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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Unseeded American Girls, Seeded American Boys Reach 12s Semifinals at Eddie Herr International; Few Upsets in Second Round of 18s Action

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Bradenton, FL--

The chilly weather that descended on the Eddie Herr International Wednesday didn't cool off two unseeded American girls, who reached the 12s semifinals with straight set victories on the hard courts of the IMG/Bollettieri Academy.

Dominique Schaefer and Jaeda Daniel continued their straight-set march through the draws with wins over seeded Americans today, with Schaefer beating No. 10 seed Abigail Desiatnikov 6-2, 6-2 and Daniel downing No. 8 seed Nicole Conard 6-2, 6-2. Daniel, who reached the quarterfinals last year as an 11-year-old, will play No. 7 seed Sofya Zhuk of Russia in one semifinal, while Schaefer plays No. 9 seed Katherine Sebov of Canada.

The boys 12s have gone much more to form, with the top four seeds reaching Thursday's semifinals. Top seed Alex del Corral beat fellow Floridian Vasil Kirkov 6-4, 6-1 in the quarterfinal and will meet No. 3 seed Alexei Popyrin of Australia. Popyrin had by far the most difficult match of the quarterfinal winners, saving multiple match points in his 5-7, 7-6(7), 6-3 victory over unseeded Dimitriy Voronin of Russia. The second American in the semifinals is No. 4 seed Patrick Kypson, who beat No. 11 seed Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina 6-4, 6-1 to set up a meeting with No. 2 seed Artem Dubrivny of Russia, a 6-4, 6-2 quarterfinal winner over No. 12 seed Noah Makarome of the US.

After three straight years with a Korean in the boys 12s final, their absence in the quarterfinals this year feels distinctly odd. But there are three still alive in the 14s round of 16, including last year's 12s winner Duckhee Lee. Lee, the No. 5 seed and unseeded Michael Mmoh of the US reprised the 2010 final this afternoon on Stadium court, and again it was Lee coming out on top over the 2010 Junior Orange Bowl 12s champion, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Chan Yeong Oh of Korea beat top seed Sahil Deshmukh of India 6-1, 2-6, 6-3, and in the second of his two wins Wednesday defeated Alfredo Perez of the US 6-3, 6-2. Due to rain on Monday, the 14s played two matches today to get back on schedule.

The biggest surprise in the boys 16s was No. 7 seed Stefan Kozlov's 7-5, 6-3 loss to qualifier Filip Obucina of Canada. The 13-year-old Floridian had been one of the pre-tournament favorites due to his success in ITF tournaments this summer and fall. Obucina joins fellow Canadians Hugo Di Feo(1) and Brayden Schnur(2) in the round of 16.

The girls 14s action extended well past 9 p.m. tonight, and the top two seeds, Renata Zarazua of Mexico and Naiktha Bains of Australia won both of their matches, as did the surprisingly unseeded Mariya Shishkina of the US.

For complete results, see the Tennis Information site.

The 18s second round of singles and first round of doubles was completed before dark Wednesday, a rare occurrence this week. Top boys seeds Dominic Thiem of Austria and Liam Broady of Great Britain advanced in straight sets, as did No. 3 seed Robin Kern of Germany. Fourth seed Mitchell Krueger of the US seemed in trouble when he dropped the opening set to Kai-Wen Lai of Taiwan, but he won 11 games in a row in recording a 4-6, 6-0, 6-1 victory.

Krueger's next opponent is fellow American Thai Kwiatkowski, who advanced with a 7-6(4), 6-2 win over qualifier Johan Skattum of Norway. Kwiatkowski, 16, received a special exemption into the main draw after winning the doubles title with Luca Corinteli in last week's Yucatan Cup, which is played on hard courts.

The transition to clay gave Kwiatkowski a bit of trouble in his first round match Tuesday, and he dropped the opening set to Tendai Tapfuma of Zimbabwe before recovering for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory. Today against Skattum, Kwiatkowski served for the first set at 5-2, then lost the next four games, but that streak was more a credit to Skattum's improved play than any lapse from Kwiatkowski.

"At the beginning of the match he was making a lot of unforced errors," said Kwiatkowski, who trains at the USTA's Boca Raton center. "It's not that I changed my game style, he just started playing better and shots that he was missing he started making."

Skattum, who was required to finish the last set of his first round match with No. 15 seed Stefan Vinti of Romania, couldn't recover from the loss of the tiebreaker.

"Yesterday was a big relief for me," said Kwiatkowski. "It kind of got my feet under me and I think today I was able to play a little more free. I think every match that I play will be a little better, so hopefully I can play well against Mitchell tomorrow."

The only other American boy in the round of 16 is Alexios Halebian, the No. 13 seed. Halebian beat lucky loser Krittin Koaykul of Thailand 6-4, 6-1 and will play Wimbledon boys finalist Liam Broady on Thursday.

There are six US girls remaining, and two of them will face off on Thursday for a place in the quarterfinals. Kyle McPhillips beat Alejandra Cisneros of Mexico 6-4, 7-5 and Stefanie Nauta beat Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria 6-3, 6-0 to set up their meeting.

Other US girls advancing to the round of 16 are Kelsey Laurente, Taylor Townsend(15), Allie Kiick(14) and Danielle Collins, who beat No. 10 seed Zarah Razafimahatratra of Madagascar 6-1, 6-2. Razafimahatratra, No. 12 seed Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia and No. 8 seed Kathinka Von Deichmann of Liechtenstein were the only girls seeds to lose in Tuesday's second round.

For complete draws, see the ITF junior website.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eight Americans in 12s Quarterfinals at Eddie Herr; Top 18s Seed Bouchard Retires with Injury

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Bradenton, FL--

Monday's rain ended overnight, leaving in its wake a cool breeze and sunny skies for the over 100 postponed matches at the Eddie Herr International. The 12s division kept on schedule however, thanks to the three indoor courts available for play on Monday, so at 8 a.m. Tuesday, the 16 remaining matches were sent out to determine the quarterfinalists.

The United States had notable success with four boys and four girls advancing to the quarterfinals. Top seed Alex del Corral, No. 4 seed Patrick Kypson, No. 12 seed Noah Makarome and Vasil Kirkov all recorded straight set victories, and on Wednesday, del Corral and Kirkov will face each other with a semifinal spot on the line. Makarome plays No. 2 seed Artem Dubrivny of Russia, and Kypson takes on No. 11 seed Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina. The fourth match will feature No. 3 seed Alexei Popyrin of Australia against unseeded Dmitriy Voronin of Russia.

The girls 12s quarterfinals have two all-American matches with unseeded Dominique Schaefer against No. 10 seed Abigail Desiatnikov and unseeded Jaeda Daniel against No. 8 seed Nicole Conard. Desiatnikov, who is just 10 years old and could pass for eight, had the only three-set match, beating No. 6 seed Avital Vulf of Israel 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. But the other American wins, although straight sets, were tough battles, although the only technical upset was Daniel's 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 2 seed Kim Soomin of Korea.

In the other two 12s quarterfinals, unseeded Eunse Jang of Korea will face No. 9 seed Katherine Sebov of Canada, and No. 7 seed Sofya Zhuk of Russia will play No. 14 seed Inci Ogut of Turkey.

Once the 12s matches were complete, I shifted my attention to the 18s division, or rather half of it, as matches played at the Academy Park courts were too far away to monitor.

The big news of the day was top seed Eugenie Bouchard's retirement, when she was leading 4-3 in the first set Alejandra Cisneros of Mexico. The 17-year-old Canadian, who lost in the final of the Yucatan Cup Saturday night, suffered an abdominal strain, but said afterwards that she would wait before deciding about her participation in the Orange Bowl next week.

