UCLA sophomore Jennifer Brady is taking the fall off to play Pro Circuit tournaments (according to this New York Times article, at the behest of the USTA) and she got off to an excellent start by winning the singles and doubles titles at the $25,000 tournament in Redding, Calif. The unseeded 19-year-old, who didn't lose a set in her five victories, beat top seed Mayo Hibi in the quarterfinals and No. 3 seed Zuzana Zlochova of Slovakia in the semifinals. She met doubles partner Lauren Embree, the former Gator star, in the final today, handily winning that match 6-2, 6-1.
When I spoke to Brady after her loss to Jamie Loeb at the American Collegiate Invitational in New York, she said she had been working with the USTA throughout the three weeks of the Open (she lost in the first round of qualifying to Carina Witthoeft of Germany) and would continue to do so this fall.
"I'm going to train in Boca at USTA and play a bunch of Challengers in the next couple of months," said Brady, who also received a US Open wild card in women's doubles with Samantha Crawford. "It's been a great experience, a lot of fun," she said of her long stay in New York.
Embree, who returned to competition a couple of months ago after hip surgery kept her out for the first half of the year, was also unseeded in singles, and the pair was unseeded in doubles as well. They won all their matches without needing a match tiebreaker however, defeating Cal-Irvine twins Kat and Alexandra Facey, also unseeded, 6-3, 6-2. Embree had won the doubles title last year with Brady's teammate Robin Anderson; it is Brady's third title, but first at the $25,000 level.
Like Brady, Claremont Futures champion Dennis Nevolo also claimed his first ITF Circuit title, and he too did so without dropping a set. The top-seeded Nevolo, a 2012 Illinois graduate, defeated No. 4 seed Salvatore Caruso of Italy 6-4, 6-2 in the singles final of the $10,000 tournament. He and Jeff Dadamo captured the doubles title when Deiton Baughman and Reilly Opelka retired down 5-2 in the first set.
Steve Pratt's account of the tournament is below:
CLAREMONT, Calif., (Sept. 13, 2014) – Dennis Nevolo sure picked a great time to play some of the best tennis of his career.
The 24-year-old former Illinois All-American and top-seeded Nevolo picked up his first USTA Pro Circuit $10,000 Futures singles title by beating No. 4-sseded Salvatore Caruso of Italy on Sunday, 6-4, 6-2, at the Claremont Club Pro Classic.
“I think the way I played in the quarterfinals and the semis and then the final, yeah, you can say I just played some of the best tennis of my career,” said Nevolo, who takes home the $1,440 first-place prize check and 17 valuable ATP World Tour points. “It was probably the most aggressive tennis of my career.”
Playing an experienced red-clay player like Caruso, who Nevolo had beaten last October in the pairs’ only previous meeting, Nevolo said he had to take time away from the steady baseline game of the 21-year-old from a tiny village outside of Sicily.
“It was time pressure,” said Nevolo, who became the first non-Southern Californian to win the title here since 2009. “I counterpunched well and I was always looking to sneak in when I had an opportunity to.”
Last year, Caruso got to as high as No. 320 in the world and played $50,000 Challenger events in Tiburon and Napa. Last year he won his first ITF Futures singles title in Italy.
Watched by his grandparents, Nevolo will drive to their home an hour northwest in Torrance and get ready for a Wednesday start at the Costa Mesa Futures tournament.
“The schedule doesn’t really change,” Nevolo said. “I checked the Napa Challenger ($50,000 event) cutoff and it’s pretty low. So I’ll stick with the plan and play these three Futures in a row, then Sacramento and Tiburon, three 10ks in Texas and then finish the year with two indoor Challengers.”
The final Challenger of the year on the USTA Pro Circuit schedule Nevolo referenced begins Nov. 10 and will take place on Nevolo’s college courts at the Atkins Tennis Center in Champaign, Ill.
This week's Pro Circuit events are a women's $75,000 tournament in Albuquerque New Mexico, and another $10,000 Futures, this one in Costa Mesa, California, for the men. Another $15,000 Futures in Canada is also on the schedule.
This weekend in suburban Chicago, the United States retained its place in the 16-nation Davis Cup World Group, defeating Slovakia 5-0. John Isner and Sam Querrey won singles matches on Friday and the Bryan twins clinched the tie with a straightforward doubles victory on Saturday. For more on the tie, see this article from Sandy Harwitt. Spain will not be among the World Group nations in 2015, losing to Brazil today, and Serbia is currently tied at 2-2 with India, with rain delaying the deciding match until Monday.
Switzerland and France will play for the 2014 Davis Cup in November after wins over Italy and the Czech Republic in this weekend's semifinals.