Friday, November 18, 2016

My Interview with Bradley Klahn; Four US Girls Reach ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano Semifinals; Kypson Advances to Final Four in Pensacola $10K; Donaldson, Eubanks Fall in Champaign Semifinals

I had an opportunity to sit down with Bradley Klahn earlier this week at the Champaign Challenger, where he was making his first competitive appearance after 21 months away from the game due to injury. He was firm in maintaining he had no expectations and no motive other than match play this week, but I thought his five wins, three in qualifying and two in the main draw, were remarkable. My interview with the 26-year-old Stanford graduate, who reached No. 63 in the ATP rankings prior to his back problems, can be found at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

With six US girls in the quarterfinals of the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano, the numbers were on their side, and when the red clay dust had settled, four of them--Claire Liu, Amanda Anisimova, Ellie Douglas and Taylor Johnson--had reached the quarterfinals.  Although all are seeded, the surprise semifinalist was No. 11 seed Douglas, who defeated No. 2 seed Kayla Day 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.  Day, the US Open girls champion, had not lost a junior match since the semifinals of Wimbledon, a stretch of 22 straight wins, and she had beaten Douglas 6-1, 6-4 in the final of Day's last junior tournament, at the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed.

Day's attempt to catch Anastasia Potapova of Russia for the ITF's year-end World Junior Champion title was dealt a blow with the loss, as she is not entered in next week's Grade 1 Yucatan Cup, where she is the defending champion, nor in the Grade 1 Eddie Herr the following week. She and Potapova are still entered in the Metropolia Orange Bowl, the last ITF junior major of 2016.

Douglas will face No. 4 seed Claire Liu, who defeated No. 7 seed Emily Appleton of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4 in the only girls quarterfinal match decided in straight sets. Douglas and Liu, both 16, have not played in ITF junior competition.

Defending champion Amanda Anisimova, the No. 3 seed, won the final five games of the match to defeat No. 9 seed Caty McNally 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.  McNally struggled with double faults throughout the match, and while Anisimova didn't look like the same player who had lost only five games in her three previous matches, the 15-year-old Floridian didn't panic down 3-1 in the third and took the opportunities McNally gave her.  Anisimova's semifinal opponent is No. 8 seed Taylor Johnson, who defeated unseeded Sofia Munera Sanchez of Colombia 6-7(0), 6-4, 6-3 to reach her first Grade A semifinal.  The 16-year-old Johnson and Anisimova have played only once in ITF junior competition, back in 2014, with Anisimova winning in straight sets; they also played twice in the 12s, with Anisimova taking both decisions.

The only US boy to reach the quarterfinals, unseeded Sebastian Korda, lost to No. 1 seed Zsombor Piros of Hungary 6-3, 6-2. Piros will face top seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, who defeated No. 6 seed Rudolf Molleker of Germany 6-1, 6-3.  Kecmanovic took a wild card into the tournament in pursuit of the ITF No. 1 junior ranking, and by my (less than confident) calculations, he will overtake Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece if he takes the title. But because both are entered at the Eddie Herr and the Orange Bowl, that race is far from over.

The No. 2 seed in the boys draw also was eliminated today, with University of Florida recruit Duarte Vale of Portugal, seeded No. 10, defeating Canada's Benjamin Sigouin 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(6).  Vale will play unseeded Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi, who defeated fellow Argentinian Tomas Etcheverry, the No. 7 seed, 6-3, 6-2. The 17-year-old Grassi Mazzuchi, ranked 156, is definitely having a breakout tournament, as his previous best ITF junior result is a Grade 3 title earlier this month in Bolivia and he has no ATP ranking.

Links for live scoring and live streaming can be found at the tournament website.

Seventeen-year-old Patrick Kypson had never reached a Futures quarterfinal before yesterday, but he is now in the semifinals of the $10,000 Pensacola Futures.  Kypson outlasted No. 5 seed Winston Lin, the former Columbia All-American,  6-7(8), 7-6(4), 6-1 in a match that lasted three hours and 20 minutes.  Kypson will face unseeded Naoki Nakagawa of Japan, who downed No. 4 seed Wil Spencer 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

TCU sophomore Alex Rybakov, seeded No. 7, defeated No. 3 seed Jose Statham of New Zealand 6-1, 6-4 and will play No. 2 seed Gianni Mina of France, who beat No. 6 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada 7-6(3), 6-4.

At the $50,000 ATP Challenger in Champaign Illinois, top seed Jared Donaldson was beaten by No. 6 seed Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium 7-6(1), 6-3, which eliminated Donaldson from any chance at the USTA's Australian Open wild card.  The ATP had stated that Donaldson would be in the main draw on his own ranking if he won the title, so Michael Mmoh was announced yesterday as the winner of the wild card, but the USTA didn't make the official announcement until after Donaldson's loss today.

Tonight's semifinal match between defending champion and No. 2 seed Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland and Chris Eubanks was a good one, with Laaksonen coming from 3-0 down in the final set to take a 7-6(3), 6-7(6), 6-4 decision over the Georgia Tech junior.  Eubanks was down a break in each of the first two sets, but his serve and big hitting were often too much for the ATP 135th-ranked player. Eubanks had the tables turned on him after taking that one-break lead in the third, and shortly after Laaksonen took a medical timeout for attention to his ankle, Eubanks lost his break.  At 4-4, Eubanks took a medical timeout for an issue with his right eye, and he was broken in the next game. After double faulting on his first match point, Laaksonen converted his second to book his place in Saturday's final.