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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Texas Signs Former ITF Top Ten Junior Bailly; Zheng, Kittay Earn First ATP Points in Vero Beach; Navarro and Smith Advance in Macon; Quarterfinals Set at ITF J4 in Atlanta

The University of Texas picked up one of the best international recruits of the 2021-22 season today, signing Belgium's Pierre Yves Bailly, who turned 18 last Friday. Bailly, who reached the quarterfinals at the US Open Junior Championships, where he lost to finalist Jerry Shang in three sets, has been ranked as high as 7 in the world. He has a J1 title to his credit and is now ranked 21 in the ITF Junior rankings.  For more on Bailly's signing at Texas, see this article.

Two US juniors picked up a first ATP point today at the $15,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit tournament in Vero Beach, with 17-year-old qualifier Michael Zheng and 18-year-old wild card Benjamin Kittay getting victories.  Zheng defeated qualifier Reece Falck(UNC-Wilmington) of New Zealand 7-5, 6-1 and Kittay beat 17-year-old qualifier Credit Chaiyarin of Thailand 7-6(4), 6-4. 

Last week's champion at the Naples $15K, US Open boys finalist and ITF No. 1 Shang, got his second win in as many weeks over Damien Wenger of Switzerland. Seeded No. 2 this week, Wenger lost to the 16-year-old left-hander 6-1, 6-4 today, after losing to him in three sets in the semifinals in Naples.

Florida sophomore Ben Shelton, the No. 4 seed, beat friend and Kalamazoo 18s doubles partner (and champion) Bruno Kuzuhara 7-5, 7-6(9) in two hours and 40 minutes. Shelton will face former Florida teammate Blaise Bicknell, who has transferred to Tennessee for the spring season, in the second round.

Ten Americans won their first round matches today at the $80,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit tournament in Macon Georgia, including University of Virginia sophomore Emma Navarro and North Carolina State senior Alana Smith.  Navarro beat fellow wild card Hailey Baptiste 6-2, 6-4, while Smith defeated fellow qualifier Whitney Osuigwe 6-0, 5-7, 6-4. Smith was one of five qualifiers to win their opening round matches in the main draw today: Robin Anderson(UCLA), Hanna Chang, Vicky Duval and Louisa Chirico. 

Wild card Catherine Harrison(UCLA) advanced when No. 3 seed Kristina Kucova of Slovakia retired trailing 6-4. Top seeds Madison Brengle and Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan both were taken to three sets today, but did advance. 

At this week's ITF Junior Circuit J4 in Atlanta, No. 1 seed Emma Charney and No. 2 seed Cadence Brace of Canada have advanced to Thursday's quarterfinals, but not much else has gone as expected in the girls draw. Charney, a senior who recently committed to Southern California, has rolled through her first three opponents, losing only three games total. She will face qualifier Jo-Yee Chan in the quarterfinals. Qualifier Shannon Lam and unseeded Katie Rolls play in the other top half quarterfinal. No. 10 seed Victoria Osuigwe, Whitney's younger sister, plays Easter Bowl 14s champion Iva Jovic, a wild card. The fourth quarterfinal features Brace, the only non-American, against No. 6 seed Theodora Rabman, the 16s Easter Bowl champion. 

Boys top seed Joseph Phillips is through to the quarterfinals, where he'll play unseeded Andrew Delgado. No. 2 seed Preston Stearns, who recently committed to Ohio State, lost to Duke recruit Teddy Truwit. Truwit plays No. 8 seed Grant Lothringer, who recently committed to Texas A&M. The only quarterfinal between two seeds features No. 3 seed Fnu Nidunjianzan of China, a Princeton recruit, and No. 6 seed Felipe Pinzon Moreno, the 2021 16s Clay Court champion. Unseeded Ari Cotoulas and wild card Robert Bauer, a Georgia Tech recruit, meet in the other boys quarterfinal.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Eight Americans Advance to $80K Macon Main Draw; Cooper Williams Qualifies for Vero Beach $15K; ITF Junior Hospitality Update; Wimbledon to Host 14U Event in 2022

Qualifying is now complete at the two USTA Pro Circuit tournaments this week in Georgia and Florida. At the women's $80,000 tournament in Macon, all eight qualifiers are Americans, while at the men's $15,000 tournament in Vero Beach, just two Americans have reached the main draw via qualifying.

North Carolina State senior Alana Smith picked up the best pro circuit win of her career today, defeating No. 2 seed and WTA 226 Conny Perrin of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4. Smith, who received a wild card into qualifying, had defeated No. 13 seed Francois Abanda of Canada 3-6, 6-2, 10-8 in the first round of qualifying.

