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Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Aces; Livianu Takes Singles and Doubles Titles at USTA National Open; Semifinals Set for 16s and 18s at Winter Nationals

My look back at December's top performances for the Tennis Recruiting Network is up today.  It's a quick way to review all the champions from the Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl tournaments plus two juniors who won their first ITF Pro Circuit singles titles.

The USTA's National Men's and Women's Open, held at the National Tennis Center in New York, was completed today, with two current collegians taking the singles titles.  St. John's freshman Jessica Livianu, seeded No. 5, defeated Notre Dame recruit Caroline Dunleavy, the No. 10 seed, 7-5, 7-6(2) for the singles gold ball. She also partnered Dartmouth senior Taylor Ng to take the doubles gold ball, with the No. 2 seeds defeating top seeds Rachel Lim, a high school junior, and Mia Rabinowitz, an Illinois recruit, 7-5, 6-3 in the final.

The men's singles title went to William and Mary senior Aidan Talcott, the No. 12 seed, who defeated Cornell junior Daniel Grunberger, the No. 18 seed, 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 in today's final.  The men's doubles champions are No. 2 seeds Milo Hauk and Vaidik Munshaw, both of whom played at St. John's. Hauk and Munshaw defeated Nicholas Shamma and Malcolm Harrison (NW Missouri State) 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 in the final.

The mixed doubles title went to Marcella Cruz and Munshaw, the top seeds, who didn't have to hit a ball in the final. Siblings Blaine (UNC) and Susanne Boyden(Cal Poly), the No. 2 seeds, were unable to compete due to an injury.

The USTA Winter Nationals semifinals are set for Sunday at the 16s and 18s in Scottsdale, after quarterfinal matches were completed today.  Rain has pushed the semifinals of the 12s and 14s in Tucson, scheduled for earlier today, into the evening.  I will update the results from those late matches Sunday morning, if they are completed later tonight.

B18s:
Ryan Seggerman[6] def. Trey Hilderbrand[17] 6-4, 6-4
Jenson Brooksby[16] def. Matthew Lord[8] 6-1, 6-0
Sebastian Mermersky[15] def. Bennett Crane[17] 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-2
Robert Maciag[7] def. Richard Ciamarra[2] 6-0, 7-6

B16s:
Brandon Nakashima[1] def. Nathan Han[8] 6-1, 6-0
Marcus McDaniel def. Aditya Gupta 7-5, 4-6, 6-2
Tyler Stice def. Siem Woldleab[5] 7-5, 1-7, 7-6(4)
Cannon Kingsley[2] def. Andrew Zhang[17] 6-1, 6-2

G18s:
Chelsea Kung[8] def. Rena Lin[17] 7-5, 6-3
Sara Choy[7] def. Elysia Bolton[4] 6-2, 6-0
Abigail Forbes[6] def. Tatum Burger 6-2, 6-0
Vivian Glozman def. Anika Yarlagadda[5] 4-6, 6-4, 6-2

G16s:
Angelica Blake[1] def. Audrey Boch-Collins[17] 6-3, 6-1
Sedona Gallagher[3] def. Anessa Lee 6-4, 6-1
Dasha Kourkina[4] def. Jayci Goldsmith[8] 5-7, 6-1, 6-2
Nikki Redelijk[15] def. Briana Crowley[2] 6-4, 6-1

2016 Honor Roll

December
Alexa Noel, Junior Orange Bowl 14s
Victor Lilov, Junior Orange Bowl 12s
Cori Gauff, Junior Orange Bowl 12s
William Woodall, Orange Bowl 16s (dbls)

November
Katie Volynets, Eddie Herr International 16s
Zane Khan, Eddie Herr International 14s
Gianna Pielet, Eddie Herr International 14s
CiCi Bellis, WTA 125 Hawaii
Stefan Kozlov, $75K ATP Challenger Columbus
Amanda Anisimova, ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup
Andrew Fenty, ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup(dbls)
Taylor Johnson, ITF Grade A Mexico City
Caty McNally and Natasha Subhash, ITF Grade A Mexico City(dbls)
Andrew Fenty, ITF Grade A Mexico City(dbls)
Patrick Kypson, $10K Pro Circuit Niceville FL(dbls)
Michael Mmoh, $50K ATP Challenger Knoxville
CiCi Bells, $50K Pro Circuit, Canada
Ingrid Neel, $50K Pro Circuit Scottsdale(dbls)

October
Kayla Day, $50K Pro Circuit Macon GA
CiCi Bellis, $50K Pro Circuit, Canada
Kayla Day, ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed
Alex Brown, ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed
Kayla Day and Sofia Sewing, ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed(dbls)
Lukas Greif and Danny Thomas, ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed(dbls)
Frances Tiafoe, $100K ATP Challenger Stockton
Nicole Coopersmith $10K Pro Circuit Charleston SC

September
Danny Thomas, $10K Pro Circuit Israel(dbls)
Ingrid Neel, $50K Pro Circuit Atlanta(dbls)
Kayla Day, US Open Junior Championships
Ena Shibahara and Jada Hart, US Open Junior Championships(dbls)
Danny Thomas, $10K Pro Circuit, Israel(dbls)

August
Danny Thomas and William Woodall, ITF Grade 1 College Park MD
Claire Liu and Sofia Sewing, ITF Grade 1 College Park MD
Claire Liu, ITF Grade 1 College Park MD
Kayla Day, USTA National Championships, 18s
Michael Mmoh, USTA National Championships, 18s
Lukas Greif, USTA National Championships, 16s
Nicole Mossmer, USTA National Championships, 16s
Gianna Pielet, USTA National Championships, 14s
Alex Lee, USTA National Championships, 14s
Victor Lilov, USTA National Championships, 12s
Katja Wiersholm, USTA National Championships, 12s
Frances Tiafoe, $100K ATP Challenger, Granby

July
Sebastian Korda, USTA Clay Courts 18s
Ann Li, USTA Clay Courts 18s
Lukas Greif, USTA Clay Courts 16s
Alexa Noel, USTA Clay Courts 16s
Zane Khan, USTA Clay Courts 14s
Christine Canete, USTA Clay Courts 14s
Evan Wen, USTA Clay Courts 12s
Katja Wiersholm, USTA Clay Courts 12s
Sonya Kenin, $50K Pro Circuit, Sacramento
Nathan Ponwith, $25K Pro Circuit, Godfrey (dbls)
Stefan Kozlov, $50K Winnetka Challenger (dbls)
Usue Arconada and Claire Liu, Wimbledon Junior Championships (dbls)
Danny Thomas, $10K Pro Circuit, Pittsburgh(dbls)
Ulises Blanch and Vasil Kirkov, ITF Grade 1 Roehampton (dbls)

June
Hanna Chang, $10K Pro Circuit, Korea
CiCi Bellis, $25K Pro Circuit, Sumter
Ingrid Neel, $10K Pro Circuit, Bethany Beach
Caroline Dolehide, $10K Pro Circuit, Buffalo
Caroline Dolehide and Ingrid Neel, $10K Pro Circuit Buffalo (dbls)

May
Brandon Holt and Vasil Kirkov, ITF Grade 1 Italy (dbls)
Trent Bryde, ITF Grade 1 Morocco (dbls)

April
Stefan Kozlov, $25K Pro Circuit Little Rock
Alexandra Sanford, ITF Grade B1 Easter Bowl
Gianni Ross, ITF Grade B1 Easter Bowl
Elysia Bolton and Chiara Lommer, ITF Grade B1 Easter Bowl(dbls)
Nathan Ponwith and Jake Van Emburgh, ITF Grade B1 Easter Bowl(dbls)
Kayla Day, ITF Grade 1 ISC Carson
Hurricane Tyra Black and Ena Shibahara, ITF Grade 1 ISC Carson (dbls)
William Blumberg and Nathan Ponwith, ITF Grade 1 ISC Carson (dbls)
Axel Nefve, ISC Carson 16s
Jessi Muljat, ISC Carson 16s

March
Michael Mmoh, $25K Pro Circuit Bakersfield
Katerina Stewart, $10K Pro Circuit Orlando
Usue Arconada, ITF Grade A Porto Alegre, Brazil
Brian Cernoch and Vasil Kirkov, ITF Grade A Porto Alegre, Brazil (dbls)
Katerina Stewart, $10K Pro Circuit Weston, singles and doubles
Ulises Blanch, ITF Grade 1 Banana Bowl, Brazil, singles and doubles
Stefan Kozlov, $25K Pro Circuit Sherbrooke
Stefan Kozlov, $25K Pro Circuit Gatineau (dbls)
Morgan Coppoc, ITF Grade 1 Asuncion Bowl, Paraguay

February
CiCi Bellis & Ingrid Neel, $100K Pro Circuit, Midland (dbls)

January
Stefan Leustian, Les Petits As
Taylor Johnson, ITF Grade 1 Barranquilla
Sonya Kenin, $25K Pro Circuit, Wesley Chapel
Ingrid Neel, $25K Pro Circuit, Wesley Chapel (dbls)
Alexa Noel, Nike International Bolton
Alexa Noel & Vanessa Ong, Nike International Bolton (dbls)
Ulises Blanch, ITF Grade 1 Traralgon
Gui Gomes, ITF Grade 1 Copa Banco de Venezuela (dbls)
Stefan Kozlov, $25K Pro Circuit Futures, Los Angeles
Taylor Fritz, $75K ATP Challenger, Happy Valley
Amanda Anisimova, ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl
JJ Wolf, ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl
Ulises Blanch, ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl (dbls)
Jessica Failla, USTA Winter Nationals 18s
Austen Huang, USTA Winter Nationals 18s
Sara Choy, USTA Winter Nationals 16s
Christian Alshon, USTA Winter Nationals 16s
Mae Canete, USTA Winter Nationals 14s
Ryder Jackson, USTA Winter Nationals 14s
Christine Canete, USTA Winter Nationals 12s
Nishesh Basavareddy, USTA Winter Nationals 12s

Friday, December 30, 2016

Top 14s Seed Pielet Falls in USTA Winter National Quarterfinals; Sparse Qualifying Field for Next Week's ITF Grade 1 in Costa Rica

After two No. 1 seeds were beaten on Thursday at the USTA Winter Nationals in Arizona, only one exited today, girls 14s top seed Gianna Pielet falling to No. 5 seed Jenna DeFalco in the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-1.  Pielet, who won the Eddie Herr 14s title earlier this month, had defeated DeFalco 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the USTA Nationals in August en route to the title.

