Sponsored by IMG Academy

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mmoh and Blumberg to Meet in Pan American Closed Final; Kingsley and Liu to Decide Girls Championship

©Colette Lewis 2014--
Tulsa, OK--

Michael Mmoh and William Blumberg shared a special moment in their junior careers just two weeks ago, winning the Junior Davis Cup 16-and-under ITF world team title in San Luis Potosi Mexico.

On Saturday, they will meet to decide the boys title at the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed after both posted three-set victories indoors on a cool and rainy day in Tulsa.

The girls championship match will feature No. 3 seed Raveena Kingsley and unseeded Claire Liu, who advanced to the final with straight set victories Friday morning.

Mmoh saved two match points in his quarterfinal victory over Tommy Paul on Thursday, and was again in precarious circumstances today when he trailed No. 3 seed Sameer Kumar 6-3, 3-1 before completing a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 comeback.

"Sameer was playing really smart today," said Mmoh, who has won three three-setters en route to the finals. "He was really changing it up, every point he played different. He was serving and volleying, slicing, mixing up the pace a lot. He was playing pretty solid and I was playing pretty tentative, was kind of nervous. But in the third set, I feel like I really stepped it up."

Down 3-1 in the second set, Mmoh took advantage of his first break point opportunity with Kumar serving at 2-3, ad out. Kumar had served and volleyed on key points earlier, but Mmoh was expecting it, hitting a perfect offensive lob winner to break. At 5-all, Mmoh held, then broke Kumar, who was starting to make errors he didn't commit in the first half of the match.

"I wasn't really playing my game in the first two sets," said Mmoh, who lives and trains at the IMG Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Fla. "But he got a little nervous, but he's a great player, and he played really well."

Blumberg was broken to start his 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 win over No. 7 seed Kalman Boyd, but reeled off six straight games to take the set in just over 20 minutes. Boyd had lost the first set 6-0 to No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals, yet managed to work his way back into that match, which is what he did against Blumberg, who made a slew of backhand errors.

"He's from California, so it probably took him a while to get used to the indoors, and I played a solid first set," said the ninth-seeded Blumberg, who lives in Connecticut. "I served really well in the first set as well. In the second set, I missed a lot more balls than I would have liked to. To be honest, Kalman played a really solid second set, served better and made a lot more balls, pushed me to my backhand a lot more. So I wasn't very upset, the only thing I was upset about was my errors."

Boyd started off the third set by getting broken twice, with two double faults contributing to his downfall.  He got one break back immediately, but Blumberg began getting a lot more first serves in, holding at love to make it 5-3.  After Boyd saved a match point on his serve, holding for 5-4, Blumberg went down 0-30, missing a drop shot and getting a racquet abuse warning when he dropped his in disgust.  But an ace and another good first serve brought him even, and a Boyd forehand long gave Blumberg his second match point. Blumberg didn't get a first serve in, but Boyd sent his forehand return of the second wide to put Blumberg in his first Grade 1 final.

Blumberg and Mmoh, who also were on the USA's 14-and-under World Junior Tennis team that won the title in 2012, have met once before, in the semifinals of Les Petits As in Tarbes, France in January of 2012.  Blumberg won that match 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, and although Blumberg dismissed it as "a long time ago," Mmoh remembers it well.

"I'll never forget that match," Mmoh said. "It was the first time I had ever played with a big crowd, and I had two match points, so it was probably one of the toughest losses I've had. That was a great match and I think we'll have another one tomorrow."

The girls finalists have a much more recent encounter, with Kingsley defeating Liu 6-1, 6-3 in the third round of the August Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships in College Park, Md.

Liu earned her rematch with Kingsley by defeating No. 12 seed and reigning 16s Orange Bowl champion Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada 6-2, 6-4.  Robillard-Millette was broken in the first game of each set, while Liu never dropped serve, although she was pushed to deuce often and saved a handful of break points.

"I think I played pretty well," said the 14-year-old from Thousand Oaks, California, who trains with USTA Player Development at Carson. "I played smart and didn't hit the ball harder than her. I just tried to get more balls in and move her."

Liu did admit that the left-hander's serve did pose some problems for her during the match.

