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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ohio State Men Take Over No. 1 Spot in ITA Division I Rankings; 2017 ITA Men's Hall of Fame Class Announced; BNP Paribas Challenge Underway in Indian Wells

New ITA Division I team rankings are out, and Virginia's stay at No. 1 is over for now, with Ohio State claiming the top spot. The ITA rankings, now done by computer, do not care that Virginia beat Ohio State 4-1 in the National Team Indoor Championships final last week. The algorithm used is based on wins over ranked teams, and Ohio State's victory over No. 10 Florida last week pushed them to No. 1, with Virginia not playing this past week. The Cavaliers are not scheduled for a dual match again until March 18th, so they may feel effects from that, but perversely, their win over Ohio State now becomes even better with Ohio State now No. 1, so Virginia could end up back on top next week.

Taking early season rankings seriously, especially those done by the computer, is unwise; I would venture to guess that the USTA poll tomorrow will still have Virginia at No. 1, which is the advantage of having human beings involved in those alternative rankings.

On the women's side, Florida maintains its position at No. 1, no doubt helped by playing and beating two Top 10 teams in the weekend following their Indoor title. Georgia Tech, who beat Georgia and Florida State over the weekend, moved into the Top 10 for the first time, and Cal moved back in after beating USC and UCLA over the weekend.

No individual rankings were released today.  To see the full list of team rankings, click on the headings below.

Men's Team Top 10: (previous ranking in parentheses)
1. Ohio State (2)
2. Virginia (1
3. Wake Forest(3)
4. Oklahoma (5)
5. Oklahoma State (8)
6. North Caroline (4)
7. Cal (6)
8. Texas (7)
9. Michigan (9)
10. USC (12)

Women's Team Top 10:
1. Florida (1)
2. Ohio State (2)
3. North Carolina (3)
4. Michigan (4)
5. Georgia Tech (11)
6. Auburn (8)
7. Cal (18)
8. Texas Tech (5)
9. Pepperdine (12)
10. Duke (17)

The ITA also announced the 2017 Men's Hall of Fame Class, with five inductees: coaches Francis Baxter(Central Oklahoma) and Bill Otta(Saddleback College), players James Blake(Harvard) and Matias Boeker(Georgia) and contributor Nick Bollettieri. There was no induction class last year, and especially with skipping a year, this class is a small one.  For complete bios of the inductees, who will be honored at the NCAAs in Athens in May, see the ITA website.

The BNP Paribas Challenge, a prequalifying event for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, began today, with draws bigger than ever this year. Although the website says the draws are 128, the men's is actually a 256 draw, albeit with many byes. The winner receives a qualifying wild card into the Premier/Masters event, with the finalist also often receiving one as well. Last year Nick Meister and Taylor Townsend were the winners. Seeding is apparently done using ATP and WTA rankings with 21 women and 14 men receiving seeds. I believe there's a mistake in seeding Kaptan Kaster, who never has had an ATP singles ranking according to the ATP and ITF websites. His ranking is in doubles, which probably shouldn't be used here. I blame the confusing ATP site for that error.

The top 8 seeds:

1. Lucia Hradecka
2. Sonya Kenin (finalist last year)
3. Sesil Karatancheva
4. Jennifer Elie
5. Michelle Larcher de Brito
6. Jovana Jaksic
7. Maria Sanchez
8. Hanna Chang

Also seeded in the women's draw are US juniors Caroline Dolehide, Claire Liu and Allie Sanford.

1. Marcos Giron
2. Michael Geerts
3. Evan Song
4. Clay Thompson
5. Sergey Betov
6. Benjamin Hannestad
7. David Nguyen
8. Farzin Amiri

UCLA recruit Keegan Smith is the only US teen seeded.

The complete list of seeds is here.  The women's draw is here.  The men's draw is here.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Bryde, Johnson Top ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships Acceptances; Anisimova Advances to Second Round in Brazil $25K

Trent Bryde and Taylor Johnson head the acceptances for next month's ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships in Carson California, with strong fields expected for both boys and girls.  The tournament is a week earlier than usual, with the main draw March 20-26th for the 18s.  The 16s finals are usually on Saturday, which would mean the 25th this year, but the fact sheet currently shows the 26th as the end date for the 16s.  Registration is still open for the 16s, until tomorrow, Tuesday February 28th. See the tournament's new website to register.

The 18s registration closed last week, with most of the top US juniors participating.  The ISC and the Easter Bowl are huge tournaments for those who want to play the junior slams this summer, and the ITF Junior Masters, which conflicted the past two years has been moved to the fall, eliminating that scheduling problem.

The US girls in the ITF Top 10 --No. 2 Kayla Day, the defending champion, 2016 finalist Claire Liu, ranked tenth, and semifinalist Amanda Anisimova, ranked No. 4--are not participating, but the depth of the US girls now still makes for an impressive group.  In addition to Taylor Johnson, ranked 16th, are six more Top 50 girls: Sofia Sewing[22], Whitney Osuigwe[23], Caty McNally[25], Ellie Douglas[26], Natasha Subhash[29] and Hailey Baptiste[50].  Carson Branstine, who is showing as Canadian now on the acceptance list, is entered, as is Emiliana Arango of Colombia, who just won the Grade B1 in South America yesterday.

In addition to No. 11 Bryde, the US boys in the Top 50 entered are Oliver Crawford[17], Gianni Ross[22], 2016 finalist Sam Riffice [24], Danny Thomas[31], Brian Cernoch[47], Patrick Kypson[49] and Alafia Ayeni[50]. Vasil Kirkov is the only US boy in the Top 50 not entered.
Top international players entered include Florida recruit Duarte Vale of Portugal, ranked 16th, and Toru Horie of Japan, ranked 32nd.

The complete entry lists can be found at the ITF junior website.

After Amanda Anisimova won the Grade A Porto Alegre title in Brazil two weeks ago, she stayed in the country for this week's $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit event.  Because she is just 15, she has not played many professional events; she won a US Open women's qualifying match last August and two qualifying matches in Midland's $100K this month, but that's been it until Brazil, where she won two qualifying matches without dropping a game, then beat Victoria Bosio of Argentina 6-4, 6-1 in the opening round of the main draw today for her first professional main draw victory.

As an IMG client, Anisimova is likely to receive at least a qualifying wild card into the Miami Open, which is the same weeks as the International Spring Championships and Easter Bowl.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Emory Defends D-III Men's Team Indoor Title; Andreescu Tops Day in Rancho Santa Fe Final; Sock Wins Delray Beach Title via Walkover

2017 ITA Division III Men's Team Indoor Champions Emory

Top seed and defending champion Emory claimed its seventh ITA Division III Men's Team Indoor title this morning in Cleveland, defeating No. 3 seed Chicago 5-1.

The Eagles had not looked good in doubles in the quarterfinals or semifinals, dropping two of the three doubles points to both Trinity and Carnegie Mellon. But, as they had done the 2016 final between the two teams, Emory swept the doubles, getting the third point by winning a tiebreaker at line 1 and Chicago was in a nearly hopeless position heading into singles.  Emory got wins at line 1, from Aman Manji and line 3 from Adrien Bouchet to take a 5-0 lead and clinch the match. After Nicholas Chua collected Chicago's only point with a win at line 2, the remaining matches were abandoned.

Emory has now won seven championships in the 17-year history of the event. The ITA recap, which includes a highlight video, can be found here.

In other notable college tennis results today, the second-ranked Ohio State men defeated No. 10 Florida 4-1 in Gainesville, with the Gators point coming in the doubles competition.  The last two NCAA women's champions, Vanderbilt and reigning champion Stanford, met in Palo Alto today, with Stanford winning 4-3, with Emily Arbuthnott winning a third-set tiebreaker at line 5 over fellow freshman Emma Kurtz.

Rain was a problem at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Rancho Santa Fe California, but it didn't prove disruptive to 16-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada, who defeated top seed Kayla Day 6-4, 6-1.  The championship match's start was delayed and there were several interruptions of play, but Andreescu took full advantage of Day's poor serving to avenge her US Open Junior Championships semifinal loss. It's Andreescu's second title, both coming at the $25,000 level.

At the $15,000 Futures in Indian Harbour Beach Florida, No. 4 seed Andrea Collarini took the title, beating No. 8 seed Corentin Dennolly of France 7-5, 7-6(6).  Collarini, who reached the final in last week's Futures in Orlando, had needed three sets to take out Dennolly in the first round there.

At the ATP 250 in Delray Beach, Jack Sock won his third career ATP title and second this year when top seed Milos Raonic of Canada gave him a walkover in the final. Raonic is said to have a hamstring injury. Sock should move to a career-high ranking of 18 with the title.  The doubles title went to No. 2 seeds Rajeev Ram(Illinois) and Raven Klaasen of South Africa, who beat No. 3 seeds Treat Huey(Virginia) and Max Mirnyi 7-5, 7-5 in the final.

