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Friday, January 19, 2018

My Annual Intriguing Questions Article; Lilov, Wiersholm Claim Bolton Titles; Nakashima Joins Mayo, Ma and Mandlik in Coffee Bowl Semis; Australian Open Junior Championship Draws

I've been writing an annual Intriguing Questions article for the Tennis Recruiting Network for 13 years now, with this year's edition available today. I cover ATP/WTA format changes, ITF junior points changes, UTR, live streaming and other topics, including what 2018 holds for Whitney Osuigwe and the 20-year-old American men. I am always struck, after I've written this article, how many of these big-picture questions are a result of conversations I've had with players, coaches and administrators during my five weeks in Florida at the end of the year. That suggests a recency bias, but I believe that preparation for and curiosity about a new year's changes is also a factor. I hope you learn something from reading it; I always learn something during my research before writing it.

For the second year in a row, the United States has swept the titles at the Tennis Europe Category 1 tournament in Bolton England. Thirteen-year-old Katja Wiersholm, whose brother Henrik reached the final of the same event back in 2011, avenged her loss to No. 2 seed Katrina Scott in the final of the USA Les Petits As playoff last fall with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.  Wiersholm, the No. 5 seed, beat the No. 4, No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in succession for the title.  Coco Gauff, then 12 years old, won the girls title last year over Alexandra Yepifanova, also of the United States.

No. 7 seed Victor Lilov also avenged a recent loss to his doubles partner Evan Wen, after the No. 4 seed had beaten him at a USTA tournament in Cincinnati.  The 13-year-old Lilov had come from a set down in both his quarterfinal and semifinal victories, and he went three sets again today against Wen in a 6-3, 0-6, 6-3 win.  Toby Kodat won the boys title last year over Martin Damm, also of the United States.

The next stop for the USTA's 14-and-under team is Tarbes France, where the Les Petits As tournament will begin on Monday. 

At the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica, No. 8 seed Brandon Nakashima defeated top seed Trey Hilderbrand 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach his first Grade 1 semifinal.  The 16-year-old from San Diego will play No. 7 seed Keenan Mayo later tonight.  The other boys semifinal features No. 3 seed Mateus Alves of Brazil and unseeded 15-year-old Harold Mayot of France. Alves defeated No. 6 seed Tyler Zink 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the quarterfinals last night.

No. 4 seed Elli Mandlik will play top seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia this afternoon, after Osorio Serrano breezed past Chloe Beck 6-2, 6-0.  No. 7 seed Lea Ma will face No. 9 seed Alexandra Vagramov of Canada in the other semifinal tonight. 

Streaming will begin around 6:30 p.m. Eastern at the tournament's website.

The draws are out for the Australian Open Junior Championships, which begin Saturday (Friday night in the United States) with eight American girls and six American boys participating.  The fields are similar to those of the Traralgon Grade 1 this week, although the No. 1 seed in the girls draw, Xinyu Wang of China, did not play there, as she won a wild card tournament and played in the women's main draw in Melbourne.  Timofey Skatov of Russia is again the No. 1 boys seed this week.  The US boys in the draw are Sebastian Korda[7], Andrew Fenty[13], Tristan Boyer, Drew Baird, Sangeet Sridhar and qualifier Jaycer Lyeons, who did not play Traralgon.  The US girls in the draw are Alexa Noel[7], Elysia Bolton[12], Hurricane Tyra Black, Coco Gauff, Peyton Stearns, Nicole Mossmer, Dalayna Hewitt and qualifier Niluka Madurawe. 

Streaming of junior matches should be available via WatchESPN

Ryan Harrison lost to No. 6 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia last night, leaving Tennys Sandgren as the last US man in the draw. 

Friday (Thursday night in US)

Marin Cilic[6](CRO) def. Ryan Harrison 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(4)

Saturday(Friday night in US)

Lauren Davis v Simona Halep[1](ROU)
Madison Keys[17] v Ana Bogdan(ROU)
Tennys Sandgren v Maximilian Marterer(GER)
Bernarda Pera v Barbora Strycova[20](CZE)

American Juniors in action Saturday(Friday night in US)

Alexa Noel[7] v Stefania Rogozinska Dzik(POL)
Coco Gauff v Elisabetta Cocciaretto(ITA)
Nicole Mossmer v Myah Petchey(RSA)
Tristan Boyer v Lorenzo Musetti(ITA)
Drew Baird v Juan Cerundolo[10](ARG)
Niluka Madurawe v Daniela Vismane[13](LAT)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