No. 2 seed and 2010 finalist Yulia Putintseva is now the favorite for the title, and she collected a 6-2, 6-2 victory over American Catherine Harrison in her first round match. It was a good day for American qualifiers, as Mia King, Kendall Woodard and Breaunna Addison all won their opening matches. King came back to down wild card Liz Jeukeng of the US 0-6, 6-4, 6-1 and Addison beat Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 7-5(5), 6-1. Woodard's win over No. 7 seed Ellen Allgurin of Sweden was the biggest struggle of the three, with the future Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket taking it 6-7(7), 7-5, 6-4.

Wild card Danielle Collins came back from a set and a break down to beat 14-year-old Les Petits As winner Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. Other US girls posting wins were Kyle McPhillips, Kelsey Laurente, Allie Kiick and Taylor Townsend, the No. 15 seed. Krista Hardebeck had withdrawn from the tournament last week, but there was a mixup and it wasn't recorded, so a lucky loser was inserted in her place. Gabby Andrews also did not make the trip, and she had left the Yucatan tournament without playing the doubles final due to illness. There is another American still playing her first round match, with Christina Makarova's contest with No. 12 seed Elizaveta Kulichkova suspended due to darkness after the two had split sets. There is a boys 18s match incomplete as well, with Johan Skattum of Norway leading No. 15 seed Stefan Vinti of Romania 2-0 in the third set.

Top boys seed Dominic Thiem of Austria, fresh from defending his Yucatan Cup title, took a step toward defending his Eddie Herr title, beating Connor Farren of the US 6-2, 6-3. No. 2 seed Liam Broady of Great Britain defeated Markos Kalovelonis of Greece 6-1, 6-4.

Americans Mitchell Krueger(4), Alexios Halebian(13), Trey Strobel, Spencer Papa and Thai Kwiatkowski advanced to the second round. Qualifier Harrison Richmond of the US served for the match against wild card Naoki Nakagawa of Japan but wasn't able to close out the 15-year-old Bollettieri student and fell 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(4).

The only upsets in the boys draw saw Yucatan finalist and No. 7 seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain lose to qualifier Vasco Mensurado of Portugal 7-6(3), 6-1 and No. 10 seed Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium go out to Kevin Kaczynski of Germany 6-3, 6-1.

For complete 18s results, see the ITF junior website.

The 14s and 16s division got underway today, and the last match wasn't finished until after 9:30 p.m. Unseeded Americans Caroline Doyle and Alyssa Smith beat the No. 4 and No. 8 seeds respectively in the first round of the girls 16s. For complete results in those two age groups, see the Tennis Information website.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rain Sends 12s Division Indoors; Only Six Girls 18s Matches Completed Monday at Eddie Herr International

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Bradenton, FL--

The rain came early and stayed all day Monday at the Eddie Herr International, delaying the start of the 14s division and sending the 12s to the three indoor courts to finish their third round.

The 18s were scheduled to finish their final five qualifying matches, suspended by darkness on Sunday, and begin the first round, but the mid-morning rain allowed completion of only four of the five, plus six girls matches.

Nadia Echeverria Alam of the US lost her qualifying match to Stefania Hristov of Romania 7-6(4), 7-5 and Ioana Ducu of Romanian also advanced to the main draw with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Marie Benoit of Belgium in the two girls matches completed Monday morning. Evan Hoyt of Great Britain beat Siyu Liu of China 6-3, 6-1 in a match that wasn't started until today, while Punn Bodhidatta of Thailand didn't need long to complete his 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 win over Jhonatan Gonzalez of Venezuela. Vasco Mensurado of Portugal held a 6-4, 5-3 lead over American wild card Ridley Seguso in another final round qualifying match that wasn't begun until this morning.

In the girls 18s matches completed, the Americans went 1-3, and there was a mild upset, with Victoriya Tomova of Bulgaria beating No. 16 seed Anna Danilina of Kazakhstan 6-1, 6-2.

Jennifer Brady fell to Varvara Flink of Russia 6-3, 6-1, Jamie Loeb lost to No. 3 seed Indy de Vroome of the Netherlands 6-0, 6-3, and Blair Shankle was beaten by No. 6 seed Zuzanna Maciejewska of Poland 6-2, 6-3.

The lone win by an American girl came from Stephanie Nauta, who beat Barbara Haas of Austria 6-3, 6-1. Nauta and Haas had split their two previous meetings, both on clay, both three-setters, so the brevity of the match was a surprise. Nauta, who trains at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy with Pat Harrison, had the advantage of home court, but her biggest advantage over Haas was her serve, which earned her many free points in tight situations. Haas wasn't sharp, unable to stay in points as long as usual, and Nauta took advantage of those opportunities by missing very little in the second set.

In the 12s, most of the boys were able to finish outside prior to the rain, but top seed Alex del Corral wasn't one of them. Playing Argentina's Juan Otegui on one of the three hard courts back in Academy Park, del Corral faced two set points serving a 4-5 in the first, but saved those and went on to take it 7-5. With del Corral up 2-1 and serving in the second, the match was moved indoors, and del Corral managed to subdue the stubborn Otegui 6-4 to reach the round of 16.

Del Corral is one of four US boys remaining, with No. 4 seed Patrick Kypson, No. 12 seed Noah Makarome and unseeded Vasil Kirkov posting routine wins Monday morning.

A total of 10 seeds remain in the 12s draw, including the top four. No. 2 seed Artem Dubrivny of Russia blanked Elliot Lamprecht of South Africa, Dubrivny's second consecutive 6-0, 6-0 result. No. 3 seed Alexei Popyrin of Australia beat Jiri Jenicek of the Czech Republic 6-0, 6-2. Kypson lost only one game in his match with Kim Dohyun of Korea.

The girls 12s third round matches had all begun, but most were finished indoors. Dominique Schaefer of the US lost her first two games of the tournament today against Darya Oryshkevych of Ukraine, who had beaten top seed Maria Tyrina of Russia in the second round, but dominated in a 6-1, 6-1 victory.

Five other US girls advanced to the round of 16, but not No. 3 seed Anna Bright, who was beaten by Jang Eunse of Korea 6-3, 6-1. Abigail Desiatnikov(10), Maria Ross(11), and Nicole Conard(8) are joined by unseeded Emma DeCoste and Jaeda Daniel. Daniel defeated No. 15 seed Polina Golubovskaya of Russia 6-2, 6-2, in a match completed indoors and if she wants to reach the quarterfinals for a second straight year, she will need to beat No. 2 seed Kim Soomin of Korea on Tuesday.

For results from the 12s and the schedules for Tuesday, see the Tennis Information site.

For the 18s order of play and link to the draws, see eddieherr.com.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

18s Qualifying Incomplete at Eddie Herr; 12s Top Seed Tyrina Out in Second Round

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Bradenton, FL--

The weather may have been routinely beautiful Sunday, but there were plenty of surprises in the results of both the 12s division second round and in the two qualifying rounds of the 18s singles.

Five boys and six girls have earned their spots in the 18s main draw, with darkness suspending play in three matches in progress, while two others were never started due to the lack of lights on the clay courts.

Around 6 p.m., which appeared to be about 15 minutes after it would have been possible to still see the ball, three American girls came in to report their wins, obviously excited and happy to have completed their matches. Kendal Woodard, Mia King and Breaunna Addison, none of whom were seeded in qualifying, beat seeds on the Academy Park courts, a tram ride away from the nine courts on the main IMG Bollettieri Academy campus. Woodard beat No. 10 seed Rana Sherif Ahmed 6-3, 6-4, while King and Addison both needed comebacks in their victories. King beat No. 6 seed Peggy Porter 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, and Addison downed No. 13 seed Clementina Riobueno de Paola of Venezuela 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The other US girl, Nadia Echeverria Alam, who is seeded fifth, was trailing Stefania Hristov of Romania 6-7(4), 6-5 when play was suspended.

American Ridley Seguso, who received a wild card into qualifying, won his second round match today over No. 13 seed Andre Napolitano of Brazil 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5). but did not take the court for his final round qualifying match due to the length and lateness of that second match. He will play No. 7 seed Vasco Mensurado of Portugal Monday morning.

