Saturday, June 12, 2021

Noskova Wins Rare Czech Girls Title at Roland Garros, French Boys Sweep Singles and Doubles; Eubanks Ends Riffice's Run at Orlando Challenger; Nanda and Kypson Reach Final at Wichita $25K

Saturday was a great day for Czech women's tennis, with Hana Mandlikova providing the context for Linda Noskova's French Open girls singles championship and Barbora Krejcikova's women's title. Noskova defeated Erika Andreeva of Russia 7-6(3), 6-3 to become the first Czech girls champion in Paris since Mandlikova in 1978, while Krejcikova's 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia was the first Czech women's title since Mandlikova in 1981.

Linda Noskova
photo credit: Julien Crosnier/FFT

The 16-year-old Noskova, who, like Andreeva, was unseeded, took an early lead in the first set, and served for it at 5-4, but didn't get to a set point until the ninth point of the tiebreaker. Andreeva, who had saved three match points in her semifinal win over No. 9 seed Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia, committed a few more unforced errors than she had in her previous matches, and the drop-shot and pass combination that had been so successful in the semifinals was not as well executed today. Noskova's backhand was particularly effective when she called on it during big points, but she was making the occasional unforced error opening the second set, allowing Andreeva to take a 3-1 lead. Noskova then regained her focus, winning the last five games of the match, with Andreeva unable to stop the momentum, and Noskova displaying no nerves as she got close to the finish line.

"It's amazing feeling, undescribable," said Noskova, the first Czech girl to win a junior slam title since Marie Bouzkova took the US Open in 2014. "I'm really proud of myself that I was able to make it through the whole tournament. All of the matches were tough for me from the beginning to the end till last match."

Noskova, who named Serena Williams as her idol, as well as Czech players Petra Kvitova and Barbora Strycova, is entered in the J1 in Roehampton, but not, for some reason, the Wimbledon Junior Championships. She would certainly be extended a wild card, I imagine, if she needs one. 

"I will be playing as many Grand Slams as I will be able to. Of course I want to play adults tournament more, but I got to mix it both, I got to play some ITF tournaments as well. I will be focused on adults tournament more, I think, just to look in the future."

The boys final was a more straightforward affair, with No. 13 seed Luca Van Assche defeating No. 14 seed Arthur Fils 6-4, 6-2 in the all-French final. The 17-year-old Van Assche had never won a J1 title, let alone a Grade A level event, but he was the more consistent player today in front of a large crowd on Court 14. 

Luca Van Assche
photo credit: Julien Crosnier/FFT

"Yes, I surely wasn’t the biggest favourite to win the tournament," Van Assche acknowledged in his press conference with French media. "But I knew my tennis, mental and physical abilities. I knew I had the ability to win the tournament. How to explain the rise? I’ve gained a lot of experience – especially from playing the Roland Garros qualifying. I was focused and I knew that I had the potential to win it. I used that, and I’m really happy to have won."
Fils had been down a set and a break in the semifinals against doubles partner Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard, yet managed to pull out a victory, so all his fans were no doubt reluctant to write him off when he fell behind 3-1 in the second set. But Van Assche faced only one break point in the match, in the fourth game of the match, lost it, and then went on to get easy holds for the rest of the match. Fils, who was making errors early in points, still had a chance until he dropped the seventh game after having a 40-15 lead. With Van Assche confident after so many simple holds of serve, he provided a fitting ending, hitting an ace on his first match point to claim the title.

Van Assche spoke in the press conference of his upcoming exams, but after finishing his schooling in France, he is not anticipating playing college tennis in the United States, but will pursue a pro career.

"I have great coaches, who know me really well and who know top-level tennis," said Van Assche, who has an ATP ranking of 1211.  "They know exactly what I need to do. I also know that it’s exceptional to win a junior Grand Slam. I’m super happy and proud of myself. But I know that it’s only a first step. It’s not my career goal – it’s just a first step. I’ve already started playing Futures this year. I was able to get wild cards to play some big tournaments, thanks to the FFT. I played Montpellier, Roland Garros. Going forward I will play Futures and Challengers, and I hope to rise in the rankings so I can play the bigger tournaments."

Although Van Assche may have spoiled Fils' 17th birthday early, some of the sting of the loss was overcome by the doubles title. Fils and Mpetshi Perricard, seeded No. 4, defeated unseeded Martin Katz of Belgium and German Samofalov of Ukraine 7-5, 6-2 in the afternoon final. Samofalov has signed with the University of Alabama for this fall.

Selekhmeteva and her partner Alexandra Eala of the Philippines are the girls doubles champions. The top seeds defeated No. 8 seeds Maria Bonderenko of Russia and Amarissa Toth of Hungary 6-0, 7-5 in today's final. All five of their wins this week came in straight sets. Selekhmeteva is currently holding two junior slam doubles titles, as she won the 2019 US Open girls title with Kamilla Bartone of Latvia.

For more on the girls final, see this article from the Roland Garros website; for the boys recap, see this article.

The ATP Challenger 80 final Sunday in Orlando will feature two unseeded players in Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) and Nicolas Mejia of Colombia. The 21-year-old Mejia, who defeated JC Aragone(Virginia) 1-6, 7-6(1), 6-0 in today's semifinals, will be playing in his second Challenger final, having lost his first in April. The 25-year-old Eubanks, who had 18 aces in his 6-3, 7-6(3) semifinal win over wild card Sam Riffice(Florida), has one Challenger title to his credit, back in 2018. Live streaming, with Mike Cation providing commentary, is available here.

The men's USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 tournament in Wichita Kansas is guaranteed an American champion, with Govind Nanda(UCLA) taking on Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) in a final between unseeded competitors. Nanda, a junior at UCLA, defeated No. 5 seed Sho Shimabukuro of Japan 7-6(1), 6-4 in today's semifinal. 2017 Kalamazoo 18s champion Kypson, who entered using a protected ranking, beat No. 6 seed Felix Corwin(Minnesota) 6-3, 6-2. Nanda, the 2019 Kalamazoo 18s finalist, and Kypson have met twice, once at the Grade 1 in Carson and once in the final round of qualifying at a Futures tournament, with Kypson winning both. 

John McNally(Ohio State) and Canada's Benjamin Sigouin(North Carolina) will play for the doubles title against the wild card team of Nicoas Acevedo Olmos of Chile and Murkel Dellien of Boliva. Acevedo and Dellien are a sophomore and senior respectively at Wichita State.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Fils and Van Assche Meet for French Open Boys Title, Noskova and Andreeva to Decide Girls Championship; Three Americans in Orlando Challenger and Wichita $25K Semifinals

The semifinals of junior slams are not always the most exciting matches, but all four of the French Open singles matches today were competitive, and two ended in third set tiebreakers(which the pros do not play in Paris).

Arthur Fils, 2020 Orange Bowl 

No. 14 seed Arthur Fils defeated doubles partner Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) in the first of two boys semifinals between French players. Fils, the reigning Orange Bowl champion, was down 6-3, 3-1 before mounting his comeback with a streak of five straight games. There were no breaks of serve in the third set, and only four break points total, but Fils was able to hold his nerve in the tiebreaker to claim the victory. He will hope to celebrate his 17th birthday Saturday with a title when he faces No. 13 seed Lucas Van Assche, who beat No. 9 seed Sean Cuenin 7-5, 6-4. If the crowd at both semifinal matches is any indication of the interest of the local fans, expect a large contingent cheering on both players at 11 a.m. Paris time on Saturday.

The girls final in Paris will feature two unseeded players, both of whom came from a set down to advance to the championship match. Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic prevented an all-Russian final when she defeated No. 4 seed Diana Shnaider of Russia 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. Noskova made use of her willingness to come to the net in the final two sets, keeping Shnaider from finding the time she need for her big ground strokes.