"She had a really good slice out wide serve," said Liu, who had not played Robillard-Millette before, but had received some tips from fellow Carson player Kylie McKenzie, who lost to the Canadian Thursday. "She got a lot of free points off that from me."

Liu does not need any scouting reports on Kingsley, nor does she lack for motivation.

"I lost to her last time, so yeah, the next time I definitely want to beat her," Liu said.

Kingsley, who was ill after her three-set quarterfinal win over Kayla Day, said she was still feeling a bit off, but did not let it affect her during her 6-3, 6-0 win over No. 7 seed Michaela Gordon.

"It was there in the match, but I just didn't pay attention to it," the 16-year-old said. "I just focused on the match, not on that."

Kingsley was the first to surrender a break of serve, in the fifth game of the opening set, but that was the last game she lost, as she found her rhythm on her penetrating groundstrokes and began to take control of the points.

"I think I played pretty well, probably my best match of this tournament," said Kingsley, who is now training at the Dent Tennis Academy after many years at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md. "I got off to a bad start, a little slow, but as I picked it up, momentum just carried me. I think she played pretty well; there were a lot of balls coming back."

Kingsley said her focus in the championship match, her second Grade 1 final, will be on her own.

"My plan is just to play my game, do everything right," Kingsley said. "She's just a really good player; she likes to dictate and I have to be ready for that."

Both the girls and boys finals are scheduled for 9:30 on Saturday, with the cool and rainy weather in the forecast possibly forcing the finals indoors as well.

The doubles finals are set after Friday's action, with top seeds Mmoh and Taylor Fritz advancing to the championship match with a 6-1, 6-2 win over unseeded Victor Krustev and Joshua Peck of Canada.  Mmoh, who is the defending doubles champion (with Francis Tiafoe) said he is happy to be in both Saturday finals.

"It's been going really well," Mmoh said of his first time playing with Fritz. "We haven't been in any trouble all week. I think I'm playing really well in the doubles and it's good to play both."

Mmoh and Fritz will play No. 4 seeds Alfredo Perez and Canadian Alejandro Tabilo , who beat No. 2 seeds Tommy Paul and Nathan Ponwith 6-2 6-3.

For the second day in a row, No. 6 seeds Abi Altick and Ellyse Hamlin advanced without hitting a ball. Unseeded Karina Traxler and Claudia Wiktorin gave them a walkover into the final, with Wiktorin unable to compete due to illness.  Altick and Hamlin will play No. 7 seeds Marie-Alexandre Leduc and Robillard-Millette of Canada, who defeated top seeds Renata Zarazua of Mexico and Gordon 6-2, 6-3.

Complete draws can be found at the ITF junior website.


Dazed and Confused said...

Has anyone else lost track of what is going on in college scoring? They changed it so many times I forget what the last decision was. No ad for entire year? For just fall? Is dubs still to 8 games or is it 6? Did scoring change in dubs? Won't this weak havoc on the results and rankings? Colette are you covering any of it or just the college players playing pro events?

Colette Lewis said...

I'm covering it, just not watching it. The fall format is no-ad, singles and doubles. Doubles in ATP/WTA format, with match TB in lieu of third set. Spring dual match format is currently undecided due to tabling of no-ad format by NCAA Championships committee

Will it make anyone choose differently - college or pro? said...

The colleges, D1, all seem to be playing no ad, I can only guess in preparation for spring if it is used. I have spoken to a few college players, and they all seem to hate it. However, they are puzzled as their coaches like it. I am not sure why there is such a disconnect between players and coaches?

Questions... said...

I guess coaches want to shorten their day??? Will results be unpredictable and not based on the best player anymore? Didn't we see this at All-Americans? Was it a fluke that so many stronger players went out or was it no ad? If they changed the game so that the professional best lost some of their edge and wouldn't win based on their talent and fitness that they had spent years developing, wouldn't fans lose interest? Don't they expect the same in college tennis?

Tennis Dad said...

The answer is that college coaches, just like tournament directors of junior tournaments, tend to care A LOT more about what's good for THEM, rather than what's good for the players and kids.

