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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Rybakov Reaches Second Straight Futures Final; All-US Finals in Canada and Winston-Salem; McDaniel, Edwards Win WCs at USTA College Combine; Wimbledon Wild Card Update

Alex Rybakov defended his title at last week's $25,000 Futures in Buffalo and has now extended his winning streak to nine matches by reaching the final at the $15,000 Futures this week in Rochester New York.  The 21-year-old rising senior at TCU, seeded No. 4, defeated Florida rising sophomore Andres Andrade, a wild card, 6-1, 6-4 in today's semifinal.  Rybakov, 2-2 in Futures finals, will face unseeded Markos Kalovelonis of Russia in the final, after Kalovelonis defeated qualifier Gianni Ross 7-6(6), 7-5.

Michael Redlicki will also be appearing in his second consecutive Futures final, with last week's runner-up advancing to the championship match in the second of two $25,000 Futures at Wake Forest with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over wild card Skander Mansouri of Tunisia.  The 24-year-old Redlicki, who lost in the final to Mansouri's teammate Petros Chrysochos last week, will meet top seed Tommy Paul, making his return to competition this week after months off with an injury.  Paul came back to defeat unseeded Henry Craig 6-7(3), 6-2 6-4 to earn a shot at defending the title he won in Winston-Salem last year.  I didn't realize when I mentioned Wimbledon qualifying in a post a few days ago that Paul had withdrawn from that earlier this month, and will instead play the $25,000 Futures in Tulsa next week.

Another all-US final is scheduled for the $15,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event in Victoria British Columbia, with Gail Brodsky facing Maegan Manasse.  Brodsky, a semifinalist last week in Sumter South Carolina, defeated No. 7 seed Alexa Graham 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to reach her first Pro Circuit final since she won the Victoria event, then a $10,000 tournament, back in 2015.  Manasse, who served as an undergraduate assistant coach at Cal this past season after completing her eligibility in 2017, will be playing in her first Pro Circuit singles final. 

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Baton Rouge, 18-year-old Maria Mateas will face recent Vanderbilt graduate Astra Sharma of Australia in the final.  No. 5 seed Mateas will be making her first appearance in a Pro Circuit final after defeating unseeded Ashley Lahey 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Sharma, the No. 7 seed, beat No. 8 seed Nika Kukharchuk of Russia 6-3, 6-2 to reach her sixth Pro Circuit final. She has won three single titles, two of which came last year.

Hayley Carter and Ena Shibahara won the doubles title in Baton Rouge, with the unseeded pair beating Sharma and her partner Gabriela Talaba of Romania 6-3, 6-4 in the final.  Carter and Shibahara didn't drop a set all week, with Shibahara, a rising junior at UCLA earning her first Pro Circuit title. For Carter, who is returning to competition after a season as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State, the doubles title is her second, with the first coming back in 2014.

In other doubles news, Stanford's Emily Arbuthnott won a $25,000 title in Sweden, Maria Sanchez(USC) and Asia Muhammad took the title at the $100,000 tournament in Ilkley and Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M) and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan(Washington) of India were the men's doubles champions at the ATP Challenger in Ilkley.

At the $25,000 Futures in Calgary, Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia), Paul Oosterbaan(Georgia) and Bolivia's Juan Carlos Aguilar(Texas A&M) are through to the semifinals, as is top seed Steven Diez of Canada. Rain delayed the completion of the quarterfinals, so the semifinals and finals are on Sunday's schedule.

Canadians Benjamin Sigouin(North Carolina) and Alex Galarneau(NC State) won the doubles title in Calgary, with the unseeded pair defeating No. 2 seeds Alexios Halebian and Canada's Samuel Monette(Indiana) 7-5, 7-6(4) in the final.

The USTA's second annual All-American College Combine was completed Thursday, with 16-year-olds Marcus McDaniel and Sophia Edwards the overall winners, who will receive a main draw wild card to a $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit event.  Several photos of the event are available here. All results are available at the UTR's tournament page.

Wimbledon released another wild card statement today, but there are still several TBAs on it despite qualifying beginning on Monday.  They did release four of the men's main draw wild cards to the next direct acceptances, which included Mackenzie McDonald, who will be making his Wimbledon main draw debut, and Alex DeMinaur of Australia, who had been given a wild card, but no longer needed it.  That still leaves two men's main draw wild cards open, but Denis Kudla, who lost to Roger Federer today 7-6(1), 7-5 in the Halle semifinals, was not announced as a recipient.

The pre-qualifying tournament that was to determine two of the qualifying wild cards for both men and women finished yesterday, with former Texas star Lloyd Glasspool and former Northwestern star Samantha Murray now in the qualifying fields. Freya Christie and Dan Evans also are in qualifying based on their performance in that event, with one women's qualifying wild card still to be announced. There is also one women's main draw wild card still to be determined.  The up-to-date wild card list is available here.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Kenin, Kudla, Mmoh Advance on European Grass; Mandlik Reaches Semifinals at ITF Grade 1 in Germany; Kingsley and McNally Claim Pro Circuit Doubles Title

Nineteen-year-old Sonya Kenin's ranking trajectory has consistently tracked toward the Top 100, with the 2015 USTA Girls 18s National Champion's ranking going from 624 at the end of that year to 108 at the end of 2017.  Today Kenin, a qualifier, earned her first Top 10 win at the WTA International event in Mallorca, reaching her first WTA semifinal with a 6-3, 6-3 win over top seed Caroline Garcia of France.  Kenin, who plays Tatjana Maria of Germany in Saturday's semifinals, has been in the Top 100 since March and will reach a career-high ranking in the 70s, regardless of her result tomorrow.  For more on Kenin's breakthrough week, see this article from the WTA website.

While Kenin hasn't had much success on grass prior to this week, Denis Kudla, also a qualifier, has a reputation for excelling on the surface and today he reached the semifinals of the ATP 500 in Halle, beating Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-2, 7-5. Kudla, who has yet to face a seed or lose a set, will play top seed Roger Federer in Saturday's semifinal.  The 25-year-old from Virginia, who has reached one other ATP semifinal, is back in the Top 100 now, although still some results away from his career-high ATP ranking of 53 two years ago. With five Wimbledon main draw wild cards still yet to be distributed, Kudla's case is a strong one.

Michael Mmoh hadn't won a professional level match on grass until this week at the €127,000 ATP Challenger in Ilkley England, but he now has three wins on the surface after the 20-year-old seventh-seed defeated No. 3 seed Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 6-1, 6-2. Mmoh will face No. 8 seed Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine, who beat top seed Jordan Thompson of Australia today in the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-4. Mmoh should move inside the ATP Top 120 with his results this week.

Mmoh's friend and junior rival Frances Tiafoe lost today in the quarterfinals of the Queens Club ATP 500 to France's Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-4.

Elli Mandlik reached the final of the ITF Grade 1 last week in Offenbach Germany and she is through to the semifinals of the second Grade 1 in Germany this week as the No. 11 seed. Mandlik defeated No. 4 seed Taisya Pachkaleva of Russia 6-3, 6-1 in today's quarterfinals, with No. 10 seed Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia next up on Saturday. Top seed Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine, who trains at IMG and has committed to Duke, is through to the semifinals in the top half.

Fifteen-year-old qualifier Connie Ma's run came to an end at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Baton Rouge Louisiana, but it took over three hours for No. 8 seed Nika Kukharchuk of Russia to earn her 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 quarterfinal victory.  Kukharchuk will face recent Vanderbilt graduate Astra Sharma of Australia, who beat Julia Elbaba 6-3, 6-2.  The other semifinal features unseeded Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine and Duke recruit Maria Mateas, the No. 5 seed.

The main event at the $25,000 Futures in Winston-Salem figured to be this afternoon's match between 2018 NCAA champion Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus and Wake Forest teammate Skander Mansouri of Tunisia.  Unfortunately Chrysochos's oral surgery disrupted that quarterfinal and he gave a walkover to Mansouri. Although the walkover counts as neither a win or a loss on the two players' records, the streak of 36 straight wins is considered over for Chrysochos, who won last week's Futures at Wake Forest.  Mansouri will play Michael Redlicki in the bottom half semifinal, with top seed Tommy Paul facing Henry Craig in the top half.  JC Aragone(Virginia) and Harrison Adams(Texas A&M) won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seed beating Wake Forest's Ian Dempster and Christian Seraphim of Germany 7-5, 6-7(4), 10-3 in the final.

At the $15,000 Futures in Rochester New York, No. 4 seed Alex Rybakov is the only seed to reach the semifinals. The rising TCU senior will play wild card Andres Andrade, the rising Florida sophomore, who beat wild card Ryan Goetz 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.  Virginia rising sophomore Gianni Ross, a qualifier, advanced to the second Futures semifinal of his career with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Collin Johns to earn a meeting with unseeded Russian Markos Kalovelonis of Russia.

