Sponsored by IMG Academy

Monday, January 19, 2015

ITF Announces Field for April's Junior Masters; 18 Americans in Action at Australian Open; Other News and Notes

The ITF today announced the fields for its new April competition in China, the Junior Masters.  As I mentioned in my annual Intriguing Questions column for the Tennis Recruiting Network last week, there didn't seem to be a clamor to participate by the top juniors, but the ITF did receive commitments from World Junior champion Andrey Rublev of Russia and No. 2 Shilin Xu of China.  Reserved for the top eight players in the ITF year-end rankings, the ITF only had to reach to No. 13 to fill those draws, with Gabby Ruse of Romania and Marcelo Zormann of Brazil the last two players in. Zormann is the only one of the 16 players no longer eligible to compete in the ITF juniors--he turns 19 in June.

CiCi Bellis, the ITF girls World Junior champion, is not playing, nor is Stefan Kozlov.  The US will be represented by Taylor Fritz and Michael Mmoh.

The ITF also mentioned in this announcement that it has received commitments for wild cards for the winners, but all commitments are for Challenger level or below.  Matches will be live streamed.

Andrey Rublev, Russia
Orlando Luz, Brazil
Jaume Munar, Spain
Taylor Fritz, USA
Yunseong Chung, Korea
Michael Mmoh, USA
Duckhee Lee, Korea
Marcelo Zormann, Brazil

Shilin Xu, China
Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia
Iryna Shymanovich, Belarus
Jil Teichmann, Switzerland
Kristina Schmiedlova, Slovakia
Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, Spain
Marketa Vondrousova, Czech Republic
Gabby Ruse, Romania

Six Americans kicked off play in Australia last night, with three of them--qualifier Tim Smyczek, Christina McHale and Bethanie Mattek-Sands posting victories. McHale's 12-10 in the third win over qualifier Stephanie Foretz of France was especially notable, given her oncourt vomiting at 4-4 in the third.

That leaves 18 Americans on tonight's schedule, including two in high profile matches, with Sloane Stephens facing two-time women's champion Victoria Azarenka and Taylor Townsend meeting No. 8 seed Caroline Wozniacki.  The order of play is available at the tournament website.

At the Nike International Junior Teen Tennis in Bolton, all three seeded US girls advanced, with Amanda Anisimova(8), Caty McNally(2) and Tyra Hurricane Black(14) reaching the third round with straight set wins.  Whitney Osuigwe lost to No. 7 seed Paula Joukanen of Finland 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.  Two of the US boys who lost went out to the top two seeds, with Andrew Puscas losing to No. 1 Jack Draper of Great Britain and Leighton Allen falling to No. 2 seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria. Nathan Han(12) and Cannon Kingsley(16) won their matches, but No. 8 seed Govind Nanda lost.  Qualifier William Grant beat the No. 7 seed, and wild card Anton Matusevich defeated the No. 4 seed, giving the US four boys in the final 16.

Complete draws are here.

Qualifying is complete at the $10,000 Weston Futures, with 18-year-old Dennis Uspensky and 17-year-old Reilly Opelka the two American qualifiers.  Opelka defeated former Georgia star Wil Spencer, who had won his first Futures title last November after a lengthy hiatus, 6-2, 6-3 in the final round of qualifying today.  The final round of qualifying will be played Tuesday at the $25,000 women's event in Daytona Beach, but the draw is out. Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal is again the top seed. Plantation champion Sachia Vickery has drawn wild card Katerina Stewart, and CiCi Bellis will play Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands in the first round. Plantation finalist Samantha Crawford received a special exemption into the main draw and will play a qualifier.

Photo of associate coach Kwinta and Quiroz via USC's twitter account
A few notes from college tennis.  Roberto Quiroz of Southern California won the Sherwood Cup, a prestigious individual tournament in California prior to the start of the dual match season. The field was strengthened this year by the addition of Baylor, including Julian Lenz, fresh from his Futures final in Plantation two weeks ago.  Lenz lost to UCLA's Dennis Mkrtchian in the semifinals, while Quiroz beat teammate Jonny Wang.  Quiroz downed Mkrtchian 6-2, 6-0 in today's final. Stanford's Tom Fawcett and Maciek Romanowicz won the doubles title, beating Quiroz and Max de Vroome 6-4.  Complete results can be found here.

