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Thursday, January 31, 2019

McNally Reaches Midland $100K Quarterfinals; Cressy Advances at Cleveland Challenger; Collins, Kenin, Keys Named to US Fed Cup Team

Friday's quarterfinals of the $100,000 Dow Tennis Classic in Midland Michigan will feature a wild card, a qualifier, the defending champion and the top seed after Thursday's second round.

The wild card is 17-year-old Caty McNally, who dominated Rebecca Marino of Canada in less than an hour, claiming a 6-4, 6-1 victory. McNally, who beat No. 7 seed Nicole Gibbs on Wednesday, faced only one break point in the match, while converting on four of the eight break points Marino gave her.  McNally will face her WTA Top 100 opponent on Friday, No. 88 Madison Brengle, the Dow Tennis Classic defending champion, who is seeded No. 3 this week. Brengle defeated Jamie Loeb in a rematch of last year's final 6-1, 6-4.

Coco Gauff had an opportunity to face her first WTA Top 100 player today in the second round, and after holding her own in the first few games against top seed Rebecca Peterson of Sweden, Gauff lost nine games in a row in Peterson's 6-2, 6-1 victory. Peterson's quarterfinal opponent is unseeded Kristie Ahn, who took out No. 5 seed Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2.

The last qualifier remaining is Robin Anderson, who beat Olga Govortsova 6-2, 6-3. Anderson, the former UCLA star, has had success before at the Dow Tennis Classic, reaching the final in 2016. She will face No. 6 seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, who beat qualifier Ann Li 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, in the only three setter of the day. In the other bottom half quarterfinal, No. 4 seed Jessica Pegula will face unseeded Christina McHale. McHale beat Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 6-4, 6-4, while Pegula took out Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State) 6-1, 6-4.

Seven of the eight quarterfinalists at the ATP 90 Challenger in Cleveland played college tennis in the US, with two of them currently on Division I teams.  Borna Gojo of Croatia, a junior at Wake Forest, defeated No. 13 seed Flilip Peliwo of Canada 6-1, 6-3 and will face UCLA senior Maxime Cressy, who beat No. 6 seed Tim Smyczek 6-4, 6-3.  Gojo, the 2018 NCAA singles finalist, has reached a Challenger semifinal and another Challenger quarterfinal prior to this one, while it is the first Challenger quarterfinal for Cressy, who has recently switched from representing France to the US.

The other quarterfinal in the top half features No. 15 seed Marcos Giron(UCLA) against Jared Hiltzik(Illinois). Giron took out Ohio State junior JJ Wolf 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-5 and Hiltzik beat No. 7 seed Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador 6-4, 6-2.

Recent Ohio State graduate Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark came from 6-1 down in the third set tiebreaker to beat No. 2 seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 7-6(1), 4-6, 7-6(7). He will play former North Carolina star Brayden Schnur of Canada, the No. 8 seed, who defeated Dustin Brown of Germany 7-5, 6-4.

Former Wake Forest star Noah Rubin, the No. 3 seed, will play No. 5 seed Darian King of Barbados, the only player who didn't play college tennis. Rubin advanced when Ulises Blanch retired trailing 6-3, 4-6, 4-2, and King also advanced via retirement, with Baylor sophomore Roy Smith down 6-4, 3-0 when he retired.

The third pro tennis event in the United States this week is a men's $25K in Weston Florida. No. 7 seed Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) is the only American to advance to the quarterfinals.

The US Fed Cup team is back in action next month at home against Australia, with the team for the first round of play in the 2019 World Group announced yesterday.  Madison Keys, Sonya Kenin and Danielle Collins, along with doubles specialist Nicole Melichar, will take the courts in Asheville North Carolina on February 9th. Kathy Rinaldi is the US Fed Cup captain. The Australian team, captained by Alicia Molik, consists of Ashleigh Barty, Daria Gavrilova, Priscilla Hon, Kimberley Birrell and recent Vanderbilt star Astra Sharma.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Three Seeds Fall as First Round of Dow Tennis Classic Concludes; Wolf Beats Top Seed at Cleveland Challenger; No Change at Top in New Division I Rankings

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Midland Michigan--

Eight Americans advanced to the second round on Wednesday at the ITF World Tennis Tour $100,000 Dow Tennis Classic, joining 14-year-old Coco Gauff and 2018 finalist Jamie Loeb, who won their matches on Tuesday in brutally cold Midland Michigan.

Three seeded players were eliminated, including 2017 champion and this year's No. 2 seed Tatjana Maria of Germany, who was beaten 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 by Olga Govortsova of Belarus, who was using a special ranking after returning from maternity leave. No. 8 seed Jill Teichmann of Switzerland lost to Christina McHale 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, although McHale was only one spot below Teichmann in the WTA rankings.

The third seed to lose was No. 7 Nicole Gibbs, who fell to 17-year-old wild card Caty McNally 6-0, 7-5. Gibbs didn't play well in the first set, with McNally taking control of any point when Gibbs didn't get her first serve in play. McNally also served well, with four aces, and showed no sign of nerves.

McNally won two more games before Gibbs got on the board in the second set, but McNally was broken for the first time, and Gibbs started to raise her level from that stage on. There were no breaks again until the final game, although Gibbs did have to save three match points serving at 4-5. McNally converted on her fourth match point, with Gibbs serving at 5-6, 30-40, and she advanced to a second round contest with Canada's Rebecca Marino.

Last year's champion Madison Brengle, the No. 3 seed, got through a tough first set against qualifier Urszula Radwanska of Poland, earning a 7-6(4), 6-3 win Wednesday morning on the Meredith McGrath Stadium
Court. Radwanska and Brengle met in the 2007 Wimbledon girls final, with Radwanska winning in three sets, and had only met once since then before today, with Radwanska also claiming a victory in 2011.
Brengle will play Jamie Loeb on Thursday in a rematch of the 2018 final.

Top seed Rebecca Peterson defeated qualifier Chihiro Muramatsu of Japan 6-0, 6-3 and will face Gauff in Thursday's second round.

Eighteen-year-old qualifier Ann Li reached the second round with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over qualifier Jovana Jaksic of Serbia, and qualifier Robin Anderson(UCLA), who reached the Dow final in 2016, advanced with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Danielle Lao(USC).

In addition to the Brengle - Loeb match, another all-US contest is scheduled with No. 4 seed Jessica Pegula facing Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State). Pegula beat Francoise Abanda of Canada 7-5, 6-2 and Di Lorenzo took out Lauren Davis, the 2013 Dow champion, 6-3, 6-4 in the featured night match.  I spoke with Di Lorenzo Tuesday and that conversation will be available next month at the Tennis Recruiting Network.
Another former college player, Stanford's Kristie Ahn, advanced to the second round. Ahn defeated qualifier Valeria Savinykh of Russia 6-4, 6-2, in a match much more difficult that the score would indicate. Ahn won a 21-point game to consolidate her break at 2-0 in the second set, and an 11-point game to hold on to that break at 4-2.

"I think I had like three 15-minute service games," said the 26-year-old Stanford graduate. "She's a really good ball striker and something I've been really working on is bearing down in those games. Ten-minute service games are not out of the norm for me any more. So being able to convert those is really huge for me, for confidence. It's not about this week, but in the future, being able to build on those moments, in those tough times to be able to tell myself I got this."

Ahn knew she was at a disadvantage, with Savinykh having won two matches already.

"These conditions aren't easy, even though you practice on them," Ahn said. "She's got two tough matches under her belt and she definitely had some momentum coming in."

Ahn has recently moved back to New Jersey and is training at the USTA's Player Development Center in Flushing Meadows.

"Jay Devashetty is coaching me and some of the girls are around there, Jamie(Loeb), Christina (McHale), Louisa (Chirico), they pop in and out. Jennie Elie is there as well," Ahn said. "It's nice to feel my home base is actually home. I feel like I have a life and friends, it's not just about tennis. I did a couple of weeks of off-season in New York, then went down to Orlando for a couple of weeks, just to get matches and get outdoors, it was a pretty good balance I thought."

As with all of the former college players I spoke to this week, Ahn was inspired by former Virginia star Danielle Collins' run to the semifinals of the Australian Open.

"It was like less than a year ago she had her Indian Wells, Miami run," Ahn said. "You can definitely learn a lot from her, just the sheer competitor that she is, as well as how much she believes in herself. On the court she's in her own little world, she's not distracted, she's focused. I watched her play a lot in Melbourne, obviously backing college tennis, but I've also gotten to know her a bit and she's a great girl and I was like, you know what, we can all learn stuff. She has the cleanest backhand ever, but just in terms of her demeanor on court, you can definitely take some stuff away from there."

