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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Australian Open Begins Monday with 15 Americans in Action; Six US Juniors Reach Third Round at Traralgon G1; 14U Bolton Event Underway; Altamirano Claims First Futures Single Title

Monday marks the start of the 2018 Australian Open, with 15 Americans in action tonight in the US and 15 more on the scheduled for Tuesday, which is Monday night here in the United States.  Irina Falconi was the only US woman to make it through qualifying, with the former Georgia Tech star beating wild card Priscilla Hon of Australia 6-2, 6-1.  Falconi, who made the Australian Open main draw on her own ranking for the past three years, didn't drop a set in qualifying and only four games total in two of her three victories.  She has a tough assignment in the first round however, facing No. 23 seed Daria Gavrilova of Australia.

Another notable women's qualifier was 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, who received a wild card into qualifying based on her Australian Open girls title last year. Kostyuk defeated No. 13 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 5-7, 6-0 and will play No. 25 seed Shuai Peng of China in Monday's opening round.  Due to the rain pushing qualifying into Sunday, all the qualifiers placed in the top half have to play Monday without the typical day of rest. For more on Kostyuk and the other women making their slam debuts in Australia, see this article from the WTA.

Monday (Sunday night in US)

Venus Williams[5] v Belinda Bencic(SUI)
Irina Falconi v Daria Gavrilova[23](AUS)
Sloane Stephens[13] v Shuai Zhang(CHN)
John Isner[16] v Matthew Edben(AUS)
Kevin King v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga[15](FRA)
Sonya Kenin v Julia Goerges[12](GER)
CoCo Vandeweghe[10] v Timea Babos(HUN)
Taylor Townsend v Magdalena Rybarikova[19](SVK)
Jack Sock[8] v Yuichi Sugita(JPN)
Alison Riske v Kirsten Flipkens(BEL)
Mackenzie McDonald v Elias Ymer(SWE)
Jennifer Brady v Magda Linette(POL)
CiCi Bellis v Kiki Bertens[30](NED)
Ryan Harrison v Dudi Sela(ISR)
Nicole Gibbs v Viktoriya Tomova(BUL)

Tuesday (Monday night in US)

Donald Young v Novak Djokovic[14](SRB)
Frances Tiafoe v Juan Martin Del Potro[12](ARG)
Madison Brengle v Johanna Konta[9](GBR)
Madison Keys[17] v Qiang Wang(CHN)
Shelby Rogers v Mirjana Lucic-Baroni[28](CRO)
Tennys Sandgren v Jeremy Chardy(FRA)
Varvara Lepchenko v Anastasija Sevastova[14](LAT)
Kristie Ahn v Barbora Strycova[20](CZE)
Tim Smyczek v Alexei Popyrin(AUS)
Lauren Davis v Jana Cepelova(SVK)
Sam Querrey[13] v Feliciano Lopez(ESP)
Steve Johnson v Denis Kudla
Christina McHale v Aliaksandra Sasnovich(BLR)
Jared Donaldson v Albert Ramos-Vinolas[21](ESP)

At the ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon, two American boys and four American girls have advanced to the third round.  Sebastian Korda[7] and Andrew Fenty[13] are in the final 16, as are Coco Gauff, Elysia Bolton[12], Hurricane Tyra Black and Dalayna Hewitt.  No. 6 seed Alexa Noel lost to Australian wild card Megan Smith 6-4, 6-3. Live scoring is available via Tennis Ticker.

The Tennis Europe 14U international tournament in Bolton, which has apparently lost Nike as a sponsor, is underway with non-seeded players completing their first round matches today.  All four US boys and four US girls are seeded, so they will take the court for the first time on Monday.  Evan Wen[4], Victor Lilov[7], John Kim[11] and Jonah Braswell[14] are the US boys, although somehow Lilov is listed as from Bulgaria.  The top seed in the boys draw is Mili Poljicak of Croatia.  Katrina Scott is the girls No. 2 seed. It's difficult to imagine that No. 1 seed Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain has had more impressive results that those of Scott, who won the Eddie Herr 16s and reached the quarterfinals of the 16s at the Orange Bowl, but she does have a slightly higher ITF ranking, so that must be the criteria that was used.

Live scoring is available for this tournament, also via Tennis Ticker.

In USTA Pro Circuit finals today, Collin Altamirano won his first Futures singles title, defeating qualifier Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 6-1, 7-5 at the $25,000 event in Long Beach California.  The 22-year-old Altamirano, who left the University of Virginia this spring after his junior year, lost to Marcos Giron in the final of the same tournament last year.

