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Monday, March 25, 2019

Harvard Recruits Topple No. 1 and No. 5 Seeds in Easter Bowl ITF Opening Round; Top Seeds Advance to Quarterfinals in 12s and 14s Divisions

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Indian Wells, CA--

When Daniel Milavsky stunned top seed Eliot Spizzirri 7-6(5), 6-3 in the first round of the ITF Easter Bowl early Monday afternoon, David Lins was there to see the upset unfold.

Both are headed to Harvard in the fall of 2020, and Lins felt compelled to step up his game later that afternoon against No. 5 seed Dali Blanch. Inspired, the 17-year-old from Boca Raton Florida came away with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win that closed out the first round of boys singles Monday evening.

"I told him sick match as came off the court," Lins said. "And I told him he also put all the pressure on me. I couldn't get embarrassed after what he just did."

Milvasky was mentally preparing to play the No. 1 seed even before the draw was released.

"Before the tournament, my friend asked me who I wanted to play, and I said Eliot," said Milavsky, a Massachusetts resident who is five days younger than Lins. "When it came up in the draw, I was ready to do everything I can to get that W."

Milavsky cited his forehand and his serve as his go-to shots and said both were "on point" against Spizzirri. He also said he played smart and disciplined, which was evident when he revealed he hadn't looked to the serve speed display on the tournament's center court, even after a particularly big serve.

"I was way too focused for that," said Milavsky, who trains at the Manchester Athletic Club in Boston.

Milavsky called his win over Spizzirri the best of his career.

"Years ago, I never thought I'd even be here," Milavsky said. "I'm just living the dream."
While Milavsky had played a number of ITF Junior Circuit events prior to this week, Lins was playing his first. After winning three qualifying matches on Saturday and Sunday, he was fighting fatigue as well as a Top 100 opponent.

"It was all just building up from the qualies matches, which were not easy," Lins said.

His victory over Blanch also came with its share of challenges. Lins broke to go up 4-3 in the second set, but was unable to consolidate, throwing in two doubles faults and getting broken at love in what he said to himself on the court was "the worst game of my life."

"When you play a top player like that, there's no room for error," Lins said. "You have to stay on your game constantly and I had a mental lapse there at 4-3 and it cost me the set."

In the third set, Lins again got a break to go up 4-3, and this time he was able to consolidate it.

"I definitely thought I was playing a little too tentative in the second set in that game I got broken," Lins said. "So I tried to hit my first serve big, hit my spots and play my game solid."

Blanch held for 5-4, putting the pressure back on Lins, but he got five first serves in the final game, and although Blanch saved one match point with a forehand winner, his return on the second match point went long to end it.

"It was a lot a pressure, but I had to just go for it," said Lins, who trains at the Magallan Tennis Academy. "I had nothing to lose, came out here for qualies, first ITF. I go to school, so I really can't miss weeks at a time. I'm so far behind right now, but I'll have to deal with that when I get back."

Milavsky and Lins were not the only Harvard recruits to post victories, with No. 11 seed Ronan Jachuck, who starts school there this coming fall, getting a 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3 win over 2018 Easter Bowl 16s finalist Max McKennon.

Spizzirri was one of five seeds to lose in the opening round. No. 7 seed Will Grant lost to Frank Barnett 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-1; No. 8 seed Adam Neff lost to Irvine Grade 4 champion Micah Braswell 6-2, 6-0; No. 15 seed Hunter Heck lost to qualifier Ron Hohmann 7-6(0), 6-2 and No. 16 seed Tom Leblanc Claverie of France lost to Spencer Whitaker 7-5, 6-2.

The girls take the courts on Tuesday for their first round of singles matches, with the boys scheduled only for doubles. The girls first round doubles were played this afternoon, with top seeds Hurricane Tyra Black and Lea Ma beating Josie Frazier and Ashley Yeah 3-6, 6-1, 10-3 and No. 2 seeds Chloe Beck and Emma Navarro defeating Nikita Vishwase and Katja Wiersholm 7-6(9), 6-2.

Live streaming on two courts is available at Easterbowl.com. Ken Thomas at radiotennis.com is also providing coverage on Tuesday.

The top seeds in the 16s both played at Indian Wells to open their tournaments and both were taken to three sets. Nadejda Maslova, the reigning Winter Nationals 16s champion, dropped the first set to Makenna Thiel, but came back to earn a 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 win. Boys No. 1 seed Aryan Chaudhary got by Zachery Foster 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

The 12s and 14s divisions played their third round matches Monday, with the quarterfinals set for Tuesday.  Top seeds Aidan Kim, Maxwell Exsted, Stephanie Yakoff and Thea Latak are still in the running for Easter Bowl titles.  Below are Monday's third round results. Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

Girls' 14 Singles (Round of 16)
Stephanie Yakoff (1) (Fort Lee, NJ) def. Natalia Perez (9) (Guaynabo, PR) 6-2; 6-4
Alexia Harmon (8) (Las Vegas, NV) def. Ava Krug (16) (Lakewood Ranch, FL) 6-1; 6-2
Tsehay Driscoll (3) (La Canada Flintridge, CA) def. Grace Levelston (Vero Beach, FL) 6-4; 6-4
Liv Hovde (12) (McKinney, TX) def. Maddy Zampardo (Grosse Pointe Farms, MI) 2-6; 6-4; 6-1
Qavia Lopez (15) (Grand Rapids, MI) def. Lara Smejkal (Boca Raton, FL) 6-1; 7-5
Natalie Block (4) (Plantation, FL) def. Isabella Chhiv (Irvine, CA) 7-6(5); 6-1
Madison Weekley (10) (Alamo, CA) def. Lamija Avdic (7) (Kirkland, WA) 6-3; 6-1
Ria Bhakta (2) (Saratoga, CA) def. Valeria Ray (Doral, FL) 6-1; 2-6; 6-4

Boys' 14 Singles (Round of 16)
Aidan Kim (1) (Milford, MI) def. Waleed Qadir (10) (Greenville, NC) 6-1; 4-2 Ret (inj)
Garen Spicka (14) (Las Vegas, NV) def. Chase Thompson (Mission Viejo, CA) 6-4; 6-3
Juncheng Shang (12) (Naples, FL) def. Will Mayew (4) (Cary, NC) 7-5; 6-3
Brayden Michna (6) (Taylor, TX) def. John Lasanajak (16) (Lawrenceville, GA) 6-4; 6-4
Kurt Miller (7) (Los Gatos, CA) def. David Saye (Charlotte, NC) 6-4; 6-1
Lucas Brown (3) (Plano, TX) def. Cooper Williams (9) (New York, NY) 6-2; 6-1
Nicholas Godsick (11) (Chagrin Falls, OH) def. Joseph Phillips (Alpharetta, GA) 6-2; 7-5
Learner Tien (15) (Irvine, CA) def. Yannik Rahman (2) (Miami, FL) 6-1; 6-2

Girls' 12 Singles (Round of 16)
Thea Latak (1) (Darien, IL) def. Tianmei Wang (13) (San Marino, CA) 6-0; 6-1
Olivia Manson (Chicago, IL) def. Jessica Bernales (Las Vegas, NV) 6-0; 7-6(4)
Emily Deming (4) (Fallbrook, CA) def. Atra Biria (Leawood, KS) 6-0; 6-1
Natasha Rajaram (7) (Cupertino, CA) def. Alexis Nguyen (El Dorado Hills, CA) 5-7; 6-1; 1-0(6)
Annika Renganathan (14) (Sammamish, WA) def. Polina Krumkachev (8) (Scottsdale, AZ) 3-0 Ret (inj) 
Bianca Molnar (10) (Ladera Ranch, CA) def. Valerie Gomez (Las Vegas, NV) 6-4; 6-0
Adriana Sciara (Mountain Brk, AL) def. Mariana Shulman (6) (Newton, MA) 6-0; 6-2 
Daniela Borruel (Buena Park, CA) def. Kavitha Gowda (Rochester Hills, MI) 6-0; 6-2

Boys' 12 Singles (Round of 16)
Maxwell Exsted (1) (Savage, MN) def. Roman Sancilio (15) (Henrico, VA) 6-3; 6-4
Vincent Yang (9) (Kirkland, WA) def. A Filer (5) (South Bend, IN) 6-1; 6-4
Abhinav Chunduru (4) (Plano, TX) def. Hughes Peus (Palos Verdes Estates, CA) 6-3; 6-1 
Abhishek Thorat (13) (Lithia, FL) def. Heath Waters (8) (Alpharetta, GA) 6-2; 7-6(3) 
Ritwik Hota (Leesburg, VA) def. Kase Schinnerer (11) (Lewisburg, PA) 6-4; 1-6; 1-0(10) 
Darren Huang (3) (Whitestone, NY) def. Cassius Chinlund (14) (Los Angeles, CA) 6-4; 6-3 
Joseph Hobbs (6) (Virginia Beach, VA) def. Francisco Salmain (Houston, TX) 6-1; 6-4 
Cooper Woestendick (2) (Olathe, KS) def. Braeden Gelletich (Goshen, NY) 6-3; 6-1 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

ITF Grade B1 Easter Bowl Begins Monday with Boys Singles, Girls Doubles; Team USA 2018 Awards Reception; Ritschard Wins Calabasas $25K; Leustian Claims Another ITF Grade 4 Title in Puerto Rico

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Indian Wells, CA--

Sunday was a busy day at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, with the completion of qualifying for the ITF Grade B1 event, the Adidas player party and the annual Team USA Coaches Reception, as well as second round matches in singles and doubles in the 12s and 14s divisions.