All-American Finals in Bolton; Midurawe, Lyeons Qualify for Australian Open Jrs; Mandlik, Ma and Mayo Into Coffee Bowl Semis; Sandgren and Pera with Big Wins in Australia

The singles finals are set for the Tennis Europe event in Bolton, with Americans filling all four spots.  No. 4 seed Evan Wen rolled past Samuel Reeve of Great Britain 6-1, 6-2 and he was later joined by his doubles partner Victor Lilov, who beat No. 3 seed Cesar Bouchelaghem of France 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(5).  No. 7 seed Lilov trailed 5-3 in the tiebreaker, but won the final four points of the match.  Wen and Lilov played in the quarterfinals of the Junior Orange Bowl 12s in 2016, with Lilov winning, but Wen claimed victories in their two meetings in USTA events last year, both on indoor hard courts. Lilov and Wen fell in the doubles final, with the No. 2 seeds going out to top seeds Mili Poljicak and Dino Prizmic of Croatia 3-6, 6-4, 10-5.

In the girls semifinals, No. 5 seed Katja Wiersholm beat top seed Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain 7-5, 6-2, while No. 2 seed Katrina Scott downed Robin Montgomery 6-4, 6-1 in the all-American semifinal.  As with the boys, the finalists have history in the Junior Orange Bowl 12s, with Scott defeating Wiersholm in the 2016 quarterfinals. Scott also beat Wiersholm this past fall, in the final of the Les Petits As playoffs in Florida.  Wiersholm and Montgomery, seeded fourth, won the doubles title, beating No. 3 seeds Oceane Babel and Laia Petretic of France 6-4, 6-2.

Two Americans qualified for the Australian Open Junior Championships, with Niluka Madurawe and Jaycer Lyeons earning their first spots in a junior slam with wins Thursday.  Madurawe, the No. 6 seed, beat No. 15 seed Funa Kozaki of Japan 6-3, 6-2 and Lyeons, seeded No. 15, defeated Hikaru Shiraishi of Japan 5-7, 7-5, 3-0 ret.  Complete draws can be found at the Tennis Australia website.  Play in the Australian Open Junior Championships main draw begins Saturday (Friday night in the United States).

The ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia ended on Thursday, with top seed En Shuo Liang of Taiwan and No. 5 seed Hugo Gaston of France winning the titles.  Liang defeated No. 8 seed Xiyu Wang of Chinga 6-4, 0-6, 6-1 and Gaston cruised past unseeded Aidan McHugh of Great Britain 6-1, 6-1.  Wojciech Marek of Poland and Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan won the boys doubles title with a 7-6(1), 6-4 win over Rinky Hijikata of Australia and Taisei Ichikawa of Japan in an all-unseeded final. No. 6 seeds Joanna Garland of Taiwan and Himari Sato of Japan won the girls doubles title with a 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 win over No. 2 seeds Alina Charaeva and Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia.

The quarterfinals at the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl will extend well into the night in Costa Rica, but three Americans have advanced to the semifinals.  No. 7 seed Lea Ma defeated Nikki Redelijk 6-1, 6-4 and will face No. 9 seed Alexandra Vagramov of Canada, who beat No. 14 seed Skyler Grishuk 7-5, 6-0.  No. 4 seed Elli Mandlik defeated Charlotte Owensby 7-6, 6-3 and will play the winner of tonight's match between top seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia and No. 5 seed Chloe Beck.

No. 7 seed Keenan Mayo beat Toby Kodat 6-3, 6-1 and will face the winner of the night match between No. 1 seed Trey Hilderbrand and No. 8 seed Brandon Nakashima.  Unseeded Harold Mayot of France will play the winner of the evening match between No. 6 seed Tyler Zink and No. 3 seed Mateus Alves of Brazil.  All three evening singles matches will be streamed at the tournament website.

Two relatively unknown Americans came up big last night at the Australian Open, with Tennys Sandgren and lucky loser Bernarda Pera both beating the No. 9 seeds.  Sandgren, who won his first slam match on Monday, got the biggest win of his career, beating 2014 Australian champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. Wawrinka is coming off a long injury layoff, but regardless of the circumstances, that is an impressive victory for the former Tennessee Volunteer.  Pera won a tight match over Great Britain's Johanna Konta 6-4, 7-5, and for someone who has never been in that position, it takes a lot of determination to finish off a quality opponent like Konta.  Lauren Davis and Madison Keys also advanced to the third round with wins Thursday.
The ATP article on Sandgren's win is here; the USTA has more on Pera's victory here.

