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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Arconada, Liu Post Wins as International Spring Championships First Round Completed; Mayo Beats Top Seed in 16s


©Colette Lewis 2015--
Carson, CA--

Top seed Usue Arconada and No. 12 seed Claire Liu both arrived in Carson after impressive results earlier this month, and both reached the second round of the International Spring Championships with victories Tuesday.

Arconada, who won the Grade 1 Banana Bowl and the Grade A in Porto Alegre in Brazil, defeated qualifier Riley McQuaid 6-1, 6-1, while Liu, who won the $10,000 Pro Circuit event in Orlando earlier this month, took a rockier road, beating Veronica Miroshnichenko of Russia 6-0, 1-6, 6-3.

Arconada admitted that facing an opponent who had already won three matches in qualifying could be tricky, especially since she had taken most of last week off following her two titles in South America.  But despite four three-set victories in the Banana Bowl, Arconada said she was pleased with her fitness during her winning streak, which now stands at 12 matches.

"Winning a lot of three-set matches gave me a lot of confidence for the second tournament," said the 16-year-old from Maryland, who is now up to No. 6 in the ITF Junior rankings. "When I first went down there I didn't see that coming at all, but after that first tournament I got a lot of confidence, and it was a lot of fun actually, getting through that.  I thought I was going to tired after the first week, with all the three-setters, but actually I felt really good."

For all her success on clay, Arconada also has good memories on the Carson courts, where she reached the semifinals last year, so three titles in a row is a possibility.

"We'll see what happens," said Arconada. "I just want to stay tough mentally, concentrate through the whole tournament. And if not, there's the Easter Bowl."

Arconada will play Ulyana Shirokova of Russia in the Wednesday's second round.


For Liu, an easy opening set became a struggle in the second, even though Liu was expecting Miroshnichenko to raise her game.

"She played better, and I just let that get to me," said Liu, who will be 15 in May. "I knew like from before, that she's a really good competitor, and she started winning points and I just freaked out."

Miroshinichenko, a left-hander with a service motion more at home in an archery competition, couldn't sustain the level she displayed in the second set however, falling behind 4-0 in the third set before she recovered to take three straight games. Liu held for a 5-3 lead and broke at love to take the match, and set up a meeting with fellow USTA-West player Emma Higuchi, whom she beat in Tulsa last October 6-0, 6-1.

Liu, the youngest player to win a USTA Pro Circuit event since Anna Kournikova in 1996, said the difference between that level and this top level of juniors not that pronounced.

"It's not like the pros were that much older," said Liu, who beat Sonya Kenin, the No. 2 seed this week in Carson, in the second round, and the No. 4 seed this week, Fanni Stollar of Hungary, in the final. "It's not that much difference, I guess."

As for the pressure that is added when returning to the juniors, Liu said, "I can't let that get to me. I need to just focus on playing, rather than like the expectations and stuff."

Two seeded players failed to advance to the second round, with Jessica Ho, the No. 11 seed, withdrawing, and No. 14 seed Olivia Hauger falling to qualifier Annette Goulak  6-3, 6-7(1), 6-2.  No. 9 seed Kayla Day was in trouble against qualifier Ashley Lahey, but she won the final five games of the match for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.   No. 4 seed Stollar advanced over wild card Jessica Failla 6-3, 6-3, No. 3 seed Michaela Gordon defeated Madison Bourguignon 6-1, 6-2, and No. 5 seed Francesca Di Lorenzo dominated qualifier Kenadi Hance 6-0, 6-0.

Only one boys seed fell in Tuesday's first round action, with qualifier Johnathan Small defeating No. 7 seed Sameer Kumar 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. No. 4 seed Alejandro Tabilo of Canada eliminated Claremont ITF champion Connor Hance 6-2, 6-4, and No. 6 seed Emil Reinberg topped Sam Turchetta 7-6(2), 6-1.


The seeded players in the 16s took the court for the first time today, and the top three seeds in the boys draw fell in the first round. Fourteen-year-old Keenan Mayo defeated No. 1 seed Jack Pulliam 6-2, 6-1, 15-year-old Ethan Prost beat No. 2 seed William Peters 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-3, and 15-year-old Diego Nava downed No. 3 seed William Grant 6-2, 6-2.

Mayo said his first round match against Steven Sun helped him against Pulliam.

"It got me more ready," Mayo said. "Usually in tournaments, if you get an easy first round, you're not really into it that much. But a tough first round forced me to really get into the tournament, and by the time I got to this match, I was able to play my best."

Mayo credited his serve as an important factor in his win over Pulliam.

"I thought I served really well, returned well, and played the big points really well," Mayo said.

Mayo will be playing the 16s at the Easter Bowl, and then will play the three ITF events in Florida in April and May.

Girls top seeds Emma Decoste, Alexandra Belaya and Taylor Johnson avoided the fate of their male counterparts, all advancing to the Wednesday's third round with straight-set wins.

In the first round of the 18s doubles, Stollar and Ingrid Neel, the No. 2 seeds, and winners of two $10K titles earlier this month, lost to Caroline Dolehide and Ena Shibahara 6-1, 6-2.  Girls top seeds Arconada and Francesca Di Lorenzo advanced, as did boys top seeds William Blumberg and Nathan Ponwith.

For complete results and the order of play, see the tournament website.

Live scoring is available at Tennis-ticker.com

============================================
Boys' 18 Singles (Round of 64)
Ulises Blanch (3) (Deerfield Beach, FL)  def.  Sami Kirberg (Ft Lauderdale, FL)  4-6, 6-3, 6-3
William Blumberg (1) (Greenwich, CT)  def.  Vasil Kirkov (Tampa, FL)  6-4, 6-4
Gianni Ross (La Grange, IL)  def.  Bjorn Thomson (15)  6-2, 4-6, 6-3
Daniel Bennett  def.  Jason Legall (Palm Coast, FL)  6-2, 6-2
Alexander Lebedev (Island Park, NY)  def.  Bryan Husin (Riverside, CA)  6-2, 6-1
Miomir Kecmanovic (2) (Boca Raton, FL)  def.  Jake DeVine (Los Altos Hills, CA)  6-4, 6-3
Alex Phillips (Peachtree City, GA)  def.  alexis canter (10)  7-5, 6-0
Jake Van Emburgh (Verona, WI)  def.  Agustin Moreno  7-5, 6-0
Michael Genender (Los Angeles, CA)  def.  Denis Shapovalov (8)  6-4, 6-2
Jakub Wojcik (Delray Beach, FL)  def.  Piers Foley  7-5, 7-5
Trent Bryde (Suwanee, GA)  def.  Anudeep Kodali (Durham, NC)  6-3, 6-2
Sam Riffice (Roseville, CA)  def.  Pablo Sanchez Rivera  6-0, 6-0
Nathan Ponwith (5) (Scottsdale, AZ)  def.  Sebastian Mermersky (Chevy Chase, MD)  6-1, 6-2
Benjamin Hannestad (12)  def.  Evan Zhu (Irvine, CA)  2-6, 7-6(9), 6-3
Jeffrey Wolf (Cincinnati, OH)  def.  Hady Habib (9) (Bradenton, FL)  2-6, 6-4, 6-2
Liam Caruana (13) (New Braunfels, TX)  def.  Alexey Nesterov (Ojai, CA)  6-2, 6-3
Patrick Kypson (Greenville, NC)  def.  Kyryll Kryvchun (West Vancouver, BC)  6-3, 6-1
John McNally (Cincinnati, OH)  def.  Jack Van Slyke (Toronto, ON)  2-6, 6-3, 7-5
Nathan Perrone (Bluffton, SC)  def.  Nicolas Moreno de Alboran (London, Surrey)  3-6, 7-6(3)
John Jorgeson (Bradenton, FL)  def.  Pedro Fernandez del Valle (Wesley Chapel, FL)  6-0, 6-3

Boys' 16 Singles (Round of 64)
Ryan Seggerman (Coronado, CA)  def.  Austin Di Giulio (Newport Beach, CA)  6-2, 6-2
Diego Nava (Woodland Hills, CA)  def.  Neil Tengbumroong (West Covina, CA)  6-0, 6-1
Christopher Steele (Mesa, AZ)  def.  Danilo Milic (Los Angeles, CA)  6-1, 6-1
Govind Nanda (Redlands, CA)  def.  Maximilian Wild (Carmel, IN)  6-3, 6-4
Adam Neff (Bradenton, FL)  def.  Blake Croyder (Marietta, GA)  6-3, 4-6, 6-4
Omni Kumar (Irvine, CA)  def.  Arjith Jayaraman (Gold River, CA)  6-2, 6-3
Andrew Whitehouse (Westlake Village, CA)  def.  Naara Shin (Downey, CA)  6-3, 4-6, 6-2
Keenan Mayo (Roseville, CA)  def.  Steven Sun (Boca Raton, FL)  6-2, 6-4
Ethan Prost (Peoria, AZ)  def.  Rishab Sardana (Union City, CA)  6-2, 2-6, 6-4
Ryan Goetz (Greenlawn, NY)  def.  Jaycer Calleros (San Antonio, TX)  6-4, 7-6(3)
Eric Hahn (Fullerton, CA)  def.  Nevin Arimilli (Austin, TX)  6-4, 6-1
Karapet Vardanyan (Granada Hills, CA)  def.  Carsyn Smith (Scottsdale, AZ)  6-0, 6-3
Adam Sraberg (Los Angeles, CA)  def.  Joshua Xu (Chandler, AZ)  7-6(6), 6-4
Adam Oscislawski (Scottsdale, AZ)  def.  Daniel Lin (Northridge, CA)  6-0, 6-2
William Woodall (Washington, DC)  def.  Arnav Dhingra (Darnestown, MD)  6-1, 6-0
Benjamin Gollin (Redlands, CA)  def.  Jacob Bullard (Brevard, NC)  7-6(4), 7-6(5)

