Schedule a training visit to the prestigious Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD by clicking on the banner above

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Battle of Britain in girls 12s; Top seed Cohen Falls in girls 18s

©Colette Lewis 2006--
Bradenton FL--

Jessica Ren and Laura Robson of Great Britain will meet in Friday morning's girls 12 final, while Liam Broady will represent the Union Jack in the boys 12 final against Mitchell Krueger of the U.S.

Ren, a No. 1 seed, defeated No. 1 seed Ilone Kremen of Belarus 6-2, 6-2; the unseeded Robson started poorly against No. 1 seed Julia Jones of the U.S., but survived 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

"I changed tactics, and I also thought about how to win the next point, instead of thinking how I was losing," said Robson, 12. "I tried to hit more topspin to her backhand, and then step in when she hit a short ball."

Ren, also 12, has breezed through the draw, never dropping more than two games in any of her six matches, but she admitted to a few nerves on Friday. "Once I got loose I relaxed a bit, it was fine. I quite like my forehand down the line and it worked quite well for me today."

As two of the top players in England, Robson and Ren have met often. "We've got a little thing going," said the left-handed Robson, who has been working recently with Nick Saviano on her serve. "She's won the last two or three, but I think I'll win tomorrow."

Broady, another British lefty, battled fellow No. 1 seed Edward Nguyen of Canada for over an hour and 15 minutes, just to reach a conclusion to the first set. After winning that in a tiebreak, eight points to six, Broady revised his strategy in the second and closed out Nguyen 6-2.

"I made a few more balls, I was the most consistent I've been in a while," said the vocal 12-year-old. "He has a very big forehand, but I started hitting to it, and he made some errors there."

Broady was relieved to escape with a victory. "He beat me in a practice match like 6-0. I knew it would be tough."

Krueger started very slowly against Johan Skattum of Norway, like Krueger a No. 1 seed. Down early, he righted himself to take a 6-4, 6-3 decision.

"I was nervous, just pushing it," said Krueger, 12, of Aledo Texas. "But then the pressure went off and I just played."

The boys and girls 12s doubles were decided on Friday, with the U.S. team of Thai Kwiatkowski and Joseph DiGiulio defeating the Japanese team of Kazuma Kawachi and Yu Okuda 6-4, 6-4.

After her semifinal singles win, Ren teamed with Ukrainian Sophia Kovalets to take the doubles championship. Ren and Kovalets downed the U.S. pair of Victoria Duval and Jones 6-4, 6-3.

In the girls 18s, top seed Julia Cohen was ousted by No. 14 seed Katerina Kramperova 6-3, 7-5. The No. 9 seed Madison Brengle of the U.S. was also eliminated, dropping a 1-6, 6-1, 7-5 decision to No. 6 seed Nicola Hofmanova of Austria. The only U.S. girl remaining is No. 13 seed Kim Couts, who upset No. 3 seed and U.S. Open Junior semifinalist Katerina Vankova of the Czech Republic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1.

Last year's girls 14s and 16s champions, Tamaryn Hendler and Michelle Larcher de Brito continued to advance through the 18s, although in decidedly different fashion Thursday. The unseeded Hendler, from Belgium, won the first set 6-2, and the match when her opponent Katarzyna Piter of Poland retired before starting the second set.

Portugal's Larcher de Brito, also an unseeded wild card, and fellow Bollettieri student Jasmina Tinjic of Croatia staged a high quality demonstration of power ground strokes in front of a large and divided crowd Thursday morning. Larcher de Brito, who seems to hit even harder and more accurately when playing from behind, dropped the first set 6-2, but didn't waiver after that, winning the next two 6-2, 6-3.

Nicolas Santos of Brazil, the boys 18s top seed, found himself tested on a isolated back court by Harry Heliovaara of Finland, but advanced to the quarterfinals by a 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-4 score. He will face No. 5 seed Roman Jebavy of the Czech Republic, who avenged his quarterfinal U.S. Open Junior loss to Canada's Peter Polansky 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Qualifier Jeff Dadamo remains the lone U.S. hopeful with his 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-1 victory over No. 8 seed Daniil Arsenov of Russia. It was a contentious match, with numerous roving umpires, the tournament referee and the trainer all making appearances. But by the end, a dispirited Arsenov, who had also lost to Dadamo recently at the ITF Grade 2 in South Carolina, was making no attempt to win points, or even return shots. Dadamo will meet another left hander, Rasid Winklaar of Curacao, who upset No. 3 seed Petru Luncanu of Romania 5-7, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4).

In the boys 16s, unseeded Alex Domijan, a boys 14s finalist last year, and No. 10 seed Devin Britton are the U.S. representatives in the round of 16. Domijan defeated wild card Michael Davis of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4, while Britton upset No. 5 seed Borut Puc of Slovenia 6-2, 4-2, ret. inj. Top seed Alex Llompart of Puerto Rico was upset by No. 14 seed Gilad Ben Zvi of Israel 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Half the girls 16s quarterfinalists call the U.S. home. Lucky loser Marianna Milchutske, unseeded Ester Goldfeld and wild cards Mary Clayton and Nicole Bartnik advanced, with only Milchutske having a straight set win. The others came from a set down to earn their victories.

In the boys 14s, No. 2 seed Dennis Kudla is the lone U.S. player in the boys division. He ended the run of U.S. qualifier Billy Pecor 6-4, 6-2. The girls 14s quarterfinals, like the 16s, feature four Americans. JoJo Sanford, Jenny Falcone (who won a 22 point third set tiebreak to advance), Sloane Stephens and Kayla Rizzolo were winners on Thursday.

For complete draws, including doubles, see eddieherr.com.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Grand Slam Champions Everywhere at Eddie Herr

©Colette Lewis 2006--
Bradenton FL--

The junior players are usually the stars at the Eddie her, but Wednesday was Grand Slam champions Day at the IMG Bollettieri Academy site.

I was introduced to 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, who has been a frequent visitor to the tournament this week. Later in the morning I saw eight-time Grand Slam singles champion Ivan Lendl taking in some of the action. Lendl's daughters are golfers training at the Academy. In the afternoon, I spotted 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Chris Evert and her brother John watching Brooke Bolender, who trains at their Boca Raton academy. Since she is the publisher of Tennis magazine, I thought I should introduce myself, and we chatted briefly, but then who should arrive but Martina Navratilova! So if my math is right, that was 45 Grand Slam singles titles on the premises today. Inspiration, I hope, for all the juniors still in the draws.

Early Wednesday morning matches decided the 12s semifinalists, and despite five U.S. players in both the boys and girls quarterfinals, only one from each division advanced. Mitchell Krueger, a No. 1 seed from Texas, dominated unseeded Floridian Justin Butsch 6-3, 6-2. He will face another No. 1 seed, Johan Skattum of Norway, who outlasted unseeded Thai Kwiatkowski of the U.S. 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-5. As the match ended, neither player could hold serve reliably, but Skattum finally took his second chance to close it out. Kwiatkowski is often emotionally volatile on the court, but it rarely carries over from point to point, and his ability to snap back to attention must baffle his opponents as much as it does spectators. Skattum kept his wits about him but after two three-setters in succession, he'll be at a disadvantage on Thursday.

The other two matches in the 12s were less dramatic, with No. 1 seed Edward Nguyen of Canada defeating No. 1 Joseph DiGiulio of the U.S. 7-5, 6-2 and No. 1 Liam Broady of Great Britain taking a 6-2, 6-4 decision over unseeded TJ Pura of the U.S.