The shorter the better for them because it means they can get their job or tournament done more quickly. That's why almost all tournament directors try to shorten matches every chance they can get: they love no-ad, six or five game sets, match tie-breakers instead of a full third, etc. These shorter matches also mean lower costs for the directors in terms of court time and having to supply less new cans of balls. The players and their parents generally hate all these match shortening schemes because it means way more (and unnecessary) stress and way more often skewed results subject to chance, just like what happened at the All-Americans and the first month of the dual match season last year with those stupid 5 game sets and ridiculous no-ad six game set doubles "matches".

But the tournament directors and coaches could care less. Sad but true. It's not THEIR kids out there, someone else's. If it were their own kids, they would tend to feel a lot differently. Trust me. I've seen some change their policies (and start to show some empathy) when their own kids start participating

Whack job said...

So we change the rules in effort to attract fans (that are unlikely to come, we true tennis fans know that) and we sacrifice the integrity of the game to do this. Agree, All American's whacky results were a result of this ridiculous change and should be recorded with an asterisk.
*no-ad scoring

Tennis Dad is right all around. But I suppose if many of us were offered a way to shorten our work day, we would. College tennis becomes relevant and they do this, wow.

Coach KB said...

Coach Dad,
While I cannot speak for other TD's, I believe your sarcasm is way off base for college coaches. College coaches (at most schools) are NOT in it for the $$$$$, so your comment about them "not caring" and wanting to shorten their day, I believe, is way off base. I am a former college coach, still involved with high performance juniors going on to play college tennis, and I was and am still, against no ad scoring. Your generalization is unfair and without merit! Unless you have spoken to coaches who said "they don't care" and "want to shorten their day?"

Tennis Dad said...

Coach KB- While you are probably correct that college tennis coaches care less about money than the Tournament Directors do, you are dreaming if you think that these coaches have tremendous empathy for the players. They care about their job and about winning much more than they care about the kids.

For example, the "dirty secret" is that the practice of Division I college coaches cutting their players' scholarships from year to year is almost universal. Most parents and players are very naïve and believe that the coach of THEIR kid is a "great guy" who would never do this. They are sadly mistaken.

In fact, not only do coaches regularly cut the scholarship of a player who they deem didn't live up to expectations in terms of performance, but often these coaches actually have the nerve to cut the scholarship of players who actually performed well, if they need extra money to attract a new hot prospect. In other words, a player, for example, who did well his freshman and/or sophmore year, might get his scholarship cut by 50% if the coach needs that money to make a full-ride offer to a top new player that he's trying to recruit. This happens all the time. Scholarship offers are technically only good for one year, so I advise all players and parents to get their scholarship offer in writing for 2 or more years. If the coach, refuses to do this then run for the hills; he's not as "great a guy" as you think, despite the universal coaches' speech where they all claim that they care about their players "like their own sons" and that their goal is to help those players develop not only as tennis players, but to develop "as young men" and "good human beings" which is even more important to them. (Doesn't this sound familiar?). They all give that same speech they've been giving for the past 40 years, but most will cut the kid's scholarship in a heartbeat if the coach thinks it will help his win-loss record and get his team to the NCAA tournament, or a higher ranking.

Bitter much? said...

@Tennis Dad - if cutting or not renewing a scholarship is within the rules why does that make the coach a bad guy?

Reality said...

First, I don't know any tennis coaches that will make an offer for more than a year, the NLI is only good for one. One coach made us a "promise" for 4 years, but it was not binding (and good thing we didn't take it, coach left a year later). They can make promises, but it is not binding. No one wants to tie up money if the player sucks or gets hurt.

I don't think Tennis Dad is bitter, he is speaking the truth, but the problem on the men's side of college tennis is that no one is truthful about the process before you get there. Lies run rampant by insecure parents and players. Until you are part of the college system you don't know the reality. And yes, people refuse to see the reality of where their kid will or will not contribute to the team. And that is the bottom line of a scholarship. Would love to see someone do an expose' on the truth behind men's college tennis so parents are better prepared. And I wish people would stop telling lies about their scholarships. Reality...99% of the time, beyond the #1 player on a team, there are no full rides. You can be the #1 nationally ranked player in the senior class but if you aren't coming in to play at #1 for the team you aren't getting a full ride offer. So to get a full that player has to go to a school well beneath their ability. Less than 1% of college players have a full ride.