One U.S. boy did earn a main draw spot on Sunday afternoon, with Harrison Richmond taking a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory over No. 1 seed Krittin Koaykul of Thailand.

The unseeded Richmond had needed over three hours to get past Yuanfeng Li of China earlier in the day, so the 17-year-old from South Carolina was a bit irritated with himself when he failed to close out Koaykul in the second set. Leading 2-0, Richmond lost six of the next seven games.

"I felt I let it slip a little there in the second set," said Richmond. "I had chances to go up 3-0, two breaks, and I didn't do it, so that was a little frustrating, letting it slip away."

Richmond lost the first game of the third set on his serve, but sensed Koaykul was wearing down and didn't worry about that opening break.

"I could tell he was struggling a little bit physically, so I knew I had to just stay focused, keep working," said Richmond, who trains on Har-Tru is comfortable on the surface. "He played really well at the end of the second, so I knew he'd cool down, and I just tried to ride the wave."

Koaykul began to show signs of cramping after being broken at love in the fourth game, and although he began going for broke on his shots and connecting on several winners, he wasn't able to do much with his serve, and was vulnerable when on the run.

Richmond said he was also feeling the effects of so much tennis in one day, but he showed no signs of fatigue and with the assistance of two unforced errors from Koaykul served out the match at love.

Richmond recently committed to the play for the University of Virginia next fall, and is happy to have that decision behind him.

"It's definitely a big relief. I can clear my mind and focus on tennis again," he said. "You're visiting colleges and talking to coaches all the time, so it's pretty stressful. I'm excited about UVA. It's going to be good."

Earlier in the day, on the hard courts, the 12s completed second round play. Not making it to the third round was No. 1 seed Maria Tyrina of Russia, who was beaten by Darya Oryshkevych of Ukraine 6-2, 6-3.

From a distance, Oryshkevych could be mistaken for a club player in her 30s, with her unorthodox strokes and wardrobe, along with a very mature physical appearance. She didn't make many errors however, and Tyrina had no answers for the power coming off Oryshkevych's racquet. Oryshkevych will next face Dominique Schaefer of the US, who has won both of her matches by 6-0, 6-0 scores.

No. 2 seed Kim Soomin of Korea advanced with a 6-1, 6-4 over Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine, but the score doesn't convey what a battle it was, lasting nearly two and a half hours. Another even longer match saw American Maria Ross, the No. 11 seed, beat 10-year-old Elizabeth Scotty 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-2, in just under three hours.

Boys 12s top seed Alex del Corral was handed a challenge from fellow Floridian Boris Kozlov, but del Corral's transition game was too solid, and he took a 6-2, 6-2 decision. Americans Patrick Kypson, seeded No. 4, Noah Makarome, seeded No. 12, and Alexandre Rotsaert, seeded No. 13, all advanced in straight sets, as did qualifier Joshua Bode. Vasil Kirkov of the US upset No. 8 seed Patrik Rikl of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-1. Rikl is the son of former ATP doubles standout David Rikl, who retired in 2005.

The complete 12s draws, including doubles, can be found at the Tennis Information site. The final round of qualifying in the 14s and 16s division was completed today, and those draws have also been updated, and the main draws posted.

The main draw for the 18s division should be up later this evening. See eddieherr.com for the link to the 18s draw and Monday's order of play.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Few Surprises as 12s Division Completes First Round at Eddie Herr

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Bradenton, FL--

The weather was nearly perfect for the start of the 12s main draw Saturday at the Eddie Herr International. Only a tricky breeze, which sprang up mid-morning, kept conditions from being ideal, with temperatures in the mid 70s and humidity low under partly cloudy skies.

Although I did watch a few games of the 18s qualifying, I spent the bulk of the day familiarizing myself with the seeded 12s, most of whom I had never seen play before.

In past years, the seeding format has usually been 16 No. 1 seeds, but this year the 12s are seeded numerically 1 through 16. My first stop was Court 16, where No. 1 Alex del Corral, who tops the USTA rankings, was playing Lancelot Carnello of Sweden. Del Corral isn't big, but he towered over the tiny Swede, and the physical discrepancy made for a quick 6-0, 6-0 win for the USTA Spring and Hard Court National champion. I was impressed by del Corral's transition game, movement and balance. His first serve was his weakest shot, simply because he got very few in, but his second serve was more than adequate, and any short reply was swiftly put away.

I wasn't able to see much of No. 4 seed Patrick Kypson, because he was playing on a court with no seating and extensive wind screens, but the USTA No. 2 also had an easy win, beating Ricardo Alban of Ecuador 6-1, 6-0. I moved on to have my first look at No. 12 seed Noah Makarome, ranked No. 4 by the USTA, and he too was having no trouble, overpowering Dmitry Vinogradov of Russia 6-0, 6-0. Makarome served well and blasted plenty of winners on the forehand side in the half-dozen games I saw.

In the girls 12s, top seed Maria Tyrina of Russia controlled her match with Laura Crivei of Canada 6-2, 6-3, yet didn't seem particularly comfortable during most of the match. She was never in danger of losing, but made too many unforced errors to be happy with her level of play.

I also watched No. 7 seed Sofya Zhuk, also of Russia, and she impressed me with her composure and skill, although her opponent, Nicole Bunea of Canada, wasn't able to play at Zhuk's level, so judgment probably should be reserved.

The top American girl in the 12s is Anna Bright, the No. 3 seed, and I arrived at her court for the last two games of her 6-0, 6-2 win over Arina Vysochina of Russia.

No. 8 seed Nicole Conard of the US survived one of the day's toughest matches, beating Ekaterina Antropova of Russia 6-1, 2-6, 7-6(2). It was late afternoon when the match started and nearly 8 p.m. when it finished under the lights at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy.

With Conard squeaking through, only one seed went out in the girls 12s opening round, No. 12 seed Jiayi Ma of China. Danielle Burich of the US and Ma were the last match to finish, with Burich taking the decision by a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 score.

The only boys seed to fall in the 12s was No. 9 seed Lleyton Cronji of South Africa, who was beaten by Antoine Sanchez of the US 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

In the first round of 18s qualifying, which will be completed on Sunday with two rounds, there were many US winners. In the girls draw, Alexandra Morozova, Elizaveta Nemchinov, Abbie Pahz, Lynn Chi, Peggy Porter, Mia King, Breaunna Addison, Kendal Woodard and Alexandria Stiteler all earned victories Saturday.

The American boys advancing to the second round are: Harrison Richmond, Karim Arem, Austin Siegel, Maxx Lipman, Ryan Smith, Ridley Seguso and Richard Del Nunzio.

The 18s qualifying draws can be found at the ITF junior website.

The draws for the 12s, 14s, and 16s can be found at the Tennis Information site.

For other news and photos, including a link to webcams on Courts 1-14, see eddieherr.com.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Eddie Herr 12s Division Begins Saturday; Duval Out of 18s with Injury

©Colette Lewis 2011--
Bradenton FL--

We arrived at the IMG Bollettieri Academy this afternoon to beautiful weather and several notable changes to the grounds. Three courts, Nos. 8, 9 and 10, which, for those of you who have been to the complex, are the first courts on your right as you walk from the indoor facility, have been resurfaced. As you can see in the photo below, they are not the US Open blue of the other courts onsite, but are now purple, the same color as those of the Sony Ericsson Tournament in Key Biscayne.

There is also a new cement walkway and a new food vendor, but the biggest change for those who come to watch on Court 15, one of the prime show courts, is the new addition to the large gym/fitness center, which has resulted in the removal of the wooden deck/riser and the two sets of bleachers on either side.

I went over to check out the nine clay courts, where I assume most of the 18s will be played and was happy to see that at least eight of them will be easy to photograph, although seating is limited in the area. One player who will not be part of the first Eddie Herr Grade 1 on clay courts is Bollettieri student Vicky Duval. A quarterfinalist at the Eddie Herr last year, Duval, who turns 16 at the end of the month, told me she had a slight meniscus tear that didn't need surgery but would keep her from competing in this week's tournament and also the Orange Bowl.

