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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Querrey, McHale Sole US Winners Tuesday at Wimbledon; Mmoh, Opelka and Neel Reach Roehampton Quarterfinals; William and Mary's Daub Retires

After a relatively good opening day Monday, only two Americans posted wins at Wimbledon Tuesday: Sam Querrey and Christina McHale.  No. 21 seed Madison Keys was at 2-2 in the third set of her match with Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland when play was suspended due to darkness.

Querrey defeated qualifier Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to a Thursday match with No. 2 seed Roger Federer, while McHale downed Joanna Larsson of Sweden 6-3, 6-2 and will play No. 18 seed Sabine Lisicki of Germany Thursday.

No. 31 seed Jack Sock fell to Sam Groth of Australia 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 and Tim Smyczek was beaten by No. 30 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.  Varvara Lepchenko lost to No. 20 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-4, 6-1 and qualifier Sachia Vickery fell to No. 8 seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-2, 6-4.

American men in action on Wednesday include No. 17 seed John Isner (vs wild card Matthew Ebden of Australia), wild card Denis Kudla (vs 18-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany) and Steve Johnson (vs No. 11 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria).

Six US women play on Wednesday, with two of them playing each other in Lauren Davis and Sloane Stephens. Top seed Serena Williams faces Timea Babos of Hungary and No. 16 seed Venus Williams will take on Yulia Putintseva of Russia.  CoCo Vandeweghe is up against No. 11 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands plays No. 7 seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.

I neglected to mention yesterday the big win for 2014 Wimbledon girls champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia on Monday. Given a main draw wild card by the All England Club (she had already earned a place in qualifying), the 18-year-old made good use of it, defeating Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-2, 6-0. She will play Kristina Mladenovic of France on Wednesday.

Draws are here; Wednesday's order of play is here.

The quarterfinals are set for the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, with three Americans advancing to the final eight in singles.  Ingrid Neel defeated No. 6 seed Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada 6-3, 6-3 and will face No. 2 seed Shilin Xu of China, who defeated No. 16 seed Caroline Dolehide 6-3, 6-4.

No. 3 seed Michael Mmoh downed unseeded Kenneth Raisma of Estonia 6-3, 6-4 to set up a meeting with No. 6 seed Marcelo Barrios Vera of Chile.  Reilly Opelka, the No. 16 seed, took out No. 2 seed Corentin Denolly of France 7-6(6), 6-4 and will play No. 12 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.  No. 4 seed Tommy Paul lost 6-3, 6-3 to Alex Molcan of Slovakia, ending Paul's winning streak at 13 matches. Ulises Blanch fell to No. 5 seed Viktor Durasovic of Norway 6-3, 6-4.

Blanch is still alive in doubles, with Argentina's Juan Pablo Ficovic, and No. 2 seeds Paul and William Blumberg have also advanced to the doubles quarterfinals.

Tornado Alicia Black, partnering Australian Naiktha Bains, is the only US girls still remaining in the doubles competition.

A few college notes:

Peter Daub has resigned from the men's head coaching position at William and Mary after 22 years. According to the release, a national search is being conducted for his successor.

Former University of Michigan star Brooke Bolender has been named assistant coach for the women's team at Western Michigan University. Former WMU assistant Ryan Tomlinson took over the head coaching position from the retiring Betsy Kuhle at the end of the season. Kuhle has not retired from tennis however, as she continues to be active in her role as tournament director for the upcoming USTA Zonals.

Madison Harrison, the sister of Ryan and Christian Harrison, has transferred from Kansas to Mississippi State.

The ITA Summer Circuit is underway (Harrison was one of the early winners) in venues across the country.  See the ITA website for draws and entry information.

The ITA's David Benjamin will retire Wednesday, with Tim Russell taking over as Executive Director.  Dave "The Koz" Kozlowski has prepared a video tribute, which can be found here.

There are again three USTA Pro Circuit events in the US this week: a $10,000 men's Futures in Pittsburgh, a $15,000 men's Futures in Wichita and a $25,000 women's event in El Paso.

A couple of notable results from today's action:  2014 Kalamazoo 16s champion John McNally, a wild card,  picked up his first ATP point in Pittsburgh, beating No. 7 seed Collin Johns 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-0 in the first round.

In El Paso, Cal junior Maegan Manasse, also a wild card, defeated No. 5 seed Samantha Crawford 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Nine Americans Advance to Second Round at Wimbledon; Top Seed Fritz Upset at Roehampton; Sampras Letter to Younger Self; Wawrinka as Anti-Prodigy

Nine of the 16 Americans on the schedule on Wimbledon's opening day won their matches, with the men going 3-1 and the women 6-6.

Top seed Serena Williams defeated Margarita Gasparyan of Russia 6-4, 6-1 and sister Venus, the No. 16 seed, overwhelmed Madison Brengle 6-0, 6-0.  Qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium 6-3, 6-2, CoCo Vandeweghe downed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-2, and Lauren Davis defeated Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-4, 7-6(3). Sloane Stephens was the only unseeded American facing a seed today, and she came through over No. 27 Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2. Alison Riske, Nicole Gibbs, Shelby Rogers, Edina Gallovits-Hall and Irina Falconi lost their opening matches today.

Four US women are on Tuesday's schedule are: Varvara Lepchenko vs. No. 20 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain, Christina McHale vs. Johanna Larsson of Sweden, qualifier Sachia Vickery vs. No. 8 seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russiaand No. 21 seed Madison Keys vs. Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland.

No. 17 seed John Isner picked up a straight set win over Go Soeda of Japan 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4, while Steve Johnson and wild card Denis Kudla needed five sets to advance. Johnson defeated Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-3, 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and Kudla made an even more dramatic recovery, beating Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.  Donald Young lost his match to Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

There are three Tuesday first round matches for US men, with No. 31 seed Jack Sock taking on Australia's Sam Groth, Tim Smyczek playing No. 30 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy and Sam Querrey facing Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands.

The draws are here and the order of play for Tuesday is here.

The ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton produced several surprising results in today's second round, with the most notable Australian Marc Polmans' 6-4, 6-3 win over top seed and World No. 1 Taylor Fritz.   No. 8 seed William Blumberg fell to Alex De Minaur of Australia 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and Nathan Ponwith lost to No. 9 seed Yunseong Chung of Korea 6-0, 6-3.  But despite those three losses, the US still placed four US boys in the round of 16, with No. 3 seed Michael Mmoh, No. 4 seed Tommy Paul, No. 16 seed Reilly Opelka and Ulises Blanch winning today in straight sets.

Polmans dealt Fritz a second loss on Monday in doubles, with he and compatriot Jake Delaney beating Fritz and Mmoh, the top seeds, 6-4, 3-6, 10-7.  Paul and Blumberg, the No. 2 seeds, did advance to the second round.

Three of the four US girls remaining advanced to the round of 16. No. 16 seed Caroline Dolehide defeated Maia Lumsden of Great Britain 6-2, 7-5 and Kayla Day downed No. 14 seed Pranjala Yadlapalli of India 6-4, 6-3.  Ingrid Neel took out No. 10 seed and Australian Open girls champion Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.   Top seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic and No. 5 seed Katie Swan of Great Britain are the only seeds remaining in the top half of the draw.

In doubles, No. 2 seeds Sonya Kenin and Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada lost to Lesedi Jacobs of Namibia and Wushuang Zheng of China 2-6, 6-1, 10-4.

In this Player's Tribune post by American tennis great Pete Sampras, he writes a letter to his 16-year-old self, conveying what he wished he had known when he was embarking on his professional tennis career.

And in this article by Tom Perotta for the Wall Street Journal, French and Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka and several high profile coaches make the case for participating in other sports first and concentrating on tennis later.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Former Trojan Lao, Current Trojan Olmos Win Pro Circuit Titles; Battaglia Takes ITF Grade 5 in Bermuda; Excellent Start to Grass Season for US Boys

It was an excellent weekend for current and former Southern California Trojans, who picked up four titles in North American Pro Circuit competition.

Danielle Lao, who graduated in 2013, won her first title at the $25,000 level, beating rising Florida sophomore Brooke Austin 7-5, 6-3 in the USTA Pro Circuit final in Baton Rouge. Austin led 3-0 in the second set, but Lao finished the match by winning six straight games. When the points from this tournament are added after Wimbledon, Lao will be close to the WTA Top 300.  The Baton Rouge doubles title went to Samantha Crawford and Emily Harman of the US, who beat Storm Sanders of Australia  and Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 7-6(4), 6-1 in the final.

