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Monday, November 30, 2020

Twenty Years of Orange Bowl Champions

In preparation for the upcoming Orange Bowl, which begins Sunday for the 16s and a week from today for the 18s (qualifying starts Friday), I decided to post a list of the champions from the past 20 years. With the USTA no longer featuring any mention of past champions on the tournament website, I thought it might be worthwhile to review the champions, going back far enough to include most still competing on the tours. (The exception is the most famous Orange Bowl champion, Roger Federer, who will not make this list because he won the 18s in 1998). I began covering the tournament in 2005, and by clicking on the name of player, you will be sent to my coverage of the finals they appeared in. Note that I'm using the spelling of players' names that appears on the hard copy of the list the USTA used to distribute at the event.

Girls 18s Grade A (18s are an official ITF tournament)

2000 Vera Zvonareva, Russia

2001 Vera Zvonareva, Russia

2002 Vera Douchevina, Russia

2003 Nicole Vaidisova, Czech Republic

2004 Jessica Kirkland, USA

2005 Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark

2006 Nikola Hofmanova, Austria

2007 Michelle Larcher de Brito, Portugal

2008 Julia Boserup, USA

2009 Gabriela Dabrowski, Canada

2010 Lauren Davis, USA

*2011 Anett Kontaveit, Estonia

2012 Ana Konjuh, Croatia

2013 Vavara Flink, Russia

2014 Sofia Kenin, USA

2015 Bianca Andreescu, Canada

2016 Kaja Juvan, Slovenia

2017 Whitney Osuigwe, USA

2018 Coco Gauff, USA

2019 Robin Montgomery, USA

Boys 18s Grade A

2000 Todor Enev, Bulgaria

2001 Robin Soderling, Sweden

2002 Brian Baker, USA

2003 Marcos Bagdhatis, Cyprus

2004 Timothy Neilly, USA

2005 Robin Roshardt, Switzerland

2006 Petru-Alexandrud Lucanu, Romania

2007 Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania

2008 Yuki Bhambri, India

2009 Gianni Mina, France

2010 George Morgan, Great Britain

*2011 Dominic Thiem, Austria

2012 Laslo Djere, Serbia

2013 Frances Tiafoe, USA

2014 Stefan Kozlov, USA

2015 Miomir Kecmanovic, Serbia

2016 Miomir Kecmanovic, Serbia

2017 Hugo Gaston, France

2018 Otto Virtanen, Finland

2019 Thiago Tirante, Argentina

*first year held in Plantation 

Girls 16s (16s played with ITF rules, but no points awarded)

2000 Marion Bartoli, France

2001 Whitney Deason, USA

2002 Charlene Vanneste, France

2003 Alexa Glatch, USA

2004 Florencia Molinero, Argentina

2005 Oksana Kalashnikova, Georgia

2006 Allie Will, USA

2007 Lilly Kimbell, USA

2008 Chanelle Van Nguyen, USA

2009 Breaunna Addison, USA

2010 Allie Kiick, USA

2011 Erin Routliffe, Canada

2012 Gloria Liang, Canada

2013 Charlotte Robillard-Millette, Canada

2014 Bianca Andreescu, Canada

2015 Maria Lourdes Carle, Argentina

2016 Katie Volynets, USA

2017 Katriin Saar, Estonia

2018  Madison Sieg, USA

2019 Ashlyn Krueger, USA

Boys 16s:

2000 Brian Dabul, Argentina

2001 Floria Mergea, Romania

2002 Jose Luis Muguruza, Aruba

2003 Donald Young, USA

2004 Emiliano Massa, Argentina

2005 Gueorgui Roumenov Payakov, Spain

2006 Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria

2007 Bernard Tomic, Australia

2008 Denis Kudla, USA

2009 Alexios Halebian, USA

2010 Laurent Lokoli, France

2011 Hyeon Chung, Korea

2012 Andrey Rublev, Russia

2013 Yunseong Chung, Korea

2014 Sam Riffice, USA

2015 Sebastian Baez, Argentina

2016 Steven Sun, USA

2017 Nicholas David Ionel, Romania

2018 Pablo Ruiz Llamas, Spain

2019 Daniel Rincon, Spain 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Lilov, Catanzarite Win Titles at UTR $10K Event in Florida; ITA Winter Circuit Week 1 Deadlines Monday; Tirante Falls in Lima Challenger Final

Sixteen-year-old Victor Lilov and 18-year-old Ava Catanzarite warmed up for next month's Orange Bowl by winning titles at the UTR $10,000 Casely Clay Court Championships in Hollywood Florida.

Catanzarite, who is currently in qualifying at the Orange Bowl, was the No. 8 seed at this weekend's women's event. The recent UCLA signee defeated No. 5 seed Tiphanie Fiquet, a junior at Ole Miss, 6-3, 7-5 in the final. Fiquet had beaten No. 2 seed Alexa Noel in the quarterfinals. Top seed Allie Kiick withdrew after her first match, in the second round.

Lilov, also an 8 seed, defeated top seed Daniel Rodrigues, a junior at South Carolina, 4-6, 7-5, 10-3 in the quarterfinals. In the final, Lilov, who is in the main draw at the Orange Bowl, defeated former Columbia standout Dragos Ignat 6-4, 6-4.

Both Catanzarite and Lilov earned at least $1500 for their titles. Bigger payouts were possible, since increased prize money was promised if draws were larger than 32, but I'm not sure how exactly that was handled. 

The ITA's brief Winter Circuit begins this coming weekend and for two weeks after that.

The Week 1 events, December 5-7, are scheduled to be held in Wichita Kansas, Lawrenceville Georgia and Newport Beach California. The deadline for entries for Wichita and Lawrenceville is Monday evening; the Newport Beach deadline is Wednesday afternoon.

Week 2, December 11-14, has eight events, with registration open now in all eight.

Week 3, December 18-21, is currently showing nine events, with registration open in seven of them as of this evening.

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Peru, 2019 ITF World Junior Champion Thiago Tirante of Argentina fell in the final to No. 7 seed Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. Tirante, a 19-year-old qualifier, held his own throughout the championship match, which was played in front of no fans. Although Tirante, whose bleached locks were a new look this year, was not able to bring his best tennis in the first set of his first Challenger final, he was able to rebound in the second set, getting the only break in the fourth game and holding on to even the match. Trailing 3-1 in the final set, Tirante had two break chances to get back on serve with Galan serving at 4-2, but Galan stayed aggressive, particularly with his forehand, and was able to hold serve there to reassert control.

Tirante, the 2019 Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl champion, will move to around 378 in the ATP rankings after reaching the final. He is scheduled to compete in the Challenger 80 beginning tomorrow in Brazil after receiving a special exemption. 