I didn't see much of the girls 12s semifinals because they were played a great distance from the boys (and at the same time), but I did watch a little of Great Britain's Laura Robson's 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 win over Jacqueline Crawford of the U.S. Robson has been training with Nick Saviano recently in Sunrise, and he was optimistic about her chances of winning the tournament, despite being unseeded. She'll face No. 1 seed Julia Jones of the U.S., who scored a tense 7-5, 7-6 (5) victory over Yuki Chiang of the U.S. In the other half of the girls 12s, Great Britain's Jessica Ren, a No. 1 seed, will face No. 1 Ilona Kremen of Belarus. Ren rolled over Jessie Pegula of the U.S. 6-0, 6-0, while Kremen took out No. 1 Sachia Vickery of the U.S. 7-5, 6-3.

There were a few surprises today in the older divisions, but I'm not sure unseeded wild card Philip Bester's 6-3, 6-3 victory over 18s second seed Kellen Damico of the U.S. fits that description. Bester, who decided to play the Eddie Herr only a couple of weeks ago as the last tournament of his junior career, can dominate when he's on, and he was firing at his best Wednesday.

Qualifier Jeff Dadamo of Tampa is the only U.S. boy to make the round of 16. Dadamo struggled with lucky loser Deni Zmak of Croatia, but prevailed 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Another qualifier, Milos Raonic of Croatia also advanced to the round of 16, defeating No. 12 seed Ricardo Urzua of Chile 6-4, 6-4.

Top seed Julia Cohen got a scare from qualifier Nina Pantic in girls 18s, but rebounded to take a 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 decision. The entire top half of the girls draw went according to form, and No. 9 seed Madison Brengle was one of the eight seeds to advance, blitzing U.S. wild card Mallory Burdette 6-1, 6-2. In the bottom half, No. 13 Kim Couts rolled past Jamina Toljan of Austria 6-1, 6-1 to join Brengle and Cohen as Americans moving into the third round.

The boys 14s lost its top seed with No. 1 Rodney Carey of the Bahamas losing to Yahor Yatsyk of Belarus 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

In girls 14s, No. 2 seed Noel Scott of the U.S. lost to Maryna Zanevska of the Ukraine.

In the boys 16s, Alex Domijan and Devin Britton of the U.S. advanced to the round of 16, as did JT Sundling, Ty Trombetta and Bryan Swartz. In the girls 16s, the U.S. can claim more than half of the players in the round of 16, with Erin Vierra, Ester Goldfeld, Mary Clayton, Malika Rose, Hannah Berne, Carling Seguso, Nicole Bartnik, Anna Chkhikvishvili and Marianna Milschutske moving on Wednesday.

For complete draws, see eddieherr.com.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Eddie Herr Draws Appreciative Fans Tuesday

©Colette Lewis 2006--
Bradenton FL--

The crowds were out in full force Tuesday on the 31 courts at the IMG Bollettieri Academy, and from the 12s in the morning to the boys 18s and girls 14s in the evening, there were matches to entertain everyone.

Drawing a huge audience in the morning was the girls 12 battle between Yulia Putintseva of Russia and Ilona Kremen of Belarus. Putintseva lets loose a high decibel grunt on every shot and displays an attitude that makes Lleyton Hewitt look laid-back, so it's not surprising that she draws the curious. In Tuesday's Round of 16, she was facing her second No. 1 seed in as many days, and when she took the first set 6-0, it looked like she would bag another upset. But Kremen fought back, winning the next two 6-4, 7-5, and after nearly three hours of entertainment, the spectators could grab a bite of lunch before settling on another of the myriad matches still to be played.

The girls 12s quarterfinals on Wednesday morning will feature five U.S. girls, three of them unseeded. Jacqueline Crawford, Yuki Chiang and Jessie Pegula join No. 1 seeds Julia Jones and Sachia Vickery in the final eight.

Five U.S. boys are also still alive in the 12s, with Mitchell Krueger
Justin Butsch, Thai Kwiatkowski, TJ Pura and Joseph DiGuilio earning quarterfinal berths Tuesday morning. Krueger and DiGuilio are No. 1 seeds; the other three were unseeded.

When the boys 18s took the courts in the mid-afternoon of a warm and breezy day, much of the attention was focused on the match between wild cards Philip Bester of Canada and Giacomo Miccini of Italy. Miccini, a finalist in the 12s at the 2004 Eddie Herr, won his wild card in a tourament for Bollettieri students, while Bester, a veteran of the Academy, faced the pressure of playing a 14-year-old with nothing to lose. Miccini took leads in both sets, including a 4-1 lead in the second set, before falling to the 2006 French Open Junior finalist 7-6 (5), 6-4.

There were a host of dramatic matches in the boys 18s. Second seed Kellen Damico came back to down qualifier Attila Bucko 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 in a match that finished after the sun went down on a court with lights. Wild card Rhyne Williams rolled his ankle during the final point of the second set tiebreak in his match with Dimitris Kleftakos of Greece, but despite his injury and the move to the indoor courts due to darkness, the 15-year-old from Knoxville prevailed, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (9), 6-4. Jarmere Jenkins, also a wild card, needed three hours to subdue lucky loser Cristian Tanase of Romania 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in a match that also finished under the lights.

Seeded U.S. boys falling in the first round were No. 10 Dennis Lajola, who lost to 14-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia when he retired ill at 4-6, 6-4, and No. 16 Johnny Hamui, defeated by Rasid Winklaar 6-4, 7-6 (2).

Qualifier Jeff Dadamo continued his excellent play, taking out 11th seed Rupesh Roy of India 6-3, 6-4. The highest seed to lose in the first round was No. 6 Jose Roberto Velasco of Bolivia, who was eliminated by Graeme Dyce of Great Britain 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Julia Cohen, the top seed in the girls 18s, played her first round match late Tuesday afternoon and had no trouble with qualifier Charlotte Rodier of France, taking a 6-2, 6-0 decision.

For complete draws, see eddieherr.com.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bollettieri Girls Upend Seeds in First Round of 18s Singles

©Colette Lewis 2006--
Bradenton, FL--

Monday brought a little bit of everything to the Eddie Herr, including a brief late afternoon rain shower that disrupted the first round of boys 14s singles and 12s mixed doubles (yes, they play mixed doubles here too).

With the boys 16s and 18s not starting until Tuesday, there were a lot of mens' college coaches here with nothing to watch, but the womens' coaches had nearly a full slate of girls 18s to study.

Bollettieri students pulled off two upsets, but with their past Eddie Herr performances, it wasn't exactly surprising. Fourteen-year-old Tamaryn Hendler of Belgium, last year's 14s winner, stepped up to the 18s this year and made an impressive debut, defeating fifth seed Dominice Ripoli 6-2, 6-3. Cheered on by many of her fellow Bollettieri students, Hendler didn't have any trouble trading groundstrokes with the German.

An even younger Bollettieri prodigy, 13-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal, who won the 16s at the Eddie Herr last year, also easily downed a seed, pounding seventh seed Reka Zsilinszka of the U.S. 6-2, 6-2. Despite a baffling first game of the second set, when she double faulted the game away, Larcher de Brito, a wild card, didn't give Zsilinszka an opportunity to play her patented defense, dominating with her flat, heavy groundstrokes.

