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Monday, October 31, 2016

Virginia's Soderlund Defeats Groth, Kwiatkowski and Aragone Qualify at Charlottesville Challenger; Qualifying Complete at Birmingham Futures, Toronto $50K; Zhuk Wins Tampico Title; Holt is Southern Cal Intercollegiate Champion

Although Virginia freshman Carl Soderlund has yet to play a college match, he had already established himself as one of the top players in Division I with his ATP ranking inside the Top 500 and a semifinal appearance at the $25,000 Futures in Irvine California this fall.

The 19-year-old from Sweden received a wild card into this week's $50,000 ATP Challenger in Charlottesville and came away with an impressive first round win this evening, beating Sam Groth of Australia, the champion at the Las Vegas Challenger two weeks ago, 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-2.  He will play the winner of Tuesday's match between Tommy Paul and No. 4 seed Denis Kudla.  Cavalier junior Alexander Ritschard, who received a wild card into the main draw, fell to No. 2 seed Jared Donaldson tonight in his first round match 6-2 3-6, 6-2.

Two other members of the University of Virginia men's team are now in the main draw however, with seniors Thai Kwiatkowski and JC Aragone claiming victories in today's final round of qualifying.

Wild card Aragone defeated Dominik Koepfer of Germany, the recent Tulane star, 6-3, 7-6(7), while Kwiatkowski downed No. 5 seed Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe 6-4, 6-3.  Both Aragone, who is the ITA Atlantic Regional champion, and Kwiatkowski, who received a wild card, are in the singles draw at the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, which begins Thursday morning in New York. Aragone, who has never played a main draw Pro Circuit match above the Futures level before, faces unseeded Liam Broady of Great Britain in the first round Tuesday, with Kwiatkowski drawing No. 5 seed Tim Smyczek.

The other two qualifiers are Gonzales Austin, the former Vanderbilt star, who faces wild card Mackenzie McDonald in the first round and top seed Yuki Bhambri of India, who will play No. 6 seed Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland.

Reilly Opelka, who beat Sekou Bangoura 5-7, 7-5, 6-4, and Tennys Sandgren, who defeated Brydan Klein of Great Britain 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-1 advanced to the second round with wins earlier today.

All matches are being streamed free of charge this week in Charlottesville, with commentary by Mike Cation on those on Court 7, or Centre Court on the Livestream feed.

The main draw of the $10,000 Birmingham Alabama Futures begins on Tuesday, after eight qualifiers were determined in today's matches. Getting through a 128-player qualifying draw is an accomplishment in itself, although there are no ATP points awarded unless the qualifier wins his first round match.  Seventeen-year-olds Benjamin Sigouin of Canada and Alexandre Rotsaert are through to the main draw, as are five current collegiate players: Niclas Braun(Mississippi State), Harrison Richmond(Virginia/Central Florida), Guillermo Nunez(TCU), Sasha Gozun(South Florida) and Alex Diaz(Georgia). Former Florida State/South Florida standout Dominic Cotrone is the eighth qualifier.

The top seed in the main draw is Jose Statham of New Zealand, with Wil Spencer the No. 2 seed.  US Open boys champion Felix Auger-Aliassime is playing a US Futures event for the first time in his career. The 16-year-old is the No. 4 seed. Wild cards went to Hunter Johnson(SMU), Sam Edwards(Clemson), Martin Joyce(Ohio State) and Jimmy Bendeck(Baylor).

The qualifying is still underway at the $50,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit event in Scottsdale Arizona, but it is complete at another $50,000 event in North America, in Toronto Canada.  Former Michigan teammates Emina Bektas and Ronit Yurovsky both qualified into the main draw, as did recent Virginia graduate Julia Elbaba.  Seventeen-year-old Katherine Sebov of Canada also reached the main draw via qualifying.  CiCi Bellis is the top seed, and will play Usue Arconada in the first round.  Wild cards went to Gabriela Dabrowski, Layne Sleeth and Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada and Carson Branstine.

Raveena Kingsley, back in action for the first time since July due to an injury, won her first round match, beating Pia Konig of Austria 6-2, 6-4. Bianca Andreescu of Canada, a finalist two weeks ago in the Saguenay $50,000 tournament, also won her first round match, beating Dabrowski.  Nicole Frenkel defeated No. 7 seed Lauren Albanese in first round action and Jessica Wacnik took out No. 5 seed Laura Robson.

The USTA released the standings for the women's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, with Kayla Day leading with 80 points, followed by Danielle Collins with 48 and Grace Min with 29.  The complete list of those with points can be found here.

The final of the $50,000+H tournament in Tampico Mexico didn't finish until late last night, with 2015 Wimbledon girls champion Sofya Zhuk taking the title with a 6-4, 6-3 win over fellow Russian Varvara Flink. Zhuk, still just 16, was a wild card entry into the tournament.

Katie Swan of Great Britain and Usue Arconada, both of whom reached the singles quarterfinals, advanced to the doubles final, but were beaten by top seeds Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania and Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-0, 6-2.

The final of the Southern California Intercollegiate Championships was an all-Trojan affair, with USC freshman Brandon Holt, the No. 2 seed, defeating senior Nick Crystal, the No. 3 seed, 6-3, 6-4 for the title. Second seeds Holt and Riley Smith were in the doubles final, but their opponents from Texas Tech, top seeds Bjorn Thomson and Alexander Sendegeya, were unable to stay for the Monday final, so it went unplayed. Holt's next stop is New York, for the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.  For more, see the USC website.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Day Defeats Collins for Macon $50K Title; Charlottesville Challenger Kicks Off Men's USTA Australian Open Wild Card Race; Ayeni Wins Singles Title at ITF Grade 2 in Japan

Seventeen-year-old Kayla Day won her first title on the professional circuit today, and, while that is always an important occasion, there were other reasons that added to its significance.  Day's 6-1, 6-3 win over qualifier Danielle Collins in the championship match of the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Macon means she will most likely make the qualifying draw of the Australian Open, with her ranking moving to around 207, after ending 2015 at 988. She also takes the lead in the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge for the main draw wild card next January in Melbourne, although two more tournaments, in Scottsdale and Waco, give other Americans an opportunity to catch her.

Day, who dropped only one set in the tournament, was simply too solid for Collins today.  Collins was coming off a near-perfect performance in the semifinals against No. 3 seed and defending champion Rebecca Peterson and the odds were against her playing that well for a second straight day and she didn't.  The shots that were hitting the lines yesterday were an inch or two out today, and Day was not giving Collins any cheap points. Collins didn't serve particularly well, but Day's returns often neutralized a good first serve, and Day did a much better job of holding her court position near the baseline.

Collins went down early in the first set and was unable to recover, but she went up a break early in the second set, only to give it right back. Collins tried drop shots, moon balls, and anything else she could think of to disrupt Day, but Day adjusted each time.  A poor game at 4-2, when Day double faulted twice, gave Collins a chance to get back in the match, but she failed to convert a game point for 4-4 and was broken. Serving for the match, Day went up 30-0 but Collins won the next two points, one on a double fault. At 30-all, Day hit a good first serve that Collins couldn't get back in play to earn a match point, and she converted it with a forehand winner when Collins' weak return of another good first serve landed short.

Despite the loss, it was a great week for Collins, who won seven matches to reach her first $50,000 final and brought her ranking to just outside the WTA Top 300. Hopefully the two-time NCAA champion will receive a wild card or special exemption into the main draw in Scottsdale, where the qualifying began today.

The final is available for replay here.  For quotes from both finalists after the match, see this article from the Macon's The Telegraph.

In the doubles final prior to the singles championship, top seeds Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands and Taylor Townsend took the champions' trophy, defeating unseeded Sabrina Santamaria and Keri Wong 3-6, 6-2, 10-6.  It's Townsend's sixth doubles title of the year but the first without Asia Muhammad, who won her eighth doubles title of the year this week in Australia, partnering Arina Rodionova of Australia. Muhammad also made the singles final of the $50,000 tournament in Bendigo.

At the $25,000 Futures in Burlingame, California, top seed Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium defeated No. 2 seed Sam Barry of Ireland 6-1 6-2 for the title.

Stefan Kozlov, seeded fifth, lost in the final of the $75,000 ATP Challenger in China. The 18-year-old fell to top seed Rendy Lu of Taiwan 6-0, 6-1.

Main draw matches in the $50,000 ATP Charlottesville Challenger, the first tournament in the men's USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, begin Monday.  The final round of qualifying will kick off the day's action, with four current college players--Illinois' Aron Hiltzik, Wake Forest's Petros Chrysochos and Virginia's Thai Kwiatkowski and JC Aragone--just one win from the main draw.

