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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pepperdine's Steinberg Takes Michigan Job, Amherst's Garner Hired at Navy; Neel, Kecmanovic Win ITF Grade 4 Grass Courts; Scholtz Claims Second Straight Futures; Chirico in $25K Final

The weekend is rarely the time for big college hiring announcements, but the University of Michigan bucked that trend today, naming Pepperdine's Adam Steinberg as its men's head coach. Steinberg was considered one of the front runners for the position, and with the consolidation of power in the BCS conferences, it's no surprise he would consider moving to one of them. Pepperdine has a impressive tennis history, to which Steinberg has contributed greatly, leading the program to its only NCAA team title. But the recent talk of an NCAA Division 4 for high-revenue major athletic departments must concern any coach employed by one of the "have-nots".  Steinberg takes over from Bruce Berque, who was let go last month after ten years.  The Michigan release does not mention current associate head coach Jeremy Wurtzmann, although he is listed on the coach's roster. The Pepperdine release is here.

Division III men's tennis lost one of its superstars, with Chris Garner leaving Amherst to take the head coaching job at Navy.  In his seven years at Amherst, Garner won two team titles, most recently last month, and reached the finals on two other occasions. Garner, who played at Georgia and was an assistant coach at Ohio State, takes over from John Officer, who retired in April after 29 years as head coach. The Navy release is here.

The ITF Grade 4 International Grass Court Championships were decided today in Philadelphia, with Ingrid Neel and Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia taking the titles.  Rain caused matches to be played indoors on at least two days, but the tournament did finish on time.  Neel, who trains at the IMG Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, doesn't play outside Florida very often, but her game is well suited to grass, and she reached semifinals in Philadelphia last year. The No. 8 seed defeated No. 3 seed Francesca DiLorenzo 7-6(8), 6-3 in the final. It's the second ITF singles title for Neel, who turns 16 on Monday.

Kecmanovic, who like Neel, trains at Bollettieri's and won the the Grade 4 in Coral Gables last month, has lost only one match in the six Grade 4s he's played this year, in the final last month at Delray Beach.  The No. 2 seed, Kecmanovic, just 14, defeated No. 4 seed Myles Schalet 6-1, 6-3 in the Grass Courts final. Those three games are the most he lost in any set in his five victories. Kecmanovic has lost only four sets while posting a 31-1 record in junior competition this year.

Sophie Chang and Andie Daniell, who won a $10,000 women's doubles title last month, won the girls doubles championships. The top seeds defeated unseeded Claire Liu and Ryan Peus 6-3, 6-3 in the final.  The boys title went to Caleb Chakravarthi and Evan Zhu, who defeated Schalet and Gabe Tishman 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.  Both teams were unseeded.

At the ITF Grade 4 in El Salvador, Canadian qualifier Isabelle Boulais, 14, swept the titles. Boulais defeated top seed and Georgia Tech recruit Alexis Prokopuik, also from Canada, 6-3, 6-0 in the final. Boulais and Tiffany Lagarde of Canada won the doubles unseeded, beating top seeds Prokopuik and Stephanie Nemtsova of the US 7-5, 4-6, 10-5.

Nik Scholtz of Ole Miss won his second consecutive $10,000 Futures title in his home country of South Africa. The unseeded Scholtz defeated No. 3 seed Fritz Wolmarans, also of South Africa, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the final. Top seeds Ruan Roelofse(Illinois) and Dean O'Brien(Georgia Tech) won the doubles title, beating Scholtz and Tucker Vorster(Ole Miss), the No. 2 seeds, 7-6(6), 6-4 in the final.

In the $10,000 Futures in Israel, Peter Kobelt, the recent Ohio State graduate, reached the finals in singles and won the doubles, with former teammate Devin McCarthy.  Kobelt, who had to qualify, lost to top seed Sam Barry of Ireland 6-4, 7-6(5) in the singles final.  The third-seeded Kobelt and McCarthy cruised to the doubles title, winning every match in straight sets.  They defeated No. 4 seeds Alexander Mozgovoy of Russia and Sebastian Wagner of German 6-1, 6-2 in the final.

Louisa Chirico, the 18-year-old New Yorker who recently signed with the sports management firm Octagon, reached the second $25,000 tournament final of her young career today in Italy.  Unseeded, Chirico has beaten No. 8 seed Gioia Barbieri of Italy, No. 1 seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus and No. 7 seed Anastasia Grymalska of Italy to reach the final. She plays unseeded Paula Goncalves of Brazil in the championship match Sunday.