Lao was joined in the winner's circle by Giuliana Olmos of Mexico, who was a freshman on the USC team when Lao was a senior.  Olmos, a rising senior, won her third $10,000 title in Mexico yesterday, avenging her only loss in the four consecutive tournaments she played in Manzanillo. Former Texas A&M star Nazari Urbina of Mexico defeated Olmos in the second round last week, but wild card Olmos avoided her until the final this week, posting a 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 win. Olmos is 16-1 this month since bowing out of the NCAAs in the second round.

Olmos's teammate Zoe Scandalis, also a rising senior, won the doubles title in Manzanillo, teaming with Camila Fuentes of Mexico for a 6-3, 5-7, 12-10 win over Carolina Betancourt of Mexico and Daniela Seguel of Chile.

Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, who left USC after his junior year in 2013, won the $10,000 Rochester Futures event, winning two matches today to claim his sixth Futures singles title and his first outside of South America.  Gomez defeated 18-year-old Alex Rybakov 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinal, which could not be played on Saturday due to rain. In the final, the No. 1 seed defeated former Florida star Sekou Bangoura Jr., the No. 2 seed, 7-6(3), 6-4. Bangoura had beaten qualifier Dominic Cotrone(South Florida) 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3 in the semifinals. Cotrone and Quinton Vega(Wisconsin) won the doubles title, beating Jordi Arconada(Texas A&M) and Stephen Madonia 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

At the $15,000 Futures in Tulsa, Noah Rubin led top seed Darian King of Barbados 6-2, 5-2, but lost the final 11 games of the match to leave his record in Futures finals at 0-4.

At the ITF Grade 5 in Bermuda, 17-year-old Madison Battaglia won her first ITF title in only her second tournament. The unseeded New Yorker didn't drop a set, beating unseeded 15-year-old Kate Paulus 6-1, 6-1 in an all-American final.  Katie LaFrance won the doubles title with Lillian Gabrielsen of Norway, beating Paulus and Cheyenne Lilienthal 7-6(4), 7-6(4) in the final.  Top seed Stephan Koenigsfest of Bolivia defeated qualifier Lane Leschly of the US 6-3, 7-5 in the boys singles final.  Nick Brookes and Harry Butler of Great Britain took the boys doubles title, defeating Sebastian Mermersky and Chase Burton of the US 5-7, 7-5, 10-5 in the final.

At the Grade 2 in Germany, Gabby Pollner and Meghan Kelley made the quarterfinals, with Raquel Pedraza reaching the doubles final. Unseeded Alexei Popyrin of Australia and unseeded Lara Salden of Belgium took the singles titles.   At the Grade 5 in Denmark,  Nicole Conard won the doubles title with a partner from the Netherlands.

This coming week's Grade 1 in Roehampton began well for the US boys, with seven of the eight getting first round wins today.  Taylor Fritz(1), Michael Mmoh(3), Tommy Paul(4), William Blumberg(8), Reilly Opelka(16), Ulises Blanch and Nathan Ponwith all picked up wins. Blanch defeated No. 11 seed Nam Hoang Ly of Vietnam 7-6(9), 4-6, 6-3. Mmoh barely got past wild card Ryan Storrie of Great Britain, taking that match 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(4).  Emil Reinberg, the eighth American boy in the draw, lost 6-4, 6-2 to Mikael Ymer of Sweden, who had to go through qualifying despite being the No. 10 seed once he reached the main draw.

The US girls posted four wins, with Ingrid Neel, qualifier Tornado Alicia Black, Kayla Day and No. 16 Caroline Dolehide advancing to the second round. Claire Liu, Francesca Di Lorenzo and Raveena Kingsley lost, with Kingsley again taking top seed Marketa Vondrousova to a third set, as she did in the first round of the French Open earlier this month, but falling 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. No. 8 seed Sonya Kenin had lost the first set to 15-year-old Olesya Pervushina of Russia and was at 5-5 in the second set when darkness suspended play in that match, along with several others.

Live scoring for Roehampton is available here.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Roehampton Grade 1 Begins Sunday; Austin and Rubin Reach Finals in Baton Rouge and Tulsa; US Open National Playoffs Update

The extremely short junior grass court season begins on Sunday with the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, held at the Bank of England Sports Grounds, also the site of Wimbledon men's and women's qualifying.

Three of the top four seeds are US boys: ITF World junior No. 1 Taylor Fritz, No. 3 seed Michael Mmoh and No. 4 seed Tommy Paul.  William Blumberg is the No. 8 seed and Reilly Opelka is the No. 16 seed. The seeding for the Wimbledon juniors is likely to be similar, although current No. 5 Seong Chan Hong of Korea is not in Roehampton but is on the Wimbledon entry list. The other American boys in the draw are Nathan Ponwith, Emil Reinberg and Ulises Blanch.  Catalin Mateas lost in qualifying. 

Apparently there was a mistake by the ITF in the first boys draw, with the No. 13 seed, Argentina's Manuel Pena Lopez, left out of the field.  He was added, and the draw was redone, with the lucky loser vacating the place he was given in the first draw.

There are also eight US players in the girls draw, with No. 8 Sonya Kenin and No. 16 seed Caroline Dolehide the only American seeds.  Raveena Kinglsey drew ITF World No. 1 Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the first round, after losing to Vondrousova in the first round at Roehampton last year.  Kingsley also lost to Vondrousova in the first round of the French Open this year. Kayla Day, Francesca Di Lorenzo, Claire Liu, Ingrid Neel and Tornado Alicia Black, who qualified, are the other US girls in the draw. Usue Arconada, who lost in the semifinals of the Baton Rouge $25,000 tournament today, is playing Wimbledon Juniors but not Roehampton.

At the $15,000 Tulsa Futures, Noah Rubin defeated No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach his fourth career Futures final, but his first as a professional, having announced he would not return to Wake Forest for his sophomore year.  Rubin, who failed to serve out the match at 5-3 in the second but broke for the win, hopes to secure his first Futures title against top seed Darian King of Barbados.  King beat former Cal Poly star Andre Dome, the No. 8 seed, 6-4, 6-4 in Saturday's other semifinal. Dome did secure a winner's trophy however, teaming with Jean-Yves Aubone to take the doubles final 6-3, 7-6(6) over TCU teammates Nick Chappell and Will Stein.

Rain in Rochester, New York has caused that $10,000 Futures' semifinals to be pushed to Sunday.  Eighteen-year-old Alex Rybakov, seeded fifth, will play top seed Emilio Gomez, the former USC star in one semifinal, while No. 2 seed Sekou Bangoura will play qualifier Dominic Cotrone. Cotrone, who played at Florida State before transferring to South Florida, defeated former Virginia standout Michael Shabaz in the quarterfinals 6-2, 6-4.

In the women's Pro Circuit event in Baton Rouge, 19-year-old qualifier Brooke Austin has reached her first final at the $25,000 level, defeating No. 4 seed Samantha Crawford 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 in today's semifinal.  Austin will play Danielle Lao in the final, with the former USC star also in her first final at the $25,000 level.  Lao, who beat Usue Arconada 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals today, defeated Austin in the second round of the $25,000 tournament in Sumter last week 7-6(2), 6-3.

The Sectional Qualifying for the US Open National Playoffs wrapped up today with the completion of the Southern and Texas Sectional playoffs.  The results are below. I had already posted the results for those below the dashed line, but wanted to include them all in one place. Articles on those tournaments completed prior to today can be found at the US Open website, as can links to the complete draws for all events.  I'm not vouching for the accuracy of all of the articles however, as I don't think Southern Cal winner Megan McCray is a rising junior at Oklahoma and Florida winner Terrell Whitehurst's name is given as Whitehouse in the headline.

Grantland posted a humorous article by a writer who competed against Red Foo in the Northern California section's tournament.