Frances Tiafoe and Jared Donaldson are the top two seeds; wild cards were given to Virginia graduate Ryan Shane, current Cavalier players Alexander Ritschard and Carl Soderlund, and Mackenzie McDonald. Shane plays Tiafoe and Ritschard drew Donaldson.

Seventeen-year-old Alafia Ayeni won his second career ITF title Sunday at the Grade 2 tournament in Japan.  The No. 9 seed, whose previous title came at a Grade 4 in the Dominican Republic last year, defeated No. 3 seed Yuta Shimizu of Japan in the final, by the unlikely score of 6-7(8), 7-6(1), 7-6(6). No. 3 seed Mahak Jain of India won the girls title, defeating top seed Yuki Naito of Japan 0-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Collins and Day Reach Macon $50K Final; Kozlov Makes Challenger Final in China; Lyeons and Beck Win Titles at ITF Grade 4 in Atlanta

Danielle Collins and Kayla Day earned straight set victories today in the semifinals of the $50,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Macon, Georgia and will face off Sunday for the title and the lead in the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge.

Collins, a qualifier who has won seven matches since last Sunday, rolled past No. 3 seed and defending champion Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 6-2, 6-0 in just over an hour.  Collins could hardly have played better; everything was working for the 22-year-old Floridian, who is just three months into her pro career after graduating from Virginia this summer.  Peterson, who is 125 in the WTA rankings this week, didn't play badly, but Collins was on fire, hitting with such pace, depth, and angles that Peterson was a spectator for the last 11 games of the match, all won by Collins, who never faced a break point.  If you think I'm exaggerating her level of play, see for yourself. The match is available on replay here.

Day's 6-2, 7-5 win over No. 4 seed Grace Min was a tough one by comparison, but impressive too, since she had needed three hours to win her 6-0, 6-7(5), 7-6(4) quarterfinal over Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria on Friday.  Day dominated the first set, but trailed 3-0 in the second before winning three straight games to even it. None of her first four second-set service holds were easy--Day saved five break points in that stretch--but after she broke Min at love to take a 6-5 lead, she closed it out with a love hold. That had to be particularly satisfying for the 17-year-old Californian after failing to serve out the match three times against Karatantcheva.

Neither Collins nor Day has ever reached a $50,000 final before in their limited professional careers, but both have had plenty of experience in big finals, with Collins winning the NCAA singles title twice and Day playing one of the best matches of her life in the final of the US Open Junior Championships last month.  The winner will take the lead in the race for the USTA's reciprocal Australian Open wild card, with two tournaments left in the competition after this week.  The singles final will be streamed after the doubles final, which begins at noon EDT.

At the $75,000 ATP Challenger in China, 18-year-old Stefan Kozlov has reached the final, advancing when Alexander Kudryavtsev of Russia retired trailing 6-3, 0-1.  Kozlov, the No. 5 seed, will face top seed Yen-Hsun(Rendy) Lu of Taiwan in pursuit of his first Challenger title in his third career Challenger final.

At the $25,000 men's Futures tournament in Burlingame, California, both Americans lost in the semifinals.  Top seed Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium defeated Raymond Sarmiento(USC) 6-2, 6-3 and No. 2 seed Sam Barry of Ireland came from behind to eliminate Mico Santiago 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.   Top seeds Ruben Gonzales of the Philippines and and Ruan Roelofse of South Africa, both former Illinois players, defeated No. 3 seeds Barry and Peter Kobelt(Ohio State) 6-4, 6-4 to take the doubles title.

Jaycer Lyeons won his second ITF Grade 4 singles title of the month today in Atlanta.  The 15-year-old Texan defeated 17-year-old Sebastian Mermersky of Bulgaria 6-4, 7-5 in the final.  Fifteen-year-old Chloe Beck of Georgia won the girls title, beating Victoria Hu 6-3, 6-3 in the championship match.

Victoria Flores and Madeline Meredith won the girls doubles title, beating Ali Despain and Addison Guevara 5-7, 6-0, 10-8 in the final.
Neither team was seeded.

In the boys doubles final, No. 3 seeds Harrison Brown of Australia and Vikash Singh of India defeated Christian Alshon and Tyler Zink, the No. 4 seeds, 6-2, 6-2.

Alafia Ayeni has advanced to the final of the ITF Grade 2 in Japan. The No. 9 seed defeated No. 4 seed Naoki Tajima of Japan 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinals, and will play No. 3 seed Yuta Shimizu of Japan for the title.

Friday, October 28, 2016

My Interview with Wake Forest's Tony Bresky; Min, Day and Collins Advance to Macon $50K Semifinals; Atlanta G4 ITF Finals Set; Ayeni Defeats Top Seed in ITF Grade 2 in Japan

I don't get the opportunity to talk to Division I college coaches quite as much as I used to, now that I am not traveling to college tennis events, but I try to make up for that when I see them on the recruiting trail.  Earlier this month in Tulsa, I spoke with Wake Forest men's head coach Tony Bresky, who is now in his sixth year with the Demon Deacons, after eight years as an assistant at Virginia and one year as head coach at Cornell.  Bresky got an MBA, but it didn't take him long to learn that finance was not going to be satisfying career. In addition to how he started in coaching, I spoke to Bresky about his time at Virginia, his coaching philosophy, the difference between college and junior tennis, the importance of honesty in the recruiting process and many other topics in this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Three Americans have advanced to the semifinals of the $50,000 Women's USTA Pro Circuit event in Macon, Georgia, which is the first of three tournaments that will decide the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge.  In the only match featuring Americans that was streamed, No. 4 seed Grace Min defeated unseeded Jamie Loeb 6-2, 6-3.  The two matches on the non-streamed court were much more dramatic, with Kayla Day defeating Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria 6-0, 6-7(5), 7-6(4) and qualifier Danielle Collins beating Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-1, 7-5.

Day and Karatantcheva played for just over three hours, which is remarkable given that the first set went to Day in just 24 minutes.  Day served for the match on three separate occasions; after going up 4-0 in the second set, the 17-year-old Californian couldn't close it out serving at 5-4 and 6-5.  In the third set, Day was up 2-0, 3-1 and 5-2, but again she could not serve out the match at 5-4, getting broken without reaching match point.

Day went up 5-1 in the tiebreaker, with the 27-year-old former WTA Top 100 player closing the gap to 5-3 and 6-4, but Day finally was able to avoid what would have been a painful loss. She is in the semifinals of a $50,000-level event for the first time, and will play Min next.

The 22-year-old Collins, who just graduated from Virginia this summer, reached her first semifinal at the $50,000 level by winning the last six games of the second set, after Ohio State sophomore Di Lorenzo had taken a 5-1 lead in the second set.  Collins will play No. 3 seed and defending champion Rebecca Peterson of Sweden, who defeated unseeded Alize Lim of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

The doubles final is set with top seeds Taylor Townsend and Michaella Krajicek taking on unseeded Keri Wong(Clemson) and Sabrina Santamaria(USC).

At the $25,000 Futures in Burlingame, California, No. 4 seed Raymond Sarmiento(USC) and unseeded Mico Santiago have advanced to the semifinals.  Sarmiento defeated Benjamin Hannestad 6-4, 6-1, while Santiago beat wild card Andre Goransson, the Cal senior, 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-1.  Sarmiento will play top seed Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium, with Santiago's opponent No. 2 seed Sam Barry of Ireland.

At the $75,000 ATP Challenger in China, Stefan Kozlov has advanced to the semifinals.  The No. 5 seed defeated No. 3 seed Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in today's quarterfinals and will face unseeded Alexander Kudryavtsev of Russia Saturday.

The finals are set for the ITF Grade 4 in Atlanta, with all four finalists unseeded.  Sebastian Mermersky of Bulgaria will play Jaycer Lyeons in the boys final, with Victoria Hu and Chloe Beck meeting in the girls final.  It's a young group, as well, with Memersky the oldest at 17. Lyeons will be 16 next month, Beck is 15 and Hu is 14.