The boys who advanced to the ITF main draw after winning third and final round matches in qualifying are: Quinn Vandecasteele, Ron Hohmann, Muhammad Dossani, Saiprakash Goli, Presley Thieneman, David Lins, Sachin Das and Dominik Jakovljevic.  Seven of these eight will play their fourth match in three days on Monday, with only Muhammad Dossani having a bye in the first round.  The girls first round singles will be played Tuesday, although the girls are scheduled to compete in doubles on Monday.  The eight girls qualifiers are Nikita Vishwase, Camille Kiss, Malaika Rapolu, Victoria Hu, Lara Schneider, Kiana Graham, Margaret Polk and Anastasia Sysoeva.

The top four seeds in the boys 12s and 14s and the girls 14s all advanced to the third round, but the girls 12s lost their No. 2 seed Thalia Smith, who fell to Daniela Borruel 7-5, 6-1, and their No. 3 seed Kinley Vanpelt, who was beaten by Valerie Gomez 6-4, 6-1. Top girls 12 seed Thea Latak had to come from a set down, but she did advance with a 4-6, 6-2, 10-6 win over Paisha Douglas.  Complete results from the 12s and 14s can be found at the TennisLink site.  The 16s begin play on Monday, with both boys and girls in first round action.

Registering for the Adidas Player Party

The Adidas player party attracted hundreds of players and parents for food, music, games and gifts. Each player received a T-shirt, bag and towel, while choosing from the food offerings of a Salad Bar, Slider Bar and Nacho Bar. The Shave Ice tent was a popular stop for dessert, and the ping pong tables were busy throughout the evening.

While the players were enjoying their get-together, the USTA hosted its sixth annual Team USA Coaching Award reception.  The recipients honored for 2018 are:
Developmental Coach of the Year: Joseph Gilbert
Coaching Legend Award: Jose Higueras
Developmental Program of the Year: Lakes Tennis Academy
Player Development Section of the Year: Southern California

USTA head of men's tennis Kent Kinnear was on hand to distribute the awards, and although Higueras was not able to attend, Gilbert, Trevor Kronemann (representing So Cal) and Dave Licker (representing Lakes) made brief acceptance speeches before answering questions from the audience.

Kent Kinnear, Joseph Gilbert, Trevor Kronemann, Dave Licker

Elsewhere in Southern California, at the $25,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in Calabasas, former Virginia star Alexander Ritschard came from 5-2 down in the third set and saved three match points in his 6-2, 0-6, 7-6(5) win over No. 2 seed Stefan Kozlov. Ritschard, 25, had won three consecutive $15K tournaments last year, but this is his first title at the $25K level. The unseeded Ritschard defeated top seed Liam Broady of Great Britain in semifinals on Saturday.

The doubles title went to No. 3 seeds Sekou Bangoura(Florida) and Boris Arias(LSU) of Bolivia, who beat Great Britain's Jack Findel-Hawkins(North Florida) and Ryan Peniston(Memphis) 6-2, 6-2 in the final.

Stefan Leustian, who is in action against wild card Pierce Rollins tomorrow in the ITF Grade B1 here in Indian Wells, won his second straight ITF Grade 4 title Saturday in Puerto Rico. The 17-year-old top seed defeated No. 12 seed Fnu Nidunjianzan of China 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-2 in the final. Leustian won the Grade 4 in Panama the previous week.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Top Seeds Advance in Opening Round of Easter Bowl 12s and 14s; Vandecasteele Saves Two Match Points to Advance to Final Round ITF Easter Bowl Qualifying; Braswell, Ovrootsky Claim Irvine Grade 4 Titles

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Indian Wells, CA--

The weather was perfect for the first day of the 2019 Easter Bowl, and the top seeds in the 12s and 14s division took advantage of the mild temperatures and light winds to record opening round victories at sites around the Coachella Valley.

The top four seeds in all four draws in action today made it through. In the girls 12s, Thea Latak[1], Thalia Smith[2], Kinley Vanpelt[3] and Emily Deming[4] all advanced in straight sets.

In the boys 12s,  Maxwell Exsted[1], Cooper Woestendick[2], Darren Huang[3] and Abhinav Chunduru[4] also moved into the second round without the loss of a set.

In the girls 14s, Stephanie Yakoff[1], Ria Bhakta[2], Tsehay Driscoll[3] and Natalie Block[4] also won their first round matches in straight sets.

In the boys 14s, top seed Aidan Kim was tested, but came back to beat Mitchell Lee 1-6, 6-1, 6-0.  Yannik Rahan[2], Lucas Brown[3] and Will Mayew[4] advanced to the second round in straight sets.

Complete results from the 12s and 14s, as well as the 16s draws are available at the TennisLink site.  The 16s begin play on Monday.

I concentrated on the ITF Grade B1 qualifying matches today at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where less than a week ago, the BNP Paribas Open was building to its conclusion.  The ITF tournament is played entirely on the practice courts, which offer excellent viewing and from nearly every vantage point, although shade is often at a premium. 

The best match I saw today was played on what is know as Center Court at the Easter Bowl, which is practice court 2.  There is shade available and I took advantage of the opportunity to watch the second round qualifying match between unseeded Quinn Vandecasteele and No. 15 seed Ali Amiri. After Vandecasteele dominated the first set 6-1, Amiri took the second 6-4, breaking Vandecasteele in his last two service games of the set.  Amiri took a 4-1 and 5-2 lead in the third set, and had two match points serving at 5-3, but Vandecasteele saved both and went on to force a deciding tiebreaker.  Vandecasteele took a 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker, but Amiri got the mini-break back, and it was 3-3 at the change of ends. Vandecasteele, who hit 110-115 mph serves on occasion, according to the display, hit a good first serve to go up 4-3, and Amiri sent a forehand long to make it 5-3. Vandecasteele then used an unexpected drop shot, forcing an error from Amiri to get to match point, and he was able to convert on his first opportunity, putting away a backhand volley to claim a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(3) win.

"I felt I just kept elevating my game throughout the third set," said Vandecasteele, a 16-year-old from Utah. "By the time I got to the tiebreaker, I was getting more solid, working around the court until I could get a good shot. He's a solid player and it was a tough match."

The most memorable of the match's many long rallies came late in the third set, extending to perhaps 40 strokes, with the small crowd applauding appreciatively when a Vandecasteele backhand finally found the net.

"I was trying to stay tough, make him earn it," said Vandecasteele, who won his first match of the day in the morning, but showed few signs of fatigue even late in the second match. "I was giving him too many balls early on, and making him earn it was the key at the end."

See the ITF Junior Circuit website for results from today's two rounds of play, which were not complete as of 8:30 p.m. Saturday night.

The ITF Grade 4 in Irvine California concluded today, with unseeded Vivian Ovrootsky and Micah Braswell claiming the singles titles. Ovrootsky, 14, had beaten top seed Vanessa Ong in the semifinals on Friday, and today she took out 16s Orange Bowl finalist India Houghton 7-6(5), 6-4 to claim her first ITF Junior Circuit title.   Seventeen-year-old Micah Braswell also won his first ITF junior title today, beating No. 7 seed Leighton Allen 6-1, 6-0 in the final. 

Allen and Jackson Ross, the No. 2 seeds, won the doubles title, beating unseeded Muhammad Dossani and Trinity Grear 3-6, 6-2, 10-3 in the final. The girls doubles title went to No. 8 seeds Kimmi Hance and Lauren Stein, who beat No. 5 seeds Allie Gretkowski and Elise Wagle 2-6, 6-3, 10-6 in the championship match.

