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Monday, July 31, 2017

Southern Cal and Southern Sections Advance to USTA Boys National Team Final in Champaign; ITF Introduces College Assistance Program; Andreescu, Day Advance at WTA Events

Earlier today I posted links to the draws and the top 16 seeds for the Boys 18 and 16 Nationals in Kalamazoo, which begin on Friday.  Draws for the other Nationals are not out yet, but should be up in the next day or two, with most beginning play on Saturday. The Tennis Link sites for the other events:

Girls 18s and 16s in San Diego

Girls 14s in Rome Georgia (seeds are posted)

Girls 12s in Alpharetta Georgia

Boys 12s and 14s in Mobile

The 18s National Team Championships, where USTA sections compete against each other in a standard Division I college format, are winding up with the boys finals set for Tuesday in Champaign Illinois.  Top seed Southern California, who beat Missouri Valley 5-2, will face 5-8 seed Southern, who took out No. 2 seed Florida 5-2 in today's semifinals. Links to the draw, team lineups and live scoring for the boys can be found at the Tennis Link site.

The girls team championships, in Claremont California, are harder to follow, with no draws posted, but I believe the four sections in Tuesday semifinals (they are a round behind the boys) are Southern Cal, Midwest, Eastern and Southern.  There is live streaming available via a link on the Tennis Link site.

The ITF announced, in conjunction with its Grand Slam Development Fund, a new initiative to assist college players in their transition to pro tennis.  The ITF has for years provided assistance to many juniors from countries without deep development pockets via this fund, and now they are extending this to college players.  Currently six players, four men and two women, are receiving help over the summer:  Florida State's Guy Iradukunda of Burindi, Ole Miss's Gustav Hansson of Sweden, South Florida's Alexandru Gozun of Moldova, Florida State's Aziz Dougiz of Tunisia, and from New Zealand, Alabama's Erin Routliffe and Georgia Tech's Paige Hourigan.

Wimbledon girls champion Claire Liu will make her WTA main draw debut tonight at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, against former Cardinal star Nicole Gibbs.  Unfortunately, it will be too late for me to follow, with that match following the one between Jennifer Brady and Maria Sharapova, which begins at 10 p.m. EDT.   Earlier today, Liu's longtime Southern California rival Kayla Day won her first round match at the Premier event, beating Misaki Doi of Japan 6-4, 6-2.  The next opponent for the 17-year-old US Open girls champion is top seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain, who beat Day in three sets in the third round at Indian Wells this spring.

Another 17-year-old familiar to both Day and Liu had success today at the Citi Open in Washington DC.  Canadian wild card Bianca Andreescu claimed her first WTA main draw victory with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 decision over Camila Giorgi of Italy. Andreescu awaits the winner of the match between No. 2 seed Kristina Mladenovic of France and Tatjana Maria of Germany.

Tommy Paul, who reached his first ATP quarterfinal last week in Atlanta, received a wild card into the Citi Open this week and won his first round match today.  Paul moved into the second round against No. 7 seed Lucas Pouille of France when Casper Ruud of Norway retired trailing 3-6, 7-5, 3-0.

Riffice Top Seed in Kalamazoo 18s; Nakashima No. 1 in 16s; Draws Posted

The draws for the USTA Boys 18 and 16 National Championships in Kalamazoo are available now at ustaboys.com.  This year, due to the 256-player draws, the number of seeds has been expanded from 32 to 64, but only the top 32 get first round byes.

The top 16 seeds are below. The complete seeding list can be found at ustaboys.com under PLAYERS/Players List, with the seeds filter used.

Boys 16s

1. Nakashima, Brandon 
2. Dale, Andrew 
3. Woldeab, Siem 
4. Grant, Will
5. Bullard, Jacob 
6. Allen, Leighton 
7. Lee, Alex
8. Dostanic, Stefan 

9. McDonald, Evin 
10. Zink, Tyler
11. Zhang, Andrew 

12. Johns, Garrett 
13. Lyeons, Jaycer 
14. Jachuck, Ronan 
15. McDaniel, Marcus 
16. Neff, Adam

Boys 18s

1. Riffice, Sam
2. Kypson, Patrick 

3. Bryde, Trent
4. Crawford, Oliver 

5. Wolf, JJ
6. McNally, John
7. Korda, Sebastian

8. Thomas, Danny 
9. Ross, Gianni
10. Kirkov, Vasil
11. Rotsaert, Alexandre 

12. Ayeni, Alafia
13. Cernoch, Brian
14. Fenty, Andrew
15. Greif, Lukas
16. Walker, Harris

Sunday, July 30, 2017

European Junior Champions Crowned; Anisimova Claims First Pro Title at Stockton $60K; Li Wins Evansville $15K; Norrie's Comeback Secures Challenger Title; Another Atlanta Title for Isner

The European Championships concluded today in Switzerland, where the ITF Grade B1 is held, Russia, site of the 16s championships and the Czech Republic, where the 14s tournament was located.

At the 18s championships, one of the two reigning Australian Open junior champions in the finals was able to add the European title, with Hungary's Zsombor Piros, the No. 2 seed, beating top seed Corentin Moutet of France 6-4, 7-5. Girls Australian Open champion Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine could not match Piros' feat, with the top seed dropping a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 decision to Orange Bowl champion Kaja Juvan of Slovenia.   Kostyuk did take the doubles title, with compatriot Viktoriia Dema. The No. 3 seeds defeated No. 4 seeds Jule Niemeier and Lara Schmidt of Germany 6-0, 7-5 in the final.

The boys doubles title went to the Swiss team of Jakub Paul and Damien Wenger.  The No. 9 seeds defeated No. 7 seeds Egor Noskin and Alexey Zakharov of Russia 6-3, 6-3 in the final. For more on the 18s finals, see the Tennis Europe website.

At the 16s championships, top seed Timofey Skatov of Russia won the boys title, defeating No. 3 seed Nini Gabriel Dica of Romania 6-3, 6-1 in the final.  Maja Chwalinska of Poland won the girls 16s title, with the No. 5 seed beating unseeded Caijsa Hennemann of Sweden 7-6(1), 6-0 in the final. For more on the 16s championships, see the Tennis Europe website.

The 14s champions are Ukraine's Dasha Lopatatskaya and Holger Rune of Denmark.  The unseeded Lopatatskaya, who won the Junior Orange Bowl 12s in 2015, beat top seed Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia 6-3, 6-2 in the final.  Rune, the top seed in the boys draw, defeated No. 2 seed Hamad Medjedovic of Serbia 6-2, 6-1 to claim the boys 14s singles title.  For more on the 14s championships, see the Tennis Europe website.

For all her success, including two finals this spring at $60K and 80K events, 15-year-old Amanda Anisimova had not won a Pro Circuit event until today.  Anisimova didn't have to take the court for the $60,000 Sacramento final with unseeded Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia, with Tomljanovic withdrawing well before the final, scheduled for this evening.  In last night's semifinal, the unseeded Anisimova avenged her loss to Kristie Ahn in the final of the $60,000 tournament in Dothan Alabama last April, beating the former Stanford star and No. 2 seed 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 in a two hour and 37 minute marathon.  Tomljanovic defeated No. 8 seed and defending champion Sonya Kenin 6-4, 6-0, but as of now, Kenin still leads the USTA US Open wild card challenge, with one week to go and many additional WTA points on offer this coming week at Stanford and Washington DC, as well as at the $60,000 tournament in Lexington Kentucky.

Wimbledon girls finalist Ann Li, 17, won her first Pro Circuit title today at the $15,000 tournament in Evansville Indiana.  Li, a wild card who does not have a WTA ranking, defeated No. 2 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in just under two hours.  The final game was extended to 16 points, with Li saving three break points until she converted on her third match point.

Great Britain's Cameron Norrie, who left TCU in May after his junior year, captured his first ATP Challenger title today in at the $75,000 tournament in Binghamton New York.  The 21-year-old left-hander trailed 4-1 in the final set before coming back to defeat top seed Jordan Thompson of Australia 6-4, 0-6, 6-4.  Norrie will now move into the ATP Top 200 and should be able to compete in the US Open qualifying next month.