As for the tennis going on this afternoon, the 14s and 16s divisions were playing their first round of qualifying, while the 12s qualifying had already been completed.

Last year, 12s finalist Michael Mmoh was a qualifier, so don't assume the eight boys and eight girls who qualify will go out in Saturday's first round.

The girls 12s qualifiers (from USA unless otherwise noted) are: Kristina Evloeva, Kianah Motosono, Miranda Ramirez, Amanda Meyer, Anastacia Parkin, Kamilla Kokeladze of Russia, Jenna Dean and Maria Krupenina of Russia.

The boys 12s qualifiers (all USA) are: Anuj Watane, Sebastian Korda (Australian Open champion Petr Korda's son), Daniel Moreno, Ivan Yatsuk, Adam Neff, Cole Bradley, Alejandro Quiros and Santiago Uribe.

The 12s draws were just released, with Nicole Conard, Anna Bright, Abigail Desiatnikov and Maria Ross the US girls receiving No. 1 seeds (there are 16 No. 1 seeds in the 128 draw).

American boys receiving No. 1 seeds are: Alex del Corral, Alexandre Rotsaert, Patrick Kypson and Noah Makarome.

For complete draws, see the Tennis Information site.

The 18s qualifying will begin Saturday and will include Maxx Lipman, who is just returning to the court after injuries kept him out for ten months. Lipman received a wild card into qualifying, as did Sean Karl and Ridley Seguso.

The order of play and a link to the 18s draws can be found at eddieherr.com.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Eddie Herr Preview; Six Americans in Yucatan Quarterfinals; Casablanca Cup Change of Venue, Surface

My annual Eddie Herr preview is up this morning at the Tennis Recruiting Network, and although the wild card entries have not yet been decided, I hope there are a few names included that everyone will know a bit more about once the tournament has concluded.

At the ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup in Mexico, two American boys and four American girls are through to the quarterfinals. Qualifiers Mackenzie McDonald and Thai Kwiatkowski have each taken down two seeds in advancing to the quarterfinals, and both take on British players today, with McDonald facing No. 11 seed Joshua Ward-Hibbert and Kwiatkowski No. 2 seed Kyle Edmund.

The four US girls include qualifier Chanelle Van Nguyen, Sachia Vickery, Chalena Scholl(12) and Christina Makarova(7). Makarova and Van Nguyen play each other today, with Scholl facing top seed Irina Khromacheva of Russia and Vickery matched against No. 2 seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada.

Gabby Andrews, who is playing with Khromacheva, is the only US girl still in the doubles. In the boys doubles, Luca Corinteli and Kwiatkowski, playing together, are the sole Americans in the quarterfinals.

The ITF has also just announced that the Grade A Casablanca Cup, the first tournament of 2012, has been moved from one club in Mexico City to another, and because of that move, it is now being played on clay.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Williams, Johnson, Levine, Reynolds & Kosakowski Complete USTA Australian Open Wild Card Field; Mitchell Frank Feature

The USTA has released the names of the five American men invited to participate in its Australian Open wild card tournament next week at the Racquet Club of the South. Joining the previously announced trio of Jack Sock, Denis Kudla and Robby Ginepri are Bobby Reynolds, Jesse Levine, Steve Johnson, Rhyne Williams and Dan Kosakowski.

Unlike the women's event, which does not have any current or former college players among their eight participants, the five just named all have played college tennis. Dan Kosakowski, who turned pro in May after his first season at at UCLA, Rhyne Williams, the NCAA finalist from Tennessee who turned pro in July after his sophomore season, Jesse Levine, who played one semester for Florida in 2007 and Bobby Reynolds, who played three years for Vanderbilt in the early 2000s, join current USC Trojan Johnson in the field.

I'm a little surprised not to see All-American and Indoor champion Mitchell Frank of Virginia among the contestants, but he did get an opportunity to play in the US Open wild card tournament last August, so I'm presuming he couldn't commit to leaving school for that amount of time should he win the wild card.

Speaking of Frank, Scoop Malinowski did a feature on the 19-year-old freshman, and it's full of interesting accounts of some of Frank's most memorable matches.

In anticipation of Thanksgiving tomorrow (and I will be posting, early, with a look at the quarterfinalists at the Yucatan Grade 1 and a link to my Eddie Herr preview), Sports Illustrated gathered some of its tennis writers to give thanks, as it related to the sport. They came up with some excellent responses, including an entire entry on 10-and-under-tennis.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Townsend, Brodsky Complete Women's Field at USTA's Australian Open WC Tournament; Smarr Retiring at Rice; More on Maryland Men's Tennis Cut

Taylor Townsend and Gail Brodsky complete the women's field at the USTA's Australian Open wild card playoff next month at the Racquet Club of the South. Brodsky, 20, is currently ranked 229 by the WTA, while the 15-year-old Townsend is ranked 428. Previously announced competitors in the event, scheduled for December 16-18, are: Jamie Hampton, Madison Keys, Grace Min, Melanie Oudin, Alison Riske and CoCo Vandweghe.

The names of the other five men's participants should be released soon. The three players previously announced are Robby Ginepri, Denis Kudla and Jack Sock. For more on the event, see the tournament website australianwildcard.com.

It's been widely known for some time that Ron Smarr, head coach of the Rice men's team since 1998, was retiring at the end of this season. Smarr coached for more than 40 years, including 13 years at South Carolina and ten years at Colorado prior to joining Rice. Efe Ustundag, who has served as Smarr's assistant for the past seven years, will assume the head coaching position when Smarr leaves. For more on Smarr's career, see this article from the Houston Chronicle.

Kelyn Soong has been following the University of Maryland athletic cuts closely and I spoke to him several days ago about the prospects for keeping the men's tennis team. Having seen both Arizona State and Colorado drop their men's tennis programs in the past five years, I wasn't optimistic about Maryland's prospects for survival, and this was before I had heard the president's announcment yesterday. Soong also spoke to Liz Clarke of the Washington Post about the cuts, and he wrote this article about the situation for the USTA Mid-Atlantic section.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Maryland President Agrees to Cut Sports Unless Eight Years of Expenses are Raised; Hodge Joins John Roddick's Staff at Oklahoma; More NLI Signings

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh announced today that he is supporting the recommendation of the President's Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics to drop eight sports, including men's tennis. There is one small glimmer of hope in the announcement-- it gives the teams until June 30 of 2012 to raise the money to save themselves, but the requirement that they come up with eight years of funding makes it an extremely difficult task. According to the Washington Times, the men's tennis and women's water polo teams are paired for Title IX reasons, and the two teams together would need to raise over eight million dollars to survive. That seems unlikely, and it must be noted that in the last two major men's Division-I programs to face a similar challenge, neither Colorado nor Arizona State were able to raise the money. Arizona State's wrestling team, targeted for elimination at the same time as the men's tennis team, was reinstated, although I'm not sure the donation goal was quite as high.

For the complete President's letter, see the University of Maryland website.

Bo Hodge, the former Georgia All-American who was the assistant men's coach at the University of Alabama, has accepted a similar position at the University of Oklahoma under John Roddick. Hodge, who was a top junior, was a contemporary of John Roddick's younger brother Andy. Roddick's previous assistant, Silviu Tanasoiu, was named head coach at Cornell University this fall. For the full release, with details of Hodge's junior, college and professional career, see soonersports.com.

The National Letter of Intent signing announcements continue, and here are the ones I've come across in the past two days:

Alabama: Becker O'Shaughnessey, Filippos Tsangaridis and David Vieyra
Florida: Gordon Watson
Georgia Tech: Garrett Gordon
Louisville: Austin Siegel and Colton Buffington
Kentucky: Beck Pennington
Texas Tech: Felipe Soares
Utah: Rafael Davidian
Vanderbilt: Kristofer Yee
Washington: Michael Chamerski and Hudson Barnhart

North Carolina: Whitney Kay and Ashley Dai
Vanderbilt: Courtney Colton, Frances Altick and Georgina Sellyn
Northwestern: Alicia Barnett
Iowa: Annette Dohanics and Caitlin Hindmarsh

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Siwy Sweeps Amelia Island Futures Titles; Cako in USTA Spotlight; US Boys Sweep Qualifying at Yucatan Grade 1, Khromacheva Takes Wild Card

Former Fresno State standout Rudy Siwy swept both singles and doubles titles at the Amelia Island Futures, with today's singles match the final competition on the 2011 USTA Pro Circuit.

