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Friday, July 31, 2015

My Kalamazoo Preview; Former Champion Wiersholm Overcomes Tough Challenge in Opening Round at Kalamazoo; Clay Champions Riffice and Kirkov Fall in Doubles


©Colette Lewis--
Kalamazoo, MI--

Seeded players in the 18s all received byes in the first round, meaning their opening matches will be Saturday, and obviously the focus is on them in my Kalamazoo preview for the Tennis Recruiting Network. But a former champion will always receive attention at Kalamazoo, and 2012 16s winner Henrik Wiersholm fought his way past Alex Knight 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in one of the featured matches at Stowe Stadium.

Both Wiersholm and Knight have completed their freshman years in college, with Wiersholm at Virginia and Knight at Michigan, and Wiersholm anticipated he would have his hands full against the left-hander from Florida.

"He plays at Michigan and I knew they had a pretty good program over there, so I knew it was going to be a tough match," said Wiersholm. "It wasn't going to be junior tennis, because he goes to college, he knows how to play. I knew it was going to be long points, move the ball around. In the first set, I came out pretty nervous, honestly. I was playing tight, not looking for the ball and he capitalized on that. In the second set, I was just telling myself, yeah, it's Kalamazoo, but you've played this tournament for the fourth time, so what are you doing playing tight? Just go out and play."

In the third set, Knight's service game at 2-2 went to ten deuces and he saved eight break points before holding with an ace.  And although Wiersholm lost the game, he held easily and then broke Knight for a 4-3 lead in a game almost as short as Knight's previous service game was long.

"I think that took a little bit out of him," said Wiersholm. "I don't how many minutes it was, so long, so many deuces. I had a lot of chances but I knew if I put him in a position like that, the next game I could capitalize because he'd be thinking like, wow, that last service game was tough, this one is going to be tough. And so I went after a couple of returns in that game and was able to get the break."

One of the characteristics of Kalamazoo that sets it apart from other junior events is its ability to draw players back from college, Pro Circuit and ITF junior circuit events. 

Stefan Kozlov, who has not played a junior event since last December and accompanied his friend Wiersholm to his press conference in the Tower, explained.

"This tournament is like nothing else," said Kozlov, 17. "Everyone you see, it seems like you haven't seen in years. It's crazy. You see everyone and you've got to talk to them, you've got to plan an extra 30 minutes just for that. Even at junior slams, it's not like this."

Wiersholm agreed.

"It's all the U.S. players, we're all best buds, and a lot of these guys I haven't seen in a year. I walked out to practice yesterday, and like for an hour, everyone was like, ooo, whaah," said Wiersholm, imitating good friends greeting each other after a long absence. "It's insane."

Wiersholm will play No. 8 seed William Blumberg in the second round Saturday. 

"I'm excited," Wiersholm said. "Will's a damn good player."

Blumberg may not be in top physical condition however, as he withdrew from doubles with an illness. His partner Nathan Ponwith did find another player whose partner had also withdrawn, Adrian Chamdani, and they advanced to the third round with a straight-set victory.

No. 5 seeds Sam Riffice and Vasil Kirkov did not survive their first contest however.  The Clay Court champions fell to Alex Diaz and Zach Jennings 6-2, 6-3.

The only other seeded team to lose was No. 14 Jordan Benjamin and Matthew Gamble, who were beaten by Billy Rowe and Reese Stalder 6-1, 1-6, 10-7.

Top seeds Frances Tiafoe and Michael Mmoh, No. 2 seeds Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka and No. 3 seeds Tommy Paul and Wiersholm all advanced in straight sets.

The 16s division begins play on Saturday with unseeded players taking the courts in the first round and the opening round of doubles to follow in the afternoon.  Jake Van Emburgh and JJ Wolf are the top seeds in doubles, with Trent Bryde and Patrick Kypson the No. 2 seeds.  The complete draw for the 16s doubles can be found at ustaboys.com.

Live streaming can be found for one of the show courts can be found here throughout the tournament.

The opening ceremonies, featuring an exhibition with 1995 18s champion Justin Gimelstob, are scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. at Stowe Stadium.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tiafoe and Mmoh Top Seeds in Kalamazoo Doubles; Southern Cal Girls Take 18s National Team Title


The doubles draws have been posted for the Kalamazoo 18s, with two rounds scheduled for Friday. As in the singles, a main draw US Open wild card goes to the winners. Last year's defending champion Stefan Kozlov, who partnered Noah Rubin, is not entered in doubles this year.

The 18s doubles seeds:
1 Michael Mmoh and Frances Tiafoe
2 Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka
3 Tommy Paul and Henrik Wiersholm
4 William Blumberg and Nathan Ponwith
5 Vasil Kirkov and Sam Riffice
6 Joshua Sheehy and Parker Wynn
7 Brandon Holt and Riley Smith
8 Zeke Clark and William Genesen
9 Eduardo Nava and Alex Rybakov
10 Spencer Furman and Eric Rutledge
11 Lane Leschly and Alex Ross
12 Oliver Crawford and Johnathan Small
13 Joseph Haig and William Sharton
14 Jordan Benjamin and Matthew Gamble
15 Martin Joyce and Gianni Ross
16 Liam Caruana and Sameer Kumar

The seeded teams receive a bye in the first round, so will play only one doubles match on Friday.

The 16s begin singles play on Saturday and their doubles draw will come out on Friday afternoon.

The match times for singles and doubles are now posted at ustaboys.com. Click the Match Times button at the top of the home page for a printable pdf.

The Southern Cal girls won the USTA Girls 18 National Team Championship, beating the Southern section's team 6-1 yesterday in Claremont, California.  The Southern Cal section had won the boys version of the tournament in Champaign on Tuesday.

Below are the results from the final:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Kalamazoo Draws Posted; Black Top Seed in San Diego, Seeds in 12s and 14s Posted; Ryan Shane Feature

The draws for the Kalamazoo tournament, which starts on Friday, are now available at ustaboys.com.  With such a strong group of seeds there was always going to be some tough, tough quarterfinals, and No. 2 Fritz versus No. 5 Mmoh and No. 1 Tiafoe versus No. 6 Opelka are certainly two of them, provided they all make it that far, of course.

Last year the top eight seeds in the 18s all reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 1976. Could it happen two years in a row after a nearly 40-year gap?

The draws for the other age groups are not yet posted--I'm told the San Diego draws will be out Thursday--but the seeds have all been announced.  Below are the Top 16 seeds in the 12s, 14s, and the girls 16s and 18s.  The 17-32 seeds are available via a link back to the TennisLink site. All 32 of the Kalamazoo 16s and 18s seeds are here.


