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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Midwest Defends Boys 18s National Team Title; Odds and Ends from All Over

The finals of the USTA Boys 18s National Team Championships were today at the University of Illinois, with the No. 2 seed Midwest section team defending its title with a 5-2 win over top seed Southern. Because results are difficult to find on the TennisLink site, I'm including a screenshot of today's results.



The girls final is also between Southern and Midwest, but the results will not be available until much later, because it is being played in Claremont California. The TennisLink site is here.

Because for most of the next six weeks I will be reporting almost entirely on the tennis matches I am watching each day at the tournaments I am covering, this is a good day to post a series of quick links on items of interest I'm not going to have time to delve into.

Southern California won the USTA Intersectional Team competition for 16s earlier this month, beating Midwest 6-3.  For more on the final, see this article from the Shreveport Times.

I was in Europe when the last of the US Open National Playoff tournaments finished and wasn't able to post on the final five sectional champions. Articles on those tournaments can be found here. A screenshot of all the winners is below.



Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How, has written this article about reconciling the nature/nurture "impasse" that always surrounds any discussion of developing skills. The REPS gauge is certainly a feature any tennis coach or parent should consider.

Josh Rosen, who is now one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country, was a tennis player before he chose to concentrate on football full time. As much as he appreciates his current sport, he says tennis is the sport that produces the best athletes in this article from USA Today.

Clay Thompson, the recent UCLA graduate and former No. 1 player in the country, will play with OTZ Sports' new EcoGrip and its vibration dampener.  OTZ is a longtime sponsor of ZooTennis. More on Thompson's agreement with OTZ can be found here.

There is a new tennis academy in the Orlando, Florida area, with former Winthrop University coach Andrew Stubbs and former Top 25 ATP pro Tim Wilkinson serving as managing director and director of coaching respectively. For more on the Bishops Gate Academy, see the website.

Rising Stanford sophomore Carol Zhao, who qualified over the weekend for the WTA Bank of the West Classic held on the campus where she attends classes, won her first round match when Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium retired trailing 6-2, 1-0.  It is Zhao's first win in a WTA main draw. For more, see the Stanford website.  Sachia Vickery, the 2013 18s USTA national champion picked up her second WTA main draw win yesterday. The 19-year-old from Florida, who won a round as a wild card at the US Open, defeated Shuai Zhang of China, the WTA's 30th ranked player, 6-1, 6-2. She will play her second round match against Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, who upset No. 7 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-3, 7-5 today.

Francis Tiafoe's ATP debut produced several articles on his prospects for professional success.  Steve Tignor of tennis.com wrote this piece after watching the match on the Tennis Channel.  Jeff Sackmann of the Heavy Topspin blog was in Washington DC, and he wrote this assessment. As someone who's seen Tiafoe play scores of tennis matches, it's interesting to get the perspective of someone watching him for the first time, but it's important to remember--and I'm sure both writers realize this fact--that one match is a very small sample size on which to base a considered opinion.

The University of Texas has still not found a permanent replacement for Patty Fendick-McCain, who retired as the Longhorns' women's head coach in June. Fendick-McCain's assistant Darija Klaic has been named interim head coach while the search continues.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kalamazoo Qualifying Draws Released; Halys, Sorribes Tormo Claim European Championships; US 14U Teams Head to ITF World Championships; Pro Update

The qualifying draws, the first in the Kalamazoo tournament's 72-year history, have been posted at the TennisLink site.  The 64-player draws in both the 16s and 18s divisions will produce eight qualifiers. Two rounds of qualifying are scheduled for Thursday, with the final round of qualifying on Friday morning.  Deiton Baughman, Reilly Opelka and Logan Smith are the top 3 seeds in the 18s qualifying.  Eduardo Nava was the No. 4 seed, but he has already withdrawn and is playing in the main draw at the Decatur Futures this week. Jackson Suh, Brian Cernoch, Sebastian Arcila and Conrad Russell are the top four seeds in the 16s qualifying.   The qualifying draws for the Girls 16s and 18s have not yet been released. Fred Sidhu, the media liaison for the tournament, reported today that wild card Christina Makarova has withdrawn due to injury.

While the USTA is gearing up for its National Championships, Tennis Europe just finished its edition, which includes 14s, 16s and 18s--the latter an ITF Grade B1 event.