Girls' 18 Singles (Round of 64)
Jessica Hinojosa Gomez  def.  Stephanie Hazell (Irvine, CA)  7-6(1), 6-4
Jenna Friedel (Mill Valley, CA)  def.  Gabriella Pollner (Boca Raton, FL)  7-5, 4-6, 6-1
Caroline Dolehide (8) (Hinsdale, IL)  def.  Meghan Kelley (Falmouth, ME)  6-0, 6-2
Ingrid Neel (7) (Bradenton, FL)  def.  Helen Altick (Monroe, LA)  6-3, 6-3
Caty McNally (Cincinnati, OH)  def.  Alexandra Sanford (10) (Westerville, OH)  6-3, 7-5
Emma Higuchi (Los Angeles, CA)  def.  Meible Chi (Weston, FL)  6-1, 7-6(5)
Sonya Kenin (2) (Pembroke Pines, FL)  def.  Mimi Levine (Santa Monica, CA)  6-0, 6-1
Dominique Schaefer (Ventura, CA)  def.  Anna Dollar (Lancaster, PA)  6-4, 6-3
Ulyana Shirokova (Boca Raton, FL)  def.  Alexa Corcoleotes (Hillsborough, CA)  6-3, 7-5
Usue Arconada (1) (Rio Piedras, PR)  def.  Riley McQuaid (Tustin, CA)  6-1, 6-1
Amanda Anisimova (Hallandale Beach, FL)  def.  Mia Horvit (13) (Palm City, FL)  6-2, 6-4
Chiara Lommer (skokie, IL)  def.  McKenzie Majerle (Paradise Valley, AZ)  4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Rachel Lim (Briarcliff Manor, NY)  def.  Sabrina Faybyshev (Marlboro, NJ)  6-1, 6-1
Morgan Coppoc (Tulsa, OK)  def.  Alexandra Sabe (Rye, NY)  3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Ndindi Ndunda (Burke, VA)  def.  Tereza Koplova (Bradenton, FL)  6-3, 6-4
Maria Mateas (15) (Braintree, MA)  def.  Andrea Kevakian (Glendale, CA)  6-7(5), 6-2, 6-0
Jade Lewis (Hilton Head Island, SC)  def.  Ally Miller Krasilnikov (Delray Beach, FL)  6-2, 6-2
Katherine Sebov (6) (Woodbridge, ON)  def.  Ena Shibahara (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA)  4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Seira Shimizu (Ojai, CA)  def.  Alana Smith (Fort Washington, MD)  6-4, 6-1

Girls' 16 Singles (Round of 64)
Salma Ewing (Long Beach, CA)  def.  Carolyn Campana (Hillsborough, CA)  6-3, 7-5
Jessica Anzo (Temecula, CA)  def.  Madison Gallegos (Aurora, CO)  6-2, 6-2
Alexa Noel (Summit, NJ)  def.  Madeline Almeida (El Dorado Hills, CA)  6-2, 6-0
Luba Vasilyuk (Frisco, TX)  def.  Jadie Acidera (Anaheim, CA)  6-3, 7-5
Lauren Lemonds (Indianapolis, IN)  def.  Tammy Van (Garden Grove, CA)  6-0, 6-1
Ann Li (Devon, PA)  def.  Cali Jankowski (Carlsbad, CA)  7-5, 6-2
Malkia Menguene (College Park, MD)  def.  Sabrina Ramras (Paradise Valley, AZ)  5-7, 7-5, 6-4
Katie Chang (Rsm, CA)  def.  Jessica Aragon (Plano, TX)  1-6, 6-3, 6-3
Emilee Duong (Placentia, CA)  def.  Mackenzie Worsnop (Newport Beach, CA)  6-3, 6-4
Jenna Moustafa (Los Angeles, CA)  def.  Elena Van Linge (Menlo Park, CA)  6-4, 7-5
Jennifer Gadalov (Los Angeles, CA)  def.  Kacie Harvey (Braintree, MA)  7-5, 6-1
Dalayna Hewitt (Pepper Pike, OH)  def.  Jessi Muljat (Sacramento, CA)  6-1, 6-2
Vivian Cheng (Santa Monica, CA)  def.  Abigail Forbes (Raleigh, NC)  6-3, 6-3
Niluka Madurawe (Sunnyvale, CA)  def.  Britt Pursell (Oceanside, CA)  7-6(5), 6-3
Patria Aziz (Glendale, CA)  def.  Shuchen Lin (Irvine, CA)  6-2, 6-1
Rachel Eason (Union City, CA)  def.  Mackenzie Clark (College Park, MD)  6-0, 6-3



Monday, March 30, 2015

Top Seed Blumberg, Second Seed Kenin Open International Spring Championships with Wins; Young Wild Cards Impress

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Carson, CA--

Great weather greeted players on the opening day of the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships at the Stub Hub Center, with boys top seed William Blumberg and girls No. 2 seed Sonya Kenin claiming straight set victories, and seven wild cards posting first round wins.


Blumberg, who reached the final of the Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil just over a week ago, defeated Vasil Kirkov 6-4, 6-4, after trailing 3-0 in second set.

Blumberg admitted he has had difficulty adjusting to the hard courts after the red clay of South America.

"It's actually been really tough for me," said the 17-year-old from Connecticut. "I had a really good week two weeks ago in Gerdau, a really physical kind of week, playing all the South American guys. I had a tough one, 6-4 in the third in the semis. It was physical on my body, and I haven't had a chance to recover, I only took a day and a half off, and then came here and trained with the USTA."

In addition to the physical issues, Blumberg also said the match with Kirkov was difficult because of their relationship.

"I practice with Vasil quite a bit, and he's a very tough player," said Blumberg, who is still looking for a full-time coach. "He's on the smaller side, so he can't overpower you, but he's really scrappy and fights for every single point. When he has a short ball, he's been putting it away. It's tough on me mentally, being one year older, I put more pressure on myself, so I was a little more tentative and nervous, not going for my shots."

Blumberg won four straight games to go up a break in the second set after trailing 3-0, but Kirkov got the break back to make it 4-4. A terrific lob winner by Blumberg helped him get another break and he served out the match, benefiting from a net cord winner on match point.

He will face the winner of Tuesday's match between Zeke Clark and qualifier Chase Colton in the second round.


Kenin, who reached the finals of a $10,000 Pro Circuit tournament earlier this month in Gainesville, had a much easier time in her first round, beating Mimi Levine 6-0, 6-1.

The 16-year-old from Pembroke Pines, Florida said she has been working on her fitness and her transition game since winning the Orange Bowl in December.

"We have a hitting partner near my house, and my dad has been helping me out, working on my transition game, coming into the net and coming forward," Kenin said.  "I'd like to add that to my game."

Kenin said playing on the Pro Circuit had also helped in growing her game.

"Just seeing the level, seeing how they prepare," Kenin said. "It's not even the best, the $10Ks, but seeing what they do and how I can get better at a higher level."

Kenin's next opponent is wild card Morgan Coppoc, who defeated Alexandra Sabe 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Coppoc was one of four girls wild cards to advance to the second round, including 14-year-old Rachel Lim, who defeated Sabrina Faybyshev 6-1, 6-1, and two 13-year-olds, Caty McNally and Amanada Anisimova, both of whom took out seeds.


Anisimova defeated No. 15 seed Mia Horvit 6-2, 6-4, and McNally beat No. 10 seed Alexandra Sanford 6-3, 7-5.  Although Anisimova had played five ITF tournaments last year after turning 13, McNally was playing in her first today.

"I was really nervous going into the match, because she's from my district and I'm really good friends with her," McNally said. "I made her move a lot, pulled her out of the court and went to the open court. She's not the best mover, so I tried to make her move."

McNally said the win can only help her confidence.

"She's really good, and goes all over the country and all over the world to play ITFs. I'm just really happy I got this win."

McNally also will be playing the 18s at next week's Easter Bowl, receiving a wild card there as well.

Boys wild cards who advanced were McNally's brother John, last year's 16s champion, who came back to defeat Jack Van Slyke of Canada 2-6, 6-3, 7-5; JJ Wolf, who beat No. 9 seed Hady Habib 2-6, 6-4, 6-2; and Jake Van Emburgh, who defeated Agustin Moreno of Mexico 7-5, 6-0.

In addition to Habib, three other boys seeds were eliminated Monday. Gianni Ross defeated No. 15 seed Bjorn Thomson of Ireland 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 and Michael Genender beat No. 8 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4, 6-2.  Lucky loser Alex Phillips took out No. 10 seed Alexis Canter of Great Britain 7-5, 6-0.

Top girls seed Usue Arconada, who won back-to-back ITF tournaments in South America earlier this month, plays her first round match on Tuesday against qualifier Riley McQuaid.

In the 16s, the seeded players all received byes into the second round and will begin play on Tuesday.

For complete draws, and the order of play, see the tournament website.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Novikov Edges Tiafoe In Calabasas Futures Final; Stewart Wins Palm Harbor $25K; International Spring Championships Draws


©Colette Lewis 2015--
Calabasas, CA--

Which was better, the serving in the finals of the $15,000 Futures tournament at the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center, or the weather it was played in?

After a brutal winter in Michigan, the cloudless skies with temperatures in the low 80s, with a refreshing breeze was just about perfect to me, but a 7-6(4), 7-6(6) win for No. 2 seed Dennis Novikov over unseeded Francis Tiafoe that featured 22 aces, 3 doubles faults and no breaks of serve didn't have much room for improvement either.