Friday, March 22, 2019

My Conversation with Former South Carolina Star Gira Schofield on High Performance Coaching; Easter Bowl Wild Cards, Qualifying Draws for ITF Grade B1; Osuigwe and Gauff Lose Second Round Matches at Miami Open

When I was in Mobile for the USTA National Spring Team Championships earlier this month I noticed more young women serving as coaches than in previous years. One of them was Gira Schofield, who I remembered from her outstanding collegiate career at South Carolina from 2005-2009, and I took the opportunity to talk with her about how she found her way into coaching. She spoke of her passion for coaching teenage girls and how that developed from her own experiences as a junior and a collegian in this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The two main courts for Easter Bowl at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden
The Easter Bowl begins Saturday with the first round in singles and doubles for 12s and 14s divisions and the first round of qualifying for the ITF Grade B1.  The wild cards are as follows:

Boys 12
Nelson Alapi
Nathan Hernandez
Shashwat Srivasta

Boys 14
Andrew Delgado
Mitchell Lee
Kaylan Bigun
Santiago Muhala

Boys 16
Noelle Ampong
Ryan Morgan
Ethan Quinn

Boys ITF
Aidan Mayo
Zachary Svajda
Bruno Kuzuhara
Robert Cash
Pierce Rollins
Aditya Gupta
Micah Braswell
Jeffrey Fradkin

Girls 12
Morgan Shaffer

Girls 14
Ginger Foster
Emmi Kolyszko
Ariana Pursoo
Linda Ziets-Segura

Girls 16
Krystal Blanch
Lizanne Boyer
Reese Brantmeier
Clervie Ngounoue

Girls ITF
Katja Wiersholm
Maxi Duncan
Carson Tanguilig
Rachel Gailis
Kimmi Hance
Jaedan Brown
Allie Gretkowski
Abigail Desiatnikov

The qualifying draws for the ITF Grade B1 did not fill, with six byes in the boys qualifying and 11 byes in the girls qualifying.  Two rounds are scheduled for Saturday, with the final round of qualifying on Sunday.

All the American teens are out now after the second round at the Miami Open.  Amanda Anisimova lost to No. 21 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-3, 1-6, 6-4; Coco Gauff fell to No. 14 seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-3, 6-2 and tonight, Whitney Osuigwe went out to No. 25 seed Danielle Collins 7-6(5), 6-0.  Osuigwe had two set points serving for the first set at 5-4, but Collins saved them and came up with the key points in the tiebreaker. Osuigwe wasn't able to recover from that disappointment and Collins rolled through the second set.

Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu rolled on, with the BNP Paribas Open champion defeating No. 32 seed Sonya Kenin, the last player to beat her, 6-3, 6-3.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Osuigwe, Gauff Advance at Miami Open; Checking on Results in Rainy Southern California

It's a travel day for me, as I head to California for the Easter Bowl and ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships, so this will be an early and short post.

Whitney Osuigwe has won her first WTA main draw match today at the Miami Open, with the 16-year-old beating Mari Osaka 6-2, 6-4 in their rain-delayed first round match.

In the other intriguing wild card vs wild card match, Coco Gauff defeated Caty McNally 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.  McNally led 4-2 in the third and had three game points to go up 5-2, but Gauff broke, held, broke and held for the victory. Gauff has now won all three meetings with McNally, with the first two in junior events last year: the French Open final and the Roehampton Grade 1 final.

Rain has impacted both Southern California events this week: the $25,000 Men's World Tennis Tour event in Calabasas and the ITF Junior Circuit Grade 4 in Irvine. But there have been notable results.

In Irvine, 16-year-old wild card Hugo Hashimoto defeated No. 1 seed Zsombor Velcz of Hungary 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals. This is Hashimoto's third ITF junior event. All remaining boys are from the US, with only two of them seeded: No. 6 Stefan Dostanic and No. 7 Leighton Allen.

Girls top seed Vanessa Ong has advanced to the quarterfinals, where she'll face unseeded 13-year-old Qavia Lopez. Gianna Pielet, No. 9, is the only other seed to advance to the quarterfinals.

In Calabasas, 18-year-old wild card Drew Baird, who has played very little on the ITF World Tennis Tour, defeated No. 7 seed Martin Redlicki(UCLA) 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(5) in the first round for his first main draw WTT victory. Baird, who has committed to UCLA, will face Tobias Simon of Germany, who beat wild card Emilio Nava in the first round.

Eighteen-year-old Jenson Brooksby, who won last week's $25K tournament in Bakersfield, kept rolling with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Antoine Bellier of Switzerland, who won the $15K in Arcadia last week. Both players received entry this week via special exemptions. Brooksby will play former Virginia standout Alexander Ritschard in the second round. The two had a barnburner last week in the second round, with Brooksby taking it 6-7(2), 7-5, 7-6(5).  Former Stanford star Tom Fawcett beat No. 3 seed Ryan Shane(Virginia) 6-3, 7-6(3) and UCLA sophomore Keegan Smith, a qualifier, beat No. 8 seed Sekou Bangoura(Florida) 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-5 in 2 hours and 39 minutes.  Eighteen-year-old wild card Jacob Bullard, a Texas recruit, also posted a good first round win, taking out former Duke No. 1 Nicolas Alvarez of Peru 6-0, 6-3.  Stefan Kozlov[2] and qualifier Isaiah Strode are the other two Americans in the second round.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

12s, 14s, 16s Easter Bowl Seeds; ITF Announces More World Tennis Tour Changes; Four Americans Qualify at Miami Open; Texas Men No. 1 in USTA Poll

Although draws are not yet up, the Easter Bowl seeds have been released, with the 12s and 14s division beginning play on Saturday at sites around Indian Wells. The girls 16s field looks particularly strong, especially when considering who isn't seeded: Reese Brantmeier, Rebecca Lynn, Anne Lutkemeyer(last year's Carson 16s champion). Last year's 12s champion, Clervie Ngounoue, is skipping the 14s and playing in the 16s division this year. The 16s begin play on Monday, as do the 18s. There will be live streaming of two courts at Indian Wells Tennis Garden during the week. See the tournament website for more information.

Chaudhary finished 5th in 16s at 2018 Easter Bowl
Boys 16s:
1. Aryan Chaudhary
2. Luke Casper
3. Samir Banerjee
4. Thomas Paulsell
5. Gavin Young
6. Gabriellus Guzauskas
7. Louis Cloud
8. Liam Krall
9. JJ Tracy
10. Daniel Schmelka
11. Nathan Mao
12. John Kim
13. Maxwell Smith
14. Luke Neal
15. Jameson Corsillo
16. Victor Lilov

Boys 14s:
1. Aidan Kim
2. Yannik Rahman
3. Lucas Brown
4. Will Mayew
5. Alex Cairo
6. Brayden Michna
7. Kurt Miller
8. Ritesh Patil
9. Cooper Williams
10. Waleed Qadir
11. Nicholas Godsick
12. Juncheng Shang
13. Dylan Charlap
14. Garen Spicka
15. Learner Tien
16. John Lasanajak

Boys 12s:
1. Maxwell Exsted
2. Cooper Woestendick
3. Darren Huang
4. Abhinav Chunduru
5. A Filer
6. Joseph Hobbs
7. Yubel Ubri
8. Heath Waters
9. Vincent Yang
10. Prathinav Chunduru
11. Kase Schinnerer
12. Blake Hilsen
13. Abhishek Thorat
14. Cassius Chinlund
15. Roman Sancilio
16. Shri Keshav Murugesan

Girls 16s:
1. Nadejda Maslova
2. Misa Malkin
3. Julie Fliegner
4. Ellie Pittman
5. Sarah Hamner
6. Kiley Rabjohns
7. Eleana Yu
8. Jennifer Riester
9. Vivian Ovrootsky
10. DJ Bennett
11. Sydni Ratliff
12. Daniella Benabraham
13. Brooke Killingsworth
14. Sophia Fornaris
15. Ava Catanzarite
16. Gavriella Smith

Girls 14s:
1. Stephanie Yakoff
2. Ria Bhakta
3. Tsehay Driscoll
4. Natalie Block
5. Salma Farhat
6. Priya Nelson
7. Lamija Avdic
8. Alexia Harmon
9. Natalia Perez
10. Madison Weekley
11. Karsyn Evans
12. Liv Hovde
13. Jacqueline Soloveychik
14. Mika Ikemori
15. Qavia Lopez
16. Ava Krug

Girls 12s:
1. Thea Latak
2. Thalia Smith
3. Kinley Vanpelt
4. Emily Deming
5. Aspen Schuman
6. Mariana Shulman
7. Natasha Rajaram
8. Polina Krumkachev
9. Eva Oxford
10. Bianca Molnar
11. Bella Payne
12. Sasha Kilgour
13. Tianmei Wang
14. Annika Renganathan
15. Emily Ing
16. Anika Paul

The ITF continues to make changes to the World Tennis Tour, with a new set of tweaks announced today:

- Where Pre-Qualifying / Wild Card competitions are created to offer additional playing opportunities, such events will be governed by the full ITF World Tennis Tour regulations;

- An increase in the Singles Qualifying Draw at Women’s World Tennis Tour $60,000, $80,000 and $100,000 tournaments from 24 to 32, where tournaments have the capacity;

- The introduction of a Protected Ranking for the ITF World Tennis Singles and Doubles Rankings;

- Introduction of two (2) reserved places in $15,000 tournament Doubles Draws for teams to be accepted by ATP/WTA/ITF Doubles ranking;

- Introduction of two (2) reserved places in $25,000 tournament Doubles Draws for teams to be accepted by ITF Doubles ranking;

- Improved processing of Tournament Acceptance Lists after the Freeze Deadline to display withdrawals and remove Alternates from all but their highest priority tournament in order to provide more predictable playing opportunities for players;

- An increase in the number of year-end Junior Exempt Project places from three (3) to five (5) for elite ITF Junior players;

- To canvas player feedback on potential introduction of 48 qualifying draws noting that playing twice a day without a day off risks player health issues.
The ITF goes on to say that it recognizes that the lack of points for men at the $25,000 level has created a problem, but it puts that back in the lap of the ATP. I would assume the ATP would have left things as they were had the ITF not introduced all these changes, so the ITF does need to take responsibility for what it set in motion, although I would hope the ATP, who have control over their points, would acknowledge the issue.

