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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Braswell's Junior Swan Song, Irwanto's Comeback Highlight Wednesday's Second Round at Eddie Herr ITF J1; Quarterfinals Set for 12s, 14s and 16s Divisions

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Bradenton FL--

It was a five-shirt afternoon for Jonah Braswell, with the heat and humidity on the HarTru courts at the IMG Academy requiring plenty of clothing changes during the third round of the ITF J1 Eddie Herr.

The University of Florida freshman wasn't even on the court for an extended period, with his 6-3, 6-0 victory over fellow IMG Academy student Atakan Karahan of Turkey one of the shorter boys matches played Wednesday.

"I great played tennis today," said Braswell, who reached the final of the Eddie Herr boys 12s in 2016. "Atakan is a good friend of mine and we've trained together a lot here. I'm really comfortable on the clay, and I knew if I played my game and did it well, I thought I could win."

Braswell, who won the Orange Bowl 16s in 2020, will not be able to play that event next week due to final exams, so he is looking to end his junior career on a high note this week. 

"I'm definitely really motivated for this tournament, because it's my last junior tournament, this is where I'm from, so I have the home crowd around," said the 18-year-old from Sarasota.

Braswell's transition from juniors to college has gone well, with his run through the prequalifying and qualifying at the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, and a win in the first round of the main draw, an impressive feat for anyone, not just a freshman.

"It was a super long week, but I got a couple of good wins at the beginning and I just kind of got on a roll," said Braswell, who debuted at 93 in the ITA collegiate rankings earlier this month. "It was great week and it really gave me confidence going forward that I can compete with some of the best guys in college tennis."

Although he has yet to play a dual match, Braswell is looking to continue to improve his game, and feels the team atmosphere will accelerate that process.

"My transition from juniors has gone really well," said Braswell. "I think I really thrive in the college environment, I love being on a team, it motivates me to play really well. I think the team aspect of college tennis has already helped me adapt and grow my game."

Braswell's opponent in the Thursday's third round is unseeded Patrick Schoen of Switzerland.

Another IMG student, Jonathan Irwanto, doesn't have the same history of success at the Eddie Herr as Braswell, but the 18-year-old from Miami has credited his move to Bradenton this semester with helping him reach new heights in juniors.

After defeating No. 6 seed Paul Inchauspe of France from a set down in the first round Monday, Irwanto won another tough one Wednesday, coming from 4-1 down in the third set to defeat David Fix of Germany 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.

"I was trying to take as much time as possible, then take away time from my opponent, but I wasn't in the best shape," said Irwanto, who showed signs of cramping and ended up needing IVs later, although he left the court under his own power. "But once I was able to get the rallies going, I was able to win most of the points."

Irwanto said these kinds of comebacks are not ideal, "I've got to start strong next time, and be physically better in the next match."

Irwanto got on the radar of many college coaches when he reached the final of the ITF Grade A in Osaka Japan last month. 

"It really changed the way I looked at tennis as a sport," Irwanto said. "I gained a lot of confidence, not just in my shots, but how I play. A lot of different coaches have approached me and I'm really happy about that."

Irwanto played on the Florida junior circuit, but was never considered himself among the elite.

"I was never that great as a junior," said Irwanto. "I think I had the game, but I wasn't mentally there yet. I would always lose first, or even qualies at the Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl. But recently, I've been playing really well, I think I can match up with a lot of different players and IMG has really helped me grow my mind a little bit."

Irwanto's opponent in the third round will be No. 13 seed Alejandro Melero Kretzer of Spain, who beat Adhithya Ganesan 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

In addition to Braswell and Irwanto, three other US boys have advanced to the round of 16. Kaylan Bigun defeated the last boys qualifier still alive, Albert Pedrico Kravtsov of Spain, 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 and will play wild card Cooper Woestendick, who beat Tomasz Berkieta of Poland 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. No. 8 seed Cooper Williams beat Phoenix Wier of Great Britain 6-2, 6-3 and will face No. 10 seed Arthur Gea, who defeated Quang Duong 6-3, 6-0.

With today's loss of No. 4 seed Paul Barbier Gazeu of France, the highest boys seed remaining is No. 5 Danil Panarin of Russoa.

The top nine seeds in the girls draw have advanced to the round of 16, but No. 10 seed Mingge Xu of Great Britain lost to qualifier Piper Charney 6-4, 6-4. Charney, who has signed with Michigan for 2024, saved break points in the final game, but managed to convert her seventh match point to earn the win. She will face No. 8 seed Sonja Zhiyenbayeva of Germany, who defeated wild card Victoria Osuigwe 6-4, 6-0.

The other US girl to reach the third round is No. 9 seed Tatum Evans, who eliminated qualifier Taly Licht 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. Evans will face No. 7 seed Ranah Stoiber of Great Britain next.

2021 Eddie Herr 14s champion Rositsa Dencheva of Bulgaria has reached the third round, beating Anya Murthy 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Dencheva will face NC State recruit Gabriella Broadfoot of South Africa, who beat No. 13 seed Mia Slama 6-4, 6-2.

In second round doubles action, top boys seeds Cooper Williams and Russia's Yaroslav Demin again advanced in straight sets beating David Fix of Germany and Jan Hrazdil of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3. The unseeded American team of Cooper Woestendick and Matthew Forbes, who received a wild card into the tournament, advanced to Thursday's quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Duncan Chan and Keegan Rice of Canada.

Jessica Bernales and Alanis Hamilton, who defeated the No. 2 seeds in the first round Tuesday, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 7-6(3) win over Rositsa Dencheva and Anya Murthy. Ava Krug and Theadora Rabman, the No. 8 seeds, are through to the quarterfinals, as are Americans Ahmani Guichard(with Gabriella Broadfoot), Mia Slama(with Canadian Ellie Daniels), and Victoria Osuigwe(with Wakana Sonobe of Japan). Osuigwe and Sonobe defeated No. 4 seed Ranah Stoiber and Mingge Xu of Great Britain 6-3, 5-7, 10-8. Top seeds Sayaka Ishii of Japan and Tereza Valentova defeated wild cards Kayla Chung and Shannon Lam 6-4, 6-1.

The first No. 1 seed fell in the Eddie Herr's younger divisions in today's round of 16, with Ece Gencer defeating Girls 16s No. 1 Claire Zhang 7-5, 6-4. In the Girls 14s, No. 13 seed Anita Tu defeated No. 2 seed Ksenia Efremova of France 6-4, 6-0. In the Boys 12s, No. 2 seed Taiki Takizawa of Australia lost to unseeded Takashiro Kawaguchi of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 10-8. The quarterfinal matchups for Thursday are below:

B12s Quarterfinals:
Michael Antonius[1](USA) vs Tavish Pahwa[7](IND)
Jason Eigbedion[9](USA) vs Lucas Han[8](AUS)
Tomas Laukys[6](USA) vs Tabb Tuck[4](USA)
Simon Velez(COL) vs Takashiro Kawaguchi(JPN)

G12s Quarterfinals:
Yeri Hong[1](KOR) vs Hannay Ayrault[7](USA)
Haniya Minhas[3](PAK) vs Sakino Miyazawa(JPN)
Sun Xiran[8](USA) vs Clarice Ouvarova(USA)
Yui Komada[5](JPN) vs Andreea Olariu[2](ROU)

B14s Quarterfinals:
Ivan Ivanov[1](BUL) vs Keaton Hance[5](USA)
Jake Dembo[13](USA) vs Ford McCollum[7](USA)
Hyu Kawanishi(JPN) vs Kuan-Shou Chen(TPE)
Weiyi Kong[6](USA) vs Se Hyuk Cho[2](KOR)

G14s Quarterfinals:
Emerson Jones[1](AUS) vs Nicole Okhtenberg[7](USA)
Kimiko Cooper(CAN) vs Adelina Lachinova[9](LAT)
Polina Kuharenko[5](BLR) vs Renee Alame(CAN)
Yihan Qu(CHN) vs Anita Tu[13]

B16s Quarterfinals:
Maxwell Exsted[1](USA) vs Noah Johnston[8](USA)
Abhishek Thorat[3](USA) vs Joseph Oyebog[16](USA)
Jagger Leach[6](USA) vs Naoya Honda[4](JPN)
Boxiong Zhang[7](CHN) vs Calvin Baierl[2](USA)

G16s Quarterfinals:
Ece Gencer[14](TUR) vs Amelie Hejtmanek[6](GER)
Monika Ekstrand[3](USA) vs Amy Lee[10](USA)
Rachael Smith(USA) vs Tess Bucher(USA)
Allie Bittner[8](USA) vs Hyunyee Lee[2](KOR)

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Australia's Camus Dashes From Davis Cup to Eddie Herr ITF, Pursoo Fights Fatigue After Reaching Merida Final; Top Three Seeds in Eddie Herr 12s, 14s, 16s Still in Hunt for Titles

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Bradenton FL--

Charlie Camus made it to Bradenton in the nick of time, with his flight from Spain landing in Florida at 1:30 a.m. The 16-year-old Australian was in Malaga last week with his country's Davis Cup team, and when they advanced Sunday's final, he knew it might be a challenge to get here for his first round match Tuesday morning.