The 17-year-old Tiafoe, who won last week's $15,000 Futures in Bakersfield, spent the fall working on his serve and other facets of his game, and although there was no radar gun on the stadium court Sunday, he appeared to have added more pace and his placement was excellent.

The only two break points Tiafoe faced in the match were in the same game: serving at 3-4 in the first set, he netted a backhand to go down 15-40.  Tiafoe saved the first with a good serve and got lucky on the second, when Novikov lined up a forehand, but saw it clip the tape and drop back on his side to bring it to deuce. Tiafoe won the next two points and lost only one point on serve in his next two service games, leading to the first tiebreaker.

Novikov missed his first serve in the first point of the tiebreaker, but that was the only first serve missed by either player in the 11 points played.  Tiafoe hit consecutive aces to lead 2-1, and the good serves and forehand winners continued, with no breaks of serve.  After Novikov hit an ace for 5-4, he got the first mini-break, hitting a forehand winner, and followed that by rifling a forehand return winner to secure the first set.

In Tiafoe's nine-match winning streak the past two weeks, he had lost the first set four times, so he was hardly out of it, but Novikov gave him few opportunities.  It wasn't until Novikov served at 3-4 in the second set that he faced his first break point, and he saved that by controlling the point and eventually putting away a defensive short ball by Tiafoe. It was a forehand in the previous point that Tiafoe voiced more regret about however.

"At 15-30 3-4, I had a good look at a forehand and got a little too excited and missed it," said Tiafoe.

In the second set tiebreaker, Tiafoe got a mini-break to go up 2-0, with Novikov missing a backhand volley wide.  But with Tiafoe serving at 3-1, an extended backhand exchange, probably the longest point of the match, saw Tiafoe eventually miss wide and the server returned to dominating the point.  At 5-6, Tiafoe saved a match point with a sizzling forehand winner, but Novikov got another with a forehand winner after a let cord gave him time to set it up.  On match point No. 2, Novikov missed his first serve, but the second was excellent, and he crushed a backhand winner to claim his sixth Futures title.

"I struggled a couple of times this week, but I just figured out a way to get through the match," said the 21-year-old, who turned pro in 2013 after his sophomore year at UCLA. "I wasn't playing my best tennis, but I played to win.  I didn't play my best tennis today, but I definitely served well, as good as I probably could," said Novikov, who had 13 aces and 1 double fault. "My returns could have been a little bit better, but I have to be happy that I got through today and won. I did enough."

Getting into qualifying in the remaining slams this year is now assured for Novikov, who also qualified for the BNP Paribas Open earlier this month.

"I missed Aussie, I was like 250, a couple out, so I set a goal to get into the qualies of the slams for the rest of the year. Right now I'll be top 200, so I'll easily be in for the rest of the year."

Novikov is planning on competing the next two weeks in the Mexico Challengers, before returning to the US for the Har-Tru Challengers.

"There's two Challengers in Mexico and we'll see how the first one goes," said Novikov, who is scheduled to play No. 2 seed Paolo Lorenzi of Italy in the first round of the $50,000 San Luis Potosi Challenger next week."If I do well, I might skip the second, just to get ready for the clay court swing in Florida, because we're playing for the [French Open] main draw wild card in Florida. I think I have a good chance of actually getting that, it I keep serving well."

Novikov said that his recent surge (he was ranked 290 in January) is the result of getting to play better players.

"One of the things is experience, just playing matches on the tour against older guys," Novikov said. "Just seeing how everyone structures points, how to play to my strengths and my opponents' weaknesses. I definitely think I can compete, it's just getting the points to get there."

Tiafoe is also targeting the US Challengers next month, and will play Kalamazoo this year, but he's unsure about the junior slams.

"That's still up in the air, it's not for sure," Tiafoe said when I asked him about the French Open Juniors. "I really just want to play pros. I've been there, and I've seen it, got to the semis of a slam. Winning a slam is great, but at the end of the day, I want to be a good pro. I've had some good success in the juniors, and I think I want to move on, but we'll see."

At the $25,000 Pro Circuit tournament in Palm Harbor, Florida, qualifier Katerina Stewart claimed her first title at that level, defeating top seed and WTA 136 Maryna Zanevska of Ukraine 1-6, 6-3, 2-0 ret.  It was the second straight match Stewart won by retirement, after advancing to the final when Allie Kiick retired on Saturday.  Stewart won eight matches in eight days to win her fifth Pro Circuit title, all of them on clay.

I'll begin my coverage of the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships in Carson on Monday, with the qualifying completed today at the Stub Hub Center.

William Blumberg is the top boys seed, followed by Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, Ulises Blanch, Alejandro Tabilo of Canada and Nathan Ponwith.  The two finalists at the Claremont ITF, Connor Hance and Alexandre Rotsaert, were given wild cards into the main draw.

Usue Arconada is the top girls seed, followed by Sonya Kenin, Michaela Gordon, Fanni Stollar of Hungary and Francesca Di Lorenzo.

In the 16s, Emma Decoste is the top girls seed, and Jack Pulliam is the top boys seed.

All draws and the order of play are available at the tournament website.

Live scoring is available at tennis-ticker.com

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hance, Emma Win Claremont Titles; Katerina Stewart into Palm Harbor $25,000 Pro Circuit Final

I'm traveling today, so this post will be brief and unfortunately will not contain all the results I would usually update.


The results from the ITF Grade 4 in Claremont are in however. Fifteen-year-old Victoria Emma, who won two Grade 5 titles late last year, claimed her first Grade 4 title today, beating No. 4 seed Hanna Chang 6-1, 2-6, 7-5.   Emma, who reached the 16s semifinals at the Eddie Herr last year, was the No. 10 seed.


Connor Hance, who has played Claremont four times already, despite being only 16, but hasn't played any other ITF events (other than US Open junior qualifying), won the boys title, defeating 15-year-old Alexandre Rotsaert 6-2, 6-2.  Hance and Rotsaert were both unseeded.

Complete draws can be found here.

At the $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Palm Harbor, Florida, qualifier Katerina Stewart reached the final, advancing when Allie Kiick retired trailing 6-1, 1-0.  The 17-year-old Stewart will meet top seed Maryna Zanevska of Ukraine, who beat No. 8 seed Maria Irigoyen of Argentina 6-1, 6-2. Stewart has four $10,000 level titles, but this is her first final at the $25,000 level.

Late last night, UCLA sophomore Mackenzie McDonald reached the semifinals of the $15,000 Futures tournament in Calabasas, defeating former teammate Clay Thompson 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.  He will play No. 2 seed Dennis Novikov, another former Bruin, in one of today's semifinals, with Francis Tiafoe and No. 6 seed Jason Jung in the other semifinal.

At the Miami Open, No. 22 seed John Isner and Jack Sock claimed second round wins, with Isner beating World No. 1 junior Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-3, 6-4, and Sock taking out No. 21 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy 7-6(4), 6-1.  Serena Williams won, beating Monica Niculescu  of Romania 6-3, 6-1, and will play CiCi Bellis in the third round.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bellis Wins Again in Miami; Stewart, Tiafoe into Pro Circuit Semifinals; ITF Grade 4 Claremont Finals Set; Swan Out of ISC Carson

Rain ended Friday's play early at the Miami Open, but it was again a disappointing day for Americans, with the notable exception of CiCi Bellis.

Bellis, who last year at this time was preparing to begin play at the International Spring Championships and Easter Bowl, both of which she won, advanced to the third round of the WTA Premier event, cruising past No. 29 seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-1.  Bellis, a wild card who will be 16 next month, avenged her three-set loss to Diyas in the second round of last year's USO Open, and will likely face No. 1 Serena Williams next. Williams was to play Monica Niculescu tonight, but that match was rained out.  For more from Bellis (thanks to freelancer Carole Bouchard, who did the post-match interview), see this AP article. Sloane Stephens, who beat No. 17 seed Madison Keys 6-4, 6-2, was the only other US player to win on Friday in singles play.


On the other side of the state, in Palm Harbor, qualifier Katerina Stewart reached the semifinals of the $25,000 tournament there, her first appearance that deep in a tournament at that level. The 17-year-old Stewart defeated Alex Glatch 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 and will play fellow Floridian Allie Kiick Saturday.  Kiick came back to beat Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 2-6 6-4, 6-3.  Stewart defeated Kiick 6-3, 6-3 back in January in the first round of the $25,000 tournament in Sunrise. Top seed Maryna Zanevska of Ukraine and No. 8 seed Maria Irigoyen of Argentina will meet in the other semifinal.

At the $15,000 Futures in Calabasas California, Francis Tiafoe, who, like Bellis, was playing Carson and the Easter Bowl last year at this time, continued his winning streak, beating No. 8 seed Mitchell Krueger 7-5, 6-4.  The Bakersfield Futures champion, who has now won eight straight Futures matches this month, will meet No. 6 seed Jason Jung, who again defeated Taylor Fritz, this time by a 6-3, 6-3 score.  No. 2 seed Dennis Novikov came back from a set and 1-4 down (according to Jonathan Kelley, @jokelley on twitter) to defeat Giovanni Lapentti of Ecuador 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 and will play another UCLA Bruin in the semifinals.  Mackenzie McDonald and Clay Thompson are scheduled to play after 8:30 p.m. Pacific time to decide the fourth semifinalist.

