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Sunday, September 24, 2017

US Girls Win Junior Fed Cup; Sanford and Holt Claim Oracle Masters Championships; Bektas, Shane Claim Pro Circuit Titles

photo by Richard van Loon, tennisfoto.net, ©2017
The US girls on this year's Junior Fed Cup team have had their share of second place finishes in ITF team competitions.  In 2015, Caty McNally and Amanda Anisimova lost in the 14-and-under World Junior Tennis final to Russia and last year fell to Poland in the final, both by 2-1 scores. Whitney Osuigwe was on the 2016 World Junior Tennis team that finished second to Ukraine, again by a 2-1 score. This year, all those memories were pushed aside, with McNally and Osuigwe winning their singles matches to give the top-seeded Americans a 2-0 victory over second-seeded Japan.

At No. 2 singles, McNally avenged her loss last month to Naho Sato, posting a 6-3, 6-2 victory.  Osuigwe, taking the No. 1 position again after Anisimova was unable to play due to illness, fell behind two breaks at 4-1 to start her match with Yuki Naito. She immediately got one break back, but Naito served for the set at 5-4, and when Naito couldn't close it out, Osuigwe capitalized, winning the next seven games to take the first set 7-5 and go up 4-0 in the second. Naito did her best to fight back, breaking Osuigwe serving at 4-0, but Naito lost her serve again to give Osuigwe an opportunity to serve for the match. I counted four match points saved by Naito in that game, but the scoring box on the live stream was often not accurate, so I can't be positive. Naito held for 5-3 and another long game ensued with Osuigwe attempting to serve it out again, with two more match points saved by Naito, but a backhand winner gave Osuigwe her seventh match point and she converted when Naito's forehand return of an Osuigwe first serve found the net for a 7-5, 6-3 win and the title.

This is the fourth Junior Fed Cup title for the United States since the competition's inception in 1985, with all of those coming beginning in 2008, with 2012 and 2014 the other two. For more on the final, with quotes from Osuigwe, McNally and Captain Erik Kortland, see the ITF junior website.

The US boys, seeded third,  fell in the final to top-seeded Czech Republic 2-0.  Jonas Forejtek beat Will Grant 6-4, 7-5 at No. 2 singles and 14-year-old Dalibor Svrcina defeated Govind Nanda 6-2, 6-2 to clinch it.  The Czech team did not drop a match in their five victories. For more on the Junior Davis Cup final, see the ITF junior website.

For more photos from Budapest, see Richard van Loon's album at tennisfoto.net.

The ITA Oracle Masters crowned two new champions today, with North Carolina freshman Alexandra Sanford taking the women's singles and Southern California's Brandon Holt claiming the men's singles title.

Sanford, the No. 6 seed, defeated top seed and defending champion Ena Shibahara of UCLA 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(11), saving five match points in the tiebreaker that decided the two-and-half hour match.

The 18-year-old from Ohio was up 2-0 in all three sets, but with no-ad no lead was safe and in the third set, Shibahara served for the match at 5-4.  The Bruin sophomore didn't earn a match point, with two double faults contributing to Sanford's cause, and two service holds later, they went to a tiebreaker.

Shibahara's first match point came at 6-5, and she had a look at a Sanford second serve, but she missed her return.  Sanford then earned her first match point with a backhand winner set up by a good first serve, but she missed a backhand on the next point to make it 7-7 and waited a long time for a second match point.  Shibahara's second match point was brushed away by Sanford with a good first serve and a forehand winner, but after a Sanford error, Shibahara had a third match point, this time on her serve. She missed a forehand wide to make it 9-9, but went up 10-9 with a forehand forcing a Sanford error. On match point No. 4, Sanford's aggressive down the line forehand forced an error, but she missed a backhand on the next point to give Shibahara her fifth match point at 11-10.  Shibahara's forehand caught the tape and dropped on her side of the net to make it 11-11, and, on the next point, when there was no call on Sanford's shot near the baseline, which Shibahara pleaded with the chair for an out call, Sanford had her second match point.  She didn't get a first serve in, but Shibahara's forehand found the net, ending the dramatic battle in the rookie's favor.

No. 2 seed Holt defeated unseeded Victor Pham of Columbia 6-3, 7-6(2). After a messy first set, with only two holds of serve, both by the Trojan sophomore, the second set was tighter, with ten straight holds sending it to a tiebreaker. Pham had found himself in a similar position in the semifinals against top seed Petros Chrysochos of Wake Forest, and had won the second set tiebreaker and the third set 6-0, but Holt did not allow Pham to get any momentum, going up 6-0 in the tiebreaker and cruising to the title.

Saturday night, Holt and Shibahara claimed the mixed doubles title, beating Samantha Harris of Duke and Johannes Schretter of Baylor 8-1 in the final.

For draws and recaps, see the ITA tournament website.

Emina Bektas won the $80,000 Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Albuquerque New Mexico, defeating Maria Sanchez 6-4, 6-2.  It's the first title for the former Michigan star above the $10,000 level and she can now begin thinking about 2018 Australian Open qualifying, with her ranking moving from 350 to ~234.

Tara Moore of Great Britain and Conny Perrin of Switzerland won the doubles titles, beating top seeds Viktorija Golubic and Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

At the $15,000 Futures in Laguna Niguel California, No. 4 seed Ryan Shane took the title, the third of his career and the first this year, beating unseeded Henry Craig 6-3, 6-3. Shane also won the doubles title on Friday, with Ronnie Schneider.

Ante Pavic of Croatia won the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Columbus Ohio, beating Alexander Ward of Great Britain 6-7(11), 6-4, 6-3. Denis Kudla and Dominik Koepfer of Germany won the doubles title, beating Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and David O'Hare of Ireland 7-6(6), 7-6(3).

At the $25,000 Futures in Canada, former Indiana standout Sam Monette of Canada won both the singles and doubles titles. Monette, seeded No. 8, beat top seed Sam Barry of Ireland 6-3, 7-6(4). Monette and former Harvard star Nicky Hu won the doubles, with the top seeds beating Gary Kushnirovich and France's Yanais Laurent 6-0, 6-2 in the final.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

US Teams to Play for Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup Titles; Bektas and Sanchez Reach $80K Final; Craig and Shane Meet for Futures Title; ITA Oracle Masters Finals Set

Both US teams trailed 1-0 today in the semifinals of the Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis competition in a chilly Budapest Hungary, but both claimed No. 1 singles and the deciding doubles point to advance to Sunday's finals.

US Open girls champion Amanda Anisimova did not play today for the top-seeded US girls, so French Open champion Whitney Osuigwe moved into the No. 1 position.  After Caty McNally lost to Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 7-5 at No. 2 singles, Osuigwe had to win to keep US hopes alive, and she defeated Layne Sleeth 6-4, 6-2 to send the match to the deciding doubles. Osuigwe and McNally, who have played together often and reached the Wimbledon girls doubles final this year, beat Sleeth and Fernandez 6-3, 7-5 to send the USA girls into the final for the fourth consecutive year.  They will face No. 2 seed Japan, who reached their first ever Junior Fed Cup final with a 2-1 win over Ukraine. Naho Sato, who beat McNally at the Grade 1 in College Park last month and may face her again on Sunday, won at No. 2 singles, but Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine won at No. 1 singles over Yuki Naito to send it to the deciding doubles. Sato and Naito won over Kostyuk and Alina Tsyurpalevych 6-3, 6-7(7), 10-3. For more on the semifinals, see this article from the ITF website.

The third-seeded US boys were in a similar position to the girls, but they actually were down a set and a break in the deciding doubles match against No. 2 seed Argentina.  Will Grant lost to Juan Cerundolo 7-6(2), 7-5 at No. 2 singles, but Govind Nanda pulled the US even with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Thiago Tirante at No. 1 singles.  Tirante and Alejo Lingua took the first set 6-3 and broke Tyler Zink to open the second set, but Nanda and Zink dominated the second set and closed out a 3-6, 6-2, 10-5 victory.  The US boys, in the final for the first time since 2014, will face No. 1 seed Czech Republic in the final after they defeated No. 4 seed Croatia 2-0, with the doubles not necessary.  For more on the semifinals, see this ITF website article, which features a great photo of Nanda and Zink celebrating their doubles win. Streaming is available for the finals, accessed through the ITF junior website.