Unseeded Denis Kudla and Daniel Nguyen won the doubles title in Binghamton, defeating No. 4 seeds Jarryd Chaplin and Luke Saville of Australia 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final.

John Isner captured his fourth BB&T Atlanta Open this afternoon, with the No. 2 seed beating No. 4 seed Ryan Harrison 7-6(6), 7-6(7). Isner, who won the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Classic in Newport last week, moves to No. 18 in the ATP rankings and retakes his usual position as the top-ranked American male.  For more on the former Georgia Bulldog's title, see this ATP article. The Bryan twins won the doubles title in Atlanta, beating Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Artem Sitak of New Zealand 6-3, 6-4 in tonight's final.

Former USC star Yannick Hanfmann's great run came to end today in the final of the Gstaad Switzerland ATP tournament, when the 25-year-old German qualifier was beaten by fourth-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-4, 7-5. Look for Hanfmann in the US Open qualifying too; he will be around 125 in the ATP rankings after his six wins in Gstaad.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

USTA Girls 16 & 18 Nationals Wild Cards; Hanfmann Reaches Gstaad Final; Vukic Wins Champaign Futures Title; Li Advances to Final in Evansville; Harrison and Isner Meet for BB&T Championship in Atlanta

The wild cards have been announced for the USTA Girls 18s and 16s National Championships, which begin next Saturday in San Diego.

Girls 18s:
Naomi Cheong
Emma DeCoste
Michaela Gordon
Victoria Hu
Maria Mateas
Alana Smith

Girls 16s:
Najah Dawson
Katherine Lyman
Tara Mailk
Makayla Mills
Michelle Sorokko

Michaela Gordon also received a wild card into the WTA's Bank of the West Classic and the incoming Stanford freshman won her first qualifying match today, beating Jacqueline Cako (Arizona State) 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.  She will face No. 7 seed Marina Erakovic of New Zealand for a place in the main draw on Sunday. Caroline Dolehide has also advanced to the second round of qualifying.  

Last week saw lucky loser Andrey Rublev of Russia claim his first ATP title in Umag; this week it's qualifier Yannick Hanfmann of Germany who has made an unexpected run to an ATP final in Gstaad Switzerland.  The 25-year-old former USC star saved four match points in beating No. 6 seed Robin Haase of the Netherlands 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4)  in the semifinals of the ATP 250 event.  Hanfmann, with a current ATP ranking of 170, will face No. 4 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy in Sunday's final.  For more from Hanfmann, see this article from the ATP website.

University of Illinois rising senior Aleks Vukic of Australia won his first Pro Circuit title today, beating qualifier Deiton Baughman  7-5, 4-6, 6-2 at the $25,000 Futures tournament in Champaign Illinois.  For more on the final, see this article from the Fighting Illini website.

Three hours to the south, at the Evansville Indiana $15,000 tournament, Wimbledon girls finalist Ann Li advanced to her first Pro Circuit final, beating qualifier Lorraine Guillermo 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.  The 17-year-old from Pennsylvania will face No. 2 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico in the final, after Zacarias defeated No. 5 seed Allie Kiick 6-0, 6-4.  Guillermo did leave with a winner's trophy however, as she and Madeleine Kobelt, the No. 1 seeds, beat Lauren Proctor and Brazil's Alice Garcia 6-0, 6-3 for the doubles championship.

The finals of the ATP's BB&T Atlanta Open will feature two Americans: No. 2 seed John Isner and No. 4 seed Ryan Harrison.  Isner made quick work of Wimbledon quarterfinalist Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in today's semifinals, needing only an hour and 15 minutes to defeat the No. 2 seed and reach his seventh final in Atlanta in the past eight years. No. 4 seed Harrison beat No. 5 seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 to reach the second ATP final of his career.  For more on their upcoming meeting, see this article from the ATP website.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Hanfmann Reaches ATP Gstaad Semifinal; Semifinals Set at European Championships; Li Advances at Evansville $15K; Baughman and Vukic Play for Champaign Futures Title: Harrison, Blumberg in Binghamton Challenger Final Four

Yannick Hanfmann of Germany advanced to his first ATP 250 semifinal in Gstaad Switzerland with a 6-7(10), 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 8 seed Joao Sousa of Portugal.  The 25-year-old qualifier, a former USC No. 1, will face No. 6 seed Robin Haase of the Netherlands on Saturday for a place in the final.  Regardless of the outcome of that match, Hanfmann will break into the ATP Top 150 for the first time.

Georgia Tech rising senior Chris Eubanks' run at the BB&T Atlanta Open came to an end today when he fell to No. 4 seed Ryan Harrison 6-1, 6-2, but he should move near 350 in the ATP rankings with his two victories this week.

Elsewhere is Switzerland, the semifinals for the ITF Grade B1 European Championships are set after persistent rain earlier in the week forced both the fourth round and the quarterfinal matches to be played today. Both top seeds are still alive, with girls No. 1 Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine facing unseeded Daria Kuczer of Poland and boys No. 1 Corentin Moutet of France meeting No. 9 seed Alexey Zakharov of Russia. Kuczer had eliminated No. 3 seed Simona Waltert of Switzerland in the quarterfinals. The other girls semifinal will feature Wimbledon girls doubles champions Kaja Juvan of Slovenia and Olga Danilovic of Serbia, with No. 6 seed Juvan playing No. 4 seed Danilovic. The two friends are not playing doubles together this week.  The other boys semifinal will feature No. 2 seed Zsombor Piros of Hungary against No. 14 seed Francisco Forti of Italy.

For more on all the European Championships, including draws for the 14s and 16s divisions, see the Tennis Europe site.

Much as she did in her second junior slam at Wimbledon earlier this month, Ann Li has dramatically increased her USTA Pro Circuit victory total this week in Evansville.  Li had lost her only previous match at a junior slam last year in New York (to Kuczer) but went on to win five straight matches at Wimbledon to reach the girls final.  Li had just one win on the Pro Circuit coming into the $15,000 tournament in Evansville this week, but she now has three, beating 15-year-old Caty McNally 6-1, 6-3.  Li will face former Pepperdine star Lorraine Guillermo, a qualifier in Saturday's semifinal, after Guillermo surprised top seed Caitlin Whoriskey 6-3, 6-0.  The other semifinal features No. 5 seed Allie Kiick against No. 2 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico.

The final of the $25,000 Champaign Futures will feature two unseeded players, with qualifier Deiton Baughman taking on Illinois rising senior Aleks Vukic of Australia.  Baughman, 21, is playing in only his third tournament of the year, after serving as a volunteer assistant at USC this dual season.  Baughman downed wild card Jeffrey Schorsch 6-3, 6-4 while Vukic advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 4 seed Dennis Nevolo.   Last week's finalists Harrison Adams and Yates Johnson won the doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Baughman and Great Britain's Farris Gosea 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

Two Americans are through to the semifinals of the $75,000 Binghamton Challenger, with Christian Harrison and William Blumberg advancing.  Blumberg had the easier day, moving on due to a walkover from China's Ze Zhang.  Harrison defeated No. 2 seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 to set up a meeting with former TCU star Cameron Norrie of Great Britain.  Blumberg will face top seed Jordan Thompson of Australia, the only ATP Top 100 player in the draw.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Top Juniors Receive WTA Wild Cards; Hanfmann Beats Lopez to Reach Second ATP Quarterfinal; Champaign Futures Semifinals Set; Blumberg's Challenger Success

The US Open series begins next week for the WTA, with three prominent juniors receiving wild cards into three separate events.  The Bank of the West Classic, a Premier event in Stanford, has extended a main draw wild card to Wimbledon girls champion and ITF World Junior No. 1 Claire Liu. When I spoke to Liu about her schedule at Wimbledon, she mentioned playing in qualifying at Stanford, but she obviously raised her profile significantly with the title there.  Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova have also received main draw wild cards for the Stanford tournament, which begins on Monday.

Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who has not played a junior event in more than a year, but is still just 18, was granted a wild card into Cincinnati's Western & Southern Open, a WTA Premier 5 tournament that begins on August 12th.  Also receiving wild cards for Cincinnati are Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens.

