Thursday, August 27, 2015

Qualifiers Van Emburgh, Battaglia into International Hard Court Semifinals; Paul, Liu, Bellis Reach Final Round of Qualifying at US Open; Taylor Fritz Turns Pro

©Colette Lewis 2015--
College Park, Maryland--

Madison Battaglia and Jake Van Emburgh are hardly the most likely semifinalists at the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships, but both qualifiers have proved their mettle throughout the week to join six high-profile juniors in the tournament's Final Four.

Battaglia, who has played seven matches over the past six days, earned her third straight win over a seeded player Thursday, defeating No. 6 seed Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3 after three hours and 30 minutes.

Battaglia served for the match at 6-4, 5-4 and had a match point, but the former world No. 2 junior wasn't quite ready to concede. A good backhand return forced an error from Battaglia on match point, and Shymanovich broke back on one of her many effective drop shots. The errors Shymanovich had been giving Battaglia disappeared in the second set tiebreaker, and Battaglia had to regroup before beginning her first third set of the tournament.

"I just tried to come and forget about the second set, just start fresh and stay calm and focused as possible," said the 17-year-old from New York, playing in just her third ITF event. "I think I was. It was a very up and down match, it kept flipping, there were a lot of deuces and everything, so I just tried to stay as positive as possible."

With Shymanovich serving at at 3-4 in the third set, Battaglia got the break, and for the second time, and well over an hour after the first, served for the match.  Up 30-0, she lost the next three points, but a good first serve had Shymanovich netting the backhand return.  A Shymanovich backhand long gave Battaglia her second match point, and this time she converted, with a Shymanovich sending a return long.

Battaglia said she didn't know that Shymanovich had reached two junior slam quarterfinals last year, but she wasn't going to be intimidated by her opponent's resume regardless.

"I didn't look that deep into it, but I knew she had played Wimbledon, US Open, the other slams," said Battaglia, who trains at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy. "She's from Belarus, so I'm sure she plays only ITFs, which changes the rankings a little bit."

Next up for Battaglia is top seed and defending champion Anna Kalinskaya of Russia, who defeated No. 8 seed Maia Lumsden of Great Britain 6-2, 6-4.

"It's really exciting," said Battaglia, who said the mild weather and just one match a day has helped keep her fresh despite all the matches she has played. "It's all positive. I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as possible and have fun. I've been playing great matches with great players, so everything is just really positive."

The other semifinals will feature No. 5 seed Vera Lapko against No. 2 seed Tereza Mihalikova.  Lapko defeated unseeded Kelly Chen 7-5, 7-6(4) and Mihalikova put an end to 13-year-old qualifier Amanda Anisimova's impressive run 6-3, 7-6(3).

Van Emburgh did not come into the tournament with much confidence, but he advanced to the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-4 win over unseeded Trent Bryde.

"I had been playing the worst tennis of my life in practice," said the 16-year-old from Wisconsin, who recently began training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. "And at Kzoo, I was really sick. But the weeks leading up to this I was just playing terrible in practice, just awful. So I didn't come here and think I was going to semi, I was trying to get some points because I'm not playing too well and just get some matches, and all of a sudden, I just started playing good. The timing clicked, and I'm not getting broken at all."

Van Emburgh, who defeated No. 8 seed Benjamin Hannestad of Denmark in the first round and No. 10 seed Artem Dubrivnyy of Russia in the third round, said he played well in the first set against Bryde, but then counted on holding his serve when his level dropped in the second set.

"I was controlling everything in the first set," said Van Emburgh, also playing in just his third ITF tournament. "There really wasn't anything he could do. But then we both sort of got tight and started missing, and it was kind of like, who's going to miss first. No one was striking the ball well in that second set."

When Van Emburgh went to serve out the match, Bryde's comeback in his second round victory, in which Bryde saved five match points, wasn't far from his mind.

"I had a match point at 3-5," said Van Emburgh, who has played six matches in the past six days.  "And he saved one, and I thought, here we go again."

But Van Emburgh was able to think positively in the final game.

"I thought if I get tight, I'm not going to hit the serve that I need to hit," Van Emburgh said. "So I just went up loose and swung free on the first serve. I missed three first serves in that game (an ace got him to 40-15 however), but my second serve I'm feeling really confident with right now. It's kicking really high and getting me on the offense, which is helping a lot."

Van Emburgh finished with a forehand winner to set up a meeting with No. 15 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who won his third three-set match of the week, beating No. 6 seed Alberto Lim of the Philippines 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.  Lim had served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but never got closer than two points from the win.

No. 14 seeed Alex De Minaur of Australia defeated No. 5 seed Nathan Ponwith 6-2, 7-5, leaving his opponent, No. 7 seed Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada as the top remaining boys seed. Auger Aliassime defeated unseeded Alex Rotsaert 6-2, 6-2.