Ahn is not setting a ranking goal for this year, after feeling the impact of having done that previously.

"I've learned to stay away from number goals," said Ahn, who reached a career-high of 105 in the WTA rankings in 2017. "Last year it was like, I want to be top hundred and the unnecessary amount of pressure I put on myself. I was like 1-5 and this crushing feeling, you feel almost like you've failed versus mainly aiming more for process goals, working on pulling out those service games, bearing down. For me, it's mostly about confidence; even when I was playing at the WTA level there was a lot of doubt. So now it's just to back myself, tell myself that I can do it."

Ahn is expecting to play the $25K in Rancho Santa Fe, the WTA 125 in Indian Wells and is hoping to play qualifying at the BNP Paribas Open.

In first round doubles play in Midland, the top two seeds were beaten Wednesday. No. 2 seeds Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller lost to Govortsova and Savinykh 6-3, 6-2 and in the night match, Gauff and Li beat top seeds Jamie Loeb and Erin Routliffe of New Zealand 6-1, 7-6(4).

At the ATP 90 Challenger in Cleveland, current college players are having an impact, with Ohio State junior JJ Wolf beating top seed Jason Jung(Michigan) 6-3, 6-4, Baylor sophomore Roy Smith, who beat No. 12 seed Donald Young 6-4, 0-6, 7-6(5), UCLA senior Maxime Cressy, who qualified and beat Kaichi Uchida of Japan and Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador and Wake Forest junior Borna Gojo of Croatia who defeated wild card Michael Redlicki and No. 4 seed Dominik Koepfer of Germany

There wasn't much change in the ITA ranking's Top 10 after the conclusion of the Kick-off Weekend, but four women's teams cracked the Top 25 after being unranked earlier this season: NC State, Ohio State, LSU and Tennessee.  Two men's teams--Tulane and NC State-- moved into the rankings, which are done by poll until after the National Team Indoor Championships next month, when the computers take over.

ITA Division I Team 1/30/19


1. Stanford [12] (first place votes received)
2. Vanderbilt
3. North Carolina
4. Duke
5. Georgia
6. Texas
7. Pepperdine
9. Oklahoma State (was 10)
10. Syracuse (was 24)


1. Wake Forest [11]
2. Ohio State [1]
3. Mississippi State
4. Florida
5. USC
6. North Carolina
8. Texas
9. Stanford (was 10)
10. Baylor (was 11)

The first USTA rankings were revealed today, and they vary a bit from the coaches poll, although not at the top, where Wake Forest and Stanford are also No. 1. Article and complete top 25 rankings can be found by clicking on the header.

USTA 1/30/19
1. Stanford
2. Duke
3. North Carolina
4. Vanderbilt
6. Georgia
7. Pepperdine
8. Texas
9. Oklahoma State
10.South Carolina

1.Wake Forest
2.Ohio State
T3. Mississippi State
5. Florida
7. North Carolina
8. Texas
9. Stanford
10. Baylor

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Gauff Wins Opening Match at Dow Tennis Classic; Inaugural Cleveland Challenger Underway

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Midland Michigan--

Coco Gauff last played a competitive match in the final of the ITF Grade A Orange Bowl on December 9, coming from 4-2 down in the final set to claim the title.

The conditions could hardly be more different for her first round match at the ITF World Tennis Tour's Dow Tennis Classic in Midland Michigan Tuesday afternoon. Instead of the heat and humidity of South Florida, there was the snow and subzero temperatures dangerous enough for Michigan's governor to declare a state of emergency, and the 14-year-old from Delray Beach was facing not junior players, but top WTA professionals.

For her first match, she drew 19-year-old Ashley Kratzer, a fellow wild card, although Kratzer's WTA ranking is 246, much higher than Gauff's 684. Aside from a women's qualifying match at the US Open last year, Gauff had not played a pro event above the $25,000 level, but unlike her opponent in the Orange Bowl, she managed to recover from losing a big lead in the third set to record a 7-6(6), 6-7(6), 6-4 victory.

"My dad just told me to stay calm in the match, he didn't really care about the result," said Gauff, who is traveling with her father Corey, her primary coach, and Robbye Pool. "I wasn't really nervous, because I didn't have anything to lose, and I was just really happy I was chosen to get the wild card here. But I had never played a $100,000 before, and I looked at the draw and there were so many big names, some who have had good runs in grand slams, so I was just happy I was able to stand my ground today."

Gauff looked out of sorts to start the match, but she didn't think it was rust.

"I played a lot of practice matches, so I think it was more her coming out pretty fast," said Gauff, who didn't win her first point on Kratzer's serve until the left-hander's fourth service game. "She came out with big serves and winners and I needed to address her game quick, because I didn't know what to expect, to be honest. But next match, I definitely don't want to get down to where I'm down three set points."

Kratzer, the 2017 USTA National 18s champion, was up 5-3 40-0 serving for the set, but she was unable to convert any of them, double faulting at 40-30, then losing the next two points as well. Gauff held, letting out a loud "c'mon, let's go" when she won the game point for 5-5, and after two more holds, the set went to a tiebreaker. Gauff picked up her serving in the tiebreaker, and a exquisite backhand cross court pass gave her a 5-3 lead, but she lost that mini-break two points later. Gauff wasn't able to convert her first set point, but she got another opportunity when her deep return of a second serve forced an error. She converted on that second chance when Kratzer's backhand found the net.

Kratzer took a medical timeout and received treatment on her back, and she showed no signs of being hampered by it in the next two sets. She did get increasingly frustrated by the officiating, and began giving an audible accounting of the calls she believed the line judges and chair umpire had missed.

Despite lacking trust in the calls, Kratzer was able to keep up with Gauff, who was holding serve more easily, but the only break point in the second set came in the second game and Kratzer saved that.

Gauff took a 6-3 lead in the tiebreaker, but she couldn't convert any of her match points, with Kratzer winning both her points on serve with forehand winners and saving the third match point, on Gauff's serve, with a backhand winner.

Gauff double faulted to give Kratzer her first set point, and she converted when Gauff netted her return.

"If I would have made an error on those three match points, I would have been a little bit more upset," Gauff said. "But I made her play, and she just come out with good points, so there's really nothing I could have done, but play the third set."

Gauff said she did lose her composure momentarily after failing to close out the match but was pleased with how she recovered, breaking in the first game of the third set.

Gauff lost that break immediately but got another, with Kratzer increasingly frustrated with the calls. She received a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct and when she was broken again to give Gauff a 4-1 lead, she was given a point penalty for an audible obscenity, which was reported to the chair by a line judge. That was the only point Gauff got in the next game, and serving at 4-3 Gauff double faulted three times, with the last one, for the break, her 12th of the match.

But Kratzer couldn't capitalize, losing her serve at love, and Gauff was able to finish off the last game with no drama, with Kratzer sending a second serve return long on the first match point, ending the two-hour and 23-minute contest.

"I tried not to think about that," Gauff said of losing that 4-1 lead in the third. "For me, at least, just to keep me sane, I just think about what the score would have been if we both held serve, it would have been 4-all anyway. It might not work for other people, but it keeps me calm and it helped me. I knew I could break her, because I'd done it, and she was getting hot-headed too. She had code violations, a point penalty, so if she burst out again, it would have been a game penalty, so I was just try to keep pushing and make her nervous."

If top seed Rebecca Peterson of Sweden wins her match Wednesday against qualifier Chihiro Muramatsu of Japan, she will play Gauff on Thursday.

"It will be exciting, just to see where my level is at," Gauff said.

Three other first round matches were played during the day session Tuesday, with No. 5 seed Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic advancing with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 win over Mayo Hibi of Japan. Rebecca Marino won an all-Canadian battle with Katherine Sebov 6-3, 6-2 and Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay defeated Shilin Xu of China 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.

In the final round of qualifying, two Americans advanced to the main draw: No. 2 seed Robin Anderson and No. 5 seed Ann Li.  Anderson defeated No. 8 seed Lena Rueffer of Germany 6-2, 6-4 and Li took out Ana Sanchez of Mexico 6-4, 6-1. The only top six seed that failed to advanced was No. 4 Gail Brodsky, who lost to Muramatsu 6-1, 6-2. Quinn Gleason, the former Notre Dame star, led top seed Valeria Savinykh of Russia by a set and 4-1, but she lost 6-7(1), 7-5, 10-5.

Other seeds advancing are Serbia's Jovana Jaksic[3] and Poland's Urszula Radwanska[6].

The feature night match in singles is wild card Grace Min against 2018 finalist Jamie Loeb. Caty McNally, who plays her first singles match on Wednesday, got into the tournament in doubles on her own ranking, with Jessica Pegula. They will play Maegan Manasse(Cal) and Sanaz Marand(UNC) in tonight's featured doubles match.

