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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Nakashima Wins Rancho Santa Fe $25K; Damm, Montgomery Fall at ITF Traralgon Grade 1; Bolton International 14U Tournament Underway

Brandon Nakashima won the title today at the $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Rancho Santa Fe, with the 18-year-old from nearby San Diego defeating Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Nakashima, the No. 8 seed this week, wasn't certain he was going to play this tournament when I talked to him during the Ann Arbor Challenger, but I'm sure he's happy he did now. Nakashima lost just one set in Rancho Santa Fe, in a third round contest with 18-year-old wild card Emilio Nava.

Claire Liu, the No. 6 seed, lost in the final of the women's $25,000 tournament in Malibu, dropping a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 decision to No. 2 seed Nadia Podoroska of Argentina.

Sofia Sewing(Miami), the No. 5 seed, defeated 16-year-old Anastasia Sysoeva of Russia, the No. 7 seed, 7-5, 6-0 in the final of the $15,000 World Tennis Tour tournament in Cancun, claiming her second career singles title. The 20-year-old Floridian won her first title last year, also at a $15K in Cancun.

At the $25,000 women's tournament in Daytona Beach, unseeded Marie Benoit of Belgium won the title, beating qualifier Andrea Lazaro(Florida International) of Spain 6-4, 6-0.  No. 2 seeds Dalma Galfi of Hungary and Kimberley Zimmermann of Belgium won the doubles title, beating unseeded Paula Ormaechea of Argentina and Prarthana Thombare of India 7-6(4), 6-2 in the championship match.

Hina Inoue, the No. 13 seed, reached the final of the ITF Grade 1 in Barranquilla Colombia, a first in her junior career, but she finished as runner-up, with No. 4 seed Dana Guzman of Peru taking the title with a 7-6(6), 6-3 victory over the 16-year-old from California, who trains in Florida. The boys title went to No. 2 seed Martin Breysach of France, who defeated No. 11 seed Pedro Boscardin Dias of Brazil, also a runner-up last week in Costa Rica, 6-2, 6-4.

Top seed Martin Damm and No. 2 seed Robin Montgomery both lost their third round matches at the ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon, the warm-up to the Australian Open Junior Championships. Damm lost to No. 16 seed Timo Legout of France 7-6(6), 6-4 and Montgomery lost to unseeded Celia Mohr of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Montgomery had beaten Mohr 6-4, 6-2  in the semifinals of last month's Orange Bowl. Not all the third round matches were completed Sunday, with Alex Bernard, the last American still in the singles draw, one of those that did not finish.

The Tennis Europe 14-and-under tournament in Bolton England, known for many years as Teen Tennis, which is the warm-up to the Les Petits As tournament in France, began today, with unseeded players taking the courts for their first round matches. Clervie Ngounoue is not competing this week, but there are four other American girls on the trip: Lexington Reed, Maya Joint[16], Mia Slama and Brooklyn Olson[9]. Reed lost her match today, while Slama won hers.

The US boys competing in Bolton are Kaylan Bigun[4], Nikita Filin, Mitchell Lee, Alexander Razeghi and Meecah Bigun. Meecah Bigun was not among those named to the team by the USTA, but he travelled to Bolton with his twin brother and made his way through qualifying. He won his first round main draw match today, as did Lee and Filin.

Live scoring is available via Tennis Ticker.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

McNally, Eubanks Qualify, Bring Number of Americans in Australian Open to 34; Nakashima, Liu Reach Finals of $25Ks in California

Caty McNally and Christopher Eubanks won their final round qualifying matches Saturday in Melbourne, bringing the number of Americans in the Australian Open main draw to 34. The win by former Georgia Tech star Eubanks, who defeated Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium 6-4, 7-6(3), gives the US 12 men in the main draw. Eubanks, who also qualified for the Australian Open in 2019, will be looking for his first main draw win at a slam when he plays fellow qualifier Peter Gojowczyk of Germany Tuesday.

McNally, 18, dispatched Elena-Gabriela Ruse of Romania 6-1, 6-1 to reach the main draw of a third straight slam. She qualified at Wimbledon and received a wild card at the US Open, winning her first slam match there against Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland. Unlike Eubanks, McNally will be in action Monday, taking on Australia's Samantha Stosur. With Ann Li and Shelby Rogers also qualifying, the number of American women in the draw is now 22.

Fifteen former collegiate players are in the singles draws--11 men and 4 women. In addition to Eubanks, these are the men and their schools:
Kevin Anderson(Illinois), Dominik Koepfer(Tulane), John Isner(Georgia), Cameron Norrie(TCU), Andrew Harris(Oklahoma), Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee), JP Smith(Tennessee), Steve Johnson(USC), Marcos Giron(UCLA), Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA).  The four women are: Kristie Ahn(Stanford), Astra Sharma(Vanderbilt), Danielle Collins(Virginia) and Jennifer Brady(UCLA).

An article on Marcos Giron's long journey to his first appearance in the main draw of the Australian Open appeared today in the Los Angeles Times. Steve Johnson warmed up for his first round match against Roger Federer by claiming the title at the ATP Challenger 80 in Bendigo.

With play beginning Sunday night in the US, here are the Americans in action on the first day of competition. The order of play is here.

Monday’s first round singles matches featuring Americans:

Serena Williams[8] v Anastasia Potapova(RUS)
Venus Williams v Coco Gauff
Sloane Stephens[24] v Shuai Zhang(CHN)
Kristie Ahn v Caroline Wozniacki(DEN)
Caty McNally[Q] v Samantha Stosur(AUS)
Madison Keys[10] v Daria Kasatkina(RUS)
Sofia Kenin[14] v Martina Trevisan[Q](ITA)
Ann Li[Q] v Lizette Cabrera[WC](AUS)
Christina McHale v Petra Martic[13](CRO)
Alison Riske[18] v Yafan Wang(CHN)
Madison Brengle v Caroline Garcia(FRA)
Bernarda Pera v Elena Rybakina[29](KAZ)

Steve Johnson v Roger Federer[3](SUI)
Sam Querrey v Borna Coric[25](CRO)
Reilly Opelka v Fabio Fognini[12](ITA)
Marcos Giron v Philipp Kohlschreiber(GER)
Tommy Paul v Leonardo Mayer(ARG)
Michael Mmoh[WC] v Pablo Andujar(ESP)
Mackenzie McDonald v Dan Evans[30](GBR)
Tennys Sandgren v Marco Trungelliti[Q](ITA)

Two young Americans have reached the finals at the two $25,000 Oracle Pro Series tournaments in Southern California this week. Eighteen-year-old Brandon Nakashima, seeded No. 8, defeated last week's Ann Arbor Challenger champion Ulises Blanch 6-0, 6-1 to advance to the Rancho Santa Fe final, where he will meet No. 4 seed Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France. Blancaneaux, who won the 2016 French Open boys title, defeated No. 5 seed Sandro Ehrat of Switzerland 6-3, 6-4 in the other semifinal today.  

The doubles title in Rancho Santa Fe went to top seeds Lloyd Glasspool(Texas) of Great Britain and Alex Lawson(Notre Dame). They defeated No. 2 seed Sekou Bangoura(Florida) and Boris Arias(LSU) of Bolivia 6-1, 7-6(1) in today's final. 

At the women's tournament in Malibu, 19-year-old Claire Liu has reached the final, with the No. 6 seed downing No. 5 seed Ana Sofia Sanchez Palau of Mexico 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in today's semifinals. Liu will face No. 2 seed Nadia Podoroska of Argentina, who beat No. 8 seed Jessica Pieri of Italy 6-1, 6-1. 

