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Friday, September 30, 2016

My Conversation with Agent Sam Duvall; Sewing Wins ITF Title in Grade 2 in Canada; Mmoh Reaches Tiburon Challenger Semis; Kenin into Last Four in Las Vegas

My article this week for the Tennis Recruiting Network is my recent conversation with Sam Duvall, an agent at Topnotch Management. Duvall, who represents John Isner, Steve Johnson, Reilly Opelka and other professional tennis players, has had a decade of experience in the field, and is now head of his own boutique agency. In our talk earlier this month at the US Open, he answered my questions on what an agent does, what he looks for in potential clients, and what advice he would give to juniors and their parents, along with many other topics. Although I have been around agents at junior tournaments for years and I assumed I knew what their job entailed, I found myself learning plenty from Duvall. Please check it out; I think you'll find something of interest, no matter how you're connected to tennis.

The ITF Grade 2 singles finals were completed today in Canada, with 17-year-old Sofia Sewing taking the girls title, the second ITF singles title of her career.  Sewing, the No. 4 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in the final, after the two had won the doubles title yesterday.  In the boys final, top seed Juan Carlos Aguilar of Bolivia, the US Open boys doubles champion, defeated No. 2 seed Trent Bryde  6-4, 6-3. The 17-year-old Aguilar now has two ITF singles title, having won the Grade 2 in his home country back in February.

In the USTA Pro Circuit quarterfinals around the country today, lots of young Americans picked up victories.  Starting west and working east, Michael Mmoh reached his first Challenger semifinal at the $100,000 tournament in Tiburon, beating No. 2 seed Bjorn Fratangelo 6-0, 7-5.
The 18-year-old Kalamazoo champion, who had beaten Fratangelo earlier this year in the final round of qualifying for the ATP event in Memphis, broke Fratangelo at 3-4 in the second set, but was unable to serve it out.  He did hold easily in his next service game however, putting the pressure back on Fratangelo. Fratangelo fell behind 15-40 to give Mmoh two match points, and although Fratangelo saved the first with a good first serve, forehand winner combination, Mmoh came up with the forehand pass on the the second match point to claim the victory.

Next up for qualifier Mmoh, who moves into the ATP Top 300 for the first time in his career with the win, will be No. 3 seed Tim Smyczek, who defeated Mitchell Krueger 6-2, 6-4.

Earlier this evening, wild card Mackenzie McDonald recovered from being a set and a break down to No. 4 seed Frances Tiafoe, earning a 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 win to return to the Tiburon semifinals for the second straight year.  McDonald will play the only non-American left in the draw, Darian King of Barbados, who beat No. 5 seed Dennis Novikov 7-5, 6-2.  Matches are streamed, with commentary, here.

In the $10,000 Fountain Valley, California Futures, Marcos Giron is the sole American in the quarterfinals, after he defeated No. 3 seed Markos Kalovelonis of Russia 7-6(8), 6-3.  Giron, in just his second pro tournament back after two hip surgeries, will play No. 6 seed Sebastian Fanselow of Germany in the semifinals.  Top seed and University of Virginia freshman Carl Soderlund of Sweden will face No. 4 seed Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe in the other semifinal.

SMU seniors Hunter and Yates Johnson won their second career Pro Circuit title together, defeating Fanselow and Sebastian Bader of Austria 6-4, 7-5 in the doubles final. Neither team was seeded.

At the $50,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Las Vegas, wild card Sonya Kenin reached the semifinals with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 win over wild card Maria Sanchez.  Kenin, 17, will play unseeded Nadia Podoroska of Argentina, who beat No. 8 seed Sachia Vickery 6-1, 6-2.  The other semifinal will feature top seed Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium, a 6-1, 6-4 winner over No. 6 seed Taylor Townsend today, and 17-year-old qualifier Fanni Stollar of Hungary, who defeated Jovana Jaksic of Serbia 6-2, 7-5.

The semifinals of the Stillwater, Oklahoma $25,000 tournament feature two Americans, with qualifier Danielle Collins and 18-year-old Caroline Dolehide aiming to meet in the final. Collins defeated former WTA No. 21 Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to set up a meeting with unseeded Yuliya Beygelzimer of Ukraine.  The unseeded Dolehide beat qualifier Ronit Yurovsky 6-1, 6-2 to advance against lucky loser Bianca Turati of Italy, a freshman at Texas this fall. Turati moved on when No. 2 seed Ana Vrljic of Croatia retired down 6-3, 3-1.

At the $10,000 tournament in Charleston, SC, No. 3 seed Lauren Embree and No. 2 seed Nicole Coopersmith will meet in one semifinal, with recent Florida State graduate Yukako Noi of Japan facing Ingrid Gamarra Martins of Brazil in the other.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

US Boys Rise to Occasion to Reach Semifinals at Junior Davis Cup, US Girls Advance to Semis with Ease; Sewing, Bryde Earn Spots in ITF Grade 2 Finals in Canada; Seven Americans Make Tiburon Challenger Quarterfinals

The semifinals are set for the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup competitions in Budapest, with the US teams advancing to the final four in distinctly different ways.

After losing to Brazil on Wednesday, the remaining two members of the fourth-seeded US boys team, Sebastian Korda and Sangeet Sridhar, knew they had to win all three matches against No. 5 seed Czech Republic to get into the semifinals. After Keenan Mayo suffered an ankle injury in his first match Tuesday, leaving him unable to compete in the remaining round robin matches, the US had no margin for error. Sridhar came through with a straight set win at No. 2 singles and Korda did the same at No. 1 singles.  The doubles match was still important however, with the winner of that match taking the top spot in the group and the semifinal berth.  In what turned out to be a thriller, the US prevailed 2-6, 6-3, 14-12, saving five match points in the match tiebreaker.  This is the first year the competition has used no-ad and a match tiebreaker in doubles, having played regular scoring and best-of-three in the doubles previously.

The boys will play top seed Canada in a Saturday semifinal, with No. 2 Russia and No. 7 Argentina meeting in the other semifinal.

In contrast, the second-seeded US girls have had no drama whatsoever in advancing to the semifinals, unless you count Claire Liu's lost luggage. Today they defeated the sixth-seeded Czech Republic 3-0 to move into the semifinals, where they will play No. 3 seed Japan.  Top seed Russia will face No. 4 Poland in the other semifinal.

Complete results from the final day of round robin competition:

Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas
Group A
Canada (1) defeated India (8) 2-1
Siddant Banthia (IND) d. Chih Chi Huang (CAN) 16 62 64
Félix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) d. Adil Kalyanpur (IND) 63 60
Félix Auger-Aliassime/Chih Chi Huang (CAN) d. Adil Kalyanpur/Megh Patel (IND) 76(4) 76(3)

Hungary defeated Chile 3-0
Peter Makk (HUN) d. Alan Sanson (CHI) 62 63
Daniel Khin (HUN) d. Ignacio Becerra (CHI) 76(1) 64
Peter Makk/Mate Voros (HUN) d. Garizon Abarzua/Ignacio Becerra (CHI) 3-0 retired

Final Standings:
1. Canada (1) - progresses to semifinals
2. Hungary
3. India (8)
4. Chile

Group B
USA (4) defeated Czech Republic (5) 3-0
Sangeet Sridhar (USA) d. Tomas Machac (CZE) 60 61
Sebastian Korda (USA) d. Ondrej Styler (CZE) 64 75
Sebastian Korda/Sangeet Sridhar (USA) d. Evzen Holis/Ondrej Styler (CZE) 26 63 14-12

Switzerland defeated Brazil 2-1
Yannik Steinegger (SUI) d. Mateus Alves (BRA) 46 64 75
Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) d. Damien Wenger (SUI) 67(9) 62 64
Henry Von Der Schulenburg/Damien Wenger (SUI) d. Mateus Alves/Gilbert Soares Klier Junior (BRA) 62 62

Final Standings:
1. USA (4) - progresses to semifinals
2. Czech Republic (5)
3. Switzerland
4. Brazil

Group C
China (3) defeated Morocco 3-0
Mu Tao (CHN) d. Ismail Saadi (MAR) 62 62
Zhao Lingxi (CHN) d. Soufiane El Mesbahi (MAR) 62 46 61
Mo Yecong/Zhao Lingxi (CHN) d. Soufiane El Mesbahi/Achraf Nafaa (MAR) 46 60 10-2

Argentina (7) defeated Bulgaria 2-1
Thiago Tirante (ARG) d. Leonid Sheyngezikht (BUL) 64 63
Sebastian Baez (ARG) d. Adrian Andreev (BUL) 62 26 75
Adrian Andreev/Leonid Sheyngezikht (BUL) d. Sebastian Baez/Tomas Descarrega (ARG) walkover

Final Standings:
1. Argentina (7) - progresses to semifinals
2. Bulgaria
3. China (3)
4. Morocco