"I was hemming and hawing about this tournament for a very long time, whether it was worthwhile coming or whether I should just go back to Australia and train for the Australian summer of tennis and prepare for the Australian Open," said Camus, who has never been in the United States before. "But I sort of ended with my coach and there was no one to train with back home. So this week, it was just sort of have a swing and see how it goes."

Camus won his first round match today, beating qualifier Thomas Faurel of France 6-2, 6-4, with Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt checking in occasionally while also watching his son Cruz compete in the 14s division.

"I actually felt pretty good, to be honest," Camus said. "I've got doubles this afternoon, so I think tonight I might hit a bit of a wall, but hopefully I'll be all right again tomorrow."

Camus has been what they call an Orange boy for the Australian Davis Cup team all year, beginning in February.

"I've done the whole journey this year," said the left-hander from Canberra. "I was in the qualifying tie back in February in Australia, then I went to the group stage in Hamburg, and then the finals in Malago, so I did all three. I am very grateful to Lleyton and all the coaches for inviting me there. You do anything to help them, whatever they need."

Although Australia didn't prevail in the final, losing both singles matches to Canada, Camus could hardly have imagined he would be part of such a run.

"It was really great, especially the day we beat Croatia (in the semifinals), that doubles point was insane," Camus said. "The final, we fell short, but it was one of greatest experiences ever and to be a part of it was something special."

Camus will face No. 12 seed Kevin Edengren of Sweden in Wednesday's second round.

After the No. 2, 3, and 6 seeds lost Monday, the boys matches went more to form Tuesday, when the first round was completed. 
One qualifier, Albert Pedrico Kravtsov of Spain, advanced, taking out No. 14 seed Max Batyutenko of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-2. Three wild cards are through to the second round: Roy Horovitz, Cooper Woestendick and Thanaphat Boosarawongse of Thailand.

No. 7 seed Cooper Williams won today, beating Yannik Rahman 6-3, 6-0. Americans into the second round are Adhithya Ganesan, Jonathan Irwanto, Jonah Braswell, Aayush Bhat, Horovitz, Quang Duong, Kaylan Bigun and Woestendick. 

Only one seed lost in the girls draw in the entire first round, with No. 14 seed Madeleine Jessup of Taiwan beaten by Rebecca Munk Mortensen of Denmark 6-4, 6-1. No. 4 seed Ella Mcdonald of Great Britain withdrew from singles after winning the doubles title in Merida, but she is playing doubles this week.

Ariana Pursoo reached the singles final Sunday in Merida, so, like Camus, she had limited time to adjust but still managed to advance to the second round with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Sandugash Kenzhibayeva of Kazakhstan.

"I was traveling pretty much all day yesterday, got in at 12:30 last night," said the 16-year-old from New York. "Got a couple of hours of sleep then got up and got ready to play, no warm up, so it was a rough start. I was stiff from sitting the day before, and it's a different type of clay than in Merida, but I think I adjust pretty well and was able to stay focused and not worry about all the things could have messed me up."

Pursoo wasn't happy with her level in today's match, giving herself a 5 or 6 on a 10-point scale.

"That was a pretty rough match out there," Pursoo said. "But I'm just happy I was able to get through it, figure it out in the end. That's what the best players do, they just find a way to win on their worst days."

Pursoo, who one of the subjects of a junior tennis documentary in production now, will face No. 6 seed Lucciana Perez Alarcon of Peru Wednesday and will again be scheduled for Stadium court, as she was today.

Two girls qualifiers advanced to the second round, both Americans, with Piper Charney defeating Wakana Sonobe of Japan 7-6(3), 2-6, 7-5 and Taly Licht beating Dana Baidaulet of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-2. Girls wild cards through to the second round are Victoria Osuigwe, Maelie Monfils of France, Yujin Kim of Korea and Akasha Urhobo. 

The first round of doubles was played today, with boys top seeds Cooper Williams and Yaroslav Demin of Russia advancing in straight sets, but No. 2 seeds Arthur Gea and Tiago Pires of France were beaten by Kaylan and Meecah Bigun 6-3, 2-6, 10-4. No. 3 seeds Adriano Dzhenev and Iliyan Radulov of Bulgaria, who won the Grade A in Merida, lost to Duncan Chan and Keegan Rice of Canada 6-0, 1-6, 10-4.

Top girls seeds Sayaka Ishii of Japan and Tereza Valentova of the Czech Republic won in straight sets, but No. 2 seeds Luciana Moyano of Argentina and Lucciana Perez Alarcon of Peru lost to wild cards Alanis Hamilton 7-6(2), 6-2. No. 3 seeds Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz of Australia and Ena Koike of Japan lost to the Ellie Daniels of Canada and Mia Slama 6-1, 7-5.

Major upsets continue to be rare in the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions, with all Top 3 seeds in each of those divisions advancing to Wednesday's round of 16.

Two No. 4 seeds lost today, with Hadley Appling defeating Claire Shao 6-1, 6-3 in the Girls 16s and Clarice Ouverova beating Korea's Sim Siyoen of Korea 6-2, 6-4.

A list of the top 8 seeds in each division can be found here.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Upsets Abound in Boys First Round Action at Eddie Herr ITF; Pacheco Mendez Wins ITF JA in Merida; USTA National Indoor Final Results

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Bradenton FL--

The first day of main draw for the Eddie Herr ITF J1 went according to plan for the girls, but three of the top six boys seeds lost, while top seed Gerard Campana Lee of Korea withdrew prior to the start of play.

Due to more rain for the final of the ITF JA in Merida on Sunday evening, the boys singles final was played this morning, with No. 2 seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico claiming his first Grade A title on home soil. The 17-year-old left-hander, who didn't lose a set, ended the 22-match winning streak of Campana Lee with a 6-3, 6-2 victory. Pacheco Mendez, who breaks into the ITF Top 10 for the first time with the title, is not entered in the Eddie Herr, but is expected to play the Orange Bowl.

Eddie Herr No. 2 seed Yaroslav Demin of Russia won the J1 in Quadalajara two weeks ago and reached the quarterfinals in Merida last week, but was unable to add to his string of good results here in the United States, falling to Tomasz Berkieta of Poland 6-2, 7-5. The Academy Park courts had excessive water issues throughout the morning, and Demin's was one of the few matches actually scheduled and played there today.

No. 3 seed Rei Sakamoto of Japan, who trains at the IMG Academy, was assigned to the new Stadium court, but that proved no advantage, as he dropped a 7-5, 7-5 decision to fellow 16-year-old IMG student Atakan Karahan of Turkey, who is also his doubles partner this week. Sakamoto certainly didn't play his best, but Karahan stayed committed to his aggressive strategy, shrugged off the errors that missed their targets, and landed enough of them to pressure Sakamoto when it mattered.

No. 6 seed Paul Inchauspe of France made the semifinals of both the J1 in Guadalajara and last week's JA in Merida, and looked to be in control of his match with Jonathan Irwanto, but the 18-year-old American fought back for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 win. 

No. 15 seed Alexander Frusina, one of just two Americans seeded this week, lost to Patrick Schoen of Switzerland 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

In addition to Irwanto, four American boys posted victories today: University of Florida freshman Jonah Braswell, who defeated Reiya Hattori of Japan 6-4, 6-0; Kaylan Bigun, who beat Hoyoung Roh of Korea 6-3, 6-4, Adhithya Ganesan who beat wild card Michael Kouame of France 6-4, 6-4, and wild card Roy Horovitz, who defeated Segundo Goity Zapico of Argentina 6-2, 6-1.