Reality..a kid is brought in at 20%, doesn't make the line-up and gets nothing the next year. Happens all the time.

Reality, when a 15-16 year old or their parent says a coach made him full ride offer already, they are just lying to your face.

Tennis Dad is just dealing with the reality of college tennis, and it can be really ugly, especially if your player is questionable in the lineup. And he is right, a great performing kid can get a scholarship reduced or not increased to fund a new (and many times foreign) player, that happens a lot. The best you can do is join a team and earn your way to a better scholarship by moving up the lineup. And hope your kid isn't screwed to bring in the next one, but don't count on it. Not bitterness, just reality you have to deal with in college tennis. Our experience has been great but there are a thousand realities I could share that you won't know till you get there, positive and negative.

Tennis Dad said...

Yes Bitter, it does. It not only makes the coach a bad guy, it makes him a cruel, mercenary, unethical and ruthless guy.

The sentiment of your post is akin to saying: "Hey, there's nothing wrong with doing anything so long as it's not illegal." Is that your ethical standard of behavior, whether something is illegal or not? I'm glad that most people have higher ethical standards than you appear to have.

I think you need to take a course in ethics or perhaps try to buy or beg for a conscience somewhere, because you certainly don't have one nor do you have any empathy.

Moreover, the coaches who do this, never, ever give even a hint to the recruit or his parents that the scholarship could be reduced at any time at the whim of the coach. So, it's also very sneaky and deceptive. 99% of all players decide to go to a college based on the assumption that their scholarship is good for all the years that they go there, because many of them can't otherwise afford the tuition. That's why many need to immediately transfer or quit college as soon as their scholarship is cut.

I suppose that you also have no objection to the many coaches who cut kids' scholarships because they get injured. "Hey, it's within the rules!!" (Insert Sarcasm here).

Joe said...

To be fair, a study needs to be conducted to determine whether or not no-ad scoring had an impact on the results. For starters, look at the deciding game point and count how many times the server lost the game. Another factor rarely mentioned is the number of matches these kids must play in one day. It can be brutal, especially in southern locations with high humidity.

Earn it or lose it said...

Tennis dad, is your kid playing in the lineup? The harsh truth is if not, there is zero dollars. Players have to choose a school where they will solidly play if they want any dollars. And this means regularly in line up, not occasionally playing when it is an easy opponent. Scholarship money is earned, not given. And if injured, player just covered for that year. Ya don't find scholarship players skiing over winter break.

Tennis Parent said...

Reality- Thank you for your thoughtful post. I wanted to inform you, however, that the NCAA now allows schools/coaches to make enforceable scholarship commitments for more than one year. I believe this change in the rules took place about 2 years ago.

Our son transferred from one Divison I school to another Division I school for his final two years of eligibility, and we were able to get a written scholarship commitment covering two years of tuition. The contract was signed by the tennis coach as well as the university's Athletic Director, in case the coach left after one year.

So, all the parents out there should not let these coaches tell them that they can't get commitments for more than one year, and this sort of commitment might be a good bargaining chip if the player is torn between deciding on two separate schools. In other words, if your player is "on the fence" between which school to sign with, I encourage you to ask both schools for a two year scholarship commitment in writing. If one of the schools refuses to do this, then I would sign with the school that does make this commitment.

(To be candid, I don't know if offers for more than two years are enforceable/allowed because our son only had two years of eligibility left, so we didn't bother exploring whether offers for more than two years are allowed.)

No need said...

A study, really? Ask anyone that plays or coaches college tennis if it affects results. They don't need a study to answer that.

Short memories said...

Historically, results have been unpredictable at the men's A-A. This year is no different than past years:

from 2013 men's All-American article:
"After a full day of play, just four of 16 seeds remain, while five qualifiers kept their bids alive."
and from 2012:
"With two rounds of singles play in the books, only five seeded players remain in the main draw at the 2012 ITA Men’s All-American Championships. In fact, of the top five top seeds, only Henrique Cunha of Duke University advanced to the round of 16."