Thursday (Wednesday night in US)

Dominic Thiem[5](AUT) def. Denis Kudla 6-7(6), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
Madison Keys[17] def. Ekaterina Alexandrova(RUS) 6-0, 6-1
Tennys Sandgren def. Stan Wawrinka[9](SUI) 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
Bernarda Pera def. Johanna Konta[9](GBR) 6-4, 7-5
Marton Fucsovics(HUN) def. Sam Querrey[13] 6-4, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-2
Albert Ramos-Vinolas[21](ESP) def. Tim Smyczek 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(2)
Lauren Davis def. Andrea Petkovic(GER) 4-6, 6-0, 6-0

Friday (Thursday night in US)

Ryan Harrison v Marin Cilic[6](CRO)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Final Round Qualifying for Australian Open Juniors Features Three Americans; Five US Semifinalists at Bolton; Second Seeds Nanda, Ong Out at G1 Coffee Bowl; McDonald Falls Just Short Against Dimitrov

Qualifying for the Australian Open Junior Championships began on Wednesday in Traralgon, and three of the five Americans participating advanced to Thursday's final round.  Dakota Fordham, who was still an alternate at the last acceptance list update, got into qualifying and advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Ayumi Miyamoto of Japan, the No. 4 seed.  No. 6 seed Niluka Madurawe won her first round match, as did No. 15 seed Jaycer Lyeons, who did not play Traralgon.  The other two US boys, William Woodall and No. 3 seed Brian Shi, lost their first round qualifying matches.  Live scoring for the final round can be found here.  Draws are at the Tennis Australia tournament website.

Both US girls in the semifinals at the Grade 1 in Traralgon lost Wednesday.  Top seed En Shuo Liang of Taiwan avenged her loss to Coco Gauff at last summer's College Park Grade 1 by claiming a 7-6(2), 6-0 victory after Gauff had served for the first set.  Dalayna Hewitt, who reached the second Grade 1 semifinal of her career this week, gave a walkover to No. 8 seed Xiyu Wang of China.  The boys final will feature No. 5 seed Hugo Gaston of France against unseeded Aidan McHugh of Great Britain.

The semifinals are set at the 14-and-under Tennis Europe event in Bolton England, with two US boys and three US girls advancing to the final four.  No. 4 seed Evan Wen and No. 7 seed Victor Lilov moved on, with Wen, a 1-6, 6-0, 6-1 winner over qualifier Paul Inchauspe of France, taking on Samuel Reeve of Great Britain Thursday.  Reeve defeated top seed Mili Poljicak of Croatia 6-2 4-6, 6-3.  Lilov, the 2016 Junior Orange Bowl champion, defeated No. 2 seed Alexander Blockx of Belgium, the 2017 Junior Orange Bowl 3rd place finisher, 5-7, 6-1, 6-0. He will play No. 3 seed Cesar Bouchelaghem of France.  Wen and Lilov have also advanced to the doubles final.

No. 2 seed Katrina Scott and No. 13 seed Robin Montgomery will play each other for a place in the final after straight-sets wins today.  Scott defeated unseeded Maelle LeClercq of France 6-2, 6-2 and Montgomery downed No. 6 seed Hanne Vandewinkel of Belgium 6-1, 6-3.  Scott defeated Montgomery 6-1, 6-2 in the third round of the Orange Bowl 16s last month. No. 5 seed Katja Wiersholm beat No. 4 seed Oceane Babel of France 6-4, 6-3 and will face top seed Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain, who prevented another all-US semifinal with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 8 seed Vivian Ovrootsky.  Wiersholm and Montgomery have also reached the doubles final.

The ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl was dominated by Americans, and with the quarterfinals nearly set (there are a couple of night matches yet) five of the boys quarterfinalists and six of the girls quarterfinalists are from the US.  Those numbers do not include the No. 2 seeds however, as Govind Nanda lost last night to Sebastian Gonzalez of Peru 6-3, 7-6(6) and Vanessa Ong lost yesterday to Kylie Collins.  Gonzalez backed up his upset with another win today, but Collins lost to Nikki Redelijk.  Lea Ma[7] will face Redelijk in the quarterfinals; No. 14 seed Skyler Grishuk, No. 5 seed Chloe Beck and Charlotte Owensby have also advanced.  Owensby will play the winner of tonight's match between Elli Mandlik[4] and Sanyukta Gawande[16] in a second all-US quarterfinal.  A stream of that match is available at the tournament website.