Two former college stars have advanced to the final of the $80,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Albuquerque New Mexico, with former USC star Maria Sanchez and former Michigan star Emina Bektas setting up an all-USA final.  Sanchez defeated Sophie Chang 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to her first $80K final since 2012. Sanchez won the Albuquerque title that year. Bektas, three years younger that Sanchez at 24, will be making her first appearance in a Pro Circuit final above the $15,000 level after beating Sherazad Reix of France 6-3, 7-6(3). The live streaming that was to be offered for the tournament by the USTA was cancelled due to technical difficulties.

Another all-US final between former collegians is set for the $15,000 Futures in Laguna Niguel, but that was guaranteed, with an all-US semifinal slate.  No. 4 seed Ryan Shane, the 2015 NCAA champion while at Virgina, will face unseeded Henry Craig, who is playing his first full year on tour after graduating from Denver last year.  Shane defeated TCU senior Trevor Johnson 6-4, 6-2, while Craig downed former Virginia star Collin Altamirano 6-4, 6-4. Yesterday, Shane won the doubles title with former North Carolina standout Ronnie Schneider, beating Johnson and Patrick Kawka(BYU) 7-5, 6-2 in the final.

At the $75,000 ATP Columbus Challenger, Dennis Novikov, the last American and last seed remaining was eliminated in the semifinals, with the No. 7 seed falling to Alexander Ward of Great Britain 6-1, 6-3. Ward will play alternate Ante Pavic of Croatia in the final, after Pavic beat Frank Dancevic of Canada 6-3, 7-5. Denis Kudla and former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany have advanced to the doubles final against Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and former Memphis standout David O'Hare of Ireland.

At the $25,000 women's tournament in Lubbock Texas, unseeded Alisa Kleybanova of Russia defeated doubles partner Vicky Duval, the No. 3 seed, 6-3, 6-0 to win the singles title.

The finals are set at the ITA Oracle Masters in Malibu, with Ena Shibahara of UCLA going for her second consecutive title in the women's tournament. The top seed defeated unseeded Lily Miyazaki of Oklahoma 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 6-2 to advance to the final, where she'll meet No. 6 seed Alexandra Sanford. The North Carolina freshman took out home favorite Mayar Ahmed of Pepperdine 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

The men's final will feature No. 2 seed Brandon Holt of Southern Cal against unseeded Victor Pham of Columbia. Holt defeated Johannes Schretter of Baylor 7-6(1), 6-0 and Pham surprised top seed Petros Chrysochos of Wake Forest 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-0.

Holt and Shibahara will play the mixed doubles final this evening, against Schretter and Samantha Harris of Duke.

Links to the draws, schedule and live streams are available at the ITA tournament page.

Women's semifinals:
Ena Shibahara(UCLA)[1] def. Lily Miyazaki(OU) 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 6-2
Alexandra Sanford(UNC)[6] def. Mayar Ahmed(PEPP) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Men's semifinals:
Victor Pham(COL) def. Petros Chrysochos(WF)[1] 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-0
Brandon Holt(USC)[2] def. Johannes Schretter(BAY)[3] 7-6(1), 6-0

Friday, September 22, 2017

Top Seeds Shibahara and Chrysochos Reach Semifinals at ITA Oracle Masters

Defending champion Ena Shibahara of UCLA reached the semifinals of the ITA Oracle Masters with two victories today in Malibu.  The top seed defeated No. 8 seed Sara Daavettila of North Carolina 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals and also advanced to the mixed doubles semifinals with Brandon Holt of USC.

Shibahara will face unseeded Lily Miyazaki of Oklahoma in Saturday's semifinals.  The other semifinal features No. 6 seed Alexandra Sanford, the North Carolina freshman, against unseeded Mayar Ahmed of Pepperdine.

Three of the top four seeds have advanced to the men's semifinals, with No. 4 seed Michael Geerts of Arizona State the only one failing to advance out of the quarterfinals.  Top seed Petros Chrysochos of Wake Forest will face unseeded Victor Pham of Columbia in the top half of the draw, with No. 2 seed Brandon Holt of USC meeting No. 3 seed Johannes Schretter of Baylor.  Pham beat two seeded players today, No. 5 Felipe Sarrasgue of Elon and Geerts.

Complete results from Friday singles results:

Women’s second round:
Ena Shibahara(UCLA)[1] def. Laura Gulbe(PEP) 6-4, 6-2
Sara Daavetilla(UNC)[8] def. Andrea Lazaro(FIU) 0-6, 6-3, 6-3
Jessica Livanu(SJU) def. Kaitlyn McCarthy(DUKE)[4] 6-1, 7-5
Lily Miyazaki(OU) def. Jessica Failla(PEPP)[5] 3-6, 6-4, 3-0 ret.
Samantha Harris(DUKE)[3] def. Anna Sanford(OSU) 6-4, 7-5
Alexandra Sanford(UNC)[6] def. Eva Voracek(LMU) 6-4, 6-4
Mayar Ahmed(PEPP) def. Veronica Miroshnichenko(LMU)[7] 6-2, 6-1
Celia Ruiz(ECU) def. Lauren Proctor(WIN)[2] 6-4, 7-6(3)

Men’s second round:
Petros Chrysochos(WF)[1] def. Adam Moundir(ODU) 6-7(6) 6-2, 6-3
Billy Griffith(CAL)[8] def. Vinny Gillespie(DRK) 7-6(3), 6-4
Michael Geerts(ASU)[4] def. William Bushamuka 6-4, 6-2
Victor Pham(COL) def. Felipe Sarrasgue(ELON)[5] 6-4, 6-0
Johannes Schretter(BAY)[3] def. Benjamin Hannestad(ASU) 6-3, 6-0
Harrison Scott(TEX)[6] def. Jack Malloy(CAL) 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
Michail Pervolarkais(PORT) def. Thibault Cancel(BAMA)[7] 6-4, 6-4
Brandon Holt(USC)[2] def. Dennis Uspensky(PEPP) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3

Women’s quarterfinals:
Ena Shibahara(UCLA)[1] def. Sara Daavettila[8] 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
Lily Miyazaki(OU) def. Jessica Livianu(SJU) 6-4, 6-1
Alexandra Sanford(UNC)[6] def. Samantha Harris(DUKE)[3] 6-3, 6-3
Mayar Ahmed(PEPP) def. Celia Ruiz(ECU) 6-2, 6-3

Men’s quarterfinals:
Petros Chrysochos(WF)[1] def. Billy Griffith(CAL)[8] 6-4, 6-2
Victor Pham(COL) def. Michael Geerts(ASU)[4] 7-6(8), 6-4
Johannes Schretter(BAY)[3] def. Harrison Scott(TEX)[6], 6-1, 6-2
Brandon Holt(USC)[2] def. Michail Pervolarkais(PORT) 6-4, 6-0

Draws, Saturday's schedule and links to live scoring and live streaming are available at the ITA tournament page.  The mixed doubles semifinals have yet to be played tonight.

US Teams Reach Semifinals of Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup; Hilderbrand, Subhash Win ITF Grade 2 Titles in Canada; Duval Reaches Lubbock $25K Final, Seven Americans Advance to Semis in Laguna Niguel and Albuquerque

A long day ended in Budapest with both teams from the United States moving into Saturday's semifinals at the ITF's Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup competitions.

Osuigwe and McNally at Wimbledon 2017
The top-seeded US girls defeated Italy 2-1, with the point lost by US Open girls champion Amanda Anisimova at No. 1 singles. Elisabetta Cocciaretto defeated Anisimova 6-2, 6-3, but Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe won the tiebreaking doubles match from Cocciaretto and Federica Rossi 6-0, 7-6(4) to give the US the win and the top spot in round robin Group A.  The US will face unseeded Canada in the semifinals, who beat Hungary 2-1 to finish tied with Russia, the No. 3 seed, at the top spot in Group B. But because it was a two-way tie at the top, head-to-head is the first tiebreaker and Canada had beaten Russia 2-1 in the previous round, so they advance, despite having won only 11 sets, while losing 13.  Russia had won 16 and lost 7. Maybe it's worth mentioning only because of hindsight, but when I saw that Canada wasn't seeded, I was surprised; they have a good team, and the US will need to play well to beat them Saturday.  The other semifinal features No. 2 Japan and No. 4 Ukraine, both of whom were 3-0 in their groups.

Like the Canadian girls, the third-seeded US boys had to advance via the tiebreak protocol, with Hungary, Australia[8] and the US all 2-1. With three teams, the first tiebreaker is matches won, which for the US was 7, after their 3-0 shutout of Australia today. Hungary won 6 and Australia won 5, so the US advances.  They will play No. 2 seed Argentina, while the other semifinal features No. 1 seed Czech Republic and No. 4 seed Croatia. Croatia also advanced via a tiebreaker with 7 matches won, while Taiwan and Brazil[6] had 6 and 5.

