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:
STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING EXPERT GIL REYES TO WORK WITH USTA PLAYER DEVELOPMENT
MARDY FISH NAMED “CONSULTANT” FOR MEN IN TOP 100
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.