The marquee matchup in the boys draw Thursday is top seed Trey Hilderbrand, playing in his first event since last October, against No. 8 seed Brandon Nakashima, the 2017 Kalamazoo 16s champion.  Toby Kodat and Keenan Mayo[7] play in the other quarterfinal in the top half, assuring a finalist from the US.  No. 6 seed Tyler Zink is the only American left in the bottom half; he will play No. 3 seed Mateus Alves of Brazil.

The talk of the Australian Open on the men's side Wednesday was the performance by 2016 NCAA champion Mackenzie McDonald, who took No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov to the limit before falling 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6. McDonald, who won his first round match over fellow qualifier Elias Ymer of Sweden Monday, impressed everyone with his level and his stamina.  For more on the match, read Joel Drucker's account at tennis.com.  Overshadowed by McDonald's heroics was Ryan Harrison's win over No. 31 seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, which puts him in the third round of a slam for just the second time in his career.

Marta Kostyuk, the 15-year-old Ukrainian, continues to be undefeated in Melbourne. The 2017 Australian Open girls champion defeated wild card Olivia Rogowska of Australia 6-3, 7-5 to reach the third round, becoming the youngest woman to go that far in a slam since Mirjana Lucic Baroni did it in 1997.  For more on the rare accomplishments by Kostyuk this week, see this article from the Australian Open website.

Americans in Australian Open:

Wednesday (Tuesday night in US)

Grigor Dimitrov[3](BUL) def. Mackenzie McDonald 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6
Kiki Bertens[30](NED) def. Nicole Gibbs 7-6(3), 6-0
Ryan Harrison v Pablo Cuevas[31](URU) 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4

Thursday (Wednesday night in US)

Denis Kudla v Dominic Thiem[5](AUT)
Madison Keys[17] v Ekaterina Alexandrova(RUS)
Tennys Sandgren v Stan Wawrinka[9](SUI)
Bernarda Pera v Johanna Konta[9](GBR)
Sam Querrey[13] v Marton Fucsovics(HUN)
Tim Smyczek v Albert Ramos-Vinolas[21](ESP)
Lauren Davis v Andrea Petkovic(GER)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hewitt and Gauff Reach Semifinals at Traralgon Grade 1; Seven of Eight US Juniors Advance to Bolton Quarterfinals; Americans End Australian Open First Round 10-21; Pro Circuit Update

The semifinals of the ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia will feature two unseeded Americans: Coco Gauff and Dalayna Hewitt.  Gauff defeated unseeded Violet Apisah of Papua New Guinea 6-2, 6-3, a scoreline that seems deceptive, given that the live scoring showed that nearly every game went to deuce.  Hewitt was up 5-2 in the third set against No. 5 seed Joanna Garland of Taiwan, lost her break, but broke for the 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win.  Gauff will play top seed En Shuo Liang of Taiwan, whom she defeated 6-1, 6-2 at the Grade 1 in College Park this past summer, and Hewitt will face 2016 College Park finalist Xiyu Wang of China, the No. 8 seed.  Both US boys lost in the quarterfinals, with No. 13 seed Andrew Fenty losing to unseeded Clement Tabur of France 6-3, 6-2 and No. 7 seed Sebastian Korda falling to No. 2 seed Marko Miladinovic of Serbia 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-4.  Tabur will face reigning Orange Bowl champion and No. 5 seed Hugo Gaston of France in one semifinal, while Miladinovic meets unseeded Aidan McHugh of Great Britain in the other.

Three US boys and all four US girls on the USTA's 14-and-under team competing in Europe this month have reached the quarterfinals of the Bolton tournament.  No. 4 seed Evan Wen defeated unseeded Yujiro Onuma of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4; No. 11 seed John Kim came back to beat No. 5 seed Dino Prizmic of Croatia 0-6, 6-2, 7-5 and No. 7 seed Victor Lilov defeated British wild card Ben Feltham 6-0, 6-2. No. 14 seed Jonah Braswell lost to top seed Mili Poljicak of Croatia 6-3, 6-3.
Lilov (who is still being shown as competing for Bulgaria in the draws due to an error) and Wen are into the doubles semifinals.

In girls third round action, No. 8 seed Vivian Ovrootsky defeated No. 12 seed Matylda Burylo of Norway 6-1, 6-1; No. 5 seed Katja Wiersholm came back for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 11 seed Kuoka Kubo of Japan; No. 13 seed Robin Montgomery cruised past No. 3 seed Joelle Steur of Germany 6-0, 6-0 and No. 2 seed Katrina Scott downed No. 16 seed Tara Zoppas of France 6-1, 6-3.  Wiersholm and Montgomery have advanced to the doubles semifinals.

Draws can be found at the Tennis Europe tournament website.