The other No. 1 seeds in the 12s and 14s are still in the running for the gold balls handed out on Sunday in Tucson.  Today's quarterfinal results:

G12s:
Vivian Ovrootsky[1] def. Liv Hovde[6] 6-0, 6-2
Nikita Vishwase[10] def. Karin Young[14] 6-3, 6-3
Tsehay Driscoll[3] def. Stephanie Yakoff[8] 2-6, 6-4, 6-1
Matilyn Wang[2] def. Anushka Khune[13] 6-1, 7-5

G14s:
Jenna DeFalco[5] def. Gianni Pielet[1] 6-4, 6-1
Kailey Evans[17] def. Misa Malkin[12] 6-2, 6-1
Kylie Collins[4] def. Allison Zipoli[17] 6-3, 6-2
Katja Wiersholm[17] def. Jennifer Kida[7] 6-4, 3-6, 6-1

B12s:
Jackson Armistead[1] def. Cole Stelse[6] 6-4, 6-3
Lucas Brown[3] def. Will Mayew[8] 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4
Hudson Rivera[17] def. Nicholas Herdoiza[16] 6-2, 6-4
Learner Tien[7] def. Cooper Williams[2] 6-2, 6-2

B14s:
Maxwell McKennon[1] def. Dominik Jakovljevic[13] 6-1, 6-3
JJ Tracy[11] def. Noah Gampel 6-4, 6-2
Matthew Robinson[3] def. Filipe Costa[7] 6-2, 3-6, 7-5
Aryan Chaudhary[2] def. Peter Murphy[5] 7-5, 6-4


After both 18s No. 1 seeds and the No. 2 seed in the girls 18s went out in Thursday's third round, not much more could happen, but Kalamazoo 16s finalist Jenson Brooksby, seeded No. 16, did eliminate No. 3 seed Mason Beiler 6-2, 6-2.  There are no unseeded players in the boys 18s quarterfinals but two girls, Tatum Burger and Vivian Glozman, are among the final eight in the girls 18s.

In the 16s, top seeds Brandon Nakashima and Angelica Blake rolled on with straight-sets victories, with the 2, 3, and 4 seeds also moving on in the girls 16s. Three unseeded boys have made the quarterfinals: Aditya Gupta, Marcus McDaniel and Tyler Stice.  The unseeded quarterfinalist in the girls 16s is Anessa Lee.

Today's round of 16 results are below: 
B16s:
Brandon Nakashima[1] def. Garrett Johns[17] 6-0, 6-1
Nathan Han[8] def. Alexander Kotzen[9] 6-1, 6-2
Aditya Gupta def. Karl Lee 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
Marcus McDaniel def. Luke Vandecasteele[17] 7-6(5), 6-3
Siem Woldeab[5] def. Sam Kavarana[17] 6-3, 6-3
Tyler Stice def. Emilio Nava 2-6, 7-5, 6-4
Andrew Zhang[17] def. Ryder Jackson[6] 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
Cannon Kingsley[2] def. Harsh Parikh 6-1, 7-5

B18s:
Trey Hilderbrand[17] def. Carson Haskins[17] 6-4, 6-4
Ryan Seggerman[6] def. Ivan Thamma[9] 6-4, 6-2
Jenson Brooksby[16] def. Mason Beiler[3] 6-2, 6-2
Matthew Lord[8] def. Bill Duo[12] 6-2, 6-3
Sebastian Mermersky[15] def. Jake Sands[17] 6-1, 7-5
Bennett Crane[17] def. Maxwell Freeman[4] 7-5, 4-6, 7-5
Robert Maciag[7] def. Jared Pratt 6-4, 6-3
Richard Ciamarra[2] def. Mac Kiger[17] 7-6(3), 7-5

G16s:
Angelica Blake[1] def. Skyler Grishuk[17] 6-1, 6-1
Audrey Boch-Collins[17] def. Katherine Lyman 6-1, 6-3
Sedona Gallagher[3] def. Addison Guevara[10] 6-3, 5-7, 7-5
Anessa Lee def. Niluka Madurawe[7] 6-2, 6-1
Jayci Goldsmith[8] def. Reilly Tran[9] 6-3, 7-5
Dasha Kourkina[4] def. Josie Frazier[14] 6-0, 6-3
Nikki Redelijk[15] def. Rosie Garcia Gross 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-1 (obvious error)
Briana Crowley[2] def. Jillian Taggart[17] w/o inj.

G18s:
Rena Lin[17] def. Mary Profit 7-5, 5-7, 6-3
Chelsea Kung[8] def. Rachel Eason[13] 6-4, 6-3
Elysia Bolton[4] def. Jessi Muljat 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Sara Choy[7] def. Anna Brylin[16] 6-1, 6-1
Abigail Forbes[6] def. Julia Lilien 6-1, 6-1
Tatum Burger def. Julia Deming 6-3, 7-6
Anika Yarlagadda[5] def. Elyse Lavender[14] w/o inj.
Vivian Glozman def. Alexa Ryngler 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(2)

Complete draws, including doubles, which are into the semifinals, are available at the TennisLink site.
 
The qualifying draws for the ITF Grade 1 Costa Rica Bowl are up, and they are a disappointment, especially on the girls side.  With only 13 girls signing up for the 32-player draw, the top three players in qualifying, including Peyton Stearns and Zoe Hitt of the US, will advance without playing a match.  The rest will have to win just one match to earn a place in the main draw.  The boys draw does have 28 entrants, with even the top four seeds at least needing to win one match to get into the main draw.  Joshua Bode and Zachary Garner of the US are seeded 1 and 3 in the qualifying draw.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top 18s Seeds Brown, Zhao Ousted at USTA Winter Nationals; Teens Train in Miami with Murrays

After a relatively calm first two days at the USTA Winter Nationals, both the No. 1  seeds in the 18s division were defeated today in Scottsdale, while the No. 2 girls seed was also sent to the consolation tournament.


Easter Bowl 16s champion Carson Haskins, a 17 seed, defeated top seed Alex Brown 0-6, 6-3, 6-2 in third round action. Both are in the Missouri Valley section and just last month, Brown had defeated Haskins for the third straight time at a sectional tournament. For Haskins, who reached the final of the 16s Winter Nationals last year, it is his second win of 2016 over the ITF Pan American Closed champion.


In girls 18s third round action, top seed and Duke recruit Hannah Zhao was beaten by unseeded Mary Profit in another all-section battle, this one between Southern Californians. Profit defeated Zhao 6-4, 6-4, and as Bobby Knight pointed out in his College Tennis Today post about the Winter Nationals, that result was a Universal Tennis Rating upset.  No. 2 seed Samantha Martinelli was beaten by unseeded Vivian Glozman 6-1, 6-1, so, with No. 3 seed Janice Shin's loss on Wednesday, No. 4 seed Elysia Bolton is now the highest seed remaining in the girls 18s.

The top seeds in the 16s advanced to the fourth round, with boys No. 1 seed Brandon Nakishima and No. 2 seed Cannon Kingsley posting straight-sets wins. The top 4 seeds in the girls 16s, including No. 1 Angelica Blake and No. 2 Briana Crowley, also advanced in straight sets.

Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

The 12s and 14s divisions in Tucson will play their quarterfinals on Friday, and all four No. 1 seeds are still at the top of the draws.

The only unseeded boy in the quarterfinals is Noah Gampel in the 14s; there are no unseeded girls in either the 12s or 14s.

Katja Wiersholm, a 17 seed, defeated No. 2 seed Ava Catanzarite 6-1, 6-4 in the girls 14s today; Wiersholm had played the 12s division at the Junior Orange Bowl last week.

How the Top 8 seeds have fared:

B12s
1. Jackson Armistead
2. Cooper Williams
3. Lucas Brown
4. Phillip Dell out 3rd rd
5. Jelani Sarr out 3rd rd
6. Cole Stelse
7. Learner Tien
8. Will Mayew

B14s
1. Maxwell McKennon
2. Aryan Chaudhary
3. Matthew Robinson
4. Alex Lin out 4th rd
5. Peter Murphy
6. Sam Feldman out 2nd rd
7. Filipe Costa
8. Baylor Sai out 1st rd

B16s:
1. Brandon Nakashima
2. Cannon Kingsley
3. Andrew Dale out 1st rd
4. Robert Cash out 3rd rd
5. Siem Woldeab
6. Ryder Jackson
7. Jacob Bullard out 3rd rd
8. Nathan Han

B18s:
1. Alexander Brown out 3rd rd
2. Richard Ciamarra
3. Mason Beiler
4. Maxwell Freeman
5. Christian Alshon out 1st rd
6. Ryan Seggerman
7. Robert Maciag
8. Matthew Lord

G12s
1. Vivian Ovrootsky
2. Matilyn Wang
3. Tsehay Driscoll
4. Meera Jesudason out 4th rd
5. Gracie Epps out 1st rd
6. Liv Hovde
7. Phoebe Peus out 4th rd
8. Stephanie Yakoff

G14s
1. Gianna Pielet
2. Ava Catanzarite out 4th rd
3. Muskan Mahajan out 1st rd
4. Kylie Collins
5. Jenna DeFalco
6. Neha Velaga out 4th rd
7. Jennifer Kida
8. India Houghton out 3rd rd