The girls draw lost no seeds, although No. 4 seed Ella Mcdonald of Great Britain withdrew prior to the start of play. Top seed Terza Valentova of the Czech Republic defeated Ahmani Guichard 6-0, 6-1, while No. 2 seed Luciana Moyano of Argentina beat Valeria Ray 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, both on the Academy Park courts. No. 3 seed Sayaka Ishii of Japan fought back to beat wild card Tyra Grant 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Three American girls advanced to the second round with wins today: No. 16 seed Theadora Rabman, who beat Barbora Michalkova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 3-6, 6-2; Anya Murthy, who defeated lucky loser Cleo Hutchinson 6-3, 7-5 and wild card Akasha Urhobo, who defeated Imogen Haddad of Great Britain 6-4, 6-3.

With damp hard courts this morning due to rain Sunday night, the first round of the Eddie Herr 12s, 14s and 16s divisions was pushed back, and matches are still going the boys 16s division as of 8 p.m.  All top seeds in the other divisions have advanced to Tuesday's second round.

The finals of the USTA National Indoor Championships were held today, with the results below. Full draws can be found by clicking on the division headers.

USTA National Indoors Finals Results:

Priscilla Sirichantho[4] d. Grace Hong[7] 6-2, 6-3
Camilla Olga Castracani and Priscilla Sirichantho[3] d. Teaghan Jou An Keys and Scarlett Fagan[4] 8-4

Antanas Daugis[1] d. Dylan Meineke[4] 4-6, 7-6(2), 10-8
Diego Custodio and Kahven Singh[1] d. Aayush Vartak and Antanas Daugis[3] 8-6

Christina Lyutova[1] d. Isabelle DeLuccia[2] 6-1, 6-2
Addison Cassidy and Gabriella Sadowski[6] d. Alyson Shannon and Kori Montoya[1] 8-3

Jack Secord[1] d. Liam Alvarez[2] 6-2, 6-2
Zen Uehling and Omar Rhazali[6] d. Yashwin Krishnakumar and Joseph Nau 8-6

Julia Werdiger[9] d. Elena Daskalova[10] 6-3, 6-2
Leena Friedman and Summer Chandler[2] d. Linda Ziets-Segura and Kady Tannenbaum[1] 8-4

Dominick Mosejczuk[4] d. Ian Mayew[7] 7-6(3), 6-3
Evan Burnett and Krish Gupta[2] d. Cyrus Zia and Braeden Gelletich[3] 8-3

Maddy Zampardo[6] d. Valerie Glozman[1] 6-1, 3-6, 7-5
Susanna Maltby and Maddy Zampardo[1] d. Erin Ha and Stephanie Yakoff[3] 8-5

Hank Trondson[14] d. Emon van Loben Sels 6-4, 6-3
Alex Fuchs and Emon van Loben Sels d. Caden Hasler and Dylan Tsoi[2] 8-3

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Eddie Herr Seeds with Main Draw Beginning Monday; Ngounoue Captures JA Merida Title; Shnaider Wins WTA 125 in Uruguay; Canada Claims First Davis Cup Title

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Bradenton FL--

The rain in the forecast held off until the evening, so all the Eddie Herr International qualifying matches were completed today, with main draw matches in all divisions set to begin Monday at the IMG Academy.

The Eddie Herr ITF J1, played on the HarTru courts, will begin with 42 first round singles matches, with those who played two qualifying matches today getting a welcome day off Monday. With temperatures in the low 80s and the humidity high, four sets of tennis (plus match tiebreakers for third sets) was no easy task, and neither of the top seeds in qualifying made it through to the main draw.

Girls No. 1 seed Antonia Vergara Rivera of Chile lost in the final round of qualifying to Anastasiia Firman of Ukraine 6-4, 4-6, 10-3, and boys No. 1 qualifying seed Gonzalo Zeitune of Argentina lost to Daniel Phillips of Bermuda 6-4, 6-3 in the second round. Phillips went on to qualify, saving a match point against No. 13 seed Simon Myslivec of the Czech Republic in a 6-1, 1-6, 12-10 victory.

"I was down 9-8 or 10-9 or something," said the 17-year-old, who trained at the Rafael Nadal Academy for three years and is now at Axis Tennis Academy in Delray Beach Florida. "I came with a different energy in that tiebreaker, left everything I had on the court, and I couldn't be happier with my performance."

Although Phillips has trained away from Bermuda for many years, it is still home for him, and he wants to represent it well.

"I love bringing my little island out," said Phillips, who has won three ITF Junior Circuit singles titles this year, including the J4 in Boca Raton earlier this month. "The people there all support and care for me, the community there is just amazing. It's a different atmosphere. I wouldn't trade Bermuda for anywhere else."

Phillips counts his competitive attitude as one of the keys facets of his game, which revolves around his serve.

"It's my ability to compete, to bring it every game every day," said Phillips. "My neutral balls, my forehand especially. I was injured a bit in my shoulder, but I've strengthened that. My serve and my forehand that's really the strength of my game."

The American boys who qualified are Jose Murariu and No. 9 seed Evan Wen. Girls qualifiers from the US are No. 2 seed Katie Rolls, Brianna Baldi, Taly Licht and No. 8 seed Piper Charney.

Charney and No. 16 seed Taylor Goetz closed out the qualifying on the new Stadium Court, after moving from court 3 due to darkness. Goetz had won the first set 6-4, Charney led the second set 4-2, but lost three straight games to give Goetz a chance to serve for the match. Goetz could get no closer than deuce however, and it was Charney who won the last three games of the set to force the tiebreaker under the lights. After a five-point stretch of the server being broken, Charney held for an 8-5 lead and closed it out 10-6 to reach the main draw.

The seeds for the Eddie Herr ITF J1:
1.Tereza Valentova(CZE) 
2. Lucian Moyano(ARG)
3. Sayaka Ishii(JPN)
4. Ella Mcdonald(GBR)
5. Ena Koike(JPN)
6. Lucciana Perez Alarcon(PER)
7. Ranah Stoiber(GBR)
8. Sonja Zhiyenbayeva(GER)
9. Tatum Evans(USA)
10. Mingge Xu(GBR)
11. Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz(AUS)
12. Darja Suvirdjonkova(SRB)
13. Mia Slama(USA)
14. Madeleine Jessup(TPE)
15. Amelia Waligora(BEL)
16. Theadora Rabman(USA)

1. Gerard Campana Lee(KOR)
2. Yaroslav Demin(RUS)
3. Rei Sakamoto(JPN)
4. Paul Barbier Gazeu(FRA)
5. Danil Panarin(RUS)
6. Paul Inchauspe(FRA)
7. Iliyan Radulov(BUL)
8. Cooper Williams(USA)
9. Juan Carlos Prado Angelo(BOL)
10. Arthur Gea(FRA)
11. Hayden Jones(AUS)
12. Kevin Edengren(SWE)
13. Alejandro Melero Kretzer(ESP)
14. Max Batyutenko(KAZ)
15. Alexander Frusina(USA)
16. Tiago Pires(FRA)

Campana Lee is still in Merida for the final, so he will not play until Tuesday.

Clervie Ngounoue, who led the United States to a Junior Billie Jean King Cup title early this month, closed out her banner month with the girls singles title at ITF Grade A in Merida Mexico tonight. Ngounoue, the No. 5 seed, defeated Ariana Pursoo 6-3, 6-2 in the battle of American 16-year-olds. Ngounoue is not playing Eddie Herr, but is expected to compete in the Orange Bowl. Pursoo is in the Eddie Herr ITF draw, unseeded, and will play Tuesday. 

North Carolina State freshman Diana Shnaider continued her march to the WTA Top 100 with the biggest title of her young career. The 18-year-old from Russia, who has yet to play a college match for the Wolfpack after enrolling this fall, won the WTA 125 in Montevideo Uruguay today, beating Leolie Jeanjean(Baylor/Arkansas/Lynn) of France 6-4, 6-4. Shnaider, who didn't drop a set this week, is now up to 109 in the WTA rankings, after being at 246 when she reached the semifinals of the US Open Junior Championships in September. 

Canada defeated Australia 2-0 in the Davis Cup final today in Spain, to win the prestigious team competition for the first time in the country's history. Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime delivered the singles victories for Canada, and they were the same two stars who won the Junior Davis Cup for Canada back in 2015. The ITF posted this tweet on that extremely rare double here.