Group D
Russia (2) defeated Japan (6) 3-0
Timofey Skatov (RUS) d. Rimpei Kawakimi (JPN) 62 61
Alen Avidzba (RUS) d. Naoki Tajima (JPN) 64 36 60
Alen Avidzba/Alexey Zakharov (RUS) d. Takeaki Ito/Rimpei Kawakami (JPN) 64 75

Germany defeated Egypt 3-0
Leopold Zima (GER) d. Adham Gaber (EGY) 60 62
Henri Squire (GER) d. Yusuf Khamis (EGY) 63 67(0) 63
Leopold Zima/Constantin Zoske (GER) d. Adham Gaber/Faris Zakaryia (EGY) 75 63

Final Standings:
1. Russia (2) - progresses to semifinals
2. Japan (6)
3. Germany
4. Egypt

Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas
Group A
Russia (1) defeated Argentina (8) 3-0
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) d. Andrea Farulla (ARG) 60 62
Olesya Pervushina (RUS) d. Lourdes Carle (ARG) 63 63
Varvara Graecheva/Olesya Pervushina (RUS) d. Lourdes Carle/Andrea Farulla (ARG) 61 64

Thailand defeated Belarus 2-1
Thasaporn Naklo (THA) d. Anna Kubareva (BLR) 75 16 61
Yulia Hatouka (BLR) d. Watsachol Sawasdee (THA) 62 76(2)
Thasaporn Naklo/Watsachol Sawasdee (THA) d. Yulia Hatouka/Katyarina Paulenka (BLR) 36 75 10-6

Final Standings:
1. Russia (1) - progresses to semifinals
2. Thailand
3. Argentina (8)
4. Belarus

Group B
Poland (4) defeated Canada (5) 2-1
Maja Chwalinska (POL) d. Isabelle Boulais (CAN) 36 61 75
Iga Swiatek (POL) d. Bianca Vanessa Andreescu (CAN) 36 63 63
Bianca Vanessa Andreescu/Isabelle Boulais (CAN) d. Maja Chwalinska/Stefania Rogozinska-Dzik (POL) 46 64 10-5

Hungary defeated India 3-0
Adrienn Horvath (HUN) d. Shivani Amineni (IND) 64 64
Reka Zadori (HUN) d. Mahak Jain (IND) 36 62 61
Fanni Gecsek/Adrienn Horvath (HUN) d. Shivani Amineni/Sathwika Sama (IND) 63 61

Final Standings:
1. Poland (4) - progresses to semifinals
2. Canada (5)
3. Hungary
4. India

Group C
Japan (3) defeated Great Britain (7) 2-1
Yuki Naito (JPN) d. Eliz Maloney (GBR) 06 63 64
Francesca Jones (GBR) d. Ayumi Miyamoto (JPN) 62 63
Ayumi Miyamoto/Yuki Naito (JPN) d. Francesca Jones/Nell Miller (GBR) 62 63

Uruguay defeated Morocco
Agustina Cuestas (URU) d. Hiba Al Khalifi (MAR) 61 60
Diae El Jardi (MAR) d. Fernanda Secinario (URU) 63 36 62
Agustina Cuestas/Fernanda Secinario (URU) d. Rim Benhadi/Diae El Jardi (MAR) 76(6) 62

Final Standings:
1. Japan (3) - progresses to semifinals
2. Great Britain (7)
3. Uruguay
4. Morocco

Group D
USA (2) defeated Czech Republic (6) 3-0
Claire Liu (USA) d. Karolina Berankova (CZE) 62 61
Amanda Anisimova (USA) d. Denisa Hindova (CZE) 62 63
Claire Liu/Catherine McNally (USA) d. Karolina Berankova/Radka Buzkova (CZE) 64 62

Peru defeated New Zealand 2-1
Dana Guzman (PER) d. Tamara Anderson (NZL) 60 63
Anastasia Iamachkine (PER) d. Nina Paripovich (NZL) 64 62
Tamara Anderson/Emilia Price (NZL) d. Almudena Boza/Dana Guzman (PER) 57 76(4) 10-8

Final Standings:
1. USA (2) - progresses to semifinals
2. Czech Republic (6)
3. Peru
4. New Zealand

The ITF Grade 2 in Canada has a rare Friday final, with two Americans vying for singles titles.  Sofia Sewing, the No. 4 seed, will face doubles partner and No. 3 seed Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico in the girls final, while No. 2 seed Trent Bryde will meet top seed Juan Carlos Aguilar of Bolivia.

Sewing defeated No. 2 seed Carson Branstine 6-4, 6-4, while Portillo Ramirez took out top seed Natasha Subhash 6-4, 6-1.

Bryde outlasted unseeded Canadian Dan Martin 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 and Aguilar beat unseeded Caleb Chakravarthi 6-0, 6-2.

Either Portillo Ramirez or Sewing will sweep the titles this week, as the top seeds won the doubles championship together today, beating unseeded Imani Graham and Taysia Rogers 6-2, 6-1 in the final.

Unseeded Victor Krustev of Canada and Alexandre Rotsaert won the boys doubles title, beating No. 3 seed Jack Mingjie Lin and Luka Vukovic of Canada 6-3, 7-5.

At the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger, Dennis Novikov(5), Frances Tiafoe(4) and wild card Mackenzie McDonald reached the quarterfinals with wins today, with Darian King of Barbados, a 6-7(3), 6-2, 4-2, ret. winner over top seed Benjamin Becker of Germany, the only non-American in Friday's final eight.  Novikov will play King, while McDonald and Tiafoe will face off in the other quarterfinal.

In Southern California, Marcos Giron is the only American remaining in the $10,000 Fountain Valley Futures.  He will play No. 3 seed Markus Kalovelonis of Russia in Friday's quarterfinals.

The $50,000 Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Las Vegas features four Americans in the quarterfinals, including 17-year-old Sonya Kenin. Kenin will face fellow wild card Maria Sanchez in the quarterfinals, while Sachia Vickery(8) and Taylor Townsend(6) play unseeded Nadia Podoroska of Argentina and top seed Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium respectively.

At the $25,000 women's tournament in Stillwater, Oklahoma, three Americans remain, and two will play each other in the quarterfinals, with qualifier Ronit Yurovsky taking on Caroline Dolehide after both defeated seeded players today.  The third American is qualifier Danielle Collins, who will face unseeded Alexsandra Wozniak of Canada.

The $10,000 women's tournament in Charleston, SC features three Americans in the final eight, all of them in the bottom half.  No. 2 seed Nicole Coopersmith will play No. 5 seed Jaeda Daniel, while No. 3 seed Lauren Embree takes on LSU recruit Jade Lewis of New Zealand.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mmoh Defeats Kozlov to Reach Tiburon $100K Quarterfinals; Injury Strikes US Boys Junior Davis Cup Team Again, US Girls Cruise in Second Round

Eighteen-year-olds Michael Mmoh and Stefan Kozlov have met surprisingly infrequently in their long junior and now pro careers, with Mmoh now holding a 2-0 edge after his 7-5, 6-4 win today in the second round of the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger.  Mmoh had beaten Kozlov in the first round of the $25,000 Long Beach, California Futures back in January by exactly the same score, with Kozlov, the No. 4 seed, coming off a title the previous week.

Mmoh, who qualified into this week draw, got a break to open the match, but was immediately broken back,  and both players held until 5-all, when Kozlov was broken at love.  Serving for the set, Mmoh held at 30, hitting a forehand winner to claim the point, game and set. Mmoh went up 3-1 in the second set, but Kozlov got the break back and took a 4-3 lead, but serving at 4-4, Kozlov fell behind 15-40, saved those two break points but not a third, when a wayward pair of forehands from deuce gave Mmoh the break.

Although there were some long baseline rallies, Mmoh seemed committed to finishing at the net more often and in the final game, he continued to pressure Kozlov, who was unable to contend with that aggressive strategy from Mmoh.

Mmoh is now into his second career Challenger quarterfinal, with his first coming last October at the $50,000 Challenger in Las Vegas. After five straight days of play in qualifying and main draw, he will get a day off Thursday before he takes on No. 2 seed Bjorn Fratangelo. Mmoh and Fratangelo are two of the four Americans through in the bottom half of the draw, with Mitchell Krueger and No. 3 seed Tim Smyczek playing in the other quarterfinal. Fratangelo and Mmoh met in the final round of qualifying at the ATP event in Memphis back in February, with Mmoh claiming a 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(6) victory. Smyczek is 3-0 head-to-head with Krueger.

The top half will play its second round Thursday, with Frances Tiafoe, Mackenzie McDonald, Brian Baker and Dennis Novikov (who play each other) aiming for quarterfinal appearances.

At the $10,000 Futures in Fountain Valley, California, UCLA recruit Keegan Smith earned his first ATP point with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Pepperdine senior and fellow qualifier Stefan Menichella. Other US winners in first round action today were qualifier Hunter Johnson and No. 8 seed Marcos Giron.