The complete release from the ITF is available here.

Yesterday's action at the Miami Open was rained out, and it's raining again this evening, but they did manage to finish the qualifying today, with Reilly Opelka, Jessica Pegula, Sachia Vickery and Taylor Townsend the Americans earning main draw spots.

In first round main draw action, 2017 US Open girls champion Amanda Anisimova defeated Andrea Petkovic of Germany 6-4, 6-3 and 2018 US Open girls champion Xiyu Wang of China, a wild card, defeated Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-3, 6-1.  The first round match between teenage wild cards Caty McNally and Coco Gauff is scheduled for Thursday.

The USTA/Tennis Channel rankings were released today, and unlike the computer, the voters decided another men's team was better suited to the No. 1 spot previously occupied by Ohio State. Texas is now No. 1 in the poll, while Georgia remains at the top spot in the women's poll. As in this week's ITA rankings, Pepperdine was a top mover on the women's side. The Top 10 are below; the full Top 25 lists are at usta.com.

USTA/Tennis Channel Division I Team Rankings, March 20, 2019
(previous week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Texas (3)
2. Ohio State (1)
3. Wake Forest (2)
4. Florida (8)
5. Virginia (5)
6. Stanford (6)
7. TCU (7)
8. North Carolina (4)
9. Baylor (10)
10. Columbia (9)

1. Georgia (1)
2. North Carolina (2)
3. Stanford (3)
4. Duke (4)
5. Pepperdine (12)
T6. South Carolina (7)
T6. Vanderbilt (5)
8. Texas (6)
9. Ohio State (10)
10. UCLA (8)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Bernard, Mayo Win Spots on USTA National Junior Team; USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge Events Revealed; Ohio State Men Remain No. 1 Despite Last Week's Two Losses

The USTA has established a Team USA national team, which provides coaching and support for American players as they travel to tournaments this summer.  In past years, the teams have been made up of eight players, and confined to those 16 and under, but this year's boys team has been named, with just six players, one of whom does not fit that previous age restriction.

Four players were named to the team based on previously determined ranking criteria: Zane Khan, 17; Martin Damm, 15; Toby Kodat 16, and Dali Blanch, 16.

The other two positions on the team were decided by in a 16-player playoff last week in Lake Nona, with Alexander Bernard, 15, and Aidan Mayo, 15 making the team by finishing first or second in their round robin group and then winning quarterfinal and semifinal matches.  The USTA release, which includes the boys' coaches and accomplishments, can be found here.

The USTA also released the dates and tournaments for its annual French Open Wild Card Challenge, which will award a main draw wild card to the American man and woman who accumulate the most ATP and WTA points in these designated events. Both men and women have ATP and WTA tour events included in the calculations, but the men use their best three results, while the women use their best two. Noah Rubin and Taylor Townsend won the wild cards last year.

Men's events:
Week of April 8: ATP Tour 250s (Houston; Marrakech); ATP Challenger 80s (Barletta, Italy; Murcia, Spain)
Week of April 15: ATP Masters 1000 Monte Carlo; ATP Challenger 125 (Anning, China); USTA Pro Circuit ATP Challenger 100 (Sarasota, Fla.); ATP Challenger 80s (Tunis, Tunisia; San Luis  Potosi, Mexico)
Week of April 22: ATP Tour 500 (Barcelona); ATP Tour 250 (Budapest); USTA Pro Circuit / ATP Challenger 80 (Tallahassee, Fla.); ATP Challenger 80 (Francavilla, Italy)
Week of April 29: ATP Tour 250s (Estoril; Munich); ATP Challenger 110 (Bordeaux, France); USTA Pro Circuit / ATP Challenger 80 (Savannah, Ga.); ATP Challenger 80 (Ostrava, Czech Republic)

Women's events:
Week of April 15: USTA Pro Circuit/ITF World Tennis Tour W80 (Dothan, Ala.)
Week of April 22: WTA International (Istanbul); USTA Pro Circuit/ITF World Tennis Tour W80 (Charlottesville, Va.)
Week of April 29: WTA Internationals (Prague; Rabat); USTA Pro Circuit/ITF World Tennis Tour W100 (Charleston, S.C.); ITF World Tennis Tour W60 (Wiesbaden, Germany)
Week of May 6: WTA Premier Mandatory (Madrid); USTA Pro Circuit/ ITF World Tennis Tour W100 (Bonita Springs, Fla.); ITF World Tennis Tour W100 (Cagnes-sur-Mer, France)

Despite their two losses last week in Texas, Ohio State remains No. 1 in the ITA Division I men's rankings, and Wake Forest, who lost to Florida, remains at No. 2.  Texas A&M, one of the teams to beat the Buckeyes (Texas was the other), got a big boost from that, moving from 19 to 9 in the rankings. After Florida's win over the Demon Deacons, they moved from 8 to 4. North Carolina fell out of the top 10 after their loss to Georgia Tech. Full rankings can be found by clicking on the heading.

ITA Division I Men's Top 10, March 19, 2019: (previous week's rankings in parentheses):
1. Ohio State (1)
2. Wake Forest (2)
3. Texas (4)
4. Florida (8)
5. Virginia (3)
6. Baylor (6)
7. Stanford (5)
8. Mississippi State (10)
9. Texas A&M (19)
10. TCU (12)

The women's new rankings did not provide any change at the top, but two teams did make big jumps. Pepperdine's wins over UCLA and Texas moved it from 20 to 7, and although they are still outside the Top 10, Texas A&M is all the way up to 11 from 29 after a win over Vanderbilt.

ITA Division I Women's Top 10, March 19, 2019:
1. North Carolina (1)
2. Georgia (2)
3. Duke (3)
4. Stanford (5)
5. Vanderbilt (4)
6. South Carolina (7)
7. Pepperdine (20)
8. Oklahoma State (11)
9. UCLA (6)
10. Washington (9)

Individual rankings were also released today, with the same No. 1s in singles--Ohio State's JJ Wolf and Georgia's Katarina Jokic--but new No. 1s in doubles.

Women's Division I Singles Top 10:
1. Katarina Jokic, Georgia (1)
2. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami (2)
3. Alexa Graham, North Carolina (6)
4. Kate Fahey, Michigan (4)
5. Makenna Jones, North Carolina (5)
6. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt (3)
7. Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina (9)
8. Sophie Whittle, Gonzaga (7)
9. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina (14)
10. Eden Richardson, LSU (15)

Men's Division I Singles Top 10:
1. JJ Wolf, Ohio State (1)
2. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (3)
3. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest (2)
4. Thomas Laurent, Oregon (5)
5. Paul Jubb, South Carolina (12)
6. Christian Sigsgaard, Texas (4)
7. Alex Rybakov, TCU (7)
8. Axel Geller, Stanford (8)
9. Yuya Ito, Texas (9)
10. Daniel Cukierman, USC (6)

Women's Division I Doubles Top 5:
1. Mia Horvit and Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina (7)
2. Lauryn John-Baptiste and Ilze Hattingh, Arizona State (6)
3. Cameron Morra and Makenna Jones, North Carolina (5)
4. Fernanda Navarro and Marie Leduc, Clemson (4)
5. Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia, Kansas (2)

Men's Division I Doubles Top 5:
1. Sven Lah and Jimmy Bendeck, Baylor (2)
2. Henry Patten and Oli Nolan, UNC Asheville (1)
3. Hunter Tubert and Martin Joyce, Ohio State (24)
4. Niclas Braun and Giovanni Oradini, Mississippi State (3)
5. Jackie Tang and Jack Lin, Columbia (12)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Nine Americans Reach Final Round of Qualifying at Miami Open; ITF Junior Circuit California Swing Begins at Grade 4 in Irvine; University of San Diego Player Suspended for Tennis Betting

Five US men and four US women have advanced to the final round of qualifying Tuesday at the Miami Open after 17 took the courts in today's first round. The men advancing are Mackenzie McDonald[4], Reilly Opelka[3], Mitchell Krueger, Noah Rubin and Bjorn Fratangelo. Fratangelo defeated No. 6 seed Christian Garin of Chile 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-1 and Rubin beat No. 8 seed Hugo Dellien of Boliva 6-3, 6-2. The US women who picked up main draw wins today are Jessica Pegula[14] (d. Allie Kiick), Sachia Vickery (d. Jennifer Brady), Taylor Townsend[10] and Madison Brengle[17].

