Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Grade A Banana Bowl Resorts to Short Scoring with Competition Allowed on Weekdays Only; Kiick Top Seed at Newport Beach $25K; ITA USTA College Coach Mentorship Program Accepting Applications Now

After January's ITF Grade A tournament in Colombia was introduced and then canceled, the pressure on this week's Banana Bowl in Brazil, as the first Grade A of 2021, increased accordingly. Unfortunately, although it looks as if it will in fact be played, it's already undergone several unfortunate changes. News came on Friday that the 32-player qualifying event could not begin until Monday, rather than Saturday, as originally planned, due to pandemic protocols. 

Competition in the 12s division was postponed, but the 14s and 16s are still being played, and according to the Grade A order of play, only six courts are available for the ITF portion of the event. 

As a result, today's two qualifying matches were played with sets to four, with a tiebreaker at 4-all, and then the normal match tiebreaker if a third set is necessary. The first round of singles began today, and although those were played with regular sets (and regular scoring, as far as I know), the third set was also a match tiebreaker.

I believe that is necessary, because, according to this article, the finals are going to be played on Friday, meaning that two matches in a day will be necessary, beginning on Wednesday.  I can't imagine what health benefit would accrue from limiting competition in the state to Monday through Friday, but that appears to be the source of all this chaos. As per the article about the 12s postponement: 

Due to the lockdown regime imposed in the State during this and next weekend, which allows the organization of competitions only between Monday (1) and Friday (5) in Criciúma (SC), the realization of the matches in these categories became impossible because of the short release period.
Aidan Kim and Clervie Ngounoue were the two Americans to win three qualifying matches; Ellie Coleman[4], Alexis Blokhina and Jack Anthrop[7] have won their first round matches, but several other first results from Tuesday have yet to be posted, even though it is after 9:30 p.m. now in Brazil.

Wednesday's schedule, eight matches deep, with a lot of blank v blank entries later in the day, is available here.

Qualifying is complete for this week's $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Newport Beach California, with two Americans among the eight players who earned places in the main draw. Former Michigan star Emina Bektas defeated Maria Mateas(Duke) 6-1, 6-4 and Alycia Parks beat Peyton Stearns(Texas) 7-6(3), 6-0 today to qualify.

Allie Kiick, who has played sparingly since the restart, is the top seed this week, with Mariam Bolkvadze of Georgia the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to 15-year-old Liv Hovde, 16-year-old Katrina Scott, Texas freshman Lulu Sun and Kayla Day. 

The ITA and USTA are again teaming up to offer, for the second consecutive year, a College Coach Mentorship Program for assistant coaches with less than seven years of experience and head coaches with less than three years of experience. Those accepted into the program will be paired with a mentor from the ranks of veteran college coaches and will spend 10 months, from July of 2021 to May of 2022, learning more about collegiate coaching best practices and forming a relationship with an experienced coach that can continue past the formal parameters of the program.

Applications opened Monday and will close on April 4th. The application is available here.