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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Teens Get Opportunities During US Open Series; Chen, Weatherholt in Austin $10K Final; Frank and Nguyen Meet for Godfrey Futures Title

The US Open Series is underway with the ATP's BB&T Atlanta Open kicking off the five-week lead-in into the US Open. Defending champion and top seed John Isner is in the final for the fourth time in five years after his 7-5, 6-4 win today over Jack Sock. He will play either Germany's Benjamin Becker(Baylor) or Dudi Sela of Israel in Sunday's final. Steve Johnson(USC) and Sam Querrey have reached the doubles final.

There are three US Open series events on the schedule for next week. The ATP has a 500-level in Washington DC, with the women sharing the courts in an International level event. On the west coast, the women's premier event is the Bank of the West Classic, held on the Stanford campus.

It was announced on Friday that 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe, who trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in nearby College Park, Maryland, had received a main draw wild card into the Citi Open in Washington DC, where he'll face Evgeny Donskoy of Russia in the opening round.  The ITF's 2012 World Junior champion Filip Peliwo of Canada also received a main draw wild card, as did top seed Tomas Berdych and James Duckworth of Australia. The men's qualifying draw contained plenty of players with local connections including, Justin and Ryan Shane, Michael Shabaz and Sanam Singh, all current or former University of Virginia players.  They all fell in the first round today, but Jordi Arconada, who trains at the JTCC and lost in the final of a prequalifying tournament to Tiafoe, had better luck.  When Tiafoe got the main draw wild card, Arconada was given the qualifying wild card, and is now in the second round. Up a break 3-2 in the first set, Arconada got the win when French veteran Michael Llodra retired. Wimbledon boys finalist Stefan Kozlov was two points away from an upset of top qualifying seed Sam Groth of Australia up 6-3 and at 5-5 in the second set tiebreaker, but Groth came back for a 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory.  Jared Donaldson, last year's Kalamazoo finalist and most likely to be the top seed there next week, cruised past No. 10 seed Gonzalo Lama of Chile 6-1, 6-1 and will play former Florida Gator Sekou Bangoura for a spot in the main draw. Former USC Trojan Emilio Gomez also advanced to the final round of qualifying.

In the WTA Citi Open qualifying, Tornado Alicia Black defeated Louisa Chirico 6-3, 6-1 and will face Great Britain's Emily Webley-Smith in Sunday's final round of qualifying. Taylor Townsend also advanced to the final round of qualifying, with the No. 5 seed set to face top seed Tereza Smitkova of the Czech Republic, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon this year.

The Tennis East Coast blog is onsite covering the Citi Open and has posted articles and photos from today's qualifying action.

At the Bank of the West Classic, Kristie Ahn, who played No. 1 for Stanford this past year as a senior, received a main draw wild card and will face CoCo Vandeweghe in the first round.  Qualifying wild cards went to two current Cardinal rising sophomores--Caroline Doyle, who lost to top seed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 7-5, 6-3, and Canadian Carol Zhao, who surprised fellow teenager and No. 2 seed Katerina Siniakova (WTA 123) of the Czech Republic 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3) in the day's final match in Palo Alto.

Wimbledon girls quarterfinalist Michaela Gordon, who turned 15 today, received an early birthday present in the form of a qualifying wild card, but she fell to Sachia Vickery, the No. 6 seed, 6-4, 6-1.  Doubles star Raquel Kops-Jones, a former Cal standout, received a wild card and surprised No. 3 seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 6-2, 7-6(8).

At the two Pro Circuit Futures events this week, all four finalists are from the United States, assuring another American sweep, just as last week.  University of Virginia rising senior Mitchell Frank, who won the $10,000 Futures last week in Tulsa, goes for his second straight title in Godfrey Illinois Futures, where he'll meet former USC Trojan Daniel Nguyen.  The unseeded Frank defeated North Carolina rising sophomore Ronnie Schneider 6-0, 7-5 in the semifinals today, while No. 8 seed Nguyen downed No. 4 seed Luke Bambridge of Great Britain 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Nguyen lost to Frank twice in college, when he was a senior and Frank a freshman, falling in the semifinals of the ITA All-American Championships in 2011 and in the NCAA team final in 2012. But Last month in the Buffalo Futures quarterfinals on clay, Nguyen beat Frank 7-5, 6-1.

Bambridge and Liam Broady, the top seeds, defeated unseeded Schneider and teammate Brett Clark 6-3, 6-2 in the doubles final.

At the $10,000 women's tournament in Austin, Texas,, qualifier Kelly Chen, a quarterfinalist last week at the Clay Courts, has reached her first Pro Circuit final with a 7-6(5), 6-2 win over Usue Arconada, Chen's first straight-set win of the week.  Arconada, by the way, had earned a wild card into the Citi Open qualifying in the JTCC's prequalifying tournament, but because she is playing in an international junior team tournament at Wimbledon next week, she was unable to accept it.

Chen will play 2013 NCAA finalist Mary Weatherholt(Nebraska), who is just returning to competition this summer after recovering from yet another serious knee injury. Weatherholt defeated No. 5 seed Nives Baric of Australian 6-4, 6-1 to reach her first singles final. She has first title already however, and she and Catherine Harrison of UCLA won the doubles championship, beating Alexa Guarachi (Alabama) and Alex Cercone (Florida) 6-2, 7-5.

Peter Kobelt and Devin McCarthy (Ohio State) won their fourth Futures doubles title since the first of June at this week's Hong Kong Futures. Kobelt and McCarthy have reached the final of all six Futures they've played together this summer.