All scores can be found at the tournament website.

The ITF Grade 2 in Canada finished today, with top-seeded Americans Trey Hilderbrand and Natasha Subhash taking the titles.  Hilderbrand defeated unseeded Vikash Singh of India 6-2, 6-4, while Subhash beat No. 4 seed Elli Mandlik 7-5, 6-1 in an all-US final.  Subhash also won the doubles title, with Lea Ma.  The top seeds defeated unseeded Ariana Arseneault of Canada and McCartney Kessler 6-4, 6-1 in the final. The US got a sweep of all the titles this week, with unseeded Tomas Kopczynski and Mark Mandlik (Elli's twin brother) beating unseeded Stefan Leustian and Emilio Nava 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 11-9 in another all-US final.

Vicky Duval, who is back competing regularly after her Hodgkin's Lymphoma and other injury and health issues, is in her first Pro Circuit final since 2014 at the $25,000 tournament in Lubbock Texas.  The third-seeded Duval defeated top seed Harriet Dart of Great Britain 7-6(5), 6-2 and will face her doubles partner and fellow Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor Alisa Kleybanova of Russia in the final. The unseeded Kleybanova defeated USC senior Gabby Smith, a qualifier, 6-4, 6-3.  Duval and Kleybanova won the doubles title this afternoon, beating No. 2 seeds Karman Thandi of India and Ana Veselinovic of Montenegro 2-6, 6-4 10-8.

The $80,000 women's event in Albuquerque New Mexico has its semifinal on Saturday, with no seeds remaining after former University of Michigan star Emina Bektas defeated No. 8 seed Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-4.  Bektas will face Sherazad Reix of France in the bottom half semifinal. The top half semifinal is all-US, with Maria Sanchez playing Sophie Chang.  Sanchez beat wild card Sanaz Marand 6-1, 7-6(3) and Chang defeated Jovana Jaksic of Serbia 6-3, 6-3.

The $75,000 ATP Columbus Challenger has just one American in the semifinals, with Dennis Novikov[7] beating top seed Quentin Halys of France 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 to advance. He will face unseeded Alexander Ward of Great Britain, who beat Denis Kudla[4] 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.  The other semifinal features Frank Dancevic of Canada and alternate Ante Pavic of Croatia.

At the $15,000 Futures in Laguna Niguel California, all four semifinalist are current or former collegians from the United States. TCU senior Trevor Johnson, a qualifier, had never earned an ATP point before this week, but today he beat top seed Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe 6-4, 6-3 to advance to Saturday's semifinals, where he'll play No. 4 seed Ryan Shane(Virginia). Shane defeated No. 8 seed Jumpei Yamasaki of Japan 6-3, 6-2.  The other semifinal will feature Colin Altamirano, who will not be returning to Virginia for his senior year, against Henry Craig(Denver).  Altamirano downed wild card Tom Fawcett(Stanford) 6-1, 6-2, while Craig beat Hunter Callahan(Ohio State) 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.

The ITA Oracle Masters has two rounds of singles scheduled today, so I'll be posting those results separately much later this evening.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

More Rain in Budapest Puts Junior Davis/Fed Cup Behind Schedule; Oracle Masters First Round Complete; Robbye Poole Hired as Women's Assistant at Alma Mater Ole Miss

Rain continued at the Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup competitions in Budapest, with several matches sent indoors, including the deciding doubles rubber of the third-seeded US boys and unseeded Hungary. Hungary won that, with Will Grant and Govind Nanda losing to Domink Buzonics and Peter Makk 4-6, 7-5, 10-8. The US falls to 1-1 and will face No. 8 seed Australia in Friday's round 3. If they beat Australia and Hungary beats Morocco, all three teams will be 2-1 and the tiebreaker protocol will come into play.   The US girls finished their second round match on Wednesday and did not take the court today. They will face No. 6 seed Italy, with a win assuring they finish at the top of the round robin group.

With this loss of a day's play, I don't see how two teams from each round robin group can advance, as was the original plan, which is new this year.  If the semifinals are to be played Saturday and the finals Sunday, the schedule no longer has a day for the quarterfinal round, and playing two ties on Friday or Saturday (or Sunday) seems unwise when there is no precedent for doing so.

See the tournament website for scores, but don't go strictly by the dates, as they no longer are neatly divided by days/rounds.

The first round of singles is complete at the ITA Oracle Masters in Malibu, with no upsets of note.  The results are below.  Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today has the UTR numbers for all players posted and he notes that only one player with a higher UTR,  Marianna Petrei of Idaho, lost. She fell to Eastern Carolina's Celia Ruiz.

Women's singles first round:
Ena Shibahara(UCLA)[1] def. Jennifer Lu(QUIN) 6-1, 6-1
Laure Gulbe(PEPP) def. Julia O’Loughlin(DEN) 6-3, 6-2
Sara Daavetilla(UNC)[8] def. Lucile Pothier(ACU) 4-6, 7-5, 6-0
Andrea Lazaro(FIU) def. Lidia Yanes Garcia(APU) 6-0, 6-2
Kaitlyn McCarthy(DUKE)[4] def. Margita Sunjic(NKU) 6-1, 6-0
Jessica Livianu(SJU) def. Madara Straume(UNCW) 6-0, 6-4
Jessica Failla(PEPP)[5] def. Michelle Liu(SEA) 6-4, 6-1
Lily Miyazaki(OU) def. Kristina Mathis(DART) 6-2, 6-4
Samantha Harris(DUKE)[3]def. Tyler Smith(JACK) 6-3, 6-2
Anna Sanford(OSU) def. Claudia Herrero Garcis(NEV) 6-2, 6-1
Alexandra Sanford(UNC)[6] def. Anna Grigoryan(LIU) 6-1, 6-1
Eva Maria Voracek(LMU) def. Viktoriya Dzyuba(LIPS) 6-2, 6-0
Veronica Miroshnichenko(LME)[7] def. Elizabeth Tsvetkov(STON) 2-6, 6-1, 6-4
Mayar Ahmed(PEPP) def. Alexandria Stiteler(USA) 6-3, 6-2
Celia Ruiz(ECU) def. Marianna Petrei(IDA). 6-3, 6-2
Lauren Proctor(WIN)[2] def. Remi Ramos(BU) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2

Men's singles first round:
Petros Chrysochos(WF)[1] def. Matt Kuhar(BRY) 6-2, 7-5
Adam Moundir(ODU) def. Simon Freund(UCSB) 7-6(4), 6-4
Billy Griffith(CAL)[8] def. Tanner Smith(USC) 6-2, 6-2
Vinny Gillespie(DRK) def. Josh Sheehy(ACU) 7-6(5), 7-6(5)
Michael Geerts(ASU)[4] def. Razvan Grigorescu(UNO) 6-1, 6-4
William Bushamuka(UK) def. Alexandr Cozbinov(UNLV) 6-2, 6-3
Felipe Sarrasague(ELON)[5] def. Luka Sucevic(SJU) 6-1, 6-7(1), 2-0 ret.
Victor Pham(COL) def. Christofer Goncalves(NMSU) 7-5, 7-6(4)
Johannes Schretter(BAY)[3] def. Michael Nguyen(ARMY) 6-2, 6-0
Benjamin Hannestad(ASU) def. Matic Spec(MINN) 7-5, 7-5
Harrison Scott(TEX)[6] def. Tim Handel(NAU) 5-7, 6-1, 6-1
Jack Malloy(CAL) def. Connor Thompson(UNCG) 6-3, 6-4
Thibault Cancel(BAMA)[7] def. Kennosuke Nouchi(WMU) 6-2, 7-5
Michail Pervolarkais(PORT) def. Eduard Mena(TTU) 1-6, 7-5, 6-1
Dennis Uspensky(PEPP) def. Scott Webster(APST) 6-4, 2-6, 6-1
Brandon Holt(USC)[2] def. Havier Restrepo(MAR) 6-2, 7-6(4)

Two rounds of mixed doubles were completed today. Results and draws can be found, along with links to live scoring and live streaming, at the ITA's tournament page.

