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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Shelton, Loeb and Nakashima Move into Finals; Third Straight Title for Quevedo at Bogota J3, Slama Wins J3 in Paraguay; Olympic Bronze for Stefani and Peers; WTA Qualifying Victories for Krueger and Montgomery

Many of the top contenders for the Kalamazoo 18s title play the USTA Pro Circuit tournaments in the Midwest as warmups for the Nationals, with similar surface, similar weather and a guarantee of a high quality match or two the attraction for those who have a chance to play qualifying, or even receive a main draw wild card. 

I don't, however, remember anyone coming into Kalamazoo immediately after winning one of these pro tournaments, which is what 18-year-old Ben Shelton now has an opportunity to do with a win in the final of the $25,000 tournament in Champaign Illinois. Wild card Shelton, the rising sophomore at Florida, has yet to drop a set in Champaign, and today he defeated top seed and ATP No. 360 Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals. Shelton, who finished fourth in the 16s division in Kalamazoo in 2019, will face No. 5 seed Gijs Brouwer of the Netherlands for the title. Brouwer defeated unseeded Naoki Nakagawa of Japan 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 in today's semifinals.

Regardless of the outcome in Sunday's singles final, Shelton has his first ITF men's World Tennis Tour title, after he and Eliot Spizzirri(Texas) won the doubles championship this afternoon. The wild cards defeated No. 2 seeds Yunseong Chung of Korea and Rio Noguchi of Japan 6-4, 6-0 in the final and they didn't come close to losing a set during the week.

Jamie Loeb July 2020
photo credit: Scott Gerber

Jamie Loeb will be back in the Top 200 after reaching the biggest final of her career this week at the WTA 125 in Charleston South Carolina. The 26-year-old from New York, who won the NCAA singles title in 2015 as a sophomore at North Carolina, defeated Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-2 in today's semifinal. She will face No. 4 seed Varvara Lepchenko, who beat No. 2 seed Lauren Davis 7-5, 6-3. Loeb was coming off a rough stretch on European clay after Wimbledon qualifying, winning just one qualifying match in four tournaments, so the Har-Tru of Charleston must have been more to her liking. Her previous best result was an appearance in the final of the Midland $100K in 2018, where she beat both Sofia Kenin and Jennifer Brady, losing to Madison Brengle in the final.

En-Shuo Liang of Taiwan and Rebecca Marino of Canada won the doubles title, with the unseeded pair defeating top seeds Erin Routliffe(Alabama) of New Zealand and Aldila Sutjiadi(Kentucky) of Indonesia 5-7, 7-5, 10-7.

Brandon Nakashima has been on a roll the past two weeks, reaching his first final at last week's ATP 250 in Los Cabos and his second this week at the 250 in Atlanta. Today Nakashima defeated Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to set up an all-US final against the winner of tonight's match between John Isner and Taylor Fritz. It was just two years ago that Nakashima was preparing to play the Kalamazoo 18s as the top seed; he lost in the semifinals to champion Zachary Svajda 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Kaitlin Quevedo has been on a tear since capturing the USTA Girls 16s Clay Court singles championship two weeks ago in Huntsville Alabama. Last week the 15-year-old Floridian won her first ITF Junior Circuit title at the J5 in Medellin Colombia to run her winning streak to 13; she added five more wins to that this week, with the title at the J3 in Bogota Colombia. Unseeded, she again didn't drop a set all week, defeating top seed Lucciana Perez Alarcon of Peru 6-4, 6-1 in the final. Quevedo is showing as withdrawn from the USTA Nationals in San Diego next month.

At this week's J3 in Paraguay, 15-year-old Mia Slama won an all-American final, with the No. 2 seed defeating No. 8 seed Tatum Evans 6-3, 6-4. It's Slama's fifth ITF junior singles title, with her previous four coming at the J4 and J5 levels.

Jonah Braswell, the 2020 16s Orange Bowl champion, is not playing Kalamazoo, but was in Germany for a J4 this week. Although he lost in the first round as the No. 2 seed, he did win the doubles title, partnering with Massimo Giunta of Italy. The No. 4 seeds defeated No. 3 seeds Cesar Bouchelaghem and Tiago Pires of France 3-6, 6-1, 11-9 in the final.

I wrote about Michael Venus getting a bronze medal yesterday in men's doubles at the Tokyo Olympics and two more former collegians also took third, with John Peers(Baylor), playing with Ashleigh Barty, taking the bronze in mixed for Australia and Luisa Stefani(Pepperdine) taking bronze for Brazil in the women's doubles with partner Laura Pigossi. It's Brazil's first tennis medal.

Qualifying for next week's WTA 500 in San Jose began today, and two of the junior contenders warming up there in the qualifying won their matches today. Wild card Ashlyn Krueger defeated WTA 183 and No. 7 seed Valeria Savinykh of Russia 6-1, 7-6(2) and wild card Robin Montgomery defeated No. 5 seed Arina Rodionova of Australia 6-4, 6-0. Krueger faces Na-Lae Han of Korea for a place in the main draw; Montgomery's opponent is the winner of tonight's match between Ana Konjuh of Croatia and Eri Hozumi of Japan.

Friday, July 30, 2021

My Kalamazoo and San Diego Preview on Cracked Racquets Podcast; Nakashima, Loeb and Shelton Reach Semifinals in Atlanta, Charleston and Champaign

Cracked Racquet's Alex Gruskin and I hadn't talked since the NCAAs back in May, but we got together this morning to preview the USTA 18s Nationals in San Diego and Kalamazoo. Although neither the seeds nor the draws are out yet, we highlighted those we thought could contend for the US Open main draw wild cards that are the carrots for most of the top players entering these events. With defending champion Zachary Svajda returning, there isn't much doubt who will be the top seed for the boys, but the girls top seed isn't as clear cut. We speculate on the chances of the two NCAA team champions who received wild cards, Kylie Collins of Texas and Ben Shelton of Florida, and make our predictions.

We also talked about the prospects for American tennis in the coming decade and what the USTA considers as success when it comes to the performance of Americans. The podcast can be found here, or search for Great Shot podcast wherever you get your podcasts. 

Shelton will be coming into Kalamazoo with some impressive results in this week's $25,000 tournament on the USTA Pro Circuit in Champaign. The 18-year-old wild card defeated 2019 NCAA champion Paul Jubb(South Carolina) of Great Britain 6-1, 6-2 in today's quarterfinals, while also reaching the doubles final with Texas rising sophomore Eliot Spizzirri. Shelton will face Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan in the singles semifinals, while he and Spizzirri will take on No. 2 seeds Yunseong Chung of Korean and Rio Noguchi of Japan in the doubles final. 

Brandon Nakashima continues to post wins at the ATP 250 level, beating Jordan Thompson of Australia, whom he defeated last week in Los Cabos, again today in Atlanta. Nakashima did not need a third set tiebreaker this time, earning a 7-6(5), 7-5 win that should put him into the ATP Top 100 for the first time. Nakashima will play Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland in the semifinals, after Ruusuvuori beat No. 3 seed Cameron Norrie(TCU) of Great Britain 7-6(1), 6-3.  Taylor Fritz[5] defeated Reilly Opelka[4] 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-6(4) to advance to the semifinals, where he'll meet the winner of tonight's match between No. 6 seed John Isner(Georgia) and qualifier Christopher O'Connell of Australia.

At the WTA 125 in Charleston South Carolina, Jamie Loeb(UNC) is through to the semifinals after defeating En-Shou Liang of Taiwan 6-3, 6-3. She will play Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine, who prevented an all-US semifinal slate with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Emma Navarro(Virginia). No. 2 seed Lauren Davis beat Maria Mateas 6-3, 7-5 and will play No. 4 seed Varvara Lepchenko, a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Hanna Chang. 

There were no Olympic medals in tennis for the United States this year in Tokyo, but Michael Venus, the former LSU star, earned a bronze medal for New Zealand when he and Marcus Daniell defeated Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren 7-6(3), 6-2. It's the first tennis medal for that country. John Peers(Baylor) of Australia and Luisa Stefani(Pepperdine) of Brazil are playing in the mixed and women's doubles bronze medal matches.