Women’s Singles: Ashley Weinhold
Men’s Singles: Josh Hagar
Mixed Doubles: Neil Kenner and Karina Traxler
Women’s Doubles: Liga Dekmeijere and Traxler
Men’s Doubles: Joshua Sheehy and Parker Wynn
Women’s Singles: Kaitlyn McCarthy
Men’s Singles: Jesse Witten
Mixed Doubles: Richard Doverspike and Caroline Price
Women’s Doubles: Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe
Men’s Doubles: Vahid Mirzadeh and Witten

New England:
Women’s Singles: Emma Davis
Men’s Singles: Hleb Maslau
Mixed Doubles: Maslau and Simona Weymar
Women’s Doubles: Carole Finke and Ree Ree Li
Men’s Doubles: Maslau and Daniel Sotomarino

Northern California:
Women’s Singles: Paige Cline
Men’s Singles: Victor Pham
Mixed Doubles: Lester Cook and Ayaka Okuno
Women’s Doubles: Yasmin Schnack and Katsiaryna Zheltova
Men’s Doubles: Brett Bacharach and Michael Meyer

Women’s Singles: Yukako Noi
Men’s Singles: Terrell Whitehurst
Mixed Doubles: Vahid Mirzadeh and Amy Sergeant
Women’s Doubles: Lauren Proctor and Miranda Talbert
Men’s Doubles: Richard Doverspike and Korey Lovett

Women’s Singles: Alexis Nelson
Men’s Singles: Felix Corwin
Mixed Doubles: Tony Larson and Nelson
Women’s Doubles: Jessie Aney and Nelson
Men’s Doubles: Jackson Allen and Toby Boyer
Middle States:
Women’s Singles: Jennifer Elie
Men’s Singles: Matija Pecotic
Mixed Doubles: Andrei Daescu and Anda Perianu
Women’s Doubles: Rima Asatrian and Katharine Fahey
Men’s Doubles: Ashley Fischer and Nathan Healey

Women’s Singles: Sara Daavettila
Men’s Singles: Martin Joyce
Mixed Doubles: Tyler Faulkner and Simone Jardim
Women’s Doubles: Daavettila and Alyvia Jones
Men’s Doubles: Charlie Emhardt and Jeffrey B. Schorsch

Southern Cal:
Women’s Singles: Megan McCray
Men’s Singles: Henry Craig
Mixed Doubles: Danielle Lao and Jonny Wang
Women’s Doubles: Lorraine Guillermo and Lao
Men’s Doubles: Haythem Abid and Joel Kielbowicz (Kielbowicz also won men’s singles & mixed doubles in Southwest section competition)

Women’s Singles: Julia Elbaba
Men’s Singles: Nikita Kryvonos
Mixed Doubles: Rima Asatrian and Ilia Shatashvili
Women’s Doubles: Magda Okruashvili and Ketevan Okruashvili
Men’s Doubles: Daniel M. Cochrane and Phillip Simmonds

Women’s Singles: Jacqueline Cako
Men’s Singles: Joel Kielbowicz
Mixed Doubles: Cako and Kielbowicz
Women’s Doubles: Savannah Slaysman and Allie Sanford
Men’s Doubles: Ben Newell and Zachary Newell

Women’s Singles: Gail Brodsky
Men’s Singles: Chris Wettengel
Mixed Doubles: Brodsky and Brian Wilson
Women’s Doubles: Jacqueline Cako and Keri Wong
Men’s Doubles: Jordan Kerr and Travis Parrott

Missouri Valley:
Women’s Singles: Sophie Chang
Men’s Singles: Dusty Boyer
Mixed Doubles: Boyer and Julia Schiller
Women’s Doubles: Katherine Cao and Jaci Cochrane
Men’s Doubles: Julio Peralta and Matt Seeberger

Women’s Singles: Nika Kukharchuk
Men’s Singles: Mikelis Libietis
Mixed Doubles: Sydney Rider and Matt Stillwagon
Women’s Doubles: Lizzie Baker and Mackenzie Clark
Men’s Doubles: Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Interview with USTA's Martin Blackman; 23 Americans in Wimbledon Singles Draws; Study of Past Junior Slam Boys Winners; Arconada Reaches Baton Rouge $25K Semis, Rubin Advances to Tulsa Semis

Last week I had an opportunity to speak with the USTA's new General Manager for Player Development Martin Blackman, who took over the position from Patrick McEnroe on June 1.  It was my third opportunity to ask him questions, with the first during the conference call that introduced him back in April, and the second in a small face-to-face conference with two other reporters when I was in Boca Raton for the ITF Team events.  In our phone conversation last week, I had an opportunity to explore topics in more detail, particularly from the junior and college tennis perspective, and he obviously has a better feel for the direction he wants to take now that he's officially in charge.

If you have an interest in junior, college or American tennis, this Tennis Recruiting Network interview is one you should read.

The draws for Wimbledon came out today, with 16 US women and seven US men in singles.

The US men, with their opponents in parentheses:
No. 17 John Isner (Go Soeda JPN)
Denis Kudla (No. 28 Pablo Cuevas URU)
Donald Young (Marcos Baghdatis CYP)
Steve Johnson (Lukas Lacko SVK)
Tim Smyczek (No. 30 Fabio Fognini ITA)
No. 31 Jack Sock (Sam Groth AUS)
Sam Querrey (Igor Sijsling NED)

The US women:
No. 1 Serena Williams (Margarita Gasparyan RUS)
No. 16 Venus Williams (Madison Brengle)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Alison Van Uytvanck BEL)
Nicole Gibbs (Lesia Tsurenko UKR)
Shelby Rogers (No. 14 Andrea Petkovic GER)
Irina Falconi (No. 11 Karolina Pliskova CZE)
CoCo Vandeweghe (Anna Karolina Schmiedlova SVK)
Edina Gallovits-Hall (Urszula Radwanska POL)
Sloan Stephens (No. 27 Barbora Strycova CZE)
Lauren Davis (Polona Hercog SLO)
Alison Riske (No. 6 Lucie Safarova CZE)
Varvara Lepchenko (No. 20 Garbine Muguruza ESP)
Christina McHale (Johanna Larsson SWE)
Sachia Vickery (No. 8 Ekaterina Makarova RUS)
No. 21 Madison Keys (Stefanie Voegele SUI)

The complete draws are here. Although the schedule is not yet out, the top half of both draws plays Monday, the bottom half Tuesday.

I will be covering my fourth Wimbledon Junior Championships beginning Saturday, July 4th, and with the one Australian Open I have covered and the 11 US Opens, I have seen plenty of junior slam champions over the years.  Stefano Berlincioni recently researched and analyzed the boys champions over the period 1990-2010 and found that winning a junior slam guaranteed nothing, but most do go on to reach the ATP Top 100.  The US Open has been the most predictive of pro success and the Australian the least. Given the cost and distance the first doesn't surprise me, but I wouldn't have guessed that the US Open would beat out the French or Wimbledon.  Anyway, have a look at what he's found. He's said he will try to do a similar study for girls/women.

I didn't get the update from the Grand Slam Nations Challenge in Great Britain until today, but the US girls finished second by defeating France 5-1 on Thursday. Australia finished in first place, going undefeated in the three matches against Great Britain, France and the US.

The semifinals are set in the USTA Pro Circuit Baton Rouge $25,000 tournament, with an American assured of capturing the title.

Usue Arconada, who beat top seed Taylor Townsend in the first round, completed her second round earlier today after rain interrupted it Thursday, then went on to reach the semifinals with a 7-6(5), 6-0 win over recent Ole Miss graduate Julia Jones. Arconada will play former USC standout Danielle Lao, who beat former Penn star Connie Hsu of Taiwan, seeded No. 8, 6-3, 6-3.  The other semifinal features No. 4 seed Samantha Crawford against qualifier Brooke Austin. Crawford, who beat No. 7 seed Carol Zhao 7-5, 6-4 after finishing off a three-set win over Kelly Chen, and Austin, who beat LSU's Joana Vale Costa of Portugal are junior rivals, with Austin holding a 3-1 edge in the previous meetings, all at the junior level.

Noah Rubin has reached the semifinals of the $15,000 Tulsa Futures, his first tournament as a pro, beating No. 6 seed Ernesto Escobedo 6-4, 7-6(2). He will play No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren in Saturday's semifinal.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Vickery, Mattek-Sands Qualify for Wimbledon; ITA Names Collegiate All-Stars, Oracle Masters Field

Qualifying was completed on schedule today at Wimbledon with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sachia Vickery advancing to the main draw.