Girls 18s:
1  Tornado Alicia Black
2  Usue Arconada
3  Sofia Kenin
4  Michaela Gordon
5  Raveena Kingsley
6  Francesca Dilorenzo
7  Ingrid Neel
8  Claire Liu
9  Kayla Day
10  Alexandra Sanford
11  Alexa Graham
12  Ellyse Hamlin
13  Ena Shibahara
14  Rebecca Weissmann
15  Mia Horvit
16  Kelly Chen

Girls 16s
1  Natasha Subhash
2  Victoria Flores
3  Hannah Lairmore
4  Nicole Mossmer
5  Elysia Bolton
6  Clarissa Hand
7  Taylor Johnson
8  Anna Brylin
9  Carson Branstine
10  Hannah Zhao
11  Victoria Emma
12  Caroline Dunleavy
13  Meg Kowalski
14  Ally Bojczuk
15  Whitney Osuigwe
16  Sydney Jones

Girls 14s
1  Alexa Noel
2  Katie Volynets
3  Victoria Hu
4  Lea Ma
5  Angelica Blake
6  Reilly Tran
7  Kacie Harvey
8  Chloe Beck
9  Maggie Cubitt
10  Emma Navarro
11  Naomi Cheong
12  Hailey Baptiste
13  Addison Guevara
14  Gabriella Price
15  Cori Gauff
16  Lauren Stein

Girls 12s
1  Brooke Theis
2  Kenadee Semenik
3  Jenna DeFalco
4  Emma Jackson
5  Rachel Arbitman
6  Bridget Stammel
7  Sydni Ratliff
8  Maria Rizzolo
9  Tyra Richardson
10  Tara Malik
11  Hibah Shaikh
12  Madison Sieg
13  Elise Wagle
14  Ellie Pittman
15  Carrie Beckman
16  Katrina Scott

Boys 14s
1  William Grant
2  Cannon Kingsley
3  Daniel Sharygin
4  Nathan Han
5  Ronan Jachuck
6  Connor Nisbet
7  Harry Yang
8  Stefan Leustian
9  Evin McDonald
10  Leighton Allen
11  Hunter Heck
12  Andrew Dale
13  Nicholas Garcia
14  Spencer Gray
15  Richard Bell
16  Thomas Yu

Boys 12s
1  Hugo Hashimoto
2  Karl Lee
3  Saud Alhogbani
4  Phillip Deaton
5  Benjamin Kittay
6  Griffin Daehnke
7  Samuel Landau
8  Eric Perkowski
9  Daniel Dunac
10  Nishesh Basavareddy
11  James Delgado
12  Sam Reichbach
13  Andrew Chang
14  Tonmye Nirundorn
15  Gavin Young

16  Teddy Truwit

NCAA champion Ryan Shane of Virginia is back competing after an injury layoff following his title in Waco in May.  After going 1-1 in the Lexington Challenger qualifying, Shane will be in action this weekend at the qualifying for the ATP event in Washington DC.  In anticipation of that, Kelyn Soong wrote this feature on Shane for the Washington Post, which contains some interesting background on how Ryan and older brother Justin started playing the sport.

In other University of Virginia news, assistant men's coach Dustin Taylor will be accompanying the USTA Collegiate Team to Italy for two $15,000 Futures events there beginning next week. 

The Aptos Challenger, a $100,000 event that begins in two weeks, could decide the US Open men's Wild Card Challenge. Here's a preview from the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

All Top 10 ITF Boys and Girls Entered in US Open Juniors; Southern Cal Wins USTA Boys 18 Team Championship; Donaldson, Kudla Advance in Atlanta

The acceptances for the US Open Junior Championships were released today, and all players in the ITF top 10, and all but one of the top 15, girls No. 15 Julieta Estable, have entered.

Nine US girls have received direct entry: Usue Arconada, Sonya Kenin, Michaela Gordon, Raveena Kingsley, Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ingrid Neel, Claire Liu, CiCi Bellis and Katerina Stewart.  Kayla Day is the first alternate, with an ITF ranking of 56.  Alexandra Sanford and Tornado Alicia Black, the 2013 US girls finalist, are in qualifying Stewart, a semifinalist in New York last year, received entry based on her WTA ranking, currently 158. Magdalena Frech of Poland, 378 in the WTA rankings, also received her entry by that method.

Caroline Dolhide, ranked No. 16 and a semifinalist last year after advancing through qualifying, has not entered and is not playing the G18s Nationals in San Diego either. She played earlier this month at Wimbledon and reached the third round there.

Seven US boys have received direct entry: Taylor Fritz, Michael Mmoh, Reilly Opelka, William Blumberg, Tommy Paul, Nathan Ponwith and Ulises Blanch.  Sam Riffice has already assured himself of a wild card into the main draw by winning the 18s Clay Courts.

The cutoff for the boys is 45, extremely high for the US Open, but not unusual for the French.  Five players received entry via their ATP rankings, with South Africa's Lloyd Harris (609), Argentina's Juan Pablo Fichovich(706) and two Spanish 18-year-olds: European Championships finalist Bernabe Zapata Miralles(708) and Pedro Martinez Portero(691).  The fifth is 14-year-old Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime, who became the youngest player ever to reach the quarterfinals of an ATP Challenger last week in Granby. Those results moved his ATP ranking up to 749, which is one spot better than necessary for main draw acceptance.  It will be his first junior slam appearance.

The USTA Boys 18 Team Championships finals were today in Champaign-Urbana, with the Southern California section defeating the Eastern section 5-2.  Eastern's No. 1 player William Blumberg won all his matches during the tournament, including today's over Austin Rapp, but it wasn't enough to counter the depth of coach Barry Horowitz's team.  The results of today's final are below:














The girls 18 final Wednesday gives Southern Cal an opportunity for a sweep of the USTA Team championships. They will play defending champion Southern for the title. The TennisLink site for the girls competition has all the results.

At the ATP event in Atlanta, Jared Donaldson defeated fellow qualifier Somdev Devvarman 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 to reach the second round, where he will play No. 7 seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.  Another US qualifier, Denis Kudla, outlasted wild card Ryan Harrison 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) to set up a second round metting with No. 3 seed Jack Sock. Sock and Kudla have played five times, including, of course, in the US Open boys final in 2010, with Sock winning three, but Kudla has won their last two meetings, though those were in 2012.

No. 6 seed Steve Johnson advanced with a 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-2 win over Lukas Lacko of Slovakia. Qualifier Austin Krajicek fell to No. 5 seed Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, and Frances Tiafoe saw his attempt at a first ATP-level win thwarted by Australia's Sam Groth 7-6(3), 6-4.   Mardy Fish and Donald Young both suffered straight-set losses.

