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Friday, September 23, 2016

Davis, Fed Cup Changes Could Extend to Juniors; Torpegaard Excels at Columbus Challenger; College Tennis Ramps Up

On Wednesday, the International Tennis Federation announced new strategies for revamping Davis Cup and Fed Cup, which includes expanding the Fed Cup world group from its current eight teams to 16, which the Davis Cup already has. The finals would be held at a (most likely) neutral site venue determined by bids, with the Fed Cup possibly going to a Final Four.  Davis Cup may change from best of five to best of three, although, as with all the changes proposed, none have been approved or passed, although a bidding process for the final site will begin as soon as this year.

The announcement also mentioned "a review of Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup including the potential benefits of introducing new age group events."  What those age groups would be I can only guess, but perhaps a 21-and-under competition or an 18-and-under competition. The former has never existed that I'm aware of, but there were 18-and-under international team events called the Sunshine Cup (boys) and Connolly Continental Cup(girls), which were discontinued in 2001.

I've always thought the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup, the 16-and-under events, and the World Junior Tennis competition, the 14-and-under events, have a workable format, with 16 teams in each gender and one site with round robins determining the semifinalists and doubles deciding a match if tied at 1-1. But although this is much simpler to understand for the average fan, with the 16 teams decided in regional qualifying, it eliminates the home and away ties that have always been so integral to these team formats.  How the ITF negotiates its way through all the changes it's contemplating will be interesting to follow in the months ahead.

Mikael Torpegaard, the Ohio State junior, is having quite a Challenger debut at the $50,000 tournament in Columbus this week.  The 22-year-old wild card from Denmark advanced to the singles semifinals with a 6-2, 7-5 win over qualifier Gonzales Austin, and reached the doubles semifinals, with teammate Herkko Pollanen, with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Steven De Waard of Australia and Ben McLachlan of New Zealand.  Torpegaard will play unseeded Tennys Sandgren in Saturday's singles semifinals; top seed Benjamin Becker of Germany faces unseeded JP Smith of Australia in the other semifinal.

At the $10,000 Futures in Irvine, California, top seed Mackenzie McDonald is through to the semifinals, where he'll play No. 7 seed Alexios Halebian. McDonald advanced over unseeded Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, the US Open boys finalist, 7-5, 6-2.  Last week's California Futures champion Sebastian Fanselow, the former Pepperdine star, is also into the semifinals, with the No. 6 seed facing fellow German Jan Choinski, the No. 2 seed. Choinski defeated No. 8 seed Marcos Giron, who was playing his first Pro Circuit tournament since hip surgeries last winter, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

McDonald and Deiton Baughman, the top seeds, took the doubles title today, beating wild cards Ryan Seggerman and Timothy Sah, both junior players, 6-4, 6-3.

McDonald was one of many former college players to collect a doubles title on the Pro Circuit this week.

Former Ohio State star Peter Kobelt won the title at the $25,000 Futures in France, partnering Sam Barry of Ireland. Barry and Kobelt, who were unseeded, defeated Daniel Appelgren and Patrik Rosenholm of Sweden, also unseeded, 6-4, 7-6(4) in the final. Barry and Kobelt did not drop a set all week.

Alex Rybakov(TCU) and Dominic Cotrone(South Florida) won the doubles title at the $10,000 Futures in Italy, beating Florian Fallert and Demian Raab of Germany 5-7, 6-3, 10-6 in a final between two unseeded teams. It is the first pro doubles title for Rybakov and the third for Cotrone.

Yet another unseeded team won a doubles title in the $25,000 Futures in Canada, with former North Carolina star Brayden Schnur and Filip Peliwo of Canada beating No. 2 seeds Ivan Endara of Ecuador and Nicolas Jarry of Chile 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

No. 7 seed Schnur reached the semifinals in singles by defeating qualifier Roy Smith, an 18-year-old who picked up his first ATP points this week, 7-5, 6-3.  He will face qualifier Nicholas Hu(Harvard) in one Canada-US semifinal, while the other features top seed Adam El Mihdawy against 19-year-old Alejandro Tabilo of Canada.

Fall college tennis is in full swing this weekend, with no fewer than 30 events in Division I, including the Southern Intercollegiate Championships in Athens, Georgia.  Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today has links to all the tournaments here.

Regionals for Division I are some time away yet, but with the ITA Oracle Cup, the new name for the National Small College Championships, scheduled for October 13-16 in Surprise, Arizona, the other divisions will be completing their regional competitions over the next two weeks.