No. 9 seed Alafia Ayeni has reached the semifinals of the ITF Grade 2 in Japan, taking out top seed Toru Horie of Japan 6-2, 6-4.  Ayeni, who lost in the second round of the Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup last week to eventual champion Yosuke Watanuki of Japan, faces No. 4 seed Naoki Tajima of Japan in the semifinals.  Naomi Cheong has advanced to the semifinals in doubles.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Day Defeats Crawford, Collins Ousts Brady to Reach Macon $50K Quarterfinals; Seeds Posted for Indoor Intercollegiate Championships

The top two seeds at this week's $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Macon, Georgia went out today, with 17-year-old US Open girls champion Kayla Day defeating top seed Samantha Crawford 6-3, 6-2 and NCAA champion Danielle Collins taking out No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady 7-5, 7-6(2).

With the free live streaming provided at usta.com, I was able to watch most of those two matches, as well as Jamie Loeb's 7-5, 6-2 win over Danielle Lao.

Crawford is both powerful and erratic, and she was misfiring enough today to give Day many opportunities. To Day's credit, she took them, and she didn't trail for a minute of the 71-minute match. Facing only two break points in the second set, Day came up with big serves both times to save them.  Day, who has now reached the quarterfinals of a $50,000-level tournament twice this year, will play unseeded Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria Friday.

Although the score is not always an indication of the quality of a match, the Brady - Collins match was played at a very high level by both players, with neither shying away from the lines.  The tone was set in the first game, a 20-point affair that took 13 minutes, with Collins eventually breaking Brady, then holding for a 2-0 lead.  Brady came back to take the next three games, then broke Collins for a 5-3 lead, but she was unable to close out the set, not reaching set point.  Collins broke for a 6-5 lead and after failing to convert three set points, she did take the fourth to secure the first set.

Collins got the first break of the second set to go up 3-2, but Brady broke right back and that was it for break of serve.  Collins held with no difficulty at 4-5 and 5-6, and the first point of the tiebreaker proved to be significant.  Collins played both offense and defense, and after a long rally, Brady sent a backhand wide. When Collins held her two serves and Brady double faulted for a 4-0 Collins lead, most of the suspense was gone, and when Collins hit a blistering return winner to go up 5-0, the last few points in the two-hour and 20-minute match were a formality.  Collins, who won three matches in qualifying, including a 7-6 in the third win over Catherine Harrison, is now 3-0 in tiebreakers in this tournament.

Collins will play Ohio State sophomore Francesca Di Lorenzo in the quarterfinals, after Di Lorenzo defeated Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 6-4, 6-2 to advance to her first quarterfinal at the $50,000 level.

Loeb will also play an American in the quarterfinals, facing No. 4 seed Grace Min, who defeated Basak Eraydin of Turkey 6-2, 6-4.

Last night at the $50,000+H ITF Women's Circuit event in Mexico, Usue Arconada advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Renata Zarazua of Mexico.  She will play Varvara Flink of Russia on Friday. Seventeen-year-old Katie Swan of Great Britain and 2015 Wimbledon girls champion Sofya Zhuk of Russia, 16, also have reached the quarterfinals.

The fields are complete for next week's USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships and the seeds have been posted.

Women's singles seeds:
1. Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State
2. Ena Shibahara, UCLA
3. Luisa Stefani, Pepperdine
4. Hayley Carter, North Carolina
5. Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt
6. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
7. Sinead Lohan, Miami
8. Jessie Aney, North Carolina

Women's doubles seeds:
1. Jessie Aney and Hayley Carter, North Carolina
2. Apichaya Runglerdkriangkrai and Luisa Stefani, Pepperdine
3. Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr, Cal
4. Mayar Ahmed and Christine Maddox, Pepperdine

Women's participants:
Karla Popovic, Cal, Northwest Regional champion
Ashley Lahey, Pepperdine, Southwest Regional champion
Claudia Herrero, Nevada, Mountain Regional champion
Blair Shankle, Baylor, Texas Regional champion
Lily Miyazaki, Oklahoma, Central Regional champion
Kate Fahey, Michigan, Midwest Regional champion
Valeria Salazar, Syracuse, Northeast Regional champion
Aldila Sutjiadi, Kentucky, Ohio Valley Regional champion
Marie Faure, William & Mary, Atlantic Regional champion
Sara Daavettila, North Carolina, Carolina Regional champion
Allie Michaud, Auburn, Southern Regional champion
Eleni Christofi, Georgia, Southeast Regional champion
Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State, All-American champion
Ena Shibahara, UCLA, Oracle Masters champion
Sinead Lohan, Miami, All-American consolation winner
Hayley Carter, North Carolina, All-American semifinalist
Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt, All-American semifinalist
Camile Gbaguidi, SCAD, Oracle Cup champion
Rima Asatrian, Columbia, host wild card
Maegan Manasse, Cal, USTA wild card
Viktoriya Lushkova, Oklahoma State, ITA wild card
Jessie Aney, North Carolina, at-large
Josie Kuhlman, Florida, at-large
Sydney Campbell, Vanderbilt, at-large
Andie Dikosavljevic, Auburn, at-large
Alex Najarian, Michigan, at-large
Jessica Livianu, St. John's, at-large
Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina, at-large
Belinda Woolcock, Florida, at-large
Mayar Sherif Ahmed, Pepperdine, at-large
Meible Chi, Duke, at-large
Luisa Stefani, Pepperdine, Oracle Masters finalist

Men's singles seeds:
1. Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State
2. Thai Kwiatkowski, Virginia
3. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest
4. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State
5. Alfredo Perez, Florida
6. Yuya Ito, Texas
7. Michael Redlicki, Arkansas
8. Arthur Rinderknech, Texas A&M

Men's doubles seeds:
1. Filip Bergevi and Florian Lakat, Cal
2. Skander Mansouri and Christian Seraphim, Wake Forest
3. Tommy Bennett and David Warren, Rice
4. Julian Cash and Arjun Kadhe, Oklahoma State

Men's entries:
Andre Goransson, Cal, Northwest Regional champion
Gage Brymer, UCLA, Southwest Regional champion
Jakob Amilon, UNLV, Mountain Regional champion
Arthur Rinderknech, Texas A&M, Texas Regional champion
Jose Salazar, Arkansas, Central Regional champion
Strong Kirchheimer, Northwestern, Midwest Regional champion
Chris Vrabel, Cornell, Northeast Regional champion
Ryan Peniston, Memphis, Ohio Valley Regional champion
JC Aragone, Virginia, Atlantic Regional champion
Skander Mansouri, Wake Forest, Carolina Regional champion
Nuno Borges, Mississippi State, Southern Regional champion
Guy Iradukunda, Florida State, Southeastern Regional champion
Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest, All-American champion
Hugo Di Feo, Ohio State, All-American finalist
Alfredo Perez, Florida, All-American semifinalist
Christian Sigsgaard, Texas, All-American semifinalist
Brandon Holt, USC, All-American consolation winner
Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State, All-American quarterfinalist
Chris Eubanks, Georgia Tech, All-American quarterfinalist
Florian Lakat, Cal, All-American quarterfinalist
Tom Fawcett, Stanford, All-American quarterfinalist
Thai Kwiatkowski, Virginia, USTA wild card
Jolan Cailleau, Texas Tech, ITA wild card
Oliver Frank, Azusa Pacific, Oracle Cup champion
Ryotaro Matsumura, Kentucky, Oracle Masters champion
Shawn Hadavi, Columbia, host wild card
Michael Redlicki, Arkansas, at-large
Nicolas Alvarez, Duke, at-large
Yuya Ito, Texas, at-large
Ronnie Schneider, North Carolina, at-large
Wayne Montgomery, Georgia, at-large
Gustav Hansson, Mississippi, at-large

See this ITA webpage for the full list of doubles participants, and also check out Bobby Knight's College Tennis Today for more on how the at-large selections were made.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Metropolia Orange Bowl Acceptances Feature Top Two Boys and Top Two Girls in ITF Junior Rankings; Ohio State's Di Lorenzo Among Five Americans Advancing at Macon $50K

Acceptances for the final ITF Grade A tournament of 2016, the Metropolia Orange Bowl, were released today, with the No. 1 and No. 2 players in both the boys and the girls rankings entered.

This is highly unusual, particularly on the boys side.  No. 1 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who is 18 and 207 in the ATP rankings after an excellent year on the Pro Circuit, has lost in the Orange Bowl final the last two years. In 2015, it was No. 2 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia who defeated Tsitsipas, in a third-set tiebreaker; in 2014, in was Stefan Kozlov who beat him.  Most top boys do not a) defend a major title and b) play junior events if they are in the Top Five, opting instead to concentrate on moving up in the ATP rankings.  Securing the ITF year-end World Junior Champion title appears to be Tsitsipas' motive for continuing to play junior events, although it must be said he likes to play a lot period. In the first 10 months of 2016, he has played 26 tournaments, 18 pro and 8 junior, going 77-20 (which does not include qualifying). 