Georgia Tech rising sophomore Christopher Eubanks, who received a wild card, plays his first round match against Czech Radek Stepanek on Wednesday.  For more on Eubanks, and his friendship with Donald Young, see this article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Kalamazoo Seeds

Boys 18s:

1 Frances Tiafoe
2 Taylor Fritz
3 Stefan Kozlov

4 Tommy Paul
5 Michael Mmoh
6 Reilly Opelka
7 Alex Rybakov
8 William Blumberg

9 Sam Riffice
10 Nathan Ponwith
11 Oliver Crawford
12 Eduardo Nava
13 Dennis Uspensky

14 William Genesen
15 Eric Rutledge
16 Zeke Clark
17 Nick Stachowiak

18 Spencer Furman
19 Gianni Ross
20 John McNally
21 Connor Hance

22 Brandon Holt
23 Emil Reinberg

24 Martin Joyce
25 Liam Caruana

26 Kalman Boyd
27 
Andrew Heller
28 Vasil Kirkov
29 Sameer Kumar

30 Nathan Perrone
31 Jacob Brumm
32 Matthew Gamble



Top seeds awaiting introductions at 2014 Nats opening night ceremonies

Boys 16s:
1 Jeffery Wolf
2 Jake Van Emburgh

3 Patrick Kypson
4 Alexandre Rotsaert
5 Sean Sculley
6 Austen Huang

7 Danny Thomas
8 Kyrylo Tsugura
9 Carson Haskins
10 Mac Kiger
11 Brian Cernoch
12 Alexander Brown
13 Andrew Fenty
14 Christian Alshon
15 William Howells
16 Jason Lui
17 Kevin Ma
18 Robert Maciag
19 Abhijeet Joshi
20 William Peters
21 Jaycer Lyeons
22 Kevin Zhu
23 Jeff Zucker
24 Ryan Goetz
25 Trent Bryde
26 Trey Hildebrand
27 Eric Yoo
28 Chambers Easterling
29 John Speicher
30 Ajai Shekhera
31 A. Trice Pickens
32 Cotter Wilson

Monday, July 27, 2015

Talking with ITF Junior No. 1 Taylor Fritz; Ayeni Sweeps ITF Grade 4 Titles in Dominican Republic; Donaldson Qualifies for BB&T Open in Atlanta

As the No. 1 ranked ITF junior boy, Taylor Fritz was a popular interview subject at Wimbledon this year, and I spoke with him several times during the junior tournament.  Although many of his peers have turned pro this spring and summer, Fritz has not yet made that decision officially. But from this article I put together for The Tennis Recruiting Network based on those interviews, it appears unlikely that he will attend college.

All the major sports management agencies are interested in Fritz, so his choice will be a story this summer (he says by the end of the US Open). But it's not as if it is a lifetime commitment.  Jack Sock, who signed with CAA initially, has moved to IMG, it was announced today.


Olukayode Alafia Ayeni, who turns 16 next month, won his first two ITF titles last week at the Grade 4 Copa Merengue in the Dominican Republic. Ayeni, seeded No. 11, beat the No. 7, No. 4 and No. 1 seeds to reach the final, where he defeated No. 2 seed Salvador Mijares of Venezuela 6-2, 6-1.  Ayeni and Robert Loeb won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds taking a 7-6(8), 7-5 decision from No. 4 seeds Valentino Caratini and Camilo Ugo Carabelli of Argentina.

At the $50,000 Sacramento women's Pro Circuit tournament, which finished late last night, 2014 US Open girls finalist Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, the No. 8 seed, beat top seed An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. It's the third Pro Circuit title for the 18-year-old, but the first at the $50,000 level.

Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey(Tennessee) won the doubles title, beating another unseeded pair, Nao Hibino of Japan and Rosie Johanson of Canada, 6-4, 3-6, 14-12 in the final. It's Whoriskey's ninth pro doubles title, but her first at a $50,000 tournament and her first with Weinhold as a partner.

The third and final tournament in the USTA's Women's US Open Wild Card Challenge is this week in Lexington.  As you can see from the standings chart, it's still anyone's wild card, although Brooke Austin lost in the first round of Lexington qualifying to Jamie Loeb, so she can't accumulate any more points. Loeb is one of five Americans in Tuesday's final round of qualifying.

The men's Lexington Challenger is just the second of their three tournaments, and next week at Aptos is a $100,000 event, so there is a very long way to go in that race. Noah Rubin qualified for Lexington with three wins, including a win over No. 2 seed Frederik Nielsen of Denmark and today's victory over Dimitar Kutrovsky(7) of Bulgaria. Alex Kuznetsov also qualified, putting a total of eight Americans in the main draw.


Rain has stopped play at the BB&T Atlanta Open today, but Jared Donaldson, Austin Krajicek and Denis Kudla won their final qualifying matches to join nine Americans already in the main draw. Donaldson, who was unseeded in the qualifying, beat Gastao Elias of Portugal in the first round, No. 5 seed JP Smith of Australia in the second round and No. 2 seed Guido Pella of Argentina in today's final round of qualifying. Kudla, the No. 1 seed, won both his qualifying matches in straight sets, as did No. 3 seed Krajicek.

The lower level Pro Circuit events this week are a $15,000 Futures for the men in Edwardsville, Illinois, and a $10,000 tournament for women in Austin, Texas.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mmoh, Herring, Dome and Jones Win Pro Circuit Titles; Bondar and Ymer Claim European Championships; USTA Girls 18 Team Event Underway

Four Americans collected singles titles today, three in North America and the fourth in Egypt.

Julia Jones, a recent Ole Miss graduate, won her first pro title at an $10,000 ITF Pro Circuit event in Egypt, after reaching the finals in singles and doubles the previous week as a qualifier. The unseeded 21-year-old, who received a special exemption into this week's tournament, defeated the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds en route to the final, where she beat unseeded Giada Clerici of Italy 6-3, 6-4.  Jones talks about her victory and her decision to play pro tennis after graduation in this article from the Ole Miss website. Jones, who was not initially named to compete in the American Collegiate Invitational, may be receiving the remaining wild card, although I'm not certain if that's the competition the article is referring to.


Another No. 1 player in the SEC last season, Georgia's Lauren Herring, claimed her first Pro Circuit title since 2010 at the $10,000 tournament in Evansville, Indiana. Herring, a qualifier, defeated Alabama incoming freshman Andie Daniell 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 in today's final.  Herring, who had reached the finals in singles and doubles at the $10,000 tournament in Charlotte last month, won eight singles matches to take the title in Evansville, while also reaching the doubles final.

At the Godfrey, Illinois $15,000 Futures, No. 6 seed Michael Mmoh won his second career title at that level with a tough 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win over Illinois rising senior Jared Hiltzik, the No. 8 seed. Mmoh, who also won a $15,000 Futures in Texas last fall, will now break into the ATP Top 500 when the points are added in two weeks.  Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today was at the final, and he has promised a report on the final, which featured (according to Knight's twitter feed) a rain delay, a medical timeout, a conceded point by Hiltzik, and a shirt-tossing celebration by Mmoh when it was all over.

At the $15,000 Futures in British Columbia, former Cal Poly All-American Andre Dome has also assured himself a place in the ATP Top 500, winning the title with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 decision over top seed Matt Reid of Australia.  The 24-year-old No. 2 seed also captured the doubles title with former Pepperdine star Finn Tearney of New Zealand. Those two titles now give Dome the fourth and fifth of his career, three singles and two doubles, all earned this year.


The European Championships ended today, and at the ITF Grade B1 in Switzerland the boys champion was no surprise, while the girls champion was unexpected.

