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Sunday, December 31, 2023

Winter Nationals Top Seeds Ousted in Third Round of 16s and 18s, Quarterfinals Set in 12s and 14s; Florida Tennis Magazine Founder Jim Martz Dies

The USTA Winter Nationals always take place when the calendar changes to a new year, and several players ended 2023 with a bang today in Lake Nona by beating top seeds in third round action.

Unseeded Anna Frey, who you remember as a recent UTR Pro Tennis Tour champion from my post a few days ago, beat girls 18s top seed Capucine Jauffret 6-2, 6-1. The blue chip sophomore from Utah, who reached the semifinals of the Easter Bowl and San Diego Nationals in the 16s this year, somehow didn't break into the seedings for the 18s Winter Nationals.

Frey wasn't the only unseeded player to take out a top seed today at the USTA National Campus, with Reagan Levine beating Nicole Weng in the 16s 6-1, 6-2. Levine, a semifinalist at the 14s Clay Courts and finalist at the 14s Nationals in Rome, also didn't find those results helpful in getting seeded in the older age group.

In the boys 18s, No. 17 seed Zachary Cohen defeated No. 2 seed Shaurya Bharadwaj 6-3, 6-2. Top seeds William Manning(18s) and Nicholas Mekhael(16s) did reach the third round.

I've noticed that the seeding has been much better in the 12s and 14s in San Antonio, with no unseeded players left in the quarterfinals of any of the four divisions. In contrast, six of the 16 remaining players in the girls 16s and boys 18s are unseeded, three of the 16 remaining players in the girls 18s and boys 16s are unseeded. 

Here are the quarterfinals matchups for Monday in San Antonio:

Boys 12s
Tristan Ascenzo[1] v Vallab Kumar[7]
Daniel Gardality[3] v James Borchard[16]
Jiarui Zhang[5] v Rex Kulman[4]
Andres Quijada[6] v Smyan Thuta[2]

Girls 12s:
Daniela Del Mastro[1] v Isha Manchala[7]
Cissy Adams[3] v Madeline Cleary[8]
Olivia De Los Reyes[16] v Tanvi Pandey[30]
London Evans[6] v Nikol Davletshina[2]

Boys 14s:
Safir Azam[1] v James Ross[8]
Rowan Qalbani[4] v Tyler Lee[6]
Tristan Stratton[5] v Owen Conley[13]
Andrew Johnson[7] v Tabb Tuck[10]

Girls 14s:
Elana Zaretsky[9] v Aarini Bhattacharya[5] (corrected)
Bailey Scott[4] v Camilla Kostik[8]
Goldie Kregar[22] v Kayden Johnson[3]
Anjani Vickneswaran[6] v Raya Kotseva[2]

There has been no posted notice of what day the 18s and 16s will play two matches--it could be either tomorrow or Tuesday--so I'm putting up the round of 16 matches, just in case.

Nicholas Mekhael[1] v Jeremiah Braswell
Gregory Bernadsky[7] v Lucas Smith[17]
Nischal Spurling[4] v Avner Wong[16]
Lixing Jiang v Benedict Graft[17]
Ethan Chung[10] v Yannik Alvarez[8]
David Wu[15] v Zavier Augustin[17]
Amrith Kodumuri v Gavin Goode[5]
Arjun Prabhakar[17] v Jon Gamble[2]

Reagan Levine v Sena Yoon
Alston Myatt[17] v Daniela Chica
Isabelle DeLuccia[4] v Amiya Bowles[17]
Audrey Feng[7] v Alyson Shannon[11]
Emerey Gross[17] v Zimora McKnight
Elena Zhao[15] v Georgia Kulevich[17]
Shravani Chennamsetty v Maggie Sohns
Ireland O'Brien[17] v Bella Payne[2]

William Manning[1] v Troy Kudrjavtsev[13]
Prathinav Chunduru v Alex Feies
Ronin Kasday[4] v Karan Raghavendra[17]
Saahith Jayaraman v Adam Bain
Edward Liao[14] v Niels Hoffmann[17]
Dylan Long v Noah McDonald[17]
Keaton Hance v Xavier Calvelo[8]
Lachlan Gaskell[9] v Zachary Cohen[17]

Anna Frey v Blair Gill[14]
Ariel Madatali[17] v Karlin Schock[17]
Kayla Chung[3] v Avery Nguyen[16]
My-Anh Holmes v Anita Tu[12]
Kaede Usui[17] v Alexis Nguyen
Katiana Gonzalez[17] v Claire Shao[17]
Kristina Penickova[13] v Alana Boyce[5]
Shannon Lam[10] v Aspen Schuman[2]

Word came today of the unexpected passing of Jim Martz, the founder and editor of Florida Tennis Magazine. Martz, who was 80, was a pillar of the tennis community in Florida, writing and editing not only one of the last actual paper magazines specializing in tennis, but also producing several books, including a biography/memoir of renowned tennis coach Rick Macci. A regular presence at the Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl over the years, always interested in any player with Florida ties, Martz was not as ubiquitous at those events more recently, although he did come out to the Orange Bowl one day to drop off free copies of his magazine. Although Martz had recently sold the magazine, which he had owned and operated for decades, the current issue, like all before it, contained articles written by him--on the Floridians at the US Open and on Coco Gauff, while tapping Rick Macci for his thoughts on Venus Williams and her retirement. I hope the magazine can continue without him, but he was its heart and soul, so I am concerned about its future.

In addition to his dedication to Florida tennis, the former reporter at the Miami Herald also had a huge impact on the University of Miami sports scene, covering football, basketball, baseball and many other sports for CaneSport magazine. For more on Martz's work there and on his life in the Florida sports community, see this remembrance from Gary Ferman.

2023 Honor Roll

 January 2023

Tianmei Wang, USTA Winter Nationals 18s

Alanis Hamilton and Kayla Chung, USTA Winter Nationals 18s (dbls)

James Lian, USTA Winter Nationals 18s

Xander Barber and Nicholas Mangiapane, USTA Winter Nationals 18s (dbls)

Maximus Dussault, USTA Winter Nationals 16s

Andre Alcantara and Xavier Calvelo, USTA Winter Nationals 16s (dbls)

Leena Friedman, USTA Winter Natonals 16s

Vessa Turley and Georgia Cranford, USTA Winter Nationals 16s (dbls)

Vihaan Reddy, USTA Winter Nationals 14s

Yannik Alvarez and Mason Taube, USTA Winter Nationals 14s (dbls)

Nancy Lee, USTA Winter Nationals 14s

Alyson Shannon and Kori Montoya, USTA Winter Nationals 14s (dbls)

Tabb Tuck, USTA Winter Nationals 12s

Alexander Totoian and Asher Yuan, USTA Winter Nationals 12s (dbls)

Allison Wang, USTA Winter Nationals 12s

Jordyn Hazelitt and Raya Kotseva, USTA Winter Nationals 12s (dbls)

Coco Gauff, WTA 250 New Zealand

Reese Brantmeier, USTA Pro Circuit $25K Naples (dbls)

Learner Tien and Cooper Williams, ITF J300 Traralgon (dbls)

Annika and Kristina Penickova, Tennis Europe C1, Bolton (dbls)

Annika Penickova, Tennis Europe C1, Bolton

Learner Tien and Cooper Williams, Australian Open Junior Championships (dbls)

Iva Jovic, ITF J300 Costa Rica

Iva Jovic and Tyra Grant, ITF J300 Costa Rica (dbls)

Alex Michelsen, USTA Pro Circuit $15K Edmond

February 2023

Piper Charney and Valeria Ray, ITF J300 Ecuador (dbls)

Darwin Blanch, ITF J300 Ecuador (dbls)

Alexander Razeghi, ITF J300 Ecuador

Iva Jovic, ITF J300 Ecuador

Iva Jovic and Tyra Grant, ITF J300 Colombia (dbls)

Ashlyn Krueger and Robin Montgomery, USTA Pro Circuit $60K Orlando (dbls)

Kaitlin Quevedo, ITF J300 Peru (dbls)

Bruno Kuzuhara, USTA Pro Circuit $15K Weston (dbls)

Coco Gauff, WTA 500 Qatar (dbls)

March 2023

Maxwell Exsted and Cooper Woestendick, ITF J300 Brazil (dbls)

Clervie Ngounoue, USTA Pro Circuit $25K Spring Texas (dbls)

Darwin Blanch, ITF J300 Brazil

Clervie Ngounoue, ITF J300 Indian Wells

Cooper Woestendick, ITF J300 Indian Wells

Clervie Ngounoue and Qavia Lopez, ITF J300 Indian Wells (dbls)

Joseph Oyebog and Jagger Leach, ITF J300 Indian Wells (dbls)

Clervie Ngounoue, ITF J300 San Diego

Kaylan Bigun, ITF J300 San Diego

Max Exsted and Nikita Filin, ITF J300 San Diego (dbls)

Clervie Ngounoue and Qavia Lopez, ITF J300 San Diego (dbls)