G16s
1. Angelica Blake
2. Briana Crowley
3. Sedona Gallagher
4. Dasha Kourkina
5. Lauren Stein out 1st rd
6. Ashley Yeah out 3rd rd
7. Niluka Madurawe
8. Jayci Goldsmith

G18s
1. Hannah Zhao out 3rd rd
2. Samantha Martinelli out 3rd rd
3. Janice Shin out 2nd rd
4. Elysia Bolton
5. Anika Yarlagadda
6. Abigail Forbes
7. Sara Choy
8. Chelsea Kung

As I was working my way through my neglected RSS feeds, I ran across this article from Scotland's The Herald about two Scottish juniors, 16-year-olds Aidan McHugh and Ewen Lumsden, who trained in Florida this month with Jamie Murray and former Virginia star Dom Inglot.  They also got an opportunity to interact with Andy Murray at one of his training sessions on Key Biscayne and share lunch with the World No. 1 at his Miami apartment.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Top Seeds Advance at USTA Winter Nationals; Tornado Alicia Black Update; Lim Named to Philippines Davis Cup Team; Lewis Receives WTA Wild Card

Below is an update on the status of the top 8 seeds in all eight divisions at the USTA Winter Nationals in Arizona.  The 16s and 18s in Scottsdale are into the third round, with only four top 8 seeds out total in the four divisions and the top 2 still alive in each division.  No. 3 seed Janice Shin lost in the second round of 18s today, to Julia Deming, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(4).  The 12s and 14s in Tucson are into the round of 16 now after playing two rounds on Monday and one round today.  Again, most of the seeds have advanced, with the top 2 in each of the four divisions still in the hunt for a gold ball.

B12s
1. Jackson Armistead
2. Cooper Williams
3. Lucas Brown
4. Phillip Dell out 3rd rd
5. Jelani Sarr out 3rd rd
6. Cole Stelse
7. Learner Tien
8. Will Mayew

B14s
1. Maxwell McKennon
2. Aryan Chaudhary
3. Matthew Robinson
4. Alex Lin
5. Peter Murphy
6. Sam Feldman out 2nd rd
7. Filipe Costa
8. Baylor Sai out 1st rd


B16s:
1. Brandon Nakashima
2. Cannon Kingsley
3. Andrew Dale out 1st rd
4. Robert Cash
5. Siem Woldeab
6. Ryder Jackson
7. Jacob Bullard
8. Nathan Han

B18s:
1. Alexander Brown
2. Richard Ciamarra
3. Mason Beiler
4. Maxwell Freeman
5. Christian Alshon out 1st rd
6. Ryan Seggerman
7. Robert Maciag
8. Matthew Lord

G12s
1. Vivian Ovrootsky
2. Matilyn Wang
3. Tsehay Driscoll
4. Meera Jesudason
5. Gracie Epps out 1st rd
6. Liv Hovde
7. Phoebe Peus
8. Stephanie Yakoff

G14s
1. Gianna Pielet
2. Ava Catanzarite
3. Muskan Mahajan out 1st rd
4. Kylie Collins
5. Jenna DeFalco
6. Neha Velaga
7. Jennifer Kida
8. India Houghton out 3rd rd

G16s
1. Angelica Blake
2. Briana Crowley
3. Sedona Gallagher
4. Dasha Kourkina
5. Lauren Stein out 1st rd
6. Ashley Yeah
7. Niluka Madurawe
8. Jayci Goldsmith

G18s
1. Hannah Zhao
2. Samantha Martinelli
3. Janice Shin out 2nd rd
4. Elysia Bolton
5. Anika Yarlagadda
6. Abigail Forbes
7. Sara Choy
8. Chelsea Kung

Tornado Alicia Black at 2015 US Open Junior Championships

While I was waiting for the girls Junior Orange Bowl finals to start last week, I ran into Tornado Alicia Black, the former US Open girls finalist (2013) and two-time finalist at the USTA Nationals in San Diego(2014, 2015).  The 18-year-old Black, who has not played since retiring in her first round match at the US Open Junior Championships in 2015, has been recovering from hip surgery and although she is back on the court, does not expect to compete until April at the earliest.  During her lengthy absence from competition, she has been coaching a bit, and she told me she has found being on that side of the sport has helped her gain perspective. She also said she has a better understanding of the game now that she is teaching it, but is hoping to return to the professional circuit, where she reached as high as 404 in the WTA rankings.

In other news, 17-year-old Alberto Lim, who played the recent Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl, reaching the quarterfinals of the former, has been named as a member of the Philippines Davis Cup team.  Lim, who has been ranked as high as 12 in the ITF junior rankings, joins former collegians Treat Huey(Virginia), Ruben Gonzales(Illinois) and Frances Alcantara(Pepperdine) on the team. Their next tie is in February, against Indonesia in the Asia/Oceania Group II.

New Zealand's Jade Lewis, an LSU recruit, won the New Zealand national championships earlier this month, beating Georgia Tech's Paige Hourigan in the final 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. Lewis was to receive a qualifying wild card into the WTA's ASB Classic, which begins next week in Auckland, but it has since been reported that her wild card was upgraded to one in the main draw instead.

Also in New Zealand tennis news, most of which surfaces at this time of year in advance of the WTA and ATP events in the country in January, Simon Rea has been named director of high performance for Tennis NZ. The former Tennis Australia coach, who worked with Nick Kyrgios in his formative years, says in this New Zealand Herald article that the lack of funding for tennis in the country is not the primary impediment to its future success.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

USTA's 2015 Tax Return; Who Shouldn't Play College Tennis?; Top Seeds Advance at USTA Winter Nationals


Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated tweeted out a link to the USTA's 2015 tax return a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to make sure that information didn't fall through the cracks here at Zootennis.com during my busy time on the Florida junior circuit.

The top USTA employees' salaries are always in the spotlight, but that's not the only place the USTA spends its considerable revenues, and it's interesting to look at the grants, which are detailed in the document.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association, for example, received a $45,000 grant in 2015, which does not include the $20,000 grant for what I presume is the Intercollegiate Indoor to the National Tennis Center. The University of Central Florida Foundation received $125,000, which I would guess relates to the new collegiate facility in Lake Nona, where Central Florida will play its matches. The USPTA and PTR coaching organizations receive grants from the USTA, as does World Team Tennis, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the Tennis Industry Association and many others

Court line grants were popular in 2015 and there were many grants for facility assistance and program excellence. You can see how big the grant was for your section, and see what the USTA grant is to Player Development ($17,617,466 in 2015).  Three ITF events in the United States received grants of varying amounts from the USTA: the International Hard Courts, International Grass Courts and the Pan American Closed.

The grants are the most detailed part of the return, and offer a glimpse at the scope of the USTA's involvement in tennis at all levels. The other expenses are not broken out in any meaningful way, so how much the USTA contributes to say, USTA Pro Circuits in prize money, is not specified.

Although a non-profit, the USTA is obviously a huge business, and the tax return goes a long way toward demonstrating that.

The Tennis Recruiting Network has been publishing regular articles by former University of Oklahoma women's coach Dave Mullins, and while all are worth your time, the most recent, with the provocative title of "College Tennis is for Losers" is particularly enlightening.  Mullins holds an imaginary conversation, but one that he's certainly engaged in before, with a private coach who voices the sentiments of the headline. Mullins knows otherwise of course, but he is also able to understand that the collegiate path isn't right for everyone. The kind of coach who would argue vehemently against college tennis may not be the kind who would read this article, but it's important for those families who have children considering both pro and college tennis.

The first round of the 16s and 18s USTA Winter Nationals is complete, with the top two seeds in all four divisions advancing to Wednesday's second round in Scottsdale. Top boys 18s seed Alex Brown had his hands full with Brandon Lam, but came through with a 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-6(6) win. No. 2 boys 18s seed Richard Ciamarra was also taken to three sets, beating Brandon Freestone 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

The 12s and 14s in Tucson are playing two rounds today, and some of the first round match results of the B14s are not yet posted, but below is the update for all Top 8 seeds as of 9 p.m. Eastern.

B12s
1. Jackson Armistead
2. Cooper Williams
3. Lucas Brown
4. Phillip Dell
5. Jelani Sarr
6. Cole Stelse
7. Learner Tien
8. Will Mayew

B14s
1. Maxwell McKennon
2. Aryan Chaudhary
3. Matthew Robinson
4. Alex Lin
5. Peter Murphy
6. Sam Feldman
7. Filipe Costa
8. Baylor Sai out 1st rd

B16s:
1. Brandon Nakashima
2. Cannon Kingsley
3. Andrew Dale out 1st rd
4. Robert Cash
5. Siem Woldeab
6. Ryder Jackson
7. Jacob Bullard
8. Nathan Han

B18s:
1. Alexander Brown
2. Richard Ciamarra
3. Mason Beiler
4. Maxwell Freeman
5. Christian Alshon out 1st rd
6. Ryan Seggerman
7. Robert Maciag
8. Matthew Lord

G12s
1. Vivian Ovrootsky
2. Matilyn Wang
3. Tsehay Driscoll
4. Meera Jesudason
5. Gracie Epps out 1st rd
6. Liv Hovde
7. Phoebe Peus
8. Stephanie Yakoff

G14s
1. Gianna Pielet
2. Ava Catanzarite
3. Muskan Mahajan out 1st rd
4. Kylie Collins
5. Jenna DeFalco
6. Neha Velaga
7. Jennifer Kida
8. India Houghton

G16s
1. Angelica Blake
2. Briana Crowley
3. Sedona Gallagher
4. Dasha Kourkina
5. Lauren Stein out 1st rd
6. Ashley Yeah
7. Niluka Madurawe
8. Jayci Goldsmith

G18s
1. Hannah Zhao
2. Samantha Martinelli
3. Janice Shin
4. Elysia Bolton
5. Anika Yarlagadda
6. Abigail Forbes
7. Sara Choy
8. Chelsea Kung

Monday, December 26, 2016

USTA Winter Nationals Begin Tuesday in Arizona; UVA's Kwiatkowski Wins First Futures Singles Title

This is the International Tennis Federation junior circuit's third and final week of its off-season, with qualifying for the Costa Rica Bowl, the first Grade 1 of 2017, beginning on Saturday.