Although the CitiOpen, a WTA international tournament the same week as Stanford, has not released an official statement, it's being reported that 17-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada has been given a main wild card into that tournament.  Andreescu, the No. 1 seed at the $60,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Granby, lost today to fellow Canadian teen Katherine Sebov 7-6(3), 7-5.

For the second time in three months, former USC star Yannick Hanfmann has reached an ATP quarterfinal as a qualifier.  The 25-year-old German posted his best career win today in Gstaad Switzerland, beating defending champion and No. 3 seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1. Hanfmann, who reached the quarterfinals of the ATP event in Munich back in May, will face No. 8 seed Joao Sousa of Portugal Friday.

The semifinals are set at the $25,000 Futures in Champaign Illinois. Two Illini, rising senior Aleksandar Vukic and alum Dennis Nevolo[4], have advanced and will play each other for a place in the finals. Qualifier Deiton Baughman and recent Valparaiso grad Jeffrey Schorsch will meet in the other semifinal.

At the Evansville $15K, Ann Li defeated Whitney Osuigwe 7-6(4), 6-1 and will play another 15-year-old, Caty McNally, in Friday's semifinals. McNally, a qualifier, beat Madeline Kobelt 6-3, 6-0 to advance to her first Pro Circuit quarterfinal.

2017 NCAA finalist William Blumberg will play his quarterfinal match at the Binghamton Challenger on Friday, taking on Ze Zhang of China. The 19-year-old rising UNC sophomore spoke with the ATP Challenger staff about his recent run of form and what differences he has observed between players in the college and in the pros.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Kalamazoo Wild Cards; Paul Reaches First ATP Quarterfinal in Atlanta; Brady Beats Liu in Stockton: USTA Foundation Announces College Scholarships

The wild cards for the USTA Boys 16 and 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, which begin a week from Friday, are listed below.

Boys 16s:
Tristan Boyer
Jaycer Lyeons
Pierce Rollins
Jackson Ross
Baylor Sai

Boys 18s:

Arnav Dhingra
Evan Felcher
RJ Fresen
Connor Hance
Nathan Perrone
Jordi Redelijk
Roy Smith
William Woodall

Tommy Paul's ATP ranking had fallen to 409 this spring, after reaching a career-high 191 in 2016, but he is back on the upswing now. The 20-year-old won a $25,000 Futures in Winston Salem in June and reached the semifinals of the Winnetka Challenger earlier this month.  Today at the BB&T Atlanta Open, he beat Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 event.  It's Paul's first ATP quarterfinal, and he will play No. 3 seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg on Friday.  For more on Paul's win, see this article from the ATP website.

A couple of long and interesting matches in the USTA Pro Circuit today featured Wimbledon girls champion Claire Liu and French Open girls champion Whitney Osuigwe, both competing for the first time since Wimbledon. Liu fell to Stockton $60K top seed Jennifer Brady 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 43 minutes. Osuigwe, unseeded at the $15K event in Evansville, got by qualifier Katerina Stewart 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(3) in two hours and 38 minutes.  

Other young winners in Stockton included Usue Arconada, Sonya Kenin, Ena Shibahara and Caroline Dolehide.  In Evansville, Caty McNally, Ann Li, Jada Robinson and Ellie Douglas advanced, with Wimbledon girls finalist Li playing Osuigwe next.

The top two seeds were eliminated at the $25,000 Futures in Champaign, with Jared Hiltzik beaten by 18-year-old Santiago Fa Rodriguez Taverna of Argentina, and Zimbabwe's Takanyi Garanganga falling to qualifier Deiton Baughman.

At the $75,000 Binghamton Challenger, wild card William Blumberg reached the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 6 seed Denis Kudla.  Former college stars Cameron Norrie and Blaz Rola also advanced to the quarterfinals with wins today.

The USTA Foundation announced its annual college scholarship awards today, with 31 high school students receiving a total of $300,000.  For a complete list of all 31 recipients, see this release from the USTA.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Eubanks Earns First ATP Win in Atlanta; Greif Collects First ATP Point; Anisimova Beats Day in Sacramento $60K; Caty McNally's Wimbledon Ball Experience

Chris Eubanks Clinches 1st ATP Win (photo by Bill Kallenberg)
Tuesday was College Night at the ATP's BB&T Atlanta Open and Georgia Tech rising senior Christopher Eubanks made the most of it, picking his first victory on the ATP level with a 7-6(5), 6-4 win over fellow wild card Taylor Fritz.  This is the third year that Eubanks has played in the main draw of his hometown ATP event; last year he qualified but fell to Reilly Opelka in two tiebreakers in a first round match.

The day didn't go as well for the many other young Americans playing their first round matches today, with Opelka failing to convert on eight match points in a loss to Malek Jaziri of Tunisia, while Bjorn Fratangelo and Frances Tiafoe both lost in third set tiebreakers, to Vasek Pospisil of Canada and John Millman of Australia.  Stefan Kozlov also lost his first round match, to fellow qualifier Quentin Halys of France.

But because it's Atlanta and the first tournament of the US Open Series, there are plenty of Americans left in the draw.  Jack Sock and John Isner and Ryan Harrison, the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 seeds, have first round byes, with Donald Young, qualifier Tommy Paul, and Jared Donaldson also advancing to the second round.  Donaldson, the No. 8 seed, will face Eubanks next.

Despite the $75,000 ATP Binghamton Challenger being held the same week as the BB&T, the number of Americans at that event is impressive. TCU rising junior Alex Rybakov and UNC rising sophomore William Blumberg are among those advancing to the second round, joining Daniel Nguyen, Kevin King, Michael Mmoh and Christian Harrison.  Recent TCU standout Cameron Norrie of Great Britain beat No. 3 seed Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 7-6(3), 6-2 and former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany, who won the $25,000 Futures in Champaign last week, beat No. 7 seed Andrew Wittington of Australia 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.

There's a $25,000 Futures in Champaign Illinois again this week, with former Illinois star Jared Hiltzik the top seed.  2016 Kalamazoo 16s champion Lukas Greif picked up his first ATP point with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 3 seed and 2015 NCAA champion Ryan Shane. Shane double faulted 14 times in the match.  John McNally and Sam Riffice, two additional players who will be participating in the Kalamazoo 18s tournament next week, also won their opening round matches.

Qualifying for the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Sacramento was completed today, with UCLA rising sophomore Ena Shibahara and Vicky Duval the two Americans to reach the main draw. Irina Falconi, Danielle Collins[7], Kristie Ahn[2] and wild card Robin Anderson all advanced with first round wins today, as did Amanda Anisimova.  The 15-year-old Floridian defeated No. 3 seed Kayla Day 6-3, 7-5 and will play the winner of the Wednesday match between wild card Emina Bektas and 46-year-old Kimiko Date of Japan. Wimbledon girls champion Claire Liu takes on top seed Jennifer Brady in her first round match Wednesday.

French Open girls champion Whitney Osuigwe and Wimbledon girls finalist Ann Li are playing the $15,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Evansville this week, where former Tennessee star Caitlyn Whoriskey is the top seed.  Among the many top juniors who are playing in Evansville prior to the USTA 18s and 16s event in San Diego is Caty McNally, who reached the Wimbledon girls doubles final earlier this month for the second year in a row.  As a finalist, the 15-year-oldMcNally was invited to the Wimbledon Champions Ball (which is really a dinner now, from what I understand) and she spoke to her local newspaper in Cincinnati about what that experience was like. McNally also mentioned she may decide on whether to turn pro or go to college by the end of the year.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Hewitt, Baird Earn ITF Grade 4 Titles in Dominican Republic; Pera Claims $80K in Czech Republic; Rublev Wins ATP Title; Lleyton Hewitt Opens Academy in Bahamas

International Tennis Federation junior tournaments numbered 17 last week, but US juniors, most of whom were competing at the USTA Clay Courts or in USTA Pro Circuit events, earned just two singles titles, both at the Grade 4 in the Dominican Republic both in all-USA finals.  Dalayna Hewitt swept the girls events as the No. 1 seed in both singles and doubles.  The 16-year-old from Ohio beat No. 8 seed Sasha Wood 6-3, 6-4 in the final.  Hewitt and Ariana Arseneault of Canada collected the doubles title when Hina Inoue and Uruguay's Lucia De Santa Ana retired in the final trailing 6-3, 3-0. 