The 12s, 14s, and 16s divisions of the Eddie Herr are scheduled to begin tomorrow at 8 a.m. on the IMG Academy hard courts. Below are the Top 8 seeds in those divisions. Some of the international players who train at IMG are listed as USA, rather than their home countries.

1. Yeri Hong(KOR)
2. Andreea Olariu(ROU)
3. Haniya Minhas(PAK)
4. Sim Siyoen(KOR)
5. Yui Komada(JPN) 
6. Siah Kim(KOR)
7. Hannah Ayrault(USA)
8. Sun Xinran(USA)

1. Emerson Jones(AUS)
2. Ksenia Efremova(FRA)
3. Victoria Barros(BRA)
4. Luna Maria Cinalli(ARG)
5. Polina Kuharenko(ESP)
6. Thea Frodin(USA)
7. Nicole Okhtenberg(USA)
8. Maria Aytoyan(USA)

1. Claire Zhang(USA)
2. Hyunyee Lee(KOR)
3. Monika Ekstrand(USA)
4. Claire Shao(USA)
5. Katerina Shabashkevich(USA)
6. Amelie Hejtmanek(GER)
7. Katie Spencer(USA)
8. Allie Bittner(USA)

1. Michael Antonius(USA)
2. Taiki Takizawa(AUS)
3. Jae Jun Shin(KOR)
4. Tabb Tuck(USA)
5. Elliott Awomoyi(USA)
6. Tomas Laukys(USA)
7. Tavish Pahwa(IND)
8. Lucas Han(AUS)

1. Ivan Ivanov(BUL)
2. Sehyuk Cho(KOR)
3. Carel Ngounoue(USA)(withdrawn due to playing in ITF qualifying)
4. Jack Kennedy(USA)
5. Keaton Hance(USA)
6. Weiyi Kong(USA)
7. Ford McCollum(USA)
8. Pedro Henrique Chabalgoity(BRA)

1. Maxwell Exsted(USA)
2. Calvin Baierl(USA)
3. Abhishek Thorat(USA)
4. Naoya Honda (ESP)
5. Kase Schinnerer(USA)
6. Jagger Leach(USA)
7. Boxiong Zhang(CHN)
8. Noah Johnston(USA)

Saturday, November 26, 2022

First Round of ITF J1 Eddie Herr Qualifying Complete, Two Rounds Set for Sunday; Rain Disrupts Semifinals in JA Merida; Shnaider Reaches WTA 125 Final; Canada and Australia Meet for Davis Cup Title Sunday

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Bradenton FL--

Effects from the rain at the Grade A this week in Merida Mexico spilled over into the first day of ITF J1 Eddie Herr qualifying, with both walkovers and alternates featured in round 1.

The tradition of playing late matches in Mexico and difficulty of getting to Bradenton from there is always challenging when it comes to the first few days of the Eddie Herr ITF. This year, with rain delaying the boys doubles semifinals from Friday to today, and more rain today, there were a lot of special exemption requests that ultimately proved moot, because the players simply couldn't get to the IMG Academy in time.

Nahum Gloriana of Morocco, who lost in Friday's quarterfinals in Merida and was the No. 9 seed in qualifying, tried to get here, but was unable to do so, despite getting a match time of not before 3 p.m. With just one lighted HarTru court, which is new this year, the Eddie Herr ITF is definitely a daylight tournament, so 3 p.m. is about as late as match can be scheduled.

Three players moved into the main draw due to last minute withdrawals: Americans Alexis Harmon and Maya Iyengar, the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, and No. 4 seed Luca Pow of Great Britain. Because no boys alternates signed in, Pow's opponent Piotr Andrzejewski of the United States received a walkover, one of three on the day in the boys draw. Three girls alternates got in, but none advanced to the second round.

Top girls seeds Antonia Vergara Rivera of Chile and Katie Rolls got through in straight sets, but No. 6 seed Sage Loudon and No. 7 seed Arina Oreschenkova lost in match tiebreakers.  

Top boys seeds Gonzalo Zeitune of Argentina and Jules Leroux of France are through, although Zeitune barely survived, beating Adam Duda of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-2, 11-9. No. 3 seed Marko Mesarovic lost to Zachary Vaiiala of Australia 7-6(5), 4-6, 10-3. 

Two boys who have made early 2024 commitments ousted seeds today, with Thomas Faurel of France, who has given a verbal to Kentucky, defeating No. 8 seed Hady El Korde of Egypt 6-3, 6-2 and Matthew Forbes, who recently announced his intention to play for North Carolina, beating No. 10 seed Junghee You of Canada 4-6, 6-3, 10-8. At 8-all in the match tiebreaker, You had a chance to put an overhead away, but Forbes tracked it down, reset the point and eventually won it, then served it out with a sharp angled winner ending it.

Two rounds of qualifying matches are scheduled for Sunday, but there is a chance of rain in the afternoon, and the high humidity has made for some lengthy matches with towel use more prevalent.

The final round of qualifying for the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions is set for Sunday, with main draw matches beginning Monday.

As for the JA in Merida, the singles semifinals, scheduled for today, but so far not played, are:

No. 4 seed Ella Mcdonald of Great Britain vs. Ariana Pursoo 
No. 5 seed Clervie Ngounoue vs. qualifier Yujin Kim of Korea

No. 1 seed Gerard Campana Lee of Korea vs. No. 8 seed Paul Inchauspe of France
No. 6 seed Juan Carlos Prado Angelo of Bolivia vs. No. 2 seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico.

Campana Lee has now won 21 consecutive ITF Junior Circuit matches since losing to ITF No. 1 Daniel Vallejo of Paraguay in the third round of the US Open. 

NC State freshman Diana Shnaider of Russia has advanced to her first WTA final at the 125 in Montevideo Uruguay. The unseeded 18-year-old left-hander, who reached the Orange Bowl final last year, defeated No. 6 seed Kateryna Baindl of Ukraine 6-3, 6-2 in this evening's semifinals, her fourth straight-sets victory of the week. Shnaider, up to 121 in the live WTA rankings, will face No. 10 seed Leolia Jeanjean(Baylor/Arkansas/Lynn) of France in Sunday's final. 

The Davis Cup final is set for Sunday in Spain, after Australia defeated Croatia 2-1 Friday and Canada defeated Italy 2-1 today. Italy had beaten the United States in the quarterfinals 2-1. With the new format featuring just two singles and a deciding doubles match, if necessary, all three of the matches above came down to the doubles, as did Canada's win over Germany in the quarterfinals. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

ITF J1 Eddie Herr Qualifying Begins Saturday; Ngounoue Advances to Semifinals at JA in Merida; Seeds Struggle at USTA National Indoor Championships

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Bradenton FL--

Last year's Eddie Herr International Junior Championships were held in the midst of construction on the IMG Academy's new tennis and basketball facility, but this year all the inconveniences are in the rearview mirror. Two stadium courts, one hard and one Har-Tru, will be in use throughout the tournament, and five indoor courts were being used for qualifying today in the 12s, 14s, and 16s division. There are also four new red clay courts, which won't be used this week, with the ITF J1 held on the same Har-Tru courts as before, with the addition of the stadium court.

Due to rain and wet courts earlier in the week, the second round of qualifying for the younger divisions was still going on after dark this evening; the third round will be Saturday and the fourth and final round will take place Sunday.

Both qualifying draws for the ITF J1 are full, with play beginning at 8:30 on Saturday. Top seed in the boys qualifying, with an ITF junior ranking of 153, is Gonzalo Zeitune of Argentina. Marko Mesarovic is the top seed among Americans, at No. 3. The top seed in the girls qualifying is Antonia Vergara Rivera of Chile, ranked 168. Three Americans follow her in the seedings, Kaitlyn Rolls, Alexia Harmon and Maya Iyengar.

The singles quarterfinals are still in progress at the JA in Merida Mexico. Cooper Williams, the No. 7 seed, is the only American boy still in contention for a title, having reached the singles quarterfinals and the doubles semifinals, with partner Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico.

Three US girls advanced to the quarterfinals: No. 5 seed Clervie Ngounoue, No. 9 seed Mia Slama and unseeded Ariana Pursoo. Ngounoue advanced to the singles semifinals with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-0 win over No. 16 seed Mingge Xu of Great Britain. Slama and Pursoo are playing each other in the quarterfinals later tonight in the bottom half, so another American semifinalist is assured. Ngounoue is also competing in the doubles semifinals tonight, with partner Amelie Smejkalova of the Czech Republic. 

