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Friday, November 30, 2018

November Aces; Nakashima Signs with Virginia; Nava and Mandlik's Late Surges Earn Eddie Herr ITF Semifinal Berths; Seven Americans Play for Singles Titles in 12s, 14s, 16s Divisions Saturday

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Bradenton, FL--

Before I get to all the excitement of today's action at the Eddie Herr International Championships, here is my monthly Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network, featuring 18 of the top performances by junior and college players, with junior girls having a particularly good month of November on the ITF Women's Pro Circuit.

And the University of Virginia announced today that Brandon Nakashima, who recently won the ITF Junior Masters and is No. 5 in the ITF junior rankings, has signed and will join the Cavaliers in January.  Nakashima had not ruled out going to college when I last spoke to him at the US Open, but was expected to stay on the West Coast, with the major Pac-12 powers considered his likely destination.  Nakashima, who has withdrawn from next week's Orange Bowl, is unlikely to stay for a full four years, but he will certainly add excitement to the ACC conference season in 2019.  For the release, see the Virginia website.

Friday was much warmer than the previous three days in Bradenton, and it was a busy day, with the Grade 1 ITF quarterfinals in singles, the ITF doubles semifinals, and the semifinals in doubles and singles in the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions.

Two Americans have reached the semifinals of the ITF singles, with both Emilio Nava and Elli Mandlik coming from a break down in the final set to earn victories, with Nava beating unseeded Mateus Alves of Brazil 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 and Mandlik defeating unseeded Alice Tubello of France 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Mandlik, the No. 5 seed, lost her serve at 3-4 in the final set, failing to convert two game points, but she wasn't worried when Tubello served for the match.

"I wasn't tight," said Mandlik, who didn't play the Grade A in Mexico last week. "I knew she would just brush it in, and I could attack."

Tubello was broken at love, with Mandlik hitting a return winner for 0-40, which may have contributed to Tubello's double fault on game point.

Mandlik, who was broken in her previous two service games, held in a deuce game for 5-all, then got another break to take a 6-5 lead, although Tubello had two game points that she failed to convert. Eventually Mandlik's returns proved the difference in the game and serving for the match, Mandlik was determined to stay aggressive.

"I just didn't want to regret losing in the quarters," the 17-year-old said. "So I just went for my shots."

Tubello came up with a drop shot winner to open the game, but Mandlik took control of the game with her backhand, forcing two errors for 30-15, then hitting a clean down-the-line backhand winner to get to match point. It was an entertaining point, with Tubello making Mandlik work, but Mandlik came up with a backhand volley winner to earn her place in the semifinals.

Mandlik will face No. 6 seed Kamilla Bartone of Latvia, who took out top seed Alexa Noel 7-6(5), 6-3, winning the final four game of the match. Many junior girls find it difficult to cope with Noel's slicing and defense, but Bartone is not one of them. The 16-year-old Bartone has her own repertoire of slices and drop shots, and accustomed to playing without rhythm, she had no problem counteracting Noel's preferred game style.

Mandlik and Bartone have never played, but Mandlik knows what to expect.

"Yeah, I know I'm going to have to run a lot," said Mandlik, mentioning Bartone's proclivity for drop shots. "So I just get my mind set that I'm going to be running, on the court for a long time, and to be ready for that."

The other girls semifinal will feature No. 16 seed Georgia Drummy of Ireland against No. 2 seed Qinwen Zheng of China. Drummy defeated Yucatan champion and No. 9 seed Diane Parry of France 6-3, 6-3, while Zheng had no trouble with No. 8 Lulu Sun in a 6-2, 6-0 decision.
Mandlik recognized that she barely escaped a loss to Tubello, but for Nava, the circumstances were even more dire.  Down a set and 4-2 in the second, No. 16 seed Nava won the final four games of the set. Down 4-2 in the third set, Nava did it again for an improbable 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.

In the second set, Nava took his first lead in the match when he held for 5-4 after breaking at love in the previous game, then broke again when Alves made very few first serves in the next game.

"He got a little tight, at 4-5 in the second and the third," said Nava, who turns 17 on Sunday. "There were definitely some games when he was a little lacking on the first serve and I was taking advantage of that. This guy is like 6'-6", huge serve, big forehand, a one-two punch of a guy. I just had to stay with him, fight those returns back."

Nava appeared to have the momentum when he held to start the third set, but he was broken in the third game, and time was running short when Alves held for 4-2.  But again Nava got a break at love, with Alves serving at 4-3, and held at love in the next game, at one stage winning 11 consecutive points.  After falling behind 0-30 serving at 4-5, Alves found his first serve and won the next two points, but he netted a forehand to give Nava a match point. Again, Alves' big serve saved him, but Nava earned a second match point with an excellent backhand deep into the corner that forced an error from Alves. Alves made a good first serve, but Nava's return was equal to it and another big backhand forced an error, putting Nava in the semifinals.

On Saturday, Nava will play another Brazilian, qualifier Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida, who beat No. 7 seed Valentin Royer of France 6-3 6-2. Nava has not played Pucinelli de Almeida before, but believes his game style is more like that of top seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria, who Nava beat on Thursday.

"He's a good player, but not like the guy today," Nava said.  "More like Adrian, a grinder."

The semifinal in the bottom half will feature No. 2 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia and No. 3 seed Filip Jianu of Romania. Mejia defeated No. 6 seed Anton Matusevich of Great Britain 7-6(8), 6-2, while Jianu advanced when unseeded Zane Khan retired trailing 6-4, 3-1. 

Mejia and Jianu played in the Grade 1 Asuncion Bowl in Uruguay back in February, with Mejia earning a 7-6(6), 7-5 victory.

The doubles final are set for Saturday, with Mandlik the only player scheduled for two matches. Mandlik and her partner Anna Hertel of Poland will face unseeded Kacie Harvey and Natasha Subhash for the girls doubles title. Mandlik and Hertel, unseeded, beat No. 7 seeds Bartone and Diana Khodan of Ukraine 1-6, 6-2, 10-5, while Subhash and Harvey took out top seeds Lea Ma and Zheng 6-4, 6-4.

The boys doubles final features No. 8 seeds Taha Baadi of Canada and Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan against the unseeded Croatian team of Roko Horvat and Admir Kalender.  Baadi and Mitsui beat Cleeve Harper of Canada and Andres Martin 6-2, 6-4; Horvat and Kalender defeated unseeded Santiago De La Fuente and Alejo Lingua Lavallen of Argentina 6-3, 6-2.

Seven Americans will vie for Eddie Herr singles titles in the younger age divisions on Saturday. The boys 12s and the girls 16s are all-American finals; the girls 12s is the only division without an American in the final. Results from today's semifinals are below, with complete draws available at the TennisLink site. Doubles finals are also set to be played on Saturday morning, with only one player in both the singles and doubles finals, Quang Duong.
Boys 12s:
Maximus Dussault[6](USA) d. Rudy Quan[1](USA) 5-7, 6-2, 10-6
Quang Duong[5](USA) d. Jinpeng Tang[15](CHN) 6-2, 7-6(4)

Boys 14s:

Togan Tokac[7](TUR) d. John Kim[5](USA) 7-6(6), 6-4
Fnu Nidunjianzan[2](USA) d. Constantinos Koshis[3](CYP) 6-4, 6-3

Boys 16s:
Haoyuan Huang(USA) d. JJ Tracy[7](USA) 6-2, 0-6, 6-2
Jacobi Bain(BAH) d. Aleksandr Kalinin(BLR) 6-2, 6-4

Girls 12s:
Alexandra Azarko(BLR) d. Nawal Youssef(CAN) 6-2, 3-6, 10-5
Sasha Situe[14](NZL) d. Sara Saito(JPN)  4-6, 6-1, 10-2

Girls 14s:
Brenda Fruhvirtova[5](CZE) d. Melisa Ercan[4](TUR) 6-4, 6-1
Clervie Ngounoue[6](USA) Liv Hovde(USA) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2

Girls 16s:

Madison Sieg[1](USA) d. Mary Grace Armistead(USA) 6-1, 7-5
Elaine Chervinsky[2](USA) d. Elise Wagle[16](USA) 6-2, 6-1

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Nava Takes Down Top Seed and Defending Champion Andreev at Eddie Herr ITF; Khan, Mandlik and Noel Also Advance to Quarterfinals; Friday's Semifinals Set in 12s, 14s, 16s Divisions

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Bradenton, FL--

Another chilly Florida day couldn't cool off No. 16 seed Emilio Nava, who defeated top seed and defending champion Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria 7-5, 7-5 Thursday afternoon in the third round of the ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr Championships at the IMG Academy.

The match, played on the Har-Tru stadium courts, began to draw a crowd late in the first set, with both players holding serve until Nava earned break points with Andreev serving at 5-6. At 15-40, Andreev double faulted to give Nava the first set, and as word of a possible upset spread, the crowd on the porch overlooking the court got even larger.

Nava never strayed from his strategy of taking big risks with his forehand and going for his first serves, although that had less to do with his scouting of Andreev and more to do with his game style.

"We knew a decent amount about his game, his serve isn't the best, he's not going to ace me," said Nava, who turns 17 on Sunday. "I just knew I had to stay solid, focus on myself, and stay positive. He's really solid from the ground, he's not going to miss a ball, so I knew I had to start dictating with my forehand. I gained a little bit of confidence and started going for more and more, and it went my way. I think most players here know I hit pretty hard and I go pretty big, go for the risks. When I go for the shots, I either make them by that much (showing thumb and forefinger an inch apart) or miss them by this much (repeats gesture). But no, today I played pretty good."

Nava said his wins on the Pro Circuit this fall, including a victory over an ATP Top 300 player in qualifying of a Challenger, have given him a boost now that he is back playing junior events.