The men are in another cold and snowy location this week for the ATP 90 event, being held for the first time in Cleveland. Because the draw is 48, not 32 as it is here in Midland, and their qualifying draw is just two matches, they began main draw matches on Monday.  Former Michigan star Jason Jung of Taiwan is the top seed. See the tournament site for the results and the draws. Live streaming is available at the ATP website.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Baptiste Wins Plantation $25K; Coleman Falls Just Short in Dow Tennis Classic Qualifying; North Carolina State Beats Florida to Advance to Women's Team Indoor Championships; Duke Tops 2019 Recruiting Class Rankings

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Midland MI--

I spent the day at the Dow Tennis Classic in cold and snowy Midland Michigan, but before I get to the action in the first round of qualifying there, it's time to wrap up the matches that were extended to Monday due to rain in Florida over the weekend.

Seventeen-year-old qualifier Hailey Baptiste won her first professional level title today at the ITF's World Tennis Tour $25,000 tournament in Plantation Florida, but it certainly wasn't easy. The unseeded Washington DC resident needed three hours and 32 minutes to complete a 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-2 victory over No. 5 seed Anna Bondar of Hungary, who won the first WTT event of the year at Daytona Beach the previous week.  Baptiste, who lost in the first round of singles qualifying at Daytona Beach, but reached the doubles final there, will move into the top 350 of the WTA rankings with the title.

The final at the $25,000 men's WTT event in Palm Coast was also three sets, although Nicolas Alvarez of Peru managed to complete his win over No. 3 seed Sekou Bangoura in just under two and a half hours. The 22-year-old former Duke star beat the former Florida standout 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-4 for his second career ITF singles title.

With the new ITF World Tennis Tour cutting out a round of qualifying, and those matches shortened with a match tiebreaker for a third set, the first round was completed at the Greater Midland Tennis Center in under six hours. Four of the 12 seeds were beaten, with Emina Bektas(Michigan) taking out No. 7 seed Mari Osaka of Japan (older sister of Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka) 6-1, 6-4 and Ana Sanchez of Mexico advancing when No. 12 seed Ellie Halbauer retired trailing 3-1 in the first set.  Chihiro Muramatsu of Japan beat No. 10 seed Sophie Chang 6-4, 6-2 and Quinn Gleason defeated No. 9 seed Katharina Gerlach of Germany 2-6, 6-2, 10-7.
With temperatures in the single digits and wind chills below zero, the prospect of getting in the car and driving to see a tennis match was not enticing, but quite a few fans made the effort to see local wild card Ellie Coleman take on No. 3 seed Jovana Jaksic of Serbia, who at 25, is ten years older than Coleman. They were rewarded for their determination, with Coleman staying with the former WTA No. 102 all the way through before Jaksic pulled out a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory.

Jaksic didn't seem warmed up at the beginning of the match, with a plenty of unforced errors enabling Coleman to jump out to a 3-1 lead. Coleman, who had played qualifying last year, losing in the first round to Hanyu Guo of China, said she was more comfortable today.

"Last year, being my first time, I was a little bit shell shocked, and I kind of let the pressure get to me," said Coleman, who lost to Guo 7-6(4), 6-2. "I was able to learn from that, take it into this year and realize that anyone watching is just there to see a good match, they really don't care about the result. So I was able to focus more on my game, what I was doing on the court than any of the outside stuff."

Jaksic broke back for 3-3 and began to play much better, although she did need to save two break points serving at 3-4. Coleman earned a set point with Jaksic serving at 4-5, but her forehand into the corner forced an error from Coleman and she held.

"It was a missed opportunity," Coleman said. "I think I just need to step up a little bit more on those points and convert."

In the tiebreaker, Coleman made a backhand error to lose the first point and Jaksic made that mini-break stand up, serving well throughout the tiebreaker and closing out the 72-minute set with yet another good first serve. Jaksic immediately dropped serve in the first game of the second set, but again, she got the break back, took the lead at 3-2 and continued to serve well in her subsequent games. Coleman hit three aces to make it 4-4, but her serve suddenly went off in the 4-5 game, with three double faults stymieing her chance to hold and she was broken to end the match.

Coleman, who just returned from a trip to two major junior events in Costa Rica and Colombia, said the differences in the skills of the girls she played there and Jaksic were minimal.

"I don't think there was anything specifically, ball placement wise," Coleman said when asked to compare the two. "The only thing I would say is, bigger, stronger, hitting the ball a little bit hard, more experience in those tight points. That would be the biggest thing."

Coleman, who used to train at the Greater Midland Tennis Center, but moved to Lansing and now Grand Rapids to stay with her coach Mike Flowers, realizes how fortunate she is to have a chance to play in such an important tournament.

"I'm very grateful for [tournament director] Scott [Mitchell] giving me the opportunity to play, and play in front of a home crowd," Coleman said. "Big thanks to everyone who came out to support. It always feels nice to have people behind me."

After qualifying is complete Tuesday morning, main draw matches will begin, with 14-year-old wild card Coco Gauff taking on 2017 USTA National 18s champion Ashley Kratzer, also a wild card recipient. Gauff played the women's qualifying at the US Open last year, but this will be her first main draw match above the $25K level.

For draws and the complete order of play, see the tournament website, dowtennisclassic.com

The match deciding the final team to advance to the ITA Women's Team Indoor next month was played at Florida today due to rain yesterday, and the 11th-ranked Gators fell to North Carolina State 4-3. The Wolfpack will be playing in the National Team Indoor for the first time in program history.

Below are the teams in advancing, with complete draws and results available at Slam Tennis.

ITA Kick-off Weekend

Men's National Indoor participants (hosted by Illinois):Wake Forest*[1]
Notre Dame[17]
Mississippi State*[3]
North Carolina*[6]
Ohio State*[2]

Women's National Indoor participants (hosted by Washington):
Ohio State
Oklahoma State*[10]
North Carolina*[3]
South Carolina*[14]
NC State

*regional Kick-off host

The Tennis Recruiting Network revealed its first 2019 Recruiting Class rankings, with Duke coming in at No. 1, followed by Texas, Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma. I am one of 20 contributors who participate in these rankings.  For the full list, click here. The women's rankings will be out next week.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Czech Republic Sweeps Les Petits As Singles Titles; Baptiste Reaches Final at Plantation $25K; Fritz, Andreescu Win in Newport Beach; McNally, Gauff Receive Midland $100K Wild Cards; ITA Team Indoor Fields Almost Set

In the 36 years of Les Petits As, the Czech Republic didn't have a singles champion, but that changed today in Tarbes, with Linda Fruhvirtova and Vojtech Petr winning titles.

Fruhvirtova, the top seed, had lost only 14 games in her first five matches and she continued her domination today, beating No. 2 seed Sofia Costoulas of Belgium 6-1, 6-0 in less than an hour.  Fruhvirtova wasn't sure she would play Les Petits As when I asked about it at the Eddie Herr, thinking there might be a conflict with the Grade 1 the week before in Prague. But Fruhvirtova lost in the third round there, so she was able to prepare for Tarbes, the biggest 14-and-under event in Europe. It could be her last, although I think she may play the World Junior Tennis team competition this summer, especially if Brenda is also named to the team.

The fans may have been disappointed by the brief duration of the girls match, but the boys final made up for it, with No. 13 seed Petr coming from behind for a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(1) victory over No. 11 seed Rashed Nawaf of Qatar.  Nawaf served for the match at 5-3 in the third, but Petr stepped up his aggressive play, going into the net at every opportunity. Nawaf, in contrast, seemed to be content to just send balls back over the net and his tentative play gave Petr the opportunity he needed. Nawaf never had a match point, and although he held for a 6-5 lead, it was Petr who controlled the points in the 12th and 13th games to seal the title.

Both ITF World Tennis Tour events in Florida will have their finals on Monday after rain kept them from finishing.  The women's $25,000 event in Plantation did finish its semifinals, with Hailey Baptiste advancing to her first WTT $25K final with a 6-2, 7-5 win over fellow 17-year-old Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia. Osorio Serrano had beaten Baptiste in their two previous junior meetings. Baptiste will face No. 5 seed Anna Bondar of Hungary, last week's $25K winner, in Monday's final.

No. 3 seed Sekou Bangoura(Florida) will play unseeded Nicolas Alvarez(Duke) of Peru in the final of the men's $25K in Palm Coast on Monday.  No. 2 seeds Alejandro Gomez(Kentucky) of Colombia and Junior Ore(Texas A&M) won the doubles title in Palm Coast, beating the unseeded team of Alvarez and Luis Patino of Mexico 7-6(2), 6-3 in the final.

