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Friday, May 31, 2019

My Recap of Emory's NCAA Division III Sweep in Singles; Four Americans Qualify for French Open Junior Championships; Maryland Starts Search for New Coach

Despite the mostly dreary weather, I really enjoyed getting reacquainted with Division III tennis last week here in Kalamazoo. After my 2016 experience, I expected great drama and wasn't disappointed, with the Wesleyan women winning the program's first NCAA title (and only the second in the school's history in any sport) with two consecutive 5-4 wins over perennial powerhouse Emory and defending champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The men's team tournament didn't feature any 5-4 matches, but Emory's two 5-3 wins in the semifinals and finals were tense and exciting. My coverage of the team events for Tennis Recruiting Network is here.

Back in 2016, when the Division III championships were last held in Kalamazoo, I couldn't believe how many matches players on the teams in the finals had to play over the course of three days. This year, for the first time, there was a day off between the team finals and the start of the three-day individual event, and it seemed a popular change with the players I spoke with about it. Two players who reached the finals, champion Jonathan Jemison of Emory and finalist Venia Yeung of Wesleyan, certainly benefited from that day of rest, and I hope that schedule is adopted permanently going forward. 

My recap of the individual event, which included a sweep of the singles titles by Emory, an all-CMS women's doubles final and a third NCAA title for Grant Urken of Bowdoin, is now available here.  The TRN coverage of the Division I individual championships is here.
Qualifying is now complete for the French Open Junior Championships, with four Americans advancing to the main draw. No. 5 seed Chloe Beck came from behind to defeat No. 13 seed Maria Timofeeva 2-6, 7-5, 6-0 and No. 7 seed Charlotte Chavatipon beat Lauren Anzalotta of Puerto Rico 6-1, 6-4 to earn a spot in the draw of a junior slam for the first time. Both US boys who advanced will be playing in a junior slam main draw for the first time. No. 12 seed Will Grant beat No. 3 seed Tristan Schoolkate of Australia 6-4, 7-6(6) and No. 11 seed Dali Blanch defeated No. 5 seed Stijn Pel of the Netherlands 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

At the Grade 1 in Belgium, unseeded Katrina Scott lost to top seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada 6-3, 6-4. Fernandez will face No. 8 seed Carole Monnet of France in the final. The boys final will feature two unseeded players: Alibek Kachmazov of Russia and Leandro Riedi of Switzerland.  No. 7 seeds Skyler Grishuk of the US and her partner Carol Lee of the Northern Mariana Islands lost in the girls doubles final to Veronika Pepelyaeva and Avelina Sayfetdinova of Russia 6-4, 6-2. The boys doubles titles went to the unseeded Belgian team of Pierre Bailly and Alexander Hoogmartens, who beat No. 8 seeds Sergey Fomin of Uzbekistan and Stefan Storch of Australia 6-4, 6-4. 

Sloane Stephens[7] is the first US women to reach the fourth round at the French Open, after she defeated Polana Hercog of Slovenia 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 today.  Madison Keys[14] finished off her second round match, delayed due to darkness on Thursday, beating Australian wild card Priscilla Hon 7-5, 5-7, 6-3.  Keys will be back in action on Saturday against qualifier Anna Blinkova of Russia. Three other American women will play on Saturday, with Serena Williams[10] taking on Sonya Kenin and Amanda Anisimova facing Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania.

Another Power Five conference member is searching for a new head coach, with the Big Ten's Maryland announcing yesterday that it was not renewing the contract of Daria Panova after seven years leading the women's program (Maryland has not had a men's tennis team since 2012). Maryland went 1-10 in conference play this year and 3-18 overall. Maryland Associate head coach Katie Dougherty has been designated interim head coach while the search for a new coach is conducted. The Terrapins have a blue chip recruit, Ayana Akli, signed for this fall.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Scott Reaches Semifinals at ITF G1 in Belgium; Four American Juniors Advance to Final Round of French Open Qualifying; Anisimova into Women's French Open Third Round; D-I and D-II All Americans Revealed

Unseeded 14-year-old Katrina Scott has advanced to the semifinals of the ITF Grade 1 tournament in Belgium, this week's warm-up for the French Open Junior Championships, which begin Sunday in Paris.  Unfortunately for Scott, she was too far down in the rankings to have a chance to play in Paris this year, but she could sneak into Wimbledon Junior qualifying, which will be based on the rankings after this week's tournaments.

Today in Belgium, Scott defeated unseeded Sophia Biolay of France 6-3, 6-4 in the most competitive match she has had this week. Scott, who now has reached three Grade 1 semifinals this year, will need to beat top seed and Australian Open girls finalist Leylah Fernandez of Canada Friday to advance to her first Grade 1 final. Qualifier Elvina Kalieva, who beat No. 2 seed Hurricane Tyra Black yesterday, lost to No. 8 seed Carole Monnet of France 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Black and Gabby Price, the No. 3 seeds in girls doubles, lost to No. 7 seeds Skyler Grishuk and Northern Mariana Islands' Carol Lee 6-2, 6-4.

At the French Open Junior qualifying, four of the seven Americans competing advanced to the second round: Chloe Beck[5], Charlotte Chavatipon[7], Will Grant[12] and Dali Blanch[11].  There were several surprises in girls first round action, with top qualifying seed and Santa Croce Grade 1 finalist Mell Reasco Gonzalez of Ecuador losing to Viktoriya Petrenko of Ukraine 6-2, 6-4 and Milan semifinalist and No. 3 seed Melodie Collard of Canada falling to Ana Geller of Argentina 6-0, 2-6, 7-6(6).

Live scoring for French junior qualifying is available at TennisTicker.

Seventeen-year-old Amanda Anisimova continued her impressive results at majors this year, beating No. 11 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-4, 6-2 in today's French Open second round. Anisimova also beat Sabalenka in the third round of the Australian Open earlier this year. Anisimova will face Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania Saturday, with a chance to match her Australian Open run to the final 16. Serena Williams[10] also moved into the third round, where she'll play Sonya Kenin, who received a walkover from Bianca Andreescu. Australian wild card Priscilla Hon earned a split with Madison Keys[14] late in the day Thursday, with the third set of that match scheduled for Friday.
Sloane Stephens[7] plays Polona Hercog of Slovenia in Friday's third round action.

Taylor Fritz lost to No. 18 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, after beating Bautista Agut in the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 in Lyon last week.

There's only one former college player left in either the men's or women's singles draw, and it's 21-year-old qualifier Aliona Bolsova of Spain, who played for one year at Oklahoma State, then transferred to Florida Atlantic, where she played one year before turning pro. A former ITF junior No. 4, Bolsova explains why she decided to play college tennis and why that decision kept her in the sport in this article on the WTA website.

The ITA released its official list of All-Americans, with seeds at the NCAAs, players who reach the singles round of 16 or doubles quarterfinals at the NCAAs, or those who finish with a Top 20 ranking eligible for the designation. A link to the Division I list is here.

Because there is no individual tournament for Division II, their All-American honors are confined to those who finish in the Top 20 in the final rankings. That list is available here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Qualifier Kalieva Defeats Second Seed Black in Belgium G1; Seven Americans Begin French Open Junior Qualifying Thursday; Final 2019 ITA Division I Rankings Don't Have NCAA Singles Champions Finishing No. 1

The girls draw at the ITF Grade 1 in Belgium is down to the last eight, with just three seeds remaining: top seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada, No. 7 seed Annerly Poulos of Australia and No. 8 seed Carole Monnet of France. Among the unexpected quarterfinalists is 15-year-old qualifier Elvina Kalieva who beat fellow American Hurricane Tyra Black, the No. 2 seed, 6-4, 6-0 today in the third round. Kalieva, the 2017 Junior Orange Bowl 14s champion, has not lost a set in her five wins this week. She plays Monnet in the quarterfinals.  Katrina Scott, 14, also advanced to the quarterfinals, beating unseeded Ekaterina Vinnik of Russia 6-1, 6-1 today. The unseeded Scott has lost just three games in her past two matches.

The No. 2 seed in the boys draw was also eliminated today, with Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan losing to unseeded Leandro Reidi of Switzerland 6-1, 6-3. The last US boys still in the draw, Ronan Jachuk, lost to No. 5 seed Keisuke Saitoh of Japan 7-6(5), 6-3. 

Black and Gabby Price, seeded No. 3, have advanced to the doubles semifinals, and will play No. 7 seeds Skyler Grishuk and her partner, Carol Lee of Northern Mariana Islands.

Qualifying for the French Open Junior Championships, which begin Sunday, starts Thursday with three US girls and four US boys in the draws. Charlotte Owensby, Chloe Beck[5] and Charlotte Chavatipon[7] are the American girls looking to win two matches to advance to the main draw. Robin Montgomery, who was the first player out of the main draw, is not in qualifying, so I'm assuming she got in, probably when one of the special exemptions was not used. I believe Monnet is the only player competing in Belgium eligible for a special exemption.

The US boys who made the qualifying for the French Open Junior Championships are Andres Martin, Will Grant[12], Jacob Bullard[15] and Dali Blanch[11].

