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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jenkins Wins First Pro Title at Rochester Futures; Three Pro Circuit Events This Week; Lucas Gomez's Sad Past

A month after finishing as the singles finalist and doubles champion at the NCAA Individual Championships, Jarmere Jenkins has claimed his first title as a professional, beating former University of Virginia teammate Michael Shabaz 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 in the $10,000 Rochester Futures final.  Jenkins, who received entry based on a special exemption after reaching the finals in the Amelia Island Futures last week, was unseeded, while Shabaz was the No. 8 seed.  Jenkins had avenged his Amelia Island finals loss to UCLA's Dennis Novikov this week in the quarterfinals, then beat top seed Chase Buchanan in the semifinals before taking on Shabaz.  Jenkins received a wild card into this week's $50,000 Challenger in Winnetka, Illinois.  Alex Bogomolov, now playing under the Russian flag, is the top seed there, with Steve Johnson, Jack Sock and Tim Smyczek the rest of the top four seeds.

Buchanan and partner Fernando Romboli of Brazil, the No. 3 seeds, won the doubles title in Rochester, defeating unseeded UCLA teammates Novikov and Marcos Giron 6-2, 6-3 in the final.

There was no women's Pro Circuit event this past week, but qualifying is underway for this coming week's $50,00 Challenger in Sacramento, where former Southern Cal star Maria Sanchez is the top seed and will play wild card Lauren Embree in the first round.  The final round of qualifying is Monday, with several college stars still alive, including Nebraska's Mary Weatherholt, UCLA's Robin Anderson and Clemson's Liz Jeukeng.  Jacqueline Cako, the No. 3 seed in qualifying, lost to 16-year-old Elizabeth Profit, who has not played any junior events this year, only Pro Circuit qualifying.  There are five main draw matches on Monday's schedule, with several intriguing matchups.  Ashley Weinhold and Sanaz Marand, good friends and doubles partners in their Texas junior days, meet, as do two 17-year-olds with nearly identical WTA rankings: Mayo Hibi and Vicky Duval.  Allie Kiick, out of action the past two months, will play the University of Florida's Brianna Morgan, who would have been a teammate of Kiick's had she not decided to forego college for the pros.

The men also have a $10,000 Futures this week in Pittsburgh in addition to the Winnetka Challenger, with former Virginia star Sanam Singh the top seed.  Because of Winnetka and the five other Challengers around the world, the Pittsburgh Futures field is not  strong, with an ATP ranking of 1500 sufficient for a place in the main draw.

For more on the Challengers this week, see the Foot Soldiers of Tennis blog.  And for a thorough rundown on the financial challenges of a professional outside the Top 100, see this blog from former NC State No. 1 James McGee of Ireland.

John Martin, writing for the New York Times Straight Sets blog at Wimbledon, posted this article yesterday about junior Lucas Gomez of Mexico, whose father was killed by a gunman when Gomez was 10 years old. Gomez, already a tennis player, witnessed his father's death, yet continued his climb into the ranks of the elite players in his country and the world.  Gomez is mature enough to understand what his father's pushing him into tennis gave him, that it led him to Wimbledon, yet there has to be sadness there too. It's simply heart-wrenching when he says, "That’s definitely the thing that gives me the most satisfaction, is that hopefully my dad, he’s watching or he knows what I’m doing. I can just imagine how he would feel."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Loeb, Chirico Win Three-setters in Wimbledon Junior Debuts, US Boys Go 0-3; Wall Street Journal On Why Tennis Pros' Kids Don't Choose Sport

All the US men exited Wimbledon before the third round, and a similar pattern is taking place in the boys championships, with all three American boys who played today losing their first round matches.

As in the senior tournament, the US girls are doing better. Sloane Stephens and Serena Williams advanced to the fourth round with win today, and Jamie Loeb and Louisa Chirico, both playing at the All England Club for the first time, picked up wins in the the girls championships.

Loeb defeated Victoriya Lushkova of Ukraine 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 to advance to the second round, overcoming a rough stretch in the middle of the match where she lost five straight games. Leading 4-2 in the second set, Loeb failed in her two chances to take a 5-3 lead, and was broken at love in her following service game to lose the set.  Lushkova held to open the third set, and Loeb saved a break point to make it 1-1, then broke in the following game.  The 18-year-old from New York found herself in the same situation in the third set as she was in the second, with a 4-2 lead, but this time she held for 5-3 and then broke Lushkova at love to take the match.  Loeb will play No. 10 seed Camila Giangreco Campis of Paraguay in the second round.

Chirico, the No. 15 seed, won her first match on grass, defeating Helen Ploskina of Ukraine 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.  Chirico was up 5-1 serving for the match when she was broken, but she broke right back to secure the victory.  She will not play again until Tuesday, with her opponent the winner of the Petra Uberalova and Maia Lumsden match.  Uberalova was in the Roehampton doubles final on Friday, so she was not scheduled to play on Saturday. No. 5 seed Taylor Townsend, Johnnise Renaud and qualifier Dasha Ivanova will play their first round matches on Monday.

Noah Rubin lost a tough match to Luke Bambridge of Great Britain, falling 3-6, 6-4, 9-7.  Rubin was down 3-1 in the third, got the break back for 3-3, but had more trouble than Bambridge holding serve down the stretch and was finally broken to give Bambridge an 8-7 lead.  With Bambridge serving at 40-0 in the final game, Rubin saved two match points, but not the third, and Bambridge got the only win among the four British boys in action on Saturday.  Spencer Papa lost to Hyeon Chung of Korea 6-3, 6-2 and Luca Corinteli fell to No. 10 seed Johan Tatlot of France by the same score.  Stefan Kozlov is now the only US boys still alive, and he will play his first round match on Monday against British wild card Joshua Sapwell.

Eight boys seeds were in action today, with two losing: No. 16 seed Wayne Montgomery of South Africa lost to  Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia 6-3, 6-3 and No. 12 seed Maxime Hamou of France lost to Stefano Napolitano of Italy by the same score.  The only girls seed to fall in Saturday's first round action was No. 7 Katy Dunne of Great Britain, who lost to Ioana Ducu of Romania 6-2, 6-2.

The doubles draws have been released and Taylor Townsend will not be defending her title.  The other four US girls are in the draw, all playing with non-US partners.  Renaud is partnering qualifier Kyoka Okamura of Japan, Loeb is playing with University of Georgia freshman Ayaka Okuno of Japan, Ivanova is paired with Katherine Ip of Hong Kong and Chirico is playing with Alejandra Cisneros of Mexico. Chirico and Cisneros are the No. 6 seeds.  Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic are the top seeds.

The ITF junior doubles seedings rarely make any sense, but they do this year, with US Open and French Open boys champions Kyle Edmund of Great Britain and Frederico Silva of Portugal at the top of the draw.  Defending doubles champion Nick Kyrgios of Australia is not seeded with his partner Thanasi Kokkinakis, whose ITF ranking is too low to get them a seed.  

Martin Redlicki, who fell in the final round of qualifying, did get into the doubles draw, and his is playing with Serbia's Laslo Djere.  Papa and Kozlov are playing together, and Rubin is again with Clement Geens of Belgium after reaching the semifinals of Roehampton together.  They are seeded No. 6.  Corinteli is playing with Mexico's Lucas Gomez.

The draws can be found at the Wimbledon website.

Simon Cambers' article for the ITF junior website is here.

If you didn't see the link to this Wall Street Journal article in one of the comments yesterday, take a moment to read it.  Tom Perotta explores the dearth of second generation tennis players in the professional ranks. Why don't top tennis professionals encourage their children to aspire to follow in their footsteps?  Lindsay Davenport and Tracy Austin give their thoughts, with Davenport saying, "Junior tennis, it's rough. People cheat, you get yelled at by other parents. I saw a dad walk on court and smack my opponent with an open hand, right in front of me. The sport beats up a lot of players."

Austin, whose children do play, says, "Tennis is too hard. It's so much more time-consuming than baseball, lacrosse, all these other sports. You cannot take a week off. The drive has to be so strong, the fire. Nobody was going to stop me."

The isolated nature of the sport, the desire for their children to find their own path and earn their own spotlight, the nomadic lifestyle, all are reasons top pros give for not encouraging such a career path for their children.  But many have children who play.  Chris Evert's sons did, so did Pat Cash's son, Bjorn Borg's son and Brad Gilbert's son, just to name a few.  The fact that they didn't go on to be Top 100 in the world just re-emphasizes what those of us close to the sport, including members of that elite club, know--it's incredibly difficult to do.

