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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Top Boys Seeds Advance as Eddie Herr J1 First Round Concludes; Razeghi Defeats Brown in Kalamazoo 16s Rematch; Shang and Frusina Beat No. 2 Seeds to Open Doubles Play; Top Three Seeds Still Intact in 12s, 14s, 16s Divisions

©Colette Lewis 2021--
Bradenton FL--

The weather was perfect again Tuesday, as were the seeds, with the remaining 22 first round singles matches of the ITF Eddie Herr International J1 providing no surprises.

Top seed Bruno Kuzuhara needed barely an hour to defeat qualifier Dominique Rolland of France 6-0, 6-1, while No. 2 seed Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine stopped qualifier Ellis Short 6-3, 6-2. All 16 qualifiers and two lucky losers were in action Tuesday, but only two managed to post wins: Teddy Truwit, who beat Luca Hotze 6-4, 6-2 and South Africa's Gabriella Broadfoot, who defeated wild card Luciana Perry 7-5, 6-2.

Last week's champions at the JA in Merida, both No. 5 seeds this week, continued their winning streaks, with  Mili Poljicak of Croatia beating Timothy Phung 6-4, 6-0 and Brenda Fruhvirtova defeating Lara Smejkal of Slovenia 6-4, 6-4. No. 3 seed Linda Fruhvirtova, who lost to Brenda in the final, defeated Emma Charney 6-1, 6-2.

The rematch of the 2021 Kalamazoo 16s final between Texans Alex Razeghi and Lucas Brown didn't produce a different result, with the 15-year-old Razeghi again getting the better of Brown, now 17 years old. The Kalamazoo score was 6-3, 6-2, today's score was 6-1, 6-3, but Razeghi said this one was more difficult.

"It was way tougher than the last time I played him," Razeghi said. "His backhand was better than the Kazoo final. I was just more physical than he was, won more of the important points."

Razeghi expected Brown to change tactics after the opening set, which he did.

"He looked pretty tired and he started dropshotting a lot," Razeghi said. "I couldn't get to most of them, so he was hitting a lot of winners on drop shots."

The key game in the second set came with Razeghi serving at 2-3. Brown could be heard chastising himself for not taking his "golden opportunities" to get a break lead.

"He had a lot of chances, so once I got out of that game, I knew that I had momentum," Razeghi said. "That was a really tough game, and I knew I wanted to break, because he was down, that was his game. I did that, held easily, which was big."

Brown kept fighting to stay in the match, but Razeghi eventually held to win his fourth straight game, and the match.

"That last game was pretty tough," Razeghi said. "I had like five match points and the guy just did not miss on my match points at all. I had to earn every single one, until the one I won it on, he finally missed."

Razeghi will face No. 14 seed Adam Jurajda of the Czech Republic in Wednesday's second round.

The first round of doubles was nearly completed today, with two girls matches unfinished due to darkness. The match between qualifier Valeria Ray and No. 13 seed Alina Shcherbinina of Russia, won by Shcherbinina 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-3, extended into mid-afternoon, pushing back their first round doubles matches, which will be completed early Tuesday afternoon.

Top seeds Diana Shnaider of Russia and Petra Marcinko of Croatia earned a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Sayaka Ishii and Ena Koike of Japan, but the Fruhvirtova sisters, seeded No. 2, were taken to a match tiebreaker before beating Ariana Pursoo and Ahmani Guichard 6-4, 4-6, 10-6.

Kuzahara and Poljicak, the top-seeded boys team, beat Brown and Preston Stearns 6-1, 6-2. The No. 2 seeds, Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic and Coleman Wong of Hong Kong, were beaten by the wild card team of Juncheng Jerry Shang and Alexander Frusina 6-4, 2-6, 10-5.

All second round singles and doubles matches are on Wednesday's schedule.

The seeds in the younger divisions have held up well throughout the first two rounds, with none of the top three seeds in any of the eight draws exiting.

The first round of the girls 16s singles was completed today, after rain overnight Sunday caused a two-hour delay that eventually led to one half of the first round matches being canceled Monday night. 

In boys 16s, 15-year-old wild card Rudy Quan defeated No. 4 seed Tanner Povey 6-0, 6-0 last night and lost only one game in his second round match today. Quan, who went 41-2 in the 12s and 14s in 2018, winning the 12s Easter Bowl, Clay Courts and Nationals, has played very little since 2019 due to injuries.

Complete draws for the 12s, 14s and 16s can be found here.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Michelsen Defeats No. 6 Seed Wong, Top Girls Seeds Roll at Eddie Herr ITF J1; Few Upsets in Eddie Herr 12s and 14s Divisions; USTA National Indoors Final Results

©Colette Lewis 2021--
Bradenton FL--

Twenty-two seeded players began their quest for the Eddie Herr ITF J1 titles Monday on the Har-Tru courts at the IMG Academy, with 17 of them posting victories.

The top two seeds in the girls draw, No. 1 Kristina Dmitruk of Belarus, the 2021 US Open girls finalist, and No. 2 seed Diana Shnaider of Russia, breezed through their opening matches under partly cloudy skies. Dmitruk defeated Ava Krug 6-0, 6-0 and Shnaider eliminated Tatum Evans 6-2, 6-2 on the courts of the main site, while No. 4 seed Petra Marcinko of Croatia also advanced in straight sets, beating Madeleine Jessup 6-0, 6-3 at the Academy Park courts.

No. 8 seed Clervie Ngounoue, one of only two seeded American girls, lost to Canadian Mia Kupres 5-1, ret. The other seeded US girl, No. 14 seed Alexis Blokhina, barely survived, winning the last three games of her two-hour, 45-minute, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory, after Canadian Kayla Cross had served for the match at 5-4 in the third.

No. 9 seed Johanne Christine Svendsen of Denmark lost to Kristyna Tomajkova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5.

Three seeded boys lost Monday, including No. 6 seed Coleman Wong of Hong Kong. Alex Michelsen, one of the last players to receive entry into the main draw, pulled off the upset, despite the 200 places in the ITF Junior rankings separating them.

Michelsen, who is from Southern California, is playing just his second event on clay this week.

"I played on clay two days before I came out here," said the 17-year-old right-hander. "This is my second ever clay tournament. I played the USTA Clay Courts this year in July for the first time. The courts here are pretty quick, which I like. The clay courts back home, they're terrible in California, it's too dry, but it was good preparation. These courts are quick, so it helped."

Michelsen said he was able to control the match in classic clay court fashion.

"I made a lot of balls, I didn't miss much," said Michelsen, a junior who recently made a verbal commitment to the University of Georgia. "I just kind of waited for him to miss. I don't think he played his best, to be honest, he was spraying some balls, so I just tried to keep it in play on every point, didn't go for too much, played smart tennis."

Michelsen said he gained a lot of confidence from his run to the final of the UTR Pro Series event in Newport Beach two weeks ago, while also noting the impact of his college decision.

"It's a weight off the shoulders for sure," Michelsen said. "I feel like it's helped me play a little better. I've been playing well since I committed; I think it's helped a lot actually."

The other two boys seeds who lost were No. 11 Abedallah Shelbayh of Jordan, the University of Florida freshman, and No. 13 seed Sebastian Dominko of Slovenia. Lennon Jones of Japan defeated Shelbayh 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-1 and Alexander Blockx of Belgium beat Dominko 6-3, 7-5.

With 42 first round singles matches played today, just 22 are on the schedule for Tuesday, but they include the top two boys seeds: Bruno Kuzuhara and Viacheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine, both of whom take on qualifiers.

I'll be taking special note of the match between qualifier Lucas Brown and wild card Alexander Razeghi, which is a rematch of this year's Kalamazoo 16s final, which Razeghi won 6-3, 6-2.

Most of Tuesday's action in the J1 will be in doubles, with all 32 first round matches on the schedule.  Kuzuhara and Mili Poljicak of Croatia are the No. 1 seeds, with Wong and Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic the No. 2 seeds. Wong and Mensik will take on the wild card team of Juncheng Jerry Shang of China and Alexander Frusina. ITF junior No. 1 Shang, who trains at the IMG Academy, has won three $15,000 tournaments on the USTA Pro Circuit since reaching the US Open boys final. After playing the Puerto Vallarta Challenger last week, he returned to Bradenton and decided to ask for a wild card for the J1 doubles.

The top seeds in the girls doubles are Marcinko and Shnaider, with Linda and Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic the No. 2 seeds.

Unexpected rain overnight led to a two-hour delay in the start of the tournament for the 12s, 14s and 16s, which are played on the IMG Academy's hard courts. As of 9 p.m., 16s matches were still being put on court, but the 12s and 14s are complete. The top seeds all advanced, with the exception of B14s No. 4 seed Calvin Baierl, who lost to Roben Gavani of Bulgaria 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-4. and No. 5 G14s seed Katie Rolls, who lost to Ishika Khune 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Draws for the 12s, 14s and 16s can be found here.

