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Monday, March 14, 2016

Seven US Players Start Grade A Porto Alegre with Wins; Gil Reyes, Mardy Fish to Work with USTA Player Development; Sarmiento Wins First Pro Singles Title; Zhu Qualifies for Bakersfield Futures

The first day of action at the ITF Grade A Campeonato Internacional Juvenil de Tenis de Porto Alegre (which I'll refer to as Porto Alegre for simplicity's sake) saw seven Americans advance to the second round, with seven others losing their opening round matches, including two seeds.

Qualifiers Brian Cernoch and Robert Loeb earned victories, as did Gianni Ross and No. 12 seed Zeke Clark.  Alexandre Rotsaert, Nathan Perrone and No. 11 seed Sam Riffice lost their first round matches.
In the girls draw, Caty McNally won in three sets, while No. 3 seed Amanda Anisimova and No. 5 seed Maria Mateas posted easy wins. No. 16 seed Hurricane Tyra Black lost, as did Sabina Dadaciu, Julia Goldberg and Jada Robinson.

The remaining 18 US players, including top seed and defending champion Usue Arconada, will play their first round matches on Tuesday. The order of play can be found at the tournament website.

The USTA announced last week that Gil Reyes, known for his fitness work with Andre Agassi, will be part of its Player Development program, as will Mardy Fish, who had been working with players at a USTA-sponsored preseason camp in Carson. The complete release is below:



WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., March 10, 2016 – The USTA today announced that Gil Reyes, Andre Agassi’s longtime strength and conditioning trainer, will begin working with USTA Player Development as a “master strength and conditioning coach,” while former world No. 7 Mardy Fish will continue his work with Player Development as an “expert consultant,” for Men’s Tennis, coaching and advising men in the Top 100.

Reyes will host select groups of American junior, collegiate and professional men’s and women’s players for strength and conditioning training camps at his Las Vegas facility. Reyes is widely known for training Agassi throughout his career, and Agassi credits Reyes’ training as a main reason for the eight-time Grand Slam champion’s late-career revival. Reyes has also worked with tennis players such as Caroline Wozniacki, Fernando Verdasco, Grigor Dimitrov and Sania Mirza, and partnered with Agassi to launch the BILT by Agassi & Reyes line of fitness equipment.

Fish has been brought on as an “expert consultant” for men’s pro tennis with USTA Player Development. Fish began working with Player Development in the offseason at the USTA Training Center – West in Carson, Calif., and will focus on coaching and advising men in the Top 100.

These are the latest in a series of moves made by USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. Fish was brought on late last year for the men’s pre-season training block in Carson, designed to help American pros and top juniors prepare for the upcoming year, in particular the Australian Open. It is part of a strategy to involve former champions and top American players in the development of current American pros and juniors. Other such former pros and champions to be involved have included Billie Jean King, Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, Lisa Raymond, Jill Craybas, Michael Russell, Brian Baker, Marianne Werdel and Ann Grossman-Wunderlich, among others.

“Our approach is to look for systematic ways to give our players any competitive advantage that we can, in conjunction with and in collaboration with their private coaches,” Blackman said. “‘Let’s leave no stone unturned’ characterizes our approach to supporting our players, and the additions of Gil Reyes and Mardy Fish are a part of our ongoing initiative to re-engage master trainers, former players and past champions.”

More recently, USTA Player Development announced the creation of its Team USA – Pro department, led by Kathy Rinaldi and Tom Gullikson and designed to provide professional men’s and women’s players with coaching assistance, training and financial resources to help them reach the Top 100. 

Although I reviewed the results of the North American Pro Circuit events yesterday, I neglected to mention that former USC Trojan Raymond Sarmiento won his first pro singles title at a $10,000 tournament in France. The 23-year-old Southern Californian, who completed his collegiate eligibility in 2014, lost only one set en route to the title. He defeated 16-year-old Corentin Moutet of France 6-4, 6-4 in the championship match, with neither player being seeded.

There's still another day of qualifying at the $10,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Orlando, but qualifying is complete at the $25,000 USTA Men's Pro Circuit tournament in Bakersfield, California.
Americans who have advanced to the main draw are wild card Sekou Bangoura, Denis Nguyen and 17-year-old Evan Zhu. I had talked to Zhu after he reached the final round of qualifying in Plantation last month, and he was eager to reach the main draw after having fallen at the final hurdle twice before. He did not win that day either, but today he beat Tyler Hochwalt 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the main draw of a Futures for the first time. This is the first Futures where Zhu needed only three wins to reach the main draw. The other three Futures where he made the final round required four wins to advance.

There are two tournaments in Texas this week, a new WTA $125K event in San Antonio and an ATP $125K + hospitality event in Irving. There was no qualifying for the women's event, which has a 32-player draw.  CiCi Bellis, who received a wild card, won her first round match today against WTA No. 60 and No. 8 seed Nao Hibino of Japan 6-3, 6-2. Samantha Crawford defeated No. 2 seed and WTA No. 35 Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 2-6, 6-1, 7-5. 