The doubles title was won by No. 2 seeds Rosalie Van der Hoek of the Netherlands and Laura Pigossi of Brazil, who defeated the Pepperdine wild card team of Astrid Brune Olsen of Norway and Anastasia Iamachkine of Peru 6-4, 7-6(4) in today's final. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

My Annual Eight Intriguing Questions; Anthrop, Inoue Reach Barranquilla ITF G1 Semis; Division II and Division III Preseason Rankings; Li, Rogers Qualify for Australian Open

Every year I step back a bit to look at the bigger issues in the world of college and junior tennis, with this year's edition available today at the Tennis Recruiting Network. The fate of the Orange Bowl is the one that strikes me as the most important, although the possibility that the NCAAs, all three divisions, will move to Lake Nona also stands out as a decision that will have a major impact long after 2020.  To go back to my article looking ahead to 2019, click here.

Two Americans have advanced to today's semifinals at the ITF Grade 1 in Barranquilla Colombia, both of them No. 13 seeds. Jack Anthrop defeated No. 10 seed Jerry Shang of China 7-6, 6-7(5), 6-4 and will play No. 11 seed Pedro Boscardin Dias of Brazil in tonight's semifinals. Hina Inoue defeated unseeded Maria Olivia Castedo of Boliva 6-2, 6-2 and will face No. 2 seed Lauren Anzalotta of Puerto Rico in the semifinals.  No US players advanced to the doubles finals, which will be played this evening.

The ITA announced the preseason rankings for Division II and Division III this week. Click on the headings to see the complete lists (scroll down) at the ITA pages for each division.

Division III preseason team rankings:

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

1. Wesleyan
2. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
3. Emory
4. Middlebury
5. Pomona-Pitzer
6. Amherst
7. Carnegie Mellon
8. Chicago
9. MIT
10. Brandeis

Division II preseason team rankings:

1. Barry
2. Columbus State
3. West Florida
4. Wingate
5. Saint Leo
6. Lander
T7. Flagler
T7. Azusa Pacific
9. Hawaii Pacific
10. Hawaii Hilo

1. Barry
2. Lynn
3. Columbus State
4. Indianapolis
5. Nova Southeastern
6. Saint Leo
7. West Florida
8. Hawaii Pacific
9. Central Oklahoma
10. North Georgia

At the Australian Open, 19-year-old Ann Li will make her slam debut next week after winning her final round qualifying match Friday in Melbourne. Li, the No. 31 seed, defeated top qualifying seed Ana Bogdan of Romania 5-7, 7-6(9), 6-2. Li saved two match points in that second set tiebreaker. Shelby Rogers defeated Caroline Dolehide 6-4, 6-4 in an all-US final round qualifying match to give the US 21 women in the main draw.  Three more can still advance, with Caty McNally, Danielle Lao(USC) and Sachia Vickery playing their final round qualifying matches Saturday (tonight in the US). Chris Eubanks(Georgia Tech) is the only American man to advance to the final round of qualifying and he did so when Viktor Troicki of Serbia retired leading 6-4, 1-2. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Texas Men Start NCAA Title Defense with Win over No. 1 Florida; Clemson's Harris Announces Retirement; Damm Top Seed at Traralgon Grade 1; Australian Open Draws Announced

Senior Yuya Ito clinched the win for the Longhorns
It's hard to imagine a better opening match for the Division I dual match season than the one that took place last night in Gainesville, with the 2019 NCAA champion Texas men, No. 2 in preseason poll, facing Florida, who topped last week's poll.  Florida took the doubles point, but Texas roared back to post a 5-2 win, with Yuya Ito clinching it for the Longhorns with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Oliver Crawford at line 1. Texas had three freshmen in the singles lineup--Siem Woldeab, Eliot Spizzirri and redshirt Cleeve Harper--with Woldeab at line 3 and Spizzirri at line 4 posting wins. Texas will certainly move to No. 1 in next week's team rankings, and when the computer rankings begin next month, getting a road win over such a good team will be especially valuable.

The recap from the Texas website is excellent, featuring plenty of match details and quotes from head coach Bruce Berque. An article this thorough is unfortunately rare in college tennis, so I want to make sure I recognize SIDs who are providing this quality of reporting. There are also video highlights here.

In other Division I tennis news, Nancy Harris, who has led the Clemson women for 23 years, will retire at the end of this season. Harris posted more than 500 wins in her career, made the NCAA tournament 19 times and guided the Tigers to the Final Four in 2004 and 2005. For more on her accomplishments, see this article from the Clemson website.

The ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia is set to begin Friday (tonight in the United States) with four US girls and five US boys in the main draw. Martin Damm is the top seed and Dali Blanch is the No. 15 seed. Cash Hanzlik, who qualified, and Kalamazoo 16s finalists Alex Bernard and Aidan Mayo round out the American contingent in the boys draw.

None of the three US girls in qualifying won their final round matches. Robin Montgomery is the No. 2 seed and Savannah Broadus in the No. 16 seed. India Houghton and Ellie Coleman are the other two American girls in the Australian Open warmup event.

The men's and women's singles draws for the Australian Open were revealed Thursday, with 11 US men and 19 US women receiving direct entry.

Just two of the men are seeded: No. 19 John Isner(Georgia) and No. 29 Taylor Fritz. The remaining American men are Frances Tiafoe, Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee), Sam Querrey, Reilly Opelka, Tommy Paul, Steve Johnson(USC), Marcos Giron(UCLA), Michael Mmoh[WC] and Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA).

Paul has reached the semifinals of an ATP event for the first time in his career in Adelaide as a qualifier. Paul is now working with former USTA coach Brad Stine and the ATP published an article recently about their partnership.

In contrast to the men, the women have seven seeded players: Alison Riske[18], Madison Keys[10], Sloane Stephens[24], Sofia Kenin[14], Serena Williams[8], Danielle Collins[26](Virginia) and Amanda Anisimova[21]. The other American women in the draw are Bernarda Pera, Christina McHale, Venus Williams, Coco Gauff, Madison Brengle, Kristie Ahn, Cici Bellis, Jennifer Brady, Lauren Davis, Taylor Townsend, Jessica Pegula and Coco Vandeweghe[WC].  Venus and Gauff will have a rematch of their Wimbledon contest, with Townsend and Pegula also meeting in an all-US first rounder.

Collins, who reached the quarterfinals of the WTA event last week in Brisbane, is into the semifinals this week in Adelaide. The two-time NCAA champion, who beat No. 4 seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-1 Thursday, has two wins over Top 10 players now in the past two weeks, dropping six games total in them. She takes on No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia in Friday's semifinals.

The qualifying continues at the Australian Open, with Chris Eubanks, JJ Wolf and Ernesto Escobedo the US men who still have a chance to reach the main draw. Eight US women are still in the running: Ann Li, Sachia Vickery, Varvara Lepchenko, Allie Kiick, Danielle Lao, Shelby Rogers, Caroline Dolehide and Caty McNally. Six is the maximum number that can make the main draw, as four could meet in the final round of qualifying.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Anthrop Defeats Top Seed at Barranquilla Grade 1; Four Americans Begin Qualifying at Traralgon Australia G1; Wolf Wins First Grand Slam Qualifying Match

Eddie Herr 16s champion Jack Anthrop advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITF Grade 1 in Barranquilla Colombia today when top seed and last week's G1 Coffee Bowl winner Natan Rodrigues of Brazil retired trailing 7-5, 3-0. It's the first Grade 1 quarterfinal for Anthrop, the No. 13 seed, who broke into the ITF junior Top 100 this week after reaching the third round in Costa Rica and winning the doubles title.  The third round results other three US boys still alive--Stefan Leustian[5], Max McKennon and Benjamin Kittay[9]--have not yet been posted.