The USTA National Indoor Championships concluded today, with results of the singles and doubles finals below. To view the full draws, click on the heading.

Singles: Colin McPeek[1] d. Michael Antonious[2] 6-3, 7-5
Doubles: Colin McPeek/Izyan Ahmad[1] d. Mateo Pouso/Tanishk Konduri 8-2

Singles: Nicholas Patrick[1] d. Ronit Karki[2] 6-1, 6-3
Doubles: Adrien Abarca/Jon Gamble[2] d. Nicholas Patrick/Dominick Mosejczuk 8-6

Singles: Stephan Gershfeld d. Ian Bracks 6-1, 6-3
Doubles: AJ Mercer/Matthew Forbes d. Joshua Mandelbaum/Oliver Narbut[2] 8-6

Singles: Alexander Visser[1] d. Dean Kamenev[9] 6-4, 6-4
Doubles: Cooper Woestendick/Nikita Filin d. Alexander Aney/Jason Shuler 8-2

Singles: Sophie Suh[3] d. Kalista Papadopoulos[12] 7-6(3), 6-0
Doubles: Carrie-Anne Hoo/Nancy Lee[1] d. Aubrey Meis/Sydney Barnhart[2] 8-2

Singles: Kenna Erickson d. Leena Friedman[4] 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Doubles: Kinley Vanpelt/Emerey Gross[2] d. Summer Chandler/Ahniya Vustsina[7] 8-5

Singles: Erin Ha[10] d. Amber Yin[1] 6-2, 6-2
Doubles: Savannah Webster/Olivia Center[8] d. Natasha Rajaram/Jessica Bernales[3] 8-4

Singles: Daria Smetannikov[9] d. Gayathri Krishnan 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-1
Doubles: Stephanie Yakoff/Kaitlyn Carnicella[2] d. Shannon Lam/Daria Smetannikov 8-4

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Eddie Herr Seeds, Draws Revealed with First Round Action Monday for 12s, 14s, 16s and ITF J1; Brenda Fruhvirtova, Poljicak Win JA Titles in Merida

©Colette Lewis 2021--
Bradenton, FL--

The qualifying for the ITF J1 Eddie Herr International Championships was the only competition going on today at the IMG Academy, with the 12s, 14s and 16s having a day off before their first round play begins on Monday. But with two rounds of qualifying, there was plenty of action all day, with the players below earning their places in the main draw.

Boys:

Ellis Short[1], USA
Preston Stearns[2], USA
Dominique Rolland[14], FRA
Learner Tien[10], USA
Federico Bondioli[13], ITA
Ty Switzer, USA
Lucas Brown[11], USA
Teddy Truwit, USA

Girls:
Akasha Urhobo, USA
Gabriella Broadfoot[2], RSA
Elizabeth Tindera[3], USA
Isabella Chhiv[13], USA
Valeria Ray[5], USA
Bridget Stammel, USA
Sophia Wang, USA
Yujin Kim[8], KOR


Learner Tien defeated No. 4 seed Jack Loutit of New Zealand 6-4, 7-6(2) in the final round of qualifying after dropping only two games in his first and second round qualifying matches. The left-hander from Irvine California, who turns 16 next week, didn't panic when Loutit, also a left-hander, broke him to take a 6-5 lead in the second set.

"I was kind of expecting to go into a match tiebreaker, but at the same time, I was fairly confident I could break him," Tien said. "I had broken him two or three times earlier, in both sets actually, so I was just hoping he would play a looser game."

Loutit berated himself for his shot selection at 30-all in that game, after missing a backhand down the line, and Tien took advantage on the next point to force the tiebreaker. 

"I got a pretty good start, and after 1-all, 2-1, I got a lot of momentum," said Tien, who made no mistakes in the last six points, all of which he won.

Tien, who won the J4 in Corpus Christi this fall, said he decided to skip the 16s division at the Eddie Herr and the Orange Bowl this year.

"I talked with my parents and my coaches about that, and I just don't think I'll get anything out of it really, except purely matches," Tien said. "I feel like I get a lot more out of playing a higher age group. There are no really easy matches now. If you go out there and are not feeling your best, every match is loseable. In a lower age group, I could get away without playing well."

Tien, as a qualifier, will have a day off on Monday, with his first round match Tuesday.

Fourteen-year-old Akasha Urhobo does not have an ITF ranking, with her previous appearances on the ITF Junior Circuit ending in the qualifying or first round. But after three wins this weekend, including a 6-4, 6-2 win over Jasmin Makela in the final round of qualifying, she will compete in the main draw of a J1 for the first time.

Urhobo said her mental game was a key to advancing.

"I would say what led me to the main draw was trying my best to keep my composure," said Urhobo, who has been playing tennis for as long as she can remember, with her father a coach at the Jimmy Evert Tennis Center in Fort Lauderdale. "Just letting one point get to me could ruin the whole game, and then that moves on to the set and the whole match."

Growing up in Florida Urhobo is comfortable on the green clay, but is looking to improve some of the physical aspects of her game the surface demands.

"I could improve my endurance,," Urhobo said. "After a few points, especially really long points, I find myself gasping for air sometimes. If I could just fix that, I think I would be ok."

Urhobo said it wasn't a given that she would play tennis, despite her father's occupation.

"He played on tour, and then he became a coach and he didn't really want the drama that goes in between to happen for me," Urhobo said. "But I guess, in the end, he allowed me to start, and I'm happy that he did."

The younger age divisions, which finish on Saturday, will play one round a day beginning Monday. The 12s, 14s and 16s draws, with times, can be found here. Below are the top eight seeds in all eight divisions:

Eddie Herr Top 8 Seeds:

ITF Boys:
1. Bruno Kuzuhara, USA
2. Viacheslav Bielinskyi, UKR
3. Jakub Mensik, CZE
4. Leo Borg, SWE
5. Mili Poljicak, CRO
6. Coleman Wong, HKG
7. Aleksander Orlikowski, POL
8. Edas Butvilas, LTU

B16s
1. Juan David Velasquez Ariza, COL
2. Rei Sakamoto, JPN
3. Chase Fralick, USA
4. Tanner Povey, USA
5. Amir Milushev, UZB
6. Maxim Michaels, USA
7. Thanaphat Boosarawongse, THA
8. Emmett Potter, CAN

B14s
1. Maxwell Exsted, USA
2. Andrea De Marchi, ITA
3. Timofey Derepasko, RUS
4. Calvin Baierl, USA
5. Boxiong Zhang, CHN
6. Yubel Ubri, USA
7. Thijs Boogaard, NED
8. Benjamin Willwerth, USA

B12s
1. Navneet Raghuram, USA
2. Teodor Davidov, USA
3. Vihaan Reddy, USA
4. Jordan Lee, USA
5. Jerrid Gaines, USA
6. Juan Miguel Bolivar, COL
7. Tam Sin Hang, HKG
8. Gadin Arun, USA

ITF Girls
1. Kristina Dmitruk, BLR
2. Diana Shnaider, RUS
3. Linda Fruhvirtova, CZE
4. Petra Macinko, CRO
5. Brenda Fruhvirtova, CZE
6. Solana Sierra, ARG
7. Mirra Andreeva, RUS
8. Clervie Ngounoue, USA

G16s
1. Piper Charney, USA
2. Kinaa Graham, USA
3. Brooklyn Olson, USA
4. Kate Kim, USA
5. Noemi Basiletti, ITA
6. Claire An, USA
7. Mayu Crossley, JPN
8. Krisha Mahendran, USA

G14s
1. Rositsa Dencheva, BUL
2. Eva Oxford, USA
3. Wakana Sonobe, JPN
4. Maya Iyengar, USA
5. Katie Rolls, USA
6. Aurora Nosei, ITA
7. Tahlia Kokkinis, AUS
8. Amelie Justine Hejtmanek, GER

G12s
1. Lia Belibova, MDA
2. Rin Ito, JPN
3. Kristina Penickova, USA
4. Anna Bugaienko, USA
5. Anita Tu, USA
6. Abigail Gordon, USA
7. Bela Martinez, PUR
8. Joyce Geng, CAN

The JA in Merida Mexico finished late Saturday night, with 14-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova, the No. 4 seed, defeating her 16-year-old sister Linda, the No. 3 seed, 7-5, 7-5 to claim the girls singles title. Linda had beaten Brenda in the final of the J1 a week ago in Guadalajara Mexico.

In the boys final, No. 4 seed Mili Poljicak of Croatia defeated No. 6 seed Adolfo Daniel Vallejo of Paraguay 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 for the title. 

Vallejo is the only one of the four finalists who is not playing this week's Eddie Herr.

