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Monday, December 2, 2013

Kumar Upsets World Number One Zverev in Eddie Herr ITF First Round

©Colette Lewis 2013--
Bradenton, FL--

The opening day of play at the Eddie Herr International saw seven No. 1 seeds in action, and all of them breezed to first round victories, with one major exception.  In the boys 18s, ITF World No. 1 Alexander Zverev of Germany was upset by Sameer Kumar 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(5).

Kumar, a 16-year-old from Indiana, received entry into the 18s by virtue of an exemption given to the top-ranked US player in the 16s, and he was a decided underdog to the 16-year-old Italian Open champion and French Open boys finalist.  Played on the far reaches of the IMG Bollettieri Academy property, which is a tram ride away from the majority of the courts, the match between World No. 1 and No. 448 wasn't expected to go the distance. But as word began to circulate that Kumar had won the second set, the crowd grew, and Prince, a major of the sponsor of the tournament and maker of Kumar's racquet, sent their cameraman, on site for an advertising shoot, to record the upset in the making.

Zverev served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but never got to match point, with Kumar earning a break point at 30-40 when Zverev couldn't finish his first volley at the net and couldn't handle Kumar's pass.  Kumar converted the break point when Zverev hit a forehand long, a call that Zverev disputed, but when the roving umpire was called to check the mark, he let Kumar's call stand.

Kumar held at 15 to take a 6-5 lead, and Zverev held despite a couple of unforced errors to send the match into the tiebreaker.

Kumar got a minibreak early, and another to lead 5-1, when Zverev made yet another unforced error on the backhand side. But both those minibreaks were lost on two unforced errors and when Zverev put away an overhead, letting out a big roar afterward, it was 5-5.  The next point was a long one, with Kumar patiently waiting for the error, and giving Zverev several high deep balls, as well as some slices. Some 20 shots later, Zverev's forehand went wide, giving Kumar a match point on his serve.  A big first serve out wide that Zverev couldn't return and it was over, with the usually placid Kumar obviously delighted with the victory.

"I think this is the biggest win of my life," said Kumar, who enjoys playing on clay. "He's number one in the world for a reason, he's a very good player. So I'm very excited."

Kumar believed his position as an underdog helped him play more freely.

"Last night when I saw the draw I told myself I have nothing on me, I got a wild card into this tournament and I'm playing the No. 1 player in the world," said Kumar. "There's no pressure on me. But with that, I definitely knew I had a good chance to win, because I've been playing very well lately. I definitely didn't feel any pressure, even when it got tight in the second and third set tiebreakers."

Kumar was not the only American to take out a seed in Monday's first round, with  wild card Deiton Baughman defeating No. 8 seed Marcelo Zormann of Brazil 6-4, 7-6(4) and Julian Zlobinsky outlasting No. 4 seed Quentin Halys of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

The three seeded US boys advanced, with No. 3 Stefan Kozlov, No. 5 Michael Mmoh and No. 15 Francis Tiafoe winning in straight sets.  Taylor Fritz, AJ Catanzariti also made the second round with victories Monday.

The top two seeds in the girls 18s were idle on Monday, with No. 1 Varvara Flink of Russia and No. 2 Tornado Alicia Black drawn against qualifiers, all of whom received a day off after two matches on Sunday. Mira Ruder-Hook finished her qualifying match delayed by darkness to advance to the main draw, where she will play No. 12 seed Sandra Samir of Egypt Tuesday.

The only two US seeded girls in action Monday lost, with No. 7 seed Johnnise Renaud falling to Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 and No. 13 seed Dasha Ivanova dropping a 7-6(9), 6-2 decision to Russian Anastasia Shaulskaya.  Olivia Hauger, Emma Higuchi, Chloe Ouellet-Pizer and Sofia Kenin were other US winners Monday.

Naiktha Bains of Australia ousted No. 4 seed Helen Ploskina of Ukraine 7-6(2), 6-4 and Isabella Wallace of Great Britain eliminated No. 8 seed Anastasiya Komardina of Russia 0-6, 6-2, 6-1.

The remainder of the first round of singles in the 18s will be played on Tuesday, along with all 32 doubles matches.

The top seeds in the younger age divisions all cruised to victories in their matches on a cloudy and unusually calm day.  Girls 12s No. 1 seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia defeated Hannah Viller Moller of Denmark 6-0, 6-1. No. 1 in the boys 12s, Alexander Zgirovsky of Belarus beat Alejo Lorenzo Lavallen 6-3, 6-1.  In the 14s, top girls seed Kayla Day beat Olga Basko of Russia 6-2, 6-0 and top boys seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia downed Malik Bhatnagar of Canada 6-1, 6-0.  In the 16s, girls No. 1 seed Helen Altick defeated Tatiana Samurgasheva of Armenia 6-2, 6-0, and No. 1 boys seed Yunseong Chung of Korea beat Alexandros Giannakitsidis of the United States 6-0, 6-0.  The bottom half of the draws in the 12s, 14s and 16s will be played on Tuesday.

Wayne Bryan explains the drill for junior participants

The evening ended with a demonstration of doubles drills with the No. 1 doubles team in the world, Bob and Mike Bryan, courtesy of Prince Tennis. The twins' father Wayne organized a competition with enthusiastic juniors in attendance, and several of the youngsters earned their way on the court with the Bryans.  Some of them even managed to win points from the Bryans, which resulted in Wayne commandeering a Sharpie and having his sons sign the ball and give it to the youngsters.