Three US girls have advanced to the quarterfinals in Colombia this week: Isabelle Kouzmanov[6], Hina Inoue[13] and Sofia Camila Rojas[12]. Kouzmanov plays top seed Ana Geller of Argentina and Rojas faces No. 2 seed Lauren Anzalotta of Puerto Rico.

Qualifying for the Grade 1 warmup to the Australian Open Junior Championships has begun in Traralgon, with four Americans on Thursday's schedule. Cash Hanzlik[4] is the only US boy in qualifying, while three US girls are competing for a place in the main draw: Kailey Evans[3], Hibah Shaikh[6] and Tara Malik[7]. A surprise entry in the qualifying is Nicolas David Ionel of Romania, who took a wild card into qualifying after losing in the first round of the ATP Challenger in Bendigo. At 31 in the ITF junior rankings, he is the top seed; the boys qualifying did not fill in Traralgon, while the girls did. Both rounds of qualifying are scheduled to be played today. I believe they did not play the first round on Wednesday due to air quality problems from the fires.

The Australian Open qualifying is now into its third day, but due to delays from poor air quality and rain, the first round has yet to be finished, although some second round matches are on Thursday's schedule. A total of 48 first round matches had either not begun or were suspended Wednesday when rain suspended play for the day.

American men who have advanced to the second round are Chris Eubanks(Georgia Tech), Denis Kudla, Ernesto Escobedo and in a delayed match, JJ Wolf(Ohio State). Wolf, who won the last two ATP Challengers he played--in Champaign last November and in Noumea last week--defeated Zdenek Kolar of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2 to earn his first slam qualifying match. His other two attempts came last year at the US Open and in 2017, also at the US Open, earning that opportunity as a finalist at the Kalamazoo 18s Nationals.

American women who have reached the second round of qualifying in Melbourne are Hailey Baptiste, Ann Li[31], Shelby Rogers, Caroline Dolehide[30], Allie Kiick[28], Danielle Lao(USC), Francesa Di Lorenzo[16](Ohio State) and Nicole Gibbs[15](Stanford).

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Orange Bowl 16s and 18s Videos; Two $25,000 Events on Each Coast Kick Off 2020 USTA Women's Pro Circuit; Redlicki Ousts Top Seed in Rancho Santa Fe $25K

The videos of the finalists of the Orange Bowl 16s and 18s are below, with the champion first, followed by the finalist. This leaves me with just the Junior Orange Bowl 12s and 14s to process from last month's junior swing in Florida. If you missed the Eddie Herr videos, the 16s and 18s are here, and the 12s and 14s are here.

Thiago Tirante

Juan Bautista Torres

Robin Montgomery

Jana Kolodynska

Daniel Rincon

Gabrielius Guzauskas

Ashlyn Krueger

Clervie Ngounoue

While the men had two USTA Pro Circuit events last week, the women didn't have any, but they have two this week, both $25,000 events. Qualifying is now complete in Daytona Beach Florida, with Dasha Ivanova and 15-year-old Rachel Gailis the two Americans advancing to the main draw. Wild cards went to 17-year-old Charlotte Chavatipon, Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame), Kylie McKenzie and 17-year-old Jaleesa Leslie. Gleason didn't play today, but the other three wild cards lost their first round matches. The top two seeds are Paula Ormaechea of Argentina and Tessa Andrianjafitrimo of France.

The other women's tournament is an Oracle Pro Series event in Malibu California. Qualifying is still going on there, but wild cards went to four Americans: 18-year-old Peyton Stearns, 17-year-old Naomi Cheong, 16-year-old Orange Bowl quarterfinalist Maya Pitts and Pepperdine's  Jessica Failla. Amandine Hesse of France is the top seed, with Nadia Podoroska of Argentina the No. 2 seed.

The men have a $25,000 Oracle Pro Circuit tournament in Rancho Santa Fe California this week, with top seed Nino Seradusic of Croatia already ousted today by Michael Redlicki(Arkansas) 6-4, 6-2. American qualifiers are Alex Rybakov(TCU), Evan Zhu(UCLA), Brandon Holt(USC) and Riley Smith(USC). Wild cards went to Emilio Nava, Alafia Ayeni(Cornell), Vasil Kirkov and Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda. Svajda lost to No. 5 Sandro Ehrat of Switzerland 6-4, 6-2 in opening round action today.  Many of those competing at the Ann Arbor Challenger last week have entered this tournament, including champion Ulises Blanch, who is not seeded.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Twenty-Six Americans Set for Australian Open Qualifying; 22 US Juniors Entered in This Week's Grade 1 in Colombia

If the air quality index allows it, the qualifying for the Australian Open will begin shortly in Melbourne, with ten Americans on the opening day schedule. The horrific fires in Australia have intensifying over the past few weeks and the smoke they produce has caused dangerous conditions depending on which way the wind is blowing. If you are able to help, links to the Australian Red Cross site and to tennis-related fundraisers are available at the Australian Open website.

There are ten US men and 16 US women in qualifying, but two US men and one US woman are guaranteed to be eliminated in the first round. Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia) and Chris Eubanks(Georgia Tech) will meet in the first round, as will Ernesto Escobedo and Mitchell Krueger. Cathy McNally, the No. 10 seed, and Asia Muhammad, who won the Auckland doubles title with Taylor Townsend last week, will face off in the first round.  None of those matches are Tuesday, with Denis Kudla[7], Donald Young and Maxime Cressy(UCLA) the American men scheduled for the first day. Other American men in qualifying are Noah Rubin, Bradley Klahn[22](Stanford) and JJ Wolf(Ohio State), who won the Noumea Challenger yesterday.

The seven women playing Tuesday are Ann Li[31], Shelby Rogers, Caroline Dolehide[30], Hailey Baptiste, Francesca Di Lorenzo[14](Ohio State), Nicole Gibbs[15](Stanford) and Whitney Osuigwe[26].  The others starting Wednesday are Sachia Vickery, Varvara Lepchenko, Irina Falconi(Georgia Tech), Allie Kiick[28], Robin Anderson(UCLA), Danielle Lao(USC) and Usue Arconada[22].

Australian Open qualifying matches will be available this year on ESPN+.

The ITF Junior Circuit moves to South America this week, with the Grade 1 in Barranquilla Colombia featuring 13 US boys and 9 US girls. Dali Blanch, who was the top seed in Costa Rica last week, losing in the quarterfinals, is scheduled to compete next week at the Grade 1 that begins late this week in Traralgon Australia, so he is not in this week's draw, but Stefan Leustian[5], who withdrew from Costa Rica, is playing. The other American boys in the draw are: Jack Anthrop[13], wild card Jared Phillips, Azuma Visaya, Jake Krug, Connor Krug, Max McKennon, Bruno Kuzuhara, Benjamin Kittay[9], wild card Alvaro Pedraza, Spencer Brachman, Gabrielius Guzauskas[Q], and Ryan Colby[Q]. The latter four lost their opening round matches today.  JC Roddick, who received a wild card last week in Costa Rica and advanced to the semifinals, losing to champion Natan Rodrigues of Brazil, is not in the draw. Rodrigues is the top seed this week in Barranquilla.