Shapovalov and Auger Aliassime, the No. 3 seeds, have advanced to the doubles semifinals, where they will face the unseeded team of Hannestad and Andres Andrade of Ecuador. Top seeds Yunseong Chung of Korea and Casper Ruud will face No. 5 seeds Alexey Aleshchev of Russia and Hady Habib in the other boys doubles semifinal.

In the girls doubles semifinals, top seeds Kalinskaya and Mihalikova will play unseeded Elysia Bolton and Clarissa Hand, while No. 2 seeds Lapko and Shymanovich face unseeded Siqi Cao and Shuyue Ma of China.

For complete results and Friday's order of play, see the tournament website.

Seven Americans have reached the final round of qualifying at the US Open, including three teenagers: 15-year-old Claire Liu, 16-year-old CiCi Bellis and 18-year-old Tommy Paul.  The results of today's second round and the matchups for Friday's final round for US players are below.

Second Round Wins:
Jessica Pegula def. Margarita Gasparyan (RUS)[1] 6-3, 6-3
Melanie Oudin def. Yafan Wang (CHN)[24] 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-6(5)
Claire Liu WC def. Jana Cepelova (SVK)[9] 7-6(4), 6-4
CiCi Bellis def. Romina Oprandi (SUI)[22] 7-5, 7-5
Shelby Rogers def. Mandy Minella (LUX) 6-2, 6-3
Anna Tatishvili [16] def. Laura Pous-Tio (ESP) 6-0, 6-0
Tommy Paul WC def. Jose Hernandez-Fernandez (DOM) 6-3, 7-5

Second Round Losses:
Matthew Ebden (AUS)[26] def. Dennis Novikov 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2
Guido Pella (ARG)[3] def. Noah Rubin WC 6-4, 7-6(6)
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN)[23] def. Daniel Nguyen 6-2, 2-6, 6-2
Kimmer Coppejans (BEL)[7] def. Reilly Opelka WC 6-4, 6-2
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)[5] def. Mitchell Krueger WC 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)[15] def. Vicky Duval WC 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-0
Tereza Mrdeza (CRO) def. Raveena Kingsley WC 6-1, 3-6, 7-5
Daria Kasatkina RUS[27] def. Taylor Townsend 6-2, 6-2

Friday’s Final Round Qualifying Matches Featuring Americans:
Jessica Pegula vs. Melanie Oudin
Claire Liu WC vs. Alexandra Panova RUS[26]
CiCi Bellis vs. Jelena Ostapenko LAT[11]
Shelby Rogers vs. Alla Kudryavtseva RUS[15]
Anna Tatishvili[16] vs. Ysaline Bonaventure BEL
Tommy Paul WC vs. Marco Chiudinelli SUI

The men's and women's singles draws were released today, with 19 US women and 15 US men competing (possibly more, pending the results of qualifying).

Kalamazoo champion Frances Tiafoe has drawn No. 22 seed Viktor Troicki of Serbia, and San Diego champion Sonya Kenin will play Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia.

NCAA men's champion Ryan Shane faces No. 27 seed Jeremy Chardy of France, and NCAA women's champion Jamie Loeb meets No. 4 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

Loeb, who according to this New York Daily News article has turned pro after completing her sophomore year at North Carolina, is the second NCAA champion Wozniacki will have faced in the US Open. 2010 NCAA champion Chelsey Gullickson lost to No. 1 seed Wozniacki in the first round that year.

In other pro news, Taylor Fritz, who had said he would make a decision regarding his status by the US Open at the latest, has signed with CAA, according to this release. He and Reilly Opelka are playing in the main draw of doubles with the wild card they earned winning Kalamazoo.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Three Qualifiers Reach Quarterfinals at International Hard Court Championships; Fifteen Americans in Action Thursday in Second Round of US Open Qualifying

©Colette Lewis 2015--
College Park, Maryland--

Three qualifiers, all playing in just the third ITF tournament of their junior careers, advanced to the quarterfinals of the Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships with straight set wins on an unusually refreshing midsummer day in the Washington DC area.

Amanda Anisimova, who will be 14 next Monday, continued her run, posting her fifth consecutive straight-set win, which includes two qualifying victories over the weekend. In Wednesday's third round, Anisimova beat unseeded Abigail Desiatnikov 6-4, 7-5, saving two set points with USTA 16s girls champion Desiatnikov serving at 5-3 in the second set.  Anisimova will face No. 2 seed and Australian Open girls champion Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia in the quarterfinals, with Mihalikova defeating Karman Thandi of India 6-3, 6-0.

The second girls qualifier to reach the quarterfinals is 17-year-old Madison Battaglia, who took out a seed for the second day in a row. Battaglia defeated No. 14 seed Jessica Hinojosa Gomez of Mexico 6-3, 6-3, with No. 6 seed Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus her opponent on Thursday.

Battaglia, who won an ITF Grade 5 title in Bermuda this summer, said her lack of familiarity with her international opponents has allowed her to concentrate on her own game.

"I haven't really known most of the people I've played, which is a good thing," said Battaglia, who defeated No. 3 seed and ITF No. 17 Wushuang Zheng of China 6-1, 6-3 on Tuesday. "I've never played them, I don't know anybody they've played, so it's just going in there, focusing on myself, playing my game and having fun."

