Kozlov into French Junior Quarterfinals; Loeb, Giron Finish Season Atop ITA Rankings; Men's Kickoff Weekend Draft Complete
Surviving the disruption of a rain delay, 16-year-old Stefan Kozlov defeated No. 10 seed Duck Hee Lee of Korea 7-6(4), 6-1 in third round action at the French Open Junior Championships Wednesday, and his opponent in Thursday's quarterfinal will be familiar, in more ways than one.
Kozlov, seeded sixth, will face his friend and doubles partner Andrey Rublev of Russia, the fourth seed, in a rematch of their quarterfinal meeting at the Australian Open juniors back in January. In one of the more puzzling scorelines of that junior slam, Kozlov beat the 16-year-old Rublev 6-2, 6-1 and went on to reach the final, where he lost to Alexander Zverev of Germany. Rublev is playing in only his third junior slam, while Kozlov has now played seven, but neither lacks for international experience and Rublev has three Futures title, while Kozlov has yet to reach a final at that level.
The other boys quarterfinals have qualifier Seong-Chan Hong of Korea facing No. 5 seed Quentin Halys of France, No. 14 seed Marcello Zormann of Brazil against No. 7 seed Juame Munar Clar of Spain and No. 9 seed Johan Sebastien Tatlot of France meeting No. 2 seed Orlando Luz of Brazil. Munar Clar eliminated No. 11 seed Michael Mmoh 6-2, 6-1 in today's third round, and spoke to Sandy Harwitt about the match at the ITF junior website. None of the eight boys remaining reached the quarterfinals last year.
The girls quarterfinals did not turn out as predictably, with three unseeded players in the final eight. Top seed Ivana Jorovic of Serbia will face 2013 quarterfinalist Kristina Schmiedlova of Slovakia and unseeded Paula Badosa Gibert plays No. 10 seed Francoise Abanda of Canada(also featured in the Harwitt article). No. 8 seed Darya Kasatkina of Russia, who also reached the quarterfinals last year, faces No. 16 seed Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus, and qualifier Rebecca Sramkova of Slovakia, who received entry into qualifying solely on the basis of her WTA ranking, will play 14-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.
Three US juniors remain in the quarterfinals of doubles, with Kozlov, Tornado Alicia Black and CiCi Bellis still alive. Bellis and Vondrousova, the No. 7 seeds, won their second round match today against Katerina Jokic of Serbia and Helen Ploskina of Ukraine 6-2, 6-2. Black and Naiktha Bains of Australia, the No. 4 seeds, and Bellis and Vondrousova are the only seeds remaining in the girls doubles draw.
For the complete draws, see the Roland Garros website.
The final individual rankings for 2014 were released today, with Jamie Loeb of North Carolina and Marcos Giron of UCLA finishing the year at No. 1.
Men's Top 10:
1. Marcos Giron, UCLA
2. Clay Thompson, UCLA
3. Guillermo Alcorta, Oklahoma
4. Julian Lenz, Baylor
5. Yannick Hanfmann, Southern Cal
6. Axel Alvarez, Oklahoma
7. Raymond Sarmiento, Southern Cal
8. Peter Kobelt, Ohio State
9. Alex Domijan, Virginia
10. Mitchell Frank, Virginia
Women's Top 10:
1. Jamie Loeb, North Carolina
2. Robin Anderson, UCLA
3. Hayley Carter, North Carolina
4. Kristie Ahn, Stanford
5. Beatrice Capra, Duke
6. Julia Elbaba, Virginia
7. Lauren Herring, Georgia
8. Jennifer Brady, UCLA
9. Cristina Stancu, Texas A&M
10. Chanelle Van Nguyen, UCLA
NCAA singles champion Danielle Collins of Virginia finished ranked No. 14, and finalist Lynn Chi of Cal finished at No. 11.
The Top 5 men's doubles teams:
1. Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, Tennessee
2. Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka, Ohio State
3. Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman, Vanderbilt
4. Raymond Sarmiento and Yannick Hanfmann, Southern Cal
5. Hunter Harrington and Dominique Maden, Clemson
The Top 5 women's doubles teams:
1. Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe, Alabama
2. Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase, Georgia
3. Jamie Loeb and Hayley Carter, North Carolina
4. Beatrice Capra and Hanna Mar, Duke
5. Robin Anderson and Jennifer Brady, UCLA
For complete rankings, see the ITA rankings page.
The draft for the men's Kickoff Weekend in January, which will decide 15 of the 16 teams playing in the National Team Indoor Championships next February, took place today. Illinois, the host school for the men's tournament, which will be at the Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago, receives an automatic entry, so they do not host a regional. All the other teams in the Top 16 are hosting, with only two teams, No. 48 Dartmouth and No. 58 Cornell, declining to participate. As I say every year, I love this method of determining who plays where, with no committee making that decision, but rather each visiting school deciding what works for them, and which site gives them the best chance of advancing.
The women's draft is tomorrow, and as has been the case for several years now, participation is less enthusiastic, and there are three Top 20 teams, and nine Top 75 teams who have declined their place in the Kickoff Weekend. No. 8 Stanford, No. 14 Baylor and No. 19 Notre Dame are not playing, nor are South Carolina(26), Ole Miss(28), Arizona(33), Tennessee(34), Ohio State(35), Long Beach State(40), Indiana(51), Washington State(52) and Elon(72). I've heard that the increased number of conference matches due to conference realignment, especially with women's programs, which are more numerous than men's, is partially responsible for these opt-outs, as is the .500 winning percentage rule, which the NCAA has established as a requirement to participate in the NCAA team tournament. If you take three losses at the Team Indoor and play in a conference like the SEC, where conference wins are tough to come by, you may have to scramble to schedule some doubleheaders against less competitive D-I programs just to get back to .500. I doubt the NCAA anticipated this would be the consequences of adopting that rule, but it seems to be hurting college tennis, rather than helping it.
For the complete men's Kickoff Weekend regional participants, see the ITA hub page.