Kecmanovic, who is 17, with another year of junior eligibility, is not entered in the Grade A in Mexico City next month, and because he trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, defending his title in Plantation may be the least difficult path to assuming the ITF No. 1 ranking at the beginning of 2017.

Wimbledon girls champion Anastasia Potapova of Russia, who took over the No. 1 spot with her recent title at the Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup, is just 15, so she needs all the extra entries she can get if she would like to begin working on a WTA ranking, which she currently does not have.  Seventeen-year-old Kayla Day, who took over the No. 1 ranking when she won the US Open, fell to No. 2 after Potapova's recent title. Day has almost another whole year of WTA age restrictions, having just turned 17, and at 268 in the WTA rankings,  she too would like the additional "merited increases" and exempt entries into higher level ITF Women's Pro Circuit events that come with finishing the year as a top junior.  Both Potapova and Day are entered in Mexico City's Grade A as well as the Orange Bowl.  Potapova is only defending 150 points(not including doubles) until season end; Day, a finalist at last year's Orange Bowl, is defending 375.

The boys entries have only one other Top 10 player, French Open boys champion Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France, with the ranking cutoff 135. The highly regarded Canadian juniors, Wimbledon champion Denis Shapovalov and US Open champion Felix Auger-Aliassime, did not enter, as expected.

The girls entries show seven of the Top 10 competing. Aside from Potapova and Day, they are Olesya Pervushina of Russia(3), Amanda Anisimova(4), Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine(8), Usue Arconada(9) and Claire Liu(10).  Yastremska's entry is something of a surprise, as the 16-year-old has not played a junior event since reaching the final at Wimbledon and has had enough success on the ITF Women's Circuit to improve her WTA ranking nearly 150 points, to 341.  The girls ranking cutoff is a very impressive 93. For comparison, the Mexico City Grade A's initial cutoff was 151.

In addition to the four Top 10 US girls in the acceptances, ten more received entry: Taylor Johnson, Caty McNally, Ellie Douglas, Maria Mateas, Natasha Subhash, Morgan Coppoc, Sofia Sewing, Michaela Gordon, Ashley Lahey and Carson Branstine.  Gordon and Lahey, who just won the ITA Southwest Regional title as a Pepperdine freshman, are not entered in the Mexico Grade A, while the rest are.  Hurricane Tyra Black is next in, with Abigail Desiatnikov third out.

The US boys receiving direct entry into the Orange Bowl are: Sam Riffice, Gianni Ross, Trent Bryde, Oliver Crawford, Vasil Kirkov, Patrick Kypson, Alexandre Rotsaert and Brian Cernoch.  Alafia Ayeni is two places out.  Riffice, Ross, Crawford and Kirkov are not entered in the Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano.

Entries for the 16s Orange Bowl have closed, but the acceptances are not yet out.  Go to the USTA's Orange Bowl tournament page for more information.

Five Americans joined Tuesday winners Kayla Day, Samantha Crawford(1), Jamie Loeb, Grace Min(4) and Danielle Lao in the second round of the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Macon, Georgia. Qualifiers Danielle Collins and Emina Bektas earned victories, as did lucky loser Ronit Yurovsky, with Ohio State sophomore Francesca Di Lorenzo and No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady also advancing.  Collins defeated Robin Anderson 6-2, 6-3 and will play Brady, another former UCLA star, next. Brady defeated qualifier Alexandra Mueller 6-1, 6-2. Although the ITF shows only one head-to-head meeting between Collins and Brady, back in 2011 junior competition, they did meet in the third round of the 2015 NCAA championships, with Collins winning 6-1, 7-5.  

Bektas defeated wild card Jessica Wacnik 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 and Yurovsky advanced over Ellie Halbauer 6-1, 6-3.  Di Lorenzo outlasted No. 7 seed Sachia Vickery, with Vickery retiring down 6-1, 4-6, 5-0.  All ten US women will be in action on Thursday, with Day playing Crawford, Collins playing Brady and Loeb playing Lao in the all-US matchups.

At the $25,000 Futures in Burlingame California, No. 5 seed Peter Kobelt, Marcos Giron and qualifier Michael Zhu won their matches today, joining Americans Connor Farren, Raymond Sarmiento(4), wild card Tom Fawcett and Mico Santiago in the second round.  Wild card Andre Goransson, the Cal senior who reached the final last week in Berkeley, losing to Giron, also advanced. For the second straight week Goransson defeated Lucas Gomez of Mexico, the No. 8 seed this week. Last week it was 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals, this week Goransson won their first round encounter 6-3, 7-6(1).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ITA Regional Championships Complete; Neel, Collins, Bektas, Mueller Qualify in Macon $50K, Day Advances to Second Round

The ITA Division I Regional Championships wrapped up today, after two long weekends of action across the country.  The results of all 12 Regional singles finals are below. All 12 men's and women's regional champions have earned entry into the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships next week in New York.  Click on the winner's school to see the athletic website reporting on the match (if available).

ATLANTIC: Marie Faure(5) William and Mary def. Derya Turhan(5), Marshall 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(6)

CENTRAL: Lily Miyazaki(5), Oklahoma def. Carla Tur Mari(9), Oklahoma State 6-3, 6-3.

SOUTHERN: Alizee Michaud(4), Auburn def. Andie Dikosavlijevic(1), Auburn, 6-2, 6-4.

MOUNTAIN: Claudia Herrero Garcia(6), Nevada def. Sheila Morales(17), Nevada 6-0, 7-5.

SOUTHWEST: Ashley Lahey(6), Pepperdine def. Zoe Katz(12), USC 6-2, 6-3.

TEXAS: Blair Shankle(2), Baylor def. Neda Koprcina(9), Texas 6-1, 6-0

OHIO VALLEY: Aidila Sutjiadi(2), Kentucky def. Sydney Campbell(1), Vanderbilt 6-2, 7-6(6)

CAROLINA: Sara Daavettila(1), North Carolina def. Jessie Aney(3), North Carolina 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-2

SOUTHEAST: Eleni Christofi(9), Georgia def. Josie Kuhlman(9), Florida 7-6(5), 2-6, 7-6(4)

MIDWEST: Kate Fahey(3), Michigan def. Alex Najarian(13), Michigan 6-2, 6-2

NORTHEAST: Valeria Salazar(5), Syracuse def. Jessica Livianu(3), St. John's 6-2, 6-3

NORTHWEST: Karla Popovic(5), Cal def.  Emma Higuchi(9), Stanford 6-2, 6-2

The other automatic bids for women:
Hayley Carter, North Carolina, (All-American semifinalist)
Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt, (All-American semifinalist)
Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State, (All-American champion)
Ena Shibahara, UCLA, (All-American finalist, Oracle Masters champion)
Sinead Lohan, Miami, (All-American consolation winner)
Camille Gbaguidi, Savannah College of Art and Design, (Oracle Cup [small college] champion

That leaves 14 at-large and wild card spots yet to be filled in the women's Indoor draw.

Gage Brymer, photograph courtesy YourGameFace.com
NORTHWEST: Andre Goransson(1), Cal def. Filip Bergevi(5), Cal 6-4, 7-6(3)

SOUTHERN: Nuno Borges(5), Mississippi State def. Constantin Schmitz(5), Tulane 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.

CAROLINA: Skander Mansouri(1), Wake Forest def. Gabriel Friedrich(4) South Carolina 6-4, 6-4

ATLANTIC: JC Aragone(2), Virginia def. Jacob Dunbar(6), Richmond 6-1, 6-4

MOUNTAIN: Jacob Amilon(3), UNLV def. Kai Wehnelt(9), Utah State 6-4, 6-3

SOUTHWEST: Gage Brymer(2), UCLA def. Thibault Forget(4), USC 6-1, 7-6(3)

TEXAS: Arthur Rinderknech(1), Texas A&M def. Jolan Cailleau(2), Texas Tech 6-1, 7-5

CENTRAL: Jose Salazar(3), Arkansas def. Matic Spec, Minnesota 7-5, 2-6, 6-4

MIDWEST: Strong Kirchheimer(2), Northwestern def. Kevin Wong(14), Michigan 6-3, 6-0

OHIO VALLEY: Ryan Peniston(5), Memphis def. Trey Yates(13), Kentucky 6-0, 3-6, 6-4

SOUTHEASTERN: Guy Iradukunda, Florida State def. Wayne Montgomery(1), Georgia 3-6, 6-1, 6-3

NORTHEAST: Chris Vrabel(17), Cornell def. Josh Pompan(9), Penn 6-4, 6-4

The other automatic bids for the men:
Florian Lakat, Cal  (All-American quarterfinalist)
Alfredo Perez, Florida (All-American quarterfinalist)
Chris Eubanks, Georgia Tech, (All-American quarterfinalist)
Tom Fawcett, Stanford, (All-American quarterfinalist)
Christian Sigsgaard, Texas, (All-American semifinalist)
Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State, (All-American semifinalist)
Hugo Di Feo, Ohio State, (All-American finalist)
Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest, (All-American champion)
Brandon Holt, USC, (All-American consolation winner)
Ryotaro Matsumura, Kentucky, Oracle Masters champion
Oliver Frank, Azusa Pacific, (Oracle Cup [small college] champion)

That leaves nine at-large and wild card spots yet to be filled.