The first round of the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit women's tournament in Las Vegas was completed today, with Kristie Ahn, Maria Sanchez and Sonya Kenin posting victories.  Ahn defeated No. 7 seed  Montserrat Gonzalez of Paraguay 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, Sanchez advanced when Sherazad Reix of France retired trailing 6-3, 3-0, and Kenin defeated qualifier  Anna Zaja of Germany 6-4, 6-4. Kayla Day, who turned 17 today, got in as a lucky loser after falling to Zaja yesterday, but drew top seed Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium and dropped a 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 decision.  For on-site coverage of today's action, see this article from press aide Steve Pratt.

At the $25,000 women's tournament in Stillwater, Oklahoma, US players winning their first round matches today were qualifiers Ronit Yurovsky, Danielle Collins and Catherine Harrison, Ellie Halbauer(7), Bernarda Pera(3) and Caroline Dolehide. Former USC star Giuliana Olmos of Mexico advanced to the second round when top seed Barbora Stefkova of the Czech Republic retired trailing 6-4, 1-0.

The $10,000 women's tournament in Charleston, SC also completed its first round today, with qualifiers Madeline Meredith, Quinn Gleason and Elli Mandlik, along with seeds Ingrid Neel(6) and Nicole Coopersmith(2), posting victories.

The second day of play in the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup did not go well for the fourth-seeded US boys, who fell to unseeded Brazil 2-1 Wednesday in Budapest.  In the second set of his opening match against Switzerland on Tuesday, Keenan Mayo turned his ankle and suffered ligament damage. So although he was able to finish the match and get the victory, Mayo could not play today against Brazil. Instead, it was Sangeet Sridhar who played at No. 2 singles, losing to Mateus Alves 6-1, 6-3, while Sebastian Korda outlasted Thiago Seyboth Wild 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(2), meaning the doubles point would decide the winner. Alves and Gilbert Soares Klier Junior beat Korda and Sridhar 6-3, 6-4 to claim the victory, leaving the US in a precarious position for Thursday's match with the fifth-seeded Czech Republic. To have any chance to advance, the US must beat the Czech Republic, who are 2-0 and clinch a semifinal berth with a win.

The unfortunate injury to Mayo is reminiscent of last year, when Sam Riffice was injured in the second round and was unable to play in the final round robin match, with No. 8 Japan winning that 3-0 over the US, seeded No. 3.

In other Junior Davis Cup groups, top seed Canada can advance with a win over No. 8 India, No. 2 Russia and No. 6 Japan will play for a place in the semifinals, and the winner between unseeded Bulgaria and No. 7 seed Argentina will also reach the final four.

In Junior Fed Cup, the second-seeded US girls had no difficulty, beating Peru 3-0, and will play No. 6 seed Czech Republic, who is also undefeated, for a place in the semifinals.  No. 4 Poland and No. 5 Canada will vie for a semifinal berth, as will No. 3 Japan and No. 7 Great Britain.  Top seed Russia will advance if they beat No. 8 seed Argentina, who lost today to Thailand. Complete results are below.

Live scoring and live streaming (for 4 courts) are available. More on the day's action can be found at the ITF Junior website.

Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas
Group A

Canada (1) defeated Chile 3-0
Nicaise Muamba (CAN) d. Alan Sanson (CHI) 60 36 64
Félix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) d. Ignacio Becerra (CHI) 60 60
Félix Auger-Aliassime/Nicaise Muamba (CAN) d. Garizon Abarzua/Ignacio Becerra (CHI) 64 75

Hungary defeated India (8) 3-0
Mate Voros (HUN) d. Siddhant Banthia (IND) 62 61
Daniel Khin (HUN) d. Adil Kalyanpur (IND) 64 64
Daniel Khin/Mate Voros (HUN) d. Adil Kalyanpur/Megh Patel (IND) 46 63 10-3

Group B
Brazil d. USA (4) 2-1
Mateus Alves (BRA) d. Sangeet Sridhar (USA) 61 63
Sebastian Korda (USA) d. Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) 36 64 76(2)
Gilbert Soares Klier Junior/Mateus Alves (BRA) d. Sebastian Korda/Sangeet Sridhar (USA) 63 64

Czech Republic (5) defeated Switzerland 2-1
Henry von der Schulenburg (SUI) d. Tomas Machac (CZE) 64 46 64
Ondrej Styler (CZE) d. Damien Wenger (SUI) 64 61
Evzen Hollis/Ondrej Styler (CZE) d. Yannik Steinegger/Henry von der Schulenburg (SUI) 62 64

Group C
Argentina (7) defeated China (3) 3-0
Thiago Tirante (ARG) d. Mu Tao (CHN) 76(1) 61
Sebastian Baez (ARG) d. Zhao Lingxi (CHN) 62 75
Sebastian Baez/Tomas Descarrega (ARG) d. Mo Yecong/Zhao Lingxi (CHN) 76(7) 61

Bulgaria defeated Morocco 3-0
Leonid Sheyngezikht (BUL) d. Achraf Nafaa (MAR) 63 63
Adrian Andreev (BUL) d. Soufiane El Mesbahi (MAR) 60 60
Yoan Georgiev/Leonid Sheyngezikht (BUL) d. Achraf Nafaa/Soufiane El Mesbahi (MAR) 64 76(7)

Group D
Russia (2) defeated Egypt 3-0
Timofey Skatov (RUS) d. Adham Gaber (EGY) 60 36 60
Alen Avidzba (RUS) d. Yusuf Khamis (EGY) 62 62
Timofey Skatov/Alexey Zakharov (RUS) d. Adham Gaber/Yusuf Khamis (EGY) 60 63

Japan (6) defeated Germany 2-1
Rimpei Kawakami (JPN) d. Constantin Zoske (GER) 62 61
Naoki Tajima (JPN) d. Henri Squire (GER) 62 63
Leopold Zima/Constantin Zoske (GER) d. Rimpei Kawakami/Naoki Tajima (JPN) 63 16 10-8

Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas

Group A
Russia (1) defeated Belarus 3-0
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) d. Katyarina Paulenka (BLR) 61 62
Olesya Pervushina (RUS) d. Anna Kubareva (BLR) 76(0) 60
Olesya Pervushina/Anastasia Potapova (RUS) d. Yuliya Hatouka/Katyarina Paulenka (BLR) 64 60

Thailand defeated Argentina (8) 2-1
Thasaporn Naklo (THA) d. Azul Pedemonti (ARG) 63 63
Lourdes Carle (ARG) d. Watsachol Sawasdee (THA) 64 75
Thasaporn Naklo/Watsachol Sawasdee (THA) d. Lourdes Carle/Andrea Farulla (ARG) 63 62

Group B
Poland (4) defeated Hungary 3-0
Maja Chwalinska (POL) d. Adrienn Horvath (HUN) 76(11) 60
Iga Swiatek (POL) d. Reka Zadori (HUN) 62 61
Maja Chwalinska/Iga Swiatek (POL) d. Fanni Gecsek/Adrienn Horvath (HUN) 61 62

Canada (5) defeated India 3-0
Isabelle Boulais (CAN) d. Shivani Amineni (IND) 76(8) 61
Bianca Vanessa Andreescu (CAN) d. Mahak Jain (IND) 61 61
Isabelle Boulais/Layne Sleeth (CAN) d. Shivani Amineni/Sathwika Sama (IND) 76(7) 76(4)

Group C
Japan (3) defeated Morocco 3-0
Yuki Naito (JPN) d. Rim Benhadi (MAR) 60 60
Ayumi Miyamoto (JPN) d. Diae El Jardi (MAR) 76(9) 76(6)
Yuki Naito/Naho Sato (JPN) d. Hiba Al Khalifi/Diae El Jardi (MAR) 60 61

Great Britain (7) defeated Uruguay 3-0
Eliz Maloney (GBR) d. Agustina Cuestas (URU) 63 62
Francesca Jones (GBR) d. Lucia De Santa Ana (URU) 60 60
Francesca Jones/Nell Miller (GBR) d. Agustina Cuestas/Fernanda Secinaro (URU) 64 62

Group D
USA (2) defeated Peru 3-0
Catherine McNally (USA) d. Dana Guzman (PER) 63 61
Amanda Anisimova (USA) d. Anastasia Iamachkine (PER) 63 62
Claire Liu/Catherine McNally (USA) d. Almudena Boza/Anastasia Iamachkine (PER) 63 61

Czech Republic (6) defeated New Zealand 3-0
Karolina Berankova (CZE) d. Emilia Price (NZL) 61 60
Denisa Hindova (CZE) d. Tamara Anderson (NZL) 64 62
Karolina Berankova/Radka Buzkova (CZE) d. Nina Paripovich/Emilia Price (NZL) 62 61

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Qualifying Complete at Three Women's USTA Pro Circuit Events; Mmoh, Kozlov to Meet in Tiburon Challenger Second Round; US Teams Start Junior Davis, Fed Cup with Victories

Qualifying was completed today at the three women's USTA Pro Circuit events in Las Vegas, Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Charleston, South Carolina.