Wimbledon finalist Mikael Ymer, who won the European 14s title in 2012 and was runnerup last in the 16s, added the 18s title to his resume. The 16-year-old, seeded No. 2, beat unseeded Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

The girls title went to Anna Bondar of Hungary, an 18-year-old playing in her first junior event of the year.  The unseeded Bondar defeated No. 12 seed Jil Teichmann of Switzerland 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the final. Teichmann had taken out top seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the semifinals.

Vondrousova and her partner Miriam Kolodziejova won the doubles title, avenging their Wimbledon semifinal loss to Hungary's Dalma Galfi and Fanni Stollar, a loss that ended the Czech pair's quest for a Grand Slam.  Vondrousova and Kolodziejova, the No. 2 seeds, beat Galfi and Stollar, the No. 3 seeds, 6-4, 7-5 in the final.

The boys doubles title went to the German team of Tim Sandkaulen and Louis Wessels, with the No. 3 seeds beating unseeded Alexander Erler and Matthias Haim of Austria 7-6(4), 6-1 in the final.

The 16s titles both went to Czech players. Top seed Patrik Rikl defeated No. 8 seed Artem Dubrivnyy of Russia 6-4, 6-1 in the boys final, and unseeded Anna Slovakova beat No. 2 seed Elena Rybakina of Russia 6-0, 2-6, 6-3 in the girls final.

Unseeded Iga Swiatek of Poland, a 2014 Junior Orange Bowl 14s semifinalist, won the girls 14s title, beating top seed Taisya Pachkaleva of Russia 6-2, 6-1 in the final. No. 8 seed Duje Ajdukovic of Croatia won the boys 14s title, beat No. 4 seed Filip Jianu of Romania 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. 

Complete draws can be found at the Tennis Europe tournament page.

I mentioned the USTA Boys 18 Team Championships in yesterday's post. The USTA Girls 18 Team Championships began today in Claremont, California, with the TennisLink site here.  Results can be found by selecting Flight (there's only one), Round (1 was today) and match.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mmoh vs Hiltzik, Daniell vs Herring in Pro Circuit Finals; Bryde and Paul Win Qualifying Matches at BB&T Atlanta Open; USTA Boys 18 Team Event Underway


Michael Mmoh has reached his second career Futures final at the $15,000 Pro Circuit event and will face Jared Hiltzik in Sunday's final in Godfrey, Illinois.  Mmoh, the No. 6 seed, beat No. 7 seed Evan King 6-4, 6-3 in Saturday's semifinals, while No. 8 seed Hiltzik, a rising senior at Illinois, defeated Clay Thompson 6-2, 6-3 to reach the first Pro Circuit final of his career.

At the $10,000 women's event in Evansville, Andie Daniell reached her first Pro Circuit final, with the 17-year-old incoming Alabama freshman winning a grueling 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 decision from No. 7 seed Alexa Graham in Saturday's semifinals.  Daniell will play qualifier Lauren Herring, the Georgia All-American who is in her second $10,000 final since graduating in May.  Herring defeated Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the other semifinal Saturday.

Herring and teammate Kennedy Shaffer lost in the doubles final Saturday, with the unseeded pair falling to top seeds Nicha Lertpitaksinchai and Peangtarn Plipuech of Thailand 6-2, 6-3.

Wild card Brooke Austin defeated Robin Anderson in Friday night's quarterfinal at the $50,000 Sacramento tournament, but lost to No. 8 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 7-5, 6-1 in the semifinals.  Kalinina will play top seed An Sophie Mestach of Belgium in Sunday's final. By advancing to the semifinals, Austin now ties Sanaz Marand for the top spot in the USTA US Open Wild Card Challenge with one more tournament this coming week in Lexington, left to decide it.

At the Binghamton Challenger, top seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain will take on No. 2 seed Bjorn Fratangelo in the final after Edmund defeated qualifier Sekou Bangoura 6-3, 7-6(4) and Fratangelo downed Brydan Klein of Great Britain 6-4, 6-2.

In the first round of qualifying for the BB&T Atlanta Open, 15-year-old Trent Bryde and Tommy Paul picked up victories.  Bryde defeated Catalin-Ionut Gard 7-6(4), 6-2 to advance to a second round match against top qualifying seed Denis Kudla.  Paul defeated fellow wild card Walker Duncan 6-3, 7-6(9) and will play No. 8 seed Sugita of Japan in the second round.  The fourth wild card, Reilly Opelka, lost to unseeded Shuichi Sekiguchi of Japan 6-4, 6-4.  Jared Donaldson also reached the second round of qualifying with a win today.

The Atlanta main draw has been posted, with wild card Frances Tiafoe drawing Sam Groth of Australia and wild card Christopher Eubanks, a rising sophomore at Georgia Tech, playing Czech veteran Radek Stepanek.

The USTA's Boys 18s Team Championships got underway today at the University of Illinois.  The draw is here, and the rosters for each section are here. Live streaming is available at a cost of $19.99 for the event.

Friday, July 24, 2015

USA's World Junior Tennis Teams Named; Mmoh Reaches Godfrey Futures Semifinals; Daniell, Graham Advance in Evansville

The teams that will represent the USA in the ITF's World Junior Tennis 14-and-under team competition have been announced, with no changes in the teams that represented the USA in North American qualifying in Boca Raton several months ago.

Caty McNally, Hurricane Tyra Black and Amanda Anisimova will travel to Prostejov, Czech Republic for the girls competition among 16 nations, which begins August 3rd and ends August 8th.  Adam Neff, Brandon Nakashima and Govind Nanda will be one of 16 boys teams in Prostejov.  Both teams went undefeated in North American qualifying, and I anticipate the girls will be among the top seeds when the draw is made. Kathy Rinaldi will coach the girls team and Eric Nunez the boys team.

At the $15,000 Godfrey Futures, Michael Mmoh has reached the semifinals, the fourth time in his career that the 17-year-old has gotten that far (he has one Futures title). Mmoh, the No. 6 seed, beat Ben McLachlan of New Zealand 6-3, 6-1 today, and will play No. 7 seed Evan King, who took out wild card Nick Chappell by the same score.  The top half of the draw will be a rematch of the 2013 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate men's final, with Clay Thompson facing No. 8 seed Jared Hiltzik. Thompson, who beat Hiltzik 6-4, 7-5 in New York, defeated qualifier Kyle Koch 7-6(2), 7-6(4), while Hiltzik came back to beat qualifier Gonzales Austin 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.  King and Thompson have both won Futures titles this year. Hiltzik is hoping to reach his first Futures final with a win Saturday.

Jordi Arconada of Argentina and Dominic Cotrone, the No. 4 seeds, won the doubles title in Godfrey, beating unseeded Fred Saba and John Lamble 6-4, 6-4 in the final.