Friday, June 28, 2013

My Wimbledon Junior Preview, Five US Juniors in First Round Action Saturday; Bencic, Kyrgios Win Roehampton; Cako Earns Place on USTA Collegiate Team

My Tennis Recruiting Network preview of the Wimbledon junior championships was published this morning, prior to the completion of qualifying play and the Roehampton Grade 1 finals.  Only one American, Dasha Ivanova, made it through to the main draw.  Ivanova defeated No. 7 seed Marika Akkerman of Canada 6-1, 7-5.  No. 4 seed Katrine Steffensen lost to No. 14 seed Deborah Chiesa of Italy 6-3, 7-6(3).  No. 3 seed Martin Redlicki lost a tough one to No. 13 seed Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikkul of Thailand in today's final round of qualifying 3-6, 6-1, 10-8.

The qualifiers have not been placed, possibly because all matches weren't completed today, but the qualifiers always get the weekend off at Wimbledon,  so the incomplete draw doesn't impact Saturday's 31 matches.

Five US players are on the schedule Saturday, with Noah Rubin playing Luke Bambridge of Great Britain, No. 15 seed Louisa Chirico playing Helen Ploskina of Ukraine, Luca Corinteli playing No. 10 seed Johan Tatlot of France, and on a court to be determined, Spencer Papa playing Hyeon Chung of Korea.  No. 5 seed Taylor Townsend, Stefan Kozlov, Johnnise Renaud and Ivanova will play their first round matches Monday, with Sunday the traditional day off at Wimbledon.  

The ITF preview of Wimbledon juniors is available here.

Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Nick Kyrgios of Australia, the No. 1 seeds at Roehampton and at Wimbledon, collected the Roehampton titles today.  Bencic, whose junior winning streak is now at 28, beat unseeded Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus 6-4, 6-0, while Kyrgios defeated No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-3, 6-1.

Top seeds Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic and Carol Zhao of Canada won the girls doubles at Roehampton, beating Bencic and Petra Uberalova of Slovakia, the No. 2 seeds, 1-6, 6-4, 13-11.  The boys doubles title was also decided in a match tiebreaker, with No. 4 seeds Nicolas Jarry of Chile and Frederico Silva of Portugal defeating No. 3 seeds Pedro Cachin of Argentina and Guillermo Nunez of Chile 7-6(3), 6-7(1), 10-5.

Rain disrupted third round play today, but wild card Alison Riske of the US came through with a big win over Urszula Radwanska of Poland 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.  Riske will play again on Saturday, since her match today was held over from Thursday.  Sloane Stephens will play a third set with Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic on Saturday to determine whether she will advance to the second week of her third consecutive slam.  For more on Riske's win, see this article from Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times.

The USTA Collegiate camp in Carson was completed Wednesday, with Arizona State's Jacqueline Cako winning the competition held for the last spot on the six-player team. Cako defeated Mary Weatherholt of Nebraska 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 in the final.  Cako joins Stanford's Nicole Gibbs and Krista Hardebeck, UCLA's Robin Anderson, Virginia's Julia Elbaba and Florida's Lauren Embree on the team.  The $50,000 Challenger in Sacramento is next on the schedule for the team.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wimbledon Junior Draws; Keys Reaches Third Round at Wimbledon; Scholl Signs with Duke

The Wimbledon Junior championships begin Saturday, and unlike the other junior slams, who wait until the qualifying is complete, the draws are already out, without the qualifiers placed.  As expected, Switzerland's Belinda Bencic, the  ITF's top-ranked girl, and Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis, the boys finalist at this year's Australian Open, received wild cards, with the full list below.

Belinda Bencic (SUI)
Karin Kennel (SUI)
Isabelle Wallace (GBR)
Lana Rush (GBR)
Anna Brogan (GBR)
Gabriella Taylor (GBR)
Freya Christie (GBR)
Maia Lumsden (GBR)

Alexander Sendegeya (GBR)
Evan Hoyt (GBR)
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS)
Thomas Colautti (GBR)
Samm Butler (GBR)
Peter Ashley (GBR)
Billy Harris (GBR)
Joshua Sapwell (GBR)

The seeds:

1. Belinda Bencic (SUI)
2. Ana Konjuh (CRO)
3. Katerina Sinakova (CZE)
4. Barbora Krejcikova (CZE)
5. Taylor Townsend (USA)
6. Elise Mertens (BEL)
7. Katy Dunne (GBR)
8. Ching-Wen Hsu (TPE)
9. Carol Zhao (CAN)
10. Camila Giangreco Campiz (PAR)
11. Karin Kennel (SUI)
12. Anhelina Kalinina (UKR)
13. Anett Kontaveit (EST)
14. Nina Stojanovic (SRB)
15. Louisa Chirico (USA)
16. Ipek Soylu (TUR)

1. Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
2. Nikola Miljevic (SRB)
3. Alexander Zverev (GER)
4. Laslo Djere (SRB)
5. Kyle Edmund (GBR)
6. Gianluigi Quinzi (ITA)
7. Christian Garin (CHI)
8. Borna Coric (CRO)
9. Fillipo Baldi (ITA)
10. Johan Tatlot (FRA)
11. Pedro Cachin (ARG)
12. Maxime Hamou (FRA)
13. Clement Geens (BEL)
14. Guillermo Nunez (CHI)
15. Frederico Silva (POR)
16. Wayne Montgomery (RSA)

None of the four American boys in the main draw are seeded, and only one drew a seed for their first round opponent.  Luca Corinteli plays No. 10 seed Johan Tatlot of France, Spencer Papa plays Hyeon Chung of Korea, Noah Rubin drew Great Britain's Luke Bambridge and Stefan Kozlov faces wild card Joshua Sapwell, also of Great Britain.

Taylor Townsend, the No. 5 seed, has drawn Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus, who is in the final at Roehampton, so obviously playing well right now.  No. 15 seed Louisa Chirico plays Helen Ploskina of Ukraine, who is ranked just a few spots behind her.  Jamie Loeb has drawn Viktoriya Lushkova, also of Ukraine, and Johnnise Renaud will play Anastasia Komardina of Russia in an all-lefty battle.

Due to the late afternoon rain, not all the boys qualifying matches were completed, but Martin Redlicki did advance to the second and final round.  In the girls qualifying, Katrine Steffensen and Dasha Ivanova won their opening matches; Tornado Alicia Black and Mira Ruder-Hook lost in their first round qualifying matches.

All the Americans are out at the Roehampton Grade 1, with No. 3 seed Townsend losing to Bencic 7-5, 6-2 in the singles semifinals. She is no doubt happy to be in the opposite half of the Wimbledon draw from Bencic, who has beaten her twice this month.  Loeb and Black lost in the doubles semifinals to No. 2 seeds Bencic and Petra Uberalova 6-1, 6-3.  No. 6 seeds Rubin and his partner Clement Geens of Belgium lost to No. 4 seeds Nicolas Jarry of Chile and Frederico Silva of Portugal 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 in the boys semifinals.

For the draws and orders of play for both Roehampton and the Wimbledon qualifying, see the LTA home page.

The US men had a historically bad performance at Wimbledon this year, with none of them making the third round for the first time since 1912, when no one played the tournament.  Denis Kudla, James Blake and Bobby Reynolds all went out in straight sets, Reynolds closing out the rainy evening under the Centre Court roof against top seed Novak Djokovic.  It was up to the US women to provide victories, with top seed Serena Williams and 18-year-old Madison Keys providing victories. Keys was again impressive, beating No. 30 seed Mona Barthel of Germany 6-4, 6-2 with no drama and no fuss.  For more on the Americans in action Thursday, see this article from Greg Garber of espn.com.

There was big news on the college front today was Duke's announcement that Chalena Scholl would be joining them for the upcoming school year.  Scholl is currently the top-ranked blue chip in the Tennis Recruiting Network's class of 2013.  Scholl, who has not played any junior tournaments this year, reached the final of a $25,000 Pro Circuit tournament last month in Raleigh, NC.  She is a French Open and Orange Bowl quarterfinalist who has been as high as No. 8 in the ITF junior world rankings.  For comments from Duke head coach Jamie Ashworth and Scholl, see this article from the Duke athletic website.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Junior Wimbledon Qualifying Draws; ITF to Offer Legal Advice to Juniors; Townsend Faces Bencic in Roehampton Semifinals

The craziness began with John Isner retiring after two games this morning, and Wimbledon just got wackier by the minute after that. Before it was over, seven former No. 1 players lost their second round matches (Victoria Azarenka didn't take the court in hers), including former champion Maria Sharapova and defending champion Roger Federer.

Lleyton Hewitt lost to qualifier Dustin Brown, Jelena Jankovic lost to Vesna Dolonc, Caroline Wozniacki lost to qualifier Petra Cetkovska, Sharapova fell to qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito, Federer lost to Sergiy Stakhovsky and Ana Ivanovic lost to Eugenie Bouchard.

Eugenie Bouchard after her 2012 victory in Wimbledon girls final

Due to Azarenka's walkover, Bouchard and Ivanovic were moved to Centre Court, but that didn't faze the 2012 girls Wimbledon champion at all. The 19-year-old Canadian was the more consistent and focused of the two and she posted a 6-3, 6-3 victory over the No. 12 seed.