"It's always been a dream to have a first ATP point," said Nava, who has three from Futures wins in California this fall. "Now that I have it, it's pretty big and I take that on to these courts. If I can compete with those guys, I can compete with these guys. It helps a lot for the confidence."

The first half of the second set played out much like the first, although Nava was having more difficulty holding serve. At 3-3, he won a long deuce game on his first game point, then broke Andreev for a 5-3 lead.

"I probably saved like nine or ten break points and I didn't have one game point," said Nava, who still kept hitting out, even under that constant pressure. "Of course I was happy that I was saving them, but at the same time, I was just come on dude, just win the deuce point and you can get the game. I guess I kept my cool, although I definitely felt a bit frustrated. But I won the game and that gave me a nice boost in the next game and I broke him."

Serving for the match at 5-3, Nava could not find a first serve, but after saving a break point with a forehand winner for deuce, he got a good first serve in that Andreev could not handle to earn a match point. He netted a backhand after some great defense from Andreev however,  then missed another backhand long on break point, and dropped serve for the first time in the match.

Andreev won the next game at love, but Nava put aside the missed match point on his next service game, hitting three aces, two on of the let-serve variety, to take a 6-5 lead.

With Andreev serving at 5-6, 30-all, Nava again refused to dial back his aggressive play, blasting a forehand winner to earn his second match point. Andreev missed his first serve, but hit an excellent second serve deep. Nava returned it, and Andreev's next shot hit just past the baseline at Nava's feet. Nava immediately called it out, and Andreev asked for the roving umpire to check the mark, and he agreed with Nava's call, ending the match.

As a Southern Californian, Nava doesn't have much opportunity to practice on clay, but before these three major ITF events on green clay, he spent two weeks training at the Juan Carlos Ferrero
Equelite Tennis Academy near Caliente Spain.

"My brother (Eduardo) went there when he was 16 and we have a friend who is really good friends with the head of tennis there," Nava said. "It's tough to train in LA, there's not that many clay courts, not that many players. So I came to the decision that I wanted to go there, especially to train on clay with the best coaches and the best players."

Nava said his improvement over the past year can be traced to several factors.

"The first is the physical aspect," said Nava, now around 6-foot-1. "I grew a lot and that improved my serve. On the court, I'm more consistent for sure. Back then I was just going for my shots, crazy undisciplined and now I have a little more structure in my game."

Nava gives credit to clay for helping him with that part of the game.

"Clay slows the ball down a lot, so when you rip it, the guy still has a chance to get there," said Nava, who lost to the eventual champion in the third round of the Grade A in Yucatan last week. "I'm hitting like three winners on one point."

Nava will face unseeded Mateus Alves of Brazil in Friday's quarterfinals. Alves defeated unseeded Jacob Fearnley of Great Britain 6-1, 6-4. The other quarterfinal in the top half will feature qualifier Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil against No. 7 seed Valentin Royer of France. Royer defeated No. 9 seed Tyler Zink 6-3, 6-3.

The second US boy to reach the quarterfinals is unseeded Zane Khan, who advanced when Harry Wendelken of Great Britain retired trailing 6-3, 3-0.  Khan will face No. 3 seed Filip Jianu of Romania in the quarterfinals. The other bottom half quarterfinal has No. 2 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia taking on No. 6 seed Anton Matusevich of Great Britain. Matusevich beat No. 11 seed Govind Nanda 6-2, 7-6(3).

Top seed Alexa Noel and No. 5 seed Elli Mandlik are the US girls advancing to the quarterfinals. Mandlik outlasted No. 12 seed Loudmilla Bencheikh of France 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, while Noel came from a break down in the second set to beat No. 15 seed Yasmine Mansouri of France 6-2, 7-5.  Noel will face No. 6 seed Kamilla Bartone of Latvia, who came back to beat Adrienn Nagy of Hungary 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4).  Mandlik, who is also in the top half, will face Alice Tubello of France, who ended the run of qualifier Abigail Forbes 6-2, 6-1.

The bottom half of the girls draw will feature No. 9 seed and Yucatan champion Diane Parry of France against No. 16 seed Georgia Drummy of Ireland.  Lulu Sun of Switzerland, the No. 8 seed, defeated unseeded Kylie Collins 6-3, 6-3 to advance to a meeting with No. 2 seed Qinwen Zheng of China, who beat No. 13 seed Gabby Price 6-2, 6-1.

The doubles semifinals are also on Friday's schedule, with only one seeded team remaining: No. 8 seeds Taha Baadi of Canada and Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan.  Cleve Harper of Canada and Andres Martin beat No. 6 seeds Alves and Natan Rodrigues of Brazil 3-6, 6-4, 11-9 and will face Baadi and Mitsui for a spot in the final.  The other semifinal will be between Santiago De La Fuente and Alejo Lingua Lavallen of Argentina, who beat No. 5 seeds Govind Nanda and Tyler Zink 6-4, 4-6, 10-5, and Croatia's Roko Horvat and Admir Kalender.

The girls doubles semifinals have two seeded teams, with No. 1 seeds Lea Ma and Zheng in the top half, against Kacie Harvey and Natasha Subhash and No. 7 seeds Bartone and Diana Khodan of Ukraine in the bottom half against Anna Hertel of Poland and Mandlik.

The semifinals are set in the 12s, 14s and 16s, with the 16s playing two rounds of singles Thursday to catch up after rain on Monday set them back a day.

Only two of the No. 1 seeds remain in the six divisions: G16s' Madison Sieg and B12s' Rudy Quan.  Below are today's quarterfinal results. For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

Boys 12s:

Rudy Quan[1](USA) d. Thomas Faurel[8](USA) 6-2, 6-1
Maximus Dussault[6](USA) d. Atakan Karahan [4](TUR) 6-2, 0-6, 10-4

Quang Duong[5](USA) d. Alexander Frusina[3](USA) 6-4, 6-4
Jinpeng Tang[15](CHN) d. Juan Kim(KOR) 6-0, 6-2

Boys 14s:

John Kim[5](USA) d. Kenta Nakamura[9](JPN) 6-3, 6-4
Togan Tokac[7](TUR) d. Adolfo Vallejo[4](PAR) 6-4, 6-0

Constantinos Koshis[3](CYP) d. Christophe Clement(CAN) 6-2, 6-2
Fnu Nidunjianzan[2](USA) d. Kyle Kang[6](USA) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Boys 16s:

JJ Tracy[7](USA) d. Chak Lam Coleman Wong(HKG) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
Haoyuan Huang(USA) d. Jack Anthrop[3](USA) 6-4, 6-4

Jacobi Bain(BAH) d. Bohua Dong[8](USA) 6-1, 6-0
Aleksandr Kalinin(BLR) d. Arda Azkara(TUR) 7-5, 6-2

Girls 12s:

Alexandra Azarko(BLR) d. Brooklyn Olson[1](USA) 7-6(8), 2-6, 10-8
Nawal Youssef(CAN) d. Sarah L'Allier[6](CAN) 6-4, 6-3

Sasha Situe[14](NZL) d. Natalia Perez[4](USA) 7-5, 6-3
Sara Saito(JPN) d. Onyu Choi(KOR) 3-6, 6-4, 10-6

Girls 14s:

Brenda Fruhvirtova[5](CZE) d. Kim Dainhee(KOR) 6-1, 6-2
Melisa Ercan[4](TUR) d. Alexis Blokhina[10](USA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2

Clervie Ngounoue[6](USA) d. Lan Mi[9](CHN) 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-5
Liv Hovde(USA) d. Marina Stakusic[2](CAN) 1-6, 6-4, 6-2

Girls 16s:

Madison Sieg[1](USA) d. Lara Schneider[15](USA) 6-4, 6-2
Mary Grace Armistead(USA) d. Abigail Rencheli[11](USA) 6-3, 6-4

Elise Wagle[16](USA) d. Jaleesa Leslie[8](USA) 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-2
Elaine Chervinsky[2](USA) d. Savanna Kollock(USA) 6-2, 6-1

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Yucatan Champion Parry Finds Form to Beat Thirteen-Year-Old in Eddie Herr ITF Second Round; Martin and Harper Beat Top Boys Doubles Seeds; Both No. 1 Seeds Fall in 14s Division

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Bradenton, FL--

Diane Parry isn't difficult to pick out of a crowd of junior girls. The 16-year-old from France, who won the Yucatan Grade A title on Sunday with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over ITF World Junior No. 1 Clara Burel of France, has the only one-handed backhand in the Eddie Herr International ITF Grade 1 girls draw. The novelty of that shot draws more spectators than usual to her matches, but in today's second round match with wild card Linda Fruhvirtova, the score was what drew the most interest, with the 13-year-old Czech taking the first set 6-0.

Parry, who didn't lose a set all last week, beating both Burel and 2018 French Open girls champion Coco Gauff, took a bathroom break after that shocking first set, and when she returned, her game did too, with the result a 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

"I was not moving, I was playing very bad," said Parry, who admitted to some stiffness in her legs before play began this morning. "She was playing well too. She's just [birth year] 2005 and for her age, she play very good, but at the start I was very bad, and just getting better and better."

Parry said Fruhvirtova's pace took some getting used to.

"She was playing very flat, with speed," Parry said. "I was trying to put every ball in court, to move more and more, to try to play my game like I want to play. She was playing very good, so maybe my experience was the difference."

Parry has not always had a one-handed backhand.

"Before I was two-handed," Parry said. "But four or five years ago I changed, because I liked that, and I'm playing good with this one."

Acknowledging that her opponents pick on that side, Parry expects to hit a lot of shots high to the backhand.

"With just one hand, it is difficult to play above the shoulders," Parry said. "So of course, every girl does that."

But that strategy gives Parry practice on improving that shot, and she has seen her backhand get better each year.

"I play faster, I can keep long points going on it," Parry said. "I think it gets better from tournament to tournament, year after year."

Parry was one of four girls seeds to go three sets in the second round Wednesday, played in unseasonably cold temperatures in the 50s.

