Sponsored by IMG Academy

Sunday, October 5, 2014

ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed Begins Monday, with Mmoh, Zarazua Top Seeds

©Colette Lewis 2014--
Tulsa, OK--

2013 semifinalists Michael Mmoh of the United States and Renata Zarazua of Mexico will be the top seeds when the main draw of the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed begins Monday at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center at the University of Tulsa.

Mmoh, who was the top seed last year as well, is coming into the tournament on a positive note, as is No. 9 seed William Blumberg. Both went undefeated during the USA's run to the Junior Davis Cup title late last month in Mexico.  Taylor Fritz, a finalist last year, is the No. 2 seed. The boys seeds:

1. Michael Mmoh (USA)
2. Taylor Fritz (USA)
3. Sameer Kumar (USA)
4. Alejandro Tabilot (CAN)
5. Reilly Opelka (USA)
6. Nathan Ponwith (USA)
7. Kalman Boyd (USA)
8. Robert Levine (USA)
9. William Blumberg (USA)
10. Tommy Paul (USA)
11. Denis Shapovalov (CAN)
12. Catalin Mateas (USA)
13. Anudeep Kodali (USA)
14. Alexander Lebedev (USA)
15. Walker Duncan (USA)
16. Mwendwa Mbithi (USA)

The original list of wild cards changed slightly from the previous information I was given on Thursday, with Patrick Kypson qualifying instead of using a main draw wild card, Dane Dunlap of Canada not using his and Stefan Kozlov taking a special exempt into the Tiburon Challenger rather than using his wild card. Olukayode Alafia Ayeni received a wild card not previously announced, but only six were used. The three reserved girls wild cards went to Maria Mateas and Wichita Falls finalists Alexandra Sanford and Morgan Coppoc.

Zarazua, who was the No. 4 seed last year and also made the semifinals back in 2011, will play Coppoc in the first round.  Sonya Kenin, the only member of the USA's Junior Fed Cup championship team in Tulsa this week, is the No. 2 seed, and she will play Mateas.  The girls seeds:

1. Renata Zarazua(MEX)
2. Sofia Kenin(USA)
3. Raveena Kingsley(USA)
4. Katie Swan(GBR)
5. Katherine Sebov(CAN)
6. Olivia Hauger(USA)
7. Michaela Gordon(USA)
8. Raquel Pedraza(USA)
9. Mia Horvit(USA)
10. Kelly Chen(USA)
11. Ellyse Hamlin(USA)
12. Charlotte Robillard-Millette(CAN)
13. Ariana Rahmanparast(CRC)
14. Rosie Johanson(CAN)
15. Emma Higuchi(USA)
16. Helen Abigail Altick(USA)

Monday's order of play and links to the draws can be found here.

Although I've only been covering the tournament since 2007, it has been in existence, with several name changes, since 2001.  I don't have all the results from previous finals, but I did put together the list below of those from 2004 on.

Donald Young d. Jamie Hunt  63 62
Andrea Remynse d. Jennifer-Lee Heinser 64 61   

Ryan Sweeting d. Donald Young 16 76 64
Valerie Tetreault d. Julia Cohen 57 64 60

Mateusz Kecki d. Kellen Damico 75 63    
Courtney Clayton d. Reka Zsilinszka 16 64 61

Wil Spencer d. Jarmere Jenkins 26 64 62
Melanie Oudin d. Gabriela Paz 61 62

Alex Domijan d. Ryan Lipman 62 46 63
Beatrice Capra d. Pamela Montez 76(2) 62

Sekou Bangoura d. Mitchell Frank 64 63
Eugenie Bouchard d. Ester Goldfeld 67(7) 63 76(4)

Filip Peliwo d. Shane Vinsant 60 63
Madison Keys d. Christina Makarova 62 61

Mitchell Krueger d. Noah Rubin 64 61
Taylor Townsend d. Chalena Scholl 61 75

Noah Rubin d. Hugo Di Feo 62 26 62
Francoise Abanda d. Carol Zhao 76(5) 46 75    

Francis Tiafoe d. Taylor Fritz 63 60
Tornado Alicia Black d. Kaitlyn McCarthy 60 60


love-tennis said...