At the Oracle Challenger series in Newport Beach California, top seed Taylor Fritz defended his title, beating former North Carolina star Brayden Schnur of Canada 7-6(7), 6-4 in the final. Fritz will move to a new career high of 40 in the ATP rankings with the title.  See the tournament website for more on the final. In the women's final, 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada, seeded No. 6, defeated No. 7 seed Jessica Pegula 0-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Collegians swept the doubles titles in Newport Beach, with No. 4 seeds Nathaniel Lammons(SMU) and Robert Galloway(Wofford) beating No. 3 seeds Romain Arneodo of Monaco and Andrei Vasilevski of Belarus 7-5, 7-6(1) in the final.  Unseeded Hayley Carter(North Carolina) and Ena Shibahara(UCLA) won their fourth, and biggest, title as a team, beating No. 3 seeds Taylor Townsend and Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 6-3, 7-6(1) in the final of the WTA 125 event. Carter and Shibahara did not lose a set in their four wins.

I will be covering the ITF World Tennis Tour $100K Dow Tennis Classic in Midland beginning Monday, with the tournament announcing its wild cards yesterday.  Coco Gauff, 14, and Caty McNally, 17, received main draw wild cards, as did Ashley Kratzer and Grace Min.  Wild cards in qualifying, which begins Monday at 10 a.m., were given to Ellie Coleman, Ellie Douglas(TCU) and Catherine Harrison(UCLA). See the tournament website for the order of play.

The fields for the Division I ITA National Team Indoors are set, with one match still to be played on Monday, due to all the rain in Florida.

See the Slam Tennis site for the box scores and results from the ITA Kickoff Weekend.  Below are the teams that have advanced, with their current rankings, if Top 25. Those without asterisks won their berths on the road.

Men (hosted by Illinois):
Wake Forest*[1]
Notre Dame[17]
Mississippi State*[3]
North Carolina*[6]
Ohio State*[2]

Women (hosted by Washington):
Ohio State
Oklahoma State*[10]
North Carolina*[3]
South Carolina*[14]
Florida*[11] v NC State (Monday)


Rain was also an issue at the ITF Junior Circuit Grade 2 in Tunisia, where unseeded American Stefan Leustian made the final, but lost to unseeded Fausto Tabacco of Italy by the unusual score of 3-5, 4-1, 7-2.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Nava Loses Thriller to Musetti in Australian Open Boys Final, Tauson Captures Girls Title; Broadus Wins ITF Grade 1 in Colombia; Kang and Williams Claim Les Petits As Doubles Crown

Junior slam finals are often entertaining, and it's not unusual for them to go to three sets. It is rare to have the major championship decided in a tiebreaker however, with American Emilio Nava and Italian Lorenzo Musetti playing in the first boys Australian Open final to go extra time since 1977, when scores were first recorded.  Of course, until recently, the Australian Open used advantage sets in the third, but one was never needed in a boys final, with 1996's 7-5 in the third win for Bjorn Rehnqvist of Sweden the closest match on record there. Until Saturday.

In the first year of a first-to-10, win-by-2 tiebreaker format for the final set in Melbourne, the boys championship match on Rod Laver Arena concluded that way, with top seed Musetti saving a match point in his 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (14-12) win over No. 13 seed Nava.

Obviously in a match that close, margins were extremely tight throughout. Nava got the only break of the first set, and had no difficulty closing it out, but Musetti's safer style helped him turn things around in the second set. Neither player faced a break point in the third set, although Nava dug out of a 0-30 hole serving at 3-4 with the assistance of a let-serve ace.

The tiebreaker was equally tight, with Musetti having a two-point lead on several occasions, but none after going up 5-3. The 16-year-old US Open finalist had his first match point at 9-8, but Nava hit a confident overhead winner to save that, only to miss a backhand wide to give Musetti another match point, this time on his own serve. He double faulted, although he challenged the second serve and it had missed by so little that it was impossible to see any space on the Hawkeye rendition. He didn't let that crush him however, winning the next point for his third match point at 11-10. Nava saved that with a backhand that forced an error from Musetti, then hit an ace to earn his first, and only, match point. Musetti hit a good first serve that Nava wasn't able to get back in play, and Musetti earned a fourth match point when Nava missed a forehand long. This time Nava couldn't save it, going big on a forehand, but sending it well long.

Nava's aggressive game resulted in 30 winners, but 50 unforced errors, while Musetti had 19 winners and 26 unforced errors. If nerves were a factor for either boy, they disguised them well, handling the occasion as if they had been there many times, instead of once, for Musetti, and never before, for Nava. Musetti is the first Italian to win an Australian Open junior singles title.

Top seed Clara Tauson claimed Denmark's first Australian Open girls championship, beating No. 4 seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada 6-4, 6-3 in a battle of 16-year-olds. Tauson had held a 2-1 edge in their head-to-head on the junior circuit, with Fernandez's win coming last year on clay, but Tauson's power was a little too much for the slightly built left-hander. Tauson, who beat Fernandez in last week's Traralgon Grade 1 final, was unable to close out the title serving for it at 5-2, double faulting on match point and losing the game, but she recovered to close out the title with her sixth break of the match.

For more on the girls final, see this article from Tennis Life. The ITF junior website also has an article on the singles finals.

In the mixed doubles final Saturday, Rajeev Ram(Illinois) won his first slam title, with Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic. The No. 3 seeds beat wild cards JP Smith(Tennessee) and Astra Sharma(Vanderbilt) of Australia 7-6(3), 6-1 in the final. For more on that match, see this article from the Australian Open website.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Colombia, Americans swept the girls titles.  No. 4 seed Savannah Broadus defeated top seed Alexa Noel 6-1, 7-6(7) to win her first Grade 1 title. In the girls doubles final, unseeded Emma Jackson and Sasha Yepifanova defeated unseeded Anfisa Danilchenko of Russia and Bo Young Jeong of Korea 7-6(2), 6-3.

No. 15 seed Kevin Chahoud of Sweden won the boys singles title, beating unseeded Jacob Bullard 6-3, 6-4 in the final. The boys doubles championship went to No. 5 seed Flavio Cobolli of Italy and Bruno Oliveira of Brazil, who beat unseeded Gustavo Heide and Joao Loureiro of Brazil 7-6(1), 6-4 in the final.

The finals of Les Petits As tournament in Tarbes France will feature the top two seeds in the girls draw, and the No. 11 and No. 13 seeds in the boys draw.  No. 1 Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic defeated No. 4 seed Anastasiia Gureva of Russia 6-2, 6-2 and will face No. 2 Sofia Costoulas of Belgium in the final. Costoulas defeated No. 8 seed Kristyna Tomajkova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2 in today's semifinals. 

No. 11 seed Rashed Nawaf of Qatar will play No. 13 seed Vojtech Petr for the boys title. In Saturday's semifinals, Nawaf took out home country favorite Antoine Ghibaudo of France 6-3, 6-0, while Petr had a considerably tougher time with No. 14 seed Gilles Arnaud Bailly of Belgium, coming back for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory. 

The United States came away with one title this week, with unseeded Kyle Kang and Cooper Williams claiming the boys doubles championship. They defeated Bailly and his partner Alexander Blockx 7-6(2), 6-3 in the final. Kang and Williams played an outstanding tiebreaker to claim the first set and went up 5-1 in the second set. They were not able to close it out on serve, but broke Bailly on the deciding point to seal the title.

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker. Live streaming is available at the tournament website.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Nava Reaches Australian Open Boys Final; All-US Girls Semifinals at Colombia ITF Grade 1; Williams and Kang in Les Petits As Doubles Final; ITA Division I Kickoff Weekend Underway

For the second year in a row, a US boy has advanced to the Australian Open boys title, with Emilio Nava saving a match point in the semifinals Friday to follow 2018 champion Sebastian Korda into the championship match.

No. 13 seed Nava lost the first set to No. 4 seed Filip Jianu of Romania 6-3, but broke early in the second set and cruised by a 6-2 score. The third set was nearly as long as the first two, with Nava double faulting for the second time in the 4-5 game at 30-all, to set up a match point for Jianu. Nava saved it (he describes the match point here in the ITF junior website's account) then hit another winner, forced an error for 5-5, held and broke for the victory. 

Nava, who has signed with IMG and will not be attending college, faces top seed Lorenzo Musetti of the Italy in the final, Saturday (Friday night in the US) on Rod Laver Arena.  Musetti, who defeated unseeded Giulio Zeppieri of Italy 6-2, 6-4, will be playing in his second consecutive junior slam final, having lost to Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil in three sets at the US Open. Nava, playing in just his third junior slam, has never been past the third round in a Grade A prior to this week.