One of the day's best matches was between third seed and U.S. Open Junior semifinalist Katerina Vankova of the Czech Republic and Mallory Cecil of the U.S. Cecil, also a Bollettieri wild card, ran out to a big first set advantage, then managed to hold off the charge of the 16-year-old left-hander to win the first set tiebreak, but couldn't sustain her excellent play, falling 6-7, (3) 6-2, 6-3. Cecil had support from Bollettieri coaches and players, but Vankova had fellow Czechs Nicole Vaidisova and Petr Korda as spectators during the lengthy match.

I also caught a bit of the U.S.'s Melanie Oudin, who defeated Irina-Alexandra Parschiv of Romania 6-4, 6-2. In the games I saw, the 15-year-old from Marietta, Ga. was able to hit a winner when she got a weak shot from her opponent, but could also play defense, a potent combination. Hendler will be her next opponent.

Other U.S. girls advancing were Madison Brengle, the No. 9 seed, Kim Couts, the No. 13 seed, qualifier Nina Pantic, and wild cards Maria Mokh and Mallory Burdette. Top seed Julia Cohen of the U.S. plays Tuesday, as does wild card Morgan Frank.

The 12s played their third round matches Monday, and there were not nearly as many love and love scores as there had been in the previous two days.

I had my first opportunity to see Californian Joseph DiGiulio, one of the 16 seeds (all 16 are designated No. 1s in the 12s). I had heard a coach marvel at his poise and technique, and I was also impressed by both. Even though DiGiulio's opponent was much bigger than he was, he controlled the match with his consistency and variety. I was happy to see many of the boys in the 12s approaching the net, hitting different kinds of shots and taking risks. I pray they keep developing in that direction.

The girls 12s didn't have that same commitment to moving forward in the matches I observed today. But I can't say I've seen more than a few games of any girls 12s match, so I may see it yet, now that we're in the round of 16.

There were errors in the original 18s draws posted, and they have been redone. Please see eddieherr.com for corrected draws.

Smash column, Pre-Eddie Herr Edition

Bradenton, FL--
Currently Maria Sharapova and Tommy Haas are hitting on the indoor courts behind me, which is creating quite a stir with the young participants at the Eddie Herr. Camera phones are getting a workout, but Sharapova and Haas are on the far court, so their friends will have to take their word for it, I guess.

I wrote this column on Nov. 20th, but it wsn't posted until today. I hope it still has some value to you.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Record Number of Participants Cram Eddie Herr Courts Sunday

©Colette Lewis 2006
Bradenton FL--

I spent most of the day wandering over the vast IMG/Bollettieri grounds, watching a game or two on one of the 31 courts before moving on. With a record 1750 participants, every court was in constant use all day.

I caught some of TJ Pura's second round match in the 12s, which he won 6-0, 6-0 and saw Maxx Lipman, Ryan's younger brother, early in his 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 second round 12s victory. Victoria Duval, the 10-year-old from Delray Beach that I had heard about earlier this month, was playing a court away from good viewing, making it difficult to watch her second round match without distractions. Although she played erratically in the few games I saw, it didn't faze her and she won easily, 6-1, 6-2.

Around noon, when the 18s qualifying began, clouds moved in, but only high, harmless ones that made for better playing conditions.

I was able to see parts of three of the matches featuring U.S. junior boys, because by a stroke of luck, they were scheduled for adjacent courts.

In an error in the draw, Attila Bucko was shown as losing his second round qualifying match on Saturday, but he had actually won it, so the Baylor-bound Floridian was facing Jared Pinsky for a spot in the main draw. Bucko managed to outlast his fellow left-hander 7-6 (9), 6-3 in a very tense match.

Jeff Dadamo, a quarterfinalist as a lucky loser in the 16s last year, didn't need any luck Sunday in qualifying for the 18s. I wasn't keeping stats, but the left-hander from Tampa seemed to hit about five winners for every unforced error, defeating Artem Gramma of the Ukraine 6-2, 6-3. Wil Spencer, playing in his first junior tournament since his ankle injury in Kalamazoo in August, dropped a 6-3, 7-5 decision to Ilya Belyaev of Russia. Spencer, with his ankle still in a brace, wasn't moving as quickly as usual and couldn't get his forehand on track.

I didn't see any of future UCLA Bruin Ahmed Ismail's 6-1, 6-4 victory over Davide Della Tommasina of Italy, but he was the third U.S. boy to advance through qualifying.

Four U.S. girls made it through qualifying: Joanna Mather, Christina McHale, Whitney Byrd and Nina Pantic. I didn't see any of those wins, because I was watching Daisha Hill-Hurtado of New Mexico and Charlotte Rodier of France. There was very little difference in the games of the two 15-year-olds, but it was Rodier, a No. 1 seed in qualifying, who prevailed, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

Due to the heavy match load, the Parade of Nations Opening Ceremony, usually held on Sunday afternoon, was cancelled.

I'm apologizing in advance for not having photos of many of the players I will be writing about this week, but most of the courts are caged, making it difficult for the casual photographer.

For complete draws see eddieherr.com.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Long Day at the Eddie Herr

©Colette Lewis 2006
Bradenton FL--

The sun's gone down on a beautiful day at the Eddie Herr, but the tennis is continuing. Immediately behind me on the indoor courts at the IMG Bollettieri Academy there are three matches in progress, and others are being played under the lights. With main draw matches of boys and girls 12s, and qualifying in the other three age divisions, this is one of the busiest days on the junior tennis calendar, and tomorrow, with doubles starting, it will be more of the same.

I didn't realize it until I sat down to help at the results desk at the tournament headquarters this afternoon, but the boys 16s qualifying was completed today. Many of the names are new to me, but Columbia is well-represented. From the U.S., Adam Bernstein and Aaron May earned spots in the main draw which begins on Monday. For the complete boys 16 qualifying draw, click here.

In the 14s, both boys and girls, it takes four wins just to make the main draw, and not all of the boys second round qualifying matches finished on Saturday, so those final matches may extend into Monday.

The final round of 18s qualifying is Sunday, and U.S. boys still alive for a main draw berth are Jared Pinsky, Amed Ismail, Wil Spencer and Jeff Dadamo. Many U.S. girls are still in the hunt for the eight qualifying spots: McCall Jones, Nina Pantic, Katie Rybakova, Whitney Byrd, Daisha Hill-Hurtado, Jacqueline Wu, Christina McHale, Joanna Mather and Olivia Janowicz.

The weather forecast remains excellent for the next several days, so the tennis should be unrelenting.

Friday, November 24, 2006

First Round of Eddie Herr Qualifying Complete

We're not quite there yet, having made it as far as Jacksonville after our family Thanksgiving celebration, but qualifying is underway at the Eddie Herr. Check here for the results of Friday's first round of qualifying for the 14s, 16s, and 18s. The 12s main draw begins Saturday. The wild cards have also been determined, and only the eight qualifiers remain to be decided this weekend before play begins for the older divisions on Monday.

As a preview to the tournament, which the local papers cover diligently, Mic Huber of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune profiles Gastao Elias of Portugal, the most recent high-profile IMG junior signee.

Also, Marcia Frost has posted her photos of Mark Bey's National Junior Tennis Conference & Training Camp last weekend in suburban Chicago.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Charlie Bricker Profiles Lauren Albanese

I was hoping to post a quick link to my SMASH column, which I wrote on Monday, as usual, but it hasn't been put up on the magazine's website as of late Wednesday.