Hinojosa Gomez took a medical timeout right after breaking Battaglia, who was serving at 3-1 in the second set, but Battaglia didn't let that disruption bother her.

"I stay relaxed, and I took a couple of practice serves and then came out and played even better," said the New Yorker, who trains at the John McEnroe Academy. "I didn't worry about what was wrong with her. I just went out there and played."

Battaglia, who won three matches in qualifying, called her win over Zheng "a good confidence boost. And I thought today, I played really well."

As for her decision to begin playing ITF tournaments this summer, Battaglia said her coach Felix Alvarado, who also coached Jamie Loeb throughout her junior career, encouraged it.

"I did really well last year in my section in USTA," said Battaglia. "So I wanted to play different tournaments and my coach wanted me to play ITFs to see how they go. So I played the Grass Courts, my first one, because that was close to home. Then I played Bermuda, and this is my third one, because this was close to home too, relatively close. I thought it would be good to go to, and it has been been really fun so far."

In addition to the two qualifiers, one other unseeded American girl advanced to the quarterfinals, with Kelly Chen defeating No. 13 seed Ioana Pietroiu 6-2, 6-2. Chen will play No. 5 seed Vera Lapko of Belarus, a Wimbledon semifinalist, in the quarterfinals.

Top seed and defending champion Anna Kalinskaya of Russia had her hands full with 13-year-old wild card Caty McNally, barely avoiding a third set in her 7-5, 7-6(9) win. McNally had two set points in the tiebreaker, but Kalinskaya came up with big shots on both. For her part, McNally saved three match points in the tiebreaker, but double faulted on the fourth to give Kalinskaya the win. The Russian will play No. 8 seed Maia Lumsden of Great Britain, who beat Kylie McKenzie 7-5, 6-2.

The third qualifier in the quarterfinals is Jake Van Emburgh, who beat No. 10 seed Artem Dubrivnyy of Russia 6-2, 6-4.  Van Emburgh's win, his second over a seed, assured an American boys semifinalist, with Van Emburgh facing unseeded Trent Bryde next.  Bryde defeated qualifier Oliver Crawford 7-5, 6-1.

Australian Alex De Minaur defeated No. 2 seed Casper Ruud of Norway 6-2, 6-4, leaving No. 5 seed Nathan Ponwith as the highest seed remaining in the boys draw.  Ponwith overcame a slow start against No. 12 seed Lev Kazakov of Russia, but earned a 6-7(5) 6-1, 6-1 victory to set up a meeting with De Minaur in the quarterfinals.

Kalamazoo 16s finalist Alexandre Rotsaert had played his first two matches at the University of Maryland courts, so adjustments for the faster courts at the Junior Tennis Champions Center were necessary. He managed to find his game just in time, beating Alan Rubio Fierros of Mexico 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-3, after Rubio Fierros had served for the match at 6-5 in the second set.

"I had practiced on these courts, but I hadn't played any matches on them," said Rotsaert. "They're much faster over here, so this was like a first round for me. I came out and everything was like a blur....slowly, slowly I started playing a little better. At 6-5, I was a little worried. I kind of earned it, but he kind of gave it to me too, a couple of stupid errors and he started cramping a bit. He started getting a little impatient, going for shots he shouldn't have and I capitalized on that and had a really good breaker."

Rubio Fierros began to really struggle with his movement, apparently due to cramps, late in the third set, and became very aggressive as a result.

"At 5-3 in the third, he just started ripping it," said Rotsaert, who showed no signs of any fatigue during the three-hour match. "Going ace, ace, and I was like, what's going on?"

But Rotsaert said he has learned to ignore the disruption that a visible injury or illness can create, and he closed out the match with no further difficulty.

Next up for Rotsaert is No. 7 seed Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada, who defeated unseeded Vasil Kirkov 6-3, 6-2.

"I'm excited to play Felix, he's such a great player," said Rotsaert. "I really look forward to try and give it my best."

Rotsaert has respect for Auger Aliassime's ATP Challenger victories, but he's not intimidated by those results.

"He's a really good player, but he's a kid, like all of us," Rotsaert said. "You have to be able to do it, but he's playing with no pressure [in ATP Challengers]. Coming into a junior tournament, it's much tougher, everyone here's gunning for you. I was hoping to get him first round, but I guess it's the quarters."

The fourth quarterfinal will be between No. 15 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada and No. 6 seed Alberto Lim of the Philippines, both of whom won three-set struggles. Shapovalov defeated unseeded Gianni Ross 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-2 and Lim got by his doubles partner Tung-lin Wu of China, the No. 9 seed, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Complete draws and Thursday's order of play can be found at

On the second day of qualifying at the US Open, American players had five wins and ten losses.  Complete US results from today's first round and the Thursday second round matches of the 15 Americans remaining are below.

