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Friday, August 4, 2017

My Kalamazoo Preview; Clay Champion Nefve Gets in as Alternate and Advances on Damp First Day at Nats; Kenin Clinches Women's US Open Wild Card, Paul Closes in on Men's

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Kalamazoo MI--

When I wrote my annual preview for the USTA Boys 18 and 16 National Championships for the Tennis Recruiting Network, a significant 18s player was missing: Clay Court champion Axel Nefve. Nefve was not on the initial Kalamazoo acceptance list, and by the time he realized he wasn't in, it was too late to apply for a wild card.

"There was a problem with the acceptance list and I'm not really sure about it," said the 17-year-old left-hander. "When I realized I wasn't in the tournament, I kind of freaked out a little bit. Luckily people helped me out and I was able to get in as an on-site alternate."

Nefve knew he was playing doubles, so he traveled to Kalamazoo from Florida, where he trains with Nick Saviano.  As an on-site alternate, players need to be at the Stowe Tower at 7:30 a.m., in case someone does not show up for his match.  On Friday morning, two players did not show up, with Nefve taking the place of wild card Roy Smith[49], who was still in the doubles draw at the Futures in Decatur Illinois.

"It was disappointing. I knew that I was No. 1 alternate, so there was definitely a chance, but there was no certainty," said Nefve, who followed his usual pre-match routines. "So I woke up this morning knowing I might not play today. But I had a feeling I was destined to play."

Nefve said he was "super excited" when he heard he was in, but was aware that he needed to check his emotions.

"I wanted to stay as composed as I could," said Nefve, who won his first gold ball last month at the Clay Courts in Delray Beach. "I didn't want to go into the match not thinking, too excited. I played well. It was extremely windy, tough conditons today, and I had a lot of things on my mind. I had just got in, I was rushing, not the best circumstances to be in, but it's great that during the match I kind of loosened up and I started playing better."

Because Nefve's 6-3, 6-2 win over Derrick Thompson was completed early, he did not have to cope with the additional challenges of starting and stopping play that began with a light mist at 11:20 and grew to a full-fledged rainstorm by mid-afternoon.  Close to a third of the first round singles matches were interrupted and completed indoors, while nearly all the first round doubles matches on the schedule were played entirely indoors.  Second round doubles matches were cancelled. Nefve and his partner Ryan Goetz, whom he beat in the Clay Court final, won their first round doubles match at West Hills Tennis Club Saturday afternoon, beating Joseph Brailovsky and Joshua Keitelman 6-3, 6-1.

With the expansion of seeds from 32 to 64, seeded players take the court on the first day of play this year, and only four lost their opening matches.  Arnav Dhingra defeated No. 57 seed Marcus Ferreira 6-2, 6-1; Jason Lui beat No. 64 seed Finn Talcott 6-4, 6-2; Andrew Redding downed No. 45 seed Peter Conklin 6-4, 6-4 and Robert Siniakowicz defeated No. 39 seed Jared Pratt 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(6).

Complete draws are available at ustaboys.com.

In today's quarterfinals at the $60,000 Women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Lexington, Amanda Anisimova lost to wild card Emina Bektas 6-4, 6-2, which clinched the USTA's US Open wild card challenge for 18-year-old Sonya Kenin.  Kenin, who won the wild card challenge last year and a US Open wild card as the girls National 18s champion in 2015, has yet to play her quarterfinal match, but with a title two weeks ago and a semifinal result last week, Kenin can not be caught, with the competition for the women ending this week.

Ansimiova has withdrawn from the USTA 18s Nationals putting Usue Arconada as the new No. 1 seed. Claire Liu is No. 2, and Maria Mateas has been added to the seedings at No. 3.  In the seeds posted on Thursday, Mateas was not seeded.

The men's US Open wild card race is tilted heavily toward Tommy Paul now, after he defeated No. 11 seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg last night at the Citi Open 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3.  Because the men's race has another week to go after this one, it's theoretically possible for someone to catch Paul at the Masters in Canada next week, however unlikely that scenario might be.  Paul plays No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan tonight.  Jack Sock[8] advanced to the semifinals with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Milos Raonic[3] of Canada and will face Kevin Anderson[15] of South Africa for a place in the final Saturday.


Guest said...

Colette, is it even possible for an American to get into the qualies in Montreal? There is no direct entry for any American in the Wild Card Challenge. The only other possibility appears to be if Sarmiento wins both Lexington and Aptos. Barring that unlikely double, Paul deservedly earns the WC.

Colette Lewis said...

three Americans not already in USO--Opelka, C Harrison, and Smyczek--are in Montreal qualifying

Guest said...

Thank you for the update. I had originally looked at the entry list cutoff for the qualifying. It looks like only 7-8 from the entry list actually showed up for qualifying.