Cooper Williams, USTA Pro Circuit $25K Calabasas California (dbls)

Raya Kosteva, Easter Bowl 12s

Raya Kosteva and Jordyn Hazelitt, Easter Bowl 12s (dbls)

Jason Eigbedion, Easter Bowl 12s

Jason Eigbedion and Dylan Meineke, Easter Bowl 12s (dbls)

Nancy Lee, Easter Bowl 14s

Catherine Rennard and Isabelle DeLuccia, Easter Bowl 14s (dbls)

Roshan Santhosh, Easter Bowl 14s

Yannik Alvarez and Ryan Cozad, Easter Bowl 14s (dbls)

April 2023

Claire An, Easter Bowl 16s

Kayla Chung and Alanis Hamilton Easter Bowl 16s (dbls)

Ian Bracks, Easter Bowl 16s

Andre Alcantara and Xavier Calvelo, Easter Bowl 16s (dbls)

Valerie Glozman, Easter Bowl 18s

Susanna Maltby and Maddy Zampardo, Easter Bowl 18s (dbls)

Cassius Chinlund, Easter Bowl 18s

Krish Arora and Parashar Bharadwaj Easter Bowl 18s (dbls)

May 2023

Tyra Grant, ITF J300 Santa Croce Italy

Robin Montgomery, ITF WTT W60 France

Liv Hovde, USTA Pro Circuit WTT W25 Delaware

Kaitlin Quevedo, ITF J500 Milan Italy

Mia Yamakita, ITF USTA Pro Circuit WTT W15 Alabama (dbls)

June 2023

Alexia Harmon and Valeria Ray, ITF J300 Charleroi Belgium (dbls)

Isabella Chhiv, SoCal Pro Series W15 Rancho Santa Fe (dbls)

Clervie Ngounoue and Tyra Grant, Roland Garros Junior Championships (dbls)

Katherine Hui, SoCal Pro Series W15 San Diego (dbls)

Reese Brantmeier, ITF USTA Pro Circuit WTT W25 Kansas (dbls)

July 2023

Learner Tien, SoCal Pro Series M15 Irvine

Learner Tien, SoCal Pro Series M15 Irvine (dbls)

Katherine Hui, SoCal Pro Series W15 Irvine (dbls)

Alex Michelsen, ATP Challenger 75 Chicago

Reese Brantmeier, SoCal Pro Series W15 Lakewood

Dylan Meineke, USTA Clay Courts 12s

Adrian Sharma and Dylan Meineke, USTA Clay Courts 12 (dbls)

Daniela Davletshina, USTA Clay Courts 12s

Zoe Young and Olivia De Los Reyes, USTA Clay Courts 12s (dbls)

Tanishk Konduri, USTA Clay Courts 14s

Joseph Nau and Tanishk Konduri, USTA Clay Courts 14s (dbls)

Janae Preston, USTA Clay Courts 14s

Sasha Miroshnichenko and Kennedy Drenser-Hagmann, USTA 14s Clay Courts (dbls)

Jack Satterfield, USTA Clay Courts 16s

Nicholas Patrick and Oliver Narbut, USTA Clay Courts 16s (dbls)

Christina Lyutova, USTA Clay Courts 16s

Reagan Mulberry and Carrington Brown, USTA Clay Courts 16s (dbls)

Zhengqing Ji, USTA Clay Courts 18s

Stiles Brockett and Cassius Chinlund, USTA Clay Courts 18s (dbls)

Christasha McNeil, USTA Clay Courts 18s

Piper Charney and Jessica Bernales, USTA Clay Courts 18s (dbls)

August 2023

Tristan Ascenzo, USTA National Championships 12s

Smyan Vijay and Siddhant Dua, USTA National Championships 12s (dbls)

Allison Wang, USTA National Championships 12s

Nikol Davletshina and Daniela Davletshina, USTA National Championships 12s (dbls)

Tanishk Konduri, USTA National Championships 14s

Tanishk Konduri and Colin McPeek, USTA National Championships 14s (dbls)

Lyla Middleton, USTA National Championships 14s

Lyla Middleton and Welles Newman, USTA National Championships 14s (dbls)

Cooper Woestendick, USTA National Championships 16s

Nicholas Patrick and Maxim Kalinin, USTA National 16s (dbls)

Christina Lyutova, USTA National Championships 16s

Leena Friedman and Vessa Turley, USTA National Championships 16s (dbls)

Learner Tien, USTA National Championships 18s

Adhithya Ganesan and Alexander Frusina, USTA National Championships 18s (dbls)

Clervie Ngounoue, USTA National Championships 18s

Kate Fakih and Olivia Center, USTA National Championships 18s (dbls)

Tatum Evans, ITF J300 College Park (dbls)

Adhithya Ganesan and Alexander Frusina, ITF J300 College Park (dbls)

September 2023

Katherine Hui, US Open Junior Championships

Alex Frusina, ITF J300 Pan American Houston

Jagger Leach and Matisse Farzam, ITF J300 Pan American Houston (dbls)

Ariana Pursoo, ITF J300 Pan American Houston (dbls)

Mia Yamakita, ITF USTA Pro Circuit WTT W15 South Carolina (dbls)

October 2023

Clervie Ngounoue and Liv Hovde, ITF USTA Pro Circuit WTT W25 Redding (dbls)

Iva Jovic, ITF USTA Pro Circuit WTT W25 Redding

Adhithya Ganesan, ITF J500 Osaka Japan (dbls)

Learner Tien, ITF USTA Pro Circuit WTT M15 Norman

November 2023

Liv Hovde, ITF WTT W25 Edmonton (dbls)

Learner Tien, ITF WTT M25 Austin (dbls)

Kate Fakih and Olivia Center, ITF J300 Mexico (dbls)

Kate Fakih, ITF J300 Mexico

Learner Tien, ITF USTA Pro Circuit WTT M25 Columbus

Kaitlin Quevedo, ITF J500 Mexico (dbls)

Kathryn Cragg, USTA National Indoors 12s

Daniela Del Mastro and Anna Scott Laney, USTA National Indoors 12s (dbls)

Smyan Theta, USTA National Indoors 12s

Sebastian Zavala and Andres Quijada, USTA National Indoor 12s (dbls)

Margaret Sohns, USTA National Indoors 14s

Bailey Scott and Sammie Mercer, USTA National Indoors 14s (dbls)

Safir Azam, USTA National Indoors 14s

Rowan Qalbani and Izyan Ahmad, USTA National Indoors 14s (dbls)

Karlin Schock, USTA National Indoors 16s

Chloe Qin and Lucia Fuduric, USTA National Indoors 16s (dbls)

Drew Fishback, USTA National Indoors 16s

Drew Fishback and Nicholas Patrick, USTA National Indoors 16s (dbls)

Elizabeth Ionescu, USTA National Indoors 18s

Olivia Benton and Campbell Ricci, USTA National Indoors 18s (dbls)

Mark Krupkin, USTA National Indoors 18s

Mitchell Sheldon and Nolan Balthazor, USTA National Indoors 18s (dbls)

December 2023

Kristina Penickova, Eddie Herr 16s

Annika and Kristina Penickova, Eddie Herr 16s (dbls)

Jack Secord, Eddie Herr 16s

Mason Taube and Ryan Cozad, Eddie Herr 16s (dbls)

Londyn McCord and Chukwumelije Clarke, Eddie Herr 14s (dbls)

Michael Antonius, Eddie Herr 14s

Andrew Johnson and Teodor Davidov, Eddie Herr 14s (dbls)

Carol Shao, Eddie Herr 12s

Ryan Cozad and Yannik Alvarez, Orange Bowl 16s (dbls)

Leena Friedman, Orange Bowl 16s

Dominick Mosejczuk, Orange Bowl 16s

Iva Jovic and Tyra Grant, ITF J500 Orange Bowl (dbls)

Matthew Forbes and Andrew Delgado, ITF J500 Orange Bowl (dbls)

Andrew Johnson, Junior Orange Bowl 14s

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Eddie Herr ITF Videos; Five Top Eight Seeds Exit in Second Round at USTA Winter Nationals 18s and 16s; Svajda Among ATP's Five Challenger Players to Watch in 2024

Now that I'm home and gotten a handle on the laundry and the grocery shopping, I found time today to work on the Eddie Herr videos. Although many more are still to be processed, I did finish the two ITF J300 finals, which could be recorded from behind the stands on the IMG Stadium Court. Unlike many other venues, this meant just one video for each final, which can be found below. 

Boys champion Rodrigo Pacheco decided not to use the qualifying wild card into the ATP 250 in Hong Kong he won as Eddie Herr champion. The draws for that event, with qualifying beginning there 

Sunday, can be found here.

The second round of singles was completed today at the USTA Winter National Championships in Lake Nona, with the top four seeds in both the 16s and 18s, boys and girls, advancing to the third round. With four days left in the tournament and five rounds remaining to be played, two singles matches will need to be played on one of those days, although that plan has not yet been revealed.