With many American juniors taking the week off for Thanksgiving, and playing the National Indoors or Eddie Herr, there was only one title for the US on the ITF Junior Circuit this week, at the J5 in Panama. Top seeds Roy Horovitz and Stefan Regalia won the boys doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Luis Fernandez and Chile's Piero Fernandez Moreno 6-4, 7-6(5) in the final.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Eddie Herr Qualifiers in 12s, 14s and 16s Divisions; First Round of ITF J1 Eddie Herr Qualifying Complete; Lincer Reaches $15K Singles Final, Reed Wins Doubles Title

©Colette Lewis 2021--
Bradenton FL--


A perfect day for tennis saw the end of the qualifying for the younger divisions at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships and the beginning of the qualifying for the ITF J1.

Clear skies, no wind and temperatures in the upper 60s was the backdrop, and with an absence of weather issues, all the younger qualifiers were free to enjoy the great weather, with all matches completed by 12:30 p.m. 

Below is the list of qualifiers. I have added the country name of each qualifier, information that is not available on the website. All qualifying draws can be found here.

Boys 12s:
Jae Jun Shin[1], Korea
Julian Zhang[8], USA
Amir Khan[14], USA
Qi Ao[6], USA
Levi Taylor[5], USA
Jaime Gomez Lopez[3], MEX
Matias Erices, USA
Victor Pignaton[2], BRA

Girls 12s: (finished Friday)
Camila de la Casas[1], PER
Meher Rao[7], USA
Briyana Ivanova, BUL
Luma Teixeira[6], USA
Zoe Vanina Doldan Vinales, USA
Aurora Lugo, PUR
Pepper Rickert[8], USA
Ji Yun Oh[2], KOR

Boys 14s:
Nathan Germino[1], USA
Rajat Shirur[12], USA
Keane Chambers, USA
Luise Ignacio Roble Flores[9], CHI
Nicolas Genereux[8], CAN
Venkat Rishi Batlanki, IND
Ryan Szilagy[14], USA
Jorge Andres Rodriguez Palacios[2], BOL

Girls 14s:
Vasilina Andronov[1], ISR
Cookie Jarvis-Tredgett, CAN
Dylan Gelber[4], CAN
Gretchen Wolfe[5], USA
Marianne Angel Gonzalez[11], MEX
Anna Maria Fedotova[3], DOM
Lillian Santos[8], USA
Zaire Clarke[2], USA

Boys 16s:
Jack Di Menna[13], USA
Arjan Mann, CAN
Kristian Thomas, CAN
Jack Ling[11], USA
Maxim Prunoiu, USA
Kaito Hanada, JPN
Raul de la Vega, BRA
Nathan Gold[2], USA

Girls 16s:
Stephanie Hylton, USA
Allie Bittner, USA
Ashikha Amalnathan, USA
Delanie Tribby[4], USA
Raphaelle Leroux[1], CAN
Lucia Donnelly[9], USA
Mollie Garcia[15], USA
Juhnyee See[11], USA


The J1 qualifying didn't feature any of the top nine seeds, who all received byes into Sunday's second round, and most of the 10-16 seeds advanced. The only exceptions in the girls draw was No. 11 seed Maya Iyengar, who gave a walkover to Abigail Thurmer, and No. 15 seed Violeta Martinez, who lost to Eleana Yu 6-0, 6-3.

In the boys draw, Landon Ardila picked up the only win over a 10-16 qualifying seed, beating No. 12 Meecah Bigun 6-3, 6-3.

Ardila, a 17-year-old from Texas, said he wasn't aware that the tournament was on clay, and had one hit on the Har-Tru before his first round match.

"Just the warmup this morning, that's about it," said Ardila, who had not played a match at the Eddie Herr before today. "I live in Dallas, and don't have clay at my club. It's a lot more grinding, you have to move a lot, be ready for the bad bounces. Flat serves, flat forehands aren't as effective, so you've got to hit heavier."

Ardila didn't play on the ITF Junior Circuit prior to this year, but his success this fall in two events in Texas, where he won the J5 in McKinney as a qualifier and made the final of the J4 in Corpus Christi, convinced him to sign up for the Eddie Herr.

"I played two ITFs in September and I did really well in those, so I decided to go the course of playing ITFs," Ardila said. "It's a huge tournament and a great chance to play some really good players. The first step is just to try to make main draw, get some ITF points. If I get there, I'll set some new goals."

Sunday's qualifying schedule for the J1 includes two rounds, with the first series of boys matches going out at 8:30 a.m., followed by the girls, then the boys final round and the girls final round.

The JA in Merida Mexico concludes tonight, with Linda and Brenda Fruhvirtova meeting for the girls singles title for the second consecutive week. Linda, the No. 3 seed, defeated No. 2 seed Petra Marcinko of Croatia 6-3, 6-3, while 14-year-old Brenda took out top seed Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Last week in the final of the J1 in Guadalajara Mexico, Linda defeated Brenda 6-4, 7-6(5).

The boys singles final tonight features No. 4 seed Mili Poljicak of Croatia and No. 6 seed Adolfo Daniel Vallejo of Paraguay. 

The doubles finals were played last night, with Victoria Mboko and Kayla Cross, the No. 6 seeds beating Annabelle Xu and Naomi Xu 7-5, 6-2 in an all-Canadian championship match.  

The boys doubles title went to No. 6 seeds Juan Manuel La Serna and Lautaro Midon of Argentina, who defeated No. 7 seeds Joao Victor Couto Loureiro of Brazil and Henrique Rocha of Portugal 6-4, 0-6, 11-9 in the final.

Two American girls who entered ITF World Tennis Tour women's events rather than junior events have had impressive showings this week in Guatemala.

Sixteen-year-old Olivia Lincer, who has yet to crack the ITF Junior Circuit Top 100, has advanced to the final of the $15,000 tournament in Guatemala. The unseeded Lincer, who does not have a WTA ranking, will face top seed Hurricane Tyra Black in Saturday's all-US final. Fifteen-year-old Lexington Reed, who Lincer beat in the second round in singles, won the doubles title today, with Paris Corley(LSU). The unseeded Reed and Corley defeated the top seeds in the second round, and in the final beat No. 4 seeds Black and her partner Fernanda Astete of Chile 4-6, 7-6(1), 10-5.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Eddie Herr Qualifying Concludes Saturday for 12s, 14s, 16s with ITF J1 Qualifying Beginning; Top Four Girls Seeds Reach Semifinals at JA in Mexico

©Colette Lewis 2021--
Bradenton FL--

Mia Kupres and Nathalie Tauziat of Canada
heading home for the day

The final round of qualifying for the 12s, 14s and 16s division of the Eddie Herr International Championships is scheduled for Saturday morning, with the first round of qualifying for the ITF J1 also beginning at 8 a.m. on the clay courts of the IMG Academy.

Eight players will reach the 64-player main draw, which begins Monday. All final round qualifying matchups are available here, under the Round of 16 button.

The ITF J1 qualifying draws did not fill, with the top nine boys and top nine girls seeds receiving byes. Ellis Short and Preston Stearns are the top two seeds in the boys qualifying. Teddy Truwit and Brayden Michna are blue chips unseeded in the qualifying draw. Daniella Ben-Abraham, who was given a wild card, is the top seed in the girls qualifying, with Gabriella Broadfoot of South Africa the No. 2 seed. Eleana Yu, Bridget Stammel and Katie Codd are blue chips who are unseeded in the qualifying draw.

Although little has changed around the clay courts, the massive new construction on the East Campus has dramatically changed the look around the courts there. The tournament headquarters for the younger age groups remains in the indoor bubble where it has alway been, but with all the other ongoing construction surrounding it, the atmosphere in the area has completely changed.

I've gotten accustomed to all the changes on the West Campus, but wasn't prepared for all the demolition that has happened on the original grounds of the academy over the past two years.

The JA tournament this week in Merida Mexico is down to the semifinals, but with the matches being played so late there and no live scoring I can't stay up until the results are posted given the early start of the Eddie Herr tomorrow. The girls semifinals tonight featured all four of the top seeds, with No. 1 Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra playing No. 4 seed Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic and No. 3 seed Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic facing No. 2 seed Petra Marcinko of Croatia.  No. 6 seed Clervie Ngounoue was the only American to reach the quarterfinals; she lost to Jimenez Kasintseva last night 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

The boys semifinals consist of No. 15 seed Lautaro Midon of Argentina versus No. 6 seed Adolfo Vallejo of Paraguay and an all-Croatian battle between No. 4 seed Mili Poljicak and No. 16 seed Dino Prizmic. Prizmic defeated No. 2 seed Leo Borg of Sweden 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 in last night's quarterfinals.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving! Draws Posted for USTA National Indoor Championships, Beginning Friday at Eight Sites Across the Country

photo by Joseph Gonzalez, via unsplash

As is customary for me, I will be taking Thursday off for Thanksgiving, so I want to use tonight's post to wish everyone a happy holiday. Thanks for reading Zootennis, and I'll be back on Friday with updates on the JA going on this week in Merida Mexico, and the qualifying tournaments at the Eddie Herr.

