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Saturday, December 31, 2022

Top Two Seeds in B16s USTA Winter Nationals, No. 1 Seed in B18s, No. 2 and 3 Seeds in Girls 18s Fall; Quarterfinals Set for Sunday

The quarterfinals are set for New Year's Day at the USTA 18s and 16s Winter Nationals in Lake Nona, with very few top seeds still in the mix for a gold ball.

Unseeded 14-year-olds Carel Ngounoue and Keaton Hance took out the top two seeds in the Boys 16s, with Ngounoue, the brother of top junior Clervie Ngounoue, beating No. 1 seed Dominick Mosejczuk 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-2, and Hance, the brother of UCLA sophomore Kimmi Hance, defeating No. 2 seed Dylan Long 6-2, 6-3.

In the Boys 18s, unseeded Matthew Fullerton defeated No. 1 seed Xander Barber 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-1, and is one of six unseeded players in Sunday's quarterfinals.

I'm not sure if the World Tennis Number was used for seeding in this tournament, but if it was, these results are certainly not a good advertisement for it. The highest seed remaining in any of the four divisions in Lake Nona is No. 3 Leena Friedman in Girls 16s; half of the 32 quarterfinalists are unseeded.

Most of the top seeds in the Girls 16s lost before today, but in the Girls 18s, No. 2 seed Esha Velaga was beaten by Alana Boyce, a No. 17 seed, 6-4, 6-3, and No. 3 seed Susanna Maltby lost to another No. 17 seed, Gayathri Krishnan, 6-3, 6-4.

Live streaming is available, via Playsight, is here.

Sunday's quarterfinal matchups:

Boys 18s
Matthew Fullerton vs Waleed Qadir[16]
Kase Schinnerer vs Declan Galligan
Brandon Carpico vs Mikel Anderson
James Lian[10] vs Saahith Jayaraman

Boys 16s
Carel Ngounoue vs Stephen Faraci
Brody Nejedly Krall[3] vs Maximus Dussault
Mitchell Sheldon[13] vs Benjamin Sparks
Noah Johnston[8] vs Keaton Hance

Girls 18s
Ariel Madatali vs Amber Yin[8]
Sari Woo[17] vs Alanis Hamilton[16]
Aspen Schuman[7] vs Gayathri Krishnan[17]
Tianmei Wang vs Alana Boyce[17]

Girls 16s
Summer Chandler vs Nadia Barteck[17]
Leena Friedman[3] vs Kenzie Nguyen[17]
Thea Latak vs Christina Lyutova[16]
Sophia Holod[6] vs Monika Ekstrand

Officials at the USTA Winter Nationals 12s and 14s in Tucson must have looked at the same weather forecast as I did yesterday, because they changed the day with two matches scheduled from Sunday to today. After rain the first day put the tournament behind, in order to finish it, two singles matches in the same day were necessary, so those are taking place today. The round of 32 is complete, with the round of 16 later today and the quarterfinals on Sunday (weather permitting). I will post the results of the quarterfinals in tomorrow's post.

Samir Banerjee fell short in his quest for a first ITF men's World Tennis Tour final today, falling to No. 2 seed Bogdan Bobrov of Russia 7-6(1), 7-6(4) at the $15,000 tournament in Tunisia, but it was still the best week on the Pro Circuit for the 19-year-old Stanford freshman as he prepares for the dual match season.

2022 Honor Roll

January 2022

Taylor Goetz, USTA 16s Winter Nationals

Olivia Center and Kate Fakih, USTA 16s Winter Nationals (dbls)

Mitchell Lee, USTA 16s Winter Nationals

Xander Barber and Stiles Brockett, USTA 16s Winter Nationals (dbls)

Piper Charney, USTA 18s Winter Nationals

Piper Charney and Natalie Block, USTA 18s Winter Nationals (dbls)

Nicolas Kotzen, USTA 18s Winter Nationals

Nicolas Kotzen and Bjorn Swenson, USTA 18s Winter Nationals (dlbs)

Laima Frosch, USTA 14s Winter Nationals

Sara Shumate and Bella Payne, USTA 14s Winter Nationals (dbls)

Jagger Leach, USTA 14s Winter Nationals

Jon Gamble and Adrien Abarca, USTA 14s Winter Nationals (dbls)

Sephi Sheng, USTA 12s Winter Nationals

Nancy Lee and Carrie-Anne Hoo, USTA 12s Winter Nationals (dbls)

Vihaan Reddy, USTA 12s Winter Nationals

Izyan Ahmad and Taishk Konduri, USTA 12s Winter Nationals (dbls)

Cooper Williams and Michael Zheng, ITF J1 Costa Rica (dbls)

Sonya Macavei, ITF J1 Costa Rica

Sebastian Gorzny, ITF J1 Costa Rica

Michael Zheng, ITF J1 Colombia

Hina Inoue, ITF W15 Cancun

Clervie Ngounoue, Australian Open Junior Championships (dbls)

Bruno Kuzuhara, Australian Open Junior Championships, singles and doubles

Nicholas Godsick, ITF J1 Ecuador

February 2022

Cooper Williams, ITF J1 Brazil (dbls)

Nishesh Basavareddy, ITF J1 Brazil

Coco Gauff, WTA 1000 Doha (dbls)

Cooper Williams and Aidan Kim, ITF JA Brazil (dbls)

Nishesh Basavareddy ITF JA Brazil

Clervie Ngounoue, ITF W15 Tunisia (dbls)

March 2022

Robin Montgomery and Ashlyn Krueger, ITF W60 California (dbls)

Madison Sieg, ITF W15 Florida

Jonah Braswell, ITF J1 San Diego (dbls)

Sophie Williams, ITF J1 San Diego (dbls)

Liv Hovde, ITF J1 San Diego

Learner Tien, ITF J1 San Diego

Andrew Johnson and Tyler Lee, Easter Bowl 12s (dbls)

Michael Antonius, Easter Bowl 12s

Welles Newman and Lyla Middleton, Easter Bowl 12s (dbls)

Baotong Xu, Easter Bowl 12s

Noah Johnston and Gray Kelley, Easter Bowl 14s (dbls)

Noah Johnston, Easter Bowl 14s

Ava Rodriguez and Kenna Erickson, Easter Bowl 14s (dbls)

Nicole Okhtenberg, Easter Bowl 14s

April 2022

Matthew Forbes and AJ Mercer, Easter Bowl 16s (dbls)

Parashar Bharadwaj, Easter Bowl 16s

Conley Raidt and Saray Yli-Pipari, Easter Bowl 16s (dbls)

Valerie Glozman, Easter Bowl 16s

Alex Michelsen and Sebastian Gorzny, Easter Bowl ITF JB1 (dbls)

Alex Michelsen, Easter Bowl ITF JB1

Qavia Lopez and Liv Hovde, ITF JB1 (dbls)

Alexis Blokhina, ITF JB1 Easter Bowl

May 2022

Jordan Lee, IMG Future Stars, Athens Greece

Nishesh Basavareddy, ITF M15 Florida (dbls)

Aidan Kim, ITF J1 Italy (dbls)

Bruno Kuzuhara and Victor Lilov, ITF M15 Turkey (dbls)

Nishesh Basavareddy and Aidan Kim, ITF JA Milan (dbls)

Nishesh Basavareddy, ITF JA Milan

June 2022

Martin Damm, ITF M25 Dominican Republic

Ethan Quinn, ITF M15 San Diego

July  2022

Liv Hovde, ITF J1 Roehampton

Sebastian Gorzny and Alex Michelsen, ITF J1 Roehampton (dbls)

Katrina Scott, ITF W25 Columbus

Ethan Quinn, ITF M15 Los Angeles (dbls)

Liv Hovde, Wimbledon Junior Championships

Sebastian Gorzny and Alex Michelsen, Wimbledon Junior Championships (dbls)

Ethan Quinn, ITF M15 Fountain Valley (dbls)

Safir Azam and Akshay Mirmira, USTA 12s Clay Courts (dbls)

Jordan Lee, USTA 12s Clay Courts

Shaya Jovanovic and Daniela Navarro, USTA 12s Clay Courts (dbls)

Hannah Ayrault, USTA 12s Clay Courts

Jack Kennedy and Sebastian Bielen, USTA 14s Clay Courts (dbls)

Jack Kennedy, USTA 14s Clay Courts

Sara Shumate and Bella Payne, USTA 14s Clay Courts (dbls)

Julieta Pareja, USTA 14s Clay Courts

Krish Gupta and Evan Burnett, USTA 16s Clay Courts (dbls)

Stiles Brockett, USTA 16s Clay Courts

Kayla Chung and Alanis Hamilton, USTA 16s Clay Courts (dbls)

