Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Back on the Job; Kiger, Subhash Win ITF Grade 4 Titles in Atlanta; Orange Bowl, Eddie Herr Acceptances

I'm back from vacation. Beaches were walked, books read, sunsets watched and margaritas drunk. As with any week in tennis, much happened while I was gone, but I'll start getting back up to speed by concentrating this post on ITF junior competitions in the US.

Another thank you is in order for Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today and Jonathan Kelley of On The Rise Tennis, who provided guest posts while I was away.  Knight's suggestions for enhancing college tennis can be found here, and please make sure to read the comments as well.  The recent announcements of the elimination of the Hartford and Maryland-Baltimore County men's and women's programs makes his piece particularly relevant right now.  Kelley's three-part series on the often overlooked 16s division at Kalamazoo provides insight into the changes that have taken place in college recruiting in the past decade. His interviews with college coaches, players and junior development coaches Mark Bey and Sylvain Guichard are vital to understanding those changes and how one tennis "generation" can influence another.

After a week off, the ITF fall circuit in the US resumed last week with a Grade 4 event in Atlanta. From some of the mid-tournament scores, which included match tiebreakers in lieu of third sets, it looks as if rain made for a difficult tournament, but it was completed, with 14-year-old Natasha Subhash sweeping the girls titles and 16-year-old Mac Kiger taking the boys singles title.

Subhash had won ITF doubles titles in Delray Beach this spring and last month in the Pan American Closed in Tulsa, but this is her first singles title.  The Fairfax, Virginia resident, seeded sixth, defeated top seed Morgan Coppoc 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals and unseeded Layne Sleeth of Canada, also 14 years old, 6-3, 6-1, in the final. Subhash teamed with Ann Li, her partner in Tulsa, for the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds defeating No. 5 seeds Ali Collins of Great Britain and River Hart of Canada 6-2, 6-4 in the final.

The Atlanta title was a first for Kiger, who is from Katonah, New York. Unseeded, he dropped only one set in his six victories, and in the final defeated another unseeded player, Nicolas Mejia of Colombia, 6-3, 6-2.

Top seeds Trent Bryde and Robert Loeb won the doubles title, beating unseeded Trevor Croyder and Sami Soufi 6-1, 6-7(5), 10-7 in the final.

This week's stop on the ITF junior circuit is a Grade 4 in Lexington, South Carolina.  Ali Collins of Great Britain, who trains at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Naples, Florida is the top girls seed, with Oliver Crawford No. 1 in the boys draw.  Crawford, who won the Wichita Falls ITF last month and was a quarterfinalist at the B1 in Tulsa, lives in South Carolina.

Next week is the ITF Grade 4 at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, and then a week off before the two big year-end events here in the US--the Eddie Herr Grade 1 and Metropolia Orange Bowl Grade A.

The acceptances are out, with both the US Open girls finalists, No. 1 Dalma Galfi of Hungary and No. 3 Sonya Kenin, entered.  Galfi is the defending champion at the Eddie Herr, but she did not play the Orange Bowl last year.  Kenin is the defending champion at the Orange Bowl.  In fact, three of the four girls junior slam champions are entered in both events: Galfi, Tereza Mihalikova(Australia) and Sofya Zhuk(Wimbledon). Only French Open girls champion Paula Badosa Gibert of Spain is missing.

None of the American boys in the ITF Top 10 are entered in either event.  With his success on the Challenger Circuit this fall, Taylor Fritz appears to be less concerned about finishing the year as ITF Junior No. 1, but with none of his chief rivals for the spot entering either, it probably won't matter.  The highest ranked player entered is No. 7 Casper Ruud of Norway, with Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada another prominent contender.

Alex Rybakov leads the US boys Orange Bowl contingent, which also includes Ulises Blanch, Nathan Ponwith, Sam Riffice (who is recovering from his hamstring injury, but hopes to be ready), Vasil Kirkov and Zeke Clark. Wild cards should add more Americans, with Pan American Closed finalists JJ Wolf and Brandon Holt, both currently in qualifying, possible recipients.

The US girls entered in the Orange Bowl, in addition to Kenin, are: Usue Arconada, Michaela Gordon, Kayla Day, 2014 finalist Ingrid Neel, Caroline Dolehide (who is recovering from an ankle injury that kept her out of the summer/fall hard court tournaments), Claire Liu, Maria Mateas, Alexandra Sanford, Kelly Chen and Kylie McKenzie. Those 11 are also entered in the Eddie Herr, along with Ryan Peus, who received the 16s exempt spot at the Eddie Herr.

Later this month are the Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano and the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup, also in Mexico, the week before the Eddie Herr. Kenin is entered in both those events as well.

Acceptances for the Eddie 12s, 14s and 16s age divisions are here. The 16s acceptances for the Orange Bowl should be posted soon here.