Drew Baird, the No. 2 seed, won the boys singles title, beating No. 3 seed Blaise Bicknell 6-3 7-6(3).  It's the second ITF singles title for Baird, who won the Grade 4 Grass Courts in Philadelphia last month. 

At the ITF Grade 4 in Germany, 15-year-old Julian Steinhausen won the doubles title, with Benjamin Niv of Bulgaria.  The pair defeated Germans Fynn Kuenkler and Bastien Presuhn, the top seeds, 7-6(8), 5-7, 10-7 in the final.

Tristan Boyer won the boys doubles title at the ITF Grade 2 in Switzerland, partnering with Kaya Gore of Turkey.  The No. 2 seeds defeated the unseeded Swiss team of Luca Staeheli and Yannik Steinegger 6-7(4), 6-2, 10-7 in the final.

Andrew Fenty and Venezuela's Brandon Perez fell in the boys doubles final at the Grade 1 in Austria. The No. 6 seeds lost to No. 3 seeds Igor Gimenez and Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil 6-3, 6-7(8), 10-8 in the final.  Top seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina won the boys singles title and No. 12 seed Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy took the girls singles championship.

The big ITF Junior tournament this week is the Grade B1 European Championships in Switzerland.  Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and Corentin Moutet of France are the top seeds.

Bernarda Pera, the 22-year-old American (by way of Croatia), won the biggest title of her career yesterday at the $80,000+H tournament in the Czech Republic.  Pera, who was unseeded, beat No. 2 seed Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, and in the final, she defeated top seed Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.  With the win, Pera has reached a career high WTA ranking of 146.

Nineteen-year-old Andrey Rublev of Russia won his first ATP title last night in Umag, defeating Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-4, 6-2 in the final.  Rublev, who lost in the qualifying at the 250 level event in Croatia but got in as a lucky loser, has now moved into the ATP Top 50.  Rublev talks about his breakthrough, his young compatriots in the Top 50 and what parts of his game have improved since he left the juniors in this interview on the ATP website.

Grant Doyle, who was a top junior himself and has coached Sam Querrey and Ryan Harrison, is now working with Lleyton Hewitt at the elite tennis program of the Albany Sports Academy in the Bahamas.  The academy is starting small, with approximately 25 students, and will officially open on August 28th.  Doyle talked to Nina Pantic about the new venture; like me, you may not have been aware that Hewitt has had a residence there for years.

USTA Clay Court Champions; Kenin Wins Stockton $60K; Isner Claims ATP Hall of Fame Title in Newport; Shapovalov Captures Second Challenger Title

The 2017 USTA Clay Court Championships are in the books, with the singles and doubles titles in the 14s, 16s and 18s division decided today.  The Tennis Recruiting Network will have in depth coverage all next week; full draws are available from the TennisLink site by clicking on the headers below.

Girls 12s in Boca Raton:
Singles: Tsehay Driscoll[3] def. Clervie Ngounoue[4] 7-6(4), 6-2
Doubles: Tsehay Driscoll and Ava Krug[4] def. Natalie Block and Lara Smejkal 4-6, 6-4, 6-0

Girls 14s in Plantation:
Singles: Elise Wagle[26] def. Valencia Xu[5] 4-6, 6-4, 6-0
Doubles: Robin Montgomery and Katrina Scott[9] def. Mia Kintiroglou and Tara Malik[7] 6-3, 3-6, 6-1

Girls 16s in Virginia Beach:
Singles: Fiona Crawley[1] def. Ruth Marsh[2] 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Doubles: Sophia Sassoli and Rhea Shrivastava[15] def. Zoey Weil and Brigette Wu[9] 2-6, 6-1, 6-3

Girls 18s in Memphis:
Singles: Katie Volynets[13] def. Abigail Forbes[2] 6-2, 6-2
Doubles: Abigail Forbes and Alyvia Jones[17] def. Sophia Graver and Marlee Zein[6] 6-4, 6-3

Boys 12s in Orlando:
Singles: Juncheng Shang def. Aidan Kim[4] 6-3, 7-5
Doubles: Lucas Brown and Cooper Williams[1] def. Andrew Delgado and James Rico[12] 6-3, 6-0

Boys 14s in Ft. Lauderdale:
Singles: Saud Alhogbani[11] def. Jonah Braswell[52] 6-1, 6-1
Doubles: Saud Alhogbani and Nishesh Basavareddy[27] def. Grant Durham and Isaac Smith[5] 6-7(3), 6-0, 6-3

Boys 16s in Delray Beach:
Singles: Garrett Johns[14] def. Jacob Bullard[8] 6-2, 6-2
Doubles: Robert Cash and Ryder Jackson[6] def. Jeffrey Fradkin and Phillip Jordan[2] 6-2, 6-4

Boys 18s in Delray Beach:
Singles: Axel Nefve[17] def. Ryan Goetz 6-2, 6-4
Doubles: Christian Alshon and Tyler Zink[5] def. Patrick Maloney and Harris Walker[12] 6-3, 6-2

Sonya Kenin won the title at the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Stockton California today, beating wild card Ashley Kratzer 6-0, 6-1 in the final.  The 18-year-old Floridian, seeded No. 4, now takes the early lead in the US Open Wild Card Challenge, which she won last year with her title at Sacramento.  Kenin also won the doubles championship on Saturday, with Usue Arconada. 

Top seed John Isner won his third title at the ATP Hall of Fame Championships, beating qualifier Matthew Ebden of Australia 6-3, 7-6(4).  It's Isner's first title since Atlanta in 2015 and his 11th overall.  He didn't face a break point during the tournament.   Rajeev Ram and  Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan won the doubles title, with the 33-year-old from Indiana, who won the 2013 NCAA doubles title while at Illinois, announcing that he was retiring from singles competition on the ATP and would concentrate on doubles.

Eighteen-year-old Denis Shapovalov of Canada won his second ATP Challenger title today in Gatineau Canada, with the 2016 Wimbledon boys champion, seeded No. 7, beating No. 5 seed Peter Polansky of Canada 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the final. Shapovalov moves to 130 in the ATP rankings with the title. Bradley Klahn and Jackson Withrow won the doubles title, beating Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico and Vincent Millot of France 6-2, 6-3 in a final between unseeded teams.

At the $25,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event in Gatineau, Aleksandra Wozniack of Canada, the No. 6 seed, beat qualifier Ellen Perez of Australia, the former Georgia star, 7-6(4), 6-4 in today's final.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Roddick Inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame; Isner into Newport Final; USTA Clay Court Finals; Koepfer Wins Champaign Futures; Kenin and Kratzer Reach Stockton Final

Andy Roddick was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame today in Newport Rhode Island, along with Kim Clijsters, Monique Kalkman, Steve Flink and, posthumously, Vic Braden.  Roddick, who will be in Kalamazoo for the tournament's  75th Anniversary Opening Ceremony and Exhibition on August 5th, is the last US man to win a slam title (US Open 2003).  The speeches of the inductees can be found here.

Shortly after the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the semifinals of the Dell Technologies ATP tournament were played, with qualifier Matthew Ebden and top seed John Isner advancing to Sunday's final.  Australia's Ebden defeated Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-3, 6-3 to advance to his first ATP final, while Isner, a two-time Newport champion, defeated Bjorn Fratangelo 6-2, 6-4.