No. 2 seed Qinwen Zheng of China dropped the first set to Manon Leonard of France, but survived 5-7, 7-5, 6-4; No. 11 seed Adrienn Nagy of Hungary ended the run of qualifier Sasha Yepifanova 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 and No. 16 seed Georgia Drummy of Ireland came back for a 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over Ana Geller of Argentina.

American girls advancing to Thursday's round of 16 are top seed Alexa Noel, who beat Diana Khodan of Ukraine 6-2, 6-4; qualifier Abigail Forbes, who defeated Helene Pellicano of Malta 6-3 ,7-5; No. 5 seed Elli Mandlik, a 7-5, 6-2 winner over qualifier Alexandra Vecic of German; Kylie Collins, who beat Else Jacquemot of France 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-1 and No. 13 seed Gabby Price, who defeated Himari Sato of Japan 7-6(5), 6-3.

No. 3 seed Lea Ma was beaten by Maria Shusharina of Russia 7-6(2), 6-2, with Ma the only seeded girl to lose Wednesday, with 13 in action.

Four US boys advanced to the round of 16, with the only unseeded player among them Zane Khan, who defeated Natan Rodrigues of Brazil 6-3, 6-3.  No. 16 seed Emilio Nava beat Cezar Cretu of Romania 7-6(5), 6-4; No. 9 seed Tyler Zink defeated Yucatan finalist Liam Draxl of Canada 6-1, 6-3 and No. 11 seed Govind Nanda came back for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 win over Sebastian Rodriguez of Peru. 

Top seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria was tested in the second set of his 6-1, 6-4 win over Arthur Pantino of the Philippines and will face Nava next.  No. 2 seed Nicolas Mejia had no difficulty with Joao Ferreira of Brazil, winning 6-0, 6-1 and he will play qualifier Max Westphal of France next.

No. 13 seed Eliot Spizzirri, who won the Grade 1 in Campeche two weeks ago on hard courts, lost to Andrew Paulson of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.


The top two seeds in singles were also the top two seeds in doubles, but both are now out after losses in today's second round of doubles.

Mejia and Filip Jianu of Romania lost to Andres Martin and Canada's Cleeve Harper 6-2, 1-6, 13-11, with the training partners at Smith Stearns Tennis Academy saving three match points in the tiebreaker.

"It was basically the returns that made the difference for us," said Harper, who will begin playing at the University of Texas in January. "I just try to stay solid, and if they hit a winner, it's just too good."

"He was hitting all the match points," said Martin, who has committed to Georgia Tech. "I was just holding my position at the net, hoping they would hit it at me so I could hit a volley, but I thought we both played pretty good."

Although they train together, Harper and Martin are playing as a team for just the third time, and had won only one match before this tournament, but they are expecting more this week.

"I think we should [go on to win the tournament]," Martin said. "We should keep doing well at least," added Harper. "Just focus on our returns and see how it goes."

Andreev and his partner Anton Matusevich of Great Britain, the No. 2 seeds and US Open boys doubles champions, lost to Roko Horvat and Admir Kalender of Croatia 2-6, 7-6(2), 10-7. Andreev won the Eddie Herr ITF doubles title last year with Keenan Mayo.

No. 3 seeds Sergey Fomin of Uzbekistan and Gauthier Onclin of Belgium lost to Drew Baird and Aidan Mayo 6-4, 3-6, 10-7.

The girls doubles draw lost its No. 2 seeds when Alexa Noel, playing with Parry, turned her ankle early in the match with Olympe Lancelot and Lola Marandel of France. She played a few more games, but retired at 5-4 in the first set, with her status for singles Thursday unclear.

The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds also lost, with Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine and Drummy losing to Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan and Alexandra Vagramov of Canada 6-3, 7-5 and Loudmilla Bencheikh and Yasmine Mansouri of France falling to Kacie Harvey and Natasha Subhash 3-6, 6-4, 10-1. 

Top seeds Ma and Zheng beat Ana Cruz of Brazil and Viktoriya Petrenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-0.

Both top seeds in the 14s lost in third round action today, with No. 9 seed Kenta Nakamura of Japan defeating Juncheng(Jerry) Shang, last year's Eddie Herr 12 champion, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 and unseeded Kim Dainhee of Korea beating Ozlem Uslu of Turkey 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

The quarterfinals in the 14s are set for Thursday morning, with three US girls and three US boys in action.  The boys are John Kim[5], Kyle Kang[6] and Fnu Nidunjianzan[2]. Kang and Nidunjianzan play each other for a place in the semifinals.  The girls are Alexis Blokhina[10], Clervie Ngounoue[6] and Liv Hovde.

The 12s quarterfinals, also Thursday morning, feature two US girls--Brooklyn Olson[1] and Natalia Perez[4]--and five US boys: Rudy Quan[1], Thomas Faurel[8], Maximus Dussault[6], Quang Duong[5], Alexander Frusina[3].

Results from today's third round in 12s and 14s, and the second round of 16s can be found at the TennisLink site.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Qualifier Mayo Ousts Yucatan Champion as First Round Concludes at Eddie Herr ITF; Top Seed Brachman Upset in B16s; USTA National Indoor Results

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Bradenton, FL--

The rain Monday evening ushered in a cold front that kept temperatures in the 60s Tuesday as the first round of singles was completed at the Grade 1 ITF Eddie Herr International Championships.

Fifteen-year-old Aidan Mayo qualified for the main draw on Sunday, but because he was to play Grade A Yucatan champion Santiago De La Fuente of Argentina, who played late Sunday evening in Mexico, that match was one of 17 singles matches scheduled for Tuesday.

Mayo definitely appeared to be the more energetic player to start the match, which had to be moved from Court 5 to Court 10, usually reserved as a practice court, because of sloppy conditions behind the baseline.

Mayo ran out to a 4-1 lead in the first set, and held on for 6-3, but De La Fuente, who won four matches last week from a set down, fought back to take the second set 6-2.

"In the second I kind of lost my focus," said Mayo, who went on to take the third set 6-3. "The balls got really fluffy and I couldn't really hit through the court. He was playing more consistent, playing a lot smarter and wasn't really giving away point. I got it back in the third--the new balls helped me--and I just fought as hard as I could."

Mayo knew that fatigue could be an issue for De La Fuente, coming off his eight matches, including two in qualifying, last week in Mexico.

"I thought he would be really tired because he played like nine matches in nine days," Mayo said. "But I knew he was high in confidence, so I knew I needed to be on focus at all times. I knew he was going to be tired and I would have a chance to win for sure."

Mayo recently decided to switch to a one-handed backhand, but doesn't view that transition as particularly difficult.

"I've always had a really natural one-hander, I would mess around with it and stuff," said Mayo, who is training at the USTA's Player Development Center in Carson California with Vahe Assadourian. "My two-hander was not natural at all, I just kind of bunted it around and I couldn't really hit it angled or cross court. So my coach and I started experimenting a little bit with my two-hander, and I just couldn't get the feeling, so he said, hit a couple one-handers, and it just kind of went from there."

Mayo was down 3-1 in the third set, but won the final five games, with De La Fuente committing unforced errors and showing little emotion throughout Mayo's resurgence.

Mayo is not one to mask his feelings, and said a lack of energy on the other side of the net can present problems.

"I like showing emotion and when a guy is kind of a brick wall, it's hard to get going," Mayo said.

Mayo will face No. 14 seed Sergey Fomin of Uzbekistan in the second round Wednesday.

Mayo wasn't the only qualifier to advance on Tuesday, with Max Westphal of France taking out No. 15 seed Simon Ivanov of Bulgaria6-1, 2-0 ret.

Other US boys posting wins on Tuesday were wild card Martin Damm and No. 16 seed Emilio Nava.

The top seeds all breezed through their first round matches. Top seed Adrian Andreev's title defense got off to a fast start with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Drew Baird, while No. 2 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia beat Juan Bautista Torres of Argentina 6-0, 6-1.  Girls No. 1 seed Alexa Noel, who is now training at the IMG Academy, defeated 13-year-old wild card Isabella Kruger of South Africa 6-1, 6-2.

No. 5 seed Elli Mandlik won her first round match over Yucatan semifinalist Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan 6-3, 6-4.

The first round of doubles was completed Tuesday afternoon, with top seeds Mejia and Filip Jianu of Romania and No. 2 seeds Andreev and Anton Matusevich of Great Britain, the US Open boys doubles champions, advancing in straight sets.

Girls top seeds Lea Ma and Qinwen Zheng of China dropped the first set to Manon Leonard and Alice Tubello of France, but came back for a 4-6, 6-3, 10-3 win. No. 2 seeds Noel and Diane Parry of France won their first round match 6-2, 6-0.

Boys 16s top seed Spencer Brachman lost his first round match today, going out to Thomas Navarro 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.  No. 4 seed Marko Stakusic of Canada lost to Takeyasu Sekiguchi 7-6(6), 6-3.

The No. 3 seed in the girls 14s, Gabriella Broadfoot of South Africa lost in the second round to Ava Krug 6-1, 7-6(3). The No. 2 seed in the girls 12s, Valerija Kargina of Latvia, lost to Sato Sara of Japan 6-4, 7-6(2).

For complete results from the 12s, 14s, and 16s divisions, see the Tennis Link site.

The USTA National Indoor Championships concluded on Monday, with the finals results from the eight sites throughout the Northeast and Midwest listed below. Click on the heading to go the specific TennisLink site for complete results.