Bouchard gave some of the credit for her composure to her experience on Court 1 in last year's junior final, where a large crowd saw her play outstanding tennis to defeat Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

"Yeah, it was my first time, so I was really excited.  It was kind of a big deal to me.  I played Court 1 in the junior final last year.  I think that helped a little bit. Yeah, Centre Court was really cool."

Bouchard said the good memories from last year started when she was led out to Centre Court.

"I was with the same lady who walked me out.  We went on the same stairs and everything as I did last year. I was like, Oh, my God, you know, memories from last year.  Reminded me of how well I played last year, and I think it inspired me to play well."

Bouchard's next opponent is No. 19 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.

Two other young up-and-comers made it through to the third round, with 19-year-old Monica Puig defeating Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 and 20-year-old Sloane Stephens(17) squeezing past wild card Andrea Petkovic of Germany 7-6(2), 2-6, 8-6. And, although she's been a professional for six years now, Larcher de Brito is still only 20.

For more on all Wednesday's shocking results and injury retirements, see the Wimbledon website.

The qualifying for the Wimbledon junior championships begin tomorrow at Roehampton, with one US boy and four US girls competing for a place in the main draw.  Martin Redlicki, who it looks like was again the last player out of the main draw, just as he was at the French, is the No. 3 seed, and he will play Chih-Chun Tang of Taiwan.  All six of the wild cards into qualifying are British players.

The US girls in qualifying are Dasha Ivanova, Katrine Steffensen, Tornado Alicia Black and Mira Ruder-Hook.  Ruder-Hook was 14th on the alternate list with her 201 ranking at the time of the acceptance cutoff, and she appears to have been the last player in. Five of the wild cards went to girls from Great Britain, with South Africa's Ilze Hattingh getting the sixth.

Black will still need to qualify despite being in the doubles semifinals on Thursday with Jamie Loeb at the Grade 1 in Roehampton. Apparently the special exemptions are not used when a player has only a doubles match, I assume because the matches are at the same site. But Black is third on in singles qualifying and fourth on in the doubles semifinals, so it looks as if one tournament director failed to consult with the other.

Noah Rubin also reached the doubles semifinals with Belgian Clement Geens. Rubin and Geens, the No. 6 seeds, defeated unseeded Luca Corinteli and Adrian Ortiz of Mexico 6-2, 3-6, 11-9 in today's quarterfinals.

Taylor Townsend is into the singles semifinals after a 6-4, 7-6(1) win over Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, with top seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland next up.  Townsend and Bencic had a great quarterfinal match earlier this month at Roland Garros, with Bencic taking it 2-6, 6-2, 9-7, so another meeting, on a different surface, is full of promise.  The other semifinal features two unseeded players: Great Britain's Harriet Dart and Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus.

The boys semifinals have No. 1 seed Nick Kyrgios of Australia against unseeded Enzo Couacaud of France and No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany against No. 15 seed Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan.

Draws and orders of play for both Roehampton and Wimbledon qualifying are available at the LTA home page.

Included on the order of play for the Wimbledon junior qualifying is the agenda for the ITF school being held in Roehampton Thursday.  One of the speakers will discuss the new program the ITF will offer, providing the top juniors with consultation over sponsorship and representation agreements. For more on that, see this article from the ITF junior website.  I don't know if the ITF has provided this before in previous forums, but another speaker will explore the topic of "Scholarships at American Tennis Universities."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Keys, Kudla Advance at Wimbledon; Craig Tiley a Candidate for ATP Chief Executive?; Townsend into Roehampton Quarterfinals

Eighteen-year-old Madison Keys won the first main draw match of her Wimbledon career today, defeating Great Britain's Heather Watson 6-3, 7-5. Despite the unfamiliar surroundings (Keys had only played the juniors at Wimbledon once, back in 2011, where she lost to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty in the third round) and the partisan crowd, Keys kept her composure, using her big serve and aggressive ground strokes to keep Watson on the defensive. Keys did get some luck at the end, with two net cord winners going her way when she was serving for the match, but Watson said, since she was up a break in the second, it should have never come to that.

Courtney Nguyen of SI.com wrote this article about Keys' win, which includes some interesting comments from Keys on her junior career,  taken from an earlier interview.

"When I was growing up in juniors, I was terrible,” she said last month. “I always lost. I rarely ever won any junior tournaments. … I think I just had a game where you kind of have to put it together. So it took me a lot longer to understand how to do everything and I’m still trying to figure it out. So when I was younger, I would try to hit a winner from 15 feet behind the baseline. That doesn’t work. So I wasn’t a very good junior.”

I've been following Keys since she was 12, so I think I am in a position to disagree with that harse self-assessment, although I will say Keys was injured a lot during her mid-teens.  She won the Eddie Herr and Junior Orange Bowl championships in the 12s. It's true she never won a Grade A on the ITF Junior circuit, but she won the Tulsa B1, made the ITF Junior Top 20 and quit playing juniors at the age of 16 to concentrate on pro tennis, where she had already made her mark by winning a WTA match at age 14.  There have been more distinguished junior careers, but don't let her kid you. She was a very good junior.

Twenty-year-old Denis Kudla, who won his first match in the main draw of a slam today, was also a very good junior who turned pro at a young age.  Kudla won the 16s Orange Bowl and was a finalist at the US Open juniors in 2010, and with his 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1 win today over fellow qualifier James Duckworth of Australia, he has cracked the ATP Top 100 for the first time. Letting a two-set lead slip away must have annoyed him, but he bounced back to dominate the final set.

Tennis.com spoke with Kudla prior to his match today (thanks to Russ for this link) for this article, and the Washington Post's Liz Clarke provided this rundown of his background and career after his win today.

There weren't many other US winners today at Wimbledon, with only Serena Williams (of course), wild card Alison Riske, James Blake and Bobby Reynolds advancing to the second round.  Qualifier Reynolds beat wild card Steve Johnson 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4 in a match that took three hours and twenty minutes to complete. Johnson has now lost a five-set first round match in his last three slam appearances. Other US players losing today: Sam Querrey(21), Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Ryan Harrison, Mallory Burdette, Michael Russell and qualifiers Alex Kuznetsov and Wayne Odesnik.

John Isner, Rajeev Ram, Christina McHale and Sloane Stephens are on Wednesday's schedule.  See the Wimbledon website for the schedule and draws.

The search for a new chief executive of the ATP has stalled, with the two internal candidates not getting enough support, and Doug Robson of USA Today is reporting the players are hoping that Australian Open director Craig Tiley might be considered for the position vacated by the recent death of Brad Drewett. Tiley, the former men's coach at the University of Illinois, was back in Urbana last month for the 10th reunion of the NCAA championship team he coached, and in this article from the local News-Gazette, Tiley didn't sound as if he had ruled out leaving his job in Australia.

For now, Tiley will resume his duties in Australia, though a return to the States isn’t out of the question. His wife, Ali, is a UI graduate who grew up in Naperville.

“We’ll always look at the options,” he said. “I love the job down there, you never know. I’ve lived in South Africa, America and Australia. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that.

The ATP is based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

The last US boys in the singles at ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton lost today, with Noah Rubin bowing out 6-3, 6-1 to unseeded Enzo Couacaud of France.  Taylor Townsend, seeded No. 3, reached the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over wild card Lana Rush of Great Britain and will play unseeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia Wednesday.

Rubin is still alive in doubles, reaching the quarterfinals with Belgian Clement Geens. The No. 6 seeds will play American Luca Corinteli and his partner Adrian Ortiz of Mexico.  Johnnise Renaud is in the girls doubles quarterfinals with Victoria Rodriguez of Mexico and Jamie Loeb and Tornado Alicia Black also have reached the final eight.

Draws and Wednesday's order of play are available at the LTA home page.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Puig Defeats Errani at Wimbledon, Seeds Isner and Stephens Through to Second Round; Townsend, Rubin into Third Round at Roehampton; US Open National Playoffs Update

With Nadal's shocking first round Wimbledon loss to Belgian Steve Darcis, in straight sets no less, the headlines will understandably focus on that, but Monica Puig also deserves some recognition for her 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 5 seed Sara Errani of Italy.

Puig, who will be 20 in September, has never played particularly well on grass, and lost in the second round of qualifying at the WTA Eastbourne tournament last week, but Errani is much more comfortable on clay, and Puig used that to her advantage. Although Puig needed seven match points to close out her best career win (she beat No. 11 seed Nadia Petrova of Russia in the first round at Roland Garros), she got the win, and she spoke at length about what she's learned this year about closing out matches.  For more on Puig's win, see this Associated Press article.