Americans competing in the Australian Open had better results Tuesday than those posted by their compatriots on Monday.  Lucky loser Bernarda Pera, Lauren Davis and No. 17 seed Madison Keys have joined Nicole Gibbs in the second round of the women's draw, with Pera picking up her first slam victory in a 6-2, 6-2 defeat of teenage qualifier Anna Blinkova of Russia. 

Tennys Sandgren won his first main draw match at a slam, beating veteran Jeremy Chardy of France, with wild card Tim Smyczek, No. 13 seed Sam Querrey and qualifier Denis Kudla joining Ryan Harrison and Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.  Kudla defeated Steve Johnson in the only first round match featuring two Americans.

Tuesday Results (Monday night in US):

Novak Djokovic[14](SRB) def. Donald Young 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
Juan Martin Del Potro[12](ARG) def. Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-3
Johanna Konta[9](GBR) def. Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-1
Madison Keys[17] def. Qiang Wang(CHN) 6-1, 7-5
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni[28](CRO) def. Shelby Rogers 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-2
Tennys Sandgren def. Jeremy Chardy(FRA) 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova[14](LAT) def. Varvara Lepchenko 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Barbora Strycova[20](CZE) def. Kristie Ahn 6-1, 7-5
Tim Smyczek def. Alexei Popyrin(AUS) 6-3, 6-7(14), 6-3, 6-3
Lauren Davis def. Jana Cepelova(SVK) 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1
Sam Querrey[13] def. Feliciano Lopez(ESP) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
Denis Kudla def. Steve Johnson 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-2
Aliaksandra Sasnovich(BLR) def. Christina McHale 6-3, 6-2
Albert Ramos-Vinolas[21](ESP) def. Jared Donaldson 6-2, 6-3, 6-4
Bernarda Pera def. Anna Blinkova(RUS) 6-2, 6-2

Wednesday's second round matches (Tuesday night in US)

Mackenzie McDonald v Grigor Dimitrov[3](BUL)
Nicole Gibbs v Kiki Bertens[30](NED)
Ryan Harrison v Pablo Cuevas[31](URU)

This week's USTA Pro Circuit events are both in Florida, with a $15,000 men's Futures in Sunrise and a $25,000 women's tournament in Orlando.   Florida freshmen Duarte Vale and Oliver Crawford advanced to the main draw with four qualifying wins, as did Justin Butsch(LSU) and Michael Redlicki(Arkansas).  Last week's champion in Naples, Javier Marti of Spain, is the top seed this week.

In the very strong Orlando draw, Francesca DiLorenzo and Caitlin Whoriskey are among today's qualifiers, as is 16-year-old Olga Danilovic of Serbia.  As with the men, the top seed is last week's winner, Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine.  Maria Mateas, Sofia Sewing, Jada Robinson and Megan McCray received the main draw wild cards. Although she said she was going to play the Florida events this month, so far ITF World Junior champion Whitney Osuigwe has not appeared in either draw.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Americans go 3-12 on First Day of Australian Open; Gauff, Hewitt, Fenty and Korda Through to Quarterfinals in Tralragon Grade 1; Costa Rica G1 Underway with 54 US Juniors; All Eight US Players Advance in Bolton

The first day of the Australian Open was a disappointment for Americans, with only three victories and a dozen losses.  Three of the US women who reached the US Open semifinals back in September lost in the first round, with Venus Williams, champion Sloane Stephens and CoCo Vandeweghe eliminated.  Finalist Madison Keys will play Tuesday (tonight in the US).  Nicole Gibbs was the only US woman to post a victory of the ten in action Monday.

Only five US men were on the schedule, so their record of 2-3 isn't as shocking, but No. 8 seed Jack Sock and No. 16 seed John Isner were both upset.  Ryan Harrison and qualifier Mackenzie McDonald earned victories, with McDonald getting his first slam win.  Qualifier Kevin King lost, but as this article from Tennis Life points out, he still should be considered a big winner in his first slam appearance.

2017 Australian Open girls champion Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine won her first tour level main draw match in her first appearance, with the 15-year-old defeating No. 25 seed Peng Shuai of China. For an extensive look at the match and the "youngest since" parts of her achievements, see this WTA article.

Sixteen Americans are in action on Tuesday, with Bernarda Pera added as a lucky loser after Margarita Gasparyan withdrew.