Former Virginia star and 2013 Kalamazoo 18s champion Collin Altamirano reached the Lima Challenger doubles final with partner Vitaliy Sachko of Ukraine. The unseeded pair lost 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match to the unseeded Spanish team of Inigo Cervantes and Oriol Roca Batalla.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

USTA Winter National Championships Seeking New Location for 12s and 14s; Colak and Banerjee Win Grade 3 Doubles Title in Turkey; 13-year-old Oluwadare Claims First ITF Junior Title

For the past several years, this weekend has been reserved for the USTA National Indoor Championships, but early last month those gold ball events, held at various sites across the country, were canceled. That means that the next USTA National Level 1 event held would be the upcoming USTA Winter Nationals, which would be a full year's worth of cancellations, with the last USTA major tournament also the Winter Nationals last December. 

A roadblock has been encountered for this year's event however, with the 12s and 14s tournaments in Tucson coming up against a county prohibition. According to the TennisLink site:

Pima County has canceled athletic events that involve interstate travel that take place in Pima County through Dec 31, 2020. Therefore, the National Winter Championships will no longer be able to be held at Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, AZ per this new county restriction. 
It is important to note that this Championship has not been canceled at this time. However, action is currently being taken to move the tournament to an alternate location. We thank you for your patience and more information will be provided in the coming days.

That statement is not dated, but I believe it was posted earlier this week, so I would expect the decision on a new site (perhaps Scottsdale?) soon. The deadline for entry is Thursday, December 3.  

The 16s and 18s Winter Nationals, which moved to the USTA National Campus in 2017, has the same entry deadline, but in a change from past years, no doubt due to the pandemic, the dates for the 16s and 18s will be staggered. The 18s will take place from December 27-January 2, with the 16s starting on December 31st and finishing on January 6. The 18s will be on hard courts and the 16s on clay courts. The TennisLink site is here.

The ITF Junior Circuit is quiet in this part of the world, but seven tournaments did take place in Europe and Asia this week, including two Grade 3s. The only titles for American juniors came in doubles, with Ozan Colak and Samir Banerjee taking the Grade 3 in Istanbul Turkey. The No. 3 seeds defeated unseeded Nicolas Cortes Campos of Colombia and Nikolay Nedelchev of Bulgaria 6-0, 6-2 in the final. Colak, the No. 7 seed in singles, lost in the semifinals to top seed Ilya Snitari of Moldova.

Rohan Belday and Alexander Karman won the doubles title at the Grade 5 in Pakistan, with the unseeded pair defeating unseeded Aarav Samrat Hada and Aki Zuben Rawat of Nepal 6-3, 6-1 in the final. Belday, the No. 5 seed in singles, lost to top seed Muhammad Shoaib of Pakistan 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the singles final. 

At the Grade 3 in Poland, Clervie Ngounoue reached the quarterfinals in singles and the final in doubles. 

Great Britain's Hephzibah Oluwadare turned 13 just a few weeks ago, which meant she could begin playing ITF Junior Circuit events, and last week she made a final in her second tournament, a Grade 5 in Israel. This week, again after qualifying, Oluwadare won her first title, defeating No. 2 seed Noa Major of Israel 6-3, 6-4 in the final of another Grade 5 in Israel. Oluwadare, who was a finalist at the Bolton U14 tournament early this year as a 12-year-old, is now 10-2 in the first month of her ITF Junior Circuit career.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Additional Division I Signing Announcements; Looking at the Orange Bowl Field; Tirante Reaches Lima Challenger Semifinals

There were a few additional Division I early signing announcements this week, including the blue chips that have committed to both the men's and women's programs at UCLA.  For a look at all the previous signings, see these recent posts: November 11, November 16, November 19November 20 and November 23


UCLA has signed Alexander Hoogmartens of Belgium, Spencer Johnson and Karl Lee

Auburn has signed Will Nolan of Great Britain.


UCLA has signed Ava Catanzarite, Kimmi Hance and Elise Wagle

Mississippi has signed Ludmila Kareisova of the Czech Republic. 

Tulane has signed Lily Walther.

And in other women's Division I college tennis news, former Vanderbilt standout Ashleigh Antal has been hired to lead the women's program at Appalachian State

With the withdrawal deadline for the ITF Grade A Orange Bowl now passed, here's a look at those in the ITF Junior Top 20 who are still expected to compete at the Plantation Florida tournament, which begins December 7.  For the fields in the 16s, see this page at the tournament website.


1. Elsa Jacquetmot (France) 

2. Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva (Andorra)

9. Kristina Dmitruk (Belarus)

10. Alexa Noel (USA)

12. Weronika Baszak (Poland)


1. Harold Mayot (France)

The boys field has been thin since the acceptances were announced, so if Mayot does play, he will be an heavy favorite.

Noel is playing this week at a $10,000 UTR tournament in Hollywood Florida this weekend, so it appears she is preparing to compete in the final tournament of her junior career at the Orange Bowl. 

Alexandra Yepifanova has withdrawn, but there are ten US girls in the main draw as of today: Noel, Elvina Kalieva, Ellie Coleman, Madison Sieg, Sofia Camila Rojas, Isabelle Kouzmanov, Hibah Shaikh, Hina Inoue, Nevena Carton and Valencia Xu. 

Bruno Kuzuhara has withdrawn from the boys field, leaving seven US boys in the main draw: Dali Blanch, Alex Bernard, Jack Anthrop, Aidan Mayo, Benjamin Kittay, Samir Banerjee and Victor Lilov. 

I hope to have a list of the wild cards early next week.

Last year's Orange Bowl champion, Thiago Tirante of Argentina, has had a rocky transition to the pros this year, with not much success on the Futures level before the shutdown, and a several more weeks of struggling when the World Tennis Tour resumed. But the 2019 ITF World Junior Champion won a $15,000 title in October in Tunisia and made the final the following week, which gave him some confidence heading into the South American Challengers this month. He lost in the first round after qualifying in Ecuador last week, but this week in Peru, he qualified and has now reached a Challenger semifinal for the first time. The 19-year-old Tirante, who had to win the Mexico Grade A, the Eddie Herr Grade 1 and the Orange Bowl Grade A to earn the ITF World Junior title, defeated No. 5 seed and ATP No. 113 Pedro Sousa of Portugal 6-2, 6-1 in the first round at the Lima 80 this week, and picked up a quarterfinal win over No. 162 Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina today 6-2, 6-0. Tirante will face fellow qualifier Vitaliy Sachko of Ukraine in the semifinals, but regardless of that result, he will move into the ATP Top 500 for the first time. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Giving Thanks

photo by Tim Mossholder, via unsplash

Thanksgiving is one of the days I take off every year; usually I'm on my way to Florida for the Eddie Herr-Orange Bowl-Junior Orange Bowl stretch, but this year, the Eddie Herr and Junior Orange Bowl are not happening, and the annual family celebration in North Carolina has been canceled as well. 