But I just saw this feature by Charlie Bricker of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel on Lauren Albanese, so I'll post that instead.

I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Madden Signs with Michigan; Sweeting Signs with IMG

Tuesday was a big day for men's Big Ten NLI announcements. Michigan announced the signing of blue chip Chris Madden and five star recruit David Streeter. Purdue released an announcement that it had commitments from Californians DJ Johnson and Eric Ramos, and Northwestern announced that Peter Rispoli and Andrew McCarthy would be joining the Wildcats.

On the professional front, IMG has signed Ryan Sweeting to a representation contract, which would seem to indicate that he's more likely to be seen at training at Bollettieri's than Saddlebrook as previously reported by Charlie Bricker last week, but I'll check on that when I get to Bradenton.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Going South

On Tuesday we start our long drive south, and by the weekend we'll be at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton for the Eddie Herr. After that, it's even farther south, to Miami, for the Orange Bowl and the Junior Orange Bowl, wrapping up just two days before Christmas.

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday and various unknown accommodations for the remainder of the week, updates to the site may not be daily, but expect lots of on the scene reporting once the Eddie Herr begins.

There are two interesting articles today. This one from the LA Times is about Alison Ramos, and as reporter Lauren Peterson makes clear, for Ramos, high school tennis is a very high priority.

New Zealand is hoping for big things from two of their junior girls, Marina Erakovic, who is 18 and ranked 161 by the WTA, and 16-year-old Sacha Jones, who is 13th in the ITF junior rankings. Whether this constitutes "a golden age of women's tennis" as this New Zealand article says, remains to be seen.

Finally, Virginia has officially announced the signings of Houston Barrick, Jason Jung and Douglas Perrin.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Baylor Names New Assistant; Sweeting to Train at Saddlebrook

Matt Knoll at Baylor has hired an assistant to replace Sam Winterbotham, who left Waco after just a few months to take the Tennessee head coaching job. This article by Kim Gorum, who does a great job on the Baylor tennis beat, gives the details of Kyle Spencer's hiring.

There's also a story in today's Waco Tribune about Baylor alum Benjamin Becker, who lost in the final of the Challenger in the Ukraine to Dmitry Tursunov. The last paragragh contains the interesting tidbit that Becker is tied with Misha Zverev for the second most wins in men's tennis behind (way behind) Roger Federer.

There's was a small item in Charlie Bricker's column Friday about Sweeting turning pro and training at Saddlebrook part time. There hasn't been anything official from Florida's SID about Sweeting, and there may not be at this point.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Best Laid Plans.....

Due to illness I wasn't able to get to Mark Bey's National Junior Tennis conference this weekend as I had planned. But Marcia Frost from collegeandjuniortennis.com is there, and she'll be writing about it on that site next week.

The most recent edition of Inside Junior Tennis podcast is now available.

And keep those Florida signing comments coming while I recuperate. I'm learning a lot about scholarships.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Levine, Dadamo and Mirzadeh Join Hochwalt and Corace at Florida

Andy Jackson didn't waste any time worrying about the loss of Ryan Sweeting to the pro ranks. Today he announced the signing of five players, and in Levine he has landed one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation. Hochwalt and Corace had made their verbals some time ago, but, at least as far as I know, Levine, Mirzadeh and Dadamo only recently decided on Florida. It's an undeniably impressive recruiting class. There's no mention in the release when the older two will be starting. Levine turned 19 last month and Mirzadeh turns 20 next month.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ozaki Resigns; Anderson Surprises Kim at Illinois Challenger

Bill Ozaki, the USTA's Director of Junior and Collegiate Competition, has resigned from that position and will return to his previous one, that of Director of Player Development for the Southern Section.
I saw Bill briefly at the ITA Indoor in Columbus, and I had no inkling that this was coming. I believe the position was created less than two years ago, as part of the USTA's commitment to integrate junior and college tennis as part of the player development structure. With Eliot Teltscher's resignation a few months ago, and the changes made recently in High Performance coaching, no personnel move can really be described as unexpected, but it wasn't as if anyone was waiting for another shoe to drop. Will there be more?

For news on the tennis court, the University of Illinois can always be relied on, especially when three players with Illinois ties are in the quarterfinals of the Challenger going on there. Kevin Anderson, a junior at Illinois, had his biggest win last night, when he took out Kevin Kim, who is ranked just outside the ATP Top 100. Details are available here.

My SMASH column mentioned the great website at that Challenger--see for yourself, here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

SMASH Column: Mostly Aces Edition; Bey's Junior Tennis Conference Headliners Announced

My SMASH online column is up, and there were some impressive performances by teenagers in pro events. My apologies to Stacey Tan for not having a photograph of her to display here. Her win in a Manila $10K Women's event caught me by surprise.

I've just spoken to Mark Bey, and he has finalized the lineup for his 10th annual National Junior Tennis Conference and Training Camp this weekend in suburban Chicago. Here are the speakers expected:

  • Dick Gould Former Stanford University Men’s Head Coach
  • Luke Jensen ESPN Analyst and Syracuse Women’s Head Coach
  • Craig O’Shannessy Junior developer and National clinician
  • Jorge Capestany Master professional and Junior developer
  • Bill Clark Bill Clark Tennis Academy - Junior developer
  • Bobby Bayliss/Ryan Sachire Notre Dame Men’s Tennis
  • Clare Pollard/David Mullins Northwestern Women’s Tennis
  • Brad Dancer/Kent Kinnear Illinois Men’s Tennis
  • Peter Burling Dennison University
  • Mark Campanile USRSA Certified Stringer
  • Bob Pass Four STAR Academy
  • Jon Vegosen Chairman of USTA Collegiate Committee
  • Charles Granville Certified Referee & Father of WTA professional Laura Granville

    I'll be in Libertyville again this year, so look for a post about the day's activities on Saturday evening. If you'd like more information about the schedule, please contact Mark Bey at the Libertyville Tennis & Fitness Club (847) 362-5553.

  • Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Elias Signs With IMG

    Gastao Elias of Portugal has signed with IMG and will train at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton Florida. The announcement was released Monday by IMG; no terms were disclosed.

    I've seen Elias play, primarily in Carson this spring, where he defeated Dennis Lajola and Wil Spencer before losing to Clint Bowles in the quarterfinals. (I missed him at this year's U.S. Open Juniors, where he lost to eventual winner Dusan Lojda in the second round). I was impressed with the great variety in his game, but not surprised that someone on the level of Dmitry Tursunov would overwhelm him, as The Blog King did in Estoril, Portugal just a few weeks later. Elias was given a wild card into qualifying and made the main draw as a lucky loser, falling to Tursunov 6-2, 6-1.

    Here's Tursunov's account of that match, one his first wins on clay:

    IT HAPPENED!!! They told me, “Just keep pluggin’ alone and you will win a match!!!” and it happened! Of course the kid was 15 but c’mon! I’m blond! We all have our excuses… I don’t care what anyone says. I matched my best clay court season record so from now on it can only get better! The match wasn’t too long and I tried to work on some things as it progressed. It was a bit tough, though, because the crowd reacted to every mistake by me as if the guy hit the shot of his life, so you don’t want to lose a single point because they are eating you alive. I guess that kinda goes with the territory when you play a local kid and they want to show him that they are backing him up!