Those speculating on the future of Jennifer Brady now have all the evidence they need that she is indeed back competing on the collegiate level this spring. Brady, currently 217 in the WTA rankings, won the Freeman Memorial tournament in Las Vegas, beating Giuliana Olmos of Southern Cal 7-6, 0-6, 7-5.  Kyle McPhillips of UCLA won the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Palm Springs, beating Lorraine Guillermo of Pepperdine 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

In dual match action, the second-ranked Duke women survived 4-3 against William and Mary Sunday, and today, the No. 12 Duke men defeated No. 18 Kentucky 5-2 in Lexington. No. 14 Notre Dame had beaten Kentucky 4-3 on Saturday.

The No. 34 Northwestern men defeated No. 19 Vanderbilt 4-3 in Nashville Sunday, and No. 15 ranked Baylor defeated No. 5 Georgia 4-3 in Waco Sunday.

The ITA has announced the hiring of a search firm to fill its Executive Director's position now that David Benjamin has set a July date for his retirement.  The release, with link to the job description, is here.

The Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland has announced a partnership with former ATP star and now coach Brian Gottfried and the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida. For more on the partnership between the JTCC and the college prep school, see the school's website.  The JTCC has also recently announced a partnership with Wilson.


tennismom said...

Colette, Having watched several college matches now, it seems obvious hooking on deciding point is now a part of the game, particularly when the host school does not provide a chair ref on each court. With the new shortened format, why hasn't the ITA mandated that host schools provide a ref on each court? Junior tennis just moved to the collegiate level with the endorsement of the ITA!

Can't accept it said...

Seeing a championship doubles match score as 6-4....Wow with no ad that must have been a a big 10 minute championship battle. What they have done to this game is so sad. Just when college tennis was strongly becoming relevant to going pro, they just ripped it apart.

College Official said...

I had the unfortunately duties of working a Women's Div I college match yesterday and the no-add deciding doubles took 50 minutes to play. I would have preferred the match to be 10 minutes since the tennis was so inept. It's getting ridiculous how bad Women's college tennis is getting. I don't know if it's the case of Title IX is forcing girls that couldn't make their high school team compete, or Women's tennis is just that bad.

Really? said...

@Colette - is there any way to zero in on what matches were played yesterday, which one @college official may have worked? Can you imagine an official in any other sport making the same comments? So unprofessional.

It is true said...

I don't see that comment as unprofessional particularly because it is true. Title IX requires schools to scrape the barrel to get female players, the ability level is barely high school on some teams - look at the recruiting..one and two stars are getting full rides, how ridiculous is that? A junior boy can be blue chip and can't even get a full ride. Look at the horrible shape a lot of the pro women are in - soft and overweight and slow. Many girls at the entry level pro events shouldn't be there, pulling down the level all around. It is embarrassing. It is just that bad. Nothing wrong with saying it.

It's worse than you think said...

I wholeheartedly agree that women's Division 1 tennis is way below the level one would expect. The quality of tennis is sub par and, at times, difficult to watch, even at the higher levels of the game (NCAA tourney, National Indoors, etc.). Forget about a league match between two mediocre teams from a mediocre conference . . .

By the way, women's collegiate squash is even worse!

fan said...

to College official] Wow, 10 minutes!! I'm sure you would LOVE to umpire that USTA match day format 10 pts dbls which was done last year. How was the SINGLES, by the way? Any better than the doubles level? Lol.
I've watched both elite tennis men and women programs, and frankly don't think there's a lot of difference in level.

College Official said...

The singles was almost as bad. I got to see lots of moon balls and the points were excruciating to sit through. The teams would have been much better off (from an officials perspective) to only require roving. At least that way we officials could stay awake. The 12 people in the stands (i.e., 6 extra players, 1 trainer, 1 SID, and 4 spectators) were having a difficult time sitting this one out as well.

jj said...