The main draw for next week's ATP Citi Open in Washington DC was released today, with Jenson Brooksby added as a wild card, after the tournament previous awarded wild cards to top seed Rafael Nadal, Feliciano Lopez, Jack Sock and Nakashima. Brooksby will play Kevin Anderson in a rematch of the ATP Hall of Fame Open earlier this month. Unlike Atlanta, which is a 32-draw with four byes, Washington, a 500 level event, is a 64-draw with 16 byes.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Nakashima Defeats Top Seed Raonic to Reach Atlanta Quarterfinals; Mateas Joins Five Other Americans in Charleston WTA 125 Quarterfinals; Exsted and An Win Les Petits As USA Playoffs; New Endorsement for Montgomery

Brandon Nakashima decided to take advantage of his special exemption into the Truist Atlanta Open this week after reaching his first ATP final last week in Los Cabos, when he had to be tempted to take the week off to recover.  But there's a case to be made for momentum as well, and in Atlanta Nakashima got by wild card Trent Bryde(Georgia) 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-4 in the first round to earn a shot at top seed Milos Raonic of Canada, who took a wild card this week to play in his first event since March. The former Virginia star, who turns 20 on Tuesday, took advantage of Raonic's rust to post a 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(4) win late last night, which put him in his third career ATP quarterfinal. He will play Jordan Thompson of Australia on Friday. For more on Nakashima's big win, his first over a Top 30 player, see this ATP article.

The ATP Citi Open in Washington DC announced three of its wild cards for next week's tournament, with Nakashima, Denis Kudla and Feliciano Lopez of Spain receiving entry into the main draw.

At the WTA 125 in Charleston South Carolina, Maria Mateas, the former Duke star, advanced to the quarterfinals, defeating Aldila Sutjiadi(Kentucky) of Indonesia 7-6(5), 6-4. Mateas will face No. 2 seed Lauren Davis in the Friday's quarterfinals. An American finalist is assured, with the other quarterfinal in the bottom half featuring No. 4 seed Varvara Lepchenko and Hanna Chang. In the top half, Jamie Loeb(UNC) will face En-Shou Liang of Taiwan, and Emma Navarro(Virginia) will take on Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine. Davis and Lepchenko are the only seeds remaining.

At the $25,000 USTA men's tournament in Champaign, 18-year-old wild card Ben Shelton(Florida) advanced to his first quarterfinal on the Pro Circuit, defeating Christian Langmo(Miami) 6-4, 6-4. Shelton will face No. 8 seed and 2019 NCAA singles champion Paul Jubb(South Carolina) of Great Britain, who defeated qualifier Peter Bertran(South Florida) of the Dominican Republic 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-3. Shelton and Eliot Spizzirri(Texas) also advanced to the semifinals in doubles with a win today.

The Les Petits As USA playoffs concluded today in Boca Raton Florida, with Max Exsted and Claire An taking the titles. Exsted defeated Jacob Olar 6-4, 6-2 and An downed Emily Deming 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. All four finalists had already earned main draw entry into the prestigious 14U tournament in Tarbes France in September. The third place matches decided who would get the third main draw spot reserved for US players, with Darwin Blanch defeating Matisse Farzam 6-4, 6-2 and Riley Crowder beating Sasha Kilgour 6-2, 7-5. Farzam and Kilgour will receive spots in the qualifying draw.

The last chance for a US medal in tennis at the Tokyo Olympics is up to Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M) and Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee), who will play in the bronze medal match in men's doubles. After losing to top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals Thursday, Krajicek and Sandgren will play Michael Venus(LSU) and Marcus Daniell of New Zealand Friday.

Robin Montgomery, who signed with IMG last summer, has signed an endorsement contract with Fila. The 16-year-old has worn Fila throughout her junior career, with the Junior Tennis Champions Center, where she trains, affiliated with the sportswear company. For more on Fila's addition of Montgomery to their sponsored professional athletes, see this Tennis Connected article.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Navarro Reaches Quarterfinals at WTA 125 in Charleston; New WTA Tournament in Chicago; Sandgren and Krajicek Advance to Olympic Men's Doubles Semifinals; Shelton Defeats No. 3 Seed in Champaign; US Competitors Decided for September's Les Petits As

Since winning the NCAA singles title as a freshman at Virginia back in May, Emma Navarro has reached two quarterfinals at $60,000 women's ITF World Tennis Tour tournaments. Today she added a quarterfinal at a WTA 125 event, held in her hometown of Charleston South Carolina, with the 20-year-old defeating Alexa Glatch 6-3, 6-3 in second round. She also advanced to the quarterfinals in doubles with partner Sophie Chang, beating Sachia Vickery and Madison Brengle 2-6, 6-2, 10-4.

Katrina Scott, who took out top seed Madison Brengle yesterday, lost to Jamie Loeb(North Carolina) in today's second round 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

The WTA posted its calendar for the remainder of 2021 today, and included is a new 500 level tournament for Chicago in September. With a 125 in Chicago August 16-22 and a 250 there the following week, that's a lot of tennis for the Windy City after having nothing there for many years.

The ATP announced the new dates for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and a couple of cancellations on its fall schedule earlier this month.

The hopes for US medal in tennis at the Tokyo Olympics rest with two former collegians, with 2011 NCAA doubles champion Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M) and Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) advancing to the men's doubles semifinals with a 6-3, 7-6(4) decision over Alexander Zverev and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany. Their semifinal opponent will be top seeds Nikola Mectic and Mate Pavic of Croatia, who have dominated the ATP doubles circuit this year with eight titles, including Wimbledon. 

The other male with college ties still in contention for a medal is former LSU star Michael Venus of New Zealand, who is playing with Marcus Daniell. The pair defeated No. 3 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah(USC) of Colombia 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 in the quarterfinals, and will face Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig of Croatia for a place in the gold medal match.

In the women's doubles, former Pepperdine star Luisa Stefani of Brazil is through to the semifinals, with her partner Lisa Pigossi. Stefani and Pigossi, who beat the No. 7 seeds in the first round, took out No. 4 seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jessica Pegula 1-6, 6-3, 10-6 in the quarterfinals.

The men's singles draw is here, the women's singles draw is here, and the mixed draw is here

It's always interesting to monitor the USTA Pro Circuit events in the weeks before Kalamazoo to see who is preparing for the National 18s by competing against top collegians and pros. Last week at the Edwardsville $15K, Victor Lilov and Bruno Kuzuhara each won a match; this week at the $25,000 Champaign tournament, Ben Shelton has moved into the round of 16, beating No. 3 seed Yunseong Chung of Korea 7-5, 6-0. 

There was a rain delay at the Les Petit As USA playoffs in Boca Raton today, but they did complete their schedule of quarterfinals and semifinals, so those who will travel to Tarbes France for September's prestigious 14U tournament have been decided. With just three places in the main draw reserved for US players, the loser of the third place match will be in qualifying, not the main draw, but they are part of the traveling team.

The boys who won their quarterfinal matches today are Darwin Blanch[1], Matisse Farzam[2], Max Exsted[3] and Jacob Olar.

Exsted beat Blanch 6-2, 7-6(1) to advance to the final against Olar, who defeated Farzam 6-3, 6-1. Farzam and Blanch will play for that third main draw spot Thursday.

The girls who won their quarterfinal matches today are Riley Crowder, Emily Deming[4], Sasha Kilgour and Claire An.

Deming defeated Crowder 6-2, 6-2 to secure her place in the main draw; An downed Kilgour 6-0, 6-0, with Crowder and Kilgour playing for the third spot in the main draw for the girls.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Scott Ousts Top Seed Brengle at WTA 125 in Charleston; Qualifying Complete at Champaign $25K; Les Petits As USA Playoffs Move to Quarterfinals; US Olympic Tennis Medal Chances Down to Doubles

The WTA 125 tournament in Charleston South Carolina completed its first round today in spite of a lengthy rain delay and the day ended with a bang, when 17-year-old Katrina Scott defeated top seed Madison Brengle 6-0, 6-3. Scott, currently at a career-high WTA ranking of 384, earned her first WTA Top 100 win against No. 75 Brengle, and will face 2015 NCAA singles champion Jamie Loeb(North Carolina) in the round of 16 Wednesday.

Virginia rising sophomore Emma Navarro, the reigning NCAA singles champion, also advanced today, defeating No. 6 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 7-6(5), 6-0. Navarro will play Alexa Glatch in the second round Wednesday.

The qualifying concluded today at the $25,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit tournament in Champaign, with five Americans advancing to the main draw: Billy Griffith(Cal), Lucas Horve(Illinois), Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State), Eliot Spizzirri(Texas) and Alfredo Perez(Florida). Wild cards went to Hunter Heck(Illinois), Ben Shelton(Florida), Olivier Stuart(Illinois) of France and Siphosothando Montsi(Illinois) of South Africa.

Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan is the No. 1 seed, with Sekou Bangoura seeded No. 2.

The round robin stage of the Les Petits As USA Playoffs are complete with eight boys and eight girls advancing to the the knockout stage of the competition in Boca Raton Florida. 

The boys who won their groups are: Darwin Blanch, Matisse Farzam, Max Exsted and Maximus Dussault. Those who finished in second place, who also advanced to the quarterfinals are: Calvin Baierl, Nicholas Patrick, Jacob Olar and Oliver Narbut.