For those 12- and 14-year-olds who played in the Junior Orange Bowl and are entered in the USTA Winter Nationals, the break was considerably shorter, with just one week between them.  The Winter Nationals begin Tuesday in Tucson for the 12s and 14s and in Scottsdale for the 16s and 18s.  The Top 8 seeds in all eight divisions are below:

USTA Winter Nationals Top 8 Seeds:

B12s
1. Jackson Armistead
2. Cooper Williams
3. Lucas Brown
4. Phillip Dell
5. Jelani Sarr
6. Cole Stelse
7. Learner Tien
8. Will Mayew

B14s
1. Maxwell McKennon
2. Aryan Chaudhary
3. Matthew Robinson
4. Alex Lin
5. Peter Murphy
6. Sam Feldman
7. Filipe Costa
8. Baylor Sai

B16s:
1. Brandon Nakashima
2. Cannon Kingsley
3. Andrew Dale
4. Robert Cashe
5. Siem Woldeab
6. Ryder Jackson
7. Jacob Bullard
8. Nathan Han

B18s:
1. Alexander Brown
2. Richard Ciamarra
3. Mason Beiler
4. Maxwell Freeman
5. Christian Alshon
6. Ryan Seggerman
7. Robert Maciag
8. Matthew Lord

G12s
1. Vivian Ovrootsky
2. Matilyn Wang
3. Tsehay Driscoll
4. Meera Jesudason
5. Gracie Epps
6. Liv Hovde
7. Phoebe Peus
8. Stephanie Yakoff

G14s
1. Gianna Pielet
2. Ava Catanzarite
3. Muskan Mahajan
4. Kylie Collins
5. Jenna DeFalco
6. Neha Velaga
7. Jennifer Kida
8. India Houghton

G16s
1. Angelica Blake
2. Briana Crowley
3. Sedona Gallagher
4. Dasha Kourkina
5. Lauren Stein
6. Ashley Yeah
7. Niluka Madurawe
8. Jayci Goldsmith

G18s
1. Hannah Zhao
2. Samantha Martinelli
3. Janice Shin
4. Elysia Bolton
5. Anika Yarlagadda
6. Abigail Forbes
7. Sara Choy
8. Chelsea Kung

For a list of those who won Winter National singles gold balls last year, many of whom are moving up a division this year, scroll down to the bottom of the 2016 Honor Roll on the left.


One of the few ITF Pro Circuit events last week was the $10,000 Futures in Puerto Rico, where University of Virginia senior Thai Kwiatkowski picked up his first pro circuit singles title.  The 21-year-old from North Carolina, seeded sixth, defeated former UNC Tar Heel Brayden Schnur of Canada, the No. 4 seed, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the semifinals and No. 7 seed Alexios Halebian 6-1, 6-4 in the final. Halebian had beaten top seed Evan King in the quarterfinals and No. 3 seed Benjamin Lock of Zimbabwe in the semifinals.

Kwiatkowski, who has won two Futures doubles titles, both this year, also reached the final in doubles, with Quinton Vega as his partner. The No. 3 seeds lost to top seeds Nebojsa Pric and Ilija Vucic of Serbia 6-1, 6-3 in the championship match.

Qualifying for the first 2017 USTA Pro Circuit event, the $25,000 men's Futures at USC's Marks Tennis Center, begins on Saturday.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Junior Orange Bowl Recap; Winter Nationals Begin Soon; Happy Holidays from Zootennis.com

After my annual Florida junior tennis odyssey, I'm always ready for a few days off for Christmas, but before I take a break, here's my Tennis Recruiting Network recap of the Junior Orange Bowl, with Americans Victor Lilov, Cori Gauff and Alexa Noel winning titles in Coral Gables, Florida on Tuesday.

Before you know it, December 27th in fact, the USTA Winter Nationals in Arizona will begin, with the 16s and 18s in Scottsdale for the last year before moving to the new USTA campus in Lake Nona, Florida and the 12s and 14s in Tucson.  The seeds have been posted for the 12s and 14s, with Vivian Ovrootsky(G12s), Gianna Pielet(G14s), Jackson Armistead(B12s) and Maxwell McKennon(B14s) the No. 1 seeds.  I will not be covering that tournament in person but will be following it from home.

Enjoy your holiday and I'll be back in a few days!

Photo by Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Australian Open Junior Championships Acceptances; Mitchell Frank Joins George Mason Staff; USTA Junior Competition Changes


The acceptances for the Australian Open Junior Championships were announced last week, with seven US girls and eight US boys earning places in the main draw of the first junior slam of 2017.

As is customary for the Australian Open, the fields are not strong compared to those at the other junior slams, but three 2016 junior slam champions are currently entered in the draws.

2016 US Open girls champion Kayla Day, who will be in Australia for the women's main draw after winning the USTA's wild card in the fall, is entered in the juniors, with her participation no doubt contingent on her performance in the main draw.  2016 French Open champion Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland, who has not played a junior tournament since the European Championships in July, is also entered. Bianca Andreescu of Canada, who has not played a junior event since losing in the semifinals to Day at the US Open, is also on the acceptance list.

The other US girls entered (the withdrawal date is January 10th) are Claire Liu, Taylor Johnson, Ellie Douglas, Caty McNally, Carson Branstine(who could be playing for Canada by then), and Natasha Subhash. US girls in qualifying are Victoria Emma, Hurricane Tyra Black, Nicole Mossmer, Dalayna Hewitt and Elysia Bolton.

The third 2016 junior slam champion entered is Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who won the boys title at Wimbledon. Shapovalov has not played at all, pro or juniors, since losing in the first round of the Fairfield Challenger back in early October.  Australian Alex De Minaur, who Shapovalov beat in the Wimbledon boys final, has also entered.

US boys accepted into the main draw are Trent Bryde, Oliver Crawford, Danny Thomas, Patrick Kypson, Alexandre Rotsaert, Alafia Ayeni, Brian Cernoch and Andrew Fenty.  Lukas Greif is the only US boy accepted into qualifying.

Two young Australians won entry into the Australian Open women's main draw, with 16-year-old Destanee Aiava getting a wild card for winning the National 18s title over Jaimee Fourlis. Fourlis managed to secure her spot by winning the Tennis Australia wild card playoff last week.  For more on Fourlis's win, see this Guardian article. For more on the crop of young Australian women, see this Tennis Australia article.

The men's Tennis Australia wild card was won by 2014 US Open boys champion Omar Jasika, who beat former Tennessee All-American JP Smith in the final.

Division I George Mason University announced earlier this month that former University of Virginia All-American Mitchell Frank has joined its men's staff as an assistant, along with Vinh Do, a prominent player development coach in Virginia. For more on the two new assistant coaches, see this release.

Lisa Stone at ParentingAces.com has posted details on the 2017 USTA Junior Competition changes that all coaches, parents and players should familiarize themselves with. I'm sure we're all suffering from whiplash from the changes over the past several years, but we can hope this iteration will be the last for a while.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My USTA National Campus Sneak Peek; Patrick McEnroe Joins John McEnroe Tennis Academy as Co-Director; ITA Convention Report; Kirkov Reaches Quarterfinals at Puerto Rico Futures

On my way north from Florida back to Michigan, I stopped at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, which officially opens on January 2, 2017.

Team USA Courts at the USTA's National Campus

There are still many construction workers on site, today primarily installing windscreens and working to complete the on-site cafe, but many of the facilities, including the USTA offices in the Welcome Center and the Player Development courts and fitness center, are already in use.  I spotted Reilly Opelka and Sam Riffice on one court, and Louisa Chirico, Christina McHale, Jennifer Brady and Irina Falconi on another. Frances Tiafoe, Bjorn Fratangelo and the Bryan brothers were among those working out in the gym this morning.

I'll have more from today's tour for the Tennis Recruiting Network early next month, but it may take me all the next two weeks to absorb what I saw today. It's a large facility, built to serve all facets of American tennis, and that scope is beyond what I'm accustomed to seeing in any one place.

Although his reluctance to move to Lake Nona was one of the primary reasons Patrick McEnroe is no longer the USTA's General Manager of Player Development, he is returning to player development on a smaller scale as co-director of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York, it was announced today.  McEnroe will now share duties with Lawrence Kleger, who has been director of tennis since 2012.

I wasn't able to attend the ITA Convention in Naples this year, due to my coverage of the Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl, but Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today did make the trip, and posted this recap of the various topics discussed and changes coming for Division I tennis.

While there have been no USTA Pro Circuit events in the past two weeks, many American men played in the Dominican Republic last week and are playing in Puerto Rico this week.  Evan King swept the titles at last week's $10,000 Futures. The former Michigan All-American, who was the No. 3 seed, defeated top seed Calvin Hemery of France 6-4, 7-6(9) in the singles final. King and Alexios Halebian won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds defeating No. 4 seeds Nebojsa Peric and Ilija Vucic of Serbia 6-4,6-4 in the final.