Siwy, who is from the Czech Republic, beat former Auburn All-American Tim Puetz of Germany 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the final; both players were unseeded. Siwy also got the better of Puetz in the doubles final when he and partner Matteo Viola of Italy, the No. 1 seeds, beat the unseeded team of Puetz and former Florida All-American Alexandre Lacroix of France 7-6(3), 6-1.

At the $10,000 Brazil Futures this week, former Texas Longhorn Josh Zavala reached the semifinals in singles and won the doubles title with Clayton Almeida of Brazil. The No. 4 seeds escaped with a 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 12-10 win over the No. 3 seeded team of 18-year-old Brazilians, Gabriel Pereira and Joao Pedro Sorgi.

In Australia, 18-year-old Ben Mitchell, the 2010 Wimbledon boys finalist, continued his outstanding fall, winning his second Futures title with a 7-6(3), 6-7(2), 6-0 victory over former LSU All-American Michael Venus of New Zealand. Mitchell, the No. 1 seed, has reached five Futures finals since September, all in Australia, and his ranking, now at 250, will continue to climb once these points are added. His countryman Luke Saville, the 2011 Wimbledon boys champion, won the doubles title with fellow junior Andrew Whittington. They beat former Baylor star John Peers and his partner Dane Propoggia 4-6, 6-4, 10-5.

Arizona State's Jacqueline Cako, who was recently named to the US Masters'U BNP Paribas team, is the subject of this question and answer session at usta.com. Find out about her major, her aversion to a standard post-match routine for a tennis player, and how the Pacific Northwest resident ended up in sunny Tempe.

The qualifying is complete at the ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup in Mexico, and all eight qualifiers in the boys draw are from the US, the first time I can recall that ever happening. All but two were seeded in the top eight, so it's not a huge surprise, but congratulations to Nikko Madregallejo, Karim Arem, Roy Lederman, Thai Kwiatkowski, JC Aragone, Josh Hagar, Mackenzie McDonald and Luca Corinteli. In all there are 13 US boys in the 64 draw. The others are Noah Rubin, Trey Strobel, Connor Farren, Stefan Kozlov and Martin Redlicki.

Three US girls qualified--Chanelle Van Nguyen, Elysse Graci and Alexandria Stiteler--and they join a dozen other US girls in the main draw: Nadia Echeverria Alam, Camila Fuentes, Chalena Scholl, June Lee, Gabby Andrews, Kelsey Laurente, Cassandra Vazquez, Alexandra Morozova, Christina Makarova, Sachia Vickery, Samantha Crawford and Madison Bourguignon.

Defending champion Dominic Thiem of Austria is the top boys seed, and in a huge surprise, World No. 1 Irina Khromacheva of Russia has taken a wild card into the tournament and will of course be the top girls seed, bumping Canada's Eugenie Bouchard to No. 2.

The tournament has a website and a twitter account (in Spanish)@Copayucatan.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kuznetsov Wins Champaign Challenger; Nedunchezhiyan Takes Futures in India; Keys, Min Added to USTA's Australian Open WC Tournament Field

Unseeded Alex Kuznetsov of the US won the $50,000 Champaign Challenger today, his first title on the Challenger circuit since he won the Winnetka Challenger in July of 2009. Kuznetsov, who was unseeded, is now 24 years old, and his career-high ATP ranking of 158 was set more than four years ago, in April of 2007. By beating No. 4 seed Rik de Voest of South Africa 6-1, 6-3, Kuznetsov earns 80 ATP points, which should boost his ranking considerably from its current 218, but not close to the main draw of the Australian Open. In fact, Kuznetsov has not been in the main draw of a slam since he received a wild card into the US Open in 2007, although he has been in qualifying regularly over the past four years.

My point in mentioning this is nothing more profound than it's tough out there, big wins are hard to come by, and nothing is guaranteed. Also of note, there were five retirement/walkovers during the course of the tournament, which probably signifies that it's time for the brief off-season to begin.

Although de Voest lost in the singles final, he did take the doubles title with former Old Dominion All-American Izak Van der Merwe, also of South Africa. The No. 4 seeds beat top seeds Martin Emmrich of Germany and 2007 NCAA doubles champion Andreas Siljestrom of Sweden 2-6, 6-4, 10-4. For more on the singles and doubles finals, see the tournament website.

For the second week in a row, an Indian qualifier who played college tennis in the United States captured a Futures title in India. Last week it was Alabama's Saketh Myneni, this week it was former Washington Husky Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan winning the singles title at the $15,000 Futures event in Pune, India.

Nedunchezhiyan, who graduated in 2011 and just began playing professionally, had only 1 ATP point to his credit, but will now add 27 points to that total with his win. He had lost to Myneni in the first round last week. For more on the final match, in which Nedunchezhiyan beat No. 3 seed Vishnu Vardhan 6-4, 7-5, see this account from NewDelhiNews.net.

The USTA announced a few days ago that Madison Keys and Grace Min have been added to the women's field at the upcoming Australian Open wild card tournament. Keys, 16, and Min, 17, join Melanie Oudin, Alison Riske, Jamie Hampton and CoCo Vandeweghe, with two more women to be announced. So far there are only three men announced: Denis Kudla, Jack Sock and Robby Ginepri. For more on the event, which takes place December 16, 17 and 18 at the Racquet Club of the South in Norcross, Georgia, see the tournament website.

Tennis Australia is also hosting a wild card playoff for the Australian Open, and it's considerably larger, with 24 men and 16 women competing. JP Smith, the eight-time All-American from Tennessee, is expected to compete. For more on that tournament, which is December 6 through December 11, see the Tennis Australia website.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Collins Commits to Florida; Zina Garrison's New Academy Partners with KIPP; Wilander Beats Alabama Recruit; Murray on (too much?) Federation Support

I ran across an item on the IMG Academies blog that highlighted the college signings of the seniors there in all sports, including tennis. Danielle Collins, ranked No. 3 in the 2012 class by Tennis Recruiting Network, hadn't previously revealed her choice, but she's listed as committing to Florida. I checked with her longtime coach Scott Dei this evening, and he confirmed it, although the 17-year-old from St. Petersburg will not be signing until the spring. The Gators have two seniors this year--Claire Bartlett and Joanna Mather--but did not announce any signings in the recently completed early signing period, at least not yet. Collins will be playing the Orange Bowl and hopes to receive a wild card into the Eddie Herr.

The University of Mississippi announced the signing of Stefan Lindmark, a Swedish junior who was as high as 40 in the ITF rankings earlier this year, and Texas A&M is justifiably proud of its class, now that it has NLIs from Shane Vinsant and Mitchell Krueger.

Former WTA professional and Wimbledon finalist Zina Garrison has announced a new academy in her hometown of Houston, which will partner with KIPP, the alternative school system that you may have seen on 60 Minutes, or read about in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success. According to this article in the Houston Chronicle, construction will begin in 2013 and will include 10 tennis courts in the first phase.

I know Mats Wilander has been busy lately, because his twitter updates are coming from all over the United States. His Wilander on Wheels traveling clinic stopped in Georgia last week, and Alabama recruit Becker O'Shaughnessey had the thrill of playing the seven-time Grand Slam champion. He lost in a match tiebreaker to the 47-year-old Swede, who now lives in Idaho, but had an opportunity that very few juniors get. According to this article from the Macon Telegraph, the match drew a large crowd too.