At the women's $10,000 Pro Circuit event in Evansville, 17-year-old Alexa Graham and 18-year-old Andie Daniell have advanced to the semifinals, where they will play each other. Graham, the No. 7 seed, defeated qualifier Frances Altick 6-1, 6-1 and Daniell ousted No. 4 seed Francesca Segarelli of the Dominican Republic 6-3, 7-6(4).  Daniell, who will be starting at Alabama this fall, is through to her first Pro Circuit semifinal in singles. Graham has reached two finals at $10,000 events this year.

The other semifinal will feature qualifier Lauren Herring, the recent Georgia graduate, against Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway.

The Binghamton Challenger will feature two Americans, with qualifier Sekou Bangoura meeting top seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain in one semifinal and No. 2 seed Bjorn Fratangelo facing No. 6 seed Brydan Klein, also of Great Britain, in the other.

The qualifying draw of the BB&T Open in Atlanta is out, with Tommy Paul, Reilly Opelka, Walker Duncan and Trent Bryde receiving wild cards.  Paul and Duncan, who were to be teammates at Georgia before Paul turned pro this summer, meet in the first round.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Smith, Rohrbacher Capture New Balance High School Titles; Auger-Aliassime Wins Again in Granby Challenger; Teens Reach Quarterfinals in Sacramento, Granby, Godfrey and Evansville

The New Balance High School Tennis Championships concluded today in Boston, with Keegan Smith and Olivia Rohrbacher winning the titles.
From the tournament:

Keegan Smith of San Diego defeated Jaird Meyer of Los Angeles 6-1, 6-3 to win the boys’ title. Keegan was able to get off to a quick start early in the match. After that he used his big game to dictate play throughout to get the victory.

Olivia Rohrbacher of Sandusky, OH defeated Jenna Moustafa of Los Angeles (a finalist last year as well) 6-4, 6-4 to win the girls’ title. Olivia and Jenna had a very tight match, but Olivia came up big on some important points  throughout. She moved up on her return of serve and was dictating the points early in play to close it out.

In addition to the titles, Smith and Rohrbacher also receive wild cards into the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships in College Park Maryland next month.  Complete draws are at the tournament's TennisLink site.

Fourteen-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada defeated ATP No. 205 Darian King of Barbados 7-5, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Granby Challenger. Auger-Aliassime, who turns 15 in two weeks, is the youngest player to ever reach an ATP Challenger quarterfinal.  He will play No. 4 seed Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan, who, at 19, is a seasoned veteran compared to Auger-Aliassime.  

Former Florida State star Jean-Yves Aubone, who lost to Auger-Aliassime in the final round of qualifying, got into the main draw as a lucky loser and has advanced to the first Challenger quarterfinal of his career.  Eric Quigley, the 2012 NCAA finalist from Kentucky, has also reached a Challenger quarterfinal for the first time, beating Peter Polansky of Canada tonight 6-3, 0-6. 7-5.  

Overshadowed by Auger-Aliassime is another Canadian teenager having a breakout tournament in Granby.  Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Robillard-Millette, who received a wild card into the $50,000 ITF Women's event in Granby moved into the quarterfinals with a 0-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) win over No. 8 seed Amandine Hess of France.  Eighteen-year-old Ellie Halbauer has reached her second quarterfinal at the $50,000 level, beating Laura Robson of Great Britain 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. Robson had been injured and out of competition for more than a year until last month, but regardless of the circumstances, that's a great win for Halbauer.

Sixteen-year-old CiCi Bellis and 19-year-old Brooke Austin have advanced to the quarterfinals of the $50,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Sacramento. Bellis, the No. 3 seed, defeated Asia Muhammad 2-6, 6-1, 6-1, while Austin beat No. 2 seed and WTA 165 Eri Hozumi of Japan 7-5, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals of a $50K for the first time in her career.  Austin will play fellow wild card Robin Anderson, who just returned from the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, where she received her ITA Player of the Year Award.  Anderson defeated teammate Jennifer Brady, the No. 5 seed, 6-3, 6-2 to pick up her second career win at the $50,000 level, with her opening round victory over Lauren Embree having been her first.  Bellis will play No. 8 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, the 2014 US Open girls finalist, in the quarterfinals.

At the $50,000 Binghamton Challenger, the teens fared less well. Frances Tiafoe lost to No. 2 seed Bjorn Fratangelo 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, while wild card Tommy Paul was beaten by Mitchell Krueger 7-5, 6-4.  Noah Rubin took the second set from top seed Kyle Edmund in a tiebreaker and they were at 1-1 in the third set when play was suspended due to darkness. 

At the $15,000 Futures in Godfrey, Illinois, Michael Mmoh reached the quarterfinals. No. 6 seed Mmoh, the only quarterfinalist without college ties, will face former Cal star Ben McLachlan of New Zealand on Friday.

The $10,000 women's event in Evansville saw its top two seeds eliminated Thursday, with qualifier Frances Altick (Vanderbilt) taking out No. 1 seed Bianca Botto of Peru 6-2, 6-2 and North Carolina recruit Sara Daavettila defeating No. 2 seed Naomi Totka of Hungary 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

DeVine, Smith Win Wild Card Tournaments, Entry into Nationals; Paul Advances at Binghamton. Joins Bryde in ATP Event in Atlanta; Kentucky's Gomez Beats Baghdatis; Are Spain and Switzerland Heading for Men's Tennis Decline?

The inaugural USTA Wild Card tournaments for entry into the 18s Nationals were completed today in Arlington, Texas, with Jake DeVine and Maria Smith earning their places in Kalamazoo and San Diego.

DeVine, the No. 2 seed, defeated unseeded Erik Kerrigan 6-2, 6-4 in the final. DeVine, who reached the final of the Kalamazoo 16s in 2013, losing to Tommy Paul, won all five of his matches in straight sets. 

Smith, also a No. 2 seed, needed only three victories to earn her wild card, with a bye and a walkover in her first two rounds.  The 18-year-old from Texas beat top seed Olivia Hauger 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the final.

The complete list of Kalamazoo wild cards:
18s

John Jorgeson
Eduardo Nava
Dennis Uspensky
Vasil Kirkov
Mwendwa Mbithi
Logan Smith
Frances Tiafoe
Jake DeVine

16s
Sean Hill 
Alexandre Rotsaert 
Matthew Rodriguez

The complete list of San Diego wild cards:
18s                                                      
Helen Altick
Summer Dvorak
Dasha Ivanova
Kaitlyn McCarthy
Maria Smith

16s       
Alexandra Angyalosy             
Emma Decoste
Abigail Desiatnikov              
Elvena Gevargiz
Britt Pursell
Stephanie Taylor

Today in Binghamton, Tommy Paul joined Frances Tiafoe in the second round of the $50,000 Challenger, defeating Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador 6-3, 7-5.  Paul has received a qualifying wild card into next week's BB&T Atlanta Open, the first ATP event in the US Open Series.  Fifteen-year-old Trent Bryde won a wild card challenge playoff today in Atlanta, earning a qualifying wild card with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Kyle Montrel of Xavier University of Louisiana.  Tiafoe was awarded a main draw wild card into the tournament last month.

