My Interview with USTA's Martin Blackman; Top Four Seeds Advance to D-III Team Indoor Semis; All Teens in Rancho Santa Fe Semis
While I was in Florida earlier this month, I had an opportunity to speak with Martin Blackman, General Manager of Player Development at the USTA. This is my third one-on-one interview with Blackman, and I always enjoy discussing the department's initiatives and goals. This tie we talked in detail about the new Lake Nona headquarters, but also about the college tennis pathway and the recent junior competition changes. My current interview with Blackman is available at the Tennis Recruiting Network; if you are a subscriber you can read my previous interview with Blackman in February of 2016 here.
The top four seeds have advanced to the semifinals of the ITA Men's Division III Team Indoor Championships in Cleveland. Top seed Emory defeated No. 8 seed Trinity 7-2, with the defending champions two losses coming in doubles. No. 2 seed Washington-St. Louis got a rare shutout, beating No. 7 seed Kenyon 9-0 in the other morning quarterfinal. The afternoon brought one close match, with No. 4 seed Carnegie Mellon defeating No. 5 seed Case Western Reserve 5-4. No. 3 seed Chicago took out Pomona-Pitzer, the No. 6 seed 7-2. Emory faces off against Carnegie Mellon and Washington St Louis meets Chicago in Saturday's semifinals, both scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The ITA recap of the day's action is here. Case Western's tournament page is here.
All four semifinalists at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Rancho Santa Fe California are teenagers, with 18-year-old Sonya Kenin the oldest of the quartet. Only 16-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu posted a routine win, defeating No. 8 seed Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal 6-2, 6-1 in 65 minutes. Kenin led 5-2 in the final set, saw 18-year-old Caroline Dolehide win four straight games and serve for the match, but then broke to send the match into a tiebreaker. Kenin trailed 4-3 in the tiebreaker, but won the final four points of the match to earn a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) victory, avenging her loss to Dolehide last week in Surprise. She will face Andreescu in the semifinals.
Top seed Kayla Day managed to do what Dolehide could not, come from a 5-2 deficit in the final set to claim victory. The 17-year-old defeated No. 5 seed Mayo Hibi of Japan 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, in nearly three hours, winning the final five games of the match. She will play 18-year-old qualifier Katherine Sebov in the semifinal, after Sebov took out qualifier Maria Sanchez 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 in a match lasting more than three hours. Sebov is now 22-3 in USTA Pro Circuit events this year, including qualifying.
At the $15,000 Indian Harbour Beach Florida Futures, Rhyne Williams advanced to the semifinals, beating top seed Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 6-4, 7-5. Williams will face 19-year-old Corentin Denolly of France, the No. 8 seed, next. The other semifinal will feature Dominik Koepfer of Germany, the No. 7 seed, against No. 4 seed Andrea Collarini of Argentina.
At the ATP 250 in Delray Beach, No. 3 seed Jack Sock defeated No. 5 seed Steve Johnson 6-4, 7-6(4) in the quarterfinals, to set up another all-American match in the semifinals. Johnson is the subject of this ESPN article, which focuses on his continuing efforts to improve his fitness.
Donald Young, who beat Taylor Fritz in the second round, received a walkover from Steve Darcis of Belgium into the semifinals. Top seed Milos Raonic of Canada will face the winner of tonight's quarterfinal between defending champion Sam Querrey, seeded No. 4, and No. 7 seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.