When I read zootennis.com, it often really hits me on two points regarding juniors:

1. I guess that none of these kids really go to normal school, do they? I read about them playing in all these foreign countries during the week and wonder, "How do they do this?" When mine plays them in a normal tournament (USTA), mine is right in the mix ability wise,(or is for now), but mine goes to regular school from 7:30a.m.-3:30 p.m., during the week, has tennis practice, struggles for time with homework/whatever else life brings up that day.

2. Who pays for all these trips to Tulsa and Costa Rica, and who has the time to take them around the world? Don't the parents have regular jobs themselves; how do they get all the vacation time? If they send the coach with the kids, what regular middle class parents have that type of money?

It is not good or bad, it just amazes me, quite honestly.

Bigger picture said...

Many home school and either parents pay and travel with them or they are sponsored by an academy that will pay for travel of player and coach. If it is parents paying and traveling the world they are obviously not typical middle class, there is no question that many tennis kids are part of a family in the the upper percent of income bracket.

I would question if a player is really right there with them in which case they too would be in zoo tennis or excelling at the same level. A close match is nothing but most people don't get that, they think hanging in for a match means everything and get duped into thinking their kid is at that level of the opponent (which tennis professionals love cause mom and dad spend more money chasing the illusion). Over and over I see a kid go 3 sets with top kid and think they must be as good or close to that kid. It is the overall record of performance over months and years, not a single match or tournament. Parents have to see where their player really is and many don't. They also don't see all the steps players take to get to the top because they haven't climbed them.

Either the family can afford to do all this whether kid's game warrants it or not, or if a kid is truly good enough/has the potential in talent, they will rise to the occasion and get the opportunities and someone will pay for it. If they are not, they won't, simple as that.

Why not? said...

I wouldn't underestimate the levels of some of these players. Having said that, with the recent collapse of the USTA tournament system there is a flood of kids playing ITFs and Pro events that have no business being there, but they do it because competitive choices are limited. Moreso in the girls/women's side where there are so many open spots in qualifying in events in U.S. and world. Also some do it just to keep up with the Jones's and because they can afford to. It's a fun life if you can afford it.

Shawn - TN said...

The USTA system is a mess. However, this weekend is a level 2 and it actually has some good players in it.

But, the points don't count to get into Kalamazoo....

So, the kids are just playing it to play it to get match experience.

Everyone has had it with the USTA, and the bigwigs don't care what anyone thinks as long as they get their salaries.

Education? No. said...

Homeschool kids are getting shortchanged with the online schooling scam. Kids get A's as they can look up the answers, parents think they are doing well and the online Laurels are laughing their way to the bank.
Capitalism at it's best.

Tennis Mom in Florida said...

You have just discovered the key root cause of poor American tennis performance. The sport has evolved such that even at a very young age, like the 12s, most players cannot truly compete unless they abandon education to focus on excessive training and travel for tournaments and have the resources to do so. This automatically filters out 95%+ of the potential American athletes from tennis.

Compare this to other major sports. To play basketball, a player needs a good pair of shoes and the league or school provides a coach, league play, tournament play and all transportation. That is why the USA can go into international basketball competitions and dominate the world. The base of athletes who can participate in the sport is orders of magnitude larger because the financial requirements are hugely less and competition is hugely broader. That is not to say that there still aren't basketball academies. IMG has basketball, baseball and soccer training camps for juniors as well, but the average elite athlete in those sports, doesn't spend $71k a year to train at a facility like that, and doesn't need to.

As long as tennis is largely restricted to those who have the means to hire a private coach and constantly travel to out of town events, the broad participation in competitive tennis will be limited. Of course there are rare exceptions like the Williams sisters, but compare the background of the average tennis player to the average professional football, baseball or basketball player and you will see an incredible difference in socio economic status.

One final comment. Notice how for football and basketball school is a vital part of the path to professional sports. These players have to play in high school and then have to play in college (with rare exception) in order to turn pro. Compare that to tennis, where the average elite junior player abandons traditional schooling so early in their career and many also go on to abandon college as well. It always strikes me how when they introduce the line-ups in professional football, they always announce what college the athlete attended. Granted it is a different sport, but it strikes me that these elite athletes almost all have college backgrounds.