Bobby Knight has more on the Regionals at College Tennis Today.

Qualifying was completed today at the $50,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Macon, Georgia, with four Americans advancing to the main draw.  Danielle Collins(2) defeated Yuliya Beygelzime of Ukraine 6-3, 7-6(5); Alexandra Mueller downed top qualifying seed Alyona Sotnikova of Ukraine 6-1, 6-2; Emina Bektas defeated former Michigan teammate Ronit Yurovsky 6-3, 7-5 and Ingrid Neel beat No. 4 seed Pia Konig of Austria 6-4, 6-2.  Collins will play Robin Anderson, Mueller drew No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady, Bektas faces wild card Jessica Wacnik and Neel will play No. 3 seed Rebecca Peterson of Sweden. Yurovsky won the lucky loser lottery and will play Ellie Halbauer in Wednesday's first round action.

Six first round matches were played today in addition to the final round of qualifying.  Top seed Samantha Crawford advanced and will play fellow US Open girls champion Kayla Day in the second round after Day defeated Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-3.  2015 NCAA champion Jamie Loeb(UNC) beat No. 5 seed Taylor Townsend 7-5, 6-2.  Wild card Danielle Lao(USC) got past Kristie Ahn(Stanford) 6-4, 6-4 and No. 4 seed Grace Min defeated wild card Sabrina Santamaria(USC) 6-3, 6-3.

Live streaming at Macon, with Ken Thomas of radiotennis.com on the commentary, is available here.

Last night at the $50,000+H ITF Women's Circuit event in Mexico, Usue Arconada defeated No. 8 seed Laura Robson of Great Britain 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the second round.  Qualifier Hanna Chang won her match over Anna Zaja of Germany and will play fellow teenager Katie Swan of Great Britain in the second round.  Lauren Albanese and qualifier Nicole Coopersmith are the other Americans advancing to the second round.

Monday, October 24, 2016

USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge Begins for Women This Week in Macon $50K; Grade 4 ITF in Atlanta Underway; Apisah Wins WTA Future Stars Competition

The USTA today announced the USTA Pro Circuit tournaments that will make up its Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, the annual competition for the wild card the USTA receives in return for providing one for Tennis Australia to use for the US Open.

The men's competition, in which the best two results from three $50,000 Challengers, measured by ATP points earned in the main draw, begins next week in Charlottesville Virginia, then moves to Knoxville Tennessee the following week and concludes the next week at the tournament in Champaign Illinois.

The women's competition is also made up of three events, all at the $50,000 level, with the only difference being that the women's competition begins this week in Macon Georgia.  The other two tournaments are next week in Scottsdale Arizona and the following week in Waco Texas.  Last year Noah Rubin won the men's Australian Open wild card with his title in Charlottesville, and Samantha Crawford won the women's wild card with her title in Scottsdale.  Last year Scottsdale was the last of the three, but this year it has switched calendar weeks with Waco.

Crawford is the top seed this week in Macon, with wild cards going to Sabrina Santamaria, Danielle Lao, Jessica Wacnik and Alexa Guarachi, who now plays for Chile. Qualifying, which is three rounds to determine four qualifiers, finishes on Tuesday.  Americans in the final round of qualifying are Alexandra Mueller, Danielle Collins, Ingrid Neel and former Michigan teammates Emina Bektas and Ronit Yurovsky, who play each other for a spot in the main draw.

The men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament this week is a $25,000 Futures in Burlingame California.

As he was last week, Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium is the top seed, with Sam Barry of Ireland the No. 2 seed. Berkeley Futures champion Marcos Giron is in the draw, as is Berkeley finalist Andre Goransson of Cal, who received a wild card for the second straight week.  The other three wild cards went to Tom Fawcett of Stanford, and Billy Griffiths and Gunther Matta, both from Cal.

The ITF Grade 4 in Atlanta this week is the first of three lower-level ITF events in the US leading up to the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl.  Grade 4s in South Carolina and Boca Raton follow in consecutive weeks.  Although most of the Atlanta competitors are from the US, the No. 1 seeds are not, with Taiwan's Ray Ho and Ireland's Georgia Drummy at the top of the draws.  The tournament's website is here.

A Future Stars competition is held conjunction with the WTA Finals in Singapore, with 16-and-under and 14-and-under champions in fields comprised of competitors from the Asia-Pacific region.  This year's 16-and-under champion is Violet Apisah of Australia, who is the younger sister  neice of former Georgia State All-American Abigail Tere-Apisah. For more on Apisah's win, see this article from the Sydney Morning Herald. Shiori Ito of Japan won the 14-and-under title.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Potapova, Watanuki Win ITF Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup Titles; Bellis Beats Andreescu in $50K Final; Giron, Koepfer Claim Futures Titles; Ymers Capture Stockholm Doubles Crown

No. 2 seed Yosuke Watanuki of Japan and No. 1 seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia won singles titles Sunday at the ITF Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup in Japan. Watanuki avenged his recent US Open boys semifinal loss to top seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, coming back to post a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. The 18-year-old, who has won two Futures titles this year, both in Japan, adds a second Grade A title to his junior resume, having won the Grade A in Brazil this spring.

Potapova defeated No. 4 seed and defending champion Mai Hontama of Japan 6-2, 6-4 in the final, and with her title, the 15-year-old Wimbledon girls champion should reclaim her No. 1 spot in the ITF junior world rankings from Kayla Day when the new rankings come out on Monday.

Kecmanovic did take home a winner's trophy in doubles, with he and Ergi Kirkin of Turkey, the No. 2 seeds, beating top seeds Toru Horie and Yuta Shimizu of Japan 6-2, 4-6, 10-2.  Potapova fell short of sweeping the titles in Osaka. The top-seeded team of Potapova and Emily Appleton of Great Britain lost to No. 4 seeds Yang Lee of Taiwan and Xiyu Wang of China 6-4, 7-5.

For more on the Osaka Mayor's Cup, see the ITF junior website.

Seventeen-year-old CiCi Bellis won her first event as a professional today and her first at the $50,000 level, defeating 16-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada 6-4, 6-2 in the final at Saguenay, Canada.  Bellis, who has said improving her serve is a goal, has to be happy with her numbers in that part of the game today.  She had seven aces, just two double faults and got 72.5% of her first serves in play.  Andreescu, who had such a grueling semifinal win over Jennifer Brady on Saturday, managed to earn just one break point, which she converted early in the first set, but she couldn't pressure Bellis, who had a walkover on Saturday, after that.

Bellis will move up to around 102 in the WTA rankings with the title, meaning she is likely to receive direct entry into the main draw of the 2017 Australian Open.

At the $25,000 Futures in Berkeley, California, former UCLA Bruin Marcos Giron won his first Futures title since March of 2014, two months before he claimed the NCAA singles title.  Giron, who had surgery on both hips this winter, defeated wild card Andre Goransson of Sweden 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4, the third straight match he had come back from dropping the first set.  Goransson, a senior at Cal, served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, but never got to a match point in that game or in the tiebreaker, although he was up 5-4 in tiebreaker before Giron won the last three points. At 4-4 in the third set, Giron saved a break point and then broke Goransson, who had never won more than one match in a Futures tournament until this week.

At the $25,000 Futures in Harlingen, Texas, unseeded Dominik Koepfer, the former Tulane star, won his first Futures singles title, defeating No. 6 seed Luke Bambridge of Great Britain 6-4, 6-4.  Since completing his eligibility in May, the 22-year-old German had reached three Futures quarterfinals and one semifinal, all in the US, before this week.