King, the No. 1 seed this week, has reached the quarterfinals of this week's $10,000 Futures in Puerto Rico, as has University of Virginia senior Thai Kwiatkowski and 17-year-old Kalamazoo 18s finalist Vasil Kirkov, who play each other on Thursday. Former UNC star Brayden Schnur of Canada, who won the Tallahassee Futures two weeks ago, has also advanced to the quarterfinals, with Florida State alum Benjamin Lock of Zimbabwe also into the final eight.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Americans Lilov, Gauff Claim Junior Orange Bowl 12s Titles; Noel Wins 14s Championships

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Coral Gables, FL--

Back in 2010, Americans Michael Mmoh and Nicole Frenkel swept the 12s title at the Junior Orange Bowl and Brooke Austin won the girls 14s championship.  Today, those results were duplicated by Victor Lilov and Cori Gauff in the 12s and Alexa Noel in the 14s, with Bu Yunchaokete of China, the boys 14s champion, the sole non-American to claim a title.

The unseasonably warm weather that had been present throughout most of the tournament continued, with the humidity high even for the 9 a.m. start time.  The girls finals were played first, with Gauff, the No. 2 seed, defeating No. 4 seed Katrina Scott 6-4, 7-6(4) in the 12s, while on Court 1, unseeded Alexa Noel got by No. 3 seed Qinwen Zheng of China 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in the 14s.


Gauff, who was a semifinalist in the 12s as a 10-year-old in 2014 and also last year, was determined to win the title in her last year, but Scott gave no sign that she was conceding the championship.  After a nervous service game from each to open the match, Gauff got a second break, which she immediately gave back, then a third, which she kept, to close out the first set.

Just two games from the title, Gauff went up 4-2 in the second set, but again Scott responded, holding and breaking to make it 4-4.  Gauff was able to break with some big backhands to give herself a chance to serve out the match, but she wasn't able to get to match point then or in her second attempt to serve it out at 6-5, despite starting that game up 30-0.

"Previously in the match my serve wasn't doing well and I think that was just in the back of my head," Gauff said. "I was worried, so I started pushing it in, and that wasn't helping. She was doing what she is supposed to do, hitting winners."

After five straight breaks of serve and some spotty play by both players toward the end of the set, the level of play picked up in the tiebreaker. Gauff double faulted to give Scott a 2-0 lead, but then proceeded to hit four forehand winners in the next five points to go up 4-3. Scott was then overruled by the chair umpire on a baseline call, giving Gauff a 5-3 lead, and a forehand error by Scott gave Gauff three match points. She double faulted on the first, but Gauff made her first serve on the the second match point, with Scott netting a forehand to end the match.


"I told myself in the tiebreaker that trying to make it in (on serve) is not working," said Gauff. "So just go for it. And it went in."

Gauff said she keeps the pressure off in those situations by putting herself mentally back on the practice court.

"I just try to imagine that I'm back at my home court in Delray," said Gauff,  who is coached by Gerard Loglo at the New Generation Tennis Academy there. "I play a lot of tiebreaks in practice, so I just pretended it was another tiebreaker there."

Scott had nothing but praise for Gauff's game, which she was seeing from across the net for the first time.

"She really fights and she hits a really big ball, and she's a good mover," said Scott, a 12-year-old from Woodland Hills, California. "She definitely hit some good shots. She played really well. I played really well the whole week, so it'll be a good memory."

Gauff has no particular plans to celebrate her long-awaited title, but she now already has the Christmas present she wanted.

"I wanted this for Christmas,"  said Gauff, known as Coco to her family and friends.

Gauff's next competition will be at the Nike International in Bolton and Les Petits As in Tarbes, as a member of the 14-and-under team the USTA is taking on that trip in January.  Gauff also will return to France several times this year to train at the Mouratoglou Academy, courtesy of Patrick Mouratoglou's Champ' Seed Foundation.


While Gauff was completing her seventh consecutive straight-sets win, Noel was struggling to avoid going to a third set for the first time during the tournament.  With her first serve, one of her most reliable weapons, not producing free points, Noel was in trouble against Zheng, who was able to break Noel's serve three times in the second set.

"I stood way too far off the baseline, my toss was all over the place, and I was hitting way too many floating slices right into her backhand," said Noel, who used the 10-minute break between sets to get some tips from former coach Ben Cappuccitti of the Junior Tennis Champions Center. "He told me to dig deep, fix my toss, focus on what you can control, the right way to play."

That pep talk helped Noel take a 3-2 lead in the third set, but she lost it immediately with a pair of double faults not helping her mood. Zheng held for a 4-3 lead, but that was the last game she would win, with Noel getting a break to take a 5-4 lead. A deft sliced pass by Noel, a double fault and a netted forehand gave Noel an opportunity to serve out the match, and she didn't miss a first serve, holding at love for the championship.


Noel and Zheng had played in the final at the Nike International in Bolton this January, with Noel winning 6-0, 2-6, 7-5.

"The scores were almost the same, but this was outdoors, so I felt because her game fits more of an indoor surface, I had more of an edge going into this match," Noel said. "She ended up getting it back together in the second, kind of the same thing, but I focused in the third."

Zheng knew what to expect after that previous meeting, but couldn't quite overcome Noel's strategy.

"The second time I lost against her in final," said Zheng. "She change a lot the rhythm and she make me a lot of trouble. But it's first time I got in final of Orange Bowl and I have chance to win, but it's ok. I already did good."

Noel is not playing the upcoming Winter Nationals or the Costa Rica Grade 1, but said she may compete in the major South American events later next month.


The boys 14s championship match, which was played after the two and a half hour girls final, wrapped up the 2016 tournament, with top seed Yunchaokete preventing an American sweep with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 2 seed Alex Lee.

Lee got off to a good start against Yunchaokete, taking a 2-0 lead, but Yunchaokete got the break back for 2-1, and both players held serve until 4-all, when Lee played a loose game and was broken at love. Yunchaokete held for the first set, and was up 3-1 in the second before Lee won the next three games.

At 4-all, Lee was again broken at love, with the second set bearing an uncanny resemblance to the first.

"I think it was just a little bit of nerves, not being able to close out easy shots in those games,"  said Lee, a 14-year-old from Illinois. "Both times, I think that was why I was broken. Overall, I thought I played pretty well. I went for my shots and they went in, but he played a little bit better."


Yunchaokete had survived a tough three-hour semifinal match with No. 5 seed Zane Khan on Monday, saving a match point, and he admitted he was tired from that ordeal and happy to finish the final in straight sets.

He agreed that his level was slightly higher than Lee's at the end of both sets.

"I just make no mistakes, control and move him," said Yunchaokete. "He make mistakes and his first serve a little down, so help for me."

Yunchaokete admitted that winning the Junior Orange Bowl title after losing in the final of the Eddie Herr earlier this month was important to him.

"I'm very happy to be champion," said Yunchaokete. "This better, yes, very good."

Yunchaokete's coach Yu has the distinction of now coaching China's first two Junior Orange Bowl champions, with Xiaofei Wang winning the boys 12s last year.

"I have train these two guys for six years," said Yu, who was especially impressed with Yunchaokete's two wins, in the fourth round and in the semifinals, from match points down. "Bu has so good heart. And mind. Good player."


At Salvadore Park, the site of the boys 12s, Lilov, the No. 3 seed, beat No. 9 seed Bruno Kuzuhara 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 to become the first American boy to win the 12s title on the Har-Tru surface since the boys moved there from Tropical Park in 2011.

Lilov, who had saved six match points in his 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(2) semifinal win over Adolfo Vallejo of Paraguy, had another comeback in him on Tuesday.

"I expected him to come out strong, but not that strong," said Lilov, a 12-year-old from Raleigh, North Carolina. "I was still a little bit sluggish from the last match, but he played too good."

"I was down 2-1 a break, in the second set, but he made a few unforced errors in the fourth game and that definitely turned the match around."

At 4-all in the third set, Lilov held, then found himself with three match points with Kuzuhara serving at 4-5, 0-40, winning the championship on the second of those.

Kuzuhara was pleased with his play during the week, and credited Lilov for his willingness to keep fighting.

"I played good in the first set, I was moving the ball well," said Kuzuhara, a 12-year-old from Coconut Creek, Florida. "But after the first set, he kind of got into the match and started playing better. I thought (before this match) that if I played well I could get to the finals, and probably win this match, but Victor played really well."

Lilov said the best part of his game in the final two days of the tournament boiled down to his willingness to compete.

"I just had to fight, really," said Lilov, who works with Steve Smith and Mat Cloer in North Carolina. "He just dominated me in the first set, played too good. I think I just fought, and that was my strength."

The matches for third place and for fifth place were also played on Tuesday.  Both third place matches in the 14s were decided via walkover due to illness, with Emma Raducanu of Great Britain defeating Holly Fischer, also of Great Britain, and Spencer Brachman defeating Zane Khan.

Fifth place in the boys 14s went to Hunter Heck, who beat Benjamin Heynold of Great Britain 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. Fifth place in the girls 14s went to Kylie Bilchev of Great Britain, who beat Noa Krznaric of Croatia 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.  I'm not sure why three full sets were played in the consolation finals, which are usually decided by a match tiebreaker under USTA rules.

Third place in the boys 12s went to Minseong Kim of Korea, who beat Vallejo 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.  Evan Wen defeated Gunuk Kang of Korea 7-5, 6-1 to take fifth place.

In the girls 12s, Tatiana Muzykantskaya of Russia took third place with a 7-6(3), 6-3 win over Vivian Ovrootsky.  Dasha Plekhanova of Canada beat Daniella Benabraham 6-4, 7-5 for fifth place.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Americans Gauff and Scott, Lilov and Kuzuhara Meet in Junior Orange Bowl 12s Finals; Noel, Lee Advance to 14s Championship Matches

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Coral Gables, FL--

For the first time since 1988, all four players in the Junior Orange Bowl 12s final are Americans, with Victor Lilov and Bruno Kuzuhara playing for the boys title and Cori Gauff and Katrina Scott facing off in the girls championship match.

The United States is still alive for 14s titles as well, with unseeded Alexa Noel and No. 2 seed Alex Lee advancing to the finals with straight-sets wins at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center at the University of Miami.