Three Top 8 seeds in the 18s and two Top 8 seeds in the 16s lost in today's second round.

No. 6 seed Shaan Patel lost to Lixing Jiang 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in boys 16s; in the girls 16s, 13-year-old Maggie Sohns defeated No. 6 seed Brooke Kwon 7-6(7), 2-6, 7-6(1).

In the boys 18s, No 5 seed Jimin Jung lost to Cody Benton 6-4, 6-4; No. 7 seed in the girls 18s, Bianca Molnar, defeated No. 7 seed Sophia Holod 6-3, 6-4, with No. 8 seed Nadia Valdez losing to Marina Fuduric 6-2, 7-6(7).

The quarterfinals in the boys 18s doubles are made up of just one Top 8 seed, four No. 9 seeds and three unseeded teams. Top seeds Jung and Shaurya Bharadwaj lost to No. 9 seeds Rocco Mendez and Dylan Blenkiron 7-5, 5-7, 10-8 in today's third round. The top seeds in the B16s doubles also failed to reach the quarterfinals, with No. 9 seeds Ethan Chung and Shaan Patel beating No. 1 seeds Mason Taube and Zavier Augustin 6-4, 6-3.

The 12s and 14s Winter Nationals in San Antonio Texas are on schedule, with the round of 16 now set, as planned, for Sunday. 
The girls 12s still have seeds 1-8 in the round of 16, but the boys 12s lost their first Top 8 seed today, with No. 22 seed Tanmay Konduri beating No. 8 seed Luke Jones 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

No. 7 seed and Junior Orange Bowl 14s champion Andrew Johnson, who now has the best WTN in the draw after that number was updated mid-tournament, has lost four games in his first three victories.

The girls 14s lost their second Top 8 seed, after top seed Bella Arwood withdrew with an illness in the second round, today. No. 22 seed Goldie Kregar defeated No. 7 seed Ava Beltran 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

All four of the No. 1 seeds in doubles have advanced to the quarterfinals.

The ATP published an article today entitled Five Challenger Players To Watch In 2024, with two-time Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda and 2023 Roland Garros boys champion Dino Prizmic of Croatia among the quintet featured. Svajda won three Challenger titles in 2023, and is set to compete in the Challenger 125 in Canberra Australia next week, where he has drawn top seed Dominik Koepfer(Tulane) of Germany in the first round.

Friday, December 29, 2023

My Junior Orange Bowl Recap; Top Seeds Advance at USTA 18s and 16s Winter Nationals; No. 1 Seed in Girls 14s Out With Illness; Australian Open Increases Junior Travel Grant

My last tournament of 2023 ended eight days ago in Coral Gables Florida, with the finals of the Junior Orange Bowl. If, in holiday preparations, you missed that exceedingly compressed tournament, my recap of it for the Tennis Recruiting Network was published today. Boys 14s champion Andrew Johnson and Girls 14s semifinalist Raya Kotseva took a very short break before heading to the USTA Winter National 14s in San Antonio, where they have both advanced to the third round.

Due to rain yesterday, the first round of singles for the G16s and G18s were played today at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, with four Top 16 seeds, three in the 16s and one in 18s, falling in the opening round. Carrie-Ann Hoo, the No. 5 seed in girls 16s, was the highest seed to exit, with Zimora McKnight defeating Hoo 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. No. 14 seed Brooke Wallman and No. 15 seed Rachel Gee lost to McKenzie Shelton and Abigail Gordon respectively. The only Top 16 seed to lose in the G18s was No. 11 Emily Deming, who was beaten by Hayden Mulberry 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. 

The boys 16s and boys 18s played their first round singles matches last night and did not play singles today. All of the Top 16 seeds in the 16s advanced to Saturday's second round; three Top 16 seeds fell in the first round of boys 18s:  No. 11 seed Maxim Kalinin, No. 15 seed John Cross and No. 16 seed Jaden Brady. Kalinin lost to Nav Dayal 7-5, 6-3; Cross to Dylan Long 6-2, 7-6(9) and Brady to Stephan Gershfeld 6-1, 6-2.

The top seeds in the girls 18s doubles, Saray Tli-Pipari and Linda Ziets-Segura, who had a bye in the first round, lost in the second round to Josephine Lombardi and Kori Montoya 6-4, 6-4.

Top seeds in the boys 18s doubles, Shaurya Bharadwaj and Jimin Jung, won their first and second round matches today. One round of singles and one round of doubles is on Saturday's schedule for both the boys and girls 16s and 18s.

The second round of the 12s and 14s Winter Nationals in San Antonio Texas is complete, with just one major exit. Girls 14s top seed Bella Arwood, a blue chip from Georgia, could not play her second round match due to illness, giving Masha Semenova a walkover into the third round. 

The boys 12s finally lost their first Top 16 seed, with No. 13 Dani Lagarija falling to Jacques Chen 6-1, 6-4.

Yesterday, Craig Tiley, the director of the Australian Open, announced a 10 million dollar increase in prize money for the 2024 event.

"We've upped prize money for every round at the Australian Open with the major increases in qualifying and the early rounds of singles and doubles," Tiley said.

At Melbourne, first-round qualifiers will receive a 20% increase to 31,250 Australian dollars (about $21,000). Men's and women's singles champions will receive $3.15 million Australian dollars each (about $2.15 million)
The travel stipends have also been increased, with the pros vouchers doubled, from $2500 to $5000. In an unusual move, the tournament has also doubled the junior stipend from $1000 to $2000. As far as I know, the other slams do not offer anything like a travel voucher to juniors, but on the other hand, the plane tickets to Australia are no less for juniors than for pros. (All slams provide hotel rooms and food allowances for those who make the junior main draws). From Tiley's email:
Enhancing the experience for players competing in the AO Juniors Championships is another focus for us, with a range of initiatives designed to welcome them into the Grand Slam family, including doubling the travel grant to $1000 for all competitors.

Amounts aside, it's heartening to see a slam consider the juniors at all in their communications, and it hopefully raises the bar for the other three slams. 

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Four Months of UTR Pro Tennis Tour Results; Rain Delays Start of USTA Winter National 18s and 16s, B14s No. 3 Seed Falls in San Antonio

The UTR Pro Tennis Tour will start up again in just a few days, but now is a good time to recap the results this year's finals in the United States. With all the talk of the ATP Accelerator Program and its boost for ITF Juniors and ITA Collegians, it's important to remember that many players who might not be eligible for those initiatives earn funds in the UTR PTT events that allow them to compete for ranking points in ITF tournaments. You will recognize many names from the college and junior circuits in the results below, I'm sure.

For previous updates on 2023 UTR Pro Series results, see my posts from February 22,  June 11  July 31, and September 14.

September 11 Lawrence KS
Malkia Ngounoue d. Tamari Gagoshidze 6-3, 6-4

September 18 Fayetteville AK
Malkia Ngounoue d. Anet Angelika Koskel 7-6(3), 6-4

September 25 Newport Beach CA
Stefania Rogozinska-Dzik d. Anna Frey w/o

October 8 Boca Raton FL
Ekaterina Khayrutdinova d. Barakat Oyinlomo Quadre 6-0 5-7, 6-3

October 16 Newport Beach CA
Megan Mccray d. Isabella Hu 6-3, 6-2

October 23 Atlanta GA
Malkia Ngounoue d. Melany Krywoj 7-6(8), 6-1

November 5 Boca Raton FL
Mia Slama d. Aran Teixido Garcia 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(10)

November 13 Los Angeles CA
Alexis Nguyen d. Stefania Rogozinska-Dzik 0-6, 6-4, 6-0

November 27 Baton Rouge LA
Florentine Dekkers d. Anita Sahdiieva 3-6, 6-1, 6-2

December 4 Boca Raton
Ariana Arseneault d. Mia Horvit 6-3, 3-2 ret.

December 11 Newport Beach CA
Anna Frey d. Alina Shcherbinina 6-0, 7-6(6)

December 17 Boca Raton FL
Akasha Urhobo d. Victoria Hu 7-5, 6-3

September 11 Baton Rouge LA
Rudy Ceccon d. Alex Bancila 6-3, 7-5

September 18 Favetteville AR
Pierce Rollins d. Melvin Manual 7-5, 6-3

September 25 Newport Beach CA
Alessandro Ventre d. Robert Shelton 6-3, 6-4

October 1 Boca Raton FL
Joao Graca d. Mathis Bondaz 7-5, 6-0

October 2 Newport Beach CA
Alessandro Ventre d. Karim Al-Amin 6-4, 7-5

October 9 College Station TX
Giulio Perego d. Raphael Perot 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(9)

October 23 Atlanta GA
Maria Martinez Serrano d. Ian Mayew 6-4, 6-3

October 30 Long Beach CA
Wojtek Marek d. Alessandro Ventre 7-6(5), 6-2

November 12 Fort Worth TX
Sebastian Gorzny d. Lui Maxted 6-4, 6-0

November 26 Winston-Salem NC
Filippo Moroni d. DK Suresh Ekambaram 6-4, 7-6(1)

November 27 Houston TX
Raphael Perot d. Lucas Brown 6-2, 6-3

December 4 Knoxville TN
Shunsuke Mitsui d. Johannes Monday 3-2, ret.