The other Americans advancing to the main draw: Robin Anderson(UCLA), Louisa Chirico, Whitney Osuigwe, Allie Kiick, Vicky Duval, Hanna Chang and Danielle Lao(USC).

Madison Brengle is the top seed in the main draw, with Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan seeded No. 2.  Wild cards were given to 2021 NCAA champion Emma Navarro(Virginia), Hailey Baptiste, Usue Arconada and Catherine Harrison(UCLA). 

The USTA provide an early update on its Australian Open wild card challenge last night, with Elvina Kalieva, who is not playing Macon, leading with 63 points, followed by Brengle, with 35 points and Maria Mateas(Duke) with 25 points. That competition runs through the week of November 1. The men's AO wild card challenge begins next week.

Sixteen-year-old Cooper Williams, who reached the quarterfinals of the ITF JB1 Pan American Closed in Nicholasville two weeks ago indoors, has qualified for the Vero Beach $15K on the green clay. Williams defeated top qualifying seed Louroi Martinez of Switzerland yesterday 7-6(6), 3-6, 10-6, and today took out LSU junior Ron Hohmann, the No. 13 seed, 7-5, 7-5.  

The other American to advance to the main draw is JanMagnus Johnson, who briefly played for Central Florida during the 2019-20 season. 

Donald Young, who received a wild card, is the No. 1 seed. He will play Pan American Closed champion Jack Anthrop in the first round. Anthrop received entry via the ITF Junior reserved program. The other wild cards were given to Matthew Segura, 17-year-old Michael Zheng, a Pan Am semifinalist, and 18-year-old Pan Am doubles finalist Benjamin Kittay.

Ben Shelton is the No. 4 seed, and will take on Bruno Kuzuhara, another junior reserved entrant. Shelton and Kuzuhara won the 18s doubles title at Kalamazoo in August. 

Last week's champion at the $15K in Naples, Jerry Shang of China, will face No. 2 seed Damien Wenger of Switzerland in the first round. They played in the semifinals last week with Shang recording a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory.

All first round matches are scheduled for Wednesday.

I ran across an update from the ITF last month on several issues, including hospitality requirements for 2022 for the various levels of tournaments. There was also an easing of the requirements for being included in the final ITF junior rankings at year-end, and of the rule against playing two tournaments in the same week. I assume players were sent this update via email, but for anyone else interested, it can be found here.

Wimbledon announced information for the 2022 tournament, which included this: In addition, 2022 marks the first year of the 14&U Junior Championships, which will take place in the second week.

No details were provided, so I'm not sure if this is an initiative only for British players, or if it will include international players as well.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Welcoming New Advertiser Junior Tennis Champions Center; One Singles Title, Three Doubles Titles for American Juniors Last Week on ITF Junior Circuit; ITF J4 Underway in Atlanta

I hope many of you have noticed the new advertiser this month on Zootennis.com: Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park Maryland.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, IMG Academy, a longtime advertiser, decided not to renew for 2021, so I'm delighted to have another top junior development academy step in. I've been covering the ITF J1 in College Park since 2014, and before that I was familiar with JTCC due to Denis Kudla, Frances Tiafoe, Mitchell Frank and others training there, so its great to be partnering with them to get the word out on their many offerings, including the high performance program.

In addition, I want to take this opportunity thank my two other direct sponsors, OTZ Sports/EcoGrip and the John McEnroe Tennis Academy, for their continued support. They stuck with me throughout the pandemic, when much of the news I was posting in 2020 was not much more than canceled tournaments and dropped college teams. I can say, with the exception of Wimbledon this year, my schedule since this spring has been  back to normal, and I hope the resumption of my live coverage of events has been valuable to those reading this. That also means a return to significant travel expenses, so please take a moment to click on their ads to learn about those places and products that are contributing to offsetting that side of the ledger.  

I have resisted going the Patreon route, or another form of subscription model, for the basic reason that I want anyone who is interested in junior or college tennis information to have access to what I write, but there are still ways you can help, if you wish: exploring the offerings of my advertisers; ordering via the Tennis Warehouse link; making a donation via the Paypal link; purchasing a Recruiting Advantage subscription at Tennis Recruiting Network, where I continue to write regularly.

Thanks for reading and supporting Zootennis.com.

Although there were no ITF J1s last week, there were 21 tournaments on the ITF Junior Circuit and Americans took home winners' trophies in three of them.