Sloane Stephens[7] was the only US woman to win her second round match today at the French Open, although Sonya Kenin did advance to the third round when Bianca Andreescu of Canada withdrew before their second round match Thursday. US women in action in the second round on Thursday are Amanda Anisimova, Serena Williams[7], Madison Keys[14] and Danielle Collins. Taylor Fritz, the only US man remaining in singles, plays Roberto Bautista Agut[18] of Spain.

The final rankings for singles and doubles were released today by the ITA, and because I was working at the NCAA Division III tournament, I did not post last week's team rankings, so they are also included. Both team champions finished in the No. 1 spots, but the only individual No. 1 who won the NCAA title are men's doubles champions Maxime Cressy and Keegan Smith of UCLA. Katarina Jokic of Georgia finished ahead of Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami, who beat her in the NCAA final. Men's singles champion Paul Jubb finished third and UCLA's Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield, the women's doubles champions, finished second.

Click on the headings to go to the full list of ITA rankings.

Final 2019 Women’s Division I Team Top 10:
1. Stanford
2. Georgia
3. North Carolina
4. Duke
5. South Carolina
6. Pepperdine
8. Vanderbilt
9. Texas
10. Washington

Final Women’s Division I Singles Top 10:
1. Katarina Jokic, Georgia
2. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
3. Kate Fahey, Michigan
4. Ingrid Martins, South Carolina
5. Makenna Jones, North Carolina
6. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt
7. Alexa Graham, North Carolina
8. Kelly Chen, Duke
9. Sophie Whittle, Gonzaga
10. Michaela Gordon, Stanford

Final Women’s Division I Doubles Top 5:
1. Mia Horvit and Ingrid Martins, South Carolina
2. Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield, UCLA
3. Angela Kulikov and Rianna Valdes, USC
4. Alana Smith and Anna Rogers, North Carolina State
5. Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia, Kansas

Final 2019 Men’s Division I Team Top 10:
1. Texas
2. Wake Forest
3. Ohio State
4. Florida
5. Virginia
6. Baylor
7. North Carolina
8. USC
9. Mississippi State
10. TCU

Final Men’s Division I Singles Top 10:
1. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State
2. JJ Wolf, Ohio State
3. Paul Jubb, South Carolina
4. Alex Rybakov, TCU
5. Carl Soderlund, Virginia
6. Christian Sigsgaard, Texas
7. Oliver Crawford, Florida
8. Yuya Ita, Texas
9. Brandon Holt, USC
10. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest

Final Men’s Division I Doubles Top 5:
1. Maxime Cressy and Keegan Smith, UCLA
2. Sven Lah and Jimmy Bendeck, Baylor
3. Nuno Borges and Strahinja, Mississippi State
4. Mazen Osama and Patrick Kaukovalta, Alabama
5. Timo Stodder and Preston Touliatos, Tennessee

Tennis Recruiting Network spoke with coaches about the new Super Regional format this year and in this article there are a variety of views about the pros and cons of reducing the number of finals site teams from 16 to 8.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

ITF Junior Circuit Update, with Jeanette Mireles Winning Back-to Back Grade 5s; Anisimova, Keys Make it Nine US Women in French Open Second Round

I tried to keep up with the bigger ITF Junior Circuit tournaments in Europe while the NCAA Division I and Division III championships were going on, but with the exception of the Grade 4 in Plantation, I didn't have time to stay current with the 4s and 5s in the Caribbean and Central America the past two weeks. There are no ITF World Tennis Tour events this week in the United States, so let's dive into all the results for American juniors the past two weeks in the Caribbean.

Fifteen-year-old Calissa Dellabarca won her first ITF Junior Circuit title two weeks ago at the Grade 5 in the Virgin Islands, with the No. 4 seed beating wild card Nishitha Saravanan, also of the US and also 15 years old, 6-2, 6-0 in the final. Dellabarca, seeded No. 2, then made the final last week in the second of the two ITF Grade 5s in the Virgin Islands, losing to unseeded Jeanette Mireles 6-1, 6-0.  Mireles, born in 2003, lost only five total games in her five wins, having come into that tournament off a title in a Grade 5 in the Cayman Islands a week before. Mireles, a blue chip from Texas, won that title, her first on the ITF junior circuit, with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Mary Jean Brumfield. The unseeeded Mireles lost a few more games in her five victories in the Caymans, but didn't lose a set, so she now has a 10-match winning streak, all coming in straight sets.

Fifteen-year-old blue chip Azuma Visaya of Hawaii won his first ITF Junior Circuit ever in the boys singles in the Caymans. The No. 4 seed defeated No. 3 seed Gabriellus Guzauskas, also of the US, 6-4, 6-4 in the singles final, while also reaching the final in doubles.  Sophie Williams of the US, playing with Kayla Cross of Canada, won the girls doubles, with the No. 2 seeds defeated Luciana Kunkel of Australian and Lauren Rha, the top seeds, 6-3, 6-2 in the finals.

In the first Virgin Islands Grade 5, JJ Tracy won the doubles with Sam Paquette of Canada, who was the singles champion. Paquette and Tracy, the No. 2 seeds, beat the unseeded American team of Ekansh Kumar and Sam Scherer 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

In the second Virgin Islands Grade 5, Alex Finkelstein swept the boys titles, his first on the ITF Junior Circuit, with the unseeded 16-year-old beating top seed Benjamin Kittay 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 7-5 in the singles final. Finkelstein partnered with Jake Sweeney to take the doubles title, with the unseeded pair beating No. 2 seeds Mark Dancuart of Peru and Richard Mallory of Bermuda 6-2, 7-5 in the final.  The girls doubles title went to unseeded Ashton Bowers and Maya Joint, who beat Olivia Lincer and Puerto Rico's Natalia Perez 6-0, 2-6, 10-7 in the final.

At the Grade 5 in Nicaragua two weeks ago, 15-year-old Benjamin Kittay won his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title, with the top seed beating No 8 seed Edson Sanchez Elizondo of Mexico 6-0, 6-1 in the final. Kittay also reached the doubles final.

Sixteen-year-old Kailey Evans took the girls title at last week's Grade 4 in Costa Rica, with the top seed beating No. 4 seed Maria Aguiar of Puerto Rico 6-4, 6-1 in the final. Evans lost in the girls doubles final, partnering with Leyden Games. The top seeds fell to No. 3 seeds Romary Cardenas Rifka of Mexico and Leah Kuruvilla 7-6(2), 7-5 in the final.

The big tournament this week on the ITF Junior Circuit is the Grade 1 in Belgium, the traditional lead-in to the French Open junior championships, which begin Sunday.

Most of the Americans who played in Milan and are playing in Paris opted to take this week off, with the exception of Hurricane Tyra Black, the No. 2 seed this week in Belgium, and Katrina Scott. Both Black and Scott have made the third round this week, as has Elvina Kalieva. Scott defeated No. 5 seed Shavit Kimchi of Israel 6-1, 6-0. The only US boy still in the Belgium draw is Ronan Jachuck, who beat No. 12 seed Kevin Chahoud of Sweden today 6-4, 6-3.

Brandon Nakashima was entered in Belgium this week, but withdrew, but the 2018 ITF Junior Masters champion is still in the entries for the French Open.  Alexa Noel, who won the Grade A in Milan and has returned the Top 10 in the ITF junior rankings, is the defending champion in singles and doubles in Belgium, but she did not enter it this year.

Top seed Bu Yunchaokete of China lost to unseeded Stefan Storch of Australia 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 today, with the ninth-ranked ITF junior now 0-3 in the past three big European clay tournaments as either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed. The girls top seed is Australian Open girls finalist Leylah Fernandez of Canada, who got by Gabby Price today 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.

Tommy Hemp of TennisUnderworld has posted his overall impressions of last week's Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan in this article.

Seventeen-year-old Amanda Anisimova picked up her first win in the women's main draw at Roland Garros today, beating French wild card Harmony Tan 6-3, 6-1. Madison Keys, the No. 14 seed, also got through in straight sets, beating Evgeniya Rodina of Russia 6-1, 6-2. Anisimova and Keys join seven other American women in the second round. Those playing their second matches on Wednesday are Sloane Stephens[7], Lauren Davis, Jennifer Brady and Shelby Rogers.

Taylor Fritz defeated Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-1, 6-4, 6-1, the only US man to advance out of the ten who played in the first round. Fritz will face No. 18 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the second round. Fritz defeated Bautista Agut in three sets last week in the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 in Lyon France.

Sixteen-year-old French wild card Diane Parry, No. 8 in the ITF junior rankings, takes on Elise Mertens of Belgium, the No. 20 seed, on Wednesday. Parry beat Vera Lapko of Belarus 6-2, 6-4 in the first round Monday. For more on Parry's achievements at her home major, see this article from the WTA website.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Barry Sweeps Division II Titles; Georgia Gwinnett Takes Both NAIA Team Championships; ITF Reverses Course on World Tennis Tour; US Women Up, Men Down at French Open; Texas Tops Men's Spring Recruiting Class Rankings

While I was busy following the NCAA Division I tournament via my computer and covering the Division III tournament in person, the team events in NAIA and Division II were being played in Mobile Alabama and Altamonte Springs Florida respectively.