Erika Andreeva was in all sorts of trouble against No. 9 seed Oksana Selekhmeteva, with Selekhmeteva serving for the match at 5-4 in both the second and third sets. But Andreeva didn't panic, saving three match points with Selekhmeteva serving at 5-4 in the third set, emerging with a 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(0) win.  

Selekhmeteva didn't get to match point serving at 5-4 in the second set, and Andreeva took advantage of some tentative play by Selekhmeteva to take the last four games of the set. Andreeva found success by bringing Selekhmeteva to the net with drop shots, then passing her, a strategy she continued to employ even in the face of the occasional failure in execution.

Serving for the match at 5-4 in the third set, Selekhmeteva went up 40-15, but Andreeva kept calm during a tense rally, with Selekhmeteva eventually sending a forehand long. An unforced forehand error on the next point made it deuce, but Andreeva couldn't get a first serve back in play on the next point to give Selekhmeteva a third match point. Andreeva again refused to donate anything when it mattered, and a brave backhand forced Selekhmeteva into a backhand error. Andreeva won the game, saved a break point in her service game to hold for 6-5, and then completely dominated the tiebreaker.

Selekhmeteva got off to a shaky start in the tiebreaker, missing an easy putaway at the net, and two more errors followed, while Andreeva was relentless in both her strategy and execution.

Noskova is the first Czech girl to reach the Roland Garros final since 1989. Andreeva, who like Noskova, is 16 years old, is aiming to become the first Russian girls champion since Daria Kasatkina in 2014.

The doubles finals Saturday will feature another match with Fils and Mpetshi Perricard, this time on the same side of the net. The No. 4 seeds, who share the same coach, will play the unseeded team of Martin Katz of Belgium and German Samofalov of Ukraine, after the singles finals. Fils and Mpetshi Perricard defeated unseeded Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine and Petr Nesterov of Bulgaria 7-5, 6-2, while Katz and Samofalov ended the run of Victor Lilov and Slovakia's Peter Privara 6-4, 7-6(6).

Selekhmeteva, who won the US Open girls doubles title with Kamilla Bartone of Latvia in 2019, will go for a second junior slam title with Alexandra Eala of the Philippines. The top seeds defeated the unseeded Italian team of Eleonora Alvisi and Lisa Pigato 6-2, 6-1 in today's semifinals. The will face No. 8 seeds Maria Bondarenko of Russia and Amarissa Toth of Hungary, who beat No. 3 seeds Noskova and Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra 6-7(2), 6-2, 10-4 in today's semifinals.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands will go for her sixth grand slam title in women's doubles Sunday, after she and Iga Swiatek of Poland defeated Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania and Nadia Podoroska of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 in today's semifinals. The No. 14 seeds will play No. 2 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, who defeated Bernarda Pera and Poland's Magda Linette 6-1, 6-2 today. 

NCAA singles champion Sam Riffice(Florida) continued his impressive run today at the ATP Challenger 80 in Orlando, reaching his first Challenger semifinal with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Ulises Blanch. Riffice will face Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech), a 6-3, 7-5 winner over Nicolas Jarry of Chile, Saturday.

JC Aragone(Virginia) defeated Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 6-4, 7-5 and will take on Nicolas Mejia of Colombia. Mejia advanced when Jenson Brooksby(Baylor) withdrew due to an injury. None of the semifinalists are seeded.

Three Americans also have advanced to the semifinals of the $25,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit tournament in Wichita Kansas. Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) won a three-hour battle of former Kalamazoo 18s champions, with the 2017 winner beating 2019 champion Zachary Svadja 6-7(1), 6-1, 7-6(4). Kypson will play No. 6 seed Felix Corwin(Minnesota), who beat No. 2 seed Genaro Olivieri of Argentina 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. In the top half, Govind Nanda(UCLA) defeated qualifier Matias Soto(Baylor) 6-1, 6-1 in today's quarterfinals and will play No. 5 seed Sho Shimabukuro of Japan for a spot in the final.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

All-French Boys Semifinals at Roland Garros, Three Russian Girls Advance, Lilov Makes Doubles Semis; Krawczyk and Salisbury Win Mixed Doubles Title; Taylor Named Head Coach at Oklahoma State

I mentioned yesterday the chance that existed for an all-French boys slate in the semifinals at the French Open Junior Championships, but I confess I thought the odds of that seemed low. Yet that is exactly what happened after all four won their quarterfinal matches today, including No. 9 seed Sean Cuenin's 6-4, 7-5 win over top seed Juncheng Jerry Shang of China.

Cuenin failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second, showing obvious signs of nerves and missing most of his first serves, but he broke right back to get a second opportunity. The final game was not straightforward either, with Cuenin saving two break points and needing three match points to close out the win, but he sent the partisan crowd home happy when he finally converted.

Cuenin's opponent in the semifinals is No. 13 seed Luca Van Assche, who defeated the only unseeded quarterfinalist, Daniel Merida Aguilar of Spain, 7-6(8) 6-4. 

No. 5 seed Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard rolled past No. 16 seed Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine 6-2, 6-1 to set up a meeting with doubles partner Arthur Fils, the No. 14 seed. Fils defeated No. 8 seed Daniel Rincon of Spain 6-2, 6-3. For more on the Four Musketeers, see this article from the ITF Junior website.

The top seed in the girls draw was also eliminated, with unseeded Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic beating her doubles partner Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra 7-5, 2-6, 6-3. Noskova will play one of the three Russian girls still alive, No. 4 seed Diana Shnaider, who beat an error-prone No. 5 seed Robin Montgomery 6-3, 6-1.

In an all-Russian quarterfinal, unseeded Erika Andreeva defeated No. 3 seed and 2020 semifinalist Polina Kudermetova 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 and will now play in a all-Russian semifinal against No. 9 seed Oksana Selekhmeteva. Selekhmeteva defeated unseeded Mara Guth of Germany 6-3, 6-1.

The sole American junior still competing in Paris is Victor Lilov, who has advanced to the doubles semifinals with partner Peter Privara of Slovakia. Today the unseeded pair defeated Mans Dahlberg of Sweden and Adam Jurajda of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4. They will play another unseeded team in Friday's semifinals, taking on Martin Katz of Belgium and German Samofalov of Ukraine. 

Selekhmeteva, Noskova, Fils and Mpetshi Perricard are all still alive in doubles as well as singles.

Krawczyk and Salisbury hoist Mixed Doubles trophy
 at Roland Garros

At least one American will return to the United States with a French Open championship trophy, with 2020 women's French Open doubles finalist Desirae Krawczyk capturing the mixed doubles title today with Joe Salisbury of Great Britain. The former collegians--Krawczyk played at Arizona State, Salisbury at Memphis--came from behind to beat another unseeded team, Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev of Russia 2-6, 6-4, 10-5, with Krawczyk winning her first slam title and Salisbury, the 2020 Australian Open men's doubles champion, his second.  The pair will not play together at Wimbledon, with Salisbury partnering with Harriet Dart of Great Britain, but they are likely to team up again after an Australian Open semifinal and a Roland Garros title this year. Salisbury is the first British player to win one of the five major French Open titles since John Lloyd won the mixed in 1982. For more on the final, see this article from the Roland Garros website.

Thursday's quarterfinal junior results of Americans:

Diana Shnaider[4](RUS) d. Robin Montgomery[5] 6-3, 6-1

Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva(AND)/Linda Noskova(CZE)[3] d. Mei Hasegawa(JPN)/Valencia Xu 6-1, 6-0

Arthur Fils(FRA)/Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard(FRA)[4] d. Samir Banerjee/Ozan Colak[7] 1-6, 6-3, 10-4

Peter Privara(SVK)/Victor Lilov d, Mans Dahlberg(SWE)/Adam Jurajda(CZE) 6-2, 6-4

Oklahoma State announced that former USTA National Coach and University of Virginia associate coach Dustin Taylor has been named to its head coaching position, vacated when Jay Udwadia resigned in May. Taylor, who has been working as Business Development Manager for Har-Tru for the past two years, has roots in Oklahoma, having graduated from Tulsa in 2005.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Montgomery Advances to French Open Girls Quarterfinals, Four Americans Reach Doubles Quarterfinals; Riffice Wins Again at Orlando Challenger; Nanda Downs Top Seed in Wichita $25K

French boys and Russian girls make up half of the singles quarterfinalists at the French Open Junior Championships, with just one American, Robin Montgomery, earning a third round victory today.