The doubles title in Harlingen went to top seeds Evan King and Bambridge, who defeated juniors Evan Zhu and John McNally 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

Unseeded Sam Groth of Australia won the $50,000+H ATP Challenger in Las Vegas, defeating No. 4 seed Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5 in today's final.  Top seeds Matt Reid of Australia and Brian Baker won the doubles title, beating unseeded Bjorn Fratangelo and Denis Kudla 6-1, 7-5.

At the ATP 250 in Stockholm, Sweden, Jack Sock fell to Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the final 7-5, 6-1. Brothers Mikael and Elias Ymer, 18 and 20 years old continued their dream run at their home ATP event, winning the doubles title with a convincing 6-1, 6-1 victory over Michael Venus of New Zealand and Mate Pavic of Croatia.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Bellis and Andreescu Meet in Saguenay $50K All-Teen Final; Goransson and Giron Face Off for Berkeley Futures Title; Remaining DI ITA Regionals Heating Up

Seventeen-year-old CiCi Bellis and 16-year-old Bianca Andreescu have reached the final of the $50,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Saguenay, Canada by starkly different methods.

Top seed Bellis didn't have to play a point in advancing, with No. 4 seed Sachia Vickery giving her a walkover into the final.  Andreescu, facing No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady, went two hours and 34 minutes before coming out with a 7-6(4), 3-6, 7-6(5) decision. With Andreescu serving for the match at 5-4 in the third, Brady saved four match points in a marathon game before finally breaking back.  Brady saved another match point at 6-4 in the tiebreaker, but Andreescu finally converted it for the victory.

Andreescu wasn't as fortunate in the doubles final, although she and fellow Canadian junior Charlotte Robillard-Millette put up a serious fight against top seeds Elena Bogdan and Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania before falling 6-4, 6-7(4), 10-6.

The success of current college players in pro events continued today at the $25,000 Berkeley Futures, with Cal senior Andre Goransson of Sweden blowing past No. 6 seed Lucas Gomez of Mexico 6-1, 6-0 in just over an hour to reach the final.  Wild card Goransson, who won the ITA Northwest Regional on Monday, has yet to lose a set in his four wins, beating three seeds, with all three losing a set to Goransson 6-0.

On the other extreme is Goransson's opponent in the final, 2014 NCAA champion Marcos Giron, who has now won two consecutive matches after dropping the first set 6-1.  Giron's 1-6, 6-3, 7-5  semifinal win over top seed and former ATP Top 100 player Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium is Giron's best win since returning from hip surgery this fall, although just a year ago, prior to his two hip surgeries, he defeated Australian John Millman, ranked 74 at the time, in the second round of a Challenger in Australia.

Like Andreescu, Goransson fell short in the doubles final, with top seeds Connor Smith and Rhyne Williams defeating alternates Goransson and partner Sem Verbeek of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-3.

At the $25,000 Harlingen Futures, former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany has reached his first Futures final, beating Texas-Arlington sophomore  Guanarteme Nuez Delgado of Spain 6-3, 6-0 in today's semifinals.  Koepfer will face No. 6 seed Luke Bambridge of Great Britain for the title, after Bambridge defeated No. 8 seed Benjamin Lock of Zimbabwe 6-3, 6-4.

The $50,0000+Hospitality Las Vegas ATP Challenger final will have No. 4 seed Santiago Giraldo of Colombia playing Sam Groth of Australia. Giraldo needed nearly three hours to top No. 8 seed Marco Trungelliti of Italy 7-5, 6-7(2), 7-6(5), while Groth eliminated Sekou Bangoura 7-6(5), 6-4.  The Sunday doubles final will have top seeds Matt Reid of Australia and Brian Baker facing unseeded Bjorn Fratangelo and Denis Kudla.

Speaking of doubles finals, the Stockholm ATP event has gotten a big local boost by the run of the young Ymer brothers, wild cards who have made it to the doubles final.  Twenty-year-old Elias and 18-year-old Mikael will play Michael Venus of New Zealand and Mate Pavic of Croatia in the final Sunday.  Jack Sock and Juan Martin del Potro have advanced to the singles final, with Sock reaching the final there for the second straight year.

Eight of the ITA Division I Regionals were played last week, with 12 more this week. All are scheduled to be completed by Tuesday and I will post all singles final results then.  Bobby Knight is following this weekend's action closely, so visit College Tennis Today for daily updates.

Friday, October 21, 2016

My Article on Bolton's Commitment to UCLA; Top Seeds Potapova, Kecmanovic Reach Osaka Semifinals; Andreescu Joins Three Americans in $50K Semis in Canada

While I was in Tulsa for the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed, I had an opportunity to talk with quarterfinalist Elysia Bolton about her recent commitment to UCLA in this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network.  Bolton, a 16-year-old blue chip, is not entering college until September of 2018, but said getting that decision made helps free her to concentrate on her tennis in the next two years.

The singles semifinals and doubles finals of the Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup will be played overnight in Japan, with top girls seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia and top boys seed Miomir Kecmanovic still on course for a title in both singles and doubles.   No. 2 seed Xiyu Wang of China, who had beaten Potapova this summer, is out however, losing to No. 5 seed Ayumi Miyamoto of Japan. Miyamoto plays defending champion Mai Hontama of Japan, the No. 4 seed, while Potapova faces No. 13 seed En Shuo Liang of Taiwan.  Kecmanovic defeated No. 6 seed Liam Caruana of Italy, who went from Tulsa one week to Osaka the next, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and will play No. 10 seed Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan in the semifinals. No. 2 seed Yosuke Watanuki of Japan and No. 3 seed Nicola Kuhn of Germany will face off in the other boys semifinal.

Sixteen-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada, who has already won a $25,000 Women's ITF tournament in the past three months, has reached the semifinals of this week's $50,000 tournament in Saguenay, Canada.  Andreescu, currently No. 7 in the ITF Junior rankings, defeated Harriet Dart of Great Britain 7-6(4), 6-4 to advance to the semifinals, joining three seeded Americans.   No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady eliminated Canadian teen qualifier Charlotte Robillard-Millette 6-3, 7-6(5) and will face Andreescu in the semifinals.  The other semifinal features top seed CiCi Bellis against  No. 4 seed Sachia Vickery.  Bellis downed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 6-2, 6-4, while Vickery defeated Maria Sanchez  6-1, 7-6(0).

Just one American remains at the $50,000 ATP Challenger this week in Las Vegas: unseeded Sekou Bangoura. Bangoura defeated Bryden Klein of Great Britain 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and will face Sam Groth of Australia in the semifinals. Groth took out Tennys Sandgren 7-6(2), 7-5. 

All three American men in the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Futures in Harlingen, Texas lost today.  One of the semifinals will have No. 6 Luke Bambridge of Great Britain facing No. 8 seed and former Florida State star Benjamin Lock of South Africa. The other semifinal is between former and current college players. Tulane alum Dominik Koepfer of Germany will play University of Texas-Arlington sophomore Guanarteme Nuez Delgado of Spain, a qualifier. The 19-year-old Nuez had no ATP ranking and had not won a main draw Futures match until this week; he lost to Koepfer in the second round qualifying last week in Houston.

Eighteen-year-olds John McNally and Evan Zhu have reached the doubles final in Harlingen, with the unseeded pair facing top seeds Bambridge and Evan King.

At the $25,000 Futures in Berkeley, California, 2014 NCAA champion Marcos Giron defeated Rhyne Williams to reach the semifinals, where he will face top seed Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium.  Wild card Andre Goransson of Cal continued his fine play; after winning the ITA Northwest Regional title on Monday, the senior from Sweden, who hadn't won a Futures match since 2012, has won three, all in straight sets, beating two seeds in the process. He will play No. 6 seed Lucas Gomez of Mexico in the semifinals.  Goransson has also reached the doubles final with Sem Verbeek of the Netherlands.  The pair, who received entry as alternates, will face top seeds Williams and Connor Smith on Saturday

Thursday, October 20, 2016

ITF No. 1s Tsitsipas and Day Lead ITF Abierto Juvenil Grade A Acceptances; Torpegaard Reaches Quarterfinals at Las Vegas Challenger

The acceptance lists are out for the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano in Mexico City November 14-20, with both ITF junior No. 1s leading the fields.

Boys No. 1 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece has no points to defend there, so he is looking to pad his lead in the race for the title of ITF World Junior Champion in 2016. He currently leads Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada by over 130 points, with the 16-year-old Auger-Aliassime not expected to play any more junior tournaments this year, and perhaps ever.  No. 3 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia is playing the Grade A Mayor's Osaka Cup this week and has reached the quarterfinals, but Orange Bowl champion is not entered in Mexico.  Although still eligible, last year's champion Genaro Olivieri of Argentina is not entered.