Wild cards Cannon Kingsley and John McNally won the Rochester doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Alejandro Gomez of Colombia and Pavel Krainik of Canada 6-4, 6-4 in tonight's final. It's the first Pro Circuit title for both the 17-year-old Kingsley, who has committed to Ohio State for 2019, and the 19-year-old McNally, a rising sophomore at Ohio State.

The $25,000 men's Futures in Calgary was not able to complete its quarterfinals, I assume due to rain, but the women's $15,000 tournament in British Columbia couldn't have that problem as its the rare June tournament played indoors.  The semifinals are set there, with just one seed remaining, No. 7 Alexa Graham, the North Carolina rising junior. Graham will play 27-year-old Gail Brodsky, who is back competing regularly on the Pro Circuit after having two children.  The other semifinal features two former Pac-12 stars: Cal's Maegan Manasse, a qualifier, and UCLA's Pamela Montez. Until this year, the 27-year-old Montez hadn't played on the Pro Circuit since 2010 and the 23-year-old Manasse had, prior to this month, played only one Pro Circuit event since the summer of 2016.

Brodsky and Brynn Boren (USC) won the doubles title, with the unseeded pair beating No. 2 seeds Safiya Carrington and Alana Smith 6-1, 6-2 in the final.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Four-Time NCAA D-III Champion Chong Reaches $25K Semifinals; Ma Advances to Quarterfinals in Baton Rouge $25K; Oracle Extends Agreement with ITA; Registration Open for New Balance High School Championships

This is the time of year that college players flood the ITF and USTA Pro Circuits, and this year the urgency in acquiring ATP and WTA points is greater than ever with the ITF's Transition Tour scheduled to begin next year.

Eudice Chong (photo courtesy Wesleyan Athletics)
Four-time NCAA Division III champion Eudice Chong returned to Hong Kong this month after graduation from Wesleyan and received a wild card into the $25,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit taking place there this week. The 22-year-old has beaten three Pro Circuit veterans, all ranked around 300, to advanced to the semifinals, where she'll face top seed Jia-Jing Lu of China, ranked 185.  Chong is due back in the United States this weekend to receive the Honda Division III Athlete of the Year Award Monday night in Los Angeles. I spoke to Chong earlier this week about her junior pathway, her historic collegiate career and her professional aspirations, with our conversation scheduled to be posted on the Tennis Recruiting Network on Monday.

The $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Baton Rouge has six current or former collegians in the quarterfinals, along with Duke recruit Maria Mateas and 15-year-old Connie Ma.  Ma, a qualifier, defeated Salome Devidze of Georgia, also a qualifier, 6-4, 6-1 today to advance to the last eight. She will face a player more than twice her age, 31-year-old Russian Nika Kukharchuk (Ole Miss) after the No. 8 seed defeated 15-year-old qualifier and French Open girls champion Coco Gauff 7-5, 6-3.

Julia Elbaba (Virginia) upset top seed Usue Arconada 6-3, 6-3 and will face Australian Astra Sharma (Vanderbilt), the No. 7 seed, in the quarterfinals.  No. 5 seed Mateas, who beat Anastasia Nefedova in a three-hour and 29-minute battle today, will face Paige Hourigan (Georgia Tech) of New Zealand, and NCAA singles finalist Ashley Lahey will play Sanaz Marand(UNC).  Lahey won the all-Pepperdine showdown with Luisa Stefani of Brazil, beating her teammate 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in two hours and 45 minutes.

Wake Forest's Petros Chrysochos won the contest between NCAA singles champions today at the $25,000 Futures in Winston-Salem, with the 2018 winner taking out 2014 champion Marco Giron(UCLA), the No. 5 seed, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to move into the quarterfinals . The 22-year-old from Cyprus, who captured last week's Wake Forest Futures, has now won 36 consecutive matches since an ATP Challenger loss in March.  Chrysochos will face unseeded wild card Skander Mansouri of Tunisia, the third teammate he has played in the past two weeks.  Except for top seed Tommy Paul, who is scheduled to play in Wimbledon qualifying next Monday (correction: Paul has withdrawn from Wimbledon qualifying), all the quarterfinalists have collegiate backgrounds.  Florida recruit Sam Riffice, a qualifier, will play former Denver star Henry Craig, Paul faces former UCLA Bruin Karue Sell[6] of Brazil and Michael Redlicki(Arkansas) plays Ronnie Schneider(North Carolina). Paul and Sell are the only two seeds remaining.

In other college news, Oracle and the ITA have announced an extension of their agreement, with the ITA National Team Indoor Championships and the ITA Summer Circuit added to the list of events and items sponsored by the tech giant. The only mention of the duration of the agreement is its description as "multi-year."  Oracle's co-CEO Mark Hurd played tennis at Baylor and has been a advocate for the collegiate game for many years now.  For the complete release, see this article on the ITA website.

Coming up next month is the fifth annual New Balance High School Championships, and this year, for the second year in a row, the tournament will be held at the Weil Academy in Ojai California.  This year's dates are July 21st-24th. Any member of a high school tennis team during the 2017-18 school year may enter, although the draws are limited to 64 players, with UTR part of the selection process, along with geographic diversity.  See the USTA's Tennis Link site for more information. Entries close on June 28th.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

First Batch of Wimbledon Wild Cards Announced, with 2017 Junior Champions Davidovich and Liu Receiving Qualifying Spots; Jachuck, Mandlik Advance to Third Round at ITF Grade 1 in Germany; Noel Reaches $15K Quarterfinal

Wimbledon announced many of its wild cards today, although many more are still available, especially in the men's singles. The release I received gave "later this week" as the time frame for the naming of the remaining wild cards.  The LTA is holding a men's and a women's wild card tournament beginning tomorrow, with each of the two finalists awarded qualifying wild cards. The draws for those two events are available here.

Wimbledon main draw wild cards:

Men's singles:

Women's singles:
2 Naomi BROADY (GBR)
3 Harriet DART (GBR)
4 Katy DUNNE (GBR)
6 Katie SWAN (GBR)
7 Gabriella TAYLOR (GBR)

Most slams do not offer the previous year's junior champions qualifying wild cards, but Wimbledon usually does, and this year Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain and Claire Liu of the United States have been invited to participate.

Wimbledon qualifying wild cards:
Men's singles:
5 Aidan MCHUGH (GBR)
6 Alexander WARD (GBR)
7 James WARD (GBR)
8 Wild Card Play-off place
9 Wild Card Play-off place

Women's singles:
2 Francesca JONES (GBR)
3 Claire LIU (USA)
7 Wild Card Play-off place
8 Wild Card Play-off place

The current wild card list, which includes main draw men's and women's doubles recipients, can be found here, although, many of those are also still to be determined.

Americans who received direct entry into the main draw this year include nine men and 15 women.

The men:
John Isner
Sam Querrey
Jack Sock
Steve Johnson
Tennys Sandgren
Ryan Harrison
Jared Donaldson
Frances Tiafoe
Taylor Fritz

The women:
Serena Williams
Venus Williams
Sloane Stephens
Madison Keys
CoCo Vandeweghe
Danielle Collins
Taylor Townsend
Bernarda Pera
Sachia Vickery
Jennifer Brady
Christina McHale
Varvara Lepchenko
Sonya Kenin
Madison Brengle
Alison Riske

Cici Bellis was in the main draw, but has withdrawn due to a persistent injury.

The current list of Americans in qualifying:

The men:
Mackenzie McDonald
Bjorn Fratangelo
Denis Kudla
Michael Mmoh
Donald Young
Reilly Opelka
Bradley Klahn
Kevin King
Noah Rubin
Ernesto Escobedo
Stefan Kozlov
Dennis Novikov
Tommy Paul
Christopher Eubanks
Evan King
Christian Harrison
Mitchell Kreuger

The women:
Nicole Gibbs
Caroline Dolehide
Kristie Ahn
Irina Falconi
Jamie Loeb
Lauren Davis
Francesca Di Lorenzo
Grace Min

Complete main draw entry lists are here.

With so many men's main draw wild cards remaining,  Kudla, who has reached the quarterfinals this week at the ATP 500 in Halle Germany as a qualifier, has a good chance to be given one.  Although Querrey and Tiafoe are already in the Wimbledon main draw, they have also shown good form on grass this week, with both reaching the Queens ATP 500 quarterfinals in London.  Mmoh and Rubin are still in the €127,000 Challenger on grass in Ilkley, with the champion there also a possible Wimbledon wild card recipient.