At the $50,000 tournament in Las Vegas, there are only four places for qualifiers in the main draw. Those went to Anna Zaja of Germany, Julia Elbaba, Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and Fanni Stollar of Hungary.  Zaja defeated US Open champion and top qualifying seed Kayla Day 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, while Elbaba defeated Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. 2014 US Open girls champion Bouzkova, now 18, defeated Pepperdine sophomore Luisa Stefani of Brazil, 6-2, 6-3 and 17-year-old Stollar beat former Baylor star Ema Burgic Bucko of Bosnia 6-3, 6-4.  In first round action, Jamie Loeb defeated No. 3 seed Julia Boserup 7-5, 6-4, while Taylor Townsend(6) and Sachia Vickery(8) both won three-setters to advance to the second round. Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium is the top seed.

In Stillwater, a $25,000 level tournament, eight qualifiers are through to the main draw: Giuliana Olmos of Mexico(USC), Michaela Gordon, Catherine Harrison(UCLA), Danielle Collins(Virginia), Ronit Yurovsky(Michigan), Alexandra Sanford, Sofya Zhuk of Russia and Romania's Gabriela Talaba(Texas Tech junior).  The only two Americans in first round action today were wild card Morgan Coppoc and Usue Arconada, with both falling to seeded players. Barbora Stefkova of the Czech Republic is the top seed.

At the $10,000 tournament in Charleston, South Carolina, 15-year-old Elli Mandlik, daughter of Hana Mandlikova, qualified, as did South Carolina freshman Mia Horvit, Notre Dame graduate Quinn Gleason, Madeline Meredith and 15-year-old Chloe Beck, who will be playing in her first Pro Circuit main draw.  Lauren Embree, who had announced her retirement back in April, is in the main draw, and she won her first round match today, as did Amy Zhu(Michigan) and Jaeda Daniel.

Two USTA Pro Circuit events for men are on this week's schedule, with a $10,000 Futures in Fountain Valley, California and the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger, which I mentioned in yesterday's post. Kalamazoo champion Michael Mmoh, who qualified for Tiburon with a victory of Denis Shapovalov of Canada Monday, advanced to the second round when Tennys Sandgren retired with Mmoh leading 4-6, 7-6(5), 2-0. Sandgren served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and had three match points, but a backhand error, a double fault and a bold Mmoh forehand drop shot erased them. In the tiebreaker, Sandgren had the match on his racquet, serving at 5-4, but Mmoh's return winner, then two missed forehands by Sandgren gave Mmoh the set. Sandgren took a medical time out after the set and continued to play, but after dropping serve in the first game and a love hold by Mmoh, Sandgren retired.

Mmoh's opponent in Wednesday's second round is none other than his longtime friend Stefan Kozlov, who won his first round match on Monday. Kozlov, the No. 6 seed, lost to Mmoh earlier this year in the first round of the $25,000 Long Beach Futures.  The match, third on after 11 am Pacific, will be streamed (without commentary) here.

In Fountain Valley, Keegan Smith, who just announced his verbal commitment to UCLA, qualified for his first Futures with a win yesterday and will play Pepperdine senior Stefan Menichella, also a qualifier, in Wednesday's first round.   In first round action today, US Open boys finalist Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia defeated No. 7 seed Alexios Halebian 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(1) and wild card Evan Zhu came back to defeat Nick Chappell 1-6, 7-6(11), 7-5 in three hours and 14 minutes. Zhu's next opponent is top seed Carl Soderlund of Sweden, who is a freshman at the University of Virginia.

The first day of Junior Davis and Junior Fed Cup produced few surprises, with the only seeded team to fall No. 3 Junior Davis Cup seed China, who lost to Bulgaria 2-1.

The US boys, seeded No. 4, needed a doubles win to get past Switzerland 2-1. Keenan Mayo won at No. 2 singles, but Sebastian Korda dropped his match at No. 1 singles.  Korda and Sangeet Sridhar won the doubles match in straight sets to clinch the win.  They will play Brazil, who lost 3-0 to No. 6 seed Czech Republic, on Wednesday.

The US girls, seeded No. 2, lost only three games in three matches, crushing New Zealand 3-0.  Their opponent Wednesday is Peru, who lost to No. 6 seed Czech Republic 2-1.

The ITF Junior website has more on today's matches.  Live scoring and live streaming (for 4 courts) is available.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Junior Fed Cup, Junior Davis Cup Play Begins Tuesday, Mmoh Qualifies for Tiburon $100K; Redlicki Wins Southern Intercollegiates; Fall ITF US Junior Swing Starts in Austin

The Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup, the ITF team competitions for those age 16-and-under, begin Tuesday in Budapest, with the US girls seeded No. 2 and the US boys seeded No. 4.

The first three days of competition consist of round robin group play. Those countries finishing on top of the four-country groups advance to the semifinals.  The US girls--Amanda Anisimova, Claire Liu, Caty McNally--are in the group with No. 6 seeds the Czech Republic, Peru and New Zealand, with New Zealand their first opponent.  The US boys--Sebastian Korda, Keenan Mayo, Sangeet Sridhar--are in the group with No. 5 seeds the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Brazil, with their first opponent Tuesday Switzerland.

There have been a few nomination changes from those announced last week, three in the girls draw, one in the boys draw.  Fourteen-year-old Denisa Hindova, who played for the Czech Republic in August's ITF World Junior Tennis 14-and-under competition, has replaced Lucie Kankova. Adrienn Horvath has replaced Timea Visontal for host Hungary, and Hiba El Khalifi has replaced Oumaima Aziz for Morocco. In Junior Davis Cup, Gilbert Soares Klier Junior replaces Joao Lucas Reis for Brazil.

The top seed in the Junior Fed Cup is Russia, followed by the USA, Japan and Poland.  The top seed in Junior Davis Cup is defending champion Canada, followed by Russia, China and the USA.

Live scoring is available here, and live streaming for courts 1-4 is scheduled to be available here.

Michael Mmoh, who was on the US teams that won the World Junior Tennis championship in 2012 and the Junior Davis Cup in 2014, qualified for the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger today by defeating 2016 Wimbledon boys champion Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-4, 6-4. Mmoh will face Tennys Sandgren in the first round.  Fellow 18-year-olds Frances Tiafoe and Stefan Kozlov are also in the draw, with the sixth-seeded Kozlov winning his first round match today over Guilherme Clezar of Brazil, and No. 4 seed Tiafoe getting by 2014 NCAA finalist Alex Sarkissian 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in his first round match.

I had planned on going to the final of the Division III men's Central regional at Kalamazoo today, but because two University of Chicago players won their semifinals, the match was played in Chicago today instead. No. 8 seed David Liu defeated Peter Leung 6-3, 6-2.  The doubles final was also an all-Chicago contest, with unseeded Tyler Raclin and Max Hawkins defeating No. 9 seeds Erik Kerrigan and Ninan Kumar 6-2, 6-2.  Complete results from the regional can be found here.

The women's singles final in the regional in New England was a replay of last May's NCAA singles final, with Julie Raventos of Williams coming out on top this time, beating Eudice Chong of Wesleyan 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Chong did get a regional title however, winning the doubles title with Victoria Yu over Raventos and Linda Shin, the two-time NCAA champions.

Other regional results can be found at the ITA tournament page.

Michael Redlicki of Arkansas won the Southern Intercollegiate Championships in Athens Georgia today, with the top seed beating No. 11 seed Spencer Papa of Oklahoma 6-4, 6-4 in the final.  Unseeded Walker Duncan and Jan Zielinski of Georgia won the doubles title, beating No. 5 seeds Maxx Lipman and Elliott Orkin of Florida 4-6, 7-5, 10-5.

After only the US Open Junior Championships on the calendar for September, the ITF Junior Circuit returns in the United States with this week's Grade 5 in Austin, Texas.  That, along with a Grade 4 next week in Wichita Falls, leads up to the ITF Grade B1 in Tulsa, which I will be covering again this year.  Several top US juniors are in Canada this week for the Grade 2 in Montreal.  Juan Carlos Aguilar of Bolivia is top boys seed, with Trent Bryde seeded No. 2.  In the girls draw, Natasha Subhash and Carson Branstine are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ohio State's Torpegaard Wins ATP Challenger in Columbus; McDonald, Smith, El Mihdawy Earn Futures Titles

Mikael Torpegaard at 2016 NCAA Championships in Tulsa
photo courtesy Bill Kallenberg, CapturedInAction.com
ATP Challengers on college campuses aren't new, and the wild cards given to the home team's top players usually result in a win or two, rarely more.  The $50,000 Columbus Challenger is new, with this week's tournament in just its second year at the Ohio State Varsity tennis Center, yet it was able to deliver what other events couldn't: a title for the local wild card.

Mikael Torpegaard, a junior from Denmark, was evidently not satisfied with making the final in his first appearance at the Challenger level. Taking on top seed Benjamin Becker of Germany in the championship match this afternoon, Torpegaard added another first to his resume, an ATP Top 100 win, by beating the former Baylor star 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.