American results:


Belinda Bencic(SUI) def. Venus Williams[5] 6-3, 7-5
Daria Gavrilova[23](AUS) def. Irina Falconi 6-1, 6-1
Shuai Zhang(CHN) def. Sloane Stephens[13] 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-2
Matthew Edben(AUS) def. John Isner[16] 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga[15](FRA) def. Kevin King 6-4, 6-4, 6-1
Julia Goerges[12](GER) def. Sonya Kenin 6-4, 6-4
Timea Babos(HUN) def. CoCo Vandeweghe[10] 7-6(4), 6-2
Magdalena Rybarikova[19](SVK) def. Taylor Townsend 6-0, 7-5
Yuichi Sugita(JPN) def. Jack Sock[8] 6-1, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3
Kirsten Flipkens(BEL) def. Alison Riske 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-3
Mackenzie McDonald def. Elias Ymer(SWE) 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1
Magda Linette(POL) def. Jennifer Brady 2-6, 6-4, 6-3
Kiki Bertens[30](NED) def. CiCi Bellis 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2
Ryan Harrison def. Dudi Sela(ISR) 6-3, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2
Nicole Gibbs def. Viktoriya Tomova(BUL) 6-1, 6-1

Tuesday (Monday night in US):

Donald Young v Novak Djokovic[14](SRB)
Frances Tiafoe v Juan Martin Del Potro[12](ARG)
Madison Brengle v Johanna Konta[9](GBR)
Madison Keys[17] v Qiang Wang(CHN)
Shelby Rogers v Mirjana Lucic-Baroni[28](CRO)
Tennys Sandgren v Jeremy Chardy(FRA)
Varvara Lepchenko v Anastasija Sevastova[14](LAT)
Kristie Ahn v Barbora Strycova[20](CZE)
Tim Smyczek v Alexei Popyrin(AUS)
Lauren Davis v Jana Cepelova(SVK)
Sam Querrey[13] v Feliciano Lopez(ESP)
Steve Johnson v Denis Kudla
Christina McHale v Aliaksandra Sasnovich(BLR)
Jared Donaldson v Albert Ramos-Vinolas[21](ESP)
Bernarda Pera v Anna Blinkova(RUS)

Four American juniors are through to the quarterfinals of the ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia. No. 7 seed Sebastian Korda defeated No. 9 seed Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil 7-6(4), 7-5 and will face No. 2 seed Marko Miladinovic of Serbia.  No. 13 seed Andrew Fenty downed wild card Rinky Hijikata of Australia 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 and will play unseeded Clement Tabur of France.  Top seed Timofey Skatov was eliminated by No. 14 seed Ondrej Styler of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6(1).

Unseeded Coco Gauff won a tough one over Australian wild card Gabriella Da Silva Fick 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) to advance to a meeting with unseeded Violet Apisah of Papua New Guinea.  Unseeded Dalayna Hewitt defeated unseeded Mana Kawamura of Japan 6-2, 6-2 and will play No. 5 seed Joanna Garland of Taiwan in the quarterfinals.

The Grade 1 Coffee Bowl is underway in Costa Rica and, as is usually the case, Americans dominate the entries, with 27 boys and 27 girls in the 64-player singles draws.  That means there are only 10 first round matches that do not feature an American.  The US has 10 seeds in the boys draw, including the top two seeds: Trey Hilderbrand[1], Govind Nanda[2], Tyler Zink[6], Keenan Mayo[7], Brandon Nakashima[8], Eliot Spizzirri[9], Will Grant[10], Tomas Kopczynski[12], Nathan Han[13], Ronan Jachuk[14], Leighton Allen[Q], Pierce Rollins, Mark Mandlik, Garrett Johns, Adam Neff[Q], Blaise Bicknell, Andrew Dale, Toby Kodat, Niroop Vallabhaneni, Boris Kozlov, Milledge Cossu, John Bernard, Max Wild, Jordi Redelijk[Q], Alex Bancila[Q], Zane Khan and Michael Agee.  The girls draw has eight US seeds:  Vanessa Ong[2], Elli Mandlik[4], Chloe Beck[5], Sabina Dadaciu[6], Lea Ma[7] Shelly Yaloz[13], Skyler Grishuk[14] and Sanyukta Gawande[16]. The other 19 girls in the draw are Sasha Wood, Najah Dawson, Addison Guevara, Sophia Hatton, Haley Giavara, Jenna Dean, Lauren Stein, Marcella Cruz, Imani Graham, Charlotte Owensby, Kacie Harvey, Gabby Price, Kennedy Bridgforth, Mackenzie Clark, Tara Malik, Nicole Hammond, Zoe Hitt, Nikki Redelijk and Kylie Collins.

The tournament website has draws, the order of play and a link to live streaming. 