The only one of the three US girls who made the Costa Rica semifinals is playing this week: Nevena Carton. Lan Mi of China, who beat Carton in the semifinals and went on to win the title over Alexia Harmon, is not playing in this week event. Mi moved into the Top 100 this week with her title. The top girls seed in Colombia is Ana Geller of Argentina. In addition to Carton, the US girls playing this week are Jennifer Riester, Isabelle Kouzmanov[6], Dakota Fordham[15], Ava Krug, Hina Inoue[13], Sofia Camila Rojas[12], Rebecca Lynn[16] and Nicole Kiefer.

In other junior news from Australia, 2019 ITF World Junior champion Diane Parry of France has received a women's qualifying wild card, and 2019 AO boys champion Lorenzo Musetti of Italy was given a men's qualifying wild card.

Wimbledon boys champion Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan has withdrawn from both the Traralgon Grade 1 and the Australian Open Junior Championships. Harold Mayot of France, who has withdrawn from Traralgon, is the only player in the Australian Open boys acceptances ahead of Martin Damm, who is entered in both events.

Katrina Scott, who has not played since reaching the semifinals of the Malibu $25K in early November, has withdrawn from both junior events in Australia.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Mi, Rodrigues Earn ITF G1 Coffee Bowl Titles, Americans Claim Doubles Championships; Blanch Wins Ann Arbor Challenger; Wolf Captures Second Straight Challenger Title

Lan Mi of China and Natan Rodrigues of Brazil won the singles titles late Saturday night at the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica, the first title at that level for both. No. 16 seed Mi, a 15-year-old who trains in the United States, defeated unseeded 14-year-old American Alexia Harmon 6-3, 6-2 in the girls final. Both Mi and Harmon were playing in their first ITF Grade 1 event.

The 17-year-old Rodrigues, the No. 2 seed, won an all-Brazil final, defeating No. 10 seed Pedro Boscardin Dias 6-3, 6-7(9), 6-2. It was the first time since 2013 that at least one American did not win a singles title at the Coffee Bowl.

Americans did pick up doubles titles however. Jaedan Brown partnered with Lauren Anzalotta of Puerto Rico to take the girls doubles title, with the No. 5 seeds defeating top seeds Julia Garcia and Alejandra Cruz of Mexico 6-3, 5-7, 10-4.

The boys doubles title went to No. 6 seeds Jack Anthrop and Max McKennon, who defeated No. 2 seeds Rodrigues and Bruno Oliveira of Brazil 6-3, 5-7, 10-8.

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Ann Arbor, unseeded Ulises Blanch came from 6-3, 4-1 down to capture the second Challenger title of his career, beating No. 4 seed Roberto Cid of the Dominican Republic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Once he found his range, the 21-year-old Blanch dictated play and proved too powerful for the former South Florida All-American. Blanch, who trains at the USTA's National Campus, will now move to a career-high ATP ranking of 265.

Robert Galloway (Wofford) and Mexico's Hans Hach(Abilene Christian) won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds defeating unseeded Alejandro Gomez(Kentucky) and Nicolas Barrientos of Colombia 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 in the final.

At the USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 tournament in Los Angeles, top seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina defeated No. 6 seed Alexander Ritschard(Virginia) of the United States 6-3, 6-3 for the title.

The final of the ATP Challenger 90 in Noumea was pushed backed a day due to rain, so it was Monday there when JJ Wolf won his third career Challenger title and second in a row. The unseeded 21-year-old, who left Ohio State last spring after his junior year, defeated No. 4 seed and ATP No. 100 Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-2, 6-2 to start 2020 how he ended 2019, with a Challenger title. I lost track of how many forehand winners Wolf hit, but the surprisingly large crowd (for a Monday morning) oohed and aahed on every one. Wolf, who won the Champaign Challenger in November, will not see his ATP ranking jump much, as he won the Columbus Challenger that Ann Arbor hosted this year last January, but he should still reach a career-high of 181. Wolf now enters Australian Open qualifying, which begins Tuesday, on a 11-match winning streak.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Eddie Herr 12s and 14s Videos; Ritschard, Blanch Advance to $25K, Challenger Finals

Below are the videos of the 12s and 14s Eddie Herr finalists, with the champions first, followed by the runners-up. Due to simultaneous finals, these videos are shorter than those of the ITF event, but I hope they at least provide a brief look at these up-and-coming youngsters.

Alina Korneeva:

Mirra Andreeva:

Kayla Cross:

Sara Saito:

Manas Dhamne:

Max Exsted:

Alex Coman:

Benjamin Kreynes

No. 6 seed Alexander Ritschard advanced to the final of the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit/Oracle tournament in Los Angeles, beating unseeded USC senior Brandon Holt 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(3) in an all-US semifinal. The 25-year-old Ritschard, a former standout at the University of Virginia, will play top seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina for the title. Cerundolo defeated 18-year-old wild card Emilio Nava 6-4, 6-2 to earn his place in the final. Since graduation, Ritschard has reached the finals of a Futures event four times and won all four.

The wild card team of USC teammates Riley Smith and Israel's Daniel Cukierman took the doubles title, defeating Holt and Sandro Ehrat of Switzerland 7-6(4), 7-6(5) in today's final.

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Ann Arbor, unseeded Ulises Blanch will face No. 4 seed Roberto Cid of the Dominican Republic in the final. Cid, a former South Florida All-American, took a two-hour and 45-minute contest with unseeded Stefan Kozlov 7-6(1), 5-7, 6-3. Although there were only two breaks in the match, Blanch dominated No. 10 seed Daniel Altmaier of Germany 6-3, 6-4, with the 21-year-old American facing no break points. Blanch will be playing in his second career Challenger final, with the previous one, which he won, coming in July of 2018.

Friday, January 10, 2020

My Conversation with USTA's Head of Women's Tennis Kathy Rinaldi; Nava Among Three Americans into Los Angeles $25K Semifinals; Kozlov, Blanch and Wolf Move on in Challengers

I have known Kathy Rinaldi for more than a decade, starting when she was named a USTA National Coach. She traveled to many of the same tournaments as I did when she was working primarily with younger juniors and even as she was  given more responsibility at the USTA, she could always be found at a junior event, watching those coming up. After being named Fed Cup captain in 2016 and leading the US to the title in 2017, Rinaldi continued in that role, and last year was named head of women's tennis at the USTA. Although there are few bigger roles than that in the organization, Rinaldi is still a regular at junior matches, and this year I caught up with her at the Junior Orange Bowl, where she was watching and supporting the American girls competing in that event. I took the opportunity to ask Rinaldi how her first year in the new position has gone, and about the new Fed Cup format, the WTA age restrictions, and what advice she has for parents of junior players. All that and more can be found in this interview, published today at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The semifinals are set at both the USTA Pro Circuit events, with two Americans in the Ann Arbor ATP Challenger 80 final four and three Americans advancing at the $25,000 tournament in Los Angeles.

Unseeded Stefan Kozlov defeated top seed Bjorn Fratangelo 7-6(4), 6-2 to reach his first Challenger semifinal in over two years. The 21-year-old will face former USF All-American Roberto Cid (South Florida), the No. 4 seed, who saved six match points in his second round match against Agustin Velotti of Argentina when I was at the tournament Wednesday. In the other semifinal, unseeded Ulises Blanch will take on No. 10 seed Daniel Altmaier of Germany after Blanch defeated No. 8 seed JC Aragone(Virginia) 7-5, 5-7, 6-2. Live streaming is available at the ATP website.

