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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Kodat Defeats Top Seed to Reach ITF Grade A Porto Alegre Quarterfinals; Wolf Leads ITA Men's Indoor All-Tournament Team; Renowned Michigan High School Tennis Coach and Kalamazoo Volunteer Bob Wood Dies

Three US boys and two US girls have advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITF Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil.

Sixteen-year-old Toby Kodat, seeded No. 13, ended the seven-match win streak of Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain, beating the top seed 6-4, 6-4 in today's third round. Alvarez had won the Grade 1 Banana Bowl last week. Kodat also had a win earlier this year over Alvarez in the first round of the Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia.  Kodat faces No. 11 seed Taha Baadi of Canada in the quarterfinals.  Kalamazoo 16s champion Martin Damm has also advanced to the quarterfinals, where he'll play No. 2 seed Keisuke Saitoh of Japan. Damm defeated fellow 15-year-old Holger Rune of Denmark, the No. 5 seed, 6-3, 6-4 in today's third round.  No. 6 seed Tyler Zink is also through to the quarterfinals after beating Pedro Boscardin Dias of Brazil 7-6(5), 7-5. It's the first Grade A quarterfinal for Kodat and Damm, while Zink reached his other GA quarterfinal at the 2017 Orange Bowl.

No. 2 seed Alexa Noel defeated unseeded Gabriela Macias 6-3, 6-2 in today's third round, while unseeded Charlotte Owensby beat No. 8 seed Mylene Halemai of France 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.  The 15-year-old Owensby is making her debut in a Grade A quarterfinal, while Noel, 16, won the Grade A in Mexico in 2017. Unfortunately, Noel and Owensby now face each other for a place in the semifinals.

The ITA announced the Division I Men's Team Indoor All-Tournament Team today, with champion Ohio State's JJ Wolf named the Most Outstanding Player.

No. 1 singles and Most Outstanding Player: JJ Wolf, Ohio State
No. 2 singles: Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest
No. 3 singles: Bar Botzer, Wake Forest
No. 4 singles: Martin Joyce, Ohio State
No. 5 singles: Colin Markes, Texas
No. 6 singles: Hunter Tubert, Ohio State

No. 1 doubles: Alan Gadjiev and Borna Gojo, Wake Forest
No. 2 doubles: Kyle Seelig and Alex Kobelt, Ohio State
No. 3 doubles: John McNally and Hunter Tubert, Ohio State

Aaron Krickstein, Bob Wood and Todd Martin prior to 2006 Kalamazoo Exhibition


I received word earlier this week of the death of Bob Wood, who volunteered for the USTA Kalamazoo Nationals for 38 years. I met Bob when I began volunteering for the tournament in 2000, and we spent many an hour in the Stowe Stadium tower talking junior tennis, pro tennis, and most importantly to Bob, high school tennis.  Wood was a legendary high school coach at University Liggett in Gross Pointe Michigan, winning 39 state championships: 27 boys and 12s girls titles. Well into his 70s, he was still involved in camps and clinics on the east side of the state, and he would return to Kalamazoo every year to answer phones, promote the tournament on radio and provide commentary on the public access station during the final weekend.

After he retired, he moved to Tennessee and then Texas, and during those years he continued to coach and to follow high school tennis. His favorite question for any player who was called to the Tower was 'did you play high school tennis?' and he could not contain his delight if the answer was yes.

With a lifetime in the sport, Wood had many stories, including those involving his two years coaching Aaron Krickstein, who, unsurprisingly, went undefeated in his two years of high school tennis. Krickstein turned pro after his sophomore year at Liggett, winning the Kalamazoo 18s title in 1983 after turning 16 a few days earlier, so Wood had a good idea of the kind of game that could translate to success on the pro tour.

But Wood's greatest legacy will be the thousands of less talented young players he coached throughout his career. He demonstrated his commitment to transmitting a lifelong love of the sport with every camp and after-school session, embodying the role of coach and teacher.

For the complete obituary, prepared by his family, click here.

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