Anna Tatishvili[16] def. Gabriela Dabrowski CAN 6-4, 6-2
Taylor Townsend def. Pauline Parmentier FRA 6-2, 7-5
Mitchell Krueger WC def. Niels Desein BEL 6-1, 6-2
Daniel Nguyen def. Philip Bester CAN 7-6(7), 2-6, 6-4
Reilly Opelka WC def. Christian Lindell SWE 7-6(2), 6-4

Naomi Osaka JPN def. Katerina Stewart 7-6(8), 7-6(5)
Shuai Zhang CHN def. Jennifer Elie WC 6-3, 6-0
Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor[19] ESP def. Usue Arconada WC 6-0, 7-5
Elizaveta Kulichkova[7] RUS def. Jennifer Brady 6-2, 6-4
Ipek Soylu TUR def. Maria Sanchez 5-7, 7-5, 6-1
Kiki Bertens[8] NED def. Robin Anderson WC 6-2, 6-4
Renata Voracova  CZE def. Bernara Pera WC 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
Guido Andreozzi ARG def. Stefan Kozlov WC 6-2, 5-7, 6-3
JP Smith[18] AUS def. Jesse Witten WC 7-6(5), 6-1
Alejandro Gonzalez [15] COL def. Marcos Giron WC 7-6(1), 6-2

Americans in Second Round Qualifying Thursday:
Dennis Novikov vs. Matthew Ebden (AUS)[26]
Daniel Nguyen vs. Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN)[23]
Mitchell Krueger WC vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)[5]
Noah Rubin WC vs. Guido Pella (ARG)[3]
Tommy Paul WC vs. Jose Hernandez-Fernandez (DOM)
Reilly Opelka WC vs. Kimmer Coppejans (BEL)[7]
Taylor Townsend vs. Daria Kasatkina (RUS)[27]
Jessica Pegula vs. Margarita Gasparyan (RUS)[1]
Claire Liu WC vs. Jana Cepelova (SVK)[9]
Melanie Oudin vs. Yafan Wang (CHN)[24]
Shelby Rogers vs. Mandy Minella (LUX)
Anna Tatishvili [16] vs. Laura Pous-Tio (ESP)
CiCi Bellis vs. Romina Oprandi (SUI)[22]
Raveena Kingsley WC vs. Tereza Mrdeza (CRO)
Vicky Duval WC vs. Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)[15]

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bryde Saves Five Match Points to Advance to Third Round at International Hard Court Championships; Ten Americans Reach Second Round of US Open on First Day of Qualifying

©Colette Lewis 2015--
College Park, Maryland--

Monday's heat and humidity gave way to much more pleasant conditions for the second round of the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships, and after a dozen seeds lost in the opening round, Tuesday saw only three fall, all in the girls draw, with US girls responsible for those upsets.

Qualifier Madison Battaglia defeated No. 3 seed Wushuang Zheng of China 6-1, 6-3 at the University of Maryland site, and qualifier Clarissa Hand also took out a seed there, beating Destanee Aiava of Australia 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. USTA National 16s champion Abigail Desiatnikov, a wild card, topped No. 10 seed Deria Nur Maliza of Indonesia 7-6(0), 6-4.

Desiatnikov, just 14, will play an even younger American in the third round Wednesday when she takes on 13-year-old Amanda Anisimova. Anisimova defeated Gabby Pollner 7-5, 6-2 to reach the third round of a Grade 1 for the first time.

Top seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia and No. 2 seed Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia had no difficulty moving into the third round, with Kalinskaya, the French Open girls finalist, defeating qualifier Dalayna Hewitt 6-2, 6-2 and Mihalikova, the Australian Open girls champion, beating Maria Mateas 6-0, 6-1.  Kalinskaya's opponent on Wednesday will be 13-year-old Caty McNally, who defeated Mihika Yadav of India 6-3, 6-0.

One day after getting a big win over Yunseong Chung when the top seed from Korea retired after losing the first set 7-5, Trent Bryde had another memorable victory at the ITF Grade International Hard Courts, saving five match points to defeat Juan Carlos Aguilar of Bolivia 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 to move into the third round.

With Aguilar serving for the match 6-5 in the second set, Bryde fought off four match points, but that appeared to be for naught when he went down 5-1 in the ensuing tiebreaker. Six points later, he had earned a third set, closing it out on a forehand volley, which he followed with a huge roar.

Down 4-1 in the third set, Bryde was again one point from a loss, but he saved match point No. 5 with yet another forehand volley winner with Aguilar serving at 5-3, 40-30. Aguilar didn't betray much frustration when so many opportunities slipped away, but a couple of double faults, one in that ninth game and another at 5-all indicated the stress he was feeling.  Although Aguilar had not made many unforced errors when building his lead, they began to accumulate in the late stages of the three-hour and 15-minute marathon, and a backhand long gave Bryde a chance to serve for the match. A forehand winner helped Bryde take a 40-15 lead, but Aguilar's forehand forced an error from Bryde.  Bryde didn't wait to engage in a rally on the second match point, playing a textbook serve-and-volley point to complete the comeback.