No. 2 seed Quentin Halys of France, a finalist in 2013, took the title this year, defeating unseeded compatriot Corentin Denolly 6-4, 7-5 in the finals, which were moved indoors due to rain in Switzerland.  Unseeded Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, who won the 16s title in 2012, also beat a competitor from her own country, defeating No. 5 seed Paula Badosa Gibert 6-4, 6-1, with that final also played indoors. Complete results from the tournament can be found at the ITF Junior website, and an article about the 18s finals is available at the Tennis Europe site.

In the 16s, No. 2 seed Fanny Stollar of Hungary and No. 3 seed Corentin Moutet of France took the titles.  Stollar beat No. 5 seed Anna Blinkova of Russia 6-4, 6-0 in the final, and Moutet outlasted Mikael Ymer of Sweden, the No. 7 seed, 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-0. For more on the 16s competition in Moscow, see this Tennis Europe article.

Rudolf Molleker of Germany and Anastasia Potapova of Russia won the 14s titles in the Czech Republic, with Molleker, the No. 2 seed, defeating No. 3 seed Tomas Jirousek of the host country 6-0, 6-1 and No. 3 seed Potapova downing top seed Olesya Pervushina, also of Russia 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.


According to this article on the 14s finals from Tennis Europe, all four finalists will be playing in the ITF's 14-and-under World Junior Tennis competition in the Czech Republic next month.   Although I have not yet seen the team nominations, the ITF did post the list of countries who make up the 16-team fields.  The United States will send both girls and boys teams to compete in the August 4-9, with the US girls the reigning world champions.

The boys leaving for Europe on Thursday, after a training session in Boca Raton, are Keenan Mayo, Roscoe Bellamy and Steven Sun.  The girls team this year consists of Claire Liu, Elysia Bolton and Rachel Lim. Seeds have not yet been established, with that and the draw scheduled for Sunday August 3rd.

Two of the boys who will be among the favorites for the Kalamazoo title played the first ATP main draw matches of their careers tonight at the Citi Open in Washington DC, with both Francis Tiafoe and Jared Donaldson losing their debuts.  Donaldson lost to fellow qualifier Rajeev Ram 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-5 and wild card Tiafoe went down to Evgeny Donskoy of Russia 6-4, 6-4 in a match televised on Tennis Channel. Ranking 111, Donskoy never looked in serious danger of losing to the 16-year-old from nearby College Park, Md., but Tiafoe did show flashes of the game that has drawn so much attention since he won the Orange Bowl last December.

Qualifier Taylor Townsend won her first round match over Julia Goeges of Germany 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, and Shelby Rogers upset No. 3 seed Alize Cornet of France 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in Washington, but the real story of the day came out west, where 16-year-old qualifier Naomi Osaka of Japan, ranked 406, beat No. 19 Samantha Stosur of Australia 4-6, 7-6(7), 7-5 in the first round of the Bank of West Classic. Osaka, who I believe is based in Florida, does not play junior events, but she has won enough on the ITF Women's circuit to be ranked as high as 309 in May.

For more on Osaka's win, see the WTA website.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chen Wins Austin $10K; Gibbs Wins USO Wild Card; Black, Donaldson, Townsend Qualify for Citi Open in Washington, Zhao Reaches Main Draw at Bank of the West Classic


Fifteen-year-old Kelly Chen went straight from the G18s Clay Courts in Memphis to the qualifying tournament of the $10,000 Pro Circuit event in Austin.  Before she made that trip, Chen had only one main draw victory in a professional-level tournament, but this week she got five, beating 2013 NCAA finalist Mary Weatherholt 6-3, 7-6(7) in Sunday's final. The Cerritos, California resident, who works with former NCAA champion and WTA Top 40 player Debbie Graham, now heads back home to compete in the Girls 18s National Championships, with the main draw in that division beginning next Sunday.

At the men's $10,000 Futures in Godfrey, Illinois, Daniel Nguyen posted his second straight win over Mitchell Frank, this time in a final, defeating the Cavalier rising senior 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(2).  Frank served for the match at 5-3 in the third, but Nguyen rebounded and after trailing 2-0 in the tiebreaker, captured the finals seven points for his first title of 2014.  The former USC Trojan, who completed his eligibility in 2012, has won four Futures singles titles in his professional career.