Qualifying is still going on at the ATP and WTA combined events in Acapulco, but Jennifer Brady, Jamie Loeb and Stefan Kozlov have all earned their places in the main draw.

At the Grade B1 in South America, Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil[6] defeated Axel Geller of Argentina[7] 6-4, 7-6(3) to take the boys singles title.  The girls singles final saw Emiliana Arango[2] of Colombia defeat Maria Osorio Serrano[3], also of Colombia, 6-2, 7-6(6).

At the Grade 1 in Russia this week, No. 5 seed Jurij Rodionov of Austria beat No. 6 seed Nikolay Vylegzhanin of Russia 7-6(2), 6-3 in the boys final. Anastasia Kharitonova of Russia, the No. 7 seed, beat No. 5 seed Karolina Berankova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 4-2 retired for the girls singles championship.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Emory and Chicago Meet Again for D-III Men's Indoor Title; Day and Andreescu Vie for Rancho Santa Fe $25K Title; US Juniors Sweep Titles at Grade 4 in Guatemala

The final is set for the ITA Division III Men's Team Indoor and it will be a rematch of the 2016 championship, with defending champion and top seed Emory taking on No. 3 seed Chicago.  Chicago had the easier route to the final, defeating No. 2 seed Washington-St. Louis 7-2, while Emory beat No. 4 seed Carnegie Mellon 5-4.  For the second straight day, Emory trailed 2-1 after doubles, but they again came through in singles, with Alec Josepher clinching at line 5, winning a three-setter to put the Eagles up 5-3.   The ITA recap of the semifinals is here. In last year's final, Emory won all three doubles points in a 7-2 win over Chicago, but they haven't shown that level of doubles dominance this year.  Unlike me, the Division III Tennis blog has the expertise to properly preview the final, so read their take on Sunday's 8 a.m. final here.

The final of the $25,000 Women's USTA Pro Circuit event in Rancho Santa Fe California will be a rematch of a semifinal of the 2016 girls US Open Junior Championships, with Kayla Day facing Bianca Andreescu. The 17-year-old Day defeated 18-year-old qualifier Katherine Sebov of Canada 6-3, 6-1, an impressive victory considering the run Sebov has been on since the first of the year.  The unseeded Andreescu, 16, also won in straight sets, beating No. 4 seed Sonya Kenin 6-3, 7-6(3). Although Day won their meeting in New York 5-7, 6-1, 6-2, Andreescu had won two of their previous three meetings prior to that, including the 2015 Orange Bowl final.

Day and Caroline Dolehide, who reached the girls doubles final at the US Open, won the doubles title today. The unseeded pair downed unseeded Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine and Chiara Scholl 6-3, 1-6, 10-7.  It's Day's first pro doubles title, with Dolehide having won a title at the $10,000 previously.

The last American was eliminated from the $15,000 Indian Harbour Beach Futures, with Rhyne Williams falling to No. 8 seed Corentin Denolly 6-0, 6-4. The teenager from France will face No. 4 seed Andrea Collarini of Argentina, who beat former Tulane star and No. 7 seed Dominik Koepfer of Germany 7-5, 6-3.

Top seeds Ramkumar Ramanathan of India and Jaume Pla Malfeito of Spain won the doubles title, defeating unseeded Nick Chappell and Hunter Callahan 6-2, 6-7(5), 11-9.

At the $50,000 +H Challenger in Mexico, former Texas A&M stars Austin Krajicek and Jackson Withrow won the doubles title, beating former Georgia Tech stars Kevin King and Dean O'Brien of South Africa 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 11-9.  Krajicek and Withrow didn't face a break point in the match, while King and O'Brien saved all five they faced. It's the third title as a team for Withrow and Krajicek, all this year, and the second at the Challenger level.

Today's ATP event in Delray Beach featured a semifinal between two two-time Kalamazoo 18 champions, with No. 3 seed Jack Sock getting past Donald Young 6-4, 7-6(2).  It's Sock's second ATP final this year and he will go for his second title of the year against the winner of tonight's match between Juan Martin del Potro and Milos Raonic.

At the ITF Grade 4 in Guatemala, US juniors swept all four titles.  Top seed Andrew Fenty won the boys singles, defeating No. 5 seed Marcelo Sepulveda Garza of Mexico 7-6(1), 6-2 in the final.  It's the 16-year-old's third ITF singles title.

Unseeded 16-year-old Niluka Madurawe won her first ITF singles title, beating top seed Maria Rivera Corado of Guatemala 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in the girls final.

No. 4 seeds Trey Hilderbrand and Eliot Spizzirri defeated unseeded Blaise Bicknell and Martin Damm 6-4, 6-1 in the all-US boys doubles final.

The girls doubles title went to No. 2 seeds Jordan Harris and Alyssa Mayo, who beat No. 3 seed Fanni Gecsek of Hungary and Oleksandra Gorchanyuk of Canada 6-2, 5-7, 10-6.

Friday, February 24, 2017

My Interview with USTA's Martin Blackman; Top Four Seeds Advance to D-III Team Indoor Semis; All Teens in Rancho Santa Fe Semis

While I was in Florida earlier this month, I had an opportunity to speak with Martin Blackman, General Manager of Player Development at the USTA.  This is my third one-on-one interview with Blackman, and I always enjoy discussing the department's initiatives and goals. This tie we talked in detail about the new Lake Nona headquarters, but also about the college tennis pathway and the recent junior competition changes.  My current interview with Blackman is available at the Tennis Recruiting Network; if you are a subscriber you can read my previous interview with Blackman in February of 2016 here.

The top four seeds have advanced to the semifinals of the ITA Men's Division III Team Indoor Championships in Cleveland.  Top seed Emory defeated No. 8 seed Trinity 7-2, with the defending champions two losses coming in doubles.  No. 2 seed Washington-St. Louis got a rare shutout, beating No. 7 seed Kenyon 9-0 in the other morning quarterfinal. The afternoon brought one close match, with No. 4 seed Carnegie Mellon defeating No. 5 seed Case Western Reserve 5-4. No. 3 seed Chicago took out Pomona-Pitzer, the No. 6 seed 7-2.  Emory faces off against Carnegie Mellon and Washington St Louis meets Chicago in Saturday's semifinals, both scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The ITA recap of the day's action is here.  Case Western's tournament page is here.

All four semifinalists at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Rancho Santa Fe California are teenagers, with 18-year-old Sonya Kenin the oldest of the quartet.  Only 16-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu posted a routine win, defeating No. 8 seed Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal 6-2, 6-1 in 65 minutes.  Kenin led 5-2 in the final set, saw 18-year-old Caroline Dolehide win four straight games and serve for the match, but then broke to send the match into a tiebreaker. Kenin trailed 4-3 in the tiebreaker, but won the final four points of the match to earn a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) victory, avenging her loss to Dolehide last week in Surprise. She will face Andreescu in the semifinals.

Top seed Kayla Day managed to do what Dolehide could not, come from a 5-2 deficit in the final set to claim victory.  The 17-year-old defeated No. 5 seed Mayo Hibi of Japan 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, in nearly three hours, winning the final five games of the match.  She will play 18-year-old qualifier Katherine Sebov in the semifinal, after Sebov took out qualifier Maria Sanchez 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 in a match lasting more than three hours.  Sebov is now 22-3 in USTA Pro Circuit events this year, including qualifying.

At the $15,000 Indian Harbour Beach Florida Futures, Rhyne Williams advanced to the semifinals, beating top seed Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 6-4, 7-5.  Williams will face 19-year-old Corentin Denolly of France, the No. 8 seed, next.  The other semifinal will feature Dominik Koepfer of Germany, the No. 7 seed, against No. 4 seed Andrea Collarini of Argentina.

At the ATP 250 in Delray Beach, No. 3 seed Jack Sock defeated No. 5 seed Steve Johnson 6-4, 7-6(4) in the quarterfinals, to set up another all-American match in the semifinals.  Johnson is the subject of this ESPN article, which focuses on his continuing efforts to improve his fitness.

Donald Young, who beat Taylor Fritz in the second round, received a walkover from Steve Darcis of Belgium into the semifinals.  Top seed Milos Raonic of Canada will face the winner of tonight's quarterfinal between defending champion Sam Querrey, seeded No. 4, and No. 7 seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Division III Men's Indoor Begins Friday with Emory as Top Seed; D-I All-Tournament Team Announced; New Division II Rankings; Quarterfinals Set in Pro Circuit Events

The Division III Men's Team Indoor Championship begins Friday, hosted by Case Western Reserve at the Cleveland Racquet Club. Unlike the Division I Team Indoor Championships, Division III has eight teams, not 16, so the tournament will be completed on Sunday. Top seed Emory is the defending champion.  Friday's schedule:

Emory[1] vs Trinity[8] 8 a.m.
Washington University-St Louis[2] vs Kenyon[7] 8 a.m.
University of Chicago[3] vs Pomona Pitzer[6] 12:30 p.m.
Carnegie Mellon[4] vs Case Western[5] 12:30 p.m.