The USTA National Indoor Championships are returning after a year's absence, with matches beginning Friday at eight sites--one for each age group and gender. 

Below are the top eight seeds in each division; the 64-player draws mean two singles matches a day on Friday and Sunday, with the finals scheduled for Monday.

B12s, Pendleton IN

1. Colin McPeek
2. Michael Antonius
3. Izyan Ahmad
4. Erik Schinnerer
5. Mateo Pouso
6. Anish Poojari
7. Akshay Mirmira
8. Safir Azam

G12s, Manchester MA

1. Sydney Barnhart
2. Nancy Lee
3. Sophie Suh
4. Ellery Mendell
5. Carrie-Ann Ho
6. Reagan Levine
7. Aubrey Meis
8. Anjani Vickneswaran


1. Nicholas Patrick
2. Ronit Karki
3. Dominick Mosejczuk
4. Evan Sharygin
5. Zachary Cohen
6. Roman Sancilio
7. Jon Gamble
8. Andre Alcantara


1. Laima Frosch
2. Capucine Jauffret
3. Emerey Gross
4. Leena Friedman
5. Olivia Cutone
6. Addison Lanton
7. Calla McGill
8. Paige Wygodzki


1. Kaveh Brian Taheri
2. Aaron Sandler
3. William Hseih
4, Kase Schinnerer
5. Declan Galligan
6. Noah McDonald
7. Rahul Sachdev
8. Carson Baker


1. Amber Yin
2. Saray Yli-piipari
3. Jessica Bernales
4. Ava Bruno
5. Elena Daskalova
6. Angela Huang
7. Clara Zou
8. Victoria Zhao


1. Alexander Visser
2. Marko Mesarovic
3. Grant Lothringer
4. Chad Miller
5. Vignesh Gogineni
6. Connor Smillie
7. Eric Li
8. Jason Shuler


1. Kaitlyn Carnicella
2. Theadora Rabman
3. Charlotte Owensby
4. Maddy Zampardo
5. Alice Xu
6. Vivian Miller
7. Stephanie Yakoff
8. Reese Miller

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

ITF Junior Circuit Returns to Australia for Traralgon J1, First Junior Slam of 2022; Lilov Late Withdrawal at Merida JA, Other Americans Advance to Round of 16

The ITF Junior Circuit will return to Australia for the first time in two years next January, with entries now open for the J1 in Traralgon and the Australian Open Junior Championships in Melbourne.

Beginning on January 14th, the J1 in Traralgon will serve as a warmup event for the Australian Open Junior Championships, after both tournaments were canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic. As was the case in 2020, the draws will be 64 in the main draw and 32 in qualifying. The deadline for entries is December 7, just two weeks from today.

The Australian Open Junior Championships, which were not played in 2021 due to the pandemic, will begin on Saturday January 22 and conclude on Saturday January 29. The entry deadline is also December 7, and the draws are the usual 64-player main draw and 32-play qualifying. 

I assume, given the recent announcement from Tennis Australia that all players in the men and women's draws must be vaccinated to participate will also extend to the junior players, but that information is not part of the fact sheet published today.

In any case, the return of the Australian Open Junior Championships is a positive development in returning the 2022 calendar to its usual rhythm and structure, after two years of cancellations and accommodations due the pandemic.

The seeds took to the courts today at the ITF JA in Merida Mexico, after receiving byes in the first round.

Wimbledon boys finalist Victor Lilov, who was the top seed when the draws were released Sunday night, withdrew, with a lucky loser taking his position at the top of the draw. Lilov has also withdrawn from the Orange Bowl next month.

Although matches always extend late into the night in Mexico and all of the second round scores are not posted, most of the seeds have advanced to Wednesday's round of 16. A few did not; Ryan Colby defeated No. 12 seed Luka Mikrut of Croatia 7-6(5), 6-2 and wild card Luca Lamaitre Vilchis of Mexico beat No. 13 seed Joao Victor Couto Loureiro of Brazil 6-7(4), 7-6(9), 6-3. Alexander Blockx of Belgium took out No. 8 seed Kalin Ivanovski of Macedonia 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.

No. 2 seed Leo Borg of Sweden advanced, as did No.3 seed Gonzalo Bueno of Peru.

Four US girls have advanced to the round of 16, including unseeded wild card Qavia Lopez, Liv Hovde, No. 6 seed Clervie Ngounoue and No. 11 seed Alexis Blokhina. 

Lopez defeated No. 16 seed Amelie Van Impe of Belgium 6-2, 6-1 and Hovde repeated last month's victory in the final of the ITF JB1 in Nicholasville, beating No. 14 seed Marina Stakusic of Canada 6-3, 6-4. Blokina defeated Lara Smejkal of Slovenia 6-2, 6-3 and Ngounoue downed Alejandra Cruz of Mexico 6-0, 6-1.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Iyengar, Goetz Sweep Titles on ITF Junior Circuit; Puerto Vallarta Challenger Draws 14 Americans; Tiafoe Replaces Fritz on US Davis Cup Team

In addition to the ITF J1 in Guadalajara and the J5 in San Diego last week, there were 17 other tournaments on the ITF Junior Circuit, with Americans claiming six titles, to add to the three they won in San Diego and the boys doubles title in Mexico.

Fourteen-year-old Maya Iyengar took the singles and doubles titles at the J4 in Guatemala, her first in singles and her second doubles, having won her first earlier this month in El Salvador. Seeded No. 5, Iyengar defeated top seed Ria Bhakta 6-3, 6-2 in an all-American final. Iyengar and partner Jaquelyn Ogunwale of Great Britain won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds beating top seeds Bhakta and Maria Castano of the Dominican Republic 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 in the final. That first set in the doubles final was the only set Iyengar, a blue chip from Arizona, lost during the week. She had lost to Bhakta 6-2, 6-0 in the singles semifinals in El Salvador two weeks ago. 

Sixteen-year-old Taylor Goetz swept the singles and doubles titles last week at a J5 in Pakistan, and this week she repeated that accomplishment at another J5 in Islamabad.  Goetz, the No. 2 seed, defeated her doubles partner and top seed Abhilasha Bista of Nepal 6-1, 6-0 in the final, and lost only six games total in her four singles victories. Goetz and Bista, the top seeds in doubles, defeated No. 2 seeds Olga Sorochkina and Ekaterina Suvorova of Russia 6-1, 6-2 for their second consecutive title. 

Eighteen-year-old Mujtaba Ali-Khan won his first ITF Junior Circuit title at the J5 in Pakistan as a qualifier. The four-star from Illinois  defeated the No. 2 seed in the second round and No. 4 seed Amir Asylkozhaev of Russia 7-6(3), 6-3 in the final. 

At the J4 in Egypt, 17-year-old Baylen Brown won the girls doubles title, partnering with Francesca Pace of Italy. The No. 4 seeds defeated the unseeded Egyptian team of Kenzy Sherif Elhamrawy and Sama Hassan Hindawy 6-2, 6-1 in the final. Brown now has two doubles titles on the ITF Junior Circuit.

The last of the USTA Pro Circuit Challengers was the tournament in Champaign last week, but 14 Americans have travelled to Puerto Vallarta Mexico this week for the ATP Challenger 80, trying to earn more points before the Australian Open entry cutoff next month. 

Two Americans qualified with wins today: Christian Langmo(Miami) and Govind Nanda(UCLA).  The seeded Americans this week are Ernesto Escobedo[4], Michael Mmoh[5], and Christian Harrison[6]. Last week's Austin $25K champion Zachary Svajda is in the field, as are Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois), Donald Young, Alex Rybakov(TCU), Nick Chappell(TCU), Alex Sarkissian(Pepperdine), JC Aragone(Virginia), Michael Redlicki(Duke/Arkansas) and wild card Milledge Cossu, a sophomore at Purdue. Former TCU star Jerry Lopez received a wild card, as did ITF No. 1 junior Juncheng Jerry Shang of China.

University of Kentucky junior Liam Draxl of Canada also qualified into the main draw today.

Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay is the top seed, with Daniel Altmaier of Germany seeded No. 2. They are No. 95 and No. 98 in the ATP rankings.

The USTA announced on Saturday that Frances Tiafoe would be replacing Taylor Fritz as a member of the US Davis Cup team, which begins competition Friday in Italy. The USTA announcement:

Frances Tiafoe to Replace Taylor Fritz for U.S. Davis Cup Team in 2021 Finals

November 20, 2021 – Frances Tiafoe will replace Taylor Fritz for the U.S. Davis Cup Team in the 2021 Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals November 25-December 5.