But even with those disappointments, there is much to thankful for, and I do want to take a moment to again express my appreciation to all of you for continuing to visit the Zootennis, even in this very unusual year, when much of the tennis news for months was simply cancellation after cancellation. 

I miss covering tournaments in person, and still view that as the most important and enjoyable facet of what I do, but I am grateful that even while confined to my home office, I have been able to continue to follow and report on, if only second-hand, the sport that has been my focus throughout the past 16 years.

Once a year is not often enough to say thank you, but a day dedicated to that reminds us all of what we take for granted, and the importance of making the effort to communicate our gratitude. I personally don't want to let that opportunity pass, especially this year. 

I want to thank Tennis Recruiting Network for continuing to provide an outlet for my writing, even though there has been much less to write about these past nine months. Many of you probably don't remember a time when that website did not exist, but its impact on junior and college tennis over the past 15 years can't be overstated. Look no farther than the schools' articles about Division I signings the past two weeks and you'll see that TRN's rankings and designations for recruits are among the first items mentioned. I have always been proud of my association with Tennis Recruiting, and look forward to a time when I can get back to providing them with more tournament recaps.

It's also a great time to thank my advertisers, who are instrumental in keeping this website free and open to everyone. OTZ Sports has been advertising their dampeners and grips here for many, many years; IMG took a brief break mid-pandemic, but has been a longtime sponsor; the John McEnroe Tennis Academy is another advertiser who has supported the site through advertising for years. CrossCourt Consulting is new this year, and I appreciate their confidence that I can get the word about their product. Click on their banners to find out more if you are in the market for any of their products or services.

If you buy online, please consider using the Tennis Warehouse link near the top left of the home page. Revenue from that affiliation has dropped dramatically in the past year or so, so consider this a reminder that using that link also helps me financially.

Again, thank you for reading, and for your comments; I appreciate that the vast majority have been made with the best intentions and with a desire to inform and be informed. 

See you back here on Friday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

December's Orange Bowl Adds COVID-19 Testing Requirement; ITA Fall Circuit Week Ten Winners

Although the CDC has recommended avoiding travel at this time, the ITF Grade A Orange Bowl, scheduled to begin with 16s qualifying on December 4 at the Frank Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation Florida, is still on as of today. A new requirement has been introduced however, with everyone who is approved to be on site needing to produce a negative COVID-19 test before their initial entry.

Initially, a player was allowed two guests, but that has now been reduced to one, and it must be the same guest. From the Safety Protocols section of the tournament website:

Tournament site access and daily health screening:
  • everyone accessing the tournament site is required to have their temperature checked and to answer a health questionnaire
  • a player may only designate one person as their "plus one" for the entirety of the tournament
  • players will not be permitted to access the site after they are eliminated from the tournament
Today is the last day to withdraw from the tournament; as of this evening, both No. 1 ITF Junior players, Elsa Jacquemot and Harold Mayot of France, are still expected to compete. The highest profile player to drop out since the initial entries were announced is ITF No. 3 Alexandra Eala of the Philippines. 

The entries in the 16s division are available here.

The tenth and final week of the  ITA Tour: Fall Circuit by UTR has concluded with results from nine tournaments around the country listed below. I counted 126 events over the 10 weeks (174 were initially announced), and many were not close to attracting full fields; those held in Southern California and the Atlanta area seemed to have the best participation.  Lisa Stone of Parenting Aces attended the tournament in Newport Beach California and spoke to director Sean Bollettieri-Abdali about the event; that interview can be viewed on YouTube. The ITA recap of Week 10 is here.

ITA Fall Circuit Week Ten Winners:

Williamsburg: Men, Dillon Sykes
Lawrenceville: Men, Kweisi Kenyatte; Women, Mackenzie White
Lawrence: Men, William Gleason; Women, Malkia Ngounoue
San Diego: Men, Maxim Groysman; Women, Kaytlin Taylor
Chagrin Falls: Men, Brandon Wall; Women, Nora Catanzarite
Newport Beach: Men, Colton Smith; Women, Kayla Day
Cincinnati: Men, Jacob Bickersteth; Women, Abby Nugent
Waco: Men, Matias Soto
Hershey: Men, Jorge Rodriguez Rey

Monday, November 23, 2020

Duke, USC, Stanford Among Those Posting Signing Announcements; UTR Announces $20K Naples FL Tournament for December; More on Nakashima's First Challenger Title

Most of the top schools have already published their National Letter of Intent signing announcements, but a few more have surfaced over the past couple of days.  UCLA has yet to post any updates on their website, but tweets have announced that the women's program has signed Elise Wagle, Ava Catanzarite and Kimmi Hance, while the men's program has signed Alexander Hoogmartens, Spencer Johnson and Karl Lee.


Duke has signed two blue chips from the Midwest, Emma Jackson and Ellie Coleman. I spoke to Coleman about her choice of Duke back in February for this article at Tennis Recruiting Network

Southern California has signed Great Britain's Grace Piper, Leyden Games and Sloane Morra


North Carolina State has signed Braden Shick, the Netherlands' Fons Van Sambeek and Joe Wayand.

Purdue has signed Gabriele Brancatelli.

Stanford has signed Great Britain's Max Basing.

Utah has signed Canada's Chris Heck.

Late last week UTR announced a big prize men's money tournament next month at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Naples Florida. The $20,000 purse will be distributed in the same fashion as last week's UTR tournament in Cancun, with $4000 to the winner and $2200 to the runner-up. Scheduled for December 13-20, the format is also the same as in Cancun, with positions after competition in round robin groups determining the late stage single elimination portion of the tournament later in the week.

For more on this event, see the UTR tournament page.

The ATP does a great job of spotlighting the winners of its Challenger tournaments, and with this week's title, his first on the Challenger Circuit, Brandon Nakashima gets his due. Nakashima spoke with USTA stream commentator Mike Cation after his title, with insights into the development of his game, his lackluster results this fall on the clay swing, and his (ambitious) ranking goal.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Nakashima Claims First Challenger Title in Orlando; Medvedev, Mektic and Koolhof are ATP Finals Champions; Former Gator Crawford Wins UTR $20K in Cancun

Nineteen-year-old Brandon Nakashima won his first Challenger title today at the ATP Challenger 80 at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida, beating No. 4 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India 6-3, 6-4. Nakashima, who was unseeded, got the only two breaks of the match, in the sixth game of the first set and the third game of the second set. 

Gunneswaran, a 31-year-old left-hander, never felt out of the match, with the depth of his shots often keeping Nakashima from dictating play, but he failed to convert any of his eight break points. With Nakashima serving at 4-3 in the second set, he went down 0-40, and faced another break point later in the game, but Gunneswaran couldn't win a big point when it mattered, and Nakashima closed out his title with little drama after that.