Robin Montgomery at French Junior Championships
(with doubles partner Clervie Ngounoue)

Montgomery, the No. 5 seed, was at the top of her game today, overpowering unseeded Michaela Laki of Greece 6-2, 6-0 to reach her second junior slam quarterfinal. The 16-year-old from Washington DC will face fellow left-hander Diana Shnaider of Russia, the No. 4 seed, who is in the quarterfinals of a junior slam for the first time. 

Top seed Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra, the third left-hander still alive in the top half of the draw, will face unseeded Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic Thursday. Neither has lost a set to this point.

Unseeded Erika Andreeva and No. 3 seed Polina Kudermetova will play an all-Russia quarterfinal, after Andreeva defeated No. 6 seed Oceane Babel of France 6-2, 6-3 and Kudermetova, a semifinalist in Paris last fall, came back to beat No. 13 seed Madison Sieg 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. The fourth Russian girl, No. 9 seed Oksana Selekhmeteva, yet another left-hander, emerged from the tightest girls third round match, beating No. 7 seed Kristina Dmitruk of Belarus 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. She will face unseeded Mara Guth of Germany in the bottom quarterfinal.

The match of the day on the boys side saw top seed Juncheng "Jerry" Shang win his fourth three-setter of the tournament, with the 16-year-old from China beating Bjorn Borg's son Leo Borg 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(4). When he won the Easter Bowl in April, Shang was willing to come to the net to finish points on the hard courts, but he has been content to grind down his opposition this week.  How much gas he'll have in the tank for his quarterfinal against No. 9 seed Sean Cuenin, who also reached the quarterfinals in last fall's edition of the French Junior Championships, is an interesting question.

The four French players remaining are all in separate quarters, with the opportunity for all four to reach the semifinals. No. 13 Luca Van Assche defeated No. 3 seed Pedro Boascardin Dias of Brazil and will face the only unseeded boy remaining in the draw, Daniel Merida Aguilar of Spain. 

No. 5 seed Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard of France will take on No. 16 seed Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine, and in the bottom quarter No. 8 seed Daniel Rincon of Spain will face No. 14 seed Arthur Fils of France.

Rincon defeated unseeded Victor Lilov 6-3, 6-3 and Fils, the reigning Orange Bowl champion, beat No. 2 seed Bruno Kuzuhara 6-4, 7-6(2). A large crowd, a rarity since the restart, was vocal in its support of Fils, and he encouraged them to get even louder on several occasions.

The doubles quarterfinals are also set for Thursday, with four Americans still alive. No. 7 seeds Ozan Colak and Samir Banerjee defeated Matthew Donald of the Czech Republic and Mili Poljicak of Croatia 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the boys quarterfinals. Lilov and his partner Peter Privara of Slovakia had reached the quarterfinals with a win on Tuesday.  Top seeds Mark Lajal of Estonia and Jack Pinnington Jones of Great Britain lost today to Bielinskyi and Petr Nesterov of Bulgaria 6-4, 2-6, 10-7.  The only other seeded boys team remaining is No. 4 Fils and Mpetshi Perricard, who play Colak and Banerjee.

Victoria Xu and her partner Mei Hasegawa of Japan defeated Ashlyn Krueger and Sieg 6-1, 6-7(5), 10-4 to reach the quarterfinals. Unlike the boys draw, the top 3 seeds in the girls doubles draw have all reached the quarterfinals.

In the women's quarterfinals, Coco Gauff lost to Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 7-6(6), 6-3. 

Wednesday's third round junior singles results of Americans:
Daniel Rincon[8](ESP) d. Victor Lilov 6-3, 6-3
Arthur Fils[14](FRA) d. Bruno Kuzuhara[2] 6-4, 7-6(2)
Polina Kudermetova[3](RUS) d. Madison Sieg[13] 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
Robin Montgomery[5] d. Michaela Laki(GRE) 6-2, 6-0

Thursday's quarterfinal junior matches featuring Americans:
Robin Montgomery[5] v Diana Shnaider[4](RUS)
Mei Hasegawa(JPN)/Valencia Xu v Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva(AND)/Linda Noskova(CZE)[3]
Samir Banerjee/Ozan Colak[7] v Arthur Fils(FRA)/Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard(FRA)[4]
Peter Privara(SVK)/Victor Lilov v Mans Dahlberg(SWE)/Adam Jurajda(CZE)

NCAA singles champion Sam Riffice won again today at the ATP 80 Challenger at the USTA National Campus. Riffice, who is playing his first pro event of the year, defeated former South Florida star Roberto Cid of the Dominican Republic 6-2, 6-2 to advance to his second career Challenger quarterfinal. The previous Challenger where he quarterfinaled, in 2019, was also played on the National Campus. Riffice and his former Florida teammate Oliver Crawford also reached the doubles quarterfinals today, with the wild cards beating No. 2 seeds Dennis Novikov and Goncalo Oliveira of Portugal 6-2, 4-6, 10-4. Riffice has the day off in singles Thursday, before he faces Ulises Blanch on Friday, but will play in doubles.

Matches are scheduled deep into the evening at the USTA men's Pro Circuit $25,000 tournament in Wichita Kansas, but there has already been a major surprise, with UCLA junior Govind Nanda defeating top seed Rio Noguchi of Japan 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Wild card Joshua Ortlip(Cal Poly), Alex Sarkissian[3](Pepperdine), Gage Brymer[7](UCLA) and Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) are other Americans who have advanced to the second round with wins today.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Kuzuhara, Lilov Advance to Third Round at French Open Junior Championships, Mixed Doubles Final for Krawczyk and Salisbury; Wichita $25K and Orlando Challenger Underway; Date Change for USTA Girls 16s and 18s Nationals

No. 2 seed Bruno Kuzuhara and unseeded Victor Lilov won their first junior slam matches Monday at the French Open and continued their success today, with the two 17-year-olds joining Robin Montgomery and Madison Sieg, who advanced yesterday, in the round of 16.

Kuzuhara, coming off a quarterfinal showing at a $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Finland last week, defeated Mili Poljicak of Croatia 6-4, 6-3, coming from 3-1 down in both sets to earn the win. Lilov won a battle of former Les Petits As champions, with the American, who claimed the title in 2018, advancing when Italy's Luca Nardi, the 2017 Les Petits As champion, retired down 6-2, 2-2. Nardi also withdrew from doubles today, indicating an injury rather than illness. Lilov is also through to the doubles quarterfinals. He and partner Peter Privara defeated Ethan Quinn and Hong Kong's Coleman Wong 3-6, 6-4, 10-6 in second round action today. 

The only seeded girl to lose today was No. 8 Natalia Szabanin of Hungary, who went out to Ane Mintegi Del Olmo of Spain 6-1, 6-4. (Correction: No. 10 seed Maria Bondarenko also went out, losing to 2020 quarterfinalist Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic). All boys seeded in singles who played today won their matches. The French boys have been impressive, with six of them through to the round of 16; five Russian girls have advanced to the girls third round.

Tuesday's second round junior singles results of Americans:
Kristina Dmitruk[7](BLR) d. Ashlyn Krueger 6-1, 6-4
Diana Shnaider[4](RUS) d. Clervie Ngounoue 7-5, 7-6(5)
Bruno Kuzuhara[2] d. Mili Poljicak(CRO) 6-4, 6-3
Victor Lilov d. Luca Nardi 6-2, 2-2, ret.