In Los Angeles, wild card Emilio Nava, who turned 18 last month, is through to the semifinals, defeating former USC star Raymond Sarmiento 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Nava will play top seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina, who played briefly at South Carolina, in the semifinals. It's the first semifinal at the $25K level for the 2019 US Open and Australian Open boys finalist.

In the other semifinal, unseeded Brandon Holt, a senior at USC, will face No. 6 seed Alexander Ritschard, a former Virginia standout. Holt took out No. 2 seed Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-0, while Ritschard beat former teammate Collin Altamirano, the No. 4 seed, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

At the ATP Challenger 90 in Noumea, JJ Wolf has advanced to the final with a 6-2, 6-2 win over unseeded Matteo Viola of Italy. Wolf has lost only one set en route to the final, to No. 2 seed and ATP No. 80 Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in the second round. In what I watched of that match, Wolf was particularly good at simply taking time away from Viola, which is essential for the former Ohio State Buckeye as he ascends to the highest level of the sport. He has now won 10 straight matches at the Challenger level, having won the last US Challenger in Champaign in November.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Stanford Women, Florida Men Voted No. 1 in First Oracle/ITA Team Rankings; Three Unseeded US Girls Reach ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl Semifinals; Brady Beats WTA No. 1 Barty; Wolf Makes Noumea Challenger Semifinals

The dual match season is right around the corner and the Oracle/ITA Division preseason team rankings were released on Wednesday, with the Stanford women and Florida men in the No. 1 positions. Stanford won the women's NCAA title last year, while the Florida men lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Texas.  Stanford received 8 first place votes, North Carolina 3 and Georgia 1. Florida received 5 first place votes, Texas 4 and USC 3.

These rankings are based on voting, not on a computer algorithm so this is what coaches think based on what they know of the teams before they've played any matches. Once some actual matches are played and enough results are tabulated, the computer will take over; this year that will be February 18th. The ranking manual for 2019-20 is available here.

Women's preseason rankings, with last year's final ranking in parentheses:

1. Stanford (1)
T2. North Carolina (3)
T2. Georgia (2)
4. UCLA (7)
5. Duke (4)
6. Pepperdine (6)
7. Texas (9)
8. NC State (11)
9. South Carolina (5)
10. Vanderbilt (8)

Men's preseason rankings:
1. Florida (4)
2. Texas (2)
3. USC (8)
4. North Carolina (7)
5. Baylor (6)
6. Ohio State (3)
7. Wake Forest (2)
8. TCU (10)
9. Texas A&M (14)
10. Virginia (5)

The ITA appears to making a transition to a new website, with the current and past rankings now available at this page.
The girls semifinals are set at the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica, and three unseeded girls have advanced to the final four. Alexis Blokhina, who defeated the top seed yesterday, continued her run with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over No. 8 seed Sofia Rojas. Blokhina, 15, will play another American on Friday, with 14-year-old Alexia Harmon advancing with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Melisa Ercan of Turkey. Nevena Carton, 16, reached the semifinals with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 15 seed Lola Radivojevic of Serbia. She will play No. 16 seed Lan Mi of China, who trains in the United States. Mi defeated No. 11 seed Rebecca Lynn 6-0, 6-1.

All three of the US boys in the quarterfinals--Bruno Kuzuhara, wild card JC Roddick and top seed Dali Blanch--were playing night matches. In the two matches that are complete in the boys quarterfinals, Kuzuhara lost to Sweden's Leo Borg, son of Bjorn Borg, 6-3, 6-4 and No. 2 seed Natan Rodrigues of Brazil defeated No. 11 seed Mehdi Sadaoui of France 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

Jennifer Brady earned the best win of her career Thursday, taking out world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-4, 7-6(4) to reach the quarterfinals of the premier event in Brisbane. The former UCLA star, a qualifier, will face No. 5 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic Friday. For more on Brady's win, see this article from the WTA website.

At the ATP 90 Challenger in Noumea, JJ Wolf has reached the semifinals, beating Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia 6-3, 6-4 in Friday's quartefinals. The 21-year-old former Buckeye, who won the Columbus Challenger that was played this week in 2019, now has a nine-match winning streak at the Challenger level. He won the Champaign Challenger in November of 2019 to close out his year, a result that helped him gain entry into the Australia Open qualifying, which begins next week.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

My Day at Ann Arbor Challenger; Blokhina Ousts Top Seed to Reach ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl Quarterfinals

I spent most of the day at the ATP 80 Challenger in Ann Arbor, taking advantage of the first Challenger in Michigan since I began reporting on tennis in 2004.  The University of Michigan's Varsity Tennis Center is a great venue for spectators, admission is free and if you're in the area, go out and see some great tennis the rest of the week. I talked to a lot of players I got to know over the years when they were in juniors and in college, many of whom I hadn't seen in quite a while.

Patrick Kypson, the 2017 Kalamazoo 18s champion, was certainly glad to see a new year, after being out for virtually all of 2019 with injuries. Using his protected ranking, the 20-year-old from North Carolina got into the main draw, and he has earned two victories this week. Today he came back to defeat No. 14 seed Michael Redlicki(Duke/Arkansas) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 and will play Ulises Blanch in the round of 16 Thursday. Blanch defeated No. 2 seed Noah Rubin 7-5, 7-6(4) tonight, a match that started this evening due to three three-setters scheduled before that match. Rubin told me he is the only player in Ann Arbor who is planning to travel to Australia for the qualifying, and he will now head to Los Angeles for his flight Down Under.

Wild Card Aleks Kovacevic, a senior at Illinois, looked very good in his 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 5 seed Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium. The players watching that match were raving about his one-handed backhand and it was certainly in great form today. He will play No. 10 seed Daniel Altmaier of Germany in the round of 16 Thursday evening.

The most exciting match was the first one on Court 1, with No. 4 seed Roberto Cid Subervi of the Dominican Republic defeating Agustin Velotti of Argentina 6-7(4), 6-2, 7-6(13) in just under three hours. Cid, a former All-American at the University of South Florida, trailed 5-2 in the third set, but Velotti was unable to serve out the match at 5-3, and although he was two points away from the win several times in that game, he never held a match point.

Velotti earned his first match point at 6-5 in the third set tiebreaker, then had one at 7-6, 8-7 and 9-8. Velotti did make errors on a couple of those points, but Cid came up with a fantastic reflex lob winner on another. Velotti got a fifth match point after he had saved one himself at 10-9, going up 11-10, but Cid came up with an audacious drop shot winner from back by the baseline that Velotti barely reached and couldn't get back. Velotti's forehand on his sixth match point caught the tape and fell back, not over, and from then on it was Cid with the match points. He didn't convert on his second, with a defensive slice  floating wide, but Velotti missed a putaway volley long and wide on the third match point, giving Cid the win. An enraged Velotti gave his racquet a heave to the netting separating the courts, but fortunately for him, it did not hit anyone or do any damage before it came to rest.

Although lacking the same level of drama at the end, the next match on that court also went to a third set tiebreaker, with former USC star Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador, the No. 7 seed, defeating Tobias Simon of Germany 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(4).

No. 15 seed Sekou Bangora(Florida) defeated Martin Redlicki(UCLA) 7-6(8), 6-3 and will play Cid on Thursday.

Thursday's schedule is here and live streaming is available at the ATP Challenger site.
At the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica, unseeded 15-year-old Alexis Blokhina defeated top seed Julia Garcia of Mexico 7-6, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals in her first Grade 1 appearance. Blokhina will play another American, No. 8 seed Sofia Rojas, next.  Unseeded Alexia Harmon, also playing in her first Grade 1, advanced to the quarterfinals, where she will face unseeded Melisa Ercan of Turkey, the 2018 Junior Orange Bowl 14s champion.  No. 11 seed Rebecca Lynn and unseeded Nevena Carton have also reached the quarterfinals.