FloTennis will again be providing live streaming, which requires a paid subscription.

Check out the Division III Tennis blog for previews, predictions and more.

The ITA announced the all-tournament team for the men's Division I Team Indoor, with Mikael Torpegaard of finalist Ohio State named the Most Outstanding Player. Complete tournament results for all those named below can be found here.

No. 1 singles: Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State
No. 2 singles: Thai Kwiatkowski, Virginia
No. 3 singles: Harrison Scott, Texas
No. 4 singles: JC Aragone, Virginia
No. 5 singles: Alexander Ritschard, Virginia
No. 6 singles: Henrik Wiersholm, Virginia

No. 1 doubles: Skander Mansouri and Christian Seraphim, Wake Forest
No. 2 doubles: Thai Kwiatkowski and Alexander Ritschard, Virginia
No. 3 doubles: JC Aragone and Henrik Wiersholm, Virginia

The latest Division II team rankings were released on Wednesday, the first rankings since last November. The top 10s are below, with the full rankings available by clicking on the headings.

Men's Team:
1. Hawaii Pacific
2. Saint Leo
3. Armstrong State
4. Lander
5. Valdosta State
6. Columbus State
7. Barry
8. Lynn
9. West Florida
10. Embry Riddle

1. Armstrong State
2. BYU-Hawaii
3. Lynn
4. Saint Leo
5. Hawaii Pacific
6. Barry
7. West Florida
8. Columbus State
9. St. Mary’s Texas
10. Northeastern State

The quarterfinals are set at the $15,000 Futures in Indian Harbour Beach Florida and the $25,000 Women's tournament in Rancho Santa Fe California.

Rhyne Williams is the only American remaining in singles, after he defeated No. 6 seed Kaichi Uchida of Japana 6-3, 6-3 and 18-year-old Genaro Olivieri of Argentina 6-3, 6-0, with both matches played today due to rain on Wednesday.  Wild card Patrick Kypson won his first match, but lost his second match of the day to No. 5 seed Makoto Ochi of Japan 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.

Four US women have advanced to the quarterfinals in California, including top seed Kayla Day, who defeated former WTA No. 5 Daniela Hantuchkova of Slovakia 7-6(3), 6-1. Day will play No. 5 seed Mayo Hibi Friday.

Qualifier Maria Sanchez beat wild card Allie Sanford 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 and Caroline Dolehide, the champion last week in Surprise Arizona, downed Danielle Collins 7-5, 6-3.

Although Sonya Kenin was the seed, at No. 4, she still could claim an impressive victory with her win over qualifier Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, who is 22-2 (including qualifying) this year, with her only previous loss also at the hands of Kenin.  Kenin faces Dolehide next, who beat her in the second round last week in Surprise.  Sanchez will take on Canadian teen Katherine Sebov, a fellow qualifier, while 16-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu will play No. 8 seed Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal.

Austin Krajicek has advanced to the semifinals of the $50,000+Hospitality Challenger in Mexico, where he will meet unseeded Nicolas Jarry of Chile.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bellis Defeats Radwanska in Dubai; French Federation Announces French Open Junior Wild Card Event in US; Eight Americans Advance at Rancho Santa Fe; New USTA D-I Rankings

Seventeen-year-old CiCi Bellis picked up the first Top 10 win of her career today at the WTA Premier event in Dubai, defeating No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. Bellis, who beat top 50 players Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan in the first round and Laura Siegemund of Germany in the second round, called it "the biggest win of my life."  An argument could be made that her win over Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the first round of the 2014 US Open remains the most significant, but certainly getting her first Top 10 win on the heels of two Top 50 wins is an important milestone.

Greg Garber of ESPN.com spoke to Bellis after her win, as did the WTA. Radwanska also was interviewed for the WTA and gives her thoughts on Bellis' game. Next up for Bellis is No. 10 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.  Lauren Davis has also reached the quarterfinals after beating Ekaterina Makarova of Russia today. All three of Davis's wins have come after dropping the first set.

The French Tennis federation is distributing a 2017 French Open Junior Championships wild card via tournaments held in six countries, including the US.  The United States event will be at the Boca West Country Club April 19-22 on red clay.  The winners will play off against those from Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea and India for a main draw wild card into the junior championships. The USTA will extend the invitations to compete in the event.  The release is here.

Heavy rain in Florida kept any tennis from being played Wednesday at the $15,000 Futures in Indian Harbour Beach, with 10 first round matches yet to be finished.  Those matches and all second round matches are scheduled for Thursday.

At the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Rancho Santa Fe California, eight US women have advanced to the second round: Kayla Day[1], Sonya Kenin[4], Claire Liu, Allie Sanford, Danielle Collins, Caroline Dolehide and qualifiers Maria Sanchez and Chanelle Van Nguyen.  Dolehide and Collins will play in one second round match Thursday; wild card Sanford and Sanchez will face off in the other all-US second rounder.  Also advancing are Canadian teens Katherine Sebov, a qualifier, and Bianca Andreescu, who beat No. 2 seed Catalina Pella of Argentina 6-2, 6-2.

Former USC star Yannick Hanfmann won three matches to qualify for the €64,000 ATP Challenger in Bergamo Italy and was drawn against top seed Andreas Seppi of Italy, currently 72 in the ATP rankings, in the opening round of the main draw. The 25-year-old German picked up his first Top 100 win in a 6-4, 6-2 victory, then reached his first Challenger quarterfinal with a 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-3 win over Germany's Daniel Brands today. He will face No. 7 seed Quentin Halys of France next.

The latest USTA Division I team poll came out today, a day after the ITA's first rankings done by computer, and it does not feature the big rises and falls of some teams found in the ITA rankings.  For the complete list of Top 25 teams, click here.

Women: (points in parentheses)
1.Florida (150)
2.North Carolina (143)
3.Ohio State (138)
4.Stanford (131)
5.Georgia (124)
6.Oklahoma State (120)
7.California (107)
8.Michigan (105)
9.Texas Tech (104)
10.Pepperdine (98)

1.Virginia (150)
2.Ohio State (144)
3.Wake Forest (138)
4.North Carolina (130)
5.California (124)
6.Oklahoma (112)
7.UCLA (109)
8.Florida (106)
9.Texas (104)
10.USC (101)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

ITA D-I Individual, Team Rankings Released; USTA Schedules Lake Nona College Showcase; Qualifying Complete at Rancho Santa Fe $25K

For all the tennis that's been played in the past few weeks, the changes at the very top of the ITA Division I rankings have been few.  In the women's team rankings, the first done by computer this season, Team Indoor champion Florida stays at No. 1 and in the men's team rankings, Virginia, who won the Team Indoor yesterday, remains in the top spot.

The rest of the top 10 did undergo some dramatic changes, probably the most notable being the Stanford women dropping from 5 to 25 and the Baylor women going from unranked to 10. Since the Cardinal did not play the Team Indoor, their only good win was last Friday against Oklahoma State. Although they will move back up once they begin play in the Pac-12, Stanford does pay a temporary price every year for passing on the Team Indoor.

In the men's rankings, powerhouse programs USC, UCLA and Georgia all dropped out of the Top 10, while Michigan and Oklahoma made big jumps. The ITA release for the men is here, the women is here. Full lists can be found by clicking on the link in the headings below.

Women's Top 10 Team: (previous ranking in parentheses)
1. Florida (1)
2. Ohio State (4)
3. North Carolina (2)
4. Michigan (10)
5. Texas Tech (7)
6. Oklahoma State (6)
7. Vanderbilt (12)
8. Auburn (11)
9. UCLA (20)
10. Baylor (NR)

Men's Top 10 Team: 
1. Virginia (1)
2. Ohio State (3)
3. Wake Forest (2)
4. North Carolina (5)
5. Oklahoma (14)
6. California (4)
7. Texas (11)
8. Oklahoma State (12)
9. Michigan (18)
10. Florida (6)

In the women's singles rankings, Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenzo remains at No. 1, with UCLA freshman Ena Shibahara moving up to No. 2.  Although she did not quite crack the Top 10, Florida freshman Ingrid Neel went all the way from 45 to tied for 11th after her outstanding play at the Team Indoor. There's a new No. 1 in the women's doubles, with Michigan's Kate Fahey and Alex Najarian taking over the top spot.