Qualifiers Kenin and Riske are still alive at the WTA International this week in Mallorca, with Kenin reaching the quarterfinals and Riske beating No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany in the first round today. Again, they both received direct entry into Wimbledon, so their results have no impact on that, just their form and ranking.

The ITF Junior Circuit's Grade 1 tournament this week in Germany is again on clay, with Elli Mandlik, last week's Grade 1 finalist, the only US girl to advance to the third round.  Mandlik, the No. 11 seed, will face No. 5 seed Marta Custic of Spain in Thursday's third round.  Unseeded Ronan Jachuck, who lost in the first round last week in Offenbach, is the only US boy to reach the third round. The Harvard recruit will play No. 7 seed Savriyan Danilov of Russia on Thursday.

Alexa Noel opted to play in a $15,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event this week in Italy, using her junior exemption, and has reached the quarterfinals. The 15-year-old, who has played sparingly on the Pro Circuit and had won just one main draw match before this week, will face top seed Angelica Moratelli of Italy next.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fifteen-year-old Ma, Fourteen-year-old Gauff Qualify for Baton Rouge $25K; Chrysochos Wins Again in Winston-Salem Futures; Kingsley, Poling Qualify at Rochester Futures; Guillermo Nunez Feature

Qualifying for the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Baton Rouge Louisiana was completed today, with 14-year-old Coco Gauff and 15-year-old Connie Ma among the eight to earn their way into the main draw.  Gauff, who is back in the US after winning the French Open girls title earlier this month before heading to Roehampton and Wimbledon, had already qualified and won a round at a $25,000 tournament last month in Florida, but Ma will be making her Pro Circuit debut. Ma, who finished third at the USTA 16s Nationals in San Diego last year, played her first Pro Circuit qualifying match last week, losing to former WTA Top 35 player Olga Govortsova of Belarus in the first round. This week, the Tennis Recruiting Network's top player in the class of 2021 defeated three accomplished college players: Mary Closs of Notre Dame, LSU's Jessica Golovin, the 2018 NCAA doubles champion, and today, Texas Tech All-American Gabriela Talaba of Romania.  Ma will play No. 4 seed Emiliana Arango of Colombia on Wednesday, with Gauff facing qualifier Hayley Carter, who is returning to professional tennis after spending last year as the assistant coach for the women's program at Oklahoma State. Carter, a seven-time All-American at North Carolina explained her decision to pursue a pro career earlier this month at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Sixteen-year-old Hailey Baptiste, Duke rising sophomore Kelly Chen and Allie Will, the former Florida star, are the other Americans advancing to the main draw.  Usue Arconada, who was hoping to play for LSU this past season, but ran into eligibility issues, is the top seed. Wild cards were given to 15-year-old Alexandra Yepifanova, LSU's Ryann Foster, UCLA's Ena Shibahara and 17-year-old Hurricane Tyra Black. Black defeated Shibahara 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 in first round action today.

In addition to the Baton Rouge event, many Americans have also made their way to Victoria British Columbia for the $15,000 ITF Women's Circuit tournament there. Fifteen-year-old Tara Malik, 16-year-old Anna Zhang and 17-year-old Haley Giavara are among the qualifiers. Amanda Rodgers is the top seed, with three wild cards going to young Canadians and the other to University of Oregon rising sophomore Paiton Wagner of Washington.

The men's USTA Pro Circuit is at Wake Forest again this week, for a second straight $25,000 Futures event.  NCAA champion Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus, who won last week's Futures tournament on his home courts, is not seeded, but remains a favorite to win the tournament. He defeated teammate Christian Seraphim of Germany, a wild card, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to extend his winning streak to 35 matches.  Top seed Tommy Paul, making his first appearance in a sanctioned event since late January, also advanced to the second round, defeating qualifier Oliver Crawford (Florida) 6-2, 6-4.  Like Seraphim, the other three wild cards are all members of the Wake Forest team: Eduardo Nava, Skander Mansouri of Tunisia and Rrezart Cungu of Montenegro.

The second USTA Pro Circuit tournament this week is a $15,000 Futures in Rochester New York.  Several qualifying matches were delayed until today, with Ohio State recruit Cannon Kingsley, Princeton recruit Karl Poling, LSU's Shane Monroe joining Ohio State's John McNally, Virginia's Gianni Ross and Texas A&M's Jordi Arconada as American qualifiers. Top seed Mattias Descotte of Argentina, who lost in the first round last week as the No. 1 seed, has suffered another early loss this week, with Isaiah Strode earning a 7-6(3), 6-4 decision in action today.  John Speicher(Dartmouth), Andres Andrade(Florida), Ryan Goetz(Virginia) and Alex Knight(Michigan) were awarded wild cards.

The men also have a $25,000 tournament in Calgary Alberta, with 15 Americans in the main draw, including 2017 NCAA champion Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia). Canadians Steven Diez and Samuel Monette(Indiana) are the top two seeds. Diez is one of the wild cards; the other three are also Canadians: 16-year-old Taha Baadi, and Calgary residents Harrison Scott(Texas) and Joshua Peck(North Carolina).

Bobby Knight tweeted out a link to this article about recent TCU graduate Guillermo Nunez of Chile. Nunez, who was a Top 10 junior in the ITF rankings, decided not to pursue pro tennis and, now employed on Wall Street, he explains why he took the college route, while his contemporary Christian Garin went straight to the Pro Circuit and is currently 173 in the ATP rankings. The article is in Spanish, but it sounds as if his decision to begin his career is based on visa requirements as well as an assessment of the likelihood of making a living in the lower levels of tennis. Nunez is going to continue his involvement with tennis however, with some part-time work at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy.

Monday, June 18, 2018

USTA's US Open Wild Card Challenge Begins July 9th, with Five Weeks of Tournaments, Including WTA; ITA Announces 2018 Collegiate All-Star Team; Texas Slam Winners

The USTA announced today that its annual US Open Wild Card Challenge will begin on July 9th, with the women's events including WTA tournaments for the first time.  The men have been using points accumulated in ATP events for some time in these Wild Card Challenges, but the women have always been restricted to the USTA Pro Circuit events designated.  This year the five weeks of tournaments for women will include not only Lexington, which had previously been part of the US Open Wild Card Challenge, but four additional $60,000 events in Honolulu Hawaii, Berkeley California, Ashland Kentucky and Landisville Pennsylvania.  Points earned in both qualifying and main draw at the WTA tournaments in San Jose and Washington DC will also count toward the best two results in this five-week span.

The men have 16 events in those five weeks that can provide points, with the American with the best three results in those ATP Tour and Challenger tournaments receiving a US Open main draw wild card.

The USTA press release is below:


Main Draw Wild Cards into 2018 US Open to be Awarded to Top-Performing American Man and Woman over Five-Week Run of ATP, WTA and USTA Pro Circuit Hard-Court Events

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., June 18, 2018 – The USTA today announced that the US Open Wild Card Challenge, which utilizes hard-court pro tournaments to award an American man and woman a main draw wild card into the US Open, will kick off the week of July 9 and conclude the week of Aug. 6.

The men’s wild card will go to the American with the highest cumulative total of ATP singles ranking points earned from their best three results during that five-week window, including results from any professional hard-court event at the ATP Challenger level and above around the world.

The women’s wild card will be awarded to the American with the highest cumulative total of WTA singles ranking points earned from their best two results during those five weeks, at select $60,000 outdoor USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events (main draw only) – including four new $60,000 tournaments, in Honolulu, Berkeley, Calif., Ashland, Ky., and Landisville, Pa. – as well as qualifying and main draw results from the WTA tournaments in San Jose, Calif., and Washington, D.C.

Only Americans who do not earn direct entry into the US Open are eligible. In the event of a tie, the player with the best ATP or best WTA singles ranking on Aug. 13 will be awarded the wild card.

All USTA Pro Circuit tournaments will be streamed live on www.procircuit.usta.com. This is the seventh consecutive year the USTA has used a wild card challenge format to award US Open wild cards for American players.

The US Open Wild Card Challenge will consist of the following events:

Men’s Events
  • Week of July 9: Winnetka, Ill. $75,000; Winnipeg, Canada $75,000
  • Week of July 16: Astana, Kazakhstan $125,000; Gatineau, Canada $75,000
  • Week of July 23: Atlanta ATP 250; Granby, Canada $100,000; Binghamton, N.Y. $75,000
  • Week of July 30: Washington D.C. ATP 500; Los Cabos ATP 250; Chengdu, China $125,000; Segovia, Spain €85,000+H; Lexington, Ky. $75,000
  • Week of August 6: Toronto ATP Masters 1000; Jinan, China $150,000; Aptos, Calif. $100,000; Portoroz, Slovenia €64,000+H
Women’s Events
  • Week of July 9: Honolulu $60,000
  • Week of July 16: Berkeley, Calif. $60,000
  • Week of July 23: Ashland, Ky. $60,000
  • Week of July 30: San Jose WTA Premier; Washington, D.C. WTA International; Lexington, Ky. $60,000
  • Week of August 6: Landisville, Pa. $60,000
The USTA first used this US Open wild card format for its 2012 wild cards. The USTA also utilizes this wild card challenge format for the French Open and Australian Open.