Mattek-Sands, who has won the first two legs of a women's doubles Grand Slam with Lucie Safarova, is a veteran of the women's main draw, although she hasn't won a main draw match at Wimbledon since 2008, when she made the fourth round.  She defeated No. 11 seed Shahar Peer of Israel 6-1, 6-4 today and will learn her opponent when the draw is made on Friday.

At 20, Vickery is 10 years younger than Mattek-Sands, and she will be making her Wimbledon main draw debut. The No. 4 seed, who won the USTA 18s title in 2013, defeated Jessica Pegula 7-5, 7-5 in today's final round of qualifying.

Louisa Chirico, the No. 3 seed in qualifying, lost to Yi-Fan Xu of China 7-5, 6-3, but she drew the No. 1 lucky loser position, so if any of the 128 entries withdraw, she will get in.  Anna Tatishvili also lost in today's final round of qualifying going out to Ying-Ying Duan of China 6-2, 6-4.

For complete draws, see the Wimbledon website.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced its Collegiate All-Star Team yesterday. These are the players who have been invited to the Oracle/ITA Outing & Awards Luncheon held at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, NY, on Friday, August 28, prior to the start of the US Open: (The Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award winners are also invited and are included below.)

Divison I Singles
Axel Alvarez, Oklahoma (ITA Player of the Year)
Ryan Shane, Virginia
Brayden Schnur, North Carolina
Sebastian Stiefelmeyer, University of Louisville (Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award recipient)
Robin Anderson, UCLA (ITA Player of the Year)
Jamie Loeb, North Carolina
Julia Elbaba, Virginia
Lorraine Guillermo, Pepperdine University (Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award recipient)

Division I Doubles
Diego Galeano and Julian Lenz, Baylor
Yannick Hanfmann and Robert Quiroz, Southern Cal
Lloyd Glasspool and Soren Hess-Olesen, Texas

Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe, Alabama
Taylor Davidson and Carol Zhao, Stanford
Kyle McPhillips and Catherine Harrison, UCLA

Division II
Jan Meyer Azusa Pacific
Mark Heimberger, Palm Beach Atlantic University (Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award recipient)
Dallas Zhang, BYU Hawaii
Lauren Howard, West Liberty University (Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award recipient)

Division III
Warren Wood, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
Tyler Carey, University of Mary Washington (Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award recipient)
Eudice Chong, Wesleyan
Rebecca Curran, Williams College (Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award recipient)

Deni Zmak, Embry-Riddle
Wesley Ng, Missouri Valley College (Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award recipient)
Valeria Rodda, Georgia Gwinnett
Clara Ruegsegger, Olivet Nazarene University (Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award recipient)

Junior and Community Colleges
Hironori Koyanagi, Ventura
Shane Trebisky, Meridian Community College (Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award recipient)
Macarena Olivares, ASA
Cassidy McWhorter, Eastern Arizona College (Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award recipient)

Today the ITA announced the field for September's inaugural ITA/Oracle Masters, a tournament in Malibu for top Division I college players. See the singles fields below.  Notable absentees from the women's 2015 final Top 10 are: Carol Zhao, Jamie Loeb, Brooke Austin and Josie Kuhlman. Mackenzie McDonald of UCLA is a Top 10 men's player not competing. The doubles teams can be found in this article from the ITA.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Five US Women Advance to Wimbledon's Final Round of Qualifying, Men Shut Out; US Girls Win Maureen Connolly Challenge; Houston Hires Steinbock; Team USA Forum Available for Download

Five of the eight US women in the second round of Wimbledon qualifying today advanced to Thursday's final round of qualifying, but for the first time in the Open era, no US man reached the final round of qualifying.

Bjorn Fratangelo, the only American of the seven entered to reach the second round, lost today to former Tennessee star JP Smith of Australia 7-6(5), 6-4.

No. 3 seed Louisa Chirico defeated Ekaterina Bychkova of Russia 7-6(1), 6-3 and will play Yi-Fan Xu of China for a place in the main draw. Xu is one of six Chinese women to reach the final round of qualifying, out of seven who made the qualifying draw.

No. 4 seed Sachia Vickery defeated Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 and will play Jessica Pegula in the final round. Pegula advanced when Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal retired at 1-6, 7-6(7), 5-4.   No. 18 seed Anna Tatishivili defeated Nao Hibino of Japan 6-3, 6-3 and will face No. 8 seed Ying-Ying Duan of China.  Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat Stephanie Foretz of France 6-4, 7-5 and will play No. 11 seed Shahar Peer of Israel in search of her eighth appearance in the Wimbledon women's main draw.

The order of play for Thursday is here.

After losing 5-1 to Australia yesterday in the Grand Slam Nations Challenges, the US junior girls took on Great Britain in the annual competition between the two countries, the Maureen Connolly Challenge. It could hardly have been much closer. The US won the top three singles, Great Britain won No. 4 singles and both doubles matches, so a tiebreaker shootout was needed to decide the winner. Claire Liu won hers at No. 1 singles, but Sonya Kenin lost hers at No. 2 singles, so the doubles would decide it. Kayla Day and Caroline Dolehide defeated Great Britain's Anna Brogan and Jodie Burrage 10-4 to clinch the win for the US.

Australia shut out France 6-0 today and is now 2-0 in the competition. They will play Great Britain on Thursday while the US takes on France in the final day of competition.

The University of Houston announced it had hired former Oklahoma State assistant Courtney Steinbock as its women's head coach, replacing Patrick Sullivan, who stepped down last month. Steinbock, who played at Kansas, served as assistant coach at Mississippi State for three years prior to her two years Oklahoma State.  The complete release is here.

Last night the USTA held a Team USA forum, the first under Martin Blackman, who took over from Patrick McEnroe as Player Development General Manager on June 1. I will have an interview with Blackman on the Tennis Recruiting Network Friday.

The focus of the Team USA forum last night was a Player Pathway study, which attempts to track routes to the Top 100, Top 50, Top 10 by age and also provides background on junior rankings, number of matches at various levels and other data points. I'm not yet clear on how the information will be used by the USTA, and with the entire study yet to be released, I don't even know what information will ultimately be available, but I think it's safe to say there's data to support multiple ways to reach the goal of being a self-supporting tennis player.

If you are interested in viewing the forum, it is available here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fritz Wins First ATP Main Draw Match; US Women Collect Eight Wins in Wimbledon Qualifying; US Girls Fall to Australia in Eastbourne Competition

Taylor Fritz, the world's No. 1 junior, won his first ATP main draw match today at the ATP 250 tournament in Nottingham.  The Southern Californian defeated 66th-ranked Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-1, 6-4 to become the third 17-year-old this year to win a main draw match on the ATP tour (Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev). Fritz is the first American 17-year-old to win an ATP main draw match since Denis Kudla beat Santiago Ventura in the first round of the Hall of Fame tournament in 2010.

He didn't get much time to enjoy that milestone however. Due to rain on Monday, Fritz had to play his second round match today as well, and he was not able to threaten No. 3 seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain, ranked 16th on the ATP Tour, losing 6-3, 6-3 in under an hour. Lopez got 80 percent of his first serves in, while Fritz's first serve percentage was 51, and the Spaniard never faced a break point.

Fritz returns to the juniors later this week at the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, which starts on Sunday, and then the Wimbledon Junior Championships, which starts on Saturday, July 4th. I will be providing live coverage of the Wimbledon Juniors again this year.

The juniors take over the Roehampton courts after the Wimbledon qualifying is complete, and unlike yesterday, no rain delayed the proceedings there Tuesday. A total of nine Americans picked up wins, eight of them women.

No. 3 seed Louisa Chirico, No. 4 seed Sachia Vickery, Melanie Oudin, Anna Tatishvili and Bethanie Mattek-Sands all picked up straight set victories, while Grace Min(24) and Maria Sanchez posted comebacks over British wild cards after dropping their opening sets. Jessica Pegula was leading 6-1, 4-3 when Julia Glushko of Israel retired.

Katerina Stewart lost 7-6(5), 7-5 to Eri Hozumi of Japan, and Allie Kiick was beaten by Ekaterina Bychkova of Russia 6-1, 6-4.  Tatishvili's win came over fellow American Alexa Glatch, by a 6-4, 6-4 score.

Another notable women's qualifying result was 16-year-old wild card Katie Swan's 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 9 seed and WTA 118 Kristina Kucova of Slovakia. The British teen, who trains in the United States and plays USTA and ITF events here, will play Tamira Paszek of Austria in the second round. For more on Swan's win, see this BBC article.