The final round of qualifying for the Irving tournament is Tuesday, with current collegiate players Cameron Norrie(TCU) and Nathaniel Lammons(SMU) hoping to earn a spot in the main draw. Former collegians Jakob Sude (Oklahoma State), Michael Venus(LSU), Ryan Haviland(Stanford) and Jason Jung(Michigan) are also in the final round of qualifying. Frances Tiafoe and Ryan Harrison received wild cards into the main draw.


News Flash! said...

This Just In: Baylor Men crush title contender Prairie View A&M in a match triple header 4-0, 6-1, and 7-0 to boost their winning percentage!

Seeing Thru Baylor said...

Teams Ruining The ITA Game: Teams like Baylor are ruining the collegiate game. Since the Baylor Men can't win many matches against D1 teams this year, they have elected to play triple-headers against scabs to erroneously boost their win-loss records. The ITA needs to step up and take punitive action to penalize programs for flagrantly violating the intent of true competition for their own selfish gains.

Bend The Rules For A Win said...

I was looking over the Baylor Men's results over the weekend. Talk about bending the rules to the point of breaking them, Prairie View only had FIVE players. This is borderline unethical and more mickey mouse than Disney World.

Cheaters Never Win said...

Someone explain to me how it's legal for Baylor to play the same inept team three times in one day to pad their win/loss record?

Where is the ITA? said...

Alabama Mens Team played 6 matches in one day last season. Let me repeat - 6 MATCHES IN ONE DAY! They played Jacksonville State and Jackson State 3 times each.

Their record went from 2-8 to 8-8 in ONE DAY.

That's embarrassing and what is the ITA doing about this? NOTHING!

You need to learn how college tennis works said...

There are two facts about college tennis/ITA you need to learn. First,
These matches have no bearing on rankings. A team's overall W/L record has little impact on rankings. Rankings are based on your best "X" number of wins. At this point in the season, only something like your best 5 or 6 WINS count. As the season goes along, the computer counts 9 or 10 wins total. Also, who you Lose to has a small impact. PV will not be counted for Baylor in the computer. These matches are irrelevant for rankings purposes.

Secondly, one can only play a certain number of "Match Days" over the course of the year. This number includes fall tournaments and dual matches. In the spring, you can play as many team matches as you want in one day. It still only counts as 1 "Match Day."

FYI said...

the three matches played on one day do count as a "match day"…but….they go on your record as three wins . Div 1 teams have to have at least a .500 record to be considered for the NCAA's…

ITA needs to change said...

Everyone knows how the college format works so thank you for the lesson.

What is being written is the amount of matches schools are allowed to play - double headers, triple headers, and even 6 matches in one day. Those matches won't help the ranking but they will keep them in the mix for the awful .500 rule which allows them to play NCAA's.

The ITA has the ability to limit the matches but they appear to think playing triple headers or double headers are healthy and great for the student-athlete. Also the product of having boring Dave vs Goliath matches awhere the scores are 6-1, 6-0 across the board is the from the brand of college tennis and for the fans. BORING!!!!

ITA - explanation please said...

Why do you think it's a great idea to play "as many team matches as you want in one day"?

How is playing multiple matches in one day great for the student-athlete? More importantly, playing triple headers or more in one day.

I have yet to hear an educated explanation on the validity of this rule.

Switch to Deccaf said...

I think everyone agrees, 3+ matches against a weak opponent is silly. That said, how widespread is this issue? 2-3 schools out of 250+? Not sure I understand the outrage. If the coaches are concerned about it I'm sure the ITA will try to propose some type of legislation to prevent it. Keep in mind, it's NCAA rules that the schools follow in regard to playing dates. The ITA (through a conference) can propose some type of rule to prevent it, but NCAA has to adopt it. Honestly I'm not outraged over Baylor's triple header. Take away two of those win and they are 9-4. They play a very difficult schedule with a ton of top 25 teams on it. Let's save the outrage until May and if they are one match above .500.

Definitely Don't Drink Baylor Koolaid said...

Baylor will struggle to finish with a .500 record now that they are about to start Big 12 conference play where they are projected to lose every match. It's hilarious someone thinks their schedule has a ton of top 25 teams on it. Look again!

Decaf said...

Trust me, not a Baylor fan. But am a big fan of perspective. They have 10 teams on their schedule in the current top 25, 4 of those in the top 10. Another 3 in the top 40. That's an easy schedule? I'm mad that you made me go back and count : ) They are in CA playing two top 15 teams this weekend. Counting the Big 12 tournament about half of their matches are going to be against the top 25. What am I missing? There's plenty of reasons over the years to not like Baylor, but strength of schedule doesn't seem to be one.

Baylor Rocks Like Rotten Eggs said...

The only middle of the road ranked teams Baylor beat this year was #30 Oregon, and that was early in January. They also squeaked a win over #26 powerhouse Memphis. Since that time, they have been crushed by every other ranked team but have managed to pull out victories against other powerhouses like Prairie View A&M (4 victories), Incarnate Word, and Midwestern State. Now that their strength of schedule gets tough, they are about to go ZERO for EIGHT until their season comes to an abrupt end. Good thing they inflated their wins over such worthy opponents, they will need it before they fall below the .500 win line.