Previous US Open wild card winners include:
  • 2012 – Steve Johnson and Mallory Burdette, both of whom reached the third round
  • 2013 – Bradley Klahn and Shelby Rogers, with Klahn winning his first-round match
  • 2014 – Wayne Odesnik and Nicole Gibbs, with Gibbs reaching the third round
  • 2015 – Bjorn Fratangelo and Samantha Crawford
  • 2016 – Ernesto Escobedo and Sofia Kenin, with Escobedo picking up his first Grand Slam win
  • 2017 – Tommy Paul and Sofia Kenin, with Kenin reaching the third round, before falling to Maria Sharapova in Arthur Ashe Stadium
The 2018 US Open main draw will be held Monday, Aug. 27, through Sunday, Sept. 9.  Information on the US Open Wild Card Challenge will be available at www.procircuit.usta.com. Follow the USTA Pro Circuit #USTAProCircuit. 

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association released its 2018 National Collegiate All-Star Team today.  The Division I Team is below. For the members from Division II, Division III, NAIA and Junior Colleges, see the release on the ITA website.

Division I Men
NCAA Singles Champion: Petros Chrysochos, Jr., Wake Forest University
NCAA Singles Runner-Up: Borna Gojo, So., Wake Forest University
Oracle ITA National Fall Championships Singles Champion: Nuno Borges, Jr., Mississippi State 
No. 1 Ranked Singles: Martin Redlicki, Sr., UCLA
NCAA Doubles Champions: Martin Redlicki (Sr.) / Evan Zhu (Jr.), UCLA
NCAA Doubles Runner-Up: Mikael Torpegaard (Sr.) / Martin Joyce (Jr.), The Ohio State University 
Oracle ITA National Fall Championships Doubles Champion: Petros Chrysochos (Jr.) / Skander Mansouri (Sr.), Wake Forest University 

Division I Women
NCAA Singles Champion: Arianne Hartono, Sr., Ole Miss
NCAA Singles Runner-Up: Ashley Lahey, Jr., Pepperdine University 
Oracle ITA National Fall Championships Singles Champion: Andrea Lazaro, Sr., Florida International University 
No. 1 Ranked Singles: Astra Sharma, Sr., Vanderbilt University
NCAA Doubles Champions: Jessica Golovin (Jr.) / Eden Richardson (Fr.), LSU 
NCAA Doubles Runner-Up: Vladica Babic (Sr.) / Sofia Blanco (Jr.), Oklahoma State University 
Oracle ITA National Fall Championships Doubles Champion: Emily Arbuthnott (So.) / Michaela Gordon (Fr.), Stanford University 

The USTA Texas Section held its big Closed tournament last week, with Trey Hilderbrand and Fiona Crawley winning the 18s singles titles.  The
singles finals results are below, with more on the tournament available at the USTA Texas website.

Boys’ 18 Singles: Trey Hilderbrand def. Reed Collier 6-1, 6-0
Boys’ 16 Singles: Andrew Chang def. Zachery Foster 6-4, 6-4
Boys’ 14 Singles: Kyle Totorica def. Charles Wood 6-2, 7-6 (4)
Boys’ 12 Singles: Alexander Razeghi def. Yuki Asako 6-0, 6-0

Girls’ 18 Singles: Fiona Crawley def. Sydney Fitch 7-5, 6-3
Girls’ 16 Singles: Bridget Stammel def. Brianna Wilbur 7-5, 6-0
Girls’ 14 Singles: Erica Jessel def. Ylan Duong 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-5
Girls’ 12 Singles: Chelsie Son def. Maya Dutta w/o (inj)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Ma Wins ITF Grade 1 in Germany; Lee Takes Grade 5 Title in Thailand; Rybakov Claims Buffalo Futures, Chrysochos Extends Winning Streak at Wake Forest $25K; Townsend Captures Sumter Title

Lea Ma won her first ITF Grade 1 singles title today in Offenbach Germany, defeating Elli Mandlik 6-4, 7-5 in the all-American girls final.  The 17-year-old Ma, who was the No. 2 seed, had reached the final of two Grade 1 tournaments earlier this year, while Mandlik, also 17, was playing in her first Grade 1 final.  The boys title went to No. 6 seed Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic, who defeated unseeded Giulio Zeppieri of Italy 6-3, 7-5.  Ma, whose previous career high in the ITF junior rankings was 37, should move into the Top 25 with her title today.

At the ITF Grade 5 in Thailand, 15-year-old Karl Lee picked up his first ITF Junior Circuit title. The Sacramento resident, seeded No. 15, defeated four higher seeds to claim the title, beating No. 5 seed Iiro Vasa of Finland 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

At the ITF Grade 4 in Guatemala, Spencer Brachman and Max McKennon won the boys doubles title, with the unseeded pair beating No. 2 seeds Guillermo Castaneda and Patricio Nieto of Mexico 6-2, 7-6(2) in the final. McKennon, who was unseeded in singles, lost in the final to unseeded Rafael De Alva Valdez of Mexico 6-2, 6-4.

Two of the three USTA Pro Circuit events had disappointing endings, with Taylor Townsend claiming the $25,000 women's event in Sumter South Carolina without winning a point.  The top seed got a retirement from No. 2 seed Alize Lim before any points were played to earn her third Pro Circuit singles title this year.  At 75 in the WTA rankings, Townsend may have played her last $25,000-level tournament for a while.  The Sumter Item has been covering the event this week; whether they will have a story about the final is unclear, but this article provides more on Saturday's doubles title, won by collegians Astra Sharma and Luisa Stefani.

TCU rising senior Alex Rybakov, the No. 5 seed, won his second career Futures title today at the $25,000 tournament in Buffalo New York, with No. 4 seed Deiton Baughman retiring down 7-6(5), 3-1. The 21-year-old left-hander was playing his first Futures event since early in January, when he made two quarterfinals in the California Futures.

A dramatic finish did play out at the $25,000 Futures at Wake Forest, with NCAA champion Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus coming from 4-1 down in the third set to defeat qualifier Michael Redlicki 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.  Rising Wake Forest senior Chrysochos was down two breaks before his surge in the third set, which kept his winning streak intact.  In my post last night, I said Chrysochos hadn't lost since January, and that's true in a collegiate context, but he did have a quarterfinal ATP Challenger loss back in March. But since then, he also has recorded three Davis Cup wins, so his winning streak, at all levels, now stands at 34, according to the Wake Forest sports information staff. Chrysochos is also entered in the second Wake Forest $25,000 Futures this coming week, which is expected to see the comeback of Tommy Paul, who hasn't played since the end of January.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Ma and Mandlik Face Off for ITF Grade 1 Title in Germany; All-US Final in Buffalo Futures; NCAA Champion Chrysochos Ends Ritschard's Win Streak at Wake Forest Futures

Two 17-year-old Americans will meet Sunday for the ITF Grade 1 title in Offenbach Germany, with the winner of the championship match between No. 10 seed Elli Mandlik and No. 2 seed Lea Ma collecting her first Grade 1 title.  Mandlik, the daughter of four-time slam champion Hana Mandlikova, advanced to her first Grade 1 final when German wild card Mara Guth retired trailing 7-6(4). 3-2. Ma, who lost the two previous Grade 1 finals she played back in January, defeated No. 11 seed Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia 6-4, 7-6(1).

The boys final will feature unseeded Giulio Zeppieri of Italy against No. 6 seed Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic.  Zeppieri took out top seed Facundo Diaz Acosta of Argentina 6-4, 6-4 in today's semifinal, with Lehecka beating unseeded Fabrizio Andaloro of Italy 6-3, 6-2.

Ma and partner Chloe Beck, the top seeds, fell in the girls doubles final 6-3, 6-3, to No. 3 seeds Sohyun Park of Korea and Hong Yi Cody Wong of Hong Kong. The top seeds in the boys doubles also lost with Filip Jianu of Romania and Tao Mu of China falling to No. 7 seed Rinky Hijikata of Australia and Yannik Steinegger of Switzerland 6-3, 2-6, 10-7.