December 10 Boca Raton FL
Roberto Cid  d. Alberto Colas Sanchez 6-4, 6-1

December 17 Newport Beach CA
Juan Carlos Aguilar d. Theodore Dean 6-0, 7-5

Rain overnight and this morning in Orlando led to the cancellation of the girls 16s and 18s first round singles matches at the USTA Winter Nationals. The boys 16s and 18s first round singles matches were pushed back to late afternoon and many are still in progress. The girls will play their first round singles matches on Friday, as well as two rounds of doubles, while the boys will play two rounds of doubles. I'll have a seed report from the 16s and 18s after tomorrow's singles.

The weather in San Antonio for the 12s and 14s Winter Nationals is looking quite good, at least until Tuesday, although temperatures drop into the 30s at night. The first round was completed today, and there were few upsets; the top 16s seeds in the boys 12s and the girls 14s all won their first round matches.

In the girls 12s, No. 15 seed Ana Kapanadze lost to Danielle Han 7-6(4), 6-1, the only top 16 seed to exit in the opening round. 

In the boys 14s, two top 16 seeds were sent to the backdraw: 
No. 3 seed Sean Peng lost to Eli Kaminski 7-6(7), 6-1 and No. 9 seed Keshav Muthuvel was beaten by Greylon Durkin 6-4, 6-3.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

USTA National Junior Calendar for 2024; USTA Pro Circuit Calendars; Ganesan Featured in ITF Junior Circuit's 2023 By The Numbers

The USTA's National Junior Calendar for 2024 is out, with information on the tournaments through August, as well as other USTA events through the end of the year. The ITF events in the last four months of the year do not appear yet, but the College Park ITF J300 will be back, as will the ITF Pan American Closed J300, and of course, the US Open Junior Championships, the Eddie Herr J300 and the Orange Bowl.

The first tournaments on the 2024 USTA calendar are three J30s in Southern California, all of them new and part of the Kleege ITF SoCal Junior Circuit. The first is at the Biszantz Family Tennis Center in Claremont from January 8-13, with the other two back-to-back at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego January 22-26 and January 29-February 2. All are 32-draws and five days in length. 

Then come the February USTA Level 2s, followed by the two J30s indoors, in Eau Claire Wisconsin and Medford New Jersey.

In March the two ITF J300s, in Indian Wells and San Diego, are back, with Indian Wells now an open international tournament after the inaugural last year was for North Americans only. San Diego is expected to be a Closed event after being open last year, but the information on that has not yet been posted on the ITF website. The Easter Bowl remains a USTA gold ball event for all, but, as was the case last year, the 18s are no longer an ITF tournament. Indian Wells is the second week of the BNP Paribas Open, March 11-17, with San Diego March 18-23, and the Easter Bowl March 23-31.

March is a busy month, with the Brewer Cup, the National Team event in Mobile, the ITF J60 in Las Vegas and the USTA Level 3s, in addition to the three tournaments already mentioned.

Another note from this schedule is that the three ITF events on clay in Florida at the end of April and beginning of May have all been upgraded to J100s, a category that has been lacking in the United States for many years. 

The USTA Pro Circuit 2024 calendars, as of December 23, 2023, are now available, with the women starting out in just a few days at a W35 in Arcadia California. The ITF categories have changed for 2024, with no more $25Ks, $40Ks, $60Ks or $80Ks; $35Ks, $50Ks and $75Ks are taking their places. Currently there are no  $15Ks on the womens' Pro Circuit until this summer and no column for $50Ks at all; I hope this changes in the next month or two.

The men's calendar, which features no category changes, have no tournaments at all scheduled until a $25K in Ithaca New York the week of January 15th. Usually there are tournaments in California or Florida to start the year, but the first $15K in 2024 is in Sunrise Florida February 5th.

Missing from the men's calendar are the two ATP 50 Challengers in Indian Wells January 14-21 and 21-28. These are USTA Southern California tournaments; you can read more about them, including volunteer opportunities, by clicking on the banner ad to the left of this post. 

The ITF has been doing year-end By The Numbers for its circuits, including this one for the Juniors. Florida freshman Adhithya Ganesan made the article for having the longest winning streak by a boy in 2023, with consecutive titles at the J200 Nagoya, J100 Hong Kong, J200 Hong Kong and J200 Kuala Lumpur, followed by three wins at the J500 in Merida, for a streak of 23 straight victories.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

USTA Winter National Championships Begin Thursday in Texas and Florida; List of Top 16 Seeds in all Eight Divisions

The USTA Winter National Championships begin bright and early Thursday morning, with the draws released this evening.

The 12s and 14s are in San Antonio Texas for the first time, while the 16s and 18s continue at their usual location on the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida.This year the boys and girls 16s are on Har-Tru; the boys and girls 18s are on hard courts.

Several players who competed in their own age group at the Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl this month play up a division at the Winter Nationals, but Junior Orange Bowl boys 14s champion Andrew Johnson elected to play the 14s, where he is the No. 7 seed. Given his dominant play in Coral Gables, that seems low; he was the No. 2 seed in an international tournament two weeks ago and I had understood that the seeding criteria was the same in both events. Junior Orange Bowl 14s finalist Jerrid Gaines Jr is playing the 16s and is unseeded; Daniela Del Mastro and Tristan Ascenzo, Junior Orange Bowl 12s quarterfinalists, are the top seeds in the 12s in San Antonio.

USTA Winter Nationals Seeds

1. Tristan Ascenzo
2. Smyan Thuta
3. Daniel Gardality
4. Rex Kulman
5. Jiarui Zhang
6. Andres Quijada
7. Vallab Kumar
8. Luke Jones
9. Anthony Kirchner
10. Kensho Ford
11. Sebastian Zavala
12. Jason Zhao
13. Dani Lagarija
14. Jaden Goldman
15. Ashton Morey
16. James Borchard

1. Daniela Del Mastro
2. Nikol Davletshina
3. Cissy Adams
4. Olivia Lin
5. Anna Scott Laney
6. London Evans
7. Isha Manchala
8. Madeline Cleary
9. Daniella Sales
10. Savannah Schmitz
11. Kareena Cross
12. Roxanne Luu
13. Violetta Mamina
14. Tanisha Reddy
15. Anna Kapanadze
16. Olivia De Los Reyes

1. Safir Azam
2. Izyan Ahmad
3. Sean Peng
4. Rowan Qalbani
5. Tristan Stratton
6. Tyler Lee
7. Andrew Johnson
8. James Ross
9. Keshav Muthuvel
10. Tabb Tuck
11. JiHyuk Im
12. Julian Zhang
13. Owen Conley
14. Aditya Pandey
15. Luca Sevim
16. Mikaeel Alibaig

1. Bella Arwood
2. Raya Kotseva
3. Kayden Johnson
4. Bailey Scott
5. Aarini Bhattacharya
6. Anjani Vickneswaran
7. Ava Beltran
8. Camilla Kostik
9. Elana Zaretsky
10. Sophia Budacsek
11. Sylvana Jalbert
12. Jordyn Hazelitt
13. Emma Prose
14. Raina Kim
15. Adelyn Gross
16. Filipa Delgado

1. Nicholas Mekhael
2. Jon Gamble
3. Gus Grumet
4. Nischal Spurling
5. Gavin Goode
6. Shaan Patel
7. Gregory Bernadsky
8. Yannik Alvarez
9. Nathaniel Suh
10. Ethan Chung
11. Muyang Yi
12. Micah Ward
13. Gordon Gallagher
14. Sklar Phillips
15. David Wu
16. Avner Wong

1. Nicole Weng
2. Bella Payne
3. Sobee Oak
4. Isabelle DeLuccia
5. Carrie-Anne Hoo
6. Brooke Kwon
7. Audrey Feng
8. Ava Rodriguez
9. Olivia Traynor
10. Sarah Ye
11. Alyson Shannon
12. Calla McGill
13. Anna Bugaienko
14. Brooke Wallman
15. Elena Zhao
16. Rachel Gee

1. William Manning
2. Shaurya Bharadwaj
3. Braeden Gelletich
4. Ronin Kasday
5. Jimin Jung
6. Krish Gupta
7. Aidan Atwood
8. Xavier Calvelo
9. Lachlan Gaskell
10. Kaveh Taheri
11. Maxim Kalinin
12. Simon Caldwell
13. Troy Kudrjavtsev
14. Edward Liao
15. John Cross
16. Jaden Brady

1. Capucine Jauffret
2. Aspen Schuman
3. Kayla Chung
4. Sari Woo
5. Alana Boyce
6. Campbell Ricci
7. Sophia Holod
8. Nadia Valdez
9. Sabrina Lin
10. Shannon Lam
11. Emily Deming
12. Anita Tu
13. Kristina Penickova
14. Blair Gill
15. Addison Bowman
16. Avery Nguyen

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Happy Holidays from Zootennis.com!

photo by Stephen Kraakmo via Unsplash.com
With the four-week Florida stretch of the Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl championships now complete, and the brief junior offseason now underway, I'm taking a couple of days off to celebrate the Christmas holidays. It will be a short break, with the USTA Winter National Championships scheduled to begin on December 28th in San Antonio Texas for the 12s and 14s, and Lake Nona Florida for the 16s and 18s

I'll be back with a post on December 26th; enjoy the holiday!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Tennis Europe Names Junior Tour Players of the Year; USTA Announces Areas of Focus for 2024 Junior Tournaments; ITA Responds to USA Today Article on Cheating in College Tennis

Tennis Europe announced its Junior Tour Players of the Year awards today, with 13-year-old Jana Kovackova of the Czech Republic the 14-and-under Player of Year, and that recognition came prior to her title yesterday at the Junior Orange Bowl. I admit I haven't followed these awards closely in past years, but it's fun to look back on the list of previous POYs (the format changed in 2015) for names now familiar to pro and college tennis fans, and others who don't ring any bells.