Women's Top 10 Singles: (previous ranking in parentheses)
1. Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State (1)
2. Ena Shibahara, UCLA (3)
3. Hayley Carter, North Carolina (5)
4. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina (2)
5. Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt (4)
6. Luisa Stefani, Pepperdine (7)
7. Sinead Lohan, Miami (6)
8. Melissa Lord, Stanford (13)
9. Viktoriya Lushkova, Oklahoma State (10)
10. Josie Kuhlman, Florida (19)

Women's Top 5 Doubles:
1. Kate Fahey and Alex Najarian, Michigan (3)
2. Christine Maddox and Mayar Sherif Ahmed, Pepperdine (4)
3. Hayley Carter and Jessie Aney, North Carolina (2)
4. Jada Hart and Ena Shibahara, UCLA (12)
5. Adila Sutjiadi and Mami Adachi, Kentucky (1)

The men's singles rankings also saw a big jump for Virginia's Thai Kwiatkowski, who went from 28 to 9, and Gage Brymer of UCLA, who moved from 19 to 10.  Petros Chrysochos of Wake Forest and Mikael Torpegaard of Ohio State, who so memorably decided the Team Indoor semifinal on Sunday, ended up in a tie for No. 1 this week. In men's doubles, there were changes in some positions in the top five, but Christian Seraphim and Mansouri of Wake Forest stayed at No. 1.

Men's Top 10 Singles:
T1. Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State (2)
T1. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest (1)
3. Hugo Di Feo, Ohio State (8)
4. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (3)
5. Mike Redlicki, Arkansas (6)
6. Alfredo Perez, Florida (9)
7. Christopher Eubanks, Georgia Tech (4)
8. Skander Mansouri, Wake Forest (10)
9. Thai Kwiatkowski, Virginia (28)
10. Gage Brymer, UCLA (19)

Men's Top 5 Doubles:
1. Christian Seraphim and Skander Mansouri, Wake Forest (1)
2. Filip Bergevi and Florian Lakat, California (3)
3. Jack Findel-Hawkins and Lasse Muscheites, North Florida (2)
4. Arjun Kadhe and Julian Cash, Oklahoma State, (5)
5. Jathan Malik and Kevin Wong, Michigan (4)

The USTA has announced a College Tennis Combine for June 14-16, 2017.  The event, which is limited to American players, will be held at the new USTA campus in Lake Nona.  As a Tennis Recruiting National Showcase event providing UTR credit, the tournament will give players an opportunity to be seen by college coaches, with USTA Pro Circuit wild cards awarded to the winners.  The Combine is being held in conjunction with a USTA/ITA College Coaches Workshop.  For more details, see this release from the USTA.

Qualifying for the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Rancho Santa Fe California is complete with four Americans qualifying: Chanelle Van Nguyen(UCLA), Notre Dame recruit Caroline Dunleavy, Maria Sanchez(USC) and Stanford recruit Michaela Gordon. Pepperdine sophomore Luisa Stefani of Brazil also qualified. Kayla Day is the top seed, last week's Surprise $25K champion Caroline Dolehide and finalist Danielle Lao received special exemptions into the main draw, and wild cards were given to Allie Sanford, Hanna Chang, Sabrina Santamaria and Mishel Okhremchuk of Ukraine.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Virginia Claims Sixth ITA Men's National Team Indoor Title with 4-1 Victory Over Ohio State; Sandgren Wins Second Career Challenger Title in Tempe; Bellis Beats Putintseva; Kecmanovic Feature

Photo courtesy ITA

The University of Virginia won its sixth ITA Men's National Team Indoor title on its home courts Monday, defeating Ohio State 4-1.  The top-seeded Cavaliers hadn't dropped a point in their previous three matches, but the No. 3 Buckeyes still had an opportunity to win, right up until JC Aragone hit a stunning backhand winner to close out Herkko Pollanen 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) gave two-time defending NCAA champion Virginia its first Indoor title since 2013.

The doubles point ended in controversy, after Matt Mendez and Hunter Tubert had saved two match points from 15-40 down at 5-6.  A hindrance call on Tubert, who had heard a call from the crowd and stopped play resulted in the point and the doubles point being awarded to Virginia, with the line 2 doubles match left unfinished.  Bobby Knight has more on the controversy at College Tennis Today.

The singles matches were all close with only Ohio State's Mikael Torpegaard at line 1 and Virginia's Henrik Wiersholm at line 6 avoiding a third set and only Alex Ritschard and Martin Joyce at line 5 not playing a tiebreaker. Since that match went unfinished at 5-6 in the third, it too could have required a tiebreaker, but JC Aragone, who saved a match point serving at 4-5 40-40, prevented that drama.

Highlights of the match can be found on the Virginia Cavaliers YouTube channel.

ITA Men's Team Indoor Final:

1. #55 Luca Corinteli/Carl Soderlund (VA) def. #38 Mikael Torpegaard/Herkko Pollanen (OSU) 6-0
2. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski/Alexander Ritschard (VA) vs. #25 Martin Joyce/Hugo Di Feo (OSU) 5-6, unfinished
3. Collin Altamirano/J.C. Aragone (VA) def. Matt Mendez/Hunter Tubert (OSU) 7-5

1. #2 Mikael Torpegaard (OSU) def. Collin Altamirano (VA) 6-3, 7-6(3)
2. #28 Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (VA) def. #8 Hugo Di Feo (OSU) 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2
3. Carl Soderlund (VA) vs. JJ Wolf (OSU) 6-3, 6-7(3), 3-5, unfinished
4. #64 J.C. Aragone (VA) def. #47 Herkko Pollanen (OSU) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4)
5. Alexander Ritschard (VA) vs. #77 Martin Joyce (OSU) 6-3, 5-7, 5-6, unfinished
6. Henrik Wiersholm (VA) def. Kyle Seelig (OSU) 7-6(2), 6-2

Match Notes:
Ohio State 12-1; National ranking #3 Virginia 9-0; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (6,1,2,4)

Rain pushed the final of the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Tempe until today, but for Tennys Sandgren, it was worth the wait.  The unseeded 25-year-old defeated 21-year-old Nikola Milojevic of Serbia 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 to claim his second career Challenger title.  Sandgren, who joins Noah Rubin and Ryan Harrison as American Challenger champions in 2017, moves to a career-high of 161 in the ATP rankings. For more, see the ATP website.

Seventeen-year-old CiCi Bellis returned to the WTA tour last week in Doha, after injuries kept her out of the Australian swing. Although Bellis did not qualify, she did get an opportunity to shake off the rust and today in Dubai, she defeated No. 17 seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-1, 7-5 for her first main draw win of the year.  Bellis, now ranked a career-high 70, spoke to WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen about today's win.

Qualifying was completed today at the $15,000 Futures in Indian Harbour Beach Florida, with Mico Santiago, Hunter Callahan(Ohio State) and Raleigh Smith(Northwestern) the Americans earning a place in the main draw.  Ramkumar Ramanathan of India is the top seed and Tommy Paul is the No. 2 seed.  Gianni Ross, Patrick Kypson, Mark Oljaca and Liam Caruana of Italy received main draw wild cards. Oljaca will face ITF World No. 1 junior Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia in the first round.  The 17-year-old IMG Academy product is the subject of this in-depth feature in the New York Times.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Anisimova, Bryde Claim Grade A Porto Alegre Titles; Ohio State Wins Thriller to Reach Team Indoor Final Against Virginia; Harrison Claims First ATP Title; Dolehide Wins Surprise $25K

Amanda Anisimova captured her second Grade A title, while Trent Bryde collected his first in the finals of the Campeonato Internacional Juvenil de Tenis in Porto Alegre Brazil.

Top seed Anisimova, who had reached the final last year, defeated No. 7 seed Sofia Sewing 7-5, 6-1 to add the Porto Alegre title to her 2015 victory at the Grade A in Mexico City.  The 15-year-old has had her best results on red clay, with the two Grade A titles and an appearance in the final of the French Open last year.

Anisimova and Sewing traded breaks in the fifth and sixth games of the first set, and it looked like Anisimova would again miss an opportunity to consolidate when she broke Sewing for a 6-5 lead, but went down 0-40 serving for the set.  She won the next five points however, and Sewing never really recovered. The 17-year-old from Miami held in the first game of the second set but Anisimova raised her level and won the final six games of the match.

Bryde, seeded No. 8, defeated unseeded Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi of Argentina 6-7(4), 6-0, 6-3.  Bryde wiggled out of a tough spot in the opening set, breaking the 17-year-old left-hander serving for the set at 6-5, but in the tiebreaker, Grassi made one mini-break stand up to claim the first set.

In contrast to the level he had shown in the tiebreaker, Grassi immediately fell apart in the first game of the second set and Bryde, also 17, had no difficulty rolling through the set.  The first four games of the third set went to the server, but Grassi failed to hold serve in his next three attempts, while Bryde held once to go up 5-3, which was enough to add the singles title to the doubles title he won on Saturday.

For more on the finals, see the ITF junior website.  The finals can be viewed on YouTube here.