The top three seeds were also out during the first day in 2011. I could go on....

Alex said...

ITA results weren't a fluke...upsets happen at ITAs every year (with or without ADs).

Good to know said...

Didn't realize there was option for longer term scholarships, I have heard of them offering them to football or basketball for longer than one year, didn't know they did it for tennis, I believe it is up to each school, but from what you are saying it has NCAA backing which is good. In our day we could only get a year and coaches word beyond that. My guess is not many coaches will go beyond a year, but a good tool to have in the bag.

Joe said...

No Need, you are a fool... Your opinion means absolutely nada without backing it up with facts. I was at the All American and I can tell you there wasn't much difference between break point percentages playing no-add compared to the previous year where add scoring was in effect. The main difference was in the length of match times.

This tournament will always have upsets since many of the players haven't played a competitive match since their last year's Conference Championships. (That's a Fact Jack)

Ask the professionals said...

Even at unpredictable AAs, when so many no names win, ya have to ask the question. I believe "no need" said to ask the college players and particularly the coaches, I think their opinion would in fact be valid, more so than old guy in stands or poster on blog.

Scott said...

It appears the players don't like it, but the coaches do..
What will be interesting is if this is a factor whether a junior decides to go to college or turn pro. The biggest problem that I see is that beyond tournaments, they also play it at practice, so an aspiring pro is stuck with this reduced format.

Look to the Facebook page said...

I think it would be hard to do an anonymous poll. But, there is a facebook page against the changes. It seems like the only men that can speak up are the ones who graduated.

bitter much said...

@tennis dad. I have plenty of empathy for a lot of things. Tennis scholarships just isn't high on that list. And I guess I just don't have much for a person who whines and cast blanket assertions on an entire profession because of their bad experience.

College tennis is the best said...

I love how college tennis topics just light up this blog versus junior's articles that can go days without a comment. We can at least all agree that college tennis fans are a passionate bunch!

Tennis Dad said...

Bitter- First of all, I think anyone who has read your postings will find it hard to believe that you have "plenty of empathy for a lot of things" especially after your stated defense of all disgusting behavior that it is fine with you so long as it isn't illegal (or it is fine so long as it is "within the rules").

Second, if you don't have any empathy for a poor kid who has to drop out of college because his scholarship was cut (even often for no cause, but because a coach wants to use that money to recruit a new player), then it's hard to imagine that you would have empathy for "plenty of things."

Third, you make an entirely false accusation that I casted "banket accusations against an entire profession," when my complaint was completely limited to certain college coaches who cut players' scholarships, particularly those coaches that cut them even when the player performed well.

Fourth, exposing disgraceful behavior like this is not "whining," it is doing a public service because many players and their parents are not aware of this practice. I would prefer that they don't have to find out about it the hard way.

Fifth, you have incorrectly assumed from the get go that I am bitter and that this bitterness is based upon my own "bad experience." The fact of the matter is that I only have one kid and his scholarship was never reduced. I just know about many other kids who have had this miserable experience, and I have empathy for them. Again, a concept that I think you could learn something about.

Just data, not bitterness said...

If you don't have a kid in college tennis and haven't played in college yourself, this is no way you can have any understanding of the process. It is an exclusive club. Calling a person bitter or other broader terms simply for pointing out an aspect of the system just shows a limited knowledge (or none) of the college tennis system. Rather than discuss it, Tennis Dad is called bitter. I wonder if angry posters either didn't achieve what they wanted to or have kids that didn't achieve what they wanted, so they attack people with kids in college tennis? Tennis Dad could have gone on to say that frequently the strong performing scholarship players have their funds cut to give foreign players more money even when they don't play higher in the lineup. Saying that does't make me bitter either, it is just how it is. Going in to the process with info and background is better than not.

get real said...

I agree with a lot of the observations on this thread. I have several friends whose sons played/play college tennis and experiences range from horrible (coaches jacking around scholarship money for top players to sub-par practices) to really great memorable experiences. Like anything in life, much depends on the head coach and it seems that before committing to a D-1 program parents and players should do as much vetting as possible. There are reasons why some program lose recruits, or have a tough time getting top recruits.

bitter much said...

