Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Sandgren Heads To Atlanta Exhibition after Claiming Altec Styslinger Title; NCAA Doubles Champion Harris Blasts Federer and Gaudenzi; Kayla Day Update

Tennys Sandgren cruised in today's final at the Altec Styslinger Exhibition in Miami Beach, beating Sam Querrey 4-1, 4-1 in just 30 minutes. The former Tennessee All American, who had the fourth best ATP ranking among the eight participants, returned well and didn't face a break point in the no-ad, first to four games format, with his backhand particularly effective.  Eighteen-year-old Brandon Nakashima picked up his second ATP Top 40 win of the week in the match for third place, beating No. 39 Reilly Opelka 4-3(2), 4-3(3). The shot of the tournament came in today's fifth place match, with Hubert Hurkacz of Poland hitting a bullet of a tweener winner in his victory over Mackenzie McDonald.

The next stop for Sandgren, Querrey, Opelka and Steve Johnson is the DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Peachtree City Georgia. Sandgren, Querrey and Johnson will be joined by John Isner on Team Stripes, while Opelka, Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe make up Team Stars. Competition begins Friday at noon, with socially distancing fans expected to be in attendance. The format will be similar to the women's Credit One Bank Exhibition last weekend in Charleston South Carolina, with a tiebreaker in lieu of a third set and escalating points for wins each of the three days. Unlike Charleston, there won't be doubles. Tennis Channel will be providing broadcast coverage.

The status of lower ranked players has come up quite a bit during this pandemic, whether it's on Noah Rubin's Behind the Racquet podcast or Nicholas Wernink's research that I published a couple of weeks ago, and recently another player spoke out about that issue, 2017 NCAA doubles champion Andrew Harris of Australia. Harris, an All-American at Oklahoma, is currently ranked 204, after climbing to 159 last fall. Harris isn't happy with the communication he's received from the ATP, criticizes new ATP CEO Andrea Gaudenzi for not taking a pay cut during the long layoff, and calls out Roger Federer for saying he supports more prize money for lower ranked players but then votes against it. For more on Harris's frustration, see this Yahoo Sport Australia article.

Kayla Day, the 2016 US Open girls champion and former ITF Junior World No. 1, has struggled since the spring of 2018, falling from her career-high WTA ranking of 122 to 480 now. Day, who will turn 21 in September, talked with Santa Barbara sports broadcaster Mike Klan about moving back home, reconnecting with her childhood coach and her friendship with Sophie Whittle, the former Gonzaga All-American. Whittle is also interviewed in the clip, and it's worth watching the video for the photo of the two of them after a match when they were very young.