then defeated Kenin 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.
I'm not as familiar with the Canadian boys Benjamin Sigouin and Denis Shapovalov, with both outside the Top 250 in the ITF rankings, but I don't expect anything but a competitive match Friday.
Two teams from each gender will advance to the August competition in the Czech Republic in the 14s, so not quite so much is at stake for them Friday.
The results and draws are available here.
The Miami Herald broke the news yesterday that Kelsey Laurente, who plays No. 2 for the 12th-seeded Hurricanes, has been suspended "for disciplinary reasons." According to the article, Laurente has been "scratched from the NCAA tournament." With a good Oklahoma team, ranked 18th, coming to the Coral Gables regional, Miami's road to Athens is bumpier than it was a week ago.
Paul Bauman is reporting on his blog that Kalamazoo champion Collin Altamirano has verbally committed to the University of Virginia for January of 2015. Bauman qualifies that by saying Altamirano may still turn pro in the interim, if his results warrant it. He has a current ATP ranking of 968, reaching one Futures semifinal this year while going 7-5 5 on that level. He played the last three US Challengers, and didn't qualify in Sarasota or Savannah. He received a wild card into Tallahassee and lost to Frank Dancevic of Canada in the first round. Altamirano is eligible to defend his title in Kalamazoo this August.
At the $25,000 Pro Circuit women's event in Raleigh, qualifier Brooke Austin, who has committed to Florida for this fall, has reached the quarterfinals, joining Americans Samantha Crawford and Maria Sanchez(Southern Cal).
In the Orange Park $10,000 men's Futures, Connor Smith kept his winning streak going. The former Ohio State Buckeye, who won his first title last week in Vero Beach, defeated former UCLA Bruin Dennis Novikov, his doubles partner this week, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals. Smith is joined there by Americans Greg Ouellette(Florida), Bjorn Fratangelo, Mitchell Krueger and Eric Quigley(Kentucky). Smith and Novikov will play Fratangelo and Krueger in the doubles final Friday.
Georgia Tech alum Kevin King, who won the $15,000 Futures in Mexico last week, is in the quarterfinals at this week's Futures there, also a $15,000 tournament. He plays Adam El Mihdawy, the only other American still in the draw, whom he defeated in last week's final. King is in the doubles final with former teammate Dean O'Brien of South Africa. Alex Llompart of Puerto Rico, who played at Pepperdine, will be on the opposing team, with Mateo Martinez of Argentina.