 

Tiafoe, 23, is ranked No. 38 and joins a team with No. 24 John Isner, No. 26 Reilly Opelka, former world singles No. 8 and doubles No. 2 Jack Sock and current world doubles No. 4 Rajeev Ram.

 

Team USA will begin its quest for a record-extending 33rd title in Turin, Italy, with group matches against the home Italians on November 26 and Colombia on November 28. Each matchup is a best-of-three tie featuring two singles and one doubles match. Should the U.S. advance out of its group, it would play a Quarterfinal tie in Turin to potentially advance to the semifinals and Finals in Madrid, Spain. The full schedule and field can be viewed on the Davis Cup website.

 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

McNally, Svajda Claim First Pro Circuit Titles; Sarmiento Wins in East Lansing; Kozlov Captures Another Challenger in Champaign; JA in Mexico Begins Monday, with Lilov Top Seed

John McNally in today's final
photo credit: Scott Gerber/OhioTennisZone.com

Two Kalamazoo champions won their first USTA Pro Circuit titles today at $25,000 tournaments in Columbus Ohio and Austin Texas as the pro season concluded today in four tournaments across the country.

John McNally, who won the Kalamazoo 16s singles and doubles titles in 2014, defeated recent Ohio State teammate JJ Tracy today in a three-hour final at the Ty Tucker Tennis Center 4-6, 7-6(2) 6-3. Buckeye sophomore Tracy, a wild card, had two match points with No. 7 seed McNally serving at 3-5 in the second set, but the 23-year-old from Cincinnati held, broke, and rode that momentum through the second set tiebreaker and the final set for the title. McNally had previously reached a Pro Circuit final once before, in July of 2019, at the $25,000 tournament in Iowa City, losing to Alex Rybakov in a third set tiebreaker. 

Zachary Svajda, who is the reigning Kalamazoo 18s champion and also won that title in 2019, had never reached a Pro Circuit final prior to today. The No. 2 seed, Svajda was up against lucky loser Eduardo Nava(Wake Forest), who also was competing in his first Pro Circuit final. Nava's ranking of 1586 was over 1000 places below that of Svajda, who is at 442, but the 24-year-old senior forced a third set before falling 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Another three-set final was played at the $15,000 tournament in East Lansing Michigan, with former USC All-American Raymond Sarmiento winning his first Pro Circuit singles title since 2016. The 29-year-old Sarmiento, seeded No. 1, came back to beat unseeded University of Kentucky junior Gabriel Diallo of Canada 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

At the $25,000 women's Pro Circuit tournament in Naples Florida, unseeded Nefisa Berberovic of Bosnia defeated No. 4 seed Sujeong Jang of Korea 7-5, 2-6, 7-4 in a three-hour and 26 minute final.

No. 8 seed Stefan Kozlov defeated No. 4 seed Aleks Vukic of Australia 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 today in the final of the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign Illinois, earning his third Challenger title since September. A day after clinching the USTA's Australian Open wild card, Kozlov was able to refocus, although he was down a set and break before rallying for the win. Kozlov had beaten Vukic in straight sets in the final of the Charlottesville Challenger two weeks ago, then drew him again in the first round of the Knoxville Challenger last week. Kozlov won that match 7-5 in the third, so the 23-year-old from Florida certainly knew that Vukic was dangerous, especially with the home crowd behind the former University of Illinois All-American. But after getting broken to give Vukic a 2-1 lead, Kozlov won four straight games to reassert himself. The third set was not pretty, understandable with both players at the end of four consecutive weeks of Challenger competition, and Kozlov could not consolidate his breaks until the final game, when he held after breaking Vukic for the third time in the set.

Kozlov will move to 159 in the ATP rankings, still well below his career-high of 115 back in February of 2017, but after starting last year at 431, the 2015 Kalamazoo 18s finalist has to be happy with the trajectory of his ranking now.

Qualifying is complete and the draws are out for the JA in Merida Mexico, with 14 US boys and 12 US girls in the main draw. 

Wimbledon boys finalist Victor Lilov is the top seed and the only seeded American boy. With the 48-draw, he and the other 15 seeds have a bye in the first round. The other US boys are Azuma Visaya, Sebastian Sec, Ryan Colby, Cooper Williams, Luca Hotze, Yannik Rahman, Ellis Short(who received a special exemption into the main draw for reaching the doubles final at the J1 in Guadalajara), wild card Jackson Armistead, Timothy Phung and qualifiers Nicholas Steiglehner, Preston Stearns, Leanid Boika and Alexander Aney.

ITF No. 1 junior Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra is the No. 1 seed. I was surprised to see her name at the top of the draw, as she has pulled out of next month's Orange Bowl and was playing in the semifinals of the WTA 125 in Montevideo Uruguay yesterday. But as a seed, she won't play until Tuesday, so she may have decided to make the trip.

Czech Linda Fruhvirtova, who won the J1 yesterday in Guadalajara, accepted a wild card into the JA. She was initially accepted into the women's $60K in Brazil and so was automatically withdrawn from Merida. Qavia Lopez also received a wild card; she was entered in a $15K in Guatemala and she too was automatically withdrawn from the Merida event this week.

The US girls in the main draw, in addition to Lopez, are Sonya Macavei, Liv Hovde, Clervie Ngounoue[6], Ava Krug, Madeleine Jessup, Alexia Harmon, Alexis Blokhina[11], Daniella Ben-Abraham, Krystal Blanch, Mia Slama and Nevena Carton.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Kozlov Earns Australian Open Wild Card with Semifinal Win Over Wolf; All-US Finals in Austin and Columbus $25Ks; Short and Sec Claim Doubles Title at ITF J1 in Mexico

The Australian Open wild card showdown between JJ Wolf and Stefan Kozlov in the semifinals of the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign was something of a letdown, with No. 8 seed Kozlov needing only 70 minutes to defeat No. 3 seed JJ Wolf 6-2, 6-3. Wolf got off to a slow start and couldn't find any foothold in the match, and with his serve off--he had just 2 aces and 6 double faults--Kozlov seemed to be on the offensive throughout the match. He put pressure on Wolf's second serve and protected his own; Kozlov was broken just once, serving for the match at 5-2 in the second, but he broke Wolf for the fifth time to get the win. Kozlov has now won three of their four meetings this fall, with this one the most decisive of those victories.  The 23-year-old will make his main draw debut in a slam in Melbourne in January.

Kozlov will play for his second Challenger title in three weeks tomorrow, and it will be a repeat of the Charlottesville Challenger final. Former University of Illinois star Aleks Vukic of Australia will again be the opponent, after No. 4 seed Vukic defeated unseeded Yosuke Watanuki of Japan 7-6(8), 6-4.  Kozlov defeated Vukic 6-2, 6-3 in the Charlottesville Challenger. (Tweets from that title below):

In the doubles final today, top seeds Jackson Withrow(Texas A&M) and Nate Lammons(SMU) took the title, defeating No. 2 seeds Treat Huey(Virginia) of the Philippines and Max Schnur(Columbia) 6-4, 3-6, 10-6.

The final at the $25,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Columbus will feature two players intimately familiar with the setting, as Ohio State sophomore JJ Tracy and recent graduate John McNally posted victories in today's semifinals. Tracy defeated teammate Cannon Kingsley, the No. 6 seed, 6-3, 6-1, giving him three victories over teammates this week. The 19-year-old is playing in his first USTA Pro Circuit event this week; his only previous professional match came in the Columbus Challenger in September. 

McNally, the No. 7 seed, defeated Wake Forest's Taha Baadi of Canada 6-1, 6-3 to advance to his second career Pro Circuit final. McNally, 23, has not come close to losing a set this week.

In the doubles final, No. 4 seeds Adrien Burdet and Leandro Riedi of Switzerland defeated wild cards Tracy and Robert Cash 7-6(5), 7-6(2).

Both players with ties to Texas lost today in the semifinals of the $25,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Austin. Qualifier Colin Markes, a former Longhorn, lost to lucky loser Eduardo Nava, a senior at Wake Forest, 7-6(5), 6-1. No. 7 seed Eliot Spizzirri, a sophomore at Texas, lost to Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda, the No. 2 seed, 6-2, 6-4. Svajda, who turns 19 at the end of the month, will be playing for his first Pro Circuit singles title.

In the doubles final, former and current Florida Gators Alfredo Perez and Portugal's Duarte Vale took the title, with the No. 4 seeds defeating wild cards Philip Henning(Georgia) and Joubert Klopper(Vanderbilt) of South Africa 7-6(1), 6-2. It's the first Pro Circuit doubles title for Perez and the second for Vale.

The singles final at the $15,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in East Lansing will feature top seed Raymond Sarmiento(USC) and Kentucky Wildcat junior Gabriel Diallo of Canada. Sarmiento defeated No. 3 seed Alex Brown(Illinois) 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 and Diallo beat qualifier Alex Knaff(Florida State) of Luxembourg 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-2. 