The $25,000 Futures in Buffalo New York will have an all-American final, with No. 5 seed Alex Rybakov facing No. 4 seed Deiton Baughman. Rybakov, a rising TCU senior, defeated unseeded Lucas Gomez of Mexico 6-3, 6-2 and Baughman downed unseeded Markos Kalovelonis of Russia 6-1, 6-3.  Rybakov will be playing for his second career Futures singles title, while Baughman hopes to secure his fourth, although he has not won a singles title since 2015.  They have played twice in Futures qualifying, splitting those decisions, but those matches were three and five years ago. Gomez and Alejandro Gomez of Colombia won the doubles title today, with the No. 2 seeds beating No. 1 seeds Matias Descotte and Eduardo Torre of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

NCAA singles champion Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus has advanced to the final of the $25,000 Futures tournament on his home courts at Wake Forest, ending the 18-match Futures winning streak of former Virginia star Alexander Ritschard with a 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 victory in today's semifinals.  Since Chrysochos, a rising senior, lost to Vanderbilt's Cameron Klinger back in January, the 22-year-old has won 30 consecutive college matches, including the six in the NCAA singles tournament, and now four this week in the Futures.  He will play qualifier Michael Redlicki, who advanced to his second career Futures final with a 6-4, 7-5 win over No. 5 seed Karue Sell. Chrysochos defeated Redlicki's younger brother Martin in the semifinals of the NCAA singles tournament last month.

The top two seeds will face off in the final of the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Sumter South Carolina, with No. 1 Taylor Townsend playing No. 2 Alize Lim of France. Townsend defeated qualifier Gail Brodsky 6-2, 7-6(4) and Lim ended the run of Pepperdine's unseeded Ashley Lahey 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, in another three-hour match for the NCAA finalist.   Vanderbilt's Astra Sharma of Australia and Pepperdine's Luisa Stefani of Brazil won the doubles title today, with the No. 3 seeds defeating No. 4 seeds Julia Elbaba and Shilin Xu of China 2-6, 6-3, 10-5.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Ma, Mandlik Reach Semifinals of ITF Grade 1 in Germany; Seven Americans Advance to USTA Pro Circuit Semifinals; Bobby Curtis Florida Closed Results

Elli Mandlik and Lea Ma picked up victories today to reach the semifinals of the ITF Grade 1 tournament in Offenbach Germany.  Mandlik, the No. 10 seed, defeated No. 4 seed Gergana Topalova of Bulgaria 6-2, 7-6(4) and will face German wild card Mara Guth for a place in the final. Ma, the No. 2 seed, defeated unseeded Andjela Skrobonja of Serbia 7-5, 6-2 and play No. 11 seed Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia.  Ma and her partner Chloe Beck, the top seeds, have reached the doubles final, beating No. 7 seeds Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine and Nikki Redelijk 6-3, 7-5 in today's semifinals. They will play No. 3 seeds Sohyun Park of Korea and Hong Yi Cody Wong of Hong Kong in the championship match.

The semifinals are set at the three $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit events this week, with seven Americans still in the running for the titles.  At the women's tournament in Sumter South Carolina, three Americans have advanced to the final four, with top seed Taylor Townsend facing qualifier Gail Brodsky and Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey, the 2018 NCAA finalist, playing No. 2 seed Alize Lim of France. Lahey needed three hours and 11 minutes to defeat No. 7 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in today's quarterfinals.  Brodsky beat qualifier Hailey Baptiste 6-2, 6-4 and Townsend got past No. 6 seed Maria Mateas 7-5, 6-3.  Lim prevented an all-USA semifinal lineup by defeating Robin Anderson[5] 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-2 in three hours and 41 minutes. 

At the men's Futures in Buffalo New York, No. 5 seed Alex Rybakov, the rising TCU senior, advanced to the semifinals with another marathon result from today's action.  Rybakov defeated unseeded Mateo Martinez of Argentina 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-3 in three hours and 46 minutes. He will play unseeded Lucas Gomez of Mexico, who advanced in a mere three hours and three minutes over No. 6 seed Pavel Krainik of Canada.  Deiton Baughman, the No. 4 seed, is the other American man in the semifinals. He defeated No. 7 seed Alejandro Gomez of Colombia 6-4, 7-5 to set up a meeting with unseeded Markos Kalovelonis of Russia.

At the men's Futures at Wake Forest, Alexander Ritschard continued his men's Pro Circuit winning streak, picking up No. 18 with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over qualifier Ryan Peniston of Great Britain. Ritschard's opponent Saturday will be Wake Forest's 2018 NCAA champion Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus, who defeated teammate Yuval Solomon 6-2, 6-1.  Qualifier Michael Redlicki will face Karue Sell in the semifinal in the bottom half.  Redlicki advanced with a 7-6(1), 6-2 win over unseeded Marc-Andrea Huesler of Switzerland and No. 5 seed Sell of Brazil, ended the run of Brian Shi 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. 

Huesler won the doubles title, with Sem Verbeek of the Netherlands. The top-seeded pair beat No. 4 seeds Trevor Johnson and Ronnie Schneider 7-6(7), 6-1 in today's final.

The Bobby Curtis State Closed in Florida ended this week, with the results below. Girls 18s winner Alexis Blokhina, at age 13, became the youngest champion in that tournament's 70 year history.  For quotes from the winners and photos of the finalists, see this article from USTA Florida.

Girls’ 18s: Alexis Blokhina (Plantation) d. (3) Sophia Edwards (Nokomis) 4-6, 6-3, 7-5
Boys’ 18s: (3) David Lins (Boca Raton) d. (6) Matthew Segura (Apopka) 4-6, 7-5, 5-0 Retired (injury)
Girls’ 16s: (1) Elaine Chervinsky (Boca Raton) d. (2) Anastasia Sysoeva (Bradenton) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Boys’ 16s: (1) Jameson Corsillo (Boca Raton) d. (2) Emilio Van Cotthem (Ft. Pierce) 6-2, 6-1
Girls’ 14s: (1) Natalie Block (Plantation) d. (2) Nikki Yanez (Sarasota) 6-3, 6-2
Boys’ 14s: (2) Yannik Rahman (Miami) d. (7) Phillip Dell (Bradenton) 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
Girls’ 12s: (1) Sophie Llewellyn (Tarpon Springs) d. (11) Natalie Outcalt (Ponte Vedra Beach) 6-1, 7-5
Boys’ 12s: (2) Nathan Blokhin (Plantation) d. (3) Tanner Povey (Indian Rocks Beach) 6-4, 6-1

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Mandlik, Ma Reach ITF Grade 1 Quarterfinals in Germany; Ritschard's Futures Win Streak Reaches 17; McDonald Makes ATP Quarterfinal; Anisimova, Gauff Features

Two Americans have advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITF Grade 1 in Offenbach Germany, with No. 10 seed Elli Mandlik and No. 2 seed Lea Ma posting wins today.  Mandlik defeated No. 6 seed Sohyun Park of Korea 6-4, 6-1 and Ma beat unseeded German Eva Lys 7-5, 3-6, 7-5. Mandlik will play No. 4 seed Gergana Topalova of Bulgaria Friday in the top half, with Ma taking on unseeded Andjela Skrobonja of Serbia in the bottom half.  Top seed Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine lost today to German wild card Mara Guth 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Last month 2017 University of Virginia graduate Alexander Ritschard won three consecutive Futures titles in Sweden.  After a two-break, Ritschard returned to the US and has now reached the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Futures at Wake Forest, beating top seed Alexander Sarkissian in today's second round 7-6(4), 6-0. The 24-year-old will face qualifier Ryan Peniston(Memphis) of Great Britain Friday, looking for his 18th straight win.  NCAA champion Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus will face Wake Forest teammate Yuval Solomon, a wild card, after Solomon surprised No. 3 seed Marcos Giron 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-0.  Eighteen-year-old Brian Shi advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win over Felipe Mantilla of Colombia, his second Futures quarterfinal in the past two months. The Harvard recruit will face former UCLA Bruin Karue Sell of Brazil, the No. 5 seed, on Friday.

At the $25,0000 Futures in Buffalo New York, No. 5 seed Alex Rybakov and No. 4 seed Deiton Baughman are the sole Americans to reach the quarterfinals.

Sixteen-year-old Hailey Baptiste had reached the quarterfinals of the previous two $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit events, and after qualifying again this week in Sumter South Carolina, Baptiste made it three quarterfinals in a row with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 3 seed Shilin Xu of China. Baptiste will play qualifier Gail Brodsky next. Ashley Lahey, Maria Mateas[6], Robin Anderson[5] and top seed Taylor Townsend are the other Americans advancing to the quarterfinals.