Natasha Rajaram, USTA 16s Clay Courts

Nikita Filin and Alexander Razeghi, USTA 18s Clay Courts (dbls)

Nicholas Heng, USTA 18s Clay Courts

Natalie Block and Piper Charney, USTA 18s Clay Courts (dbls)

Bridget Stammel, USTA 18s Clay Courts

Ethan Quinn, ITF M25 Champaign

Ashlyn Krueger, ITF W60 Evansville

August 2022

Leanid Boika, ITF J1 South Africa

Vihaan Reddy, USTA Nationals 12s

Vihaan Reddy and Akshay Mirmira, USTA Nationals 12s (dbls)

Maggie Sohns, USTA Nationals 12s

Hannah Ayrault and Julia Seversen, USTA Nationals 12s (dbls)

Sebastian Bielen, USTA Nationals 14s

Andre Alcantara and Andrew Gordon, USTA Nationals 14s (dbls)

Bella Payne, USTA Nationals 14s

Thea Frodin and Anita Tu, USTA Nationals 14s (dbls)

Darwin Blanch, USTA Nationals 16s

Mitchell Lee and Cooper Woestendick, USTA National 16s (dbls)

Alyssa Ahn, USTA Nationals 16s

Anya Murthy and Taylor Goetz, USTA Nationals 16s (dbls)

Learner Tien, USTA Nationals 18s

Nicholas Godsick and Ethan Quinn, USTA Nationals 18s (dbls)

Eleana Yu, USTA Nationals 18s

Reese Brantmeier and Clervie Ngounoue, USTA Nationals 18s (dbls)

September 2022

Nishesh Basavareddy and Ozan Baris, US Open Junior Championships (dbls)

Lexington Reed, ITF W15 Cancun (dbls)

Kaitlin Quevedo, ITF W15 Cancun

Victor Lilov, ITF M15 Cancun (dbls)

Cooper Williams, ITF M15 Fayetteville (dbls)

Liv Hovde, ITF W15 Lubbock

October 2022

Kaitlin Quevedo, ITF W15 Cancun

Tatum Evans, ITF JB1 Pan American Closed

Jessica Bernales and Maren Urata, ITF JB1 Pan American Closed (dbls)

Nikita Filin and Alexander Razeghi, ITF JB1 Pan American Closed (dbls)

Ethan Quinn, ITA All-American Championships

Adhithya Ganesan, ITF JA Osaka (dbls)

Liv Hovde, ITF W25 Fort Worth

Kaitlin Quevedo, ITF W15 Colombia

November 2022

Clervie Ngounoue, Valerie Glozman and Iva Jovic, ITF Junior Billie Jean King Cup

Nishesh Basavareddy, ITA National Fall Championships

Kaitlin Quevedo, ITF J1 Guadalajara

Cooper Williams, ITF J1 Guadalajara (dbls)

Ariana Pursoo, ITF J1 Guadalajara (dbls)

Alex Michelsen and Learner Tien, ITF M15 East Lansing (dbls)

Alex Michelsen, ITF M15 East Lansing

Victor Lilov, ITF M15 Peru

Clervie Ngounoue, ITF JA Merida

Priscilla Sirichantho and Camilla Castracani, USTA 12s National Indoors (dbls)

Priscilla Sirichantho, USTA 12s National Indoors

Diego Custodio and Kahven Singh, USTA 12s National Indoors (dbls)

Antanas Daugis, USTA 12s National Indoors

Addison Cassidy and Gabriella Sadowski, USTA 14s National Indoors (dbls)

Christina Lyutova, USTA 14s National Indoors

Zen Uehling and Omar Rhazali, USTA 14s National Indoors (dbls)

Jack Secord, USTA 14s National Indoors

Leena Friedman and Summer Chandler, USTA 16s National Indoors (dbls)

Julia Werdiger, USTA 16s National Indoors

Evan Burnett and Krish Gupta, USTA 16s National Indoors (dbls)

Dominick Mosejczuk, USTA 16s National Indoors

Susanna Maltby and Maddy Zampardo, USTA 18s National Indoors (dbls)

Maddy Zampardo, USTA 18s National Indoors

Alex Fuchs and Emon van Loben Sels, USTA 18s National Indoors (dbls)

Hank Trondson, USTA 18s National Indoors

December 2022

Michael Antonius, Eddie Herr 12s

Jordyn Hazelitt and Raya Kotseva, Eddie Herr 12s (dbls)

Jack Kennedy and Keaton Hance, Eddie Herr 14s (dbls)

Nancy Lee and Thea Frodin, Eddie Herr 14s (dbls)

Vessa Turley and Georgia Cranford, Eddie Herr 16s (dbls)

Maxwell Exsted, Eddie Herr 16s

Noah Johnston and Benjamin Willwerth, Eddie Herr 16s (dbls)

Cooper Williams, ITF J1 Eddie Herr (dbls)

Kenzie Nguyen and Claire Zhang, Orange Bowl 16s (dbls)

Alexis Nguyen, 16s Orange Bowl

Jacob Olar, Orange Bowl 16s (dbls)

Iva Jovic and Tyra Grant, ITF JA Orange Bowl (dbls)

Christina Lyutova, Junior Orange Bowl 12s

Friday, December 30, 2022

December Aces; B18s, G16s No. 2 Seeds Ousted at USTA Winter Nationals; Banerjee Reaches $15K Semifinal; USA Team Wins Opener at United Cup

I wrap up 2022 with my December Aces for the Tennis Recruiting Network, which features all 15 of the champions from this month's major junior events in Florida. If you were busy with holiday plans in December, this column is an ideal way to quickly catch up on all the great junior performances in those three tournaments. I also managed to squeeze three other teens into the article, and that trio will be on many lists of ones-to-watch in  2023.

The round of 16 will take place Saturday at the USTA 18s and 16s Winter National Championships in Lake Nona, without the No. 2 seeds in Boys 18s and Girls 16s.

Five-star Lucia Donnelly defeated No. 2 seed Elena Daskalova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in today's third round in Girls 16s, and Kalamazoo 16s semifinalist Saahith Jayaraman beat No. 2 seed Tygen Goldammer 6-4, 6-2 in the third round of Boys 18s. Jayaraman has not played much since Kalamazoo, but the 17-year-old from Northern California was obviously a dangerous floater given his performance in August.

Top boys seeds Xander Barber in the 18s and Dominick Mosejczuk in the 16s are through to the round of 16; Mosejczuk faces unseeded 14-year-old Carel Ngounoue next; ITF World Junior Tennis 14U teammate Keaton Hance, the other unseeded 14-year-old in the 16s, will play No. 2 seed Dylan Long.

The only two Top 8 seeds remaining in the Girls 16s are No. 3 seed Leena Friedman and No. 6 seed Sophia Holod. Girls 18s No. 4 seed Natasha Rajaram lost today, but No. 2 seed Esha Velaga and No. 3 seed Susanna Maltby have advanced, as have Tianmei Wang[5], Aspen Schuman[7] and Amber Yin[8].

The 12s and 14s in Tucson are still a day behind schedule, with the second round still going on this evening. According to the draws, the plan is to play two singles matches on Sunday, January 1, although, as of now, there is rain in the forecast for that day.

Stanford freshman Samir Banerjee has advanced to his first ITF World Tennis Tour men's semifinal, with the 2021 Wimbledon boys champion defeating 2022 Eddie Herr champion Arthur Gea of France 7-5, 6-0 in today's quarterfinals at the $15,000 tournament in Tunisia. The unseeded 19-year-old will face No. 2 seed Bogdan Bobrov of Russia in Saturday's semifinals.

The United States defeated the Czech Republic 4-1 in the opening United Cup match in Group C, with Taylor Fritz, Madison Keys, Frances Tiafoe getting the three necessary points in singles. The team will face Germany on Monday and will advance to the Sydney city final on Wednesday with a win. They would play the winner of Group D, which consists of Australia, Great Britain and Spain. Results can be found here.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Update on Second Round of 16s and 18s USTA Winter Nationals; Banerjee Reaches $15K Quarterfinals; Record Number of Juniors Compete on 2022 ITF Circuit; Cash and Patten Head to ATP Tour

The second round of the USTA 16s and 18s Winter Nationals in Lake Nona Florida is complete, but rain in Tucson Arizona yesterday disrupted the first round for the 12s and 14s and, while the 12s finished their first round matches today, as of now, the 14s have not.