Georgia Gwinnett's Grizzlies swept the titles in NAIA, with the men winning their sixth straight with a 5-0 victory over No. 7 seed Xavier University(La). The Georgia Gwinnett women won their fourth straight and fifth overall, defeating Keiser University(Fla.) 5-2 in the championship match. Both teams were the top seeds.

In Division II, it was the Barry teams with the sweep. The top-seeded women won their third straight title, beating No. 3 seed Lynn 4-2. The top-seeded men's team came from 3-0 down to defeat No. 2 seed Columbus State 4-3. Unlike the other three streaking team champions, the Barry men had not won a title since 2015. Columbus State was the defending champion, having beaten Barry 4-3 in last year's final. The same two players met again at No. 1 singles, with that result proving to be the difference both years.

Also last week, the ITF announced major changes to the World Tennis Tour it had completely revised for 2019.  ATP and WTA points are now again on offer for $15Ks and expanded for $25Ks, qualifying draws are 48 rather than 32, and tournaments will now be eight days instead of seven.  The changes are retroactive, so in August of this year, there will be new rankings released based on the results from August of last year. The ITF will continue to offer ITF World Tennis Tour ranking points for qualifying, but those rankings will be used for entry only after the ATP and WTA rankings.  Three spots will be reserved for Top 100 ITF juniors in the $15,000 tournaments.

It's not entirely clear from the ITF article what happens to qualifying at the ATP Challenger level, which in this new 2019 system featured only four qualifying players. It is also not clear if Challengers will remain seven days in duration or will expand to eight.

Needless to say, this is an about face from the ITF, and while it's commendable that they are not digging in their heels and defying the outcry that has resulted from their original changes, they were warned by many that this was a mistake from the outset but did not heed those warnings. Now an entire year has been lost for some, particularly those who made the decision to forgo an attempt at the pro tennis tour due to the lack of opportunities in the new system. As is often the case in tennis, changes are made, prove disastrous, then are reversed or changed yet again, all by the same people, who never seem to suffer the consequences of these decisions.

The first two days of the French Open have been disastrous for US men, with six suffering defeats and no one advancing. Sam Querrey pulled out before the start of play with an injury, and the only seeded US man, No. 32 seed Frances Tiafoe, lost to Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0. The first round ends Tuesday, with Steve Johnson, Mackenzie McDonald and Taylor Fritz the only US men with a chance to make the second round.

Seven US women have reached the second round: Sloane Stephens[7], Serena Williams[10], Danielle Collins, Sonya Kenin, Shelby Rogers, Lauren Davis and Jennifer Brady. Three more have a chance to advance as the first round is completed Tuesday: Madison Keys[14], Amanda Anisimova and Anna Tatishvili.

The University of Texas men won their first NCAA team championship last Sunday, and today the Tennis Recruiting Network revealed that the Longhorns finished first in the voting for the best 2019 recruiting class. Texas is followed in the rankings by Duke, Georgia, TCU and Ohio State. I am one of the voters who rank classes for these lists. See the complete rankings here. The women's class rankings will be out in the next week or two.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Emory's Jemison and Gonzalez-Rico Win NCAA Division III Singles Championships; Noel Claims Title at ITF Grade A in Milan

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Kalamazoo, MI--

Emory's Jonathan Jemison and Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico proved too much for their unseeded opponents Sunday, adding to the school's impressive tennis legacy with NCAA Division III singles titles at Stowe Stadium on the Kalamazoo College campus.

The third-seeded Jemison, who clinched the team title for Emory on Wednesday, defeated Leo Vithoontien of Carleton 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to end his college career with three national titles.

"Clinching a national championship for my team on Stowe on the stadium courts is going to be one of the best moments of my life," said Jemison, who also helped Emory to the team title in 2017. "Then to come back and win the individual championship, I never thought I would do both of those. To be sitting here now, with two national championship trophies at my feet, is quite an accomplishment and I'm very proud of myself."

Jemison took a 4-1 lead in the opening set, but Vithoontien got the break back, only to lose the next game. Serving for the set, Jemison couldn't convert his two set points at 40-15, saved two break points, then played some superb defense on his third set point to secure the set.

Vithoontien got an early break in the second set and kept the momentum throughout, closing out the set with his third break of Jemison.

Jemison, tired and discouraged by his performance in the second set, was able to regroup for the final set of his collegiate career.

"It was my last set of college tennis and my coach came over and sat me down after I lost that second set and was very close to just throwing in the towel," said Jemision, who was playing his 13th match in the past seven days. "He said, 'it's your last set of college tennis. How do you want to go out?' and I said, 'I want to win.'"

The pep talk worked, with Jemison earning a break to open the third set.  He held on to it for a 4-2 lead, when the second brief delay of the match due to light precipitation gave him another kind of break.

"It definitely helped," Jemison said of the 10-minute delay. "I was exhausted. I was so tired that when it started raining a little bit, I was like, oh, thank you. I just need a break right now. I could feel my legs burning after every point, so it helped me out a lot."

Jemison came back to get an insurance break to go up 5-2, and he needed it, with Vithoontien breaking Jemison serving for the match at 5-2. Vithoontien held for 5-4, hitting two winners from 30-all, and Jemison again stepped to the line to serve for the championship.

"When it was time for me to close it out at 5-4 I just told myself if I'm going to lose this game, I'm going down swinging," said the Marietta Georgia resident. "I'm not going to have him rip me off the court and get momentum."

At 15-all, Jemison earned a crucial point, with his serve up the T hitting the line and his forehand finding the corner, inches from both the sideline and baseline.

"I stepped up and hit a forehand and I thought it was going to float out, and it just dropped in at the last second and I was so happy," Jemison said.

Jemison was equally happy to get his first serve on the next point, with Vithoontien, who had excelled on returns throughout the match, unable to get it in play. At 40-15, Jemison wasn't able to connect on his first serve, and Vithoontien lined up a forehand, but it caught the tape and bounced wide.

Jemison didn't celebrate with the same abandon he showed when he clinched Emory's team title, but he did savor the moment.

"I couldn't have done it without my teammates, guys staying here to cheer me on, instead of going home," said Jemison, the fourth Emory man to claim the Division III singles title.  "My coaches staying here. My parents driving up this weekend. As soon as my brother finished graduating, my dad piled everyone in the car and drove up. It's just incredible to have the people closest to me share this moment."

The left-handed Vithoontien, the first player from Carleton to reach the final, was impressed with Jemison's stamina and mental toughness.

"I couldn't really do much, with fatigue and exhaustion," said Vithoontien, a sophomore from Thailand. "He's a great player and he deserved it. He's been playing the team championship and he was able to push through and fight back in the end. Once it comes down to the final, it's all mental and who wants it more."

Despite his disappoint in the result, Vithoontien is encouraged by his performance.

"I definitely exceeded all expectations and I'm happy with my results," said Vithoontien, who defeated No. 2 seed and defending champion Grant Urken of Bowdoin in the semifinals. "Obviously it would have been nice if I had won, but now I'm going to work on getting stronger and better and come back next year and hopefully win it."

Gonzalez-Rico had her own disappointment to overcome after her first round exit as the No. 2 seed in last year's individual event. The top-seed found herself down 4-2 to unseeded Venia Yeung of Wesleyan in the opening set, but came back to post a 6-4, 6-3 victory and earn Emory's fifth NCAA Division III women's singles title.

"Last year as a freshman, it's hard to switch from team to individual," said the left-hander from Florida, who lost in the team final last year to host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. "I wasn't used to that. This year I was mentally prepared, I had two days off, so I was ready to battle. I was alone on court, but I was ready for that, without my teammates."

Gonzalez-Rico was able to come back to win four straight games to close out the set by sticking to her game plan.

"I knew what I had to do, and fortunately it started to work," said Gonzalez-Rico, who had beaten Yeung 6-3, 6-1 in the ITA Cup last fall. "I was trying to go deep to her backhand and attack whenever I had a short ball. I had to keep being aggressive."

Yeung had rolled her ankle late in her 6-2, 6-2 semifinal win over No. 2 seed Catherine Allen of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and she admitted that she was in pain during the match.

"It hurts a lot, especially towards the end," said the freshman from Hong Kong, who took a medical timeout to receive treatment on it after the conclusion of the first set. "I tried to tell myself not to get bothered, try not to think about it, because I had to give my very best."

Yeung was broken in the opening game of the second set, but she continued to go for her shots and stayed with Gonzalez-Rico until the seventh game, when Gonzalez-Rico got a second break. Serving for the match at 5-2, Gonzalez-Rico was unable to close it out, but she went up 15-40 with Yeung serving only to see those two match points disappear as well. On the first, Yeung cracked a forehand winner; on the second, Gonzalez worked her way into position to put away a short forehand, but she missed it well long, which she attributed to nerves.