At the ITA Men's National Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville today, No. 2 seed Wake Forest and No. 3 seed Ohio State battled for nearly four hours before the Buckeyes earned a 4-3 victory.  The match stood at 3-3 when Wake Forest's Petros Chrysochos, No. 1 in the nation, won the second set from Mikael Torpegaard, No. 2 in the nation, in a tiebreaker, saving a match point when serving at 4-5 40-40. Chrysochos went up 3-0 in the final set, just as he had in sets 1 and 2, but Torpegaard came back, saving a match point himself with Chrysochos serving at 6-5 40-40 in the third. Torpegaard had been overruled three times in the match and received a point penalty in the tenth game, so he could not afford another overrule, which would have resulted in a game penalty. With all that tension, it was Torpegaard who prevailed, taking the tiebreaker to claim the place in the final with his 7-6,(7), 5-7, 7-6(4) victory.

The rematch of last year's final between No. 1 Virginia and No. 5 North Carolina went to the host Cavaliers. Virginia won the doubles point easily, and while the singles matches were closer, Virginia was able to close out the Tar Heels 4-0.  Virginia will compete for its sixth Indoor title beginning at 11 a.m. Monday, while Ohio State is aiming for its second.

A big match in women's tennis saw No. 1 Florida defeat No. 5 and NCAA champion Stanford 4-1 in Gainesville. Florida won the doubles point and got singles wins from Ingrid Neel at 2, Brooke Austin at 4 and Belinda Woolcock at 1.  Florida had beaten NCAA finalists Oklahoma State 4-2 Saturday night.  Florida has now won 163 straight home matches, (the headline is off), the longest current home winning streak for any NCAA sport.

The last time Florida lost a home match was in 2004, when Ryan Harrison was 12 years old.  Now 24, Harrison is an ATP champion, having claimed his first title today at the 250 event in Memphis with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia. Harrison's pro career started with great expectations at the age of 15, but the past nine years have been difficult for him, with bad draws, injuries and confidence issues contributing to his uneven results. Greg Garber at ESPN spoke with Harrison about the ups and downs of his career earlier this week. With the title, Harrison is expected to return to the Top 50 for the first time since 2012.

Brian Baker won his first ATP title, winning the doubles championship in Memphis with Nikola Mektic of Croatia.  Baker and Mektic beat Harrison and Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

The rain in Arizona finally stopped long enough to allow completion of the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Surprise, with 18-year-old qualifier Caroline Dolehide picking up her first title at that level with two wins today.  Dolehide, who has committed to UCLA for 2017, defeated No. 2 seed Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals, then followed with a 6-3, 6-1 win over wild card and former USC star Danielle Lao in the final.   The doubles title went to Duque-Marino and Nadia Podoroska of Argentina, with the No. 2 seeds beating lucky losers Usue Arconada and Sonya Kenin 4-6, 6-0 10-5 in the final.

At the $15,000 Futures in Orlando, top seed Michael Linzer of Austria defeated unseeded Facundo Arguello of Argentina 6-3, 6-0 in the final.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Anisimova and Sewing Reach Grade A Porto Alegre Girls Final, Bryde Advances to Boys Championship Match; Semifinals Set at Men's D-I Team Indoor; Goetz Sweeps ITF Grade 4 Titles in Mexico

ITF Junior Circuit in South America has been good to US girls the past several weeks, with Amanda Meyer winning the Grade 1 in Ecuador and Whitney Osuigwe claiming two Grade 1 titles in Paraguay and Brazil the last three weeks.  On Sunday, an American will win the Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil, with top seed and 2016 finalist Amanda Anisimova taking on No. 7 seed Sofia Sewing.

Anisimova, who lost to Usue Arconada in last year's final, has returned to the final without much drama.  She defeated No. 6 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia, who won the Grade 1 in her home country before the US girls began their recent run, 6-3, 6-4.  Sewing got by unseeded Elysia Bolton 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 to reach the biggest final of her career.

No. 8 seed Trent Bryde will represent the US boys in the final, after he defeated No. 3 seed Vasil Kirkov 6-4, 5-7, 6-0.  He will face unseeded Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi of Argentina, who defeated No. 7 seed Oliver Crawford 6-1, 6-1.

Both Sewing and Bryde have already collected one winner's trophy, claiming the doubles titles in Porto Alegre.  Bryde and Alafia Ayeni won via walkover in the final, while Sewing and her frequent partner Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico, seeded second, defeated No. 3 seeds Fernanda Labrana of Chile and Thaisa Pedretti of Brazil 7-5, 6-2.

Streaming of the singles finals will be available at the tournament website.

The semifinals are set at the ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor in Charlottesville after two tense battles and two easy victories.  No. 3 seed Ohio State rolled over No. 11 seed Oklahoma State 4-0 in less than two hours, while their semifinal opponent, No. 2 seed Wake Forest, needed more than three hours to subdue No. 10 seed Texas 4-3, with  Alan Gadjiev defeating Rodrigo Banzer 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-4 at line 6 to clinch the victory.

No. 5 seed and defending champion North Carolina got past No. 4 Cal 4-2, recovering from dropping the doubles point to get singles wins from lines 3, 4, 5, and 6. Ronnie Schneider did not finish his match with Florian Lakat at line 1, but he won the point of the tournament, (and maybe the entire dual match season). It can be viewed at FloTennis (just a brief advertisement preceding the clip, which does not require a subscription to see).

North Carolina will face host Virginia in a rematch of last year's memorable final, after the Cavaliers cruised past No. 8 UCLA 4-0 this evening in less than two hours.

For more on today's matches, see College Tennis Today.

At the ITF Grade 4 in Mexico this week, unseeded Ryan Goetz swept the singles and doubles titles. The 17-year-old New Yorker didn't drop a set in singles, beating No. 6 seed Marcelo Sepulveda Garza of Mexico 7-6(5), 6-2 in the final.  Goetz and Canadian Liam Draxl won their second straight doubles title, with the unseeded pair beating No. 2 seeds Sepulveda Garza and Guillermo Castaneda of Mexico 7-6(3), 6-4.

Rain in Arizona today has delayed the semifinals of both the $25K in Surprise and the ATP Challenger in Tempe until Sunday.

At the $15,000 Orlando Futures, top seed Michael Linzer of Austria defeated No. 4 seed Christian Lindell of Sweden 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the final with unseeded Facundo Arguello of Argentina. Arguello ended the run of 18-year-old qualifier Genaro Olivieri of Argentina with a 6-2, 6-3 win.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sanford Considers Pro Tennis; Six Americans Reach Porto Alegre Semifinals; Only Two Top 8 Seed Lose in D-I Men's Team Indoor First Round; Dolehide, Lao into Surprise Semis

While at the Dow Tennis Classic late last month, I spoke to 18-year-old Alexandra Sanford about the choice she will be making in the next few months to either turn pro or join the North Carolina Tar Heels this fall. For this Tennis Recruiting Network article, I also spoke to Ohio State men's head coach Ty Tucker, who has spent time on court with Sanford over the past several years, about her development and prospects. Last year I had a similar conversation in Midland with Raveena Kingsley, who ultimately decided against joining the college team she had committed to, LSU.

It was another successful day for Americans at the ITF Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil, with six of the eight semifinalists from the United States.

Top seed Amanda Anisimova had another easy win, beating unseeded Sofia Munera Sanchez of Colombia 6-2, 6-1 and will play No. 6 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia in the semifinals. Osorio Serrano had another tough three-setter, beating unseeded Anhzelika Isaeva of Russia 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.  In the bottom half, unseeded Elysia Bolton downed No. 14 seed Hailey Baptiste 6-2, 7-5 to set up an all-US semifinal against No. 7 seed Sofia Sewing.  Sewing outlasted No. 2 seed Amina Anshba of Russia 1-6, 6-2, 6-2.  It is the first Grade A semifinal for both Sewing and Bolton.   For more on the girls quarterfinals, see the ITF Junior website.

In the boys draw, there was another No. 7 over No. 2 result, with Oliver Crawford taking out Yuta Shimizu of Japan 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Crawford will face Argentina's Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi in his first
Grade A semifinal.  The top half will feature an all-US semifinal between No. 8 seed Trent Bryde and No. 3 seed Vasil Kirkov.  Bryde defeated unseeded Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 and Kirkov won his fourth consecutive three-setter, beating No. 11 seed Gianni Ross 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-2.

Live streaming for Saturday's matches can be found at the tournament website.

The last US player in singles at the $15,000 Orlando Futures, unseeded Jared Hiltzik, bowed out today, falling to No. 4 seed Christian Lindell of Sweden 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.  Eighteen-year-old qualifier Genaro Olivieri of Argentina continued his fine run, defeating No. 2 seed Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina 6-4, 6-3 in today's quarterfinals.