Nava and partner Cannon Kingsley fell in the boys doubles final, with No. 3 seeds Jonas Forejtek and Dalibor Svrcina of the Czech Republic beating the No. 4 seeds 7-6(5), 6-4.  Emma Navarro and Chloe Beck were also unable to win their last doubles match, with the No. 8 seeds losing to No. 3 seeds Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan and Adrienn Nagy of Hungary 6-4, 6-4 in the girls doubles final. 

There will be an American girl as the champion at the ITF Grade 1 in Colombia, but which of the four remaining will earn it has yet to be decided.  Top seed Alexa Noel will face No. 12 seed Kailey Evans in the top half of Friday afternoon's semifinals, while No. 4 seed Savannah Broadus will take on unseeded Katrina Scott in the bottom half.  Unseeded Emma Jackson and Sasha Yepifanova are in the girls doubles final, where they'll face unseeded Anfisa Danilchenko of Russia and Bo Young Jeong of Korea.

The opportunity for an all-US boys final is still there, with Jacob Bullard and Martin Damm into the semifinals.  The unseeded Bullard will play top seed Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil, while the unseeded Damm, who was a finalist last week in Costa Rica, meets No. 15 seed Kevin Chahoud of Sweden.

The Fruhvirtovas won the Eddie Herr 12s doubles title when Linda was 12 and Brenda was 10
Katherine Hui's exit today in the quarterfinals at Les Petits As leaves no more Americans in singles, although Cooper Williams and Kyle Kang have advanced to the boys doubles finals.

Hui, seeded No. 12, lost to top seed Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic 6-0, 6-2, a typical scoreline in Fruhvirtova's matches this week. Linda and her 11-year-old sister Brenda won the doubles title, beating Hui and Kayla Cross of Canada 6-4, 6-2. Neither team was seeded. 

Kang and Williams, also unseeded, will face No. 2 seeds Gilles Bailly and Alexander Blockx of Belgium.  Kang and Williams beat unseeded Antoine Ghibaudo and Clement Kubiak of France 6-3, 6-4 in today's semifinals.

In the girls singles semifinals Saturday, Fruhvirtova takes on No. 4 seed Anastasiia Gureva of Russia and No. 2 seed Sofia Costoulas of Belgium plays No. 8 seed Kristyna Tomajkova of the Czech Republic.

One of the boys semifinals is sure to draw local supporters, with wild card Antoine Ghibaudo, the Bolton finalist, taking on No. 11 seed Rashed Nawaf of Qatar. In the bottom half, No. 13 seed Petr Vojtech of the Czech Republic play No. 14 seed Bailly. 

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker. Live streaming is at the tournament website.

The ITA Kickoff Weekend is underway, with berths in next month's National Team Indoor Championships on the line for 15 teams (The Washington women and Illinois men, who are hosting the Indoor Championships, are automatically entered). The top-ranked Stanford women are participating this year, which is rare, as they usually skip the Indoor Team event.  North Carolina is the defending women's champion, with Wake Forest the defending men's champion.

Tennis Recruiting's SLAM Tennis is partnering with the ITA this year with updated results from the matches available at their website.

Bobby Knight has added live scoring and video links for the matches at College Tennis Today.

The ITA's preview is here.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Nava Reaches Australian Open Boys Semifinals; Two American Teams in AO Junior Doubles Finals; Hui Advances to Les Petits As Quarterfinals; 11 Americans Move On at ITF Grade 1 in Colombia

Emilio Nava overcame a heat delay to advance to Friday's singles semifinals at the Australian Open Junior Championships, while also earning a spot in the boys doubles final. Nava and Traralgon Grade 1 champion Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic had split sets and were 2-2 in the third set when play was suspended due to heat in Melbourne.

Tennis Australia has their own heat rule, and it was obvious earlier in the day that they were not abiding by the ITF junior heat rule, which suspends play when on-court temperatures reach 90 degrees. It was well over 100 during Nava's match and yet play continued, until finally all matches on the outer courts were suspended and the roof was closed on Rod Laver Arena, where the women's semifinal was taking place.

No. 13 seed Nava will face No. 4 seed Filip Jianu of Romania in the semifinals, with Jianu beating No. 9 seed Cannon Kingsley 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-2 before play was suspended for heat.  The other semifinal is an all-Italian contest between top seed and US Open finalist Lorenzo Musetti and unseeded Giulio Zeppieri.

Top seed Clara Tauson of Denmark will face unseeded Daria Snigur of Ukraine in one girls semifinal, with No. 4 seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada taking on unseeded Anastasia Tikhonovo of Russia in the other.

Nava and Cannon Kingsley will play in Friday's doubles final, as will Emma Navarro and Chloe Beck.  No. 4 seeds Nava and Kingsley defeated No. 2 seeds Jianu and Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain 6-3, 6-4 in Thursday's semifinals and will face the third-seeded Czech team of Jonas Forejtek and Dalibor Svrcina for the title.  Navarro and Beck, the No. 8 seeds, defeated unseeded Daria Frayman of Russia and Federica Rossi of Italy 7-6(2), 7-6(3) to advance to the final. They will play No. 3 seeds Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan and Adrienn Nagy of Hungary in the final.

Danielle Collins fell to No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 7-6(2), 6-0 in Thursday's semifinal, leaving just one other American (aside from the juniors, of course) in the hunt for a title: Rajeev Ram.  Ram(Illinois) and Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, seeded No. 3, will face the Australian wild card team of Astra Sharma(Vanderbilt) and JP Smith(Tennessee) in the mixed final Saturday. Another Australian collegiate product, Baylor's John Peers, will play for the men's doubles title on Sunday, with Henri Kontinen of Finland. The No. 12 seeds face No. 5 seeds Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, who beat Sam Querrey and Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-2 in Thursday's semifinals.

At Les Petits As in Tarbes France, Katherine Hui has reached the quarterfinals in singles and the finals in doubles, while Cooper Williams and Kyle Kang have advanced to the boys doubles semifinals.  Hui, the No. 12 seed, defeated Bolton champion and Junior Orange Bowl 14s finalist Victoria Mboko of Canada, the No. 5 seed, 6-4, 7-6(6) to advance to a meeting with top seed Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic.  After the singles quarterfinals, Hui and Kayla Cross of Canada will play Linda and Brenda Fruhvirtova in the doubles final, with neither team seeded.  Williams and Kang, also unseeded, beat top seeds Mihai Alexandru Coman of Romania and Patrick Schoen of Switzerland 6-4, 6-2 to advance to Friday's semifinals.

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker and live streaming is available at the tournament's website.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Colombia, five US boys and six US girls have reached the quarterfinals. Four of the six American girls are in the bottom half of the draw, guaranteeing a US finalist. Katrina Scott, who beat No. 2 seed Gabby Price 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, is playing Emma Jackson and No. 4 seed Savannah Broadus is playing Ellie Coleman.  Top seed Alexa Noel and No. 12 seed Kailey Evans are in the top half, but do not play each other.

The US boys advancing to the quarterfinals are Keshav Chopra, Jacob Bullard, Will Grant[9], Martin Damm and Hunter Heck. Bullard and Grant are the only all-US quarterfinal.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Kingsley, Nava Advance to Australian Open Boys Quarterfinals; Baker Named USTA National Coach; Americans Dominate Grade 1 in Colombia; ITF's Grand Slam Development Grants Announced

Cannon Kingsley and Emilio Nava have advanced to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, in singles after victories on Wednesday.  Kingsley, the No. 9 seed, saw his 5-1 second set lead slip away against No. 7 seed Dalibor Svrcina of the Czech Republic, but the Ohio State recruit broke in the final game to avoid a tiebreaker in his 6-2, 7-5 victory.

Nava, the No. 13 seed, defeated No. 2 seed Bu Yunchaokete of China, the 2016 Junior Orange Bowl 14s champion, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.  In Thursday's quarterfinals, Kingsley will face No. 4 seed Filip Jianu of Romania, who beat Toby Kodat 7-5, 6-3.  Nava will play Traralgon champion Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic, who beat Zane Khan 7-6(1), 6-4 in a rematch of the Traralgon final. Emma Navarro was up 6-3, 3-0 on Daria Snigur, but the 16-year-old Ukrainian came back to post a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win.

Navarro and Chloe Beck, seeded No. 8, have advanced to the doubles semifinals, as have No. 4 seeds Kingsley and Nava, who beat No. 8 seeds Khan and Liam Draxl of Canada 7-5, 6-1.

Serena Williams couldn't convert four match points Wednesday, losing her quarterfinal match to No. 7 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.