The USTA National Indoor Championships began today and will run through Monday. Most age divisions had two rounds of singles today, so not all the draws are updated for those second round matches. Below are the top 8 seeds in each division, along with notations on those who have already lost. Click on age division to go to each draw.

B18s Overland Park Kansas

1. Dylan Tsoi (lost 1st rd)
2. Tygen Goldammer (lost 2nd rd)
3. Connor Smillie (lost 1st rd)
4. Alex Fuchs
5. Stephan Gershfeld
6. Sanjeev Chundu (lost 1st rd)
7. Caden Hasler
8. Greyson Casey (lost 1st rd)

G18s Indianapolis Indiana

1. Valerie Glozman
2. Stephanie Yakoff
3. Esha Velaga
4. Natasha Rajaram (lost 2nd rd)
5. Kaitlyn Carnicella 
6. Maddy Zampardo
7. Audrey Spencer (lost 2nd rd)
8. Amber Yin (lost 1st rd)

B16s Chicago Illinois

1. Brody Nejedly Krall (lost 1st rd)
2. Krish Gupta 
3. Nolan Balthazor (lost 1st rd)
4. Dominick Mosejczuk
5. Nicolas Patrick
6. Troy Kudrjavtsev
7. Ian Mayew
8. Evan Burnett (lost 1st rd)

G16s Minneapolis Minnesota

1. Kristina Penickova
2. Catherine Shen
3. Rachel Lee
4. Leena Friedman
5. Grace Li
6. Kaede Usui
7. Sophia Holod
8. Annika Penickova

B14s Chicago Illinois

1. Jack Secord
2. Liam Alvarez
3. Colin McPeek (lost 2nd rd)
4. Ilias Bouzoubaa
5. Shaan Patel
6. Abraham Rosett (withdrew, illness)
7. Roshan Santhosh (lost 2nd rd)
8. James Quattro

G14s Toledo Ohio 

1. Christina Lyutova
2. Isabelle DeLuccia
3. Alyson Shannon
4. Kaia Giribalan
5. Brooke Kwon
6. Kori Montoya
7. Victoria Mann (lost 1st rd)
8. Carrie-Anne Hoo

B12s Indianapolis, Indiana

1. Antanas Daugis
2. Diego Custodio
3. Zesen Wang
4. Dylan Meineke
5. Advay Singh
6. Karan Shanker
7. Aryan Ponugoti (lost 1st rd)
8. Aayush Vartak

G12s Manchester, Massachusetts

1. Lani Chang
2. withdrew
3. Aarini Bhattacharya
4. Priscilla Sirichantho
5. Kathryn Cragg
6. Michelle Lee (lost 1st rd)
7. Grace Hong
8. Camilla Olga Castracani

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving from Zootennis! NCAA Delays Decision on Moving Division I Individual Championships to Fall

Photo by Oxana Melis on Unsplash

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, I'd like to thank everyone for reading Zootennis and making it a part of your tennis information gathering. If you can, please consider a donation to support my travel expenses (Paypal link is here) and make your Tennis Warehouse purchases through the link to the left. In addition, I'd like to say thank you to Junior Tennis Champions Center, Southern California Tennis Foundation and the John McEnroe Academy for supporting my work through their advertising. Please take a moment to click on their advertising banners to learn about their offerings.

I'll be taking tomorrow off, but will be back Friday with updates from the ITF Grade A in Merida Mexico and links to the USTA National Indoor Championships, which begin Friday at locations around the country.

John Parsons has provided the news that the NCAA's Competition Oversight Committee has delayed a decision on the ITA's recommendation that the Division I individual championships to the fall. Check out his tweet on the subject here, and follow his no ad no problem instagram account for more updates on the topic. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

More Division I NLI Signings; Final USTA Australian Open Wild Card Standings; US Davis Cup Team Takes on Italy Thanksgiving Day

National Letter of Intent Signings will continue to be announced over the next few weeks, but this will probably be my last post of them, with the upcoming Florida tournaments occupying my attention for the rest of the year. My first post with signings, on Thursday November 10th can be found here; I posted an additional set of signings a week ago, on November 15th.


Arizona State has signed Emilija Tverijonaite of Lithuania.

Maryland has signed Diya Challa.

North Carolina has signed Theadora Rabman

Oklahoma has signed Tiantsoa Sarah Rakotomanga Rajaonah of France.

Rice has signed Anushka Ashar.

Utah has signed Kat Lyman, a graduate transfer from Xavier.


Arkansas has signed Gerard Planelles Ripoll of Spain and Connor Smillie. Planelles Ripoll will start in January.

Boise State has signed Teague Burger, a transfer from Bryant, and Idriss Haddouch of Belgium.

Georgia has signed Ignacio Buse of Peru.

Ohio State has signed Bryce Nakashima, brother of Next Gen ATP Champion Brandon Nakashima.

Stanford has signed Nicholas Godsick, Kyle Kang and Hudson Rivera.

Tennessee has signed Nicolas Kobelt of Switzerland. 

TCU has signed Duncan Chan of Canada, Julian Alonso of Spain and Kaj Quirijns of Switzerland

Wisconsin has signed Collin Beduhn, Matthew Fullerton, Tomas Zlatohlavek of the Czech Republic and Oliver Olsson of Germany

The USTA announced the final standings of its annual Australian  Open Wild Card Challenge for men and women. It's likely that the wild cards will end up going to Christopher Eubanks and Taylor Townsend. Today's press release:

Final Standings -- Australian Open Wild Card Challenge


ORLANDO, Fla., November 22, 2022 – The final standings for the men's and women's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge are below. Ben Shelton and Caty McNally finished first but are both likely to earn direct entry into Melbourne. The wild cards will go to the highest-finishing players who do not earn direct entry. Each player's point total and current ranking (in parenthesis) are below:  




1. Ben Shelton (No. 97) -- 240

2. Chris Eubanks (No. 124) -- 130

3. Tennys Sandgren (No. 272) -- 107

4. Michael Mmoh (No. 110) -- 87




1. Caty McNally (No. 94) -- 189

2. Madison Brengle (No. 59) -- 161

3. Taylor Townsend (No. 131) -- 130

4. Alycia Parks (No. 150) -- 126


The USTA and Tennis Australia have a reciprocal agreement in which main draw wild cards for the 2023 Australian Open and US Open will be exchanged.


Wild card recipients will have to follow all Australian Open protocols as it relates to quarantine or vaccination.


The United States Davis Cup team will play Italy Thursday in the quarterfinals of the 2022 competition in Spain. The winner of that match will take on the winner of the quarterfinal between Germany and Canada, also Thursday. In the first quarterfinal match of this final stage, Australia defeated the Netherlands 2-0 today and will play the winner of tomorrow's match between Croatia and Spain. 

The team members for Italy and the United States can be found here.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Bowers Sweeps in Bolivia, Earns Second Straight J2 Singles Title; Bhakta, Dunyon and Chandler Also Go Back-to-Back on ITF Junior Circuit; Campana Lee and Moyano Top Seeds as ITF JA Merida Begins

Two weeks ago, Americans claimed 16 titles on the ITF Junior Circuit; last week they went one better, with 17 titles, including the three I covered on Saturday at the J1 in Guadalajara Mexico.

Ashton Bowers won the singles and doubles titles last week at the J2 in La Paz Bolivia, after claiming the singles title last week in Cochabamba Bolivia. The 17-year-old from Georgia, seeded No. 3, defeated No. 2 seed Tania Andrade Sabando of Ecuador 6-1, 6-0 in the final. The only set she lost in either week was in the semifinals to Naomi Xu of Canada, who was the No. 1 seed both weeks.

For some reasons the points from Cochabamba are showing as "non countable," for both Xu and Bowers, so Bowers' ranking didn't improve as it normally would, but she is at 113 in the ITF rankings now. 

Bowers, who has verbally committed to Auburn, partnered with Katie Rolls to take the doubles titles in La Paz, with the No. 3 seeds beating the unseeded team of Sara Alba Verastegui and Maria Vargas Triana of Colombia 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

Ria Bhakta won her second straight title at a J4, this week in Guatemala, with the top-seeded 17-year-old defeating No. 2 seed Nicole Alfaro of Costa Rica 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Bhakta won the singles and doubles last week at the J4 in El Salvador. 