Wednesday's third round junior singles matches featuring Americans:
Victor Lilov v Daniel Rincon[8](ESP)
Bruno Kuzuhara[2] v Arthur Fils[14](FRA)
Madison Sieg[13] v Polina Kudermetova[3](RUS)
Robin Montgomery[5] v Michaela Laki(GRE)

After reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open mixed doubles this year, Desirae Krawczyk and Great Britain's Joe Salisbury have done one better at the French Open, advancing to the final when Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia and Giuliana Olmos(USC) of Mexico gave the former college stars a walkover. Krawczyk, who played at Arizona State, and Salisbury, who played at Memphis, will face Russians Aslan Karatsev and Elena Vesnina for the title. Neither team is seeded. For more on Salisbury, who is trying to break a lengthy streak of British futility in Paris, see this article from the BBC. 

The USTA Pro Circuit features two men's event this week, the ATP Challenger 80 in Orlando and a $25,000 tournament in Wichita Kansas. NCAA champion Sam Riffice, who received a wild card, won his first round match Monday, defeating No. 4 seed and former ATP Top 40 player Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-2, 6-4. With JC Aragone(Virginia) beating top seed Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan yesterday, and No. 2 seed Jason Jung(Michigan) of Taiwan going out to Nicolas Jarry of Chile, No. 3 seed Jenson Brooksby(Baylor) is the only top 4 seed remaining after the first round. Little Rock Challenger champion Jack Sock lost to No. 8 seed Mitchell Krueger 6-2, 7-5 today. 

Qualifying concluded today in Wichita, with just two Americans, Preston Brown and Matt Kuhar, advancing to the main draw. Fifteen additional Americans received direct entry, including wild cards Trent Bryde(Georgia), Joshua Ortlip(Cal Poly), Samuel Beren(Harvard) and Axel Nefve(Notre Dame). Rio Noguchi of Japan is the top seed, with Genaro Olivieri of Argentina seeded second.

The plans for the USTA Nationals in August are still in flux but the USTA Playtennis site for the Girls 18s and 16s Nationals is now showing an earlier set of dates for the 16s: Wednesday August 4th through Wednesday August 11th. The 18s is scheduled for Sunday August 8th through Sunday August 15th. Draw sizes will remain, as they have been recently, at 256, with first round byes for the top 32 seeds. The Boys 18s and 16s Nationals dates adhere to the traditional schedule, beginning on Friday August 6th and ending on Sunday August 15th. Registration opens Thursday for all divisions.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Gauff Reaches French Open Quarterfinals; Montgomery, Sieg Move into French Juniors Third Round, Second Seed Eala Out; Three ITF Junior Titles for Americans; Stanford Tops Women's Recruiting Class Rankings

Two former French Open girls champions faced off today in the fourth round of the women's draw, with 2018 winner Coco Gauff breezing past 2011 winner Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-3, 6-1 to reach her first slam quarterfinal and become the youngest player to reach that stage in 15 years. No. 24 seed Gauff, who is on a nine-match winning streak, will face unseeded Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, who rolled over Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-0, in the quarterfinals. Krejcikova is also on a nine-match winning streak after taking the WTA title in Strasbourg last week. No. 4 seed and 2020 finalist Sofia Kenin lost to No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 6-3.

Gauff, who was 14 when she won the French Open girls title, and would still be age eligible for this year's and next year's junior tournament in Paris, may be far removed from that level of competition now, but she still has friends competing there this year, including 16-year-old Robin Montgomery, who has advanced to the round of 16.  Montgomery, the No. 5 seed, struggled in her opening match, but looked more comfortable today, defeating Ekaterina Maklakova of Russia 6-2, 6-3.  

No. 13 seed Madison Sieg also reached the third round with a win today, but it was a decidedly less routine win that the USC recruit posted over Annabelle Xu of Canada. Sieg had a point for 6-3, 5-1, didn't convert it and lost seven consecutive games to trail 2-0 in the third set.  Xu had a point to go up 4-1 in the third, didn't convert it and lost five consecutive games to give Sieg the 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory. The last game brought plenty of drama, with Sieg saving five break points before converting her second match point in the five-deuce game. 

No. 7 seed Dali Blanch and Aidan Mayo, the two US boys in second round, both lost. Bruno Kuzuhara, the No. 2 seed, and Victor Lilov played their first round matches today, and both won. The boys singles draw is here; the girls singles draw is here.

No. 2 seed and 2020 semifinalist Alexandra Eala of the Philippines lost to Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1 in the first round and No. 11 seed Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, one of the pre-tournament favorites fell to Erika Andreeva of Russia 6-1, 7-6(4) in second round action. Fruhvirtova and Andreeva, both 16, have had success on the professional level since the restart, and the 76-minute second set of their match today was well-played and poised on the edge until the very last points.

The No. 4 seed in the boys draw lost his first round match today, with Jack Pinnington Jones of Great Britain losing to Maks Kasnikowski of Poland 6-3, 6-4.

The first round of both girls and boys doubles today produced several victories for Americans, with the No. 7 seeds Samir Banerjee and Ozan Colak advancing, as did Sieg and Ashlyn Krueger. Ellie Coleman and her partner Michaela Laki of Greece won, as did Lilov and his partner Peter Privara of Slovakia. Ethan Quinn and Coleman Wong of Hong Kong saved three match points in their 6-7(4), 6-4, 12-10 win over the French wild card team of Paul Inchauspe and Theo Papamalamis. No. 2 seeds Blanch and Alexander Bernard, who won two Grade 1s and the Grade A Banana Bowl doubles titles on South American clay this winter, lost to Marko Andrejic of Austria and Marko Topo of Serbia 7-5, 4-6, 10-7.

The remaining 14 first round doubles matches and four second round doubles matches will be played Tuesday, along with the 16 remaining second round singles matches.

Monday's second round junior results of Americans:

Madison Sieg[13] d. Annabelle Xu(CAN) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
Sebastianna Scilipoti(SUI) d. Alexis Blokhina 6-4, 6-2
Luca Van Assche[13](FRA) d. Aidan Mayo 6-2.6-3
Robin Montgomery[5] d. Ekaterina Maklakova(RUS) 6-2, 6-3
Daniel Merida Aguilar(ESP) d. Dali Blanch[7] 6-3, 6-4

Tuesday's second round junior matches featuring Americans:

Ashlyn Krueger v Kristina Dmitruk[7](BLR)
Clervie Ngounoue v Diana Shnaider[4](RUS)
Bruno Kuzuhara[2] v Mili Poljicak(CRO)
Victor Lilov v Luca Nardi(ITA)

Three Americans claimed ITF Junior Circuit titles last week, one in singles and two in doubles. At the J4 in El Salvador, 16-year-old Mia Saveljic won her first ITF Junior Circuit title, with the unseeded New Yorker defeating qualifier Kennedy Gibbs of Texas 6-4, 6-3 in the final.  Joseph Phillips partnered with Lorenzo Esquici of Brazil to take the boys doubles title, Phillips' first ITF Junior Circuit title, with the No. 1 seeds defeating unseeded Kaeri Hernandez Mariona of Guatemala and Victor Tosetto of Brazil 6-1, 6-2 in the final. Esquici won the boys singles title.

At the J5 in Tajikistan, Victoria Sasinka won the girls doubles title, also her first on the ITF Junior Circuit, partnering with Raissa Petrovskaya of Kazakhstan. The top seeds defeated unseeded Shahnoza Marimova and Sabrina Olimjanova of Uzbekistan 7-6(3), 6-3 in the final. 