Below is the status of the seeds in the 16s and 18s:

Boys 16s:
1. Dominick Mosejczuk
2. Dylan Long
3. Brody Nejedly Krall
4. Braeden Gelletich (out rd 1)
5. Nicholas Patrick (out rd 2)
6. Maxim Kalinin (out rd 2)
7. Nolan Balthazor (out rd 1)
8. Noah Johnston
9. Cal Riggs (out rd 1)
10. Nathan Gold
11. Benjamin Saltman (out rd 2)
12. Cooper Han
13. Mitchell Sheldon
14. Evan Burnett
15. Winston Lee
16. Jack Satterfield

Boys 18s:
1. Xander Barber
2. Tygen Goldammer
3. Alex Fuchs
4. Sanjeev Chundu
5. Leonardo Dal Boni
6. Connor Smillie (withdrew)
7. Meethre Barot
8. Roberto Ferrer Guimaraes
9. Adam Sun (out rd 1)
10. James Lian
11. Niels Hoffman
12. Kale Mize
13. Carter Pate
14. AJ Mercer (out rd 1)
15. Collin Beduhn (out rd 1)
16. Waleed Qadir

Girls 16s:
1. Laima Frosch (out rd 1)
2. Elena Daskalova
3. Leena Friedman
4. Rachel Lee (out rd 1)
5. Mary Grace Rennard (out rd 2)
6. Sophia Holod
7. Grace Li
8. Isabelle Einess (out rd 2)
9. Olivia Cutone (withdrew)
10. Mila Mulready (out rd 2)
11. Trinetra Vijayakumar
12. Alex Ackman
13. Sydney Fuger (out rd 2)
14. Monika Ekstrand
15. Georgia Cranford
16. Christina Lyutova

Girls 18s
1. Stephanie Yakoff (out rd 1)
2. Esha Velaga
3. Susanna Maltby
4. Natasha Rajaram
5. Tianmei Wang
6. Kaitlyn Carnicella (out rd 2)
7. Aspen Schuman
8. Amber Yin
9. Conley Raidt (out rd 2)
10. Ava Esposito Cogan
11. Brianna Baldi (out rd 2)
12. Brooke Lynn Schafer
13. Emily Deming (out rd 1)
14. Anna Nguyen
15. Eva Oxford
16. Alanis Hamilton

2021 Wimbledon boys champion and Stanford freshman Samir Banerjee broke his wrist in Kalamazoo this year, after a fall in his round of 16 match with Kyle Kang. The 19-year-old from New Jersey played only three collegiate matches in the fall season, but he is currently competing in Tunisia, where he has reached the quarterfinals at the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour men's tournament there. Using his ITF junior exemption, I assume for the final time, Banerjee defeated 17-year-old Alexander Blockx of Belgium, No. 15 in the ITF Junior rankings, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals. He'll play another 17-year-old, recent Eddie Herr champion Arthur Gea of France, for a spot in his first Pro Circuit semifinal. Banerjee made two $15K quarterfinals this summer. 

Last week the ITF published its 2022 By The Numbers article, which featured the news that a record 16,102 players competed at ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors events this year. The article also highlights the most titles, the longest winning streaks and the youngest champions of 2022 on the ITF Junior Circuit.

My December Aces column comes out tomorrow, and I would have loved to include Julian Cash and Henry Patten, with the former collegians setting a record for most ATP Challenger doubles titles in 2022. Unfortunately, I didn't have a photo of them, so I couldn't feature them, but I was happy to see this feature from the Oklahoma State(Cash's alma mater)website on how their partnership began, why it's flourished and what their next steps and ranking goals are, now that they are in the Top 100 in the ATP doubles rankings.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Top Seeds in Girls 16s and 18s Fall in Opening Round of USTA Winter Nationals; Preview of Next Week's Malibu $25Ks; ATP, WTA Seasons Begin Tonight at New United Cup

There was no wait for an upset at the USTA Winter National Championships as Girls 18s top seed Stephanie Yakoff and Girls 16s top seed Laima Frosch lost their opening round matches today at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida.

Yakoff was beaten by Georgia Tech signee Meera Jesudason of Pennsylvania 6-3, 6-4, while Frosch fell to Summer Chandler of New York 6-1, 1-6, 6-2. 

Not all the results from the late afternoon girls matches have been posted, but all the Boys 16s and 18s singles matches are complete, with the highest seed to fall No. 4 seed Braeden Gelletich, who lost to Tristan Stine of Texas 6-2, 7-6(7) in Boys 16s.

Steve Pratt has prepared a preview of the first Pro Circuit event of 2023, a $25,000 joint event of the SoCal Pro Series, coming up next week on the Pepperdine University campus in Malibu. His release:

SoCal Pro Players Zach Svajda, Govind Nanda and Danielle Lao Expected To Be Among Top-seeded Players At Men’s and Women’s $25,000 SoCal Pro Series Events on ITF World Tour 

 Pepperdine University’s Ralphs-Straus Tennis Facility in Malibu Will Be Site of First Pro Events to Kick Off New Year Jan. 2-8, 2023


December 28, 2022 – Two-time Kalamazoo National Junior Champion Zach Svajda, residing in nearby Hermosa Beach, and former UCLA standout Govind Nanda are expected to be the top-seeded men’s players as the SoCal Pro Series makes its return to Southern California with $25,000 men’s and women’s tournaments, event organizers from USTA Southern California have announced.


The events are part of the USTA Pro Circuit and ITF World Tour and will kick off with qualifying matches starting Monday, Jan. 2 and continuing through the finals on Sunday, Jan. 8 at Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center on the campus of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.


“We are so excited to partner with USTA Southern California to bring professional tennis to Malibu,” said Steve Potts, Pepperdine Director of Athletics. “It is an amazing opportunity to showcase our men's and women's tennis programs and our student-athletes by hosting this combined Men's and Women's 25K SoCal Pro Series tournament.”


On the women’s side, former USC star Danielle Lao will be among the top-seeded players and will be joined by other Americans and former college stars such as Jaime Loeb (University of North Carolina), Emina Bektas (University of Michigan) and Francesca Di Lorenzo (Ohio State).


Currently ranked just outside the top 300 in the ATP Tour’s world rankings, San Diego native Svajda, 20, enjoyed a successful 2022 ITF campaign which saw him win two back-to-back SoCal Pro Series singles titles while reeling off 10 straight wins in July at the Kramer Club in Rolling Hills Estates and Los Caballeros Racquet Club. Svajda went on to win his first ATP-level Challenger event, taking the singles title at the Tiburon $52,000 event in October. The 80 ranking points bolted his ranking up 124 spots in just one week placing him just outside the world’s top 250.


Nanda, 21, from Redlands, is ranked No. 391 in the world and has won four ITF Pro titles – all at the $25,000 level. 


Pepperdine men’s tennis head coach Adam Schaechterle is excited to have pro tennis back on the campus at Pepperdine: “This event would not be possible without the vision and leadership of (SoCal Pro Series Chairman) Chris Boyer and (USTA SoCal Executive Director) Trevor Kronemann. They understand the grassroots impact that a professional event can have on a tennis community. We are grateful for their vision and for the opportunity to participate in what the SCTA is building. 


“At Pepperdine, we are thrilled to bring pro tennis back to Malibu. We are excited to show off our world class facility at the most beautiful campus in America. This will be a special week for our student-athletes to compete with the pros and for all of Malibu to enjoy world-class tennis.”


Other Southern California players expected to play in the men’s and women’s main draws and qualifying include: Gage Brymer (Irvine resident), Alex Michelsen (Aliso Viejo), Connor Farren (USC product), Learner Tien (Irvine), Isaiah Strode (San Diego), Kyle Kang (Fullerton), Jacob Brumm (Rancho Santa Fe). On the women’s side, joining Lao, of Los Angeles, will be Hanna Chang (Fontana), Madison Sieg (USC), Eryn Cayetano (USC), Solymar Colling (University of San Diego), and Jessica Failla (Ramona). 


Failla played her college tennis at Pepperdine, which is led by head coach Per Nilsson. “Pepperdine is a perfect site for these kinds of tournaments. It is great to have them back on campus,” Nilsson said.


Southern California 18-year-olds Chase Thompson, of Mission Viejo, and Anne Lutkemeyer, of Irvine, were awarded main-draw singles wild cards by way of winning a recent pre-qualifying wild card tournament at Lakewood Tennis Center. Thompson is headed to the University of Notre Dame in the fall while Lutkemeyer is a freshman at UCLA. 


Main-draw singles wild cards have been awarded by the SoCal Pro Series committee to Eric Hadigan (Pepperdine), Hudson Rivera (Rancho Santa Fe) and Aditya Gupta (Irvine) on the men’s side, and Savannah Broadus (Pepperdine), Jordyn McBride (University of San Diego) and Princeton-bound Katherine Hui (San Diego) in the women’s tournament.