The finals are set at the ITF Grade 4 in Claremont, with 15-year-old Alexandre Rotsaert and 16-year-old Connor Hance, both unseeded, playing for the boys title.  The girls championship match will feature 17-year-old Hanna Chang, the No. 4 seed, against 15-year-old Victoria Emma, the No. 10 seed.

Chase Colton and Johnathan Small, the No. 5 seeds, won the boys doubles title, beating top seeds Piers Foley of Great Britain and Alexander Lebedev 6-4, 7-5.  The girls doubles champions are Annette Goulak and Kenadi Hance, who beat Carson Branstine and Taylor Johnson 5-7, 7-5, 10-5.  Neither of the girls teams was seeded.

Qualifying begins on Saturday for the ITF Grade 1 in Carson, with the draws now posted on the tournament website.  A preview of the event is also now available there.  Great Britain's Katie Swan, the Australian Open girls finalist who last week won her first $10,000 ITF Women's Circuit title, has withdrawn.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Claremont ITF Grade 4 Semifinals Set; Fritz, Tiafoe and Stewart Reach Pro Circuit Quarterfinals; Teens Continue to Impress in Miami

The semifinalists have been determined at the ITF Grade 4 in Claremont, all from the US, but none of the top seeds are among them. Three unseeded boys have reached the final four, with 17-year-old Johnathan Small, seeded No. 13 the oldest remaining competitor. Small will face 15-year-old Alexandre Rotsaert, while the other semifinal will feature two Southern California rivals, wild card Jacob Brumm and 16s Kalamazoo finalist Connor Hance.

The girls semifinals features three 15-year-olds, with No. 10 seed Victoria Emma facing No. 15 seed Meible Chi, younger sister of 2014 NCAA finalist Lynn Chi of Cal.  Seventeen-year-old Hanna Chang, the No. 4 seed, will play unseeded Anette Goulak in the other semifinal.

For complete draws and Friday's order of play, see the USTA site.

Seven of the eight quarterfinalists at the $15,000 Calabasas Futures are from the US, including 17-year-olds Taylor Fritz and Francis Tiafoe. Fritz, a wild card, overwhelmed top seed Fabiano De Paula of Brazil, ranked 211, 6-2, 6-0 and will face No. 6 seed Jason Jung in the quarterfinals. Jung defeated Fritz  1-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 in the semifinals of the January Futures tournament in Los Angeles.

Tiafoe, last week's Bakersfield champion, received a special exemption into the main draw, and he continued his winning streak, beating Alexander Ward of Great Britain 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.  In last night's first round, Tiafoe beat No. 4 seed Darian King of Barbados 6-7(5), 7-5, 2-0 ret., with King's retirement apparently not for injury or illness, but simply frustration.  Steve Pratt had this account of the match's ending out in his daily release. Next for Tiafoe is No. 8 seed Mitchell Krueger, who beat Ernesto Escobedo 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-3.

Former UCLA teammates Mackenzie McDonald and Clay Thompson will play in another quarterfinal, with qualifier McDonald downing Mico Santiago, also a qualifer, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 and wild card Thompson beating Stefan Kozlov 6-3, 6-3.  A third Bruin in the bottom half is Dennis Novikov, the No. 2 seed, who beat South African Fritz Wolmarans 7-5, 6-2. The 2012 Kalamazoo champion will face the only international player remaining, 31-year-old Giovanni Lapentti of Ecuador, who beat qualifier Sekou Bangoura 6-2, 6-4.

At the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Palm Harbor, Florida, Katerina Stewart, Allie Kiick and Alexa Glatch have reached the quarterfinals.  Stewart, a qualifier, defeated former WTA No. 66 Mindy Minella of Luxembourg 6-1, 6-1 and will next face Glatch, who beat No. 7 seed Olivia Rogowska of Australia 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.  Allie Kiick posted a fine comeback win, defeating No. 3 seed Paula Ormaechea of Argentina 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3. Kiick, who won the final six games of the match, will play Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in the quarterfinals.


Americans did not fare well today at the Miami Open, with Venus Williams posting the only win of the six US players in singles action today.  But the surge of teenagers continued, with three boys picking up first round wins, and wild card Paula Badosa Gibert of Spain reaching the third round. The 17-year-old Badosa Gibert defeated lucky loser Saisai Zheng of China 6-1, 7-5 to set up a meeting with No. 14 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

Unlike Badosa Gibert, whose best showing in a junior slam was the quarterfinals of at the French and Wimbledon last year, the three boys who reached the second round are all junior slam champions. Qualifier 2013 Australian Open boys champion Alexander Zverev of Germany, still just 17, defeated Sam Groth of Australia 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-4; 2014 French Open boys champion Andrey Rublev of Russia, also 17, defeated Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 and 18-year-old Borna Coric of Croatia, the 2013 US Open boys champion, defeated Andreas Haider-Mauer of Austria 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).  They join Hyeon Chung of Korea in the second round, and according to the ATP, four teenagers in the second round of Miami is the most since 2007.

Tonight, another former junior slam champion, Daria Gavrilova, who was Russian when she won the US Open girls title in 2010, defeated No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova 7-6(4), 6-3. Gavrilova, the world junior champion in 2010, is living in Australia now and has applied for citizenship there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships Wild Cards; Good Day for Americans at Miami Open; Pro Circuit Update

The wild cards for next week's International Spring Championships in Carson are listed below. For my look back at the 10 years of the tournament, see this article at the Tennis Recruiting Network.  The 18s acceptance lists can be viewed here.  The 16s acceptance lists can be found at the tournament's website.

Boys ITF

Main Draw:
Jake DeVine
John McNally
JJ Wolf
Jake Van Emburgh
Patrick Kypson

Qualifying:
Jacob Brumm

16s
Main Draw:
none

Qualifying:
Blake Croyder

Girls ITF

Main Draw:
Carson Branstine
Morgan Coppoc
Jessica Failla
Caty McNally
Ena Shibihara
Rachel Lim
Amanda Anisimova

Qualifying:
Ashley Lahey

16s
Main Draw:
Kacie Harvey
Lea Ma
Alexa Noel

Qualifying:
Amy Huang
Elizabeth Isayev
Lauren Panjatovic
Laura Sanders
============================================
Although three more Americans have yet to play today, it's already shaping up to be a good day for the US at the Miami Open.

CiCi Bellis and Madison Brengle picked up main draw wins on Tuesday, and today Donald Young, Jack Sock, Tim Smyczek, Austin Krajicek, Christina McHale and Alison Riske followed suit, with Sam Querrey, Sloane Stephens and Lauren Davis yet to complete their matches.


Also of note, 18-year-old wild card Hyeon Chung of Korea won his first ATP main draw match, defeating 50th-ranked Spanish veteran Marcel Granollers 6-0, 4-6, 6-4.  Chung has won two Challengers and has been rising steadily, with his current ATP ranking 121 after ending last year at 173.  He will face a major challenge in his next match, against No. 8 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic.  For more on Chung's win, see this ATP article.

At the $25,000 women's Pro Circuit event in Palm Harbor, Florida, four Americans earned first round wins today.  Katerina Stewart beat fellow qualifier Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 6-2, 6-4, avenging her semifinal loss at the US Open Junior Championships last year.  Qualifier Ellie Halbauer defeated Irina Khromacheva of Russia 6-2, 7-6(6), Allie Kiick posted her first win of the year, beating qualifier Ximena Hermosa of Mexico 6-3, 6-1 and Alexa Glatch, who won her first tournament in three years at last week's $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Mexico, downed Bulgarian qualifier Dia Evtimova 7-6(5), 6-4.

First round action is not yet complete at the $15,000 Calabasas Futures tournament, but 10 Americans have already advanced to the second round: qualifiers Sekou Bangoura, Mackenzie McDonald and Mico Santiago; Jason Jung(6), Mitchell Krueger(8) and Ernesto Escobedo. Those six won today, yesterday No. 2 seed Dennis Novikov, Stefan Kozlov and wild cards Taylor Fritz and Clay Thompson also posted wins.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Looking Back at Ten Years at the Grade 1 in Carson; Bellis Wins First Round Match at Miami Open; Southern Cal Women Take Over Top Spot in ITA Rankings

I often do previews of tournaments for the Tennis Recruiting Network, but I changed it up a bit for this article, which is a look back at the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships' first decade in Carson. Juniors who went on to WTA and ATP success have won there, and many who didn't win titles also honed their games and went on to viable professional careers.  I spoke with John Lansville, the tournament director, about how the tournament has contributed to junior tennis in the US, and there's also a new enhancement to the tournament this year. I'll be posting the tournament's wild cards in the next day or so.


One of the ISC champions pictured in the article is CiCi Bellis, who won the title last year, and has made an impressive transition to the next level. Ranked outside the WTA Top 1000 last year, Bellis is now at 211, and her win today in the first round of the Miami Open will move her even higher.  Bellis, who turns 16 next month, defeated 18-year-old Indy de Vroome of the Netherlands, a fellow wild card, 6-2, 6-2, and will play No. 29 seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in the second round. Diyas, you may recall, defeated Bellis in the second round of the US Open last year 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.

Paula Badosa Gibert, a 17-year-old wild card from Spain, also picked up a win in Miami, defeating Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-1.

In qualifying, Irina Falconi and Austin Krajicek reached the main draw, as did 2012 World Junior Champion Alexander Zverev of Germany, who will be 18 next month.

Draws are available here.

New ITA team and individual rankings are out and while Oklahoma retains the top spot in the men's team rankings, the individual singles and the women's team have new No. 1s.

ITA Indoor champion and previous No. 1 North Carolina has still not lost a match, but Southern Cal, which has two losses (to Virginia and UCLA), has overtaken them and is now No. 1.  It is the first time USC has been ranked No. 1 since 2003, with their wins over Cal and Stanford this week moving them past the Tar Heels.