Americans also claimed the doubles titles in El Salvador last week, with unseeded Amy Lee and Paola Lopez defeating No. 2 seeds Nina Marcela Chavez Vicente of Guatemala and Sofia Corte Real of Portugal 7-6(5), 4-6, 10-7 in the final. It's the first ITF Junior Circuit title for both Lee, 15, and Lopez, 16.

Humza Noor won his first ITF Junior Circuit title in doubles, partnering with Daniel Phillips of Bermuda. The No. 2 seeds, who didn't drop a set all week, defeated No. 3 seed Samuel Heredia and Cesar Mahecha of Colombia 6-2, 6-4 in the final. 

In Cameroon, Jane Dunyon won her second J5 singles title in as many weeks there, with the unseeded 16-year-old defeating 13-year-old Lucy Oyebog Atang, the No. 5 seed, 7-6(1), 6-0 in the all-USA final. Oyebog Atang and her partner Stad Fani Fanyi Nformi of Cameroon, the No. 1 seeds, defeated No. 2 seeds Charnelle Fozo of Cameroon and Farah Heddar of Algeria 6-0, 6-2 to claim their second consecutive doubles title in Cameroon J5s.

The fourth member of the quartet to take back-to-back singles titles is 15-year-old Summer Chandler, who won another J5 in Jamaica this week. Chandler, who was unseeded, won seven of her ten sets played this week by a 6-0 score; she lost a total of eight games in her five matches. In the final, she defeated unseeded 13-year-old Kalista Papadopoulos, also of the US, 6-0, 6-1. Chandler and Linda Ziets Segura of the US won their second straight doubles title as well. Rain must have been a problem during the week, as the score in another all-US final was 8-1 over Papadopoulos and Ana Avramovic. 

The remaining two singles titles won by Americans last week came on home soil at the J5 in San Diego

Playing in his first ITF Junior Circuit tournament, 16-year-old Trevor Svajda, younger brother of ATP 260 and two-time Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda, won it without loss of a set. Svajda, a wild card, lost just 12 games during the tournament, beating qualifier William Semler 6-2, 6-3 in the final. 

No. 6 seed Bianca Molnar won her first ITF Junior Circuit title, with the 16-year-old Californian defeating No. 2 seed Alexis Nguyen 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(4) in the final. 

Molnar fell just short of both titles in San Diego, with USTA 16s National singles champion Alyssa Ahn and partner Emily Deming taking the doubles championship over Molnar and Krisha Mahendran of India. The wild cards won their first ITF Junior Circuit titles with a 6-0, 6-4 decision over the No. 2 seeds.

And the seventeenth American title of the week belongs to Aayush Bhat, who won a J4 doubles title in India last week with partner Aman Dahiya of India. Bhat, who now has six ITF Junior Circuit doubles titles, and Dahiya, the top seeds, defeated No. 4 seeds Venkat Rishi Batlanki of the US and Chandan Shivaraj of India 6-2, 6-4 in the final.

The ITF Grade A in Merida Mexico is underway with first round matches in singles and doubles. 

Gerard Campana Lee of Korea is the top boys seed, with his first round opponent tonight Jonathan Irwanto of the United States. They met in the final of the most recent Grade A in Osaka Japan, with Campana Lee taking it 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. 

American boys in the draw in addition to Irwanto are qualifiers Ariel Zauber and Carel Ngounoue, Meecah Bigun, Kaylan Bigun, Roy Horovitz, Kurt Miller, Adhithya Ganesan, Quang Duong, Evan Wen and No. 7 seed Cooper Williams. 

Although matches go late into the evening at this event, some first round results have been posted. Ngounoue, the Biguns, and Duong lost their first round singles matches, Williams and Ganesan have won theirs. (Correction: Williams plays his first round match Tuesday). 

Twenty-three US girls reached the main draw, including qualifiers Oziera Ahmad, Mia Saveljic, Ava Bruno and Briana Baldi. Ginger Foster received the lucky loser spot when Wimbledon girls finalist Luca Udvardy of Hungary, who was to be the No. 2 seed, withdrew. Wild card Luciana Moyano of Argentina is the top seed.

The other US girls in the main draw are Valeria Ray, Ava Krug, No. 5 seed Clervie Ngounoue, wild card Daniela Livson, Victoria Osuigwe, Ahmani Guichard, Kaitlin Quevedo, Arina Oreschenkova, Maya Iyengar, No. 7 seed Tatum Evans, Martina Marica, No. 14 seed Theadora Rabman, Sage Loudon, Alexia Harmon, Brooke Lynn Schafer, No. 9 seed Mia Slama, Anya Murthy and Ariana Pursoo. 

Krug, Ngounoue, Guichard and Slama have advanced to the second round, with Livson, Osuigwe, Iyengar, Evans and Marica losing their first matches.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

USTA Pro Circuit Titles for Bernard and Michelsen; Lilov Claims First Title at $15K in Peru; Shelton Makes History with Third Straight Challenger Title; Ram and Salisbury Champions at ATP Finals

Three teens from the United States claimed their first pro singles titles today, with 19-year-old Alexander Bernard winning the $25,000 tournament in Columbus Ohio, 18-year-old Alex Michelsen winning the $15,000 tournament in East Lansing Michigan and 18-year-old Victor Lilov winning the $15,000 tournament in Lima Peru

No. 5 seed Bernard, playing in his first Pro Circuit final, captured the title when qualifier Matej Vocel of the Czech Republic retired trailing 2-6, 6-1, 3-1. Bernard, a freshman at Ohio State, won three of his five matches during the week from a set down. Vocel, 25, played at Ohio State last season, after transferring from Oklahoma State for his final year of eligibility. Bernard, the 2019 Kalamazoo 16s champion, should move inside the ATP Top 600 when the points are added.

Michelsen, who won the doubles title yesterday with Learner Tien, got his second career title today, with the No. 3 seed defeating unseeded Alex Kotzen(Columbia) 7-6(2), 6-1. Michelsen, who lost in the final of the $15K in Winston-Salem a week ago, has gone 13-3 this fall in main draw matches on the Pro Circuit, including his first ATP Challenger main draw victory. He should be right around 600 in the ATP rankings when the points are added.

Lilov has been playing on South American clay this fall, with his best showing before this week a quarterfinal in early October. But this week in Peru, he defeated the No. 2 seed in the semifinals, and today beat top seed Jorge Panta of Peru 2-6, 6-3, 6-1. Lilov has won two ITF World Tennis Tour men's doubles title this year.

The $15,000 men's Pro Circuit tournament in Boca Raton Florida will finish on Monday, due to rain, with No. 5 seed Blu Baker of Great Britain facing unseeded Arvid Nordquist(Mississippi State) of Sweden for the singles title. Baker and Auburn senior Finn Murgett, also of Great Britain, won the doubles title Saturday, with the No. 4 seeds defeating No. 2 seeds Younes Lalami Laaroussi(Old Dominon) of Morocco and Brandon Perez(Virginia Tech/Nebraska) of Venezuela 3-6, 7-6(3), 10-8.

At the $15,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Waco Texas, former Tulsa standout Martina Okalova of Slovakia won her first title, beating No. 8 seed Victoria Hu(Princeton) 6-3, 6-2. A qualifier, the 25-year-old won seven matches in seven days, losing only one set. 

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign Illinois, current NCAA singles champion Ben Shelton overcame a shocking start in the final against Aleks Vukic of Australia, recovering to claim his third straight title in as many weeks with a 0-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. Vukic, a former star at the University of Illinois, played well in the first half of the contest, but once Shelton found his forehand form, Vukic was unable to match that level. 

With the title, the 20-year-old Shelton enters the ATP Challenger record books as the youngest player to ever win three consecutive Challenger titles, and has now broken into the ATP Top 100 for the first time at 97.  That means the former Florida Gator will not need the Australian Open Wild Card he won in the USTA's annual challenge, and it will go to Shelton's good friend Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech), who finished second. Shelton's ATP ranking was 548 when he won the NCAA title in May, in Champaign.

Michael Mmoh lost in the final of the Drummondville Canada Challenger today, with Vasek Pospisil of Canada winning that match 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4. 

US Open champions Rajeev Ram(Illinois) and Great Britain's Joe Salisbury(Memphis) won the doubles title today at the ATP Finals, defeating Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia 7-6(4), 6-4. Ram and Salisbury went undefeated throughout the group and knockout stages and earned the largest payday in doubles history: $930,000. Salisbury is the first British player to win the ATP finals; Ram is the 18th American to do so. For more on today's match, see this ATP article.  