Qualifying wild cards will go to men’s players Phillip Jordan, Rudy Quan, William Kleege, Rohan Murali and Max Mckennon and women’s players Niki Redelijk, Caroline Campana, Tsehay Driscoll and Anna Campan.


Cathy Jacobson, who for more than 40 years ran the popular Billie Jean King and El Dorado Park tennis centers in Long Beach, will be the tournament director for these January tournaments at Pepperdine.


Weekend semifinals and finals matches will be live-streamed and commentated by popular Cracked Racquets analyst Alex Gruskin, who called the inaugural SoCal Pro Series action over the summer and was joined by Annacone and San Diego product and current ATP player Bradley Klahn.


To learn more about the SoCal Pro Series, go to: https://www.ustasocal.com/pro. Follow along on Instagram: @SoCalProCircuit.

The 2023 season for the ATP and WTA gets underway in 2022, with the first matches of the inaugural United Cup in Australia being played tonight. The mixed event, replacing the short-lived ATP Cup competition, features teams of men and women from 18 countries, including the United States, which opens play against the Czech Republic in Sydney tonight.  Greece is the top seed, followed by Poland, USA and Spain. The USA team consists of Taylor Fritz, Jessica Pegula, Frances Tiafoe, Madison Keys, Denis Kudla, Alycia Parks, Hunter Reese and Desirae Krawczyk. 

For more on the competition and a list of the players on each of the 18 teams, see this article from the tournament site

Tennis Channel is providing coverage of the event in the United States.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Seeds, Draws for 12s and 14s USTA Winter Nationals, Beginning Wednesday; ATP Invests in Development Centers in China and Hong Kong

The draws have been posted for the 12s and 14s USTA Winter Nationals, which begin Wednesday in Tucson Arizona. The top 16 singles seeds in the four divisions are below. The links to the draws and a list of the top 16 seeds in the 16s and 18s Winter Nationals in Lake Nona are in my Monday post.

Girls 12s:
1. Caroline Shao
2. Raya Kotseva
3. Grace Hong
4. Allison Wang
5. Daniela Del Mastro
6. Ava Penn
7. Natalie Augustyn
8. Jordyn Hazelitt
9. Michelle Lee
10. Anshu Matham
11. Anugrah Balaswamy
12. Elena Gusavac
13. Adelyn Gross
14. Camilla Kostik
15. Enya Hamilton
16. Addyson Filipiak

Girls 14s:
1. Isabelle DeLuccia
2. Alyson Shannon
3. Kaia Giribalan
4. Kori Montoya
5. Ireland O'Brien
6. Anna Bugaienko
7. Nancy Lee
8. Emily Golovanov
9. Carrie-Anne Hoo
10. Sydney Barnhart
11. Kalista Papadopoulos
12. Catherine Rennard
13. Lyla Middleton
14. Ellery Mendell
15. Lyla Messler
16. Brooke Wallman

Boys 12s:
1. Tabb Tuck
2. Diego Custodio
3. Dylan Meineke
4. Zesen Wang
5. Adrian Sharma
6. Luca Queiroz
7. Carter Jauffret
8. Eli Kaminski
9. Asher Yuan
10. Matei Calin
11. Jiarui Zhang
12. Daniel Gardality
13. Joseph Kim
14. Warren James Lam
15. Joshua Dolinsky
16. Keane Qu

Boys 14s:
1. Lixing Jiang
2. Ilias Bouzoubaa
3. Colin McPeek
4. Vihaan Reddy
5. David Wu
6. Mason Taube
7. Jacob Hewitt
8. Navneet Raghuram
9. Kimi Basamakov
10. Izyan Ahmad
11. Andrew Johnson
12. Anish Poojari
13. Yannik Alvarez
14. Safir Azam
15. Tanishk Konduri
16. Soren Swenson

Today, the ATP announced a partnership with PacificPine Sports to create tennis development centers in China and Hong Kong. According to the article on the ATP website:
"The multi-year partnership, which begins in 2023, is an exciting opportunity for the ATP to engage with junior tennis players and young fans locally, expand opportunities in the sport, and for ATP Coach members to share their expert knowledge with players in a fast-growing region.

The centres, which will be run by PPS, will offer members and local staff access to ATP Coaches, Alumni and Medical Services Team. PPS will have rights to use ATP Tour brand marks in promotional, advertising and marketing materials."

One of the most striking aspects of the recently concluded major junior events in Florida was the prevalence of Asian champions in all age divisions. While many of them are training in the United States or Europe, this initiative may help develop a more geographically logical approach to elite player development in the region.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Seeds, Draws for USTA 18s and 16s Winter Nationals, Beginning Wednesday; Australia's Junior National Champions

The draws are up for the USTA 18s and 16s Winter Nationals, which begin Wednesday at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida. Below are the top 16 seeds in the four draws.

Boys 16s:
1. Dominick Mosejczuk
2. Dylan Long
3. Brody Nejedly Krall
4. Braeden Gelletich
5. Nicholas Patrick
6. Maxim Kalinin
7. Nolan Balthazor
8. Noah Johnston
9. Cal Riggs
10. Nathan Gold
11. Benjamin Saltman
12. Cooper Han
13. Mitchell Sheldon
14. Evan Burnett
15. Winston Lee
16. Jack Satterfield

Boys 18s:
1. Xander Barber
2. Tygen Goldammer
3. Alex Fuchs
4. Sanjeev Chundu
5. Leonardo Dal Boni
6. Connor Smillie
7. Meethre Barot
8. Roberto Ferrer Guimaraes
9. Adam Sun
10. James Lian
11. Niels Hoffman
12. Kale Mize
13. Carter Pate
14. AJ Mercer
15. Collin Beduhn
16. Waleed Qadir

Girls 16s:
1. Laima Frosch
2. Elena Daskalova
3. Leena Friedman
4. Rachel Lee
5. Mary Grace Rennard
6. Sophia Holod
7. Grace Li
8. Isabelle Einess
9. Olivia Cutone
10. Mila Mulready
11. Trinetra Vijayakumar
12. Alex Ackman
13. Sydney Fuger
14. Monika Ekstrand
15. Georgia Cranford
16. Christina Lyutova

Girls 18s:
1. Stephanie Yakoff
2. Esha Velaga
3. Susanna Maltby
4. Natasha Rajaram
5. Tianmei Wang
6. Kaitlyn Carnicella
7. Aspen Schuman
8. Amber Yin
9. Conley Raidt
10. Ava Esposito Cogan
11. Brianna Baldi
12. Brooke Lynn Schafer
13. Emily Deming
14. Anna Nguyen
15. Eva Oxford
16. Alanis Hamilton

The draws for 12s and 14s, who play in Tucson, have not yet been posted, but I will provide a list of their top 16 seeds on Tuesday.

With the attention of the tennis world turning to Australia next month, it's a good time to look at the National Championships held this month Down Under. Although many of the top Australian players were in the United States for the Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl, there is no dearth of talent for these events. The 18s champions were Stefani Webb, who is beginning her college career at Central Florida this spring, and 16-year-old Pavle Marinkov. For more on the 18s Nationals, see this Tennis Australia article.

The 16s champions are Thomas Gadecki and Gabby Gregg. For more on those championships, see this Tennis Australia article.

The Australian National 14s champions are Daniel Jovanovski and Sara Nikolic. For more on those titles, see this Tennis Australia article.

The 12s champions are Vesna Marinkov and Jenson Yokota-Ho, with more details in this Tennis Australia article.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Happy Holidays From Zootennis.com!

photo by Mariya Muschard from Pixabay 
I'll be taking a few days off to enjoy the Christmas holiday and to recover from my daily onsite coverage of the major Florida junior circuit tournaments the past four weeks.

If you missed the daily coverage due to holiday preparations, you can read my recaps of the Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl tournaments at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The USTA Winter National Championships begin Wednesday for the 16s and 18s at the USTA National Campus in Florida and for the 12s and 14s in Tucson Arizona, so junior tennis will be right back!

Friday, December 23, 2022

My Junior Orange Bowl Recap; UTR Pro Tennis Tour Update

If you didn't follow my daily coverage of the Junior Orange Bowl from December 13-20, you can get caught up on the prestigious international competition for the 12s and 14s age divisions in my recap for the Tennis Recruiting Network, published today.

I also wanted to post results of the UTR Pro Tennis Tour events in the United States since September (previous update is here); there is one more men's final, being played tomorrow, which I will update when the result is available.