The girls who won their groups are: Akasha Urhobo, Iva Jovic, Maya Iyengar and Emily Deming. The second-place finishers who advanced are: Riley Crowder, Elena Zhao, Sasha Kilgour and Claire An.

Two matches will be played on Wednesday, with the finalists earning main draw entry in September's Les Petits As competition. The third place winner will also get in the main draw, with the fourth place finisher getting a qualifying spot.

The draws and the order of play for Wednesday can be found here.

The first round of the ATP Lexington Challenger has a few more matches yet to play this evening, but top seed Jenson Brooksby is through to the second round with a 6-3, 6-3 win over University of Kentucky rising junior Liam Draxl, who received a wild card.  Wild cards Stefan Dostanic(USC) and Govind Nanda(UCLA) also lost their first round matches. No. 2 seed Alex Bolt withdrew, so No. 3 seed Maxime Cressy(UCLA) is the highest seed in the bottom half, although Cary champion Mitchell Krueger, who is unseeded this week, is also in the bottom half.

The last two Americans in Olympic singles lost Tuesday, with Marcos Giron(UCLA) going out to Kei Nishikori of Japan 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1 and Francis Tiafoe losing to No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-3, 6-4. 

That leaves doubles as the only option for a US medal, with Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) and Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M) through to the quarterfinals in the men's doubles and No. 4 seeds Jessica Pegula and Bethanie Mattek-Sands into the women's doubles quarterfinals.

The mixed doubles draw is now out, with Rajeev Ram(Illinois) and defending champion Bethanie-Mattek Sands the No. 3 seeds. They will play their first match Wednesday.

The women's singles draw is here; the men's singles draw is here.

Monday, July 26, 2021

USTA National Hard Courts Wild Cards; Ruzic and Bielinskyi Win ITF B1 European Championships; Unseeded Champions at Tennis Europe 14s

The wild cards for the upcoming USTA National Championships have been named, with the lists below. All the listed players may not have formally accepted the wild cards, but they have been offered a place in the main draw.

Boys 18s
Ben Shelton
Zachary Svajda
Quinn Vandecasteele
Connor Krug
Jake Krug
Tauheed Browning
Ellis Short (withdrew)
Yannik Rahman(withdrew)
Evan Wen

Girls 18s
Kylie Collins
Rachel Gailis
Qavia Lopez
Gabby Price
Ava Krug
Natalie Block

Boys 16s
Kaylan Bigun
Meecah Bigun
Mason Nguyen(withdrew)
Matthew Staton
Maxim Michaels

Girls 16s
Maya Iyengar
Alexia Harmon
Cleo Hutchinson

Boys 14s
Carel Ngounoue
Ilija Palavestra
James Weber
Jack Lindstrom
Vishal Potharaju

Girls 14s
Marcella Roversi
Ishika Khune

Boys 12s
Abel Jackson
Shaan Majeed
Ryan Roedl

Girls 12s
Harper Stone
Ariana Ikwueme
Gabby Slovak
Bella Arwood

The wild cards for the US Open granted for National results are as follows (with ITF age-eligibility a prerequisite):

18s singles champions:
US Open main draw wild card
US Open Junior Championships main draw

18s singles finalists:
US Open qualifying wild card
US Open Junior Championships main draw

18s doubles champions:
US Open main draw (must play with same partner) 
US Open Junior Championships main draw(must play with same partner)

18s third place:
US Open Junior Championships main draw

16s champions:
US Open Junior Championships main draw

18s 4th and 5th place:
US Open Junior Championships qualifying draw

Note that with the US Open Junior draws reduced to 48 main and 24 qualifying, there are just six main draw wild cards and four qualifying wild cards to be distributed this year. Two of the main draw wild cards are already spoken for, going to Clay Court 18s champions Amelia Honer and Ryan Colby.

14s champions Nikola Djosic(SUI) and Tereza Valentova(CZE)
photo credit: Richard van Loon

The European Championships for the Tennis Europe 14s and the ITF B1 concluded on Sunday, with two unseeded players taking the titles in the younger age division.

Nikola Djosic of Switzerland defeated No. 5 seed Jan Kumstat of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-3 in the boys final, with that middle set the only one he lost in seven matches. Kumstat did take the doubles title, with Maxim Mrva; the top seeds defeated No. 6 seeds Justin Engel and Max Schoenhaus of Germany 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

Tereza Valentov of the Czech Republic won the girls title, beating top seed Alina Korneeva of Russia 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in the final. Valentova also won the doubles title, with Marie Slamenik; the No. 3 seeds defeated top seeds Rositsa Dencheva and Yoana Konstantinova of Bulgaria  6-3, 7-6(3) in the final.

A slideshow of the final day of the 14s is available at Richard van Loon's Toptennis.photos.  

The full draws are available here.

The ITF JB1 Closed in Klosters Switzerland also produced an unexpected champion, with the girls winner ITF No. 173 Antonia Ruzic of Croatia. Ruzic, 18, had not played a junior event since March of 2020, but she beat both No. 3 seed Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic and 2020 French Open girls champion and top seed Elsa Jacquemot oF France to reach the final. There she encountered ITF No. 99 Alina Granwehr of Switzerland, who had beaten 2021 French Open girls champion and No. 4 seed Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic in the semifinals. Ruzic took the championship match by a 7-5, 2-0 retired score and moved to No. 84 in this week's ITF Junior rankings.

No. 3 seeds Mara Guth and Julia Middendorf of Germany won the girls doubles title, beating top seeds Noskova and Diana Shnaider of Russia 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 in the final.

The boys European B1 champion is No. 2 seed Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine, who defeated No. 8 seed Petr Nesterov of Bulgaria 7-5, 6-3 in the final. Bielinskyi, 17, moved into the Top 10 in the ITF junior rankings with the title.

The boys doubles title went to No. 6 seeds Adam Jurajda and Daniel Siniakov of the Czech Republic, who defeated unseeded Jerome Kym and Jan Sebesta of Switzerland 5-7, 6-3, 11-9 in the final. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Collins, Alcaraz and Norrie Claim First WTA and ATP Titles; Krueger Wins Cary Challenger; Hijikata Earns Second Straight $15K in Edwardsville; US Olympic Update

Two-time NCAA champion Danielle Collins captured her first WTA singles title Sunday at the 250 event in Palermo Italy. Collins, who was a sophomore at Virginia when she won her first NCAA title in 2014 and a senior when she won her second in 2016, has been a fixture in the Top 50 for the past four years, but she had not made a final until this week's tournament, where she was the top seed. Up against qualifier Gabriela Ruse of Romania, who had beaten Collins earlier this month in Hamburg, the 27-year-old Floridian got her revenge, taking a 6-4, 6-2 victory. All five of Collins' victories came in straight sets.

Collins isn't the only 2014 NCAA champion to win a title in Palermo this week, with Erin Routliffe taking the women's doubles title, her first, with partner Kimberley Zimmerman of Belgium. Routliffe, who represents New Zealand, won back-to-back NCAA doubles titles in 2014 and 2015 with Maya Jansen at the University of Alabama. This week, the No. 4 seeds defeated unseeded Natela Dzalamidze and Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia 7-6(5), 4-6, 10-4 in the final. 

Cameron Norrie of Great Britain won his first ATP title, although he was playing in his fifth ATP final last night at the Mifel Open in Los Cabos Mexico. The former TCU star, also the top seed, defeated unseeded 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima 6-2, 6-2 for his 39th win of the year. Three of his 14 losses this year came in finals, so it was surely a relief for the 25-year-old left-hander to secure that first title.

Another first-time ATP champion today was Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, which despite his tender age was also impatiently awaited. The 18-year-old won the ATP 250 in Umag Croatia, defeating Richard Gasquet of France 6-2, 6-2 in the final to become the youngest ATP champion since Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach Open in 2008. Alcaraz, who has won 4 Challenger titles in the past 12 months, was playing in his first ATP final. Alcaraz played only two ITF junior slams, losing in the first round of the 2019 French to Toby Kodat and the quarterfinals of 2019 Wimbledon to Martin Damm.

Fifteen-year-old Sara Bejlek of the Czech Republic completed her dream week, winning the $60,000 ITF Women's World Tennis Tour tournament in her home country as a wild card. Bejlek, who is ranked 57 in the ITF juniors and lost in the second round at Roehampton, Wimbledon and the JA in Milan, blitzed through the field this week, beating No. 2 seed Francesca Jones of Great Britain 6-0, 6-3 in the semifinals and then not allowing Paula Ormaechea of Argentina a game in the final. She will move into the WTA Top 500 after starting the week outside the Top 1000.