John Isner was one of only two American men scheduled for singles today, and the No. 18 seed, who is known for taking nearly every slam match into a fifth set, kept his opening match short. Isner did play a couple of his customary tiebreakers, but avenged his early loss to Russian Evgeny Donskoy n the Netherlands last week, posting a 6-0, 7-6(5), 7-6(3) victory. Rajeev Ram, the other US man on Monday's schedule, defeated Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2 to reach the second round at Wimbledon for the first time in his career.

The remaining nine American men, all in the top half of the draw, play their first round matches on Tuesday.

The US women had a disappointing first day, with the only two advancing those who played other Americans.  Sloane Stephens, the No. 17 seed, defeated Eastbourne finalist Jamie Hampton 6-3, 6-3 and Christina McHale beat Alexa Glatch 6-4, 6-4.  No. 26 seed Vavara Lepchenko lost, as did Lauren Davis, CoCo Vandeweghe, Vania King, and Melanie Oudin. Five additional American women, in the top half of the draw, play their first round matches Tuesday.

Draws and schedule can be found at the Wimbledon website.

The grass courts at Roehampton have not been kind to American juniors this week, with only No. 3 seed Taylor Townsend and Noah Rubin reaching the third round at the ITF Grade 1 warmup to Wimbledon.  Johnnise Renaud, Dasha Ivanova, Katrine Steffensen and  Jamie Loeb lost in today's second round; Tornado Alicia Black and Louisa Chirico, the No. 9 seed, lost in Sunday's first round.  Rubin is the only American boy to get out of the first round, with the other four--Martin Redlicki, Spencer Papa, Stefan Kozlov and Luca Corinteli--losing on Sunday.

Townsend will play British wild card Lana Rush in the third round; Rubin plays unseeded Enzo Couacaud of France. Top seeds Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Nick Kyrgios of Australia are also through to the third round.

The draws and order of play can be found at the LTA website.

Two more sectional qualifying tournaments for the US Open National Playoffs were completed over the weekend, in the Northern California and Northern sections.

University of Southern California sophomore Giuliana Olmos won the women's tournament in Salinas, California, defeating former Stanford player Lejla Hodzic 6-1, 6-4 in the final.  Harvard recruit Andrew Ball won the men's tournament, downing fellow teenager Josh Pompan 6-3, 6-1 in the final.   Eric Roberson and Yasmin Schnack won the mixed doubles tournament.

In the Northern section, Tony Larson, a former St. Cloud State player, won the men's tournament, beating Brian Battistone 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Nicole Melichar won the women's tournament, defeating 15-year-old Jessie Aney 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Battistone and Melichar, who won the mixed doubles main draw wild card last year at the National playoff tournament in New Haven, will have a chance to defend that title, winning the Northern tournament this year over Larson and 14-year-old Alexis Nelson 7-5, 6-4.

For links to the draws of all the US Open Playoff sectional qualifying results, click here. There are only four more sections yet to be decided.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Novikov, Krueger Claim First Pro Circuit Singles Titles; Young US Men Stepping Up?; Looking at Past Top Juniors; Edmund, Hoyt Profiles

Dennis Novikov captured his first title on the Pro Circuit today, defeating qualifier Jarmere Jenkins 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in the final of the $10,000 Futures in Amelia Island, Florida.

UCLA's Novikov, the No 7 seed, had lost to Virginia's Jenkins 7-6(3), 6-3 at the No. 1 position in the NCAA team final a little over a month ago, so it's tempting to say perhaps Jenkins had run out of gas after winning four qualifying matches just to get into the main draw at Amelia Island. But Jenkins handled the rigors of the back-to-back team and individual championships so well, the explanation for the loss is probably no deeper than on this day, Novikov just played the better match between two evenly matched competitors.  Novikov had beaten top seed Chase Buchanan in the semifinals, also in three sets, while Jenkins had defeated Duke's Jason Tahir in the semifinals, meaning the final four there were all current or former college players.

Jenkins and partner Mac Styslinger did win the doubles title. The NCAA champions, unseeded, defeated No. 4 seeds Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Roberto Maytin of Venezuela 6-4, 6-2, in another final with all competitors either current or former college players.

Over in the Netherlands, 19-year-old Mitchell Krueger picked up his first singles title as a professional, in a $15,000 Futures.  One week after traveling and training partner Bjorn Fratangelo won the first Futures on the trip, the unseeded Krueger followed suit, defeating No. 2 seed Ricardo Hocevar of Brazil 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

At the $10,000 women's tournament in Buffalo, No. 6 seed Alexandra Mueller of the United States defeated former WTA Top 20 player Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 7-5, 6-4 in the final. Kleybanova is just returning to tennis after a 2011 diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and was denied a requested wild card into this year's Wimbledon.  Mueller and former Syracuse player Emily Harman, the top seeds, took the doubles title over No. 4 seeds Sachie Ishizu of Japan and Denise Starr of the US 4-6, 6-3, 10-7.

With Wimbledon beginning on Monday, USA Today looks at the state of men's tennis in the United States, with USTA General Manager of Player Development Patrick McEnroe putting it at "4.5 to 5" on a scale of 1 to 10. Bob Bryan and Sam Querrey also talk about the young American men making a push toward the ATP Top 100 in this article.

The Independent looked back at the last nine ITF junior No. 1s in this article, tracking their highest professional rankings and number of titles.  It's a pretty small sample size, but it is interesting that only one male player, the oldest one, Gael Monfils, has won an ATP title, while four of those nine female players have already collected WTA titles.

The Kyle Edmund profiles right now are too numerous to keep track of, but despite the dreaded "next Andy Murray" usage, this one from The Guardian is worth reading. Evan Hoyt, a wild card into the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, who had a big win over Australian Open boys finalist Thanasi Kokkinakis in today's first round, is the subject of this feature, as Wales searches for a player to have an impact on the ATP tour. It should be noted that Hoyt has only one win in Futures competition and thus one ATP point, and is currently ranked 1711.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

One US Open Wild Card to Again Be Determined By Pro Circuit Results; Jamea Jackson to Join USTA; Twelve US Juniors Take to Grass at Roehamption

The USTA has announced another series of Pro Circuit events to decide a men's and a women's wild card to this year's US Open.  As they did last year and this year for the reciprocal French Open wild card, and last year for a US Open wild card, the USTA will award a wild card to one American man and one American women who has the highest total of ATP/WTA points in several designated tournaments.

This year a men's wild card will be given to the player with the best two results in four tournaments--the $50,000 Binghamton Challenger, the $50,000 Lexington Challenger, the $100,000 Vancouver Challenger and the $100,000 Aptos Challenger.  Last year Steve Johnson won the wild card by winning Aptos, the only one of the four tournaments he played, while Mallory Burdette made the quarterfinals of Lexington and won Vancouver, which is not one of the three women's events this year.  The women's wild card this year will be decided based on points won in two of these three tournaments: the $50,000 Yakima Challenger, the $50,000 Portland Challenger and the $50,000 Lexington Challenger.

The usta.com article, which mentions that all these tournaments will have live streams, is here.  The fact sheets are on the Pro Circuit home page. Holding US passports and being eligible for US Davis Cup or US Fed Cup participation are requirements.

An official announcement is expected next week, but Jamea Jackson is leaving her position as  Oklahoma State's women's assistant to join USTA Player Development as a National Coach.  The 26-year-old Jackson, who spent four seasons with the Cowgirls, is a former WTA Top 50 player and US Fed Cup competitor.  For more on what led to her early retirement from the WTA Tour, see this article.

The draws for the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton have been released, with the ITF Junior No. 1s the top seeds.  French Open girls champion Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who lost today in the semifinals of a $25,000 outdoor clay challenger in her home country, but won the doubles title, will play wild card Alannah Griffin in Sunday's first round, while boys top seed Nick Kyrgios of Australia meets Stefan Kozlov of the US.

Kozlov is joined in the boys draw by Martin Redlicki, Noah Rubin, Luca Corinteli and Spencer Papa, none of whom are seeded.

The US girls in the draw are qualifiers Dasha Ivanova and Katrine Steffensen, as well as Johnnise Renaud, Tornado Alicia Black, Jamie Loeb, No. 3 seed Taylor Townsend and No. 9 seed Louisa Chirico.

Bencic is not entered in the Wimbledon juniors, but may be getting a wild card.  Australian Open boys finalist Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia was given a wild card into Roehampton and may also be requesting one for Wimbledon.  Kokkinakis would play No. 2 seed Nikola Milojevic of Serbia in the second round if they both win their opening matches.

German Antonia Lottner, who lost to Bencic in the French Open girls final, won a $10,000 tournament this weekend in Germany.  She has recently withdrawn from the Wimbledon juniors.

The European grass season for juniors is very short, just three tournaments, with the first one, a Grade 2 in Germany, just finished. No. 4 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine won the girls singles and doubles, while unseeded Lucas Gomez of Mexico took the boys singles title.