Former UCLA Bruin Mackenzie McDonald received a wild card into the ATP 250 in S'Hertogenbosch and he's used it to reach his first ATP quarterfinal. After a win over No. 8 seed Andreas Seppi of Italy in the first round, the 2016 NCAA singles and doubles champion defeated qualifier Alex Bolt of Australia 6-4, 7-5 today and will face unseeded Jeremy Chardy of France next. Chardy took out top seed Adrian Mannarino of France 6-4, 6-4. Currently ranked 110, McDonald is inching closer to the Top 100 with his results this week.

The USTA's Ashley Marshall has been keeping up with the young American women in the past few weeks, and he has recently spoken to the past two US girls junior slam champions: Amanda Anisimova and Coco Gauff.  Anisimova reveals her summer schedule after a fracture in her foot kept her out during the clay season in this article.  Gauff's schedule includes next week's Pro Circuit event in Baton Rouge, then it's back to the ITF Junior Circuit for the 14-year-old, who will play Roehampton and Wimbledon. For more on Gauff's win at the French Open, see this article.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Brooksby, Shi, Poling Earn Futures Wins; Maymi to Lead Nebraska's Men's Program; Chong Named D-III Honda Athlete of the Year; LTA Reveals New Performance Pathway

First round matches are complete at the two $25,000 Futures being played this week in the United States, with juniors Jenson Brooksby, Brian Shi and Karl Poling among those advancing to the second round.

TCU recruit Brooksby, the 2018 Easter Bowl ITF champion, defeated No. 2 seed and former USC star Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 6-1, 6-2 in Buffalo New York. The 17-year-old from Northern California, a qualifier, has reached a Futures quarterfinal, but this is his first main draw Futures win this year.  Wild card Karl Poling, a Princeton recruit, earned his first ATP point with his 6-3, 6-4 win over qualifier Charles Broom of Great Britain, a rising junior at Dartmouth. Ohio State rising sophomore John McNally, a wild card, also picked up a win today, beating Isaiah Strode 6-2, 6-4. Top seed Matias Descotte of Argentina lost his first round match today to Lucas Gomez of Mexico 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

At the Wake Forest Futures, qualifier Brian Shi, a Harvard recruit, added to his ATP point total with a 6-2, 7-6(2) win over wild card Skander Mansouri of Tunisia. Shi, who reached the quarterfinals of a Futures in Mexico last month, will face unseeded Felipe Mantilla of Colombia, who defeated No. 2 seed JC Aragone 6-3, 6-7(2), 7-6(2). Wake Forest's NCAA champion Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus advanced to the second round with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Alexios Halebian.

The University of Nebraska announced its new men's head coach, with Sean Maymi, associate head coach at Michigan, taking over in Lincoln. Maymi, who worked under Bruce Berque at Michigan and returned to Ann Arbor under Adam Steinberg in 2015, takes over for Kerry McDermott, whose contract was not renewed after 37 seasons with the Cornhuskers.

Four-time NCAA singles champion Eudice Chong of Wesleyan has been named the Honda Athlete of the Year for Division III.  The Honda awards, which are given every year to the top performers in women's collegiate sports, have special awards for Division II and Division III athletes, and Chong was selected for the top honor among the 11 women winners in other sports.  For more on Chong's award, see the this release from the Collegiate Women Sports Awards website.

Great Britain's Lawn Tennis Association has announced a new development initiative, with two national academies and 11 regional development centers.  Last year LTA chief executive Michael Downey returned to the same post at Tennis Canada that he held before taking over at the LTA, where he lasted just three years.  The new LTA CEO, Scott Lloyd, is now emphasizing a more centralized approach, which I would say is the exact opposite of the direction the USTA decided to take in recent years.  For more on the new LTA system and its training centers, see this Daily Mail article.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

UCLA Related News Abundant Today; Steinberg Named Women's Head Coach at Colorado; US Juniors Advance to Main Draw at Women's $25K in Sumter SC

UCLA alum Mackenzie McDonald picked up his first ATP Top 50 win today in s'Hertogenbosch, but he was not the only person with UCLA connections in the news today. The 23-year-old McDonald, who won the 2016 NCAA singles and doubles titles in his junior year and then turned pro, defeated No. 8 seed and ATP No. 49 Andres Seppi of Italy 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the ATP 250 grass court tournament in the Netherlands.  Currently ranked 110, McDonald, who received a wild card into the tournament, will face qualifier Alex Bolt of Australian in the second round.

For reasons I've never understood, the Pac-12 men do not release their all-conference awards until weeks after the college season is over, but they were announced yesterday, with UCLA taking all of them. The all-conference selections can be found in this release.

Player of the Year: Martin Redlicki, UCLA
Doubles Team of the Year: Redlicki and Evan Zhu, UCLA
Coach of the Year: Billy Martin, UCLA
Freshman of the Year: Keegan Smith, UCLA

For rundown of many other Division I conference award winners, see my post from last month.

Former UCLA associate head coach Grant Chen spoke with Rhiannon Potkey of Tennis Recruiting Network about his new position as head men's coach at SMU for this feature.

And Caroline Dolehide, whose older sister Courtney played on the 2014 UCLA National Championship team, talked with Ashley Marshall of USTA about her climb up the WTA rankings and how close she was to following in her sister's footsteps to UCLA.

In Pac-12 news not involving the Bruins, Danielle Steinberg was named women's head coach at the University of Colorado.  Steinberg, who played at Arizona, was the head coach at Kansas State for four years.  Her alma mater also had a women's head coaching vacancy, but Steinberg is headed to Boulder rather than Tucson.  She replaces Nicole Kenneally, who retired after 19 seasons last month.

Qualifying is complete at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Sumter South Carolina, with juniors Hailey Baptiste, Abigail Forbes and Nicole Mossmer winning final round matches today. They are joined by three other Americans: University of Florida freshman McCartney Kessler, Gail Brodsky and Rhiannon Newborn (Baylor).

The top seed in the tournament is Taylor Townsend, who will face recent Vanderbilt graduate Astra Sharma of Australia Wednesday. Wild cards were awarded to Alexa Graham(UNC), Elysia Bolton(UCLA recruit), Emma Navarro(Duke recruit) and Ashley Weinhold. NCAA finalist Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine is also in the draw.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Les Petits As and UTR Announce Partnership; French Open Champion Tseng Takes Over Top Spot in ITF Junior Boys Rankings, Gauff, McNally Move Up; Qualifying Complete at both $25K Men's Futures in US

Les Petits As and UTR Powered by Oracle today announced a partnership, with the prestigious 14-and-under international tournament in Tarbes France using the tennis rating system to "evaluate all players and establish draws." This is an important development which should help both entities, with Les Petits As now having a system that will assist them in evaluating young players in all nations, not just those with strong federations or circuits. I know, from my many years covering the 12s and 14s at Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl, how difficult it is to evaluate the skill levels of players who often don't have many results, and while some federations have a good handle on it, others do not, often because the players in question train outside their country.  This partnership will also help UTR in getting more countries to use their system; with a top international junior tournament now requiring it, they can't afford to ignore it. 

The article on the partnership, with quotes from UTR CEO Mark Leschly and Les Petits As officials, is here.

A recent Les Petits As champion, 2015 boys champion Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, is now the No. 1 in the ITF junior rankings after his title Saturday at the French Open.  Tseng, who also reached the doubles final, replaces Argentina's Sebastian Baez, who lost to Tseng in the French Open boys final.

Girls champion Coco Gauff moved up to No. 3 in the girls rankings, with Whitney Osuigwe staying No. 1, even though she hasn't played a junior event all year.  Her lead is slim now, but all big tournaments she played and won last fall are keeping her at the top.  Singles finalist and doubles champion Caty McNally has moved up 21 spots to No. 15, a career high.  Quarterfinalist Brandon Nakashima also improved his ranking with his results in Paris, and he is now No. 30.  Sebastian Korda(3) and Tristan Boyer(10) remain in the Top 10, as does Alexa Noel(6).

Exactly 20 percent of the top 100 in the ITF junior girls rankings are from the United States this week.

After a long absence, men's action on the USTA Pro Circuit returns this week with two $25,000 Futures, in Buffalo New York, and, in the Collegiate series, at Wake Forest, with qualifying completed today at both events. 

Seventeen-year-old Adam Neff, who has struggled with injuries the past several years, will make his Pro Circuit debut in Buffalo after three qualifying wins. Other Americans qualifying in Buffalo are Easter Bowl champion Jenson Brooksby, a TCU recruit, Jordi Arconada (Texas A&M) and Patrick Daciek (Virginia Tech).  Wild cards were given to junior Eliot Spizzirri, Karl Poling, a Princeton recruit, John McNally (Ohio State) and local pro Marcus Fugate.  The top seed is Matias Descotte of Argentina.