Poole hitting with Serena Williams at 2016 Wimbledon 
Former Mississippi All-American Robbye Poole is returning to Ole Miss as the women's assistant coach, replacing associate head coach Jason Ontog, who, according to the release, is heading to the USTA.  Poole has been working as a hitting partner for Serena Williams the past two and a half years, but obviously has had some free time the last few months during Williams' pregnancy.  The release has comments on Poole from both Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou and John Isner, whose collegiate career at Georgia overlapped Poole's at Ole Miss.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rain Continues at Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup, but Top-Seeded US Girls Post Second Win; Oracle Masters Begins Thursday; Six Americans Reach Semifinals at ITF Grade 2 in Canada; Making Sense of Cheating in Junior Tennis

Rain continued to pose a problem for the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup competition in Budapest, but the top-seeded US girls have won their second match, beating Uruguay 3-0 to move into first place in Group A of the round robin competition. With No. 6 seed Italy losing to Belarus 2-1 in their second match, that gives the US the only 2-0 record in the group and they will finish first with a win Thursday over Italy. Today, Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe won singles matches, with Amanda Anisimova and McNally partnering for the doubles win.

Not all the second round matches are complete, but No. 2 seed Japan and No. 4 seed Ukraine did earn victories to go 2-0. No. 3 seed Russia trails unseeded Canada 1-0.

The third-seeded US boys will need to win the doubles point to get their second win, with Will Grant winning at No. 2 singles, but Govind Nanda failing at No. 1 singles. Grant and Nanda will play the doubles decider.

For scores and standings, see the tournament webpage.

The third annual Oracle Masters begins Thursday in Malibu, with 32-player fields. Invitations were sent to the top players in each conference, and in a new twist, players are seeded from 1-32.  No. 1 for the women is defending champion Ena Shibahara of UCLA, with Lauren Proctor of Winthrop the No. 2 seed.  The men's top seed is Petros Chrysochos of Wake Forest, with USC's Brandon Holt the No. 2 seed. Mixed doubles is also part of the tournament, with teams made up from players from the same conference, if possible. Shibahara and Holt are the No. 1 seeds.

For draws and links to live scoring and live video, see the ITA's tournament page.

The semifinals are set for the ITF Grade 2 in Canada, with the girls final four consisting entirely of Americans. Top seed Natasha Subhash will face No. 3 seed Lea Ma, her doubles partner, in the top half, with No. 4 seed Elli Mandlik playing unseeded Addison Guevara in the the bottom half. Guevara, a 16-year-old from Texas, beat No. 2 seed Dalayna Hewitt 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-2.

Top seed Trey Hilderbrand will face unseeded Ronan Jachuck in the all-US semfinal, with the other semifinal featuring Canadian wild card Nicaise Muamba and unseeded Vikash Singh of India, who beat No. 3 seed Boris Kozlov in the second round.

Kelyn Soong of the Washington Post explores the problem of cheating in junior tennis in this article, with comments from former Florida Gator Spencer Liang, junior Reilly Tran, Brian Boland and Lew Brewer of the USTA and many others.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

USA Teams Post Wins Before Rain Cuts Short First Day of Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup; Four Pro Circuit Events in US This Week; Becker Retires, Returns to Baylor for Degree

Rain was a problem today in Budapest as the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup competitions began, but the United States' teams both managed to post two singles victories to secure their first wins in their round robin groups, with the girls defeating Belarus 2-0 and the boys beating Morocco 2-0.

US Open champion Amanda Anisimova and French Open champion Whitney Osuigwe picked up straight-sets wins, with Caty McNally, the third member of the team, not playing with doubles cancelled.  With two of this year's junior slam champions the United States is the top seed in the competition, with the other seed in their round robin group A No. 6 Italy.  Group B has No. 3 seed Russia and No. 8 seed Thailand, Group C contains No. 4 Ukraine and No. 7 Colombia and Group D's seeds are No. 2 Japan and No. 5 France.  Japan has posted a 2-0 win over Morocco, while France is tied at 1 singles match apiece with Argentina.  The ITF Junior website spoke with Osuigwe about her training with the US Fed Cup team in this article.

The US boys team of Will Grant, Govind Nanda and Tyler Zink is seeded No. 3 and is round robin group C with no. 8 seed Australia. Zink and Grant posted straight-sets wins for the US today. The top seeded boys team is the Czech Republic and they are in Group A with No. 7 Japan. In Group B are No. 4 Croatia and No. 6 Brazil. Group D's seeds are No. 2 Argentina and No. 5 Italy. Russia, the defending champions, are not seeded.

This year, teams are not required to win their round robin group to advance. The top two teams in each group then move to the quarterfinals, which did not exist prior to this year.

There is live streaming through the ITF Junior website, but I have not been able to find the live scoring that was promised. For teams and scores, see the tournament website.

Four USTA Pro Circuit events are underway in the US this week, with a $15,000 Futures tournament in Laguna Niguel California and a $75,000 Challenger in Columbus Ohio for the men, and an $80,000 event in Albuquerque New Mexico and a $25,000 event in Lubbock Texas for the women.  In addition, Canada is hosting a $25,000 Futures and Mexico has a $100,000 ITF Women's event, which also have attracted their share of Americans.

In Columbus, the first round will spread to its third day on Wednesday, in order to accommodate the three players who competed in the Davis Cup tie between Canada and India last week in Edmonton, which Canada won 3-2. Yuki Bhambri[3] and Ramkumar Ramanathan[2] of India and former North Carolina star Brayden Schnur of Canada will play the last three first round matches on Wednesday.  Cary champion Kevin King, who also played Sunday did not get a Wednesday start, and he won his 11th straight match, beating wild card John McNally, an Ohio State freshman, 4-6, 6-3 ,6-3. Wild card JJ Wolf, an Ohio State sophomore and Kalamazoo 18s finalist, earned his first ATP points today, beating qualifier Luke Bambridge 6-4, 6-2 and will play No. 4 seed Denis Kudla in the second round on Wednesday. Defending champion Mikael Torpegaard, an Ohio State senior, lost his first round match today to Canada's Filip Peliwo 7-6(2), 6-4.  Ohio State junior Martin Joyce, another wild card recipient, also advanced to the second round. Evan King, Dennis Novikov[7] and Austin Krajicek also earned first round victories.

In Laguna Niguel, only three first round singles matches were played today, with qualifier Trevor Johnson(TCU), Jenson Brooksby and Hunter Callahan posting wins.  The 16-year-old Brooksby, who reached the quarterfinals last week in Claremont, will move into the ATP rankings next Monday.  Qualifier Gianni Ross, wild card Jacob Bullard and Sam Riffice are juniors who will play their first round matches Wednesday. American Collegiate Invitational champion Tom Fawcett, who also received a wild card, plays No. 2 seed Benjamin Lock, the former Florida State star, Wednesday.

The first round is complete in Lubbock, with the top three seeds--Great Britain's Harriet Dart, India's Karman Thandi and Vicky Duval--all advancing.

In Albuquerque, only one singles first round match was played, with the final round of qualifying the other singles activity on Tuesday's schedule.  Advancing to the main draw were Amanda Rodgers, Megan McCray, Sabrina Santamaria and Slovakia's Zuzana Zlochova. McCray will face Wimbledon girls champion Claire Liu in the first round on Wednesday. Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland is the top seed, Sonya Kenin is the No. 2 seed and Kayla Day accepted a wild card and is the No. 3 seed. Free live streaming of the tournament is available at the USTA website.

On Saturday, the ATP posted a conversation with 2004 NCAA champion Benjamin Becker of Germany about his decision to retire after 12 years on the ATP Tour.  The former Baylor star, whose ATP ranking career high was 35, has returned to Waco to finish his degree and is serving as a volunteer assistant for the men's team.

Monday, September 18, 2017

My American Collegiate Invitational Recap; Interviews with the Eight Men Participants

I wrapped up the American Collegiate Invitational at the US Open with this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network. Stanford's Tom Fawcett and Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenzo won the titles and with those title comes qualifying wild cards into next year's US Open. Last week I provided excerpts from my interviews with all eight women's participants. Below are the conversations I had with the eight men's competitors.

William Bushamuka, University of Kentucky senior
(Bushamuka lost to Brandon Holt 6-2, 6-2)

On his last-minute inclusion as an alternate: I was in class when I found out and I called my mom and my coach and told them I was going to come here.

On his schedule during the summer:
I went to Africa this summer to play some Futures, and that was fun. There’s a big Challenger in Lexington and I played that. I lost (to JP Smith of Australia), but I had a good match.

On switching from representing Congo to the United States after juniors:
I was born here in New York, but my dad is originally from Congo.

On his schedule for this fall:
I’m going to play a bunch of ITA tournaments. I’m going to Malibu [the Oracle Masters this weekend], then All Americans in Tulsa, Regionals. Then probably some Challengers, I’d like to play in some Challengers over the fall.

On what’s improved most in his game while in college:
I’d say my mental game. I was a little bit crazy in juniors, but I feel like I’ve matured a lot thanks to my coach Cedric [Kaufman]. My team also helped me a lot. I think overall I’ve improved a lot from juniors.