Mitchell Krueger won the ATP Challenger 80 in Cary North Carolina, the second Challenger title of his career, with a 7-6(4), 6-2 victory over No. 8 seed Ramkumar Ramanathan of India. The 27-year-old, seeded No. 6 this week, previously won the Dallas Challenger in February of 2019.

Qualifying has begun for next week's Lexington Challenger 80, with Jenson Brooksby the top seed in the main draw. Brooksby will play ITA National Player of the Year Liam Draxl of Canada, a wild card entrant, in the first round. Stefan Dostanic(USC) and Govind Nanda(UCLA) also received wild cards into the main draw.

University of North Carolina rising junior Rinky Hijikata of Australia could have decided to take a pass on this week's $15,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit tournament in Edwardsville Illinois after winning a $15,000 title in Tunisia last week. But he made the trip back to the United States and ended up going back-to-back half a world away, beating No. 3 seed Strong Kirchheimer, the former Northwestern star, 6-3, 6-1 in today's final. He is now 13-1 since the month began, and has now won three career ITF singles titles.

With no Americans scheduled to compete in the Olympics on Monday, it's a good time to catch up on the first round. Two US men have advanced in singles, but all three US women fell in the first round, as did women's top seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia. 

First round results for Americans, courtesy of USTA:

Frances Tiafoe (USA) def. Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 63 62

Marcos Giron (USA) def. Norbert Gombos (SVK) 76(4) 36 62

Aslan Karatsev[11] (ROC) def. Tommy Paul (USA) 63 62

Pablo Busta Carreno[6] (ESP) def. Tennys Sandgren (USA) 75 62

Camila Giorgi (ITA) def. Jennifer Brady[11] (USA) 36 26

Belinda Bencic[9] (SUI) def. Jessica Pegula (USA) 63 63

Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) def. Alison Riske (USA) 67(0) 75 64

Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Jessica Pegula[4] (USA) def. Magda Linette/Alicja Rosolska (POL) 61 63

Darija Jurak/Donna Vekic (CRO) def. Nicole Melichar/Alison Riske[8] (USA) 36 75 (10-2)

Rajeev Ram & Frances Tiafoe (USA) def. Karen Khachanov & Andrey Rublev (ROC) 67(3) 76(5) (12-10)

Austin Krajicek/Tennys Sandgren (USA) def. John Peers/Max Purcell (AUS) 36 76(5) (10-5)

The USTA has also published quotes from the Americans competing in Tokyo here and here.

The draws:

men's singles

women's singles

men's doubles

women's doubles

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Wagle, Quevedo Earn ITF Junior Circuit Titles; Kypson Wins Luxembourg $15K; Hijikata and Kirchheimer in Edwardsville $15K Final; Krueger and Ramanathan Advance at Cary Challenger; Nakashima, Collins Reach ATP/WTA Finals

Elise Wagle, seeded No. 6, won her first ITF Junior Circuit singles title today at the J3 in the Dominican Republic. The UCLA incoming freshman emerged from an all-USA final four in the girls draw, defeating No. 7 seed Olivia Lincer 7-6(3), 6-3 in the championship match. Wagle did not drop a set all week. She and Leah Kuruvilla also reached the doubles final, where the unseeded pair lost to Maria Castano of Spain and Zara Larke of Australia, also unseeded, 7-5, 4-6, 10-6. 

Kaitlin Quevedo, who just won the 16s USTA Clay Court title in Huntsville Alabama, went directly to Colombia for the J5 this week, and will return with the winner's trophy, her first on the ITF Junior Circuit. The unseeded 15-year-old from Naples defeated the No. 4 seed in the first round and the top seed in the semifinals before breezing past Mariapaz Ospina of Colombia 6-2, 6-0 in the final. She also did not lose a set all week. Felipe Pinzon, the Boys 16s Clay Court champion, lost in the semifinals to top seed Nicolas Mendoza of Colombia.

Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) missed most of 2019 with an injury, and then of course lost a lot of opportunities due to the pandemic last year, but he is putting together a good 2021. The 21-year-old from North Carolina is 13-4 this year on the ITF Men's World Tennis Tour, including his first title since last March at the $15,000 WTT tournament this week in Luxembourg. Kypson, the 2017 Kalamazoo 18s champion, beat No. 2 seed Filip Peliwo of Canada in the first round, then three consecutive qualifiers before facing the No. 4 seed, 18-year-old Nicholas David Ionel of Romania in today's final. It took nearly three hours, but Kypson won that battle 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

At the $15,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit tournament in Edwardsville Illinois, Rinky Hijikata of Australia will go for his second title in as many weeks against Strong Kirchheimer. Hijikata, the rising junior at North Carolina, won a $15K title last week in Tunisia, then returned to the US and picked up right where he left off. Hijikata defeated wild card Cannon Kingsley(Ohio State) 7-6(3), 6-7(6), 6-2 in three hours and two minutes, while Kirchheimer, the No. 3 seed, eliminated No. 6 seed Christian Langmo(Miami) 6-4, 6-4. Kirchheimer is looking for his first title since February of last year.

No. 2 seeds Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) and Reese Stalder(TCU) won the doubles title today, defeating the unseeded team of Langmo and Bruno Kuzuhara 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

The final is set at the ATP Challenger 80 in Cary North Carolina, with No. 6 seed Mitchell Krueger facing No. 8 seed Ramkumar Ramanathan of India for the title. Krueger ended the run of wild card Govind Nanda(UCLA) 6-3, 6-2, while Ramanathan overcame a fast start by Stefan Kozlov to overtake the tiring American 1-6, 6-3, 6-1. 

The Cary doubles title went to top seeds Christian Harrison and Dennis Novikov(UCLA), who defeated unseeded Petros Chrysochos(Wake Forest) of Cyprus and Michail Pervolarakis(Portland) of Greece 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

Brandon Nakashima will play for his first ATP title tonight against top seed Cameron Norrie at the 250 tournament in Los Cabos Mexico. The 19-year-old from San Diego, who spent one semester at the University of Virginia, last night defeated No. 2 seed John Isner 7-5, 6-4, the third seed he has defeated this week, to earn a shot against the former TCU star from Great Britain, who is playing in his fifth ATP final, but still looking for his first ATP title. Norrie rolled over No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz 6-3, 6-1 in the other semifinal Friday night.

Although two-time NCAA champion Danielle Collins(Virginia) has reached a slam semifinal and a slam quarterfinal, she has never played in a WTA final. That changes Sunday, when the 27-year-old from Florida takes on Gabriela Ruse of Romania for the title at the WTA 250 in Palermo Italy. Collins, the top seed, defeated No. 4 seed Shuai Zhang of China 6-4, 6-3 in today's semifinals. Ruse, a qualifier, beat Collins earlier this month in the Hamburg quarterfinals 6-4, 1-6, 7-5, and the 23-year-old went on to take the title.

Qualifying for the ATP 250 Truist Atlanta Open began today, with only one of the four Americans in the 16-player field advancing to Sunday's final round. Austrian Sebastian Ofner defeated Wimbledon boys champion and wild card Samir Banerjee 7-5, 6-4, with Noah Rubin and Donald Young also losing their first round matches. Bjorn Fratangelo will play Jason Jung(Michigan) of Taiwan for a place in the main draw.

The draw was released today, with wild card Trent Bryde(Georgia) set to face Nakashima, who received a special exemption because he is in the Los Cabos final. The winner of that match will take on top seed Milos Raonic of Canada.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Clay Court 18s Recaps; More College Coaching News; Kingsley Reaches Evansville $15K Semifinals; Nanda Through to Cary Challenger Semis; Conversation with Brooksby's Longtime Coach

The Tennis Recruiting Network wraps up it USTA Clay Court Championship coverage today with articles on the Boys 18s title for Ryan Colby and the Girls 18s title for Amelia Honer. The article on Honer contains the news that the ITA All-American Women's Championships this fall will be held at the LTP Tennis Club in Mt. Pleasant South Carolina, which hosted the Clays, along with many UTR, ITF and WTA tournaments this year. The ITA events page confirms Charleston SC as the location of the tournament, October 4-10.

Two more college coaching vacancies have been filled, with Drew Eberly, a recent associate head coach at Denver, returning to take the men's head coaching position. He replaces Ricky Rubio, who along with women's head coach Christian Bass, resigned earlier this summer.  At New Mexico, Chris Russell takes the men's head coaching job, replacing Ben Dunbar, who resigned last month. Russell has been associate head coach at the University of Washington for the past 17 years.

The Oklahoma State women's team announced the signing of three recruits and one transfer, including former ITF World Junior No. 14 Manachaya Sawangkaew of Thailand (referred to in the release as Mhai Mananchaya). I'm not sure how much eligibility Oona Orpana of Finland will have, as she is 20 years old, but she has not played since March of 2020. Martina Zerulo of Italy, who played No. 1 and No. 2 at Arkansas, is the transfer. 