Danielle Collins plays No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in Thursday's semifinals.

Americans still remaining in doubles are unseeded Sam Querrey and Ryan Harrison, who advanced to the men's semifinals with a 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 win over No. 7 seeds Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, and, in mixed, Nicole Melichar (playing with Bruno Soares of Brazil) and Rajeev Ram(Illinois) (playing with Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic).

Australian wild cards JP Smith(Tennessee) and Astra Sharma(Vanderbilt) are surprise mixed semifinalists; they defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray in the quarterfinals.  LSU alumni Neal Skupski of Great Britain also is through to the semifinals after he and partner Maria Jose Martinez Sanches beat top seeds Gabriela Dabrowksi of Canada and Mate Pavic of Croatia.

The USTA announced today that Brian Baker would join the Player Development staff as a National Coach in Men's Tennis. The release:

ORLANDO, Fla., January 23, 2019 -- The USTA today announced that it has hired former Top-60 pro Brian Baker as a National Coach for Men's Tennis, based out of the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando and reporting to Head of Men's Tennis Kent Kinnear.

Best known for his perseverance through a multitude of injuries, Baker ranked as high as No. 52 in the world and reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2012. He also won two ATP doubles titles and represented the U.S. at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

A Nashville native, Baker was an assistant men's coach at Belmont University from 2008-11 and then again in 2015 and 2018. He graduated from Belmont with a Bachelor of Business Administration in General Business degree in 2015.

"Brian’s experiences as a player and as a coach will be a tremendous addition to our TEAM USA Pro Department, as he works closely with players and their coaches progressing to break their way into the ATP Top 100," Kinnear said. "His tennis mind, his analytical abilities and his drive and determination for improvement will all be incredible assets for our staff and for our country’s up and coming pro players."

The ITF Grade 1 this week in Colombia has been dominated by Americans, with nine boys and 11 girls through to the round of 16.

The US boys are: Keshav Chopra, Jacob Bullard, Will Grant[9], Andrew Dale, Ronan Jachuck[7], Martin Damm, Hunter Heck, Alex Lee[11] and Aidan Mayo.

Mayo, a qualifier, beat No. 2 seed Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan, the champion at last week's Grade 1 in Costa Rica, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round.  Heck and Lee will play in the round of 16, as will Grant and Dale.

The US girls in the round of 16: Alexa Noel[1], Charlotte Chavatipon, Jennifer Gadalov, Elaine Chervinsky, Kailey Evans[12], Ellie Coleman, Savannah Broadus[4], Emma Jackson, Tara Malik, Katrina Scott and Gabby Price[2]. All-US matchups in the third round are Noel and Chavatipon, Jackson and Malik and Scott and Price.

The ITF has announced its Grand Slam Development Fund grant recipients for 2019. For background of the grants and conversation with some of the players receiving them, see this article from the ITF website.


$25,000 - Alexander Bublik (KAZ), Chung Yunseong (KOR), Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB), Duckhee Lee (KOR), Kamil Majchrzak (POL), Sebastian Ofner (AUT), Zsombor Piros (HUN), Jurij Rodionov (AUT), Camilo Ugo Carabelli (ARG), Mate Valkusz (HUN), Wu Yibing (CHN), Mikael Ymer (SWE)

$12,500 - Roberto Cid Subervi (DOM), Moez Echargui (TUN)


$25,000 - Magdalena Frech (POL), Valentini Grammatikopoulou (GRE), Ivana Jorovic (SRB), Kaja Juvan (SLO), Fangzhou Liu (CHN), Andreea Amalia Rosca (ROU), Elena Rybakina (KAZ), Viktoriya Tomova (BUL), Xu Shilin (CHN), Karman Kaur Thandi (IND) Katarina Zavatska (UKR)

$12,500 - Victoria Bosi (ARG), Sandra Samir (EGY), Abigail Tere-Apisah (PNG), Renata Zarazua (MEX)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Collins Reaches Australian Open Semifinals; Five US Juniors Advance to AO Round of 16; Seven Americans Move into Round Two at Les Petits As; Volynets Posts Win at Newport Beach WTA 125

Collins working with Pat Harrison in off-season
Danielle Collins advanced to the semifinals of the Australian Open Tuesday, denying unseeded veteran Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia her first major semifinal by coming back to claim 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory. The 25-year-old from Florida, who won the NCAA women's singles titles in 2014 and 2016, rolled in the third set, hitting 13 winners and making just one unforced error.

Women's college tennis has not had a major semifinalist in singles since Stanford's Meredith McGrath reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 1996, although the WTA has not been particularly diligent in its research on the collegiate background of those in the late stages of slams.  At any rate, Collins has arrived, and while she received some recognition after reaching the semifinals at the Miami Open last year, this unexpected breakout at a slam is nearly unprecedented. See this blog post from Jeff Sackmann on Heavy Topspin, for more details on Collins' rare run.

Stephanie Myles at TennisLife has thoughts on Collins' win and the contrasting pathways of the Virginia graduate and Pavlyuchenkova, who won the Australian Open girls title twice.  Joel Drucker wrote about Collins' mental strength in this article for tennis.com.  Collins will play No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the semifinals, with Kvitova having beaten Collins in the first round of the WTA event in Brisbane earlier this month 6-7(6), 7-6(6), 6-3.

Frances Tiafoe could not join Collins in the final four, with No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain just playing too well, facing only two break points, neither converted, in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory. 

Jennifer Brady(UCLA) and Allison Riske have moved into the women's doubles semifinals, defeating No. 7 seeds Hao-Ching and Latisha Chan of Taiwan 6-3, 7-6(3) in Tuesday's quarterfinals. They face No. 2 seeds and defending champions Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France in Wednesday's semifinals. 

Serena Williams[16] faces No. 7 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, the 2010 Australian Open girls champion, in Wednesday's quarterfinals.

Five US juniors have reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open Junior Championships, with Tuesday's winners Emma Navarro, Zane Khan and No. 13 seed Emilio Nava. Khan defeated No. 5 seed Rinky Hijikata of Australia 6-4, 6-4.  No. 6 seed Lea Ma lost to Priska Nugroho of Indonesia 5-7, 6-3, 6-0.  No. 9 seed Cannon Kingsley and Toby Kodat has moved into the third round on Monday.  Kingsley and Nava, seeded No. 4, have advanced to the quarterfinals in boys doubles, to play No. 8 seeds Khan and Canadian Liam Draxl. Navarro and Chloe Beck, the No. 8 seeds, also have reached the doubles quarterfinals.

All round of 16 singles matches and doubles quarterfinals are on Wednesday (Tuesday night in the US).

Seven of the eight Americans competing at Les Petits As have advanced to the second round in singles, including all three seeds: Learner Tien[15], Kaitlyn Carnicella[11] and Katherine Hui[12]. Qavia Lopez, Kyle Kang, Cooper Williams and Joseph Phillips are the other four moving on to the second round.  Phillips defeated No. 6 seed Patrick Schoen of Switzerland 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4 and Williams beat No. 8 seed Marc Majdandzic of Germany 6-2, 6-4. All seven are in second round action on Wednesday.  Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker. Live streaming on three courts can be found here.

Although there are two ITF World Tennis Tour 25 events this week in Florida, with the men in Palm Coast and the women in Plantation, the big event is the Oracle Challenger in Newport Beach California. The women's tournament is a WTA 125 event and the men's tournament is an ATP 125 Challenger. These have different entry rules than lower level events, with no qualifying spots for ITF World rankings and two wild cards in the four-player qualifying draws.  Evan Song and UCLA senior Maxime Cressy advanced to the main draw and Cressy defeated Alex Sarkissian(Pepperdine) 6-3, 6-0 in the first round today.

Taylor Fritz, Bradley Klahn and Mackenzie McDonald are the top three men's seeds.

In the women's qualifying, 17-year-old Katie Volynets defeated Alexa Guarachi(Alabama) of Chile to make the main draw, and today she needed only 46 minutes to defeat Mari Osaka of Japan 6-0, 6-0 in the first round. Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State), who has been out with an injury since the US Open last September, picked up a win in her first match back Monday. Rebecca Peterson of Sweden and Tatjana Maria of Germany are the top two seeds.

Two American men and two American women will receive wild cards into the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells based on their performances in the four Oracle Challenger events. Two were played last fall, in Chicago and Houston, this is the third, with one more in Indian Wells this spring. Danielle Collins won that wild card last year and went on to make the fourth round. Bradley Klahn and Lauren Davis are the current leaders.  For more on this race, see the tournament website.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Junior Orange Bowl Videos; Kingsley, Kodat Advance to Australian Open Juniors Round of 16; UTR Announces Partnership with Tennis Australia and Djokovic

The last of the videos from last month's major junior events in Florida are below, with separate videos of the Junior Orange Bowl boys 12s finalists and one video each for the girls 12s, girls 14s and boys 14s. For other videos from the Orange Bowl and the Eddie Herr, see the tenniskalamazoo channel on YouTube.