The women's Top 10:
1. Southern Cal
2. North Carolina
3. Cal
4. UCLA
5. Florida
6. Georgia
7. Baylor
8. Virginia
9. Alabama
10. Vanderbilt

In the women's individual rankings, Robin Anderson of UCLA has taken over the top spot, replacing Meagan Manasse of Cal.

The women's singles Top 10:
1. Robin Anderson, UCLA
2. Maegan Manasse, Cal
3. Julia Elbaba, Virginia
4. Carol Zhao, Stanford
5. Brooke Austin, Florida
6. Stephanie Wagner, Miami
7. Josie Kuhlman, Florida
8. Lauren Herring, Georgia
9. Jamie Loeb, North Carolina
10. Lorraine Guillermo, Pepperdine

Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips of UCLA have retaken the No. 1 position in doubles, which they held in the first rankings of the year.

The Oklahoma men have solidified their hold on the No. 1 spot, as they continue to collect ranked wins, with two this weekend at the BNP Paribas Collegiate Challenge.

The men's Top 10:
1. Oklahoma
2. Baylor
3. Illinois
4. Duke
5. Georgia
6. Southern Cal
7. Texas
8. Virginia
9. Texas A&M
10. TCU

In the individual rankings, Soren Hess-Olesen of Texas has earned the No. 1 ranking, with the senior from Denmark undefeated in dual matches this year.

The men's singles Top 10:
 1. Soren Hess-Olesen, Texas
2. Axel Alvarez, Oklahoma
3. Julian Lenz, Baylor
4. Mackenzie McDonald, UCLA
5. Sebastian Stiefelmeyer, Louisville
6. Ryan Shane, Virginia
7. Gonzales Austin, Vanderbilt
8. Romain Bogaerts, Wake Forest
9. Yannick Hanfmann, Southern Cal
10. Thai Kwiatkowski, Virginia

There's a new team atop the men's doubles rankings, with Austin Smith and Ben Wagland of Georgia taking the No. 1 spot this week.

Links to the complete rankings can be found at the ITA website.

For more on the men's rankings, see College Tennis Today.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Neel Gets Top 100 Win in Miami Open Qualifying; Clark Wins Second Straight ITF Title; California ITF Junior Circuit Gets Underway in Claremont

The two US juniors in qualifying today at the Miami Open had dramatically different results, with Ingrid Neel shocking No. 7 seed and WTA 85 Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 6-2, while Michael Mmoh lost to No. 21 seed Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-1, 6-2.

The 16-year-old Neel, who reached the Orange Bowl final as a qualifier back in December, has a $10,000 Pro Circuit title on her resume, but she had never won a main draw match above that level before today. 

The third IMG Academy junior with a wild card, Fanni Stollar of Hungary, had a tough turnaround after playing in the singles final in the Orlando $10K yesterday. The 16-year-old played her first round of qualifying against No. 18 seed Irina Falconi, who prevailed 6-0, 7-6(0).  In addition to Neel and Falconi, Austin Krajicek, Chase Buchanan and Grace Min also won their opening matches in qualifying.  Draws, including the men's singles, which was released today, are available here.

Play in the women's main draw begins on Tuesday, with CiCi Bellis taking on fellow wild card Indy de Vroome of the Netherlands.  Shelby Rogers and Madison Brengle will also play their first round matches on Tuesday, against Monica Niculescu of Romania and Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia, respectively. Tuesday's WTA schedule is available here.

I covered the Grade A in Brazil in yesterday's post, but that leaves lots of other junior results to mention today.  Before I get into that, congratulations are in order for Usue Arconada and William Blumberg, who have reached career-highs in the ITF junior rankings. Arconada is up to No. 8 with her back-to-back titles, and Blumberg has climbed to No. 15 with his appearance in the Grade A final.

Americans swept the singles titles in the ITF Grade 4 in Panama.  Zeke Clark, who won the Grade 3 in Costa Rica last week, was seeded No. 3 this week, and he again beat an American in the final, this time unseeded Johnathan Small 6-0, 6-4.  The girls singles title went to Amanda Meyer, the No. 4 seed, who beat No. 6 seed Ali Collins of Great Britain 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the final.  Collins and compatriot Francesca Jones, the No. 4 seeds, won the doubles title over Meyer and Anna Dollar, the No. 2 seeds, 6-2, 4-6, 10-6.

At the Grade 1 in Croatia, Alex Molcan of Slovakia swept the boys titles, but there's some confusion about who won the girls title.  No. 3 seed Molcan defeated top seed Mikael Ymer of Sweden 7-6(3), 6-3 in the singles final, and partnered Hubert Hurkacz of Poland to take the doubles title, with the No. 2 seeds beating No. 5 seeds Nicolae Frunza of Romania and Vitalii Shcherba of Ukraine 6-2, 6-3.

The ITF's tournament home page gives Aleksandra Pospelova of Russia as the winner of the girls singles and doubles, but the actual draw shows No. 4 seed Pospelova losing to No. 3 seed Miriam Kolodziejova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2 in the singles final. Kolodziejova received the winners points in the current rankings, so I'm assuming she is the champion, especially since a kind person on twitter confirmed there was mention of Kolodziejova's win in the Czech media.  Top seeds Pospelova and Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia won the doubles, beating No. 6 seeds Georgia Cracium and Oana Gavrila of Romania 6-0, 2-6, 10-7.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Malaysia, another Czech girl took the title, 15-year-old Lucie Kankova.  Seeded No. 16, Kankova beat top seed Naiktha Bains of Australia, as well as the No. 7 and No. 9 seeds, then collected her first Grade 1 title in her first Grade 1 appearance when No. 5 seed Olivia Tjandramulia of Australia retired at 6-2, 6-7(5), 2-2 in the final. Kankova won two Grade 4s last year.  The boys title went to No. 4 seed Nam Hoang Ly of Vietnam, who won his first Grade 1 title with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over No. 2 seed Chan-Yeong Oh of Korea.  Ly also won the doubles title, partnering Alberto Lim of the Philippines for a 7-6(4), 6-2 win over Hao Wu and Yibing Wu of China.  Bains and Tjandramulia won an all-Australian girls doubles final, beating Petra Hule and Maddison Inglis 6-3, 6-2.

The three-tournament ITF Junior California swing is underway, with the Grade 4 in Claremont this week, followed by the ITF Grade 1 in Carson and the ITF Grade B1 Closed at the Easter Bowl.  I'll have a look back at the first 10 years of the International Spring Championships in Carson tomorrow for the Tennis Recruiting Network, and I'll be covering it and the Easter Bowl in person for the eleventh straight year.

This week in Claremont, Mia Horvit is the top girls seed and Alexey Nesterov of Russia is the No. 1 boys seed.  Draws and the order of play can be found here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tiafoe, Liu Win Pro Circuit Titles; Arconada Claims Grade A Singles Championship in Brazil; Oklahoma Tops Baylor for BNP Collegiate Challenge Title; Miami Open Draws

Because Francis Tiafoe has been playing in Bakersfield, California, and often in night matches, he hasn't been mentioned much here this week, but after his 6-1, 6-2 destruction of Maxime Tabatruong of France in the $15,000 Futures final today, he's earned the spotlight.

A wild card, the 17-year-old from Maryland beat former college players Raymond Sarmiento(USC) and Andre Dome(Cal Poly) in three setters in the first two rounds, then took out No. 3 seed Darian King of Barbados in the quarterfinals and former Southern Cal star Emilio Gomez, the No. 8 seed, in the semifinals.  Against Tabatruong, who played at UCLA, Tiafoe dominated, facing only one break point, which he lost. It was over in less than an hour, his first Futures title secure. He is 18-4 in professional events this year(including qualifying), with three Futures losses to Benjamin Balleret of Monaco and a loss to Filip Krajinovic of Serbia in Memphis qualifying.

He received a special exemption into the $15,000 Futures tournament in Calabasas this week, as did Tabatruong.  Wild cards went to Taylor Fritz, Clay Thompson, who won the wild card tournament and Tommy Paul. A three-star high school sophomore, Keanu Ellen of Hawaii, received the fourth main draw wild card.

In the Bakersfield doubles final, No. 2 seeds King and Sekou Bangoura defeated top seeds Mitchell Krueger and Connor Smith 6-4, 4-6, 10-7.

Claire Liu earned her first main draw win in professional tournament this week and the 14-year-old just kept on going, taking four more and the title at the $10,000 Pro Circuit event in Orlando.  Liu had qualified for two $25,000 events, last fall in Florence and last month in Surprise, so this run is not a shocker, but she did not lose a set in the tournament, beating even top seed and WTA 241 Irina Khromacheva of Russia in straight sets.

In today's final, against 16-year-old qualifier Fanni Stollar of Hungary, Liu was equally impressive, taking a 6-1, 6-3 decision. After not facing a break point in the opening set, Liu was broken to start the second, but she immediately broke back, collected another break in the sixth game and secured the title.

According to USTA Player Development, Liu, who trains at the Carson Headquarters, is the youngest women's Pro Circuit winner at 14 years and 10 months, since Anna Kournikova in 1996.

It's not often a Grade A title gets third billing, but on such a spectacular day for young US players, Usue Arconada's win at the Campeonato Internacional in Porto Alegre, Brazil shouldn't be overlooked.

The third-seeded Arconada, who won the Banana Bowl last week, defeated top seed Julieta Estable of Argentina 6-2, 6-4 to claim her first Grade A title.