Girls No. 1 Kayla Day told me in Tulsa that she is hoping to finish 2016 as World Junior Champion, and she also does not have any points to defend (except in doubles) there.  She does however have points to defend the following week as the Grade 1 Yucatan champion and she is not playing there. Anastasia Potapova of Russia could take over as girls No. 1 by winning in Osaka this week, and she too is entered in Mexico City.   No. 3 Olesya Pervushina of Russia has entered, and No. 4 Amanda Anisimova will return to defend her title.

In all, seven of the ITF Top 10 girls are entered, including Americans Claire Liu and Usue Arconada.  The boys field has only two ITF Top 10 players entered in Tsitsipas and French Open boys champion Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France.

The US girls who received direct acceptance in additional to Day, Anisimova, Arconada and Liu are:
Taylor Johnson
Caty McNally
Ellie Douglas
Maria Mateas
Natasha Subhash
Morgan Coppoc
Sofia Sewing
Carson Branstine
Hurrican Tyra Black
Victoria Emma
Dalayna Hewitt
Elysia Bolton
Hailey Baptiste

That gives the US 17 of the 46 direct entries, with Ann Li and Alana Smith the second and third players out of the main draw.

As has been the case most of the year, US boys are not as prominent as the US girls at the major junior events.  There are nine US boys among the 46 acceptances:

Trent Bryde
Patrick Kypson
Alexandre Rotsaert
Brian Cernoch
Alafia Ayeni
Kyrylo Tsygura
Danny Thomas
Sebastian Korda
Govind Nanda

Andrew Fenty is second out of the main draw.

Many of the same top US boys who did not play the Pan American Closed Grade B1 in Tulsa are not in the field, with Sam Riffice, Oliver Crawford and Gianni Ross all withdrawing and Vasil Kirkov not entering. There is a USTA Pro Circuit Futures in Pensacola, Florida that week, so perhaps they will be competing there instead.

At the $50,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Saguenay Canada, two Canadian juniors and four Americans have reached the quarterfinals. Bianca Andreescu will face Harriet Dart of Great Britain and qualifier Charlotte Robillard-Millette meets No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady for a place in the semifinals.  No. 4 seed Sachia Vickery survived a tough match with a third Canadian teen, Katherine Sebov, and will play Maria Sanchez in the quarterfinals.  Top seed CiCi Bellis faces Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada next.

The $50,000 ATP Challenger in Las Vegas has lost all but two of its seeds for Friday's quarterfinals.  Wild card Mikael Torpegaard, the Ohio State junior, advanced to the final eight with a 7-6(6), 6-3 win over Austin Krajicek today. Just two Americans are through to the quarterfinals: Sekou Bangoura and Tennys Sandgren, both unseeded.

At the $25,000 Futures in Harlingen, Texas, qualifier AJ Catanzariti, a junior at Texas A&M, has made his first Futures quarterfinal, beating former Baylor All-American Julian Lenz of Germany 6-2, 6-2 in today's second round.  Unseeded Jared Hiltzik(Illinois) and Wil Spencer(Georgia) are the other Americans in the quarterfinals.

The $25,000 Futures in Berkeley, California has been a good one for Cal wild cards, with seniors Andre Goransson of Sweden and Florian Lakat of France both reaching the quarterfinals. Three unseeded Americans--Marcos Giron, John Lamble and Rhyne Williams--have also advanced to the quarterfinals.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed Championships Recap, Slideshow, Videos

My recap of last week's ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed Championships is now available at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The slideshow of singles quarterfinals and doubles semifinalists is below.  The Google photo album of the slides is available here.  Short YouTube videos of selected points in the boys and girls finals, which are played simultaneously, are embedded below.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

ITF Announces New Date, Significant Change to Junior Masters; 2015 Wimbledon Junior Finalists Get First Tour Wins; Exploring the Cost of Junior Tennis; Three More Regional Champions

The ITF announced today that its Junior Masters, held the past two Aprils in China, will be moved to October for 2017.  The date change is perhaps less significant than the news that the ITF will now be awarding ranking points for participation in the event, although the article does not give any details on the number of points allotted for this competition, which is for the top eight boys and the top eight girls by ITF junior ranking. Certainly those details will be included in the 2017 ITF Junior Regulations, which typically are released in February.

In its first two years of existence, the Masters did not award ranking points, and entries were based on the ranking of the previous year-end, meaning that players who were too old to play junior events in April could still participate.  That will no longer be the case with the October date, with the ranking cutoff date after the US Open Junior Championships.  The ITF has provided all expenses-paid trips for the participants and a private coach as well as travel grants in the previous years, which, along with wild cards into pro events, were the only incentives for juniors to participate.  All 16 players were guaranteed $7,000 in travel grants, with the champions receiving $15,000 travel grants, and it appears there is no change in that financial commitment.

Although I may be reading too much into this, there is a mention that the 2017 tournament is in the third year of the three-year contract with the Chinese Tennis Association and the Chengdu Sport Bureau. This is probably just boilerplate press release language, but it does raise the possibility that the event could move from China to another country for 2018 and beyond. In 2017, I believe the event will come right after the Osaka Mayor's Cup in Japan, which will no doubt help strengthen that Grade A tournament's field, traditionally the weakest of the ITF's Grade A's.

The release contains an explanation for the changes by ITF President
David Haggerty:

"Following the success of the first two ITF Junior Masters, we are pleased to be able to raise the status of this competition within the ITF junior calendar. The ITF is committed to helping the top junior players with their transition into the professional ranks. We felt that by changing the timing of the event to later in the calendar year, it would be more appropriate for the top ranked junior players and there is the added importance of junior world ranking points.”

Much like the WTA and ATP, the ITF has instituted a Masters race tracking function and currently Alex Brown and Lukas Greif are No. 1 and No. 2 in the boys race after their Tulsa results and Kayla Day and Sofia Sewing are No. 1 and No. 2 in the girls race. Sewing swept the Grade 2 titles in Canada at the end of September and Day won the Pan American Closed B1 on Saturday.

Eighteen-year-old Anna Blinkova of Russia, the 2015 Wimbledon girls finalist, won the 2016 ITF Junior Masters in April and today she picked up her first WTA victory in the first round of the WTA Premier Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Blinkova, who did not receive a wild card, but earned her place via qualifying, defeated WTA No. 31 Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(10), saving five match points.

The boys 2015 Wimbledon finalist, Mikael Ymer of Sweden, who had been out most of the year with a hip injury, earned his first ATP main draw victory, beating Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-2, 6-1 in the first round in Stockholm.  The 18-year-old wild card will play No. 3 seed Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in the second round Wednesday.  According to the ATP's Josh Meiseles, Ymer is the ninth 18-and-under player to win an ATP match in 2016, joining Americans Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, Reilly Opelka and Stefan Kozlov, Russian Andrey Rublev, German Alexander Zverev and Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

CNN posted an article on the financial commitment required to develop a tennis player, with insights from WTA pros Madison Keys, Simona Halep as well as Rafael Nadal, who has just opened his own academy, Nick Bollettieri and Patrick Mouratoglou, who have been in the academy business much longer.  I was struck by the $306,000 price tag cited for a decade or more of junior development, which seems on the low side to me, if coaching, court time and travel are included in that number.

Three more ITA Division I Regional Championships were completed today, with the winners earning main draw berths in the National Indoors next month in New York.

ATLANTIC: Marie Faure(5) William and Mary def. Derya Turhan(5), Marshall 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(6)

CAROLINA: Skander Mansouri(1), Wake Forest def. Gabriel Friedrich(4) South Carolina 6-4, 6-4

ATLANTIC: JC Aragone(2), Virginia def. Jacob Dunbar(6), Richmond 6-1, 6-4

Monday, October 17, 2016

Race for ITF No. 1 Moves to Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup; Three Men's USTA Pro Circuit Events Underway; Bellis Top Seed in Canada $50K; Five ITA Regional Singles Champions Crowned

The race for the year-end ITF world junior championship on the girls side is shaping up to be a good one, with both current No. 1 Kayla Day and current No. 2 Anastasia Potapova of Russia indicating they want that honor (and the direct entry into a WTA $100,000-level event). For more on the perks of the ITF Junior Exempt program, see this document.