On his goals for this season: I’m hoping to be Top 10, Top 5, that’s where I’m trying to aim. To get really far in NCAAs as a team and individually. Hopefully we can do something great this season and I think we can with the team we have this year.

Christopher Eubanks, Georgia Tech senior
(Eubanks lost to Michael Redlicki 6-2, 6-4)

On his summer highlight: Close between playing in the first round here and getting my first tour-level wins in Atlanta. Those two are neck and neck, though maybe even the doubles win here (partnering with Christian Harrison to beat Mikhail Youzhny and Mischa Zverev in the first round). That was pretty cool. It’s been fun from beginning to end.

On what he’s learned about his game during the summer: I think I’ve gained a little bit of professionalism, mainly off the court stuff is the biggest thing for me. I’m going about that extra stuff a little bit more diligently and learning as I go, making adjustments throughout matches, things like that.

On his schedule this fall: I’m taking the fall off, going to play primarily some Challengers  and maybe throw some $25Ks in. We’ve got to manage it as we go, but that’s the plan now, play a few Challengers and see where it goes from there. Kenny [Georgia Tech head coach Thorne] has been influential in devising what the next course of action is going to be.

On his academic status: I’m a senior 24, 25 hours away from graduation. Pretty close to getting my degree.

Thai Kwiatkowski, recent University of Virginia graduate

(Kwiatkowski lost to Tom Fawcett 7-6(5), 6-4)

On the contrast between competing in the ACI and the main draw of the men's singles: It's different for sure, but if you can't enjoy playing at the US Open maybe you shouldn't play at all.

On taking Mischa Zverev to five sets in the first round of men's singles:
It was an incredible experience and a real bummer that I lost out on that. That one hurt a lot more. To be honest this doesn't really mean that much until you get to the finals. There was a lot a money and a lot of points on the [Zverev] match last week. It's every kid's dream to play in the main draw of the US Open and I really cherish the moment and am happy that I got that experience, but it's a tough loss. It lets you know where your level is, but at the same time, losing 6-3 in the fifth set or losing 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 is the same result. But it was positive overall and I have no regrets with how I competed.

On the $50,000 prize money earned from that match: It definitely gives me an opportunity to play in 2018. I graduated with a business degree from UVA, so there's massive opportunity cost every day I step out on the tennis court, so I have to understand that and do my best day in and day out, because I could be doing a lot of other things in my life. I know that eventually I will get into the business world. I think right now I'm playing tennis because I've played tennis my whole life and it's always been a dream and I know if I quit now and start working, I'll definitely enjoy that job, but I'll always have in the back of my mind that I should have played. I'm basically getting that out of my system and doing my best and seeing how far that can take me. I'm going to give myself probably to the end of next year, then reassess at the end of 2018.

On his fall schedule: Right now I'm trying to figure out where to live, where to train. I'm taking a lot of advice from people who have done it before and try to figure out a good balance. Get a lot of books to continue learning, because it's weird not being in a classroom anymore. There's so much down time on the tour, lying around, wasting a lot of time.

On his coaching arrangements: I'm working with my coach back in Charlotte, Bill Belser, and I'm also working with Carlos Benatzky at USTA.

On what he'll miss about college tennis: I'll miss everything about college tennis. Playing individual tournaments and college team tournaments isn't remotely close from enjoyment. It helps when you're winning three national championships in four years, but those bus rides, tough matches and celebrations. Thankfully we got to celebrate a lot, so it's pretty good memories and I'm still best friends with all those guys, talk to them everyday, so it's not too far away.

Alex Rybakov, TCU junior
(Rybakov lost to Alfredo Perez 7-5, 6-3)

On his sophomore year at TCU: My season went well. I won 23 matches in a row at one point, lost one match then lost to Alfredo [Perez] at NCAA individuals. It was a very good season overall individually. As a team it was good; we came up a little bit short to Ohio State in the quarters.

On his summer: I won my first Futures title, won a couple of rounds in Challengers, which I hadn't done before, so that was good. I’m definitely progressing, it’s just tough I couldn’t get it done here. I didn’t play badly, but there’s a couple of things I need to keep working on.

On the success of former teammate Cam Norrie: He’s definitely helped me a lot. And seeing what he’s done transitioning to the ATP level is definitely a positive for me, that I can possibly do the same thing. We’ve had a good two seasons [as teammates] where we’ve pushed ourselves in practice and we've become close, good friends. Now that he’s left, I would like to, obviously, follow in his footsteps, take the No. 1 spot and do what he did last year, which was basically dominate. It’s easier said than done, but I’d like to replicate what he’s done.

On his academic progress after starting in January of 2016: I’m doing communication studies, that’s my major. When you first get to school it’s tough to get in a rhythm, with class and practice, but once you’re a couple of weeks in it, you kind of get into the schedule and it goes pretty well. I’m not doing mechanical engineering, so I think the classes are obviously doable if you put in the time to study. I’m a second semester sophomore; I’ve done some classes to catch up. I'll be a first semester junior in the spring. If I stay all four years, I’ll need an extra semester to finish my degree.

On playing regular scoring during the event: I don’t mind going back and forth. I think it’s honestly easier to go from no-ad back to ad. But I don’t really mind either one; I probably prefer playing with ads, just because that's what they do everywhere else. I think it’s good for the college atmosphere to have no-ad, there’s a bit more pressure, more excitement, but I don’t think it really makes a difference. The same with the shot clock and everything. I didn’t really notice it too much.

Brandon Holt, University of Southern California sophomore
(Holt defeated William Bushamuka 6-2, 6-2, lost to Michael Redlicki 4-6, 6-0, 6-3)

On returning to the National Tennis Center: I feel like I've been here more than anyone else. First time I was here, I was zero years old and I came here (with mother Tracy Austin and father Scott Holt) every single year until, I want to say, eighth grade. Then I played the juniors, but there was a little hiatus in high school. So I'm definitely comfortable here; I love it here and of course I'm happy to play. It was a treat to get the call (to fill a spot as an alternate).

On his plans for the fall: I'm going to play the Oracle Masters and I think I'll be all right by then [after a muscle injury worsened at ACI). And I think then a Futures? But I'll have to look at the schedule; I'm not really the guy to ask on that, which isn't a good thing.

On his freshman year: It was definitely positive. I had a back injury from the French Open juniors two years ago, which kind of lingered through the year, so I was kind of on and off with my back. Every three weeks my back would kind of go out. I had a stress fracture in my first rib and then I have two disc issues, but I've got them all figured out and they're all better basically; I've been doing some exercises to get back on the right track. The year was kind of tough, but I played well and did well.

On his goals for this year: It's tough to say. I've got a lot of goals. I don't really set too many goals, maybe that's something I should start doing. Win the tournament I'm about to play. No ranking goals. I think we have a chance to win the NCAA [team] championship. We've got two new freshmen who are very good I think and we lost two seniors. But I think the replacements will be good and we've all been improving a lot over the summer, really working hard. Our coaching is great and I've seen a huge improvement in everyone and I think we're on an upward trend right now and getting better.

Alfredo Perez, University of Florida junior:
(Perez defeated Alex Rybakov 7-5, 6-3, lost to Tom Fawcett 6-1, 6-2)

On rubbing shoulders with the world's best tennis players at the US Open: It was a really good experience, I really enjoyed being able to play on the same courts as the professionals. Yesterday I was eating lunch and I looked back and Rafa (Nadal) was eating lunch two feet away from me. Today I walk in he's eating lunch again and playing this Spanish board game Parchis that I play all the time with my family. I couldn't believe it. The great Rafa Nadal plays this game, I was really surprised.

On his goals for the coming season: Keep improving and playing my game and being good enough that hopefully my teammates will have trust in me that when I step on the court I'll win my match. I would like to be SEC Player of the Year and go farther in the NCAAs (he lost in the round of 16 in May), hopefully win it. But the goal is to improve as much as I can.

On his academic path and career after pursuing pro tennis: I'm studying International Studies, especially in the Caribbean. I'm focusing on tennis right now, but I would like to help countries like Cuba; they are not doing so good, so help the people there. My family is from Cuba, but we live now in Miami.

On the Gator freshmen competing in the US Open Juniors: I'm always excited by new guys, getting to know them, making friendships that last forever. They're really good guys and really good tennis players at the same time, so that's a bonus.