The 12s champions have been crowned at the USTA Clay Court Championships, with the finals set for Sunday in the other age divisions. Below are the results/matchups:

Tsehay Driscoll and Ava Krug (photo courtesy Robin Driscoll)

Girls 12s in Boca Raton:
Singles: Tsehay Driscoll[3] def. Clervie Ngounoue[4]
7-6(4), 6-2

Doubles: Tsehay Driscoll and Ava Krug[4] def. Natalie Block and Lara Smejkal 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Girls 14s in Plantation:
Singles: Valencia Xu[5] vs. Elise Wagle[26]

Girls 16s in Virginia Beach:
Fiona Crawley[1] vs. Ruth Marsh[2]

Girls 18s in Memphis:
Katie Volynets[13] vs. Abigail Forbes[2]

Boys 12s in Orlando:
Singles: Juncheng Shang def. Aidan Kim[4] 6-3, 7-5

Lucas Brown and Cooper Williams[1] def. Andrew Delgado and James Rico[12] 6-3, 6-0

Saud Alhogbani[11] vs. Jonah Braswell[52]

Garrett Johns[14] vs. Jacob Bullard[8]

Ryan Goetz vs. Axel Nefve[17]

The $25,000 Champaign Futures finished today, with former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany claiming his third career Futures title since graduating last year.  Koepfer, seeded No. 3, defeated No. 2 seed Jose Statham of New Zealand 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-5 in the two hour and 32 minute final. 

Riley Smith and Brandon Holt won the doubles titles, beating Tomas Stillman and Shane Vinsant 3-6, 6-1, 12-10.  It's the third Futures title for Smith and Holt, who will be sophomores at USC this fall.

The finals of the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Stockton will feature two 18-year-old Americans, with No. 4 seed Sonya Kenin facing wild card Ashley Kratzer.  Kenin defeated Croatia's Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6(3), 7-5 to reach her third final at the $60,000 level, while Kratzer, who beat No. 2 seed Jamie Loeb 6-2, 6-4 will be playing in her first Pro Circuit final above the $15,000 level.

Kenin and Usue Arconada won the doubles title today, with the unseeded 18-year-olds beating No. 3 seeds Tammi Patterson of Australia and Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 4-6, 6-1, 10-5.

At the $25,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event in Gatineau, Australia's Ellen Perez, who recently turned pro after her junior season at Georgia, has reached the final.  Perez, a qualifier, will play No. 6 seed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada in Sunday's championship match. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

My Wimbledon Junior Recap; Fenty Reaches Semifinals at ITF Grade 1 in Austria; Loeb, Kenin and Kratzer Advance in Stockton $60K; Next Team USA Web Forum; Fratangelo Reaches Semis at Newport

I hope you were able to follow my daily coverage from Wimbledon last week, but if you weren't, my recap of the tournament for the Tennis Recruiting Network is a quick way of catching up on the rare American girl's and Spanish boy's singles championship.  I've now covered in person four all-US junior slam finals, with this the first one involving girls.

After his appearance in the doubles quarterfinals at Wimbledon, Andrew Fenty decided to stay in Europe for the ITF Grade 1 in Austria this week, where he is the No. 7 seed in singles. The 17-year-old from Washington DC advanced to his first Grade 1 semifinal there today, beating unseeded Emile Hudd of Great Britain 7-5, 6-3. Fenty will now face top seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina, a semifinalist at the Orange Bowl last year and the 16s Orange Bowl champion in 2015.  Fenty also has reached the doubles semifinals, playing with fellow Junior Tennis Champions Center student Brandon Perez of Venezuela.  The No. 6 seeds defeated top seeds Hugo Gaston and Clement Tabur of France 3-6, 7-6(4), 10-8 in the quarterfinals.  They will face the all-US team of Tomas Kopczynski and Mark Mandlik, who advanced to the semifinals via a walkover.

Three of the four semifinalists at the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Stockton California are from the United States, and two of them are 18 years old.  Sonya Kenin, the No. 4 seed, defeated Ohio State rising junior Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1, and wild card Ashley Kratzer beat Shilin Xu of China 6-4, 6-2.  The third, No. 2 seed Jamie Loeb, moved into the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over 15-year-old Amanda Anisimova.  2015 NCAA champion Loeb will take on Kratzer in the semifinals, with Kenin facing Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia, who beat Irina Falconi 2-6, 6-0, 6-2.

The final is set at the $25,000 Men's Futures in Champaign Illinois, with No. 3 seed Dominik Koepfer of Germany playing No. 2 seed Jose Statham of New Zealand. Koepfer beat unseeded Ricardo Rodriguez-Pace of Venezuela 6-0, 6-3, while Statham ended the run of wild card Brandon Holt, grinding out a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3 victory.  Holt will play for a title on Saturday however, after he and USC teammate Riley Smith advanced to the doubles final with a 3-6, 7-6(4), 11-9 win over Harrison Adams and Yates Johnson.  Smith and Holt, who have already won two Futures titles as a team, will play Shane Vinsant and Tomas Stillman for the title.

The USTA has announced its next Team USA Web Forum, which is Thursday, August 3 at 8 p.m.  The topic is Empathetic Coaching and will feature Fed Cup Captain Kathy Rinaldi, Mental Skills Specialist Larry Lauer, and guest presenters Dustin Taylor and Brian Barker.  You can register for this free webinar here.

At the ATP Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open in Newport Rhode Island, Bjorn Fratangelo has advanced to the semifinals, beating No. 4 seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.  Fratangelo, who made his first ATP quarterfinal this tournament, will face top seed John Isner in the semifinals, after Isner beat Dennis Novikov 6-4, 6-4.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Holt Reaches Champaign Futures Semifinal; Anisimova Advances to Quarterfinals in Stockton $60K; ESPN to Stream Boys 12s Clay Courts Finals; ITA Announces D-III Indoor Fields

USC rising sophomore Brandon Holt has advanced to his first Futures semifinal, with the 19-year-old wild card beating former Trojan Eric Johnson 6-2, 6-1 at the $25,000 Champaign Futures.  Holt, who reached the quarterfinals of one of the Wake Forest Futures last month, will face No. 2 seed Jose Statham of New Zealand in the semifinals. Statham got past wild card Zeke Clark, an Illinois rising sophomore, 6-3, 7-6(2).  Former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany, the No. 3 seed, will face unseeded Ricardo Rodriguez-Pace of Venezuela in the other semifinal.  Holt and teammate Riley Smith are also through to the doubles semifinals, as are John McNally and Govind Nanda, both of whom are entered in the Kalamazoo 18s next month.

At the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Stockton California, 15-year-old Amanda Anisimova defeated No. 6 seed Grace Min 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals against 2015 NCAA champion Jamie Loeb, the No. 2 seed.  Loeb defeated Caroline Dolehide 6-3, 6-2.  Also advancing to the quarterfinals are 18-year-olds Sonya Kenin[4] and Ashley Kratzer and 19-year-old Ohio State rising junior Francesca Di Lorenzo.  Top seed Kristie Ahn was beaten by Irina Falconi, and No. 3 seed Danielle Collins lost to Shilin Xu of China, a former ITF world junior No. 1.

The USTA announced today that the singles and doubles finals of the USTA Boys 12s Clay Courts will be streamed on Watch ESPN at 10:00 am this Saturday with Jimmy Arias and Steven Goldstein providing commentary.  I believe this ESPN involvement is a first for a USTA National Junior Championship.

Only one of the No. 1 seeds in the eight divisions is still alive in the USTA Clay Court Championships: Fiona Crawley, the top seed in the Girls 16s.  The top seeds in the seven other divisions all have been eliminated prior to the semifinals and often considerably earlier.  Links to the draws can be found in my post from Tuesday.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced the teams that will be participating in the 2018 Division III Team Indoor Championships.  The women's event is March 2-4, 2018; the men's event is February 23-25, 2018.

The women's teams:
Washington University in St. Louis
Carnegie Mellon
Johns Hopkins
Washington & Lee
Sewanee (Host)

The men's teams:
Washington University in St. Louis
Carnegie Mellon
University of Redlands
Trinity (TX)
Gustavus Adolphus (Host)

The participation of CMS is something of a novelty, but certainly strengthens the field.

The ITA release is here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Novikov, Fratangelo Reach ATP Newport Quarterfinals; Adams Beats Top Seed Saville in Champaign Futures; Stockton $60K Kicks Off Women's US Open Wild Card Challenge; Ewing Ousts Top Seed in Austria Grade 1

Two Americans reached their first ATP quarterfinal today at the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open in Newport Rhode Island.  2011 French Open boys champion Bjorn Fratangelo is generally considered a bigger threat on clay than on other surfaces, but he has won two matches on the grass this week, beating No. 8 seed Illya Marchenko of Ukraine 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-4 in the opening round and today advancing to his first AT quarterfinal with a 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-1 over Akira Santillan of Australia, last week's Winnetka Challenger champion.  Santillan had played for Australian as a junior, then changed to Japan, and, as of this week, is back with Australia.   Fratangelo will face No. 4 seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France in the quarterfinals.