In addition to the final round of qualifying, several women's main draw matches are scheduled for Tuesday, with 16-year-old Whitney Osuigwe taking on Mari Osaka of Japan in a battle of wild cards.

The men's draw was released today, with three Americans seeded: John Isner[7], Frances Tiafoe[28] and Steve Johnson[31].

The ITF Junior Circuit picks up again in the United States this week with the Grade 4 in Irvine California. This tournament, which was in Newport Beach the past few years and Claremont before that, serves as a warmup for next week's Easter Bowl and the Grade 1 in Carson the week after that. Because of its location, both on the calendar and geographically, the field is usually quite good.  The girls top seed this week is Vanessa Ong, a former US Open and Orange Bowl quarterfinalist, and she has already advanced to the second round. The No. 2 seed is 15-year-old Daniella Benabraham and seeded third is 14-year-old Rebecca Lynn.

The top boys seed is, unusually for this tournament, not from the United States. Sixteen-year-old Zsombor Velcz of Hungary, 173 in the ITF junior rankings, has advanced to the second round, but No. 2 seed Hunter Heck and No. 3 seed Max McKennon were beaten in the opening round today. Heck lost to qualifier Peter Murphy 6-1, 6-1 and McKennon fell to the 2018 Clay Court 16s champion Logan Zapp, a wild card, 7-5, 6-1. Zapp, 17, is playing in his first ITF Junior Circuit event.

News articles are still surfacing on the federal charges in the college admissions scandal, with the Washington Post delving into the case being brought against former Georgetown coach Gordon Ernst. Ernst, who is on administrative leave from his current position as women's coach at the University of Rhode Island, is alleged to have accepted payments to ensure entry into the prestigious DC university for players posing as accomplished tennis players.

In other, less wide-ranging, bad news for college tennis, current University of San Diego player David Nordfelt has been suspended by the Tennis Integrity Unit for betting on matches. Nordfelt, a sophomore from Sweden, has been suspended for eight months and fined $6,000 after having admitted to betting on matches, although none in which he was personally involved. For more, see this Associated Press article.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Brooksby Claims First Pro Title in Bakersfield; Mandlik's Winning Streak Ends in Arcadia Final; Andreescu Captures BNP Paribas Open; Baylor Wins Oracle Challenge; Miami Open Qualifying Begins Monday

Jenson Brooksby collected his first pro title today at the ITF World Tennis Tour's $25,000 tournament in Bakersfield California. The 18-year-old wild card dominated No. 2 seed and ATP No. 362 Aleks Vukic of Australia, beating the former Illinois All-American 6-3, 6-1 in 49 minutes. The Baylor recruit made 81 percent of his first serves and faced only one break point in the match, while going 4 for 5 in his break opportunities. Brooksby, who is the reigning Kalamazoo 18s champion, had lost his ATP points at the end of the year in the new ITF structure, but after his win today, which earned 3 ATP points, he will be in the 600s.

The doubles final, played late last night, went to former UCLA Bruins Evan Zhu and Martin Redlicki. The unseeded pair, who captured the NCAA title last May, beat unseeded Ian Dempster(NC State) and Jacob Dunbar(Richmond) 6-1, 3-6, 10-7.

Elli Mandlik's WTT winning streak ended at nine today, when the unseeded 17-year-old lost to top seed Hanna Chang 7-5, 6-1 in the $15,000 tournament final in Arcadia California. No. 3 seeds Brynn Boren(Tennessee/USC) and Sarah Lee(Michigan) defeated No. 2 seeds Pamela Montez(UCLA) and Madison Westby(USC) 6-2, 6-4 in the doubles final.

Qualifier Grey Hamilton, a recent Ole Miss graduate, saw his run end in the final of the men's $15,000 WTT tournament in Arcadia. The 22-year-old from North Carolina lost to No. 8 seed Antoine Bellier of Switzerland 6-3, 6-3, ending his win streak this week at six matches. No. 4 seeds Matic Spec(Minnesota) of Slovenia and Michail Pervolarakis(Portland) of Greece won the doubles, beating the unseeded Swedish team of Simon Freund and Karl Friberg 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

Eighteen-year-old wild card Bianca Andreescu of Canada won her first WTA title today, beating three-time slam champion Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the final of the BNP Paribas Open. Andreescu has been outstanding throughout 2019, reaching the final in Auckland, and suffering only three losses all year. She is the youngest BNP Paribas Open champion since Serena Williams won the title in 1999, at age 17 and will move into the Top 25, after ending 2018 at 152.  From those of us who have followed her career since she was 14, the most impressive part of these first three months has been her health. Often injured while competing in the juniors, Andreescu has proven, during all the qualifying and all the tough three-setters, that she can stand up to the rigors of the WTA tour week after week.  For a recap of the final, see this article from the WTA website.

Baylor won the Oracle Collegiate Challenge today in Indian Wells, beating USC 4-2.  For more on the Bears win, see this article from their website. Bobby Knight has more on today's other big matches, including No. 2 Wake Forest's 6-1 win over No. 3 Virginia, at College Tennis Today.

Qualifying for both men and women at the Miami Open begins on Monday at the new venue, Hard Rock Stadium.  Nine US women are in qualifying, including Caroline Dolehide, who received a previously unannounced wild card.  Eight US men are in qualifying, including wild cards Reilly Opelka and Zane Khan. 

The Miami Open men's draw isn't revealed until tomorrow, but the women's draw has been published, with a couple of interesting first round matches between wild cards.  Caty McNally and Coco Gauff, who won the US Open girls doubles title in September, will play in the first round. Gauff has won their previous two meetings, both last year, both in finals: at the French Open and at the Grade 1 in Roehampton.  Whitney Osuigwe will face Mari Osaka in the other all-wild card first round contest. Osaka, the older sister of WTA No. 1 Naomi Osaka, is ranked 336. Osuigwe's ranking is 213.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Brooksby Makes First WTT Final; Mandlik Plays for Second Straight Title Sunday; Leustian, Cooper Win ITF Junior Titles; Top 10 D-I Teams Fall; Baylor and USC Advance to Oracle Collegiate Challenge Final

Wild card Jenson Brooksby advanced to his first ITF World Tennis Tour final today, beating No. 7 seed Sekou Bangoura(Florida) 6-2, 6-4 at the $25,000 tournament in Bakersfield California. The Kalamazoo 18s champion, who doesn't turn 19 until October so therefore is eligible to play in Kalamazoo again this year, had lost the last two times he had reached the semifinals at the $25K level. Brooksby's opponent in the final is recent Illinois graduate and No. 2 seed Aleks Vukic of Australia, who defeated No. 4 seed Joao Menezes of Brazil 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 earlier today.

Seventeen-year-old Elli Mandlik aims for her second consecutive WTT title tomorrow at the $15,000 tournament in Arcadia California. The daughter of Hana Mandlikova, who won last week's $15K in Carson, defeated University of Virginia recruit Natasha Subhash, a wild card, 6-4, 6-3 in today's semifinal.  Mandlik, who had lost to Subhash in their previous two meetings, will face top seed Hanna Chang in Sunday's final. Chang defeated No. 3 seed Pamela Montez(UCLA) 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-1 in the semifinals.

At the men's $15K in Arcadia, qualifier Grey Hamilton, a 22-year-old Ole Miss graduate, has advanced to his first WTT final, beating unseeded Alan Kohen of Argentina 6-3, 7-5 today. Hamilton, who beat top seed Gonzalo Lama of Chile yesterday, will face No. 8 seed Antoine Bellier of Switzerland, who defeated Emilio Nava 6-1, 6-2 in just under an hour, in Sunday's final.

Two Americans won singles titles this week on the ITF Junior Circuit. Seventeen-year-old Stefan Leustian won his first ITF Junior Circuit title since 2017 at the Grade 4 in Panama, when top seed Andrew Dale retired trailing 4-0 in the first set. Leustian, the No. 3 seed, lost only one set in his five victories this week. 

At the Grade 5 in Zimbabwe, 17-year-old Lauren Cooper swept the titles with the No. 7 seed beating top-seeded American Dakota Fordham in the singles semifinals and No. 2 seed Tshegofatso Tsiang of Botswana 6-1, 6-0 in the final, giving Cooper her first ITF junior circuit singles title.  Cooper and Fordham won the doubles title, with the No. 2 seeds beating No. 3 seeds Tsitsi Mahere of Zimbabwe and Victoria Sasinka 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

At the Grade 2 in Spain, Hibah Shaikh partnered with Jessica Bouzas Maneiro of Spain to win the girls doubles, with the unseeded pair beating top seeds Carlota Martinez Cirez of Spain and Helene Pellicano of Malta 1-6, 6-4, 10-7 in the final.