    Elias is scheduled to play both the Eddie Herr and the Orange Bowl, so I'll get a chance to see him play again soon.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Last Words on the ITA Indoor

    My synopsis of the ITA Indoor was posted today at The Tennis Recruiting Network's website. The photos are obviously not from Columbus, but from the NCAAs at Stanford last May.

    Most college tennis teams are now on break until January. Monday was the final day of the Big Ten individual championships in Ann Arbor, and Matko Maravic of the University of Michigan earned the title, defeating Indiana's David Bubenicek 6-3, 6-2. For more details, see this article on mgoblue.com.

    Sunday, November 12, 2006

    Book Review: Tennis Beyond Big Shots by Greg Moran

    I discovered Greg Moran's writing a few months ago via his monthly column on TheTennisServer.com. I checked out some of his past columns (here's one of my favorites), and was impressed with both his passion for the game and his writing prowess, a combination you don't often encounter in a teaching pro. (I believe any successful teaching pro with a several decades in the business could probably write a useful book based on their experiences, but it's rare when someone actually does it.) I was eager to read his book, Tennis Beyond Big Shots, and it didn't disappoint.

    I think the "Big Shots" Moran refers to has a dual meaning. The primary one is big shots such as Andy Roddick's serve or Roger Federer's forehand. Moran makes the case throughout the book that consistency is more important than power, that one running forehand down-the-line winner doesn't make up for the six unforced errors on either side of it. Percentage tennis is what he preaches, and he makes a very convincing case for it. Roddick and Federer may be and have "Big Shots," but Moran isn't much interested in them. He's interested in the game as it is played for recreational players, not professionals.

    The true heart of the book is, well, it's heart. The first half--Small Changes To Win Big, Retro Shots That Will Raise Your Game--is focused on playing better, and the advice is directed at the club-level player. The second half--Good Thinking Tops Great Strokes and Lighten Up, Be Happy--is about the mental, emotional, even spiritual, component of playing tennis. Moran uses anecdotes to maximum effect here, and his account of serving as a fourth for a Super Seniors doubles match and his story about what became of his tennis-playing high school buddies are two of the best.

    There is plenty of solid advice on such topics as starting your child in tennis, what to look for in a pro, how to move to another pro without embarrassment, how to deal with cheaters, and how to avoid tennis snobs.

    But most of all, Moran's love of the game makes you want to pick up your racquet and play. There isn't a much higher recommendation than that.

    Saturday, November 11, 2006

    10-year-old Delray tennis talent dreams of turning pro, being No. 1:: Palm Beach Post

    While the college NLI signing news continues to trickle in (here's a release for Texas A & M's women), I'm already starting to look ahead to the Eddie Herr in a couple of weeks. It's one of my few chances to see the 12s, and I hope to get a peek at the subject this story, Victoria Duval. To go from the twenty-somethings of college to the 10 and 11-year-olds takes a bit of adjustment, but it's always rejuvenating to see tennis through those very young eyes.

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Friday Odds & Ends

    The latest podcast of Inside Junior Tennis is available now at TheTennisPodcast. Kevin McClure quizzes me on just what it is I do and look for when I'm at a tennis tournament ten or twelve hours a day.

    A recent check of the USTA High Performance website, shows that they've officially shuffled many of the coaches. David DiLucia is back with the 1990 birth year boys, while David Nainkin and Mike Sell have essentially switched places, with Nainkin taking the 1989 birth year boys and Sell one group of the male touring pros.

    Finally, the University of Texas is one of the few schools that have done official releases on their National Letter of Intent signees. The women's team has a commitment from Maggie Mello, who also revealed her decision today on The Tennis Recruiting Network. Kellen Damico, who verbally committed to Texas this summer, signed his NLI on this week, according to texassportsonline.

    Thursday, November 9, 2006

    Former Illini tennis player Kosta serves up comedy :: The Daily Illini

    This story, from last week's Daily Illini is a much more extensive look at the new career of former University of Michigan assistant Michael Kosta than the short one I wrote for SMASH (publication expected to be first quarter of 2007). Illinois is fortunate to have such excellent young journalists covering tennis for them; Amber Greviskes left and Eric Chima steps right in without missing a beat.

    For those of you not inclined to scroll to the bottom of the site everyday, I do want to mention that I've added an Amazon store for books I've reviewed, including Kosta's book, 101 Tips for Winning More Tennis Matches. If you are considering purchasing any holiday gifts from Amazon, doing it through these links will help in my efforts to make ZooTennis a viable enterprise.

    Wednesday, November 8, 2006

    SMASH Column, ITA Indoor Edition

    My SMASH online column went up today, and as usual when I'm actually "On The Road," it's a long one. Those of you in the Southern section should also check out the SMASH home page for a link to details about the tournament the magazine is sponsoring in February.

    In keeping with the college theme, I'll pass along two stories, one from UCLA about Ben Kohlloeffel and his Indoor title, the second from William and Mary about their women's Indoor doubles champions Megan Moulton-Levy and Katarina Zoricic.

    Tuesday, November 7, 2006

    Signing Week Begins Wednesday

    The Tennis Recruiting Network has been a beehive of activity the past couple of weeks, keeping up with all the verbal commitments that surface when seniors return from their official visits. On Monday, Julie Wrege updated the latest on the Blue Chip boys; Tuesday, it was the the girls' turn.

    Wednesday is the first day that recruits can sign a National Letter of Intent; before that University Sports Information Departments are unable to comment on incoming recruits, regardless of how widely known the decision is. This leads to some creative attribution. In this article published Tuesday by The Red and Black, Georgia's student newspaper, the prospect of Georgia's return to the NCAA Team finals is discussed. Two players who are widely known to be joining the Bulldogs in January--Nate Schnugg and Christian Vitulli--are referred to this way:

    The Web site [tennisrecruiting.net] suggested that Hunt’s partner at the U.S. Open, Nathaniel Schnugg, will be arriving in January, along with Christian Vitulli of Kenya.

    During the next two weeks, press releases will begin to trickle out, but short of checking every top D-I's website, I recommend daily visits to tennisrecruiting.net.

    Monday, November 6, 2006

    Womeodu Grant Application Time; Champions for Charity Event Announced

    When I first heard about the USTA's Okechi Womeodu Scholar Athlete Grant early this year, I made a note to remind juniors and their families when applications would be available for the 2007 award. According to the usta.com website, applications for the $5000 grants, awarded to one male and one female player each year, have been available since November 1st. The deadline to submit the application to your section is late December. It will be two years on Friday that junior tennis lost one of its shining lights; this award is an ideal way of honoring Okechi Womeodu's memory. For more information, please contact Iris Rivera, Coordinator, Special Projects, at (914) 697-2281 or email her at irivera-at-usta.com.

    Recently I was asked to pass along news about the Champions for Charity event scheduled for Saturday, November 25th in Wichita Kansas. In addition to Andy Roddick, Luke and Murphy Jensen, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, and Natasha Zvereva, Sam Querrey will be a part of the benefit for the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation and the Genesis Foundation for Fitness & Tennis. For more details, see this release in Tennis Week.

    I also wanted to mention that, after some daunting technical difficulties, Kevin McClure has managed to reconstruct our October 31st edition of Inside Junior Tennis and it is available
    here. Due to the delay in making this one available, the next one will come out later this week.