2012 Kalamazoo champion Dennis Novikov has recorded two straight-sets wins this week to reach his first ATP final, beating Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland 6-1, 6-3 in the first round and qualifier Frank Dancevic of Canada 6-3, 6-2 in today's second round.  Former UCLA star Novikov will face top seed John Isner in the quarterfinals.

At the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures in Champaign Illinois, former Texas A&M standout Harrison Adams, a qualifier, took out top seed Luke Saville of Australia 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 to advance to a Futures quarterfinal for the third time.  Rising sophomores Brandon Holt(USC) and Zeke Clark(Illinois), both of whom received wild cards, also have advanced to the quarterfinals. Recent Valparaiso graduate Jeffrey Schorsch, a qualifier, picked up his first ATP point yesterday and advanced to the quarterfinals with a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 7 seed Dennis Nevolo today.

The women's event this week on the USTA Pro Circuit is a $60,000 tournament in Stockton California, which is the first tournament in the US Open wild card challenge for the women.  The men's wild card race began last week in Winnetka, with Tommy Paul currently in the lead, and extends an extra week past the women's event, with tournaments the week of August 7 counting for the men.  

In Stockton, Kristie Ahn is the top seed, with Jamie Loeb seeded No. 2. Caroline Dolehide and Amanda Anisimova have advanced to the second round, with Dolehide meeting Loeb Thursday and Anisimova facing No. 6 seed Grace Min.  Wild card Ashley Kratzer, No. 4 seed Sonya Kenin, No. 7 seed Usue Arconada, Francesca Di Lorenzo and China's Shilin Xu are other teenagers who have moved into the second round.

The ATP Challenger in Gatineau, a $75,000 tournament, has attracted several Americans, with Alex Sarkissian, Marcos Giron, Sekou Bangoura and recent Virginia graduate JC Aragone still alive.  A $25,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit tournament is also being played this week in Gatineau, with Danielle Lao, the No. 2 seed, the only American still remaining in the singles draw.

Three Americans are through to the third round of the ITF Grade 1 this week in Austria.  No. 7 seed Andrew Fenty and unseeded Tomas Kopczynski are in the final 16 of the boys draw, while unseeded Salma Ewing defeated top seed Viktoria Morvayova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-3 today to advance.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

USTA Clay Court Championships Underway with Expanded Draws; US Open Prize Money at Record $50.4 Million

I'm usually in Memphis this week of the year, covering the Girls 18s Clay Courts, but with Wimbledon a week later this year, I couldn't manage it this year.  I'm barely able to keep my eyes open right now as it is.  But the Tennis Recruiting Network will have coverage of all the tournaments next week, and they have published their predictions for this year along with an excel file in Google document with UTR ratings, TRN ratings, college commitments and additional information.

Except for the 12s, which are using their usual compass draws, the other divisions are all 256 draws with byes for the top 32 seeds.  Some of the divisions are using 64 seeds, with 16 designated as 33 seeds, some are seeding numerically to 64. I believe Kalamazoo is going to use 32 seeds, not 64.

Below are the top eight seeds in each division.  I've lined through the seeds who have already been eliminated, with the boys 16s and 18s particularly notable, with Bill Duo, the top seed in the 18s already out, and Evin McDonald, the No. 2 seed in the 16s, also beaten early. Click on the headers will take you to the Tennis Link site.

Girls 12s, Boca Raton
1. Wang, Matilyn
2. Nelson, Priya
3. Driscoll, Tsehay
4. Ngounoue, Clervie
5. Yu, Eleana
6. Yakoff, Stephanie
7. Jesudason, Meera
8. Roeck, Emma

Girls 14s, Plantation
1. Hibah R. Shaikh
2. Katja Wiersholm
3. Tara Malik
4. Alexandra Torre
5. Valencia Xu
6. Misa Malkin
7. Madison Sieg
8. Allie Gretkowski

Girls 16s, Virginia Beach
1. Fiona Crawley
2. Ruth P. Marsh
3. Gianna Pielet
4. Reilly H. Tran
5. Karina Miller
6. Savannah Broadus
7. Kiana Graham
8. Julia Andreach

Girls 18s, Memphis
1. Chelsea Kung
2. Abigail Forbes
3. Sedona S. Gallagher
4. Anika Yarlagadda
5. Briana Crowley
6. Rachel Lim
7. Cali Jankowski
8. Anna Brylin

Boys 12s, Orlando
1. Cooper Williams
2. Learner Tien
3. Lucas Brown
4. Aidan Kim
5. Kurt Miller
6. Thomas Faurel
7. Nicholas Herdoiza
8. Joseph Phillips

Boys 14s, Ft. Lauderdale
1. Aryan Chaudhary
2. Griffin Daehnke
3. Filipe Costa
4. Jack Anthrop
5. Evan Wen
6. Eli Gordon
7. Samir Banerjee
8. Connor Krug

Boys 16s, Delray Beach
1. Andrew Dale
2. Evin McDonald
3. Leighton Allen
4. Eliot Spizzirri
5. Ryder Jackson
6. Andres Martin
7. Alex Lee
8. Jacob Bullard

Boys 18s, Delray Beach
1. Bill Duo
2. Harris Walker
3. Robert Maciag
4. Christian Alshon
5. Trey Hilderbrand
6. Carson Haskins
7. Jake Sands
8. Mac Kiger

The USTA announced the prize money for the 2017 US Open today, and it's a record $50.4 million dollars.  First round prize money is up to $50,000, and there's been a substantial increase in prize money, nearly a million dollars more, for the qualifying tournament, to $2.9 million. The breakdown for each round of qualifying was not provided in the release.

2017 US Open Prize Money

Winner: $3,700,000
Runner-Up: $1,825,000
Semifinalist: $920,000
Quarterfinalist: $470,000
Round of 16: $253,625
Round of 32: $144,000
Round of 64: $86,000
Round of 128: $50,000

Winner: $675,000
Runner-Up: $340,000
Semifinalist: $160,000
Quarterfinalist: $82,000
Round of 16: $44,000
Round of 32: $26,500
Round of 64: $16,500

Monday, July 17, 2017

Rollins and Madurawe Take Grade 4 Titles in Jamaica; Dolehide Wins Winnipeg $25K; Kuhn Captures First Challenger; Embree Named Assistant Coach at Pepperdine

I'm not quite home yet, but in between flights I've got a few minutes to catch up on some of the tennis that took place away from Wimbledon last week.

At the ITF Grade 4 in Jamaica, 16-year-old Pierce Rollins won his first singles title, with the No. 6 seed beating No. 2 seed Keenan Mayo 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 in the all-USA final.  The girls final was also between two Americans, with 17-year-old Niluka Madurawe, the fourth seed, beating 14-year-old Hina Inoue, seeded eighth, 7-5, 7-6(3) in the final.  It's Madurawe's fourth Grade 4 singles title this year.

The boys doubles title in Jamaica went to the unseeded team of Drew Baird and Keenan Mayo's younger brother Aidan, who beat No. 2 seeds Blaise and Jacob Bicknell of Jamaica 6-1, 6-1 in the final.  Ariana Arseneault of Canada was the only champion not from the US, as she and Lindsay Lampert, the No. 4 seeds, beat unseeded Maxi Duncan and Sasha Wood 0-6, 7-5, 10-6.

Also of note in ITF Junior circuit results, Argentina's Anna Geller, the 15-year-old sister of Wimbledon singles finalist and doubles champion Axel Geller, won her first ITF junior titles, sweeping singles and doubles at the Grade 5 in Paraguay.