All eight Americans competing at the Tennis Europe tournament in Bolton advanced to the third round by winning their opening matches today. See the tournament site for scores and draws.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Australian Open Begins Monday with 15 Americans in Action; Six US Juniors Reach Third Round at Traralgon G1; 14U Bolton Event Underway; Altamirano Claims First Futures Single Title

Monday marks the start of the 2018 Australian Open, with 15 Americans in action tonight in the US and 15 more on the scheduled for Tuesday, which is Monday night here in the United States.  Irina Falconi was the only US woman to make it through qualifying, with the former Georgia Tech star beating wild card Priscilla Hon of Australia 6-2, 6-1.  Falconi, who made the Australian Open main draw on her own ranking for the past three years, didn't drop a set in qualifying and only four games total in two of her three victories.  She has a tough assignment in the first round however, facing No. 23 seed Daria Gavrilova of Australia.

Another notable women's qualifier was 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, who received a wild card into qualifying based on her Australian Open girls title last year. Kostyuk defeated No. 13 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 5-7, 6-0 and will play No. 25 seed Shuai Peng of China in Monday's opening round.  Due to the rain pushing qualifying into Sunday, all the qualifiers placed in the top half have to play Monday without the typical day of rest. For more on Kostyuk and the other women making their slam debuts in Australia, see this article from the WTA.

Monday (Sunday night in US)

Venus Williams[5] v Belinda Bencic(SUI)
Irina Falconi v Daria Gavrilova[23](AUS)
Sloane Stephens[13] v Shuai Zhang(CHN)
John Isner[16] v Matthew Edben(AUS)
Kevin King v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga[15](FRA)
Sonya Kenin v Julia Goerges[12](GER)
CoCo Vandeweghe[10] v Timea Babos(HUN)
Taylor Townsend v Magdalena Rybarikova[19](SVK)
Jack Sock[8] v Yuichi Sugita(JPN)
Alison Riske v Kirsten Flipkens(BEL)
Mackenzie McDonald v Elias Ymer(SWE)
Jennifer Brady v Magda Linette(POL)
CiCi Bellis v Kiki Bertens[30](NED)
Ryan Harrison v Dudi Sela(ISR)
Nicole Gibbs v Viktoriya Tomova(BUL)

Tuesday (Monday night in US)

Donald Young v Novak Djokovic[14](SRB)
Frances Tiafoe v Juan Martin Del Potro[12](ARG)
Madison Brengle v Johanna Konta[9](GBR)
Madison Keys[17] v Qiang Wang(CHN)
Shelby Rogers v Mirjana Lucic-Baroni[28](CRO)
Tennys Sandgren v Jeremy Chardy(FRA)
Varvara Lepchenko v Anastasija Sevastova[14](LAT)
Kristie Ahn v Barbora Strycova[20](CZE)
Tim Smyczek v Alexei Popyrin(AUS)
Lauren Davis v Jana Cepelova(SVK)
Sam Querrey[13] v Feliciano Lopez(ESP)
Steve Johnson v Denis Kudla
Christina McHale v Aliaksandra Sasnovich(BLR)
Jared Donaldson v Albert Ramos-Vinolas[21](ESP)

At the ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon, two American boys and four American girls have advanced to the third round.  Sebastian Korda[7] and Andrew Fenty[13] are in the final 16, as are Coco Gauff, Elysia Bolton[12], Hurricane Tyra Black and Dalayna Hewitt.  No. 6 seed Alexa Noel lost to Australian wild card Megan Smith 6-4, 6-3. Live scoring is available via Tennis Ticker.

The Tennis Europe 14U international tournament in Bolton, which has apparently lost Nike as a sponsor, is underway with non-seeded players completing their first round matches today.  All four US boys and four US girls are seeded, so they will take the court for the first time on Monday.  Evan Wen[4], Victor Lilov[7], John Kim[11] and Jonah Braswell[14] are the US boys, although somehow Lilov is listed as from Bulgaria.  The top seed in the boys draw is Mili Poljicak of Croatia.  Katrina Scott is the girls No. 2 seed. It's difficult to imagine that No. 1 seed Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain has had more impressive results that those of Scott, who won the Eddie Herr 16s and reached the quarterfinals of the 16s at the Orange Bowl, but she does have a slightly higher ITF ranking, so that must be the criteria that was used.

Live scoring is available for this tournament, also via Tennis Ticker.

In USTA Pro Circuit finals today, Collin Altamirano won his first Futures singles title, defeating qualifier Emilio Gomez of Ecuador 6-1, 7-5 at the $25,000 event in Long Beach California.  The 22-year-old Altamirano, who left the University of Virginia this spring after his junior year, lost to Marcos Giron in the final of the same tournament last year.

