Wednesday, August 1, 2018

July Aces; USTA Drops American Collegiate Invitational, Adds December Wild Card Challenge; Korda, Nanda and Brooksby Advance in Decatur

July was a big month for current and former collegians, 11 of whom are featured in my regular Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network. Teenagers had a good month too, led by Wimbledon junior champions Iga Swiatek and Chun Hsin Tseng and WTA Moscow champion Olga Danilovic.

This spring I began hearing rumors that the American Collegiate Invitational, which began in 2014 under the guidance of Bill Mountford, was not going to be a part of the US Open this year. After waiting several months for official confirmation, it came today, with the USTA announcing the ACI is no more.

In four years covering the event, I learned how appreciative the college players were of the opportunity to be a part of the US Open, and with former champions like Mackenzie McDonald and Danielle Collins, there's no question about the level of competition it showcased. But once Mountford left the USTA, the event lost its director and champion, and discontinuing it became easier. The USTA also is no longer sponsoring the ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, which were held in November at the USTA's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, with that event also defunct, although Oracle is now sponsoring a major ITA event at Indian Wells instead.

With Stephen Amritraj leaving as the USTA's Director of Collegiate Tennis this spring and no replacement announced as of yet, the commitment of the USTA to college tennis--which, given the surge this summer of Steve Johnson, John Isner and Kevin Anderson should be at its peak--is in question. This decision doesn't inspire confidence, although the USTA is adding a Wild Card Challenge for American collegians this December at the National Campus. The prizes, Challenger-level wild cards, are not insignificant, but compared to the US Open qualifying wild card, it's certainly a step down, and will not involve rubbing elbows in the US Open locker room and serving as hitting partners with the world's top players.

For more on the Wild Card Challenge at Lake Nona, click here.

At the $25,000 Futures in Decatur, two boys who are in the Kalamazoo 18s draw have advanced to Thursday's second round. Wild card Jenson Brooksby defeated Trent Bryde 6-2, 4-2 retired and qualifier Govind Nanda beat Mousheg Hovhannisyan 6-2, 6-2.  Eighteen-year-old Sebastian Korda, who is not playing Kalamazoo, defeated top seed Liam Caruana of Italy 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 today. Other US winners: Zeke Clark, Alexios Halebian[7], Grey Hamilton[Q], Jacob Dunbar, Aron Hiltzik and Martin Joyce.

Collin Altamirano has reached the quarterfinals of the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Lexington, beating Joao Menezes of Brazil 6-3, 6-4. Ronnie Schneider and JJ Wolf play their second round matches on Thursday.

University of Georgia graduate Kennedy Shaffer qualified for the women's $60,000 Pro Circuit tournament in Lexington and today defeated Gail Brodsky, last week's champion at the $60K in Ashland, 6-3, 6-3. The loss puts Brodsky, who got into the main draw with a special exemption, in a more precarious position in the USTA's US Open Wild Card Challenge, although she still leads as the only American to win one of the tournaments in the series.  Peter Bodo of ESPN.com has more on Brodsky's decision to return to competitive tennis here.

Frances Tiafoe and Denis Kudla, who grew up in the Washington DC area and trained at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park Maryland have advanced to the round of 16 at the ATP 500 Citi Open with wins today.  Tiafoe beat Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 6-2, 6-4 and Kudla defeated No. 12 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-2, 6-3.  Donald Young and Steve Johnson[11] play this evening, as does No. 2 seed John Isner, who takes on wild card Noah Rubin. Tommy Paul completed his first round win today and will take on junior rival Andrey Rublev of Russia, the No. 16 seed, later this evening.

At the WTA 250 Citi Open, Jennifer Brady and Allie Kiick are into the second round, with No. 2 seed Sloane Stephens losing today to Andrea Petkovic of Germany 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Last night qualifier Amanda Anisimova advanced to the second round at the WTA Premier tournament in San Jose. Danielle Collins has moved into the quarterfinals with a three-set win over Vera Lapko of Belarus today, while Ashley Kratzer and Sonya Kenin lost their second round matches.

2014 NCAA champion Marcos Giron, a qualifier, picked up his first ATP victory last night at the ATP 250 in Los Cabos and will face top seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina later tonight. Michael Mmoh, Taylor Fritz and Sam Querrey[5] are also playing second round matches there tonight.


Lisa Stone said...

I'm very disappointed about the cancellation of the ACI - it was a great event and allowed our top US college players to be showcased on the biggest stage. To replace it with yet another event at Lake Nona . . . sigh . . .