Maya Joint, a 15-year-old blue chip from Michigan, swept the titles at the J5 in Austria. Joint, the No. 3 seed, won her first singles title with five straight-sets victories, losing only 14 games in the process. In the final, she defeated unseeded Emma Leitner of Austria 6-0, 6-1. Joint won her second ITF Junior Circuit doubles title, partnering with Eszter Berenyi of Hungary. The top seeds defeated the No. 2 seeds Aneta Junova and Nicole Lukesova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-0 in the final. 

At the J4 in the Dominican Republic, No. 4 seeds Ria Bhakta and Esther Vyrlan won the girls doubles title, defeating No. 3 seeds Gabriela Rondon of Colombia and Masha Vrsalovic Gimenez of Bolivia 6-2, 7-5 in the final. Thirteen-year-old Les Petits As champion Mathilde Ngijol Carre of France won the girls singles title, her second in as many weeks. With her 6-2, 6-0 win over No. 7 seed Martina Marica of the US in the final, she has now won 16 straight matches since September.

At the J4 in North Vancouver Canada, Nicholas Godsick and John Kim captured the boys doubles title. The No. 1 seeds, Godsick and Kim defeated the unseeded Canadian team of Kuang Qing Xu and Junghee You 6-4, 6-4 in the final. 

After a week off, the ITF Junior Circuit resumes in the United States with the J4 in Atlanta.  Recent Southern California commit Emma Charney and Joseph Phillips are the top seeds, and both advanced with straight-sets victories in today's first round. No. 3 seed Ana Grubor of Canada was beaten 6-3, 6-4 by Ellee Dryer, and in the boys draw, Easter Bowl 14s champion Cooper Woestendick defeated No. 4 seed Jiayang Dong of Australia 6-4, 6-2.  

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Shang Wins Second USTA Pro Circuit Title in Naples; Kingsley Claims $15K in Norman; Norrie Champion at BNP Paribas Open; ITA Cup Small College Winners

Juncheng Shang of China won his second USTA Pro Circuit title since reaching the boys final at last month's US Open, defeating University of Florida senior Duarte Vale of Portugal 6-3, 7-6(3) today at the $15,000 tournament in Naples Florida.

The 16-year-old Shang, known as Jerry here in the US, again used his ITF junior exemption for entry, just as he had done when he played his first main draw at a Pro Circuit event in Arkansas last month. After winning that title, the ITF World No. 1 returned to Florida for the first of two $15,000 tournaments at the Sanchez Casal Academy in Naples, where he used to train (he's now at IMG). He lost to Ryan Harrison, who went on to win the tournament, in the second round, then got right back on track this week, although he was again unseeded.

Shang lost only one set, to No. 3 seed Damien Wenger of Switzerland in the semifinals, and is now 11-1 in USTA Pro Circuit events since September 26th.

Raveena Kingsley, who reached the WTA Top 300 as an 18-year-old back in 2016, won her first title since 2018 at the $15,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit event in Norman Oklahoma. Kingsley, who played only one tournament last year, right before the pandemic lockdowns hit, ended the unexpected run of 17-year-old Canadian Annabelle Xu with a 6-2, 6-0 win in today's final.

The other teens in the finals also fell today. Eighteen-year-old Elvina Kalieva, who qualified for the $60,000 tournament in Rancho Santa Fe California and beat three seeds, lost in the final today to top seed Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 6-4, 6-0.

Seventeen-year-old Rachel Gailis, who recently committed to the University of Florida, lost to 19-year-old top seed Darja Semenistaja of Latvia, who claimed her third straight $15K title in Cancun with a 7-5, 7-5 victory.

At the $25,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit tournament in Florence South Carolina, qualifier Emiliana Arango of Colombia took the title, beating top seed Xiyu Wang of China 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(0). The 20-year-old, a former ITF Top 10 junior, has now won two $25K titles in the past two months.  The unseeded team of Emily Appleton of Great Britain and Lily Miyazaki(Oklahoma) of Japan took the doubles title, defeating No. 2 seeds Robin Anderson, a former UCLA Bruin and Elysia Bolton, a UCLA senior, 6-3, 1-6, 10-8 in Saturday's final. 

Great Britain's Cameron Norrie won the ATP Masters 1000 BNP Paribas Open men's singles title tonight in Indian Wells, coming back to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. The former TCU star is the first British man to win the title and the first former collegian to take the winner's trophy since Larry Stefanki (Cal) in 1985. The 26-year-old left-hander will now move to No. 16 in the ATP rankings and is No. 10 in the race to the ATP year-end finals.