September 12 Lawrence KS
Sonia Smagina d. Malkia Ngounoue 2-6, 6-2, 6-3

October 2 Boca Raton FL
Komola Umarova d. Akasha Urhobo, walkover

October 10 Newport Beach CA
Aspen Schuman d. Emily Deming 6-1, 6-4

October 24 Newport Beach CA
Megan Mccray d. Brandy Walker 2-6, 6-3, 6-2

October 31, Boca Raton FL
Mia Horvit d. Yasmine Kabbaj 6-0, 6-2

November 7, College Station TX
Mary Stoiana d. Carson Branstine 6-4, 6-0

November 14, Boca Raton FL
Malkia Ngounoue d. Alexandra Pisareva 3-6, 6-0 1-0 ret.

November 28, Knoxville TN
Luciana Perry d. Elza Tomase 6-3, 7-6(1)

December 4, Boca Raton FL
Mia Horvit d. Vera Lapko 4-6, 7-6(5), 5-2 ret.

December 17, Newport Beach CA
Fangran Tian d. Casie Wooten 6-0, 6-0


September 12, Newport Beach CA
Maciej Rajski d. Arthur Bellegy 6-2, 6-0

October 3, Newport Beach CA
Maciej Rajski d. Christian Lerby 6-2, 6-4

October 16, Boca Raton FL
Nicolas Cortes Campos d. Yannik Rahman 6-3, 3-6, 6-1

October 31, Newport Beach CA
Maciej Rajski d. Keenan Mayo 2-6, 6-3, 6-1

November 7, College Station TX
Giulio Perego d. Guido Marson 6-4, 6-2

November 14, Fort Worth TX
Sander Jong d. Jack Pinnington Jones  4-6, 6-3, 6-2

November 14, Newport Beach CA
Maciej Rajski d. Alessandra Ventre 6-4, 6-0

November 27, Boca Raton FL
Ryuhei Azuma d. Sean Daryabeigi 6-2, 6-2

December 5, Newport Beach CA
Sean Hill d. Alex Michelsen 6-3, 6-4

December 11, Boca Raton FL
Noah Schachter d. Matthew Segura 6-4, 6-3

December 17, Newport Beach CA
Alex Michelsen d. Yuta Kikuchi 6-3, 6-1

December 18, Dallas TX
Shunsuke Mitsui d. Steven Forman 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

Thursday, December 22, 2022

USTA Junior Competition Changes for 2023 Includes Exclusive Use of World Tennis Number, Smaller Draws, Fewer National Team Events

With 2022 coming to a close, the USTA last week released a synopsis of the changes (areas of focus) for junior competition in 2023.

There's a great deal of interest in the one-page document, including adoption of the World Tennis Number rating system for all USTA tournaments in 2023. With the use of "exclusive" in describing the change, it appears the Universal Tennis rating system will not be allowed, although there is no mention of seeding in the reference.

As I noted a few months ago, the draws for the 16s and 18s Clays and Hard Courts will be reduced from 224 to 192 and the L2 draws for those age divisions in May and July will be reduced from 64 to 32.  The 2023 USTA National Tournament calendar shows those draws correctly, but the Nationals are still showing 224, which I'm sure will be amended shortly.

National team events are dwindling, with the Spring Team Nationals and the Battle of the Sections for the 16s and 18s age divisions the extent of team competition on the national level. The article states: "other national team events—Intersectional Championships, Zone Team Championships and National Team Championships—will not be held in 2023. Additional resources will be made available to encourage team event competitions at the local level as the USTA continues to evaluate its national team products."

The emphasis will move to team events at the local level, with Level 2 and Level 4 Closed Intersectional team events and more team events added to Level 3 Opens.

The National Junior Team Tennis finals will not be held going forward, with emphasis local competition in that format as well. 

Although not included in last week's release, I have heard that a format change is coming for the USTA 12s division, with standard best of three matches in the main draw of National Championships, beginning with the Easter Bowl. The 12s currently play a match tiebreaker in lieu of a third set, and after watching the Eddie Herr (using a match tiebreaker) and Junior Orange Bowl (full best of three), I think the latter is better for the development of players when they are playing just one match per day. I understand the need for the truncated third sets in events that are long weekends, and for consolation draws, which often require two matches a day, but it isn't necessary for the main draw of summer nationals.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells Announces New ITF Junior Tournament in Second Week; Tien Signs with USC for January

While I was covering the Junior Orange Bowl finals yesterday, the BNP Paribas Open made the announcement that I had been anticipating for several weeks regarding a new International Tennis Federation Junior Circuit tournament that will be held in the second week of the ATP and WTA Masters Tournament in Indian Wells. 

I had heard about this event in October, but details were scarce, and I wasn't sure whether it would begin in 2023 or 2024. But I spoke with Alex Cercone of the USTA about it at the Orange Bowl and she confirmed the event will take place in 2023, and it is now on the ITF Junior Circuit calendar, with a 48-draw, from March 13-19. This is a J300 (the new ITF naming convention for 2023 with the number of points awarded to the winners), formerly known as a J1, and will take the place of the ITF JB1 Easter Bowl that had been held at the Indian Wells site a week after the BNP Paribas Open.

The question of who will be allowed to compete is still not entirely clear to me, but it appears, at least for this year, to be open to Americans and Canadians. I have asked the ITF for clarification on this, and plan to write an article about the tournament next month for the Tennis Recruiting Network. The J300 in San Diego is the next week, and followed by the Easter Bowl, which will continue to be at Indian Wells, and will include a USTA 18s gold ball championship.

Below is the portion of the announcement yesterday from the BNP Paribas, which contained many other items of news about the tournament.

Tournament to Debut First-Ever Junior Championships

While the ATP and WTA stars will continue to take center stage in Tennis Paradise, the 2023 BNP Paribas Open will offer more tennis than ever before for fans to enjoy. The first-ever BNP Paribas Open Junior Championships will be held during the second week of the tournament, offering promising junior tennis players the opportunity to play alongside the professionals. This combined boys’ and girls’ event will be an ITF Level 1 tournament and feature junior players from the United States and Canada, with plans to expand to a full international player field in 2024.

The other big news from this week came from the University of Southern California, which announced that 2022 Kalamazoo 18s champion Learner Tien has signed with the Trojans and will join the team next month. Tien, who turned 17 earlier this month, finished high school early and was weighing his options, which included offers from sport management companies and many other Division I schools, but the Irvine California resident decided to stay close to home. 

Whether Tien plays just one semester, like fellow Southern Californian Brandon Nakashima did at Virginia, prior to beginning his pro career, or stays longer, like Florida's Ben Shelton or UCLA's Mackenzie McDonald, he'll always have the USC community willing to provide its support when he is ready for professional tennis.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Bulgaria's Ivanov and Latvia's Lachinova Make History with Junior Orange Bowl 14s Titles; Lyutova's Comeback Delivers Girls 12s Championship After Runner-up Finish in 2021

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Coral Gables FL--

It's been a history-making December for the Orange Bowl Championships in South Florida, with five of the eight singles titles going to countries that had not previously claimed one.

Two of those first-time champions were crowned today in the Junior Orange Bowl 14s divisions, with Ivan Ivanov of Bulgaria defeating American Jack Kennedy 6-2, 6-3 and Adelina Lachinova of Latvia beating top seed Hannah Klugman of Great Britain 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 on Court 1 of the Kerdyk Biltmore Tennis Center.

Lachinova, the No. 4 seed, got off to a fast start, with Klugman, unable to find the court with her shots, having the nerves snowball, resulting in a code violation for an audible obscenity an overrule on a line call. Meanwhile, Lachinova was her usual steady self, lots of first serves, a few winners, great defense and no unforced errors.

Klugman dug in during the second set, raised her level went up 4-2, only to be broken right back. At 4-4, Klugman again lost her serve, but Lachinova played a rare poor service game, going down 0-40 as she was serving for the match. At 5-all Klugman saved two break points and held in the three-deuce game, and again when up 0-40, with Lachinova giving her another easy break to even the match.

Lachinova took advantage of the 10-minute break between sets to talk with her coach, the ITF Grand Slam Development team's Petra Russegger, and they decided a change in strategy was appropriate heading into the third set.

"We know that Hannah is a very great player and that she is hitting really hard, so that was the goal, to mix up the pace," Russegger said of their initial strategy coming into the match, and what was necessary after failing to serve out the championship. "We had to calm down. We sat together and I had the opportunity to coach her. We changed a little bit the tactics, and it worked out."

Lachinova began targeting Klugman's backhand more, and stepped up her own pace, taking more aggressive swings at the ball. 

At 3-all in the third set, Klugman was broken, and Lachinova held to go up 5-3. Klugman, serving to stay in the match, had two game points to put the pressure back on Lachinova, but a drop shot in the net and a backhand unforced error negated them, and forehand unforced error gave Lachinova a match point. When Klugman's short forehand putaway found the net, Lachinova collapsed on the court, and she let out a scream in celebration.