B12s:
Singles: Alexander Razeghi[1] d. Cooper Woestendick[7] 6-1, 6-3
Doubles: Alexander Razeghi and Cooper Woestendick[1] d. Andrew Ena and Mark Krupkin 6-1

B14s:
Singles: Evan Wen[8] d. Herrick Thomas Legaspi 6-2, 6-2
Doubles: Nicholas Godsick and Evan Wen[4] d. John Lasanajak and Waleed Qadir[3] 6-4

Singles: Aryan Chaudhary[1] d. Quinn Vandecasteele[16] 6-3, 6-2
Doubles: Kieran Foster and Maxwell Kachkarov d. William Cooksey and Ansh Shah 7-6(5)

Singles: Ryan Fishback[14] d. Niraj Komatineni  6-1, 6-3
Doubles: Jordan Chrysostom and Trey Stinchcomb[7] d. Huntley Allen and Coy Simon[5] 7-5

Singles: Anna Nguyen[9] d. Thea Latak[3] 6-4, 6-4
Doubles Patricia Grigoras and Mariana Shulman[5] d. Thea Latak and Anya Murthy[5] 6-4

Singles: Lamija Avdic[11] d. Sanjana Tallamraju[12] 7-5, 6-3
Doubles: Aubrey Nisbet and Maeve Thornton[4] d. Marcela Lopez and Morgan Pyrz 6-4

Singles: Rachel Arbitman[2] d. Katja Wiersholm[6] 6-4, 6-0
Doubles: Nadejda Maslova and Nastasya Semenovski[6] d. Lindsey Hofflander and Jennifer Riester 6-0

Singles: Valencia Xu[6] d. Anessa Lee[8] 6-2, 6-2
Doubles: Zoe Howard and Reilly Tran[2] d. Carly Briggs and AnneMarie Hiser 6-1

Monday, November 26, 2018

My Conversation with Katie Volynets; Several Eddie Herr ITF Qualifiers End Grueling Two-Day Stretch with Main Draw Victories, Seven Seeds Drop Opening Matches

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Bradenton, FL--

Before I get into my daily coverage of the Eddie Herr International Championships, here's a link to my recent conversation with 16-year-old Katie Volynets, who has recently moved away from ITF Junior Circuit events and into the Pro Circuit. Because I knew I wasn't going to be seeing her at these Florida junior events, I made arrangements to talk to Volynets last week by phone, and we had a chance to discuss her plans as she prepares for the new ITF World Tennis Tour in 2019 for this Tennis Recruiting Network article.


Forty-seven first round singles matches were on the schedule for the ITF Grade 1 at the IMG Academy, and 11 of the 16 qualifiers found themselves playing their third standard best-of-three-sets matches in the space of 24 hours. In past years, the qualifiers received Monday off after playing two matches on Sunday, but that was not the case this year, with seven of the eight girls who qualified and four of the eight boys who qualified getting a test of their stamina on a warm and humid day in Bradenton.

Four of the girls came away with victories and can look forward to a well deserved day off (from singles) on Tuesday: Mara Guth and Alexandra Vecic of Germany, and Americans Abigail Forbes and Sasha Yepifanova.

Yepifanova, 15, defeated ITF No. 70 Gabriela Martinez Asensi of Spain 6-0, 6-2, her fourth straight-sets win since qualifying began on Saturday.

"This is my third consecutive tournament and I've been playing almost every day," said Yepifanova, who also qualified for the Grade A last week in Yucatan and won two matches before falling to ITF World Junior No. 1 Clara Burel of France. "So yes, I'm tired, but I'm still ready to fight. I've had good matches, I'm playing well, I'm motivated, excited to play. I'm tired, but I still want to keep going. I'm pumped up to play."

Yepifanova said she was surprised to see her name on Monday's schedule.

"My dad was kidding that we'd look at the draw and I would be playing at 8 a.m.  Well, it wasn't 8 a.m., but it was 9 a.m., so almost the same thing."

Playing a Spaniard on clay isn't generally a recipe for a quick match, and Yepifanova did need over 15 minutes to hold in the first game, but she took over from there.

"I watched her match yesterday, so I was kind of prepared for the way she played," said Yepifanova, who trains primarily with Konstantin Anisimov, supplemented by regular workouts at Nunez Tennis Training in Aventura Florida. "But I mean, I just thought if I play my game, everything would be all right."

Yepifanova said she trains exclusively on hard courts, but can see how clay is good for her game.

"I'm a big hitter, I hit big shots, so it kind of gives me time to prepare and load for my shots, so yeah, I like clay," Yepifanova said.
Of the four boys qualifiers who played Monday, only one, former ITF Junior No. 31 Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil advanced, beating wild card Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan 6-4, 6-2. One who lost, Filip Krolo of Germany, participated in the most contentious match of the day, with wild card Jacob Bullard earning a 7-5, 6-1 victory after Krolo led 5-2 in the opening set.

Krolo was unhappy that the roving umpire ruled two marks in Bullard's favor, both of which cost Krolo points, and the 17-year-old accused the umpire of siding with Bullard because they were both Americans. Krolo was not penalized for those remarks, but later received, from another roving umpire, two code violations for ball abuse, one for both the racquet and ball sailing toward the net, and the second for hitting the ball into the nearby pond adjacent to Court 5. The referee was called to court during that stretch, early in the second set, and spent ten or 15 minutes talking with Krolo's team on sidelines, but no further incidents occurred and when Bullard closed out the match by breaking Krolo, the players did participate in the usual post-match handshake.

"I was down 2-5 and I kept battling," said Bullard, who signed with the University of Texas 10 days ago. "The kid was playing really well. I started to come back, I held at 2-5, and then there was a point at deuce where I circled the mark and the ref agreed with my call. He and his team totally flipped out and after that, I felt it was definitely a confidence booster and momentum swing for me, because I saw how negative he was getting, how much distraction there was on his side because of all the antics going on with his team. I think it ultimately cost him, because he just completely lost focus. He had a lot of negative energy from his team coming towards him, the referees, and that's definitely mentally taxing. I'm just glad I was able to keep my focus and raise my level."

Both No. 4 seeds lost Monday, with Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine going out to Alice Tubello of France 6-0, 6-2 and Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic ousted by wild card Andres Martin 6-0, 7-5.  Boys No. 5 seed Gauthier Onclin of Belgium was beaten by Harry Wendelken of Great Britain 6-7(9), 6-4, 7-5; Zane Khan defeated No. 10 seed Harold Mayot of France 6-4, 6-4; Mathys Erhard of France took out No. 12 seed Otto Virtanen of Finland 6-1, 6-1.  Other girls seeds to lose were No. 10 Sada Nahimana of Burundi, who lost to Elsa Jacquemot of France 6-3, 6-4 and No. 14 seed Chloe Beck, who lost to Helene Pelicano of Malta 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

All the seeded US boys on Monday's schedule won their opening round matches in straight sets: Tyler Zink[9], Govind Nanda[11] and Eliot Spizzirri[13]. The seeded US girls advancing were No. 3 Lea Ma and No. 13 seed Gabby Price.

Only 17 singles matches are on the ITF schedule for Tuesday, but both No. 1 seeds, Alexa Noel and defending champion Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria, are in action, as is No. 2 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia. No. 2 seed Qinwen Zheng of China put on an impressive performance this morning, beating USTA Clay Court 18s champion Emma Navarro 6-1, 6-0.

All 32 first round doubles matches are on Tuesday's schedule, with Ma and Zheng the No. 1 seeds in the girls draw, and Mejia and Filip Jianu of Romania the top seeds in the boys draw.

Rain arrived in Bradenton about 15 minutes after the 18s finished, but many of the first round 14s and 16s singles matches on the hard courts at the IMG Academy were disrupted by the storm.  A two- to three-hour delay in starting due to damp courts in the morning also was a factor in the first round not being finished on Monday. Results for the matches that were completed can be found on the TennisLink site.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Five US Girls, Three US Boys Qualify for Eddie Herr ITF Main Draw, Burel and Gauff Withdraw; Younger Age Divisions Also Begin Main Draw Monday; Gauff and Black Claim Grade A Yucatan Doubles Title

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Bradenton FL--

Qualifying is complete at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships, with eight players in each of the eight divisions advancing to the main draw on a warm and sunny Sunday in South Florida.


Three US boys, none of them seeded, advanced through three rounds of qualifying of the ITF Grade 1 division on the Har-Tru courts of the IMG Academy. Two rounds were played Sunday, with Hunter Heck, Alex Bancila and wild card Aidan Mayo earning spots in the main draw.

Heck defeated No. 5 seed Marcelo Sepulveda Garza of Mexico 6-0, 6-4 in the morning's second round match. In the afternoon's final round qualifying match, Heck was up 6-4, 3-0 with two breaks against Mark Mandlik, but lost five of the next seven games to drop the second set before claiming a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 victory.

"I played really well the first set and a half," said the 16-year-old from Minnesota. "I kind of faltered, got a little tight and he started playing really well. But I played my game, stayed mentally strong and finished off the match."

Heck also noticed that Mandlik was tiring in the late stages of the match.

"I think he was getting very tired, because he had a three-setter before this, went 6-3 in the third," Heck said. "So I just tried to make him play a lot of balls and I think he was definitely feeling tired and going for a little too much, trying to end the points quicker."

Heck trains at the Magallan Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, which has only Har-Tru courts, so he has become accustomed to the surface, although he still prefers hard courts.

"I've grown used to playing on clay every day," Heck said. "It's the surface I'm used to now, so hard would be a little odd. I like it, but it's not really suited to my style, I like hard court more. It is easier on the legs I guess, and I do like it."

Bancila had defeated alternate Finn Garner 6-2, 6-2 in the morning, and was able to prevail in the afternoon when Phillip Jordan retired down 4-1 in the second set, after winning the first 7-5.

"I guess he had a battle this morning and he just started cramping," Bancila said. "He won his first match 6-4 in the third. I guess I just hung tough and it worked out. I've actually been quite lucky; in my first round qualifying was against a German kid and he retired 3-2 in the first set. I've been able to spare my legs."

Bancila, 18, is closing out his junior career with these four major ITF tournaments in Mexico and the United States before he begins college in January at the University of Illinois.