"I was very tight at the end," said Gonzalez-Rico, who showed no frustration after that error. "But I managed not to think about it and play each point, one by one. I focused on the next point, and managed to win that game, so we're all good."

Yeung had a game point that she couldn't convert and when Gonzalez-Rico got a third match point, she converted it, with Yeung's forehand going just wide.

"This was for sure one of my goals coming into college, so I'm really happy," said Gonzalez-Rico who did not lose a match in Division III competition this year. "I just want to come back next year, win it with my team also. That's my main goal here in college."

Yeung's loss broke Wesleyan's string of women's singles titles at four, all won by Eudice Chong, but Yeung is cherishing the Cardinals first team title.

"It's a little sad that I couldn't end it perfectly with my singles title, but I'm so really happy with the results that I had," said Yeung. "I hope there's many more to come."
The doubles semifinals and finals were played on Sunday, with two teams from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps facing off for the women's championship.

Catherine Allen and Caroline Cox, who played at line 1 for the Athenas, and Sarah Bashoun and Nicole Tan, who played at line 2, battled for more than two hours before Allen and Cox emerged with a 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-3 victory.

"It was awful," said Allen, a junior from Washington. "That was not fun at all. You never think you are going to be playing your teammates before and when you actually do, it's just a very uncomfortable feeling."

"I don't think it's even possible to put it out of our heads that we're playing teammates," said Cox, a sophomore from Kentucky. "We spend every day with them, and we're close friends off the court too, so it was tough.  But at the end of the day, it's the NCAA finals, so you have to compete."

Under the circumstances, Allen and Cox were not exulting in their second NCAA title.

"It felt a lot better last year," Allen said of CMS's first national team title.  Cox agreed. "It felt a lot better to win team, but for sure this is an amazing accomplishment and I'm proud of Cat."
For Grant Urken and Yangeng (Jerry) Jiang of Bowdoin, Kalamazoo holds special memories. The pair were freshmen when Bowdoin won the program's first national team title at Stowe Stadium in 2016, and they closed out their careers with another national title, beating top seeds Noah Lilienthal and Adrian Roji of Wesleyan 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 for the men's doubles championship.

"Obviously this is a special place for us and 2016 was definitely a great kickstarter to our careers at Bowdoin," said Urken, a New Yorker who won the singles title last year. "It's definitely special to end on such a high note here. Things didn't go as we'd planned with the team and singles, but I'm definitely happy to cap it off with this kid."

"Same," said Jiang, who is from China. "Definitely good memories here from 2016 and couldn't ask for a better spot and time to finish my career here. One of our goals here was to extend our tennis careers for as long as we can and we're super thrilled to be here."

The No. 3 seeds were a point away from defeat in the semifinals against Eric Kerrigan and Ninan Kumar of Chicago but saved that match point at 7-8 in the second set tiebreaker and went on to a 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4 win.

The final set came down to just one break, in the seventh game, and two holds later, the Polar Bears claimed the championship.

"We started to swing out a little bit," Urken said of their comeback. "We play are best when we are at our loosest. I think things connected for us, luckily."

"Those guys play amazing doubles and it was not easy to pull that off today," Jiang said.

Complete results can be found at the Kalamazoo College tournament page. Highlights are available at NCAA.com.
Alexa Noel claimed her second ITF Grade A title today at the Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy. The 16-year-old, seeded No. 6, defeated unseeded Sada Nahimana of Burundi 6-2, 6-4 in the final. Noel's previous Grade A title also came on clay, at the 2017 Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City. For more details on the match, see this post from TennisUnderworld.

No. 4 seed Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic beat No. 13 seed Thiago Tirante of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 for the boys title. Unseeded Tristan Schoolkate and Dane Sweeny of Australia won the boys doubles title over Tirante and Admir Kalender of Croatia 6-4, 7-6(3).  The girls doubles title went to No. 2 seeds Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan and Adrienn Nagy of Hungary. They defeated Nahimana and Sohyun Park of Korea, the No. 6 seeds, 6-1, 6-3 in the final.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Unseeded Surprises and Emory Stars Reach Division III Singles Finals; Jubb, Perez-Somarriba Win Division I Titles, UCLA Sweeps Doubles Crowns; Noel Advances to Milan Grade A Final

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Kalamazoo MI--

A Wesleyan Cardinal in the women's Division III singles final is not unusual, with Eudice Chong winning the previous four titles, last year over teammate Victoria Yu. Yu lost in the quarterfinals today, but her teammate, freshman Venia Yeung, defeated No. 7 seed Caroline Casper of Pomona-Pitzer 7-5, 7-5 in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seed Catherine Allen of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals to keep the string of finals appearances alive.

The 19-year-old Yeung, who lost her first set in the singles tournament yesterday, but hasn't lost one since while also eliminating the No. 3 seed, was recruited to Wesleyan by Chong, with both from Hong Kong.

"Eudice recommended me to Wesleyan, so obviously I have a tiny bit of pressure because I have such big shoes to fill," Yeung said. "But I think I've done a pretty good job of handling the pressure, and also winning the team event. We kind of made history with the team and I was happy about that."

Yeung had a scare in her match with Allen, who seemed more affected by the hour of off-and-on sprinkles that disrupted the match four or five times.  With Allen serving at 2-3, break point down, Yeung went wide for ball and felt her left ankle give way, immediately falling to the court.

"I had a game point and I was running side to side," Yeung said. "I hit a forehand and just rolled it, sat down and it turned out she missed the shot. I took the game, which was really surprising. But I was kind of freaking out, because I've never sprained my ankle before. I was really scared but I kept telling myself I have to stand up and keep playing, no matter what, try to stay positive and forget about what happened."

After taking a medical timeout, Yeung returned and won the next two games to close out the match.

"It feels kind of weak right now, but I'm going to ice it now," said Yeung, who was spotted watching her teammates compete in the doubles quarterfinals with the standard bag of ice cubes wrapped around the ankle.

Yeung will face top seed Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico of Emory, who had her struggles today, but found her form when she needed it.

Against No. 5 seed Lauren O'Malley of John Carroll, Gonzalez-Rico served for the match at 6-4, 5-3, but O'Malley roared back to take the next four games. That effort left her depleted however, and Gonzalez-Rico, who has not lost a match in Division III this year, cruised through the third set for a 6-4, 5-7, 6-0 victory.  In the semifinals, Amherst's Camille Smukler, who had eliminated 2018 finalist Yu in the quarterfinals 6-1, 6-4, served for the first set at 5-3, but Gonzalez-Rico didn't allow another game, taking a 7-5, 6-0 decision to advance to the final.

The other Emory star to advance to the final is No. 3 seed Jonathan Jemison, who clinched the team title for the Eagles on Wednesday. Jemison earned a routine 6-1, 6-3 win over Bowdoin's Yangeng Jiang in the quarterfinals, but had a long battle with unseeded Bernardo Neves of Washington-St. Louis before pulling away for a 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 victory. Neves had taken out top seed Nikolai Parodi of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 7-6(1), 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

The other surprise finalist is Carleton's Leo Vithoontien, like Yeung, an unseeded player who dispatched two seeds in Saturday's action. Vithoontien dominated No. 4 seed Ethan Hillis of Washington-St. Louis 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals, but fell behind No. 2 seed and defending champion Grant Urken of Bowdoin 6-2, 3-0 before rebounding for a 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-2 victory.

Vithoontien, a sophomore from Thailand, said his experience in last year's singles tournament provided him with the confidence that he could compete with the best.

"I made nationals last year, so I got a feel for what the level was," Vithoontien said. "I learned there's a lot of parity between all the guys here, anyone can win the nationals. Everyone's around the same level."

The challenge when playing Urken is his massive serve, and Vithoontien expected that breaks would be hard to come by.

"I told myself to just try to get a racquet on it, and once I started to get a racquet on it, I told myself to just block it back, get it over the net, take it as early as I could," Vithoontien said. "I did not expect to break him before I went into the match. I thought, as long as I hold my serve I'm good. I've never faced a serve like that and the first set took me be surprise. I knew he had a big serve, but once you get on the court and the other side of the net it's totally different. It took me quite a while to adjust, but by the second set I got used to it."

Vithoontien also credited improved fitness for his win, with temperatures near 80 and warmer still on court today offering a challenge in the second match of the day.

"Last year, when I heard it was two singles matches in one day, I was like, oh, all right, I'm good for one," Vithoontien said. "That second round last year, there was a lot of fatigue, my strength and conditioning took a toll. So this season, I just worked on strength and conditioning knowing I had to play two a day and also doubles."

Vithoontien feels he belongs with the best, and is looking forward to playing Jemison in Sunday's final.

"I've never played him, but I've heard he's really good from the back, so, I'm just going to play my game, be aggressive and whatever happens happens," Vithoontien said. "I'm just enjoying the moment right now. I've got one more match tomorrow and I'm just going to go out there and have fun."