"I knew what she was going to come out with, but I just didn't play the right way," said Klugman, a 13-year-old from Great Britain. "I wasn't prepared to stay in the rallies enough. When I got my head around that, staying in it, because obviously she gets a lot back. Don't overplay. And I think I overplayed in the first set and at the end as well."

Lachinova had lost to Klugman 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 this summer at the ITF 14U World Tennis team championships in Prague, so she knew what to expect, but cited the difference in the surface as the reason for the reversal, with hard court tennis much more to her liking.

As for being the first player from Latvia to win the title, Lachinova said she was very proud of herself for that accomplishment, the biggest of the 12 titles she captured in 2022.

"I'm very happy I won this tournament, Orange Bowl," said Lachinova, whose parents immigrated to Latvia from Russia before she was born. "One hundred twenty-eight girls here and I'm best. I cannot believe that I won."

Lachinova plans to return home to Riga for Christmas, and begin building her ITF ranking with Junior Circuit tournaments with J60s and J100s after winning three J5s(called J30s in 2023) this fall.

Klugman is also moving up, with her sights on the Orange Bowl in Plantation next year. 

"This is my last under 14 tournament," Klugman said. "I'm happy with it. It's obviously not the outcome I wanted, but it's still a positive."

The Grand Slam Development Fund team claimed its second title of the tournament Tuesday afternoon, with Ivanov also a member of the traveling group of young players supported by the ITF.

Like Lachinova, No. 3 seed Ivanov got off to a great start against No. 6 seed Kennedy, who had come into the final without dropping a set, or playing an opponent higher than a No. 17 seed.

The confident Ivanov, who had dropped only one game in his semifinal win over No. 7 seed Kuan-Shou Chen of Taiwan, used his world-class forehand to put Kennedy on the defensive. Unable to construct points with the proficiency he had shown in his previous matches, Kennedy was reduced to defending, and his cause wasn't helped by nervous errors.

"I was missing a little bit, and it had to do with the nerves early on," said Kennedy, a 14-year-old from New York. "He was definitely a little faster than I expected, and that definitely caught me off guard."

Down 4-0 in the second set, Kennedy fought back, breaking Ivanov and then holding in a ten-minute game to make it 4-2. But in spite of his improved play and a willingness to change tactics, Kennedy was unable to counter Ivanov's first strike tennis.

"I knew he was a good player, but I was really shocked at how he came out guns blazing in the first," Kennedy said. "All in all, he just played really well. That was how the match went, first and second set."

Ivanov agreed that he brought some of his best tennis to the final.

"Jack is a really good player, but attacking is my style," said the 14-year-old from Varna. "I tried to make my best movement, to be faster, to be stronger and I think I did it."

Ivanov downplayed the significance of the historic title, the first for a boy from Bulgaria, with former ATP No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov the only other boy from that country to make a Junior Orange Bowl final. 

"Of course I'm proud, but it's nothing, it's under 14s," Ivanov said. "So, we continue."

Ivanov gets his lofty ambitions from his tennis heroes: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who founded an academy where he now trains.

"I live there now full time," said Ivanov, who had previously made regular training visits to the academy in Manacor, but did not live there until August. "I really enjoy it, and I feel that I improve," said Ivanov, who hopes this title will get him a photo or a chance to hit with the all-time leader in men's slam singles titles.

Ivanov, who saved what he estimated to be five match points in his 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(13) quarterfinal victory over Jack Secord of the United States, wasn't dwelling on how dramatically his fate could have changed had he lost that contest.

"As I said before, it was not my best day, but I still fight and we go to this win," Ivanov said.

Ivanov is heading back to Bulgaria for Christmas before returning to the Academy, and is looking to improve his ITF junior ranking, currently in the 700s, when he returns to competition in 2023.

"And then the Futures, and after a few years, ATP," Ivanov said.

Kennedy is taking some time off for the holidays and will return to competition at the J60s in Costa Rica in January.

When she was down 4-1 in the final set of the Girls 12s final to No. 2 seed and Eddie Herr champion Yeri Hong of Korea, top seed Christina Lyutova did not let herself consider losing. The 12-year-old Russian immigrant, who has trained in Redmond Washington for the past two years, had suffered a 6-3, 6-1 loss last year in the girls 12s final to Lia Belibova of Moldova, vowing to come back to claim the title this year.

With an assist from Hong, who made a raft of unforced errors late in the match, Lyutova went on to win the last five games and the title that had eluded her in 2021.

"I always try to think how win, not think that I lose," said Lyutova, who has a green card and is eager to represent the United States. "I think on the pressure moments, I focused more. When she started to miss, I felt ok, I can do it, just push it forward."

Hong had the support of the Korean team, which included boys 12s champion Dongjae Kim, but it wasn't enough as Lyutova, saved two break points serving at 1-4, came from 0-30 down at 3-4 and got the break she needed via her steady play and Hong's errors at 4-all.

"I saw that my team was a little bit nervous," Lyutova said of her coaches from Gorin Academy and her family members when she fell behind 1-4 in the third. "But they still supported me, and I was not nervous."

With five breaks in the third set alone, there was no expectation that Lyutova would get an easy hold for the championship, but that's what she did, going up 40-0, and winning on her first match point after three backhands produced another error from Hong.

"I was so happy," Lyutova said when asked about her tears at the end. "I wanted to win so much."

Lyutova will head to Orlando this week, to spend the holidays there before playing the 16s division at the USTA Winter Nationals, which begin on December 28th.

The third place and consolation matches were also played Tuesday in all three divisions.

Yui Komada, the No. 4 seed from Japan, defeated Haniya Minhas, the No. 3 seed from Pakistan, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 for third place in the Girls 12s.

Fifth place in the girls 12s went to Anastasiia Nikolaieva of Ukraine, a No. 9 seed, who defeated Ye Seo Park of Korea, a No. 17 seed, 6-1, 6-1.

No. 3 seed Emerson Jones of Australia took third place in the Girls 14s, defeating No. 2 seed Yihan Qu of China 6-4, 6-2.

Ksenia Efremova of Russia, the No. 6 seed, won the G14s consolation title, defeating Maria Aytoyan of the United States 6-2, 6-0. 

Liam Alvarez of the United States won the B14s consolation title, beating Yannick Theodor Alexandrescou of Romania 7-5, 7-6(2) in a battle of No. 9 seeds.

Kuan-Shoul Chen of Taiwan, seeded No. 7, took third place in the B14s, getting a walkover from Weiyi Kong of China, a No. 17 seed.

Full draws can be found here.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Kim Claims Junior Orange Bowl Boys 12s Title; Kennedy Meets Ivanov in Boys 14s Final; Lyutova Gets Second Shot at Girls 12s Title; Klugman and Lachinova Advance to Girls 14s Final

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Coral Gables FL--

Korea has its first Junior Orange Bowl Boys 12s champion since 2009 after Dongjae Kim completed his march through the tournament's top seeds with a 6-3, 6-1 win over No. 2 seed Tabb Tuck of the United States.

After three days of threatening weather, conditions were perfect for the Monday morning final at Salvadore Park and Tuck started well, breaking for a 3-1 lead in the first. 

But the ninth-seeded Kim, who earned straight-sets wins over top seed Taiki Takizawa of Australia in the semifinals and No. 4 seed Tomas Laukys of the United States in the quarterfinals, got his powerful game warmed up, winning the next nine games of the match to take a 4-0 lead in the second set.

"He was just on fire today," said Tuck, a 12-year-old from Birmingham Alabama. "Even at 3-1, he was missing a few shots, but once he started making them, I really couldn't do anything; he was hitting so many winners."

Tuck said he couldn't find a counter to Kim's biggest weapon, which became even more productive when he transitioned to the net to put away a volley.

"His forehand is just lethal," said Tuck, who had beaten Kim 7-5, 6-0 in the third round en route to the Eddie Herr final. "He can put it anywhere he wants, deep, short, angle, anywhere; it's really effective. Usually on my serve I get some free points, but he was hitting every return really deep in the court so I couldn't really do much off it."

Tuck, who had lost only 14 games in his first six matches, wasn't accustomed to having to adjust his game, but he tried to find ways to bring Kim back down to earth.

"I tried whatever I could, I really wanted to win," said Tuck, who watched Kim pass him when he tried coming in, and didn't get the ball he was looking for when attempting his own offensive forays. "He was just hitting everything for winners."

Kim, speaking via interpreter Chang Hun Yoo, a Korean federation official, said the difference from the Eddie Herr loss to this win was "more confidence in my forehand. I was a little nervous but after the bad game I changed my mind."

