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Thursday, June 4, 2015

US Boys Mmoh, Fritz and Paul Make Historic Run at French Open Junior Championships, Bellis Reaches Girls Semifinals; Men's ITA Kickoff Draft, All-America Teams Announced.

For the first time since 1978, three US boys have reached the semifinals at the French Open Junior championships, with Michael Mmoh, Tommy Paul and Taylor Fritz advancing with straight set wins Thursday in Paris.

The French junior event for boys dates back to 1947, but draws are not available from the ITF prior to 1978, so I can't eliminate the possibility of it happening before that.  At any rate, it's been a very long time, if ever, and only Corentin Denolly of France stands in the way of the first ever all-American boys final.

No. 4 seed Denolly will play No. 2 seed Fritz in a rematch of the semifinals of last month's Grade A in Milan, which Denolly won 7-6(4), 6-3.  Denolly advanced with a 6-0, 7-6(6) win over Juan Pablo Ficovich of Argentina, while Fritz defeated No. 10 seed Marcelo Barrios Vera of Chile 6-3, 6-4. Fritz served only 45 percent first serves, but still faced only one break point in the match, when he was serving for the match at 5-2 in second set.  The 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist is into his second junior slam semifinal and has a chance to take over the ITF No. 1 ranking with a win.

Sixth seed Mmoh avenged two losses to unseeded Reilly Opelka in the past nine months, claiming a 6-4, 6-4 win. Mmoh was up 4-0 to start the match, with Opelka throwing in five double faults in his first three service games. But despite Mmoh getting just 37 percent of his first serves in during the set, he held on. He broke just once in the second set, in the fifth game, but it was enough, as he closed out the match to reach his first junior slam semifinal.

Mmoh will face No. 13 seed Tommy Paul, who defeated unseeded Manual Pena Lopez of Argentina 6-3, 6-1.  Like Mmoh and Fritiz, Paul has yet to lose a set in the tournament.  Paul and Mmoh have played twice, both last fall, with Mmoh winning both, but each time Paul had match points.  In the quarterfinals at the Grade B1 in Tulsa, Paul had two match points at 5-4 in the third before losing 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(4) and one match point in his 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5 loss to Mmoh in the third round at the Eddie Herr. That match point was downright fluky, with Mmoh's scrambling shanked forehand turning into a lob winner.

CiCi Bellis is the last American girl remaining after a quick 6-2, 6-1 win over unseed Jil Teichmann of Switzerland. Bellis, who is into a junior slam semifinal for the first time, will play No. 16 seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia. Kalinskaya won the only three-set match in the junior singles quarterfinals Thursday, defeating unseeded Fanni Stollar of Hungary 6-7(4), 6-0, 6-2.

Top seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic reached the semifinals for the second straight year, eliminating unseeded Astrid Bowl champion Katharina Hobgarski of Germany 6-3, 6-2. She will face No. 12 seed Paul Badosa Gibert of Spain in the semifinals.  Badosa Gibert, seeded based on her WTA ranking of 270, defeated No. 3 seed Katarina Stewart 6-2, 6-2. Badosa Gibert recently qualified for the WTA's Madrid Premier event, and prior to that she had won two rounds in the main draw at the Miami Open as a wild card.  Vondrousova won their previous junior meeting last year in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

In addition to the four American juniors in the singles semifinals, there are five in the doubles semifinals.  Tommy Paul is the only player in both; he and William Blumberg, seed No. 4, are the lone seeds remaining in the boys doubles draw, after Fritz (with Orlando Luz of Brazil, the top seeds) and Mmoh (with Akira Santillan of Japan, the No. 3 seeds) losing in today's quarterfinals. Paul and Blumberg will play unseeded Franco Capalbo and Geronimo Espin Busleiman of Argentina in the semifinals.

In the girls doubles, the sixth-seeded team of Caroline Dolehide and Stewart advanced to the semifinals with a 7-5, 4-6, 10-5 win over No. 3 seeds Dalma Galfi and Stollar of Hungary.  They will play No. 5 seeds Usue Arconada and Argentina's Nadia Podoroska, who beat No. 2 seeds Katie Swan of Great Britain and Sonya Kenin 6-7(2), 6-2, 10-5. Top seeds Vondrousova and Miriam Kolodziejova of the Czech Republic defeated Francesca Di Lorenzo and Brazil's Luisa Stefani 6-2, 6-4, to set up a semifinal contest with the unseeded team of Teichmann and China's Shilin Xu.

All semifinals in singles and doubles are on Friday's schedule.  Draws are here.

The ITA completed its Kickoff Weekend draft with the men today. Unlike the women's Team Indoor, the men's attracts all the top programs.  The 15 schools and who they are hosting can be found here. Bobby Knight at College Tennis Today has further analysis of the men's draft.

The ITA also announced its Division I All-America teams, although by their criteria*, all those named were known when yesterday's final rankings were revealed.  It's nice to see Virginia's Mitchell Frank and Mississippi's Nik Scholtz get that honor a final time in their senior years after all they've meant to their programs.

*A player must meet any of the following criteria to earn ITA All-America honors:
Singles - Top 16 seed in NCAA Singles Championship; reach round of 16 in NCAA Singles Championship; finish in the Top 20 of final Oracle/ITA National Singles Rankings
Doubles - Top eight seed in NCAA Doubles Championship; reach quarterfinals in NCAA Doubles Championship; finish in the Top 10 of final Oracle/ITA National Doubles Rankings


Guest said...

Tennys Sandgren beat Noah Rubin in the Winston-Salem Futures second round