Qualifiers at Wake Forest include Americans Trevor Johnson(TCU), Aleksandar Kovacevic(Illinois), Gage Brymer(UCLA), Michael Redlicki(Arkansas) and Harvard recruit Brian Shi.  Alexander Sarkissian(Pepperdine) is the top seed, with all of the wild cards going to Wake Forest players: Yuval Solomon, Bar Botzer, Julian Zlobinsky and Skander Mansouri.  The last two NCAA singles champions are in the field: 2018's Petros Chrysochos, the Wake Forest rising senior, and 2017's Thai Kwiatkowski, the Virginia graduate. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Min and Riske Claim Pro Circuit Titles; Khan, Benabraham Sweep ITF Junior Events in El Salvador and Ecuador; Stotland Named Women's Head Coach at Arizona

Grace Min returned to the United States after qualifying for the French Open and losing to Camila Giorgi of Italy in the first round. Today she won her first title of the year at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Bethany Beach Delaware.  Min, the No. 1 seed, defeated one of the top American clay court players, Katerina Stewart, seeded No. 3, 6-4, 6-2. There were seven breaks of serve in the first set's ten games, but Min managed to hold twice to take it. The 24-year-old from Georgia ran out to a 5-1 lead in the second set, and although she couldn't serve it out, she broke the 20-year-old from Florida for the seventh time to get the win. 

The doubles title went to unseeded wild cards Robin Anderson and Maegan Manasse, who defeated No. 2 seeds Quinn Gleason and Sanaz Marand  2-6, 7-6(6), 10-3 in the all-USA final. It's Anderson's third and Manasse's second career doubles title on the Pro Circuit, and their first as a team.

Alison Riske won her first title since 2016 today in England, with the No. 2 seed defeating unseeded Conny Perrin of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4 in the final at the $100,000 ITF Women's Circuit tournament in Surbiton.  Riske, who has always had good results on grass, did not drop a set this week.

In addition to the success this weekend in Paris for the US girls, two other young Americans swept titles at less glamorous tournaments on this side of the Atlantic.  Sixteen-year-old Zane Khan won both singles and doubles at the ITF Grade 4 in El Salvador, and 14-year-old Daniella Benabraham won both draws at the Grade 5 in Ecuador

The top-seeded Khan, who must have entered late, because he came through qualifying, won his third ITF Junior Circuit singles title with a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 2 seed Niroop Vallabhaneni.  Khan and Vallabhaneni, the top seeds, won the doubles title with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 3 seeds Rafael De Alva Valdez of Mexico and Juan Dominguez Collado of Guatemala.  Dakota Fordham won the girls doubles title with Lauren Anzalotta of Puerto Rico, with the No. 1 seeds defeating No. 4 seeds Remika Ohashi of Japan and Mell Reasco Gonzalez of Ecuador 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

Benabraham, playing in just her third ITF Junior Circuit tournament and the first outside the United States, was unseeded in Ecuador, but she didn't lose more than three games in any set in her five victories. The New Yorker, who won the 16s USTA Level 2 in Grand Rapids I covered last month, defeated No. 3 seed Ana Jimenez Coello of Ecuador 6-2, 6-3 in the final.  Benabraham also won her first Junior Circuit doubles title, partnering with Petra Miszczak of Canada. They defeated another unseeded team, Brazil's Ana Candiotto and Juliana Munhoz, 7-6(4), 6-0 in the final.

The University of Arizona filled its women's head coaching vacancy with Ryan Stotland named to the position last night. Stotland was an assistant at Arizona from 2008-2012 under Vicky Maes, who left the program after going 0-10 in Pac-12 play this season.  Stotland returns to Tucson after six seasons as head women's coach at Fresno State.  For more on his hiring, see this article.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Gauff Wins French Open Girls Title over McNally in Third Set Tiebreaker; McNally Claims Girls Doubles Title; Tseng Captures Boys Title in Paris

The girls championship match between 14-year-old Coco Gauff and 16-year-old Caty McNally at Roland Garros today was one of those contests where momentum switched back and forth so many times that just as you were about to declare one player in control, the other disrupted the narrative.  So it was fitting that the match ended in a third-set tiebreaker, with Gauff putting an exclamation point on an impressive comeback with a 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(1) victory.

Embed from Getty Images
Coco Gauff
Although McNally was new to the setting of a junior slam singles final, she began the match with no sign of nerves, making few errors, hitting the ball deep and constructing points well.  Gauff, who reached the final of the US Open junior championships last September as a 13-year-old, was not on her game, with too many unforced errors to put any pressure on McNally.

The second set began as the first had, with McNally going up 2-0, but Gauff began her comeback there, breaking McNally for 2-1.  Two long games in the middle of the set, with the server losing both and double faults playing a major role, made it 4-3 for Gauff, but she stepped up in the eighth game, holding for a 5-3 lead and broke to even the match at a set apiece.  Gauff's unforced errors went down, and McNally wasn't able to maintain the court positioning that had allowed her to dictate most of the points in the first set.

But in the third set, McNally was able to take advantage of shaky serving by Gauff, going up 3-0, two breaks. But as quickly as Gauff lost the first three games, she won the next four, with McNally throwing in several double faults to assist Gauff.  McNally finally held to make it 4-4 and had a 15-40 lead with Gauff serving, but Gauff saved those two break points, only to double fault to give McNally a third.  A long rally, with McNally, who had not used the tactic previously, moonballing several shots, ended when Gauff lost patience and made an error, leaving McNally to serve for the match.

Down 15-40 in that game, with her forehand sailing wide on two separate points, McNally saved one break point, but missed a backhand long to lose the game.

Gauff held at love, putting the pressure back on McNally, who had to save two match points, the second on a deft backhand lob winner to get herself in the tiebreaker.

McNally was no stranger to that high pressure situation, having won her second round match against Lulu Sun of Switzerland 6-7(3), 6-1, 7-6(4), but it was Gauff who handled it better today.  Up 3-0, Gauff lost her one point in the tiebreaker on a double fault, but McNally hit a backhand wide to make it 4-1 and went up 5-1 with a scorching forehand winner.  McNally tried a serve and volley after the changeover, but a perfect return right at McNally's feet make it 6-1 and Gauff closed out the championship at the net, picking off passing shots until she could finish with a volley.

Gauff is the fifth youngest to claim the French girls title and she's in good company, with Martina Hingis (at ages 12 and 13), Jennifer Capriati and Gabriela Sabatini.  Gauff, who mostly trains in Delray Beach Florida with Gerard Loglo, is also a regular at the Mouratoglou Academy in France.

McNally couldn't afford to dwell on her loss, with another opportunity to claim a junior slam title that afternoon. Playing with Iga Swiatek of Poland, McNally will leave Paris with a winner's trophy after the unseeded pair defeated No. 3 seeds Yuki Naito and Naho Sato of Japan 6-2, 7-5. There were no breaks of serve in the second set until the final game, although Naito and Sato saved a match point on a deciding point serving at 4-5. Serving at 5-6, they weren't able to repeat that result, with McNally and Swiatek taking it and the title.  McNally was playing in her third junior slam girls double final, having lost in both the 2016 and 2017 finals at Wimbledon.

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Chun Hsin Tseng
Like Gauff, the boys champion also turned the tables on a recent junior slam disappointment.  Sixteen-year-old Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, who lost in the final of the Australian Open to Sebastian Korda in January, defeated Sebastian Baez of Argentina 7-6(5), 6-2. Tseng, the No. 4 seed, trailed the top seed 3-1 in the first set, but got the break back and held serve throughout the rest of the match to earn the title.

Tseng was not able to get the sweep, and, as with the girls, an unseeded team claimed the boys doubles title.  Ondrej Styler of the Czech Republic and Naoki Tajima of Japan defeated No. 5 seeds Tseng and Ray Ho, also of Taiwan,  6-4, 6-4 in the championship match.  Like the girls final, the boys final also ended on a deciding point, with Styler and Tajima holding serve to win the championship.

For more coverage of today's junior singles finals, see the Roland Garros website, the ITF website and the WTA website and Tennis Underworld (girls only).

And congratulations to 2008 Roland Garros girls champion Simona Halep, who accomplished the rare junior/women's double by taking the women's title today 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 over Sloane Stephens. The 26-year-old Romanian had a much longer string of slam final disappointments than the two junior champions, but she kept giving herself a chance and was able to break through today.

Friday, June 8, 2018

My Article on Amber O'Dell's Commitment to Virginia; McNally and Gauff to Play for French Open Girls Titles; Three Americans Advance to Bethany Beach $25K Semifinals

Last month at the USTA Level 2 in Grand Rapids, I had an opportunity to talk with blue chip Amber O'Dell about her commitment to the University of Virginia for the Tennis Recruiting Network. I have done scores of commitment articles over the years, but this was the first time that I had spoken to a recruit who had verbally committed to a coaching staff that was no longer leading the program by the time she entered her senior year of high school. O'Dell and her mother recount the unsettling weeks before new coaches were hired and her relief when she was able to again look ahead to playing for the Cavaliers this fall.