Day, who went to Tulsa to defend her title, is playing the next two Grade A tournaments in Mexico City and Plantation, while Potapova is entered this week in the Grade A in Osaka, Japan.  Wimbledon girls champion Potapova can overtake US Open girls champion Day if she wins the title in Japan, but the race will remain close and undecided with the two Grade A tournaments still to be played.

Potapova is, of course, the top seed in Japan and she has already won her first round match. The second seed, Xiyu Wang of China, defeated Potapova soundly in the semifinals of the Grade 1 in College Park in August, so while the fields are not typically strong in this Grade A, Potapova has serious competition for the title.

The boys top seed is US Open finalist Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, who has not yet played his first round match.

There are four Americans playing in Osaka: Naomi Cheong, who lost her first round match, Mimi Levine, who has not yet played her first round match and Jimena Rodriguez-Benito and Alafia Ayeni, who won their first round matches.  Ayeni will face No. 2 seed Yosuke Watanuki of Japan in his second round match.

While the only USTA Pro Circuit women's tournament this week was cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew, there are three men's events, two $25,000 Futures and a $50,000 Challenger.

The qualifying is complete at the Harlingen Futures, with Ohio State recruit John McNally and Florida recruit Duarte Vale of Portugal advancing to the main draw.  Current collegians reaching the main draw are Texas A&M's Jordi Arconada and AJ Catanzariti, Central Florida's Korey Lovett, and Oklahoma State's Arjun Kadhe and Julian Cash. The top seed is Alessandro Bega of Italy, with the No. 2 seed former Texas star Ed Corrie of Great Britain.

The new Futures in Berkeley, California, part of the USTA Collegiate series, has a only a 32-player qualifying draw with that qualifying just beginning today.  Ruben Bemelmens of Belgium is the top seed in the main draw, with wild cards going to three Cal players--Filip Bergevi, Florian Lakat and Andre Goransson--and Stanford's Michael Genender.

The top seed at the ATP Challenger in Las Vegas is Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic.  Frances Tiafoe has entered in a push to make the main draw of the Australian Open, and is the No. 2 seed.  Wild cards were given to Alejandro Falla of Colombia, Ohio State junior Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark, local resident Evan Song and UNLV senior Jakob Amilon of Sweden.

In the rain-delayed singles final of the $100,000 Fairfield California Challenger, Santiago Giraldo of Colombia defeated Quentin Halys of France 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The only action in North America for women this week is at the $50,000 tournament in Saguenay, Canada. NCAA champion Danielle Collins was one of four qualifiers, with two Canadian juniors, Charlotte Robillard-Millette and Katherine Sebov, also earning their place in the main draw.  Collins will face No. 4 seed Sachia Vickery in the first round. Vickery beat Collins in the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Redding tournament two weeks ago.

CiCi Bellis is the top seed, with Jennifer Brady seeded No. 2.

The ITA Regional championships for Division 1 began this past weekend with five of them now complete (and just in time for the Cal players to compete in the Berkeley Futures). The winners receive automatic entry into next month's ITA/USTA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in New York.

The singles finals results as of Monday (click on winner's school name for article):

CENTRAL: Lily Miyazaki(5), Oklahoma def. Carla Tur Mari(9), Oklahoma State 6-3, 6-3.

SOUTHERN: Alizee Michaud(4), Auburn def. Andie Dikosavlijevic(1), Auburn, 6-2, 6-4.

MOUNTAIN: Claudia Herrero Garcia(6), Nevada def. Sheila Morales(17), Nevada 6-0, 7-5.

NORTHWEST: Andre Goransson(1), Cal def. Filip Bergevi(5), Cal 6-4, 7-6(3)

SOUTHERN: Nuno Borges(5), Mississippi State def. Constantin Schmitz(5), Tulane 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.

Bobby Knight has links to both the singles and doubles draws for all the regionals at his site College Tennis Today.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Shibahara and Matsumura Win Oracle Masters; Small College Oracle Cup Champions Crowned; Spencer Earns Futures Title in Houston; Escobedo Claims Monterrey Challenger

The second Oracle Masters was completed today in Malibu, with UCLA's Ena Shibahara and Kentucky's Ryotaro Matsumura winning the singles titles.

Shibahara, who just last week reached the finals of the Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championships after going through qualifying and pre-qualifying, was the No. 2 seed in the 32-player draw.  In today's final, the 18-year-old freshman defeated top seed Luisa Stefani of Pepperdine 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, giving Shibahara 15 wins in 16 matches against the top collegiate players during the past two plus weeks.

The men's singles title also went to the No. 2 seed, with Matsumura defeating No. 20 seed Shawn Hadavi of Columbia 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the final.  Seeded by Universal Tennis Ratings, the men's draw saw early exits from most of the top seeds, including No. 1 Yuya Ito of Texas, No. 3 Arthur Rinderknech of Texas A&M and No. 4 Ryan Peniston of Memphis.

In addition to having representatives of all Division I conferences in singles this year and an expansion of the draw to 32 players from 16, a mixed doubles event was added to the schedule.  Hayley Carter of North Carolina and Chris Eubanks of Georgia Tech won the mixed doubles title, defeating Blair Shankle and Max Tchoutakian of Baylor 8-6 in the final.

A new Junior Masters event was held simultaneously with the collegiate one. Unseeded Rena Lin defeated unseeded Julia Deming 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 for the girls title, while unseeded Robert Baylon downed No. 3 seed Mason Beiler 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 for the boys title.

For more on today's collegiate singles finals, see the ITA tournament page.

What was previously called the Small College National Championships, now known as the Oracle Cup, wrapped up today in Surprise, Arizona, with two singles players and two doubles teams earning their places in next month's USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in New York.

The Division II, Division III, NAIA and Junior College divisions all determined a national champion, then played off for the overall winner.

D III men's singles champion: Aman Manji, Emory
D III women's singles champion: Bridget Harding, Emory

D II men's singles champion: Oliver Frank, Asuza Pacific
D II women's singles champion: Madeline Hill, Washburn

NAIA men's singles champion: Kevin Konfederak, Georgia Gwinnett
NAIA women's singles champion: Camille Gbaguidi, Savannah College of Art and Design

JUCO men's singles champion: Jorge Martinez, Tyler JC
JUCO women's singles champion: Maria Medina, State College of Florida

In the men's playoff, Frank defeated Martinez 7-5, 6-1 to earn his place in the NIIC draw, while Gbaguidi defeated Medina 6-3, 6-2 in the women's playoff to earn her entry to the Indoor.

Konfederak and Jordan Cox of Georgia Gwinnett won the men's doubles playoff, with Diana Bogolii and Rosalie Willig of Lynn taking the women's doubles playoff.  Both teams also made the NIIC field last year by winning the Superbowl, as it was then called.

A complete championship recap from the ITA is available here.

At the $25,000 Futures in Houston, unseeded Wil Spencer captured his third Futures singles title, beating wild card Aron Hiltzik 6-4, 6-3 in the final. The 27-year-old Spencer, who played at Texas A&M and Georgia, beat three seeds, including top seed Yuki Bhambri of India in the semifinals, en route to the final. The 20-year-old Hiltzik, a junior at Illinois, had never made it past the second round of a Futures prior to this week.  For more on Spencer's title, see this article from Northwest Florida Daily News.

Hans Hach of Mexico and Rhyne Williams won the doubles title in Houston, beating Hunter Reese and Jackson Withrow 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

The other USTA Pro Circuit event this week, the $100,000 Fairfield California Challenger, is not yet complete due to rain in Northern California. The final is between Santiago Giraldo of Colombia and Quentin Halys of France, with Tommy Paul the only American to reach the quarterfinals. NCAA doubles champion Mackenzie McDonald won his first Challenger doubles title, however, teaming with Brian Baker to beat Sekou Bangoura and Eric Quigley 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

At the $100,000+H tournament in Monterrey, Mexico, 20-year-old Ernesto Escobedo, seeded fifth, won his second ATP Challenger title, beating No. 3 seed Denis Kudla 6-4, 6-4 in the final.  Escobedo now climbs to a new career-high of 129 in the ATP rankings.

Kudla did get a title however, partnering with Evan King to beat Jarryd Chaplin and Ben McLachlan 6-7(4), 6-4, 10-2 in the doubles championship match between unseeded teams.

Although she had to withdraw due to illness prior to the semifinal this weekend at the WTA event in Austria, Madison Keys has qualified for the elite year-end WTA Finals in Singapore.  The 20-year-old Keys is now at a career-high of 7 in the WTA rankings.