Michael Redlicki, University of Arkansas graduate student

(Redlicki defeated Christopher Eubanks 6-2, 6-4 and Brandon Holt 4-6, 6-0, 6-3; lost to Tom Fawcett 7-6(4), 6-7(6), 6-4)

On competing in the ACI and playing the final on the Grandstand: We all love coming to New York City, it's one of the coolest place on earth, so who wouldn't love to be able to invited to play at the US Open on the main courts during the main tournament in New York City? It doesn't get better than that. You feel it, you certainly feel it,  On Court 5 you feel it, on Grandstand it's a whole other experience. Huge thanks to the USTA for setting this whole event up and putting us on the Grandstand. We both sincerely appreciate it.

On completing his master's degree in business:  I just have two classes which will end in December and I'll graduate. It's an MBA with a concentration in finance. That'll be done in December and in January I'll go out on tour.

On playing full time next year: I have been putting a really large emphasis on school. It is tough, for a master's degree a lot more is required from you as a student. A lot of times people in these programs are way older than 23. A lot more is expected of them, they've been around the block more than once, so it's tough. So I'm really happy to have my master's and have it be in my pocket and have it as mental security more than anything going on the pro tour. I think being able to be on the tour with a clear head is invaluable.

On missing a golden opportunity: I'm upset because there is no flight out of LaGuardia after 2:30 tomorrow [due to Hurricane Irma]. I was actually asked to hit with Kevin [Anderson] tomorrow at 1:30; because he's playing Rafa they were going to use the lefty warmup. I would never think in my life I would tell a US Open finalist I can't warm up, because I have a flight to catch. I wish him all the best, a former Illini, and [Illinois head coach] Brad Dancer is a very close friend of mine. I'm wishing he can make some history tomorrow; to beat Rafa would be really special, that would be great.

Tom Fawcett, Stanford senior
(Fawcett defeated Thai Kwaitkowski 7-6(5), 6-4, defeated Alfredo Perez 6-1, 6-2 and Michael Redlicki 7-6(4), 6-7(6), 6-4)

On playing the final on the Grandstand: I've never played on a court like that before. Although there wasn't too many people out there because of the timing, it was really cool. Hawkeye didn't go well, I used all my Challenges and wasn't successful with any of them. It was cool; I've never had that system before in place and I thought it was interesting to play with it out there.

On his academic progress: I'm a senior. I'm studying science, technology and society. We have four or five guys on our team with that major, so it's a popular one.

On his plans after graduation: Playing pro tennis, that's the goal.

On incoming freshman Axel Geller, a two-time finalist at junior slams this summer: It's incredible. He's doing some great things, playing amazing tennis. We're all excited to have him there and push us to get better. I don't know him too well. I've seen him at this tournament and on his visit to Stanford, but we've gotten close from those two times and I can tell we're going to be pretty good friends.

On prospects for Stanford team this season: I'm really excited. We've got a great group of guys, everyone's pretty good and we have really good team chemistry. I think it's going to be a good year for us.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Wu Claims Shanghai Challenger; King Defeats Norrie for Cary Title; Anderson Earns Title in Redding; TCU's Gray Wins Newport; OU's Bakshi Captures Shootout at Napa

Wu speaking with press after winning the US Open boys title
Just one week after taking the singles and doubles titles at the US Open Junior Championships, 17-year-old Wu Yibing of China earned his first Challenger title in his first trip to a final, defeating top seed Rendy Lu of Taiwan 7-6(6) retired in the championship match at the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Shanghai. Wu, who will move to around 320 in the ATP rankings with the win, plays his first ATP 250 event week after next in Chengdu and will also receive a wild card into the main draw of the Masters event in Shanghai next month.  The ATP spoke with the ITF's top-ranked junior for this article after his title in Shanghai.

Closer to home, Kevin King won his first Challenger title today in Cary North Carolina, beating former TCU standout Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 6-4, 6-1 in the final of the $50,000+H event.  The 26-year-old former Georgia Tech All-American has now won ten straight matches in the past two weeks, having won the title at the $25,000 Futures in Toronto a week ago. King, who had hip surgery that kept him out of competition for most of 2016, will now reach a career-high in the ATP rankings of approximately 253, up from 434 at the start of the month.

Marcelo Arevalo(Tulsa) of El Salvador and Miguel Reyes Varela(Texas) of Mexico won their third straight Challenger doubles title, beating Mikelis Libietis(Tennessee) of Latvia and Dennis Novikov(UCLA) 6-7(6), 7-6(1), 10-7 in the final.

At the $15,000 Futures in Claremont California, qualifier Karue Sell of Brazil beat former UCLA teammate Martin Redlicki 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3 to win his first Pro Circuit singles title.  More on today's final from press aide Steve Pratt:

CLAREMONT, Calif., (Sept. 17, 2017) – Former UCLA star Karue Sell won his 13th consecutive match over 10 days in the city of Claremont on Sunday, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-3, beating his one-time Bruin teammate Martin Redlicki in three sets in the final of the $15,000 USTA Men’s Pro Circuit Futures Claremont Club Pro Classic played at the Claremont Club.
Just like he did warming up with his doubles partner Deiton Baughman before he faced him in a Saturday semifinal, Sell warmed up against his final opponent and good friend Redlicki before the two squared off.

“He warmed me up for every dual match during my senior year,” said Sell, 23, who won his first Futures title. “It’s not like we’re going to learn something new in 20 minutes. It’s fine. It was a nice way to warm up.”

Starting with qualifying a week ago Friday, Sell won four qualifying singles matches, five main-draw singles matches and posted four main-draw doubles wins on his way to also winning the doubles crown with Baughman.

On his @KarueSell Twitter account on Saturday, Sell posted: “After 18,466 matches this week, finals tomorrow!”

“I’m actually feeling pretty good right now,” said Sell, who did have the benefit of a walkover in singles and a second-set retirement versus Baughman on Saturday as part of his 13 wins. “I thought I’d be more sore at this point.”

The Redondo Beach resident Sell did not receive a special exemption so will not play singles this coming week in Laguna Niguel, but will play doubles with Baughman. The following week he will play singles at the Fountain Valley Futures, and doubles with Redlicki.

Sell will cash a nice check worth $2,160 and Redlicki will deposit $1,272 for his runner-up appearance, although he can only claim expenses as he is still an amateur. Maybe more importantly for Sell is the 12 valuable ATP ranking points he receives. Before the tournament, Sell had just four total ATP points during his career.

The final was tight from the start, with both players holding their strong serves early. “It was a pretty close match, and I knew it would be decided on the big points,” Sell said.

It’s quite a start to pro tennis full-time to a player who spent the summer playing Men’s Open events, and last college season as the volunteer assistant at Pepperdine.

Another former UCLA star picked up a title Sunday in California, with the Bruins No. 1 Robin Anderson winning her first $25,000 level tournament in Redding. The unseeded 24-year-old defeated No. 6 seed Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 6-1, 6-4 in the final.

Former Florida State standout Daneika Borthwick, who is now a volunteer assistant at Wake Forest, won the doubles title. The 24-year-old from Great Britain and Ana Veselinovic of Montenegro beat No. 3 seeds Maria Sanchez and Great Britain's Harriet Dart 6-3, 6-4 in the final. 

At the $60,000 Las Vegas tournament, No. 7 seed Sesil Karatantcheva beat No. 8 seed Elitsa Kostova in an all-Bulgarian singles final 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. Top seeds An Sophie Mestach of Belgium and Laura Robson of Great Britain won the doubles title, beating No. 3 seeds Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller 7-6(7), 7-6(2) in the final.

At the ITA's Hall of Fame Grass Court Invitational in Newport Rhode Island, the big prize, a main draw wild card into next year's ATP event, went to TCU freshman Alastair Gray.  Gray defeated teammate Alex Rybakov 6-3, 6-3 in the final, with Rybakov earning a qualifying wild card by reaching the final.  In the women's event, Florida's Anna Danilina won the top flight, beating North Carolina's Jessie Aney 6-7, 6-1, 10-7. The ITA's release on the final states that Danilina is not eligible for a USTA Pro Circuit wild card that was offered to the winner. Aney will receive a wild card into a $25,000 Pro Circuit qualifying draw.