For complete results, see the eddieherr.com website.


Eeyore said...

Zverev isn't that good. He did well early in the year but had dismal results at tournaments that really count.

Joe tennis said...

What about Zverevs semi final of the Us open and final of the French open? Finals of Wimbledon warm up, and Italian open champion? Aren't these good results? I doubt you can be the number one junior in the world and "not be that good"

development said...

This shows that the ITF World ranking is a bluff and not noteworthy of actually best rankings for juniors.

Happy for Sumar Kumar for beating Zverev. Credit is due to him and Deighton Baughman.

This is why Americans should stay at home to play all Nationals instead of chasing ITF points/ranking and wasting money. There are plenty of big ITF tournaments in the US to play: ITF-Carson, Easter Bowl, US Open, Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl among about 10 other tournaments.

US Tennis will start raising once we strengthen our Super National fields and have our players go to college.

whoa there said...

You can't use just one upset to discredit a player who has legitimately earned his number one ranking and has shown much promise in future events at the pro level. Players lose. Federer has been upset by much lower ranked people before. Nadal has been upset by much lower ranked people before. It happens. Does that mean they are unworthy number 1s? Does that make the atp rankings system a bluff?

The only thing I think we should take from this is that Sameer Kumar is a really good tennis player.

Brent said...

I believe that Zverev had pretty good results in Futures recently as well. Anyone trying to discredit him as a legit top 5 junior in the world is off base.

Unknown said...

Zverev isn't top 5 in the world: You have Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Borna Coric, Gianluigi Quinzi, Christian Garin. But nonetheless, Zverev is up there. And loses happen, so this doesn't discredit he is still top 10. Only reason he is 1 though is because he has stuck with playing Junior tournaments and not only focusing on pro. But most top 10 players play some pro, but Zverev has still maintained his junior schedule.

Junior Tennis said...


very true. Zverev is #1 for those juniors who only travel around the world to play ITF tournaments. Spain juniors only play Future events, some top USA players do not ITF tournaments. Zverev is a great junior but you cannot make him #1 in the World.

I would hope that the #1 player in the World would win Kalamazoo 16s but his loss to Kumar questions that.

Our Americans who are in 18s rankings in both ITF and USTA do not reflect true rankings of ability or level.

There is enough competition in the USA that you do not need to travel internationally to play, especially ITF tournaments. There is enough travel for those juniors who want to play ATP pros that in the juniors do not need to travel 20-30 weeks a year to play.

whoa there said...

Zverev beat Quinzi 6 & 6 earlier this year. He beat Edmund, beat the serbian junior that reached #1 earlier in the year, and took Coric to 3. But more to your point he did lose to Kyrgios and Garin (on clay) in straights this year. He's pretty much up in the tail end of that group of kids you named while being a year or two younger than all of them. I think the main thing we're forgetting here is he's still a 1997 born junior. That means he only turned 16 this year. I completely agree that there's a small handful of juniors that would be ranked above him if they played a full ITF schedule, but they're all at least 17 now, which is a much more reasonable age to be focusing on futures. They were all playing a much heavier junior schedule just like Zverev the years they turned 16.

@Junior tennis
I think we're all in agreement here that if every single 18 and under junior in the world focused on the ITF junior circuit, that Zverev wouldn't be ranked number 1. Honestly, I don't even think the purpose of the itf is to stand as the ultimate junior ranking system.. but in response to this point:
"I would hope that the #1 player in the World would win Kalamazoo 16s but his loss to Kumar questions that."
Zverev beat the Kalamazoo 18s winner, Collin Altamirano, 6-4 6-4 at the Jr. US Open. How would that fit into the equation of him playing Kalamzoo 16s?
I'm not really trying to defend his ranking here. And I've got no real attachment to him. I just think it's ridiculous to portray Zverev as a mediocre player or itf rankings as a complete sham from this upset.

Having our top Americans stay locally within the States for the development is a whole other story altogether. It'd be very interesting to see whether that bolsters or hinders American tennis development. For that to completely work I think we'd need many more grass and red clay courts here. It's a shame we don't already have that.

Michigan said...

Whoa There

Your statement "Honestly, I don't even think the purpose of the itf is to stand as the ultimate junior ranking system."

The ITF proclaims that their year end ranking is the #1 junior in the World so they do stand as the ultimate rankings for juniors.

There are many different rankings, from each countries National ranking, college rankings, itf junior rankings, atp ranking, so there is no way to determine who the best junior is.

Just like Jack Sock won the us open juniors singles title by not playing many itf tournaments.

Zverev is a good player and happy he is still playing junior tournaments trying to finish #1 by year end but in no way is he the best. No one knows.

Zverev is only 16 years old and cannot compete with the pros physically so why not play more juniors? Great for development.

wt said...

Let me clarify then. By me saying that the purpose is not to be the ultimate ranking system, I mean that it is understood by all junior players and their coaches that the majority of the extreme highest ranked itf juniors at some point stop playing most itf tournaments (except usually the jr us and french opens and wimbledon). Guys like Kyrgios and Edmund. Or Harrison and Dimitrov back in the day. So my statement meant that the year end number one each year likely understands that his/her junior ranking does not make him the undisputed number one junior aged player in the world. Hence, it doesn't stand as the be all end all ranking system.