The ITA Cup concluded today in Rome Georgia, with the champions crowned in the NAIA and Junior College divisions. The singles finals results from all four divisions:

NAIA women:
Stephanie Petit[2], Montreat def. Nicole Coopersmith[1], Keiser 7-5, 4-6, 6-4

NAIA men:
Agustin Tamagnone, Georgia Gwinnett def. Francisco Faria, Olivet Nazarene 6-4, 4-6, 7-5

Divison II women:
Deniz Khazan[1], Barry def. Mae Canete[2], Central Oklahoma 6-2, 6-4

Division II men:
Alvaro Regalado[1], Columbus State def. Joaquin Benoit, North Georgia 6-2, 6-2

Division III women:
Eliza McPherron[2], Emory def. Sahana Raman[1], Middlebury 3-6, 7-5, 6-2

Division III men:
Stan Morris, Middlebury, def. Chase Cohen[3], Williams 2-6, 6-3, 6-1

Junior College women:
Lauren Anzalotta[1], Tyler def. Justine Lespes[3], Seward 6-3, 6-1

Junior College men:
Takeshi Taco[2], Cowley def. Boruch Skierkier[4] Cowley 6-3, 7-6(1)

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Kalieva One of Four Juniors Reaching ITF Pro Circuit Finals; Three Unseeded Champions at Tennis Europe 14U and 16U Masters Championships; Norrie Advances to BNP Paribas Open Final

It's a banner week when a couple of juniors reach finals in USTA and ITF Pro Circuit tournaments, but this week has seen four such achievements, with 18-year-old Elvina Kalieva leading the way.

Kalieva, the Easter Bowl finalist and US Open girls quarterfinalist, advanced to the final of the $60,000 tournament in Rancho Santa Fe by defeating No. 2 seed Fiona Ferro of France 4-6, 6-4, 3-0 ret.

Ferro, at 83 in the rankings, is more than 500 spots above Kalieva, who advanced to the main draw via qualifying. But Kalieva has now defeated the No. 4, No. 8 and No. 2 seeds this week, and will need to prevail over top seed Rebecca Peterson of Sweden if she is to claim her first ITF women's Pro Circuit title. Peterson defeated No. 3 seed Madison Brengle 6-4, 6-2 today.

The other three finalists are at a $15,000 tournaments, a level more conducive to junior finalists.

Just three weeks after capturing his first USTA Pro Circuit title in Arkansas, 16-year-old Juncheng Jerry Shang of China is in another final, this time in Naples Florida. Shang, the ITF's top-ranked junior, has played only three Pro Circuit main draws, all since reaching the final of the US Open junior championships last month, and has a record of 10-1. Today he defeated No. 3 seed Damien Wenger of Switzerland 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.  Shang will face University of Florida senior Duarte Vale of Portugal, who beat lucky loser Blu Baker of Great Britain 7-6(2), 6-3. This is Vale's second $15K final since August. 

Seventeen-year-old Bruno Kuzuhara won his first professional title today, partnering with fellow teenager Abedallah Shelbayh of Jordan to take the doubles championship. Shelbayh, a freshman at Florida defeated Vale and former Florida Gator Johannes Ingildsen of Denmark 6-4, 6-1 in today's final. 

Annabelle Xu of Canada continued her run at the tournament in Norman Oklahoma, with the 17-year-old defeating Oklahoma State senior Martina Zerulo of Italy 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals. Xu, will face Raveena Kingsley, also unseeded, in Sunday's final. Kinglsey defeated wild card Ivana Corley(Oklahoma) 6-3, 7-6(3).

The Oklahoma State team of Zerulo and Oona Orpana of Finland took the doubles title, defeating Kelly Williford(Virginia Tech) of the Dominican Republic and South Carolina recruit McKenna Schaefbauer 6-2, 5-7, 10-6. Both teams were unseeded. 

In Cancun, University of Florida recruit Rachel Gailis is through to the final, her second at the $15K level, after Pamela Montez retired at 3-6, 6-3. Gailis will play 19-year-old Darja Semenistaja of Latvia, the top seed, who defeated Madison Sieg. Semenistaja is going for her third straight title in as many weeks in Cancun.

Christian Langmo, the former Miami standout, is also going for his third title in three weeks tomorrow in Cancun against recent Tennessee standout Giles Hussey of Great Britain.

The Tennis Europe Masters event, which featured eight of the top 14U and 16U players in Europe, concluded yesterday, with only one seed claiming a title.

The boys 14s title went to Max Schoenhaus of Germany, who beat compatriot Justin Engel 7-5, 7-5 in a contest between two unseeded players. 

The only seeded player to win was in the girls 14s, where No. 3 Laura Samsonova of defeated No. 4 seed Eva Maria Ionescu of Romania 6-4, 6-4.

In the 16s, Russia's Mariia Masiianskaia claimed the girls title with a 6-4, 7-5 win over No. 4 seed Monika Stankiewicz of Poland, and Bosnia and Herzegovina's Marko Maksimovic won the boys title with a 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 4 seed Michal Karjci of Slovakia.