There will be two semifinals Saturday at the $15,000 USTA Men's Pro Circuit tournament in Edwardsville Illinois, with the top half featuring former collegians and the bottom half current collegians.

No. 6 seed Christian Langmo(Miami) defeated top seed Paul Jubb(South Carolina) of Great Britain 6-3, 6-2 to set up a meeting with No. 3 seed Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern). Kirchheimer ended the run of wild card Eliot Spizzirri with a 6-2, 6-0 win over the Texas rising junior. 

The other wild card in the quarterfinals, Ohio State rising junior Cannon Kingsley, advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over qualifier Billy Griffith(Cal). He will play North Carolina rising junior Rinky Hijikata of Australia, who received a walkover from Blaise Bicknell(Florida) yesterday.

Langmo and Bruno Kuzuhara have advanced to the doubles final, beating wild cards Nic Meister and Siphosothando Montsi(Illinois) 6-4, 6-3. Langmo and Kuzuhara will face No. 2 seeds Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) and Reese Stalder(TCU), after Ponwith and Stalder defeated No. 3 seeds Tristan Schoolkate and Dane Sweeney of Australia 3-6, 6-3, 10-4.

The semifinals are set at the ATP Cary Challenger, with Govind Nanda taking on Mitchell Krueger and Ramkumar Ramanathan of India facing Stefan Kozlov.

Nanda, who is 10-1 since turning pro after his third season at UCLA, came from a set and two breaks down to defeat Christian Harrison 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-3. The 2019 Kalamazoo 18s finalist, who received a last minute wild card into this week's tournament, had never gotten past the second round of a Challenger until this week. Krueger, the No. 6 seed, defeated qualifier Genaro Olivieri of Argentina 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

In the last match of the night, Kozlov defeated No. 7 seed Christopher Eubanks 5-7, 6-1, 6-3, the third consecutive win the 23-year-old old has had from a set down. Kozlov will face the only non-American in the semifinals, No. 8 seed Ramanathan of India, who beat No. 2 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India from a set and a break down 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. 

Jenson Brooksby, who was expected to be the top seed in Cary, but withdrew after reaching the ATP 250 Hall of Fame Open final last week, is scheduled to play the Lexington Challenger next week, as he did not receive a wild card into the ATP 250 in Atlanta. Matt Cronin spoke with Brooksby's longtime coach Joe Gilbert about his student's physical development, strengths, the improvements still needed and his comeback from the injury that kept him out of action for all of 2020 in this tennis.com article. When I spoke to Brooksby after his quarterfinal win at the Hall of Fame tournament, I asked him if he was still being coached by Gilbert, as many players and their developmental coaches part ways after the juniors. Brooksby said that yes, he was still with Gilbert after 13 years, and that Gilbert was traveling with him often as well, although he was not in Newport that week. 

At the WTA 250 tournament in Palermo, top seed Danielle Collins(Virginia) defeated Astra Sharma(Vanderbilt) 6-1, 6-4 after midnight Friday in Italy, to advance to the semifinals. The two-time NCAA champion will play No. 4 seed Shuai Zhang of China Saturday.

At the ATP 250 in Los Cabos, Brandon Nakashima(Virginia) advanced to his first ATP semifinal late last night, saving three matches points in his 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4) win over No. 5 seed Jordan Thompson of Australia. Nakashima plays No. 2 seed John Isner in tonight's semifinal, with No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz playing top seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain. 

The qualifying for the ATP 250 Truist Atlanta Open begins Saturday, with Wimbledon boys champion Samir Banerjee facing No. 6 seed and ATP 165 Sebastian Ofner of Austria.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

ITA Announces Location for Fall National Championships; All-Collegiate Quarterfinals at Edwardsville $15K; USTA Clay Court 16s Recaps; Olympic Tennis Draws; Nakashima Advances to Los Cabos Quarterfinals

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced the location of its 2021 National Fall Championships, one of the three collegiate "majors" in Division I. After taking place last year at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, this year's tournament will be held at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, from Thursday November 4 through Sunday November 7.

The 32-player draws for both men and women will be filled with ITA regional champions, as well at-large and wild card entries. This will be the fifth year for this event, which replaced the National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships on the calendar. There is no mention of prize money this year, and no mention of the event being open to any non-college players, as it was last year. And speaking of no mentions, Oracle, who had given so much support to the ITA prior to Mark Hurd's death, is no longer listed in the tournament's name.

For more on this year's event, see this release from the ITA (I'm sure the reference to 64 doubles teams is in error and should be 32 doubles teams or 64 doubles players). Alexa Graham of North Carolina and Trey Hilderbrand of Central Florida won the singles titles last year(no doubles were played).

The quarterfinals are set at the men's $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Edwardsville Illinois, with all eight players either current or former college players. 

2019 NCAA champion Paul Jubb(South Carolina) of Great Britain will play No. 6 seed Christian Langmo(Miami), and wild card Eliot Spizzirri(Texas rising junior) will take on No. 3 seed Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern) in the top half. 

In the bottom half, wild card Cannon Kingsley (Ohio State rising junior) will face qualifier Billy Griffith(Cal). Blaise Bicknell (Florida rising junior) withdrew, giving Rinky Hijikata (North Carolina rising junior) of Australia a walkover into the semifinals. 

Langmo and Bruno Kuzuhara have advanced to the doubles semifinals, where they will face wild cards Nic Meister and South Africa's Siphosothando Montsi (Illinois rising juniors). Meister and Montsi defeated top seeds Evan Zhu(UCLA) and Igor Marcondes of Brazil 6-4, 6-4 today. 

The Tennis Recruiting Network's recaps of the 16s USTA Clay Court Championships are available today, providing details of the titles by Kaitlin Quevedo and Felipe Pinzon, both of whom were seeded outside the Top 16. In a remarkable coincidence, both are playing the ITF J5 this week in Colombia, and both have advanced to the semifinals, Pinzon as the No. 6 seed, Quevedo unseeded.

The Olympics begin Friday in Tokyo and tennis is among the first sports that will take place the first week. 

The draws have been published, with the men representing the US in singles Marcos Giron, Tommy Paul, Frances Tiafoe and Tennys Sandgren.  Sandgren, Tiafoe, Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek are the US men in the doubles draw. None are seeded.

The women representing the United States in singles are Jessica Pegula, Jennifer Brady[11] and Alison Riske. Coco Gauff was named to the team, but tested positive for Covid-19. Pegula and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, seeded No. 4, and Riske and Nicole Melichar, seeded No. 8, are the US doubles teams. 

The mixed doubles draw has yet to be released.

It's been difficult to follow the ATP 250 tournament in Los Cabos Mexico with the matches all in the late afternoon/evening three time zones away, but Brandon Nakashima(Virginia) defeated No. 4 seed Sam Querrey 6-3, 6-4 last night to reach his second career ATP quarterfinal. Nakashima will face No. 5 seed Jordan Thompson of Australia later tonight. Steve Johnson and No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz will also play tonight, each other, while No. 2 seed John Isner meets Alex Bolt of Australia. Cameron Norrie(TCU) of Great Britian defeated Ernesto Escobedo 6-1, 6-1 in the first quarterfinal completed today.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

News and Notes from Junior, College and Pro Tennis

Today is a good day to post links to items that go from those in the 14s age division through the highest level of pro tennis.

Tennis Recruiting Network has the recaps of Dali Blanch's Boys 14s and Tianmei Wang's Girls 14s Clay Court Championships.

The Les Petits As qualifying playoffs for the United States are scheduled to begin Sunday in Boca Raton, with 16 players in both the boys and girls draws vying for one qualifying and three main draw spots. The prestigious tournament in Tarbes France, usually held in late January, was moved to September this year. Prequalifying took place last month, with six boys and six girls winning regional tournaments to make the playoff field. See this web page for a list of those participating in next week's playoffs.

The ITA Summer Circuit concludes its six-week run this weekend, with the ITA National Summer Championships scheduled to begin August 6 at Florida State. Registration for the National Summer Championships ends on Monday July 26.  Winners receive wild cards into the ITA All-American Championships in the fall.

In college coaching news, former top junior and Duke star Rachel Kahan has been named women's head coach at Yale. Kahan had been head coach at Division III Middlebury the past three years.

Hayley Carter, North Carolina's 2016 NCAA singles finalist and currently No. 25 in the WTA doubles rankings, has joined the Vanderbilt women's program as its assistant coach. She is replacing former head coach Geoff Macdonald, who is moving to another role with the University.

Tom Boysen, who was most recently the men's assistant at Nebraska, has been named men's and women's head coach at North Dakota.

Mai-Ly Tran has been named women's head coach at Colorado State.