Torpegaard started well and seized the only break point opportunity of the first set for either player at 4-4. Torpegaard closed out the set with a confident hold, but Becker went up 3-0 in the second set and got another break on his way to drawing even in the match. Torpegaard was able to get a break at 2-3, with Becker throwing in two of his four double faults in the set in that game, and he held for 5-2.  Becker went down 15-40 in the final game, saved one match point, but not the second, and Torpegaard had claimed the championship.  His ATP ranking will rise to around 370 as the 2016 NCAA singles finalist prepares for his next event, the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa next month.

Earlier in the day,  2015 Columbus singles champion, Dennis Novikov, teamed with Mikelis Libietis of Latvia to win the doubles title. The unseeded pair defeated unseeded Peter Polansky and Philip Bester of Canada 7-5, 7-6(4) in the final. It's Novikov's third Challenger doubles title of 2016, while it's Libietis's first of the year.

Mackenzie McDonald at 2016 NCAA Championships in Tulsa
photo courtesy YourGameFace.com
While 2004 NCAA singles champion Becker was unsuccessful in his final, 2016 NCAA champion Mackenzie McDonald had no trouble picking up his first Pro Circuit title at the $10,000 Futures in Irvine, California. The top seed defeated No. 2 seed Jan Choinski of Germany 6-0, 6-3 in just 47 minutes to add the singles title to the doubles title he won on Friday.

Next up for McDonald is the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger, where he reached the semifinals last year. McDonald received a wild card into the main draw, as did Brian Baker, Noah Rubin and Robby Bellamy of USC. Bellamy won his wild card in a shoot-out between the semifinalists at the Battle in the Bay collegiate event.  In Monday's qualifying in Tiburon, Kalamazoo champion Michael Mmoh will face Wimbledon boys champion Denis Shapovalov of Canada for a place in the main draw.

Recent Georgia graduate Austin Smith won his first Pro Circuit title today, defeating unseeded Daniel Cukierman of Israel 6-1, 6-2 in the final.  Smith, who won three matches to qualify, dropped only one set en route to the title.  Smith will play his second and final round of qualifying for next week's $25,000 Futures in Israel on Monday.

At the $25,000 Futures in Canada, top seed Adam El Mihdawy won his fourth Futures title of the year, beating No. 7 seed Brayden Schnur of Canada 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Another top seed won at the $75,000 women's tournament in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with Luxembourg's Mandy Minella defeating No. 3 seed Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 6-4, 7-5.

Former USC All-American Maria Sanchez won the doubles title in Albuquerque, with partner Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands. The No. 3 seeds defeated No. 2 seeds Minella and Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-2, 6-4 in the final.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

2016 NCAA Men's Finalists Seek Pro Circuit Titles Sunday; Smith Doubles Up in Israel; Berdusco Wins ITF Grade 5 Title in Puerto Rico

Back in May, UCLA's Mackenzie McDonald and Ohio State's Mikael Torpegaard met for the NCAA singles championship in Tulsa, with McDonald claiming a 6-3, 6-3 victory.  The 21-year-old McDonald decided to turn pro this summer, foregoing his final year of eligibility, while the 22-year-old Torpegaard is back at Ohio State for his junior year.  On Sunday, they will play in finals of USTA Pro Circuit events, although not each other, with McDonald competing in the $10,000 Futures in Irvine, California and Torpegaard in the final of the $50,000 ATP Challenger in Columbus, Ohio.

Both are wild cards, although McDonald's was necessary only because he was not initially entered. The No. 1 seed beat Alexios Halebian 6-2, 6-4 to advance the final against No. 2 seed Jan Choinski of Germany. Choinski defeated last week's California Futures champion No. 6 seed Sebastian Fanselow, also of Germany, 6-4, 6-4.

Denmark's Torpegaard did win a Futures event, the first of his career in singles, in Finland this summer, but his ranking, currently 642, would not have gotten him into the main draw of the Challenger, so he did need a wild card into his first tournament at that level. After beating No. 4 seed Peter Polansky in the second round, Torpegaard has gotten two straight-sets victories, over Gonzales Austin in the quarterfinals, and Tennys Sandgren in today's semifinal, by a 7-5, 7-6(5) score. Torpegaard will not be playing the current NCAA champion in the final, but he will be playing one, with 2004 champion Benjamin Becker of Germany his opponent.  The former Baylor star, seeded No. 1 this week, defeated JP Smith of Australia 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 in today's semifinal.

Recent Georgia graduate Austin Smith left the United States for Israel without an ATP point to his credit, but he has reached the final of a $10,000 event in Israel, so he has earned at least 10 this week alone. Smith has already won seven matches, (well actually eight, I'll get to that in a moment) this week, including three in qualifying and the only set he has lost came in today's 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 win over Dekel Bar of Israel.

Smith played that match at 10 a.m. in Kiryat Gat and his first round qualifying match for next week's $25,000 Futures in Meitar, less than an hour's drive from Kiryat Gat, that afternoon.  I'm not sure why he didn't receive a special exemption into the main draw; perhaps he didn't request one, or didn't get one due to his lack of an ATP ranking. In any case, Smith won that qualifying match with the loss of just one game, and it looks as if he will not have to play his second round qualifying match the same day as the final; he's not on the order of play for Sunday in Meitar.

In ITF Junior Circuit play, Brian Berdusco won his first title today, taking the singles championship at the Grade 5 in Puerto Rico.  The 18-year-old from Bradenton, Florida was the No. 8 seed. He defeated unseeded Ignacio Garcia of Puerto Rico 6-4, 6-0 in the final.  US boys swept the titles in Puerto Rico this week, with Russell Benkaim and William Woodall, the No. 3 seeds, taking the doubles, with a 6-7(5), 6-0, 10-4 over Garcia and Alejandro Rodriguez-Vidal, also of Puerto Rico.

Unseeded 15-year-old Ali Despain reached the girls final, falling to top seed Csilla Fodor of Hungary 6-2, 6-0.

At the Grade 5 in Togo, Aesha Patel of the US won the girls doubles title with Maxine Ng of Singapore. The No. 1 seeds defeated unseeded Angel Macleod and Oyinlomo Quadre of Nigeria 6-1, 6-3 in the final.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Davis, Fed Cup Changes Could Extend to Juniors; Torpegaard Excels at Columbus Challenger; College Tennis Ramps Up

On Wednesday, the International Tennis Federation announced new strategies for revamping Davis Cup and Fed Cup, which includes expanding the Fed Cup world group from its current eight teams to 16, which the Davis Cup already has. The finals would be held at a (most likely) neutral site venue determined by bids, with the Fed Cup possibly going to a Final Four.  Davis Cup may change from best of five to best of three, although, as with all the changes proposed, none have been approved or passed, although a bidding process for the final site will begin as soon as this year.

The announcement also mentioned "a review of Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup including the potential benefits of introducing new age group events."  What those age groups would be I can only guess, but perhaps a 21-and-under competition or an 18-and-under competition. The former has never existed that I'm aware of, but there were 18-and-under international team events called the Sunshine Cup (boys) and Connolly Continental Cup(girls), which were discontinued in 2001.

I've always thought the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup, the 16-and-under events, and the World Junior Tennis competition, the 14-and-under events, have a workable format, with 16 teams in each gender and one site with round robins determining the semifinalists and doubles deciding a match if tied at 1-1. But although this is much simpler to understand for the average fan, with the 16 teams decided in regional qualifying, it eliminates the home and away ties that have always been so integral to these team formats.  How the ITF negotiates its way through all the changes it's contemplating will be interesting to follow in the months ahead.

Mikael Torpegaard, the Ohio State junior, is having quite a Challenger debut at the $50,000 tournament in Columbus this week.  The 22-year-old wild card from Denmark advanced to the singles semifinals with a 6-2, 7-5 win over qualifier Gonzales Austin, and reached the doubles semifinals, with teammate Herkko Pollanen, with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Steven De Waard of Australia and Ben McLachlan of New Zealand.  Torpegaard will play unseeded Tennys Sandgren in Saturday's singles semifinals; top seed Benjamin Becker of Germany faces unseeded JP Smith of Australia in the other semifinal.

At the $10,000 Futures in Irvine, California, top seed Mackenzie McDonald is through to the semifinals, where he'll play No. 7 seed Alexios Halebian. McDonald advanced over unseeded Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, the US Open boys finalist, 7-5, 6-2.  Last week's California Futures champion Sebastian Fanselow, the former Pepperdine star, is also into the semifinals, with the No. 6 seed facing fellow German Jan Choinski, the No. 2 seed. Choinski defeated No. 8 seed Marcos Giron, who was playing his first Pro Circuit tournament since hip surgeries last winter, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

McDonald and Deiton Baughman, the top seeds, took the doubles title today, beating wild cards Ryan Seggerman and Timothy Sah, both junior players, 6-4, 6-3.

McDonald was one of many former college players to collect a doubles title on the Pro Circuit this week.

Former Ohio State star Peter Kobelt won the title at the $25,000 Futures in France, partnering Sam Barry of Ireland. Barry and Kobelt, who were unseeded, defeated Daniel Appelgren and Patrik Rosenholm of Sweden, also unseeded, 6-4, 7-6(4) in the final. Barry and Kobelt did not drop a set all week.