"I've actually been working on that," Bryde said. "I've been serving a lot better and coming in a lot more off of it. It's helped me a lot."

Bryde applied pressure and played more aggressively on several of the key points of the match, but Aguilar also appeared to be getting tight as the chances slipped away.

"I felt he was definitely nervous," said Bryde, who recalls saving seven match points several years ago in a sectional match. "I pressured him a lot on those points; I tried to play as if I had nothing to lose, but on some of those, he did have some loose errors. I did try returning deep and coming in, because I knew he would get tight when I would come in and he'd either give me a floater or he'd miss it."

Bryde, who turned 16 on Monday, admitted he was still processing the endings to his last two wins.

"First day, shocking, the guy just retires, and the next day, I just, I don't even know how to describe it," Bryde said. "I just came up clutch, and somehow I won. Both matches, I don't know how I won, but I won."

Bryde will play friend and rival Oliver Crawford for a place in the quarterfinals after Crawford, a qualifier, defeated wild card Nikolai Parodi 6-3, 6-4.

"We've actually played a lot," Bryde said. "He beat me two or three times a while ago, a couple of years ago, but the last two times I've played him, I beat him both times. But he's a really tough opponent, makes a lot of balls and really makes you work for every point."

As in the girls round of 16, there are seven Americans remaining in the boys draw, with No. 5 Nathan Ponwith the only seed. Ponwith defeated lucky loser Zummy Bauer 6-1, 6-2 and will play No. 12 seed Lev Kazakov of Russia Wednesday.

Ten of the 19 Americans in action won their first round qualifying matches at the US Open today, including six teenagers.  Wild cards Noah Rubin, Tommy Paul, Raveena Kingsley, Vicky Duval and Claire Liu won, as did CiCi Bellis.  Below are the results of the Americans in action today, followed by a list of the 15 who will play their first round matches on Wednesday.

Raveena Kingsley (W) def. Andrea Hlavackova CZE [30] 6-3, 6-4
Vicky Duval (W)  def. Luksika Kumkhum THA 5-7, 6-3, 6-1
Shelby Rogers def. Grace Min 6-4, 6-3
CiCi Bellis def. Kimiko Date-Krumm JPN 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
Melanie Oudin def. Elitsa Kostova BUL 6-3, 7-5
Jessica Pegula def. Shuko Aoyama JPN 6-1, 3-6, 6-4
Claire Liu def. Veronica Cepede Royg PAR 4-6, 7-5, 6-2
Noah Rubin (W) def. Liang-Chi Huang TPE 6-2, 7-5
Dennis Novikov def. Gastao Elias POR 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4
Tommy Paul (W) def. Blaz Rola[24] SLO 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Maximo Gonzalez ARG def. Jarmere Jenkins 6-2, 6-4
Julia Glushko ISR def. Julia Boserup 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
Mayo Hibi JPN def. Edina Gallovits-Hall 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
Matthew Ebden[26] AUS def. Michael Mmoh 6-3, 6-2
Alla Kudryavtseva[15] RUS def. Alexa Glatch 7-5, 2-6, 6-2
Jan Mertl CZE def. Alexander Sarkissian 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Romina Oprandi[22] SUI def. Tornado Alicia Black 6-4, 6-0
Luca Vanni[19] ITA def. Taylor Fritz 6-3, 6-3

Wednesday’s First Round Qualifying Matches involving Americans
Naomi Osaka (JPN) vs. Katerina Stewart (USA)
Jesse Witten (USA) vs. John-Patrick Smith (AUS)[18]
Mitchell Krueger (USA) vs. Niels Desein (BEL)
Usue Arconada (USA) vs. María-Teresa Torró-Flor(ESP)[19]
Elizaveta Kulichkova (RUS)[7] vs. Jennifer Brady (USA)
Bernarda Pera (USA) vs. Renata Voracova (CZE)
Daniel Nguyen (USA) vs. Philip Bester (CAN)
Jennifer Elie (USA) vs. Shuai Zhang (CHN)
Ipek Soylu (TUR) vs. Maria Sanchez (USA)
Alejandro Gonzalez (COL)[15] vs. Marcos Giron (USA)
Stefan Kozlov (USA) vs. Guido Andreozzi (ARG)
Anna Tatishvili (USA)[16] vs. Ksenia Pervak (RUS)
Christian Lindell (SWE) vs. Reilly Opelka (USA)
Taylor Townsend (USA) vs. Pauline Parmentier (FRA)
Kiki Bertens (NED)[8] vs. Robin Anderson (USA)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Rybakov Chooses TCU; Witten, Elie Earn Spots in US Open Qualifying Draws; Top Seed Chung, 11 Other Seeds Fall in Grade 1 IHC First Round

©Colette Lewis 2015--
College Park, Maryland--

It was a hot and busy first day at the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships, and I'll have more about all the upsets later in the post.

