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Monday, February 13, 2017

ITF Junior No. 1 Kecmanovic's Climb Through Futures Qualifying; Florida Captures ITA Women's Team Indoor Title; Anisimova Top Seed at Grade A Porto Alegre

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Orlando, FL--

Seventeen-year-old Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia is looking forward to the day when Futures qualifying is behind him.

With many of those qualifying draws made up of 128 players, meaning four wins are required just to reach the main draw, the physical and mental grind is considerable. But as a test of fitness, this arduous path has its value, with Kecmanovic already having proven to himself that he can survive nine matches in ten days.

Since winning the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl titles last year to finish as 2016’s ITF World Junior Champion, Kecmanovic has focused on Futures in Florida this year, claiming his first pro title last month at the $15,000 tournament in Sunrise as a qualifier.

“It was a pretty tough week, but I played very well, better than I thought I would,” said Kecmanovic, who trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. “It was a great start to the year.”

Kecmanovic said his off-season consisted of four weeks of fitness, which proved instrumental in claiming his title. “To play nine matches at that level, a couple of tough matches over two hours, I did pretty good. I was ready, and even after, at the following tournaments, I was in good shape.”

Seeded second in qualifying this week, Kecmanovic didn’t drop a set in his four matches at the $15,000 Orlando Futures at the USTA National Campus, needing less than an hour to record his 6-2, 6-0 win over South African Lance Cohen.

With five wins required for just one ATP point in these qualifying draws, Kecmanovic is hoping his stay at this level is brief, although he is trying to stay patient, sticking to the plan he established for 2017.

“My coach and I talked about what we were going to do, to start with Futures,” said Kecmanovic, who lost in the first round of the two Futures he played after Sunrise, although he did win three qualifying matches at Palm Coast . “We are starting with Futures, because I don’t think I’m ready for Challengers yet. Maybe a few more of this, then the second part of the year, the middle of the year, I can start playing some bigger events. I have to get pass this, however much time it takes. I’ll try to play good and just pass this quickly.”

Kecmanovic is one of three teenagers to advance to the main draw, with 18-year-olds Evan Furness of France, the No. 6 seed, and Genaro Oliviera of Argentina, the No. 8 seed, the other two. Furness defeated Michael Zhu 6-3, 6-1 and Olivieri beat Malcolm Harrison 6-2, 6-2.

Top qualifying seed Connor Smith won the only three-set match of the day, beating Lucas Renard of Sweden 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.  Played on the Har-Tru Championship Court at the USTA's new tennis facility, the match was a high quality affair, with Smith getting a break at 2-2 in the third set to establish control and another at 4-2 to take the pressure off, although the former Ohio State Buckeye did have to save two break points in the final game.

No. 3 seed Mico Santiago ended the run of 15-year-old Govind Nanda with a 7-5, 6-3 victory and former Elon star Cameron Silverman, the No. 4 seed, bounced 18-year-old Jason Legall 6-2, 6-0.   Former Texas A&M standout Junior Ore is the only unseeded player to qualify, beating No. 9 seed Alex Blumenberg of Brazil 6-4, 6-3.  No. 16 seed Victor Nunez of Chile advanced with a 7-6(4), 7-5 win over No. 7 seed Hunter Callahan in the day's longest match, despite being only two sets.

Five first round main draw singles matches are on the schedule for Tuesday and all eight first round doubles matches will be played. Qualifiers receive the day off after playing four consecutive days.

The University of Florida women won their first ITA Team Indoor title since 1999 today at Yale, defeating North Carolina 4-2. The top seeded Gators won the doubles point easily, but needed a win from first semester freshman Ingrid Neel to seal the title after the No. 2 Tar Heels cut the Florida lead to 3-2 after freshmen Sara Daavettila at line 2 and Alexa Graham at line 4 won their matches.  Florida got wins from Brooke Austin at line 5 and Kourtney Keegan at line 6 to set up Neel's 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 win over friend and fellow Minnesotan Jessie Aney at line 3.  For more, see the Florida website.

Complete results can be found at the ITA tournament page.

The second Grade A tournament of the year is underway in Porto Alegre Brazil, with 12 US boys and 17 US girls participating.  Some first round matches were played today, with top girls seed Amanda Anisimova advancing.  Losing in first round play today were Chloe Hamlin, Chloe Beck, Victoria Hu and Camille Townsend. US girls winning today in addition to Anisimova are Lea Ma, who beat No. 5 seed Emiliana Arango of Colombia, Elysia Bolton, No. 14 seed Hailey Baptiste, No. 7 seed Sofia Sewing, Alexa Noel, Katya Townsend and qualifiers Katie Volynets and Peyton Stearns.  Stearns defeated No. 11 seed Fernanda Labrana of Chile 7-5, 6-2. US girls yet to play are Vanessa Ong, Victoria Flores, Ann Li,  and No. 9 seed Whitney Osuigwe, who won the two Grade 1 events prior to this week.

The US boys who won first round matches today are Alafia Ayeni, No. 8 seed Trent Bryde, No. 3 seed Vasil Kirkov and No. 12 seed Danny Thomas. Ayeni defeated No. 10 seed Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina 6-3, 6-2.  Tomas Kopczynski lost his first round match.  US boys scheduled to play their first round matches on Tuesday are Alexandre Rotsaert, No. 11 seed Gianni Ross, Sangeet Sridhar, No. 4 seed Sam Riffice, No. 7 seed Oliver Crawford, wild card Milledge Cossu and No. 15 seed Patrick Kypson.

For more, see the tournament website.  Check out the live streaming available here.