Alex Rybakov(TCU) and Dominic Cotrone(South Florida) won the doubles title at the $10,000 Futures in Italy, beating Florian Fallert and Demian Raab of Germany 5-7, 6-3, 10-6 in a final between two unseeded teams. It is the first pro doubles title for Rybakov and the third for Cotrone.

Yet another unseeded team won a doubles title in the $25,000 Futures in Canada, with former North Carolina star Brayden Schnur and Filip Peliwo of Canada beating No. 2 seeds Ivan Endara of Ecuador and Nicolas Jarry of Chile 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

No. 7 seed Schnur reached the semifinals in singles by defeating qualifier Roy Smith, an 18-year-old who picked up his first ATP points this week, 7-5, 6-3.  He will face qualifier Nicholas Hu(Harvard) in one Canada-US semifinal, while the other features top seed Adam El Mihdawy against 19-year-old Alejandro Tabilo of Canada.

Fall college tennis is in full swing this weekend, with no fewer than 30 events in Division I, including the Southern Intercollegiate Championships in Athens, Georgia.  Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today has links to all the tournaments here.

Regionals for Division I are some time away yet, but with the ITA Oracle Cup, the new name for the National Small College Championships, scheduled for October 13-16 in Surprise, Arizona, the other divisions will be completing their regional competitions over the next two weeks.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Part II of American Collegiate Invitational Competitors: Talking with the Men; ACI Recap

My recap of the American Collegiate Invitational at the US Open is available at the Tennis Recruiting Network today, with details on the sweep of the titles by Virginia's Danielle Collins and Thai Kwiatkowski. On Monday, I posted excerpts from my interviews with the eight women participating in the event; below are comments from the eight men who competed at the ACI.  I personally missed Michael Redlicki due to his retirement from his quarterfinal match with Kwiatkowski; the comments below are from the USTA's interview with him.

Konrad Zieba, 21, Northwestern senior:

On his first exposure to US Open: It's the first time I've been here during the Open. I've played National Indoors and I've been around here, but it's obviously a different atmosphere during the Open. It was a great experience, having a credential and being able to use the facilities, walking through Ashe and everything, it's amazing.

On his major: I'm studying Political Science with a minor in Business.

On playing professional tennis after graduation: I want to try it out. Obviously, I'm keeping my options open. I just want to finish school first and then I'll decide.

On his schedule this fall: I'm be at All-Americans and hopefully will qualify for Indoors again.

Christopher Eubanks, 20, Georgia Tech junior:

On the highlights of his summer: Definitely Atlanta (at the ATP event there). That and Davis Cup (as part of the USTA Collegiate Camp there), probably in that order.  Play in my hometown, do pretty well there, come through pre-qualies and then actually qualify was really cool. And then to get out there and be around Davis Cup, the best Americans, see what they do on a daily basis, and kind of live it up with them was really cool.

On the academic challenges at Georgia Tech, where he is majoring in business with a marketing concentration: I knew coming in that school and tennis, in that order, were going to be my main focus. I knew the social life would come in third, so I dedicated myself to those two. As long as you utilize the resources that are available, which I think I've done a pretty good job of, I don't think it's as tough as people make it out to be.

On his schedule this fall:  I'll play a few fall tournaments, All-Americans, hopefully National Indoors and I'll be going to the Oracle ITA Masters in Malibu.

Jared Hiltzik, 22, Illinois graduate:

On finishing school and relocating: I graduated with a degree in Communication, moved down to Florida about three weeks ago. That's my main training base now, Saddlebrook. My coach in juniors was Billy Heiser, so I'm with him and Christopher Williams there.

On his first few months as a pro: They've gone really well. I've gotten a lot better. This was a really good summer--I had a lot of points to defend from last year--and I did a pretty good job of that while also getting better at the same time.

On his impressions of the experiment with the 20-second serve clock: When I first heard about it, I actually thought it was going to be a good idea, but when I started doing it, it was really quick. I didn't realize how quick they started; 20 seconds is really fast.

Michael Redlicki, 22, Arkansas senior:

On participating in the American Collegiate Invitational for the first time: I want to thank the USTA for inviting me, because it's an honor to be considered one of the top eight best American players in college.  It took a lot of work to finish where I did in the nation(25). I'll always be humbled by the opportunity of coming here.

On the injury that caused him to retire from first round match: I don't know what's going on, but something's going on and I couldn't play. Not to discredit Thai, Thai came back from a slow start and all credit to him, I wish him the best of luck the rest of the week. Hopefully I don't have any serious condition or anything. I'm just scared right now.

Tom Fawcett, 20, Stanford junior:

On his health: I've been battling a few things for a month or so, but I'm finally close to being one hundred percent. I'm not quite there right now, but I should be soon.

On his major: I just declared. Science, Technology and Society. It's only at a couple of schools around the country, and Stanford's one of them.

On his summer accomplishments: I've been happy with it. We set out some goals for the summer, not result-oriented, and I feel like I'm either at those goals or getting closer and closer. I'm happy with the way I'm progressing and I think the results will come down the line.

On his fall schedule: I'll be playing for sure, a few college events this fall. I think I'm playing All-Americans. I'm not a hundred percent sure yet, but I would guess so.  And I'll be able to play a handful of those (USTA Pro Circuit) events in the fall.

Ryan Shane, 22, Virginia soon-to-be graduate:

On his struggles with his serve: It's been the same for the past year or so now, whether my serve is on or off. If my serve is on, I feel everything sort of works together, flowing pretty easily. I have it for glimpses here and there and play great matches, but when it's not on, it's pretty bad.

On his plan to get his degree: I'm one class away and I'm taking it online to transfer over, so I'll be done in the next few months. My degree will be in Foreign Affairs. I'm following in my older brother's footsteps and my dad. I like it, it was interesting, a lot of fun to study.

On his knee injury: I went to a doctor and he told me I had a tear in it. He told me it's not that bad, if I just stop playing tennis; this was a month ago, but I haven't stopped and it's kind of progressively gotten worse, especially on the serve. I'll see what I want to do after these next two tournaments, or one tournament honestly, if I'm going to take time off and let it heal or wait until the off-season, but the off-season is pretty far away.

Austin Smith, 22, Georgia graduate, with major in consumer economics:

On starting his pro career: I don't even have any (ATP) points yet. I've had a tough summer, run into some tough opponents, it's a tough road. I'm going to give it some time. In the words of Bo Hodge, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. You've got to be patient and definitely give it some time. It's a process. Someone said when you went to college you start as a freshman and you are a freshman now on the pro tour. It definitely takes time and I understand that it's not going to be easy. There will be a lot of lows, but hopefully more highs.

On his schedule this fall:  After this I'm going to Israel, going to play some Futures over there. Three weeks in a row there, come back for a week and then there's a couple out in California, then Birmingham. The goal is to pick up some points, and once I get that, hopefully getting enough so I can get in qualies of Challengers and continue. The faster you can get there the better.

On the benefits of college tennis: Manny (Diaz) has an unbelievable track record. I came in pretty immature, at least on the court, for sure on the court, and he and Will Glenn and Bo Hodge, they all did such a good job being patient. I have a pretty bad history with my attitude and those guys just found a way to put things in perspective for me, found ways to relate with me and honestly get me to have more fun out there. It was an unbelievable experience, and playing on a team, playing for someone other than yourself, it puts things in perspective for you.

Thai Kwiatkowski, 21, Virginia senior:

On playing Futures in Finland this summer: Part of being a tennis player is you get to go to a lot of cool places. For me this time, that was Finland. It was a pretty cool experience. I got to travel with a veteran (Rubin Statham of New Zealand) and kind of learn from him for the two weeks, so that was really helpful. It's nice to travel with guys who have been around and they can teach you the ins and outs of Futures, Challengers.

On Virginia having both women's and men's champions at ACI this year: That's pretty cool. The women's program at UVA is one of the best in the country.  When you have two of the eight (competitors) with Julia (Elbaba) losing a tough one in the semis,  it honestly could have been Danielle and Julia and Ryan and I.  That just shows what a powerhouse Virginia tennis is, men and women. Coach Guilbeau knows what he's doing, and obviously Coach Boland knows what he's doing.

On overcoming fatigue during the final:  The heat started getting in my head. It's when you hit that wall, you just got to find a way to push through. In the past, I haven't been able to do that, so today I just wanted to tell myself a little bit more, a little bit more. And when on one or two points you push, you can get a second wind and that happened late in the second. I was just trying to fight through.

On his fall schedule: I'm probably going to play All-Americans. I can't miss too much school because of my major. I'm in business school.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

World No. 1 Junior Day Tops List of Tulsa Pan American Closed Acceptances; Brady Reaches WTA Guangzhou Quarterfinals; Dolehide Qualifies, Wins Opening Round at Albuquerque $75K

The acceptances for next month's ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed in Tulsa have been posted, and for what I believe is the first time ever, the No. 1 junior in the world is among them.  Defending champion Kayla Day heads the girls list, and although she may, of course, withdraw in the next week or two, the depth found in the current US junior girls will assure a good field.

