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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Roland Garros Junior Acceptances; More Conference Honors Announced; Kuhle Retires from Western Michigan

The acceptances for the Roland Garros junior championships were released by the ITF today, with eight US boys and 10 US girls receiving places in the main draw.

As customary at the French, the initial cutoffs are high: 45 for the boys and 49 for the girls. ITF Junior No. 1 Andrey Rublev of Russia, who won the French boys title last year, is one of three Top 10 boys not in the draw, with Stefan Kozlov and Roman Safiullin of Russia the other two. The only other player in the Top 45 not entered is Omar Jasika of Australia, which means the boys absentees are all junior slam winners (Safiullin 15 Australian, Jasika 14 US Open) or a finalist, with Kozlov making two last year.

The US boys received direct entry are Taylor Fritz, Michael Mmoh, William Blumberg, Reilly Opelka, Ulises Blanch, Alex Rybakov, Nathan Ponwith and Tommy Paul.  Emil Reinberg is the only US boys in qualifying.

Paul is one of four boys receiving entry based on their ATP rankings, an unusually high number.  The ITF requires an ATP ranking of 750 for direct entry for the boys and Theo Fournerie of France(488), Viktor Durasovic of Norway(498), Paul (596) and Juan Pablo Ficovich of Argentina(668) all met that criteria with room to spare.

Aziz Dougaz of Tunisia received main draw entry due to an exemption the ITF gives to the highest ranked player in a continent otherwise not represented, if they are ranked in the Top 80.  Dougaz is 64.

In the girls draw, ITF world No. 1 Shilin Xu, who has not yet won a junior slam, is entered, but five of the top 20 are not, including No. 2
Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus, No. 5 Darya Kasatkina of Russia, the defending champion and three other junior slam winners or finalists: No. 13 Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine (US Open 14), No. 14 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia (Wimbledon 14 champion) and No. 20 Kristina Schmiedlova of Slovakia (Wimbledon 14 finalist).  Current US Open champion Maria Bouzkova of the Czech Republic is entered, as is Australian Open champion Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia.

The US girls in the main draw are CiCi Bellis, Usue Arconada, Sonya Kenin, Michaela Gordon, Raveena Kingsley, Caroline Dolehide, Francesca DiLorenzo, Ingrid Neel, Claire Liu and Katerina Stewart. Kayla Day and Tornado Alicia Black are in qualifying and Alexandra Sanford is the first alternate.

Stewart is one of four girls who received entry based on their WTA ranking, which must be 400 or better. Stewart at 201, and currently in the thick of the race for the USTA's French Open main draw wild card, has the highest ranking, with Paula Badosa Gibert of Spain at 304, Fiona Ferro of France at 321 and Nadia Podoroska of Argentina at 372.

The US juniors in the upcoming Grade A Italian Open in Milan are less numerous, at least in the main draw, although there are quite a few in qualifying.  Fritz, Blumberg, Blanch and Ponwith are in the boys main draw, with Gordon, DiLorenzo, Liu and Sanford in the girls main draw.

More conference honors have been released, and I just discovered I'd missed the Big Ten announcements the past two weeks.  Michigan's Emina Bektas was the women's Player of the Year for the second year in a row, Northwestern's Erin Larner was Freshman of the Year and Melissa Schaub was named Coach of the Year.  Minnesota's Leandro Toledo was men's Player of the Year, Mikael Torpegaard of Ohio State Freshman of the Year and Minnesota's Geoff Young was named Coach of the Year.

The Pac-12 women's announcement came out yesterday, with UCLA's Robin Anderson named Player of the Year for the second straight year. Madison Westby of USC was selected as Freshman/Newcomer of the year, and USC's Richard Gallien was named Coach of the Year. The Pac-12 names a doubles team of the year, with Stanford's Carol Zhao and Taylor Davidson receiving that award.

The Big 12's release came today, and there was a lot of sharing.
Oklahoma's Axel Alvarez was named men's Player of the Year. Oklahoma's John Roddick and TCU's David Roditi shared Coach of the Year honors. TCU's Guillermo Nunez was named Freshman of the Year and Max Tchoutakian of Baylor and Florin Bragusi of Oklahoma were shared the Newcomer of the Year award.

Ema Burgic of Baylor and Viktoriya Lushkova of Oklahoma State shared Player of the Year honors for the women.  Baylor's Joey Scrivano was named Coach of the Year, Kelsey Laurente of Oklahoma State was Newcomer of the year and Lily Miyazaki of Oklahoma and Gabriela Talaba of Texas Tech shared the Freshman of the Year award.

I had neglected to mention earlier that Betsy Kuhle, the women's coach at Western Michigan University here in Kalamazoo, has announced her retirement.  Assistant Ryan Tomlinson will succeed Kuhle, who had a huge impact on the tennis community of Kalamazoo, far beyond her contributions to the University's athletic success.  Kuhle was recently named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in her final season leading the Broncos.


New ITA head? said...

Any news on next Exec Director for ITA?