The men's and women's singles finals are scheduled for noon. The women's doubles semifinals are also scheduled for noon. Although there are no conflicts with any of the four singles finalists, the mens doubles semifinals and both doubles finals will be later in the afternoon. The schedule is available at the Kalamazoo College tournament page. Live stream, with commentary by Alex Sotiropoulos, will be available at NCAA.com.
The Division I NCAA singles and doubles champions were decided today at the USTA's National Campus in Lake Nona, with South Carolina's Paul Jubb and Miami's Estela Perez-Somarriba claiming the singles titles and teams from UCLA captured both doubles championships.

I was still watching men's Division III semifinals live during the men's final between No. 4 seed Jubb and top seed Nuno Borges of Mississippi State, so I can't comment on what led to the Jubb's 6-3, 7-6(2) win. But the junior from England made history on two fronts today, becoming the first player from Great Britain to win the title and the first from South Carolina to do so. For more on Jubb's first win over Borges in three attempts, see this article from the South Carolina website.

Top seed Perez-Somarriba's 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 2 seed Katarina Jokic of Georgia was a three-hour roller coaster ride, with Jokic fighting like mad to extend the match, saving six match points before finally failing to get a return in play on the seventh. Jokic, who had played 14 matches in eight days prior to today's final, looked understandably tired by the third set, but she never gave in. Perez-Somarriba, a junior from Spain, rarely missed, and forced Jokic into long punishing rallies, a combination that the sophomore from Serbia didn't need, given her match count the past nine days. But down 5-1 in the third, Jokic saved six match points, the first three with Perez-Somarriba serving for the match at 5-1, 40-15 and the second with Jokic serving at 5-2, 15-40. A combination of lethal backhand winners by Jokic and uncharacteristic backhand errors by Perez-Somarriba prolonged the match, but the hole was too deep for Jokic to dig herself out of.

Perez-Somarriba is the second Miami Hurricane to win the NCAA singles title, with Audra Cohen, currently head women's coach at the University of Oklahoma, the first from Miami to do so, back in 2007. For more on Perez-Somarriba's title, see this article from the Miami website.

The article on today's final from the Georgia perspective is here.

No. 2 seeds Maxime Cressy and Keegan Smith of UCLA won the men's doubles title, beating unseeded Patrick Kaukovalta and Mazen Osama of Alabama 6-3, 6-4. Cressy and Smith, who went 21-0 this year, are the third UCLA men's team to win the doubles title in the past four years. The pair are likely to be awarded a US Open main draw wild card.  For more, see the UCLA website.

No. 3 seeds Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield of UCLA won the women's final over unseeded Kate Fahey and Brienne Minor of Michigan 5-7, 7-6(6), 11-9. Andrews and Broomfield had a 5-2 lead in the first set and lost five straight games, then served for the second set at 6-5 and couldn't convert that opportunity either. Fahey and Minor saved a match point at 8-9 in the breaker, but couldn't save the second, when Fahey couldn't get Andrews' high bouncing smash from the net back in play.

For more, see the UCLA website.

The complete draws can be found at the USTA National Campus tournament page.

The finals are set for the ITF Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy, with Alexa Noel advancing to her second career Grade A final. Noel, the No. 6 seed, defeated 14-year-old wild card Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 and will face unseeded Sada Nahimana of Burundi for the title Sunday. For more Noel's win over Fruhvirtova, see this article from TennisUnderworld.  Martin Damm, the No. 15 seed, fell to Thiago Tirante of Argentina, the No. 13 seed, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2. Tirante will face No. 4 seed Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic for the boys title.  Damm and partner Holger Rune of Denmark, the No. 4 seeds, lost in the doubles semifinals to unseeded Tristan Schoolkate and Dane Sweeny of Australia 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 10-3.

Live scoring is available via Tennis Ticker.

Friday, May 24, 2019

My D-III Team Recap; Quarterfinals Set in D-III Singles; No Americans Remain in NCAA D-I Singles; Noel, Damm Reach Milan Grade A Semifinals; Three Americans Qualify for French Open

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Kalamazoo, MI--

If you weren't able to follow my daily coverage of the men's and women's Division III Team Championships earlier this week, my recap of the Wesleyan women's first national team title and the Emory men's fifth is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network. It's hard to beat the excitement that builds when a national title comes down to the last match on court.  A complete replay of the men's and women's finals are available at NCAA.com. I am interviewed during the women's final at the beginning of the singles matches.

As was the case in the team championships, the Division III individual championships began with rain, with a storm before matches were scheduled to begin, and then, just as the courts were dried, another in the mid-afternoon. But the two rounds of singles were finished, while the first round of doubles is still underway this evening at Stowe Stadium.

The top four seeds have advanced to the quarterfinals in the men's singles draw, all of whom will face unseeded opponents Saturday. No. 1 seed Nikolai Parodi of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, No. 2 seed and defending champion Grant Urken of Bowdoin, No. 3 seed Jonathan Jemison of Emory and No. 4 seed Ethan Hillis of Washington-St. Louis all kept their time on court in singles to a minimum with two straight-sets victories.

Jemison, who clinched the title for the Eagles Wednesday night, had the unenviable task of facing Kalamazoo College freshman Ian Yi in the first round. With the match indoors at the Markin Tennis Center, the noise made by the Yi's classmates and teammates was amplified, but Yi took some time to get into the match, falling behind 4-0 in the opening set. He rebounded to get one of the breaks back, but Jemison closed out the first set, then pulled away late in the second for a 6-3, 6-2 win.

Jemison said he was glad he had played Yi back in March, during the Hornets spring break trip.

"In the regular season I beat 4 and 6, but he pushed me," said the senior from Marietta Georgia. "He made me hit a lot of shots I wasn't really prepared for that day. Traditionally, when we've played Kalamazoo we haven't had the toughest time with them. I see him walking on the court and I think, who is this kid? and he starts hitting these shots, ripping his forehands and backhands. I was like, wow, this kid's got a lot to his game."

Jemison admitted that knowing what to expect, and a day of rest, was critical to his success today.

"I definitely would have gotten annoyed if I hadn't played him before," Jemison said. "The big crowds, they're fine, until it's 5-all or 6-all and after point then it just gets louder and louder and it just echoes in there."

Wednesday's day off, new this year, was a lifesaver for Jemison.

"I'm definitely sore after those other three matches, but the day off has helped so much," said Jemison, who called the individual tournament "icing on the cake" after winning the team title. "Traditionally we've never gotten a day off. If we wouldn't have had the day off, I would have gone out there and Ian would have gotten me pretty easily. Yesterday I was not feeling like myself."

There are also four seeds remaining in the women's quarterfinals, but No. 3 and No. 4 lost, with Venia Yeung of Wesleyan beating No. 3 seed Danna Taylor of Carnegie Mellon 6-1, 6-3 in the second round, and Victoria Yu of Wesleyan beating No. 4 seed Heather Boehm of Middlebury 6-1, 7-5 in the second round. I was surprised that Yu, the 2018 singles finalist, was not seeded in this year's tournament. Top seed Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico of Emory cruised through her first two matches with the loss of just 5 games, but No. 2 seed Catherine Allen of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps needed three sets to get by Madeleine Paolucci of Case Western Reserve 6-1 4-6, 6-4.

Draws, results and live scoring is available at the Kalamazoo College tournament website.
Four Americans advanced to the semifinals of the Division I singles championships in Orlando, but all four lost today.  Top seed Nuno Borges of Mississippi State defeated No. 3 seed Alex Rybakov of TCU 7-5, 6-3 and No. 4 seed Paul Jubb of South Carolina came back to take a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 decision from No. 7 seed Aleks Kovacevic of Illinois. Portugal's Borges, who made the semifinals in both 2017 and 2018, now has won 31 straight matches and is the first player from Mississippi State to reach the NCAA singles final. Jubb, a junior from Great Britain, has also made history for his school as its first singles finalist. Borges and Jubb met twice this spring in SEC play, with Borges winning both, in three sets, with one a 7-6 in the third classic.

In the women's semifinals, the top two seeds, who have had very little success in the singles competition the past two years, are through to the finals. This year's No. 1 seed, Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami, defeated unseeded Cameron Morra of North Carolina 6-3, 6-1, and No. 2 seed Katarina Jokic of Georgia downed unseeded Kelly Chen of Duke 7-5, 6-2. Perez-Somarriba, a junior from Spain, is the third Hurricane to reach the women's final, with Audra Cohen winning it in 2007 and Laura Vallverdu, the associate head coach at Miami now, reaching the final in 2009.  Jokic, a sophomore from Bosnia, is the first Bulldog to reach the singles final since Chelsey Gullickson won the title in 2010. Because Georgia reached the team final, Jokic has now played eight days in a row, with this the first day that she did not play both singles and doubles; she and Lourdes Carle lost in the doubles quarterfinals last night.

With no Americans in either singles final, the US Open wild cards usually made available to an US winner will go to back into the USTA's discretionary pool, the second year in a row that neither NCAA champion will be granted a wild card.

Americans are still alive for the doubles wild card that is frequently at stake in the NCAAs. No. 2 seeds Maxime Cressy and Keegan Smith are hoping to become the third UCLA team in the past four years to claim the men's doubles title. They will face an unseeded team from Alabama, Patrick Kaukovalta and Mazen Osama.  The women's final will be an all-North American contest, with the unseeded team of Kate Fahey and Brienne Minor of Michigan against No. 3 seeds Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield of UCLA. Broomfield is from Canada.