For the fourth time in the last five junior slams, two American girls will play for the title, after Coco Gauff and Caty McNally won their semifinal matches today at the French Open Junior Championships. Gauff, the No. 16 seed, defeated No. 15 seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada 6-4, 6-3 to advance to her second junior slam final in three attempts. Now 14 years old, Gauff, who was only 13 when she lost to Amanda Anisimova last September at the US Open, has not dropped a set this week.

McNally, who is unseeded, saved a match point in her 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 win over doubles partner Iga Swiatek of Poland. McNally was up a break in all three sets and served for the second set at 5-3, but couldn't convert her set point and was forced to a tiebreaker. Down 4-2 at the first change of ends, McNally got the mini break back for 3-4 and saved the match point serving at 5-6. There were no breaks in the third set until Swiatek was broken at 3-all, but McNally gave the break right back for 4-all. Swiatek lost her serve again in the next game, and this time McNally held, converting on her first match point at 40-15. 

McNally has also reached the doubles final with Swiatek. It will be the third time McNally has reached a junior slam doubles final, having lost in the Wimbledon girls final in 2016 and 2017.  McNally and Swiatek, who are unseeded, defeated wild cards Julie Belgraver and Loudmilla Bencheikh of France 6-3, 7-5 in today's semifinal and will face No. 3 seed Yuki Naito and Naho Sato of Japan. Naito and Sato defeated top seeds Eleonora Molinaro of Luxembourg and Clara Tauson of Denmark 6-3, 1-6, 10-8. 

The boys final will feature top seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina and No. 4 seed Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan.  Baez had a surprisingly easy 6-2-, 6-2 win over No. 8 seed Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil, with Tseng defeating No. 2 seed Sebastian Korda 6-2, 7-5. Tseng, who had lost to Korda in the Australian Open final, broke Korda, who was up 40-0, to take a 6-5 lead in the second set and then saved three break points in the final game to avoid a tiebreaker and claim the straight-sets win.  Tseng and Baez have not played on the ITF Junior Circuit, but back in 2014 they met in the quarterfinals of the Junior Orange Bowl 14s, with Baez winning 6-0, 6-4.

Tseng will also play in the doubles final with partner Ray Ho of Taiwan. The No. 5 seeds defeated No. 2 seeds Hugo Gaston and Clement Tabur of France 6-0, 5-7, 10-5. They will play unseeded Ondrej Styler of the Czech Republic and Naoki Tajima of Japan after they defeated top seeds Seyboth Wild and Baez 6-2, 6-1.

All four finals are scheduled for Saturday, on Court 1, in order of boys singles, girls singles, boys doubles, girls doubles.

The semifinals are set at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Bethany Beach Delaware, with three Americans moving into the final four.

Top seed Grace Min needed over three hours, but she got by No. 8 seed Jessica Pegula 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-3 and will face qualifier Gabriela Talaba of Romania, who just completed her eligibility at Texas Tech. Talaba defeated Raveena Kingsley 6-3, 6-4.  No. 3 seed Katerina Stewart downed No. 6 seed Robin Anderson(UCLA) 6-0, 7-5 and No. 2 seed Ashley Kratzer beat No. 5 seed Usue Arconada 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.  Min will play Talaba and Stewart will play Kratzer in Saturday's semifinals.

Tomorrow's doubles final is between two all-American teams with college backgrounds, with the unseeded team of Anderson and former Cal star Maegan Manasse facing No. 2 seeds Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame) and Sanaz Marand(UNC).

Oracle College Tennis award winner Francesca Di Lorenzo (Ohio State) has advanced to the semifinals of the $60,000 ITF Women's Circuit tournament in Italy, and Alison Riske has reached the semifinals of the $100,000 ITF Women's Circuit tournament in England.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Korda, McNally and Gauff Reach French Open Juniors Semifinals; Stephens Defeats Keys in to Advance to RG Final; Women's Kickoff Weekend Draft Complete

Last year's Roland Garros girls championship featured two Americans--Whitney Osuigwe and Claire Liu-- and the possibility of another all-USA final remains after today's quarterfinals.  Unseeded Caty McNally defeated her third consecutive seed today, taking out No. 8 seed Xiyu Wang of China 6-2, 6-1 in 61 minutes.  McNally, who has now advanced to her first junior slam singles semifinal, will face her doubles partner Iga Swiatek of Poland, who beat No. 10 seed Yuki Naito of Japan 7-5, 7-5.

No. 16 seed Coco Gauff also moved into the semifinals, defeating No. 6 seed and Grade A Milan winner Eleonora Molinaro of Luxembourg 6-2, 7-6(1). The 14-year-old Gauff, who reached the US Open girls final last September, will play 15-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada, the No. 15 seed, in Friday's semifinals.  Both girls semifinals will be first-time meetings. For more on McNally's win, see the ITF Junior website. Steve Tignor of Tennis.com wrote about Coco Gauff's game in this article.

After the first round, 14 of 16 seeds remained in the girls draw, but in the semifinals there are two unseeded players in the top half, and the two lowest possible seeds in the bottom half.  In the boys draw, half of the seeds were gone after the first round, but all four semifinalists are seeded, including three of the top four.  For the third time in his four matches, top seed Sebastian Baez came back from a set down to advance, today beating unseeded Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-5, saving two match points when Hardt served for the match at 5-4 in the third. Baez will face No. 8 seed Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil, who ended the run of unseeded Brandon Nakashima 6-1, 6-4. Baez and Seyboth Wild met at a Grade 3 two years ago, with Seyboth Wild winning 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.

The other semifinal will be a rematch of the Australian Open final, with No. 4 seed Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan against No. 2 seed Sebastian Korda.  Korda, who won that match 7-6(6), 6-4, defeated unseeded Carlos Lopez Montagud of Spain 6-2, 6-3 in just over an hour. Tseng beat No. 9 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia by the same score.  Korda is looking to become the first junior boy to make the Roland Garros boys final after winning the Australian Open that year since Gael Monfils in 2004.

The second round of doubles was completed today and the quarterfinals were also played, with McNally the only American still in that draw.  Unseeded McNally and Swiatek will face unseeded French wild cards Julie Belgraver and Loumilla Bencheikh in Friday's semifinals after defeating Chloe Beck and Russia'a Taisya Pachkaleva 6-4, 6-3. Gauff and Maria Carle of Argentina, the No. 6 seeds, lost to No. 3 seeds Naito and Naho Sato of Japan 7-6(4), 2-6, 10-4.  No. 7 seeds Alexa Noel and Ana Makatsaria of Georgia lost to top seeds Molinaro and Denmark's Clara Tauson in the quarterfinals 6-3, 6-3.

Friday's schedule is here.

Thursday's singles results involving Americans:

Caty McNally def. Xiyu Wang(CHN)[8] 6-2, 6-1
Coco Gauff[16] def. Eleonora Molinaro(LUX)[6] 6-2, 7-6(1)
Sebastian Korda[2] def. Carlos Lopez Montagud(ESP) 6-2, 6-3
Thiago Seyboth Wild(BRA)[8] def. Brandon Nakashima[SE] 6-1, 6-4

Friday's singles matches involving Americans:

Sebastian Korda[2] vs Chun Hsin Tseng(TPE)[4]
Caty McNally vs Iga Swiatek(POL)
Coco Gauff[16] vs Leylah Fernandez(CAN)[15]

Sloane Stephens[10] defeated Madison Keys[13] 6-4, 6-4 in the all-American French Open women's semifinal and will face top seed Simona Halep of Romania in Saturday's final. For more on Stephens' win today and her second major final appearance, see this article on the WTA website.

The women's ITA Kickoff Weekend draft was held today, with teams from No. 17 Miami to No. 76 Middle Tennessee State selecting the 15 regionals where they'll try to qualify for the 2019 ITA Team Indoor.  Northwestern was the first regional to fill up, followed by Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech.  Stanford, which usually doesn't participate in the Team Indoor might be doing so next winter because it is being held in their time zone, at the University of Washington. Washington has been the host for many men's Team Indoor championships but I don't recall any women's events there. 

As with the men, the highest ranking team to pass was in the mid-30s, Arkansas, which just named Courtney Steinbock its new head coach last week. The top-ranked hosts' regions, with the exception of Georgia Tech, were slow to fill and UCLA was among the last to get four teams, possibly due to the Bruins' top-ranked recruiting class. It's not always obvious why a team picks a certain region, but it's fun to speculate on how coaches see the relative strengths of teams next year. For the complete draft, see the Slam Tennis page.