Estable had all kinds of trouble with her serve, failing to earn a game point on it in the first set, with both her games coming while returning.  She broke Arconada to start the second set, but was broken for the fifth straight time in the next game. It wasn't until the sixth game of the second set when she had a game point on her own serve to get to within 4-2, but that was her only service hold in the match, which ended with four consecutive breaks.

The 16-year-old Arconada, who, like Tiafoe, trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center, is 15-1 this year in Grade 1 and Grade A ITF junior events and she also has a $10,000 title to her credit this year.

Top seed Orlando Luz of Brazil defended his title, defeating No. 6 seed William Blumberg 6-3, 6-4 in the final.  Blumberg's serve, usually an important tool for him, was unable to produce any free points or even set up any points, and he did not take advantage of the early opportunities Luz gave him to break.  Down an early break in the second set, Blumberg got it back and had a 4-3 lead, but two backhand errors in his next service game gave Luz a chance to serve out the match, and he did, at love.

In the final of the BNP Paribas Collegiate Challenge in Indian Wells, No. 1 Oklahoma defeated No. 3 Baylor for the second time in a month, this time by a 4-1 score.  Once Baylor lost the doubles point, it was going to be rough sledding for them, and Oklahoma proved too good in singles, with only Julian Lenz, at No. 1, able to earn a point for the Bears.

In another big men's match today, No. 6 Duke came from behind to defeat No. 12 Wake Forest 4-3, with Nicolas Alvarez clinching it by virtue of a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over Noah Rubin at No. 1.

The No. 24 Duke women also claimed an important win at home today, defeating No. 8 Virginia 4-3.

Both men's and women's qualifying for the Miami Open begins Monday, with Michael Mmoh taking on Alejandro Falla of Colombia at 10 a.m.  The complete order of play is here.  The women's draw has been released, and CiCi Bellis has drawn fellow teen wild card Indy de Vroome as her first round opponent.  Draws are available here.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Arconada and Blumberg into Grade A Final in Brazil; Liu Beats Top Seed, Reaches Final in Orlando $10K; USC Women Beat Cal, Men Fall to Baylor; UCLA Women Top Stanford


Usue Arconada and William Blumberg will face the top seeds in Sunday's final of the ITF Grade A Campeonato Internacional in Porto Alegre, Brazil after tough three-set wins over Australians.

Although the stadium court matches are streamed at the tournament website, the Americans were not featured today in singles, with Brazilian players in the other semifinals, so I can't offer any insight into the matches.  Arconada, the No. 3 seed and the champion at last week's Banana Bowl, defeated No. 2 seed Seone Mendez 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-1, while No. 6 seed Blumberg downed unseeded Alex Di Minaur 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Blumberg will play No. 1 seed and defending champion Orlando Luz of Brazil, who also found himself in a close match against No. 10 seed Manuel Pena Lopez of Argentina, but survived 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-4.  Arconada meets No. 1 seed Juliet Estable of Argentina who escaped against No. 4 seed Luisa Stefani of Brazil 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 after Stefani served for the match at 6-5 in the second set.

Neither finalist has played the other before in ITF junior competition.

Francesca Di Lorenzo took the doubles title with partner Stefani, with the No. 3 seeds beating No. 4 seed Arconada and Emilie Francati of Denmark 6-2, 6-1. Di Lorenzo and Stefani, who won the Grade 1 Banana Bowl last week, didn't lose a set in their five victories.  The boys doubles title went to No. 6 seeds Felipe Cunha Silva of Portugal and Alejandro Tabilo of Canada, who beat top seeds Luz and Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 6-4, 7-5.


At the $10,000 Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Orlando, 14-year-old Claire Liu upset top seed Irina Khromacheva of Russia 7-5, 6-2 to advance to the final, where she'll meet 16-year-old qualifier Fanni Stollar.

Liu held serve to take a 6-5 lead in the first set, then immediately got three set points  with Khromacheva, a 19-year-old left-hander, falling behind 0-40.  Khromacheva got it back to deuce, but Liu converted on her fourth set point.  Serving up 4-2 in the second set, Liu faced her only break point of the set, but she fought it off, held, then broke Khromacheva at 30-40 to take the match.

Stollar, 16, defeated wild card Raveena Kingsley 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(2), saving two match points with Kingsley serving at 5-4, 40-15 in the third set.  The 16-year-old Kingsley was a point from going down 4-0 in the final set, but fought back to win five straight games, only to fall a point short of a rematch of the 2014 Pan American Closed final against Liu.  It's the first singles final on the professional circuit for either player.

In doubles, Stollar and Ingrid Neel won their second straight championship, defeating No. 4 seeds Katerina Kramperova of the Czech Republic and Katerina Stewart 6-3, 7-6(4). The unseeded Stollar and Neel, who won the doubles title last week in Gainesville, did not lose a set in their four matches.

The semifinals in the $15,000 Bakersfield Futures is just underway, with wild card Francis Tiafoe playing No. 8 seed Emilio Gomez of Ecuador and qualifier Connor Farren taking on Maxime Trabatruong of France.

The seventh-ranked Southern California women got a big home win today in Pac-12 play, defeating No. 3 Cal 4-3, with Meredith Xepoleas beating NCAA finalist Lynn Chi 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3 at line 6 to clinch. It was Chi's first dual match of the year.

In the other important Pac-12 women's battle in Los Angeles today, No. 5 UCLA defeated No. 10 Stanford 5-2, with Kristin Wiley getting the clinch for the Bruins at line 6.

At the Oracle Collegiate Challenge at the BNP Paribas Open, No. 3 Baylor defeated the No. 4 Southern Cal men 4-3, with Julian Lenz clinching the victory at line 1 with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Yannick Hanfmann.

Baylor will play No. 1 Oklahoma in the final, after the Sooners escaped the Columbia challenge 4-2Oklahoma defeated Baylor 4-2 in the semifinals of the National Team Indoor last month.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Rutledge Commits to Wake Forest; Blumberg, Arconada Reach Grade A Semifinals in Brazil; Liu, Kingsley Advance to $10K Semis; Tiafoe Makes Final Four in Bakersfield

During one of the many rain delays in Mobile last week, I had an opportunity to talk with Eric Rutledge about his commitment to Wake Forest.  As a Fort Worth resident, Rutledge's choice to leave Texas is not surprising, as many young people opt to strike out in new directions after high school. In this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network, Rutledge explains his reasons for going east and how a family trip to take unofficial visits after his sophomore year led him to Winston-Salem.

At the ITF Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil, Usue Arconada and William Blumberg both reached their first semifinal at that level with straight-set victories.  No. 3 seed Arconada defeated No. 7 seed Chihiro Muramastu of Japan 6-2, 6-3 to advance to a second straight meeting with No. 2 seed Seone Mendez of Australia, whom she beat in the Banana Bowl semifinals 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3.  Mendez advanced with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Emilie Francatti of Denmark.  It's rare for any tournament to feature the top four seeds in the semifinals, let alone a junior one, but that's the case in the girls draw, with No. 1 Julieta Estable of Argentina facing No. 4 seed Luisa Stefani of Brazil on Saturday. Stefani, who defeated No. 10 seed and doubles partner Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-3, 6-2, and Estable, who downed No. 5 seed Maia Lumsden of Great Britain 7-5 6-4, have not met in ITF junior competition before, unusual in that they are from the same continent and are the same age: 17.

Arconada and Di Lorenzo will be vying for the doubles title, although not together.  Di Lorenzo and Stefani, the No. 3 seeds, beat unseeded Emiliana Arango of Colombia and Meghan Kelley 7-5, 6-3, while No. 4 seeds Arconada and Francatti defeated No. 6 seeds Alexandra Sanford and Kayla Day 6-4, 6-4.


Blumberg reached the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over unseeded Catalin Mateas, and will face another unseeded player, Alex Di Minaur of Australia, on Saturday.  Top seed and defending champion Orlando Luz of Brazil will face No. 10 seed Manuel Pena Lopez of Argentina in the top half of the draw.

Luz will play for the doubles title on Saturday, with Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, whom he defeated today in singles.  The top seeds will play No. 6 seed Felipe Cunha Silva of Portugal and Alejandro Tabilo of Canada, who beat No. 3 seeds Ulises Blanch and Pena Lopez 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals.

All of singles matches in Brazil were decided in straight sets today, and in Orlando, at the USTA Women's Pro Circuit $10,000 tournament, an even shorter day was in store.  Two of the four singles matches ended in retirements, and the other two in straight sets, with both doubles semifinals also completed in straight sets.

Fourteen-year-old wild card Claire Liu advanced when 17-year-old Ayan Broomfield of Canada retired trailing 6-1, 3-0, and 16-year-old wild card Raveena Kingsley advanced when Rianna Valdes retired trailing 5-2.  Liu will meet top seed Irina Khromacheva of Russia, who beat qualifier Kylie McKenzie 6-3, 6-1, and Kingsley faces qualifier Fanni Stollar, also 16, after Stollar defeated No. 2 seed Katerina Stewart 6-4, 6-3.

Stewart and Stollar will meet again in the doubles final, after she and Katerina Kramperova of the Czech Republic defeated qualifiers Jessie Aney and Michaela Gordon 6-3, 6-1. Unseeded Stollar and Ingrid Neel will play the No. 4 seeds after they beat Andie Daniell and Sophie Chang 6-3, 6-3.

In the $15,000 Bakersfield Futures, Francis Tiafoe reached his third career Futures semifinal, all of this year, defeating No. 3 seed Darian King of Barbados 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. King, ranked 271, won a $10,000 Futures in Panama in his previous tournament.  Tiafoe will now face former USC Trojan Emilio Gomez, the No. 8 seed. Gomez defeated top seed Fabiano De Paula of Brazil 7-6(5), 6-0.