At the ATP Challenger in Cary, wild card Govind Nanda, the UCLA Bruin who turned pro after his just completed junior season, defeated Canadian Brayden Schnur(North Carolina) 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 to reach his first Challenger quarterfinal.

Caty McNally has been announced as the first main draw wild card for next month's Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.  The names of the direct entrants to the Masters 1000 event were also released today.

The US Open also announced its direct entries, with the women's last in No. 104 Sara Errani of Italy and the men's last in No. 103 Lucas Pouille of France.  Stephanie Myles has links to the full entry lists at her website.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Accepted Entries Lists for USTA's National Championships Published; TRN's Clay Court 12s Recaps; IMG Announces Future Stars 12U Tournament for 2022; Top Seed Kym Upset at European Championships

The entries for August's USTA National Championships were published late last night and are available via the USTA's Playtennis system. 

A few notes on the the Girls 16s and 18s and Boys 16s and 18s lists:

The draws for these events are 256, with 32 seeds receiving byes. Eight spots are reserved for wild cards, which will be decided at USTA meetings this Friday. So these initial acceptances are for 216 players.

In addition to all the girls who have played the French and Wimbledon Championships recently, other notable entries include Milan semifinalist Clervie Ngounoue, Easter Bowl champion Liv Hovde, Robin Montgomery, Katrina Scott and Savannah Broadus. Broadus, who won the Wimbledon girls doubles title last year, is still eligible for USTA events with her September birthday, but no longer eligible for ITF junior tournaments.

Like Broadus, Kylie Collins, the rising sophomore at Texas, also has a late-year birthday, and she entered, but she was not selected. I assume she will be given a wild card, if she requests one. Gabby Price, who has played only pro events since the 2019 US Open, also entered but was not selected.

Clay Court 18s finalist Ariana Pursoo has elected to play the 16s in San Diego, as has Brooklyn Olson. 

Martin Damm, who has not played a junior tournament since the 2020 Australian Open, has entered and been accepted. Still only 17, Damm won the Kalamazoo 16s title in 2018.

2019 18s champion Zachary Svajda is still age eligible, with a November birthday, but he did not enter. He could still request a wild card however.

Florida rising sophomore Ben Shelton, who, like Kylie Collins was an integral part of a 2021 NCAA championship team title, entered but was not selected. 

Both the Girls 14s and the Boys 14s draws are 192, with six wild card spots, so they are showing 186 competitors.

The Girls 12s and the Boys 12s are 128 compass draws, with four wild card spots, so they are showing 124 competitors.

Before we move on to the August Nationals, the Tennis Recruiting Network is providing coverage of the just completed Clay Courts, with today's articles featuring Boys 12s champion Jack Secord and Girls 12s champion Ciara Harding.

IMG announced today that it is sponsoring a new 12-and-under Future Stars Invitational tournament next spring in Greece, which I'm sure they would like to build into an event like the 14-and-under Les Petits As tournament in France. For more on the event, go to the tournament website.

I hadn't expected to report again today on the ITF JB1 European Closed Championships, but there is definitely news from that event, with top seed Jerome Kym of Switzerland, who reached the boys quarterfinals at Wimbledon, losing his first match, in the second round. Kym lost to Vlad Cristian Breazu of Romania, currently 215 in the ITF junior rankings, 6-4, 6-4. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

ATP Challenger in Cary, USTA Pro Circuit Men's $15K in Edwardsville Underway; Doubles Titles for US Juniors at Dominican Republic J3; European Championships Begin for 14s and ITF Divisions

After no USTA Pro Circuit events for men last week, there are two this week, with the Atlantic Tire Championships, an ATP Challenger 80, in Cary North Carolina and a rare $15,000 event--there have been just three in 2021--in Edwardsville Illinois.

Rain in Cary today sent the final round of qualifying indoors, and the five main draw matches have been pushed back to this evening. Reaching the main draw with wins today are Alexis Galarneau(NC State) of Canada, former ITF Junior No. 1 Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan, Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois) and Genaro Olivieri of Argentina. Great Britain's Aidan McHugh, who lost to Kovacevic today, received entry as a lucky loser, with ATP Hall of Fame finalist Jenson Brooksby pulling out after the qualifying had begun. 

Main draw wild cards were given to Will Blumberg(North Carolina), fresh off his ATP doubles title in Newport; Govind Nanda(UCLA); and NCAA singles and team champion Sam Riffice.  With Brooksby, who would have been the top seed, out, the No. 2 seed is Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India, with Maxime Cressy seeded third; both are in the bottom half. Bjorn Fratangelo, the No. 4 seed, is now the only top 4 seed in the top half.

Jack Sock is playing singles, but he and Blumberg, the Hall of Fame doubles champions, are not playing together this week. Sock is not playing doubles; Blumberg is playing with Ryan Harrison.

Free live streaming is available here.

In Edwardsville, the first round of qualifying was today, with the second round scheduled for Tuesday and the main draw beginning on Wednesday. Bruno Kuzuhara, Alex Bernard and Ozan Colak received junior reserved main draw entries; Victor Lilov received a main draw wild card; Ethan Quinn won his qualifying match today. The other wild cards this week, in addition to Lilov, are Cannon Kingsley(Ohio State), Eliot Spizzirri(Texas) and Olivier Stuart(Illinois). 2019 NCAA champion Paul Jubb of Great Britain is the top seed. The tournament has a website for more on the tournament's history, as well as updates on this year's tournament. 

Speaking of juniors who competed at Wimbledon, boys champion Samir Banerjee has been given a wild card into the qualifying at the ATP Truist Atlanta Open, according to this tweet from Parsa Nemati.  Qualifying for that event begins on Saturday July 24. The tournament announced last week that Georgia Tech's Keshav Chopra and Andres Martin would receive a doubles wild card. University of Georgia's Trent Bryde was announced as a main draw wild card back in April

There were no singles titles for Americans on the ITF Junior Circuit last week, but in addition to Madison Sieg's title at the JA in Milan, four others took home winners' trophies at the J3 in the Dominican Republic.

No. 4 seeds Luca Hotze and Kurt Miller took the boys doubles championship, defeating the unseeded Canadian team of Christophe Clement and Aram Noroozian 6-4, 3-6, 10-8 in the final. 

Unseeded Gracie Epps and Valeria Ray won the girls doubles title in an all-American final, beating top seeds Alexia Harmon and Olivia Lincer 6-2, 6-1. 

The European Championships are being played this week, at least the 14s and the ITF B1 Closed tournaments(the 16s, scheduled for Moscow Russia, have been postponed until later in the year). Tennis Europe is posting links to the draws, streaming, orders of play, as well as results, here. The 14s are being played in Most Czech Republic, with the ITF B1 Closed in Klosters Switzerland, as usual. France's Elsa Jacquemot, the 2020 French Open girls champion, who has not played a junior event this year, is the top seed.  The boys top seed is Jerome Kym of Switzerland. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

USTA National Clay Court Champions Crowned; Eala and Bueno Win Trofeo Bonfiglio ITF JA Singles Championships; Three Tar Heels Claim Titles; Anderson Captures Hall of Fame Open

The USTA National Clay Court Championships encountered more rain than anyone would have wanted, but the gold balls were awarded today in the 14s, 16s and 18s divisions, after the 12s concluded Saturday. 

Just a reminder that the 18s champions receive a wild card into the US Open Junior Championships, and the finalists receive USO Junior qualifying wild cards. I'm not sure if Honer is age eligible, as she is 18 now, and would not be eligible if she turns 19 this year, but the other three are all 17 or under, so they should be able to make the trip to New York for this year's Junior Championships. 

Below are the results, with a link to the USTA Playtennis draws in the headers. 