At the $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Winnipeg, 18-year-old Caroline Dolehide won her second title at that level this year.  The No. 4 seed defeated No. 5 seed Mayo Hibi of Japan 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Hibi had taken out top seed Nicole Gibbs in the semifinals.  Dolehide also made the doubles final in Winnipeg, with Kimberly Birrell of Australia.  The unseeded pair lost to top seeds Hiroko Kuwata of Japan and Valeria Savinykh of Russia 6-4, 7-6(4). Dolehide is still age eligible to compete in next month's USTA 18s Nationals in San Diego, although she is not currently on the entry list, which does not include wild cards. Kayla Day is also not entered.

At the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Winnetka, Akira Santillan of Japan won his first title at that level.  The unseeded 20-year-old defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan of India, the No. 5 seed, 7-6(1), 6-2 in the final. Santillan is featured in this ATP Challenger article.

French Open boys finalist Nicola Kuhn of Spain, who turned 17 in March, won his first Challenger title at the 127,000 event in Braunschweig Germany, the country he played Junior Davis Cup for in 2015 before switching to Spain.  Kuhn, a qualifier, defeated unseeded Viktor Galovic of Croatia 2-6 7-5 4-2 ret. in the final.  For more on Kuhn's victory, see this article from the ATP website.

Former Florida Gator All-American Lauren Embree was announced today as the new women's assistant coach for the Pepperdine women's program, led by Per Nilsson.  Embree replaces Mario Toledo, who resigned for personal reasons.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Davidovich Fokina Captures Wimbledon Boys Title; Geller and Hsu, Juvan and Danilovic Win Junior Doubles Championships

©Colette Lewis 2017--

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina lost in the first round at the Wimbledon Junior Championships last year, going out in three sets to current ITF Junior No. 1 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia. This year, the 18-year-old from Spain marched through the draw without dropping a set, earning Spain's first Wimbledon boys title in 50 years with a 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Axel Geller of Argentina.

After his semifinal win over Patrick Kypson on Saturday, Davidovich said he would not allow himself to think about the occasion until 30 minutes before Sunday's final.  So when he walked out onto Court 1 on an overcast but dry afternoon, he began to appreciate the opportunity he had to entertain the seven or eight thousand fans witnessing his first junior slam final.

"I was thinking, OK, I will not think about that," said Davidovich, the No. 8 seed. "I will think, I want to win this. I want to show to the people who I am, that I want to play tennis, professional tennis. I want to show them what I want to do with my life. I was thinking, OK, you be yourself, and just enjoy."

Davidovich got off to a quick start, breaking the big-serving Geller in the opening game.

"He returned very well," said Geller, who averaged 127 mph on his first serve and had one clock in at 135 at 3-all in the first set. "He got some of my big first serves back with very good returns, to be honest. That's why he broke in the first game, because I was surprised at his returns."

Geller managed to get the break back in the sixth game, and held in a tense, well-played seventh game, which not only included that 135 mph serve after a double fault, but some brave shotmaking when he was down two break points.

After two more close and entertaining games gave Geller a 5-4 lead, three easy holds led to a tiebreaker, which Davidovich dominated.

"In the tiebreak, I think I push more the game, I push him more to attack him," said Davidovich, who didn't miss a first serve in taking a 5-1 lead.

"In the tiebreak, he made a few big, big returns and I feel like he went for the tiebreak more than I did," Geller said. "I missed my first serve and he didn't, so that's an advantage for him, and I was really, really tired too."

Geller, who won the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton last Friday, then played both singles and doubles six of the seven days this week, took a medical timeout before serving at 1-2 in the second set.  After work on his back, Geller resumed play and held serve in the next two games, but Davidovich got the break at 4-3, with a big backhand giving him a break point and immediately converting it, forcing an error from Geller.

Davidovich closed confidently, and his willingness to close the net when sensing an advantage continued, even under the stress of serving for the match.  At 30-all, he forced an error from Geller, and finished with a stylish backhand volley, becoming the first Spanish Wimbledon boys champion since Manuel Orantes in 1967, and only the second overall.

"Now I'm very happy to be the second junior champion at Wimbledon," said Davidovich, who has not decided whether he'll enter the US Open Junior Championships, but did express a desire to finish as the ITF World Junior Champion in 2017. "Like, I'm in shock. I'm not thinking about that I win. I don't have time to realize."

Geller, who does plan on playing the US Open Junior Championships prior to starting his freshman year at Stanford, felt that fatigue may have been a factor in his inability to force a third set.

"It was a good match, I'm just a bit sad that I couldn't finish winning," Geller said. "Today I was not 100 percent, but that's not an excuse, and I gave everything I had, but he was better."

Geller did end the day as a Wimbledon champion however, earning the boys doubles title with Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan.  Geller and Hsu, the No. 2 seeds, defeated No. 3 seeds Jurij Rodionov of Austria and Michael Vrbensky of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 in the late afternoon final.

Hsu and Geller had not played together prior to Roehampton, and as the No. 2 seeds there, went out in the first round to eventual champions Sebastian Korda and Colombia's Nicolas Mejia. But Hsu said they managed to develop as a team with every win during their week at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

"The first time, we didn't communicate very well," Hsu said, with the assistance of an interpreter. "We were just trying to keep talking every day, to make ourselves more connected."

Geller agreed that it took time to find their form.

"Our first match was a disaster," Geller said. "We had no chemistry as a team...but we found a way to start playing better. He is a bit like, silent, and my former partner, we used to be so pumped, so I was used to that. But [Hsu] started shouting more on the big points and everything, and I think that was important. But he played so well after. At the net, he's unbelievable."

Geller and Hsu broke Vrbensky to take a 4-3 lead and held easily in their next two service games to take the set.

In the second set, Geller and Hsu broke Vrbensky in the first game and again the next time he served, after Vrbensky had been up 40-15 and 40-0 in those two games.  Geller then had an opportunity to serve out the match and he was automatic in those situations all week, offering that he had not dropped serve in doubles in any of their five victories.

As to whether winning the doubles eased the pain of losing in the singles final, Geller wasn't sure that it did.

"It does a bit, it's so different though," Geller said. "I'm happy in like a different dimension, I don't know how to explain it."

The girls doubles championship went to the unseeded team of Olga Danilovic of Serbia and Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, who beat No. 4 seeds Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe 6-4, 6-3.

Danilovic and Juvan got the only break of the first set to take a 5-3 lead and served it out, then broke Osuigwe in the opening game of the second set on their way to a 5-1 lead.  McNally and Osuigwe broke Juvan serving for the match at 5-2, but Juvan and Danilovic broke Osuigwe to earn the title.

Juvan and Danilovic had played together only once before, and that resulted in a first round loss at the 2016 Australian Open Junior Championships  But their common language and game styles proved a perfect combination at Wimbledon.

"We speak the same language and our coaches, they make some plans before every match, we talk about it," Juvan said. "We were really prepared for every match," Danilovic added.

Although Danilovic won the French Open girls doubles title in 2016 with Paula Arias Manjon of Spain, the 16-year-old left-hander was happy to reunite with Juvan despite their lack of success in Australia.

"She knows really good how to play doubles, and that's the most important thing," Danilovic said. "She's really good at understanding doubles and me as well, and I think we managed to do what we know to do, and I think that was more than enough."

"From the first match, we knew we played good," Juvan said. "We beat some good opponents so I think that's when we started to believe we could win this tournament."

Danilovic and Juvan said they played their best match in the final, an Osuigwe and McNally agreed.

"We've watched them play all week, and this was definitely the best they've played," Osuigwe said. "We played really well yesterday, I thought" said McNally, recalling their 6-2, 6-2 win over top seeds Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and Carson Branstine of Canada. "They were a really tough team yesterday, but today, they just played really well, just were really solid."

McNally, who also lost in last year's Wimbledon girls doubles final playing with Mariam Bolkvadze of Georgia, is now looking ahead to the hard court season.

"I'm not going to think about this anymore," said McNally. "I'm going to put it in the past. It's a good result. Now we're going to focus on Hard Courts. That's our main goal right now, to win it."

Juvan is not planning on playing the US Open juniors this year, but Danilovic hopes they'll find time to take the courts again together soon.

"When we're at the same tournaments, for sure we will be playing, because we're the Wimbledon champs," Danilovic said. "In pros, there are a lot of tournaments, so you're not always going to the same ones."

