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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Teams Set for Next Week's Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup Competition in Madrid; Woody Leaves Midland for Wichita

The team nominations for the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup competitions, which begin next Tuesday in Madrid, were published earlier this month, with the United States the defending champions in both events.

Michael Mmoh, William Blumberg and Gianni Ross won the Junior Davis Cup title in Mexico last year, defeating Korea 3-0, while the US team of CiCi Bellis, Tornado Alicia Black and Sonya Kenin took the Junior Fed Cup title.  The ITF has sponsored this global team competition for players 16-and-under since 1985.

Ross will be the veteran on this year's team, which is coached by Sylvain Guichard, and Ross is joined by Sam Riffice and Vasil Kirkov.  All three competed in the North and Central American Qualifying this spring in Boca Raton, beating Canada 3-0, but that team was without Felix Auger Aliassime, who was out with an injury.  Auger Aliassime, who at No. 23 is by far the ITF's highest-ranked player in the competition, and Denis Shapovalov, who did play in Boca Raton, losing to Riffice, won the US Open boys doubles title, so they are considered the country to beat, although the seeds have not yet been announced.

Although their ITF rankings are not as impressive as the Canadians', Germany has two outstanding 15-year-olds in Rudolf Molleker and Nicola Kuhn, who led their country to last year's ITF World Junior Tennis 14-and-under, beating the Canadian team, led by Auger Aliassime, 2-1 in the final.

The USA's Junior Fed Cup team will consist of Claire Liu(32), Michaela Gordon(24) and Kayla Day(51).  CiCi Bellis, who played the qualifying in Boca Raton, is not on the team, with Liu not participating in qualifying due to an injury.  Another player who could have a major impact on the competition is Bianca Andreescu of Canada, who did not play in Boca Raton due to injury, but is up to 23 in the ITF junior rankings, behind No. 7 Charlotte Robillard-Millette, but now ahead of Katherine Sebov, ranked 26.

Russia will also be a top contender, with Olesya Pervushina(21), Evgeniya Levashova(27) and Elena Rybakina(37) hoping to add the Junior Fed Cup to the World Junior Tennis championship they won in August.

The Czech Republic, with Marketa Vondrousova and Monika Kilnarova, and Australia, with Destanee Aiava, Jamiee Fourlis and Seone Mendez, are also contenders for the girls title.

The girls nominations are here; the boys nominations are here.

Although Mike Woody may not be a name familiar to all of you, he is well known throughout Michigan and the Midwest as the Director of Tennis at the Midland Community Tennis Center, while also serving as the tournament director of the $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland every February.  After 20 years, Woody is leaving Midland to become the Genesis Health Club's director of tennis in Wichita, Kansas, a move that instantly deprived the state's tennis community of one of its most energetic and influential members.  Back in 2011, I wrote this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network (subscription required for full access) about the community outreach Woody did during the tournament, and when I covered the event again this year, the connection was as strong as ever.

I hope the passion Woody has for the game can ignite a similar enthusiasm in Wichita, and that Midland will continue to benefit from his work there. But he will be missed, I'm sure of that.  Here is an article about Woody's arrival from the Wichita Eagle.