B12s Orlando FL

Singles: Jack Secord[1] d. Teodor Davidov[13] 6-4, 6-1

Doubles: Ryan Cozad and Yannik Alvarez[2] d. Colin McPeek and Navneet Raghuram[1] 6-4, 6-2

G12s Ft. Lauderdale

Singles: Ciara Harding[3](WC) d. Kristina Penickova[17] 6-4, 7-5

Doubles: Bela Martinez and Anita Tu[3] d. Abigail Gordon and Ciara Harding[2] 6-3, 6-3

B14s Miami Beach FL

Singles: Darwin Blanch[9](WC) d. Braeden Gelletich[1] 6-3, 6-3

Doubles: Maximus Dussault and Maxwell Exsted[14] d. Ian Mayew and Oliver Narbut[4] 6-3, 7-6(5)

G14s Plantation FL

Singles: Tianmei Wang[4] d. Claire Hill[6] 7-5, 6-3

Doubles: Claire An and Katie Rolls[1] d. Hadley Appling and Alanis Hamilton[17] 6-1, 7-5
B16s Delray Beach FL

Singles: Felipe Pinzon[17] d. Ari Cotoulas[12] 5-7, 6-2, 6-3

Doubles: Caden Hasler and Dylan Tsoi[10] d. Stefan Regalia and Cooper Woestendick[1] 4-6, 6-3, 10-2

G16s Huntsville AL

Singles: Kaitlin Quevedo[33] d. Tola Glowacka[10] 2-6, 6-2, 6-4

Doubles: Stephanie Yakoff and Natalia Perez d. Maren Urata and Sophia Webster 6-2, 6-4
B18s Delray Beach FL

Singles: Ryan Colby[17] d. Nicholas Heng[9] 7-6(4), 6-3

Doubles: Lucas Brown and Sebastian Sec[7] d. Alex Michelsen and Conrad Brown[17] 6-3, 7-5

G18s Mount Pleasant SC

Singles: Amelia Honer[9] d. Ariana Pursoo[8] 6-4, 6-0

Doubles: Vivian Miller and Maddy Zampardo[6] d. Seren Agar and Ariana Pursoo[11] 7-6(2), 6-2

The singles titles at the Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy went to top seed Alexandra Eala of the Philippines and No. 16 seed Gonzalo Bueno of Peru. The 16-year-old Eala, who had a couple of tough three-set wins during the week, defeated 15-year-old Nikola Bartunkova of the Czech Republic, the No. 16 seed, 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Eala is now two for three in Grade A finals, having won the South Africa JA and lost in the Osaka JA final, both in 2019.

The 17-year-old Bueno was playing in only his third JA, having lost in the first round of both the French Open and Wimbledon this year, so his first round win this week was his first at that level. Despite little experience at the top levels, Bueno had an edge on his opponent in the final, 15-year-old Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic, who was playing in his first Grade A. Bueno prevailed in the final, 6-3, 7-6(4).  Tommy Hemp has more coverage of the finals at Tennis Underworld.

It was a great day for young North Carolina Tar Heels, with three titles on three different continents.

Alexa Graham, who graduated in May, had to qualify for the $15,000 ITF Women's World Tennis Tour tournament in Portugal this week, but she won all seven of her matches in straight sets, including the last two over former collegians. In the semifinals, Graham defeated former South Carolina star Ingrid Gamarra Martins of Brazil 6-2, 6-4 and in today's final, beat Duke rising senior Georgia Drummy of Ireland 6-1, 6-2. Their match this year in the NCAA team quarterfinals went unfinished in their only meeting. Graham, who has been as high as 474 in the WTA rankings, is getting a good start on improving on her current ranking of 1416.

UNC rising junior Rinky Hijikata of Australia, who won his first ITF $15,000 tournament nearly two years ago, picked up his second today, and he too defeated a college rival in the final in Tunisia. The unseeded Hijikata avenged his third round loss to Texas A&M's Valentin Vacherot at the NCAA individual tournament in May, beating the 22-year-old from France, who was also unseeded this week, 6-3, 6-1.

At the ATP 250 Hall of Fame Open in Newport, Will Blumberg, who graduated from UNC in May, collected a first ATP title, partnering with Jack Sock to win the doubles championship. Blumberg, whose only previous appearance in a Tour-level doubles match was at the US Open in 2017, and Sock, who hadn't won a doubles title on the ATP tour since the ATP Finals in 2018, needed a wild card to get in the draw. But they defeated the No. 3 and No. 2 seeds to reach the final, and today got past unseeded Austin Krajicek and Canadian Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 7-6(3). For more on their title, see this article from the ATP website.

Kevin Anderson, the former Illinois All-American from South Africa, defeated Jenson Brooksby 7-6(8), 6-4 to win his first ATP tour title in over two years. Anderson, the No. 8 seed, was also a wild card. For more on Anderson's win and the great run by Brooksby, see this article from the ATP.

At the ATP 500 in Hamburg Germany, Michael Venus(LSU) of New Zealand and Tim Puetz(Auburn) of Germany took the doubles title, with the No. 2 seeds defeating top seeds Kevin Krawietz of Germany and Horia Tecau of Romania 6-3, 6-7(3), 10-8 for their first title as a team. Venus now has 15 ATP tour doubles titles and Puetz has five. 

The Evansville Indiana $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament finished today, with No. 4 seed Rebecca Marino of Canada defeating top seed Mayo Hibi of Japan 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 in the final.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Ngounoue Falls in JA Milan Semis, Sieg Wins Doubles Title; Brooksby Reaches ATP Hall of Fame Open Final; Montgomery and Collins Claim Doubles Championship at Evansville $25K

Clervie Ngounoue's run at the ITF JA Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan ended in today's semifinals, with the unseeded 14-year-old falling 6-3, 6-3 to No. 16 seed Nikola Bartunkova of the Czech Republic. Bartunkova, who is 15 years old, will face top seed Alexandra Eala of the Philippines in Sunday's final, after Eala defeated 14-year-old Mirra Andreeva of Russia 7-5, 6-2.  

Eala already had earned one title in Milan this week in doubles, playing with American Madison Sieg. Sieg and Eala, the No. 1 seeds, beat the unseeded team of Lucija Ciric Bagaric of Croatia and Sofia Costoulas of Belgium 6-4, 4-6, 13-11 in the final.

In the boys semifinals, No. 16 seed Gonzalo Bueno of Peru advanced, beating unseeded Miguel Perez Pena of Spain 2-6, 6-1 6-0. Bueno will face unseeded 15-year-old Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic, who downed unseeded Ignacio Buse of Peru 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Edas Butvilas of Lithuania claimed his second JA title in as many weeks, with the Wimbledon boys doubles champion, partnering this week with compatriot Vilius Gaubas of Lithuania, beating the Russian team of Igor Kudriashov and Konstantin Zhzhenov 5-7, 7-4, 10-8 in the final.

Tommy Hemp of Italy was at the tournament today, and filed this report at Tennis Underground.

Jenson Brooksby had never played on grass before this week, and was making his ATP main draw debut (although he has played in three slams) at the ATP Hall of Fame 250 in Newport Rhode Island. That hasn't given a moment's pause to the 20-year-old, who was on the Baylor team in 2020 but didn't play due to injury, as he has advanced to the final by beating No. 7 seed Jordan Thompson of Australia 6-3, 7-6(3) this afternoon. Brooksby, who got his first ATP Top 100 win as a qualifier in the first round of the US Open in 2019, earned his best win by ranking today against ATP No. 71 Thompson, coming from 5-2 down in the second set to secure the victory in straight sets. 

Brooksby will face No. 8 seed Kevin Anderson(Illinois) of South Africa in Sunday's final, with Anderson surviving a two hour and 46 minute battle with top seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-5.

Will Blumberg, the recent UNC graduate who is playing in his first ATP event as a professional, has advanced to the doubles final. He and Jack Sock, a wild card team, defeated No. 2 seeds Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Jonathan Erlich of Israel 7-6(0), 6-3 in today's semifinals. Sock and Blumberg will face unseeded Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M) and Vasek Pospisil of Canada in Sunday's final.

The singles final at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Evansville Indiana will not feature an American, but the doubles title belongs to US teens.

Top seed Mayo Hibi of Japan will face No. 4 seed Rebecca Marino of Canada in the singles final, after unseeded Katrina Scott gave Hibi a walkover in the semifinals. Marino defeated Ellie Douglas(TCU) 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinal that was played today.

Sixteen-year-old Robin Montgomery and University of Texas rising sophomore Kylie Collins won the doubles title today, with the unseeded teens taking out former collegians Lauren Proctor(Winthrop) and Anna Ulyashchenko(Wake Forest), also unseeded, 5-7, 6-3, 10-2 in today's final.

Montgomery and Collins have both entered the USTA Girls 18s Nationals in San Diego; it will be interesting to see if they play doubles together there, with a US Open main draw wild card on the line.

At the $60,000 ITF Women's World Tennis Tour event in Spain, wild card Ane Mintegi Del Olmo of Spain, who won the girls Wimbledon title on Sunday, will play for another big singles title  tomorrow. The 17-year-old beat 2019 NCAA singles champion Estela Perez-Somarriba(Miami) of Spain, a qualifier, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 in today's semifinals. Mintegi Del Olmo will play 2016 Roland Garros girls champion Rebeka Masarova, who is unseeded, in Sunday's final.

The USTA Clay Court Championships will conclude on Sunday, with the finals in the 14s, 16s, and 18s divisions. The 12s, which  have smaller draws, finished today, with top seed Jack Secord winning the boys 12s singles title and No. 3 seed Ciara Harding taking the girls 12s singles title.

