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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.

2 comments:

Lance Wilder said...

Just watched Coco Gauff play in Auckland tonight. Down 3-4 in the 3rd, her coach, father, went out to talk to her. It was on a live microphone. He ran thru sooooo much during the short change over, Coco needed a legal pad to take notes. No wonder she looked like a "deer in headlights". She didn't win another game, lost 3-6 in the 3rd. As Mr R Williams would tell you coach, "Less is More".

Wahoo fan said...

Colette, Danielle Collins has lost 3 games in her first 2 matches in Brisbane, including beating Svitolina 6-1, 6-1. She plays Madison Keys next.