At the women's $50,000 Sacramento Challenger, wild cards Brooke Austin, Jamie Loeb and Robin Anderson won their first round matches, as did Kristie Ahn and No. 5 seed Jennifer Brady. UCLA teammates Brady and Anderson will play in the second round Thursday.

After Alex Sarkissian picked up his first ATP win last night in Bogota, former Kentucky star and qualifier Alejandro Gomez of Colombia came up with an even bigger victory there tonight, beating No. 5 seed Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(3). Gomez, who completed his senior year in 2014, is ranked 698, while the former Australian Open finalist is No. 45 in the ATP rankings. For more on Gomez's win, see this article from the University of Kentucky website.

ESPN.com's Kamakshi Tandon looks at the men's talent pipeline in Switzerland and Spain and asks if those two countries are prepared for the seemingly inevitable decline they face as their superstars move closer to retirement.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tiafoe, Rubin Win Opening Round Matches at Binghamton Challenger; Auger Aliassime, 14, Reaches Second Round at Granby $100K; Sarkissian Posts First ATP Victory

It was a busy day in the Americas, with noteworthy wins from Canada to Colombia.

Frances Tiafoe, who has struggled a bit since his Challenger run this spring, picked up his first main draw win since May in the opening round of the $50,000 Challenger in Binghamton, New York. He defeated Gregoire Barrere of France 6-4, 7-6(1) today to set up a second round match against No. 2 seed Bjorn Fratangelo, who he beat back in April during the run that secured the USTA's French Open wild card.

Wild card Noah Rubin picked up his second Challenger level win, defeating Omar Jasika of Australia 6-3, 6-3 in a battle between two recent junior slam champions.  Rubin will play top seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain in the second round Thursday. Edmund beat Ernesto Escobedo 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-1.

Wimbledon champion Reilly Opelka lost his Challenger debut to qualifier Sekou Bangoura 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 after leading 4-2 in the final set.  Bangoura held and broke to pull even in the third set, and then a huge wind gust tore the wind screen from the fence, which basically made the court unplayable. After the storm passed, the players returned to the court and Bangoura held (from deuce), then broke Opelka for the win.

No. 5 seed Jared Donaldson had just completed his 6-3, 6-2 win over Takuto Niki of Japan when play was suspended. Due to the delay, Tommy Paul's match with Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador was postponed until Wednesday.

At the $15,000 Futures in Godfrey, Illinois, the top two seeds are out. Clay Thompson advanced over top seed Deiton Baughman 3-6, 7-5, 3-0 retired, and Fred Saba, the former Duke star, beat No. 2 seed Kaichi Uchida of Japan 6-4, 6-1.  Nick Chappell, the recent TCU standout, defeated No. 4 seed Harry Bourchier of Australia 7-5, 6-3.

The top two seeds in the women's $10,000 tournament in Evansville, Indiana--Bianca Botto of Peru and Naomi Totka of Hungary--will begin play on Wednesday. A host of US college and junior players are in the draw, with wild card Sara Daavettila collecting her first professional level main draw victory. No. 7 seed Alexa Graham, Daavettila's future teammate at North Carolina, defeated Francesca Di Lorenzo 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.

Qualifying for the women's $50,000 Sacramento Challenger was completed today, with Michaela Gordon moving into the main draw with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Jacqueline Cako. Nicole Frenkel defeated Kelly Chen in the final round of qualifying, but both reached the main draw, with Chen taking a lucky loser spot.  Gordon will play wild card Brooke Austin and Chen will meet wild card Jamie Loeb, with Frenkel drawing No. 6 seed Mayo Hibi of Japan.  In first round action today, No. 3 seed CiCi Bellis, No. 8 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine and No. 2 seed Eri Hozumi of Japan advanced to the second round with straight-set wins.

In Granby, Canada, at the $100,000 men's Challenger, Felix Auger-Aliassime recorded his first Challenger victory, beating fellow qualifier Andrew Whittington of Australia 6-3, 6-2.  Auger-Aliassime, who turns 15 next month, made a big splash in March when he qualified for the Drummondville Challenger, but an injury forced him to withdraw before he could play his first round match.  In Granby qualifying, he beat fellow Canadian teen Jack Lin and Jean-Yves Aubone to advance to the main draw.  Auger-Aliassime's ITF junior ranking is not high enough to get him into the junior slams, and, although he has had good results this summer in ITF events on European clay, he has yet to win an ITF tournament above a Grade 3. He will play No. 8 seed Darian King of Barbados in the second round, after King defeated qualifier Raymond Sarmiento 6-2, 6-3.

Young Canadians Katherine Sebov and Charlotte Robillard-Millette are playing the women's $50,000 tournament in Granby, with Sebov qualifying for the main draw and Robillard-Millette getting a first round win.  Qualifier Ellie Halbauer advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 6-1 win over wild card Erin Routliffe of Canada, a two-time NCAA doubles champion at Alabama.


At the ATP 250 in Bogota, Colombia, 2014 NCAA finalist Alex Sarkissian won his first ATP-level match tonight, defeating ATP No. 97 John Millman of Australia 6-3, 6-3.  The former Pepperdine star will play No. 7 seed Malek Jaziri of Tunisia in the second round.

The Tennis Recruiting Network has begun its Clay Courts Championship Week coverage with recaps of the 12s tournaments. The article on Saud Alhogbani's title is here, and Elvina Kalieva's championship is here.

The USTA's New Balance High School Championships began on Monday in Boston, and the draws can be found here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Steed Johnson: What Sean Karl and Tennessee Tennis Taught Me

Photo courtesy YourGameFace.com
Steed Johnson supported Sean Karl and his family throughout Sean's battle with cancer, which he lost last November. Johnson organized fundraising events, sold T-shirts and towels and provided a constant reminder that the tennis world was united in its support of the University of Tennessee student-athlete, who was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma during his senior year of high school.

Johnson, who played Division I tennis at Longwood University, completing his eligibility this year, contacted me about publishing his reflections on Sean's illness and the inspiration Sean and his Tennessee teammates provided in such a difficult situation. His tribute is below:

How I Became a “Vol For Life”

At this point, much of the tennis playing world has heard the name Sean Karl as well as bits and pieces of the journey this University of Tennessee tennis player endured. What a lot of the tennis playing world has not heard is the story of the journey his team endured with him. Sean Karl passed away in mid-November of 2014 and, to say the least, I was devastated to say goodbye to someone who had been my competition, my occasional teammate, and most importantly, my good friend. Little did I know when I made my way to Tennessee upon news of Sean’s passing that both the memorial and the weekend I spent with Sean’s family and teammates would change my perspective, not only on the sport of tennis but life, forever.