My interview with No. 1 Class of 2015 recruit Alex Rybakov, who recently signed with TCU and will begin school in January, is available today at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The US Open National Playoffs singles tournaments concluded today, with No. 4 seed Jennifer Elie and No. 2 seed Jesse Witten taking the ninth and final wild card spots in the qualifying draws.  Elie beat Virginia senior Julia Elbaba 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in a match that took three hours and 30 minutes to decide. Elie, 28, will be making her first appearance at the US Open.  Witten, 32, defeated top seed Matija Pecotic of Croatia 7-6(4), 7-6(3) to earn his qualifying wild card. His best result at the US Open came in 2009, when he qualified and reached the third round before losing to No. 4 seed Novak Djokovic in four sets.

The doubles portion of the US Open National Playoffs begins on Tuesday, with main draw wild cards on the line for the women's, men's and mixed events.

Once Elie and Witten had earned their wild cards, the US Open qualifying draws were released, along with Tuesday's schedule. Twenty-one American women and 13 American men are competing for places in the main draw and 19 of them are in action on Tuesday:
Gastao Elias (POR) vs. Dennis Novikov (USA)
Shelby Rogers (USA) vs. Grace Min (USA)
Alexander Sarkissian (USA) vs. Jan Mertl (CZE)
Tornado Alicia Black (USA) vs. Romina Oprandi (SUI)[22]
Luksika Kumkhum (THA) vs. Victoria Duval (USA)
Raveena Kingsley (USA) vs. Andrea Hlavackova (CZE)[30]
Taylor Harry Fritz (USA) vs. Luca Vanni (ITA)[19]
Claire Liu (USA) vs. Veronica Cepede Royg (PAR)
Michael Mmoh (USA) vs. Matthew Ebden (AUS)[26]
Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)[15] vs. Alexa Glatch (USA)
Shuko Aoyama (JPN) vs. Jessica Pegula (USA)
Julia Boserup (USA) vs. Julia Glushko (ISR)
Edina Gallovits-Hall (USA) vs. Mayo Hibi (JPN)
Liang-Chi Huang (TPE) vs. Noah Rubin (USA)
Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN) vs. Catherine Bellis (USA)
Maximo Gonzalez (ARG) vs. Jarmere Jenkins (USA)
Elitsa Kostova (BUL) vs. Melanie Oudin (USA)
Tommy Paul (USA) vs. Blaz Rola (SLO)[24]

The complete draws can be found at

Jonathan Kelley has more on the US players in qualifying at his On The Rise blog.

Now on to the the action at the International Hard Court Championships, where twelve seeds lost in the opening round, including No. 1 seed Yunseong Chung of Korea.  Chung, who was competing in the semifinals of a Korean Futures just two days ago (or three, depending on which date line you use) and Trent Bryde were engaged in a tough first set, with neither able to get a break.  Then with Chung serving at 5-6, he went down 0-30, and a perfectly executed drop shot by Bryde gave him three set points. He converted the first when Chung made a forehand error, and as they walked to their chairs, Chung told the umpire he was retiring.

"I'm not sure what was wrong with him," said Bryde, who is celebrating his 16th birthday today. "He seemed a little tired during kind of the whole match, but I don't think there was any physical injury.  I was really surprised. I did not see that coming. I was in shock at first. It took a while for it to sink in that I actually won the match."

Chung gave his reason for his retirement as a headache, and Bryde said he was not aware that Chung had traveled from Korea in the past two days.

"I think I heard he came in not too long ago, so he could have been tired from that; it probably had a lot to do with it," Bryde said.

Despite the abrupt ending to the match, Bryde was happy with his performance and the result, appreciating the chance to play the ITF's No. 11 junior.

"I thought I served really well and was clutch on my break points," Bryde said. "I was actually really excited, honestly. I thought it was a chance to make this one of my best birthdays, and it has been. I'm really happy."

The boys draw also lost its third and fourth seeds, with Robert Loeb defeating No. 3 seed Franco Capalbo of Argentina 6-3, 7-6(5) at the University of Maryland site, and No. 4 seed Djurabeck Karimov of Uzbekistan pulling out due to injury.  No. 8 seed Benjamin Hannesad of Denmark lost to qualifier Jake Van Emburgh 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-1, No. 11 seed Yousef Hossam of Egypt lost to John Jorgeson 7-6(6), 1-6, 6-3, No. 16 seed Alexey Aleshchev of Russia lost to Alexandre Rotsaert 6-2, 6-4 and No. 13 seed Sam Riffice lost to qualifier Oliver Crawford 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5).

Riffice was serving up 4-1 in the third set and was up 5-2 in the final tiebreaker, while Crawford was struggling with a calf injury he had suffered early in the third set.

"At 1-all in the third set, I hit an overhead and came down on my left leg, and something happened there," said Crawford, who did not call for a trainer in spite of the obvious pain he was experiencing on certain shots. "I felt a little bit of cramping there, but it was mostly the pain in my left leg that was affecting some of my movement."

As for his comeback, Crawford didn't give himself much credit for that.