Georgia recruit Walker Duncan, 18, picked up a huge win last night to reach the quarterfinals, beating No. 2 seed Gianni Mina of France 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 and is currently playing former UCLA Bruin Maxime Tabatruong of France.  Connor Farren and Tommy Paul will play later to decide the fourth semifinalist.

At the BNP Paribas Collegiate Challenge, Oklahoma defeated Purdue 4-0 and will play Columbia in Saturday's semifinals, after the Lions downed Cal 4-1.  Southern Cal got its revenge on Tulsa, who shocked them at home last month, cruising to a 4-0 win. The Trojans will play the winner of the Baylor-BYU match, currently in progress. Live streaming of two courts is available via Playsight, who provide the ITA Men's Indoor streaming last month.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Arconada, Di Lorenzo, Blumberg and Mateas Reach Grade A Quarterfinals in Brazil; Only Teens Remain at Orlando $10K; Tiafoe, Paul Reach Bakersfield Futures Quarterfinals


The US is guaranteed a semifinalist in the ITF Grade A Campeonato Internacional in Porto Alegre Brazil, with William Blumberg and Catalin Mateas winning today to set up a quarterfinal meeting.  No. 6 seed Blumberg, who lost his first match in the Banana Bowl last week, defeated qualifier Geronimo Espin Busleiman of Argentina 6-3, 6-1 in today's third round. Espin Busleiman is 32-7 (including qualifying) on the South American clay courts this year, so that is an impressive win for Blumberg.  Mateas, who played only one match on South American clay prior to this week, defeated No. 3 seed Bogdan Bobrov of Russia 6-3, 7-6(3) today, the second seed he's beaten in three matches. Mateas leads the head-to-head, having beaten Blumberg twice, both times in straight sets, in 2013.

Banana Bowl champion Usue Arconada had no trouble reaching the quarterfinals, with the No. 3 seed downing Lara Escauriza of Paraguay 6-3, 6-1. Arconada, who reached the quarterfinals of this tournament last year, will play No. 7 seed Chihiro Muramatsu of Japan, who defeated Maria Mateas 6-1, 6-1.

Banana Bowl finalist Francesca Di Lorenzo took the upper hand in her recent rivalry with Jaqueline Cristian of Romania, the sixth seed, beating her 3-6, 7-5, 6-1. The No. 10 seed had split her two previous decisions with Cristian this year.  Di Lorenzo will play doubles partner Luisa Stefani of Brazil, the No. 4 seed, in the quarterfinals. It is her first appearance in a Grade A quarterfinal.

Ulises Blanch is in the doubles semifinals with partner Manuel Pena Lopez of Argentina, and the girls doubles semfinals is full of Americans. No. 6 seeds Kayla Day and Alexandra Sanford, both of whom lost today in singles, defeated the top-seeded doubles team of Julieta Estable of Argentina and Maria Fernanda Herzao Gonzalez of Colombia 7-6(5), 5-7, 10-5. They will play No. 4 seeds Arconada and her partner Emilie Francati of Denmark in one semifinal.  In the other, No. 3 seeds Di Lorenzo and Stefani will face unseeded Meghan Kelley and Emiliana Arango of Colombia.

Live streaming of Stadium Court is available at the tournament website.

The quarterfinals are set for the $10,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Orlando, with the oldest playing remaining 19-year-old top seed Irina Khromacheva of Russia.  Khromacheva will face 15-year-old qualifier Kylie McKenzie, who beat 27-year-old Alexandra Mueller 6-3, 6-2 for her second pro tour victory.  Wild card Claire Liu, 14, defeated 16-year-old Sonya Kenin 6-4, 6-2 and will play Canadian 17-year-old Ayan Broomfield.  Southern Cal recruit Rianna Valdes, who is 18, will play 16-year-old wild card Raveena Kingsley and 16-year-old qualifier Fanni Stollar of Hungary will play No. 2 seed and Gainesville champion Katerina Stewart, who is 17.

At the $15,000 Futures in Bakersfield, 17-year-olds Tommy Paul and Francis Tiafoe have advanced to the quarterfinals. Paul defeated Deiton Baughman 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, and wild card Tiafoe defeated qualifier Andre Dome(Cal Poly) 5-7, 6-4, 7-5.  Tiafoe will meet No. 3 seed Darian King of Barbados in the quarterfinals, after King thwarted a 2013 Orange Bowl final rematch by beating Stefan Kozlov 1-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Connor Farren, who has been unable to crack the top six with any regularity at Southern Cal, picked up a big win today, defeating No. 4 seed Connor Smith(Ohio State) 6-4, 6-1, and will take on Paul in the quarterfinals.

Qualifier Walker Duncan has yet to play his second round match.

The Oracle Challenge, in its second year, will begin on Friday at the BNP Paribas Open, with three of the top four Division I men's teams among the participants.  In addition to Oklahoma, Baylor and Southern Cal, Columbia, Tulsa, Cal, Purdue and BYU will compete in the tournament (UC-Irvine will fill in for BYU on Sunday).  The draw for the event is here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Nine US Juniors Advance to Round of 16 at Brazil Grade A; Young Qualifiers, WCs Advance at Orlando $10K; Steve Johnson Tennisography Friday on Tennis Channel


It was another good day for American juniors at the ITF Grade A Campeonato Internacional in Porto Alegre Brazil, with six US girls and three US boys advancing to the round of 16.

The seeded American girls advancing are Usue Arconada(3), Francesca Di Lorenzo(10), Alexandra Sanford(11) and Kayla Day(14).  Two other US girls defeated seeds today, with Meghan Kelley topping No. 6 seed Maria Fernanda Herazo Gonzalez of Colombia 6-2, 7-5, and Maria Mateas ousting No. 9 seed Thaisa Pedretti of Brazil 6-3, 6-3. It is the first Grade A third round appearance for Kelley and Mateas.  Di Lorenzo's win sets up her third meeting this year with No. 8 seed Jaqueline Cristian of Romania; they have split those two matches, with the winner surrendering only 2 games.

Arconada will play Lara Escauriza of Paraguay, who challenged Arconada in the first round of the Grade A in Mexico City late last year, losing 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-4.

Two unseeded US boys also advanced, making up for the two seeds who lost. Liam Caruana defeated Giovanni Fonio of Italy 6-1, 6-1 and Catalin Mateas downed Lucas Koelle of Brazil 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.  As with his sister, Catalin is in a Grade A third round for the first time. William Blumberg, seeded sixth, also advanced, but Emil Reinberg(13) and Ulises Blanch(7) lost in straight sets.

The tournament's Stadium court features live streaming, which can be found here.

Speaking of streaming, the ITF will stream the inaugural Junior Masters from China next month. In the lead-up to that tournament, they are providing profiles of the 16 participants. The first two are Gabby Ruse of Romania and Marcelo Zormann of Brazil.  Michael Mmoh and Taylor Fritz are the US juniors competing in the event.

In addition to the Grade A, there are two Grade 1s this week, in Croatia and in Malaysia.  Australian Open girls champion Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia was the top seed in Croatia, but in her first junior action since Melbourne, she lost 6-4, 6-4 in the second round to 241st-ranked Silvia Chinellato of Italy. Mikael Ymer of Sweden is the top boys seed, and has advanced to the third round.

In Malaysia, Naiktha Bains of Australia, the top girls seed, and Jumpei Yamasaki of Japan the top boys seed, are through to the third round.

At the $10,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Orlando, five young qualifiers have advanced to the second round, three of them from the US.  USTA 16s champion Kylie McKenzie won her first match in the main draw on the professional circuit today, a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Karolina Stuchla of the Czech Republic. Sophie Chang and Kelly Chen were the other US qualifiers to post victories.  Sonya Kenin, who received a special exemption after reaching last week's final in Gainesville, continued her excellent play, defeating No. 3 seed Petra Rampre of Slovenia 6-4, 7-5. Fourteen-year-old wild card Claire Liu picked up her first win on the professional circuit yesterday, defeating Petra Januskova of Canada 6-3, 6-1.

At the $15,000 men's Futures in Bakersfield, California, 18-year-old qualifier Walker Duncan claimed his first ATP point after failing to make the main draw in eight previous attempts (he received one main draw wild card). Duncan defeated Mico Santiago 6-2, 6-4.  Tommy Paul, Stefan Kozlov, Deiton Baughman, Francis Tiafoe and Connor Farren(Southern Cal) also picked up first round wins.

Tennis Channel is premiering its tennisography of Steve Johnson Friday at 7:00 p.m. in between coverage of a BNP Paribas men's quarterfinal and women's semifinal.  Obviously college tennis has played a huge role in Johnson's tennis life, and this preview shows him back at Southern Cal practicing with some of his former teammates.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

USTA Spring Team Championships Recap; Sock into BNP Paribas Fourth Round; Mayotte Joins Harvard; 13 US Juniors Reach Grade A Second Round; North Carolina Women, Oklahoma Men Stay No. 1

My recap of a damp USTA Spring Team Championships in Mobile is available today at the Tennis Recruiting Network. Although this new format is undeniably popular with the players and coaches, I find myself missing the 18 Spring Nationals, where the gradual whittling down of the field as the tournament progresses provides me time to actually watch late round matches closely. Guaranteed matches are an attraction if you are spending the money to travel (although weather must permit them), but as a spectator, I find compass draws less compelling than the standard USTA main/consolation draw format.