From a young age, those of us who play tennis competitively are often taught that it’s an individual sport and that we only have ourselves to rely on. We hear this from our parents, we hear it from our coaches and we even hear it from some of the greatest tennis players throughout the history of the sport. I myself was completely convinced of this all through juniors and then continued to think this way for three and a half years of college tennis. When you play tennis it is just you out there. There is no one else on the court besides your opponent. So when you lose, it seems like it’s all on you. When you win, it seems like it’s all on you. When you are having an off day, it seems like it’s all on you. Too often, there truly seems to be no one else to blame or to lean on when something goes bad or when you lose. There is only you. Or so I thought.

I played college tennis for Longwood University for four years. Throughout my time with Longwood’s division one program, I was pushed to my limits and was able to learn many lessons, all while being surrounded by exceptional people. But during much of that time, I felt something was missing. Every match I played I only relied on myself. Every problem I had, I relied on myself, and unfortunately it kept me from developing and reaching my full potential. Until November of 2014, I had always thought of my team as nothing more than a team of friends, unrelated but caring for each other. Three and a half years into my college career, I finally learned that this kind of thinking was not what a team or even tennis is truly about.

When I arrived in Knoxville for Sean’s celebration of life at Tennessee’s tennis facility, I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn’t know who would be there, how the event would turn out, or how I would handle everything. As I walked through the door of the facility, I was shocked. Pictures of Sean filled the room. They documented his life from a young boy all the way up to the collegiate tennis player he became. Surrounded by these memories, his teammates conversed with everyone who walked in the door. Dressed in their all orange warm-ups and looking as if they had suffered through more than a few sleepless nights, his teammates smiled and greeted the travelers who had made the trip to celebrate Sean’s life. As I would come to learn, this was the easiest of tasks the team had volunteered to do in the past months.

Once the celebration of Sean’s life officially started, I was not surprised to see his best friend, Maxx Lipman, speak. Maxx has known Sean for years and his speech was truly incredible. But when a good friend of mine, Brandon Fickey, stood to speak, I was surprised. Brandon has always been an awesome competitor and in his older years he became one of the more humble opponents I faced. I knew Brandon had played a vital role on the Tennessee team as well and that he served as captain in his senior year (2014-15). As Brandon spoke, and as he would continue to speak with me over the weekend, I learned that the show of unity when the entire team shaved their heads in Sean’s honor and the money they raised to help Sean’s family were just the tip of the iceberg. Over that weekend, I came to learn that there was so much more generosity and love than we, the outsiders, saw. And it’s this love and generosity that I want the nation to know about.

In Sean’s last months of life, he wanted to stay with his team in Knoxville instead of being at home in Nashville. Being the amazing parents they are, Laurie and Mike allowed Sean to do so and to this day will say it was one of the best decisions they ever made. At this stage in his cancer, Sean was too sick to stay alone, so Brandon opened his apartment to Sean and allowed him to live there for the remainder of his days. While living at Brandon’s, Sean still attended practices and watched from the sidelines as his team worked hard. He got mad if he ever had to miss a practice due to a doctor’s appointment. During the day, Sean had no alone time. Every person on the Tennessee team found time to spend with Sean, whether he was awake or asleep. Teammates would visit between classes and many would even go at night to study there, just to spend time with Sean. From what I heard, the apartment had a revolving door of friends always coming and going. I also learned the team had weekly meetings at the tennis center (which Sean never missed, even in his last days) to discuss their troubles and their concerns for Sean as well as to let him talk to them about what was on his mind. At the end of every meeting, the team would join hands and pray together. On weekends, one could find nearly all of the teammates over at Brandon’s apartment, either talking to Sean or watching television, just wanting to be near him. Laurie told me the team had been there for Sean as much as anyone and at times even refused to leave his side. During his last breaths, Sean was surrounded by his family and team, although I came to realize that, to Sean, family and team were one and the same. The Tennessee Men’s tennis team had become part of Sean’s family. They had been there through the good, the bad and the ugly and never gave up hope that Sean would win his battle with cancer. Throughout the journey with Sean, Brandon said he had learned how to fight and claimed that Sean had inspired him and his team much more than the team had inspired Sean, though I bet Sean would say otherwise. While spending time with Sean’s teammates and family I heard personal testimonies and stories about the vital role the team played in Sean’s life that will have to remain personal for now, for brevity’s sake. Before I left the memorial, I remember giving Laurie what she would call a “humongo hug”. She told me how amazing it was that I would come all this way for Sean. I was shocked that this woman, having just lost her son, was thanking me! And that’s when I realized that everything that had happened this November weekend had happened because of what Sean had done for his team and what they had done for him. What was amazing wasn’t that someone like me would drive all the way for Sean, but that Sean was the kind of person who could inspire me and countless others to drive any distance just to say goodbye.

As I gave my final farewells and walked away from the memorial to begin my journey home, I suddenly realized that the idea of tennis as an individual sport is an illusion. In an instant, Sean Karl and his team shattered that illusion for me. Throughout Sean’s battle, his team was there supporting him as he continued to support them. They were all in it together. It took me three and a half years of college tennis to finally realize that we are not alone out there on the courts, and I must give the credit to Sean Karl and the Tennessee Men’s tennis team. Without you all sharing your stories and allowing me to be a part of the journey, I would never have experienced my final semester of college tennis quite like I did. I would have continued to fully rely on myself and no one else, thinking I was all alone out there. But, the truth is, I was not alone because with me was a team that I will call my family for the rest of my life.

Thank you, Sean Karl and all of the Tennessee Men’s Tennis Team, for showing me what a team is all about. Thank you for opening my eyes to things I couldn’t see before. And thank you for making me a “Vol For Life.”

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ram Wins Second ATP Title in Newport; Rublev Delivers in Davis Cup; Binghamton and Sacramento Challengers, European Championships on Tap


Rajeev Ram won the second ATP title of his career today, defeating No. 2 seed Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(2) in the final of the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, Rhode Island.  Ram, who played on the 2003 NCAA championship team at Illinois, won his first ATP title in 2009, also in Newport.  Ram defeated top seed John Isner in the opening round, saving a match point, and saved two match points in his win over No. 5 seed Adrian Mannarino of France in the quarterfinals. Ram, currently ranked 161, will move inside the ATP Top 90, assuring himself a spot in the main draw of the US Open.  For more on the final, see the ATP website.

The final day of Davis Cup play provided plenty of drama, with Australia coming back from 2-0 down against Kazakhstan to reach the semifinals against Great Britain, with veterans Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt getting the two single wins Sunday.  Argentina beat Serbia 4-1 and will meet Belgium in the other semifinal, after Belgium shut out Canada.

Russia claimed the second comeback from 2-0 down of the weekend, defeating Spain in Zone Group I Playoffs to earn a place in the September World Group Playoffs.  2014 ITF World Junior Champion Andrey Rublev had lost in straight sets to Tommy Robredo to open the tie, but in the fifth rubber, the 17-year-old beat ATP No. 32 Pablo Andujar 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-3 to seal the win.   For all results, see the Davis Cup website.