    Sunday, November 5, 2006

    Kohlloeffel and Cohen Win ITA Indoor Championships; Georgia and William and Mary Capture Doubles Titles

    ©Colette Lewis 2006--
    Columbus, OH--

    Defending champion Ben Kohlloeffel of UCLA produced his best tennis of the week Sunday afternoon, reeling off ten straight games on his way to defeating Ohio State's Steven Moneke 6-0, 6-4 at the ITA Indoor Championships at The Racquet Club of Columbus.

    Audra Cohen of Miami had a tougher road, dropping the first set, but she rebounded to take her second national singles title with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Jelena Pandzic of Fresno Pacific.

    Kohlloeffel couldn't miss in the first set, serving and volleying and drilling ground stroke winners at every chance. The hundred or so Buckeye fans supporting Moneke, who hadn't lost a set in the tournament, never had a chance to supply any energy to the sophomore from Germany.

    "He didn't give me any time to attack," said Moneke, a friend of net-rushing lefthander from their days playing tennis in Germany. "He took every ball so early."

    "I surprised myself," said Kohlloeffel, the 2006 NCAA champion who is 58-5 over the last two seasons. "Every so often you have those times when you don't miss, but you see how fast it can go."

    Down 4-0 in the second set, Moneke allowed himself a smile when he held serve for the first time in the match, and when he broke the UCLA senior in his next two service games to even the set, the crowd began to voice hope for a third set.

    "He returned better, and put pressure on my serve," said Kohlloeffel of the Moneke comeback.

    But it was a short-lived glimmer of hope. Moneke was broken at 4-4, and Kohlloeffel slammed the door.

    The two friends embraced at the net, and while waiting for photographs, exchanged notes on the match, their first encounter outside of practice.

    "I thought it would be fun," said Moneke, who admitted that he had hoped Kohlloeffel would be his opponent in the final. "But it was more fun for him than for me."

    In the first set of the women's final, played an adjacent court at the same time as the men's, Cohen, the second seed, fought back from an early break in the first set, but was unable to hold off the NAIA champion. Serving at 5-6, Cohen saved two set points with serve winners, but Pandzic countered those with ground stroke winners of her own and took the first set.

    But Cohen, the ITA Player of the year in 2006, didn't panic, and made a strategic change that turned the match in her favor.

    "She hit the ball better on the run than when she was standing still," said Cohen, who had never faced Pandzic before. "If you get her on the run and she's out wide, she can scream a winner down the line or scream a winner cross court. So a lot of points I was just slicing cross court, a very neutral ball, and she was having more trouble with that, getting a little impatient and going for big shots."

    At 3-3 in the second set, Cohen got the break she needed, and although she faced a break point in the next game, she held and used a forehand winner and an ace in her next service game to square the match.

    For the sixth seeded Pandzic, who had won 49 straight matches, it was the first set she had lost in that span, but another would soon follow. Cohen jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, and Pandzic sensed that her streak was about to end.

    "It's hard to break her," said Pandzic, who reached the 2004 final at the NCAAs while a freshman at Fresno State. "She has a big serve and big forehand and she's more aggressive with those shots. She played well today, all credit to her."

    Cohen did have a slight hiccup when she was broken serving at 4-1 in the third, but Pandzic immediately gave it back, giving Cohen the chance to serve out the match. An ace, a Pandzic error and a service winner later, Cohen stood on the threshold of her second national singles title to go with the All-American championship in 2004, and she earned it when, after a long rally, Pandzic hit a volley long.

    Cohen let out a loud "c'mon," and trotted to the net to accept congratulations from Pandzic, who was the first Small College Champion to reach the final using the ITA wild card.

    In doubles, the fourth-seeded team of Megan Moulton-Levy and Katarina Zoricic of William and Mary captured the first national doubles title for the school when they defeated the unseeded TCU team of Ana Cetnik and Anna Sydorska 8-3. Zoricic and Moulton-Levy have been playing together since their junior days, and the teamwork they displayed looked like second nature to them. Zoricic was the only player who did not drop her serve, and her net play was also flawless. She and Moulton-Levy are now setting their sights on May.

    "Our goals are to keep improving day to day and then to win the NCAAs in the spring," said Zoricic.

    "She got that exactly right," said Moulton-Levy. "Two good goals."

    For Isner and Flores, the operative number isn't two but three. The University of Georgia pair will be seeking the college triple crown when the NCAAs come to Athens next spring after their tense 9-8 (4) win over Middle Tennessee State's Marco Born and Andreas Siljestrom.

    Isner, Born and Siljestrom are all 6-foot-9, so it was not unexpected that serves would dominate the match. Isner and Flores never faced a break point, and Born and Siljestrom only one in the sixteen games played and they brushed that aside.

    In the tiebreak, it was Flores who blinked first. Serving at 3-3, Flores couldn't handle a second serve returned at his feet, and Born and Siljestrom had the opportunity to serve it out. But Born netted his first volley on the ensuing point to make it 4-4 and when Flores cracked a return winner on Born's next serve, it was the Georgia team in the driver's seat, with Isner serving next.

    The senior righthander, who won the 2005 NCAA doubles title with Antonio Ruiz, didn't get either of his first serves in, but won both points, the last one on his sizzling forehand winner.

    Isner and Flores won the All-American championships in Tulsa last month, garnering the top seed at the Indoor, and are beginning to hit their stride as a team.

    "At the All-American, we were pretty shaky in the first round," said Isner, "but we got better every match. We came in here with a lot of confidence, knowing that if we played our game we'd be tough to beat."

    Born and Siljestrom, finalists at last year's Indoor Championships, were also tough to beat.

    "That doubles team," said Georgia coach Manny Diaz, pointing at the towering pair posing for photographs, "is one of the best teams we've seen. We were fortunate to beat such a great team."

    Three consolation titles were decided Sunday morning. In doubles, Suzi Babos and Zsuzsanna Fodor of California defeated Catrina and Christian Thompson of Notre Dame 8-6. The women's singles consolation winner was Stanford's Celia Durkin, who outlasted Fodor 6-2, 6-7 (1), 7-5. The men's consolation winner was Ken Skupski of LSU, who downed Arnau Brugues of Tulsa 6-3, 6-3. The men's consolation doubles winners were Notre Dame's Ryan Keckley and Sheeva Parbhu, who defeated Alex Cojanu and Colin O'Brien of William and Mary 8-5 Saturday afternoon.

    For full draws see itatennis.com

    Saturday, November 4, 2006

    Underdogs Meet Favorites for ITA Indoor Championships Sunday

    ©Colette Lewis 2006--
    Columbus OH--

    Top seed Ben Kohlloeffel of UCLA survived a scare in Saturday afternoon's semifinal, saving two match points in the third set tiebreak to defeat unseeded Ivan Puchkarov of Oklahoma State, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7). The defending ITA Indoor champion will face surprise finalist Steven Moneke, the unseeded Ohio State sophomore who has stormed through his draw without dropping a set. On Saturday it was Notre Dame's Stephen Bass that was on the short end of a 7-5, 6-3 score.

    In women's action, sixth seed Jelena Pandzic of Fresno Pacific earned the first finals berth for a Small College Champion wild card when she rolled over eighth seed Megan Moulton-Levy 6-2, 6-1. Across the net on Sunday she will find 2006 ITA College Player of the Year Audra Cohen, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over Fresno State's Melanie Gloria.