Every weekend is filled with important college tennis matches in the next six weeks, and Bobby Knight has been posting regular updates of all the Division I action at College Tennis Today.  A couple of women's top 10 teams lost this weekend, with No. 29 Texas A&M beating No. 4 Vanderbilt 4-2 in College Station and No. 20 Pepperdine taking out No. 8 Texas 5-2.  The Aggies got a notable win from freshman Katya Townsend at line 1, beating No. 3 Fernanda Contreras 6-2, 6-0.  Pepperdine, who had struggled in February, losing three straight to Duke, Cal and Michigan, appears to be back on track now, with their win over Texas their second over a Top 10 team this week. The Waves shut out No. 6 UCLA last Wednesday. Pepperdine's Evgeniya Levashova has not played since the Cal match and is no longer appearing on the team roster.

Two men's surprises came during the week, with No. 2 Wake Forest losing to No. 8 Florida Wednesday and No. 1 Ohio State falling to No. 4 Texas on Thursday, just a day after the firing of Longhorns head coach Michael Center. And last night in Atlanta, No. 7 North Carolina lost to unranked Georgia Tech 4-3.

The annual Oracle Collegiate Challenge is being held again at the BNP Paribas Open, and Sunday's final will pit No. 1 seed Baylor against No. 3 seed USC.  The sixth-ranked Bears took out Cal 4-0 today and the Trojans also earned a second consecutive shutout at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, beating Arizona State this afternoon.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Gibbons Set for Dartmouth; Nava, Brooksby, Subhash, Mandlik Reach WTT Semifinals; Redlicki Advances at ATP Challenger; Emory Women, Chicago Men Remain Atop Division III Rankings

While I was in Mobile last week, I had an opportunity to talk with Anders Gibbons about his college recruiting process and how he ended up committing to Dartmouth for this coming fall.  Being from Seattle, I wouldn't have expected he would end up on the East Coast, but he explained to me why that made sense for him in this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Four juniors have advanced to semifinals in ITF World Tennis Tour events this week in California, with two of them, 17-year-olds Natasha Subhash and Elli Mandlik, advancing to meet each other.  Wild card Subhash, a Virginia recruit, defeated Sarah Lee(Michigan) 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 at the $15,000 tournament in Arcadia California, her first semifinal in a WTT event. Mandlik, who won last week's $15K in Carson California, continued her outstanding play on the Southern California hard courts, advancing with a 6-4, 4-0 ret. win over Hurricane Tyra Black.  Mandlik and Subhash have played twice in ITF Junior Circuit events, with Subhash winning both.  The other semifinal will feature No. 3 seed Pamela Montez(3) versus top seed Hanna Chang.

At the men's $15K in Arcadia, Emilio Nava reached his first WTT semifinal by defeating the No. 3 seed, 18-year-old Jaimee Floyd Angele of France 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-1.  The 17-year-old Southern Californian will face No. 8 seed Antoine Bellier of Switzerland next. Bellier is the only seed left, with the top half semifinal between qualifier Grey Hamilton(Ole Miss) and unseeded Alan Kohen of Argentina.

Kalamazoo 18s champion Jenson Brooksby has advanced to his third $25,000 semifinal since winning the Kalamazoo title last August, beating Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern) 6-2, 6-3 today at the WTT event in Bakersfield. The 18-year-old Brooksby, a wild card, will be looking for his first semifinal win Saturday when he takes on No. 7 seed Sekou Bangoura(Florida).  The bottom half semifinal features No. 4 seed Joao Menezes of Brazil against No. 2 seed Aleks Vukic(Illinois) of Australia.

Michael Redlicki has advanced to his second Challenger semifinal of the year at the ATP 80 tournament in Drummondville Canada. The unseeded left-hander, who played at Duke and Arkansas, picked up his third straight win over a seed this week, beating No. 3 seed Jurgen Zopp of Estonia 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.  Redlicki will play former Clemson star and No. 2 seed Yannick Maden of Germany in the semifinals.

The ITA released the latest Division III team rankings yesterday, with the Emory women and the Chicago men remaining in the top spots. Both won the ITA National Team Indoor titles.

ITA D-III Women’s Top 10 Team Rankings, March 14, 2019
(previous ranking in parentheses):

1. Emory University (1)
2. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (2)
3. Amherst College (3)
4. Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (4)
5. Williams College (5)
6. Middlebury College (6)
7. Wesleyan University (7)
8. Tufts University (8)
9. Univ. of Chicago (9)
10. Carnegie Mellon University (10)

ITA D-III Men’s Top 10 Team Rankings, March 14, 2019:

1. Univ. of Chicago (1)
2. Middlebury College (2)
3. Bowdoin College (3)
4. Emory University (4)
5. Williams College (5)
6. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (6)
7. Amherst College (7)
8. Wesleyan University (9)
9. Washington University-St. Louis (8)
10. Brandeis University (10)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Neff, Grishuk Reach ITF Grade 1 Quarterfinals in Malaysia; US Juniors Advance to Quarterfinals in WTT Events

Two Americans have reached the quarterfinals at the ITF Grade 1 in Malaysia, with 16-year-old Skyler Grishuk and 17-year-old Adam Neff advancing to the final eight in the only Grade 1 on the Junior Circuit this week. Grishuk, the No. 11 seed, has reached a Grade 1 final twice before, including last year at this same tournament, but is looking for her first appearance in a G1 semifinal when she takes on unseeded Aunchisa Chanta of Thailand. Neff is making his first appearance in a G1 quarterfinal and will play No. 8 seed Kevin Chahoud of Sweden next. Neff has also advanced to the doubles semifinals, with partner Blu Baker of Great Britain.

The ITF World Tennis Tour has three tournaments this week in California, as well as two in Cancun Mexico, all of whom have Americans in the quarterfinals.

At the women's 15K event in Cancun, unseeded 18-year-old Lea Ma picked up her first WTT-level win in the first round over No. 8 seed Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez, then added her second today, over qualifier Jazmin Ortenzi of Argentina. Ma will next play Emily Appleton of Great Britain, who owns a 2-0 head-to-head against Ma in juniors, with both matches going three sets. No. 7 seed Dasha Ivanova is the other American in the quarterfinals.

At the men's $15K in Cancun, the only American remaining is No. 2 seed Harrison Adams(Texas A&M).

The two 15Ks in California are also at the same venue, at the Arcadia Tennis Center in Southern California. All eight women's quarterfinalists are American, including four juniors: wild card Natasha Subhash, a Virginia recruit, Savannah Broadus, Hurricane Tyra Black and last week's $15K champion in Carson, Elli Mandlik.  Black and Mandlik will face off Friday, with Black winning their only previous junior meeting. The four other quarterfinalists are top seed Hanna Chang, No. 3 seed Pam Montez(UCLA), wild card Allie Will(Florida) and Sarah Lee(Michigan). Will, 27, has played only a handful of tournaments since 2014, while Lee, 25, missed seven months last year and is playing for the first time since last November this month.

The men's quarterfinals in Arcadia feature four Americans: 17-year-old Emilio Nava, Connor Farren(USC), Vasil Kirkov and qualifier Grey Hamilton, a recent Ole Miss graduate.

There is also a men's $25K in Bakersfield, with at least three Americans in the quarterfinals. Top seed Ryan Shane(Virginia) is not one of them, as he was beaten by former teammate Alexander Ritschard in the first round. Ritschard lost today to Kalamazoo 18s champion Jenson Brooksby, a wild card, 6-7(2), 7-5, 7-6(5) in over three hours. Qualifier Isaiah Strode beat No. 6 seed Martin Redlicki(UCLA) today in a third-set tiebreaker and is joined in the quarterfinals by No. 7 seed Sekou Bangoura. Strong Kirchheimer has yet to complete his second round match.

The ATP 125 Challenger in Phoenix, a new event this year, had only four Americans in the draw, with most of the competitors entering due to from early exits at the BNP Paribas Open. All 16 seeds were ranked in the Top 100, making it one of the strongest Challenger fields in memory. Mitchell Krueger, Ernesto Escobedo, qualifier Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) and Ryan Harrison were the Americans in the main draw, with Harrison advancing to the third round, but losing today to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy.

At the ATP 80 Challenger in Drummondville Canada, Michael Redlicki has advanced to the quarterfinals. The unseeded 25-year-old, a former star at Duke and Arkansas, has already beaten two seeds this week in straight sets: No. 9 JC Aragone(Virginia) in the second round, and today, No. 6 seed Nikola Milojevic of Serbia.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Texas's Center Fired; Gauff, McNally, Osuigwe Awarded Miami Open Wild Cards; Teens Andreescu and Kecmanovic Advance at BNP Paribas Open; Florida Men Beat Wake Forest; Little Change in USTA/Tennis Channel College Rankings

In the wake of the federal charges filed yesterday in the Operation Varsity Blues college admission scandal, the University of Texas announced this afternoon that Michael Center, head coach of the men's team for the past 19 seasons, has been dismissed. The school's release is here.  Rhiannon Potkey has more on the reaction to the scandal, including comments from blue chip recruit Siem Woldeab, in this Tennis Recruiting Network article.