The Roehampton draws and order of play for Sunday is available on the LTA website.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ohio State Men's Home Winning Streak Enters Second Decade; Wimbledon Draws Revealed; US Girls, British Boys Take Junior Team Competition in Eastbourne

My weekly article for the Tennis Recruiting Network delves into the 172-match home winning streak the Ohio State men's tennis team has established, one that extends all the way back to April of 2003.  I did the interviews when I was at the NCAAs last month, then worked on the research this month, which took some time due to the sheer number of matches the streak encompasses.

The NCAA doesn't keep statistics for tennis (or for many other varsity sports--see this page for the list), so the responsibility for tracking them falls to the individual schools, and I owe a huge debt to Stanford's SID Brian Risso, who tracked and documented the Cardinal women's team streak from 1999 through its end in 2011.  Ohio State can break the record next year, although it's fair to note that the Stanford women's streak does include three NCAA Sweet 16s they hosted.  Stanford won two of them to keep the streak going in 2002 and 2006, but it ended in the finals of the NCAAs in 2011.  For more on their amazing streak, see this review.

The Wimbledon draws were released this morning, with all the attention centered around what quarter No. 5 seed Rafael Nadal would fall in. It turned out to be No. 3 seed  Federer's, who would have to beat No. 2 Andy Murray and No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals and finals (should they all advance to those matches, of course) to defend his title.

A total of 14 US women and 11 US men are competing in the singles main draw.  Qualifier Bobby Reynolds and wild card Steve Johnson are the only two American men playing each other, with the winner probably facing Djokovic in the second round.  The other nine US men and their first round opponents: Ryan Harrison v. No. 28 Jeremy Chardy(FRA); Wayne Odesnik v. Jimmy Wang(TPE); James Blake v. Thiemo De Bakker(NED); No. 21 Sam Querrey v. Bernard Tomic(AUS); Alex Kuznetsov v. Igor Sijsling(NED); Denis Kudla v. James Duckworth(AUS); Michael Russell v. Grega Semlja(SLO); No. 18 John Isner v. Evengy Donskoy(RUS) and Rajeev Ram v. Lukas Lacko(SVK).

Two matches in the women's main draw will be all-American affairs, with Alexa Glatch facing Christina McHale, and in the blockbuster first rounder, No. 17 seed Sloane Stephens playing Jamie Hampton.  Stephens hasn't played since reaching the fourth round of the French, while Hampton, who also reached the fourth round in Paris, is into her first WTA final Saturday in Eastbourne after a three-set victory over Caroline Wozniacki today.

The other ten US women and their first round opponents: No. 1 Serena Williams v. Mandy Minella(LUX); Alison Riske v. No. 31 Romina Oprandi(SUI); Mallory Burdette v. Urszula Radwanska(POL); Bethanie Mattek-Sands v. No. 7 Angelique Kerber(GER); Madison Keys v. Heather Watson(GBR); No. 26 Varvara Lepchenko v. Eva Birnerova(CZE); Lauren Davis v. No. 27 Lucie Safarova(CZE); Melanie Oudin v. Michelle Larcher de Brito(POR); CoCo Vandeweghe v. No. 7 Petra Kvitova(CZE) and Vania King, who did get in as a lucky loser, v. No. 29 Alize Cornet(FRA).

From what I gather, the bottom half of both draws will play Monday.

Complete draws can be found here.

The Maureen Connolly Trophy Challenge was won by the US girls, who beat Great Britain 8-4 after having a 5-1 lead going into today's matches.  The Great Britain boys won the LTA Junior Challenge trophy 7-3. I don't know why they didn't complete the final two doubles matches.  I don't have complete individual results, but information from the British Tennis twitter had Stefan Kozlov, Luca Corinteli and Jamie Loeb winning their singles matches, with Noah Rubin, Louisa Chirico and Taylor Townsend losing theirs.

Qualifying is complete for the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, which begins on Sunday.  Dasha Ivanova and Katrine Steffensen of the US both qualified.  The draws and order of play for the tournament will be available on the LTA website under the Latest British Events section on the right of the home page.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

No US Women Qualify for Wimbledon; British Boys and US Girls Dominate in Eastbourne; BBC Explores State of British Tennis

Grace Min, Irina Falconi and Vania King all lost today in the final round of qualifying for Wimbledon at Roehampton.  Min lost quickly to Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic 6-0, 6-2, the No. 10 seed King fell to No. 17 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4, and Falconi was beaten by Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia 6-4, 6-4.

The other qualifers include a third Czech, Eva Birnerova, and two French women, 30-year-old Virginie Razzano and 19-year-old Caroline Garcia.  Another young player, Germany's Carina Witthoeft, an 18-year-old who hasn't played a junior event in three years, qualified, as did 29-year-old Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan, the No. 2 seed, and 20-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal.  Italy's Maria Elena Camerin, 31, Austria's Yvonne Meusberger, 29, and Colombia's Mariana Duque-Marino, 23 round out the qualifying field.

King has a 50/50 chance of getting into the main draw however, as she is one of the four highest seeds who made it to the final round of qualifying. There are two lucky loser spots available in the draw with the withdrawals of Venus Williams and Sveta Kuznetsova, so King will join No. 18 seed Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia, No. 20 Julia Glushko of Israel and No. 19 Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan in the lottery for those two spots.  The draw is at 10 a.m. Friday in London.

For more on the final day of women's qualifying, see this article from the tournament website.  The draws are here.

As far as I can tell, there's no official place for the results of the United States and Great Britain Junior competition that going on in Eastbourne, but the British Tennis twitter account passed along singles results throughout the day, with the US girls and the British boys ending the day with 5-1 leads. Jonny O'Mara beat Spencer Papa in three sets, Luke Bambridge beat Stefan Kozlov in three sets, Evan Hoyt beat Luca Corinteli in three sets to make it 3-0 for Great Britain. Noah Rubin beat Cameron Norrie in three sets for the only US victory of the day. Great Britain won both boys doubles matches.

In the girls competition, Katy Dunne defeated Louisa Chirico in straight sets for the only British victory Thursday.  Tornado Alicia Black defeated Harriet Dart, Jamie Loeb beat Gabby Taylor and Taylor Townsend downed Katie Boulter, all in straight sets. The US girls won both doubles matches as well.  Although she didn't specifically say it was based on her team's performance today, girls coach Judy Murray tweeted "Sometimes u r the pigeon. And sometimes you are the statue. Today was a statue kind of day."

When Wimbledon rolls around there are countless British articles and columns on what's wrong with tennis there, with a particularly urgency in the discussion this year, as the LTA is looking for a new chief executive, and the sport's government support is being threatened.

The BBC kicks off the discussion with this stat-filled piece, comparing the numbers of ranked players in Great Britain with those of the United States, France and Spain.  The attitude and hunger of the British players also is called into question, and Pat Cash, Tim Henman and Andrew Castle provides their theories, as does current British player Elena Baltacha. I'm not putting too much stock in the numbers provided in the population/players/courts/coaches table, as they seem to be estimates in many cases, but a couple of numbers jump out.  With the awful British weather, that's a pretty small number of indoor courts, and Spain and Germany seem to have very high coach to player ratios.

Lisa Stone of Parenting Aces was recently on vacation in France and Spain, and while there, she visited, and took a lesson, at an academy on Mallorca. She provided her impressions of the differences between the Spanish and the US methods of junior development in this post.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Four US Men Qualify for Wimbledon, Three US Women Reach Final Round of Qualifying; USA and GBR Meet in Maureen Connolly Trophy Challenge Thursday

Last month three US men qualified for the French Open, and today four qualified for Wimbledon: Wayne Odesnik, Alex Kuznetsov, Bobby Reynolds and Denis Kudla.  Kudla was one of the three who qualified in Paris, so he has proven himself on both surfaces in the space of a month.  Kudla defeated Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 today, and will learn his opponent in the main draw on Friday.

Alex Kuznetsov played in the French with the USTA's reciprocal main draw wild card he won on the Pro Circuit, but he will have three matches under his belt when he plays in the main draw at Wimbledon for the first time in his career after his gritty 6-3, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 win over Maxime Authom of Belgium.  No. 4 seed Odesnik advanced to the main draw for the second straight year--he got in last year as a lucky loser--with a 2-6, 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 ret. inj. decision over Olivier Rochus of Belgium.  No. 27 seed Bobby Reynolds, who lost in the first round of Wimbledon qualifying the past three years and didn't play the French qualifying this year, will be playing in the main draw at Wimbledon for the first time since 2009 after his 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 win over No. 12 seed Rhyne Williams.

No. 8 seed Tim Smyczek, the sixth American in action today at the Roehampton qualifying courts, lost to unseeded Matt Reid of Australia 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(5), 7-5.