The first all-US boys 12s final since Joe Di Giulio defeated Roy Lederman in 2007 looked unlikely when No. 3 seed Lilov was down three match points serving at 3-5 in the third set against unseeded Aldolfo Vallejo of Paraguay.  Lilov saved those three match points to force Vallejo to serve for the match at 5-4, but when Vallejo went up 40-0, the significance of those previous match points dimmed.  Lilov again came through, however, also saving that trio of match points and getting the break, then pulling out the third set tiebreaker for an improbable 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(2) victory.


"I got lucky, but I'm proud of myself to keep fighting and not give up, even when I was down 5-4, 40-0 with him serving," said 12s USTA National champion Lilov, a 12-year-old from Raleigh, North Carolina. "I kind of felt like I could win the match, because I thought he might get a little nervous, because he was up and he was playing great after the second set, where he wasn't really there because I was up so much. Tough match for me, difficult, but I just fought."


Kuzuhara's 7-6(4), 6-3 win over unseeded Minseong Kim of Korea was not as dramatic, but was far from easy, with the first set taking an hour to complete.

"I was really tired, but I managed to pull it out," said Kuzuhara, a 12-year-old from Florida.  "I felt like if put a little more balls in the court and make him run side to side, then sneak into the net I could probably take the first set.  I felt like I played better in the tiebreaker, and I carried the momentum for the second set."

The boys final will be at 9 a.m. at Salvadore Park, with the third place match between Vallejo and Kim and the fifth place match, between Evan Wen and Gunuk Kang of Korea, also at 9 a.m.


The all-US girls 12s final, the first since Claire Liu beat CiCi Bellis in 2011, is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the University of Miami.  No. 2 seed Gauff, a semifinalist for the past two years, was determined to get past that stage this year, even though she has found success in the 16s and 18s divisions in 2016.

"Winning Orange Bowl is something I always wanted to do," said Gauff, who recently reached the quarterfinals of the 16s division at the Eddie Herr. "I wanted to win 12s Orange Bowl ever since I was 10. I decided I was going to play 18s just to get more experience, then play 12s Orange Bowl and hopefully pull out the win."

Gauff is one match away from that goal after defeating No. 3 seed Vivian Ovrootsky 6-1, 7-5 in today's semifinals.  Gauff has yet to lose a set in the tournament, but Ovrootsky did push her in the second set, becoming the first player to win more than three games in a set.

"She was hitting more flat in the second set, more wide," Gauff said. "Before she would hit it higher and I would be able to take it, so I think she realized that wasn't the right decision. So when she changed it up, it gave me a little trouble, but after a while, I sort of got my rhythm back."


Unlike Gauff, Scott is playing in her first Junior Orange Bowl, and with her 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 8 seed Tatiana Muzykantskaya of Russia, she has now made two finals this month after advancing to the championship match at the Eddie Herr.

"It's a really big tournament and it's really good to get that chance to play other people across the world, so you see where you stand and how you're doing," the No. 4 seed said.

Although her semifinal win was routine, Scott has had several tight matches during the tournament.

"I've been playing really well," said the 12-year-old from Woodland Hills, California. "I had some tough matches where I've been down, but I've fought through them, and I'm happy to be here."

Scott and Gauff have not played before, although they know each other from a Team USA competition in Boca Raton two years ago.

The last time all four 12s finalists were from the United States, according to the Junior Orange Bowl program, is 1988, when BJ Stearns defeated Marcus Fluitt and Chanda Rubin defeated Ali Peshkin. Neither 12s tournament was played from 1989-1997.

The third place match between Ovrootsky and Muzykantskaya and the fifth place match between Dasha Plekhanova of Canada and Daniella Benabraham are also schedule for 9 a.m. at the University of Miami.


Unseeded Alexa Noel continued her march through the tournament, winning her sixth consecutive straight-sets match and the fourth consecutive win over a seeded player, beating No. 7 seed Emma Raducanu of Great Britain 6-3, 6-2.

Noel fell behind 2-0 in the opening set, but soon shook off her nerves and began to assert herself, starting with her serve.

"I was just really nervous," Noel said. "I knew she was a good player and I started off slow, wasn't accelerating through my shots, but as the match went on, it got better and better."

As her game has matured, so has her on-court demeanor. In the past, Noel would let her frustration boil over, with her mistakes leading to a loud conversation with herself about her shortcomings.

"I've grown up a bit," said Noel. "It's just realizing it's kind of just a game. If I do everything that I can control correctly, that's really all you can ask for. I'd get super mad at the beginning of matches, missing balls, now it's just more focus and realizing I can step up and so I don't freak out right away."

Noel will play No. 3 seed Qinwen Zheng of China, whom she defeated in the final of the 2016 Nike International U14 Championships in Bolton, England in January. Zheng advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 2 seed Holly Fischer of Great Britain.

"She likes to strike through the court," said Noel, who has recently left the Junior Tennis Champions Center, returning to her home in New Jersey. "So as long as I keep it out of her strike zone and I'm serving well, I think I have a pretty good chance."

Noel said her game style and its execution have peaked this week in Coral Gables.

"Since the US Open, this is probably the best I've played," said Noel. "I think I have more variety, I guess. Use more of the court, hit different shots, instead of the same shot over and over."

The match of day at the University of Miami was top seed Bu Yunchaokete's 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(7) win over No. 5 seed Zane Khan. In the Eddie Herr final, Khan had posted a 6-3, 6-3 victory over China's top 14-year-old, and he was one point from another win over Yunchaokete in the tiebreaker, but as he had done in the fourth round against No. 17 seed Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan, Yunchaokete survived.

Down 5-2 in the final set of the long and physically draining match in 83 degree heat, Khan won four straight games, but serving for the match at 6-5, Khan could muster only one point, and that on a missed overhead from Yunchaokete.  Khan, who had received a point penalty for an audible obscenity in the second set and a game penalty for racquet abuse to fall behind 2-0 in the third set, looked on the edge of another explosion late in the match, but he managed to keep himself from being defaulted, and even took a 4-1 lead in the final set tiebreaker.  Khan had two serves up 4-1, but lost both, the first on an unforced forehand error and the second on a perfect lob winner by Yunchaokete.  Yunchaokete went up 5-4 with a backhand winner, rare for him, and Khan responded with a forehand winner to make it 5-5. Khan went up 6-5 when Yunchaokete's backhand went just wide, but Khan failed to take his opportunity, sending a routine forehand long.

A good first serve by Yunchaokete gave him a match point, but he sent a backhand long to make it 7-7. Khan then netted a forehand to give Yunchaokete a second match point, and this time he won it, with Khan's forehand going wide.

Yunchaokete admitted after the nearly three-hour match that he was exhausted, but said he would be ready for Tuesday's final.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm very tired now," said Yunchaokete. "I need a good rest for tomorrow.

As for the difference between the Eddie Herr final and today's much more competitive match with Khan, he put it down to one stroke, his forehand.

"My forehand better, working better," Yunchaokete said.


His opponent in the final is no. 2 seed Alex Lee, who defeated No. 9 seed Spencer Brachman 7-6(0), 6-4.  Lee, the 14s National champion, lost his serve at 5-all in the first set, but saved a set point with Brachman serving for the set and dominated the subsequent tiebreaker.

Lee said serving from the north court was difficult for both he and Brachman.

"Neither one of us could hold, it was just constant breaking," said Lee, a 14-year-old from Oak Brook, Illinois. "I think it was a combination of sun and wind. In the tiebreaker, I just tried to take advantage of being on the side where both of us could just keep hitting the ball at each other."

In the second set, Lee was unable to serve out the match at 5-2, getting broken at love, but he closed it out on his second attempt, sealing the victory with a forehand winner to hold at love.

Lee, who won the Easter Bowl as well as the 14s USTA Nationals this year, said he's pleased to have reached the Junior Orange Bowl final.

"Not many kids are able to do it," Lee said. "It's one of the biggest tournaments internationally for a junior, so it's a great honor."

The boys final, the third place match between Khan and Brachman, and the fifth place match between Hunter Heck and Benjamin Heynold of Great Britain are scheduled for 11 a.m. at the University of Miami Tuesday.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Noel Ousts Girls 14s Top Seed Krznaric, Joins Eight Other Americans in Junior Orange Bowl Semifinals

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Coral Gables, FL--


Overlooked by the Junior Orange Bowl seeding committee, Alexa Noel eliminated any doubt that she was among the best 16 players in the girls 14s draw. After defeating No. 6 seed Jimar Gerald of Chile in the third round and No. 9 seed Carol Plakk of Estonia in Saturday's round of 16, Noel proved to have too much variety for Noa Krznaric of Croatia, earning a 6-1, 7-5 victory over the No. 1 seed.

Noel admitted to being puzzled by her lack of a seed.

"If they went off ITF ranking, I still would have been one of the top seeds," said the 14-year-old from New Jersey, 352 in the ITF junior rankings. "I guess everybody I talked to about it was also a little bit confused."

Krznaric was the one confused on the court, with Noel determined to keep the 13-year-old left-hander off-balance.

"On returns, I hit slices a lot, because she doesn't like to move forward up to slices," said Noel, who engaged in very few baseline power rallies with Krznaric. "I was trying to keep it out of her strike zone."

The strategy worked perfectly in the first set, with Noel varying the pace and placement of nearly every ball. The breezy conditions also added another variable to the equation, and Krznaric's timing was off throughout the first set.

The second set was much closer.  Although Noel got an early break, she gave it back serving a 4-3, with a netcord winner for Krznaric getting her back even.  Krznaric held for 5-4, but Noel said she was still confident she could end the match in two sets.

"I feel like I play pretty well under pressure," said Noel, who trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland. "My serve's been pretty good the entire tournament, so even when I was down 4-5, I knew the set wasn't over, because my serve bails me out a lot."