In the boys draw, top seed Dali Blanch has reached the quarterfinals, as has unseeded Bruno Kuzuhara. Kuzuhara defeated No. 3 seed Bruno Oliveira of Brazil 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 in the third round today.  The winner of tonight's match between No. 12 seed Jack Anthrop and wild card JC Roddick will be the third US boy in the quarterfinals.

The tournament website is here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Tennis Recruiting Network's Recaps of Winter National 12s and 14s; Malik Falls, but 12 Americans Advance at Grade 1 Coffee Bowl; Brady Defeats Sharapova in Brisbane

The Tennis Recruiting Network is supplying recaps of last week's USTA Winter National Championships, with the article on the 12s, from yesterday, here. There were two articles today on the girls and boys 14s finals. Sonny Dearth mentions that girls singles and doubles champion Susanna Maltby comes from a tennis family, but I'll add even more to her pedigree. Her mother Tracey Donnelly grew up here in Kalamazoo and is the daughter of Bud and Carol Donnelly, who have been indispensable volunteers at the USTA boys 18 and 16 Nationals here for decades. Tracey and her sister Diane, who played collegiately at Northwestern and won the 1987 NCAA doubles title with Katrina Adams, also worked as executives for Billie Jean King's World Team Tennis league, and are the reason the tennis legend established a scholarship program for young tennis players with diabetes.

There are still a couple of boys singles matches tonight that will conclude the second round at the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica, but top seeds Dali Blanch and Mexico's Julia Garcia are through to the round of 16.  No. 2 girls seed Tara Malik lost today to Tanisha Kashyap of India 6-4, 6-0. Unseeded Alexia Harmon, who lost to Maltby in the semifinals of the Winter Nationals 14s last week, beat No. 6 seed Amelie Van Impe of Belgium 6-0, 6-1 to advance to the round of 16. US boys remaining are Blanch, Benjamin Kittay[8], Jack Anthrop[12], Bruno Kuzuhara and wild card JC Roddick. Qualifier Timothy Phung is playing No. 2 seed Natan Rodrigues of Brazil tonight.

In addition to Harmon, the other US girls in the round of 16 are Sofia Camila Rojas[8], Rebecca Lynn[11], Nevena Carton, Jaedan Brown, Minorka Miranda and Alexis Blokhina. Brown defeated No. 3 seed Lauren Anzalotta of Puerto Rico in the first round Monday.

Scores are updated throughout the day at the tournament's website.

Jennifer Brady, who qualified for this week's WTA premier event in Brisbane this week, is knocking on the door of the Top 50 after defeating wild card Maria Sharapova 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(3) in the first round. The former UCLA star will face WTA No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the second round Thursday. For more on Brady's win along with video highlights, see this from the WTA website.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Les Petits As Acceptances; Ann Arbor Challenger, Los Angeles $25K Kick Off 2020 USTA Pro Circuit

The acceptances for next month's Les Petits As are out today, with four US girls and four US boys receiving entry into the main draw of the prestigious event, held from January 27 to February 2 in Tarbes France.

It was initially thought that only three of the four Americans who reached the semifinals of last fall's US Les Petits As playoffs would be given main draw slots, with the fourth place finisher relegated to qualifying, but all eight Americans are in the main draw section of the list.

The US girls are Clervie Ngounoue, Maya Joint, Brooklyn Olson and Lexington Reed. The US boys are Mitchell Lee, Alexander Razeghi, Kaylan Bigun and Nikita Filin.

Martin Landaluce of Spain, who won the Super Category Christmas Cup U14 event last week has entered, as has finalist Atakan Karahan of Turkey. Eddie Herr 12s champion Manas Dhamne of India is also on the entry list; Junior Orange Bowl 12s champion Benjamin Gusic Wan is currently an alternate, but with his Lacoste sponsorship, I wouldn't be surprised if he received a wild card.

Thirteen-year-old Nikola Bartunkova of the Czech Republic leads the girls field; Bartuknova went 73-12 last year, winning two ITF Grade 4s. Last week she reached the final of a Grade 3 in Sweden. Brenda Fruhvirtova, who won the Eddie Herr 12s as a 10-year-old in 2017 and the Eddie Herr 14s as an 11-year-old in 2018, does not turn 13 until April, but she will be one of the favorites in the field. Brenda's sister Linda won the title in Tarbes last year.

Russians Alina Korneeva, the Eddie Herr 12s champion, and Mirra Andreeva, the Junior Orange Bowl 12s champion, are both in qualifying.

The USTA Pro Circuit's 2020 began today with two men's events, the new ATP Challenger 80 in Ann Arbor and the $25,000 tournament in Los Angeles.  Both are part of the Oracle Pro Series.

I plan to drive over to Ann Arbor on day this week to watch some of the action, and even with all that's going on in Australia, there are a lot of Americans in the draw. Brandon Nakashima, who recently signed with GSE Worldwide and will not be returning to Virginia, won his first round match today, as did Ohio State's John McNally, Stefan Kozlov and Michigan sophomore Andrew Fenty. Fenty and Ondrej Styler, a freshman at Michigan, received wild cards and faced each other today, with Fenty picking up his first Challenger-level win with a 7-6(4), 7-6(5) victory.

Bjorn Fratangelo, Noah Rubin and Sebastian Korda are the top three seeds. Live streaming is available at the ATP Challenger website.

The $25,000 tournament in Los Angeles, held on the USC campus, unsurprisingly features many current and former Trojans. Daniel Cukierman, Riley Smith and freshman Ryder Jackson received wild cards, with Brandon Holt and former Trojan Raymond Sarmiento receiving entry based on their rankings. Emilio Nava received the fourth wild card.

Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina and Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France are the top two seeds.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Forty Americans Begin Year Aiming for Grade 1 Title in Costa Rica; WTA Season Begins

The first International Tennis Federation Grade 1 junior event begins Monday in Costa Rica, with 40 Americans--19 boys and 21 girls--in the main draw.

The girls qualifying did not have a full field, but only one American entered and she lost in the second and final round of qualifying. Four US boys did qualify: Quinn Snyder, Owen Megargee, Timothy Phung and Zachery Foster. JC Roddick received a wild card, as did Misha Berry in the girls draw.

The other 14 US boys in main draw are: Dali Blanch, the top seed; Benjamin Kittay, the No. 8 seed; Jack Anthrop, the No. 12 seed; Connor Krug; Max McKennon; Bruno Kuzuhara; Adit Sinha; Jake Krug; Sam Scherer; Billy Suarez; Alex Finkelstein; Jakub Ostajewski; Ekansh Kumar and Mekhi Gbedey.

The other 20 US girls in the main draw are Tara Malik, the No. 2 seed; Sofia Camila Rojas, the No. 8 seed; Dakota Fordham, the No. 10 seed, Rebecca Lynn, the No. 11 seed; Ava Krug, the No. 13 seed; Nevena Carton; Gabriella Soliman; Jaedan Brown, Calissa Dellabarca; Minorka Miranda; Alexia Harmon; Leah Kuruvilla; Alexis Blokhina; Maria Rizzolo; Mia Slama; Andrea Le; Caroline Wernli; Charlotte Cartledge; Sarah Hamner and Lara Smejkal.  Charlotte Owensby was entered and still on the acceptance list as of Saturday, but is not in the draw.