"I played the last two tournaments in Mexico, qualified for both, won rounds in both," said Bancila. "Orange Bowl is my last junior tournament. I'm actually not happy it's ending. I started [ITF Junior competition] quite late, in June of 2017, so I'm actually kind of sad that it's all ending soon, but I'm happy I'm able to do well and qualify for three of my last four tournaments, so far. That's definitely some good memories I'll have once I'm in college."

Mayo, 15, also advanced to the main draw via a retirement. After beating Lorenzo Claverie of Venezuela 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3), Mayo lost the first set to Adam Neff 6-3, but was leading 4-2 in the second when Neff retired.

Five US girls won two matches on Sunday to advance to the main draw: unseeded Hibah Shaikh, Abigail Forbes, Alexandra Yepifanova, wild card Gianna Pielet and No. 13 seed Nikki Redelijk.  Fiona Crawley, who lost in three sets to No. 2 seed Viktoriya Petrenko of Ukraine in the final round, received entry as a lucky loser.

In the boys 16s, the US qualifiers are: Ekansh Kumar and Gabriel Castillo-Sanchez[6].

In the boys 14s, the US qualifiers are: Robert Zhang, Luka Butera, Jack Martuccio[7], Martin Mesia[4], Phillip Dell, Jonathan Irwanto.

In the boys 12s, the US qualifiers are: Jacobus Smit[9] and Bjorn Asbjornrod.

In the girls 16s, the US qualifiers are: Adelya Mukhutdinova, Finley Kalinic[8], Vennmukiil Mathivanan[7], Nikki Yanez[3], Savanna Kollock.

In the girls 14s, the US qualifiers are: Alexia Harmon[1] and Karsyn Evans[4].

In the girls 12s, the US qualifiers are: Gabriella Lindgren[8], Olivia Chalik[15], Alex Ackman, Manuela De lorenzo.

World No. 1 junior Clara Burel of France has unofficially clinched the ITF 2018 World Junior Championship title by reaching the final of the Grade A this week in Yucatan, so she has withdrawn from the Eddie Herr and the Orange Bowl.  Coco Gauff also has withdrawn from the Eddie Herr, but is still scheduled to compete in the Orange Bowl, which is close to her home in Delray Beach.

Burel lost to No. 6 seed Diane Parry, also from France, 6-3, 6-3 in tonight's girls singles final in Yucatan.  Qualifier Santiago De La Fuente of Argentina won the boys title, beating unseeded Liam Draxl of Canada 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Gauff and Hurricane Tyra Black, who also withdrew from the Eddie Herr, won the doubles title last night. The top seeds defeated unseeded Giulia Morlet of France and Adrienn Nagy of Hungary 7-6(5), 4-6, 10-7 in the final.  The boys doubles title went to the unseeded team of Roman Burruchaga and Alejo Lingua Lavallen of Argentina, who beat No. 3 seeds Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic and Valentin Royer of France 3-6, 6-1, 10-6 in the championship match last night.

The girls 18s ITF seeds:
1. Alexa Noel(USA)
2. Qinwen Zheng(CHN)
3. Lea Ma(USA)
4. Margaryta Bilokin(UKR)
5. Elli Mandlik(USA)
6. Kamilla Bartone(LAT)
7. Sohyun Park(KOR)
8. Lulu Sun(SUI)
9. Diane Parry(FRA)
10. Sada Nahimana(BDI)
11. Adrienn Nagy(HUN)
12. Loudmilla Bencheikh(FRA)
13. Gabby Price(USA)
14. Chloe Beck(USA)
15. Yasmine Mansouri(FRA)
16. Georgia Drummy(IRL)

The boys 18s ITF seeds:
1. Adrian Andreev(BUL)
2. Nicolas Mejia(COL)
3. Filip Jianu(ROM)
4. Nick Hardt(DOM)
5. Gauthier Onclin(BEL)
6. Anton Matusevich(GBR)
7. Valentin Royer(FRA)
8. Jonas Forejtek(CZE)
9. Tyler Zink(USA)
10. Harold Mayot(FRA)
11. Govind Nanda(USA)
12. Otto Virtanen(FIN)
13. Eliot Spizzirri(USA)
14. Sergey Fomin(UZB)
15. Simon Ivanov(BUL)
16. Emilio Nava(USA)

The seeds for the younger age divisions are below.  Complete draws are posted here, with the girls 12s beginning at 8 a.m. Monday.

Boys 16s seeds:
1. Spencer Brachman(USA)
2. Juan Sebastian Dominguez Collado(GUA)
3. Jack Anthrop(USA)
4. Marko Stakusic(CAN)
5. Benjamin Kittay(USA)
6. Gabriel Hurtado(USA)
7. JJ Tracy(USA)
8. Bohua Dong(CHN)
9. Esteban Penagos(USA)
10. Hanamichi Carvajal Suazo(CHI)
11. Jacob Bickersteth(USA)
12. Max Fardanesh(USA)
13. Alvin Tudorica(CAN)
14. Alan Kam(MEX)
15. Peter Murphy(USA)
16. Joshua Miller(USA)

Boys 14s seeds:
1. Juncheng(Jerry) Shang(USA)
2. Fnu Nidunjianzan(USA)
3. Costantinos Koshis(CYP)
4. Adolfo Vallejo(PAR)
5. John Kim(USA)
6. Kyle Kang(USA)
7. Togan Tokac(TUR)
8. Lucas Brown(USA)
9. Kenta Nakamura(JPN)
10. Gonzalo Bueno(PER)
11. James Rico(USA)
12. Aidan Kim(USA)
13. Jackson Armistead(USA)
14. Alejandro Licea(ESA)
15. Kurt Miller(USA)
16. Miguel Larrea Sicco(ECU)

Boys 12s seeds:
1. Rudy Quan(USA)
2. Kaylan Bigun(USA)
3. Alexander Frusina(USA)
4. Atakan Karahan(TUR)
5. Quang Duong(USA)
6. Maximus Dussault(USA)
7. Andrew Rundle(USA)
8. Thomas Faurel(USA)
9. Thanaphat Boosarawongse(THA)
10. Meecah Bigun(USA)
11. Nathan Blokhin(USA)
12. Fadi Bidan(ARM)
13. Paris Pouatcha(USA)
14. Yubel Ubri(USA)
15. Jinpeng Tang(CHN)
16. Halel Ashoosh(ISR)

Girls 16s seeds:
1. Madison Sieg(USA)
2. Elaine Chervinsky(USA)
3. Yelizaveta Karlova(KAZ)
4. Rachel Gailis(USA)
5. Leena Bennetto(CAN)
6. Misa Malkin(USA)
7. Vivian Ovrootsky(USA)
8. Jaleesa Leslie(USA)
9. DJ Bennett(USA)
10. Allie Gretkoswki(USA)
11. Abigail Rencheli(USA)
12. Sarah Hamner(USA)
13. Julia Fliegner(USA)
14. Stephanie Sanchez(USA)
15. Lara Schneider(USA)
16. Elise Wagle(USA)

Girls 14s seeds:
1. Ozlem Uslu(TUR)
2. Marina Stakusic(CAN)
3. Gabriella Broadfoot(RSA)
4. Melisa Ercan(TUR)
5. Brenda Fruhvirtova(CZE)
6. Clervie Ngounoue(USA)
7. Katerina Dimitrova(BUL)
8. Angella Okutoyi(KEN)
9. Lan Mi(USA)
10. Alexis Blokhina(USA)
11. Kyoka Kubo(USA)
12. Violeta Martinez(USA)
13. Mio Kozaki(USA)
14. Gabriela Cortes Flores(BOL)
15. Vitoria Jimenez Kasintseva(AND)
16. Nevena Carton(USA)

Girls 12s seeds:
1. Brooklyn Olson(USA)
2. Valerija Kargina(LAT)
3. Ela Nala Milic(SLO)
4. Natalia Perez(USA)
5. Mia Slama(USA)
6. Sarah L'Allier(CAN)
7. Lexington Reed(USA)
8. Brook Wrigley(USA)
9. Erica Jessel(USA)
10. Anastasia Kavounov(CAN)
11. Valerie Glozman(USA)
12. Yufei Ren(CHN)
13. Naomi Xu(CAN)
14. Sasha Situe(NZL)
15. Janel Ospanova(KAZ)
16. Sophie Llewellyn(USA)

Saturday, November 24, 2018

McKennon Ousts Top Seed in Eddie Herr ITF Qualifying; Last Americans Exit in Quarterfinals of Yucatan Grade A; Kuzuhara Wins Grade 5 in Bahamas

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Bradenton FL--


When Max McKennon decided to withdraw from the Eddie Herr 16s and take his chances in the Eddie Herr Grade 1 ITF qualifying, he probably wasn't anticipating drawing the No. 1 seed. But once the 16-year-old left-hander from Southern California got over the disappointment of having to face Ki Lung Ng of Hong Kong, he used the draw as motivation, and on Saturday came through with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win.

"I was a little down, but I was motivated to see how I could do," said McKennon, who has been practicing on the green clay at the USTA's National Campus in Lake Nona prior to this tournament. "He's what, 91 in the world, but I was really motivated, because I've been playing really, training really hard, and I thought I could do it."

It wasn't looking great for McKennon, when Ng was up 6-4, 4-3 serving, but when McKennon won the first two points of that game, then broke, held and broke again.

"I had had chances in the second set on his serve, I would go up 30-15, 30-0 and then wouldn't convert," McKennon said. "But that game I played well, he made a few errors, but all in all it was a great game."

McKennon also found himself down a break early in the third set, but he got that back to make it 2-2. Serving at 3-4, Ng fell behind 15-40, saved both break points with a good first serve and a forehand winner, but when McKennon got a third chance, he capitalized, hitting a backhand return winner off a second serve to take a 5-3 lead.