Tennis Recruiting Network released its 2021 women's recruiting class rankings, with Stanford the unanimous No. 1 for the first time in the history of the rankings. Stanford is followed by Texas A&M, Duke, Georgia and UCLA. For the complete list of the Top 25, plus more details on the top classes, see today's article.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Seven Americans Advance to Second Round of French Open Junior Championships; Sock Claims First Title in Four Years at Little Rock Challenger; Black, Moreno de Alboran Take $15K Titles in Turkey

Seven of the 16 Americans playing their first round matches at the French Open Junior Championships advanced to the second round with wins today in Paris, but three seeded Americans fell at the first hurdle: Alexander Bernard[10], Samir Banerjee[15] and Elivina Kalieva[14].

Into the second round are Robin Montgomery[5], Madison Sieg[13], Ashlyn Krueger, Alexis Blokhina and wild card Clervie Ngounoue in the girls draw, while Dali Blanch[7] and Aidan Mayo were the only two US boys to win today. No. 2 seed Bruno Kuzuhara and Victor Lilov will play their first round matches on Monday. The 16-year-old Blokhina, playing in her first junior slam, defeated Anastasia Gureva of Russia 7-6(1), 6-4. Krueger and Ngounoue also picked up wins in their junior slam debuts.

Junior matches are being streamed on Tennis Channel Plus, so I had an opportunity to watch quite a few hours of coverage, and although I focused mostly on Americans, I did find myself checking in on top seed Jerry Shang's match against Philip Sekulic of Australia. Shang served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but Sekulic, hitting big and going for the lines, won the last four games of the set to send it to a third. Up 4-2 in the third set, the 16-year-old from China couldn't hold that lead either, but after four straight breaks of serve, Shang held, converting his first match point for a 6-4, 5-7, 7-5, two-hour and 45 minute win. 

Girls top seed Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra, in contrast, needed only an hour and eight minutes to beat Evialina Laskevich of Belarus 6-3, 6-0. 

The only non-American seed to lose today was No. 16 Dana Guzman of Peru, who went out to Sebastianna Scilipoti of Switzerland. There are 16 more first round matches on Monday, with eight seeds yet to play their opening match, including the No. 2, 3, and 4 boys seeds, and No. 2 girls seeds Alexandra Eala of the Philippines.

The doubles draws were released today, with first round matches scheduled for Monday. Eala and Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia are the top girls seeds, with Mark Lajal of Estonia and Jack Pinnington Jones of Great Britain the No. 1 boys seeds. Dali Blanch and Bernard are the No. 2 seeds, with Ozan Colak and Banerjee seeded No. 7. Jack Anthrop is partnering with Shang and they are the No. 3 seeds. No US girls are seeded in doubles.  Qavia Lopez, who did not get into singles, received a wild card into doubles, where she is playing with a French girl.

The only American in women's singles action today at the French Open, Serena Williams, lost to Elina Rybakina of Kazakhstan 6-3, 7-5. Three US women will play Monday for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Sunday's first round singles results of American juniors:

Max Rehberg(GER) d. Samir Banerjee[15] 6-4, 7-5
German Samofalov(UKR) d. Ozan Colak 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-3
Aidan Mayo d. Matthew Donald(CZE) 6-7(0), 6-4, 6-2
Pierre Bailly[11](BEL) d. Jack Anthrop 6-1, 6-3
Dali Blanch[7] d. Mehdi Sadaoui(FRA) 7-6(1), 6-3
Charlelie Cosnet[WC](FRA) d. Alexander Bernard[10] 7-6(5), 7-5
Viacheslav Bielinskyi[16](UKR) d. Ethan Quinn 3-6, 6-3, 6-3

Alexis Blokhina d. Anastasia Gureva(RUS) 7-6(1), 6-4
Maria Bondarenko[10](RUS) d. Ellie Coleman 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
Clervie Ngounoue[WC] d. Petra Marcinko(CRO) 6-4, 6-4
Robin Montgomery[5] d. Sarah Iliev[WC](FRA) 6-0, 3-6, 6-3
Oceane Babel[6](FRA) d. Reese Brantmeier 6-2, 6-1
Erika Andreeva(RUS) d. Valencia Xu 6-0, 6-2
Madison Sieg[13] d. Laura Hietaranta(FIN) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
Ashlyn Krueger d. Radka Zelnickova(SVK) 7-5, 6-2
Mara Guth(GER) d. Elvina Kalieva[14] 6-3, 6-4

Monday's first round junior singles matches featuring Americans:
Victor Lilov v Antoine Ghibaudo[WC](FRA)
Bruno Kuzuhara[2] v Adam Jurajda(CZE)

Monday's second round junior matches featuring Americans:
Madison Sieg[13] v Annabelle Xu(CAN)
Alexis Blokhina v Sebastianna Scilipoti(SUI)
Aidan Mayo v Luca Van Assche[13](FRA)
Robin Montgomery[5] v Ekaterina Maklakova(RUS)
Dali Blanch[7] v Daniel Merida Aguilar(ESP)

Sunday's fourth round match featuring Americans:
Elena Rybakina[21](KAZ) d. Serena Williams[7] 6-3, 7-5

Monday's fourth round singles matches featuring Americans:
Coco Gauff[24] v Ons Jabeur[25](TUN)
Sloane Stephens v Barbora Krejcikova(CZE)
Sofia Kenin[4] v Maria Sakkari[17](GRE)

Jack Sock won his first singles title since 2017 today in Little Rock Arkansas, defeating No. 3 seed Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador 7-5, 6-4 in the final. Sock, who was unseeded, saved three match points in his second round win over No. 4 seed Ernesto Escobedo and three more in his quarterfinal win over No. 6 seed Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia), so he certainly earned the right to celebrate that elusive title after today. With the points from an ATP 80 Challenger title, Sock moves up to 224 in the rankings; he is scheduled to play the Orlando Challenger next week, as is Gomez. Wild cards were given to Oliver Crawford, 2021 NCAA singles champion Sam Riffice and Donald Young.

In the doubles final, Ernesto Escobedo and Nicolas Barrientos of Colombia won the title beating Roberto Quiroz(USC) of Ecuador and Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) 4-6, 6-3, 10-5 in a match played indoors due to rain. Neither team was seeded.

Former Georgia star Maria Carle of Argentina won the title at the $25,000 ITF World Tennis Tour women's tournament in the Dominican Republic. The unseeded 21-year-old defeated top seed Conny Perrin of Switzerland 6-4, 6-0 in today's final for her eighth ITF WTT singles title, but first above the $15,000 level. No. 2 seeds Erina Hayashi and Kanako Morisaki of Japan won the doubles title, beating top seeds Emina Bektas(Michigan) and Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame) 6-7(3), 6-1, 10-7 in today's final. The men's singles final at the $25K in Santo Domingo was postponed until Monday due to rain. Top seeds Diego Hidalgo(Florida) of Ecuador and Igor Marcondes of Brazil won the men's doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Conner Huertas del Pino and Jorge Panta of Peru 7-5, 6-7(10), 10-6.

Two Americans claimed singles titles at ITF WTT $15,000 tournaments in Turkey.  Twenty-year-old Hurricane Tyra Black won her first professional singles title today, with the No. 2 seed defeating unseeded Federica Bilardo of Italy 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the women's Antalya final. 

Former UC-Santa Barbara All-American Nicolas Moreno de Alboran also claimed his first professional singles title today at the men's Antalya final, with the No. 6 seed defeating No. 4 seed Giovanni Fonio of Italy 7-5, 6-4. Moreno de Alboran, who will turn 24 next month, is 25-9 on the ITF WTT circuit this year, playing mostly in Egypt and Turkey.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Sixteen Americans Begin French Open Junior Championships Sunday; Gauff, Stephens and Kenin Join Williams in Women's Fourth Round; Damm and Kodat Win Doubles Titles at $15Ks

 The French Open Junior Championships begin Sunday in Paris, with 16 of the 18 Americans in the singles draw scheduled to take the court. Forty-eight of the 64 singles matches are being played on Sunday, with the remainder set for Monday, with doubles competition also expected to begin Monday.