Two Americans advanced to the semifinals of the ITF Grade A in Milan, with No. 6 seed Alexa Noel the only seed remaining in the girls draw. She will play wild card Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, who took out No. 2 seed Hurricane Tyra Black 6-2, 7-5. The other girls semifinal features Sada Nahimana of Burundi against Melodie Collard of Canada.

No. 15 seed Martin Damm is the sole American boy remaining, after he defeated Filippo Moroni of Italy 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1. He will play No. 13 seed Thiago Tirante of Argentina in the semifinals. Top seed Emilio Nava was beaten by Italy's unseeded Matteo Arnaldi 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(3). Arnaldi will play No. 4 seed Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic, who defeated Tyler Zink 6-4, 7-5. Damm and his partner Holger Rune of Denmark, seeded fourth, have advanced to the doubles semifinals.

For observations from today's quarterfinal action, including Nava's match, see this article from TennisUnderworld.

Qualifying for the French Open, which begins Sunday, is complete, with three Americans advancing into the main draw: Tennys Sandgren, who beat Mathias Bourgue of France 7-6(1), 7-5; Bernarda Pera, who defeated 18-year-old Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(1); and Varvara Lepchenko, who defeated Valentini Grammatikopoulou of Greece 6-2, 6-1.

In addition to Sandgren(Tennessee) four more former collegians qualified: 2013 NCAA champion Blaz Rola (Ohio State) of Slovenia; Yannick Hanfmann (USC) of Germany; Yannick Maden(Clemson) of Germany; and Aliona Bolsova of Spain. The 21-year-old Bolsova, a former Top 5 ITF junior, played one year at Oklahoma State(2016-17) and one year at Florida Atlantic(2017-18).

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Division I Singles Semifinals Set; Division III Individual Championships Begin Friday; Five Americans Advance to Milan Grade A Quarterfinals; Four US Players Reach Final Round of French Open Qualifying

The semifinals are set for Friday's NCAA Division I championships, with the final four in the men's singles draw all seeded, while two unseeded women have advanced in the women's singles draw.

Top men's seed Nuno Borges of Mississippi State defeated No. 5 seed Brandon Holt of USC 7-5, 6-3 to reach the semifinals of the NCAA singles tournament for the third consecutive year. He will play No. 3 seed Alex Rybakov of TCU, who beat No. 9 seed Will Blumberg of North Carolina, the 2017 NCAA singles finalist, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

South Carolina's Paul Jubb took out unseeded Giovanni Oradini of Mississippi State 7-6, 6-3 and will play No. 7 seed Aleks Kovacevic of Illinois, who beat unseeded Sam Riffice of Florida 6-7, 7-6, 6-3. Riffice served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, but was broken at love, and by late in the third set, Riffice was hobbled by cramps. Riffice had upset No. 2 seed JJ Wolf of Ohio State in the third round Wednesday 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The women's top two seeds will play unseeded players for a place in the finals.

Top seed Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami defeated unseeded Asuka Kawai of Illinois 6-4, 6-4 and will face unseeded North Carolina freshman Cameron Morra in the semifinals. Morra defeated unseeded Felicity Maltby of Texas Tech 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Duke's Kelly Chen, who saved three match points in her 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over No. 6 seed Fernanda Contreras of Vanderbilt in Wednesday's third round, beat ACC rival Sara Daavettila of North Carolina 6-3, 6-4 to set up a meeting with No. 2 seed Katarina Jokic of Georgia. Jokic, who has now played singles and doubles matches for seven consecutive days, found her way past unseeded Jada Hart of UCLA by a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 score.

The quarterfinal results from doubles are not yet complete, but scores should be available at the National Campus's tournament page.

Today was a much appreciated day off for the NCAA Division III championships, the first time the NCAA has decided to give those competing in both the team finals and the singles and doubles tournament a breather before the three-day individual events begin. Two rounds of singles and one round of doubles are scheduled for Friday, with the same schedule on Saturday, with the doubles semifinals and finals Sunday, along with the singles finals. Emory sophomore Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico is the women's top seed, with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps junior Nikolai Parodi the men's top seed.  Draws and Friday's order of play are available at the Kalamazoo College tournament website.

The Division III ITA National Awards were released this evening.

Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year
Men: Ben Lamanna (Brandeis University)
Women: Mike Fried (Wesleyan University)

ITA Assistant Coach of the Year
Men: George Rivers (Trinity University)
Women: Barbora Krtickova (Emory University)

Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award
Men: Julian Gordy (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges)
Women: Mary Hill (Whitman College)

ITA Rookie of the Year
Men: Noah Lilienthal (Wesleyan University)
Women: Danna Taylor (Carnegie Mellon University)

ITA Player to Watch
Men: Jack Katzman (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges)
Women: Heather Boehm (Middlebury College)

ITA Most Improved Senior
Men: Patrick Whaling (Gustavus Adolphus College)
Women: Leah Bush (Williams College)

ITA Senior Player of the Year
Men: Jonathan Jemison (Emory University)
Women: Victoria Yu (Wesleyan University)

At the ITF Grade A in Milan, two US girls and three US boys have advanced to Friday's quarterfinals.

Top seed Emilio Nava needed a third-set tiebreaker to get by highly touted Spanish 16-year-old Carlos Alcaraz Garfia in the second round, but he beat unseeded Peter Makk of Hungary 6-4, 6-2 in today's third round.  Unseeded Tyler Zink beat frequent doubles partner Will Grant, a qualifier, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to advance, and No. 15 seed Martin Damm moved into the quarterfinals with a 7-6(1), 7-5 win over unseeded Dominic Stricker of Switzerland.

No. 3 seed Emma Navarro and No. 9 seed Elli Mandlik were beaten by unseeded players, but No. 6 seed Alexa Noel and No. 2 seed Tyra Hurricane Black did move into the quarterfinals.

At the French Open, one American man and three American women have advanced to Friday's completion of the final round of qualifying. Top seed Tennys Sandgren is the only US man able to join the nine Americans already in the men's field. Top qualifying seed Bernarda Pera, Varvara Lepchenko[19] and Allie Kiick are the women still in contention to join the 15 American women already in the main draw.

The draws were revealed today, with play beginning Sunday. The men's draw is here; the women's draw is here.  Anna Tatishvili, who has not played since October of 2017, is one of the US women competing in the main draw.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wesleyan Women Claim First NCAA Division III Team Championship, Emory Men Earn Fifth Team Title with Wins Over Top Seeds CMS

©Colette Lewis 2019--
Kalamazoo, MI--

The NCAA Division III Team finals were delayed by three hours due to morning rain, but both were worth waiting for, with No. 3 seed Wesleyan upending top seed and defending champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in a 5-4 thriller for the women's title and No. 2 seed Emory capturing its fifth men's title with a dramatic 5-3 win over top seed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Wednesday at Stowe Stadium on the campus of Kalamazoo College.

Polina Kiseleva played the role of hero for Wesleyan on a warm and sunny afternoon, finishing strong in her 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over Sydney Lee, the only three-set match of the women's final. Kiseleva may have been disappointed that she couldn't close out the match in straight sets, but her body language never reflected that.
"In the second set, to be honest, there was a lot of pressure, and it rattled me a little bit," said Kiseleva, a sophomore from Florida. "But I knew if I had a chance to reset, start over again, I would be able to pull through. I always have that feeling and it helped me in the third set."

Kiseleva also contributed to the 2-1 lead her team took after doubles, teaming with Venia Yeung to defeat Sarah Bahsoun and Nicole Tan 8-5 at line 2. CMS won at line 3, with Lee and Madison Shea beating Alexis Almy and Alissa Nakamoto 8-4. Wesleyan took line 1 doubles, with sisters Kristina Yu and Victoria Yu defeating Caroline Cox and Catherine Allen 8-6.  With Cox serving to get into a tiebreaker at 6-7, she and Allen forged a 40-0 lead, but the Yus won the final five points of the match to get that crucial point for the Cardinals.

"It was huge for Kristina and Victoria to figure out a way to get a point at 1 doubles there," said Wesleyan head coach Mike Fried. "Most all of these matches from the quarterfinals on, come down to a few points in the course of a four-hour match, but we came out on the right side of it in those few points."

CMS earned the first point in singles, with Bahsoun beating Megan Tran 6-0, 6-3 at line 6, coming from 3-1 down in the second set. At line 5, Almy, who earned the clincher in Wesleyan's 5-4 win over Emory in the semifinals, got the Cardinals back in the lead with an impressive 6-4, 6-0 win over Cox. Yeung got Wesleyan within a point of the title with her 6-0, 6-2 victory over Tan at line 2, meaning that CMS needed to win the three remaining matches on the courts.

The Athenas had won the first set in two of them, and they held those leads, with Rebecca Berger closing out Kristina Yu 6-4, 6-3 at line 3, and Allen following with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Victoria Yu at line 1.