The Australian Open is well into its second week now, with three Americans advancing to the quarterfinals after Serena Williams beat WTA No. 1 Simona Halep Monday.  Danielle Collins and Frances Tiafoe will attempt to earn spots in the semifinals Tuesday (tonight in the US), with Tiafoe certainly having the tougher road.

Monday’s fourth round matches:

Serena Williams[16] d. Simona Halep[1](ROU) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
Elina Svitolina[6](UKR) d. Madison Keys[17] 6-2, 1-6, 6-1

Tuesday’s Round of 16 matches
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova(RUS) v Danielle Collins
Frances Tiafoe v Rafael Nadal[2](ESP)

In the second round of the Australian Open Junior championships, the first Top 8 seed lost on Monday, with Eddie Herr champion and No. 2 seed Qinwen Wang of China losing to Anastasia Tikhonova of Russia 7-5, 6-3. No. 8 girls seed Sohyun Park of Korea also lost, falling to Manon Leonard of France 6-4, 6-3.  In the boys draw, No. 9 seed Cannon Kingsley defeated Wojciech Marek of Poland 6-1, 6-2 and unseeded Toby Kodat beat No. 14 seed Harold Mayot of France in a thriller 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(10-7). No. 16 seed Eliot Spizzirri lost for the second time in two months to Lodewijk Weststrate of the Netherlands. Westrate beat Spizzirri at the Orange Bowl 6-4, 7-6(4) and 7-5, 6-4 Monday in Melbourne.  Americans in Tuesday's second round matches are Lea Ma[6], Emma Navarro, Emilio Nava[13] and Zane Khan.

In doubles, No. 4 seeds Nava and Kingsley advanced to the second round, as did No. 8 seeds Navarro and Chloe Beck. Spizzirri, who is playing with Lilian Marmousez of France, and Khan, who is playing with Liam Draxl of Canada, also advanced to the second round Monday. Spizzirri and Marmousez will face Nava and Kingsley Tuesday.  No. 7 seeds Tristan Boyer and Tyler Zink are also into Tuesday's second round in doubles.

The new ITF junior rankings out today reflect the great performances at last week's Grade 1s for the two 2018 Kalamazoo 16s finalists. Champion Martin Damm, who lost in the Coffee Bowl final, moved into the Top 100 for the first time, while Khan, who lost in the Traralgon final, moved into the Top 20 for the first time, with his current ranking 16. Although Coffee Bowl champion Abigail Forbes moved up 313 spots in the rankings, she is still outside the Top 100, at 108.

UTR announced Saturday that they had established "strategic partnerships" with Tennis Australia and Novak Djokovic. UTR has signed an impressive list of partners and investors in the past year and they are now establishing themselves as serious power broker in the tennis industry. Tennis may not need another one of those, but if there is a chance they can unite the sport, rather than fragment it, it's a positive development. I've been hearing that the ITF, rather than adopt the UTR, is looking at developing a similar system themselves, which strikes me as silly and dangerous. The ITF could see their circuit decline, and as noted in my article on the World Tennis Tour earlier this month, ignoring the college route, while Oracle continues to support that pathway, could backfire.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Forbes, Mochizuki Win Titles at ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl; Collins, Tiafoe Make Australian Open Quarterfinals; Second Round of AO Juniors Features Seven Americans; Bangoura Claims WTT M15 in Naples; Les Petits As Begins Monday

Abigail Forbes won her first ITF Grade 1 title Saturday night, at the Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica.  The 17-year-old from North Carolina, who has committed to UCLA, defeated unseeded 15-year-old Melodie Collard of Canada 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 in the championship match.  Martin Damm fell short in his quest for a first Grade 1 title, falling to top seed and fellow 15-year-old Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Mochizuki had already captured one title earlier in the day, partnering with Spencer Whitaker.  The No. 8 seeds defeated Damm and Will Grant, the No. 6 seeds, 4-6, 6-3, 10-6 in the final.  No. 5 seeds Michaela Kadleckova of Slovakia and Shavit Kimchi of Israel beat unseeded Jenna DeFalco and Hibah Shaikh 6-4, 6-1 to capture the girls doubles title.

Danielle Collins and Frances Tiafoe advanced to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open Sunday with wins over seeds.  Collins annihilated No. 2 seed and former champion Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-0, 6-2 in 56 minutes, with 29 winners against one of the best defenders in women's tennis. Two-time NCAA champion Collins, who will play unseeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia Tuesday, is the first college woman to reach the quarterfinals of a slam since Lisa Raymond made it that far in Australia in 2004.  For more on Collins' win, see this article from the Australian Open website.

On his 21st birthday, Frances Tiafoe defeated No. 20 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-5, 7-6(6), 6-7(1), 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals of a major for the first time. Tiafoe, the 2015 Kalamazoo 18s champion, is the first Kalamazoo 18s champion to reach a slam quarterfinal since Michael Chang, who won Kalamazoo at age 15 in 1987 and the French Open two years later. For more on Tiafoe's win, see this AO website article.

Amanda Anisimova and Sloane Stephens lost their fourth round matches Sunday:

Petra Kvitova[8(CZE)] d. Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-1
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova(RUS) d. Sloane Stephens[5] 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-3
Danielle Collins d. Angelique Kerber[2](GER) 6-0, 6-2
Frances Tiafoe d. Grigor Dimitrov[20(BUL) 7-5, 7-6(6), 6-7(1), 7-5

Monday's fourth round matches featuring Americans:

Simona Halep[1](ROU) v Serena Williams[16]
Madison Keys[17] v Elina Svitolina[6](UKR)

At the Australian Open Junior Championships, four of the six US players in action Sunday advanced, with only No. 12 seed Tristan Boyer and lucky loser Sasha Wood suffering defeats.  No. 13 seed Emilio Nava, unseeded Zane Khan, No. 6 seed Lea Ma and unseeded Emma Navarro join Cannon Kingsley[9], Eliot Spizzirri[16] and Toby Kodat in Monday and Tuesday's second round. Six seeds lost in the first round, but none were among the top eight seeds.

Sekou Bangoura kept an impressive streak going for American men today. The former University of Florida star won the title at the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour in Naples Florida, becoming the fifth American to win a title in five tournaments held in the United States this month. The 27-year-old from Florida, seeded No. 4, defeated No. 3 seed Pedro Sakamoto of Brazil 7-6(6), 6-0 to join Marcos Giron, JJ Wolf, Brandon Holt and Govind Nanda in the winner's circle.

At the women's $25,000 WTT event in Daytona Beach, top seed Francoise Abanda of Canada fell in the final, with No. 6 seed Anna Bondar of Hungary claiming a  6-7(3), 7-6(5), 7-5 decision after more than three hours of play.

At the women's $25,000 WTT event in Guadeloupe, Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame) and Luisa Stefani(Pepperdine) of Brazil won the doubles title. The top seeds defeated unseeded Vladica Babic(Oklahoma State) of Montenegro and Rosalie Van Der Hoek of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-4 in the final.  No. 2 seed Urszula Radwanska won the singles title, beating No. 6 seed Ana Sofia Sanchez of Mexico 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 in today's final.

The draws for Les Petits As are out, with eight Americans, four boys and four girls, competing in Tarbes France.  Learner Tien is seeded No. 15, while Bolton semifinalist Kyle Kang, Cooper Williams and Joseph Phillips are unseeded.  Bolton semifinalist Katherine Hui is the No. 12 seed, while Kaitlyn Carnicella, who did not play Bolton, is seeded 11th. Qavia Lopez and Liv Hodve, who also did not play Bolton, are the other two US girls in the draw.  Clervie Ngounoue, who did play Bolton, is not in the draw, nor is Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, who beat Ngounoue in the Eddie Herr 14s final. (Correction: Brenda is in the draw). Brenda's older sister Linda is the top seed in the girls draw. The top seed in the boys draw is Bolton champion Alexander Blockx of Belgium.

Junior Orange Bowl 14s champion Melisa Ercan of Turkey, who was initially in qualifying when the entries were announced, did get into the main draw, but is not seeded. That's odd, because Bolton champion Victoria Mboko of Canada, who Ercan beat convincingly in the Junior Orange Bowl final, is the No. 5 seed.