And one last miscellaneous item: Andy Murray, who will be playing in the World Tour Finals in London next week, has, unsurprisingly, done quite a few interviews this week. In a lengthy one in the Daily Mail, Murray discusses his love of boxing, his coaching situation, which will continue to include his friend Dani Vallverdu, the former University of Miami star, the reason he had to leave Scotland to train, and the overall superiority of the Spanish system. He also thinks the Spanish method of discontinuing federation funding at age 18 might be one of the keys to their depth and success in the pros.

"Do you know that in Spain, at 18, your funding stops?" he asks, pointedly. "From there, you get nothing that you cannot earn for yourself. We’re funding guys to 27, 28 — while in the most successful tennis nation in the world you’re basically on your own. Maybe there’s something in that."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

USTA Names Top Collegians to Represent US at Master'U Next Month; Women's NLI Signing Update


The USTA announced the six men and women who will be representing the United States in the Master'U BNP Paribas international collegiate team competition next month in France.

Lauren Embree of Florida, Beatrice Capra of Duke, Jacqueline Cako of Arizona State, Jarmere Jenkins of Virginia, Wil Spencer of Georgia and Daniel Nguyen of USC will travel to Rouen with coaches Greg Patton of Boise State and Mark Guilbeau of Virginia for the four days of competition beginning December 8th. The US is one of eight countries vying for the title, which they won in 2009. France beat the US in the final last year. For the complete release, see usta.com.

There have been a large number of early signing releases in the past two days, and because I haven't yet linked to any for women, I'll concentrate on them today. Most have signed NLI's, which means they will start in the fall of 2012, but a few are announcing grant-in-aids, which allow players to start in January of 2012.

Oklahoma: Emma Devine, Zita Engbroks and Abbi Melrose

Arkansas: Ana Lorena Belmar (Don't miss reading about her great tennis pedigree)

Illinois: Audrey O'Connor

Michigan: Ronit Yurovsky

Texas A&M: Anna Mamalat

UCLA: Kyle McPhillips and Chanelle VanNguyen

USC: Ellie Yates

Washington: Ellianne Douglas-Miron

Arizona State: Desirae Krawczyk and Stephanie Vlad

Alabama: Natalia Maynetto

Virginia: Maci Epstein and Julia Elbaba

Georgia Tech: Megan Kurey, Kendal Woodard and Natasha Prokhnevska (note: Catherine Harrison will be signing with Georgia Tech in the spring)

Wake Forest: Kasey Gardiner

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dealing with Cheating and How to Make Sure Your Comment is Posted

I hope all of you with an interest in junior tennis have been reading Lisa Stone's blog ParentingAces, which I mentioned last week in my post on resources for tennis parenting. Yesterday the topic was cheating, which I've explored before, and Andy Brandi addresses in one of his past Coaches Q and A entries here.

Stone has also asked several coaches the best way to handle cheating, and got several different suggestions. I remember hearing a few years ago that legendary coach Robert Lansdorp thought the rampant cheating in junior tennis was driving players from the sport, and I can't say he's wrong.

In my experience, cheating is a problem, especially in the 12s and 14s, and I've no doubt this is related to what Patrick McEnroe calls "the professionalization of youth sports" in this country, a trend that pushes younger and younger children into the position of pursuing a "career." The pressure to win naturally builds as increasing amounts of time, travel, and money are devoted to the sport, and tennis, with its "code" of calling your opponent's shots, seems increasingly anachronistic. Of course, unlike golf, which demands this self-policing, integrity-first policy even at the highest professional level, tennis does not. It results in a bewildering contrast, as we ask children, who are still sorting out their emotions and becoming acquainted with ethics, to always do the right thing, while not requiring or even allowing it from professionals who are old enough to face such situations maturely.

David Benzel, the sports parenting expert I spoke with last week, marveled at the opportunity tennis provides for these life lessons in trust and integrity, in contrast to the team sports, which rely on adult authority figures to monitor the games and their rules. I agree, but I also understand why the problem is so difficult and will always be so.

And there's another important point, an additional life lesson to teach, one that is often brushed aside or minimized when talk turns to cheating: innocent until proven guilty. One college coach I know, who also had a long professional career, told me he had never intentionally called a ball incorrectly in his life, but knows he made mistakes.

To automatically presume that a player of a particular nationality or status will cheat is unfair, and to assume every missed call is an attempt to cheat is a sign you need to move to another sport. Bad calls happen, and your child will make them too, so make sure you have ample evidence and sample size before you begin counseling on how to deal with a cheater.

I also know that once a player gets that reputation, it's very hard to shake it, even if there is no longer any evidence to support it. Try to remember that it is possible the player in question has, gasp, grown up and matured.

Lately I've been getting quite a few comments, but some haven't been posted because they are coming through as "anonymous." This has been a long-standing problem for the comment system here at blogger, and in the past four years I've insisted on use of a name, any name, (url not required) in order to post a comment. This allows people to exchange comments; if there are many "anonymous" comments it is impossible to sort them out. If I have time I will occasionally post an anonymous comment with the first word or two from the post for the name, but this is very hit-and-miss and often depends the time of the day and my mood. So if you want to assure your comment is posted, at the very least click the "name" button and enter something or sign your comment at the end. Do not use the anonymous option unless you want me to be the only person reading it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Maryland Men's Tennis Among Eight Varsity Sports Slated For Elimination; Styslinger Signs with Virginia

Last night I tweeted this Baltimore Sun article about the recommendation of an independent commission that the University of Maryland eliminate eight sports, including men's tennis. Today, Liz Clarke, who writes about tennis and many other sports for the Washington Post, filed this story about the proposed cuts, which include three women's sports. Maryland president Wallace Loh will have the final decision, according to Clarke's article, and it is expected to come before the end of the year.

Having seen both Colorado and Arizona State drop their men's tennis programs in the past five years, I shouldn't be surprised by this announcement, but I am, if only because it's an ACC school. Head coach Kyle Spencer, who was hired by a previous athletic director, is starting his third season as men's head coach. There are just two seniors on the current roster: Maros Horny, a transfer from Baylor and Mathias Sarrazin.

In contrast to the Maryland news comes this report that Penn State has hired an architect for a new swimming and indoor tennis facility. Given all the problems Penn State faces now in light of the Jerry Sandusky indictment for child sex abuse, it seems unlikely this plan will be implemented any time soon, but it does suggest a commitment to tennis, or it did.

With Bjorn Fratangelo making it clear he was not deciding on a college this fall, Mac Styslinger, No. 2 on the Tennis Recruiting Network's 2012 prospects, was the subject of great interest by powerhouses Southern California, Georgia and Virginia. The Cavaliers won out, and joining Styslinger in Charlottesville next year will be two other blue chips: Mitchell Polnet and Harrison Richmond. Ryan Shane, a fourth blue chip, announced his commitment to Virginia earlier.

This article from the Cavalier Insider contains comments on the incoming class from head coach Brian Boland. It also contains an error, in saying Richmond won the Orange Bowl as a junior. It was probably a misunderstanding, as Richmond did win the Junior Orange Bowl 14s title back in 2008.

I've collected several links to other signings on the men's side (I'll try to get to some of the women's signings later this week), almost all from the university athletic sites, but this one, on 10th-ranked Brett Clark's decision to sign with North Carolina, is from the Naples Daily News.

Florida State: Michael Rinaldi

Georgia: Casey Kay, Marco Nunez, Austin Smith and Ben Wagland

Illinois: Alex Jesse and Jared Hiltzik

LSU: Harrison Kennedy and Tam Trinh

Notre Dame: Alex Lawson, Quentin Monaghan and Ken Sabacinski

San Diego: JP Boyd

Texas: Andrew Korinek, Nicholas Naumann and Lloyd Glasspool

Monday, November 14, 2011

Recap, Slideshow and Videos of USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships

Although there will still be signing announcements surfacing in the next month, this recap, slideshow and videos from the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships marks the end of college tournament coverage until 2012.