I am still having difficulty navigating the new ITF Junior website, but the Coffee Bowl, which is now in its 56th year and is, from what I've heard, one of the gems of the junior circuit, has its own website. Monday's order of play and draws, as well as a link to live streaming, can be found here.

The WTA season has begun, with two international events, in New Zealand and China, and a premier event, in Australia, getting underway today. Nineteen-year-old Ann Li qualified for the Auckland tournament, beating Usue Arconada in the final round of qualifying today. Coco Gauff, Amanda Anisimova and Cici Bellis are among the young Americans in the main draw. Former Georgia Tech star Paige Hourigan and current Cal freshman Valentina Ivanov, both from New Zealand, received main draw wild cards.

In Shenzhen China, two-time NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs qualified and drew the only other American in the field, Shelby Rogers. 2018 US Open girls champion Xiyu Wang of China received a wild card and won her opening match against veteran Sorana Cirstea of Romani1 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

In Brisbane, former UCLA star Jennifer Brady was one of four players to advance to the main draw by winning three matches in qualifying. Sofia Kenin and Danielle Collins are among the five other Americans in the main draw.

At the ATP Cup, the United States team of Taylor Fritz, John Isner, Tommy Paul, Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram has lost to both Norway and Russia this weekend, leaving them 0-2 in round robin group play and unlikely to advance to the quarterfinals.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Eddie Herr 16s and 18s Videos; Spain's Landaluce, Russia's Milovanova Win 14U Super Category Christmas Cup Titles

I've started processing my videos from last month's finals in the big Florida tournaments and below are those from the Eddie Herr 16s and ITF finals. Next up will be the videos of the 12s and 14s finalists in Bradenton.

Jack Anthrop

Marko Andrejic

Ashlyn Krueger

Qavia Lopez

Eva Lys

Jana Kolodynska

Thiago Tirante

Roman Burruchaga

The finals of the first 14U Super Category tournament sanctioned by Tennis Europe were played today at Moscow's Christmas Cup, with Spain's Martin Landaluce and Russia's Victoria Milovanova taking the singles titles. Landaluce, the No. 3 seed, defeated top seed Atakan Karahan of Turkey 4-1 retired. Landaluce also won the doubles title, with Dmitry Bessonov of Russia.  I'm not able to get birth dates for the all these players, but Milovanova was playing 12s last year, so I assume she is a 2007 birth year, which would also account for her needing a wild card and not being seeded. Milovanova defeated No. 4 seed Brit Martin of Estonia 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in the final. Two other 2007 birth years, Alina Korneeva (Eddie Herr 12s champion) of Russia and Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain, won the girls doubles title.

See the Tennis Europe tournament website for complete results and draws.

Friday, January 3, 2020

December Aces; Shelton, Zapp Claim 18s Winter National Titles

My monthly column highlighting the standouts from the previous month is up today at the Tennis Recruiting Network, and it features all 14 of the champions at the three major December junior tournaments in Florida. If you took a break from tennis for the holidays, it's a great way to catch up on how the junior year concluded. I wasn't able to include all the former college players who collected titles last month, but I did manage to squeeze in two Americans Pro Circuit champions.

The Shelton family picked up a gold ball and a silver ball today in Lake Nona, with Emma winning the girls 18s title at the USTA Winter Nationals and Ben finishing second to Logan Zapp in a three-hour boys 18s championship match.

I was not able to get the Playsight live stream to work for more than a few minutes at a time, so I don't have much to say about South Carolina freshman Emma Shelton's 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 victory over top seed Sarah Hamner, but the stream was perfect for the boys final, with Zapp earning a 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 6-4 win over Shelton.
Zapp, an 18-year-old North Carolina recruit, led in all three sets, and had three set points in the opening set, two of them when serving for it at 5-4. But Shelton, a 17-year-old who will play for his father Bryan at Florida in 2021, played more aggressively on those points, hitting two winners, while Zapp also chipped in with a double fault. After an easy hold to go up 6-5, Shelton had a set point at 30-40 with Zapp serving, but Zapp saved it with a backhand stab volley and went on to hold. But Shelton took advantage of his second set point serving at 6-5 in the tiebreaker, with an overhead winner sealing the set for him.

Up 3-0 to start the second set, Zapp was broken at love serving at 3-1, but neither player got another break, although Zapp had to saved a break point serving at 5-6. In the second set tiebreaker, Shelton made several unforced errors and Zapp took advantage. In the third set, Zapp went up two breaks at 4-1, but Shelton got one break back immediately and got the second back in a six-deuce game to make it 4-4. But with a real chance to pressure Zapp, Shelton was broken at love in the next game, and Zapp converted his second match point when Shelton couldn't get a return back in play.

Zapp, who lost in the semifinals of the Winter Nationals last January and the final of July's USTA Clay Courts, is eligible to play both the Clay Courts and Kalamazoo again this year, as he does not turn 19 until November. Shelton, who was a semifinalist in the 16s at Kalamazoo last August, has two more years of eligibility for Kalamazoo 18s, with his birthday in October.

The two 16s finals were both completed in two sets, with No. 2 seed Katie Codd defeating Lucinda Gatsiounis, a 17 seed, 6-2, 6-3 for the girls title and No. 6 seed Ethan Quinn beating No. 5 seed Kurt Miller 6-2, 6-2.

The 12s and 14s wrapped up today in Tucson as well, with Elena Zhao and Susanna Maltby taking the girls singles titles and Gray Kelley and Daniel Kong claiming the boys singles titles. Maltby was the only player to win both singles and doubles in any age division.

Complete results from the finals are listed below:

Girls 12s final:
Elena Zhao[3] d. Emerey Gross[12], 6-4, 6-0

Girls 14s final:
Susanna Maltby[3] d. Ava Bruno[10] 6-3, 6-3

Girls 16s final:
Katie Codd[2] d. Lucinda Gatsiounis[17] 6-2, 6-3

Girls 18s final:
Emma Shelton[17] d. Sarah Hamner[1] 6-1, 1-6, 6-3

Boys 12s final:
Gray Kelley[4] d. Roman Sancilio[2] 6-3, 6-0

Boys 14s final:
Daniel Kong[17] d. Humza Noor[10] 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(4)

Boys 16s final:
Ethan Quinn[6] d. Kurt Miller[5] 6-2, 6-2

Boys 18s final:
Logan Zapp[1] d. Ben Shelton[8] 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 6-4

Boys 12s doubles final:
Jagger Leach and Roman Sancilio[1] d. Dominick Mosejczuk and Ronan O’Dwyer[6] 6-0, 6-1

Boys 14s doubles final:
Carson Baker and Lucas Coriaty[1] d. Kane Kelley and Ivan Savkin[8] 7-6, 1-6, 6-2

Boys 16s doubles final:
Louis Cloud and Sebastian Gorzny[2] d. Lucas Brown and Aidan Kim[1] 7-5, 4-6, 6-4

Boys 18s doubles final:
Keshav Chopra and Coy Simon[4] d. Aryan Chaudhary and Logan Zapp[3] 4-6, 6-1 ret. inj.