Nguyen wasn't the only Trojan having a good week on the professional tour. Steve Johnson reached the BB&T Atlanta Open doubles final with Sam Querrey, losing to Wimbledon champions Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil 6-3, 5-7, 10-5 today.  Rising senior Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador swept the titles at this week's $15,000 Futures in Venezuela. The No. 7 seed, Quiroz downed former Duke star Henrique Cunha, seeded third, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals and defeated No. 8 seed Jorge Panta of Peru 6-3, 6-4 in the final for his first ITF Men's circuit singles title.  He and Mateo Martinez of Argentina were the top seeds in doubles, and they claimed the title when their opponents retired trailing 6-4, 1-1.  Quiroz now has 10 Futures doubles titles.

Nicole Gibbs lost in the final of the $50,000 Lexington Challenger to Madison Brengle today 6-3, 6-4, but the two-time NCAA champion while at Stanford secured her third straight US Open wild card by just reaching the final, after winning the $50,000 tournament in Carson last week.  The only player who could catch her was Melanie Oudin, whom she beat in the final last week, and when Brengle beat Oudin, this time in the semifinals, Brengle couldn't match Gibbs' point total.  Here is the usta.com article on Gibbs' US Open Wild Card Challenge win.

In the final round of qualifying at the Citi Open, Jared Donaldson, Tornado Alicia Black and Taylor Townsend all advanced to the main draw with straight-set wins.  Donaldson defeated Sekou Bangoura Jr. 6-3, 6-1 and will face fellow qualifier Rajeev Ram in the first round Monday evening.  Also on Monday, on the stadium court, televised by the Tennis Channel at 8 p.m., 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe makes his main draw ATP debut against Evgeny Donskoy of Russia. Monday's complete order of play is here.

Black and Townsend are also on Monday's schedule, with Black defeating Great Britain's Emily Webley-Smith 6-3, 6-0 in today's final round of qualifying, and Townsend downing top seed Tereza Smitkova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4.  Black meets Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan and Townsend plays Julia Goerges of Germany with both matches Monday night, but not on the stadium court.

Out at the WTA's Bank of the West Classic, rising Stanford sophomore Carol Zhao of Canada earned her way into the main draw, beating Marina Shamayko of Russia 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in today's second, and final, round of qualifying. She will play Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium Tuesday in the first round. Recent Stanford graduate Kristie Ahn meets CoCo Vandeweghe Monday night.  For more on Zhao and Ahn, see this article from the Stanford website. Sachia Vickery also advanced to the main draw, with a 6-4, 6-1 upset of top qualifying seed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada, 103 in the WTA rankings. The 2013 USTA National 18s champion will play Shuai Zhang of China in just her second WTA main draw appearance (not including her appearance in this year's Australian Open after winning the USTA wild card tournament, and her wild card into last year's US Open as junior champion, where she won a round).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Teens Get Opportunities During US Open Series; Chen, Weatherholt in Austin $10K Final; Frank and Nguyen Meet for Godfrey Futures Title

The US Open Series is underway with the ATP's BB&T Atlanta Open kicking off the five-week lead-in into the US Open. Defending champion and top seed John Isner is in the final for the fourth time in five years after his 7-5, 6-4 win today over Jack Sock. He will play either Germany's Benjamin Becker(Baylor) or Dudi Sela of Israel in Sunday's final. Steve Johnson(USC) and Sam Querrey have reached the doubles final.

There are three US Open series events on the schedule for next week. The ATP has a 500-level in Washington DC, with the women sharing the courts in an International level event. On the west coast, the women's premier event is the Bank of the West Classic, held on the Stanford campus.