Well you obviously weren't at the UGA versus Baylor (women) weekend match that came down to a thrilling third set, deciding match. It lasted four hours plus, and was very exciting.

Last I looked, I didn't see too many one or two stars going to USC, UCLA, or DUKE, much less Baylor or UGA.

Schnitzel said...

How many of the Baylor players sprecken English? My guess, not many.

fan said...

You obviously haven't followed BU: 5 of 9 are Americans. And of course the foreigners speak English as well, how else can they attend college. Anyway those whining about women college tennis are pathetic. If you have a problem with title IX, blame the lawmakers or men football and basketball lol. It's not like men college tennis is a vastly superior product.

Standards way lower for girls said...

BU men's team has two Americans, surprising they have any, women's have 5. That is cause American's know they don't want to live in Waco. Men's college tennis is so much better. In the top teams it is great tennis. Except in the tippy top tier, women's is painful to sit through, unless of course you are the parent. Go to a match of teams ranked 20-30ish...ugh, like watching paint dry. I know girls picking up a racquet at 15/in high school for the first time cause they find out scholarships are given like candy to girls. Sad indeed, whatever is to blame.

Frederico said...

Baylor Men have two Americans on their team, not because they will ever play in an actual match, but so Baylor can improve upon their academics. One is a SENIOR who has NEVER stepped on court to play a team match, and the other looks to be their new Freshman water boy. Just sayin'

And now you know why American tennis is a disgrace. said...

Some of the women's tennis is a disgrace. Overweight, out of of shape young women who look like they don't give a s-it. But, why is that their fault when the schools have to fund a team, and it is fully funded. It's like walking by a 100 dollar bill in the middle of the night on a deserted street, you tend to pick it up and that is what these women are doing... taking advantage of a good situation. Not their fault for taking advantage of Title 9.

However, less and less American parents of boys are willing to pay for tennis lessons as the sport is very expensive and very little payback at college time. It is a strange case of supply and demand when the law gets involved.

Where are the governing tennis bodies though? Maybe someone should stop spending their salary at the USTA on a new home and wake up to the sad state of American tennis.

Some corrections noted said...

The freshman American on Baylor is a standout tennis player. Probably better than the foreigners on the team. The senior American was brought in for his GPA, not tennis.

The real problem for Americans is that when you are on a Foreign tennis team ( meaning all the players are not from this country) the issue is no one speaks English on the team.

And I don't want to hear the bs that the teammates speak English bc they don't. My son played on such a team, and he learned a lot of new phrases, but they were not English.

playing it said...

I get that college is for learning and the new scoring system speeds up the game to create more time for studying, but its not good for tennis. Players need to get a say here as we are ones playing.

How about this said...

Simple answer. Mens sports fund mens sports and womens sports fund womens sports. That seems fair.

jj said...

I guess you must be really watching the low levels of D1 tennis. The high levels have competitors who started very young (certainly not age 15!!), succeeded well in national tournaments, and now are competing against each other in college. How do I know this? Because they were the same kids that mine played against away back when at 12's Zonals and National Opens. They practice almost every day from age 8 to 18.

Meanwhile, if you think you are so superior, go watch 'top adults' play at any club. Most of these college kids play better than them and their overweight,funny forms/slices/odd shots.

fan said...

to some correction noted] The players don't speak English? What, so they communicate via sign language or Esperanto? Of course your son learned foreign phrases from foreign players, what else? Should he learn English phrases from them? lol.
I've talked with some foreign players, men and women, and they are all pretty articulate in English, had no problem communicating with them. Why, they probably know more languages than you or me!

fan said...

If men tennis is so much better than women as some of you guys here maintain, maybe foreign players contribute to it to a significant extent. Who knows the level might plummet if restrictions are applied? Why else coaches recruit them? You can't have it both ways, guys! ;)

Men's tennis continues down the drain.... said...

Of course foreign players add some talent, but also take away the few scholarships offered on the men's side. Over time less and less American boys will be playing tennis going forward since there are so few rewards in doing so. So yes, the talent here will keep draining. And for some reason the USTA is the only one that can't see that.

Women's tennis is already at such a low level and drained of talent, even with all the incentives to play, that mystifies me.