Zootennis

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Seven Americans Reach Final Round of Wimbledon Qualifying, with Former UCLA Teammates Cressy and McDonald Meeting Thursday; USTA Announces Summer Collegiate Teams; Sign Up to Continue Receiving Daily Emails

Americans won 11 of 13 matches played today at Wimbledon qualifying at the Bank of England Sports Ground in Roehampton, including all seven of the second round matches that were on the schedule.

That's not to imply that it was easy, as three of the four US men in action were extended to three sets, with Denis Kudla's 7-6(1), 6-4 win over Kacper Zuk of Poland the only exception.

Brandon Nakashima sent Serbia's Viktor Troicki into retirement with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 victory over the former ATP No. 12. With the exception of the 11th game of the second set, Nakashima was able to come up with a big serve when he needed it, and once he got the break to go up 3-1 in the third, it was smooth sailing for the former Virginia Cavalier. He didn't face a break point in the final set, reaching the final round of qualifying in a slam for the first time.

Maxime Cressy, who defeated Marc-Andrea Huesler of Switzerland 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 today, has a game that is tailor-made for grass, but the former UCLA Bruin hadn't won a match on the surface before this week, although he's played only three. Two of the losses were this month at the Nottingham Challengers, results that he attributed to his own misguided expectations.

"The problem was I expected too much," said the 24-year-old, who grew up admiring the games of Pat Rafter and Pete Sampras and adopted their style of play as a result. "I put too much pressure on myself and didn't play the way I wanted to. My goal for this tournament is to release the pressure, just play my game, focus on me and nothing else, no expectation. And I started to play my tennis again, and I'm very happy about it."

With that adjustment, Cressy regained his perspective.

"My mindset changed. I had more of a mindset of letting go, rather than trying to force results to happen," Cressy added. "It was more appreciating my time here, appreciating the fact that I'm playing my first Wimbledon. I'm incredibly happy to play on grass right now. I'll keep having that mindset until the end of the tournament."

Cressy, who grew up in France, but whose mother is American, maintained his poise in today's match even after failing to serve it out at 6-5 in the second set and 5-3 in the third set.

"I played a very dangerous player with an incredible serve as well," said Cressy, who hit 19 aces to six for Huesler. "It was a battle of serves today and whoever was more consistent was winning the match. As soon as I got the lead, he started to feel more relaxed and played so much more freely, and it was very dangerous, it put a lot more pressure on my serve. But I served very, very well throughout the match, was very focused from the beginning to the end. Serving for it, I got a little nervous, knowing that under pressure he can pull some incredible shots. But I'm proud of myself, because mentally I stayed positive, stayed focused on what I had to do and I got the win thanks to my mindset."

Cressy, who switched from representing France to the United States several years ago, said that decision is permanent, although he has been living in France recently.

"I have been living in France the last couple of months because of the tourneys in Europe, but my home is definitely in the US right now," said Cressy, who received a US Open main draw wild card last year. "But since the clay tourneys in Europe, I stayed at home a lot in Paris, but I'm representing the US until the end of my career, very happy representing the US."

Cressy will see a familiar face standing in his path to the main draw Thursday: Mackenzie McDonald, who was a junior when Cressy was a freshman back in 2016, the year McDonald won the NCAA singles title and turned pro. McDonald won his second consecutive three-setter, beating Illya Marchenko of Ukraine 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 to advance to a meeting with Cressy.

In another notable result from today's men's qualifying, Stanford's Arthur Fery is through to the final round after beating Matt Ebden of Australia 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-5. The 18-year-old from Great Britain, who just completed his freshman year for the Cardinal, is one of two men's wild cards to reach the final round of qualifying, with Anton Matusevich the other.

The three American women advancing to the final round of qualifying are Katie Volynets, Claire Liu and Varvara Lepchenko.

Volynets has been crushing the opposition this week, dropping only four games total in her two victories. Liu, the 2017 girls Wimbledon champion, has posted two routine victories, while Lepchenko, who qualified at the French Open and won a match, is into the final round of qualifying for the third time this year. She lost to Greet Minnen of Belgium, her opponent Thursday, in the final round of qualifying in Melbourne.