The US girls receiving direct entry, just in the ITF Top 100 alone are: Day, Taylor Johnson, Maria Mateas, Caty McNally, Morgan Coppoc, Natasha Subhash, Ashley Lahey, Ellie Douglas, Carson Branstine, Hurricane Tyra Black, Kylie McKenzie, Victoria Emma and Abigail Desiatnikov.  The 28 others include US Open Junior quarterfinalist Vanessa Ong, Grade 1 International Hard Courts semifinalist Hailey Baptiste and 18s Clay Court champion Ann Li.  Of the 46 girls accepted, 41 are from the United States.

The top-ranked boy in the acceptances is Italy's Liam Caruana, whose immigration status has been approved by the USTA, allowing him to compete, as he did in the Easter Bowl, in this geographically closed event.  Top 100 US boys accepted are Sam Riffice, Oliver Crawford, Gianni Ross, Trent Bryde and Patrick Kypson.

It's difficult to overstate how important this tournament is for those Americans (and Canadians and Central/South Americans) eligible to play the junior slams next year.  Aside from the US Open and the Orange Bowl, no US tournament provides more points, so a deep run there can provide a major boost in amassing enough points for the 2017 junior slams.

Former UCLA Bruin Jennifer Brady, still in her first full year on the WTA tour, had not won a WTA-level match (she has won matches in the WTA 125 series) until this week in China, where she has now won two at the Guangzhou International level tournament. Brady defeated qualifier Anastasia Pivovarova of Russia in the first round and No. 6 seed Danka Kovinic of Montenegro today 6-3, 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals, where the 21-year-old will play 18-year-old Croatian Ana Konjuh, the No. 3 seed.  Alison Riske, the No. 4 seed, has also reached the quarterfinals, where she will play unseeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine.

At the $75,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Albuquerque, 18-year-old Caroline Dolehide qualified, beating top seed Valeria Solovyeva of Russia 6-4, 6-3 in Tuesday's final round, and today she won her first round main draw match, beating 19-year-old Nadia Podoroska of Argentina 6-3, 7-6(4).  Dolehide, who plays No. 3 seed Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay next, joins Sachia Vickery and No. 5 seed Taylor Townsend as the only Americans to reach the second round.

At the $50,000 ATP Challenger in Columbus, Ohio State junior and NCAA finalist Mikael Torpegaard is into the quarterfinals of his first ever Challenger.  The 22-year-old wild card from Denmark defeated Nick Meister in the first round and No. 4 seed Peter Polansky of Canada 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-4 in a second round match this afternoon. Torpegaard served for the match at 5-3, was broken, but hit two backhand winners, the second on match point, to break Polansky for the victory. The ATP website has comments from Torpegaard about his wins and the allure of college tennis for players from small countries.  The other quarterfinalists in Columbus are all former collegians: Tennys Sandgren, Sekou Bangoura and qualifier Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador.

At the $10,000 men's Futures in Irvine, California, UCLA has four former or current players into the second round: top seed Mackenzie McDonald, the 2016 NCAA champion, who took a wild card into the event, senior wild card Joe Di Giulio, junior wild card Martin Redlicki and 2014 NCAA champion Marcos Giron, the No. 8 seed. Giron is returning to competition after two hip surgeries last winter. McDonald and Di Giulio play each other in Thursday's second round.

The $25,000 Futures in Niagara, Canada this week, which honors the memory of former University of Kentucky All-American Bruno Agostinelli, has plenty of Americans through to the second round, including top seed Adam El Mihdawy and last week's Canadian Futures finalist Rhyne Williams. Two current Cornell players--qualifier Lev Kazarov of Russia, a freshman, and wild card David Volfson of Canada, a sophomore--have also advanced to the second round.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

USA's Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup Teams; Nominations for all Nations Competing in Budapest Sept 27-Oct 2

The Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup competitions begin next Tuesday, with the USA sending three boys and three girls to Budapest, Hungary for the International Tennis Federation's 16-and-under team event.

The boys team, coached by Leo Azevado of the USTA:
Sebastian Korda
Keenan Mayo
Sangeet Sridhar

The girls team, coached by Adam Peterson of the USTA:
Amanda Anisimova
Claire Liu
Caty McNally

Claire Liu's participation in the ITF's two team competitions, the 14-and-under World Junior Tennis and the Junior Fed Cup, may be equalled, but it is unlikely to be surpassed, as she has been on every team the US has sent to the competition for the past four years.  She was part of the 2013 USA team that won the World Junior Tennis title and last year was on the Junior Fed Cup team that finished second to the Czech Republic.

US Open boys champion Felix Auger-Aliassime is leading Canada's Junior Davis Cup team, the defending champions.  Like Liu, Auger-Aliassime has been a stalwart for his country, with this his third consecutive appearance on the Canadian national team.

Below are the players on each team, starting with those countries who have teams in both the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup competitions. Interesting to note that there is no team in either competition from France, Spain or Australia.

Argentina's Junior Davis Cup team:
Sebastian Baez
Thiago Tirante
Tomas Descarrega

Argentina's Junior Fed Cup team:
Maria Lourdes Carle
Azul Pedemonti
Andrea Farulla

Canada's Junior Davis Cup team:
Felix Auger-Aliassime
Nicaise Muamba
Chih Chi Huang

Canada's Junior Fed Cup team:
Bianca Andreescu
Isabelle Boulais
Layne Sleeth

Czech Republic's Junior Davis Cup team:
Ondrej Styler
Tomas Machac
Evzen Holis

Czech Republic's Junior Fed Cup team:
Lucie Kankova
Karolina Berankova
Radka Buzkova

Hungary's Junior Davis Cup team:
Daniel Khin
Peter Makk
Mate Voros

Hungary's Junior Fed Cup team:
Fanni Gecsek
Timea Visontal
Reka Zadori

India's Junior Davis Cup team:
Adil Kalyanpur
Siddhant Banthia
Megh Patel

India's Junior Fed Cup team:
Mahak Jain
Sathwika Sama
Shivani Amineni

Japan's Junior Davis Cup team:
Naoki Tajima
Rimpei Kawakami
Takeaki Ito

Japan's Junior Fed Cup team:
Ayumi Miyamoto
Yuki Naito
Naho Sato

Morocco's Junior Davis Cup team:
Soufiane El Mesbahi
Ismail Saadi
Achraf Nafaa

Morocco's Junior Fed Cup team:
Diae El Jardi
Oumaima Aziz
Rim Benhadi

Russia's Junior Davis Cup team:
Alen Avidzba
Timofey Skatov
Alexey Zakharov

Russia's Junior Fed Cup team:
Olesya Pervushina
Anastasia Potapova
Varvara Gracheva

Belarus's Junior Fed Cup team:
Yulia Hatouka
Anna Kubareva
Katyarina Paulenka

Brazil's Junior Davis Cup team:
Thias Seyboth Wild
Joao Lucas Reis
Mateus Alves

Bulgaria's Junior Davis Cup team:
Adrian Andreev
Leonid Sheyngezikht
Yoan Georgiev

Chile's Junior Davis Cup team:
Ignacio Becerra
Garizon Abarzua
Alan Sanson

China's Junior Davis Cup team:
Lingxi Zhao
Tao Mu
Yecong Mo

Egypt's Junior Davis Cup team:
Yusuf Khamis
Adham Gaber
Faris Zakaryia

Germany's Junior Davis Cup team:
Constantin Zoske
Henri Squire
Leopold Zima

Great Britain's Junior Fed Cup team:
Francesca Jones
Nell Miller
Eliz Maloney

New Zealand's Junior Fed Cup team:
Nina Paripovich
Tamara Anderson
Emilia Price

Peru's Junior Fed Cup team:
Anastasia Iamachkine
Almudena Boza
Dana Guzman

Poland's Junior Fed Cup team:
Iga Swiatek
Maja Chwalinska
Stefania Rogozinska-Dzik

Switzerland's Junior Davis Cup team:
Henry Von Der Schulenburg
Damien Wenger
Yannik Steinegger

Thailand's Junior Fed Cup team:
Watsachol Sawasdee
Thasaporn Naklo
Natthapat Piwbangruk

Uruguay's Junior Fed Cup team:
Fernanda Secinario
Lucia De Santa Ana
Agustina Cuestas

Monday, September 19, 2016

Part I of American Collegiate Invitational Competitors: Talking with the Women

I spoke with all eight of the participants in the women's draw at the USTA's American Collegiate Invitational during the second week of the US Open to get their thoughts on the event, playing in New York, their schedules and their plans for the future. I will have a similar update from the men later this week, along with a recap of the tournament for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Francesca Di Lorenzo, 19, Ohio State sophomore:

On her summer: It's was a good summer, played a lot of tennis, a lot of tournaments, got my ranking up there a little bit, so I was happy with the summer.