Girls 12s doubles final:
Amy Lee and Mia Yamakita[1] d. Kenzie Nguyen and Claire Zhang[7] 7-6(4), 6-4

Girls 14s doubles final:
Sage Loudon and Susanna Maltby[2] d. Ava Bruno and Caroline McGinley[1] 6-2, 6-3

Girls 16s doubles final:
Natalie Block and Aubrey Nisbet[1] d. Katie Codd and Tomi Main 6-3, 3-6, 6-0

Girls 18s doubles final:
Bridget Stammel and Katja Wiersholm d. Elizabeth Fahrmeier and Megan Heuser[3] 6-3, 6-2

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Shelton Siblings Reach 18 Singles Finals at Winter Nationals; Doubles Champions Crowned in 12s and 14s Divisions; Isner, Fritz Represent USA in Inaugural ATP Cup

The finals are set for Friday at the USTA 18s and 16s Winter Nationals in Lake Nona, with top seeds Logan Zapp and Sarah Hamner taking on two members of the Shelton family, Ben and Emma, for the gold balls. Both Hamner and Emma Shelton came from a set down to advance to the final, while Zapp and Ben Shelton came through in straight sets.

The 16s played both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds today to catch up from rain delays early in the week.

The girls 18s final is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Friday, with both 16s finals (on clay) at 9:30 a.m. The boys 18s final is scheduled at 11 a.m., presumably after the girls 18s final is complete. I have not watched any matches via the Playsight cameras at the National Campus but I plan to try to watch the singles finals tomorrow. A link to the live stream is available at the live scoring page, in the bottom right corner of each score box.
Thursday's singles semifinal results:

Boys 18s semifinals:
Logan Zapp[1] d Keshav Chopra[12] 6-2, 6-3
Ben Shelton[8] d. Benjamin Koch[4] 6-2, 6-1

Boys 16s semifinals:
Ethan Quinn[6] d. Michael Ross[17] 6-2, 6-4
Kurt Miller[5] d. Michael Zheng[3] 5-7, 6-4, 6-3

Girls 18s semifinals:
Sarah Hamner[1] d. Katherine Hui 3-6, 6-1, 7-5
Emma Shelton[17] d. Emma Staker[5] 1-6, 6-3, 6-4

Girls 16s semifinals:
Lucinda Gatsiounis[17] d. Eileen Wang 7-6(8), 6-3
Katie Codd[2] d. Stephanie Yakoff[5] 6-3, 3-6, 7-5

The 12s and 14s completed their doubles tournaments today in Tucson, with three top-seeded team and one second-seeded team taking the gold balls. The final results are below:

Boys 12s doubles final:
Jagger Leach and Roman Sancilio[1] d. Dominick Mosejczuk and Ronan O’Dwyer[6] 6-0, 6-1

Boys 14s doubles final:
Carson Baker and Lucas Coriaty[1] d. Kane Kelley and Ivan Savkin[8] 7-6, 1-6, 6-2

Girls 12s doubles final:
Amy Lee and Mia Yamakita[1] d. Kenzie Nguyen and Claire Zhang[7] 7-6(4), 6-4

Girls 14s doubles final:
Sage Loudon and Susanna Maltby[2] d. Ava Bruno and Caroline McGinley[1] 6-2, 6-3

The results of today's singles semifinals:

Girls 12s semifinals:
Emerey Gross[12] d. Sabrina Lin[6] 6-1, 7-5
Elena Zhao[3] d. Maya Iyengar[5] 6-4, 4-6, 6-4

Girls 14s semifinals:
Ava Bruno[10] d. Emily Novikov[17] 6-2, 7-6(5)
Susanna Maltby[3] d. Alexia Harmon[2] 6-3, 6-2

Boys 12s semifinals:
Gray Kelley[4] d. Tristan Dussault[17] 6-3, 7-6(9)
Roman Sancilio[2] d. Dominick Mosejczuk[3] 6-2, 6-0

Boys 14s semifinals:
Humza Noor[10] d. Callum Markowitz 6-3, 6-4
Daniel Kong[17] d. Zhengqing Ji 6-4, 6-2

(screenshot via ATP website)

The 2020 ATP season kicks off Friday(tonight in the US) in Australia with the new ATP Cup, a team competition. A 10-day event, which begins with group play in three Australian cities and ends in Sydney for the quarterfinals, semifinals and final, it features 24 countries, including the United States. The US team consists of John Isner, Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul, Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram, and they will face off against Norway in tonight's first match. With so many countries in the mix at the start, there are some former collegians who are getting an opportunity to play on a big stage for the first time, including former UNLV standout Alex Cozbinov of Moldova, featured in this article and former Oklahoma star Aleksandre Bakshi of Georgia. A complete list of who is on all 24 teams is available at the tournament's website.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year! Shelton Siblings Advance to Semifinals at USTA Winter National 18s; Semifinals Also Set for 12s, 14s Divisions in Tucson

photos by Glen Carrie and Mario Gogh at unsplash
The new year has begun, and I just wanted to take a moment to wish all of you 12 very happy, healthy and prosperous months for 2020. The USTA Winter Nationals always span this holiday, so those of you who spent the day watching football and parades on television should take a moment to reflect on the lack of normal holidays for most junior tennis players and their coaches and families. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if the family can be together and enjoy the opportunity to explore other parts of the country, but it does come with a cost that's not just financial.

The semifinals are set for Thursday at the 12s and 14s in Tucson, where the weather has improved after a cold few days to the tournament. The top two seeds girls 12s were eliminated in today's quarterfinals, with No. 6 seed Sabrina Lin beating No. 1 seed Mia Yamakita 7-5, 7-6(4) and No. 5 seed Maya Iyengar defeating No. 2 seed Alexis Nguyen 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(4).  The top seed in the boys 14s, Carson Baker, lost to unseeded Callum Markowitz 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 and No. 2 seed Alexander Frusina retired against No. 17 seed Daniel Kong trailing 3-0 in the first set.

Girls 12s semifinals:
Sabrina Lin[6] v Emerey Gross[12]
Elena Zhao[3] v Maya Iyengar[5]

Girls 14s semifinals:
Ava Bruno[10] v Emily Novikov[17]
Susanna Maltby[3] v Alexia Harmon[2]

Boys 12s semifinals:
Tristan Dussault[17] v Gray Kelley[4]
Dominick Mosejczuk[3] v Roman Sancilio[2]

Boys 14s semifinals:
Callum Markowitz v Humza Noor[10]
Zhengqing Ji v Daniel Kong[17]

At the 16s and 18s in Lake Nona, the semifinals are set for the 18s, with the 16s scheduled to play both their quarterfinals and semifinals on Thursday.  Emma Shelton, a freshman at the University of South Carolina, and Ben Shelton, her younger brother, both reached the semifinals with wins today. Emma, a No. 17 seed, defeated Florida State recruit Lara Schneider, the No. 15 seed, 6-1, 6-4. Ben, the No.  8 seed, took out No. 2 seed Leighton Allen 1-6, 6-0, 6-2. Emma and Ben's father is Bryan Shelton, the men's head coach at Florida. Ben, a junior in high school, has committed to the Gators for 2021.

The only two No. 1 seeds remaining in any of the eight divisions are in the 18s, with Logan Zapp and Sarah Hamner reaching the semifinals with wins today.

Boys 18s semifinals:
Logan Zapp[1] v Keshav Chopra[12]
Benjamin Koch[4] v Ben Shelton[8]

Boys 16s quarterfinals:
Michael Ross[17] v Vignesh Gogineni
Masato Perera[17] v Ethan Quinn[6]
Yannik Rahman v Michael Zheng[3]
Kurt Miller[5] v Eric Li[16]

Girls 18s semifinals:
Sarah Hamner[1] v Katherine Hui
Emma Staker[5] v Emma Shelton[17]

Girls 16s quarterfinals:
Eileen Wang v Gavriella Smith[17]
Lucinda Gatsiounis[17] v Tomi Main[10]
Stephanie Yakoff[5] v Kida Ferrari[4]
Ann Guerry[8] v Katie Codd[2]