It was announced on Friday that 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe, who trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in nearby College Park, Maryland, had received a main draw wild card into the Citi Open in Washington DC, where he'll face Evgeny Donskoy of Russia in the opening round.  The ITF's 2012 World Junior champion Filip Peliwo of Canada also received a main draw wild card, as did top seed Tomas Berdych and James Duckworth of Australia. The men's qualifying draw contained plenty of players with local connections including, Justin and Ryan Shane, Michael Shabaz and Sanam Singh, all current or former University of Virginia players.  They all fell in the first round today, but Jordi Arconada, who trains at the JTCC and lost in the final of a prequalifying tournament to Tiafoe, had better luck.  When Tiafoe got the main draw wild card, Arconada was given the qualifying wild card, and is now in the second round. Up a break 3-2 in the first set, Arconada got the win when French veteran Michael Llodra retired. Wimbledon boys finalist Stefan Kozlov was two points away from an upset of top qualifying seed Sam Groth of Australia up 6-3 and at 5-5 in the second set tiebreaker, but Groth came back for a 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory.  Jared Donaldson, last year's Kalamazoo finalist and most likely to be the top seed there next week, cruised past No. 10 seed Gonzalo Lama of Chile 6-1, 6-1 and will play former Florida Gator Sekou Bangoura for a spot in the main draw. Former USC Trojan Emilio Gomez also advanced to the final round of qualifying.

In the WTA Citi Open qualifying, Tornado Alicia Black defeated Louisa Chirico 6-3, 6-1 and will face Great Britain's Emily Webley-Smith in Sunday's final round of qualifying. Taylor Townsend also advanced to the final round of qualifying, with the No. 5 seed set to face top seed Tereza Smitkova of the Czech Republic, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon this year.

The Tennis East Coast blog is onsite covering the Citi Open and has posted articles and photos from today's qualifying action.


At the Bank of the West Classic, Kristie Ahn, who played No. 1 for Stanford this past year as a senior, received a main draw wild card and will face CoCo Vandeweghe in the first round.  Qualifying wild cards went to two current Cardinal rising sophomores--Caroline Doyle, who lost to top seed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 7-5, 6-3, and Canadian Carol Zhao, who surprised fellow teenager and No. 2 seed Katerina Siniakova (WTA 123) of the Czech Republic 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3) in the day's final match in Palo Alto.

Wimbledon girls quarterfinalist Michaela Gordon, who turned 15 today, received an early birthday present in the form of a qualifying wild card, but she fell to Sachia Vickery, the No. 6 seed, 6-4, 6-1.  Doubles star Raquel Kops-Jones, a former Cal standout, received a wild card and surprised No. 3 seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 6-2, 7-6(8).

At the two Pro Circuit Futures events this week, all four finalists are from the United States, assuring another American sweep, just as last week.  University of Virginia rising senior Mitchell Frank, who won the $10,000 Futures last week in Tulsa, goes for his second straight title in Godfrey Illinois Futures, where he'll meet former USC Trojan Daniel Nguyen.  The unseeded Frank defeated North Carolina rising sophomore Ronnie Schneider 6-0, 7-5 in the semifinals today, while No. 8 seed Nguyen downed No. 4 seed Luke Bambridge of Great Britain 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Nguyen lost to Frank twice in college, when he was a senior and Frank a freshman, falling in the semifinals of the ITA All-American Championships in 2011 and in the NCAA team final in 2012. But Last month in the Buffalo Futures quarterfinals on clay, Nguyen beat Frank 7-5, 6-1.

Bambridge and Liam Broady, the top seeds, defeated unseeded Schneider and teammate Brett Clark 6-3, 6-2 in the doubles final.

At the $10,000 women's tournament in Austin, Texas,, qualifier Kelly Chen, a quarterfinalist last week at the Clay Courts, has reached her first Pro Circuit final with a 7-6(5), 6-2 win over Usue Arconada, Chen's first straight-set win of the week.  Arconada, by the way, had earned a wild card into the Citi Open qualifying in the JTCC's prequalifying tournament, but because she is playing in an international junior team tournament at Wimbledon next week, she was unable to accept it.

Chen will play 2013 NCAA finalist Mary Weatherholt(Nebraska), who is just returning to competition this summer after recovering from yet another serious knee injury. Weatherholt defeated No. 5 seed Nives Baric of Australian 6-4, 6-1 to reach her first singles final. She has first title already however, and she and Catherine Harrison of UCLA won the doubles championship, beating Alexa Guarachi (Alabama) and Alex Cercone (Florida) 6-2, 7-5.

