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Monday, June 28, 2021

My Article on Eubanks' Last-Minute Trip to London; Tiafoe Beats Tsitsipas, Stephens Downs Kvitova on Rainy Opening Day at Wimbledon; 17 US Juniors in Action Tuesday at Roehampton J1

Last week I spoke to former Georgia Tech All-American Chris Eubanks after his Wimbledon qualifying match, curious how he had approached the possible trip to London when he was not in the qualifying draw. After winning the Orlando Challenger, he was nine spots out and not optimistic, but he explained to me how those five days went as he moved up the entry list, facing the prospect of a very last-minute trip. In this article for Tennis Recruiting Network, we also talked about his college days at Georgia Tech and how much simpler his approach to his game was then, and his immediate plans for the summer. 

It was a wet start to the Wimbledon fortnight, with play on the outside courts delayed for more than four hours, which led to cancellations of the matches scheduled third and fourth on the outer courts.

Frances Tiafoe

Sloane Stephens and Frances Tiafoe did not have to worry about any possible delays however, as they were scheduled on the two courts with roofs, with Stephens taking on former Wimbledon champion and No. 10 seed Petra Kvitova on Centre Court and Tiafoe facing No. 3 seed and recent French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Those conditions obviously suited them, with neither dropping a set in pulling off the upsets. Stephens defeated Kvitova 6-3, 6-4 and Tiafoe beat Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4, 6-3. Tiafoe, who won a Challenger on grass earlier this month, said the surface brings out the best in his game. 

"It just helps my game," Tiafoe said. "It forces me to play the right way. It forces me to play super aggressive. It forces me to be off my front foot on both sides, it forces me to come to the net, because otherwise you're vulnerable."

Tiafoe was able to win big point after big point throughout the match, saving all seven break points he faced, while converting four of eight break points.

Qualifier Denis Kudla, who lost to Tiafoe in that Challenger final, also picked off a seed today, defeating No. 30 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 5-7, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3. 

Several matches were suspended for darkness, including the match between qualifier Claire Liu and Misaki Doi of Japan. Liu had a match point with Doi serving at 3-5 in the final set, but she forced Liu into a backhand error, and when the pair went to their chairs for the changeover, an official came out and told them the match would be suspended due to darkness, with Liu set to serve for the match when it resumes on Tuesday.

Kristie Ahn

The last match of the day, which ended after 10 p.m. local time, saw lucky loser Kristie Ahn save a match point in her 2-6, 7-6(3), 8-6 win over Great Britain's Heather Watson. Originally scheduled for Court 18, the match was moved to Court One and Watson had the crowd on her side, of course, but Ahn said that didn't bother her at all.

"We when got moved to Court One, I was so amped because it's such a prestigious court and the crowd was just going to be awesome there," said the former Stanford All-American. "Regardless of the result, I was just determined to have fun and embrace the moment. I knew the crowd was against me, but it's such an awesome atmosphere, both for her and for me, so that's definitely going to go down as one of my favorite memories."

It was the first Wimbledon main draw win for Ahn, who qualified in 2019, but lost in the first round. It was an opportunity that she was not expecting to get after losing to Monica Niculescu in the final round of qualifying.

"Once I lost, I knew how many players ahead of me ranked to be in that pool of the top four(the group from which the lucky loser chips are drawn)," Ahn said. "I never get lucky loser, I don't win gifts at tournaments....I don't win sneakers on the SNKRS app, I don't win lotteries. But Asia(Muhammad) was like, no, I have a good feeling about this one. And then we went to the office and I was No. 1 and I was like, it's happening. To have a second chance, and not only that, to come to the main site, for qualifiers, that is the dream. It's that much more emotional to go from Roehampton to the Millennium building, so that was pretty cool."

Ahn will play Sloane Stephens in the second round, on of three all-US second matches in the bottom half.

There are first round matches not on Tuesday's schedule, with Amanda Anisimova and John Isner both pushed back to Wednesday for their opening matches.

Monday's first round results for Americans:
Sloane Stephens d. Petra Kvitova[10](CZE) 6-3, 6-4
Madison Keys[23] d. Katie Swan[Q] 6-3, 6-4
Sofia Kenin[4] d. Xinyu Wang[Q](CHN) 6-4, 6-2
Kristie Ahn[LL] d. Heather Watson 2-6, 7-6(3), 8-6
Lauren Davis d. Jodie Burrage[WC](GBR) 6-2, 6-1
Danielle Collins d. Polona Hercog(SLO) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Irina-Camelia Begu(ROU) d. Katie Volynets[Q] 6-4, 7-5 
Katie Boulter[WC](GBR) d. Danielle Lao[Q] 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4

Frances Tiafoe d. Stefanos Tsitsipas[3](GRE) 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
Karen Khachanov[25](RUS)  d. Mackenzie McDonald[Q] 3-6. 6-3. 6-4. 7-6(3) 
Denis Kudla[Q] d. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina[30](ESP) 5-7, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3
Dominik Koepfer(GER) d. Reilly Opelka[27] 6-4, 7-6(3). 6-2

Tuesday's first round matches featuring Americans:
Venus Williams[WC] v Mihaela Buzarnescu(ROU) (postponed from Monday)
Jessica Pegula[22] v Caroline Garcia(FRA) (postponed from Monday)
Ann Li v Nadia Podoroska(ARG) (postponed from Monday)
Alison Riske[28] v Tereza Martincova(CZE) (postponed from Monday)
Shelby Rogers v Samantha Stosur(AUS) (postponed from Monday)
Serena Williams[6] v Aliaksandra Sasnovich(BLR)
Coco Gauff[20] v Francesca Jones[WC](GBR)
Coco Vandeweghe v Olga Govortsova[Q](BLR)
Bernarda Pera v Nao Hibino(JPN)
Claire Liu[Q] leads Misaki Doi(JPN) 2-6, 6-3, 5-4, (suspended darkness)
Madison Brengle leads Christina McHale, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6, (suspended darkness)

Sebastian Korda v Alex De Minaur[15](AUS) (postponed from Monday)
Sam Querrey v Pablo Carreno Busta[11](ESP)
Steve Johnson v Dennis Novak(AUT)
Tennys Sandgren v Norbert Gombos(SVK)
Marcos Giron v Emil Ruusuvuori(FIN)
Taylor Fritz[31] v Brandon Nakashima[Q]

The final round of qualifying at the ITF Junior Circuit J1 in Roehampton had a weather window that allowed for its completion, with Braden Shick and Benjamin Kittay the two American boys to qualify for the main draw. Clervie Ngounoue lost, but received entry into the girls main draw as a lucky loser.

The nine US boys in the main draw are Kittay, Shick, Bruno Kuzuhara[5], Ethan Quinn, Alexander Bernard[14], Ozan Colak, Dali Blanch[11], Samir Banerjee and Victor Lilov.

The eight US girls in the main draw are Ngounoue, Valencia Xu, Ellie Coleman, Reese Brantmeier, Madison Sieg[9], Alexandra Yepifanova[7], Alexis Blokhina and Ashlyn Krueger.  

Aidan Mayo and Elvina Kalieva were on the acceptance lists, but are not in the draws.