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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Part II: My Conversations with Pros about ATP Next Gen Innovations; Noel Wins ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup; Dale, Kader Claim Grade 5 Titles; Eddie Herr Final Rounds of Qualifying Set for Sunday

Part Two of my article on the ATP's Next Gen experiments went up today at the Tennis Recruiting Network, including comments from six pro players at Champaign Challenger, along with Illinois head coach Brad Dancer and USTA stream commentator Mike Cation.  This article focuses on the playing let serves, a reduction in medical timeouts, coaching and fan movement.  These topics produced a wide variation in responses, more so than those that were addressed in Friday's article.

Tonight in Mexico, 15-year-old Alexa Noel won her second consecutive major ITF junior tournament, beating No. 15 seed Himari Sato of Japan 6-4, 6-2 at the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup.  The unseeded Noel, who won last week's Grade A in Mexico City, has lost only one set in her 12 wins the past two weeks, in this week's second round against Diane Parry of France.  Noel got off to a slow start tonight, dropping her serve to start the match and struggling on serve the next couple of games, but she got the break back, then broke Sato, also 15 years old, serving at 4-5.

In the second set, the first five games went to the server, but Nato was broken at 2-3 and then at 2-5 to give Noel the title.  As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Noel has withdrawn from the Eddie Herr.

In the boys doubles final, No. 8 seeds William Woodall and Andrew Fenty lost to No. 4 seeds Daniel Michalski of Poland and Stefan Palosi of Romania 7-6(0), 1-6, 12-10.  The boys singles final and the girls doubles final, the latter of which Noel is participating in, are being played later tonight.

At the ITF Grade 5 in the Bahamas, Andrew Dale won his third singles title of the fall, with the No. 2 seed beating top seed Alexander Kiefer 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in the all-USA final.  Dale and Kiefer, the top seeds, teamed up for the doubles title, beating No. 2 seed Joshua Lapadat and Ilya Tiraspolsky of Canada 6-4, 7-5.

Top seeds Imani Graham and Madison Kim won the girls doubles title, beating Yao Chen of China and Kristina Tiraspolsky of Canada 7-5, 6-0. Kennedy Bridgforth[3] lost in the girls singles final to unseeded Dagmar Zdrubecka of the Czech Republic 6-2 6-4.

Fourteen-year-old Nataly Kader has played only three ITF events, all this fall, but she has now captured a title, winning the Grade 5 in Guatemala.  The unseeded Kader beat No. 1 seed Gabriela Giraldo of Colombia 7-5, 6-4 in the final.

The first round of qualifying was played today at the ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr in Bradenton Florida, with most of the seeds advancing to Sunday's play, which includes two rounds.

The only seeded girl to lose in the opening round was No. 7 seed Chloe Hamlin, who lost to Jada Bui of Canada 6-2, 6-4.  In the boys qualifying, three seeds lost, No. 2 seed Nathan Han, No. 4 seed Brandon Perez of Venezuela and No. 6 seed Kirac Bekisoglu of Turkey.  Yeudy Villar of the Dominican Republic beat Han 6-3, 7-6(5); Michael Heller defeated Perez 7-5, 6-3 and Ivan Yatsuk downed Bekisoglu 7-5, 6-7(8), 6-2.

Heller has advanced to the final round of qualifying via an odd series of events. Brandon Nakashima is not going to use the wild card he was given, so that went to Zicheng Zeng of China, who was in the qualifying draw. Tournament officials thought they had an alternate, but he didn't show up, nor did Zeng's original opponent, so the match was a double walkover, giving no one for Heller to play in the second round.

The final eight matches in the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions will all be played on Sunday morning, with the eight winners advancing to the main draw, which begins Monday.  The complete draws are at the TennisLink site.