Wednesday:

US women's first round results:
Danielle Lao d. Alexandra Dulgheru(ROU) 6-3, 6-1
Sachia Vickery d. Chihiro Muramatsu(JPN) 6-3, 4-6, 6-1
Caty McNally[6] d. Olga Danilovic(SRB) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2
Xinyu Wang[30](CHN) d. Robin Anderson 7-5, 7-6(3)
Tsvetana Pironkova[8](BUL) d. Usue Arconada 6-1, 6-0
Asia Muhammad d. Stefanie Voegele[17](SUI) 7-6(8), 6-3

US women's second round results:
Katie Volynets d. Eden Silva[WC](GBR) 6-1, 6-2
Varvara Lepchenko d. Harmony Tan[22](FRA) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Claire Liu[16] d. Isabella Shinikova (BUL) 6-4, 6-3

US men's second round results:
Maxime Cressy[30] d. Marc-Andrea Huesler(SUI) 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4
Denis Kudla[6] d. Kacper Zuk(POL) 7-6(1), 6-4
Mackenzie McDonald[2] d. Illya Marchenko(UKR) 6-1, 3-6, 6-4
Brandon Nakashima[22] d. Viktor Troicki(SRB) 6-2, 5-7, 6-3

Thursday:
US women's second round matches:
Danielle Lao v Viktoriya Tomova[2](BUL)
Caty McNally[6] v Katie Swan[WC](GBR)
Kristie Ahn[13] v Ekaterine Gorgodze(GEO)
Asia Muhammad v Monica Niculescu(ROU)
Sachia Vickery v Clara Burel[31](FRA)

US men's final round matches(best of 5):
Mackenzie McDonald[2] v Maxime Cressy[30]
Brandon Nakashima[22] v Ernests Gulbis(LAT)
Denis Kudla[6] v Federico Gaio[25](ITA)

US women's final round matches:
Katie Volynets v Beatriz Haddad Maia(BRA)
Claire Liu[16] v Astra Sharma[19](AUS)
Varvara Lepchenko v Greet Minnen[15](BEL)

The USTA formally announced the members of its Summer Collegiate teams today. Last week I had posted the men's team, which appeared in a Tulane article about men's head coach Mark Booras's position as a coach on the team. I thought there was probably a second coach, and there is, with NC State's Cris James the other coach for the men. The women's coaches are Texas associate head coach Taylor Fogelman and Minnesota assistant Meghan Kelly. For the full release, which includes the dates and locations of the team's schedule, see usta.com.

Men
William Blumberg, North Carolina (Sr., Greenwich, Conn.)
Cannon Kingsley, Ohio State (Soph., Northport, N.Y.)
Aleks Kovacevic, Illinois (Sr., New York)
John McNally, Ohio State (Sr., Cincinnati)
Sam Riffice, Florida (Jr., Orlando, Fla.)
 
Women
Sara Daavettila, UNC (Sr., Williamston, Mich.)
Abbey Forbes, UCLA (Soph., Raleigh, N.C.)
Emma Navarro, Virginia (Fr., Charleston, S.C.)
Alexa Noel, Iowa (Fr., Summit, N.J.)
Peyton Stearns, Texas (Fr., Mason, Ohio)

Natasha Subhash of Virginia is eligible, but due to injury cannot compete this summer.

This is a second reminder that I am discontinuing the Feedburner version of the daily Zootennis email on June 30. I have notified via email everyone who is getting that, explaining that it is necessary to sign up again at the top left if you haven't already. So far, about half of those who receive the Feedburner email have not subscribed to get the new Mailchimp email, so I'll post one more time about it before shutting down the Feedburner next Wednesday. If you sign up now, you will get two emails until June 30, the Mailchimp one at 6 a.m. every morning, the Feedburner one, who knows when, as it is now getting more and more erratic. I appreciate your patience as I make this transition.

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