Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fritz Beats Top Seed Novikov in LA Futures; UCLA, USC, Elbaba and Stiefelmeyer Top First ITA Rankings of 2015

Teenagers were the story of the first round at the two USTA Pro Circuit Futures, with Taylor Fritz, Stefan Kozlov, Deiton Baughman and Thai Kwiatkowski claiming victories in Los Angeles and Plantation.

Fritz, a wild card into the new $15,000 Futures on the USC campus, defeated top seed, 2012 Kalamazoo champion and former UCLA No. 1 Dennis Novikov 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-5, and a better start to the year for the 17-year-old is hard to imagine.  Despite all the aces struck in the nearly three-hour match--13 for Fritz and 12 for Novikov--breaks were frequent in the final set.  Up a break at 3-2, Fritz was broken, but he broke Novikov, who missed an easy short forehand at 30-40, to take a 5-4 lead.  Serving for the match, Fritz didn't get a first serve in until he was down 0-40, and his fourth netted backhand of the game gave Novikov new life.  The 21-year-old Novikov, who just reached the ATP Top 300, then double faulted at 30-all and Fritz converted the break point with a great lob and a down-the-line backhand winner to get a second chance to serve for the match.

He double faulted to open the game, but hit a key forehand volley winner at 15-30 and converted his first match point with a service winner.

Sixteen-year-old Stefan Kozlov won his opening match in LA in much less dramatic fashion, taking out No. 7 seed Joshua Milton of Great Britain 6-1, 6-0 in less than an hour.

Other first round winners in LA included 2012 NCAA finalist Eric Quigley(Kentucky), Kyle McMorrow(Washington), Clay Thompson(UCLA) and USC senior Eric Johnson.

At the $10,000 event in Plantation, Virginia sophomore Thai Kwiatkowski,  a qualifier, defeated former Princeton All-American Matija Pecotic 6-3, 6-3, and 18-year-old wild card Deiton Baughman beat Kaichi Uchida of Japan 7-6(0), 6-1.

The ITA released the first team and individual rankings of 2015 today, and as is customary, the NCAA champion UCLA women and USC men are at No. 1.

The Top 10 men's teams:
2 Oklahoma
3 Virginia
5 Ohio State
T6 Baylor
T6 North Carolina
8 Georgia
9 Texas
10 Texas A&M

The Top 10 women's teams:
2 Duke
3 Florida
4 North Carolina
5 Geogia
6 Virginia
7 California
T8 Alabama
T8 Stanford
10 Texas A&M

Unlike the team rankings, which are done early in the year via polls, the individual rankings are calculated by computer based on fall results.

The Top 10 women:
1 Julia Elbaba, Virginia
2 Robin Anderson, UCLA
3 Chanelle Van Nguyen, UCLA
4 Carol Zhao, Stanford
5 Maegan Manasse, California
6 Brooke Austin, Florida
7 Stephanie Wagner, Miami
8 Jamie Loeb, North Carolina
9 Josie Kuhlman, Florida
10 Viktoriya Lushkova,  Oklahoma State

The Top 10 men:
1 Sebastian Stiefelmeyer, Louisville
2 Brayden Schnur, North Carolina
3 Yannick Hanfmann, Southern Cal
4 Thai Kwiatkowski, Virginia
5 Julian Lenz, Baylor
6 Ryan Shane, Virginia
7 Mackenzie McDonald, UCLA
8 Jonny Wang, Southern Cal
9 Dominik Koepfer, Tulane
10 Gonzales Austin, Vanderbilt

The top-ranked men's doubles team is Roberto Quiroz and Hanfmann of Southern Cal, with the top-ranked women's doubles team Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips of UCLA.

Complete rankings can be found at the ITA rankings page.

Today at the Christmas Cup in Moscow, three of the four US players defeated seeds to advance to the round of 16.  Kacie Harvey beat No. 16 seed Ekaterina Vinnik of Russia 6-1, 6-4 to set up a third round encounter with top seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia. William Grant beat No. 3 seed Danil Spasibo of Russia 6-3, 6-3 and Natasha Subhash beat No. 5 seed Zeynep Ozturk of Turkey 6-4, 6-2. Both US teams also won their first round doubles matches.  For complete results, see the Tennis Europe tournament site.