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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Emma's First Pro Win a Big One; Fritz Advances in Miami Open, Mmoh Falls; USTA Announces Junior Leadership Team

Sixteen-year-old Victoria Emma played her first Pro Circuit event last summer in Spain and her second this week in Naples. Emma lost in the first round of that $10,000 tournament last year, but as a wild card in this week's $25,000 tournament in Florida she pulled off a stunning win, beating No. 8 seed Jovana Jaksic of Serbia 6-0, 6-4 in just over an hour.

Emma, who trains at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Naples, has verbally committed to Florida for 2017. She has brought her ITF junior ranking up to a career-high 117 now, but this is a different level, with Jaksic having reached 102 in the WTA rankings two years ago (she is at 186 right now).  Next up for her will be 19-year-old Francoise Abanda of Canada, who won last week's $25,000 tournament in Mexico and received a special exemption into Naples this week.

Emma and partner Allie Collins of Great Britain, another Sanchez-Casal student, had earned a doubles win Tuesday over Jamie Loeb and Sanaz Marand 6-2, 0-6, 10-8.

Other Americans to advance to the second round in Naples are Maria Sanchez, Katerina Stewart(5) and Grace Min, who defeated No. 2 seed An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium 6-3, 6-1.

American qualifiers had a tough day today in the first round of the Miami Open with Dennis Novikov, Bjorn Fratangelo and lucky loser Jared Donaldson all falling in straight sets. Wild card Michael Mmoh also failed to advance, although he hung with fellow 18-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany until the end in a 7-6(3), 7-6(4) loss. Mmoh was playing on Stadium Court, undoubtedly the biggest court he'd ever played on, and after a slew of double faults early in the match, he was able to adjust. Zverev didn't play an outstanding match, and trailed 3-0(two breaks) in the second set, but his experience on the tour the past year provided him with enough confidence on the key points to survive. He will play Steve Johnson(31) in the second round.

One American qualifier did win his opening match, with Taylor Fritz taking out Italy's Simone Bolelli 6-4, 6-2 this evening. Fritz will play No. 8 seed David Ferrer of Spain in the second round.

Tommy Paul and Tim Smyczek, the other two American qualifiers, play each other on Thursday.

Both US women who qualified, Samantha Crawford and Anna Tatishvili, lost today, but many other American women advanced, including Irina Falconi, Vania King, CoCo Vandeweghe(who beat Crawford 6-4, 7-5) and Christina McHale.  Rajeev Ram provided the US men with a second victory on Wednesday.

Wild card CiCi Bellis, who made the third round in Miami last year, and Monica Puig of Puerto Rico are playing later tonight.

The order of play for Thursday is up at the tournament website.

At the $25,000 Futures in Calabasas, Dennis Nevolo, Eric Quigley(7) and Mitchell Krueger(3) won today, joining Ernesto Escobedo and Sekou Bangoura(4) in Thursday's second round.

The USTA has formed a Junior Leaders Team from nominations provided by its sections.  This team was introduced to provide recognition of the efforts of juniors in displaying outstanding sportsmanship and community service.  The players named to the team:

Photos of the 2016 team members can be found at usta.com.


Quadruple Header - ITA said...

Arkansas Womens tennis team played FOUR matches against the same team yesterday, Jackson State.

What good does that do for the health and development of the student-athlete?

That's embarrassing for the school and the ITA.

Brent said...

That is embarrassing. How does a coach or AD look themselves in the mirror after that? But, the .500 rule is clearly ridiculous as well and that is what is driving this behavior. Can the .500 rule, pick the best 64 teams for the NCAA tournament. If they played a brutal schedule and are below .500 but the data shows they are one of the best 64, take them. There is an easy way to fix this but it makes our sport look like a clown show.

Brent said...

Does anyone have a report from someone who witnessed the Illinois/Kentucky match yesterday? Jared Hiltzik was on Twitter accusing multiple officials of blatant cheating. He has a great reputation so would be surprised if it is just sour grapes after a loss. Obviously would be interested in an unbiased opinion, but it sounded really bad.

Quadruple Header - ITA said...

Regarding the multiple matches, the NCAA does a disservice about the .500 rule. I understand in some college sports it may benefit the sport and student-athlete but in tennis, it has become has huge disaster and needs an immediate change after this season.

The ITA proposed a shorter format for fan experience and TV, but barely any matches are on tv and tennis is not getting more fans because of the format. The ITA needs to look at what is best for the student-athlete. The 6 game no-ad doubles set is so short for such a pivotal point. Also. Fans want to see more doubles, not less. Also the multiple matches in one day is horrendous for the student-athlete, especially when the matches are against such inferior teams - scores don't even reach 6-2 in any set. (Alabama men 6 matches in one day in 2015 & Arkansas women 4 matches in one day yesterday, as listed above). This needs to stop.

No-Ad in singles is changing the strategy and the mentality of the game of tennis. This needs to change. More cheating occurs and majority of the players do not like it. Junior tennis and Pro tennis play ad-scoring in singles, why does college tennis have to be different?

Brent - you are correct, it is turning into a clown show and the ITA head's are the only ones enjoying the full entertainment.

Larry said...

Regarding multiple day matches.
Arkansas men played Jackson State 4 times this year.
Baylor men played Prairie View AM 3 times earlier this month after already playing them once in late Jan.