    Kohlloeffel had no difficulty in his first three victories, but Puchkarov had the 2006 NCAA champion doubting himself.

    "Indoor tennis, the match turns so quickly," said Kohlloeffel. "You play a couple of bad games and you start wondering. You don't hit as hard, don't make your shots,"

    Puchkarov, a 21-year-old from the Ukraine often pinned Kohlloeffel behind the baseline in the late stages of the match, negating the German's devastating volleys.

    "He played the first ball well," said Kohlloeffel. "So deep, it was hard to get in."

    In the tiebreak, Kohlloeffel double faulted at 5-5, giving Puchkarov his first match point, but an unforced error by Puchkarov got the UCLA senior off the hook. Puchkarov earned his second match point when Kohlloeffel caught the tape on his return; that one was brushed aside when Kohlloeffel served an ace. At 7-7, Kohloeffel missed his first serve, but rather than kick one in, he blasted an ace, a decision that had spectators gasping at its audacity.

    "There's not much thinking involved," said Kohlloeffel, when asked about that decision after the match. "If it works out, you look smart, but if it doesn't you look stupid. I was lucky it worked out today."

    On his first match point, Kohlloeffel got the serve back and Puchkarov netted a backhand, leaving Kohlloeffel with another berth in the finals, and a sense of deja vu.

    Last year, on the same court, he saved three match points in defeating Georgia's John Isner 7-6 in the third.

    "I can't explain it, same court, same everything," said Kohlloeffel. "It is just luck really to win that point when you need to."

    Kohlloeffel and Moneke, both from Germany, were teammates in club tennis but, because of the four year age difference, have never played. Kohlloeffel has kept his eye on his compatriot this week, however.

    "I'm really impressed with the way he's playing. It should be an interesting match."

    Moneke had beaten Bass in the Midwest regional quarterfinals two weeks ago, and that contest was a marathon--6-4 in the third. But the toll of two grueling matches on Friday was evident when Bass failed to convert two sets points serving at 5-4.

    "He's very consistent," said Moneke. "If he wins the first set, he's going to be tough to beat."

    But Moneke fits that same description, and with the support of his teammates and the fans crowding the court at the Racquet Club of Columbus, he has displayed a lethal combination of defense and offense.

    "I have to be aggressive, and yet patient," said Moneke. "And I've served very well this week. When I'm serving well, I'm tough to beat."

    Moneke will attempt to become the fourth straight champion for the Buckeyes at the ITA Indoor. Jeremy Wurtzman captured the singles title in 2003, and Scott Green and Ross Wilson won back-to-back championships in doubles the next two years.

    The women's semifinals produced some excellent tennis, but there wasn't much drama. In Cohen's victory over Gloria, it was sweet revenge for the Miami junior, who lost to the sophomore from Fresno State 6-3, 6-2 at last month's ITA All-American.

    "I wasn't in that match mentally," Cohen said. "Today, I didn't have a meltdown. I focused, I stayed composed, and the results took care of themselves."

    Pandzic, an NCAA finalist in 2004 while at Fresno State, rolled over Megan Moulton-Levy of William and Mary.

    "She has an uncomfortable slice," said the junior from Croatia, who has now won 49 straight matches--all in straight sets. "I had to make sure she didn't run me all around with it." Pandzic credited her heavy topspin for negating the Moulton-Levy speed, and admitted that she was playing her best.

    "From the first game to the last, I stayed focused and relaxed," she said. "I think I played very well."

    In doubles semifinal action, top seeds John Isner and Luis Flores of Georgia defeated the unseeded team of James Cluskey and Ken Skupski of LSU 8-4. The Georgia tandem will face third seeds and 2005 ITA Indoor finalists Marco Born and Andreas Siljestrom of Middle Tennessee State. Born and Siljestrom overpowered the second seeded team of Brian Hung and Matko Maravic of Michigan 8-5.

    The women's doubles championship features the unseeded team from TCU--Ana Cetnik and Anna Sydorska and William and Mary's Moulton-Levy and Katarina Zoricic, the fourth seeds. Cetnik and Sykorska downed Kentucky's Kim Coventry and Joelle Schwenk 8-3, while Moulton-Levy and Zorcic defeated Notre Dame's unseeded team of Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft 8-6.

    For complete draws, including consolation finals, please seeitatennis.com. For additional coverage, see Marcia Frost's accounts at collegeandjuniortennis.com.

    Friday, November 3, 2006

    Ohio State and Fresno Pacific Claim Semifinal Spots at ITA National Indoor

    © Colette Lewis 2006--
    Columbus, OH--

    Over twelve hours of tennis was played Friday at the Racquet Club of Columbus, host of the ITA National Indoor Championships, and similar to Thursday, try as I might, it wasn't possible to watch it all. I did find time to post an update on the second round matches (see below), because the quarterfinals have a way of upstaging even the most exciting or unexpected results early in the day.

    In the late evening, there were only two winners that could be considered surprises, one each in the men's and women's draws. But given the way Fresno Pacific's Jelena Pandzic and Ohio State's Steven Moneke have been playing, their victories were just more of the same.

    After upsetting fourth seed Lars Poerschke of Baylor in the second round, Moneke didn't miss a beat, taking out eighth seed Erling Tveit of Mississippi 6-4, 6-2. Moneke won the Midwest Regional to earn his spot in elite field, and the Buckeye sophomore from Germany is now 15-2 on the season.

    Jelena Pandzic of Fresno Pacific can top that. The NAIA champion, who reached the NCAA finals in 2004 while at Fresno State, is now 48-0 over the past two years, winning every match in straight sets. Seed sixth, she overwhelmed third seed Kristi Miller from Georgia Tech 6-0, 6-3. In the semifinals, Pandzic will face eighth seed Megan Moulton-Levy of William and Mary, who battled back from a 3-1 third set deficit to defeat Jenna Long of North Carolina 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

    The other women's semifinal is a rematch of the semifinal at last month's All-American tournament, when Melanie Gloria of Fresno State defeated Audra Cohen of Miami in straight sets. Gloria, seeded fourth, put an end to unseeded Columbus native Kirsten Flower's run with a 6-4, 6-3 decision over the Georgia Tech freshman, while Cohen, the second seed, prevailed over 2005 ITA Indoor champion Diane Srebrovic 6-4, 6-2.

    The men's defending champion, UCLA's Ben Kohlloeffel, continued his excellent form with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Old Dominion's Harel Srugo. He meets unseed Ivan Puchkarov of Oklahoma State, who battled back to defeat Wake Forest's Todd Paul 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.

    The most riveting match of the evening featured two unseeded players--Luke Shields of Boise State and Stephen Bass of Notre Dame, with Bass emerging with a 1-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) victory. After the first set, there was not a sliver of advantage to be had between the two rivals, and in the third set, Shields battled back from a break down to serve for the match at 5-4. Bass saved two match points in that game to even the third set, and earned one of his own with Shields serving at 5-6, but Shields held on to force the tiebreak.

    Bass took a 6-3 lead in the tiebreak and had Shields diving in desperation on two occasions, but the Boise State junior saved two match points on his two serves, the second with an ace. Bass took his time on his serve, and although Shields made an incredible get, falling to the court after digging out a shot, Bass was ready for it. He put away the volley while Shields could only watch helplessly from his seat on the court.