The only US man remaining in Wimbledon qualifying after the completion of the first round is No. 18 seed Bjorn Fratangelo, who defeated Amir Weintraub of Israel 6-4, 7-5, his first career victory on grass.  Ryan Harrison(24) lost his third set of a match carried over from Monday and No. 13 seed Austin Krajicek was beaten by Yannick Mertens of Belgium 6-4, 2-6, 7-5. Chase Buchanan, Jared Donaldson, Jarmere Jenkins and Dennis Novikov lost on Monday.

The order of play for Wednesday's second round is here.

The draws are here.

Another competition taking place on the British grass is a girls team event, which I believe is a new concept called the Grand Slam Nations Challenge. Great Britain, Australia, France and the United States are playing a round robin competition of four singles and two doubles matches at the site of the WTA Eastbourne tournament.  In the first day's results, Great Britain beat France 6-0, and Australia defeated the United States 5-1.  Complete results are below.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rain Disrupts Wimbledon Men's Qualifying; 11 US Women in Tuesday's First Round of Women's Qualifying; Wisconsin Hires Westerman; ITF Junior Update

Showers that lingered into the afternoon kept 14 men's first round qualifying matches from completion on the opening day of qualifying at Wimbledon. Three US men--Ryan Harrison, Austin Krajicek and Bjorn Fratangelo--did not complete their matches, with Krajicek and Fratangelo's matches cancelled before starting and Harrison's match suspended after he took the second set from Argentina's Guido Andreozzi.

The four Americans who did finished their matches all lost, with Jarmere Jenkins falling to Evgeny Donskoy of Russia 7-6(2), 6-2, Dennis Novikov losing to Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 and Jared Donaldson going out to Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-3, 6-2.  Chase Buchanan seemed on his way to a victory over Tristan Lamasine of France, leading 6-1, 2-1, when an apparent ankle injury forced him to retire.

The women's qualifying draw was released today, with 11 US women competing in the 96-player draw. The seeded Americans are Louisa Chirico(3), Sachia Vickery(4), Anna Tatishvili(18) and Grace Min(24). The other seven are Allie Kiick, Jessica Pegula, Maria Sanchez, Alexa Glatch (who plays Tatishvili), Melanie Oudin, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Katerina Stewart.  Oudin returned to competition last week after an eye operation and heart problems kept her out all this year. Stewart, who is much more comfortable on clay, pulled out of the Wimbledon Junior championships last month, but decided to make the trip for qualifying despite her unfamiliarity with the surface.

Tuesday's complete order of play is here.

Rain also delayed Taylor Fritz's ATP main draw debut at Nottingham against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain. He is now scheduled to play at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday.

The University of Wisconsin announced the hiring of Danny Westerman as the men's head tennis coach, succeeding Greg Van Emburgh, who resigned three weeks ago.  Westerman, who coached at the University of Denver for nine years, returns to Madison after having played there from 1998-2002 and served as an assistant coach there prior to taking the Denver head coaching job.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Berlin last week, top boys seed Marcelo Barrios Vera of Chile and No. 2 seed Katharina Hobgarski of Germany took the singles titles. Barrios Vera defeated unseeded Patrik Rikl of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 in the final; Hobgarski downed No. 4 seed Ioana Pietroiu of Romania 6-2, 6-2 in the girls championship match.

The best result from an American came from No. 14 seed Hady Habib, who lost to Barrios Vera in the third round 6-4, 7-6(4).

Habib is also seeded in this week's Grade 2 in Germany, getting the No. 4 seed. Barrios Vera is No. 1 seed again.  Habib is the only US boy in the draw, but there are four US girls there. Meghan Kelley, Gabby Pollner and Olivia Hauger have all won their first round matches; Raquel Pedraza has not yet played hers. Ekaterina Kazionova of Russia is the girls top seed.

The Grade 5 in Bermuda this week has attracted a large contingent of US juniors. Naomi Waters and Julia Goldberg are the top two girls seeds and Sebastian Mermersky is the No. 2 boys seed.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Wimbledon Qualifying Begins Monday with Seven US Men in Draw; Thompson Wins Mexico Futures; More Juniors Take ITF Pro Circuit Titles

Wimbledon qualifying begins Monday at Roehampton with the men's first round matches. Seven US players are attempting to reach the main draw, all of them 25 years old or younger.  Three are seeded, with Austin Krajicek No. 13, Bjorn Fratangelo No. 18 and Ryan Harrison No. 24.  Jarmere Jenkins plays Evgeny Donskoy of Russia, Fratangelo plays Amir Weintraub of Israel and Dennis Novikov plays No. 23 seed Paul- Henri Mathieu of France. Harrison's first round opponent is Guido Andreozzi of Argentina and Krajicek plays Yannick Mertens of Belgium, while Chase Buchanan meets Tristan Lamasine of France and Jared Donaldson faces No. 14 seed Ivan Dodig of Croatia.  It should be mentioned that Jason Jung is in the draw, but in the past month he has been playing under the flag of Taiwan rather than that of the US.

For the complete order of play, see the Wimbledon website. Draws with the players' names and countries are available here.

The final wild cards were announced today, with Denis Kudla getting the last men's main draw wild card as expected.  Three men's qualifying wild cards were not awarded, although Stefan Kozlov, last year's boys finalist, said on twitter that he requested one. Instead, the next three players on the list got in.  After giving a women's wild card to Laura Robson, who is returning after being out with an injury for more than a year, the club did not award the final three women's wild cards, putting three players--Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia, Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic and Misaki Doi of Japan--into the main draw and out of qualifying.

The full list of wild cards is available here.

In Mexico, 2014 UCLA grad Clay Thompson won his first pro title at the $10,000 tournament in Manzanillo. Thompson won three rounds in qualifying and five main draw matches all in straight sets, beating 19-year-old Lucas Gomez of Mexico, the No. 8 seed, 6-2, 6-3 in the final.

In the USTA Pro Circuit finals today, No. 6 seed Kaichi Uchida of Japan won the $10,000 Buffalo Futures singles title, beating No. 8 seed Maximiliano Estevez of Argentina 6-4, 6-1 in the final.

The $25,000 women's Pro Circuit tournament in Sumter, SC had a bruising final, with No. 3 seed Mayo Hibi of Japan defeating No. 5 seed Lauren Embree 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.  Embree led 4-1 and was serving in the final set of the three-hour match, but Hibi managed to fight back in the 97 degree heat for the victory.

Two juniors won ITF Pro Circuit title yesterday--Marketa Vondrousova and Sumit Nagal--and five more juniors claimed titles today.

Anastasiya Komardina of Russia won the $25,000 tournament in Uzbekistan, with the unseeded 17-year-old defeating No. 3 seed Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 in the final.

Eighteen-year-old Darya Kasatkina of Russia, last year's French Open girls champion, won her second consecutive $25,000 tournament in Minsk, Belarus. The No. 2 seed defeated 17-year-old qualifier Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus 6-1, 6-1 in the final.

In $10,000 tournaments, US Open girls champion Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, 16, won both the singles and doubles in Mauritius.

Seventeen-year-old Australian Sara Tomic, younger sister of Bernard Tomic, won her first pro circuit title in Egypt after reaching the final last week and the semifinals the week before.

The youngest winner this week was 15-year-old Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine, who won the $10,000 tournament in Georgia.

And although not a junior, there was a notable winner in the Victoria British Columbia $10,000 ITF women's circuit event, with Gail Brodsky, as a qualifier, taking the title. Brodsky, now 24 and a mother, started her comeback in the Intermountain section's US Open National Playoffs, winning that. Brodsky defeated top seed Naomi Totka of Hungary 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(3) in the final.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Spence Wins Grade 4 in Guatemala; Kudla Claims Ilkley Challenger Title; Embree and Hibi Reach Sumter Final

Zoe Spence won her first ITF title today at the Grade 4 in Guatemala, with the unseeded 17-year-old Notre Dame recruit beating top seed Camila Romero of Ecuador 6-1, 6-2 in the final.  Spence had ended Melissa Plambeck's 12-match winning streak in the quarterfinals, with Plambeck having taken the last two Central American Grade 4 titles. Spence then defeated No. 2 seed Saya Usui in the semifinals to reach her first ITF final.