All junior draws can be found at the Wimbledon website.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Liu Defeats Li to Claim Wimbledon Girls Title; Geller and Davidovich Fokina in Boys Final Sunday; McNally and Osuigwe Advance to Girls Doubles Final

©Colette Lewis 2017--

Claire Liu knew the feeling of coming up short in a junior slam final, losing in three sets to fellow American Whitney Osuigwe at the French Open last month.

On a gray and gloomy Saturday, playing in front of thousands of fans on the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s storied Court 1, Liu experienced the sweeter side of a championship match, overcoming a determined Ann Li 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 to become the first American to win the Wimbledon girls title since Chandra Rubin in 1992.

After light rain delayed the start of the match by 90 minutes, Liu, the No. 3 seed, played the first set with a determination indicating neither nerves nor that Roland Garros result was going to deter her. Li, like Liu 17, but unlike Li, new to the biggest stages of junior tennis, admitted that the first set, just 25 minutes long, flew by.

But Li did begin to challenge Liu on her final service game of the opening set, forcing Liu to save a break point before claiming the set. The hopes for a long, competitive match dimmed when Liu broke in the first game of the second set, but Li broke back, a sequence repeated in the third and fourth games.  Li got the first hold of the second set for a 3-2 lead, but gave up another break, and Liu held for 5-3.  After Li held for 5-4, Liu had a routine win in her sights, going up 40-0, but she was unable to convert on any of the three match points.

Li's backhand return forced an error on the first match point, and a double fault erased the second.  Liu forced the issue on the third match point, coming to the net, but Li hit a forehand pass for a winner. Then Li's backhand began to heat up, and a sizzling winner got her the break for 5-5.

Li credited the crowd for her surge during the final games of the second set.

"The crowd was getting into it for sure," said Li, who lives in the Philadelphia area and trains at the USTA's Training Center in New York. "I could hear like, go Ann. It kind of got me going I guess. But I just put a lot of energy in and gave it my all. I just kind of let go."

Li held quickly to go up 6-5, and in the next game Liu couldn't convert six game points.  Another penetrating backhand finally gave Li a set point, and she converted with Liu unable to get Li's overhead back in play.

"I was definitely disappointed," Liu said of her inability to convert her match points. "But I knew if I just tried to keep playing the next point, than I would have a better chance at winning, than thinking back on those three points."

As in the first two sets, Li was broken to open the third set, and Liu was able to come back from 0-40 down to take a 2-0 lead. Although Li made Liu work hard to hold serve, Liu did hang on to that early break, then got a second with Li serving down 2-4. A big c'mon from Liu after she put away a backhand for a 5-2 lead demonstrated how important Liu thought that second break was.

Serving for the match a second time, Liu took a 40-15 lead, but she couldn't convert on her fourth match point, with a Li backhand forcing an error.  On match point No. 5, Liu finally could celebrate, letting out a loud c'mon and collapsing to the court, lying flat on her back for a few seconds before jumping up to share an embrace with Li at the net.

"It feels amazing," said Liu, who lives in Thousand Oaks California, the same city where men's semifinalist Sam Querrey grew up, and trains, as Querrey does, at the USTA's Training Center in Carson. "I'm literally so speechless. I just keep smiling all the time. I still can't even believe it. I mean, it's like a dream come true."

Li, who was playing Liu for the first time, saw for herself why Liu has had so much success this spring and summer, on both the ITF Junior and Pro Circuits.

"I think that she's just really solid," said Li. "She knows herself well and she figures out her opponent too. I think she tries to put pressure on from the beginning. I know she was a little bit nervous too, at the beginning, and she just played better than I did."

Li is not sure if she'll play the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Evansville Indiana week after next, so her next event may be the Nationals in San Diego.

Liu, who will take over the No. 1 ranking in the ITF Juniors with her title, is planning to play the $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Sacramento and the qualifying of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford before the USTA Nationals in San Diego. But her immediate plans centered around dinner Saturday evening.

"I'll probably just hang out with friends," Liu said when asked how she would celebrate. "I haven't had Indian food. I love the Indian food here. I'm definitely going to go Indian tonight."

The boys final on Sunday will feature unseeded Axel Geller of Argentina and No. 8 seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.  Geller, last week's Roehampton champion, came from a break down in the final set to defeat top seed Corentin Moutet of France 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, while Davidovich won last five games of the match to defeat Patrick Kypson 6-4, 6-4.

Geller, who is now 11-0 in his career on grass, was down 2-1 in the third with Moutet serving at 40-0 in the final set.

"It was 40-love and he played two really loose points, I didn't do much there to be honest," said Geller, who is the first boy from Argentina to play in the Wimbledon final.  "The following point was the turning point. I fell to the ground after hitting a big cross court backhand, I slipped, and he saw that, but he barely made the ball because my backhand was really big. I got up, made the following ball and he misses, and I managed to break.  That's when I started competing much better. I played much better then, much more focused. I just lost my fear, let's say, and I competed very hard and played really good after that."

Davidovich trailed Kypson 4-1 in the second set, but although he said he was not playing particularly well, he kept himself mentally in the set.

"He won one break, he played well," said the 18-year-old, who is the first Spaniard in the boys Wimbledon final since Javier Sanchez in 1986. "Until 4-1, when I changed my mind, and was thinking, OK, this is my opportunity and I have to do. My mind was very good today. 4-1 down, another player might think third set, but I was thinking no, no, I don't want a third set. I don't want to give one set to him. It was my mind, not the game. The game was not too good today."

Kypson, who had saved four match points in his second round win over No. 5 seed Yuta Shimizu and won 8-6 in the third in the third round, expressed regret over not closing out the second set.

"Obviously I'm a little frustrated I couldn't get that set and see what would happen in the third, but it is what it is," Kypson said. "He definitely put more returns in on my service games, and I think he raised the pace of the ball a little bit. But I made some dumb shot selections and gave him the break back, so it's partly my fault."

Davidovich said the game he'll face on Sunday will present a challenge.

"I saw that he won Roehampton," said Davidovich, who did not play the warmup Grade 1 last week. "He plays so strong, serves so strong and plays very flat. I think tomorrow will be a very tough match, very tough."

Geller said the game he will face on Sunday will also be different from what he encountered in his win over Moutet.

"His game is similar to mine, he also tries to go for the balls," Geller said. "Be offensive, try to dictate and make the match depend on him. I think it's going to be interesting. It's different from today's kid. He had so many more tools. He could hit drop shots, slices, which were so hard, but he's got much more power."

Geller, who admitted that all the match play over the past two weeks have kept the training staff busy treating him, is still marveling at his run over the past two weeks.

"To think before this I had never played on grass," said Geller, who is starting at Stanford this fall. "That's just insane. And to think a guy from Argentina and from Spain are playing on grass. But you see our game styles and it makes sense. I just hope I can enjoy it, mostly, and hope I can win. But no matter the result, I hope I can have a good time out there."

The doubles finals are set for Sunday, with Caty McNally returning to the girls doubles final for the second straight year.  McNally and her partner Whitney Osuigwe, the No. 4 seeds, dominated top seeds Carson Branstine of Canada and Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine in the semifinals, earning a 6-2, 6-2 victory and ending Branstine's quest for the junior grand slam in doubles.  McNally and Osuigwe will face unseeded Kaja Juvan of Slovenia and Olga Danilovic of Serbia, who defeated unseeded Sofia Sewing and Maria Portillo Ramirez of Mexico 6-4, 6-3 in semifinals.

Geller, playing with Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan, advanced to the boys doubles final against Jurij Rodionov of Austria and Michael Vrbensky of the Czech Republic.  Geller and Hsu, the No. 2 seeds, beat unseeded Matteo Martineau of France and Blake Ellis of Australia 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 10-8 in two hours and 13 minutes of play.  Rodionov and Vrbensky defeated unseeded Sebastian Korda and Nicolas Mejia of Colombia 6-3, 6-4 in a match contested on Court 1.

Complete junior draws can be found at the Wimbledon website.

Venus Williams lost in the women's final today, falling to Garbine Muguruza of Spain 7-5, 6-0.  For more on that match, see this article from the Wimbledon website.