The $50,000 Stockton Challenger, the first of three tournaments designated for the USTA's US Open wild card challenge, featured two international players in the final, with No. 5 seed Nao Hibino of Japan defeating top seed An Sophie Mestach of Belgium 6-1, 7-6(6).  Sanaz Marand reached the semifinals in singles to take the lead in the Wild Card Challenge, with two more tournaments, in Sacramento and Lexington, remaining.  No. 4 seeds Marand and Jamie Loeb, both stars at North Carolina, won the doubles championship, beating former USC standouts Danielle Lao and Kaitlyn Christian 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

The men's wild card challenge begins tomorrow at the $50,000 tournament in Binghamton, New York.  Reilly Opelka, Tommy Paul and Noah Rubin received wild cards into the main draw, as did Great Britain's Kyle Edmund, who is the top seed. Frances Tiafoe received entry based on his ranking. Opelka plays a qualifier, Paul faces former Texas Tech star Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador, Rubin meets 2014 US Open boys champion Omar Jasika of Australia and Tiafoe's first round opponent is Gregoire Barrere of France.  Bjorn Fratangelo(2), Jared Donaldson(5), Daniel Nguyen(7), Dennis Novikov, Mitchell Krueger, Dennis Nevolo and Ryan Sweeting are the other US men in the draw, as well as Marco Giron and Sekou Bangoura, who qualified today. Austin Smith(Georgia) and Ernesto Escobedo will decide the third American qualifier tomorrow, and Nick Meister can join them with a win over Great Britain's Luke Bambridge in their final round qualifying match.

The first round of qualifying for the women's tournament in Sacramento is underway, with the main draw yet to be released.

After a couple of weeks on grass, the ITF Junior Circuit in Europe returned to clay. At the Grade 1 in Austria, No. 7 seed Ugo Humbert took the boys title in an all-French contest, beating unseeded Evan Furness 6-4, 6-3.  No. 14 seed Georgia Craciun of Romania took the girls title, beating unseeded qualifier Anastasia Zarytska 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5) in the final. Nada Dimovska of the US qualified and reached the third round, beating the No. 7 seed in the second round.

The European championships begin in three different locations on the continent next week. The ITF Grade B1 is in Switzerland, with Corentin Dennolly of France and Mikael Ymer of Sweden the top two boys seeds, and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic and Dalma Galfi of Hungary No. 1 and No. 2 in the girls draw.

The 16s division is in Moscow, with Patrik Rikl of the Czech Republic the top boys seed and Olesya Pervushina of Russia the No. 1 girls seed.

At the 14s division, held in the Czech Republic, Timofey Skatov of Russia is the No. 1 boys seed and Taisya Pachkaleva of Russia is No. 1 in the girls draw.

Links to the draws and order of play for all three age divisions is available at this Tennis Europe website page.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Clay Court Champions Crowned; Pierre-Louis Sweeps Titles at ITF Grade 4 in Jamaica; Bobby Reynolds Joins Roddick at Oklahoma; The Lighter Side of Junior Tennis

Rain hampered several USTA Clay Court finals today, but all champions have been decided (result of boys 12s doubles final posted Sunday morning). Two top seeds won singles titles: Sam Riffice in the boys 18s and Alexa Noel in the girls 14s. Riffice, 16, has earned a US Open Junior championships main draw wild card with his victory over Alexandre Rotsaert.  Girls 18s champion Ellyse Hamlin, who like Riffice, won singles and doubles titles today, beat fellow Duke recruit Kaitlyn McCarthy in the singles final. Hamlin is not eligible for the US Open junior wild card, because she turns 19 in November, making her too old by the ITF calendar-year system of eligibility.

Boys 18s:
Sam Riffice(1) def. Alexandre Rotsaert (17) 7-6, 6-3
Vasil Kirkov and Riffice(2) def. William Genesen and Johnathan Small(8)  6-3, 6-4

Girls 18s:

Ellyse Hamlin(6) def.  Kaitlyn McCarthy(17) 6-7(8), 6-1, 7-5
Katherine Fahey and Hamlin(2) def. Madison Battaglia and Victoria Flores 7-6(4), 6-0



Boys 16s:
Danny Thomas(17) def. Aleks Huryn(17) 6-2, 6-4
Blake Croyder and Bradley Frye def. Aleksandar Kovacevic and Robert Maciag 7-6, 6-4

Girls 16s:
Samantha Martinelli(2) def. Natasha Subhash(1) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2
Subhash and Ann Li(2) def. Anna Brylin and Clarissa Hand(4) 2-6, 7-5, 6-2

Boys 14s:
William Grant(7) def. Jenson Brooksby(4) 7-6(2), 6-3
Garret Johns and Scott Sculley(9) def. Connor Fu and JanMagnus Johnson(7) 5-7, 6-0, 6-1

Girls 14s:
Alexa Noel(1) def. Hailey Baptiste(17) 6-4, 6-3
Chloe Beck and Reilly Tran(2) def. Carmen Corley and Katelyn Thomas(9) 6-1, 6-3

Boys 12s:
Saud Alhogbani(12) def. Karl Lee(4) 6-1, 6-4
Evan Lee and Thomas Navarro(10) def. Benjamin Kittay and Lee(2) 7-6, 5-7, 6-4

Girls 12s:
Elvina Kalieva(9) def. Charlotte Owensby(1) 1-6, 6-4, 6-3
Owensby and Rachel Arbitman(2) def. Savannah Broadus and Kenadee Semenik(1) 4-6, 7-5, 6-1

Kariann Pierre-Louis remained undefeated in ITF junior play this month, sweeping the singles and doubles titles at a Grade 4 for the second week in a row.  The 16-year-old from Miami, seeded No. 1,  lost only 15 games in her five singles victories in Jamaica, beating No. 2 seed Rika Tanaka of Japan 6-1, 6-4 in the final.  Last week Pierre-Louis won the doubles with Naomi Waters, this week she partnered Safiya Carrington, and the No. 3 seeds defeated unseeded Y-kit Tan of Singapore and Elysia Bolton 7-5, 7-5 in the final.  Camilo Ugo Carabelli of Argentina swept the boys titles, with the No. 6 seed beating No. 2 seed William Tutecky of Canada 6-3, 6-4 in the singles final. In the doubles final, Ugo Carabelli and fellow Argentine Valentino Caratini, the No. 3 seeds, beat unseeded Andrew Fenty and Tristan McCormick 7-6(2), 2-6, 10-6.

There has yet to be an official announcement, but former ATP Top 100 player Bobby Reynolds has accepted the men's assistant coaching position at Oklahoma.  Reynolds takes over for Bo Hodge, who is now the men's associate head coach at Georgia. Reynolds, who turned 33 yesterday, spent three years at Vanderbilt, leading the team to the NCAA championship match in 2003 and finishing No. 1 in the singles rankings that year. He turned pro after his junior year, but returned to complete his degree at Vanderbilt this year after retiring from the tour last year.

This post by Avery Shackelford at mytennislessons.com, entitled "Fifteen Things You'll Understand if You Played Junior Tennis", is a humorous look back at some of the experiences that make the competitive side of the sport so memorable for a young competitor.