The 12 other qualifiers: Stephane Robert(FRA), Bastian Knittel(GER), No. 21 Julian Reister(GER), Dustin Brown(GER), No. 7 Jan-Lennard Struff(GER), Reid(AUS), No. 29 Wang(TPE), James Duckworth(AUS), No. 11 Michal Przysiezny(POL), No. 13 Go Soeda(JPN), No. 15 Marc Gicquel(FRA) and No. 16 Teymuraz Gabashvili(RUS).

For more on today's men's qualifying, see the Wimbledon website.  Ben Rothenberg is also covering the Wimbledon qualifying for the New York Times and he spoke with Kudla about his accomplishment, as well as his lack of wild cards, in this article.

The second round of the women's qualifying was completed today, with three US women reaching Thursday's final round.  Grace Min defeated No. 23 seed Tadeja Majeric of Slovenia 6-3, 5-7, 6-0 to advance against unseeded Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic.  Min qualified for the French Open last month to make her first appearance in the main draw of a slam.  Irina Falconi will play Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia in the final qualifying round after Falconi advanced when No. 5 seed Eleni Danilidou of Greece retired trailing 6-1, 2-0.  No. 10 seed Vania King defeated Samantha Crawford 6-4, 6-4 and will play No. 17 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic Thursday.

Qualifying draws can be found here.

In Eastbourne, where both the ATP and WTA are holding a tournament this week, juniors will take to the grass courts Thursday and Friday for international competition between the United States and Great Britain.  The Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy, the girls competition that has been held for 37 years, is joined by the boys competition, the LTA Junior Challenge Trophy, in just its second year.

Taylor Townsend leads the US Team in Maureen Connolly
Trophy Challenge
The US girls competing are: Louisa Chirico, Jamie Loeb, Tornado Alicia Black and Taylor Townsend.  The US boys competing are: Stefan Kozlov, Noah Rubin, Luca Corinteli, Spencer Papa and Thai Kwiatkowski. Nicolas Todero and Freddy Rodriguez are the USTA National coaches in charge of the teams.  I haven't seen the names of those on the British teams yet.

For more, including a link to the USTA's release, see the Maureen Connolly Brinker Foundation's website.

And for more on New Yorkers Loeb and Chirico, particularly about their experiences at the French juniors, see this article from The Journal News.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Six US Men Advance to Final Round of Wimbledon Qualifying, Five US Women Survive First Round; US Open National Playoffs Sectional Update

All six US men who won their first round Wimbledon qualifying matches on Monday won their second round matches today, and with one more victory necessary on Wednesday to reach the main draw.

Five qualifiers are the maximum however, as No. 12 seed Rhyne Williams and No. 27 seed Bobby Reynolds will meet in one final round qualifying match.  No. 4 seed Wayne Odesnik, No. 6 seed Denis Kudla, No. 8 seed Tim Smyczek and unseeded Alex Kuznetsov advanced to the final round of qualifying with wins today.  Odesnik plays No. 20 seed Olivier Rochus of Belgium, Kudla faces No. 23 seed Ruben Bemelmans also of Belgium, Smyczek plays Australian Matt Reid and Kuznetsov meets yet another Belgian, Maxime Authom.

The women's qualifying began today, with five of the 11 US women advancing to Wednesday's second round. The two most recent US Open girls champions, Samantha Crawford and Grace Min, picked up victories, with 2012 champion Crawford defeating Chiara Scholl 6-2, 7-5 and 2011 champion Min beating Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein 6-3, 6-2.  Crawford has traveled to London but will play another American again Tuesday, No. 10 seed Vania King, who defeated wild card Lisa Whybourn of Great Britain 6-1, 7-5(5).  Irina Falconi zipped past Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine 6-2, 6-1 and another former college star, Maria Sanchez, the No. 12 seed, also got through in straight sets, defeating Ana Vrljic of Croatia 7-5, 6-1.  Julia Cohen, Jessica Pegula(14), Nicole Gibbs, Madison Brengle and Shelby Rogers fell in their opening round matches.

For more on Tuesday's men's qualifying see this article from the tournament website. For a review of some of the first round of women's qualifying, see this article.

The qualifying draws can be found here.

A couple of the sectional qualifying events for the US Open National Playoffs were completed over the weekend in the New England and Eastern sections.

Stanford freshman Nolan Paige won the New England men's tournament for the third time in four years. Fifteen-year-old Meghan Kelley won the women's tournament to earn a place in the National Playoff in August at the New Haven Open.  Kelley also won the mixed doubles tournament, with 33-year-old Daniel Quiceno.

In the Eastern section tournaments, Damon Gooch, the former Elon standout, picked up his second straight national berth with a win over Oklahoma State freshman Richard Del Nunzio. Gooch won the Mid-Atlantic sectional qualifying tournament last year.  Magda Okruashvili defended her title in the women's tournament, beating Princeton recruit Alanna Wolff in the final. Two former college players, Tarakaa Bertrand (Vanderbilt) and Sam Sweeney (North Central) won the mixed doubles tournament.

The Northern California sectional qualifying begins Wednesday, with pop star Red Foo (Stefan Gordy) scheduled to play his first match Wednesday evening. Ayaka Okuno, the Georgia freshman who has been coached by Gordy during her junior career, is in the women's tournament, and they are playing as a team in the mixed.  Area juniors CiCi Bellis, Mary Closs and Hadley Berg are in the women's draw as are USC's Giuliana Olmos and Cal's Anett Schutting. Amy Bowtell of Ireland is also in the draw, and despite her WTA ranking of 450, she is not seeded, even though the seeding criteria says "Within each division, the top two players/teams will be seeded based on their ATP/WTA computer ranking (if any)."

With the newly designed USTA website, I'm not able to find any of the releases I'm being sent, but if you would like to read the full release on these playoffs, I've posted it via google drive.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Six US Men Reach Second Round at Wimbledon Qualifying; 11 US Women Begin Qualifying Quest Tuesday; Edmund Wins First ATP Match; Wisconsin Hires West Virginia's Samara

Six of the ten US men who took to the courts of Roehampton today for the first round of Wimbledon qualifying will be back on Tuesday for the second round. No. 4 seed Wayne Odesnik, No. 6 seed Denis Kudla, No. 8 seed Tim Smyczek, No. 12 seed Rhyne Williams and No. 27 seed Bobby Reynolds all won in straight sets, as did unseeded Alex Kuznetsov.

Robby Ginepri withdrew before the start of play, and Michael Yani, Donald Young, Bradley Klahn and No. 2 seed Jack Sock all dropped their first matches.  Sock lost 6-2, 6-2 to Mischa Zverev of Germany, a disappointing loss for him after an impressive French Open run, but it was Klahn who is probably most upset this evening. Klahn had three match points against 19-year-old wild card Filip Peliwo of Canada at 5-4 in the third and again served for the match at 7-6 before falling 6-2, 2-6, 9-7 to the 2012 Wimbledon and US Open boys champion.

Peliwo, who plays Kudla in the second round Tuesday, described the zone he was in in the final few games of the match in this article about the day's qualifying at the Wimbledon website.

The women's first round of qualifying gets underway on Tuesday, with 96 players vying for 12 main draw spots.  The 11 American women in the draw are Julia Cohen, Grace Min, Irina Falconi, Jessica Pegula(14), Nicole Gibbs, Madison Brengle, Vania King(10), Samantha Crawford, Chiara Scholl, Shelby Rogers and Maria Sanchez(12).  Unlike the men, who all faced players from outside the US in the first round, Crawford will play Scholl in the opening round.

Cohen drew No. 4 seed Polona Hercog of Slovenia, Min plays Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein, Falconi faces Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine and Pegula meets Cagla Buyukakcay of Turkey. NCAA champion Gibbs plays No. 7 seed Yvonne Meusburger of Austria, Brengle faces Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, King drew wild card Lisa Whybourn of Great Britain, Rogers plays a former ITF World No. 1 junior in An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium and Sanchez faces Ana Vrljic of Croatia.

For qualifying draws, see the Wimbledon website.

Although he won a qualifying round at Wimbledon last year as a 17-year-old wild card, Kyle Edmund of Great Britain picked up his first official ATP tour win today in Eastbourne, defeating Kenny De Shepper of France 6-4, 6-4. Edmund, who received a main draw wild card into Wimbledon this year, one of only two British men to be so rewarded, is also still entered in the draw at the Wimbledon Juniors.   Edmund provides some thoughts on controlling his nerves in this article about his win at the BBC.

The University of Wisconsin announced Tina Samara as their choice to replace women's head coach Brian Fleishman, who resigned early last month. Samara spent two years at the University of West Virginia and was at Louisiana-Lafayette before that.  The Charleston West Virginia Gazette had published this article about her presumed departure prior to today's announcement from Wisconsin.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Wimbledon Men's Qualifying Begins Monday for 11 Americans; Bellis and Rybakov Take ITF International Grass Court Titles in Philadelphia; Pro Circuit Update

Wimbledon qualifying begins for men Monday at Roehampton, with 11 Americans in the 128-draw.