Kim said he didn't expect this title, but is happy about winning a prestigious international championship like the Orange Bowl. Kim, a member of the Korean federation's 12-and-under team of four boys and four girls making this Florida junior swing, trains with the federation four hours after school each day as well as fitness for another 90 minutes. According to his coach Chang Bok Lee, Kim is a tireless worker.

"He's always thinking about tennis," Lee said via Yoo's translation. "Physically and tactically he is good, and he practices so much every day so he can do more and more."

Although Kim is the first Korean to win the boys 12s title since Hyeon Chung and Seong Chan Hong won back-to-back championships in 2008 and 2009, his was quick to identify his current favorite player from another part of the world: "Alcaraz," he said, of the current ATP No. 1, who is just 7 years older than Kim.

Third place went to Takizawa, who defeated No. 3 seed Tavish Pahwa of India 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.  

The consolation champion, who finishes fifth in the tournament, is unseeded Sulaiman Syed of Pennsylvania, who beat Advay Singh of Texas 6-3, 4-6, 11-9.

While Kim was making his debut at the Junior Orange Bowl, Girls 12s top seed Christina Lyutova, was in an entirely different position. The Russian immigrant, now living and training in Redmond Washington, reached the final last year, losing 6-3, 6-1 to Leila Belibova of Moldova and was determined to reverse that loss this year.

After defeating No. 4 seed Yui Komada of Japan 6-3, 7-6(4), Lyutova will have her chance Tuesday against No. 2 seed Yeri Hong of Korea, the Eddie Herr champion.

After coasting through her first five matches, never losing more than three games in a set, Lyutova faced a major challenge in Komada. 

With Komada stepping up her level of play in the second, Lyutova was in the unusual position of being behind, although she was not down a break. After Komada held to go up 6-5, Lyutova gave herself a pep talk.

"I was like, ok, starting now, let's go," said Lyutova.

After losing both her serves at 3-2 in the second set tiebreaker, Lyutova stepped up her level, crunching a backhand winner to get one of the minibreaks back, and breaking Komada again to go up 5-4. Sensing the chance to end it without a third set, Lyutova avoided any tentative strokes and on her first match point hit a forehand approach that forced an error from Komada.

Lyutova was able to empty her head in the late stages of that tiebreaker.

"I just was not speaking to myself," said Lyutova, who won the USTA Girls 14s National Indoor Championships late last month in Toledo Ohio. "I was just focused, like this," she said, extending her arm straight in front of her body. "Nothing, just focus, and keep the ball in."

Lyutova opted to play the Indoors rather than the Eddie Herr because she trains indoors most of the year at the Gorin Academy, but there was never any doubt she would compete in Coral Gables again this year.

"It's a great experience to be here, to play against your age group, to see how they play," said Lyutova, who expressed her determination to finish her 12s career as an Orange Bowl champion. "I just said after last year, I will come back next year and I will win."

Hong knew she would be facing a tough opponent in the No. 3 seed Haniya Minhas of Pakistan, after defeating her 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 in the semifinals of the Eddie Herr. Up 6-2, 5-2, Hong let the second set slip away 7-6(5), then found herself down a match point with Minhas serving at 5-4 in the third set. But Minhas double faulted, lost the game after a second deuce, with Hong holding to put the pressure back on Minhas, who went down 0-40, saved one match point, but hit a forehand long to put Hong in another major final.

"I was more aggressive than her," Hong said via interpreter Yoo. "I wasn't nervous and I had the confidence to win again."

The boys 14s semifinals were straightforward affairs, with No. 3 seed Ivan Ivanov of Bulgaria defeating Kuan-Shou Chen of Taiwan 6-0, 6-1, and No. 6 seed Jack Kennedy taking down Weiyi Kong of China 6-4, 6-2.

Ivanov's uncomplicated win over the No. 7 seed was a direct contrast to his three-hour 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(13) victory over Jack Secord of the United States in Sunday's quarterfinals.

"I don't really know, but it was something like five," Ivanov said of the match points he saved in that marathon. "It was not the best day yesterday, but we still fight. We got the win, not the best way, but today I showed myself, and I will continue to improve."

Although he felt little of it today, Ivanov said those tight situations bring out the best in him.

"This is my love, the pressure of long matches, the thing that makes me alive" said Ivanov, who trains at the Rafael Nadal Academy, but has yet to hit with the legendary champion. 

Ivanov's opponent Kennedy saw the draw open up for him with the last-minute withdrawals of No. 2 seed Matei Torodan of Romania and No. 4 seed Carel Ngounoue and he has taken full advantage of it, advancing to the final without dropping a set.

Today he outmaneuvered No. 17 seed Kong, fighting through the disappointment of failing to serve out the first set at 5-3.

"He played a really good return game, but I definitely felt the nerves trying to close out the set," said the 14-year-old from New York. "But I forgot about that game and moved on."

Kennedy took the set with a textbook play of bringing Kong to the net on his terms, although he had to execute a a difficult backhand volley take the first set.

"I served for it at 5-3 and that's a tough one not to close out, but to break at 5-4, someone who has a good serve, it take a lot of mental toughness, and that's what I've been working on with my coach, and off-court with everyone."

In the second set, Kennedy fought off two break points serving at 3-1, at which point Kong called for a trainer for his hip.

The 3-minute delay didn't disrupt Kennedy's concentration, as he won his next service game to go up 5-2 and then broke Kong for a place in Tuesday's final.

"I knew at that point he was struggling physically, and I definitely felt the confidence come rushing back," Kennedy said.

Ivanov, the first Bulgarian boy to make a Junior Orange Bowl 14s final since Grigor Dimitrov in 2005, said he was looking forward to playing Kennedy in the final. "Jack Kennedy is one of my friends, but I don't really know how he play. I know he like to attack."

Kennedy acknowledged their friendship but was adamant that it wouldn't affect him on court Tuesday.

"We're pretty good friends, have fun off the court, have a pretty good relationship," said Kennedy, the reigning USTA 14s Clay Courts champion. "He's a great player, I can't wait for that, it's going to be exciting, but I'm going to try to win. He's a big hitter, so I've got to be ready for that. It's a big forehand, but nothing I haven't handled before."
The girls 14s final will be a rematch of a contest at the 2022 ITF World Junior Tennis 14U team championships, with Hannah Klugman of Great Britain coming back to beat Adelina Lachinova of Latvia 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 in the first day of round robin group play in the August event.

Klugman came into her match with No. 3 seed Emerson Jones having won her previous two matches 6-0, 6-0, but the Australian, No. 40 in the ITF Junior Circuit rankings, was not about to go that quietly and she tested the top seed in her 6-2, 6-3 loss.

Klugman took an early lead and held on for the first set, but was in a bit more trouble throughout the second, getting broken to go down 3-2, but getting the break back immediately before holding for 4-3. Emerson, who hits groundstroke winners in bunches when she is on, didn't find the consistency she needed against Klugman. 

"My opponent played really well today," said the 13-year-old from Wimbledon. "She's an amazing player. It was such a tough battle, it could have gone either way, but I felt like I played really solid, keeping in the rallies as long as I can against a player like that, and it turned out all right."

Lachinova is a counterpuncher that can handle the biggest hitters in the 14s, as she proved today in her 7-6(3), 6-4 victory over No. 2 seed and Eddie Herr champion Yihan Qu of China.

Up 4-0 and serving at 40-0, Lachinova wasn't able to put the first set away, and Qu, who had won two three-setters earlier in the tournament, has shown that she is hard to stop once she finds her range on her booming lefty ground strokes. But Lachinova, who squandered two set points with Qu serving at 4-5, showed no sign of frustration, and never trailed in the tiebreaker. 

"I always knew I would win the tiebreak, that's why I had an advantage," Lachinova said via translator Egor Semichin, a family friend. "A lot of times I'm going in that situation and that is a good side of me."

Lachinova said there were several rain delays in the match with Klugman this summer, but now that she has an opportunity to play her again, she will be calmer, not as prone to anger and errors as she was then while concentrating on holding her serve.

"She[Klugman] has a good serve, so I want to hold my serve better than before."

Lachinova would be the first girl from Latvia to win a Junior Orange Bowl title if she beats Klugman on Tuesday.

The two girls finals are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at the Kerdyk Biltmore Tennis Center Tuesday, with live streaming available here. The boys final will be played at 11 a.m. and will also be streamed live.

The Girls 14s consolation final, also beginning at 9 a.m., is between Maria Aytoyan of the United States, a No. 9 seed, and Ksenia Efremova of Russia, the No. 6 seed. 