"I didn't change anything," said the 16-year-old from South Carolina. "His level dropped. I don't think he played his best tennis today, so I was lucky to get through that with what I was going through. He let down his guard a little bit 4-1 up, go for a little more, and I just stayed in there and tried to keep fighting."

Down 5-2 in the tiebreaker, Crawford played two aggressive points, hitting a clean third-ball backhand down the line winner on the first and coming up with a good first serve on the second to make it 5-4.  A good return caught Riffice off guard and he netted a backhand, and when Riffice lost the next point on his serve, netting a forehand, Crawford had an improbable match point. He hit a big forehand, close to the baseline, drawing another error and had secured what he called one of his biggest wins.

He also admitted that he played more aggressively than usual in the third set, due to the injury.

"I had to," said Crawford, "just because I wasn't moving as well as I possibly could, I guess. I was trying to put as much pressure on him as I could, and I was winning some and losing some, but I had to. The courts are fast, so when I was hitting out on the ball more, I felt it was helping me a lot."

Amanda Anisimova said she needed to make some adjustments for the faster surface, but once she did, the 13-year-old rolled to a 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 7 seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia.

"I hit with a lot of spin, because they were really, really fast," said Anisimova, another qualifier who beat a seed in the first round. "Qualifying helped me, because these are really different courts from what I usually practice on."

Serving at 3-2 in the first set, Anisimova went down 0-40, but came back to win the game, as Potapova, a junior Wimbledon quarterfinalist, struggled to stay in the rallies.

"I started to get behind the ball and play way better," said the Floridian of that turning point in the  match. "I was thinking about what I'm going to do between points, and making my serves."

Anisimova considers Potapova a friend, having practiced with her previously and spent time with her at the ITF World Junior Tennis Team competition earlier this month, where the Russian team defeated the USA team in the finals.

"I played three, but I was happy for my teammates," Anisimova said, speaking of Caty McNally and Hurricane Tyra Black. "We had a tough loss [in the final], but we played pretty well the whole tournament."

As for beating Potapova, Anisimova called it "probably my best win. I thought it would be tougher, be a pretty hard match. Overall it was pretty tough in the games, but the score didn't show it."

Anisimova's teammate McNally also picked up a win over a seeded player. The 13-year-old wild card defeated No. 16 seed Thaisa Pedretti of Brazil 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Black lost to No. 10 seed Deria Nur Haliza of Indonesia 6-4, 6-1.

Kelly Chen took out No. 4 seed Pranjala Yadlapalli of India 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 and Kylie McKenzie defeated No. 12 seed Georgia Craciun of Romania 6-3, 6-2.  No. 15 seed Alexandra Sanford, the only US girl seeded in the tournament, lost to Karman Thandi of India 6-4, 7-6(5).

Top seed and defending champion Anna Kalinskaya of Russia defeated qualifier Elysia Bolton 6-4, 6-0 and No. 2 seed Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia beat Juliana Valero of Colombia 6-2, 6-2.

Complete draws, including doubles draws, and Tuesday's order of play can be found at the JTCC website.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chung, Kalinskaya Top Seeds at ITF Grade 1 in College Park; Finals of US Open National Playoffs Set; Tiafoe Defeats Harrison to Qualify at Winston-Salem

I've arrived in College Park, Maryland, where my coverage of the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships will begin on Monday, and I've just had a look at the draws and the order of play.

Yunseong Chung of Korea is the top seed, and reaching a Futures final two weeks ago and a semifinal last week in Korea should have him full of confidence if not a bit jet-lagged for his first round match against Trent Bryde. Casper Ruud of Norway is seeded No. 2, and will face Alex Phillips in the opening round.

Only two US boys are seeded: No. 5 Nathan Ponwith and No. 13 Sam Riffice.  Ponwith plays Ammar Alhogbani and Riffice faces qualifier Oliver Crawford.

Anna Kalinskaya of Russia is back to defend her title, with the French Open finalist playing qualifier Elysia Bolton.  Australian Open girls champion Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia is the No. 2 seed, and will face Juliana Valero of Colombia in the opening round.

The only seeded US girl is Alexandra Sanford, at No. 15. She will play Karman Thandi of India in the opening round of play.

Half of Monday's matches are at the University of Maryland courts, but I'll be sticking to the action taking place at the Junior Tennis Champions Center.  I intend to watch 14-year-old Anastasia Potapova of Russia, the No. 7 seed play Amanda Anisimova, who will turn 14 at the end of the month. Anisimova and Potapova did not play at the World Junior Tennis team competition final earlier this month in the Czech Republic, with Hurricane Tyra Black going up against the Russian No. 1, but I'm sure Anisimova knows what to expect.

I also plan to watch No. 7 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, the 15-year-old who has so much success on the ATP Challenger tour. I've seen Auger-Aliassime play only briefly at the Junior Orange Bowl and last year's 16s Orange Bowl, so I hope to have an opportunity to see more this week. He plays Brian Shi in the first round.

The finals of the US Open National Playoffs are set, with Monday's winners receiving wild cards into the US Open qualifying draws.