Below are the matchups for Americans, with four US boys seeded and three US girls. Top boys seed Jerry Shang of China faces Philip Sekulic of Australia Sunday, while top girls seed Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra plays Evialina Laskevich of Belarus, also Sunday. Jimenez Kasintseva was the top seed at the French Open Juniors last October, losing in the first round to eventual finalist Alina Charaeva of Russia.

French Open Junior first round matches featuring Americans:
*Samir Banerjee[15] v Max Rehberg(GER)
*Ozan Colak v German Samofalov(UKR)
*Aidan Mayo v Matthew Donald(CZE)
*Jack Anthrop v Pierre Bailly[11](BEL)
*Dali Blanch[7] v Mehdi Sadaoui(FRA)
*Alexander Bernard[10] v Charlelie Cosnet[WC](FRA)
*Ethan Quinn v Viacheslav Bielinskyi[16](UKR)
Victor Lilov v Antoine Ghibaudo[WC](FRA)
Bruno Kuzuhara[2] v Adam Jurajda(CZE)

*Alexis Blokhina v Anastasia Gureva(RUS)
*Ellie Coleman v Maria Bondarenko[10](RUS)
*Clervie Ngounoue[WC] v Petra Marcinko(CRO)
*Robin Montgomery[5] v Sarah Iliev[WC](FRA)
*Reese Brantmeier v Oceane Babel[6](FRA)
*Valencia Xu v Erika Andreeva(RUS)
*Madison Sieg[13] v Laura Hietaranta(FIN
*Ashlyn Krueger v Radka Zelnickova(SVK)
*Elvina Kalieva[14] v Mara Guth(GER)

*Sunday first round matches

The boys draw is here; the girls draw is here.

Today's women's third round produced the maximum three victories for American women, with 2020 finalist Sofia Kenin beating Jessica Pegula, Sloane Stephens taking out No. 18 seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic and Coco Gauff advancing after Jennifer Brady retired with a foot injury. Gauff is into the fourth round of the French Open for the first time; she had made the fourth round of Wimbledon(2019) and the Australian Open(2020) previously.

Saturday's third round matches featuring Americans:
Sofia Kenin[4] d. Jessica Pegula[28] 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
Coco Gauff[24] d. Jennifer Brady[13] 6-1, ret.
Sloane Stephens d. Karolina Muchova[18](CZE) 6-3, 7-5

Sunday's fourth round match featuring Americans:
Serena Williams[7] v Elena Rybakina[21](KAZ)

The last two Americans remaining in singles lost in the semifinals of the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic $25K men's and women's tournaments today. Roy Smith(Baylor) lost to No. 8 seed Aidan McHugh of Great Britain 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 and Charlotte Chavatipon(Texas) lost to top seed Conny Perrin of Switzerland 6-4, 6-2. Former Georgia star Maria Carle of Argentina will play Perrin in Sunday's final. 

Two young Americans, who won their first Pro Circuit doubles title together early last year at a $25K in Naples, both won another today at $15,000 tournaments in Turkey and Macedonia. Eighteen-year-old Toby Kodat partnered with former Tennessee star Timo Stodder of Germany for the title in Turkey, with the No. 3 seeds defeating unseeded Mariano Navone of Argentina and Miguel Pereira of Chile 6-4, 6-4 in the final. 

The 17-year-old Damm, who won two $15,000 doubles title this spring with former TCU star Alex Rybakov, now has his fourth pro doubles title, played this week in Macedonia with Robin Stanek of the Czech Republic. The top seeds, Damm and Stanek defeated the second-seeded Dutch team of Max Houkes and Sidane Pontjodikromo 6-2, 7-6(5) in today's final.

Friday, June 4, 2021

June Aces; All Remaining US Men Exit French Open; Chavatipon Reaches Dominican Republic $25K Semifinals; Krueger Ousts Top Seed at Little Rock Challenger

The NCAA championships are always the focus of tennis in May, at least for me, so my monthly Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network features the singles champions for Division I and Division III (Division II does not have an individual), as well as an overview of all the team champions crowned last month. It was also a banner month for juniors winning multiple titles on the ITF Junior Circuit, and two of the most prominent teenagers in the sport, Coco Gauff and Carlos Alcaraz, are included for their accomplishments last month. Both are still alive in Paris as the second week approaches.

Today's French Open third round action featured four American men, and although none were favored, it's disappointing that all lost today, leaving the US without a men's representative in the fourth round. Neither Reilly Opelka or Steve Johnson could muster a set against their seeded opponents, and Marcos Giron and John Isner were able to win only one set against the opposition.

The only American to win today was Serena Williams, who beat Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-4 to advance to a fourth round meeting with No. 21 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. 

Five American women are in action Saturday in Paris, but only three, at most, can advance, with Sofia Kenin playing Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff taking on Jennifer Brady.

Friday's third round matches results of Americans:

Victoria Azarenka[15](BLR) d. Madison Keys[23] 6-2, 6-2
Serena Williams[7] d. Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-4
Stefanos Tsitsipas[5](GRE) d. John Isner[31] 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-1
Daniil Medvedev[2](RUS) d. Reilly Opelka[32] 6-4, 6-2, 6-4
Pablo Carreno Busta[12](ESP) d. Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4, 6-2
Cristian Garin[22](CHI) d. Marcos Giron 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2

Saturday's third round matches featuring Americans:

Sofia Kenin[4] v Jessica Pegula[28]
Coco Gauff[24] v Jennifer Brady[13]
Sloane Stephens v Karolina Muchova[18](CZE)

University of Texas freshman Charlotte Chavatipon continued her run at the $25,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in the Dominican Republic, reaching the semifinals with a rain-interrupted 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over former Vanderbilt All-American Fernanda Contreras of Mexico today in Santo Domingo. Chavatipon, who won three matches in qualifying, has reached the final of a $15K previously, but this is new territory for the 19-year-old from California at the $25K level. Chavatipon, just two weeks removed from winning the NCAA team title in Lake Nona, will face top seed Conny Perrin of Switzerland, who defeated Pepperdine's Jessica Failla today 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Former Georgia star Maria Carle of Argentina will play Andrea Gamiz of Venezuela in the other semifinal; Perrin is the only seed remaining.

In the men's $25,000 ITF WTT in Santo Domingo also features one American in the semifinals, former Baylor star Roy Smith. Smith defeated No. 5 seed Calvin Hemery of France 6-4, 6-2 in today's quarterfinals and will face No. 8 seed Aidan McHugh of Great Britain, who defeated qualifier Kyle Seelig(Ohio State) by the same score.  No. 6 seed Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic will play Nicolas Kicker of Argentina in the other men's semifinal.

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Little Rock, Mitchell Krueger defeated top seed Jason Jung(Michigan) of Taiwan 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to reach the semifinals, where the No. 5 seed will face the winner of tonight's match between Jack Sock and No. 6 seed Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia). No. 3 seed Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador (one of last month's Aces) is through to the semifinals, where he'll face unseeded Goncalo Oliveira of Portugal, who advanced when Oliver Crawford(Florida) retired at 1-6, 7-5, 2-0 ret. Crawford had a match point with Oliveira serving at 4-5 in the second set.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Juniors Kuzuhara and Gailis Reach $15K Quarterfinals; Collegians Chavatipon, Failla and Seelig Advance at Dominican Republic $25Ks; New ITF Grade A Tournament Added in Europe; Five More US Women Move into French Open Third Round

The ITF upgraded a tournament in Poland this week to a J1 in order to provide a warmup for the French Open Juniors, which starts Sunday, but few in the main draw in Paris signed up and none of the top players played it. Only one American was in the draw, Qavia Lopez, and she is not playing the French.