The Miami Open, which begins next week at a new venue in South Florida, announced its wild card recipients today, with three young Americans getting wild cards into the women's main draw: Coco Gauff (who turns 15 today), Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe.

The other women's main draw wild card recipients are Olga Danilovic of Serbia, Mari Osaka of Japan, Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia and two 17-year-olds from China: Xinyu Wang and US Open girls champion Xiyu Wang.

The women's qualifying wild cards were given to Allie Kiick, Christina McHale, Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil, Qinwen Zheng of China and Karman Thandi of India.

Only one American man received a main draw wild card, former Georgia Tech star Chris Eubanks.  World junior No. 1 Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, Nicola Kuhn of Spain, David Ferrer of Spain and Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia are the other main draw wild cards.

Seventeen-year-old Zane Khan received a qualifying wild card, as did Reilly Opelka, whose current ATP ranking of 59 would get him in the main draw, but with the Miami cutoff coming before he won the New York Open, he was outside the main draw cutoff and didn't enter the qualifying. Other recent ATP champions in qualifying include Laslo Djere of Serbia[32] and Radu Albot of Moldova[53]. Mackenzie McDonald[62] and Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada[58], who also are in Miami qualifying, would have been in the main draw if the cutoff was not six weeks prior to the event.

IMG, which controls the tournament, distributes most of the wild cards to their clients, and has done so for years, but it is surprising to see a player the stature of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France given a qualifying wild card, rather than a main draw one. The other two qualifying wild cards were given to Jay Clarke of Great Britain and Mikael Ymer of Sweden.

The wild card release is available at the Miami Open website.

The only American left in singles at the BNP Paribas Open is Venus Williams, who plays her quarterfinal match against No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany on Thursday. The last US man, No. 8 seed John Isner, lost to No. 12 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-4, 7-6(1) this afternoon.

Two teenagers are still alive however, with 2016 ITF World Junior champion Kecmanovic, a lucky loser, advancing to the men's quarterfinal when Yoshito Nishioka of Japan retired after losing the first set 6-4. Eighteen-year-old Bianca Andreescu has been mowing down opponents this week, with the Canadian wild card beating No. 20 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-0, 6-1 in today's quarterfinal. Andreescu, who had a raft of injuries when she was playing the ITF Junior Circuit, yet still made it as high as No. 3, is up to 37 in the WTA live rankings now.

The big men's Division I match this afternoon had No. 2 Wake Forest in Gainesville to play No. 8 Florida, and the Gators came away with a victory after losing the doubles point.  Wake did not have Borna Gojo, who played in the Drummondville Challenger this week, in the lineup. Florida dominated in the 3, 4, 5 and 6 spots to take the match. The final score was 5-2, with Botzer winning over Andrade at 2 for Wake Forest and Crawford beating Chrysochos at 1 for Florida after the Gators had clinched the match.

I expect that Florida will move up in the rankings next week after this win, but in this week's USTA/Tennis Channel rankings there was very little movement in the Top 10 for men or women. The voting for this week's rankings ends with matches played on Sunday, so Texas A&M men's win over No. 1 Ohio State Monday is not included.  For the complete Top 25s, see the usta.com article.

USTA/Tennis Channel Men’s Top 10 March 13, 2019

1. Ohio State (1)
2. Wake Forest (2)
3. Texas (3)
4. North Carolina (4)
5. Virginia (5)
6. Stanford (6)
7. TCU (7)
8. Florida (9)
9. Columbia (8)
10. Baylor (10)

USTA/Tennis Channel Women’s Top 10 March 13, 2019
1. Georgia (1)
2. North Carolina (2)
3. Stanford (3)
4. Duke (4)
5. Vanderbilt (5)
6. Texas (6)
7. South Carolina (7)
8. UCLA (9)
9. Michigan (8)
10. Ohio State (10)

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Texas Coach Center, Former Georgetown Coach Ernst Charged in Federal Investigation; Ohio State Men, North Carolina Women Retain Top Spots in D-I Rankings

College tennis is making news today, none of it good. Anyone who follows college sports knows that scandals are commonplace, especially in revenue sports like basketball and football, which generate hundreds of  millions of dollars. Other sports do come under the scrutiny of the NCAA enforcement, and occasionally a tennis program will be sanctioned for providing impermissible benefits to recruits or student-athletes. 

But today's federal arrests, which include two coaches in Division I college tennis, are based on a different kind of wrongdoing, uncovered during the investigation of another case. Key Worldwide Foundation provided a system that allowed wealthy parents to obtain for their children admission to selective colleges, either by committing academic fraud in test scores or by paying coaches to recommend for admissions players who are represented as student-athletes, but are not. This company, which was granted 501(c)(3) non-profit status by the IRS, would collect money from wealthy parents, including two well-known Hollywood actors, then would arrange to distribute it either to SAT and ACT exam proctors or college coaches, with the latter often able to guarantee admission for an athlete that would not be possible for another applicant. 

The Washington Post article on today's Justice Department charges can be found here.

Texas men's head coach Michael Center
The University of Texas's men's head coach Michael Center, who has been in that position for 19 years, was one of 50 people--coaches and parents, not students--indicted today. He was arrested this morning in Austin and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. He was arraigned this afternoon, and has been placed on administrative leave.  The government complaint against Center can be found here.

According to this article from the Austin American-Statesman, Center will plead not guilty to those charges later this month in Boston. Associate head coach Bruce Berque will take over the team, now ranked No. 4 in the country, in Center's absence.

The other Division I tennis coach indicted is Gordie Ernst, currently the women's head coach at the University of Rhode Island, for his actions while coaching at Georgetown. Ernst, who has been placed on administrative leave by Rhode Island, is accused of accepting more than $2.7 million in bribes during his 11 years of coaching the men's and women's tennis teams. Ernst's employment at Georgetown ended last year. From this detailed account by the student newsmagazine Georgetown Voice, which names the students and parents involved, it appears Ernst left Georgetown due to violations of admissions policy.

Other coaches, in other sports, named in the indictments are from Yale, Stanford, USC, Wake Forest, UCLA, and San Diego. USC has already fired an athletic department employee and its water polo coach, and it has been reported that Stanford has fired its sailing coach, who pleaded guilty to the charges today.

Indicted in the testing part of the investigation is Mark Riddell, a former college player at Harvard who was employed at the IMG Academy in Bradenton as Director of College Entrance Exam Preparation. For more on the case against Riddell, see this article from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

There is nothing positive to say about any of this, although it is important to remember that the federal government has to prove its case, and the accused are innocent until proven guilty. How much of this is the tip of an iceberg? I have no idea. But in competitive environments, whether in college admissions or in recruiting, or on the tennis court, cheating will exist, always.

In more mundane college tennis news, Ohio State, who lost last night to Texas A&M, remains No. 1 this week in the ITA Men's Division I rankings, while North Carolina is in the top spot again in this week's ITA Women's team rankings. This week's ITF Top 10 are below, with previous week's ranking in parentheses. There were no new individual rankings this week.

Men’s ITA Division I Top 10 Team Rankings, March 12, 2019:
1. Ohio State (1)
2. Wake Forest (2)
3. Virginia (4)
4. Texas (3)
5. Stanford (7)
6. Baylor (5)
7. North Carolina (6)
8. Florida (9)
9. Columbia (8)
10. Mississippi State (10)

Women’s ITA Division I Top 10 Team Rankings, March 12, 2019
1. North Carolina (1)
2. Georgia (2)
3. Duke (3)
4. Vanderbilt (5)
5. Stanford (4)
6. UCLA (6)
7. South Carolina (9)
8. Texas (16)
9. Washington (7)
10. Kansas (12)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Update on ITF World Tennis Tour; No. 1 Ohio State Falls to No. 28 Texas A&M; Peter Bodo on UTR; Noah Rubin's New Project; Former ITF Junior Champion Kecmanovic Makes Round of 16 at BNP Paribas Open

The complaints about the ITF World Tennis Tour have already resulted in one change just three months into the new system, with qualifying draws at 15K and 25K events going from 24 to 32 beginning in April. Less than a week later, the ITF issued another statement, acknowledging the unpopularity of the changes, but defending their vision for the new tour and offering nothing specific to remedy the concerns.

Lisa Stone at Parenting Aces has been following the WTT developments closely, and she has put together a page with links to articles for those impacted by or interested in the many changes the ITF has implemented. Lisa has also spoken about the issues with former college players Jared Hiltzik(illinois) and Shelby Talcott(Iowa) on her podcast.  Geoff Grant, who as a guest on Sports Illustrated/Tennis Channel's Jon Wertheim's podcast brought the issue to the forefront late last year, has also recently written a letter to the USTA board urging them to take action. The USTA's Milly Huss was in Mobile for a day and a half to answer questions about the World Tennis Tour and to distribute the schedule for the National Closed and National Open events the USTA has added to distribute 15K wild cards this year. The USTA has also published a comprehensive list with all the 2019 wild card linkages, for American juniors, college players and others interested in pursuing professional tennis.  The USTA website is not always easy to navigate, but it you are looking for advice on how to negotiate the requirements for playing ITF events, this page is a good place to start.