For more on the finals, see this Tennis Europe article.

Former TCU star Cameron Norrie keeps adding to his fantastic season, reaching the final of the ATP Masters 1000 BNP Paribas Open with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgari today in Indian Wells. Norrie, the No. 21 seed, will face No. 29 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, who beat Taylor Fritz this evening 7-6(5), 6-3. Norrie will break into the Top 20 for the first time, just over four years after leaving TCU after his junior year in 2017. Not only will Norrie become the British No. 1 after this week, but he will also be the highest ranked player, male or female, to have competed in college. He will move past John Isner(Georgia) and Danielle Collins(Virginia).

For more on Norrie's win today, see this article from the ATP.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Recap of Hovde and Anthrop's ITF JB1 Pan American Closed Titles, Plus Videos; Kalieva Reaches $60K Semifinal; Juniors Shang, Xu, Gailis and Sieg Advance at $15Ks; Fritz Saves Match Points in Quarterfinal Win over Zverev at Indian Wells

If you weren't able to follow my daily coverage of the ITF JB1 Pan American Closed last week in Nicholasville Kentucky, my review of one of the biggest ITF junior tournaments in the US is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network. It was US vs Canada in both finals, with the Americans Liv Hovde and Jack Anthrop coming back to take the titles. 

The video highlights of the finals are below:

Qualifier Elvina Kalieva continued her breakout tournament at the $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit women's event in Rancho Santa Fe California, defeating former WTA No. 35 and No. 8 seed Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-4, 6-3 in today's quarterfinals. Hercog had a woeful serving day, making only 33% of her first serves, while the 18-year-old from Florida made 72% of hers. Kalieva should break into the WTA Top 500 regardless of her result Saturday, when she faces No. 2 seed Fiona Ferro of France. Madison Brengle[3] and top seed Rebecca Peterson of Sweden will meet in the other semifinal.

Former Duke star Maria Mateas is through to the semifinals at the $25K in Florence South Carolina, after the unseeded 22-year-old defeated No. 3 seed Katie Volynets 6-2, 6-3. She will play qualifier Emiliana Arango of Colombia, who beat No. 5 seed Robin Anderson(UCLA) 6-4, 6-3.

Sixteen-year-old Jerry Shang of China is through to the semifinals of the $15,000 men's tournament in Naples Florida after defeating wild card Jake Van Emburgh(Oklahoma/Ohio State) 6-1, 6-3. Shang, the 2021 US Open boys finalist, will face No. 3 seed Damien Wenger of Switzerland Saturday.

Annabelle Xu of Canada had lost the only ITF World Tennis Tour women's pro circuit main draw match she played before this week, but the 17-year-old is now in the semifinals of the $15,000 tournament in Norman Oklahoma. Xu defeated No. 8 seed Tamara Barad Itzhaki of Israel 6-4, 6-2 and will play Oklahoma State senior Martina Zerulo of Italy Saturday. Raveena Kingsley and wild card Ivana Corley(Oklahoma) face off in the other semifinal.

Teens having success in ITF World Tennis Tour events outside the United States include Martin Damm, who has reached the semifinals of the $25,000+hospitality tournament this week in France, and won the doubles title. The unseeded 18-year-old from Florida defeated Yannick Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 6-2 to advance to a meeting with No. 5 seed Aidan McHugh of Great Britain.  Damm and Felix Corwin(Minnesota), seeded No. 3, won the doubles title with a 3-6, 7-5, 10-7 win over top seeds Gijs Brouwer and Jelle Sels of the Netherlands. It's the fifth pro doubles title for Damm and the second for Corwin.

At the men's and women's $15Ks in Cancun, both Alexander Bernard and Victor Lilov lost in three sets in today's quarterfinals, but USC recruit Madison Sieg and Florida recruit Rachel Gailis have reached the semifinals. Sieg defeated No. 5 seed Yuliana Monroy of Colombia 6-1, 6-4 and Gailis beat recent NC State star Anna Rogers 6-4, 6-0. 

Taylor Fritz reached his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal two days ago with a win over Jannik Sinner at the BNP Paribas Open; he now has advanced to his first semifinal, coming from 5-2 down in the third set to beat No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3). Fritz, the No. 31 seed, saved a match point on his serve at 5-2, and another with Zverev serving for the match at 5-3, but in the final stages of the match, it was Fritz who looked more confident and aggressive. It's the first Top 5 win for Fritz, having gone 0-10 prior to today.  He will play No. 29 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, who took out No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 earlier today.