Peter Kobelt and Devin McCarthy (Ohio State) won their fourth Futures doubles title since the first of June at this week's Hong Kong Futures. Kobelt and McCarthy have reached the final of all six Futures they've played together this summer.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Girls 18 USTA Clay Courts Recap, Slideshow and Videos

In less than a week, qualifying for the Boys and Girls 16s and 18s National Championships will begin, but before we start anticipating that, it's time to take a final look back at last week's USTA Clay Court championships. My review of the Girls 18s in Memphis is up this afternoon on the Tennis Recruiting Network, but make sure you read all eight articles on one of the three individual gold ball events remaining in the USTA junior tournament structure. Links to all eight articles can be found at the bottom of my recap at TR Net.

A slideshow of the top performers in Memphis and videos of finalists Katerina Stewart and Kennedy Shaffer are below.




Thursday, July 24, 2014

Clarke, Kuhar Win New Balance National High School Championships; Coric Advances to Quarterfinals at ATP's Umag; Papa, Chen, Arconada Reach Futures Quarterfinals

The first annual New Balance High School Tennis Championships were completed today in Cambridge, Mass, with No. 2 seeds in both the boys and girls draws winning the title. Madison Clarke, a rising senior from Phoenix, won the girls championship, defeating No. 5 seed Jenna Moustafa of Los Angeles, a rising sophomore, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the final. The boys final was also a three-setters, with Matt Kuhar of Rhode Island, who will be competing for Bryant University this fall, defeating No. 7 seed Maxwell Cancilla, a rising junior from Huntington Beach, Calif., 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.  For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

Another week, another 17-year-old making waves on the ATP Tour. 2013 US Open boys champion Borna Coric of Croatia received a wild card into Umag, in his home country, and he has beaten tour veterans Edouard Roger Vasselin of France, the No. 7 seed, and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, to advance to the quarterfinals. He will play top seed Fabio Fognini of Italy next.  

After so many years without any male teenagers in the top 200, all of sudden we have three: Nick Kyrgios of Australia, Alexander Zverev of Germany and with his win today, Coric.  Is this a trend? It's too early to tell, but for more on Coric's win today, see this from Steve Tignor at tennis.com. (Don't put much stock in his ATP height references. Those are notoriously inaccurate.)


Teenagers at the Austin, Texas $10,000 tournament for women and the Godfrey, Illinois $10,000 tournament for men, also had a good day. Eighteen-year-old Spencer Papa, who had beaten No. 3 seed and current Wimbledon boys champion Noah Rubin in the first round, defeated TCU's Nick Chappell 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals.  Papa, who starts at Tulsa this fall, had advanced to the final of a Futures in Mexico earlier this month, and reached the quarterfinals at last week's Futures tournament on his future campus. One of the unfortunate results of the current entry system for the Nationals is that Papa, who will not be 19 until October, was unable to get a wild card into Kalamazoo, with all eight going to other (deserving) players.  Certainly setting aside four wild cards for qualifying should be considered when suggestions for improving the new system are solicited.

Papa is one of five Americans in the quarterfinals, with UNC's Ronnie Schneider, Virginia's Mitchell Frank and former collegians Daniel Nguyen(USC) and Jeff Dadamo(Texas A&M) the others.

In Austin, 15-year-olds Usue Arconada and Kelly Chen are through to the quarterfinals, with Chen going directly from the Clay Courts in Memphis to the qualifying in Austin.  Arconada and Chen are joined in the quarterfinals by three former US collegians: Alex Guarachi of Alabama (last week's Vancouver $10K winner), 2013 NCAA finalist Mary Weatherholt (Nebraska), who play each other in a rematch of the 2013 NCAA semifinals, won 6-0, 6-3 by Weatherholt,  and recent Florida graduate Alex Cercone of Florida, who faces Chen.

At the $50,000 Lexington Challenger, two-time NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs kept her hopes for a third straight US Open wild card alive, saving a match point in her 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 win over UCLA rising sophomore Jennifer Brady.  Gibbs, Oudin and Brengle, all into the quarterfinals, still have an opportunity to win the USTA's Wild Card Challenge.

At the men's $50,000 Challenger in Lexington, Chase Buchanan(Ohio State) and Wayne Odesnik are the sole Americans still in the singles draw.

For those waiting for a release from the University of Virginia on Andres Pedroso's decision to leave his position as men's assistant, it's here.