Below is the recap of the final from press aide Steve Pratt:

Collin Altamirano Beats Emilio Gomez In Final At
Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament

Jan. 8-14 at El Dorado Park Tennis Center

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Jan. 14, 2018) – For the second consecutive week, an unseeded former college player captured the singles championship as the Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament Presented by the Southern California Tennis Association came to a close on Sunday.

Three-time NCAA champion from the University of Virginia Collin Altamirano took out former USC star and eight-time singles Pro Circuit winner Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, 6-1, 7-5, in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the El Dorado Park Tennis Center on a gorgeous, 75-degree sunny day in Long Beach.

The 22-year-old Altamirano on Sunday was trying to duplicate what former UCLA player Karue Sell accomplished last week at the USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 event at USC as the qualifier Sell won both the singles and doubles titles. Altamirano came up just short of that double feat as he and University of Norte Dame junior Alexander Lebedev fell to the top-seeded team of Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico, 6-3, 6-2, in Sunday’s doubles final.

Despite the easy looking first-set scoreline of 6-1, Altamriano of Sacramento said after the match it was anything but. “I wasn’t feeling that good at all,” he said. “I was nervous and tight. I was just so fortunate to pull it out so easily and the score doesn’t indicate how tough it was.”

Down a break and 2-4 in the second set, Altamirano used his big serve at key spots to get him back into the match with a break of Gomez’s serve and a hold to make it 4-all.

“I was just getting so frustrated and finally let my anger out a little bit,” said Altamirano, a very loud and demonstrative player a year ago, but who says he’s working on his vocal bouts of anger. “That loosened me up a little bit and I started playing better.”

“Absolutely,” Altamirano said when asked about being less animated on court this year as opposed to last year when he made it all the way to the singles final. “I don’t want to say it’s been a weakness of mine, or has held me back. But yes, it’s something I’ve been working on. It’s been a process and I’ve been really working on it.”

It was the third consecutive year a former college player won Long Beach as former UCLA player Marcos Giron (last year) and former USC Trojan Yannick Hanfman (2016) were the past two winners.

Altamirano, who made $3,600 with the win, was coached this week by Jimmy Roberts of Sacramento, and supported by his parents, who took a five-hour train ride from the Bay Area to Long Beach Saturday to watch their son’s special first Pro Circuit win.

Altamirano still works with his Sacramento coach Joseph Gilbert, and said it was Gilbert who first introduced him to tournament tennis more than 10 years ago. He smiled when he was asked to recall winning the Boys’ 14s at the venerable Ojai Tennis Tournament way back in 2010 when he resided for a short time in Santa Barbara. 

“I love that tournament,” he said. “Just the crowds and everything about is great. My coach Joseph Gilbert won it twice in the juniors. And he never said anything. So we’re in the park looking at all these pictures of the past winners and there he was twice. I just thought it was the coolest thing. That venue [Libbey Park] is awesome and the crowds. It’s just awesome.”

Altamirano won the National 18s Hardcourts at Kalamazoo in 2013 at the age of 17, and was the youngest player in the US Open main draw that year.

“I remember I barely got into Kalamazoo,” he said. “I had to play another national event and had do well right before to get in and I ended up winning it.”

At the Zoo, Altamirano became the first unseeded player to win the 18s, beating Jared Donaldson in three out of five sets in the final.

“It was just a cool time,” said Altamirano, who also made the singles quarterfinals as the US Open Junior event that same year in 2013. “I didn’t play a lot in the juniors. It just showed all the hard work I had put in had paid off.”

Sunday’s Singles Final Results
q: qualifier
Collin Altamirano, U.S., def. Emilio Gomez, Ecuador (q), 6-1, 7-5

Sunday’s Doubles Final Results
Luke Bambridge, Great Britain/Hans Hach Verdugo, Mexico (1), def. Collin Altamirano, U.S./Alexander Lebedev, U.S. 6-3, 6-2

In Daytona Beach, unseeded Grace Min started well, but dropped the last eight games of her final with top seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in her 1-6, 7-5, 6-0 loss.  No. 2 seeds Usue Arconada and Chile's Alexa Guarachi Matheson won the double title at the $25,000 tournament, beating unseeded Ilona Kremen of Belarus and Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

At the $15,000 Futures in Naples Florida, top seed Javier Marti of Spain defeated German teen Louis Wessels, the No. 8 seed, 6-4, 6-0 in the final.