Bruno Kuzuhara, who will be the No. 2 seed in Paris, is getting ready at a $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Finland, and he has made the quarterfinals, posting his first two wins on the professional circuit. In the first round, the 17-year-old from Florida, who used a junior exemption for entry, defeated No. 6 seed Anton Matusevich of Great Britain, last week's Finland $15K champion, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. Today Kuzuhara beat qualifier Yannik Steinegger of Switzerland 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. 

Sixteen-year-old Rachel Gailis, who has not played a junior event in over 14 months, has advanced to the quarterfinals of the $15,000 ITF WTT tournament in Turkey. Hurricane Tyra Black, who was working as a travel coach when I spoke to her at the Easter Bowl to earn enough money to get back out on the circuit, is the No. 2 seed in the Turkey tournament, and has advanced to the quarterfinals. She and Gailis will meet if both win Friday.

At the $25,000 men's and women's ITF WTT tournaments this week in the Dominican Republic, three qualifiers from the college ranks have advanced to the quarterfinals. Texas freshman Charlotte Chavatipon, who played No. 4 on the NCAA National Championship team, defeated No. 4 seed Andrea Lazaro Garcia, a former star at Florida International, 6-4, 6-4 to earn her first quarterfinal berth at a $25K tournament. She plays former Vanderbilt star Fernanda Contreras of Mexico next.

Jessica Failla of Pepperdine, who, like Chavatipon, played in the Team Championship final, is also through to the quarterfinals, defeating fellow qualifier Emiliana Arango of Colombia 6-2, 6-2 today. Failla, a fifth-year senior last season, will face top seed Conny Perrin of Switzerland in the quarterfinals.

Kyle Seelig, who completed his eligibility at Ohio State this spring, defeated No. 2 seed Diego Hidalgo(Florida) 6-2, 6-4 to move into the quarterfinals. Former Miami star Christian Langmo took out top seed Shintaro Imai of Japan 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-5 in a nearly four-hour marathon. Former Baylor standout Roy Smith defeated No. 3 seed Yshai Oliel of Israel 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, leaving No. 5 seed Calvin Hemery of France as the highest seed remaining.

The ITF announced today that a new Grade A tournament has been approved for Europe in 2022, with the Offenbach Germany Grade 1 receiving the upgrade. The tournament, which has been canceled in each of the last two years due to the pandemic, is scheduled to take place next April, the week of the 25th. The Grade 1 clay event was previously held in June, after the French Open; I have my doubts about the expectation of playable weather in Germany in April, but I certainly don't object to more opportunities for players to earn substantial points prior to the cutoffs for the summer slams. A Grade A was added a few years ago in South Africa, so there will be seven in 2022, not including the four slams. 

Five more US women advanced to the third round of the French Open today, for a total of eight, the most since nine US women did so in 2003. Unseeded Sloane Stephens was particularly impressive in her 7-5, 6-1 win over No. 9 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Jennifer Brady won a second round match at the French for the first time in her career, coming from a break down in the third set to defeat Fiona Ferro of France 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, much to the disappointment of the vocal French spectators.

Thursday's second round results featuring Americans:

Sloane Stephens d. Karolina Pliskova[9](CZE) 7-5, 6-1
Elina Svitolina[5](UKR) d. Ann Li 6-0, 6-4
Jennifer Brady[13] d. Fiona Ferro(FRA) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5
Karolina Muchova[18](CZE) d. Varvara Lepchenko[Q] 6-3, 6-4
Dominik Koepfer(GER) d. Taylor Fritz[31] 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
Coco Gauff[24] d. Qiang Wang(CHN) 6-3, 7-6(1)
Jessica Pegula[28] d. Tereza Martincova(CZE) 6-3, 6-3
Sofia Kenin[4] d. Hailey Baptiste[Q] 7-5, 6-3

Friday's third round matches featuring Americans:

Madison Keys[23] v Victoria Azarenka[15](BLR)
Serena Williams[7] v Danielle Collins
John Isner[31] v Stefanos Tsitsipas[5](GRE)
Reilly Opelka[32] v Daniil Medvedev[2](RUS)
Steve Johnson v Pablo Carreno Busta[12](ESP)
Marcos Giron v Cristian Garin[22](CHI)

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Wimbledon Junior Acceptances, Tiebreakers to Decide All Sets There This Year; Seven Americans Through to French Open Third Round; Draxl and Perez-Somarriba Top Final ITA Singles Rankings

The acceptances for the 2021 Wimbledon Junior Championships were released today, with eight US boys and eight US girls receiving entry to the main draw. Unlike the past two French Open Junior Championships, which did not have qualifying, a 32-player tournament for eight spots in the main draw will be played at the usual site of Wimbledon qualifying in Roehampton. 

Most of the same Americans who are preparing to play the French Open Junior beginning Sunday are also playing Wimbledon. Two notable exceptions are Robin Montgomery, who is competing in Paris but did not enter Wimbledon, and Alexandra Yepifanova, who entered Wimbledon, but not the French Open.

The American boys who are in the Wimbledon main draw as of today: Bruno Kuzuhara, Dali Blanch, Alexander Bernard, Samir Banerjee, Jack Anthrop, Ozan Colak, Ethan Quinn and Aidan Mayo. Victor Lilov, two out of the main draw, is in qualifying, as are Aidan Kim, Branden Shick and Benjamin Kittay. The boys cutoff was 51, with Philip Sekulic of Australia, ranked 62, getting in due to the geographical representation clause for Grade As, which gives entry to the highest ranked player from certain regions, in Sekulic's case Oceania, as long as they are in the Top 80. 

In addition to Yepifanova, the US girls receiving main draw acceptance to the Wimbledon Junior Championships are Madison Sieg, Elivina Kalieva, Ellie Coleman, Ashlyn Krueger, Reese Brantmeier, Alexis Blokhina and Valencia Xu. There are no US girls in qualifying, with Clervie Ngounoue one out. The girls main draw cutoff was 53; two players received entry into qualifying with ITF exemptions, Yasmine Kabbaj of Morocco is in due to the geographic representation (with Top 150 that criteria) and Maria Timofeeva received a qualifying entry due to her WTA ranking of 469.

As in the upcoming French Open, Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra at No. 2 and Juncheng "Jerry" Shang of China at No. 3 are the highest ranked players at the time of acceptances.

The big news from this year's fact sheet is the elimination of the third-set advantage set for juniors. This year, all three sets will be decided in tiebreakers. In 2019, the juniors played the advantage set in both singles and doubles; this year, the third set in doubles will be decided by a match tiebreaker.

Seven Americans won their second round matches today at the French Open, three of them former NCAA singles champions. Two-time NCAA winner Danielle Collins, who has been out since Miami after surgery for endometriosis, was in great form against qualifier Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, needing just over an hour to post a 6-0, 6-2 victory. The former University of Virginia star will face Serena Williams in the third round, who defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 today. Williams and Collins played earlier this year in one of the Australian Open warmups, with Williams winning in the third-set match tiebreaker instituted to make sure the tournament was completed before the slam began.

Marcos Giron, the 2014 NCAA singles champion, has reached his first slam third round, with the former UCLA Bruin beating Guido Pella of Argentina 7-6(2), 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-4 today. Cristian Garin, his next opponent, saved two match points in the third set tiebreaker, preventing an all-UCLA NCAA champion third round match with a 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-3, 8-6 win over 2016 singles champion Mackenzie McDonald. McDonald and Garin played for over four hours, with McDonald saving a match point himself at 5-6 in the fifth.

Steve Johnson, who won NCAA titles in 2011 and 2012, is through to the third round with a 6-3, 6-7(2), 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3 win over Thiago Monteiro of Brazil, in a match that took nearly four hours and finished until the lights after 10:30 p.m. Paris time.

The other collegian to advance to the third round, 2005 NCAA doubles champion and 2007 singles finalist John Isner, had less difficulty, beating Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 7-6(6), 6-1, 7-6(5) in two hours and 15 minutes.