Novak Djokovic won the singles title, defeating Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-3 for his sixth championship at the year-ending event.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Quevedo, Pursoo and Williams Win ITF J1 Guadalajara Titles; Michelsen, Bernard Reach Pro Circuit Finals; Shelton to Play for Third Straight Challenger Title in Champaign; Fritz Loses to Djokovic in Semis of ATP Finals

Kaitlin Quevedo won her first ITF Grade 1 title today in Guadalajara and did it in style. In six matches, the 16-year-old from Naples Florida lost just 20 games, and four games in her last two matches. Today against No. 8 seed Mingge Xu of Great Britain Quevedo posted a 6-0, 6-2 victory after taking out top seed Ella Mcdonald of Great Britain 6-2, 6-0 in the semifinals Friday. Quevedo is certainly one to watch as the junior circuit heads into the final two Grade As, with the Eddie Herr in between. As of now, Quevedo is entered in all three. 

An American boy was guaranteed to win the boys doubles title, with Cooper Williams nabbing his fourth title of the year, all at J1s or JAs, today with Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico. The No. 2 seeds defeated unseeded Cooper Woestendick and Roy Horovitz 6-2, 6-1 in the final.

An American girl was also guaranteed a J1 title in Guadalajara when Quevedo and partner Piper Charney won their semifinal last night, but the No. 7 seeds fell to the unseeded pair of Ariana Pursoo and Mexico's Carolina Alonso 1-6, 6-4, 10-7 in today's final. It's Pursoo's second ITF Junior Circuit doubles title. 

Qualifying began today for next week's Grade A in Merida Mexico.

Alex Michelsen has reached his second straight $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit final, with the 18-year-old from Southern California defeating No. 5 seed Mitchell Harper(Virginia Tech) of Australia 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 in East Lansing. Michelsen, the No. 3 seed, will face Columbia junior Alex Kotzen in the final, after Kotzen defeated LSU junior Ron Hohmann, a qualifer, 6-3, 7-6(7). It is the first Pro Circuit final for Kotzen.

Michelsen and Learner Tien both won their first Pro Circuit titles today, with the unseeded pair, who train together in Irvine California, claiming the doubles title in East Lansing. Michelsen and Tien defeated the unseeded British team of Josh Goodger(Tulsa/Florida) and Emile Hudd(Tennessee) 6-4, 6-3. 

Ohio State freshman Alex Bernard reached his first USTA Pro Circuit final today in his new collegiate home with a three-hour,  win over former Ohio State All-American and No. 4 seed John McNally 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-3 at the $25K in Columbus. The 19-year-old from Florida, seeded No. 5, will play qualifier Matej Vocel of the Czech Republic in Sunday's final. Former Oklahoma State star Vocel, who played his fifth-year at Ohio State in 2021-22, defeated Alexander Cozbinov(UNLV) of Moldova 6-2, 6-3 in the other semifinal.

McNally did get a title in his collegiate hometown however, taking the doubles final with partner Eduardo Nava(TCU/Wake Forest). The No. 2 seeds defeated the unseeded pair of current Oregon Ducks Joshua Charlton(AUS) and Quinn Vandecasteele 6-4, 6-4. 

At the women's $15,000 tournament in Waco, No. 8 seed Victoria Hu(Princeton) is through to her first Pro Circuit final, defeating 16-year-old Lexington Reed 7-6(1), 6-4 in today's semifinals. The 20-year-old Hu, who turned pro after her freshman year in 2021-22, will face former Tulsa standout Martina Okalova of Slovakia in the final. Okalova, a qualifier, defeated No. 4 seed Maria Kozyreva(St. Mary's) of Russia 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. 

In the doubles final, No. 2 seeds Alicia Herrero Liana(Baylor) of Spain and Maria Kononova(North Texas) defeated unseeded Melany Krywoj(Baylor) of Argentina and Baylor freshman Vanda Vargova of Slovakia 4-6, 6-3, 10-7. 

Current NCAA champion Ben Shelton is through to his third consecutive ATP Challenger final in as many weeks after defeating No. 7 seed Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois) 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-4 in Champaign. The 20-year-old left-hander from Gainesville Florida, seeded No. 4, bombed a career-high 25 aces to get his second win over Kovacevic in the past three weeks. Shelton, up to 105 in the live rankings, will face another former Illinois star in No. 6 seed Aleks Vukic, who prevented a third straight final between Shelton and Christopher Eubanks with a 7-6(7), 6-4 win today over the former Georgia Tech star. If Shelton wins tomorrow, he should move into the ATP Top 100, which means he will not need the Australian Open wild card he clinched yesterday. Eubanks is currently in second place, so he would receive it.

In the Champaign doubles final, top seeds Robert Galloway(Wofford) and Mexico's Hans Hach Verdugo(Abilene Christian) earned the title, beating unseeded Zeke Clark(Illinois) and Alfredo Perez(Florida) 3-6, 6-3, 10-5. 

Michael Mmoh can't move ahead of Eubanks in the race, but the 24-year-old is getting closer to the Top 100 and direct entry after reaching the final of this week's ATP Challenger 80 in Drummondville Canada. No. 2 seed Mmoh, currently 109 in the live rankings, will face No. 3 seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada for the title Sunday. 

In Drummondville doubles, the British team of Julian Cash(Mississippi St/Oklahoma St) and Henry Patten(UNC-Asheville) won their eighth Challenger title of the year, tying a record, when they defeated unseeded compatriots Arthur Fery(Stanford) and Giles Hussey(Georgia St/Tennessee) 6-3, 6-3 i the final. 

The ATP Finals in Turin Sunday will feature Novak Djokovic and Casper Ruud in singles. Djokovic defeated Taylor Fritz 7-6(5), 7-6(6) in today's semifinals, while Ruud took out Andre Rublev 6-2, 6-4. In tomorrow's doubles final, Rajeev Ram(Illinois) and Great Britain's Joe Salisbury(Memphis) will face Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia. Ram and Salisbury, who are undefeated this week, lost in the championship match at last year's ATP Finals to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Sports Columnist Couch Finds New Career as College Tennis Coach; Shelton Claims USTA's Australian Open Wild Card; Quevedo Rolls into J1 Guadalajara Final; Reed and Michelsen Reach $15K Semifinals

The path from sports journalist to coach isn't heavily traveled, so when I heard that Greg Couch, the former Chicago Sun-Times columnist had been named men's and women's coach at Division III Rose-Hulman, I knew I needed to talk to him about his journey. I met Greg when he was covering the slams for AOL Fanhouse 10 or 12 years ago, and while he hadn't been writing about tennis much in the past few years, I knew from his social media posts that he was still very much engaged in the sport, mostly at the coaching level. 

It was great fun to talk with him about his experiences coaching and how those interactions proved to be much more satisfying than what he had been doing at FS1. I hope the Tennis Recruiting Network article that came out of our recent conversation conveys his enthusiasm for what's ahead at Rose-Hulman. (And no, he didn't have a hairstyle like that when he was a sportswriter).

2022 NCAA singles champion Ben Shelton won his 13th consecutive Challenger match today, defeating Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign. With the victory, the former Florida Gator clinched the USTA's Australian Open wild card, with the only question now whether he will need it. If Shelton wins the title in Champaign, which would be his third straight, he will crack the ATP Top 100 and would be in the Australian Open without the wild card. In that case, it would go to Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech), who is in second place in the race. Eubanks defeated lucky loser Evan Zhu(UCLA) 6-1, 6-2 today to reach the semifinals; Shelton has defeated Eubanks in the last two Challenger finals in Charlottesville and Knoxville. 

Shelton, the No. 4 seed,  will face No. 7 seed Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois) in the semifinals, after Kovacevic defeated No. 2 seed Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-4 today. Kovacevic lost to Shelton in the third round in Charlottesville two weeks ago. No. 3 seed Eubanks will face another former Illini, No. 6 seed Aleks Vukic of Australia, who defeated Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain 7-6(6), 6-4.