The Girls 12s consolation final, featuring Anastasiia Nikolaieva of Ukraine, a No. 9 seed, and Ye Seo Park of Korea, a No. 17 seed, is also at 9 a.m.

The Boys 14s consolation final, at 11 a.m., is between two No. 9 seeds: Liam Alvarez of the United States and Yannick Theodor Alexandrescou of Romania.

Draws are available here.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Tuck and Kim Meet Monday for Junior Orange Bowl B12s Title; Top Seed Cho Ousted in B14s Quarterfinals, Long Island's Kennedy Reaches Semifinals; Top Four Seeds in G12s and G14s Advance to Semifinals

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Coral Gables FL--

Thunderstorms delayed the start of play for the quarterfinals of the Boys and Girls 14s and the Girls 12s on the hard courts, but the semifinals of the Boys 12s on the Har-Tru Courts of Salvadore Park went off as scheduled, with No. 2 seed Tabb Tuck of the United States and Dongjae Kim of Korea, a No. 9 seed, advancing to Monday's final.

Tuck took control of his match with No. 3 seed Tavish Pahwa of India early, and although the contest tightened in the second set, Tuck came away with 6-0, 6-1 win.

Pahwa, the national 12-and-under champion in India, made his stand in the third game of the second set, and although he lost it to go down 3-0, he had put pressure on Tuck and had earned break points. Pahwa won the next game, with Tuck making several uncharacteristic errors, to provide some hope for a comeback, but in his next service game he squandered multiple game points in a long deuce game and lost it. With Tuck serving for the match, he had to save three break points, but when he finally got a game point, he hit a good first serve, and Pahwa's forehand went long, putting Tuck in his second major final on this Florida junior swing.

Tuck, who has lost just 14 games in his six victories, admits that his competitive mindset translates to his off-court activities, although he doesn't allow any frustrations to travel with him when he's on court.

"I just have to stay calm, because that's the best way to win," said Tuck, a 12-year-old from Birmingham Alabama. "I play my dad almost every day in ping pong and I've broken like eight paddles this year. I break paddles all the time and I think it gets all the anger out, so I don't have it on the tennis court."

Tuck and his father Benjamin have been keeping track of the results in their daily ping pong battles, and Tuck said he is leading comfortably.

"This year we bought a big white board and we've been keeping track of every game this whole year," said Tuck, whose first name is also Benjamin but goes by his middle name Tabb, the maiden name of his grandmother. "It's like 800 for me, 600 for him, lots of games. It's good for the mental part."

In the other semifinal, Kim was not intimidated by the power of top seed Taiki Takizawa, a big left-hander from Australia, with Kim having no difficulty with the pace, giving as good as he got in his 6-3, 6-2 win over the top seed. 

After an exchange of breaks to start the match, Kim got another to go up 4-2 and served out the first set, then broke Takizawa to start the second. As in the first set, Kim was also broken early, but when he broke Takizawa in the third game, he was able to hold on, then get a third break to go up 5-2. 

Takizawa was able to overpower many of his opponents this week with his huge forehand, but he struggled with that shot today, with the majority of his errors on that side finding the tape. That continued right until the end of the match, with a netted forehand squandering a break point in the final game.

Tuck and Kim met in the third round of the Eddie Herr, with Tuck winning 7-5, 6-0.

"It was a really good match," said Tuck, who went on to reach the final. "He's a really good player, so I'll just have to stay consistent, stay solid, keep everything deep in the court and try to move him around."

Kim, who does not speak English, spoke of how he intends to reverse the Eddie Herr loss via Google Translate.

"I'm going to hit with more confidence and turn the forehand around."

Tuck believes he will have an edge in the final, as Kim has not previously advanced to an important international final.

"I think I will have an advantage," Tuck said. "When I played Michael (Antonius) in the (Eddie Herr) final, I was a little nervous coming in, missing shots I don't usually miss. But I'm prepared for the big stage now, so I think I'll do well."

Takizawa was not the only top seed to bow out today, as Se Hyuk Cho, the Eddie Herr 14s champion, lost to Kuan-Shou Chen of Taiwan 6-3, 6-1. Cho had beaten Chen in the semifinals of the Eddie Herr two weeks ago 6-1, 6-1.

Chen will face No. 3 seed Ivan Ivanov, who won the match of the day over American Jack Secord, a No. 9 seed, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(13). Secord came back from a 5-1 deficit in the tiebreaker, and obviously, from that scoreline, both players had their chances, but unfortunately, I wasn't there, so I am unable to provide any more details.

The other American Jack, No. 6 seed Kennedy, advanced to the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Jamie Mackenzie of New Zealand, a No. 17 seed. Kennedy will face another No. 17 seed, Weiyi Kong of China, who defeated Eyad Ezzat of Egypt, a 17 seed, 6-2, 6-1.

The Junior Orange Bowl seeding committee can take a bow in the two girls divisions, as the top four seeds in both the 12s and 14s have advanced to the semifinals. 

In the girls 12s, top seed Christina Lyutova of the United States continued her march through the draw, defeating Floridian Caroline Shao, a No. 17 seed, 6-1, 6-0 today at Crandon Park. Lyutova, a finalist in the 12s last year, will face No. 4 seed Yui Komada of Japan, who beat No. 6 seed Andreea Olariu of Romania 6-4, 6-1.

In the bottom half, No. 3 seed Haniya Minhas of Pakistan downed No. 5 seed Xinran Sun of China 6-4, 6-3 and will face No. 2 seed Yeri Hong of Korea, who duplicated her Eddie Herr quarterfinal win over Hannah Ayrault by the exact same score, 6-3, 6-0. Hong and Minhas also met in the Eddie Herr semifinals, with Hong eking out a 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 victory.

In the girls 14s, top seed Hannah Klugman didn't drop a game in her quarterfinal win over Victoria Barros of Brazil, a No. 17 seed. 

"I'm feeling really confident," said the 13-year-old Klugman, who lost in the 14s quarterfinals last year. "I'm playing really solid, really well. I think it was a really good match today. The other girl played really well, I just played well, although my serve wasn't as good as yesterday."

Although as the top seed, with an ITF Junior ranking of 152, Klugman is obviously the player most likely to get her opponents' best efforts, she is trying to deflect the pressure that comes with that target.

"I'm trying to stay as relaxed as I can," Klugman said. "If I get too tense out here, you can't finish the point, so staying relaxed that's my main thing here. I'm enjoying it, you know, it's such a great tournament."

Klugman will face No. 3 seed Emerson Jones of Australia, who defeated the last American girl in the draw, No. 9 seed Maria Aytoyan, 6-4, 6-0. 

"I've watch her a bit and I've hit with her in practice," Klugman said of Jones. "She's a really great player, it's going to be really tough tomorrow, but I'm really excited. It will be a good match."

In the bottom half, No. 4 seed Adelina Lachinova of Latvia will take on No. 2 seed and Eddie Herr champion Yihan Qu of China. Lachinova defeated No. 6 seed Ksenia Efremova of Russia 7-5, 6-1, using her superior defense to wear down the hard-hitting Russian. 

Lachinova, a semifinalist two weeks ago at the Eddie Herr, has managed to excel on the Tennis Europe and ITF Junior Circuit this year, with 11 titles, including four J5s this fall, despite having no one to train with.

"I have a sparring partner, and practice with coach, one hour, 30 minutes, five days a week," said the 14-year-old Lachinova, who is visiting the United States for the first time. "In winter, I play on hard, indoor. In summer, on the clay. Here, I am very happy to be in America, in Florida, in Miami."

After two consecutive wins in three sets, Qu defeated No. 7 seed Luna Maria Cinalli of Argentina in straight sets, 7-5, 7-6(4), although she did not close out the match convincingly. Serving up 4-3 in the second, Qu was broken, and after Cinalli played a poor game to give Qu a chance to serve out the match at 6-5, the big left-hander again faltered. The tiebreaker wasn't top-level tennis, with the server losing seven consecutive points during one stretch, but Qu eventually took her opportunity serving up 5-4 and won the next two points to claim the victory.

Cinalli, who has drawn notice at the Biltmore Tennis Center this week for her one-handed backhand, was on court for the Argentina's victory over France in the World Cup, but said, "I was happy about Argentina’s championship, but angry I lost my match."

For more on today's action at Salvadore Park and the Biltmore, see this juniororangebowl.org article from Harvey Fialkov.

The boys 12s final, at 9 a.m. Monday, will not be live streamed due to infrastructure issues at Salvadore park, but will be recorded and made available later in the day on Monday. 

The forecast is for dry conditions Monday.

All six semifinal matches will be played at the Biltmore Tennis Center Monday, with live streaming available here.

The draws can be found here.