Heart Surgery for Oudin; Eddie Herr Acceptances; Rafter Named Australia's Director of Performance; Falconi, Min, Brady Win in Captiva $50K; Top Seed Out in SC ITF
Melanie Oudin announced on twitter today that she was undergoing heart surgery Thursday, and according to this article from the Associated Press, the procedure is required due to an arrhythmia she had been noticing for more than a year. Last year at this time she was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a muscle condition, and that kept her out until the middle of March. Oudin also said she needs surgery on her eye in the coming weeks, and is understandably eager "for 2014 to be over."
The acceptances for the Eddie Herr ITF event were released today, with World No. 1 Shilin Xu of China and No. 2 CiCi Bellis both entered. Other US girls in the Grade 1 event, now played on clay, are Raveena Kingsley, Usue Arconada, Sonya Kenin, Dasha Ivanova, Michaela Gordon, Jessica Ho, Mia Horvit and Madison Bourguignon. As with the Orange Bowl, Tornado Alicia Black is not entered.
Because there are four tournaments in consecutive weeks--Abierto Juvenil(A), Yucatan(1), Eddie Herr(1) and Orange Bowl(A)--most top players are taking at least one week off during that stretch. Michael Mmoh is playing the Eddie Herr because he trains at the Bolettieri Academy and skipping the Yucatan with Bellis also not playing the Mexican Grade 1, while Taylor Fritz and world No. 1 Andrey Rublev are not playing Eddie Herr. A quick glance over the four entry lists shows the only top player entered in all four is US Open girls champion Maria Boukzova of the Czech Republic.
In addition to Michael Mmoh, other US boys accepted into the main draw are: Alex Rybakov, Henrik Wiersholm, Dennis Uspensky, Sameer Kumar, Reilly Opelka, William Blumberg, Kalman Boyd, Ulises Blanch and Tommy Paul. As with the Orange Bowl, Francis Tiafoe is not entered.
The acceptance lists for the 12s, 14s and 16s were published previously and they can be found at the tournament website. I will be providing my annual previews of the tournament for the Tennis Recruiting Network just after Thanksgiving.
Tennis Australia has named Patrick Rafter as its Director of Performance, a position similar to the USTA's General Manager of Player Development. Rafter, who is currently the Austalian Davis Cup captain, will start in February, after the Austalian Open is complete. For more from Rafter and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley, see this article.
At the $50,000 Pro Circuit women's event in Florida, Irina Falconi, Grace Min and Jennifer Brady all kept their hopes for the USTA Australian Open wild card alive with first round wins. CiCi Bellis saw her Pro Circuit win streak end at 10 however, as she fell to Tatjana Maria of Germany 7-6(3), 6-4. I watched most of the match on the USTA's livestream, (it is available in the archives) and was impressed with Maria's variety. She moved forward often, sliced and hit drop shots, lobbed and volleyed and generally made it difficult for Bellis to know what was coming next. It also appeared that Bellis was trying out a new service motion, although it may not be new this week, since I didn't see any of her previous matches in the South Carolina $25Ks.
In the Knoxville Challenger, former Tennessee Volunteer Tennys Sandgren picked up a big win, taking out No. 4 seed and 2013 NCAA champion Blaz Rola of Slovenia 7-6(4), 6-3. Michael Russell(6) and Denis Kudla(8) were the only other Americans to win first round matches today.
In the first round of doubles, NCAA champions Hunter Reese and Mikelis Libietis gave the Tennessee fans plenty to cheer about, defeating No. 2 seeds Kevin King and Juan Spir 7-6(5), 4-6, 11-9. King and Spir saved three match points down 9-6, but Reese and Libietis kept calm and took the fourth. Reese and Libietis are missing the ITA Indoor, which begins tomorrow morning, so a win tonight certainly makes that choice less painful.
In the men's Birmingham Futures, Reilly Opelka and Deiton Baughman advanced to the second round, with Opelka meeting Alex Rybakov Thursday and Baughman getting qualifier Julio Peralta of Chile, who advanced when No. 2 seed Connor Smith retired trailing 6-3, 4-1. Ole Miss junior Stefan Lindmark, a qualifier, beat Spencer Papa 7-5, 6-2.
At the ITF Grade 4 in South Carolina, 15-year-old William Howells, who won the Atlanta ITF doubles title last week and therefore earned a special exemption into the main draw this week, defeated top seed Emil Reinberg 7-6(5), 6-4 in the second round. No. 2 seed Mert Zincirli of Turkey had lost to Dennis Afanasev in the first round. Both top seeds in the girls draw have advanced to the third round, with No. 1 seed Jade Lewis of New Zealand winning today in three sets and No. 2 seed Kayla Day getting through in straight sets.