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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

December Aces; Ponwith Upsets Nguyen at LA Futures; Kirberg Ousts Top Seed at Grade 1 Coffee Bowl, Seven US Girls in Quarterfinals

If you need a quick review of everything that happened last month at the Eddie Herr, Metropolia Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl, have a look at my December Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network, which features those 14 champions (two players collected two titles in that stretch).

There is only one non-teenager in that article, and the theme persists into January, with teens continuing to shine at the Futures tournaments this week.

A day after wild card Taylor Fritz beat top seed Dennis Novikov at the $15,000 Futures in Los Angeles, 16-year-old qualifier Nathan Ponwith defeated No. 2 seed Daniel Nguyen 0-6, 6-4, 6-0, after losing the first nine games of the match.  Ponwith, who lost in the first round of the Yucatan Cup, the Eddie Herr and the Orange Bowl to close out 2014, had reached the quarterfinals of a Mexican $10,000 Futures last summer; this is his first main draw Futures win since then.  Nineteen-year-old Mackenzie McDonald, a sophomore at UCLA, also collected a first round win, beating USC senior Yannick Hanfmann, a wild card, 7-6(4), 6-2, to set up a second round encounter with Fritz Thursday.

At the $10,000 Plantation Futures, two University of Illinois freshmen, Aron Hiltzik and Aleks Vukic of Australia, both qualifiers, also won first round matches today. Hiltzik advanced when Daniel Garza of Mexico retired trailing 4-1, and Vukic defeated 17-year-old qualifier Jaime Fermosell of Spain 6-0, 6-1.

At the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica, unseeded 17-year-old Sami Kirberg defeated top seed Sora Fukuda of Japan 6-4, 7-6(8)  to reach the quarterfinals. It is Kirberg's first quarterfinal appearance at a Grade 1. Unseeded Michael Genender and No. 4 seed Ulises Blanch also advanced to the quarterfinals, with No. 7 seed Emil Reinberg playing his third round match tonight.

Seven of the eight girls in the quarterfinals are from the US, and three American semifinalists are assured.  Sonya Kenin(1) plays Claire Liu(8), Michaela Gordon(4) faces Jaclyn Switkes, and Olivia Hauger(6) meets Gabby Pollner(13).  No. 2 seed Usue Arconada is the only US girl facing an international player when she takes on No. 5 seed Emily Arbuthnott of Great Britain.

At the Tennis Europe 14-and-under Christmas Cup in Russia, unseeded Natasha Subhash has reached the quarterfinals, defeating No. 9 seed Ksenia Domnina of Russia 4-6, 6-0, 6-1. She will play No. 3 seed Tatsya Pachkaleva of Russia in the quarterfinals.  Subhash and Kacie Harvey, who lost in singles to top seed Anastasia Potapova 7-6(4), 6-0 today, have advanced to the doubles quarterfinals, beating the No. 2 seeds in the second round today.  See the Tennis Europe tournament site for complete draws.