Third round ATP matches are still going on at the BNP Paribas Open, but Jack Sock has made his way into the last 16 with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 15 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain. The 22-year-old Sock, who is playing his first tournament this year after hip surgery, had won only one ATP match after dropping the first set prior to this week, but after comeback wins over Yen-Hsun Lu, Gilles Muller and Bautista Agut this week, he now has three.  Sock, who has dedicated this tournament to his brother Eric, now healthy after a week in intensive care this winter due to an infection, plays the winner of the Roger Federer and Andreas Seppi match later tonight. For more on Sock's win, see this article from the ATP.  Steve Johnson lost to No. 9 seed Tomas Berdych this afternoon, and Donald Young fell to No. 3 seed Rafael Nadal this evening, by identical 6-4, 6-2 scores.

The volunteer assistant position at Harvard now belongs to Tim Mayotte, who takes it over from Eric Butorac, currently the president of the ATP Players Council and still active in doubles.  This Harvard Magazine article examines Mayotte's playing career and coaching experience and reveals that he is a candidate for the USTA Player Development General Manager's position.


A baker's dozen of US juniors remain alive after the first round of the Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil.  Seeds Emil Reinberg(13), Ulises Blanch(7), William Blumberg(6) and unseeded Anudeep Kodali, Catalin Mateas and Liam Caruana were the American boys advancing.  Kodali defeated No. 9 seed Sora Fukuda of Japan 7-6(4), 6-2 and Mateas ousted No. 14 seed Felipe Cunha Silva of Portugal 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Mateas' younger sister Maria moved through to the second round, as did qualifier Abigail Desiatnikov, Meghan Kelley and seeds Usue Arconada(3), Francesca Di Lorenzo(10), Alexandra Sanford(11) and Kayla Day(14).

There was a big upset in the boys first round, with No. 2 seed Franco Capalbo of Argentina, who has won three South American clay court titles already this year, losing to Yosuke Watanuki of Japan 6-3, 6-3.

The latest Division I team rankings were released today by the ITA, with the North Carolina women and Oklahoma men continuing to hold the top spot.

The men's Top 10:
1. Oklahoma
2. Illinois
3. Baylor
4. Southern Cal
5. Georgia
6. Duke
7. Texas A&M
8. Texas
9. Virginia
10. North Carolina

The women's Top 10:
1. North Carolina
2. Florida
3. Cal
4. Georgia
5. UCLA
6. Baylor
7. Southern Cal
8. Virginia
9. Alabama
10. Stanford

Monday, March 16, 2015

Grade A Underway in Porto Alegre Brazil; 14-year-old Auger-Aliassime Qualifies for Challenger; Fritz Selected in World Team Tennis Draft; TCU Men Top Illinois; Corsillo Wins Longines Event, Trip to Paris

The ITF Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil is underway, with 18 US juniors in the main draw.

US boys competing in the year's second Grade A are Emil Reinberg(13), Anudeep Kodali, Hady Habib, Ulises Blanch(7), William Blumberg(6), Catalin Mateas, Liam Caruana and Sameer Kumar(15).

The US girls are Olivia Hauger, Alexandra Sanford(11), qualifier Abigail Desiatnikov, Francesca Di Lorenzo(10), Andrea Kevakian, Maria Mateas, Ndindi Mwaruka, Meghan Kelly, Kayla Day(14) and Banana Bowl champion Usue Arconada(3).

The top boys seed is Banana Bowl champion Orlando Luz of Brazil, who is defending his title this week.  The girls No. 1 seed is Julieta Estable of Argentina.


In my February Aces, I featured 14-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, who won two ITF junior singles titles along with one in doubles in Mexico.  Today Auger-Aliassime made a huge splash on the ATP Challenger circuit, winning his third match to qualify for the $50,000 event in Drummondville Canada.  Auger-Aliassime's first round qualifying win was over 15-year-old Canadian Jack Lin, but his second, over Australian veteran Chris Guccione was notable, even if Guiccione's ranking was barely inside the top 1000.  Auger-Aliassime's victory today, over 29-year-old South African Fritz Wolmarans, the fourth seed, ranked 433, put his prospects in a different realm, as he became the youngest Challenger qualifier since Patricio Alvarado in 2004.

The match was streamed on the ATP Challenger site, and Auger-Aliassime wowed everyone who tuned in with his movement, technique, court sense and power. His patience, given the circumstances, was also impressive.  Unfortunately, Auger-Aliassime suffered an abdominal strain and pulled out of the main draw, with Wolmarans taking his place as a lucky loser.  If you are interested in seeing some of the highlights of the match, Joey Hanf has assembled some on You Tube.

The World Team Tennis draft took place today, and early in the proceedings, the first round in fact, the San Diego Aviators selected 17-year-old Taylor Fritz.  Fritz, the only amateur selected, will be joined by Raven Klaasen, Chanelle Scheepers, Kveta Peschke and marquee player Madison Keys on the team coached by John Lloyd. Former collegians Irina Falconi, Nicole Gibbs, Jarmere Jenkins, Tennys Sandgren and Chase Buchanan were also drafted. The complete draft can be found here.

The fourth-ranked Illinois men won two matches against Top 10 opponents in two days, but a third, against No. 17 TCU in Fort Worth, was too much to ask. After picking up 4-2 road wins over No. 8 Texas and No. 9 Texas A&M Saturday and Sunday, Illinois lost to the Horned Frogs 4-0 in a match that lasted a mere hour and forty minutes, according to College Tennis Today.  In this article from the Daily Illini, breaking team rules is the reason given for Farris Gosea's indefinite suspension.

Each year, one 12-and-under player from the US wins an opportunity to compete in Paris during the French Open with other international qualifiers in the Longines Future Tennis Aces competition. Boys and girls alternate each year and this year the boys will be competing in Paris.  This past weekend Jameson Corsillo earned the all expenses paid trip for himself and a parent or guardian, defeating Saiprakash Goli 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 in the final of the eight-boy round robin event in Delray Beach.  Complete results from the US tournament and more about the Paris event can be found here.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Arconada Wins Banana Bowl; Stewart Takes Gainesville $10K Title; Gosea Suspended, but Illinois Still Beats Texas and Texas A&M; Mississippi State Shocks Alabama Women


Usue Arconada had reached the finals in a Grade 4, a Grade 3 and two Grade 1s in her junior career, but until today, the 16-year-old from Maryland had not secured an ITF singles title.  In her third final in a Grade 1,  No. 1 seed Arconada got over that hump, defeating No. 9 seed Francesca Di Lorenzo  6-1, 6-7(6), 6-4 at the Banana Bowl in Brazil.

In four of her five victories this week, Arconada needed three sets, and twice she came from a set down.  For Di Lorenzo, a 17-year-old who only began playing ITF junior tournaments regularly last year, it was her first appearance in a Grade 1 final; she won the Grade 4 in Plantation last spring.

The boys championship was won by top seed Orlando Luz of Brazil, who defended his 2014 title with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over unseeded countryman Igor Marcondes.


Like the girls Banana Bowl final, the championship at the Gainesville $10,000 women's Pro Circuit event was between two Americans, with the top seed again prevailing. No. 1 seed Katerina Stewart defeated unseeded qualifier Sonya Kenin 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.  Kenin was serving up 3-2 in the final set, but lost three straight games.  Stewart was broken at love serving for the match, but Kenin went down 15-40 serving at 4-5 and Stewart converted her second match point to claim her fourth $10,000-level title.

At the $15,000 Canadian Futures, two college contemporaries met in today's final, with Ed Corrie(Texas) defeating Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.  Corrie, the No. 3 seed, ended Sandgren's nine match winning streak in Canada this month.  Former Georgia Tech teammates Kevin King and Dean O'Brien of South Africa, the No. 2 seeds, won the doubles title, beating top seeds Corrie and Dan Smethurst 6-4, 2-6, 10-5.

This week, the women are in Orlando for another $10,000 Pro Circuit event, and the men are in Bakersfield for a $15,000 Futures. Jonathan Kelley of On The Rise, spoke with former Georgia star Wil Spencer, who is the top seed in qualifying in Bakersfield, about his decision to play professionally again after choosing to take a break from competitive tennis for a couple of years after leaving Georgia.

Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open was good to Americans, with Donald Young, Jack Sock and Steve Johnson winning second round matches, while Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens advanced to a fourth round encounter on Tuesday.  Young defeated No. 31 seed Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 6-2, Sock came back to down Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7), saving a match point, and Johnson took out No. 21 seed Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-3, 7-6(5).

Top seed Williams defeated No. 21 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-0, while Stephens held on for a 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-4 win over No. 22 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.

In college tennis, the fourth-ranked University of Illinois men's team picked up two top 10 wins over the weekend, defeating No. 8 Texas 4-2 in Austin on Saturday and beating No. 9 Texas A&M by the same score today in College Station.  Jared Hiltzik played No. 1 for the Fighting Illini, with senior Farris Gosea, who usually has occupied that spot this year, "suspended indefinitely" according to head coach Brad Dancer.

According to College Tennis Today, No. 10 Ohio State's 5-2 loss today to Tulsa means the Buckeyes will be out of the top 10 for the first time in 294 matches when they take on Texas Tuesday.

In Wake Forest's 7-0 sweep of Louisville, freshman Noah Rubin, returning from a wrist injury, picked up a 6-1, 7-6(1) win over Sebastian Stiefelmeyer, currently ranked No. 1 in the ITA singles rankings.

A shocker in SEC women's play today, with No. 41 Mississippi State defeating No. 6 Alabama 4-3 in Starkville, with the match coming down to a third set tiebreaker at line 4, with Louise Ronaldson winning it over Emily Zabor.

Another important SEC women's match saw No. 7 Georgia defeat No. 11 Vanderbilt 5-2 in Athens.