Below is the recap of the final from press aide Steve Pratt:

Collin Altamirano Beats Emilio Gomez In Final At
Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament

Jan. 8-14 at El Dorado Park Tennis Center

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Jan. 14, 2018) – For the second consecutive week, an unseeded former college player captured the singles championship as the Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament Presented by the Southern California Tennis Association came to a close on Sunday.

Three-time NCAA champion from the University of Virginia Collin Altamirano took out former USC star and eight-time singles Pro Circuit winner Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, 6-1, 7-5, in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the El Dorado Park Tennis Center on a gorgeous, 75-degree sunny day in Long Beach.

The 22-year-old Altamirano on Sunday was trying to duplicate what former UCLA player Karue Sell accomplished last week at the USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 event at USC as the qualifier Sell won both the singles and doubles titles. Altamirano came up just short of that double feat as he and University of Norte Dame junior Alexander Lebedev fell to the top-seeded team of Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico, 6-3, 6-2, in Sunday’s doubles final.

Despite the easy looking first-set scoreline of 6-1, Altamriano of Sacramento said after the match it was anything but. “I wasn’t feeling that good at all,” he said. “I was nervous and tight. I was just so fortunate to pull it out so easily and the score doesn’t indicate how tough it was.”

Down a break and 2-4 in the second set, Altamirano used his big serve at key spots to get him back into the match with a break of Gomez’s serve and a hold to make it 4-all.

“I was just getting so frustrated and finally let my anger out a little bit,” said Altamirano, a very loud and demonstrative player a year ago, but who says he’s working on his vocal bouts of anger. “That loosened me up a little bit and I started playing better.”

“Absolutely,” Altamirano said when asked about being less animated on court this year as opposed to last year when he made it all the way to the singles final. “I don’t want to say it’s been a weakness of mine, or has held me back. But yes, it’s something I’ve been working on. It’s been a process and I’ve been really working on it.”

It was the third consecutive year a former college player won Long Beach as former UCLA player Marcos Giron (last year) and former USC Trojan Yannick Hanfman (2016) were the past two winners.

Altamirano, who made $3,600 with the win, was coached this week by Jimmy Roberts of Sacramento, and supported by his parents, who took a five-hour train ride from the Bay Area to Long Beach Saturday to watch their son’s special first Pro Circuit win.

Altamirano still works with his Sacramento coach Joseph Gilbert, and said it was Gilbert who first introduced him to tournament tennis more than 10 years ago. He smiled when he was asked to recall winning the Boys’ 14s at the venerable Ojai Tennis Tournament way back in 2010 when he resided for a short time in Santa Barbara. 

“I love that tournament,” he said. “Just the crowds and everything about is great. My coach Joseph Gilbert won it twice in the juniors. And he never said anything. So we’re in the park looking at all these pictures of the past winners and there he was twice. I just thought it was the coolest thing. That venue [Libbey Park] is awesome and the crowds. It’s just awesome.”

Altamirano won the National 18s Hardcourts at Kalamazoo in 2013 at the age of 17, and was the youngest player in the US Open main draw that year.

“I remember I barely got into Kalamazoo,” he said. “I had to play another national event and had do well right before to get in and I ended up winning it.”

At the Zoo, Altamirano became the first unseeded player to win the 18s, beating Jared Donaldson in three out of five sets in the final.

“It was just a cool time,” said Altamirano, who also made the singles quarterfinals as the US Open Junior event that same year in 2013. “I didn’t play a lot in the juniors. It just showed all the hard work I had put in had paid off.”

Sunday’s Singles Final Results
q: qualifier
Collin Altamirano, U.S., def. Emilio Gomez, Ecuador (q), 6-1, 7-5

Sunday’s Doubles Final Results
Luke Bambridge, Great Britain/Hans Hach Verdugo, Mexico (1), def. Collin Altamirano, U.S./Alexander Lebedev, U.S. 6-3, 6-2

In Daytona Beach, unseeded Grace Min started well, but dropped the last eight games of her final with top seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in her 1-6, 7-5, 6-0 loss.  No. 2 seeds Usue Arconada and Chile's Alexa Guarachi Matheson won the double title at the $25,000 tournament, beating unseeded Ilona Kremen of Belarus and Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

At the $15,000 Futures in Naples Florida, top seed Javier Marti of Spain defeated German teen Louis Wessels, the No. 8 seed, 6-4, 6-0 in the final.