Top seeds Connor Smith and Rhyne Williams took the doubles title, beating unseeded Dominik Koepfer of Germany and Boris Arias of Bolivia 3-6, 6-3, 10-8 in the final. It's Smith's 13th Futures doubles title, and his second with Williams, who has 10 Futures doubles titles and two Challenger doubles titles.

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Surprise Arizona, wild card Danielle Lao and qualifier Caroline Dolehide have advanced to the semifinals.  Lao defeated qualifier Jaqueline Cristian of Romania 6-1, 6-0 and Dolehide beat Mayo Hibi of Japan 6-3, 6-2.  Lao plays No. 7 seed Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria Saturday, with Dolehide facing No. 2 seed Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia.  Duque-Marino defeated 16-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 in today's quarterfinals.

At the $75,000 Tempe Challenger, unseeded Tennys Sandgren and No. 7 seed Dennis Novikov will face off for a place in the final. Sandgren defeated No. 5 seed Marco Trungelliti 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals, while Novikov took out top seed Ernesto Escobedo 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4.

The first round of the ITA Men's Team Indoor Championships is complete, with many close matches, but only two featuring a lower seed winning.  That was No. 11 seed Oklahoma State taking out No. 6 seed Northwestern 4-2.  The only match that was decided in the last match on was No. 8 UCLA's 4-3 win over No. 9 USC, with Martin Redlicki defeating Brandon Holt 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4 at line 1 to set up a quarterfinal against No. 1 Virginia. Box scores for all eight matches are available here.

Virginia[1] def. Utah State[16] 4-0
UCLA[8] def. USC[9] 4-3
Cal[4] def. Baylor[13] 4-2
North Carolina[5] def. Georgia[12] 4-2
Oklahoma St[11] def. Northwestern[6] 4-2
Ohio State[3] def. Oklahoma[14] 4-0
Texas[10] def. Florida[7] 4-2
Wake Forest[2] def. Mississippi State[15] 4-0

In a rematch of last year's NCAA women's team final, fifth-ranked Stanford again defeated Oklahoma State, ranked sixth, again coming back from dropping the doubles point. This time it did not come down to the final match, with Stanford winning four singles matches to claim a 4-1 victory at the USTA's National Campus in Lake Nona.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Eight Americans Reach Grade A Porto Alegre Quarterfinals; Neel Heads ITA Women's Indoor All-Tournament Team; Pro Circuit Update

Four US girls and four US boys have advanced to Friday's quarterfinals at the ITF Grade A tournament in Porto Alegre Brazil.

Top seed Amanda Anisimova continues to cruise through the draw, beating No. 15 seed Anastasia Iamachkine of Peru 6-0, 6-1 in the third round. The 15-year-old has lost only six games this week and will play unseeded Sofia Munera Sanchez of Colombia in the quarterfinals. Munera Sanchez defeated Vanessa Ong 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-2. Anisimova is the only American girl in the top half; unseeded Elysia Bolton will play No. 14 seed Hailey Baptiste for a place in the semifinals.

Bolton edged Lea Ma 4-6, 7-6, 7-6(2), while the 15-year-old Baptiste took out No. 3 seed Emily Appleton of Great Britain 7-5, 6-1.  This is the first Grade A quarterfinal appearance for both Baptiste and the 16-year-old Bolton. No. 7 seed Sofia Sewing defeated unseeded Moyuka Uchijima of Japan 6-4, 6-2, and will play No. 2 seed Amina Anshba of Russia in the quarterfinals.

Fourteen-year-old Whitney Osuigwe's winning streak on the South American clay ended at 12, when the No. 9 seed was beaten by No. 6 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

All four US boys remaining are seeded, and they also have one all-USA quarterfinal, with No. 3 seed Vasil Kirkov facing No. 11 seed Gianni Ross.  Kirkov got past Alex Geller of Argentina 7-6(1), 1-6, 7-6(5) and Ross defeated No. 5 seed Sebastian Baez  of Argentina 7-6(0), 6-2, avenging a recent Orange Bowl loss.

No. 7 seed Oliver Crawford defeated No. 9 seed Francisco Vittar of Argentina 6-0, 6-0 and will meet No. 2 seed Yuta Shimizu of Japan in the quarterfinals. Shimizu downed No. 15 seed Patrick Kypson 7-5, 6-4.

In the top half of the draw, No. 8 seed Trent Bryde has reached his first Grade A quarterfinal, defeating doubles partner Alafia Ayeni 6-4, 6-3 in the third round today. He will play unseeded Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil in the quarterfinals.

Live streaming and Friday's order of play is available at the tournament website.

The all-Tournament team for the ITA Women's Team Indoor was announced today, with Florida freshman Ingrid Neel named Most Outstanding Player.

No. 1 singles: Hayley Carter, North Carolina
No. 2 singles: Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
No. 3 singles: Ingrid Neel, Florida*
No. 4 singles: Aliona Bolsova, Oklahoma State
No. 5 singles: Brooke Austin, Florida
No. 6 singles: Kourtney Keegan, Florida

*Most Outstanding Player

In a rare circumstance, none of the three all-tournament doubles teams were from the teams that made the final four.

No. 1 doubles: Christine Maddox and Mayar Sherif Ahmed, Pepperdine
No. 2 doubles: Aliona Bolsova and Sofia Blanco, Oklahoma State
No. 3 doubles: Felicity Maltby and Gabriela Talaba, Texas Tech

For the tournament results of all these players, see the ITA release.

The ITA Men's Team Indoor begins tomorrow in Virginia.  Bobby Knight has his preview at College Tennis Today and Granger Huntress looks at the probabilities at Texas College Tennis.  FloTennis will provide streaming, which requires a subscription.

The quarterfinals are set for the $15,000 Orlando Futures and the $25,000 Women's event in Surprise Arizona.  Only one American remains in Orlando, Jared Hiltzik, who advanced with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over qualifier Cameron Silverman.

Qualifier Caroline Dolehide, who today beat No. 8 seed Sonya Kenin 6-3, 7-5, and wild card Danielle Lao are the only US women to advance to the quarterfinals in Surprise.  Lao, who beat top seed Tatjana Maria of Germany on Wednesday, advanced to the quarterfinals when Raveena Kingsley retired trailing 6-4, 3-2.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fifteen Americans Reach Third Round at Porto Alegre Grade A; Virginia Men, Florida Women Remain No. 1; Lao Ousts Top Seed Maria in Surprise $25K

Seven US girls and eight US boys have advanced to the round of 16 at the ITF Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil.

Top seed Amanda Anisimova, No. 7 seed Sofia Sewing, No. 9 seed Whitney Osuigwe and No. 14 seed Hailey Baptiste were expected to advance given their seedings, but Vanessa Ong, Lea Ma and Elysia Bolton were not.  Ong beat No. 8 seed Yang Lee of Taiwan 6-3, 6-0, while Ma and Bolton, who play each other for a spot in the quarterfinals Thursday, both defeated qualifiers today.

There is one all-US boys match on Thursday, with No. 8 seed Trent Bryde facing Alafia Ayeni in a battle of doubles partners.  Seeded US boys advancing today are No. 3 Vasil Kirkov, No. 7 Oliver Crawford, No. 11 Gianni Ross, No. 12 Danny Thomas and No. 15 Patrick Kypson. Unseeded Sangeet Sridhar defeated No. 16 seed Ondrej Styler of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2 today.

The ITA today released its post-Team Indoor rankings for women. Because No. 1 Florida defeated No. 2 North Carolina in the Team Indoor final on Monday, they obviously held their positions. Georgia and Ohio State moved up based on their semifinal showings at the Team Indoor, and Michigan and Texas Tech entered the Top 10 based on their performances at the tournament.  This is the last week for team rankings by poll, with the computer taking over next week.

ITA WOMEN'S TOP TEN: (previous ranking in parentheses)
1. Florida (1)
2. North Carolina (2)
3. Georgia (6)
4. Ohio State (7)
5. Stanford (4)
6. Oklahoma State (5)
7. Texas Tech (12)
8. Pepperdine (3)
9. Cal (8)
10. Michigan (13)

No men's rankings were published this week due to the upcoming Men's Team Indoor.

The USTA's poll was released today with results for both men and women. The full Top 25 list can be viewed by clicking on the headings.

USTA MEN'S TOP TEN: (votes received in parentheses)
1. Virginia (148)
2. Ohio State (143)
3. Wake Forest (137)
4. Florida (130)
5. California (116)
6. Northwestern(113)
7. USC (109)
T8. North Carolina (108)
T8. UCLA (108)
10. Oklahoma (91)

1. Florida (150)
2. North Carolina (144)
3. Ohio State (135)
4. Georgia (127)
T5. Oklahoma St (124)
T5. Stanford (124)
T7. Cal (108)
T7. Texas Tech (108)
9. Michigan (104)
10. Pepperdine (103)

I'm back in Michigan, so I won't have any more on-site coverage of the $15,000 Orlando Futures, but I'll still be following it with interest for the rest of the week.