The 2022 winners, which are not included on the list, can be found here. Jana Kovackova's sister Alena, who played both the Eddie Herr J300 and the Orange Bowl this year, was the 14s and 16s Player of the Year in 2022.

I'm not sure why the USTA doesn't do something similar, and maybe they have, but I'm not aware of it.

The USTA published its annual "areas of focus and improvement" for its 2024 Junior tournaments, with an added emphasis on team events and a change in the sectional quotas. Sectional play will be encouraged by allowing only two of a player's six best results to be from tournaments "sanctioned by governing bodies other than the sectional association or one of district associations."

The USTA's announcement, from last Friday, can be found here.

Last Wednesday, USA Today's Dan Wolken published an article, part of a 10-part series on cheating in sports, focusing on the issue in Division I college tennis. The ITA responded to the article yesterday in a statement, which outlined its objection to the premise and scope of the article. Of particular interest in their statement is this update on Electronic Line Calling as it pertains to college tennis:

"Had the ITA been consulted, readers would have learned, for example, about the important ITA Competitive Department’s electronic line calling (ELC) study and evaluation project, now in its sixth month. We are very encouraged by the number of companies currently working on accurate and affordable solutions in this space and are optimistic that we may see live competition pilots as soon as the 2024-25 season and, depending upon the success of those pilots, full implementation of these systems shortly thereafter." 

Perhaps some college fans and stakeholders knew of that study, but if the ITA could provide updates on the progress of that project on a regular basis, it would look more proactive, rather than reactive when a unflattering article or a viral video surfaces.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Johnson and Kovackova Capture Junior Orange Bowl 14s Titles; Baranes and Junseo Claim 12s Championships in Coral Gables

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Coral Gables FL--

Andrew Johnson was confident that he could win the boys 14s Junior Orange Bowl title if he stayed focused. That wasn't a problem for the 14-year-old from Southern California, with his 6-3, 6-0 win over Jerrid Gaines Jr. his seventh victory in the past four days, all in straight sets.

On a breezy Thursday at the Biltmore Tennis Center, the second-seeded Johnson used his court sense and variety to befuddle No. 6 seed Gaines, breaking open a close first set to claim the biggest title of his career in just over an hour.

While Johnson was efficiently dispatching his opponents throughout the compressed tournament, Gaines had two tough wins in Wednesday's quarterfinals and semifinal, with the latter finishing well after dark.

"I just had to keep putting on the pressure, making him move," said the Rancho Palos Verdes resident. "The rounds before, I saw that he had tough matches, so I had to keep him under more and more pressure. I played well. I played solid."

Johnson doesn't use power to control points, putting him at a disadvantage when a player like Gaines is in top form, but Johnson can turn counterpunching into lopsided wins if his opponent isn't executing his game.

"It's been pretty much the same strategy the whole tournament, mix it up, keep him off balance," said Johnson, who works with Peter Smith at the Jack Kramer Club, and began training at the USTA in Carson this summer. "That's me."

Gaines wasn't happy with the level he brought to the final. "I think I was focusing on the wrong things," said the 14-year-old Floridian, who trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. "He played a very high quality match and I wasn't focusing on the right things, so that's why I didn't play my best. But hopefully I can be back in a situation like this, so I can learn from these mistakes. It was a good accomplishment, I had some great matches and I'm proud about that. It's been a long tough week."

Johnson has one mantra that he has been repeating all week: focus.

"I stayed very focused and I think that's why I won this tournament," said Johnson, who will go into the USTA Winter Nationals 14s a week from now as the Junior Orange Bowl champion. "It feels really good winning this and I think it will help me with my confidence in the future. It's something to be proud about."

Johnson said he has no specific plans to celebrate the title, but will fly home for Christmas for three days before he heads to San Antonio for the Winters, which begin on December 28th. Gaines is expecting to play the Winter Nationals in the 16s division, which is in Lake Nona.

Jana Kovackova is no stranger to big occasions, with the 13-year-old from the Czech Republic arriving in Miami as the Junior Masters 14s champion, the season-ending event for the top Tennis Europe competitors held last month in Monte Carlo. 

Kovackova, a No. 9 seed, had no problem reaching the final, with all six wins coming in straight sets. Her opponent in the final, Floridian Welles Newman, also a No. 9 seed, had dropped only one set, and had looked equally strong in Wednesday's quarterfinals and semifinals, with both girls losing just three games in their two matches. 

Kovackova started the final, played on Salvadore Park's Har-Tru courts, with a break of serve, and earned another for a quick 5-2 lead, but Newman began processing the information gleaned from the first seven games and made adjustments.  Kovackova didn't get to set point serving at 5-2, double faulting at 30-40, but broke Newman with a forehand winner at 15-40 to secure the first set of her 6-3, 7-6(5) victory.

"She's very consistent, gets to everything, is super fast and has one of the best returns in 14-and-under tennis that I've ever seen," said Welles, a 13-year-old from Boca Raton. "She's a very difficult opponent, and I think I dealt with it pretty well. It did take me a little bit longer than I would have liked to find out what her weaknesses were. I'm happy I took it to a tiebreaker at least, and that just didn't go my way."

Kovackova had to save a break point in the opening game of the second set, and after Newman held in a three-deuce game for 1-1, she broke for her first lead. Kovackova broke right back, then broke again for a 4-2 lead, but the wind, gusting to over 20 mph, made every service toss an adventure. Newman used her slice well and caught Kovackova off guard with several drop shots to get back on serve, then saved two break points at 3-4 to pull even. At 5-all, a visibly frustrated Kovackova was broken, with her unforced error count beginning to rise, but she bore down and easily broke Newman serving for the set.

As it had been throughout the second set, holding serve was a challenge in the tiebreaker, with five of the first seven points going to the returner. Newman managed to stay with Kovackova until 5-all, when she missed a backhand, giving Kovackova a serve to take the match. She made a first serve, handled a good return at her feet from Newman, who then made an error to end the match.

Although this is a second significant title for the younger sister of ITF No. 20 junior Alena, she was not satisfied with her level of play in the final.

"She said it feels very good to win," said her mother Eva, speaking for Jana, who does not communicate in English. "I think she plays very good, but in her head, it's not so good. She is not so happy. Next time."

That next time will likely be at next month's Les Petits As, and Newman is hoping to get another crack at Kovackova.

"Maybe I'll get a rematch," said Newman, who won the USA Les Petits As Playoffs in early November. "In the final would be good."

Newman is not planning to play the Winter Nationals, and is targeting more matches against international competition for 2024.

"Next year, I know I'm going to be doing a lot more international tournaments," said Newman, who is coached by her mother and also trains at the USTA campus in Lake Nona. "I'll be able to play a lot more international girls, and maybe her again."

Kovackova is the first Czech girl to win the Junior Orange Bowl 14s title in the tournament's 62-year history. Linda Fruhvirtova won the 12s title in 2017.

Korea claimed its second consecutive boys 12s title, with Jang Junseo joining 2022 winner Donjae Kim on the list of Korean champions.

Junseo, seeded No. 4, defeated No. 7 seed Fu Wang Choi of Hong Kong 6-1, 7-5, to add the Junior Orange Bowl title to the Eddie Herr 12s championship he won earlier this month. Choi tried a variety of tactics in the first set, including dozens of net approaches, and was able to elevate his game in the second set, but Junseo managed to fight through the toughest set he played throughout the tournament.

The girls 12s title went to Israel's Daniel Baranes, a No. 9 seed, who defeated No. 7 seed Megan Knight of Great Britain 6-4, 6-1. Baranes broke Knight at 4-all in the first set and dropped only one game after that, an unexpected result given that their last match, in the final of the Tennis Europe Super Category tournament in Mallorca last month, went to Baranes 7-5, 6-7(2), 12-10.

