US Teams Sweep Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup Titles; Neel Wins Amelia Island $10K; Nevolo Claims Irvine Futures Title
Sweeping both titles at the Junior Davis and Junior Fed Cup competitions is a rare occurrence. Prior to today, it had only happened four times since the 16-and-under competitions began in 1985. In 2008, the United States won both, and matched that today, with the girls defeating unseeded Slovakia 3-0 and the boys taking out No. 4 seed Korea by the same score.
The 2008 teams--Christina McHale, Kristie Ahn and Sloane Stephens, seeded No. 1; Evan King, Denis Kudla and Raymond Sarmiento, seeded No. 3--didn't lose a match the entire tournament, which features three round robin matches to reach the semifinals of the knockout round. The 2014 teams were similarly dominating, with the top-seeded girls going 15-0 in their matches and the second-seeded boys doing the same, with all five victories clinched before the doubles match was played.
William Blumberg started the day with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Chan-yeong Oh at No. 2 singles, getting a break in the third game of each set and never relinquishing it. Blumberg mixed up his attack, coming in occasionally to keep Oh guessing. He also served better than Oh, showing few nerves until the final game. Even then, although he made two errors on his two match points, he recovered to win the next point both times and on the third match point, it was Oh who missed, sending a forehand wide.
The No. 1 singles match was expected to be a close one, with Michael Mmoh having suffered a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) loss to Yunseong Chung in the first round of the US Open junior championships earlier this month. Mmoh's 6-2, 6-2 victory started that way, with four holds of serve, but Chung was broken when Mmoh's defense induced an overhead error from Chung on game point. Mmoh held and broke again, and leading 5-2, claimed the set with a forehand winner on his third set point.
Mmoh fell behind 2-0 in the second set, but got the break right back and broke Chung the next two times to take a 5-2 lead. Serving extremely well in the final game, Mmoh took a 40-0 lead, but had to save a break point before collecting the win. Blumberg ran to give him an exuberant shoulder bump in celebration of the second ITF World title they have won together. Blumberg, Mmoh and Francis Tiafoe captured the World Junior Tennis 14-and-under competition Championship in 2012.
|Tornado Alicia Black, Kathy Rinaldi, CiCi Bellis, Sonya Kenin|
(photo via Twitter)
Viktoria Kuzmova started poorly, barely winning any points to start the match, while Bellis was playing patient but aggressive tennis and making few unforced errors. Twenty-four minutes later, Bellis had taken the first set 6-0, and shortly thereafter was serving at 2-1 in the second set. She lost that game and the next six, with Kuzmova taking a 2-0 lead in the third set. Kuzmova had put any nerves behind her and was in control of the match at that point, but Bellis didn't concede, breaking Kuzmova two consecutive times to take a 3-2 lead. She was broken back for 3-all, but Bellis received a couple of gifts from Kuzmova in the next game in the form of a missed routine volley and a double fault on game point.
Bellis held at love and Kuzmova would have to hold for the first time since the first game of the set to stay in the match. Kuzmova had two game points, but couldn't convert either and after saving one match point with a forcing backhand, she netted a forehand to give Bellis her second match point. A Kuzmova forehand went long and Bellis fell to the ground on the baseline, celebrating her second ITF team title in as many years.
Congratulations to USTA coaches Kathy Rinaldi and Eric Nunez for their roles in putting US junior tennis at the top of the world today.
For my post on the 2008 Junior Davis and Junior Fed Cup titles (ITF link no longer works), click here.
Sandy Harwitt had quotes from the US boys in this article for the ITF junior website. The article with quotes from the US girls is here. The complete results from the competition are at the ITF tournament site.
Ingrid Neel had to win seven matches just to reach the final of the $10,000 Amelia Island Pro Circuit event--three in qualifying and four in the main draw--but she didn't have to play a full eighth. Unseeded wild card Edina Gallovits-Hall of Romania retired at 4-4 in the first set of the rain-delayed final to give the 16-year-old from Minnesota her first title at that level.
At the $10,000 Irvine Futures, No. 2 seed Dennis Nevolo won his second Futures title in three weeks, defeating 2014 NCAA finalist Alex Sarkissian(Pepperdine) 6-7(17), 7-5, 6-3. The first set was nearly 90 minutes long with that amazing tiebreaker, but the former Illinois All American recovered, not only from that disappointment, but from failing to serve out the set at 5-3 in the second set to get the win. He converted 6 of 8 break point chances to deny the seventh-seeded Sarkissian his second title of the year.
Top seed Sam Querrey and No. 4 seed Madison Brengle finished an excellent day for American tennis by capturing $50,000 tournament titles in Napa Valley and Las Vegas. Querrey defeated No. 2 seed Tim Smyczek 6-3, 6-1, and Brengle downed Portugal's Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-1, 6-4. Querrey's win will put him back in the ATP top 50, and Brengle should crack the WTA Top 100 for the first time with her title.