The Audi Napa Valley event, which features round robin play including both Division I college players and USTA juniors, was completed today, with Oklahoma's Alexander Bakshi winning the shootout that decides the USTA Pro Circuit wild card recipient.  Bakshi defeated Texas A&M's Valentin Vacherot 10-7 in the final of the super tiebreaker format that makes up the shootout.  None of the USTA juniors advanced to the shootout from their round robin groups. Complete results are here.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

King, Norrie to Decide Cary Challenger Title; Wu Advances to Final in Shanghai Challenger; Redlicki Makes First Futures Final; Khan Wins ITF Grade 5 in Honduras

Kevin King won a Futures title last week in Canada and has now extended his winning streak to nine in reaching his first ATP Challenger final at the $50,000+Hospitality tournament in Cary North Carolina. The 26-year-old former Georgia Tech star, who used a protected ranking for entry this week, defeated No. 6 seed Noah Rubin 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, coming from a break down in the final set to earn the victory. King, who beat top seed Ernesto Escobedo in the second round, will face former TCU star Cameron Norrie of Great Britain in Sunday's final. Norrie, who would have been seeded in Cary based on his US Open results had it been one week later, defeated former Tulsa star Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvadore 6-0, 6-4.  Arevalo had won his first Challenger title last week in Bogota Colombia. Less than two months ago, Norrie, who beat No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren in the second round, had an ATP ranking of 275. If he wins Sunday, he will be approaching 150 in the rankings.  Live streaming is available here for Sunday afternoon's final.

On the other side of the International Date Line, US Open boys champion Wu Yibing has reached his first Challenger final at the $75,000 tournament in Shanghai. Wu, who barely had a day to travel from New York to China, defeated Matthias Bachinger of Germany 7-5, 7-5 to advance to the championship match against Rendy Lu of Taiwan. Lu and Wu played last month in the semifinals of the Chengdu Challenger with the 34-year-old winning 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.  Wu has also received a wild card into the ATP 250 event in Chengdu week after next. 2010 NCAA champion Bradley Klahn has reached doubles final in Shanghai, with Canadian Peter Polansky.

Martin Redlicki watching brother Michael at 2017 ACI in New York
Another player making a first final appearance on Sunday is UCLA senior Martin Redlicki, who will face former teammate Karue Sell of Brazil in the final of the $15,000 Futures in Claremont California.  Sell already has one title, winning the doubles championship with Deiton Baughman.  For more on today's matches, see this recap from press aide Steve Pratt:

CLAREMONT, Calif., (Sept. 16, 2017) – UCLA senior Martin Redlicki beat a familiar face in former junior rival Henry Craig, 6-4, 6-2, on Saturday in the semifinals of the $15,000 USTA Men’s Pro Circuit Futures Claremont Club Pro Classic being played at the Claremont Club.

In the Sunday 10 a.m. final, Redlicki will meet an even more familiar foe when he plays his former Bruin teammate Karue Sell. The 2016 NCAA doubles champion with Mackenzie McDonald, Redlicki will be contesting his first Pro Circuit Futures final. Redlicki and Sell were teammates for two years during Redlicki’s freshman and sophomore years.

“I remember in last year’s semifinals I was up a set and 4-2 and had a break point, but ended up losing the match (to eventual winner Sebastian Fanselow),” Redlicki said. “I had the same exact thing happen today, but tried to get any negative thoughts about last year out of my head quickly.”

The 2015 ITA Rookie of the Year Redlicki also won the US Open junior doubles title in 2013. 

“I was able to minimize my mistakes today and played the big points well,” Redlicki said. “It’s great to have two Bruins in the final.”

Sell defeated an injured Deiton Baughman as the 2015 Claremont Club was forced to retire with Sell leading 7-5, 3-0, because of an elbow issue that has bothered him all week.

The final of the $25,000 Futures in Toronto was played today, with No. 4 seed Kaichi Uchida of Japan defeating former Illinois star Dennis Nevolo, the No. 6 seed, 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-1.  Former Texas A&M teammates Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant won the doubles title, beating Gary Kushnirovich and France's Yanais Laurent 6-3, 6-2 in a battle between unseeded teams.

At the WTA International tournament in Quebec, Australian Open girls doubles champions Bianca Andreescu and Carson Branstine have reached the final.  The 17-year-old wild cards defeated second seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals and Irina Falconi and Hungary's Fanny Stollar in the semifinals to advance to the championship match against top seeds Timea Babos of Hungary and Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic.

Zane Khan has been out with an injury since March (as has his brother Faris), but he won his first tournament back today at the ITF Grade 5 in Honduras. The 15-year-old, seeded No. 4, defeated the top seed in the semifinals and took out No. 3 seed Antonio March of Ecuador 6-2, 6-4 in the final to win his first ITF junior singles title. The Khan brothers also made the doubles final, but Faris was apparently injured in his semifinal match and they gave a walkover to their opponents. Jenna Dean won the girls doubles title, with Japan's Natsumi Kawaguchi. The top seeds defeated  Romary Cardenas Rifka and Ingrid Millan of Mexico, the No. 2 seeds, 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Kawaguchi, the top seed in singles, beat Dean, the No. 2 seed in singles, 6-0, 6-4 in that final.

Friday, September 15, 2017

US Open Junior Championships Recap, Photos

My recap of the 2017 US Open Junior Championships is up today at the Tennis Recruiting Network, with a look back at how American Amanda Anisimova and Chinese Wu Yibing made history for their countries. Although Anisimova is off until next week's Junior Fed Cup in Budapest, Wu has kept right on winning, reaching the semifinals this week at the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Shanghai.

To wrap up the tournament, below are photos of all 20 American juniors who won a singles match in New York, with the round they lost in noted in the caption. For photos of the 20 Americans who lost first round matches, see this Google Photos Album.

Second round

Second round

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Part I of American Collegiate Invitational Competitors: Talking with the Women

I spoke with all 16 of the current or former collegiate players who participated in the American Collegiate Invitational last week at the US Open, and as I did last year, I'm providing two separate updates, one for the men and one for the women, starting with the latter.  I'll also have a recap of the event for the Tennis Recruiting Network next week.

Hayley Carter, 2017 University of North Carolina graduate
(lost to Ingrid Neel 4-6, 6-4, 6-2)

On joining the staff of Oklahoma State women's program as assistant coach rather than playing the tour: There are multiple reasons, honestly. You saw me in college; I was pretty banged up, ankle brace, knee brace, my wrist was in a cast every other week. [This summer] I went to the USTA training center full time and I got hurt, my hip, the first week, so that was obviously one of the factors, if my body could live up to it. Another one was I always wanted to go into coaching. I had coaches reach out to me in March, who had open positions. I thought it would be a little bit longer, I thought I would play first, but I wanted to be a coach and am happy to be one. And then, lastly, my dad passed away in March, and I played at Georgia Tech a week later, three days after the funeral. I think because I came back so quickly and so well I think people lost sight of the face of how that affected me. You look at Stevie Johnson and how well he's doing, he's playing for his dad and utmost respect for that, but for me honestly, it almost had the opposite effect. This journey was as much my dad's as it was mine, as much his dream as it was mine and I can't imagine doing it without him. That was the biggest one. It was very hard for me this semester and I needed a break.

On continuing to play: I'll play when I can and I'll play because I love the sport and when I want to. Four, five years from now, you never know, you could see me back out there, but right now I'm happy with where I am.

On choosing Oklahoma State: I interviewed for a number of positions, I had a number of offers. I was actually considering being a volunteer assistant at Oklahoma State mid-semester last season, I was going to play and coach out of there because [head coach Chris Young] knew I wanted to do that, and then it happened that the assistant's job opened up. I don't know that I was top of the list, because I didn't have experience, but I talked to Chris--I've know him since I was 16 when he recruited me--and we have a very good relationship, and I kind of slowly talked him into. I might not have experience, but I'm going to five 100 percent effort and do whatever it takes to make the girls happy and make them the best tennis players and people they can be.

Sara Daavettila, University of North Carolina sophomore
(lost to Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-1, 6-2)

On participating in the ACI after just one year of college tennis: It's amazing, the first time I've played it before, obviously. I've never been to the US Open before, so just this experience. Coming in today, I was like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. The overall experience, being treated like pros, knowing that they're showing off collegiate tennis, I think it's awesome and I hope they continue it.

On her plans for the fall season: I'm playing many tournaments: the Oracle in Malibu, the All-Americans, maybe Regionals and the, no longer National Indoors, but at Indian Wells.  I'm playing the [ITA] grass court tournament (this weekend) in Rhode Island. I've never played on grass, so I'm very excited for that. So very busy.

On her major: I'm doing Exercise/Sports Science and pre-health, pre-med, so I have a busy school schedule too. We're going on our third week and it's going to be a tough semester in school, but I'm excited.

Brienne Minor, University of Michigan junior
(lost to Ena Shibahara 6-1, 6-3)

On playing in the main draw of the US Open: It's been amazing to play in the US Open and then this Invitational. I'm so glad I had this opportunity. It was really fun, no matter how I did, it was really a fun experience and I'm grateful I got to be here.

