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Friday, September 26, 2014

My Conversation with Nicole Gibbs; USA Teams Reach Junior Davis and Fed Cup Finals; Donaldson into Napa Challenger Semifinals

I hadn't spoken to Nicole Gibbs since she won the NCAA singles title back in 2013, so I made sure not to miss the opportunity to catch up with her at this year's US Open, where she made the third round as a wild card.  Although she was obviously disappointed to have lost her match to Flavia Pennetta an hour or so earlier, she gave her usual thoughtful and candid answers to my series of questions about her first 15 months on the WTA tour.  She also had some strong words against the format changes proposed in Division I tennis.  The full interview is available today at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

At the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup competition in San Luis Potosi Mexico today, both teams from the United States advanced to Sunday's finals, again by the scores of 3-0.  Against No. 4 seed Russia, Tornado Alicia Black took the first point, defeating Anna Blinkova 6-3, 6-0 at No. 2 singles.  CiCi Bellis secured the victory at No. 1 singles, but it wasn't easy for the ITF World No. 1.  She led Anna Kalinskaya 6-1, 4-2 only to see Kalinskaya win five of the next six games to force a third set.  Up a break at 3-2 in the third set, Bellis was broken in a four-deuce game, but that would be the last game she would lose, as she won the final three games for a 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 victory.

Bellis, who anchored the US team that won the 14-and-under ITF World Junior Tennis team competition last year, has not played doubles, with Black and Sonya Kenin getting that duty. The doubles point has not been necessary in any of the top seed's four wins, but they won it again today, beating Blinkova and Aleksandra Pospelova 6-2, 6-3.

The girls will play unseeded Slovakia in the final. Slovakia ousted No. 2 seeds Hungary 2-1, with Tereza Mihalikova defeating Dalma Galfi and Viktoria Kuzmova downing Fanni Stollar in singles.

The No. 2 seeded boys team won over No. 3 Japan, with William Blumberg beating Shohei Chikami 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2 singles for the first point, and, at No. 1 singles, Michael Mmoh defeating Renta Tokuda 6-2, 6-2 to clinch the win.  Blumberg and Gianni Ross won the superfluous doubles point, beating Chikami and Riki Oshima 7-5, 1-6, 6-1.  Ross was on the ITF World Junior Tennis team that lost 2-1 in the final to Russia last year.

The US boys will play No. 4 seed Korea in the final, after the 2013 Junior Davis Cup finalists defeated top seed France 2-1.  Chan-Yeong Oh and Yunseong Chung won both singles matches, with France salvaging the doubles point.  Chung and Mmoh will now have a rematch of their first round US Open match earlier this month, which Chung won over the No. 10 seed, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5).  Blumberg had the shot of the day on match point against Chikami, below.

For complete results from today's Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup matches, see the ITF tournament page.

In Pro Circuit action today, Jared Donaldson reached the semifinals of the $50,000 Napa Valley Challenger, defeating qualifier Julian Lenz of Baylor 7-6(4), 6-3.  He will play No. 2 seed Tim Smyczek, who beat Liam Broady of Great Britain 6-1, 6-1.  Sam Querrey, the top seed, will meet Alex Bolt of Australia in the other semifinal.  After Donaldson's win over Wayne Odesnik, Paul Bauman conducted a lengthy interview with Donaldson for this blog post.

At the Amelia Island $10,000 women's event, 16-year-old qualifier Ingrid Neel has reached the semifinals, defeating No. 5 seed Ellie Halbauer 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.  Neel will play No. 6 seed Emma Flood of Norway for a place in the final.  US Open girls champion Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic will face 29-year-old wild card Edina Gallovits-Hall of Romania in the other semifinal.  Gallovits-Hall has a WTA career-high ranking of 54 back in 2008.  Teens Sophie Chang and Andie Daniell will play for the doubles title against top seeds Maria-Fernanda Alves of Brazil and Keri Wong (Clemson).

Jennifer Brady's run at the $50,000 Las Vegas tournament came to an end today, as the unseeded wild card lost in the quarterfinals to No. 3 seed Anna Tatishvili, who won the Albuquerque $75K last week. Brady served for the match at 5-3 in the third, but Tatishvili came back, winning the final four games for a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 victory.   No. 4 seed Madison Brengle defeated Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic, returning from a four-year break from the game this month, 6-4, 6-3 to also reach the semifinals.

At the Irvine $10,000 Futures, top seed Jason Jung(Michigan) will play No. 7 seed Alex Sarkissian(Pepperdine) in one semifinal and unseeded Greg Jones of Australia will play No. 2 seed Dennis Nevolo(Illinois). Jones defeated 16-year-old Taylor Fritz 7-6(3), 7-6(1) in the quarterfinals today.  Jones picked up the doubles title with Greg Ouellette(Florida), with the pair defeating Carsten Ball and Junior Ore(Texas A&M) 6-2, 4-6, 10-5.