Baranes, who did not lose a set in her seven victories, is the first girl from Israel to win a 12s title. Shahar Pe'er won the girls 14s title in 2001.

Third place results:

Rafael Pagonis[3](GRE) d. Nicholas Du[2](USA) 6-0, 6-0

Sakino Miyazawa[8](JPN) d. Kathryn Cragg[3](USA) 6-2, 6-0

Navneet Raghuram[9](USA) d. Jordan Lee[[9](USA) 3-0, ret.

Charlie Celebrini[5](CAN) d. Raya Kotseva[17](BUL) 6-1, 6-1

Draws can be found here.

To order photos from Junior Orange Bowl matches, contact yourgameface@me.com.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Americans Johnson and Gaines Advance to Junior Orange Bowl Boys 14s Final; USA's Newman Reaches Girls 14s Championship Match; 12s Finalists From Hong Kong, Korea, Israel and Great Britain

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Coral Gables FL--

After three and half days of play, the finals are set for the 2023 Junior Orange Bowl, with an all-American boys 14s final and a US girl competing for the girls 14s title Thursday morning.

With six US boys in the boys 14s quarterfinals, the odds that one would make it through were good, and by this afternoon's semifinals an American champion was guaranteed.  On a cloudy and cool day at the Biltmore Tennis Center, the Americans battled through tough matches, with No. 2 seed Andrew Johnson and No. 6 seed Jerrid Gaines Jr advancing to the final.

Johnson had the least strenuous day, beating No. 9 seed Emilio Camacho of Ecuador 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals and No. 9 seed Jordan Lee 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals.

Johnson, who has yet to drop a set in the tournament, admitted that both matches were physically demanding, but he found ways to get through the tough spots, including a 3-0 deficit in the second set again Camacho, and a 5-0 lead in the second set against Lee becoming 5-3.

"The first match was a very hard grind," said the 14-year-old from Rancho Palos Verdes California. "I played pretty well, and being down just makes me play harder, because I want to win."

Johnson had beaten Lee 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the Eddie Herr last month, and Lee had just come off a three-hour, 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(8) win over Tyler Lee in the quarterfinals, with both results giving Johnson confidence.

"I did feel I had a little advantage, I noticed that," Johnson said of Lee's extended quarterfinal. "I felt I needed to go for a little more than the matches I've had so far, make him run more. He didn't play as well in Eddie Herr, he played better here today, but it was still kind of the same."

Gaines started slowly in his quarterfinal match with unseeded Motoharu Abe of Japan, and was audibly frustrated by his level, but he regrouped for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. In the semifinals against No. 9 seed Navneet Raghuram, Gaines failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set and trailed 5-2 in the ensuing tiebreaker, but took the final five points of the match to claim a 6-3, 7-6(5) victory.  Raghuram had eliminated No. 1 seed Tanishk Konduri 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the third lengthy three-set boys 14s quarterfinal match of the day.

"The first match today wasn't the best, I was like, oh no, I don't want to lose in the quarterfinals," said Gaines, who lost in a third set tiebreaker in the Eddie Herr quarterfinals last month. "I was not playing very good, but if you're not playing your best, you can always fight, and do what you can control."

Gaines played an outstanding first set aginst Raghuram, but as he had shown in his quarterfinal win over Konduri, Raghuram was not about to concede anything in the second set. As dusk turned to darkness under the heavy cloud cover, he was broken at 4-all, but broke right back and held to put the pressure back on Gaines serving at 5-6. Gaines played one of his best games of the set to send the match to the tiebreaker, but got no first serves in and was down 5-2, with Raghuram serving. Gaines got one of the mini-breaks back with a drop shot winner, and got back on serve when Raghuram made an unforced error on the forehand. Gaines pulled even when Raghuram missed a net cord sitter wide, and won his fourth straight point when Raghuram's backhand clipped the tape and fell back on his side. On match point, a short rally ended with Raghuram's backhand going just long, with Gaines dropping his racquet and letting out a roar in celebration.

"It was tough to keep it at a very high level," said Gaines, who trains at the IMG Academy. "I got it done though."

Gaines said that he is not feeling any effects of playing six matches in three days, with the weather playing a role in that as well.

"I'm feeling great actually," said Gaines, who reached the semifinals of the boys 12s in 2021. "It's maybe not as hot, so that's why."

Both Gaines and Johnson said Thursday's final, which is their first meeting, will be the biggest of their junior careers to date.

"He's obviously a great player," Gaines said. "He's solid. It's going to take a lot tomorrow, I'm going to have come out and play very well."

"If I play hard and stay focused, I think I'll have a pretty good chance of winning," said Johnson, who didn't know then who his opponent would be in the final.

In the girls 14s matches at Salvadore Park, Florida's Welles Newman and Jana Kovackova of the Czech Republic, both No. 9 seeds, made short work of their opponents, each losing just five total games in their quarterfinal and semifinal matches.

Newman defeated unseeded Oliwia Sybicka of Poland 6-2, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and No. 17 seed Raya Kotseva of Bulgaria 6-0, 6-3 in the semifinals. In her six victories, five have included a 6-0 set.

Kovackova beat unseeded Lujza Beviz of Hungary 6-0, 6-1 in the quarterfinals and No. 5 seed Charlie Celebrini of Canada 6-3, 6-1 in the semfinals. The European 14s Masters champion has not dropped a set all week.

In the 12s, both top-seeded Americans lost in the quarterfinals this morning, with Eddie Herr champion Caroline Shao falling to No. 8 seed Sakino Miyazawa 6-4, 6-2 and Tristan Ascenzo losing to No. 7 seed Fu Wang Choi of Hong Kong 6-1, 6-3.

Choi, who is much more physically imposing than his fellow competitors, has breezed through the draw this week, following up his win over Ascenzo with a 6-2, 6-1 semifinal victory over No. 3 seed Rafael Pagonis of Greece.

Choi will face Eddie Herr champion Jang Junseo of Korea, the No. 4 seed, who defeated No. 2 seed Nicholas Du of the United States 6-2, 6-1.

Unlike Choi, Miyazawa was not able to follow up her win over the top seed with another victory. She lost to No. 9 seed Daniel Baranes of Israel 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals. Baranes, making her first trip to the United States for this tournament, had beaten unseeded Capucine Charcosset of France 6-3, 7-6(3) in the quarterfinals. 

"She (Miyazawa) is a very good player, but I try all the time to be aggressive, don't give her a chance" Baranes said. "I'm a little bit tired, but I try all the time to have more energy. I'm very happy to be in the final, because I work all the time to win the competition."

Baranes will face No. 7 seed Megan Knight of Great Britain, who also collected two straight-sets victories on Wednesday. 

Knight defeated No. 17 seed Isabella Yan of Canada 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals and No. 3 seed Kathryn Cragg 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals. Knight, who lost to Welles Newman last year in the third round of the 12s, has been inspired by the recent success of Hannah Klugman, who last year played in the 14s final and this year won the J500 Orange Bowl in Plantation.

"I think she's definitely a player to look up to," said Knight. "It's incredible, winning the 18s at her age, and all the achievements she's done, getting to the junior grand slams already. It's amazing."

Knight and Baranes played just recently in the final of the Tennis Europe 12U Super Category at the Nadal Academy in Mallorca, with Baranes taking a 7-5 6-7(2), 12-10 victory.

The schedule for Thursday has the 12s finals and third-place match beginning at 9 a.m. at the Biltmore Tennis Center. The boys 14s final and third place match will follow, not before 11 a.m. The girls 14s final and third place match are scheduled for 10 a.m. at Salvadore Park.

Live streaming is available for the Biltmore finals via the SwingVision website.

Draws are available here.

Junior Orange Bowl Quarterfinal results
Jana Kovackova(CZE)[9] d. Lujza Beviz(HUN) 6-0, 6-1
Charlie Celebrini[5](CAN) d. Nauhany Vitoria Leme Da Silva[17](BRA) 6-2, 7-6(2) 
Raya Kotseva(BUL)[17] d. Tea Kovacevic(BIH) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
Welles Newman(USA)[9] d. Oliwia Sybicka(POL) 6-2, 6-0

Navneet Raghuram[9](USA) d. Tanishk Konduri[1](USA) 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 
Jerrid Gaines Jr[6](USA) d. Motoharu Abe(JPN) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Jordan Lee[9](USA) d. Tyler Lee[5](USA) 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(8)
Andrew Johnson[2](USA) d. Emilio Camacho[9](ECU) 6-4, 6-4

Sakino Miyazawa[8](JPN) d. Caroline Shao[1](USA) 6-4, 6-2 
Daniel Baranes[9](ISR) d. Capucine Charcosset(FRA) 6-3, 7-6(3)
Kathryn Cragg[3](USA) d. Daniela Del Mastro[6](USA) 6-4, 7-5 
Megan Knight[7](GBR) d. Isabella Yan[17](CAN) 6-1, 6-3

Fu Wang Choi[7](HKG) d. Tristan Ascenzo[1](USA) 6-1, 6-3
Rafael Pagonis[3](GRE) v Yuto Hisano(JPN) 6-1, 6-2
Jang Junseo[4](KOR) d. Simon Lifton(USA) 6-1, 6-1
Nicholas Du[2](USA) d. Andres Quijada[6](VEN) 6-3, 6-4

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Junior Orange Bowl Quarterfinals Set, With Six US Boys Advancing in B14s; Newman Sole US Girl in G14s Quarterfinals; Top Seeds in 12s Tested, but Move On

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Coral Gables, FL--

Tuesday was cool and sunny as the Junior Orange Bowl International Championships continued to catch up from the rain delays last week, with both the round of 32 and round of 16 played today.