Serving out the match wasn't difficult, with McKennon winning all four points to close out the victory.

"I usually get a little tighter," McKennon said. "I was feeling really loose, hit a couple of good shots when I was up 4-3. I felt I controlled my nerves a little bit and just calmed down and didn't get ahead of myself."

The top seed in the girls qualifying, Ana Luiza Cruz of Brazil, was moved into the main draw,  leaving a place for an alternate, Laura Perazzolo of Brazil, who lost to wild card Kyra Foster 6-1, 6-1.  Two boys were also injured or ill and unable to play with Finn Garner taking the place of No. 4 seed Ronan Jachuck, and Zvonko Bencedic of Great Britain replacing Anuj Watane. Garner won his match against wild card Juan Vega Librija of Mexico, while Benedic lost to Alexandre LeBlanc of Canada.

Chavatipon won the battle of the Charlottes, beating No. 4 seed Owensby 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, and wild card Gianna Pielet, the 2016 Eddie Herr 14s champion, defeated No. 5 seed Carole Young Suh Lee of Northern Mariana Islands 6-1, 6-2.

Two rounds of qualifying, including the final round, are scheduled for the ITF tournament on Sunday, while the final round of qualifying for the 12s, 14s, and 16s is Sunday morning.

At the ITF Grade A Yucatan Cup, the singles semifinals do not include any Americans.  No. 2 seed Coco Gauff lost to No. 6 seed Diane Parry of France 6-3, 6-2 and No. 8 seed Hurricane Tyra Black lost to No. 4 seed Lulu Sun of Switzerland 6-2, 6-1.  In the only match featuring an American in the boys quarterfinals, No. 3 seed Drew Baird lost to Holger Rune of Denmark, the No. 12 seed, 6-1, 6-2.

Gauff and Black are the top seeds in doubles and have reached the finals, which are tonight.

Two Argentinian qualifiers are in the boys semifinal in the top half, while Liam Draxl of Canada will play Rune in the bottom half semifinal later tonight.

Top seed Clara Burel plays Sun in one girls semifinal tonight, with Parry taking on unseeded Natsumi Kawaguchi Japan in the other semifinal.

Elsewhere on the ITF Junior Circuit, 14-year-old Bruno Kuzuhara earned his second ITF singles title at the Grade 5 in the Bahamas. Kuzuhara, the No. 4 seed, didn't lose a set all week, beating unseeded Jacobi Bain of the Bahamas 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Leyden Games, who reached the girls singles final, won the doubles title with fellow American Maya Rukosuev. The No. 4 seeds defeated No. 2 seeds Petra Miszczak and Genevieve Quenville of Canada 6-2, 6-1 in the final.

At the ITF Grade 5 in Guatemala, Katherine Teng earned the doubles title. Playing with Mariajose Hernandez Coronado of Guatemala, the No. top-seeded pair defeated Sara Gonzalez of Guatemala and Claudia Sofia Martinez Solis of Mexico 6-2, 6-4 in the final.

At the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures in Columbus Ohio, No. 2 seed Roberto Ortega-Olmedo of Spain beat Great Britain's Jack Findel-Hawkins(North Florida) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to win the singles title. Findel-Hawkins had already secured the doubles title, with Korey Lovett(UCF). The unseeded pair defeated Ohio State's Alex Kobelt and James Kent Trotter of Japan, also unseeded, 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 in the final. It's the second career Futures doubles title for both Findel-Hawkins and Lovett.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Sixty US Players Begin Eddie Herr ITF Qualifying Saturday; USTA National Indoor Championships Underway

Entrance to IMG Academy, Home to the Eddie Herr International Jr Championships
Qualifying has been underway in the younger age divisions of the Eddie Herr since Wednesday (qualifying draws can be found here), and on Saturday, the ITF Grade 1 qualifying begins on the Har-Tru courts of the IMG Academy.  Twenty-three US boys and 37 US girls are vying for the eight spots in main draw, with one round played Saturday and two rounds played Sunday.

The US boys seeded in the qualifying are No. 4 Ronan Jachuck and No. 6 Blaise Bicknell.  The top seed in qualifying is Ki Lung Ng of Hong Kong, who is currently 91 in the ITF Junior rankings.

The US girls seeded in the qualifying are Charlotte Owensby[4], Elvina Kalieva[6], Kailey Evans[9], Jenna DeFalco[11], Nikki Redelijk[13], Sofia Rojas[14] and Julia Andreach[15]. Ana Luiza Cruz of Brazil, who is currently No. 139, is the top seed in the girls qualifying.

The USTA National Indoor Championships are being held at sites across the country this weekend, with play beginning today.  Below are the Top 8 seeds for each division. Click on the header to go to the TennisLink site for results.

Boys 12s (Flushing Meadows New York)
1. Alexander Razeghi
2. A Filer
3. Maxwll Exsted
4. Rohan Belday
5. Santiago Muhala
6. Joseph Hobbs
7. Cooper Woestendick
8. Jordan Reznik

Boys 14s (Chicago Illinois)
1. Yannik Rahman
2. Grant Lothringer
3. John Lasanajak
4. Will Mayew
5. Nicholas Chen
6. Sebastian Gorzny
7. Ritesh Patil
8. Evan Wen

Boys 16s (Wayland Mass)
1. Aryan Chaudhary
2. Carter Crookston
3. Dillon Blake
4. Muhammad Dossani
5. Thomas Paulsell
6. Kieran Foster
7. Jameson Corsillo
8. Saiprakash Goli

Boys 18s (Overland Park Kansas)
1. Wesley Barnett
2. Leighton Allen
3. Alejandro Quiles
4. Luke Vandecasteele
5. Andrew Zhang
6. Logan Zapp
7. Ryder Jackson
8. Matthew Segura

Girls 12s (Manchester Mass)
1. Amber Yin
2. Emily Baek
3. Thea Latak
4. Thalia Smith
5. Linda Ziets-Segura,
6. Anya Murthy
7. Patricia Grigoras
8. Angela Huang

Girls 14s (Toledo Ohio)
1. Nishitha Saravanan
2. Meera Jesudason
3. Aubrey Nisbet
4. Nishi Gandra
5. Salma Farhat
6. Kinaa Graham
7. none
8. Manci Pal

Girls 16s (Minneapolis Minn) 
1. Ava Catanzarite
2. Rachel Arbitman
3. Nadejda Maslova
4. Sonia Maheshwari
5. Iris Gallo
6. Katja Wiersholm
7. Eleanor Schulson
8. Brooke Killingsworth

Girls 18s (Memphis Tenn)
1. Andrea Cerdan
2. Zoe Howard
3. Elizabeth Coleman
4. Josie Frazier
5. Page Freeman
6. Valencia Xu
7. Ashley Yeah
8. Anessa Lee

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving! Eddie Herr ITF Preview; Seven US Girls, Three US Boys Advance to Third Round at Yucatan ITF Grade A

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
I will be taking Thanksgiving Day off again this year, but I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for all the readers who have made Zootennis.com a part of their lives throughout the year. I continue to enjoy my role in connecting the junior and college tennis worlds to that of professional tennis and look forward to continuing to watch and comment on the sport.  Thank you again for your interest in the side of tennis that is not always in the spotlight, but is a crucial part of the sport's success.

The Eddie Herr ITF Grade 1 begins Saturday with the first round of qualifying, and the fields feature defending champion Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria and World No. 1 junior Clara Burel of France. My preview of the tournament is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The second round of the ITF Grade A in Yucatan is complete, with three US boys and seven US girls advancing to the third round.  Drew Baird[3], Tyler Zink[9] and Emilio Nava[10] are into the boys round of 16; US girls into the round of 16 are qualifier Alexandra Yepifanova, Savannah Broadus, Hurricane Tyra Black[8], Hina Inoue, Charlotte Chavatipon, Kailey Evans and Coco Gauff[2].

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Top Seeds Burel, Mejia Advance at Yucatan ITF Grade A; Columbus Futures Sole USTA Pro Circuit Event This Week

The first round of the ITF Grade A in Yucatan went as expected for the top seeds but only 17 of the 39 Americans who reached the main draw were able to advance to the second round.

Girls top seed and World Junior No. 1 Clara Burel of France defeated Kacie Harvey 6-3, 6-4, while boys No. 1 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia beat wild card Rafael De Alba Valdez of Mexico by the same score.  No. 2 seed Coco Gauff advanced to the second round when her opponent, Mell Reasco Gonzalez of Ecuador retired trailing 6-4, 3-0.

It's worth mentioning that last week's Grade 1 tournament in Campeche was played on hard courts, while this week the tour switches to clay for the next three weeks--red this week and green for the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl.  Two of the four finalists last week did not make a smooth transition, with boys champion Eliot Spizzirri, seeded No. 15, losing to Liam Draxl of Canada 7-6(5), 7-6(0) after having beaten Draxl on the hard courts of the Pan American Closed last month. Campeche girls champion Kamilla Bartone of Latvia, also seeded 15 this week, retired at 3-2 in the first set against Hina Inoue to end her winning streak in Mexico.  The finalists last week had better outcomes, with Tyler Zink[9] beating Sebastian Rodriguez of Peru 6-3, 6-0 and Hurricane Tyra Black[8] defeating Valentina Ivanov of New Zealand 6-3, 6-2. 

In addition to Zink, the other US boys advancing to the second round are Drew Baird[3], Emilio Nava[10], Ronan Jachuck, Blaise Bicknell and qualifier Alex Bancila.

In addition to Inoue, Gauff and Black, eight other US girls moved into the second round: Savannah Broadus, Kylie Collins, Nikki Redelijk, Sanyukta Gawande, Kailey Evans and three qualifiers, Alexandra Yepifanova, Elizabeth Stevens and Charlotte Chavatipon.

Live streaming of the stadium court is available at the tournament website.