Eleven first round singles matches today completed the first round, with 16-year-old wild card Sebastian Korda the youngest player to record a victory.  Korda defeated qualifier Mico Santiago 6-2, 6-3 for the fourth Futures win of his career. In order to equal his best Futures showing, a quarterfinal appearance in Weston last month, Korda will need to defeat top seed Michael Linzer of Austria, who is ranked 306..

Three qualifiers advanced to the second round: former Elon star Cameron Silverman, former Texas A&M standout Junior Ore and 18-year-old Genaro Olivieri of Argentina. Olivieri rolled past No. 7 seed Kaichi Uchida of Japan 6-2, 6-0.

The doubles semifinals are set, with top seeds Connor Smith and Rhyne Williams the only seeds in the final four.

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Surprise Arizona, top seed and Dow Tennis Classic champion Tatjana Maria of Germany fell to wild card Danielle Lao 6-1, 6-2.  The former USC star will face Raveena Kingsley in Thursday's second round action.  Fifteen-year-old qualifier Anastasia Potapova of Russia defeated 16-year-old wild card Taylor Johnson 7-5, 6-2, while two 16-year-olds, Claire Liu and Bianca Andreescu of Canada, set up a rematch of their 2015 Orange Bowl quarterfinal, won by Andreescu. Liu defeated No. 6 seed Catalina Pella of Argentina 6-3, 6-4. No. 8 seed Sonya Kenin and qualifier Caroline Dolehide will meet in a battle of 18-year-olds, with Dolehide having won their most recent match last year. Qualifier Maria Sanchez is the sixth American to advance to the second round.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Koepfer Wins Futures Opener, Sets Goals for 2017; Pro Events Underway in Surprise and Tempe Arizona; ITA Men's Team Indoor Draw

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Orlando, FL--

Former Tulane All-American Dominik Koepfer has already tasted success in his first months as a pro tennis player. The 22-year-old German, who was ranked No. 1 in the country for most of last year's spring season, won his first Futures title last fall and reached another Futures final last month. This week, he is the No. 8 seed at the $15,000 Orlando Futures, and he began his tournament with a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1 win over 2012 ITF World Junior Champion Filip Peliwo of Canada today on the Har-Tru courts of the USTA National Campus.

Koepfer trailed 5-2 in the opening set, but got the break back, only to lose the tiebreaker. He regained his focus after the set break however, and by the end of the match Peliwo appeared to lack the motivation to fight back.

"It was the attitude and energy I brought on the court," Koepfer said. "I started out a little slow, kind of lost my mind, but I took my time in between the sets. I came out and played good tennis, had a lot of energy and just fought my way through it."

Koepfer, the 2015 ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate champion, said the Futures level is similar to the top Division I level in college, but the tennis experience is not the same.

"It's definitely different than college," said the 5-foot-11 left-hander. "Traveling by yourself, being by yourself all the time, playing good players every week.  In college you already know who you're playing next week, but in pro tennis, it's a different guy every week. It's definitely different, but it's a lot of fun and going well."

Koepfer is now training at Saddlebrook, working with Christopher Williams and Billy Heiser, an arrangement that he credits Tulane with facilitating.

"My head coach at Tulane (Mark Booras) knew someone at Saddlebrook and he got in touch with Billy and Christopher," Koepfer said. "It's a lot of fun. He's a good coach and I like what both guys are doing and it's worked out well so far."

Koepfer, now ranked 481, has set a goal of reaching the qualifying for the 2018 Australian Open.

"The big goal is definitely to go to Australia next, at least qualies," Koepfer said. "I definitely want to reach the Challenger level pretty soon."

Having earned his degree in Finance at Tulane, Koepfer is able to pursue these goals without feeling constant stress.

"There's definitely less pressure than some of the other guys who have done this for a couple of years and don't have a college degree," Koepfer said. "There's always a backup option, which is really nice. And I have a lot of connections through Tulane to help me out whatever happens."

Two other former US collegians also advanced to the second round. Former Tennessee star Rhyne Williams, who has struggled with injuries and is hoping to play his first full year since 2014, won his first match of 2017, beating Fred Simonsson of Sweden 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.  Former TCU standout Nick Chappell defeated 17-year-old wild card Lukas Greif 6-2, 6-3.

No. 3 seed Andrea Collarini and No. 2 seed Juan Ignacio Londero, both of Argentina, won their first round matches in three sets.

All eight first round doubles matches were played today, with three of the four seeds picking up victories, including top seed Connor Smith and Williams and No. 2 seeds Farris Gosea of Great Britain and Jayme Pla Malfeito of Spain.

Qualifying is now complete at USTA Pro Circuit women's $25,000 tournament in Surprise Arizona, with ITF World Junior Champion and current No. 1 Anastasia Potapova of Russia among the eight earning entry into the main draw with wins today.  The 15-year-old Potapova will play 16-year-old wild card Taylor Johnson in the first round. Potapova beat Johnson in the second round at the Wimbledon Juniors last year.  Other Americans to advance to the main draw are Caroline Dolehide (UCLA recruit), Sabrina Santamaria(USC), Ashley Kratzer, Maria Sanchez(USC) and Sanaz Marand(UNC).  Wild cards were given to Johnson, Danielle Lao(USC) and Megan McCray(Oklahoma State), with Claire Liu using a junior exemption for main draw entry.  Tatjana Maria of Germany is the No. 1 seed.

In first round doubles action, lucky losers Sonya Kenin and Usue Arconada took out top seeds Catalina Pella of Argentina and Daniela Seguel of Chile 6-3, 4-6, 10-6.

The ATP has a $75,000 Challenger this week in Tempe Arizona, with young Americans Ernesto Escobedo and Stefan Kozlov the top two seeds. Both have advanced to the second round, as has Michael Mmoh.

The draw is up for this weekend's ITA National Men's Team Indoor at the University of Virginia.  Unlike the Women's Team Indoor, all 16 teams are seeded.  The schedule for Friday's eight matches:

Virginia[1] vs Utah State[16] 6:30 pm
UCLA[8] vs USC[9] 6:30 pm
Cal[4] vs Baylor[13] 3:30 pm
North Carolina[5] vs Georgia[12] 3:30 pm
Oklahoma St[11] vs Northwestern[6] 9:00 am
Oklahoma[14] vs Ohio State[3] 9:00 am
Texas[10] vs Florida[7] noon
Mississippi State[15] vs. Wake Forest[2] noon

Monday, February 13, 2017

ITF Junior No. 1 Kecmanovic's Climb Through Futures Qualifying; Florida Captures ITA Women's Team Indoor Title; Anisimova Top Seed at Grade A Porto Alegre

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Orlando, FL--

Seventeen-year-old Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia is looking forward to the day when Futures qualifying is behind him.

With many of those qualifying draws made up of 128 players, meaning four wins are required just to reach the main draw, the physical and mental grind is considerable. But as a test of fitness, this arduous path has its value, with Kecmanovic already having proven to himself that he can survive nine matches in ten days.

Since winning the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl titles last year to finish as 2016’s ITF World Junior Champion, Kecmanovic has focused on Futures in Florida this year, claiming his first pro title last month at the $15,000 tournament in Sunrise as a qualifier.

“It was a pretty tough week, but I played very well, better than I thought I would,” said Kecmanovic, who trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. “It was a great start to the year.”

Kecmanovic said his off-season consisted of four weeks of fitness, which proved instrumental in claiming his title. “To play nine matches at that level, a couple of tough matches over two hours, I did pretty good. I was ready, and even after, at the following tournaments, I was in good shape.”

Seeded second in qualifying this week, Kecmanovic didn’t drop a set in his four matches at the $15,000 Orlando Futures at the USTA National Campus, needing less than an hour to record his 6-2, 6-0 win over South African Lance Cohen.

With five wins required for just one ATP point in these qualifying draws, Kecmanovic is hoping his stay at this level is brief, although he is trying to stay patient, sticking to the plan he established for 2017.

“My coach and I talked about what we were going to do, to start with Futures,” said Kecmanovic, who lost in the first round of the two Futures he played after Sunrise, although he did win three qualifying matches at Palm Coast . “We are starting with Futures, because I don’t think I’m ready for Challengers yet. Maybe a few more of this, then the second part of the year, the middle of the year, I can start playing some bigger events. I have to get pass this, however much time it takes. I’ll try to play good and just pass this quickly.”

Kecmanovic is one of three teenagers to advance to the main draw, with 18-year-olds Evan Furness of France, the No. 6 seed, and Genaro Oliviera of Argentina, the No. 8 seed, the other two. Furness defeated Michael Zhu 6-3, 6-1 and Olivieri beat Malcolm Harrison 6-2, 6-2.

