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Monday, March 27, 2017

Former Champion Claire Liu Takes Wild Card into Adidas Easter Bowl ITF; Upsets in 12s and 16s Divisions; Team USA Developmental Coaches Awards Announced

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Indian Wells, CA--

The wind blew in the desert Monday for the opening day of the adidas Easter Bowl ITF tournament, but the challenging conditions didn't faze 2015 champion Claire Liu, who loves playing in the Coachella Valley.

Liu, the top seed in the tournament after accepting a wild card, defeated Chloe Beck 6-1, 6-1, her first match since her previous trip to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where she reached the final of the BNP Paribas Challenge pre-qualifying tournament and played in the first round of qualifying at the WTA Premier event.

"I think I played pretty well," said Liu, who will turn 17 in May. "I was training for like three weeks after Indian Wells and I did all the things I practiced so I am pretty happy about that."

Liu said she needed a wild card due to a late entry. The points she was losing from reaching the final last year at Carson and her upcoming schedule made playing this week her best option.

"I'm losing points from ISC and I'm not going to play the junior tournaments before the French, so I was going to lose some doubles points from that, so I just wanted to keep my ranking up, and get some more matches."

Liu didn't lack for matches earlier this month at the BNP Paribas Challenge, winning six of them before falling to Maria Sanchez in the final. She said she continued to work on her game in those matches, while enjoying the chance to compete at her favorite venue.

"I always love this tournament because I've done so well here," 2014 16s finalist Liu said, then adding, under her breath, "except for last year. I love this tournament, I love Palm Springs and Indian Wells. Easter Bowl and Indian Wells (BNP Paribas Open) are my favorite tournaments."

Other top girls seeds in action Monday included No. 3 seed Whitney Osuigwe, who defeated Jimena Rodriguez-Benito 6-1, 6-1 and 2016 semifinalist Caty McNally, who got past Sara Choy 6-2, 6-4.

In boys first round action, 2015 finalist Sam Riffice, the No. 4 seed, defeated Robert Maciag 7-6(6), 6-0, No. 6 seed Patrick Kypson advanced with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Nevin Arimilli and No. 8 seed Alafia Ayeni beat Robert Baylon 6-3, 6-4.

The boys 12s division lost its two top seeds in today's third round. Nicholas Godsick, the son of Mary Joe Fernandez defeated top seed Learner Tien 6-4, 6-1 and Kyle Kang beat Jelani Sarr 6-2, 2-6, 10-8.

In the boys 16s, Carson champion Siem Woldeab, the No. 3 seed, retired from his first round match with Nicholas Garcia trailing 6-2, 3-2. Woldeab said after winning the title last week that was suffering back issues during the tournament.

In the girls 16s, top seed Briana Crowley lost to Fiona Crawley 6-2, 7-6(3) in the first round.

See the Easter Bowl website for links to all the draws, as well as the live streaming of the stadium court.

Team USA Coaches Reception and Panel Discussion
photo by Dave Kenas for the adidas Easter Bowl

On Sunday night, the USTA held its annual Team USA coaches reception, honoring outstanding developmental and legendary coaches and programs.  See the release below for more on this year's winners:


Smith Tennis in Indianapolis Recognized as Developmental Program of the Year

USTA Northern California Named Player Development Section of the Year

Billie Jean King, Rick Macci, Dan Magill Honored as Team USA Legendary Coaches

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., March 27, 2017 – The USTA today announced that Mike Gennette, coach of top juniors Claire Liu and Austen Huang, and Henner Nehles, coach of rising American 17-year old Kayla Day, were named as the 2016 Team USA Developmental Coaches of the Year as part of USTA Player Development’s annual Team USA Coaching Awards. Smith Tennis in Indianapolis was recognized as the 2016 Team USA Developmental Program of the Year, while USTA Northern California was named the 2016 Team USA Player Development Section of the Year. Tennis icon Billie Jean King, renowned coach Rick Macci and University of Georgia legend Dan Magill were also honored with Team USA Legendary Coaching Awards. All honorees were recognized at an awards reception on Sunday at the Easter Bowl junior tournament in Indian Wells, Calif.