My recap for the Tennis Recruiting Network is a detailed overview of the tournament for those of you who weren't able to follow the daily reports I filed from New York. The slideshow contains photos of all singles quarterfinalists, semifinalists and finalists, the consolation and sportsmanship winners, and the doubles semifinalists and finalists.

The short videos of champions Marta Lesniak and Mitchell Frank are below. Links to videos of the finalists from the tenniskalamazoo YouTube channel are below.

YouTube video: finalist Dennis Nevolo

YouTube video: finalist Joanna Mather

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mestach Out of Florida Tourneys; Levine, Johnson & Krajicek Win at Knoxville 50K; Shane & Slupska Win Vitale/Lakewood Clay Classic

For those of you who missed my tweet Friday, An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium has withdrawn from both the Eddie Herr and the Orange Bowl and year-end drama around the ITF World Junior Champions race has gone with her. Irina Khromacheva of Russia, whom Mestach has an opportunity to catch with good performances in the final two tournaments, and Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, neither of whom are playing the Florida events, will almost certainly finish at No. 1. I certainly would enjoy covering a bona fide battle for the top junior spot, but it seems less and less important to the juniors themselves, so other stories will need to fill that gap. And they will.

The Knoxville Challenger finished today, with former Florida Gator Jesse Levine continuing his outstanding fall by taking the singles title 6-2, 6-3 over qualifier Brian Baker, who won seven matches just to reach the final. Levine received a special exemption into the Champaign Illinois Challenger this week. Baker received one of the main draw wild cards, with the others going to Dennis Nevolo, Roy Kalmanovich and Steve Johnson.

Johnson and 2011 NCAA doubles champion Austin Krajicek won the doubles title, beating unseeded Adam Hubbell of Australia and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark 3-6, 6-4, 13-11. According to Tennessee's SID Amanda Pruitt, who was watching with interest due to Hubbell's status as a former Vol, Krajicek and Johnson saved three match points in the final tiebreaker. Krajicek has won a Futures title this year with fellow A&M alum Jeff Dadamo, but this is his first Challenger title. Johnson, who reached the quarterfinals of the ATP 1000 Masters in Cincinnati in August, had one other previous Challenger doubles finals appearance, with Sam Querrey in Tiburon last month, but this is his first Challenger title, bringing his ATP doubles ranking up to 190.

Rajeev Ram, who played his college tennis at Illinois, won his second straight Challenger on the indoor carpets of Europe, beating Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(6). Ram played six tiebreakers over the course of the tournament, winning three, and obviously the most important one. For complete results, see the ATP Challenger home page.

At the men's Pensacola Futures, third seed Benjamin Balleret of Monaco beat unseeded qualifier Maverick Banes of Australia in three sets, although the score given--6-1 6-7(2) 6-4(4)--obviously is incorrect. Former Florida State standout Maciek Sykut of the US teamed with Canadian Kamil Pajkowski this week, and the top seeds took the doubles titles with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 3 seeds Chris Letcher and Brendan Moore of Australia.

The champion of the $75,000 women's Pro Circuit event in Phoenix is unseeded Sessil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan, who defeated 18-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal, also unseeded, 6-1, 7-5 in the final. Karatantcheva beat 16-year-old Madison Keys in the semifinals. The doubles title went to No. 4 seeds Jamie Hampton of the US and Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia, who beat former college All-Americans Maria Sanchez of USC and Yasmin Schnack of UCLA, who were unseeded, 3-6, 6-3, 10-6.

That completes the US Pro Circuit season for the women this year, but there is one more Futures event for the men this week, in Amelia Island, where the final round of qualifying takes place Monday. French Open boys champion Bjorn Fratangelo, who has not played since the US Open Juniors in September, will play Pedro Graber-Anguita of Chile for a spot in the main draw. Christian Harrison and Florida's Spencer Newman will also meet with a place in the main draw on the line on Monday.

For complete results, see the Pro Circuit results page at usta.com.

In other ITF Pro Circuit results of interest, 15-year-old Domenica Gonzalez of Ecuador won her first title, at the $10,000 event in Brazil. The wild card beat No. 6 seed Gabriela Ce of Brazil 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Sixteen-year-old Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria won the singles and doubles at the $10,000 tournament in Tunisia, and 17-year-old Natalija Kostic of Serbia won her third $10,000 tournament of the fall, in Turkey.

Winning a Futures event before age 18 is much less common for the boys, but this week Thiago Montiero of Brazil did it in his home country. The 17-year-old picked up his first pro title with a 7-6(2), 6-4 win over compatriot Alexandre Schnitman in the final.

Former Alabama standout Saketh Myneni won the $10,000 Futures this week in Chennai India as a wild card. The ITF website hasn't been updated, but that's the word from this preview of this week's Futures event in India.

In college tennis, basketball announcer Dick Vitale sponsored the Lakewood Tennis Classic in the Bradenton/Sarasota area, and although it is not the "only college tournament played on clay" as it claims, it did have a good field for the second year of the tournament. Virginia's Justin Shane, the No. 4 seed, won the men's singles title over Oklahoma State's Vlad Bondarenko 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 and Mariya Slupska of Memphis beat teammate Courtney Collins, the No. 2 seed, 6-3, 6-2 for the women's singles title. The Memphis women have put up some excellent results this fall and are certainly a team to watch in the dual match season. Shane and teammate Philippe Oudshoorn won the men's doubles title.

Complete draws are available thanks to the Tennessee Lady Vols. Their team of Brynn Boren and Sarah Toti won the women's doubles title.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Scholl Wins 10K in Jamaica; Siegel, Crawford Win Titles at Evert ITF

Chalena Scholl has spent the past three weeks in Jamaica, where the ITF Women's Circuit has featured a trio of $10,000 events, and today Scholl ended her Caribbean swing with her first ITF women's title. Without a WTA ranking (that will change Monday, when her third result is added to the computers), Scholl was in qualifying for the first two Montego Bay tournaments, losing in the second round of the main draw each time, to the Czech Republic's Katerina Kramperova and fellow Floridian Kelsey Laurente. This week she received direct entry and the 16-year-old beat the No. 1, No. 4 and No. 2 seeds, the latter being Kramperova in the final, 6-2, 6-2.

Scholl and her partner Elizabeth Ferris reached the doubles final, where they were beaten by Laurente and Chanelle Van Nguyen 6-2, 6-4. Laurente and Van Nguyen, both from Florida, will be heading to the West Coast for college next year, with Laurente committing to Pepperdine and Van Nguyen to UCLA. It is the first Pro Circuit doubles title for either of the girls, who reached the semifinals at the Pan American Closed ITF junior tournament last month in Tulsa.

At the $10,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Colombia, former Baylor All-American Lenka Broosova won her second title of the year, defeating unseeded US junior Nadia Echeverria Alam 6-3, 6-2 in the final. The fifth-seeded Slovakian had also won a $10,000 event back in August, in Bolivia, and also on clay.

Due to its location in the center of a several important Florida tennis communities, the Evert ITF in Boca Raton often draws a strong field despite its Level 4 designation, and this year the girls draw would certainly qualify for that description.

The top two seeds were on their home courts, with No. 1 Samantha Crawford, who trains with the USTA there, and No. 2 Jennifer Brady, who is at Evert's Academy on the same property, meeting in the final. Crawford won 7-6(4), 6-3, giving the 16-year-old her second ITF junior title of the year.

The boys title went to No. 2 seed Austin Siegel, who recently committed to the University of Louisville. The 17-year-old New Yorker defeated unseeded 14-year-old Seong Chan Hong of Korea 6-3, 6-1. (Hong won the Junior Orange Bowl 12s title in 2009).

The boys doubles championship went to No. 3 seeds Jordi Arconada of Argentina and Yifan Dang of China, who beat No. 6 seeds Alp Horoz of Turkey and Florin Bogdan Radu of Canada 6-2, 3-6, 10-8.

Eighth seeds Olivia Hauger of the US and Petra Uberalova of Slovakia won the girls doubles title, beating 13-year-olds Tornado Ali Black and Nicole Frenkel 2-6, 6-4, 11-9.