Top qualifying seed Connor Smith won the only three-set match of the day, beating Lucas Renard of Sweden 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.  Played on the Har-Tru Championship Court at the USTA's new tennis facility, the match was a high quality affair, with Smith getting a break at 2-2 in the third set to establish control and another at 4-2 to take the pressure off, although the former Ohio State Buckeye did have to save two break points in the final game.

No. 3 seed Mico Santiago ended the run of 15-year-old Govind Nanda with a 7-5, 6-3 victory and former Elon star Cameron Silverman, the No. 4 seed, bounced 18-year-old Jason Legall 6-2, 6-0.   Former Texas A&M standout Junior Ore is the only unseeded player to qualify, beating No. 9 seed Alex Blumenberg of Brazil 6-4, 6-3.  No. 16 seed Victor Nunez of Chile advanced with a 7-6(4), 7-5 win over No. 7 seed Hunter Callahan in the day's longest match, despite being only two sets.

Five first round main draw singles matches are on the schedule for Tuesday and all eight first round doubles matches will be played. Qualifiers receive the day off after playing four consecutive days.

The University of Florida women won their first ITA Team Indoor title since 1999 today at Yale, defeating North Carolina 4-2. The top seeded Gators won the doubles point easily, but needed a win from first semester freshman Ingrid Neel to seal the title after the No. 2 Tar Heels cut the Florida lead to 3-2 after freshmen Sara Daavettila at line 2 and Alexa Graham at line 4 won their matches.  Florida got wins from Brooke Austin at line 5 and Kourtney Keegan at line 6 to set up Neel's 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 win over friend and fellow Minnesotan Jessie Aney at line 3.  For more, see the Florida website.

Complete results can be found at the ITA tournament page.

The second Grade A tournament of the year is underway in Porto Alegre Brazil, with 12 US boys and 17 US girls participating.  Some first round matches were played today, with top girls seed Amanda Anisimova advancing.  Losing in first round play today were Chloe Hamlin, Chloe Beck, Victoria Hu and Camille Townsend. US girls winning today in addition to Anisimova are Lea Ma, who beat No. 5 seed Emiliana Arango of Colombia, Elysia Bolton, No. 14 seed Hailey Baptiste, No. 7 seed Sofia Sewing, Alexa Noel, Katya Townsend and qualifiers Katie Volynets and Peyton Stearns.  Stearns defeated No. 11 seed Fernanda Labrana of Chile 7-5, 6-2. US girls yet to play are Vanessa Ong, Victoria Flores, Ann Li,  and No. 9 seed Whitney Osuigwe, who won the two Grade 1 events prior to this week.

The US boys who won first round matches today are Alafia Ayeni, No. 8 seed Trent Bryde, No. 3 seed Vasil Kirkov and No. 12 seed Danny Thomas. Ayeni defeated No. 10 seed Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina 6-3, 6-2.  Tomas Kopczynski lost his first round match.  US boys scheduled to play their first round matches on Tuesday are Alexandre Rotsaert, No. 11 seed Gianni Ross, Sangeet Sridhar, No. 4 seed Sam Riffice, No. 7 seed Oliver Crawford, wild card Milledge Cossu and No. 15 seed Patrick Kypson.

For more, see the tournament website.  Check out the live streaming available here.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Nanda Reaches Final Round of Qualifying at Orlando Futures; No. 1 Florida Faces No. 2 North Carolina in Women's Team Indoor Final; Rubin Wins Launceston Challenger; USA Advances in Fed Cup; Zink Wins Grade 4 in Mexico

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Orlando, FL--

Govind Nanda is hoping to give himself an early birthday present on Monday, when he plays in the final round of qualifying at a USTA Pro Circuit Futures event for the first time.  Nanda, who will turn 16 in five days, defeated 16-year-old Drew Baird 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 for his third qualifying win this week at the $15,000 Orlando Futures on the USTA National Campus.

Nanda has played in qualifying at four Futures tournaments, with three of those coming this year. He has also managed to squeeze in two ITF junior events in 2017, but decided not to stay in South America after the Grade 1 in Colombia, opting for professional experience instead.

"The level in the ITFs, the Grade 1s, everyone is good in those tournaments," Nanda said. "In Futures, some guys are playing just to have fun, but there's also some guys who are very good, the guys higher up. The level is pretty similar, but the Futures is less pressure right now."

Nanda defeated a 50-year-old wild card in the first round, losing just one game, but in Saturday's second round, he eliminated No. 10 seed Alon Elia of Israel, ranked 968, by a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3 score.

Nanda had played Baird in the back draw of the Kalamazoo 16s last year and beaten him 7-6(3), 6-2, but Baird ran out to a 3-0 lead in the first set.

"He just came out firing, and I thought if he kept playing like this, it's too good, he should win this match," said Nanda, who has been staying at the USTA National Campus for the past couple of weeks, but usually trains at the USTA's Carson California training center. "So I just tried to stay solid and stay in the match until he started to make some errors and give me chances. Eventually the chances came and I took them."

Nanda got a break in the first game of the second set and held on to it, although he had to save two break points serving for the set at 5-4, with Baird donating two unforced errors on those critical points.  In the third set, Nanda again got an early break and Baird, playing in his first Futures, made too many errors to put any pressure on Nanda in the final few games.

Nanda will face 22-year-old Mico Santiago, the No. 3 seed, for a place in the main draw. Santiago advanced with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Illinois recruit Fletcher Scott.

Seven of the top eight seeds have advanced to Monday's final round of qualifying, with Connor Smith[1], Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic[2] and Cameron Silverman[4] all winning their third round matches in straight sets.  Eighteen-year-old Jason Legall, a Florida Atlantic recruit, will take on Silverman for a spot in the main draw, with two other 18-year-olds, Evan Furness[6] of France, and Genaro Olivieri[8] of Argentina, also through with third-round wins today.

The University of Central Florida plays their home matches at the Collegiate Center in the USTA's new facility, but today four of the Knights were on the Har-Tru courts, having advanced to the third round of qualifying.  As coach John Roddick looked on, Korey Lovett, Kalman Boyd, Enrique Paya Gonzalez and Harrison Richmond all lost, with Richmond's loss particularly tough.  The Virginia graduate, now attending graduate school at UCF, battled No. 16 seed Victor Nunez of Chile for over three hours before Nunez took a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(4) decision.

The main draw is out, with no Americans among the seeded players. Michael Linzer of Austria is the No. 1 seed. Main draw play will begin on Tuesday.

The finals are set for the ITA Women's National Team Indoor Championship, with No. 1 Florida facing No. 2 North Carolina.  North Carolina beat Ohio State 4-3, with Hayley Carter defeating Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the deciding match.  Florida beat Georgia 4-0 in the other semifinal.  Two-time Indoor champion North Carolina has advanced to the finals for the third straight year, while Florida is making its first appearance in the final since 2011, although the Gators have often skipped the NTI in previous years.

For more, see the ITA tournament page.

The same day that Jamie Loeb won the Launceston Australia $60,000 ITF Women's Circuit tournament, fellow New Yorker and John McEnroe Tennis Academy player Noah Rubin also won a title in Launceston.  The 2015 NCAA finalist, seeded No. 7, defeated unseeded Mitchell Krueger 6-0, 6-1 in the final of the $75,000 ATP Challenger.  It's Rubin's second Challenger title and with the win, the 20-year-old former Wake Forest star will reach a career-high ranking of around 163.

At the $100,000 San Francisco Challenger, qualifier Ze Zhang of China won the title, beating No. 7 seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.  Pospisil had taken out Reilly Opelka, Frances Tiafoe and Michael Mmoh to reach the final.  Top seeds Matt Reid and JP Smith of Australia won the doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Zhang and Mao-Xin Gong of China 6-7(4), 7-5, 10-7.

The United States Fed Cup team defeated Germany 4-0 in Maui to advance to the semifinals for the first time in seven years.  Alison Riske and CoCo Vandeweghe picked up singles wins for the US, with Vandeweghe clinching the victory with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over Andrea Petkovic.  The tie was marred by rain, which caused  delays in the first match and postponement of the second singles match on Saturday, and by the playing of an outdated German national anthem stanza, which is associated with Hitler's Third Reich.  The US team will play the Czech Republic in April's semifinals.

At the ITF Grade 4 in Mexico, Tyler Zink earned his second ITF junior singles title after winning his first last year at a Grade 5. The 16-year-old Zink, seeded sixth, defeated top seed Rafael Bejar Levy of Mexico 6-3, 6-1 in the final.  Ryan Goetz and Canada's Liam Draxl won the doubles title, beating Francisco Vargas and Ramiro Villalobos Muela of Mexico 6-2, 7-6(5). Neither team was seeded.  Unseeded Shelly Yaloz and Taylor Gruber lost in the girls doubles final to No. 2 seeds Dyane Barcena Del Bosque of Mexico and Raphaelle Lacasse of Canada 6-4, 6-0.