    It was only a few weeks ago that Moneke and Bass played in the Midwest regional quarterfinals, with Moneke taking a three-set victory. Bass has certainly spent more time on court in his three victories, with four sets ending in tiebreaks, all in his favor. Moneke has yet to lose a set in the tournament and has not even needed a tiebreak in his three wins.

    Saturday begins with the doubles semifinals for both men and women, followed by the singles semifinals.

    For full draws, visit itatennis.com.

    Bass Surprises Isner in Second Round; Moneke Eliminates Poerschke

    Only two seeds remain in the men's draw after the second round of men's singles at the ITA Individual Indoor on Friday afternoon, and no. 2 John Isner and no. 4 Lars Poerschke aren't among them.

    Notre Dame's Stephen Bass and Ohio State's Steven Moneke scored the upsets, and neither needed three sets. Bass defeated the 6-foot-9 senior from Georgia 6-4, 7-6 (6), while Moneke took out Baylor's lone representative in the men's draw 6-2, 7-5.

    Isner had an opportunity to send the match to a third set; actually he had six opportunities, as that was the number of set points he had in the second set. With Bass serving at 5-6, Isner was one point away from evening the match. In the tiebreak, Isner built a 6-3 lead using one mini-break, two aces and three service winners, but doublefaulted at 6-5 and didn't win another point. Never one to keep his frustrations hidden, Isner was berating himself throughout the match and after it was over, a full water bottle became the object of his ire. It wasn't a good tournament for Georgia, with no. 6 seed Luis Flores falling in the first round and no. 7 Travis Helgeson losing to Harel Srugo of Old Dominion 6-3, 6-2 in the second round.

    Moneke, a sophomore from Germany, had 30 or 40 Buckeye supporters cheering him on and he needed them; After a relatively easy first set for Moneke, Poerschke dug in, and every game was a battle from the first point. Next for Moneke on Friday evening will be 8th seed Erling Tveit of Ole Miss, who defeated Andre Begemann of Pepperdine 6-4, 7-6 (8). Bass will face Boise State's Luke Shields, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Bojan Szumanski of Texas Tech.

    No. 1 seed Ben Kohlloeffel of UCLA, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Ohio State freshman Justin Kronauge, will meet Srugo. In the other quarterfinal Friday afternoon, Todd Paul of Wake Forest, who defeated Illinois' Ryan Rowe 6-4, 6-4, meets Ivan Puchkarov of Oklahoma State. Puchkarov eliminated small college champion Mislav Hizak of Embry-Riddle 6-4, 6-3.

    There were no upsets in the women's division in Friday morning's second round, as the six remaining seeds advanced. The two giant killers of Thursday, Kirsten Flower of Georgia Tech and University of North Carolina's Jeanna Long, both continued their excellent play. Flower beat University of South Florida's Shadisha Robinson 6-3, 6-1 and Long outlasted LSU's Megan Falcon 7-6 (1), 2-1 ret.

    The only seeded women's doubles team remaining after Friday's quarterfinals is no. 4 William & Mary's Megan Moulton-Levy and Katarina Zoric. On the men's side, the only unseeded team still alive is LSU's James Cluskey and Ken Skupski, who defeated the fourth seeds Markus Dickhardt and Christian Groh of San Diego State 9-7.

    Thursday, November 2, 2006

    Babos, Brugues Drop First Round Matches at ITA Indoor

    ©Colette Lewis 2006--
    Columbus, OH

    I didn't see all the matches in today's opening round at the ITA Individual Indoor. With eight courts going from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., it's just not possible. But I did see nearly every point of Jenna Long's 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 upset of top seed Suzi Babos of California. I didn't see more than a couple of points of the other big surprise in the women's draw, but plenty of hometown fans were at The Racquet Club of Columbus to witness Georgia Tech freshman and Columbus native Kirsten Flower's 6-4, 6-4 win over fifth seed and 2005 Individual Indoor finalist Theresa Logar of Stanford.

    Babos, on a fifteen match win streak dating back to last season, started off spraying balls wildly, while North Carolina's Long used consistency and pace to pressure the lefthanded NCAA champion. In the second set, Babos began to locate her backhand and her depth, giving Long fewer unearned points. But when it looked as if Babos would assert herself, she suddenly fell into a 3-0 hole in the third set, only to pull even three games later. The roller coaster was far from over however, as Long broke Babos to take a 5-3 lead. Long's struggle to serve out the match was a long one. She held two match points in the five-deuce game, but Babos hit winners when she needed them to again even the match. Both players held their next service games, but at 5-6, 30-40, Babos made her last unforced error, giving Long the victory. Despite the sustained tension of the match, Long displayed little emotion or volatility while Babos' frustrations were on full display throughout the contest. In the end, she couldn't summon her edge in big-match experience, and Long remained composed enough to finish the upset.

    Babos and Logar were the only two women's seeds to fall in first round singles action Thursday. Second seed Audra Cohen of Miami cruised past Anna Lubinsky of Texas A & M 6-1, 6-2 and third seed Kristi Miller of Georgia Tech also won handily, 6-3, 6-1, over Cismina Ciobanu of Notre Dame.

    On the men's side, ITA All-American champion Arnau Brugues of Tulsa, the no. 3 seed, was beaten by Wake Forest's Todd Paul 7-6 (6), 6-0, but he was down 3-0 before he even took the court. A match time misunderstanding led to his late arrival, and overcoming that deficit was all that he could manage. The consistency he showed at last month's All-American was nowhere to be found in the few points I watched and second set was over in what seemed to be minutes.

    Top seed Ben Kohlloeffel of UCLA had no trouble, defeating Clancy Shields of Boise State 6-2, 6-3, but second seed John Isner had to hold on for dear life in the night's final match. The Georgia senior eked out a win over Alex Skrypko of SMU 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

    Two other men's seeds lost Thursday. No. 5 Somdev Devvarman of Virginia dropped a 6-3, 7-5 decision to Bojan Zsumanski of Texas Tech. A pulled muscle kept the 2006 NCAA finalist from moving with his usual speed, and forced him to withdraw from the consolation tournament. No. 6 seed Luis Flores of Georgia was defeated by Ivan Puchkarov of Okalahoma State 6-3, 6-4.

    The doubles went according to plan for the men, with all four seeded teams advancing. The women, however, lost their top two seeds. The top seeded team of Catrina and Christian Thompson of Notre Dame lost to TCU's Ana Cetnik and Anna Sydorska 8-3, while Cal's Babos and Zsuzsanna Fodor, the second seeds, fell 8-6 to Florida State's Lauren Macfarlane and Nicola Slater.

    Friday begins with the doubles quarterfinals, followed by two rounds of singles, so it will be another long day of tennis.

    Marcia Frost of collegeandjuniortennis has additional coverage of the tournament. For complete draws and scores, see itatennis.com.

    Wednesday, November 1, 2006

    SMASH Column, Juniors Win Pro Events edition

    My SMASH online column was posted today, and Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia gets her due there for winning a $75,000 event in her hometown of Bratislava. Plenty of other juniors won "minor league" titles--I hope I didn't miss anyone.

    I've got packing to do, for tomorrow morning's drive to Columbus, but those of you who are interested in other upset predictions (seems to be just for the men, so far) for the ITA Indoor, should check out this post on Underground Tennis. West Nott, who just revealed himself as the man behind the site a few days ago, gives his predictions and not all of those commenting agree with him. Nott also can be found on The Tennis Recruiting Network today, profiling junior Christina McHale.