The USTA Pro Circuit is winding down for the year now, with only one tournament on the schedule this week, a $25,000 Futures in Columbus Ohio.

Denis Yevseyev of Kazakhstan is the top seed, but the Ohio State Buckeyes are well represented in the draw, with sophomore John McNally, junior Kyle Seelig and recruit Cannon Kingsley all receiving wild cards and all advancing to the second round.  The fourth wild card, sophomore Tim Seibert of Germany, lost his opening round match.

Four seeds lost in the opening round, with No. 3 seed Ronnie Schneider(North Carolina) losing to qualifier Jonathan Chang(Rice) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2; No. 6 seed Diego Hidalgo(Florida) of Ecuador losing to qualifier Paul Oosterbaan(Georgia) 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3; No. 7 seed Harrison Adams(Texas A&M) losing to Andrew Watson(Memphis) of Great Britain 7-5, 6-4 and Alex Ghilea(Oklahoma) of Romania losing to Michael Geerts(Arizona State) of Belgium 6-4, 6-2.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Osuigwe Wins Australian Open Main Draw Wild Card; Yucatan ITF Grade A Underway; More College Signing Announcements

Whitney Osuigwe won the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge late last night, when Lauren Davis, the last player with an opportunity to pass her in the race, lost in the final of the WTA 125 in Houston. Davis took a quick first set, and went up 3-1 in the second set, but Peng Shuai of China fought back for a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory, denying Davis the points that would have given her the wild card.  The 16-year-old Osuigwe, who lost to Peng in the quarterfinals in Houston, had won the title at the $80,000 Pro Circuit event in Tyler Texas and her second round win over Varvara Lepchenko, who also won an $80,000 event, was the difference in the final standings.

Osuigwe will be playing in her second straight women's slam, having made the main draw of the US Open this year as the USTA Girls 18s National Champion.

Jack Sock won the men's Australian Open wild card, with Reilly Opelka and Bradley Klahn finishing second and third. Because Opelka and Klahn have moved into the Top 100, they will make the main draw on their own rankings now. If Sock gets in on his own ranking, now 106, the wild card would go to the fourth place finisher, Tommy Paul.  Klahn, who won the Houston title with a 7-6(4), 7-6(4) win over Baylor sophomore Roy Smith, moved all the way up to 77 in the ATP rankings with that title.

Links to the final standings for the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge can be found here.

The ITF Grade A in Mexico is underway in Yucatan, with 25 US girls and 14 US boys in the main draw.  All eight of the qualifiers in the girls draw are from the US: Elizabeth Stevens, Alexandra Yepifanova, Rosie Garcia Gross, Katrina Scott, Sophia Hatton, Zoe Hitt, Sara Seivane Torres and Charlotte Chavatipon. The three US boys getting in through qualifying are Alexander Bernard, Adam Neff and Alex Bancila.

The US girls in the main draw are Coco Gauff[2], playing her first event since the US Open Juniors; Hurricane Tyra Black[8], Gabby Price[11], Chloe Beck[12], Savannah Broadus, Kacie Harvey, Kylie Collins, Charlotte Owensby, Nikki Redelijk, Sanyukta Gawande, Kailey Evens, Hina Inoue, Jenna DeFalco, Robin Montgomery, Elvina Kalieva, Jennifer Gadalov and Hiba Shaikh.

The US boys in the main draw are: Drew Baird[3], Tyler Zink[9], Emilio Nava[10], Eliot Spizzirri[15], Zane Khan[16], Toby Kodat, Martin Damm, Ronan Jachuck, Blaise Bicknell, Will Grant and Milledge Cossu.

ITF Junior Masters champion Clara Burel of France is the girls top seed, with Nicolas Mejia of Colombia the boys top seed.

The tournament website is here, but the live scoring link doesn't work for me.

More National Letter of Intent signing announcements have been released since I posted the initial batch last Thursday and links to them are below:

Men:
Louisville has signed Matthew Fung, Randy WilsonSergio Luis Hernandez Ramirez of Colombia and Tin Chen of Taiwan (a transfer from ASA Miami JC).

Texas Tech has signed Reed Collier and Tyler Stice.

LSU has signed Ron Hohmann.

Georgia has signed Tyler Zink.

Florida State has signed Juan Martin Jalif of Argentina and Marcus Walters of Great Britain (a transfer from Tyler JC).

UNC-Charlotte has signed Wesley Barnett.

Boise State has signed Kyryll Kryvchun of Canada (a transfer from College of the Desert and Mesa Community College).

Oregon has signed Luke Vandecasteele.

Iowa has signed Matt Clegg of Great Britain.

Duke has signed Michael Heller, Garrett Johns, Omni Kumar, Samuel Rubell and Andrew Zhang.

Women:
Illinois has signed Josie Frazier and Ashley Yeah.

Florida has signed Sydney Berlin of Sweden.

Arkansas has signed Laura Rijkers of the Netherlands.

Boston College has signed Hailey Wilcox.

Kansas has signed Carmen Roxana Manu of Romania.

North Carolina State has signed Lana Mavor and Marta Gonzalez-Ballbe of Spain

Notre Dame has signed Page Freeman.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Spizzirri Claims Singles Title at Grade 1 in Mexico, Grishuk Earns Grade 2 Title in Bolivia; Sock and Bryan Win ATP World Finals; Pro Circuit Update; Columbia's Lin Takes ATP New York Open Wild Card

Sixteen-year-old Eliot Spizzirri won his first ITF Grade 1 title today in Campeche Mexico, with the No. 7 seed defeating No. 3 seed Tyler Zink 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-0 in an all-American final. Spizzirri, who reached his first Grade 1 final last month at the Pan American Closed, defeated No. 14 seed Taha Baadi of Canada 6-3, 6-0 in last night's semifinals, while Zink had taken out No. 2 seed Harold Mayot of France by the same score to reach his first Grade 1 final.

Hurricane Tyra Black advanced to the finals of both doubles and singles, winning the doubles, but falling in the singles. Black, the No. 4 seed, beat No. 2 seed Lulu Sun of Switzerland 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals last night, but lost to No. 7 seed Kamilla Bartone of Latvia 6-2, 6-0 today.  Black and Selin Ovunc of Turkey, the No. 2 seeds, won the doubles title Saturday night, beating No. 3 seeds Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan and Adrienn Nagy of Hungary 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 in the final.

Unseeded Canadians Liam Draxl and Cleeve Harper won the boys doubles title, beating No. 5 seeds Roko Horvat and Admir Kalender of Croatia 6-3, 4-6, 13-11 in the final.

At the ITF Grade 2 in Bolivia, No. 4 seed Skyler Grishuk won her first title at that level, beating No. 3 seed Romina Ccuno of Peru 6-3, 6-1 in the final. The 16-year-old Grishuk, daughter of Olympic gold medalist in ice dancing Oksana Grishuk, had won a Grade 3 title earlier this year in New Zealand.

At the ITF Grade 5 in Antigua, top seed Sasha Wood, who received a wild card, earned her second title of the year on the ITF Junior Circuit. She defeated No. 2 seed Sydney Clarke of the Bahamas 6-3, 7-5 in the final.  No. 2 seeds Artemis Pados and Gabriella Soliman won the girls doubles title, beating top seeds Clarke and Tangia Riley-Codrington of Barbados 6-1, 6-4 in the championship match. Top seeds Toby Kodat and Billy Suarez won the boys doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Kaipo Marshall of Barbados and Xaveam van Mijk of Curacao 6-1, 6-0 in the final.

Although the Davis Cup final between France and Croatia is still to be played next weekend, the ATP season came to a close today at the Nitto ATP Finals in London, with 21-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany upsetting World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 to claim the singles title.  For more on the biggest title of Zverev's pro career, see this article from the ATP website.

Jack Sock and Mike Bryan completed an amazing second half of 2018 by winning the men's doubles title, saving a match point in their 5-7, 6-1, 13-11 decision over Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France. Sock and Bryan, who won Wimbledon and the US Open this year, will not be playing together in 2019, with Bob Bryan returning from his injury layoff.  For more on Sock and Bryan's title, see this article from the ATP website.

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Norman Oklahoma, 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada. the No. 1 seed, won her second $25K event in the past five weeks, beating unseeded 16-year-old Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia 6-1, 6-0 in the final. Andreescu, who has had her share of injuries throughout her junior and pro career, played five straight weeks in the US and Canada beginning in mid-October and went title, semifinal, semifinal, quarterfinal, title during that stretch. She added nearly 100 points to her total, meaning that Australian Open qualifying is now an option for her in January.

The men's singles title at the $25,000 Futures in Norman also went to the No. 1 seed, with Gijs Brouwer of the Netherlands defeating Oklahoma State sophomore Matej Vocel of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

Two-time NCAA singles semifinalist Nuno Borges, a 21-year-old senior at Mississippi State, won his fourth career Futures singles title today--his first outside his home country of Portugal--at the $15,000 tournament in Pensacola. The No. 2 seed, who won the inaugural Oracle ITA Fall National Championships last year, defeated Ricardo Rodriguez of Venezuela of 6-4, 6-3 in the final, his fifth consecutive straight-sets win. Borges is 26-5 this year in Futures competition.

No. 2 seed Jack Mingjie Lin of Columbia won the ATP New York Open main draw wild card Sunday at the USTA's Billie Jean King Tennis Center, beating top seed Alafia Ayeni of Cornell  6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final of the Collegiate Invitational Wild Card Tournament.  Although the TennisLink site said a match tiebreaker would be played in lieu of a third set, that was used only in the early rounds, with sophomore Lin winning a traditional three-setter in the semifinals, and then again in the final to earn his place in the February event. For more on the match, see this article from the New York Open website.

The men's and women's Oracle Series Challenger finals in Houston have been delayed all day by rain, and the finals were eventually moved indoors this evening. I will try to update the results here later tonight.