Nakashima, who spent a semester at the University of Virginia early in 2019, did not lose a set all week, beating three seeds en route to the title: top seed Thiago Montiero of Brazil, No. 8 seed Mackenzie McDonald and Gunneswaran, who reached the Cary Challenger final last week.

Nakashima, the 2017 Kalamazoo 16s champion, will move to 166 in the ATP rankings, having begun the year at 364, and now awaits word on the status of the Australian Open.

The Nitto ATP Finals concluded today in London, with Daniil Medvedev of Russia defeating Dominic Thiem of Austria 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 for the biggest title of his career. Medvedev, who will finish the season at No. 4 in the ATP rankings, is the first player to beat the No. 1 (Novak Djokovic), No. 2 (Rafael Nadal) and No. 3(Thiem) seeds in the same ATP Finals tournament. The 24-year-old Medvedev, who won the Paris Masters earlier this month, has seven Top 10 wins this month.  For more on the men's singles final, see this BBC article.

The ATP Finals champions in doubles are No. 5 seeds Nikola Mektic of Croatia and Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands, who defeated No. 7 seeds Jurgen Melzer of Austria and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France 6-2, 4-6, 10-5 in the final. It is the first title for the pair, who joined forces at the beginning of this year, but they had reached the US Open final together back in September. For more on their win, see this article from the ATP.

The $20,000 UTR Pro Series tournament in Cancun Mexico concluded today, with former University of Florida star Oliver Crawford taking first place. After finishing undefeated in his round robin group, Crawford defeated Nicolas Barrientos of Colombia in the semifinals 6-3, 6-3, and former UCLA star Gage Brymer 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Brymer, who has also finished atop his round robin group, beat Maximiliano Estevez of Argentina 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals. 

Crawford, who didn't drop a set in his six victories, won $4000; Brymer earned $2200.

I believe the Cancun series was supposed to be three weeks with $20,000 prize money each week, but this coming week's event is now listed as $6000 and I don't see a third event on the schedule. Crawford is not entered this week, with Brymer the top seed in a 16-player field.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Nakashima Reaches First Challenger Final in Orlando; Colak, Slama Continue Winning Streaks with ITF Grade 4 Titles; Kentucky's Draxl Earns ATP Delray Beach Qualifying Wild Card

Brandon Nakashima has had an impressive climb up the ATP rankings since turning professional last fall, reaching his first ATP quarterfinal in February and winning his first main draw match at a grand slam at this year's US Open. The 19-year-old from San Diego reached another milestone today at the ATP Challenger 80 in Orlando, beating Mitchell Krueger 6-1, 6-3 to advance to his first Challenger final. 

Nakashima, who spent one semester at Virginia in 2019, will face No. 4 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran in the final, after the 31-year-old from India defeated Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) 6-4, 7-6(2) in the other semifinal. Gunneswaran reached the final of the Cary Challenger last week, where he lost to Denis Kudla. Regardless of the outcome of Sunday's final, Nakashima has risen to a career-high in the ATP rankings of around 177. He will be one of four players aged 19 or younger in the ATP Top 200 (Sinner, Musetti and Alcaraz).

The doubles final was played this afternoon, with No. 2 seeds Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov(Oklahoma State) of Kazakhstan defeating the unseeded team of Jackson Withrow(Texas A&M) and Krueger 7-5, 6-4. 

The final is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, with free live streaming and commentary by Mike Cation available here.

In addition to the Americans who won titles yesterday at the Grade 5 in San Diego, several others claimed championships today.

Ozan Colak, a 16-year-old from Michigan, posted his second consecutive sweep of the titles at a Grade 4 in Turkey. As the No. 2 seed in singles, he defeated unseeded Nikolay Nedelchev of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-2 in the final, and is now on a 10-match winning streak. He and partner Arda Azkara of Turkey, seeded No. 3, won their second straight doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Nedelchev and Nicolas Cortes Campos of Colombia 5-7, 6-4, 10-7 in the final. 

Thirteen-year-old wild card Mirra Andreeva of Russia, who won the Junior Orange Bowl 12s title last year, won the girls singles title, her first on the ITF Junior Circuit.

While Colak has been on a roll, 14-year-old Floridian Mia Slama has crafted an even longer winning streak, winning her third straight singles title in Central America at the Grade 4 in Guatemala. Slama, the No. 3 seed, defeated fellow American Catherine Walker, a qualifier, 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Slama did not drop a set all week, and after titles at a Grade 4 and a Grade 5 in El Salvador, she now has a 15-match winning streak.

Unseeded Yannick Rahman lost in the boys final, to top seed Alvaro Guillen Meza of Ecuador, 6-0, 2-6, 6-2. 

Cooper Williams and Ekansh Kumar won the boys doubles title, with the No. 4 seeds beating top seeds Guillen Meza and Agustin Eduardo Cuellar Lorberg of Bolivia 6-3, 7-5 in the final. 

University of Kentucky freshman Liam Draxl of Canada won a wild card tournament earlier this week in Delray Beach, earning entry into the qualifying of the ATP event held at that location every February. Draxl defeated DJ Thomas 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Another Delray Beach qualifying wild card will be awarded to the winner of a UTR event scheduled for January 2-4. For more on Draxl's win, see this article from USTA Florida.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Australian Open Junior Championships Postponed; Ovrootsky Sweeps Titles at San Diego Grade 5, Brown Boys Winner; Nakashima, Eubanks and Krueger Through to Orlando Challenger Semifinals; More Women's D-I Signings

Players eligible to compete in the 2021 Australian Open Junior Championships were informed today that the tournament will not be held as it usually is during the second week of the professional event. This is not a surprise, with all the difficulties the pro tournament is having in its attempts to get players into the country, but it's certainly disappointing for those juniors who have now missed the opportunity to play the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open junior championships in the past seven months. 

The email, signed by Craig Tiley and junior tournament director Francis Soyer, states that they will "work with the ITF on finding another appropriate time on the 2021 calendar to hold the AO junior tournament."

The Grade 1 traditionally held the week before the junior championships is also off, with junior events in Australia not returning until April.

The ITF Grade 5 in San Diego, an event added to the schedule this fall, has concluded, with 16-year-olds Vivian Ovrootsky and Lucas Brown earning the singles titles.  No. 5 seed Ovrootsky, who has verbally committed to Texas, defeated No. 7 seed Kimmi Hance, who has recently signed with UCLA, 6-3, 6-2. Ovrootsky didn't lose more than five games in any of her five singles victories. It's Ovrootsky's second ITF junior singles title, both coming in Southern California.  Ovrootsky and Hance, the No. 2 seeds in doubles, also didn't lose a set in earning that championship. They defeated No. 3 seeds Leyden Games and Katherine Hui 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

Brown, the No. 2 seed, collected his first ITF title, defeating unseeded Sebastian Sec 6-0, 6-2 in the final.  The boys doubles title went to No. 4 seeds Alexander Frusina and Mexico's Santiago Padilla Cote who defeated the unseeded team of Sec and Sebastian Gorzny 6-2, 2-6, 10-7.