On possibly turning pro after freshman year: I'm signed up for classes, taking it year by year and see how it goes. If I'm going to leave, I'm going to leave with confidence, knowing that I'm playing my best tennis and I've succeeded, or done everything I wanted to do in college. The competition is so tough in the pros and you don't see as many younger kids being top 100 anymore.

On her major: I'm undecided. I'm probably going to go into sports industry, because I love sports and it's a little bit easier.

On Ohio State's team: I think we're definitely a contender for a national championship this year. Last year was a bunch of firsts for our team, we were No. 1 for a week at some point. Two, three years ago we were unranked so to go to No. 1 was a really big achievement. Our team's working to get back to the NCAAs and do better than we did last year.

On her fall schedule: Right now I'm scheduled to play All-American and if I make to National Indoors, I'll play that one. I'm going to try to play some pro tournaments, see how that goes. I want to keep my pro ranking (currently 365) up.

Hayley Carter, 21, North Carolina senior:

On her last season of college tennis: In some ways it feels like I've been there 20 years and in other ways I feel like I've been there for five minutes. But it's truly been the best three years of my life and I'm so excited for one more year. I did almost everything I could do last year individually, so this year, I'm looking to do everything team-wise that we can possibly do.  I think we have a great team and I'm so excited for the future of the program, not just this year but going forward.

On her major: I'm an economics major. I'm super nerdy, fun fact of the day. I'm better in the classroom than I am on the court.

On playing pro tennis next year: That is the goal. I'm applying for quite a few grad school scholarships, but you can postpone those for five to seven years. So I'm going to play as long as I want to, as long as I feel I'm making adequate improvements on the court. I'm most excited for the doubles aspect of things. I think a lot of people throw doubles to the side sometimes, I think unfairly. I'm a big doubles player and I like the doubles game a lot. Hopefully I can play on these courts in the doubles game for sure. And hopefully in singles as well, but I'm looking to do whatever I can to be out here for as long as I can.

On her fall schedule: I'm actually doing online classes this fall. I'm playing Stillwater, Florence and Macon (USTA Pro Circuit events), and I'm planning on doing All-Americans, Malibu and Indoors. I was out most of the summer with injuries, so I'm happy to get back in the swing of things.

Brooke Austin, 20, Florida junior:

On her abbreviated preparation for the American Collegiate Invitational:  I haven't played a singles match since July. I had a procedure done on my back and then working with Kourtney(Keegan)  I was having a lot of pain and I figured I may as well do it now and get it over with, get ready to play doubles with Kort.

On playing in the US Open women's doubles main draw:  I've played singles a couple of times; I haven't played in the main, but I've played in qualies. To be in the main draw was a really cool experience. It was fun, we had a great time. We played Asia(Muhammad) and Taylor(Townsend), who got to the quarterfinals. We had some chances, a couple of games went to deuce, but here you play ad, and we're sort of used to playing no-ad now. We had a really good crowd, which we were surprised, because it rained half the day.

On her fall schedule: I'm going to try to play a couple of pro tournaments and then do All-Americans and Indoors.

On her major: I was doing telecom, but I switched to criminal justice, because telecom got too hands on, more cameras, interviewing, you have to be in class. With as much tennis as I wanted to play, I needed to switch.  After I'm done playing, whenever that will be, go to law school and do sports law.

Kennedy Shaffer, 19, Georgia junior(in January):

On playing at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center:
I think this is a great opportunity for kids like me who have never played here before.  You get to experience what it's like, and I'll tell you what, if you're not used to it, it will destroy you.  I've never played a junior slam, never played higher than a $25K before. This is a big, big difference. It's really great of the USTA to be helping people like me and others, who don't get to play these.

On her successful summer, which included her first Pro Circuit title:
I feel I've really taken a step up in a lot of things. This wasn't one of those days when you can say, wow, I'm seeing my progress show through, but it's a new stage, new pressures, new expectations and that's tough to manage.  But right now, I feel I'm starting to make a lot of good developments in my game, so if I can keep going down the right path, keep working hard, [I'll] get things to come.

On teammate Ellen Perez playing in the US Open women's singles draw:  It's great. Any time you see a Georgia Bulldog, we're a family, and I was cheering from afar and I know the team was doing the same. We streamed Ellen's match, everyone was on live scoring. It was awesome to have her here and a good opportunity.

On her fall schedule: I made main of All-Americans, so for once, I don't have to go through pre-qualifying. We have a couple of $10Ks on our schedule, I know there's the Florence $25K up there. I didn't make the Malibu, but hopefully back here for indoors.

Julia Elbaba, 22, Virginia graduate:

On playing in her hometown:  I had a lot of friends and family come out, and I'm really appreciative of that.  And playing in such an incredible place, no matter how you do, I'm going to use that experience in the future to my advantage.

On her major: I got my degree in media studies. I had to do one summer session, so I finished in July officially.

On her plans for playing after college:  I'm going to play some pro tennis. I had a good $25K in Landisville (Pa., where she reached the final), so I'm definitely going to use that tournament to my advantage, keep it rolling hopefully in Atlanta($50K) next week. I got a wild card, but I'm just five out of the main draw, and it's a good thing to know that your ranking can get you that close, because I've never really had that because of college tennis.

On her fall schedule:  I'm just taking it one tournament at a time, seeing what I can get into at this point.

Breaunna Addison, 21, Texas graduate (in December)

On finishing school this fall:
I graduate in the fall and I'll be a coach for the University of Texas tennis team, so I'm really excited about that. I'll continue to train, and hopefully get a few (pro) tournaments in. I haven't really decided what's the next step, but I'm looking forward to graduating soon. My degree will be in sports management.

On her summer activities and her injuries: This summer I actually took an internship and a few classes, so I didn't have a lot of time to dedicate to training. I think a lot of my injuries were caused by lack of being on the court and preparing. But I've had an elbow injury before and that's what I was experiencing today, and I think a pinched nerve in my ribs. But no excuses (Collins) played well.

On playing on the USTA BJKNTC courts: This is amazing. I never played the junior slam here, so it's my first time here, as a player, so I'm really excited and blessed to have this experience. The atmosphere was like no other; this was the best experience I've had as a tennis player.

Ronit Yurovsky, 22, University of Michigan graduate:

On her mindset coming into the competition:  I had a pretty good summer, made the semis at Winnipeg ($25K) and made the semis (at $10K in Austin) after that. So I had a little bit of confidence coming in here for sure; I felt pretty good with my game. I'd been here a week training so I felt pretty good, and I knew when I stepped on the court I was capable of winning.

On her first exposure to the US Open: It's been really exciting to play this college event, because I never played the junior slams. This is my first time actually playing on these courts. It's been exciting playing here and I'm just enjoying it. This opportunity and experience has been amazing. Hopefully I'll be back next year, and the year after that.

On completing her degree at Michigan: I graduated this May, with a degree in sports management.

On her fall schedule: Right after this, it's just tournament after tournament.

Danielle Collins, 22, Virginia graduate

On finishing her degree: I took six credits in the summer, because I didn't want to do 15 and 15 each semester. I did a summer session, which was pretty intense; I went to school every day for seven hours. So I'm really happy to be done and have my degree. And it's a good thing to fall back on too.

On the USTA's third annual ACI:  It's really cool that they're putting on this tournament for college players. It really showcases the best players in the country and does a lot for college tennis. So I'm really appreciative of everything the US Open is doing in allowing us to play here.

On having Nick Bollettieri as a personal coach:  He's been working with me since I was in high school and he's still getting up in the mornings with me at 6 a.m., so we see a lot of each other in the morning, probably more than he would like, because I'm a grumpy person. He was here with me at the Open and he really wanted to see my last college matches. It’s great to see him in your corner, still kicking it, and IMG is a great place to train. All through high school I was there and then at winter break I'd go back, any weekend I had off from school I'd go train at IMG.

On no-ad format in college: Tennis has traditionally been played with ads, so the fact that they're changing the scoring format, I don't understand the thought process behind it. I think it's time, but are we really get that match TV time for college tennis? That was one of the reasons they said we were going to do no-ad scoring, but we're not getting a lot of college tennis time on ESPN. We do get a little bit, and that's great, but I do think it's kind of sad that they're changing the game. I think the ads are a really important part. I don't know if Roger Federer would have won as many grand slams if he would have been playing no-ad.... But I won NCAAs one year playing ads and NCAAs one year not playing ads. So I don't know. I think I was the better player at NCAAs, I'd like to think that, but I'm still kind of confused on the whole rationale.

On the benefits of college tennis:  I think like a lot of people, I had a lot of growing up to do. I was very immature, and I think college was great for me, because it taught me to grow up and be more independent.  I was really far away from my family when I went to Virginia and I didn't get to see them often, and that was really hard for me. But also with the challenges I faced academically, going to such a prestigious university, it really teaches you how to balance your time, and so many different aspects of life. I've taken so many classes that I'll remember forever and use them in my everyday life, but there's also experiences outside of the classroom that teach you a lot about life. I'm happy I went to college and I think everybody should go at some point in their life.