In today's doubles final, unseeded Joshua Sheehy(Abilene Christian) and Chad Kissell(Valparaiso) defeated wild cards Ozan Colak and Jackson Winkler(Michigan State) 6-4, 6-2 to win their first Pro Circuit titles. 

Qualifier Alexa Graham lost her semifinal match today at the $25,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Naples, with No. 4 seed Sujeong Jang of Korea defeating the recent North Carolina graduate 2-6, 7-5, 6-1. Jang will face Nefisa Berberovic of Bosnia, who beat No. 8 seed Lulu Sun(Texas) 6-3, 6-2. 

Elli Mandlik and Hanna Chang won the doubles titles, with the unseeded pair defeating top seeds Connie Hsu(Penn) of Taiwan and Jessy Rompies(Clemson) of Indonesia 6-4, 1-6, 10-7 in today's final.

Top seed Linda Fruhvirtova defeated younger sister Brenda, the No. 2 seed, 6-4, 7-6(5) in the final of the ITF J1 in Guadalajara Mexico. They had already won the doubles title earlier in the day, with the top seeds defeating No. 3 seeds Liv Hovde and Ava Krug 6-1, 6-3.

No. 4 seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico won the boys singles title, beating No. 3 seed Ignacio Buse of Chile 7-6(5), 7-5. Pacheco Mendez was denied a sweep however, with the unseeded American pair of Ellis Short and Sebastian Sec defeating Pacheco Mendez and Luis Carlos Alvarez Valdes of Mexico 6-3, 6-1 in the final. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

My Conversation with Catherine Harrison; Wolf and Kozlov Meet Saturday for Australian Open Wild Card; Fruhvirtova Sisters Play Each Other for ITF J1 Mexico Title; Sarr Wins San Diego J5; Pro Circuit Update

When I was in Midland earlier this month for the Dow Tennis Classic, I had an opportunity to sit down with Catherine Harrison, the former UCLA All-American. I have been covering Harrison since she was 14, when, as a wild card at her home club at the 2008 Girls 18s National Clay Courts in Memphis, she lost to Danielle Collins, also 13, in a third-set tiebreaker in a first round match. I wrote about her college search for the Tennis Recruiting Network; when I spoke to her for that article, in 2011, UCLA was not in the picture.

Harrison, now 27, was determined to get her degree and to play pro tennis. She has done both, and after we both lamented the loss of the Racquet Club of Memphis to the wrecking ball, our conversation turned to her slow climb up the WTA rankings, which was obviously hampered by the pandemic hiatus. With her finances always a concern, Harrison considered focusing on doubles, and her success there, particularly this summer, has given her a taste of life on the WTA tour. For more on her training, choices, goal and plans, see today's article at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Harrison is hoping to play Australian Open qualifying; Stefan Kozlov and JJ Wolf will be playing tomorrow to determine which one of them will receive the main draw wild card that the USTA is awarding in a competition that ends this week. Both did their part today to set up a dramatic winner-take-all semifinal Saturday at the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign. Wolf, the No. 3 seed, defeated wild card Vasil Kirkov 6-3, 6-2 and Kozlov, the No. 8 seed, beat No. 2 seed Mitchell Krueger 6-4, 6-4. Wolf and Kozlov have already met twice in the four-week stretch that the USTA designated for the wild card challenge, with Wolf beating Kozlov in the final of the Las Vegas Challenger in Week 1, and Kozlov defeating Wolf in the semifinals of the Charlottesville Challenger, which Kozlov went on to win. They also met in the semis of the Columbus Challenger, back in September, before the wild card segment of the Challenger tour, with Kozlov winning both that match and the tournament. The winner of tomorrow's match will have a semifinal, a final(at least) and a title (the three best results in the four weeks count), while the loser will have two semifinals and a title. 

After the doubles final at noon Eastern and the other semifinal between No. 4 seed and former Illini Aleks Vukic of Australia and unseeded Yosuke Watanuki of Japan, Kozlov and Wolf will take the court, with Mike Cation providing the commentary on the ATP's free live stream.

Sisters Linda and Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic will meet for the first time on the ITF Junior Circuit Saturday in the final of the J1 in Guadalajara Mexico. Top seed Linda, 16, defeated No. 10 seed Lucciana Perez Alarcon of Peru 6-0, 6-2 and No. 2 seed Brenda, 14, beat No. 3 seed Marina Stakusic of Canada 6-1, 6-2.

The boys final will feature No. 4 seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico and No. 3 seed Ignacio Buse of Peru.

Two American teams have advanced to the doubles finals. No. 3 seeds Ava Krug and Liv Hovde will play the top-seeded Fruhvirtova sisters for the title. Sebastian Sec and Elias Short, who are unseeded, will face the winner of tonight's semifinal between Pacheco Mendez and Luis Alvarez Valdes of Mexico, the No. 3 seeds, and No. 2 seeds Leo Borg and Michael Minasyan of Sweden.

At the J5 in San Diego, top seed Jelani Sarr won his second J5 title in the past two months, beating unseeded Lucas Andrade Da Silva 6-2, 6-0. No. 6 seed Mayu Crossley of Japan won the girls title, defeating No. 2 seed Iva Jovic 7-5, 6-2. 

The boys doubles title went to wild cards ZhengQing Ji of China and Zachary Peelouchoud, who defeated Eric Kats and Russell Soohoo 6-4, 4-6, 10-7 in a battle of unseeded teams.

Three Buckeyes are through to the semifinals at the $25,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Columbus, with wild card JJ Tracy and No. 6 seed Cannon Kingsley meeting in the top half semifinal, while No. 7 seed John McNally, who beat No. 2 seed Toby Kodat 6-3, 6-2, will take on Taha Baadi(Wake Forest) of Canada in the bottom half. 

At the $25,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Austin, two Longhorns are through to the semifinals. Texas sophomore Eliot Spizzirri, the No. 7 seed, will take on fellow teenager Zachary Svajda, the No. 2 seed, in the bottom half. Former Longhorn Colin Markes, a qualifier, will face lucky loser Eduardo Nava(Wake Forest) in the top half. 

At the $15,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in East Lansing, two current collegians are still in the running for the singles title. No. 3 seed Alex Brown, a fifth-year grad student at Illinois, will take on top seed Raymond Sarmiento(USC).

Kentucky junior Gabriel Diallo of Canada will face qualifier Alex Knaff(Florida State) of Luxembourg in the other semifinal. 

And at the $25,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Naples, qualifier Alexa Graham(North Carolina) is the sole American remaining. Graham will play No. 4 seed Sujeong Jang of Korea in the top half semifinal. The bottom half semifinal will feature No. 8 seed Lulu Sun(Texas) of Switzerland and unseeded Nefisa Berberovic of Bosnia. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Shelton Through to Champaign Challenger Quarterfinals; Buckeyes Abound in Columbus $25K Quarterfinals; Kalieva Reaches Last Eight at Naples $25K; Finals Set for ITF J5 in San Diego

Ben Shelton had played only one Challenger prior to this week, losing in the final round of qualifying to top seed Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois) this summer in Cary NC.

But the 19-year-old's success in on the USTA Pro Circuit and the US Open qualifying allowed him to get into this week's ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign Illinois without a wild card, and, two days after his first main draw Challenger victory, he now has a second win, and a spot in the quarterfinals.

Shelton defeated unseeded Pedja Krstin of Serbia 4-6, 6-0, 6-1, overcoming a slow start to dominate the ATP No. 317. Shelton had 11 aces and saved two of the three break points he faced in the match. He will now face Yosuke Watanuki of Japan, who upset top seed and Knoxville finalist Daniel Altmaier of Germany 6-2, 6-1. 

The other top half quarterfinal will feature No. 4 seed and former Illinois star Aleks Vukic of Australia against unseeded Go Soeda of Japan. Vukic beat qualifier Gijs Brouwer of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-4 while Soeda took out No. 5 seed Jason Jung(Michigan) of Taiwan 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

All four quarterfinals are scheduled for Friday, with live streaming, including commentary from Mike Cation, available here. Shelton starts off the day against Watanuki, followed by No. 3 seed JJ Wolf(Ohio State) against wild card Vasil Kirkov. Vukic and Soeda are third on, with Stefan Kozlov and No. 2 seed Mitchell Krueger wrapping up the singles action Friday. If Kozlov and Wolf were both to advance, their semifinal would decide the USTA's Australian Open wild card. Maxime Cressy(UCLA) won again today in France, but if Kozlov wins tomorrow, Cressy is eliminated from consideration.

The top half of the draw at the $25,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Columbus features four current Ohio State Buckeyes. James Trotter of Japan defeated top seed Martin Damm 6-4, 6-4 in today's second round and will play teammate JJ Tracy, a wild card, in the quarterfinals Friday. Another wild card, Robert Cash, will face teammate Cannon Kingsley, the No. 6 seed, for a spot in the semifinals.