International juniors were successful on the ITF Pro Circuit this week, with 15-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, the World No. 1, claiming the singles and doubles titles at a $15,000 tournament in her home country.  The unseeded wild card defeated No. 6 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia 6-1, 6-4 in the final.

Vondrousova and Miriam Kolodziejova won the doubles title, their second straight on the ITF Women's circuit.  Vondrousova and Kolodziejova have won both the junior slams so far in 2015, and also won the Grade A in Milan, so they are 23-0 at Grade A or ITF pro circuit events. Their only loss as a team this year was a second round walkover they gave at the Grade 1 in Australia back in January. So add them to the list of the women still alive for a grand slam, along with Serena Williams and Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova.

Seventeen-year-old Sumit Nagal, who won the Grade 1 in Germany last week, won his first Futures title this week in his home country of India. The unseeded wild card defeated No. 8 seed Gustavo Vellbach of Argentina 6-2, 6-0 in the final of the $10,000 tournament.

Evan King (Michigan) has 11 Futures doubles titles to his credit, but today won his first singles title, defeating Tyler Hochwalt(Florida) 6-4, 7-5 in the battle of unseeded Americans at the $10,000 tournament in Zimbabwe.

Denis Kudla won the $50,000 Ilkley Challenger in England, avenging his loss last week in the final of the Surbiton Challenger to Matthew Ebden of Australia. Kudla defeated Ebden 6-3, 6-4 and although it has yet to be made official by Wimbledon, Kudla is said to have received the final Wimbledon main draw wild card.

Here in the US, No. 5 seed Lauren Embree (Florida) will face No. 3 seed Mayo Hibi of Japan for the singles title at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Sumter, South Carolina. Embree defeated No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady (UCLA) 6-0, 3-6, 6-0, while Hibi downed Stanford rising junior Carol Zhao of Canada 6-4, 7-6(7).   The unseeded doubles team of Alexandra Mueller and Ashley Weinhold won the title, beating No. 3 seeds Jacqueline Cako (Arizona State) and Danielle Lao (USC) 5-7, 7-5, 10-6.

At the $10,000 Buffalo Futures, wild card Winston Lin(Columbia) fell to No. 8 seed Maximilano Estevez of Argentina 7-5, 6-0, so the final will not feature an American.  No. 6 seed Kaichi Uchida of Japan defeated No. 7 seed Hans Hach (Abilene Christian) of Mexico 7-6(4), 6-1 in the other semifinal.

Nathan Pasha (Georgia) and Sekou Bangoura, seeded third, won the doubles title by virtue of a walkover from top seeds Estevez and Daniel Garza of Mexico. The latter has a reputation for frequent retirements, with another one coming Friday in the singles quarterfinals against Hach.

And if you'd like a review of the first six months of tennis from the American perspective, check out this post from Jonathan Kelley at his On the Rise blog.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Hodge Hired as Associate Head Coach at Georgia; Fritz Receives Main Draw Wild Card into ATP Nottingham; Examinations of British Tennis Begin

Just a week after Will Glenn left his position as men's associate head coach at the University of Georgia, Bo Hodge has been named to replace him.  Hodge, an All-American at Georgia from 2001-2004, is leaving the same position at the University of Oklahoma, where he has coached since November of 2011.  Prior to that, Hodge was an assistant at the University of Alabama.

"It was a family decision to accept the associate head coach job at Georgia. I am from Athens and UGA is my alma mater. My wife and I are expecting a baby girl in November and we wanted to be closer to our families,” Hodge said in this release announcing his departure from Oklahoma.

In the release from Georgia announcing his hiring, Hodge again emphasized his interest in returning home.

"Being from Athens and playing at Georgia, it has always been a dream to come back and coach my alma mater. I also want to thank John Roddick and the University of Oklahoma athletic department. I spent the last four years at Oklahoma and learned so much from John. I'm so excited to wear the red and black again, and my wife and I are thrilled to return to the Classic City."

Taylor Fritz has received his first main draw wild card into an ATP event at next week's tournament in Nottingham. Fritz received qualifying wild card into the BNP Paribas Open in March and beat ATP No. 109 Dudi Sela of Israel 6-3, 6-0 in the first round before falling to ATP No. 125 Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-4 in the second round. 

In Nottingham, Fritz will face ATP No. 66 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain in the opening round. The draw can be found here.  Connor Smith and Daniel Nguyen are in the qualifying draw, which unfortunately hasn't been posted on the ATP website yet, but is available via live scoring.

A few more Wimbledon wild cards have been given out and I've updated the post from yesterday.  Josh Meiseles of the ATP has tweeted that Denis Kudla, who is in the final of the $50,000 Ilkley Challenger tomorrow against Matt Ebden of Australia, will get the final men's main draw wild card if he wins. Ebden won last week's Challenger and already has a Wimbledon main draw wild card. Qualifying for Wimbledon begins Monday.

With Wimbledon just days away, the state of British tennis is again foremost in the minds of the media.  The BBC reported late last week that Mark Petchey, Andy Murray's former coach, believes the LTA National Centre, which opened in 2007, is a white elephant, with the money better spent on multiple small training centers rather than one big one. With the USTA's Lake Nona project underway, I'm sure they are paying close attention to what are perceived as the shortcomings of the LTA's National Centre in Roehampton.

Twenty-six-year-old David Rice is Great Britain's 12th ranked men's player at No. 421. (Jared Donaldson, the 12th ranked US player, is 158).  According to his current coach, he shouldn't be training at a multi-million pound facility with that ranking, which topped out at 283 in February of 2014.  In this article, the coach, Hamid Hejazi, explains his position, and Rice discusses why he thinks his previous high performance coaches were not getting the best out of him.

Twenty-year-old Katy Dunne, who received a Wimbledon qualifying wild card, feels she needs to leave the country to get the competition she needs, according to this article, although Dunne herself is not quoted. The article says Dunne needs sponsors in order to do this, although I can't imagine that the British No. 6 (at WTA 331) would not be providing her with funds for coaching and travel. (WTA No. 38 Varvara Lepchenko is the US No. 6).

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Quarterfinals Set at Sumter $25K, Buffalo Futures; Reactions to Paul Turning Pro; Ostapenko Receives Main Draw Wimbledon Wild Card

The USTA Pro Circuit tournaments have reached the quarterfinals, and as was the case last week, college players are again having an impact.

At the $25,000 women's tournament in Sumter, South Carolina, NCAA finalist Carol Zhao, the rising Stanford junior, is into the quarterfinals after defeating 16-year-old wild card Alexa Graham 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. Graham had taken out top seed Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round.  NCAA champion Jamie Loeb, who received main draw entry as a lucky loser, was beaten by No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady 7-5, 6-3. Brady told me at the NCAAs that she would would not be returning to UCLA after her sophomore year.

Other quarterfinalists with college ties are Danielle Lao (USC), who beat ITA Rookie of the Year Brooke Austin 7-6(2), 6-3, No. 8 seed Sanaz Marand (UNC), who topped longtime friend Ashley Weinhold 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, and  No. 5 seed Lauren Embree (Florida), who defeated 15-year-old qualifier Michaela Gordon 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

At the men's $10,000 Futures in Buffalo, recent Georgia graduate Nathan Pasha is among the quarterfinalists, advancing when top seed Jose Statham of New Zealand retired trailing 6-2, 2-2.  Pasha will play recent NCAA quarterfinalist and Columbia grad Winston Lin, a wild card, on Friday.  No. 4 seed Wil Spencer (Georgia) and Hans Hach of Mexico (Abilene Christian) are the other quarterfinalists with college backgrounds.

You can track the Pro Circuit results of all the former and current college men at College Tennis Today.

Pasha warmed up for the Futures tournament by winning the men's singles title at the Tennessee Valley Open Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Pasha defeated University of Florida junior Maxx Lipman 6-4, 6-2 in the final and collected $3,000, more than twice what he would win if he took the Buffalo Futures singles title on Sunday.  Maya Jansen beat Alabama teammate and doubles partner Erin Routliffe 6-4, 7-6 in the women's open final. Complete results can be found in this article.

This types of tournaments are crucial to players starting out on the USTA or ITF Pro Circuit.  Big Time Tennis, a well-known stringer, was working the recent $15,000 Wake Forest Futures, and he posted this look at the expenses, estimating that the winner most likely barely broke even for the week, leaving the other 100 or so participants in the red.