Mike Gennette has been the primary coach for one of America’s most promising juniors in Claire Liu. Liu won the girls’ doubles title and reached the singles quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2016, and followed that by sweeping the singles and doubles titles at the Grade 1 ITF International Hard Court Junior Championships in College Park, Md. She peaked at No. 8 in the world junior rankings in the fall. Gennette also worked with Kayla Day through June 2016, and also coached Austen Huang, who ascended to the No. 1 USTA Boys’ 18s national ranking – one of 10 players Gennette has coached to a No. 1 USTA national ranking in his career. Gennette completed his 23rd season as head men’s tennis coach at NCAA Division III Cal Lutheran University in 2016 and continues to run the Total Tennis Academy in Southern California, where he lives in Newbury Park.

"Mike Gennette is one of the premier junior coaches in Southern California, and the list of great juniors he has taught and coached over the years more than speaks for itself," said USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. "The relationship between Mike and our National Coaches is strong; his and Henner Nehles’ work with Kayla Day is a great example of collaboration between a private-sector coach and a USTA National Coach.”

Henner Nehles, a USTA National Coach based out of the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla., coached one of the world’s fastest-rising teenagers in Kayla Day in 2016. Day reached the world No. 1 junior ranking this past fall after winning the girls’ singles title and reaching the doubles final at the US Open and advancing to the girls’ singles semis at Wimbledon. She also won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship to earn a wild card into the US Open women’s draw, where she advanced to the second round, and then captured the USTA Pro Circuit’s Australian Open Wild Card Challenge to earn a main draw wild card into January’s Australian Open. She finished the year as the youngest player in the WTA Top 200. Additionally, Nehles assisted Lou Belkin in coaching former Eddie Herr Girls’ 18s champion Kylie McKenzie, and coached Easter Bowl Girls’ 18s champion Alexandra Sanford.

“Henner Nehles has done a tremendous job of working with our country's top private sector coaches and is an asset to American tennis as a National Coach who exemplifies what it means to be part of an inclusive Team USA,” Blackman said. “Henner has had a positive developmental impact on many of our top junior girls.”

Billie Jean King is the personification of a visionary, innovator and champion. Born in Long Beach, Calif., King won 39 Grand Slam titles – 12 singles, 16 doubles, 11 mixed doubles – between 1965 and 1980 and defeated Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes in 1973, which is widely considered one of the most significant moments in American sports history. She was one of the original nine women’s players who broke away from the tennis establishment in 1970, which led to the founding of what is now the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour. She also founded the Women’s Sports Foundation and co-founded Mylan World TeamTennis, where she played and coached for many years. Her name graces the home of the US Open – the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and in 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama. As a coach, King led the U.S. to four Fed Cup championships and a 22-5 record over nine years as captain, and coached Lindsay Davenport, Gigi Fernandez and Mary Joe Fernandez to Olympic Gold Medals in 1996. She also served as a personal coach to both Martina Navratilova and Tim Mayotte in the 1990s.

Rick Macci has coached and influenced a veritable “who’s who” of tennis stars on both the men’s and women’s tours, including Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Jennifer Capriati , Andy Roddick, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Mary Pierce, Anastasia Myskina, Christian Ruud, Karim Alami and Byron Black, along with current up-and-comers like Sofia Kenin, Vicky Duval and Tornado Alicia and Hurricane Tyra Black. A seven-time USPTA Coach of the Year and USPTA Florida Hall of Fame inductee, Macci is renowned for his technical, strategic and mental expertise, and regularly does motivational speaking and media appearances. A USPTA Master Professional, Macci owns and operates the Rick Macci Tennis Academy out of Boca Raton, Fla., where he continues to coach students of all ages and levels.

Dan Magill is regarded as one of the most influential people in collegiate tennis history. During a 34-year career as the University of Georgia’s head men’s tennis coach, Magill became the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I tennis history, leading the Bulldogs to a 706-183 record, two NCAA team national championships and a combined 21 conference titles (13 outdoor, 8 indoor). He helped produce five national collegiate individual champions, including back-to-back NCAA champion Mikael Pernfors. Magill was also a longtime Sports Information Director at Georgia, and his name graces both the Dan Magill Tennis Complex and the press box inside Georgia’s football stadium. Magill has been inducted into the UGA Circle of Honor, National Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and Southern Tennis Hall of Fame.