The fortunes of Americans took two diverging paths in the 14s division, with six US boys reaching the quarterfinals, while only one US girl is through to the final eight.

In the morning round of 32, all six American boys advanced in two sets, and in the afternoon, only one needed three sets to reach the quarterfinals.

That was No. 5 seed Tyler Lee, who defeated Antoine Genereux of Canada 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 to set up a meeting with fellow American Jordan Lee, a No. 9 seed, who lost only seven games in his two matches.

Seven games was also the number top seed Tanishk Konduri dropped today; he will also face another American in No. 9 seed Navneet Raghuram.

No. 6 seed Jerrid Gaines Jr will face unseeded Motoharu Abe of Japan, with Gaines, also a quarterfinalist at last month's Eddie Herr, posting a 6-0, 6-1 win over unseeded Jeffrey Strydom of Australia in the round of 16.

No. 2 seed Andrew Johnson, a semifinalist at the Eddie Herr, will face Emilio Camacho of Ecuador, a number nine seed, who defeated Eddie Herr finalist and No. 8 seed Matei Cheleman of Romania 7-6(6), 6-3.

The five games that Johnson lost to No. 17 seed Jan Urbanski of Poland were the most he's lost in any of his four matches over the past two days.

"I had some expectations coming in, but I don't know most of these people because they're coming from around the world," said the Southern Californian, who trains with the USTA in Carson and with Peter Smith at the Jack Kramer Club. "But I'm just trying my best here."

Johnson says his variety and his ability to concentrate in each match have been crucial to his success the past two days.

"Staying focused is the number one thing," said Johnson, who fell behind 2-0 against Urbanski but won the final six games of the match. "If I stay focused, I keep playing well. I can change the ball speed, and I think that really helps me, because a lot of other players, it's really hard for them to do it. I think that's one of my few things I'm really good at."

Johnson's quick matches have helped him stay fresh and he was also able to escape the rain and find a place to hit during the three-and-a-half-day delay in the start of the tournament.

"I drove a few hours away to practice on some of the courts, so that helped," said Johnson, who  "I still kept my game, kept my rhythm."

While the boys 14s had little drama Tuesday, the girls 14s was the opposite, with the top two seeds exiting and three unseeded players advancing to the quarterfinals.

Top seed Anna Bugaienko trailed No. 17 seed Hannah Ayrault 6-0, 4-1 before taking the next 11 games for a 0-6, 6-4, 6-0 third round victory, but she then lost to Jana Kovackova, a No. 9 seed, 6-0, 6-0. Kovackova, the European 14s Masters champion and younger sister of Alena Kovackova, has yet to drop a set in her four wins.

Kovackova will face unseeded Lujza Beviz of Hungary, who took out Eddie Herr champion Joyce Geng[8] of Canada 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the third round.

No. 17 seed Reya Kotseva, the 2023 Easter Bowl 12s champion, was on the court for seven hours today, winning a four-hour battle with No. 7 seed Maggie Sohns 7-5, 6-7(7) 6-3 in the third round, then a three-hour contest with No. 17 seed Anastasia Malysheva of Canada 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Kotseva, who lives in Las Vegas, represents Bulgaria on the international junior circuit.

The only girl representing the United States is Welles Newman, who took out two Americans to advance to the quarterfinals. In the third round, Newman, a No. 9 seed, defeated Abigail Gordon, a No. 17 seed, 6-2, 6-0, but she was on the other end of a bagel set to open her round of 16 match with No. 6 seed Lyla Middleton, only to rebound for a 0-6, 6-0, 6-4 victory.

"It took me a while to get into the match and she started out very strong," said the 13-year-old from Boca Raton, who won the recent Les Petits As United States playoff and will compete in that event next month. "It was tough, but I'm so happy I got back into the match. I calmed myself down, just reset and I think my level went up. I started hitting more aggressively and moving the ball around. I went for bigger margins too, because I was missing a lot in the first set."

Newman was up 3-1 and 4-2 in the third set before Middleton broke and held for 4-all. But Newman got an easy hold and was able to play freely with Middleton serving to stay in the match, breaking at love for the win.

"That was a really important game," Newman said of her quick hold. "I'm very happy I held my serve, because I was not holding serve before that game."

Newman couldn't have been happier with her play in that final game. 

"I just played flawless points I think," Newman said. "I went for the right shots, my returns were very good, and I just played a very clean game there."

Newman will face unseeded Oliwia Sybicka of Poland, who beat No. 2 seed Sarah Ye 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 in the third round and No. 9 seed Alina Vysochenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4 in the round of 16.

The boys and girls 12s, which will move to the Biltmore Tennis Center for Wednesday's quarterfinals and semifinals, still have their No. 1 seeds. Caroline Shao and Tristan Ascenzo hadn't lost a game in their first two matches, but both were tested today. Shao defeated unseeded Ayul Kim of Korea 6-4, 6-4 in the third round before taking out Yerin Lim of Korea, a No. 17 seed, 6-2, 6-0 in the round of 16.

Ascenzo, who also had two 6-0, 6-0 wins to start the tournament, beat unseeded Kazuki Nakajima of Japan 6-1, 6-2 in the third round, before Siyun Kim of Korea, a No. 9 seed, pushed him to a third set before Ascenzo claimed a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 victory in the round of 16.

The 12s will move to the Biltmore Tennis Center for Thursday's quarterfinals and semifinals, joining the boys 14s. The girls 14s remain on the Har-Tru courts at Salvadore Park through Thursday's final. 

Junior Orange Bowl Quarterfinals
Jana Kovackova(CZE)[9] v Lujza Beviz(HUN)
Nauhany Vitoria Leme Da Silva[17](BRA) v Charlie Celebrini[5](CAN)
Raya Kotseva(BUL)[17] v Tea Kovacevic(BIH)
Welles Newman(USA)[9] v Oliwia Sybicka(POL)

Tanishk Konduri[1](USA) v Navneet Raghuram[9](USA)
Motoharu Abe(JPN) v Jerrid Gaines Jr[6](USA)
Tyler Lee[5](USA) v Jordan Lee[9](USA)
Emilio Camacho[9](ECU) v Andrew Johnson[2](USA)

Caroline Shao[1](USA) v Sakino Miyazawa[8](JPN)
Daniel Baranes[9](ISR) v Capucine Charcosset(FRA)
Daniela Del Mastro[6](USA) v Kathryn Cragg[3](USA)
Megan Knight[7](GBR) v Isabella Yan[17](CAN)

Tristan Ascenzo[1](USA) v Fu Wang Choi[7](HKG)
Rafael Pagonis[3](GRE) v Yuto Hisano(JPN)
Simon Lifton(USA) v Jang Junseo[4](KOR)
Andres Quijada[6](VEN) v Nicholas Du[2](USA)

The semifinals should have live scoring and streaming available. Please check the Junior Orange Bowl tournament site Wednesday for links.

Draws and times for Wednesday can be found here.

Monday, December 18, 2023

B14s Top Seed Konduri Rolls into Round Three; Chang Collects Two Wins in First Orange Bowl Appearance; 12s No. 1 Seeds Perfect Through Two Rounds

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Coral Gables FL--

The first two rounds of the Junior Orange Bowl were completed under sunny skies and cool temperatures Monday at four sites in the Miami area, with several upsets, but the top seeds in all four divisions advancing comfortably. 

In the boys 14s at the Biltmore, top seed Tanishk Konduri, who had won his first match 6-1, 6-1 on Sunday, duplicated that on Monday, although he was less pleased with his level in his win over Julian Gaitero of Argentina.

"First match I feel like I played pretty well, especially coming back from four days of not playing at all," said the 14-year-old from Cupertino California. "Today was definitely not my best, but the goal is to play better as the tournament goes on; hopefully I can bring my best in the matches later on."

Konduri was not suprised to see his name on the top of the draw, but not because he is the reigning USTA Clay Courts and National champion in the 14s.

"I knew that I was going to be the number one seed because of the WTN(World Tennis Number) that came out a couple of weeks before," Konduri said. "But it's still a little bit of a surprise when you are the No. 1 seed, because there's a lot more pressure on you than anyone else. It's a new experience for me, a new challenge, and you just have to encounter it, similar to how you would play another match; everyone's good and you're just trying to play your best."