It was another windy day at the ATP Challenger 80 in Orlando, with three unseeded Americans advancing to the Saturday's semifinals. Christopher Eubanks, the former Georgia Tech star, pulled off the biggest surprise, defeating No. 2 seed and Cary Challenger champion Denis Kudla 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-3 in just over three hours. Eubanks, who last made a Challenger semifinal over two years ago, was down a set and a break before taking his game to another level. Kudla didn't make it easy for Eubanks, who had to save four break points in a nine-deuce game serving at 4-3 in the third, but Eubanks was able to win the key points. He will play No. 4 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India, who beat No. 7 seed Dmitry Popko 6-0, 6-3.

Brandon Nakashima, the former Virginia star, got off to a slow start against No. 8 seed Mackenzie McDonald, but was able to rebound, winning seven straight games at one stretch from the middle of the first to the beginning of the second. McDonald did get the break back in the second set, and had two set points, but Nakashima prevailed 6-3, 7-6(8). Nakashima will play Mitchell Krueger, who ended the run of qualifier Alexander Ritschard(Virginia) 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-1.

The latest women's Division I signing are below. My previous posts, with links to articles on the signings, can be found on November 11, November 16 and men's Division I yesterday.

Amber Lee, Croatia's Tara Wurth, and Latvia's Patricija Spaka have signed with Arizona State.

Jelena Lukic, a University of Portland graduate, is joining Arizona this spring as a graduate transfer.

Olivia Malm of Sweden has signed with Baylor.

Tyra Richardson has signed with Louisville. 

Sophie Luescher of Switzerland has signed with Oregon.

Elza Tomase of Latvia has signed with Tennessee.

Gianna Pielet, who had originally committed to Georgia, has signed with Texas A&M.

On Monday, I posted a link on Maxine Murphy's commitment to Washington State. Today I received a link to this article about how a serious snowboarding accident as a youngster led her away from soccer and toward tennis. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Nakashima Defeats Top Seed Monteiro, Six Americans Advance to Orlando Challenger Quarterfinals; Finals Set at ITF Grade 5 in San Diego; More Men's Division I Signings

Two Americans were guaranteed to reach the quarterfinals after today's second round matches at the ATP Challenger 80 in Orlando, with two all-US contests on the schedule, but the results were even better, with the other two Americans taking on international players also advancing, giving the US six of the eight quarterfinalists.

Brandon Nakashima, the former Virginia Cavalier, defeated top seed Thiago Monteiro of Brazil 6-4, 6-3 on a very windy day at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona. It's the 19-year-old from San Diego's fifth Top 100 win, all coming this year. On Friday, Nakashima will face No. 8 seed Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA) after the 2016 NCAA singles champion defeated Elias Ymer of Sweden 6-3, 6-3.

The other top half quarterfinal will feature Mitchell Krueger and Alexander Ritschard(Virginia). Krueger won the only three-set singles match of the day, defeating Bjorn Fratangelo 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Ritschard, a qualifier, advanced to the third Challenger quarterfinal of his career with a 6-3, 6-4 win over lucky loser Nick Chappell(TCU).

There's one more all-US quarterfinal in the bottom half, with Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) and No. 2 seed Denis Kudla, who had the day off today, playing for a spot in the semifinals. The fourth quarterfinal features No. 7 seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan and No. 4 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India.  

Free live streaming of the matches is available here.

The finals are now set at the ITF Junior Circuit Grade 5 in San Diego. No. 7 seed Kimmi Hance and No. 5 seed Vivian Ovrootsky will play for the girls title after straight-sets wins today. Hance defeated No. 2 seed Jennifer Riester 6-1, 6-0 and Ovrootsky beat No. 6 seed Calissa Dellabarca 6-1, 6-1.  The boys final features No. 2 seed Lucas Brown, who defeated unseeded Wil Jenkins of Great Britain 6-1, 6-3, and unseeded Sebastian Sec, who beat qualifier Zane Ford 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-3. Sec has now won three consecutive matches from a set down.

The National Letter of Intent early signing announcements continue, and I'm splitting the men and the women in the next two days. Below are the most recent men's signings.

Zach Foster, Australia's Enzo Aguiard and Slovenia's Filip Planinsek have signed with Alabama. 

Murphy Cassone and Italy's Nicola Cigna have signed with Arizona State.

Kento Yamada has transferred to Central Florida after two years at Kentucky.

Matthew Pitts and Maxwell Smith have signed with Clemson.

Nate Bonetto and Jordan's Abedallah Shelbayh have signed with Florida.

Alex Bulte of Australia has signed with Florida State.

Josh Portnoy and Max Sheldon have signed with Michigan State.

Christopher Li of Peru has signed with North Carolina.

Milledge Cossu has signed with Purdue.

Will Davies has transferred from Iowa to San Diego.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

NCAA Extends D-1 Recruiting Dead Period Through April 15; Kudla, Eubanks Advance to Quarterfinals at Orlando Challenger; Semifinals Set at San Diego Grade 5; WCC Cancels Conference Tournament

The NCAA announced this evening that the Division I recruiting dead period will be extended through April 15th for all sports. According to the NCAA release:

“The COVID-19 numbers are not trending in the right direction for the Council to allow in-person recruiting and the associated long-distance travel for coaches, prospective student-athletes and their families,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “We acknowledge the impact the restrictions are having on student-athletes who dream of being Division I athletes, but we must prioritize the health and safety of current and potential student-athletes and their families, as well as coaches and others on campus.”

I'm not clear on why current student-athletes can travel and compete in contact sports, but perspective student-athletes aren't allowed a visit, but the NCAA has shown no flexibility in this particular area of its jurisdiction. This extension now means that more than a year will have gone by before coaches can actually see recruits in person at tournaments, at home, or on campus. 

At the ATP Challenger 80 today at the USTA National Campus, Denis Kudla and Christopher Eubanks won their second round matches, advancing to a quarterfinal meeting on Friday. Kudla, the No. 2 seed and last week's champion at the Cary Challenger, defeated wild card Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) 6-4, 6-4. Eubanks(Georgia Tech) defeated Hiroki Moriya of Japan 6-2, 6-1.  2019 Kalamazoo 18 champion Zachary Svajda, a qualifier, battled No. 7 seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan for over three hours, but lost 7-5, 1-6, 7-5. 

Thursday's second round matches will feature six Americans: Brandon Nakashima(Virginia) vs. top seed Thiago Montiero of Brazil; No. 8 seed Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA) vs. Elias Ymer of Sweden; Bjorn Fratangelo vs. Mitchell Krueger and Nick Chappell(TCU) vs. Alexander Ritschard(Virginia). 

The semifinals are set at the ITF Junior Circuit Grade 5 in San Diego, with four seeds moving on in the girls draw, but just one seed in the boys draw.