I will post the results from the singles and doubles finals for all divisions Sunday.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Bobby Curtis, Synonymous with Florida Junior Tennis, Dies; My Wimbledon Junior Championships Recap; Ngounoue Makes JA Milan Semifinals; Brooksby Rolls On at ATP Newport

Bobby Curtis with USTA Florida's Tennis On The Move van

I learned of the death of Bobby Curtis last night right after I posted, but that was probably a good thing, giving me time to reflect on the impact he had on junior tennis in Florida and on me personally. It wasn't a shock; he was 93 and in poor health the past several years, but I did benefit with some time to consider his legacy.

USTA Florida has published a comprehensive look at all that Bobby did for junior tennis in the state in this article, which goes back to his days at Moore Park in Miami and the seed that grew into Junior Team Tennis and extends through his years as the section's junior competition expert.

When I met Bobby back in the early aughts, he was already a legend, and when I would see him at Florida sectional events, the Eddie Herr or the Junior Orange Bowl, he always had a story to tell and time for any parent or coach who had a question or a memory they wanted to share. Already in his 70s, he was still traveling throughout the state, to tournaments big and small, promoting the sport, and doing everything he could to make the system fair, accessible and user-friendly.

Having little experience myself in the grass roots part of tennis, with the only tournament I really knew the big one here in Kalamazoo, Bobby helped me understand the significance of the structures below the national level and how important a positive experience at those levels was to growing the sport. He did that with humor, patience and generosity, and an enthusiasm for his work that never wavered. I know he saw the ugly side of junior tennis in the ultra-competitive atmosphere that exists in Florida, but he never lost his belief in the positive impact the sport could have on the lives of those who played it competitively. Nothing meant more to him than a former Florida junior player, now an adult, seeking him out at a tournament, whether as a coach or a parent, to reminisce about the lessons learned on the tennis court. 

The USTA Florida's move to Daytona Beach from South Florida in 2001 proved a challenge for Curtis, who lived in Hollywood, but he continued to provide his expertise to the organization until he retired in 2009. Although he was not able to drive in his final years, his friend Jim Martz, editor of Florida Tennis magazine, would make a point to bring him to the Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl to have those conversations with generations of Florida tennis people that he cherished so much. 

Bobby will be missed by all of those friends and colleagues, and Florida tennis will always owe him a great debt. He did important work well, with the best interest of the sport at heart, a legacy that will live on in all who knew him.

Although I couldn't be there this year due to pandemic restrictions, I was able to cover the Wimbledon Junior Championships from my office, and I wrote this article on the all-American boys final and a first girls title for Spain for Tennis Recruiting Network. If you didn't have a chance to read my daily coverage here, it's a good way to get up to speed on everything that happened last week in the junior championships.

At the JA Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan, unseeded 14-year-old Clervie Ngounoue has reached her first Grade A semifinal, defeating No. 5 seed Petra Marcinko of Croatia 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-3. Ngounoue will face No. 16 seed Nikola Bartunkova of the Czech Republic, who turned 15 in February. Unseeded Mirra Andreeva, the 14-year-old from Russia, will face top seed Alexandra Eala of the Philippines, 16, in other girls semifinal.

No. 2 seed Dali Blanch lost 6-1, 6-4 to Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic in today's quarterfinals. The unseeded 15-year-old Mensik will face Orange Bowl 16s finalist Ignacio Buse of Peru in the bottom half semifinal. Another Peruvian, No. 16 seed Gonzalo Bueno, will take on Miguel Perez Pena of Spain in the top half.

In doubles, Madison Sieg and Eala, the top seeds, advanced to the final, where they will meet the unseeded team of Lucija Ciric Bagaric of Croatia and Sofia Costoulas of Belgium. Costoulas reached the Wimbledon girls doubles final last week, with Laura Hietaranta of Finland. Edas Butvilas of Lithuania, who won the Wimbledon boys doubles titles with Alejandro Manzanera Pertusa of Spain, is into the Milan doubles final with Vilius Gaubas of Lithuania. The No. 4 seeds will play No. 3 seeds Igor Kudriashov and Konstatin Zhzhenov of Russia for the title. 

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker

Tommy Hemp has a recap of today's action in Milan at Tennis Underworld.

Today at the ATP 250 Hall of Fame Open in Newport, Jenson Brooksby breezed into the semifinals, defeating Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-0, 6-3. The 20-year-old from Sacramento, who won the Kalamazoo 18s title in 2018, had never played a competitive match on grass prior to this week, but he didn't see that as a problem.

"I think I've adjusted well," said Brooksby, who did not play Wimbledon qualifying due to an arm injury that has now healed. "A good reason for that is that I don't really worry too much about conditions. I just get here early and fine tune parts of my game. The ball stays lower so the slice, especially when you're on the run, so to keep it low is good, but I just try to keep it similar, whether it's on hard, grass or clay and then adjust to how the surface plays with bounces, and my movement, and things like that."

Brooksby, who is 31-5 this year, will play No. 7 seed Jordan Thompson of Australia, who got by Maxime Cressy(UCLA) 6-3, 7-6(6).

Top seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan and No. 8 seed Kevin Anderson(Illinois) of South Africa will meet in the other semifinal.

Recent UNC graduate Will Blumberg has advanced to the doubles semifinals, with partner Jack Sock. The wild cards defeated No. 3 seeds Harri Heliovaara of Finland and JP Smith(Tennessee) of Australia 6-4, 6-3 in today's quarterfinals. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Ngounoue, Blanch Reach Milan JA Quarterfinals; Clay Court Semifinals Set in 12s, Quarterfinals Set in 18s; USTA's FAQ on College Recruiting; Port Washington's Zausner Dies

Clervie Ngounoue, who turns 15 on Monday, had lost to Diana Shnaider of Russia twice this year, in the quarterfinals at the Grade A in Brazil in March, and in the second round of the French Open last month. But in third round action at the Trofeo Bonfiglio JA in Milan today, Ngounoue got her revenge, beating the No. 2 seed 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. Ngounoue will play No. 5 seed Petra Marcinko of Croatia next. Ngounoue is not the youngest quarterfinalist, with Mirra Andreeva of Russia, who turned 14 in April, advancing to the quarterfinals with her third consecutive straight-sets win.

Dali Blanch, the No. 2 seed, advanced to Friday's quarterfinals with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Kalin Ivanovski of Macedonia. Blanch is one of only two seeds remaining in the boys quarterfinals, which features a qualifier, a wild card and a lucky loser. Blanch will face Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic next.

In doubles, top seeds Alexandra Eala of the Philippines and Madison Sieg have reached the semifinals.They will play Shnaider, who won the Wimbledon girls doubles title on Sunday, and her new partner this week, Kira Pavlova of Russia, who are seeded fifth.

The quarterfinals are set at the USTA Clay Courts for the 18s divisions, with the boys in Delray Beach catching up via shortened scoring.  The 14s and 16s divisions for both boys and girls are still a round behind, while the 12s, which have smaller fields, will play their semifinals Friday. 

Girls 18s quarterfinals:

Bridget Stammel[17] v Amelia Honer[9]
Savannah Broadus[4] v Sophia Wang[17]
Vivian Miller[17] v Theadora Rabman[3]
Ariana Pursoo[8] v Ahmani Guichard[2]

Boys 18s quarterfinals:
Nicolas Kotzen[14] v Ryan Colby[17]
Luke Casper[33] v Alex Finkelstein[33]
Alexander Razeghi[13] v Nicholas Heng[9]
Learner Tien[17] v Kian Vakili[17]

B12s semifinals:
Jack Secord[1] v Jordan Lee[8]
Navneet Raghuram[3] v Teodor Davidov[13]

G12s semifinals:
Isabelle DeLuccia[1] v Ciara Harding[3]
Sena Yoon[4] v Kristina Penickova[17]

Links to the USTA Playtennis draws:

G18s Mt. Pleasant SC

G16s Huntsville AL

G14s Plantation FL

G12s Ft. Lauderdale FL

B18s and 16s Delray Beach FL

B14s Miami Beach FL

B12s Orlando FL

The USTA has published a Frequently Asked Questions article on the topic of college recruiting, which can be found here. The impact of the extra year of eligibility is one of the biggest question marks surrounding recruiting these days, and this article does address the possible impact to those still looking for a spot on a college roster.

Last week the Tennis Recruiting Network talked to several Division I coaches about the impact of the new Name Image and Likeness laws on their student-athletes. For a look at what is happening in the collegiate tennis space regarding NIL, check out the twitter timeline of @jwilsontennis on July 1 and 2.

I received a note today that Dick Zausner, the longtime director of the Port Washington Academy in New York, had passed away Monday at the age of 87. Marcia Frost, who worked for him at College and Junior Tennis and was a pioneer in providing articles and information on the internet, always spoke highly of his impact on the young tennis players at Port Washington and of his passion for the sport. His obituary can be found here.