They are: Jack Sock(2), Wayne Odesnik(4), Denis Kudla(6), Tim Smyczek(8), Rhyne Williams(12), Bobby Reynolds(27) Alex Kuznetsov, Michael Yani, Robby Ginepri, Donald Young and Bradley Klahn.

Alex Kuznetsov has drawn 19-year-old British wild card Joshua Ward Hibbert, who was slated to go to Texas A&M before deciding to turn pro instead. Klahn also gets a 19-year-old wild card opponent, 2012 Wimbledon and US Open boys champion Filip Peliwo of Canada.  Sock plays Mischa Zverev of Germany, who reached the quarterfinals of the ATP event in Halle before losing 6-0, 6-0 to Roger Federer.  Smyczek has drawn Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain; Ginepri plays No. 19 seed Simon Greul of Germany; Yani meets Denys Molchanov of Ukraine; Young plays Agustin Velotti of Argenina; Odesnik faces Thiago Alves of Brazil; Reynolds meets Jorge Aguilar of Chile; Williams plays Victor Crivoi of Romania and Kudla has drawn Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France.

One of the players in qualifying, Ukraine's Oleksandr Nedovyesov, is going straight from the clay Challenger in Prague, which he won today, to the grass of Roehampton. But the former Oklahoma State cowboy, who beat Javier Marti 6-0, 6-1 to win his first Challenger title, is fourth on Monday's schedule, so perhaps he'll find a grass court to practice on early in the day.

For more on Nedovyesov's win today, see this account, with photos, at Tennis Alternative.

The United States trails just two countries in number of players in the men's qualifying, with Germany and France both placing 12 in the draw.

Wimbledon announced today that Alison Riske has received a main draw wild card after she reached the semifinals of the WTA event in Birmingham.  There is still another women's main draw wild card to be distributed.  The current list is here.

The ITF International Grass Court Championships, held annually in Philadelphia, concluded yesterday despite a week of wet weather forcing a change of venue midweek, although the finals were played at the Merion Cricket Club, near the site of this weekend's US golf Open.

Alex Rybkov, the top seed, won the boys singles title, defeating unseeded David Wilczynski 6-2, 6-4. It was the 16-year-old Floridian's third ITF Grade 4 title of the year.

Fourteen-year-old CiCi Bellis won her first ITF title, defeating No. 2 seed Kaitlyn McCarthy 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 in the final, after Bellis had beaten top seed Johnnise Renaud 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

Aron Pierce and Emil Reinberg won the boys doubles title when they were given a walkover by Stefan Cooper of Great Britain and Shaquille Taylor of the Bahamas.  Taylor Ng and Christina Rosca won the girls doubles championship, beating Sophie Chang and Jessica Golovin 6-4, 1-6, 10-5. None of the doubles teams in the finals were seeded.

In the finals of the $10,000 Pro Circuit events today, University of Florida freshman Brianna Morgan won her first title, with the wild card entry defeating top seed Jessica Moore of Australia 7-6(3), 6-3 in Bethany Beach Delaware.  At the Indian Harbour Beach Futures, No. 7 seed Jesse Witten won his first title in four years, defeating Mitchell Frank 6-1, 6-4.

Other titles won by familiar faces to those following college and junior tennis in the United States include NCAA champion Blaz Rola taking the $10,000 Mexican Futures, Bjorn Fratangelo winning the $15,000 Netherlands Futures, and 17-year-old Hyeon Chung of Korea claiming his first pro title at the $10,000 Korea Futures.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Johnson Wins Nottingham Challenger, Receives Wimbledon Wild Card; Nedovyesov Reaches Prague Challenger Final; Frank, Morgan Reach Pro Circuit Finals

Steve Johnson won the Nottingham Challenger today, defeating Belgian Ruben Bemelmans 7-5, 7-5 in the final. A few hours later, Wimbledon announced it had granted Johnson a main draw wild card, meaning he will not have get in via qualifying, as he did at the Australian and French Opens.  With the USTA wild card he earned into last year's US Open by accumulating the most ATP points over several designated tournaments and this one, Johnson has now competed in every grand slam since winning his second NCAA singles title last May.  The points earned this week also should put him at 100 in the ATP rankings, likely assuring him entry into the main draw of the US Open.

For Johnson's comments on his victory today, see this article from Eurosport. 

For the current list of Wimbledon wild cards, see the tournament website.

Another outstanding collegian, Oleksandr Nedovyesov, who played at Oklahoma State and finished 2009 atop the ITA rankings, has had some impressive results himself the past month.  In May, the 26-year-old from Ukraine reached the final of the $50,000 Challenger in Uzbekistan, and today he made his way into another Challenger final, this one the 64,000 Euro tournament in Prague. The seventh-seeded Nedovyesov, who is currently ranked 161, defeated No. 4 seed Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain in the semifinals 6-4, 6-4.  For more on Nedovyesov's win, see this onsite account from Tennis Alternative.

The finals of the two Pro Circuit events this week in the US feature two current collegians, with Florida's Brianna Morgan and Virginia's Mitchell Frank looking for their first titles on the professional circuit.  The unseeded Frank defeated No. 2 seed and last week's Futures champion Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador 6-4, 7-6(5) to advance to his second Futures final, where he'll meet former Kentucky All-American Jesse Witten. Witten, who was off the circuit for nearly a year between August of 2011 and July of 2012, defeated Fernando Romboli of Brazil 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 in today's semifinals of the $10,000 Indian Harbour Beach Futures, to reach his first final since 2009.

Morgan, a wild card, defeated No. 2 seed Brooke Austin 6-3, 6-0 in the semifinals of the $10,000 Bethany Beach tournament to reach her first final in a Pro Circuit event. In Sunday's final, Morgan will play top seed Jessica Moore of Australia, who edged unseeded wild card Peggy Porter 6-1, 3-6, 7-5.   Porter did leave Delaware with a title however, as she and former Virginia star Lindsey Hardenbergh took the doubles championship with a 6-1, 6-4 decision over Denise Muresan and Jackie Wu.

In Futures outside the United States, recently crowned NCAA champion Blaz Rola of Ohio State has reached the finals of a $10,000 Futures in Mexico and 2011 French Open boys champion Bjorn Fratangelo has reached the finals of a $15,000 Futures in the Netherlands.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My Interview with USTA National Collegiate Coach Dustin Taylor; Steve Johnson Reaches Nottingham Final, with Possible Wimbledon Wild Card at Stake; Routliffe Signs with Alabama

My interview with Dustin Taylor, who has recently been named the USTA National Coach - Collegiate Tennis, is available now on the Tennis Recruiting Network.  Taylor and I spoke at length last month at the NCAAs, and while I learned about his background and previous coaching experiences, the focus was how this related to his dreams for the revamped USTA Collegiate Team.

The goal of creating a team that has the prestige of being named an All-American is not a modest aim. But if it can become a significant part of the structure of the USTA's collegiate pathway, the benefits will go beyond any individual accolade.  I know from talking with Taylor that he is committed to college tennis, and his new position provides more evidence that the USTA is too.  Let's hope Taylor can grow his area so that college tennis is a significant presence in the Player Development structure.

Steve Johnson, one of the recent college players Taylor mentions in the interview, has reached the final of the Nottingham II Challenger, defeating another two-time NCAA champion, Somdev Devvarman of India, 6-3, 6-4 in today's rain-delayed semifinal.  Johnson will meet unseeded Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium in Saturday's final, and as Steve at Shank Tennis pointed out on twitter, a Wimbledon main draw wild card may be on the line. Although there is no formal arrangement, last year Wimbledon awarded Nottingham II winner Grega Zemlja of Slovenia a main draw wild card, and both Johnson and Bemelmans are preparing to play Wimbledon qualifying beginning Monday, just as Zemlja would have done had he not received the wild card last year.  This is Johnson's second Challenger final--he won the Aptos Challenger last August, and, coincidentally, that win earned him a wild card into the US Open.

The University of Alabama women announced signings for the fall, and Canada's Erin Routliffe, one of the most sought-after recruits who wasn't signed in November, is among them.  Routliffe, who won the 16s singles and doubles titles at the 2011 Orange Bowl, has been ranked as high as 17 in the ITF juniors.  In addition to Routliffe, Alabama has signed Carmen Blanco and Luicelena Perez of Venezuela and Danielle Spielmann of Switzerland. The Northwestern women added Brooke Rischbieth of Australia to their already strong recruiting class, and Southern Cal confirmed the transfer of Brynn Boren from Tennessee.