No. 2 seed Lucas Brown will play unseeded Wil Jenkins of Great Britain and unseeded Sebastian Sec will face qualifier Zane Ford. 

In the all-USA girls semifinals, No. 6 seed Calissa Dellabarca will play No. 5 seed Vivian Ovrootsky and No. 2 seed Jennifer Riester takes on No. 7 seed Kimmi Hance. 

In a cost-cutting move, the West Coast Conference has announced it is dropping the conference tournaments for men's and women's tennis, along with men's baseball. The regular season champions will receive the NCAA bids.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Ten Americans Through to Second Round at Orlando Challenger; Tennis For America 2021 Applications Open; New USTA Board Announced; ITA Fall Circuit Week Nine Winners

The first round of singles has concluded at the ATP Challenger 80 in Orlando, with ten Americans picking up victories on Monday or Tuesday.  Cary champion Denis Kudla[2] will face wild card Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) in second round action Wednesday, with 2019 Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda, a qualifier, taking on No. 6 seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan and Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) playing Hiroki Moriya of Japan, also on Wednesday.

The six other Americans will play their singles matches on Thursday. Brandon Nakashima(Virginia) will face top seed Thiago Montiero of Brazil; No. 8 seed Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA) plays Elias Ymer of Sweden; Bjorn Fratangelo and Mitchell Krueger will play each other. Fratangelo took out No. 3 seed Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia 6-3, 6-3 today. In another all-US battle Thursday, qualifier Alexander Ritschard(Virginia) faces lucky loser Nick Chappell(TCU). Chappell defeated No. 7 seed Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 6-3, 6-4 today. 

Back in April, I wrote an article about the ITA's new Tennis For America initiative, a VISTA service program that provides paid internships for graduating college tennis players as they work to connect tennis to communities across the country. Due to the pandemic, adjustments had to be made, but by all accounts it has been a success, and applications are now open for those interested in joining the program next year. Plans are to expand to eight sites around the country, with the second year to begin this summer and run for 12 months.  For more on the program, and a link to the application, see this article from the ITA.

The USTA has a new president and chairman of the board, with Michael McNulty assuming the top spot for 2021-22. Current president Patrick Galbraith, on completion of his two-year term at the end of the year, will continue on the board as immediate past president.  For the biography of McNulty, as well as the other board members, including the three Elite Athletes, see this article from the Tennis Industry Magazine.

Week Nine of the ITA Tour Fall Circuit by UTR is complete, with 12 sites holding competitions across the country. For more on the week's results, see this article from the ITA. Next week is the last week of the Fall Circuit, with a three-week Winter Circuit coming for December.  ITA Fall Circuit Week Nine Winners:

Greensboro: Men, Olle Wallin; Women, Sieun Lee
Cincinnati: Men, Jackson Poulos; Women, Isabella Marquart
Tuscaloosa: Men, Zhe Zhou; Women, Sophie Abrams
Lexington: Men, Guillaume Tattevin; Women, Emma Shelton
San Luis Obispo: Men, Kai Brady; Women, Jessica Alsola
Lowell: Men, Hunter Harrison; Women, Lauren Littell
Des Moines: Men, Benjamin Lott; Women, Kristina Lott
West Palm Beach: Men, Jorge Santamaria; Women, Kate Kim
Commerce: Men, Trey Keating/Stuart Johnston
Chagrin Falls: Men, Kai Vesikallio; Women, Natalie Smitek
Chicago: Men, Kristopher Ortega; Women, Kathryn Treiber
Redmond: Men, Clement Chidekh

Monday, November 16, 2020

Sarah Hamner is Tougher Than You; Dozens More D-I National Signings; Accusations Surface at LSU, Missouri

With the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl back-to-back, and with Carson and the Easter Bowl back-to-back, I've seen my share of impressive doubles, where players are required to go from one major final to another important tournament's first round, with little time to celebrate, reflect or relax.  But in my 15 years of covering junior tennis, I don't think I've ever seen anyone who played two finals one day, then was required to play two more qualifying matches the next. That describes what Sarah Hamner did during the two-week stretch of ITF Grade 4 tournaments in Florida. That she went on to win the singles title at the second of the two events is even more impressive, capping a stretch of 16 singles and six doubles matches in 14 days. I talked to Hamner, who signed with South Carolina last week, and her coach Michael Joyce, about how and why she undertook that challenge for this Tennis Recruiting Network article

Many of the major Division I programs have announced their signings since I posted my first review of them last Wednesday. As mentioned then, if a signee's country is not given, they are from the US.


Carl Emil Overbeck of Denmark and Alex Chang have signed with Cal-Berkeley 

JC Roddick has signed with Central Florida. Andy Roddick's nephew will play for his uncle John Roddick. 

Jake and Connor Krug have signed with Duke. The Krug twins are grandsons of ESPN's Dick Vitale.

Thomas Paulsell and Miguel Perez Pena of Spain have signed with Georgia.

Gabrielius Guzauskas has signed with Illinois.

Felix Nordby of Norway and Max Bengtsson have signed with Northwestern.

Linus Carlsson Halldin of Sweden has signed with Pepperdine.

Lui Maxted of Great Britain has signed with TCU.

Michael Ross and Siim Troost have signed with Vanderbilt. Troost, from Estonia, will transfer from the discontinued men's program at Minnesota.

Matt Harper of Australia and Frank Thompson have signed with Virginia Tech. Thompson is the son of head coach Jim Thompson. 

Jacob Sleight and Nedim Suko have signed with Washington.


Mary Grace Armistead and Kayla Meraz have signed with Arizona.

Giulia Morlet of France has signed with Arizona State.

Stephanie Sanchez of Venezuela and Muskan Mahajan have signed with Boston College. 

Betina Tokac of Turkey and Carline Pozo have signed with Colorado.

Lidia Gonzalez of Spain has signed with Kentucky.

Julia Fliegner and Sophia Fornaris have signed with Michigan. 

Carson Tanguilig has signed with North Carolina.

Yashna Yellayi, Carrie Beckman and Nibedita Ghosh have signed with Notre Dame. I wrote about Ghosh's commitment for Tennis Recruiting Network last month. 

Sydney Pratt and Kiley Rabjohns have signed with Northwestern. I wrote about Pratt's commitment for Tennis Recruiting Network back in March.

Savannah Broadus has signed with Pepperdine.

Allison Zipoli has signed with Rice.

Minchae Kim of the Netherlands has signed with Rutgers.

Allura and Bella Zamarripa have signed with Texas. 

Brooke Theis has signed with Tulane.

Elaine Chervinsky has signed with Virginia. 

Maxine Murphy has signed with Washington State.

USA Today published an investigative article today entitled "LSU mishandled sexual misconduct complaints against students, including top athletes" that relates to two women's tennis players and the program's head coaches Julia and Mike Sell.