Sorry, I must have misread these sentences from your first post. To me that read as a "blanket" assertion. Must have missed where you had "some" or "a few" in there. Same goes for your second post. My bad.

"The answer is that college coaches, just like tournament directors of junior tournaments, tend to care A LOT more about what's good for THEM, rather than what's good for the players and kids....

...But the tournament directors and coaches could care less. Sad but true."

And honestly if you did not have a son affected by this I think it's odd you are so fired up about this. I can barely get that fired up over things that matter a lot more than tennis.

Tennis Dad said...

Bitter- I appreciate your apology.

However, I couldn't resist responding to the last comment of your post.

You wrote:

"And honestly if you did not have a son affected by this I think it's odd you are so fired up about this. I can barely get that fired up over things that matter a lot more than tennis."

More evidence that empathy was never your strong suit.

bitter much said...

@tennis dad ...Wow, you really love that word "empathy" .... If only you knew ... We all have our passions, mine just isn't % changes in tennis scholarships. Not sure that makes me that unusual. Actually I think it makes me pretty normal. I have high levels of empathy for the poor, those in failing health or with disabilities, victims of crimes, your neighbors, it goes on and on and is actually a pretty long list. But athletic scholarships just aren't that high on it. Guess that makes me a horrible person. For your next comment can you humor me and use a new word "sympathy" or "pity" or "appreciation"??? Please.....

Here's some more said...

You failed to mention the starving, the homeless and many more with your holier-than-thou post. But dude, if you don't care, why bother posting on a tennis blog at all. We are here to talk about tennis, not social issues, there are other forums for that, check them out.

If you don't have any passion for the college tennis topics here, move on. Let people that know this stuff discuss it.


bitter much said...

@here's some more. Look at the chain. It all started with me asking a tennis related question. And the response was a tirade then ended with implying I was an unethical and heartless person. Don't worry I won't be back on this blog. Too many wackos

Tennis Dad said...

Bitter- How can you not comprehend that the subject of TENNIS coaches cutting the existing scholarships of TENNIS players, especially when those players performed well, IS very much a tennis subject? It is SQUARELY on subject. This is not some off-topic "social" issue, as you describe it.

Based on your most recent post, you have exposed an additional shortcoming. Not only do you appear to lack empathy for college tennis players who get their scholarship money cut and might have to leave college, but you could also use some improvement of your reading comprehension skills.

get real said...

Hey there, let’s take a deep breath. Name calling, backhanded comments, grammar lessons, social injustice commentary, WOW, give me break. It’s no secret some college coaches can be real scumbags.The problem starts with 4.5 scholarships and some coaches doing whatever it takes to recruit the next class. Other college coaches are just sub-par, can’t recruit and a waste of time to play for. The bottom line, some programs are phenomena, others pretty darn good. Both parents and players need to vet the program and go with one that is both proven and the coach well respected. Women’s tennis with 8 full scholarships is a different dynamic. Men’s tennis recruiting is a buyer beware process and as long as there are only 4.5 scholarships that wont change.

4.5 is harsh said...

I wrote the first post by asking about a refresher on the scoring for college matches and went away for a bit after Colette's reply. Whoa, what the heck happened here? :)

Men's college tennis is just so complicated and sometimes nasty, and yes, a lot due to the 4.5. If you have been a pretty average/regular junior player (no insult intended, truly) that's just excited to play in college at all, it can be relatively smooth. But if you are a junior that has battled to get yourself toward the top of the heap and attend a top ranked, say 20ish school (give or take) there are some harsh realities that ya have to deal with reserved only for that world. More brutal in the top 10. While it can be an awesome ride, the investment to get there, financially, emotionally, family sacrifices, etc., cannot be underestimated. And unless you are in that world, it is hard to understand or empathize with it, many may find a lot of it superfluous. There's a lot of hopes and dreams still very much alive and very fragile when you are an athlete in the big time and big game world of college or pros in any sport. There are highs and lows and ya can't fault people for reacting to them, they are happening to their kid, who is still their kid, even in college. I think it would be great if people shared more of the process, peacefully and without harsh judgment, which may simply be impossible in a comment section of a blog.