This financial scenario is one that must be addressed when a player is considering whether to go to college or to go immediately onto the pro circuit.  Tommy Paul, who recently signed with Nike, has the support of his federation and a clothing contract, but no one but he and his family and advisers know all the financial considerations that had to be weighed when making his choice.

Two bloggers have addressed his decision, here and here, but without any reference to the economics, which of course they can have no knowledge of, the arguments are bound to be incomplete.  I do disagree with the second post that college would somehow "stunt" Paul's growth in tennis. It's another level, above juniors, to test your game. If you pass all the tests, you leave, with increased confidence and an entire collegiate community behind you.  I am not criticizing Paul's decision, at all. But the level of tennis played at the top of Division I college tennis isn't going to keep anyone from improving.

Wimbledon announced its first batch of wild cards on Wednesday.  As he had said in his interview with me, boys champion Noah Rubin did not request a qualifying wild card.  Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, the girls champion, received a main draw wild card, probably because her WTA ranking was already high enough to compete in the qualifying tournament.  Great Britain juniors Katie Swan and Gabriella Taylor received qualifying wild cards.  The current list (GBR unless otherwise listed):

Liam Broady
Kyle Edmund
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
James Ward
Brydan Klein
Matthew Ebden (AUS)

Naomi Broady
Johanna Konta
Anett Kontaveit (Estonia)
Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia)

Men's Qualifying:
Edward Corrie
Daniel Cox
Joshua Milton
Dan Evans (WC playoff winner)
Richard Gabb (WC playoff winner)

Women's Qualifying:
Amanda Carreras
Harriet Dart
Katy Dunne
Katie Swan
Gabriella Taylor
Tara Moore (WC playoff winner)
Naomi Cavaday (WC playoff winner)

Doubles and wheelchair wild cards can be found in the release.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My Interview with Noah Rubin; Tommy Paul Turns Pro; USTA Names Pan American Team; New Balance High School Tournament Registration Closes Thursday; New Bollettieri Scholarship Available

At last month's NCAAs, I sat down to talk to with Noah Rubin, who was on his way to reaching the singles final. At that time, he was still undecided about returning for his sophomore year at Wake Forest, but earlier this month he decided not to go back.  I spoke to him briefly after he made that decision, and those questions are included at the end of this interview for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

For more on Wake Forest's reaction to Rubin's decision, see this article from the Winston-Salem Journal.

Wimbledon boys champion Rubin won a junior slam and decided to go to school, but Tommy Paul, who won the French Open boys title and two Futures since the beginning of May, has decided not to attend the University of Georgia.  Paul, 18, signed with Nike this week, although he is not currently represented by a sports management agency. He is back in Europe now, where he is entered in both the Roehampton Grade 1 and Wimbledon Junior championships after being home for a week.

The USTA announced the team that will represent the United States at the Pan Am Games next month in Toronto.  Louisa Chirico, Lauren Davis and Sachia Vickery are the women's team, coached by Kathy Rinaldi.  Jean-Yves Aubone, Dennis Novikov and recent Vanderbilt graduate Gonzales Austin are the men's team, coached by Brad Stine.
For more on the team, see this article at USTA.com.

The New Balance High School tournament, now in its second year, will be held next month in Boston.  Registration closes Thursday, June 18 at 11:59 am (click the above link or the banner at the top left of this page). For more about the tournament, read this recent post at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

I just received an announcement on a new scholarship available at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.  Developed in honor of Nick Bollettieri, this scholarship will be given to a rising senior interested in spending the upcoming school year at the Academy.  The deadline to apply is July 10, 2015.  See this article for more information.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

USTA Collegiate Team Announced; Perkins Jasper Takes Position at ITA; US Open National Playoffs Update

The USTA announced the 2015 Collegiate Team, which this year consists of seven American players who have not yet completed their collegiate eligibility.

They are: Mackenzie McDonald, UCLA, Noah Rubin, Wake Forest*,
Ryan Shane, Virginia, Brooke Austin, Florida, Jennifer Brady, UCLA,*
Julia Elbaba, Virginia, Jamie Loeb, North Carolina
*Player has indicated he/she will turn pro.

When current Virginia assistant Dustin Taylor was the USTA's National Collegiate coach, the team had a set number of spots and the possibility of earning a place on the team through a summer training camp, as detailed in this Tennis Recruiting Network article I wrote back in June of 2013. It also included an opportunity to earn a place on the team with the best results in a number of designated Futures events.

With Stephen Amritraj taking over for Taylor, changes were made, including in some of the automatic criteria. In addition NCAA singles champion, ITA Rookie of the Year, ITA All-American singles champion, USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships singles champion, the highest-ranked American in the final ITA rankings was added as an automatic qualifier, and the ATP and WTA rankings were changed to Top 400 for women and Top 600 for men. (Tommy Paul with his ATP ranking of 451, would be eligible to join the team if he does enroll at Georgia this fall). I spoke with Amritraj about his plans for the program for the Tennis Recruiting Network last fall.

The college coaches traveling to USTA Pro Circuit events for the men are: Bo Hodge (Oklahoma), Derek Schwandt (Georgia Tech), and Christian Groh. For the women, the coaches are: Sara Anundsen (Davidson), Laura Granville (Princeton), Lee Taylor Walker (TCU) and Riza Zalameda (Columbia).

The ITA announced last week that Angel Prinos, the longtime Associate Director and Chief Operating Officer of the organization, would be leaving for a position at the University of Pennsylvania, and today Erica Perkins Jasper was named to succeed Prinos. Perkins Jasper was head women's coach at the University of New Mexico for the past three years; prior to that she was Senior Manager of Junior and Collegiate Competition at USTA Player Development in Boca Raton.  I interviewed Perkins Jasper about her background and USTA responsibilities back in 2010 in this Tennis Recruiting Network article. 

Assistant Kelcey McKenna will take over for Perkins Jasper at New Mexico.

Three more sections completed their US Open National Playoff competitions recently with the results below. It's great to see so many future and current college players begin to take advantage of this opportunity. Links to all the draws can be found here.

Women’s Singles: Sara Daavettila
Men’s Singles: Martin Joyce
Mixed Doubles: Tyler Faulkner and Simone Jardim
Women’s Doubles: Daavettila and Alyvia Jones
Men’s Doubles: Charlie Emhardt and Jeffrey B. Schorsch

Southern Cal:
Women’s Singles: Megan McCray
Men’s Singles: Henry Craig
Mixed Doubles: Danielle Lao and Jonny Wang
Women’s Doubles: Lorraine Guillermo and Lao
Men’s Doubles: Haythem Abid and Joel Kielbowicz (Kielbowicz also won men’s singles & mixed doubles in Southwest section competition)

Women’s Singles: Julia Elbaba
Men’s Singles: Nikita Kryvonos
Mixed Doubles: Rima Asatrian and Ilia Shatashvili
Women’s Doubles: Magda Okruashvili and Ketevan Okruashvili
Men’s Doubles: Daniel M. Cochrane and Phillip Simmonds

Previous results:
Women’s Singles: Jacqueline Cako
Men’s Singles: Joel Kielbowicz
Mixed Doubles: Cako and Kielbowicz
Women’s Doubles: Savannah Slaysman and Allie Sanford
Men’s Doubles: Ben Newell and Zachary Newell

Women’s Singles: Gail Brodsky
Men’s Singles: Chris Wettengel
Mixed Doubles: Brodsky and Brian Wilson
Women’s Doubles: Jacqueline Cako and Keri Wong
Men’s Doubles: Jordan Kerr and Travis Parrott

Missouri Valley:
Women’s Singles: Sophie Chang
Men’s Singles: Dusty Boyer
Mixed Doubles: Boyer and Julia Schiller
Women’s Doubles: Katherine Cao and Jaci Cochrane
Men’s Doubles: Julio Peralta and Matt Seeberger

Women’s Singles: Nika Kukharchuk
Men’s Singles: Mikelis Libietis
Mixed Doubles: Sydney Rider and Matt Stillwagon
Women’s Doubles: Lizzie Baker and Mackenzie Clark
Men’s Doubles: Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese

Monday, June 15, 2015

Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish Optimistic about US Men's Tennis: Eubanks, Tiafoe Receive BB&T Atlanta Open Wild Cards

Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick will play doubles together at next month's BB&T Atlanta Open, as announced during a conference call held this morning by the ATP tournament and the USTA.