The Missourian, the University of Missouri's student newspaper, published an investigative article yesterday entitled "MU tennis players say coaches told them to play through injuries, ignore NCAA rules." The article details multiple issues within the women's program(there is no men's program), which is now on its third coach since 2015. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Kudla Claims Championship at Cary Challenger; Parks Sweeps Titles at Orlando $25K; Qualifying Complete at Orlando Challenger; ITF Grade 5 in San Diego Begins Monday

Denis Kudla lost in the first round of qualifying at the French Open, but after a break to get married, the 28-year-old returned to competitive tennis at the first ATP Challenger in the US since March and emerged with his seventh Challenger title today in Cary North Carolina.

As he had done in his semifinal match against No. 3 seed Daniel Elahi Galan, Kudla spotted his opponent the first set, but elevated his game in the second and third sets; today he defeated No. 4 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, losing only six points in the 22-minute third set. Kudla, who had made the final of the Dallas Challenger in February, losing to Jurij Rodionov of Austria, gained only 10 points in his ATP ranking with the title, but he is inching closer to the Top 100 after disappointing results in the major tournaments since the restart.

At the $25,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Orlando, qualifier Alycia Parks came from behind in both the finals to sweep the singles and doubles titles.

The 19-year-old Parks dropped the first set to 16-year-old Robin Montgomery, but fought back for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory to earn the first Pro Circuit title of her career. Parks and her doubles partner Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech) had an even more impressive comeback in the doubles final, against No. 2 seeds Erin Routliffe(Alabama) of New Zealand and Jamie Loeb(UNC). Trailing 9-4 in the match tiebreaker, Parks and McAdoo won the last seven points of the match for a 4-6, 6-1, 11-9 victory. It's the first pro doubles title for Parks and the third for McAdoo.

After four USTA Pro Circuit events the past two months, the women's circuit is now finished for the year, but there is one more event for the men, an ATP Challenger 80 tournament, again at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona. 

The top five seeds in Orlando are the same as the they were in Cary: Thiago Monteiro of Brazil[1], Kudla[2], Galan of Colombia[3], Gunneswaran[4] and Mohamed Safwat of Egypt[5].

Qualifying finished a few hours ago, with Stefan Kozlov beating top seed Kevin King 7-6(1), 6-7(7), 6-4 in the day's final match, but both made it into the main draw, with King getting one of the two lucky loser spots and being placed against Kudla in the first round. Kozlov will face top seed Monteiro. The other three qualifiers are 2019 Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda, Christian Harrison and former Virginia star Alexander Ritschard. Nick Chappell(TCU), who lost to Harrison in the final round of qualifying today, received entry as a lucky loser.

All three wild cards in the Orlando Challenger went to current or former collegians: Brandon Holt(USC), Sam Riffice(Florida) and Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M). Holt will play Svajda and Kypson will play Harrison in first round matches Monday.

Live streaming is available here.

I had thought that the Orange Bowl was the next ITF Junior Circuit tournament in the United States, but I noticed recently that a Grade 5 tournament has been added in San Diego, with main draw action beginning Monday. The draw isn't out yet, but qualifying has concluded, and despite the short notice, the boys qualifying draw of 32 was full. The boys qualifiers are John Kim, Spencer Johnson, Masato Perera and Zane Ford; the girls qualifiers are Valeria Ray, Tomi Main, Tatum Evans and Morgan Pyrz.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Montgomery and Parks Reach Orlando $25K Final; Kudla Advances at Cary Challenger; Broadus Wins $18K UTR Tournament; Colak, Slama Claim ITF Junior Circuit Singles Titles

Sixteen-year-old Robin Montgomery will play for her second USTA Pro Circuit title Sunday at the $25,000 tournament at the USTA's National Campus, while 19-year-old qualifier Alycia Parks is aiming for her first Pro Circuit title after both won two matches today.

Due to rain earlier in the week, the quarterfinals and semifinals were both played today, with Montgomery defeating qualifier Hurricane Tyra Black 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 and Hanna Chang 7-6(2), 6-2. Parks advanced to the semifinals when No. 2 seed Katarzyna Kawa of Poland retired at 3-6, 6-3, then defeated Jamie Loeb 6-3, 6-2 to earn a place in her third Pro Circuit final. In March, Montgomery won the $25,000 tournament in Las Vegas back in her first appearance in a Pro Circuit final.

The doubles final was scheduled to be played today, but with Loeb and Parks both playing two singles matches, it was moved to Sunday.

Although rain also was a problem this week at the ATP 80 Challenger in Cary North Carolina, they got back on schedule with two days of indoor play, and today only one singles semifinal match was played. In his quarterfinal win over Brandon Nakashima(Virginia), Mikael Torpegaard(Ohio State) of Denmark tweaked his knee trying to avoid a collision with the umpire's chair and he was unable to take the court a day later against No. 4 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India.  In the other semifinal, No. 2 seed Denis Kudla and No. 3 seed Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia combined for an exciting and well-played match, with Kudla taking a 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-4 victory. At 3-3 in the third set, Kudla entered one of those zones that all tennis players dream about, and he stayed in it until he had secured his second appearance in a Challenger final this year.

In doubles, unseeded Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia and Dennis Novikov(UCLA) claimed the title, beating top seeds Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Nathaniel Lammons(SMU) 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 in the final.

In addition to the two Pro Circuit tournaments this week, there was also a big UTR women's open event in Austin Texas, with $18,000 in prize money. Pepperdine recruit Savannah Broadus swept both titles, earning $3000 for singles and splitting $1500 with her doubles partner Kelly Williford(Virginia Tech). Broadus, who did not drop a set in either singles or doubles, defeated 15-year-old Liv Hovde 7-5, 6-4 in singles; Broadus and Williford beat Fernanda Labraña and Marta Perez Mur (Texas) 7-6(9), 6-4 in the doubles final. 

Ozan Colak and Mia Slama picked up their second singles titles of the past three weeks, with Colak sweeping the titles at the Grade 4 in Turkey and Slama earning her second consecutive title in El Salvador, this one a Grade 5. 

The 16-year-old Colak, the top seed, defeated No. 4 seed Lorenzo Esquici of Brazil 6-2, 6-4 in the final. Colak, who won a Grade 3 title in Turkey at the end of October, partnered with Arda Azkara of Turkey in doubles, with the top seeds beating No. 4 seeds Dragos Nicolae Cazacu of Romania and Aljaz Jeran of Slovenia 6-1, 6-2 in the final. 

No. 6 seed Slama, who won a Grade 4 title last week, extended her winning streak with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-1 win over unseeded Sarah L'allier of Canada. The 14-year-old from Boca Raton has won ten straight matches since losing in the second round of the Grade 4 in Orlando last month.

Fifteen-year-old Cooper Williams, the No. 7 seed, lost in the boys final to No. 2 seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. 