By that time Lee was up a break on Kiseleva in the second set, as all the players and coaches from both teams headed to court 6. Lee, a freshman from California, served for the set at 5-4, but Kiseleva earned a break point when Lee double faulted for 30-40. Kiseleva missed a routine forehand putaway well long to bring it back to deuce, and on her second set point, Lee used a perfectly executed lob winner to earn the split.

Kiseleva went up 3-0 in the third set, but Lee got the break back. Before serving at 2-3, Lee took a medical timeout and was treated for cramping, and she was unable to hold in the next game, with Kiseleva hitting a laser of a backhand down the line winner to earn two break points and converting immediately when Lee's backhand went long.

Kiseleva held for 5-2, with her forehand especially effective down the stretch. With Lee serving at 2-5, she saved two match points, the second on easy overhead Kiseleva buried in the net, but Kiseleva showed no sign of frustration, and when she earned a third match point when Lee double faulted, Kiseleva aimed a forehand on the far sideline and made it. In seconds, her teammates rushed the court to share in the celebration of a first national team title, and just the school's second in any sport.

"It hasn't even sunk in yet," said Kiseleva. "The fact that I was able to do that and all my teammates were there, it was just incredible. That energy, that's what helped me keep going. I always looked to my teammates, the boys and the girls, to have that support and to be able to finish off the match, with people who love me and who I love around me."

Fried looked placid throughout the third set, in order to practice what he preaches.

"I tell the team all the time about the importance of body language, and my body language is really important," said Fried, who called Kiseleva one the best competitors he's ever been around. "I was trying to show them calmness and confidence. I felt confidence, but calmness was probably the last possible emotion. But I faked it all right I guess."

Like Kiseleva, Fried was still trying to process the past three days, in which the program earned its first Final Four appearance, first Finals appearance with a win over No. 2 seed Emory, and its first national team title with a win over top seed CMS.

"It hasn't sunk in really at all, I was too nervous for it to sink in, " Fried said. "It's a cliche, but it's surreal."

CMS coach Dave Schwartz, who had won the CMS program's first title last year with a 5-4 victory over Emory, knows how small the margins are in the final.

"Some years you have better luck than others," Schwartz said. "We kind of broke down physically there and had a little bad luck with the cramping, but look, Wesleyan outplayed us, that's the bottom line. They earned it. We were in a very close battle to win another national championship and there was a team that was .01 percent better than us, and they deserved to win the championship."

Unlike Wesleyan, Emory was stocked with players who had finals experience, with their previous national title just two years ago, also coming at the expense of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The three seniors who contributed to that title as sophomores played major roles in Emory's win Wednesday evening, with senior Jonathan Jemison clinching Emory's fifth title with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Nikolai Parodi at line 1 singles.

Senior James Spaulding partnered with Will Wanner to take No. 2 doubles 8-6 over Oscar Burney and Daniel Park of CMS, and with Hayden Cassone and Antonio Mora beating Jack Katzman and Robert Liu by the same score, Emory took a 2-1 lead into singles. Julian Gordy and Parodi had taken line 1 doubles over Jemison and senior Adrian Bouchet 8-4.

Emory head coach John Browning said Mora and Cassone's win at line 3, coming from 6-3 down, got his team going in the right direction.

"So the fact that 3 doubles turned it around really was what got us going," Browning said. "If we don't have a 2-1 lead over CMS after doubles, we're not going to win this match. And Jonathan getting a point at 1 was huge, absolutely critical."

The teams split first sets in singles, leaving CMS with the task of forcing a third set to win the match.  They did, with Daniel Park taking Andrew Esses to a third at line 5,  but Emory's Jemison put the pressure back on CMS by extending his match after being down a break in the second, and CMS could not recover.

CMS actually led 3-2, taking points in the first two singles matches to finish, with Nic Meister defeating Spaulding 6-2, 6-1 at line 6 and Katzman downing Cassone 6-2, 6-2 at line 2. Emory pulled even with Mora taking a 6-3, 6-3 decision over Liu at line 4 and took the 4-3 lead with senior Bouchet, who had clinched Emory's 5-3 win over Middlebury in the semifinals,  earning a 6-4, 6-1 win over Gordy at line 3.
With Emory leading 4-3, CMS's Park was serving for the second set just as Jemison had taken a 2-0 lead on Parodi. Park did close out the set, but Jemison lost his break, going from 2-0 up to 3-2 down.

"I was definitely down a little bit, I had lost three games, but I just kept telling myself to go back to hanging around, hanging around," said Jemison, who is from Marietta Georgia. "I didn't even know the score on court 5, I was just thinking to myself, focus here, on this match, this moment and it paid off in the long run."

Nearly every rally was long and both Jemison and Parodi looked tired as the third set continued, and it was Parodi who couldn't keep pace, dropping serve to trail 4-3. Jemison had to save a break point in a three-deuce game to earn his 5-3 advantage, and Parodi was facing a difficult hold to stay in the match. The junior from Washington DC found himself down 30-40 in the final game, and when he netted a forehand on that first match point, Jemison sprawled on the court in celebration, while his teammates still on court 5, where Esses led 5-2, sprinted to join him.

"It's incredible," said Jemison. "I can't even describe how proud I am of my team and my coaches. They were pushing me all season, every single practice, we pushed each other so hard every single practice just to have this moment together and I'm so happy for all of us right now."

Browning believes Jemison's experience on the big stage helped him when it mattered most.

"Jonathan has been struggling a little bit in the last few matches against the top players and the fact that he was able to pull that out is unbelievable," Browning said. "There's a symmetry to this season, with our three unbelievable seniors losing on these courts in the semifinals as freshmen. I told them it's only fitting that in their senior year we'd end up here winning it."

CMS coach Paul Settles gave credit to Emory for their tenacity throughout the match.

"They deserved it," Settles said. "They were tougher than we were on the big points today. It's always a huge disappointment to lose in a final, because it's a huge mountain to climb. You realize how difficult it is to get to this match, and when you lose it, it's like wow, we've worked so incredibly hard to come in second. And nobody's going to remember who finishes second. That's the tough part about it, but what I told the guys after the match is that it's about the journey, not the destination. This is phenomenal team, and we lose one senior in our starting lineup, so these guys will all be back and we'll be hungry again."

For the complete box score and results from all matches this week, see the Kalamazoo College tournament page. The singles and doubles tournaments begin Friday at Stowe Stadium and Western Michigan University's Sorenson Courts.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Top Seeds Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Aim for Men's and Women's Division III Team Titles Wednesday against Emory and Wesleyan; All-America Day at Division I Singles Tournament; Osuigwe and Gauff Earn Qualifying Wins at French Open; Top Seed Tauson Out in First Round of Grade A in Milan

©Colette Lewis 2019
Kalamazoo MI--

After a first day of routine wins for the top four seeds in Monday's quarterfinals, that changed on Tuesday, at least at the day's beginning and at its end. Although the weather continued cold and cloudy, the drama began with the first women's semifinal, with No. 3 Wesleyan defeating No. 2 seed Emory 5-4, and after two straightforward wins for top seeds Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, it ended with the second-seeded Emory men dethroning defending champions Middlebury 5-3.

The match between Wesleyan and Emory came down to the two freshmen at line 5, with Alexis Almy of Wesleyan coming from 4-1 down in the second set to defeat Jessica Fatemi 6-4, 6-4 and send the Cardinals to the first NCAA Division III team final in program history.

Wesleyan had taken a 2-1 lead in doubles, getting wins from sisters Victoria and Kristina Yu over Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico and Defne Olcay at line 1 and Polina Kiseleva and Venia Yeung over Fatemi and Daniela Lopez at line 2. Emory won at line 3, with Stephanie Taylor and Christina Watson beating Almy and Alissa Nakamoto.

The teams split first sets in singles, so Wesleyan saw its path, if none of the matches went to a third set. As it turned out, none did. Yeung defeated Lopez 6-0, 6-2 and Kiseleva took out Emma Cartledge by the same score to give Wesleyan a 4-1 lead. But head coach Mike Fried knew better than to count out Emory.

"It was awesome to see Venia and Polina get out to quick starts and take control on their courts," Fried seed. "But when we were up 4-1, I thought this is probably a 5-4 match."

Emory needed all four courts still playing and led in three of them. When Fatemi went up 4-1 in the second set against Almy, it looked as if they found the match they needed to take into a third set, but Almy fought back to 4-4, then held easily. Fatemi went down 15-40, but Almy didn't convert, and during that stretch of the final game Emory's Defne Olcay closed out Kristina Yu 7-5, 6-4 at line 3 to make it 4-4.

For the first time in the Kalamazoo portion of the tournament, all eyes were focused on one court, with teammates urging Almy and Fatemi on. After Almy didn't convert those two match points, Fatemi stepped up to play more aggressively, and she had three game points, but Almay hung in and earned a third match point. A big overhead by Fatemi saved it, but on the fourth her shot floated long, and the celebration began.

"Alexis did an amazing job of dialing back in and playing a little bit more patiently, staying out there a little bit longer to construct points," Fried said. "I don't want to sound corny or pretentious, but I'm just amazed, two freshmen out there, with their composure. She [Fatemi] converts one of those game points and it's five-all and then it's a 50-50 match going forward."