Noel's confidence was justified, as she held, then broke Krznaric to give herself the opportunity to serve it out.  That last game is proverbially the toughest, but not for Noel.  Going ace, winner, winner, ace, Noel eliminated any potential drama, and the 2016 USTA Clay Court 16s champion had her victory.

Next up for Noel is No. 7 seed and Eddie Herr finalist Emma Raducanu of Great Britain, who defeated Natasha Sengphrachanh of Canada 6-3, 6-2.

"I played her at the back draw at Les Petits As, so I know what to expect," said Noel, who lost in three short-scoring sets. "I'm pretty close friends with her, so it should just be a good match."

The other girls 14s semifinal will feature No. 3 seed Qinwen Zheng of China against No. 2 seed Holly Fischer of Great Britain.  Zheng defeated No. 9 seed Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan 6-3, 6-1, while Fischer beat unseeded Jada Bui of Canada 6-4, 6-1.

Noel is the only US girl remaining in the 14s, but three US boys are in the semifinals of the 14s, the first time that's happened in the 12 years I've been covering the tournament.


No. 5 seed Zane Khan had the easiest time advancing, defeating No. 17 seed Benjamin Heynold of Great Britain 6-2, 6-1.

Khan had not played Heynold before, but he talked to Niroop Vallabhaneni, who lost to Heynold on Friday, about what he should expect.

"He played my friend yesterday, and he told me what he was doing against him, how he won against him, just putting balls back in," said Khan. "I felt like he couldn't hurt me today. I was just trying to cut off the angles when I can, move forward when I can, come to net."

Khan will play top seed Bu Yunchaokete of China in a rematch of the recent Eddie Herr final, won by Khan 6-3, 6-3.  Yunchaokete looked sharp against No. 7 seed Daiki Yoshimura of Japan in today's 6-3, 6-0 quarterfinal victory.

"I feel like I just have to play the right way tomorrow," said Khan, "I need to keep doing the right things throughout the match and I think I'll do well."

There will be an American boys finalist for the first time since Michael Mmoh won the 14s title in 2012 with either No. 2 seed Alex Lee or No. 9 seed Spencer Brachman earning that honor.  Both had tough matches on Sunday, with Brachman beating No. 4 seed Santiago de la Fuente of Argentina 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 and Lee surviving against unseeded Jacobi Bain of the Bahamas 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3.

Three US girls are through to the 12s semifinals, which will be played at the University of Miami Monday after closing out play at the Biltmore Tennis Center with today's quarterfinals. The boys 14s moved from Crandon Park on Key Biscayne to the University of Miami for today's quarterfinal matches.

No. 3 seed Vivian Ovrootsky defeated Daniella Benabraham, a No. 9 seed, 6-4, 6-1 and will face No. 2 seed Cori Gauff, who assured a US finalist by defeating unseeded Stela Peeva of Bulgaria 6-1, 6-0.

Tatiana Muzykantskaya of Russia, the No. 8 seed, defeated the last qualifier in any of the four divisions, taking out Evialina Laskevich of Belarus 6-2, 6-2.  She will play No. 4 seed Katrina Scott, who downed No. 6 seed Katja Wiersholm 7-6(5), 6-1.

The boys 12s quarterfinals featured two all-USA contests, with No. 3 seed Victor Lilov and No. 9 seed Bruno Kuzuhara earning spots in the semifinals.

Lilov claimed his first win in four tries over Evan Wen, the No. 5 seed, taking a 6-3, 6-1 decision, while Kuzuhara defeated No. 9 seed John Lasanajak 6-1, 6-0.  Kuzuhara will play unseeded Minseong Kim of Korea in the semifinals, with Kim downing No. 9 seed Ron Ellouck of Israel 6-1, 6-2.  Lilov's semifinal opponent is unseeded Adolfo Vallejo of Paraguay, who beat unseeded Dinko Dinev of Bulgaria 7-6(6), 6-3.

The boys 12s will continue to be played at Salvadore Park through Tuesday's final.

Complete results, times for Monday's semifinals, and all consolation scores, are available at the TennisLink site.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Lilov Ousts Eddie Herr Champion Kang as Four US Boys, Five US Girls Advance to Quarterfinals at Junior Orange Bowl 12s; Top Two Boys and Girls 14s Seeds Move On

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Coral Gables, FL--

My focus was on the boys 12s today, and there were several notable round of 16 results on the Har-Tru courts of Salvadore Park, with top seed Dino Prizmic of Croatia knocked out by unseeded Adolfo Vallejo of Paraguay and No. 3 seed Victor Lilov defeating No. 9 seed and Eddie Herr champion Gunuk Kang of Korea 6-0, 6-3.


Lilov won the first set quickly, with Kang making a lot of unforced errors in the opening games. Lilov had won his previous two matches without dropping a game, so he was up to five consecutive 6-0 sets after the first set on Court 1 today, but that ended quickly, with Kang holding in the first games of the second set.

The second game was a long one, with Lilov required to save several break points before he finally got the hold.

"It was crucial," said Lilov, the USTA National 12s champion. "It was very important to me. He's an Eddie Herr champion, so he'll show you how to come back and fight. I got lucky there, so I'm happy I was able to push through that game."

After failing to break, Kang was broken in the next game and Lilov held for 3-1, but the subsequent games were all close contested, the opposite of the first set.  Lilov was unable to serve out the match at 5-2 and Kang went up 40-15 with two game points to force Lilov to serve for it at 5-4, but Kang couldn't convert either and Lilov won the final four points of the match.

The wind was definitely a factor throughout the match, and Lilov, who lost in the Eddie Herr semifinals, thought the change in the surface this week from hard to Har-Tru might have worked in his favor as well.

"I didn't feel he played a lot on the clay, based on the way he couldn't really slide to my drop shots or anything," said Lilov, who trains with Steve Smith in Raleigh, North Carolina.  "He wasn't really natural, so that helped me out a lot and I train a lot on clay."

Lilov said his semifinal loss to Jonah Braswell at the Eddie Herr helped convince him he needed to change his approach in this match.

"At Eddie Herr I wasn't aggressive on important points, and this time I was," Lilov said.

Lilov moved forward often and finished with well-executed volleys, although he said that part of his game is still a work in progress.

"Today I didn't brick my volleys, I hit them this time," said Lilov. "Usually I don't hit them hard, but today I stuck them."

Next for Lilov is No. 5 seed Evan Wen, who defeated unseeded Jaden Weekes of Canada 6-3, 6-3.  Wen has beaten Lilov three times this year, twice in match tiebreakers in lieu of a third set, and 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the 12s Clay Courts.

"I'm pumped up," said Lilov. "I hope can play better this time. He played well last time, but I want to do better. He hits the ball and is very aggressive."

The winner of that all-American quarterfinal will play the winner of the match between Vallejo and Dinko Dinev of Bulgaria. Dinev, who is unseeded, defeated Aidan Kim 6-1, 6-1.

Another unseeded quarterfinalist is Minseong Kim of Korea, who defeated Aron Pilbart of Canada 1-6, 6-4, 6-0.  Kim will face No. 9 seed Ron Ellouck of Israel, who beat Gonzalo Bueno Rodriguez of Peru 7-6(6), 6-2.


A second all-American quarterfinal features two No. 9 seeds, Bruno Kuzuhara and John Lasanajak.  Kuzuhara's 6-4, 6-2 win over Lautaro Midon Ballesteros of Argentina was tough, but it paled in comparison to Lasanajak's 6-0, 2-6, 7-5 victory over Lucca Liu of Brazil, in which Lasanajak saved a match point.

Lasanajak overwhelmed Liu, who had beaten No. 2 seed Haesun Lee of Korea on Friday, in the first set, but couldn't maintain that level.

"I thought it was going to be swift," said Lasanajak, who trains with his father in Lawrenceville, Georgia. "It got too easy and I thought it would be easy and my level dropped.  In the second set, he picked it up, he played pretty well. The third set was just a fight."

Liu had a small cheering section from a local club where he had practiced prior to the tournament, and after he won three straight games in the third set, those supporters were ready to erupt when Lasanajak went down 30-40 serving at 4-5.  He refused to play tentatively however, hitting a swinging forehand volley winner near the line to save it, and after a forehand error by Liu, Lasanajak hit a backhand winner to make it 5-all.

In the next game, Liu had two game points, but several unforced errors led to a break for Lasanajak, who then faced the difficult task of serving out the match.  He handled it well, getting to 40-15, then sealing the victory with an ace.

"I had to keep the ball at a good pace," Lasanajak said. "The whole set before I was just hitting soft shots. But he made some errors at the end, and that gave me an opportunity."

The girls 12s quarterfinals also feature two between players from the US.  The one American not playing another is No. 2 seed Cori Gauff, a semifinalist last year, who will face unseeded Stela Peeva of Bulgaria. Peeva reached the semifinals of the Eddie Herr 12s earlier this month, while Gauff was a quarterfinalist in the Eddie Herr 16s.  Gauff beat No. 9 seed Anne Lutkemeyer 6-2, 6-1, with Peeva defeating unseeded Kelly Dowuona of Canada 6-4, 6-0.

No. 4 seed Katrina Scott and No. 6 seed Katja Wiersholm will face off on Sunday, after Scott defeated No. 9 seed Rebecca Lynn 7-6(6), 7-6(3) and Wiersholm got past unseeded Annabelle Xu of Canada 6-4, 7-5.   No. 3 seed Vivian Ovrootsky will play No. 9 seed Daniella Benabraham in the other all-US quarterfinal.  Ovrootsky defeated No. 9 seed Aliona Falei of Belarus 6-4, 6-4 and Benabraham came back for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over unseeded Alexandra Eala of the Philippines.

In both the girls and boys 14s, the top two seeds are still on course to meet in the final.