Konduri attributes the jump in his results this year to his coaches at the Gorin Tennis Academy in Saratoga California.

"It's really been a blessing to me," said Konduri, who started there five years ago. "I've never worked this hard ever in my life. We're just out there grinding it every day and I hope that translates into my tennis for the rest of the week. I'm coming into this tournament really confident and hopefully I can push it through."

The top seed in the girls 14s, Anna Bugaienko, who had lengthy and perilous two-set first round win Sunday, had a more routine second round victory, defeating Vanessa Kruse 6-4, 6-2.

Lani Chang, the daughter of 1989 Roland Garros champion Michael Chang and the former Amber Liu, a two-time NCAA champion at Stanford, made her Orange Bowl debut today as a No. 17 seed in the girls 14s, winning both of her matches.

Because she was in the bottom half, Chang did not play on Sunday, so had two matches Monday, defeating Rose Biria 6-3, 6-1 in round 1 this morning and Bela Martinez of Puerto Rico 6-0, 6-1 in round 2 this afternoon.

As a Californian, Chang has little experience on Har-Tru, but she felt it was important to begin testing her game against international competition.

"It's a really big tournament and it's international," said Chang, who turned 13 earlier this month. "So it's super exciting to play, because you get to see new players maybe even make new friends. It's a new experience and really fun to be a part of it."

Chang's primary coach is her father, who is with her this week, and she does recognize that he's a celebrity at any tennis tournament they attend together.

"It's actually fun to watch," Chang said. "I feel like a lot of pros get that, and I feel it's a little view into what that's like. But it's just really fun being around him. He's a really great dad and a really great coach."

Chang is looking forward to starting to play ITF events next year and is also expected to compete at Les Petits As next month in Tarbes France.

"I'm excited to start playing ITFs because to play junior grand slams you need to be on that level, and it's exciting to be on path."

Both No. 3 seeds in the 14s lost today, with Colin McPeek losing a rare battle between one-handed backhands in the second round of boys 14s to Motoharu Abe of Japan 6-3, 6-2.  G14s No. 3 seed Carrie-Ann Hoo lost to Kalista Papadopoulos 7-5, 5-7, 10-6. Boys 14s No. 4 seed Izyan Ahmad lost to Antoine Clavel of Canada 6-4, 6-7(1), 12-10.

The top seeds in the 12s have been perfect in their two matches.
Texan Tristan Ascenzo, who won his first match Sunday 6-0, 6-0, got another 6-0, 6-0 victory in today's second round over Aleksandr Kharkov. 

Eddie Herr champion Carol Shao played two matches today and didn't lose a game in either, beating Sofija Dimitrievic in the first round and Danielle Han in the second round.

Tuesday will feature two more rounds, with the boys 12s and girls 12s playing the round of 32 and round of 16 at Crandon Park. The two rounds in the boys 14s will be played at the Biltmore Tennis Center and the two rounds in the girls 14s will be at Salvadore Park. The current plan is to play both 12s and the B14s quarterfinals and semifinals at the Biltmore on Wednesday, with the girls continuing their tournament at Salvadore through the finals.

All second round matches today used no-ad scoring and a match tiebreaker, but the best of three tiebreak sets and regular scoring are returning for the round of 32 through the finals.

For the draws and times, see the USTA tournament site.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

G14s Top Seed Bugaienko, B14s No. 3 Seed McPeek Win Tight First Round Contests as Junior Orange Bowl Finally Begins

©Colette Lewis 2023--
Coral Gables FL--

The sun, absent for four straight days, came out Sunday afternoon, lifting the spirits of everyone who had waited out the persistent rain that kept the Junior Orange Bowl main draw from beginning.

Rain continued into Sunday morning, and with more than an inch Saturday, the Har-Tru Courts at Salvadore Park were the last of the four sites to begin. Fortunately, the G14s there were able to finish their qualifying on Friday, while the other three sites hosting the B12s, G12s and B14s had to play their 16 final round qualifying matches before main draw matches could begin.

Only five of the 13 Salvadore Park courts were playable at the 3 p.m. start time and it was after dark before all of the others could be readied for play, so the decision was made to play only the 32 matches in the top half of the draw, with the bottom half postponed until Monday, to be followed by the second round.

Top seed Anna Bugaienko was one of the few to start her match on Friday, but she and Anastasiya Muravia had played only two games before the rain returned. Bugaienko, who plays primarily on hard courts in McKinney Texas, had barely had an opportunity to practice on the Har-Tru before the rain set in on Wednesday.

"I came on Monday and practiced for an hour or two, and then it started raining," said the 14-year-old, who moved to Texas from Ukraine five years ago. "Then we couldn't find any clay courts that were dry to practice on, so that's all I had before the match." 

With play called early on Saturday, and with the rain intermittent in the morning before it steadily increased throughout the afternoon, Bugaienko did at least swing a racquet.

"I went and practiced on the wall, even with the rain," Bugaienko said. "I just taking some volleys and hitting, so I wouldn't forget how to play tennis."

Bugaienko showed signs of her unfamiliarity with the surface, but even as she felt she adjusted quickly, she was unable to shake Muravia, needing two and a half hours to earn her 7-6(4), 7-5 victory. 

Muravia, also from Ukraine and training at LAT in Boynton Beach, displayed a good first serve and kept her powerful forehand deep, with long rallies the norm.

Up 4-3 in the tiebreaker, Muravia double faulted, and several ill-advised drop shots, that did not make it over the net, sealed the set for Bugaienko. Bugaienko then took a 4-1 lead in the second set, only to see Muravia take the next four games and serve for the set.

"I think she changed her game when I was up 4-1, hitting more top spin and missing less," said Bugaienko, who hasn't played the 14s since this summer's USTA Level 1s, with all her tournaments this fall in the 16s or on the ITF Junior Circuit. "I tried to be more aggressive but it was not working out. So I waited for a good ball, so I could more her around, and finish the point when she gives me a short ball."

Muravia never got to a set point, and Bugaienko won a tough service game to go up 6-5. Facing the pressure of serving to force a tiebreaker, Muravia couldn't convert her game point and after a double fault and forehand error, Bugaienko was through to round 2.

Boys 14s top seed Tanishk Konduri had little trouble in his first round match at the Kerdyk Tennis Center at the Biltmore, defeating Antanas Daugis 6-1, 6-1 in an all-USA first round match. Konduri swept both the 14s National Championships this summer, taking singles and doubles, with his doubles partner at the Hard Courts in Mobile Colin McPeek.

McPeek, the No. 3 seed in the Junior Orange Bowl, got off to a good start in his match with Robert Dolya, before dropping the second set and being forced to a match tiebreaker.

McPeek ended up claiming a 6-2, 5-7, 10-8 victory, but like everyone else, did not have the preparation he would have preferred.

"I was able to get some practices, but they weren't as good as I would normally want them," said the 14-year-old from Indiana. 

McPeek had no familiarity with Dolya, who is from Davie Florida and plays primarily in the Battle of Boca series rather than in the USTA Florida sectional events.

"I hadn't really every heard of him," said McPeek, who has a one-handed backhand. "Usually you know a lot of the players that are in the draw, but I didn't know him."

Given that he had idea how his opponent would play, McPeek concentrated on his own game, and that worked well, until the second set.

"First set I started off strong, I was going for my shots and executing better," McPeek said. "In the second set I started missing more, giving him a bit more confidence and he started going for it and I started backing off."

Dolya broke for the second set on a deciding point, with the first two rounds of the B14s using no-ad scoring, and he took a 5-3 lead in the match tiebreaker, but McPeek won six of the next seven points to go up 9-6. McPeek missed only one first serve in the tiebreaker, making a conscious decision to spin in his first serves, while Dolya double faulted twice, the second time at 6-all.

But down 9-6, Dolya got both first serves in and won the points, forcing a forehand error after a long rally on the first match point and cracked a forehand pass on the second that had McPeek wondering aloud why he had approached the net. But with his third match point McPeek was able to get another first serve in and put away a forehand winner to earn the win.

"It gives you confidence, if you're able to pull out a match even when you're not playing your best," said McPeek, who trains now with the USTA in Lake Nona, but continues to live in Indiana. "But I still hope to play well this week."

As for the upcoming compressed schedule forced by all the rain, with six matches in the next four days, McPeek said he is fine with that prospect.

"A lot of the sectional tournaments are usually two or three matches a day, so I'm quite used to that," McPeek said. "So this is not that much of a difference, it actually feels weird when you play just one match a day."

The top seed in the boys 12s, Tristan Ascenzo, didn't drop a game in his first round match. Eddie Herr champion and girls 12s top seed Caroline Shao plays her first round match at 8 a.m. Monday at Crandon Park against qualifier Sofija Dimitrievic. 

Draws and times for Monday's matches can be found here.