On returning to the US Open in the future: I do want to play after college, definitely play pro. So I'm glad I got the experience and know what it's like to be around the top pro players is pretty amazing, so when I come back I know what to expect.

On her plans for the fall: I'm actually taking the fall off because I'm getting a procedure done on my knees. It'll be a Michigan; I'm going to school but I won't be playing any fall tournaments. It's about a three-month recovery, so I'll probably play a few matches over winter break if I can find a tournament, but I'll definitely be ready for January.

On the upcoming rehabilitation: It's definitely a long process. I've been through the rehab and physical therapy before and it's long. But I have to do it. I have to do it for my team to get ready for the season. I've had a long summer, so maybe a break won't be bad, but my knees have been in a lot of pain, so I think it's time to take care of that.

On four US women in the US Open semifinals: I definitely look up to especially Venus; I've looked up to her my whole life because I've watched her ever since I was little. To see that it's an all-American semifinal, I hope can use that to get to that point some day in my career.

Alexa Graham, University of North Carolina sophomore
(lost to Sydney Campbell 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(6))

On her first year in college: It was unbelievable. Being able to play for a team, rather than just yourself, being on court with your nine best friends, like my family, and no matter how I'm doing, it's about how we're all doing. I think it was a great learning experience for me and probably the most fun I've ever had.

On selecting a major: Technically I'm still undecided and I do change my mind every five minutes, but I think right now I'm going to go with an Exercise and Sport Science major, a pre-health route, and maybe go to PT (Physical Therapy) school.

On her success over the summer: I played a lot of professional events and I think the highlight was that I actually won one. Winning the $15K Futures, that was my second pro title, but it feels great to win one.

On the improvements in her game since entering college: I think staying tough out on the court. I think I'm playing with less pressure on myself, just enjoying the game more. My short court game, my volleys, have also gotten better.

On prospects for North Carolina this season: Like any team we want to win the conference, win a national championship and do the best we can. But we've also spoke about having smaller goals that we can control: being more professional on the court, taking care of ourselves, getting enough sleep, eating right, and I think that's going to help us a lot too.

Ena Shibahara, UCLA sophomore
(Shibahara defeated Brienne Minor 6-1, 6-3, lost to Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-4, 6-1)

On returning to New York after winning girls USO doubles title in 2016: It was an amazing experience winning junior US Open doubles and before that, playing the women's main draw. Definitely I wanted to come back; I had withdrawal [anxiety] after it was done thinking, oh I want to be back there. I'm so happy I got to come back and play on these courts again; it's an amazing experience.

On her outstanding freshman year: Yeah, it went better than I expected. I just took it one match at a time and I was able to get some great wins and learn from my losses.

On her plans for the fall: I'll play the Oracle Masters and the All Americans, the Indian Wells tournament too. I'll play all those and hopefully make sure I get some pro matches.

On playing long games with more than one deuce with the event using traditional scoring: We had a couple of long games. It's definitely different when you have ads and no-ads. I don't really mind whichever one. If it's no-ad and you win that deuce point, it's really good for you, but when there's ads, it takes away some of the pressure. I guess I'm glad there was ads today.

On what's improved in her game in the last year: Definitely my serve percentage. Making my first serves has improved and mixing it up. And the returns, getting the first ball back, has really improved for me and I've worked really hard over the summer to get that done

On her goals for next season: I want to see myself winning the NCAAs. I hope to get more consistent in making my aggressive shots, if that makes sense. Even though I take a lot of risk, I want to be able to make those shots. Teamwise, I think we'll do a lot better than last year. No one left and we're getting two more players, so hopefully we'll get to the Sweet 16 and see how it goes from there.

Sydney Campbell, 2017 Vanderbilt graduate
(Campbell defeated Alexa Graham 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(6) and lost to Ingrid Neel 6-4, 1-6, 6-2)

On her decision not to pursue a pro career: I've been hurt for a while, battling a shoulder injury for the past couple of years that's really not getting any better. I took the summer off and it is still lingering, so if I play, will I be able to play at the caliber I want, train like I want with this shoulder? Probably not, so it's probably time to hang it up, since I finished so well.

On the next chapter in her life: I've always wanted to do business. I really been into entrepreneurship, so I'm actually joining my parents and doing real estate in Nashville. I've already started, I love it, so that's the plan, to keep building that.

On closing out her career at the American Collegiate Invitational: New York is one of my favorite cities and the US Open obviously has great energy. I've never actually gotten to play on the courts before, so it was cool to be able to do that, come out of retirement for that. It was so fun, it's a great opportunity and I'm so glad the USTA does it.

On what she'll miss about college tennis: College tennis is so fun. The team aspect. If you have a bad day, your team can pick you up. Sometimes you can win not playing well, because you have the energy from the crowd, from your teammates, from the coaches. There's nothing like it, at all, and I miss it so much.

On winning the NCAA team title: It's incredible. I was able to be on the first team to win an SEC [tournament] title and an SEC regular season. It's so cool to make history. We were kind of underdogs in all three of those tournaments and to be able to win it for your school, see the excitement that the school had, because it was the first one, was really special.

Ingrid Neel, turning pro after freshman year at University of Florida

(Neel defeated Hayley Carter 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, defeated Sydney Campbell 6-4, 1-6, 6-2, lost to Francesca Di Lorenzo 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

On her decision to not return to school: I'm really excited this decision to play on the tour. I love the game and I couldn't give that up for anything. I know it's going to be really tough, but there's nothing I'd rather be doing.  In my mind, I pretty much decided that I wasn't going to return in the middle of the semester, so winning the title was just basically everything coming to fruition. I was so ecstatic that we were able to do that and the feeling of winning was nothing you can ever describe. But I found it was just too different from the pro life and I have to be doing this if I ever want to be at the top. That's my goal and I felt I was not going to wait any longer. I had to go for it and I think college really helped me make that decision. I'll never look back and wonder what I was missing, so I'm very, very glad I went.

On her plans for this rest of the year:  After this I might go to some of the American tournaments, the $80Ks, $25s, whatever the schedule is. I'm also looking at maybe going to China to play some this fall, so we'll see. I've never gone that far and I also know I want to get better and it's not about, right now, chasing points, but we'll see. Maybe if I'm over there for an extended amount of time it shows you what life on tour is like far, far away from home, literally living out of a suitcase. I think I have to get these experiences while I'm still very young so I can deal with it in time.

On where she'll be training: I'm based in Florida, my family's in Jacksonville and I was also at the USTA in Orlando a couple of weeks ago.  Somewhere in Florida, I definitely want to be based out of. The weather's great. I'm searching for a coach. Leaving college I didn't have the plan, so it's going to take searching and trials, so I had to start that process now and that's another reason I decided to leave.

On her goals for the next 12 months: By this time next year, I'd love to playing in the [US Open] qualies off my own ranking. That would be a major goal for me. Maybe in a little more than a year, try to get my ranking so I can get into the grand slam qualies and that would be a very successful year in my mind. You have to have a really sound game, and I need to shore up some weaknesses to get there. I'm aware of that and I'll train to try to become that level.

Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State University junior
(Di Lorenzo defeated Sara Daavettila 6-1, 6-2, defeated Ena Shibahara 6-4, 6-1 and defeated Ingrid Neel 4-6, 6-4, 6-4)

On her fall schedule: I'm going to Las Vegas, then a 60 out in California, then a 25 in Texas and I'll see how it is, then probably do some 60s and 25s to finish out the year.

On returning to the Buckeyes in January: I'm not committed to come back. I'm going to make that decision in the next month or two. My coaches have been really helpful in that aspect, haven't been pushy at all so I'll wait probably another month and then I'll make a decision.

On the full house that what the last set of the women's final: It was really nice to see for two college girls on court 5. It's a great court, but it's not like it's some stadium court, so it was nice to see it packed at the end. It was cool.

On the benefit of winning the American Collegiate Invitational: It secures the qualies wild card for next year, so it's definitely a weight lifted off my shoulders in terms of trying to get a wild card or qualifying myself with my ranking. It's a sense of security and it's gives me some confidence going forward in these Pro Circuit tournaments that I'm going to play. I haven't won three matches in a row in a while, so it's really nice to get that confidence.

On recovering after playing women's qualifying and doubles before competing the ACI at the US Open:
I went back home [to the Columbus area] last Friday for three, four days and I think that really helped me mentally. As much as I like New York, it's really exciting, there's a lot of craziness and stuff, so to be able to go back home, see my family before I go off on the road for a few tournaments really helpful.