In the girls 14s, No. 1 seed Noa Krznaric of Croatia defeated No. 9 seed Gabby Price 7-5, 6-3 and will meet the only American remaining in the quarterfinals, unseeded Alexa Noel. Noel defeated No. 9 seed Carol Plakk of Estonia 7-5, 6-4.  No. 2 seed Holly Fischer of Great Britain defeated Lisa Pigato of Italy 6-4, 6-3 and will play unseeded Canadian Jada Bui, a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Sinja Kraus of Austria.  Third seed Qinwen Zheng of China defeated unseeded Savannah Broadus 6-1, 6-3 and will play No. 9 seed Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan, who ended the run of unseeded Maxi Duncan 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.  Another Great Britain and Canadian quarterfinal has No. 7 seed Emma Raducanu of Great Britain against unseeded Natasha Sengphrachanh, both of whom defeated compatriots in the round of 16. Raducanu defeated Kylie Bilchev 6-2, 6-4 and Sengphrachanh defeated No. 9 seed Ariana Arseneault.

Three US boys have advanced to the quarterfinals, which move to the University of Miami of Sunday, although Les Petits As champion Stefan Leustian is not among them. Leustian, a No. 9 seed, lost to top seed Bu Yunchaokete of China 6-4, 6-4.  No. 2 seed Alex Lee advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 17 seed Luca Nardi of Italy, and will play unseeded Jacobi Bain of the Bahamas after Bain outlasted Ryotaro Koshiba of Japan 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.  No. 9 seed Spencer Brachman earned his quarterfinal encounter with No. 4 seed Santiago de la Fuente of Argentina after beating Marcus McDaniel, a No. 17 seed, 6-4, 6-4. No. 5 seed Zane Khan, the only Eddie Herr champion still able to sweep both titles, defeated Juan Torres of Argentina 6-2, 6-4 and will play Benjamin Heynold of Great Britain, a No. 17 seed. Heynold defeated unseeded Niroop Vallabhaneni 6-4, 6-2.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Orange Bowl 16s Recap; Top B14s Seed Yunchaokete Survives, No. 2 Seed Lee Falls in Boys 12s

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Coral Gables, FL--

Before getting to the results of the Junior Orange Bowl round of 32 action on a beautiful day in South Florida, here's a link to my article for Tennis Recruiting Network on last week's Metropolia Orange Bowl 16s championships, won by Americans Steven Sun and Katie Volynets.


I decided to go to Crandon Park on Key Biscayne for the boys 14s today, and I wasn't sorry, as the drive over the Causeway was as beautiful as ever, all matches went out on time, and there was a drama-filled marathon win by Bu Yunchaokete of China, who saved two match points in his 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(9) victory over No. 17 seed Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan.

Mitsui was struggling with cramps late in the third set, but did not receive any treatment.  The cramping appeared to cause Mitsui the most trouble on his serve, which had nothing on it in the late stages of the match, but Yunchaokete could not convert on his opportunities.

After saving five match points before the tiebreaker, it looked as if Mitsui's chances were fading when he went down 5-2 in the tiebreaker, with Yunchaokete having two serves to end it.  But he lost those two points and the two points on Mitsui's serve, and suddenly Mitsui had a match point.  Yunchaokete decided to serve and volley down match point and Mitsui's return found the net, so Yunchaokete decided to serve and volley again, and again, Mitsui's return was netted. On his sixth match point, Yunchaokete shanked a forehand, and when Mitsui hit a forehand winner, the young Japanese players watching the match on the nearby bleachers eagerly anticipated his success on his second match point.  But Yunchaokete hit a big forehand that forced an error then crushed an overhead for match point No. 7.  He failed to convert that, with his forehand going wide, and at 9-9, Mitsui had to remind Yunchaokete to switch ends for a third time.  Mitsui didn't get a first serve on the next point, with Yunchaokete blasting a forehand return winner by Mitsui to set up match point No. 8, and when Mitsui's forehand caught the net, the nearly three-hour struggle came to an end.

The boys embraced at the net, and the spectators, which included many of the players from matches that had finished earlier, reluctantly began to disperse, not quite ready to accept that the drama was over.

Yunchaokete will play Stefan Leustian, one of six US boys to advance to the round of 16, on Saturday.  Leustian, a No. 9 seed, defeated Barney Fitzpatrick of Great Britain, a No. 17 seed, 6-1, 6-0.

Unseeded Niroop Vallabhaneni defeated Bruno Oliveira of Brazil 6-2, 6-2, No. 5 seed Zane Khan downed Dusan Rsovac of Australia 6-1, 6-1 and No. 2 seed Alex Lee advanced with a tough 7-5, 6-4 win over No. 17 seed Natan Rodrigues of Brazil.


The other two Americans remaining will play each other on Saturday, with No. 9 seed Spencer Brachman meeting No. 17 seed Marcus McDaniel.  Brachman defeated Peter Alam of Great Britain 6-4, 6-4, while McDaniel took out No. 6 seed Han-chih Lin of Taiwan 6-3, 6-2.

At age 14, McDaniel is playing in his first Junior Orange Bowl.

"My level has been rising and I've been playing in bigger and bigger tournaments and having better results throughout the year," the Northern California resident said. "I wanted to get a taste of what international was like, so we came here for the experience, to see what the top players around the world are like, to see what I need to go back and work on."

Although he had no scouting report on his opponent, McDaniel implemented his usual plan against a player he did know.

"Everybody here has their strengths and weaknesses, and I know my strengths, I know my weaknesses so I go out there trying to bring out my strengths as much as possible," said McDaniel, who reached the quarterfinals at the National 14s this year, losing to Lee, the eventual champion. "I use the five-minute warmup to figure out my opponent and as the match goes on, evaluate what they're doing, see how they are changing during the match and capitalize on any opportunity."

McDaniel adjusted his serving, which he said is one of the strengths of his game, when Lin struggled on certain balls.

"I noticed he was having more trouble with serves that moved out wide, off the court," McDaniel said. "So after I served, I was able to take a step in and take the next ball early to the crosscourt side. I also noticed at the end of the match that he wasn't able to bend as low, because his legs were getting tired, so toward the end of the match, I was doing more slices, more flat balls, that he wasn't unable to get under."

McDaniel, who trains with Phil Cello, has also been working with his father and hitting with friends, but his training regimen is about to change dramatically soon.

"Starting in January, I'll be training with the USTA every few weeks for weeks at a time, in Orlando," McDaniel said. "I'm very excited."

At the boys 12s, No. 2 seed Haesun Lee of Korea was eliminated by Lucca Liu of Brazil 6-4, 6-2.  Liu will play No. 9 seed John Lasanajak, one of five Americans remaining, who beat qualifier Michael Zheng 6-2, 6-1.  No. 9 seeds Aidan Kim and Bruno Kuzuhara won in straight sets to join No. 3 seed Victor Lilov and No. 5 seed Evan Wen in the round of 16.

Lilov, who has not lost a game in his last two matches, has a tough match on Saturday against Eddie Herr champion Gunuk Kang of Korea, seeded No. 9.

Four US girls remain in the 14s, three of them unseeded.  Alexa Noel defeated No. 6 seed Jimar Gerald of Chile 6-3, 6-2, Savannah Broadus got by Ziva Falkner of Slovenia 6-1, 2-6, 6-0 and Maxi Duncan beat Corina Spasojevic of Canada 6-3, 6-4.  No. 9 seed Gabby Price downed Jiaqi Wang of China 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 and will face top seed Noa Krznaric of Croatia Saturday.

Seven US girls are into the round of 16 in the girls 12s, including No. 2 seed Cori Gauff, who defeated Rachel Gailis 6-2, 6-2. Gauff will face another American, No. 9 seed Anne Lutkemeyer, who beat Isabel Pacheco 6-3, 6-1.  No. 4 seed Katrina Scott survived Minseo Kim of Korea 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 and will play No. 9 seed Rebecca Lynn, who beat Mia Kupres of Canada 6-2, 6-0.  The winner of that match will face No. 6 seed Katja Wiersholm, if she defeats Annabelle Xu of Canada on Saturday. No. 3 seed Vivian Ovrootsky, a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Clervie Ngounoue, plays No. 9 seed Aliona Falei of Belarus Saturday.

Complete results can be found at the TennisLink site.

How the Top 8 seeds have fared through round of 32:

G14s:
1. Noa Krznaric (CRO)
2. Holly Fischer (GBR)
3. Qinwen Zheng (CHN)
4. Victoria Hu (USA) (withdrew)
5. Gianni Pielet (USA) out 2nd rd
6. Jimar Gerald (CHI) out 3rd rd
7. Emma Raducanu (GBR)
8. Ana Geller (ARG) out 2nd rd

G12s:
1. Katerina Dimitrova (BUL) out 1st rd
2. Cori Gauff(USA)
3. Vivan Ovrootsky (USA)
4. Katrina Scott (USA)
5. Dasha Plekhanova (CAN) out 2nd rd
6. Katja Wiersholm (USA)
7. Robin Montgomery (USA) out 2nd rd
8. Tatiana Muzykantskaya (RUS)

B14s:
1. Bu Yunchaokete (CHN)
2. Alex Lee (USA)
3. Alexander Gaponenko (ISR) out 3rd rd
4. Santiago de la Fuente (ARG)
5. Zane Khan (USA)
6. Han-Chih Lin (TPE) out 4th rd
7. Daiki Yoshimura (JPN)
8. Nicholas-Davis Ionel (ROU) out 3rd rd

B12s:
1. Dino Prizmic (CRO)
2. Haesun Lee (KOR) out 3rd rd
3. Victor Lilov (USA)
4. William Jansen (GBR) out 1st rd
5. Evan Wen (USA)
6. Jose Maciel Neto (BRA) withdrew
7. Lun Obrul (SLO) out 1st rd
8. Patrick Brady (THA) out 1st rd