UPDATE 6:00 am Monday:  Bradley Klahn beat Roy Smith 7-6(4), 7-6(4) to win Houston $150K+H Challenger.  Peng Shuai of China beat Lauren Davis 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 for the WTA 125 title in Houston.  More details on Monday night's post.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Opelka Wins Champaign Challenger, Moves into ATP Top 100; Davis, Klahn and Smith Reach Oracle Challenger Finals in Houston; Sock and Bryan Advance to Championship Match at ATP Finals


Reilly Opelka defeated Ryan Shane 7-6(6), 6-3 Saturday after noon at the $75,000 Champaign Challenger, assuring himself a place in the ATP Top 100 and a berth in the main draw of the 2019 Australian Open. There were no breaks of serve in the first set of the championship match, and it was 2015 NCAA champion Shane who had the first set point, at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. But Opelka made a volley to save it and took the set on his first opportunity, giving him a chance to relax a bit in the second set. Another tiebreaker would not have been unexpected, but Opelka continued to serve well, and when he is making 75 percent of his first serves, it's his opponent who is going to feel the pressure. University of Virginia graduate Shane was broken at 2-all, and Opelka cruised from there, breaking in the final game for the title.

After winning Champaign this week and Knoxville last week, his third and fourth Challenger titles, Opelka makes his debut in the ATP Top 100 Monday, joining Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe as Americans aged 21-and-under in that elite group.

The doubles title in Champaign went to No. 2 seeds JP Smith(Tennessee) and Matt Reid of Australia, who beat unseeded Hans Hach(Abilene Christian) of Mexico and Luis Martinez of Venezuela  6-4, 4-6, 10-8 in the final.

The Champaign Challenger final was an all-American affair and the winner tomorrow at the $150,000+H Oracle Series Challenger in Houston will also be from the host country.  No. 2 seed Bradley Klahn(Stanford) beat No. 8 seed Dominik Koepfer(Tulane) of Germany 6-3, 6-4 to reach his third Challenger final of the year.

There are improbable Challenger finalists and then there is Roy Smith, the 20-year-old Baylor sophomore who advanced to the Houston final today.  The wild card, whose previous best Pro Circuit results was a final at a Futures last month in Waco, advanced to the final when Kamil Majchrzak of Poland retired in today semifinal with a leg injury, trailing 6-4, 2-3. Smith, unranked in the ITA collegiate rankings and 870 in the ATP rankings, will be facing his first ATP Top 100 player in Klahn.

Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M) and Nicholas Monroe(North Carolina) won the doubles title in Houston, with the top seeds beating No. 3 seeds Marcelo Arevalo(Tulsa) of El Salvador and Jamie Cerretani(Brown) 4-6, 7-6(3), 10-5 in the final.

The women's final in Houston, a WTA 125 Series tournament, will have more on the line than just a big title.  Qualifier Lauren Davis can win the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge if she defeats wild card Peng Shuai of China.  With Jessica Pegula[4] losing today to Peng 6-4, 6-3, Davis, who had such a memorable match against Simona Halep in the third round of the Australian Open this year, is the only player who can pass Whitney Osuigwe, who currently leads in the race, but she must claim the title to do so. Davis defeated No. 7 seed Sofya Zhuk of Russia 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 in today's semifinal.

Unseeded Pegula and Maegan Manasse(Cal) won the Houston doubles title, beating No. 3 seeds Giuliana Olmos(USC) of Mexico and Desirae Krawczyk(Arizona State) 1-6, 6-4, 10-8.

The three Americans still alive in singles semifinals at the other USTA Pro Circuit tournaments this week all lost today.

No. 3 seed Jordi Arconada was beaten 6-4, 6-3 by top seed Gijs Brouwer of the Netherlands at the $25,000 Futures in Norman Oklahoma. Brouwer will face No. 7 seed and Oklahoma State sophomore Matej Vocel of the Czech Republic in the final.

Brouwer and Justin Butsch(LSU) won the doubles title in Norman, with the unseeded pair beating No. 4 seeds Vocel and Dominik Kellovsky(Arizona State) of the Czech Republic 6-3, 2-6, 10-5 in the final.

Unseeded Isaiah Strode lost 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals of the $15,000 Pensacola Florida Futures to No. 6 seed Ricardo Rodriguez of Venezuela.  Rodriguez will face Mississippi State senior Nuno Borges of Portugal for the title.  Borges, the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan 7-5, 6-2 in today's semifinal.

The singles final at the women's $25,000 Norman tournament will feature two teenagers: 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada against 16-year-old Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia.  Andreescu, the top seed, defeated wild card Lily Miyazaki(Oklahoma) of Japan 6-1, 6-3, while Osorio Serrano came from 4-1 down in the first set to beat qualifier Katie Volynets 6-4, 6-2. It's Osorio Serrano's second win over Volynets this year, with the first coming in ITF Junior Circuit competition.

Ena Shibahara, who I understand has turned pro and will not be returning to UCLA, and 2018 NCAA doubles finalist at Oklahoma State Vladica Babic of Montenegro won their second straight doubles title today.  The unseeded pair, who won last week at the $25K in Lawrence Kansas, extended their winning streak to eight with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Sofia Sewing and Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico in today's final.

At the Nitto ATP Finals in London, former University of Illinois star Kevin Anderson fell in the semifinals to Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-2. Djokovic will face Alexander Zverev in the final, after Zverev beat Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6(5).

Jack Sock and Mike Bryan will play for the doubles title Sunday against Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France.  Sock and Bryan beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-3, 4-6, 10-4 to advance, while Mahut and Herbert defeated Robert Farah(USC) and Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia 6-3, 5-7, 10-5. Sock and Bryan, the Wimbledon and US Open champions, lost to French Open champions Mahut and Herbert in the round robin stage of the competition earlier this week.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Shane, Opelka Meet for Champaign Challenger Title; Baylor Soph Smith Makes Houston Challenger Semis; Volynets Advances at Norman $25K

2015 NCAA singles champion Ryan Shane had never reached an ATP Challenger quarterfinal before this week, but he has advanced to the final at the $75,000 Champaign Challenger with another routine victory in today's semifinals. The 24-year-old University of Virginia graduate won two three-set qualifying matches to reach the main draw, but since then he has been cruising. He got his first Top 100 win over top seed Marcel Granollers of Spain in the second round 6-3, 6-4, beat No. 8 seed JP Smith(Tennessee) of Australia 7-5, 6-1 in the quarterfinals and today needed only 54 minutes to take out 2013 NCAA singles champion Blaz Rola(Ohio State) of Slovenia 6-4, 6-3.

Shane will face last week's champion at the Knoxville Challenger, Reilly Opelka, who won the battle of 21-year-old friends and training partners with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Tommy Paul in their first meeting as professionals.  Opelka broke Paul on his only break point in the second set, at 4-5, 30-40 to pull even. In the second set, Opelka saved two break points and Paul three with the fourth against Paul a match point at 4-5 30-40.  Below is the video of that point, the best of the match, which Paul saved with an amazing pass, but he lost the next point to give Opelka a second match point, which Opelka converted for his ninth straight Challenger victory.

If Opelka wins the title Saturday, he will move into the ATP Top 100, so would almost certainly not need the Australian Open Wild Card the USTA is handing out after this week's results. He has already moved ahead (as of next week's rankings) of Jack Sock, who earned the USTA's Australian Wild Card, if he needs it, with two wins at the Paris Masters.

Another American who has earned his way into the Australian Open with a good run this fall is 2019 NCAA singles champion Bradley Klahn(Stanford). Klahn has returned to the Top 100 and today reached the semifinals of the $150,000+H Oracle Challenger in Houston, beating Evan Song 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.  Klahn, seeded No. 2, will face former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany, seeded No. 8, in the semifinals, after Koepfer beat No. 3 seed Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-1, 6-4.

The surprise semifinalist in Houston is wild card Roy Smith.  The 20-year-old Baylor sophomore has won two of his three matches in third set tiebreakers, including today's  4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(1) quarterfinal victory over 2017 NCAA singles champion Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia). Smith will face 2013 Eddie Herr ITF champion Kamil Majchrzak of Poland, who is unseeded, in the semifinals.

At the $25,000 Futures in Norman Oklahoma, No. 3 seed Jordi Arconada(Texas A&M) has reached the semifinals, where he'll face top seed Gijs Brouwer of the Netherlands.

At the $15,000 Futures in Pensacola Florida, which has been plagued by rain, unseeded Isaiah Strode is the only American to advance to the semifinals. Strode defeated top seed Fabrizio Ornago of Italy 7-6(4), 7-5 in today's second round match and beat qualifier Rowland Phillips of Jamaica 6-2, 6-4 in tonight's quarterfinal.

In women's Pro Circuit action today, Whitney Osuigwe lost to wild card Peng Shuai of China 6-2, 7-6(3) at the WTA 125 in Houston, but she is still in the running for the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card, which will be decided this week. Jessica Pegula[4] won her match over Fanny Stollar[5] of Hungary 6-3, 6-3 today and qualifier Lauren Davis beat lucky loser Katherine Sebov of Canada 6-1, 6-3, so they both still have a chance to pass Osuigwe, if they go on to win the title. Pegula would be close to direct entry on her own ranking if she wins, so second place is important in this race too.

And finally, at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Norman, Katie Volynets had, for the second week in a row, advanced to the quarterfinals coming through qualifying.  The 16-year-old from California defeated No. 4 seed Miharu Imanishi of Japan 6-3, 7-6(2) in today's quarterfinals and will face another 16-year-old, ITF Junior Masters finalist Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia. Osorio Serrano, who is unseeded, defeated No. 7 seed Mai Hontama of Japan 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.  Osorio Serrano and Volynets have met once in ITF Junior Circuit play, with Osorio Serrano winning in the quarterfinals of the Grade 1 Asuncion Bowl 6-3, 7-6(4) back in February.