Live streaming, with Mike Cation providing commentary, will be available at the ATP Challenger TV website

Kaitlin Quevedo returned to junior competition this week after winning three $15K titles in the past two months and she is showing no signs of slowing down. In the semifinals today at the ITF J1 in Guadalajara, the 16-year-old from Naples Florida defeated top seed Ella Mcdonald of Great Britain 6-2, 6-0, her fifth straight-sets win of the week. She will face No. 8 seed Mingge Xu of Great Britain in Saturday's final. Quevedo and Piper Charney are also competing in the doubles semifinals tonight; Ariana Pursoo and her partner Carolina Alonso of Mexico are through to the final. 

Three US boys will play in boys doubles final, with Cooper Woestendick and Roy Horovitz facing Cooper Williams and Mexico's Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez.

At the $15,000 women's Pro Circuit tournament in Waco Texas, Lexington Reed won the battle of the teenagers, with the 16-year-old from Orlando beating 15-year-old Aspen Schuman 7-5, 6-3. Reed, who will be playing in her second $15K semifinal this year, faces No. 8 seed Victoria Hu(Princeton) next. Qualifier Martina Okalova(Tulsa) of Slovakia defeated top seed Veronica Miroshnichenko(Loyola Marymount) 6-2, 6-3 and will play No. 4 seed Maria Kozyreva(St. Mary's) of Russia in the other semifinal. Kozyreva ended the seven-match winning streak of UCLA freshman Fangran Tian of China 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

Alex Michelsen, who made the Winston-Salem $15K final last week, is through to the semifinals at the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in East Lansing after defeating unseeded Ben Jones of Great Britain 6-4, 6-1. Michelsen, the No. 3 seed, will play No. 5 seed Mitchell Harper(Virginia Tech) of Australia, who beat top seed Alex Knaff(Florida State) of Luxembourg 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. The other semifinal will feature current collegians Ron Hohmann(LSU), a qualifier and unseeded Alex Kotzen(Columbia), who both eliminated Michigan State freshman wild cards. Hohmann beat David Saye 6-4, 6-0 and Kotzen defeated Ozan Baris 6-3, 6-1. 

Michelsen and Learner Tien have advanced to the doubles final, where they'll face Emile Hudd(Tennessee) and Josh Goodger(Tulsa/Florida). 

At the $25,000 men's Pro Circuit event in Columbus, qualifier Matej Vocel took out former Ohio State teammate and top seed Cannon Kingsley 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach the semifinals, where he'll play wild card and No. 3 seed Alexander Cozbinov(UNLV) of Moldova. Cozbinov defeated No. 6 seed JJ Tracy(Ohio State) 7-6(6), 7-5. In the bottom half, former Ohio State star John McNally will face another Kalamazoo 16s champion in Buckeye freshman Alexander Bernard. No. 4 seed McNally, who won the Kalamazoo 16s title in 2014, defeated Ohio State redshirt freshman Jack Anthrop 6-3, 7-5; No. 5 seed Bernard, the 2019 Kalamazoo 16s champion, beat No. 2 seed Aidan Mayo 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, to repeat his victory over Mayo in that Kalamazoo final. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Six Buckeyes Reach Quarterfinals at Columbus $25K; Teens Schuman and Reed Clash in Waco $15K Quarterfinals; Shelton Beats Quinn at Champaign Challenger; Striplin Lynch Out at Clemson; Fritz Reaches Semifinals at ATP Finals

Ohio State's many USTA Pro Circuit tournaments have proven to be an important recruiting tool for the Buckeyes, with the wild cards and the geographic advantage helping Ohio State players in their quest for ATP points. 

This week's $25,000 tournament in Columbus has certainly paid off, with two former and four current Ohio State players advancing to Friday's quarterfinals. 

Qualifier Matej Vocel of the Czech Republic, who played his final season of college tennis at Ohio State in 2021-22, and No. 4 seed John McNally are the two formers. Vocel, who transferred to Ohio State from Oklahoma State, defeated No. 7 seed Eduardo Nava(TCU/Wake Forest) 6-1, 6-4 and McNally beat qualifier Youssef Kadiri Hassani (Oregon) 6-3, 6-2.  

Top seed Cannon Kingsley, a senior at Ohio State, advanced to the quarterfinals when 15-year-old qualifier Evan Sharygin retired after dropping the first set 6-0. No. 6 seed JJ Tracy, a junior at Ohio State, defeated Piotr Pawlak(Texas Tech) of Poland 6-2, 6-2; redshirt freshman Jack Anthrop beat Charlelie Cosnet(Kentucky) of France 7-5, 6-0 and true freshman Alexander Bernard, the No. 5 seed, defeated Joshua Charlton(Oregon) of Australia 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. 

With that many Ohio State quarterfinalists, Buckeye semifinalists are guaranteed and the two all-OSU quarterfinals will feature Kingsley versus Vocel and McNally versus Anthrop. Tracy will face wild card Alexander Cozbinov(UNLV) of Moldova and Bernard will play No. 2 seed Aidan Mayo in a rematch of the 2019 Kalamazoo 16s final, which Bernard won 5-7, 6-2, 7-5, saving a match point.

At the $15,000 men's tournament in East Lansing, two Spartans have advanced to the quarterfinals, freshmen Ozan Baris and David Saye. Baris defeated MSU sophomore Max Sheldon, a wild card, 7-6(3), 6-2, and wild card Saye defeated lucky loser Patrick Fletchall(Indiana) 6-4, 6-4. It's the first Pro Circuit quarterfinal for Baris, while Saye is playing in his first Pro Circuit tournament this week. 

Other Americans advancing to the quarterfinals are Alex Michelsen[3], qualifier Ron Hohmann(LSU) and Alex Kotzen(Columbia). 

At the $15,000 men's tournament in Boca Raton, Axel Nefve(Notre Dame/Florida) is the only American remaining. Nefve defeated No. 3 seed Andres Andrade(Florida) of Ecuador 6-7(2), 7-6(8), 6-4 in three hours and 33 minutes. Andrade's teammate Duarte Vale of Portugal, the No. 1 seed, lost to Justin Roberts(South Florida/Arizona St) of the Bahamas 6-3, 6-3.

Fifteen-year-old Aspen Schuman and 16-year-old Lexington Reed have advanced to a meeting in the quarterfinals of the $15,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit tournament in Waco Texas, with both defeating seeds today.

Schuman, who already has a win this fall over WTA Top 250 player Eudice Chong, defeated No. 2 seed Jessica Hinojosa Gomez(Baylor) of Mexico 6-3, 6-3; Reed, who reached the semifinals of a $15K in September, defeated No. 6 seed Tori Kinard 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5). 

The other American advancing to the quarterfinals in Waco is No. 8 seed Victoria Hu(Princeton).

Ben Shelton extended his Challenger winning streak to 12 matches today at the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign, with the 20-year-old NCAA singles champion defeating University of Georgia freshman Ethan Quinn 6-4, 6-4. Shelton, the No. 4 seed, saved all seven break points he faced, many times with unreturnable serves. Quinn faced only four break points, but Shelton converted twice, which was all he needed. Shelton will face unseeded Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India in the quarterfinals Friday, and if he wins that match, he will clinch the USTA's Australian Open wild card. 

Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) eliminated Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) from contention for the wild card, beating him in tonight's second round match 6-4, 6-3. Eubanks is now in sole possession of second place in the wild card race, and should Shelton get into the Australian Open on his own ranking, the wild card would go to him. Eubanks plays lucky loser Evan Zhu(UCLA) in Friday's quarterfinals. 

Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois)[7] and Steve Johnson(USC)[2] will play for a spot in the semifinals, with the other quarterfinal featuring Aleks Vukic(Illinois)[6] of Australia and Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain.

This is not the time of year when coaching changes happen, but Clemson announced a "change of leadership," with Christy Striplin Lynch leaving the women's program. Striplin Lynch, who played at Georgia Tech, took over from longtime Clemson coach Nancy Harris in 2020. Clemson has a new athletic director since Striplin Lynch's hiring, Graham Neff, who is quoted in today's release saying, “We feel it is in the best interest of Clemson Athletics to seek a new perspective at this time. We will conduct a national search for our next leader after the spring season, and are committed to winning at the highest level within this historic program.” Assistant Amy Sargeant will take over the program on an interim basis for the spring season.

Taylor Fritz defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-2 in group play today at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, to earn a place in the semifinals. Fritz, who finished second to Casper Ruud in the group, will face Novak Djokovic Saturday in the semifinals. On Friday, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev will play for the final spot in the semifinals against Ruud. Fritz is the first American to reach the semifinals in the ATP Finals since Jack Sock in 2017.