"What more can possibly be said about this year's Legendary Coach Award recipients – three true experts of our game,” Blackman said. “Billie Jean King's achievements as a player, pioneer and activist have transcended tennis and her resume as a coach – as U.S. Fed Cup Captain and coach for World TeamTennis and for Martina Navratilova and Tim Mayotte – deserves its own celebration.

“Rick Macci is one of our sport's greatest coaching minds, proven by the almost surreal list of champions he has coached and influenced,” Blackman said. “Rick's expertise and passion for teaching continues to keep him as one of the world's foremost instructors.

“Dan Magill’s accomplishments at Georgia assured that his legacy will never be forgotten,” Blackman said. “Dan is on the Mount Rushmore of college tennis; the longevity of his teams' and players' success is matched only by the lasting impact he made on those who played for him."

Jeff Smith, Bryan Smith, and Stephanie Hazlett, of Smith Tennis in Indianapolis – currently a USTA Certified Regional Training Center and a TEAM USA Host Site for both TEAM USA Sectional and Regional camps – are the primary coaches for a number of players who had exceptional results in 2016, including: Rajeev Ram, who reached a career-high No. 56 in singles, won a Silver medal in mixed doubles at the Rio Olympics, reached the Wimbledon doubles semis and the ATP World Doubles Championship finals, in addition to the US Open mixed doubles final; Brooke Austin, who was the NCAA women’s doubles champion, an ITA All-American and SEC Player of the Year at the University of Florida; Ronnie Schneider, who was an ITA All-American as a junior at North Carolina and MVP of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships; Lukas Greif, who was the USTA Boys’ 16s National Hard and Clay Court Champion and also reached the 16s final of the Easter Bowl; Emily Desai, a USTA Girls’ 14s National Championships semifinalist; and Nishesh Basavareddy, one of the top 12-and-under players in the country. Smith Tennis also assisted in coaching Sara Daavettila, who was the ITA’s top-ranked freshman, at North Carolina, and sent 22 players to the USTA National Championships in August. Bryan serves as the Midwest Coaches Commission Chair, and all three coaches are active in the Midwest Section and TEAM USA.

“Smith Tennis had an amazing year at every level of the game - juniors, collegiate and professional.  Their players won trophies and medals at the Olympics, Grand Slams, NCAAs, USTA National Championships and at the Easter Bowl,” said Kent Kinnear, Director, Player ID and Development, USTA Player Development. “Jeff, Bryan and Stephanie have created an incredible training environment and have built up tremendous competitors as well as sportsmanship winners. They also are true leaders in the Midwest Section and nationally with their role as a USTA Regional Training Center and their support and involvement with TEAM USA Sectional, Regional and National Camps, as well as the Midwest Coaches Commission. They are true team players and we want to congratulate them on a tremendous 2016, and thank them for the impact they are making not only in the Midwest Section but also nationally as part of TEAM USA."

Players developed in the Northern California Section had outstanding results in 2016: Mackenzie McDonald won the 2016 NCAA singles and doubles titles at UCLA; Stefan Leustian won the prestigious Les Petits As 14-and-under event in Tarbes, France; Katie Volynets won the 16s singles titles at both the Eddie Herr and Metropolia Orange Bowl junior tournaments. Northern California is also the home Section of CiCi Bellis, who finished the year at No. 91 in the world, the youngest player in the Top 100. Player Development Manager Summer Verhoeven led the Section in executing all of its Early Development Camps (EDCs), a TEAM USA Sectional and Regional Camp at Stanford University and two EDC Coach Training Workshops.

“The Northern California Section had an incredible year providing opportunities to their players and coaches, which was proven by the success on the court by their players regionally, nationally and internationally last year,” Kinnear said. “CiCi Bellis, Mackie McDonald and Katie Volynets are just a few of their players who had tremendous success at the highest levels of the game.  And on top of their players' success in tournaments, they also invested a tremendous amount of effort into their youngest players between the ages of 7 and 13 with their leadership in Early Development Camps, ‘Train the Trainer’ Workshops for 10-and-Under coaches and their TEAM USA Sectional and Regional Camps that they hosted. A big congratulations to Steve Leube, Summer Verhoeven, Beth Workeneh, and their entire team for an outstanding 2016."  


Marty Collins said...

Let's go NorCal!

fan said...

Liu received a WC to play IW Q and was routed by Kontaveit. Never seen Liu push so blatantly, but K was just too powerful.