In the bottom half of the draw, No. 7 seed John McNally is the only player with Ohio State ties, but two of the other quarterfinalists are also current collegians: Alafia Ayeni of Cornell and Canadian Taha Baadi of Wake Forest, who will play in the quarterfinals. McNally will play No. 2 seed Toby Kodat.

At the $25,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Austin, four current collegians are through to the quarterfinals: lucky loser Eduardo Nava(Wake Forest), wild card Phillip Henning(Georgia) of South Africa, No. 7 seed Eliot Spizzirri of Texas and qualifier Chris Rodesch(Virginia) of Luxembourg. Spizzirri and No. 2 seed Zachary Svajda, the two-time Kalamazoo 18s champion, are the only seeds remaining. 

Three current collegians are through to the quarterfinals of the $15,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in East Lansing: No. 3 seed Alex Brown(Illinois), qualifier Nino Ehrenschneider (Michigan)of Germany and Gabriel Diallo(Kentucky) of Canada. Brown and Ehrenschneider, who could come up against one another in a Big Ten dual match, play in the quarterfinals.  

At the $25,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Naples, 18-year-old Elvina Kalieva advanced to the quarterfinals, beating fellow junior Sonya Macavei, a wild card, 6-4, 6-2.  Former Kentucky star Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia defeated top seed and last week's Daytona Beach $25K champion Irina Fetecau of Romani 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals, where she'll play qualifier Alexa Graham(North Carolina). The third American quarterfinalist, qualifier Kennedy Shaffer(Georgia), will play Lulu Sun(Texas) for a place in the semifinals.

All four of the American juniors in the ITF J1 Mexico quarterfinals lost today, with No. 5 seed Qavia Lopez falling to top seed Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-0 and No. 6 seed Liv Hovde losing to No. 2 seed Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6(10).  Kurt Miller lost to No. 5 seed Gerard Campana Lee of Korea 7-6(5), 6-3 and No. 3 seed Ignacio Buse of Peru avenged his 2020 Orange Bowl 16s finals loss to Jonah Braswell 7-5, 6-0. 

The finals are set for Friday at the J5 in San Diego with two Americans facing international players for the singles championships.  No. 2 seed Iva Jovic, who reached the final of the J4 in Atlanta last month, will face No. 6 seed Mayu Crossley for the girls title. Neither the 13-year-old Southern Californian nor the 15-year-old from Japan have lost a set so far this week. 

Top seed Jelani Sarr will take on unseeded Lucas Andrade Da Silva of Brazil for the boys title. 

The girls doubles title was decided today, with top seeds Sofia Daryaie and Annette Robertson getting a walkover in the final from unseeded Zehra Suko and Lamija Avdic. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Lopez, Hovde, Miller and Braswell Reach Quarterfinals at Mexico J1; Round Three of NLI Signings; Wolf and Kozlov Reach Champaign Challenger Quarterfinals

A day after beating top seed Leo Borg of Sweden, Kurt Miller backed it up with another straight-sets win over a seed, beating fellow American Sebastian Sec[15] 6-1, 6-3 in the third round of the J1 in Guadalajara Mexico. The 17-year-old is playing in just his second J1; he lost in the first round in the other this August in College Park Maryland.

Miller will face No. 5 seed Gerard Campana Lee of Korea in Thursday's quarterfinals. 

The other US boy to advance to the quarterfinals is also unseeded: Jonah Braswell, who recently signed with the University of Florida for 2022. Braswell defeated No. 8 seed Dinko Dinev of Bulgaria 6-3, 6-3 in the second round and today took out No. 10 seed Juan Manuel La Serna of Argentina 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-5. He will play No. 3 seed Ignacio Buse of Peru next in a rematch of last year's Orange Bowl 16s final, which Braswell won 6-0, 6-1.

No. 5 seed Qavia Lopez and No. 6 seed Liv Hovde are the two US girls in the quarterfinals. Lopez defeated 14-year-old Les Petits As champion Mathilde Ngijol Carre of France 6-4, 6-3 in today's third round, setting up a meeting with top seed Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic. Hovde, who beat No. 12 seed Mao Mushika of Japan 6-1, 6-2, will play No. 2 seed Brenda Fruhvirtova, Linda's younger sister, in Thursday's quarterfinals. Brenda has lost three games in three matches so far.

It's been a week since National Signing Day, and schools continue to post announcements, as they will undoubtedly do for the next several weeks. Here's the latest, since last Friday. My previous two updates can be found here and here.

MEN:

Arizona has signed Jay Friend of Japan.

Duke has signed Teddy Truwit.

Indiana has signed Luc Boulier of Chile, Ekansh Kumar, Sam Landau and Andrew Meier.

LSU has signed Kent Hunter, a transfer from Cal, who will start in January.

Middle Tennessee has signed Ondrej Horak of the Czech Republic.

Ohio State has signed Jack Anthrop and Preston Stearns. Anthrop will start in January.

Vanderbilt has signed Nathan Cox.

Washington has signed Tristan Messerli.

WOMEN:

Cal has signed Katja Wiersholm, who will start in January.

Colorado has signed Carrington Hayes.

Florida has signed Rachel Gailis, Anastasia Sysoeva and Sophie Williams. Sysoeva, who represents Russia, played frequently in the United States as a junior in 2018. 

Kansas State has signed Vanesa Suarez of Venezuela and Kristina Paskauskas of Great Britain.

Memphis has signed Micah Pierce.

Mississippi State has signed Dharani Niroshan of Canada.

Purdue has signed Kennedy Gibbs, as well as Antonia Pareja and NC State graduate transfer Elizabeth Norman.

Rutgers has signed Arina Valitova, who plays on the ITF Junior Circuit representing St. Kitts and Nevis. 

Texas A&M has signed Daria Smetannikov and Mia Kupres of Canada

TCU has signed Jade Otway of New Zealand and Yu-Chin Tsai of Taiwan.

Utah has signed Marcela Lopez

Western Michigan has signed Audrey Smitek.

The USTA's men's Australian Open wild card challenge will extend through Friday matches at the Champaign Challenger now, with both JJ Wolf(Ohio State) and Stefan Kozlov winning their second round matches today in straight sets. Wolf defeated Kaichi Uchida of Japan 6-3, 6-4 and Kozlov downed qualifier Keegan Smith(UCLA) 6-3, 6-1. Wolf faces 2016 Kalamazoo 18s finalist Vasil Kirkov, a wild card, in the quarterfinals; Kozlov will play No. 2 seed Mitchell Krueger. Should they advance to the semifinals, they would play each other, with the winner getting the wild card. Maxime Cressy(UCLA), who still has an outside chance to win the wild card, won his first round match in France today.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Miller Ousts Top Seed Borg at Mexico J1; Shelton Earns First Challenger Victory; Collegians, Juniors Plentiful at Last Four USTA Pro Circuit Tournaments of 2021

Kurt Miller won the doubles title last week at the J2 in Bolivia, but in his 21 tournaments this year on the ITF Junior Circuit, the 17-year-old Californian hasn't had a victory like the one he earned today, beating top seed Leo Borg of Sweden 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of the J1 in Guadalajara Mexico. Miller, who has claimed one J4 singles title, is ranked a career-high 196 now, while Borg is 16 in the ITF World Junior Rankings.

He will play No. 15 seed Sebastian Sec in an all-US third round match. Other US boys advancing to the round of 16 are: Joseph Phillips, Azuma Visaya[9], Jonah Braswell and Cooper Williams[14].

The girls top seeds, Linda and Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, are through to the round of 16, with the loss of just one game between them in today's second round contests. US girls advancing to the round of 16 are: Qavia Lopez[5], Liv Hovde[6], Krystal Blanch[7] and Ava Krug[14].

University of Florida sophomore Ben Shelton, who qualified for the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign yesterday, won his first main draw match at that level today, beating No. 7 seed Blaz Rola(Ohio State) of Slovenia 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. Shelton broke Rola serving at 4-5 in second set; in the third set, the 19-year-old from Florida saved break points at 3-3 and 4-4 before again breaking Rola serving at 4-5 for the win. Shelton will face Pedja Krstin of Serbia for a spot in the quarterfinals. Champaign has been good to Shelton, as the outdoor courts on the University of Illinois campus were the site of his first title on the USTA Pro Circuit this summer.

Another qualifier, Keegan Smith(UCLA), also advanced to the second round. Smith, who reached the quarterfinals of the Champaign Challenger in 2019, moved on when Michael Mmoh retired trailing 5-3 in the first set. Mmoh is now out of the Australian Open wild card challenge; Smith will take on Stefan Kozlov Wednesday. No. 3 seed JJ Wolf, who plays Kaichi Uchida of Japan Wednesday, and Kozlov are the two Champaign competitors still in the running for that wild card.