Wednesday's second round results of Americans:

Serena Williams[7] d. Mihaela Buzarnescu(ROU) 6-3, 5-7, 6-1
Madison Keys[23] d. Leylah Fernandez(CAN) 6-1, 7-5
Tamara Zidansek(SLO) d. Madison Brengle 6-4, 6-1
Danielle Collins d. Anhelina Kalinina[Q](UKR) 6-0, 6-2
Daniil Medvedev[2](RUS) d. Tommy Paul 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3
John Isner[31] d. Filip Krajinovic(SRB) 7-6(6), 6-1, 7-6(5)
Reilly Opelka[32] d. Jaume Munar(ESP) 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5
Steve Johnson d. Thiago Monteiro(BRA) 6-3, 6-7(2), 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3
Marcos Giron d. Guido Pella(ARG) 7-6(2), 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-4
Cristian Garin[22](CHI) d. Mackenzie McDonald 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-3, 8-6

Thursday's second round matches featuring Americans:

Sloane Stephens v Karolina Pliskova[9](CZE)
Ann Li v Elina Svitolina[5](UKR)
Jennifer Brady[13] v Fiona Ferro(FRA)
Varvara Lepchenko[Q] v Karolina Muchova[18](CZE)
Taylor Fritz[31] v Dominik Koepfer(GER)
Coco Gauff[24] v Qiang Wang(CHN)
Jessica Pegula[28] v Tereza Martincova(CZE)
Sofia Kenin[4] v Hailey Baptiste[Q]

The ITA released its final individual rankings for 2020-21 today, with Kentucky's Liam Draxl and Miami's Estela Perez-Somarriba finishing at No. 1 and receiving the Player of the Year designation. Unlike the team rankings, in which the NCAA champion is automatically awarded the top spot at year-end, that does not happen with singles and doubles. Below are the Top 10 in men's and women's singles and the Top 5 in men's and women's doubles. Click on the heading to see the full list.  For the final Division I team rankings, click here for the women and click here for the men.

1. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
2. Emma Navarro, Virginia*
3. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
4. Abigail Forbes, UCLA
5. Katarina Jokic, Georgia
6. Janice Tjen, Oregon
7. Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech
8. McCartney Kessler, Florida
9. Anna Rogers, NC State
10. Alexa Graham, North Carolina

1. Liam Draxl, Kentucky
2. Sam Riffice, Florida*
3. Daniel Rodrigues, South Carolina
4. Valentin Vacherot, Texas A&M
5. Duarte Vale, Florida
6. Hady Habib, Texas A&M
7. Gabriel Decamps, Central Florida
8. Adam Walton, Tennessee
9. Johannus Monday, Tennessee
10. Matias Soto, Baylor

1. Makenna Jones and Elizabeth Scotty, North Carolina*
2. Victoria Flores and Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech
3. Sara Daavettila and Cameron Morra, North Carolina
4. Ariana Arsenault and Katarina Jokic, Georgia
5. Kylie Collins and Lulu Sun, Texas

1. Tim Sandkaulen and Finn Reynolds, Mississippi
2. Alastair Gray and Luc Fomba, TCU
3. Adam Walton and Pat Harper, Tennessee*
4. William Blumberg and Brian Cernoch, North Carolina
5. Sven Lah and Constantin Frantzen, Baylor

*NCAA champions

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Nineteen Americans Reach French Open Second Round; French Open Juniors Preview; Dominican Republic $25Ks Fill Void in USTA Pro Circuit Schedule

The second round of the French Open begins on Wednesday, with 19 Americans progressing in the draw, including five women who won first round matches today in Paris.

Ann Li at 2020 US Open (photo credit: USTA/Pete Staples

Ann Li, who has been out with an injury since reaching the semifinals of the Monterrey WTA 250 in March, showed no signs of rust today, defeating Margarita Gasparyan of Russia 6-0, 6-1 in 47 minutes. Bernarda Pera pushed top seed and 2019 champion Ashleigh Barty of Australia before falling 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, while Varvara Lepchenko earned at straight-sets win to join Hailey Baptiste as American women qualifiers in the second round.

Ten of the 19 Americans remaining in the singles draw are in action Wednesday, with the women's doubles first round also on the schedule. Twenty US women are competing in doubles, with four playing on seeded teams: Bethanie Mattek-Sands No. 14 with Iga Swiatek of Poland; Desirae Krawczyk No. 5 with Alexa Guarachi of Chile; Jennifer Brady No. 15 with Barty and Nicole Melichar No. 3 with Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands.

In men's doubles first round action today, Frances Tiafoe and Nicholas Monroe defeated the eighth-seeded team of Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 6-3, 6-4.

Tuesday's French Open first round results featuring Americans:

Novak Djokovic[1](SRB) d. Tennys Sandgren 6-2, 6-4, 6-2
Aslan Karatsev[24](RUS) d. Jenson Brooksby[Q] 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Ashleigh Barty[1](AUS) d. Bernard Pera 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Coco Gauff[24] d. Aleksandra Krunic[Q](SRB) 7-6(11), 6-4
Jennifer Brady[13] d. Anastasia Sevastova(LAT) 6-3, 6-3
Sloane Stephens d. Carla Suarez Navarro(ESP) 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4
Ekaterina Alexandrova[32](RUS) d. Venus Williams 6-3, 6-1
Ann Li d. Margarita Gasparyan(RUS) 6-0, 6-1
Varvara Lepchenko[Q] d. Shuai Zhang(CHN) 6-3, 6-3

Wednesday's second round matches featuring Americans:

Serena Williams[7] v Mihaela Buzarnescu(ROU)
Madison Keys[23] v Leylah Fernandez(CAN)
Madison Brengle v Tamara Zidansek(SLO)
Danielle Collins v Anhelina Kalinina[Q](UKR)
Tommy Paul v Daniil Medvedev[2](RUS)
John Isner[31] v Filip Krajinovic(SRB)
Reilly Opelka[32] v Jaume Munar(ESP)
Steve Johnson v Thiago Monteiro(BRA)
Marcos Giron v Guido Pella(ARG)
Mackenzie McDonald[Q] v Cristian Garin[22](CHI)

The French Open Junior Championships begin Sunday in Paris, with nearly every player on April's initial acceptance lists still expected to compete. In addition to the nine American boys and eight American girls in the main draw, Braden Shick and Benjamin Kittay, at 2 and 4 out of the main draw, could be on standby should there be any late withdrawals. There is no qualifying again this year, so they are among those who may be allowed to travel to the tournament.

The ITF Junior website published its preview today, reviewing the accomplishments of the favorites, although the draws have yet to be released.

The ATP Challenger 80 in Little Rock saw rain wash out play today, with only three of the ten singles matches on the schedule managing to finish any games at all.

With the USTA Pro Circuit scheduling no tournaments in the US for three weeks for women, many of the collegians who would normally be starting their summer competition here have gone to the Dominican Republic, where $25,000 ITF World Tennis Tour men's and women's tournaments are taking place this week.

Two of the players who competed in the women's team final, Pepperdine's Jessica Failla and Texas's Charlotte Chavatipon, qualified for the main draw, as did Jessica Livianu(St. John's), Sofia Sewing(Miami) and Princeton recruit Victoria Hu.  Sixteen-year-old American Olivia Lincer received a wild card and has yet to play her first round match. The three other wild cards, from the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, all lost today. Conny Perrin of Switzerland is the top seed, with Hanna Chang seeded second.

The only Americans to qualify for the main draw of the men's tournament are Alafia Ayeni(Cornell) and Kyle Seelig(Ohio State). Blaise Bicknell, who helped Florida to its team title last month, received a wild card. Shintaro Imai of Japan is the top seed, with Diego Hidalgo(Florida) of Ecuador seeded No. 2.