In the girls doubles final, No. 4 seeds Deborah Dominguez Collado of Guatemala and Leah Kuruvilla defeated No. 3 seeds Sage Loudon and Gabriella Soliman 7-5, 6-4. Twins Kaylan and Meecah Bigun won an all-USA boys doubles final between unseeded teams, beating Joseph Phillips and Payton Young 4-6, 6-3, 10-4.

At a Grade 5 in Singapore, Cameron Austin Chang of the US partnered with Matthew Johnstone of Singapore for the boys doubles title. The No. 3 seeds beat No. 2 seeds Nathan Barki and Brendan Hendrata of Indonesia 7-6(4), 6-3 in the final. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Just One Seed Advances to Orlando $25K Quarterfinals; Cary Challenger Update; D-II Oklahoma Baptist Drops Tennis; Ivy League Postpones Spring Tennis; New Facility at UC-Santa Barbara

I was surprised to see that only one round of singles was played today at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament at the National Campus in Lake Nona Florida. With Tropical Storm Eta pushing back the completion of qualifying by a day, and interrupting the first round, I had thought they would try to catch up today, but doubles was given priority instead, with the quarterfinals and semifinals both on the schedule.

In the second round of singles, only one seed has advanced to the quarterfinals, No. 2 Katarzyna Kawa of Poland, who beat wild card Peyton Stearns, a University of Texas freshman, 7-5, 6-1. Hanna Chang defeated the only other seed to advance to the second round, posting a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 3 seed Kristina Kucova of Slovakia. Chang is one of six Americans advancing to the quarterfinals, including qualifier Hurricane Tyra Black, 16-year-old Robin Montgomery, Jamie Loeb(UNC), Claire Liu and qualifier Alycia Parks.  Qualifier Katarina Jokic of Serbia, a junior at the University of Georgia, joins Kawa as the only international players in the quarterfinals. 

In addition to reaching the quarterfinals in singles, Parks has advanced to the finals in doubles. She and Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech) won two matches today, and will face No. 2 seeds Loeb and Erin Routliffe(Alabama) of New Zealand in the final. Loeb and Routliffe defeated the wild card junior team of Ellie Coleman and Kimmi Hance 6-4, 6-0 in the semifinals. 

At the ATP 80 Challenger in Cary North Carolina, which finally had weather allowing outdoor play, No. 2 seed Denis Kudla advanced to the semifinals, defeating No. 7 seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan 6-4, 6-1. Kudla will face No. 3 seed Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia, who beat Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) 6-4, 6-4. 

Former Ohio State All-American Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark won a roller coaster match with Brandon Nakashima(Virginia) 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. Torpegaard lost his 5-2 lead in the third set, and Nakashima had three break points with Torpegaard serving at 5-all, but the 19-year-old Californian failed to convert any of them and Torpegaard broke for the win. He will face No. 4 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India, who came from 5-1 down in the third set tiebreaker to beat qualifier Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(5).

The announcements of Division I tennis program cuts have slowed a bit recently, but a Division II school has revealed its intention to drop tennis, with Oklahoma Baptist announcing the cutting of men's and and women's tennis effective after this academic year

The Ivy League announced cancellation of winter sports for its members, and a delay for spring sports, which includes tennis. The delay for spring sports is through February, which probably means that their teams will not be eligible to compete in the ITA Kickoff Weekend and the National Team Indoor Championships in January and February. On the men's side, this affects Columbia, Harvard, Cornell, Princeton and Dartmouth. On the women's side, Princeton and Columbia have rankings high enough to have been included in the upcoming draft

In better news for college tennis, Division I UC-Santa Barbara has begun construction on a new, $5.25 million tennis center, thanks in part to a gift from John and Jody Arnhold. 

According to this Santa Barbara News-Press article

The tennis project will provide six new courts, two refurbished courts, seating for about 300, and an 1,860 square-foot team building which will include locker rooms, storage, and a team lounge.

“We can run tournaments from the team room and it’s a place where the kids can study before and after practice,” [head coach Marty] Davis said. “Hopefully it will become a community center for tennis."

Thursday, November 12, 2020

USTA Posts Shadow Rankings in Anticipation of 2021 Junior Changes; Torpegaard Defeats Top Seed at Cary Challenger; Yepifanova Advances at Orlando $25K

The USTA has provided its shadow rankings in anticipation of the new junior competition system coming at the first of the year, which moves to one national ranking, with seven levels of points standardized across all sections.  Because USTA rankings have seemed less relevant to me than some of the other rankings available to juniors: the ITF system, which intersects with the ATP and WTA rankings; the UTR system, which uses a broader competitive community; and Tennis Recruiting Network, which is based, as is UTR, on an algorithm--I am not able to provide any fair critique of this step. With the USTA rankings confined to USTA tournaments, and based mostly on a points per round system, I don't find them as predictive as the others, but they are important, especially for those just beginning to take the sport seriously and testing themselves at the sectional and national levels.

So, rather than try to analyze what these rankings mean, I'll just offer links to USTA information, as well as one to Parenting Aces, where Lisa has posted a number of questions and answers now that the shadow rankings have been released(membership required).

Shadow Rankings

What are Junior Shadow Rankings?

Junior Shadow Rankings FAQ

USTA Junior Tournament Structure for 2021

Junior Ranking System for 2021

Questions can be directed to this email address: shadowrankings@usta.com

More rain in Cary North Carolina sent the ATP Challenger 100 matches there indoors for the day, with four singles and four doubles match on the schedule. Former Ohio State star Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark took out top seed Thiago Monteiro of Brazil 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round, while Brandon Nakashima(Virginia) defeated wild card Alexis Galarneau of North Carolina State 6-3, 6-2. Torpegaard and Nakashima will play on Friday for a spot in the semifinals. The other Americans in the quarterfinals are Christopher Eubanks and No. 2 seed Denis Kudla, who had the day off. Jack Sock lost in today's second round action to No. 4 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(5) in just under three hours.

At the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Orlando, Stanford recruit Alexandra Yepifanova, the 2019 US Open girls finalist, has advanced to the second round, defeating qualifier Jessica Failla(Pepperdine) 6-4, 6-2. Yepifanova, a wild card, was initially scheduled to play top seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia in the first round, but Kalinskaya apparently withdrew after the draw was made, and her spot was given to a qualifier or lucky loser. Yepifanova will face another qualifier, Hurricane Tyra Black, in the second round Friday. Qualifier Alycia Parks defeated No. 7 seed Kyoka Okamura of Japan 6-1, 6-3, while qualifier Katarina Jokic(Georgia) of Serbia beat No. 5 seed and former ITF World Junior No. 1 and 2019 US Open girls champion Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia 6-3, 6-4. The schedule is not yet out for Friday, but I would expect both the second round and the quarterfinals to be played, weather permitting.