A big upset in College Station tonight, with men's National Indoor champion and No. 1 ranked Ohio State falling to No. 28 Texas A&M.  Playing without No. 1 JJ Wolf, who is competing at the ATP Challenger in Drummondville Canada this week, the Buckeyes claimed the doubles point, but could not take one in singles before the clinch. The Aggies got wins from Noah Schachter at line 5, Valentin Vacherot at 3, Hady Habib at 2 and, with the clincher, Barnaby Smith at line 4.

As someone who has been following the growth of UTR for many years now, I often forget that others may not have the same level of familiarity with what it is and how it works. Recently Peter Bodo of tennis.com provided a valuable overview of UTR's origins, structure and goals. There is no question that UTR has made itself indispensable to college tennis recruiting, and that nearly all juniors can cite their rating down to the one/hundredth of a point, so if you aren't quite clear on what being a 12.44 means, Bodo provides a good introduction.

Not all ideas have to be quite as big as introducing a new way to rate the ability of every tennis player. 2015 NCAA singles finalist and current ATP pro Noah Rubin recently has begun a new social media campaign on Instagram that does nothing more than offer fellow professional players an opportunity to discuss personal issues that would not normally come up in a press conference. Although that sounds simple enough, it requires great empathy, trust, and tact to pull off. Rubin and his team have done that, creating a way for players to connect with fans as people, not just competitors.  See this article from Sports Illustrated for more on Rubin's project.

2016 ITF World Junior champion Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia received entry into the BNP Paribas Open as a lucky loser but the 19-year-old now finds himself in the round of 16 after defeating No. 30 seed Laslo Djere, also of Serbia, 6-2, 7-6(3).  Because he went in for Kevin Anderson, who was seeded, Kecmanovic received a first round bye, so this is his second win in the main draw. Kecmanovic lost to Marcos Giron in a third set tiebreaker in the final round of qualifying, but Giron got a slightly tougher draw. After beating Jeremy Chardy and No. 23 seed Alex De Minaur in the first two rounds, Giron played No. 13 seed Milos Raonic today, and lost in three sets, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Jennifer Brady lost to Ashleigh Barty[12] last night, leaving only Venus Williams and Danielle Collins (who plays top seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka later tonight) as the only American women still in the draw. Eighteen-year-old Bianca Andreescu continues her red-hot start to 2019, with the wild card having advanced to the round of 16.

With Giron's loss, the only American man still in contention for the singles title is No. 8 seed John Isner. Isner faces No. 32 seed Guido Pella of Argentina on Tuesday.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Mandlik Claims First World Tennis Tour Title in Carson; Sharma Sweeps Singles and Doubles in Mexico; Spring Team Championships Gallery

Elli Mandlik won her first singles title on the ITF World Tennis Tour in her first final today at the $15,000 tournament in Carson California. The unseeded 17-year-old, the daughter of four-time slam women's singles champion Hana Mandlikova, defeated No. 6 seed Carson Branstine of Canada 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. Trailing 3-1 in the final set, Mandlik got even two games later, broke the 18-year-old USC recruit at love at 4-4, then served out the match without any fuss. 

Mandlik's previous best result at an ITF pro event was a semifinal last summer at a $15,000 event in Romania. Now 20 in the ITF junior rankings, Mandlik did not play the Australian Open junior championships this year, but I wouldn't be surprised to see her in the junior slams this summer. 

Another 17-year-old won the doubles title, with Virginia recruit Natasha Subhash partnering with former Georgia Tech star Rasheeda McAdoo in today's final. The No. 2 seeds defeated unseeded Nicole Mossmer(Stanford recruit) and Chanelle Van Nguyen(UCLA) 6-2, 6-4. It's the second ITF WTT title for both, with Subhash's previous title coming with Caty McNally and McAdoo's with Amy Zhu(Michigan), both last year.

At the $25,000+H WTT event in Irapuato Mexico, former Vanderbilt star Astra Sharma swept the titles. Last night, the 23-year-old Australian and her partner, former Georgia Tech star Paige Hourigan of New Zealand, who were unseeded, beat unseeded Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay and Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 4-6, 12-10 in the final. It's the fourth WTT doubles title for both Sharma and Hourigan, with those coming with different partners.

Sharma got the better of Cepede Royg again today in the singles title. The No. 3 seed, who graduated last spring, beat the second seeded Cepede Royg 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3 in the two-and-a-half hours for her seventh WTT title.  Sharma will be solidly into the WTA Top 150 when those points are added.

I mentioned my Tennis Recruiting Network recap of this past week's USTA National Spring Team Championships yesterday. Added to TRN today is my photo gallery, featuring all 24 of the competitors in the two finals.

And here's a Los Angeles Times article on Marcos Giron (and Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime), with comments from his former coach at UCLA, Billy Martin.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Loeb, Aragone Receive Oracle US Tennis Awards; Giron Beats De Minaur at BNP Paribas Open; Mandlik, Branstine in Carson $15K Final; Chopra, Collins Take Grade 3 Titles in Costa Rica

The third annual Oracle US Tennis Awards were announced today, with Jamie Loeb and JC Aragone this 2019 recipients of the $100,000 grants. The previous four recipients of the awards, given to American collegiate players who wish to pursue a career on the professional tours, went to players who had competed in college the previous year, but that's not the case with either Loeb or Aragone. Loeb left North Carolina in 2015, after winning the NCAA title in her sophomore year, but the award wasn't established until 2017.  Aragone graduated from Virginia in 2017, but last year's award went to Chris Eubanks of Georgia Tech, who left school after his junior year. All four previous recipients--Eubanks, Francesca Di Lorenzo, Mackenzie McDonald and Danielle Collins--have seen their rankings improve, and most credit the grants, and Oracle tournament wild cards, as a significant reason for that. I spoke to Di Lorenzo in January about what the grant has meant to her in this Tennis Recruiting Network article.  Today's press release from Oracle is available here.

2014 NCAA champion Marcos Giron was also too early to receive an Oracle grant, but after two hip surgeries, the former UCLA Bruin is climbing the rankings without that help. After getting the best win of his career Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open over No. 37 Jeremy Chardy of France, Giron recorded an even better one today, beating  No. 23 seed Alex De Minaur of Australia 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.  The 25-year-old Californian, ranked 217, is the lowest ranked man to reach the round of 32 in Indian Wells since 2011. Next up for Giron will be No. 13 seed Milos Raonic of Canada, who defeated Sam Querrey 7-6(1), 6-4.  Mackenzie McDonald won his match last night to reach the second round, while qualifier Bjorn Fratangelo will play top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia later tonight.

Eighteen-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada continued his impressive start to 2019, beating former junior rival Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, the No. 9 seed 6-4, 6-2. Auger-Aliassime is now 4-0 against the 20-year-old Australian Open semifinalist, with the previous three wins coming in ITF junior competition. Both played his last junior match at the 2016 US Open, with Auger-Aliassime beating Tsitsipas in the semifinals, then going on to defeat Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia in the final.

The final is set for the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in Carson California, with Elli Mandlik facing Carson Branstine of Canada. The 17-year-old daughter of Hana Mandlikova, who is unseeded, defeated No. 5 seed Rasheeda McAdoo 6-1, 6-4 to reach her first WTT singles final. Her opponent is 18-year Branstine, who defeated 14-year-old qualifier Ashlyn Krueger 6-0, 6-0. Branstine, who just signed with USC for this fall, will also be playing in her first WTT singles final.

At the ITF Grade 3 in Costa Rica, Americans claimed all four titles.  Keshav Chopra swept the boys titles, and 16-year-old Kylie Collins took the girls singles title, her first in ITF competition, although she has a long list of titles in doubles. Collins, the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 5 seed Melodie Collard of Canada 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(0) in the final. The 17-year-old Chopra, who won his first ITF junior singles title last fall, was the No. 7 seed this week. He defeated No. 6 seed Mark Mandlik (Elli's twin brother) 6-1, 6-3 in the final.  Chopra and Andres Martin, the No. 2 seeds, won the doubles title by defeating top seeds Ronan Jachuck and Alex Lee 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final.  No. 4 seeds Madison Sieg and Elaine Chervinsky won the girls doubles championship, beating No. 3 seeds Jada Bui of Canada and Charlotte Owensby 6-1, 2-6, 10-7 in the final.

At the Grade 3 in South Africa, Dakota Fordham won the doubles title, with partner Fanni Gecsek of Hungary. The No. 2 seeds defeated unseeded Xenia Lipiec of Poland and Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain 6-4, 5-7, 10-7 in the final.