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Friday, February 27, 2015

My Conversation with Michael Joyce; All-American Final in Argentina Grade 2; Bellis into $25K Semis; Women's D-III Team Indoor Championships Underway

It's been a brutal winter here in Michigan, but I am so glad I stuck with my plan to go to the Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, despite yet another snowstorm. I had an opportunity to talk at length with Sachia Vickery, Sara Daavettila, Lauren Embree, Caroline Dolehide, but my longest conversation was with Michael Joyce, the former Kalamazoo 18s champion, who coached Maria Sharapova and is now working with Jessica Pegula.   I know very little about coaching at the ATP/WTA Tour level, so I had a lot of questions, which Joyce invariably answered candidly and in detail. In Part 1 of my interview with Joyce for the Tennis Recruiting Network, we talked about how he began working with Sharapova, what he felt when they ended their collaboration, and his decision to continue coaching, this time with Pegula. He also makes interesting points about the role a coach and lessons have in developing a good player.  Part 2 will appear Saturday, with Joyce addressing the USTA, its place in American tennis, his father's influence and the famous Esquire magazine article about him by David Foster Wallace.

Ryan Harrison scored another big upset last night in Acapulco, beating Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 4-6, 7-6(0), 7-6(4), despite never breaking the No. 6 seed's serve.  Ravi Ubha talked with Harrison recently for this revealing tennis.com article about his struggles the past several years and his optimism now after reuniting with Grant Doyle as his coach.

At the ITF Grade 2 in Argentina, it will be top seed Ulises Blanch facing No. 5 seed Nathan Ponwith in the all-American boys final.  Blanch defeated No. 8 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia 7-6(2), 7-5 in today's semifinals, and Ponwith beat No. 2 seed Manuel Pena Lopez of Argentina 6-2, 7-5.  Ponwith has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

In the girls final, Orange Bowl 16s champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada, who won the Grade 2 in Bolivia earlier this month, will play Julieta Estable of Argentina.  The top-seeded Estable came back to defeat No. 11 seed Sofia Sewing 1-6, 7-5, 7-5, while No. 4 seed Andreescu beat No. 2 seed Chihiro Muramatsu of Japan 2-6, 6-1, 7-5.

At the ITF Grade 4 in Oslo, qualifier Roscoe Bellamy defeated Sebastian Mermersky 7-6(12), 7-5 to reach the final, where he'll play fellow 15-year-old Maxwell Broville of France, who is unseeded.

CiCi Bellis has reached the semifinals of the $25,000 women's tournament in Rancho Santa Fe, where she'll play 18-year-old Ipek Soylu of Turkey. Bellis, seeded sixth, advanced when top seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain retired trailing 5-3 in the first set.  Soylu defeated No. 3 seed Indy de Vroome of the Netherlands 7-5, 4-6, 6-2. Soylu is one of those players who seems to perform better in professional events than in the juniors. She has a 299 WTA ranking, but won only one match in the two junior slams she played last year. This year she has already posted 13 wins (including qualifying) in the five $25,000 tournaments she's played.

Maria Sanchez and Sanaz Marand will meet in the other semifinal, after both won tough quarterfinals today.  Sanchez, seeded fourth, outlasted Mayo Hibi of Japan 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-0, while Marand, a finalist last week in Surprise, beat Bernarda Pera 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(5).

At the men's Futures in Sunrise, Jean-Yves Aubone is the sole American to reach the semifinals. The unseeded Aubone defeated Dennis Uspensky 6-4, 6-3 and will play No. 7 seed Thales Turini of Brazil Saturday.  It was an all-Brazil doubles final today, with Rafael Matos and Joao Menezes defeating Turini and Bruno Sant'anna 7-5, 2-6, 10-5.

The Division III Women's Team Indoor Championships hosted by Depauw are underway, with Johns Hopkins the top seed and two-time defending champion. No. 2 seed Carnegie Mellon, No. 3 seed Washington-St. Louis and No. 5 seed University of Chicago have reached the semifinals after today's first round.   The Tennis Recruiting Network's preview is available here.