And a quick update on the two $10,000 Pro Circuit events this week, which are now through to the semifinals.  At the women's tournament in Delaware, top seed Jessica Moore of Australia is joined in the semifinals by three young Americans: Florida freshman Brianna Morgan and 17-year-olds Brooke Austin(2) and Peggy Porter.
In the men's tournament in Florida, it's Jesse Witten(7) facing Fernando Romboli of Brazil in one semifinal and Mitchell Frank against last week's champion Marcelo Arevalo(2) of El Salvador in the other.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Aragone, Hibi Win Southern California Section's US Open National Playoffs; Kudla, Keys Reach Quarterfinals in Wimbledon Warmups; Johnson Faces Devvarman in Nottingham Challenger

Sectional qualifying for the US Open National Playoffs wrapped up today in Southern California, with juniors JC Aragone and Mayo Hibi winning the opportunity to compete at the National Playoffs in New Haven in August.

When I spoke to Hibi back in April about the possibility of playing this again--she lost to Alexandra Mueller in the finals of the national tournament last year--she said she wasn't sure if her schedule would allow it, but after winning the $25,000 event in Las Cruces on Sunday, she was back on the court Monday with the aim of claiming the US Open qualifying wild card that goes to the national winner.
The No. 1 seed, Hibi didn't lose a set in her four matches, and today the 17-year-old from Irvine, Calif. defeated former UCLA Bruin Liz Lumpkin, the No. 2 seed, 6-3, 6-1 in the final.

In the men's draw, there were no seeds, with no one competing with an ATP ranking, but it came down to two blue chip recruits, with JC Aragone, who is joining Virginia in the fall, defeating Mackenzie McDonald, the UCLA recruit, 6-4, 6-4.  Neither had lost a set in their four matches leading into the final.

McDonald will be competing in New Haven however, as he and UCLA sophomore Chanelle Van Nguyen won the mixed doubles title, beating NCAA champion Kaitlyn Christian and her partner Dante Cipulli (who won the section's men's singles qualifying tournament last year) 6-3, 7-5(4).  The prize for winning the national mixed doubles playoffs is a big one, a main draw wild card into the US Open.

For complete results, see the TennisLink site.

With Wimbledon qualifying beginning next Monday, the grass court season is in full swing, with two ATP tournaments and one WTA tournament on the surface this week.

Americans Madison Keys and Alison Riske reached the quarterfinals of the Birmingham WTA International with wins today. Keys defeated No. 6 seed Mona Barthel of Germany 6-3, 6-2 and qualifier Riske, who has won 10 main draw matches on the WTA tour, all of them in Birmingham, downed Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 6-1, 6-2. Keys talks of her transition from clay to grass in the WTA article on today's play in Birmingham.  Sixteen-year-old Donna Vekic also advanced to the quarterfinals, defeating former USC All-American Maria Sanchez, who had qualified, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Like Riske, Denis Kudla has had his deepest runs in top-level tournaments on grass. Back in 2011 he beat Ivo Karlovic and Grigor Dimitrov on his way to the quarterfinals at the Newport ATP event, and this week at Queens, Kudla has beaten Federico Delbonis of Argentina, 25th-ranked Benoit Paire of France and today, Kenny De Schepper of France, to reach the quarterfinals at the London ATP event.  Kudla will play No. 4 seed Jo-Wilfred Tsonga of France on Friday, the fourth match on court.

At the Nottingham Challenger, which has not escaped the rain delays of the two above-mentioned events, Steve Johnson and Somdev Devvarman will meet in Friday's semifinal.

The unseeded Devvarman, who won the NCAA singles title in 2007 and 2008 as a Virginia Cavalier, finished off a rain-interrupted second round win over Jack Sock earlier in the day, then beat Donald Young 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 in the quarterfinals to advance.

Also unseeded, Johnson, who won the NCAA singles title in 2011 and 2012 as a USC Trojan, has yet to lose a set, beating No. 3 seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada in the second and No. 6 seed Illya Marchenko of Ukraine in today's quarterfinals.

Johnson and Devvarman have met once in a professional tournament, back in 2010, before Johnson had won his NCAA singles titles, in the first round of the Los Angeles ATP event. Devvarman won that match 6-4, 6-4.

All the seeds are out of Nottingham, with South African Rik De Voest and Belgian Ruben Bemelmans meeting in the other semifinal.

For complete draws, see the tournament website.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wimbledon Wild Cards Announced; Gibbs and Jenkins Lead USTA Collegiate Team; Spinosa and McCray Win National Hard Court Titles

Wimbledon announced the first of its wild cards today, although in keeping with recent practice, they've retained two women's and four men's wild cards so they don't overlook anyone who has an outstanding grass court season, which is just beginning. Junior Kyle Edmund and 2010 Northwestern graduate Samantha Murray are among those receiving main draw wild cards for the first time.  Murray's WTA ranking is now 240, and Wimbledon has said in the past that those ranked inside the top 250 of either tour will be considered for main draw wild cards. At 444, Edmund is outside that number, but at 18, he is considered the top prospect among British teens, and his close loss to Slovenia's Grega Zemlja in the first round at the ATP event in Queens this week, where he competed as a wild card, also may have helped his case.

The men's main draw wild cards:

Nicolas Mahut (France)
Kyle Edmund (Great Britain)
Matthew Ebden (Australia)
James Ward (Great Britain)
4 To Be Announced

The women's main draw wild cards:

Elena Baltacha (Great Britain)
Anne Keothavong (Great Britain)
Johanna Konta (Great Britain)
Tara Moore (Great Britain)
Samantha Murray (Great Britain)
Andrea Petkovic (Germany)
2 To Be Announced

Men's qualifying wild cards:
Jamie Baker (GBR)
Alex Bogdanovic (GBR)
Ed Corrie (GBR)
Dan Evans (GBR)
Josh Goodall (GBR)
Filip Peliwo (CAN)
Joshua Ward Hibbert
WC playoff
WC playoff 

Women's qualifying wild cards:
Naomi Broady (GBR)
Amanda Carrerass (GBR)
Lisa Whybourn (GBR)
WC playoff
WC playoff
3 additional TBA

I am surprised the USTA's method--most points won over the current grass challengers taking place now--hasn't been used to determine one of the wild cards. I think it beats any of the alternatives.

The USTA's Collegiate team, like the Wimbledon wild card slate, is not yet complete, but today the USTA released the names of those who have already made the team, including Nicole Gibbs and Jarmere Jenkins, as well as those who are still vying for a spot during the upcoming camps.  I'll have much more on the revamped team on Friday, when my interview with Dustin Taylor, the USTA's new National Coach for Collegiate Tennis, is published at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The USTA National Open Hard Court Championships, a USTA gold-ball event, took place last week in San Diego, with current University of San Diego standout Clarke Spinosa winning the men's singles title and future Oklahoma State Cowgirl Megan McCray taking the women's singles titles, after finishing with bronze and silver balls the previous two years. For more on the tournament, see this article on usta.com, and for complete results, see the TennisLink site.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Andy Jackson Named Men's Head Coach at Arkansas; Chapman Hired to Lead Kansas Women; Other College Coaching and Transfer Notes

Andy Jackson, who resigned as head coach of the Florida Gators a little over a year ago, has been hired for the same position at the University of Arkansas. Jackson, who coached the Mississippi State women and then the Mississippi State men prior to taking the job at Floridia in 2001, takes over for longtime Razorback coach Robert Cox, who will  continue to work for the Arkansas athletic department.  For the complete release, with remarks from Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long and Jackson,  click here.

The women's head coaching position at the University of Kansas has also been filled, with Texas Tech women's assistant Todd Chapman taking over the Jayhawks.  For that release, click here.

Last month, Ohio State named Melissa Schaub head coach of the women's team, after she had functioned with the interim tag during the 2012-13 season.

Pittsburgh and Wisconsin have not yet announced who will lead their women's programs beginning this fall.

Christian Thompson has been named women's head coach at the University of Denver after a season as the assistant there. Thompson takes over for Jeremy Wurtzman, who left to take the men's assistant position at the University of Michigan.

The University of Washington has a new women's assistant, Angelo Niculescu. According this release, Luke Shields has left that post in Washington to become the men's assistant at his alma mater Boise State. Younger brother Clancy Shields left that job to take the men's head coaching job at Utah State.

The word on Facebook, although as yet unconfirmed by the Wake Forest sports information department, has Mississippi State's Romain Bogaerts, the ITA Rookie of the Year, and teammate Pedro Dumont transferring to the Demon Deacons.

LSU has announced the transfer of Andrew Korinek from Texas.  Oregon announced the transfers of Joey Swaysland from Texas and Kevin Farin from the University of Brussels.

Unrelated to coaching or transferring, but NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs recounted her run to her second straight singles title with this match-by-match analysis on the Stanford website.

Men's NCAA singles champion Blaz Rola was named Ohio State's Male Athlete of the Year today.