Top seed Matija Pecotic of Croatia will play No. 2 seed Jesse Witten in the men's final.  Pecotic, the former All-American at Princeton, defeated Hleb Maslau of Belarus 6-3, 6-1, while Witten downed Minnesota sophomore Felix Corwin 6-1, 6-3.

Unseeded Virginia senior Julia Elbaba will take on No. 4 seed Jennifer Elie in the women's final. Elbaba defeated No. 3 seed Ashley Weinhold 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 and Elie beat No. 2 seed Jacqueline Cako 6-4, 6-2.

Kalamazoo champion Frances Tiafoe qualified for the main draw of an ATP event for the first time, beating Ryan Harrison 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the third and final round of qualifying at the Winston-Salem Open at Wake Forest. The 17-year-old will play Australian James Duckworth in the first round. Duckworth defeated Tiafoe in the first round of the ATP even in Nice back in May 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-2. For more on Tiafoe's win today, see this article from the tournament.  The other Americans in the final round of qualifying lost, with Bjorn Fratangelo, Wil Spencer and Sekou Bangoura all dropping their matches.

Wild card Jared Donaldson played his first round match tonight against Sam Groth and lost a tough one to the Australian 6-7(4), 7-6(8), 7-6(5). Donaldson was up a break in both the second and third sets.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Semifinals Set in US Open National Playoffs, Doubles Draws Posted; Tiafoe Posts Top 100 Win to Advance to Final Round of Qualifying at Winston-Salem

Although several men were forced to play two matches today in the US Open National Playoffs in Connecticut due to rain Friday, the weather cooperated today and the semifinals are set for Sunday.

Three of the four seeds advanced to the semifinals in both the men's and women's draws.

The only seed missing from the women's final four is top seed Ayaka Okuno of Japan, who lost in the first round Friday to Julia Elbaba, the Virginia senior.  Elbaba advanced today with a 6-3, 6-0 win over 17-year-old Alexis Nelson and will play No. 3 seed Ashley Weinhold Sunday. Weinhold was way down in the third set to Megan McCray, but fought back to win the three-hour contest 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(4).  No. 4 seed Jennifer Elie beat Sophie Chang 6-4, 6-2 and will play No. 2 seed Jacqueline Cako, the former Arizona State star Sunday.  Cako defeated Gail Brodsky 6-4, 6-4 in today's quarterfinals.

The only seed missing on the men's side is No. 3 Nikita Kryvonos, who lost in the opening round to Hleb Maslau (North Florida) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Like Elbaba, Maslau moved into the semifinals after the big first round win, beating Josh Hagar 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 in today's quarterfinals.  Maslau will play top seed Matija Pecotic(Princeton), who beat Terrell Whitehurst(Florida State) and Hunter Reese(Tennessee) to reach the semifinals. Reese was an alternate who took the place of Michael Kay.

No. 4 seed Felix Corwin(Minnesota) advanced to the semifinals when Mikelis Libietis retired at 4-6, 7-5, having served for the match at 5-3. Corwin will play No. 2 seed Jesse Witten, who lost only six games in his two wins today.

The champions in the men's and women's singles receive a qualifying wild card into the US Open.

The doubles competitions, which provide main draw US Open wild cards to the winning teams, gets underway Tuesday, with the draws now up.

As with the singles, two extra teams were added to fill the fields to 16, and in the men's and women's doubles, several sectional champions are not playing.

In women's doubles, Lorraine Guillermo and Danielle Lao, the Southern Cal champions, are not in draw, nor are Florida winners Lauren Proctor and Miranda Talbert. Southwest winners Savannah Slaysman and Allie Sanford also are not playing.  The top seeds are Cako and Keri Wong, who won the Intermountain section.

In the men's doubles, Northern section champions Jackson Allen and Toby Boyer and Southern Cal section champions Haythem Abid and Joel Kielbowicz are not in the draw. Missouri Valley champions Julio Peralta and Matt Seeberger are the No. 1 seeds.

All the sectional champions are in the mixed doubles draw, with Southern California's Lao and Jonny Wang the only seeded team.

The first and second rounds of qualifying were completed today at the ATP Winston-Salem Open, with several impressive performances by Americans.

Frances Tiafoe claimed the second ATP Top 100 win of his career in the second round of qualifying, beating No. 86 Radu Albot of Moldova 6-4, 6-4.  The Kalamazoo champion will play another US Open wild card, Ryan Harrison, on Sunday for a spot in the main draw.  Harrison defeated Clay Thompson 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-0 in the first round and
Sanam Singh 6-3, 7-6(2) in the second round.

Wil Spencer(Georgia) beat Frank Dancevic and Ryan Haviland, both in three sets, and will play No. 5 seed Marco Cecchinato of Italy in Sunday's final round of qualifying. No. 7 seed Bjorn Fratangelo will play top seed Martin Klizan of Slovakia and Sekou Bangoura faces Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France.  Bangoura defeated ATP No. 64 and No. 2 seed Lucas Pouille of France 6-4, 6-1 in the second round of qualifying today.