This is the last ITF event in the US until the Eddie Herr, and with only 2 Grade 5s scheduled on the entire world junior circuit calendar next week, I guess this is what you'd call the off-season for junior tennis.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Isner, Baker in the News; Changes in USTA Points Per Round System: USTA Announces Partial Field for AO Wild Card

Two 26-year-old Americans, born within four days of each other, had big wins in professional tennis tournaments over the past two days. John Isner reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over No. 4 seed David Ferrer of Spain today, assuring himself a return to the Top 20 as the 2011 season draws to a close. (For more on that match, see Steve Tignor's Racquet Reaction at tennis.com) Isner, of course, spent four years at the University of Georgia and is the standard-bearer for late blooming college-trained players, along with Illinois' Kevin Anderson, and deeper into his career now, James Blake, who spent two years at Harvard.

Brian Baker turned pro at 18, and when the two 17-year-olds both played in Kalamazoo in 2002, there was no question who was considered the better pro prospect. Isner had a great win that year as the No. 20 seed, beating No. 3 seed Rajeev Ram in the fourth round, but he lost in the round of 16 to Brett Joelson, the No. 23 seed. Baker was seeded No. 1, and although he lost in the semifinals, his ball-striking, court positioning (right on the baseline) and feel for the game were evident even in his losses (he also dropped the third-place match to Robert Yim). The following year, Baker went on to reach the finals of the French Junior Championships, beating some very good players in the junior slams as the screenshot below attests:

ITF Tennis - Juniors - Player Activity
Uploaded with Skitch!

Baker had had serious knee injuries, and I believe surgery, as a junior, and his professional career stalled with his hip the primary culprit during his early 20s. Baker went back to school, to Belmont, in his hometown of Nashville, and although training and practicing with area college and junior players, hardly played competitively. This summer he qualified for and won the Pittsburgh Futures, and he reached the semifinals in a September Futures in Canada, but he did not play many of the tournaments he originally entered this summer and fall. He lost in the first round of qualifying in Charlottesville, but this week at the $50,000 Knoxville Challenger, he qualified and has now reached the quarterfinals after yesterday's 6-2, 6-3 win over Charlottesville champion Izak Van Der Merwe of South Africa.

In this article from the Knoxville News Sentinel, Baker reveals that he had Tommy John surgery, which I had never associated with tennis players before, in addition to his hip surgeries. It's certainly reasonable to wonder how much tennis his body can withstand, but there's no doubt he felt compelled to find out.

I'm not suggesting any moral to this story, other than predictions are difficult, life takes unexpected turns and luck plays a role in any career. Baker's had enough bad luck for two tennis players, so I'm hoping he has a Alex Bogomolov-like surge still ahead of him.

The USTA announced that, effective January 1, 2012, it is changing the values in its Points Per Round system in National Level junior tournaments. The justification for the change and a link to the new tables can be found at the USTA Eastern website.

The USTA's Australian Open wild card tournament will again be held at the Racquet Club of the South in Norcross, Georgia. This year's dates are December 16-18, 2011. The eight-player fields are not complete, but four women and three men were named today as participants: CoCo Vandeweghe, Alison Riske, Melanio Oudin, Jamie Hampton, Robby Ginepri, Denis Kudla and Jack Sock. The complete release is here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Resources for Tennis Parenting

I am working on an article about tennis parenting for the National Championships Magazine, which is distributed by the USTA at major junior tournaments.

Most of you know that I'm not, and have never been, a tennis parent, so I suppose not having lived the life, my observations would always be missing a key ingredient. But during the past decade I have witnessed many parent/child, parent/coach, coach/child interactions, and I hope some of what I've learned and seen during that time may prove valuable to those embarking on the journey.

The past two weeks I've been talking with parents, players, coaches and parenting experts about the subject (if you want a good conversation starter, ask someone what advice they would give tennis parents) and feel it's important to share some of the resources I've discovered now. Due to space restrictions, the article will barely scratch the surface of the subject, so I think providing these links may benefit those who want to go deeper.

I believe I've mentioned Dr. Larry Lauer's blog Tennis Mental Edge recently, but the Director of Coaching Education and Development at Michigan State's Institute for the Study of Youth Sports also has much to offer in the realm of sports parenting in general and junior tennis in particular. Please check out the ISYS website for links to courses and studies, which in one case will direct you to the USTA website for more on tennis parenting.
(If you are interested in his reaction to the Penn State scandal, and its relevance to all coaches, with suggestions for parents in protecting their children, see his post today.)

David Benzel has been doing presentations at Regional Training Camps for the USTA, and also told me he has been hired by individual clubs to give advice about navigating the parent-child relationship when sports play a big role in it. His website, growingchampionsforlife.com, provides many free tips, and also he also offers a subscription "Inner Circle", for additional information.

Although TheTennisMom.com has been on hiatus for most of the year, there is still great content available for viewing there.

Another tennis parent blog, parentingaces, has emerged on the scene, and in the past two days, there have been two informative posts on choosing a tennis coach for your child. And don't miss the post Sometimes It's All About Me, about her very natural emotional investment in her son's tennis, how it developed and why it's hard to let go of it.

Yet another website has surfaced recently, not specifically about parenting, but still of interest to those entering or occupying the junior tennis world. Called CATennis, there have already been over 100 posts since October, so select the topic of interest to you and start reading.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Signing Day: Redlicki to Duke, Hardebeck to Stanford, Vinsant to A&M; Hingis to Begin Working with Vickery and Others at Mourataglou Academy

Today's the first day that high school seniors can sign a National Letter of Intent for the 2012-2013 school year. It's one of the biggest days of the year for the Tennis Recruiting Network, and today they had not one, not two, but three blue chip announcements.

Michael Redlicki, the 2010 Kalamazoo 16s champion, has decided on Duke and this evening Shane Vinsant announced he will be attending Texas A&M.

I spoke with Krista Hardebeck last week about her decision to attend Stanford and she made it clear that UCLA was very much an option for her. I hope this afternoon's announcement article I wrote about her choice gives some insight into her thought process. I've been writing about Hardebeck since she won the 2009 16s International Spring Championships in Carson as a 14-year-old and I look forward to watching her compete in college tennis next year.

A few days ago, the French sports daily L'Equipe reported that five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis had signed on to coach four young women at Patrick Mourataglou's academy in France. Three--Sachia Vickery of the US and Russians Yulia Putintseva and Daria Gavrilova--are still juniors, while the fourth, Great Britain's Naomi Broady, is 21.

If you don't read French and would like to read more about Hingis' return to tennis, read this post, "Tennis in the Blood", from Peter Bodo on his TennisWorld blog. Bodo reminds us just how much of a prodigy Hingis was, winning the French Open girls title at age 12. Although you might not recognize many of the names of the players she beat that summer (she turned 13 in September of 1993), it is still a remarkable accomplishment, and one that will not be broken, as long as the ITF retains its more recent rule that players may not compete until the reach the age of 13.

ITF Tennis - Juniors - Player Activity
Uploaded with Skitch!

Hingis was a very popular champion with connoisseurs of the game, and many miss her court sense and variety in the current era, which elevates power above all else, but can she teach that style? I don't know if she's even trying to, but Gavrilova already has a game that leans in the Hingis direction, so she would seem to be a most willing student.

One part of the story I did not quite understand is the statement that Hingis will travel to Australia with the quartet in January. The 16-year-old Putintseva, with her WTA ranking of 241, and Broady, ranked 201, are likely in the women's Australian Open qualifying, and Putintseva and Gavrilova, 17, have WTA or ITF rankings that would assure their entry into the junior championships, but Vickery may not. Ranked 420 WTA and 295 ITF, the 16-year-old from Florida may have to go through junior qualifying or get a wild card unless she posts some great results at the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl.

Speaking of the Australian Open, the fact sheet for the junior championships is out, with the deadline for entry December 13th.

See the ITF junior website for more.