Fish has dealt with an anxiety disorder for several years, and progress in his return to regular competition has been slow, but he did play in Indian Wells this year and has committed to Atlanta in singles, although he doesn't have plans beyond that.  With Roddick coming to Atlanta for an exhibition, it was natural that the two long-time friends, dating back to their junior days in Florida, would team up for doubles. They had talked about doing that for the US Open last year, but with Roddick retired he did not realize he'd need to meet the drug testing requirements well in advance, so he and Fish could not play in New York.

In the course of the conference call, Fish and Roddick were asked for their thoughts on the state of men's tennis today in the United States.

ANDY RODDICK: I've actually never heard that question before (laughter).
MARDY FISH: I can start a little bit because I'm out at Carson at our West Coast base for the USTA. I'm out here quite a bit. I've hit a lot with a lot of those guys.

We got a lot of young players coming up. By 'young' I mean obviously Jack Sock, who is 22 years old, but some of these guys are 17. No. 1 junior in the world right now, Taylor Fritz, has a big future. There's quite a lot of young guys that really can play.

I think age-wise underneath those young Aussies that are coming up in Kyrgios, some of those kids, Tomic, who are 22 and 21 years old, 20, we have some 16, 17, 18-year-olds who can play, apart from Jack.

These guys, what you don't understand, too, Donald Young, Sam Querrey to a certain extent, Sam is only 27 years old. It sounds old, and he's been out here for a long time, but it's still really young. He's got a lot of time if he can figure out and rekindle a lot of the stuff that he did early in his career.

There's a lot of guys age-wise just underneath those Aussies that everyone is talking about that are really good players that you'll hear a lot from in the next couple years.

ANDY RODDICK: I think probably for the first time in a while, we can say we're cumulatively as a tennis community in the States, there seems to be some really legitimate, authentic excitement. Not just around one or two guys, but around a handful, five or six. That's the recipe.

When Mardy and I were coming up, we trained with six or seven guys. Normally two come out of that and are top-10 players. That's what you need.

I love the way that Jack has taken ownership over his ability. It seems like there's a sense of belief. Getting that first-round draw at the French Open against Grigor Dimitrov, going out and beating him in straight sets I thought was a huge mental step that now should pay itself forward. Now it's just a matter of playing like he did at Roland Garros and doing that every week. That's how you become one of the best players in the world. He certainly has the tools.

I just learned at the beginning of this phone call the Monday night exhibition I'm playing against Frances Tiafoe, which literally scares the s**t out of me. Trust me, I went worse than, Oh, God! I'm excited to see it. The easiest way to kind of know what you're dealing with is to see it firsthand. I'm excited about it. These guys are good. I'm pumped about it. I think there is some sense of optimism. Let's not compare them to the long shadow of American tennis; let's let them make their own way.

Roddick and Fish were asked if they would be interested in coaching college tennis or helping some of the younger Americans.

ANDY RODDICK: You know what, I don't know if I'd be interested in college tennis. My brother has done such a good job, but it's such a foreign place for me. I never played college tennis. I don't know that I can relate to it.

I know where he goes, the parts of the world he goes to to recruit. It's a hustle. Frankly, it's more of a commitment than I'm willing to put forward maybe ever again.

I have worked with some of the young USTA guys. They've sent guys in for three or four days. I've always been available for those guys. I'm just glad that I'm getting taken up on it.

I think you don't go through a career in U.S. tennis and not want to pay it forward and see the success of the next generation. I'm happy to be involved in that in some way if I can going forward.

MARDY FISH: Yeah, it's funny, I owe a lot to the USTA sort of for my second career, if you will, after 2009. They allowed sort of an old, broken-down player that wasn't working as hard as maybe he could have, didn't reach the potential maybe he could have, and they still let me take a coach with me in David Nainkin and share him with Sam Querrey. I always remember that. Obviously it paid off for me and hopefully for them. But I always feel indebted to them because of that.

I always enjoy helping, asking questions about how guys are doing when I'm on the court practicing with them. It's a lot of fun to sort of give some of the knowledge that you've learned over the years.

The Atlanta tournament's field was announced today and in addition to Fish, John Isner, Jack Sock, Donald Young and Tim Smyczek are Americans scheduled to compete.

The two wild cards announced today are Frances Tiafoe, who received a qualifying wild card in Atlanta last year, and Georgia Tech rising sophomore Christopher Eubanks.  You can read more about Georgia Tech's connection to the tournament here.

The complete transcript of the conference call can be found here.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Price Outlasts Herring for Charlotte $10K Title; Olmos Wins Second Straight Singles Crown in Mexico; Sandgren, Baughman Also Claim Titles; Katie Swan Feature

Caroline Price (photo via twitter)
Recent North Carolina graduate Caroline Price won her first pro title Sunday, outlasting recent Georgia graduate Lauren Herring 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the final of the $10,000 women's Pro Circuit event in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The 22-year-old Price, a wild card, got a break at 3-4 in the third set of the three-hour match and held on for the win over Herring, who was playing in her eighth match in nine days, not including doubles.

It was a great week for both women, who were playing their first tournament since competing at last month's NCAAs.

Giuliana Olmos (photo via Facebook)
Price lost in the second round of the NCAA singles tournament last month, as did another of this week's champions, Southern Cal rising senior Giuliana Olmos. Olmos captured her second straight title this week in Mexico at a $10,000 tournament in Manzanillo after winning her first pro title the previous week. Receiving main draw entry via a special exemption, she beat the No. 1 seed in the semifinals, WTA No. 335 Fernanda Brito of Chile, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(4) and defeated No. 2 seed and WTA No. 363 Gaia Sanesi of Italy 6-1, 6-2 in today's final. Olmos also reached the doubles final, with Constanza Gorches of Mexico, falling to top seeds Camila Fuentes of Mexico and Francesca Segarelli (Florida State) of the Dominican Republic 2-6, 6-4, 10-5.

At the $15,000 ITF Futures in Charlottesville, Virginia, No. 3 seed Tennys Sandgren took the title, beating Ernesto Escobedo, seeded eighth, 6-4, 6-4.  Sandgren had reached three Futures finals in the past month, with this his second Futures title in 2015.

At the $15,000 Futures tournament in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 19-year-old Deiton Baughman won his second career Futures title. The No. 6 seed beat top seed Nils Langer of Germany  0-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the semifinals and in the final outlasted No. 8 seed Duje Kekez of Croatia 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

This week's ITF Grade 1 in Germany is complete, with players from India claiming both singles titles.  No. 5 seed Sumit Nagal defeated No. 3 seed Mate Valkusz of Hungary 7-6(5), 6-4 for the boys championship, while unseeded Karman Kaur Thandi beat No. 15 seed Jessica Hinojosa Gomez of Mexico 6-1, 6-4 to take the girls title.

Valkusz won the boys doubles title with Tim Sandkaulen of Germany with the No. 2 seeds beating top seeds Marcelo Barrios Vera of Chile and Jake Delaney of Australia 6-4, 6-3.  No. 8 seeds Olivia Hauger and her partner Jade Lewis of New Zealand fell in the girls doubles final to unseeded Jule Niemeier and Linda Puppendahl of Germany 1-6, 6-1, 10-3.

In Challengers overseas, No. 7 seed Bjorn Fratangelo fell to unseeded 19-year-old Elias Ymer of Sweden 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the €106,500 tournament in Italy, and No. 4 seed Denis Kudla lost to unseeded Matthew Ebden of Australia 6-7(4), 64, 7-6(5) in the final of the €42,500 tournament in England.

Seventeen-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia has reached her first WTA final after beating both Sachia Vickery and Alison Riske today in rain-delayed quarterfinal and semifinal matches in England. The 2013 Australian and US Open girls champion will face Monica Niculescu of Romania in the Nottingham final on Monday.

Sixteen-year-old Katie Swan of Great Britain, who lives in the US, will make her WTA debut Monday at the Premier tournament in Birmingham. The wild card, who reached the Australian Open girls final this year, will face Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria.  Swan is the subject of this Daily Mail feature, which casts her in the role of Britain's top prospect among the juniors.