Top eight girls seeds:
1. Linda Fruhvirtova(CZE)
2. Sofia Costoulas(BEL)
3. Maria Sara Popa(ROU)
4. Anastasiia Gureva(RUS)
5. Victoria Mboko(CAN)
6. Cadence Brace(CAN)
7. Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva(AND)
8. Kristyna Tomajkova(CZE)

Top eight boys seeds:
1. Alexander Blockx(BEL)
2. Branko Djuric(SRB)
3. Maxim Zhukov(RUS)
4. Mihai Alexandru Coman(ROU)
5. Yaroslav Demin(RUS)
6. Patrick Schoen(SUI)
7. Georg Eduard Israelan(GER)
8. Marc Majdandzik(GER)

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker.  Live streaming is available at the tournament website.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Unseeded Damm, Forbes Reach ITF G1 Finals in Costa Rica; Three US Boys Advance at Australian Open Junior Championships; College Dual Matches in Australia; US World Tennis Tour Update

Unseeded Americans Martin Damm and Abigail Forbes have advanced to their first ITF Grade 1 finals with victories Friday at the Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica.  The 15-year-old Damm, who has yet to drop a set this week, defeated unseeded Alex Martinez of Spain 6-4, 6-4 last night. The reigning Kalamazoo 16s champion will face top seed Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan, also 15, in tonight's final.

The 17-year-old Forbes, who has signed with UCLA for this fall, defeated No. 2 seed Gabby Price 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in yesterday's semifinals and will play unseeded 15-year-old Melodie Collard of Canada for the title. Collard derailed an all-US final by defeating No. 14 seed Charlotte Owensby 6-1, 6-7(0), 7-5.

Before the final, Damm will compete for the boys doubles title, with Will Grant. The No. 6 seeds will face No. 8 seeds Mochizuki and Spencer Whitaker later today.  Unseeded Jenna DeFalco and Hibbah Shaikh defeated top seeds Price and Argentina's Anna Geller in the semifinals and will play No. 5 seeds Michaela Kadleckova of Slovakia and Shavit Kimchi of Israel for the girls doubles title.

In the past there has been live streaming on the tournament website, but I haven't seen any this year.

The first day of the Australian Open Junior Championships resulted in three wins for the seven Americans in action.  No. 9 seed Cannon Kingsley, No. 16 seed Eliot Spizzirri and Toby Kodat advanced to the the second round, while Tyler Zink, Kacie Harvey, Chloe Beck and Kylie Collins lost their matches. Americans in first round action Sunday are Lea Ma[6], Emma Navarro, Sasha Wood, Tristan Boyer[12], Emilio Nava[13] and Zane Khan.

Doubles will begin today, with half the draw scheduled, including the team of Collins and Harvey and No. 7 seeds Boyer and Zink.  Kodat is playing with Gustaf Strom of Sweden and they are also on Sunday's schedule.  Rinky Hijikata of Australia and Otto Virtanen of Finland are the top boys seeds, with Sohyun Park of Korea and Hong Yi Cody Wong of Hong Kong the No. 1 seeds in the girls draw. Beck and Navarro are the No. 8 seeds and Kingsley and Nava are the No. 4 seeds.

Two US women advanced to the fourth round with wins Saturday:

Serena Williams[16] d. Dayana Yastremska(UKR) 6-2, 6-1
Madison Keys[17] d. Elise Mertens[12](BEL) 6-3, 6-2
Simona Halep[1](ROU) d. Venus Williams 6-2, 6-3

Sunday's fourth round matches featuring Americans:

Petra Kvitova[8(CZE)] v Amanda Anisimova
Sloane Stephens[5] v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova(RUS)
Danielle Collins v Angelique Kerber[2](GER)
Frances Tiafoe v Grigor Dimitrov[20(BUL)

Division I college tennis dual match season is in full swing now, but not all of them are taking place on college campuses in the United States. Four teams are playing Monday at the Australia Open in a new initiative for college tennis. The University of Southern California's men's and women's teams and the University of South Carolina's men's and women's teams are in Melbourne for matches that will be broadcast on ESPN 3.  For more on this, see this release from the ITA.

There are two ITF World Tennis Tour events in Florida this week, with just one American in Sunday's finals.  At the W25 in Daytona Beach, No. 2 seed Grace Min lost 6-1, 6-1 today to No. 6 seed Anna Bondar of Hungary. Top seed Francois Abanda will play Bondar for the title.  Hailey Baptiste and Emina Bektas(Michigan) reached the doubles final, but lost today to No. 4 seeds Bondar and Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway 6-3, 5-7, 11-9.

At the M15 in Naples, Sekou Bangoura(Florida), the No. 4 seed, will face No. 3 seed Pedro Sakamoto of Brazil in the final. Bangoura defeated No. 7 seed Pietro Rondoni of Italy 7-6(2), 6-1 and Sakamota took out 18-year-old Nicolas Mejia of Colombia 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern) and Julian Bradley(North Florida) of Ireland won the doubles title, beating Gonzalo Lama and Alejandro Tabilo of Chile 6-4, 6-2 in the final between two unseeded teams.

Friday, January 18, 2019

My Eight Intriguing Questions for 2019; Anisimova, Collins, Tiafoe, Stephens Advance to Australian Open Round of 16; Thirteen US Juniors in AO Junior Draws

Every January I come up with eight questions about college and junior tennis that I'm eager to have answered in the next 12 months. This year's Tennis Recruiting Network column looks at the impact of the ITF's World Tennis Tour, and that is no doubt the No. 1 question to be answered in 2019, but I was surprised how many times I referenced the USTA's role in the issues I'm interested in, from the heat rule, to the Les Petits As, to the NCAA Championships and elsewhere.

Friday was quite a day for young Americans at the Australian Open with 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, 20-year-old Frances Tiafoe, and 25-year-olds Sloane Stephens and Danielle Collins posting third round victories. Only Taylor Fritz lost, with the 21-year-old Californian going out to defending champion Roger Federer 6-2, 7-5, 6-2.

Two-time NCAA champion Collins defeated No. 19 seed Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-2, hitting 26 winners with just 11 unforced errors. For more on what Collins had to say after the match, see this article from the WTA website.

As impressive as Collins was in her win, the talk of the women's results Friday was Anisimova's 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 11 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. The 2017 US Open girls champion also had an impressive winner to unforced error count at 21-9, and she faced only one break point in the match. Sabalenka was the trendy dark horse pick of many tennis pundits, but it was the teenager who looked more composed and focused throughout the match.  Anisimova is the first player born this century to reach the fourth round of a slam and is the first youngest American woman to advance that far in a slam since Serena Williams in 1998. For more on Anismova's win, see this WTA article.

The third American reaching the fourth round of a slam for the first time is Tiafoe, who came back to defeat Italian veteran Andreas Seppi 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. For more on his win, see the ATP website.

Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, is obviously at a different stage in her career than the other three, but she had struggled recently in Australia, with first round losses in three of the past four years. Stephens, the No. 5 seed, defeated No. 31 seed Petra Martic of Croatia 7-6(6), 7-6(5) Friday.

Saturday's third round matches featuring Americans:
Dayana Yastremska(UKR) v Serena Williams[16]
Elise Mertens[12](BEL) v Madison Keys[17]
Simona Halep[1](ROU) v Venus Williams

The Australian Open Junior Championships begin Saturday, with seven of the 13 Americans in the draw on the schedule.  Kacie Harvey, Chloe Beck and Kylie Collins are the girls playing Saturday, with Lea Ma[6], Emma Navarro and lucky loser Sasha Wood not scheduled. Cannon Kingsley[9], Eliot Spizzirri[16], Tyler Zink and Toby Kodat are the US boys on Saturday's schedule, with Tristan Boyer[12], Emilio Nava[13] and Zane Khan not scheduled.

The top seeds are the same as this week's Grade 1 in Traralgon: Clara Tauson of Denmark, who won the title there, and Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, who lost in the third round.  Traralgon boys champion Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic is not seeded.   Ma and boys No. 2 seed Bu Yunchaokete of China are among the players in the Australian Open draw who did not play in Traralgon.

Draws can be found here, with live scoring available on the Australian Open website.

Singles champions were crowned at the Tennis Europe Category 1 tournament in Bolton, with 12-year-old Victoria Mboko of Canada and 13-year-old Alexander Blockx of Belgium taking the titles. Mboko, the finalist at the Junior Orange Bowl 14s last month, defeated No. 5 seed Cadence Brace, also of Canada, 6-4, 6-3 in the final. Mboko did not drop a set all week.  Blockx, the top seed, also breezed through the draw, defeating No. 9 seed Antoine Ghibaudo of France 6-1, 6-2 in the final.

Attention now turns to Les Petits As in Tarbes France, where qualifying is already underway for next week's event.