This is the last week of the USTA Pro Circuit, with four tournaments on the schedule, not including the Champaign Challenger. Qualifying concluded today, and some first round matches were played as well.

There are three men's events: a $25,000 tournament in Austin Texas, a $25,000 tournament in Columbus Ohio and a $15,000 tournament in East Lansing Michigan

The women are competing at a $25,000 event in Naples Florida.

In Austin, the Americans who qualified are Gabriel Evans(Incarnate Word) and Colin Markes(Texas). I believe Paul Jubb(South Carolina) of Great Britain, last week's champion in Harlingen, was supposed to be the No. 1 seed, but there is now a lucky loser (Eduardo Nava) at the top of the draw. Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda is the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to Philip Henning(Georgia) of South Africa, Joubert Klopper(Vanderbilt) of South Africa and Texas sophomore Micah Braswell. 

In Columbus, the American qualifiers were Drew Van Orderlain, Matthew Terry(Cleveland State/Kennesaw State) and Ohio State freshman Reece Yakubov.

The top seeds are teenagers Martin Damm and Toby Kodat. Wild cards recipients are Notre Dame senior Axel Nefve and three Ohio State Buckeyes: junior Robert Cash, junior Andrew Lutschaunig, and sophomore JJ Tracy. 

In East Lansing, four Americans qualified: Matt Kuhar(Bryant), Ronald Hohmann(LSU), Niroop Vallabhaneni(Duke) and Nico Mostardi(Cleveland State). 

Raymond Sarmiento(USC) is the top seed, with Jean Thirouin(Harvard) of France the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to Carson Gates, a senior at Michigan State, Max Sheldon, a freshman at Michigan State, Alex Rotsaert(Stanford) and Matthew Che(Notre Dame). 

In a match tonight between two of the top juniors in the country, both of whom received entry based on the ITF Top 100 junior rankings, local favorite Ozan Colak defeated Jack Anthrop(Ohio State) 6-2, 6-3.

Six of the eight qualifiers in Naples are from the US: Alexa Graham(North Carolina), Kylie Collins(Texas), Alexis Blokhina, Jessica Livianu(St. Johns), Tori Kinard and Kennedy Shaffer(Georgia).

The top seed is last week's champion in Daytona Beach, Irina Fetecau of Romania, with Hanna Chang the No. 2 seed. Wild card recipients were Haley Giavara(Cal), Ellie Douglas(TCU), Victoria Sanchez Bronzetti(Bradley) and Sonya Macavei. Macavei, who just signed with Vanderbilt for next fall, got her first main draw win on the pro circuit today, beating WTA 392 Sophie Chang 6-4, 6-0. Macavei (who I profiled for the Tennis Recruiting Network last month) will face 18-year-old Elvina Kalieva, who today beat No. 3 seed Na-Lae Han of Korea 6-3, 6-2, in Thursday's second round action.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Eleven US Juniors Claim Titles on ITF Junior Circuit; J5 in San Diego, J1 in Mexico Underway; Qualifying Complete at Champaign Challenger

There were 18 tournaments on the ITF Junior Circuit last week, none of them in the United States, and Americans won titles at nine of them.

Americans took two titles at the J5 in El Salvador. Unseeded 14-year-old Katie Rolls earned her first ITF junior title in singles, defeating top seed Deborah Dominguez Collado of Guatemala 6-1, 7-5 in the final. Kaylan Bigun lost in the boys singles final. No. 3 seeds Diego Jarry Fillol and Chile's Matias Rojas won the boys doubles title beating the unseeded El Salvador team of Cesar Cruz and Enrique Laennec Molins 6-4, 3-6, 15-13.

Thirteen-year-old Joseph Oyebog played his first ITF Junior Circuit tournament two weeks ago in Cameroon, making the final. It didn't take him long to win his first title, claiming the singles championship at the J5 in Cameroon this past week. Oyebog defeated the top seed in the second round and in the final beat No. 6 seed Michal Wlodarczyk of Poland 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. 

At the J4 in Kenya, 16-year-old Stefan Regalia won his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title without dropping a set. The No. 11 seed defeated No. 9 seed Leo Matthysen of South Africa 6-1, 6-2 in the final. 

Americans took three of the four titles at the J5 in Pakistan, with 15-year-old Taylor Goetz winning both girls titles. Seeded No. 2 in singles, Goetz, the younger sister of the University of Virginia's Ryan Goetz, defeated unseeded Daria Stefania Malaescu of Romania 6-3, 6-2 for her third ITF Junior Circuit singles title. In doubles, Goetz partnered with Abhilasha Bista of Nepal for the title. The No. 1 seeds defeated the unseeded team of Malaescu and Sharvani Shrestha of Nepal 6-1, 6-2 in the final. Fourteen-year-old Abhishek Thorat won his first ITF Junior Circuit title as a qualifier, taking the boys singles with a 6-2, 6-0 win over wild card Abdullah Adnan of Pakistan.

Kurt Miller won the doubles title at the J2 in Bolivia with partner Martin Antonio Vergara del Puerto of Paraguay. The No. 3 seeds defeated Ekansh Kumar and Colombia's Nicolas Nino Mendoza 6-4, 6-3 in the final.  Leanid Boika, the No. 8 seed, lost in the singles final, retiring against No. 1 seed Juan Carlos Prado Angelo of Bolivia trailing 6-4, 2-0.

Fifteen-year-old Pearlie Zhang won her first ITF Junior Circuit title at the J5 in Mexico. Unseeded, Zhang defeated No. 8 seed Valentina Mozas Pavon of Mexico 6-1, 7-5 in the final.

At the J3 in Canada, Nicholas Godsick won the boys doubles title with Canadian partner Jaden Weekes. The top seeds defeated No. 4 seeds Henry Ren and Sasha Rozin of Canada 6-7(6), 6-4, 10-3 in the final. It's the fifth ITF Junior Circuit doubles title of the year for the 17-year-old Godsick, all with different partners. Michigan recruit Elisabeth Jones reached the girls singles final, falling to Alexia Jacobs of Canada 6-2, 0-6, 6-1. 

At the J5 in Germany Maya Joint won the girls doubles title. Joint and her partner Eszter Berenyi of Hungary, who were unseeded, defeated the unseeded Swiss team of Salome Fluri and Kenisha Moning 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 in the final. Joint, 15, has won three ITF junior titles in Europe this fall, two in doubles and one in singles.

Seventeen-year-old Kate Mansfield won her first ITF Junior Circuit title yesterday at the J5 in England. Mansfield, the No. 6 seed, defeated unseeded Clemence Thouard of France 6-2, 6-1 in the championship match. 

This week the ITF Junior Circuit returns to the US, with a J5 in San Diego. The top seed in the boys draw, Jelani Sarr, is through to the second round, but the girls No. 1 seed, Jayna Clemens, lost today to Michaela Moore 6-1, 6-4. 

Guadalajara Mexico is hosting the conclusion of the WTA Finals this week, and also welcoming juniors for a J1 tournament.

American boys in the 64-player main draw are Kurt Miller, Sebastian Sec[15], Joseph Phillips, Quang Dong, Lucas Brown, Learner Tien, Jonathan Irwanto Timothy Phung, Azuma Visaya[9], Alexander Frusina, Evan Lee, Jonah Braswell, Ekansh Kumar, Preston Stearns, Cooper Williams, Ellis Short, Leanid Boika, Yannik Rahman[7], Alexander Aney, Nicholas Steiglehner, Luca Hotze and Sam Scherer.

Leo Borg of Sweden and Mili Poljicak of Croatia are the top two seeds.

American girls in the main draw are Daniella Ben-Abraham, Carlo Pacot, Elizabeth Indera, Kennedy Gibbs, Qavia Lopez[5], Sophia Sappa, Madeleine Jessup[16], Ashton Bowers, Krystal Blanch[7], Katherine Hui, Mia Slam[9], Ava Krug[14], Kaitlin Quevedo, Liv Hovde[6], Martina Marica, Adla Lopez, Elizabeth Tkachenko and Esther Vyrlan.

Linda and Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic are the top two seeds. 

Florida sophomore Ben Shelton qualified for his first Challenger today in Champaign, defeating Illinois sophomore Hunter Heck 6-3, 6-3. Keegan Smith(UCLA) also qualified, defeating Stanford sophomore Tristan Boyer 7-6(4), 6-3.  Shelton will face No. 7 seed and 2013 NCAA champion Blaz Rola(Ohio State) of Slovenia on Tuesday, while Smith will play Michael Mmoh. JJ Wolf(Ohio State) won his first round match in three sets, as did Stefan Kozlov, so Mmoh, Wolf and Kozlov are still in contention for the USTA's Australian Open wild card, as is Maxime Cressy(UCLA), who would have to win the Challenger 100 this week in France to have any chance.