Fried acknowledged the irony of making the program's first semifinal today, and now first final, without four-time NCAA singles champion Eudice Chong, who graduated last year.

"We were joking that as soon as we got rid of that ball and chain Eudice, we could finally get the monkey off our backs and win some matches," said Fried, who also coaches the Wesleyan men's team. "Clearly, we're not here without her. She built our culture, put our program on the map and she's largely responsible for the recruiting class of freshmen who are winning major matches for us. It's impossible to overstate her significance in all this."

Fried said he is getting texts of support regularly from Chong, who is back home in Hong Kong.

"She texts every three seconds," Fried said. "That little roar that went up after match point, there's a very good chance that was coming from suburban Hong Kong."

Wesleyan's opponent in the final will be top seed and defending champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, who defeated No. 4 seed Middlebury 5-2 in the 11 a.m. match.

All the drama in that match came in the doubles, with two matches going to tiebreakers. CMS took line 1, with Catherine Allen and Caroline Cox beating Heather Boehm and Ann Martin 8-5. At line 2, Sarah Bahsoun and Nicole Tan took their tiebreaker 8-7(5) over Katherine Hughes and Skylar Schossberger, but Middlebury avoided the sweep, with Christina Puccinelli and Madeline Stow defeating Sydney Lee and Madison Shea 8-7(9).

CMS was able to win four first sets in singles and Allen extended their lead to 3-1 with a quick 6-1, 6-0 win over Boehm at line 1. Middlebury kept it close with Hughes' 6-0, 6-2 victory over Tan at line 2,  but Middlebury couldn't make a dent in the leads at lines 4 and 5, with Lee of CMS taking line 4 over Schossberger 6-3, 6-2 and Cox following with a 6-3, 6-1 win at line 4.

CMS and Wesleyan will meet for the first time this year in Wednesday's final.

Joining the CMS Athenas in the quest for a national title are the top-seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags, who defeated No. 4 seed Chicago 5-1 in the first men's semifinal Tuesday afternoon.

The Maroons squeaked out a point in doubles, with Erik Kerrigan and Ninan Kumar beating Julian Gordy and Nikolai Parodi 8-7(6) at line 1, while CMS took line 3 8-7(2) with Jack Katzman and Robert Liu beating Tyler Raclin and Jeremy Yuan.  First to capture a doubles point were CMS's Oscar Burney and Daniel Park, who beat Charlie Pei and Joshua Xu 8-4.

CMS was able to claim four first sets, and were particularly dominant at the top of the lineup, with Katzman beating Yuan 6-2, 6-3 at line 2 and Nikolai Parodi downing Erik Kerrigan 6-1, 6-4 at line 1, giving the Stags a 4-1 lead. Chicago did get a split at line 6, with Max Liu taking Nic Meister to a third set, but Meister ended up getting the fifth point for CMS with a 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 victory. CMS's Gordy was broken serving for the match at line 3, while Liu was a game away at line 4.

The evening's final match ended with a tight victory for Emory over No. 4 seed Middlebury, a match that was still in doubt after three hours of play, with streetlights beginning to blink on around Kalamazoo College's Stowe Stadium.

Emory had grabbed two doubles points, with Adrian Bouchet and Jonathan Jemison getting a late break at line 1 to beat Lubomir Cuba and Peter Martin 8-6 after the teams had split on lines 2 and 3. Noah Farrell and Alex Vanezis of Middlebury beat James Spaulding and Will Wanner at line 2 and Hayden Cassone and Antonio Mora of Emory defeated Nate Eazor and Andre Xiao 8-3 at line 3.

Emory coach John Browning felt his team needed both the points it earned in doubles.

"We knew going in that doubles was really important," Browning said. "From a singles perspective they are really strong, arguably have the best 1-2 punch in the country, so we knew anything short of 2-1 was really going to be an uphill battle for us, and we knew even up 2-1, the singles was going to be difficult."

Middlebury took four first sets in singles, and got its first singles point from Cuba, who beat Jemison 6-4, 6-2 at line 1 to make it 2-2. But just seconds later, Spaulding defeated Stanley Morris 6-0, 7-5 to put Emory back up 3-2, just as Emory's Cassone earned a split at line 2 against Farrell and Emory's Bouchet had earned a split at line 3 against Xiao.

Emory took line 5, with Andrew Esses beating Nate Eazor 6-4, 6-1, meaning that Emory needed just one more point for the victory, while Middlebury had two win all three matches still on court. Farrell had gone up 4-0 on Cassone at line 2, while there was nothing to separate Bouchet and Xiao, who were 3-3 in the third at line 3. At line 4, Emory's Antonio Mora had earned a split with Adam Guo, and when Farrell closed out Cassone 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, it looked as if the match might come down to line 4 on court 6, one of the Stowe Stadium courts without lights.

But at 3-4, Bouchet broke Xiao, hitting an audacious drop shot after a punishing baseline rally on break point, sending his teammates on the sidelines to howling with delight. After Bouchet held for 5-3, Xiao needed to hold to keep Middlebury in the match, and he recovered from 0-30 down to get it to 30-30, only to double fault, giving Bouchet the only match point he would need, with his 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 win sending his team to the final.

"That's typical of him," Browning said of the senior from Virginia. "Not that he loses first sets, but mentally he's never out of a match. For him to go down a set wasn't the best thing, but at the same time, I didn't panic, because he doesn't panic. He's a really good competitor."

Browning did not see the drop shot, as he was on the back court with freshman Mora.

"It doesn't surprise me," Browning said of the drop shot. "I probably would have had a heart attack had I seen him go with that shot selection."

As for playing CMS in the final, Browning expressed some concern about facing the Stags for the first time this year.

"It's funny, it's the one team we haven't played," Browning said. "It seems like we always play at least once every year. It's a brand new team and we haven't really seen them. We know their 1 and 2 players are obviously really strong, but normally we have a lot of information or data prior to the match if we've played somebody. We're going in blind on this one."

Due to weather issues, the women's final has be re-scheduled for noon Wednesday at Stowe Stadium, with the men's final not before 4 p.m. Complete results and live stats can be found at the Kalamazoo College tournament site. Live streaming of the final, with commentary, will be available at NCAA.com.

The winners from today's second round of singles at the NCAA Division I individual championships earn All-America status if they had not previously earned it by being seeded for the event. With all the upsets on the opening day, it's a large group of unseeded players who have advanced to the round of 16: for the women, there are 11: Paola Delgado of VCU, Asuka Kawai of Illinois, Petra Melounova of Hawaii, Felicity Maltby of Texas Tech, Elysia Bolton of UCLA, Cameron Morra of North Carolina, Kelly Chen of Duke, Solymar Colling of San Diego, Sara Daavettila of North Carolina, Katarina Stresnakova of Oklahoma State, and Jada Hart of UCLA.  The top seeds, No. 1 Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami and Katarina Jokic of Georgia, did advance in straight sets.

The men earning All-America status are Timo Stodder of Tennessee, Hady Habib of Texas A&M, Giovanni Oradini of Mississippi State, Jack Lin of Columbia, Benjamin Sigouin of North Carolina, Bar Botzer of Wake Forest and Sam Riffice of Florida.  Top seed Nuno Borges of Mississippi State beat Andy Andrade of Florida 6-3, 6-4 and No. 2 seed JJ Wolf fought back for a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over Matej Vocel of Oklahoma State.

Complete results from today's first round of doubles and second round of singles, see the USTA National Campus tournament site.

In the first round of women's qualifying for the French Open, 15-year-old wild card Coco Gauff and 17-year-old Whitney Osuigwe, the 2018 and 2017 Roland Garros girls champions, advanced to the second round. Gauff defeated Ankita Raina of India 6-4, 6-4 to become the youngest woman to win a grand slam match since Martina Hingis in 1995.  Osuigwe was down 3-0 in the final set, but came back to beat French wild card Myrtille Georges 2-6, 7-6(3), 7-5.

Other US women to advance to the second round are Bernarda Pera[1], Varvara Lepchenko[19], Allie Kiick and Sachia Vickery[23], who beat Claire Liu 4-6, 6-3 7-6(10).  Danielle Lao, Christina McHale, Francesca Di Lorenzo and Robin Anderson play their first round matches Wednesday.

Only three of 10 US men remain in the French Open men's qualifying after the first round: Marcos Giron, Tennys Sandgren[1] and Bjorn Fratangelo[20].

At the ITF Grade A in Milan, top seed and ITF World No. 1 Clara Tauson was upset 6-2, 6-2 in the first round, by ITF No. 69 Carole Monnet of France. All the American girls, except for qualifier Ellie Coleman, advanced to the second round. The US boys had less success, with No. 7 seed Cannon Kingsley losing in the first round, along with Eliot Spizzirri, Toby Kodat, Dali Blanch and qualifier Ronan Jachuck. Top seed Emilio Nava won his first round match in straight sets.

For more observations from the Milan tournament, see Tennis Underworld.