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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Top Seven Seeds Advance to Round of 16 in Kalamazoo 18s; Mayo Ousts No. 2 Seed Van Emburgh in 16s; Top Seeds in 18s and 16s Doubles Upset

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Kalamazoo, MI--

Top seeds Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz moved into the round of 16 with straight-set wins Tuesday in the USTA Boys 18 National Championships, but French Open boys winner Tommy Paul was in trouble before pulling out a 6-7(6), 7-6(2), 6-0 win over No. 19 seed Gianni Ross.

With ideal weather and a full day tennis drawing a large crowd to the Stowe Stadium courts, Paul and Ross had plenty of witnesses to their contest.  Paul served for both sets, at 5-4 in the first and 5-3 in the second, but didn't get to a set point either time, as the 16-year-old Ross returned well and had no trouble hanging with Paul from the baseline.

"I started a little slow, but he's a good player," said Paul, 18. "He has a good backhand and really good forehand and when he has time, he can rip it. He hits the ball really clean, and was returning really well."

Paul dominated the second set tiebreaker, with Ross making some mistakes of both execution and shot selection. Paul closed it out with an ace, and the mandatory 10-minute break between sets did not slow his momentum.

"I was pretty tired, so I came up in the stands and laid down for a little bit," said Paul. "Then I went back down on the court to try to get my energy up."

"He played a really good match for the first two sets," Paul said. "Then in the third, I told myself to start hitting my forehand return, make every ball and run him to the forehand a little bit."

In Wednesday's round of 16, Paul will play another 16-year-old, No. 11 seed Oliver Crawford.

"I know him, he beat Will (Blumberg) here last year, didn't he?," Paul said. "We're friends, I know him, he came to USTA one time when I was there, but I have never really been on court with him."

Tiafoe advanced over unseeded Alexander Lebedev 6-4, 6-4, Fritz beat No. 29 seed Sameer Kumar 7-6(2), 6-2 and No. 3 seed Stefan Kozlov cruised past unseeded Vincent Rettke 6-1, 6-1.



Although it was not technically an upset when No. 22 seed Brandon Holt beat Henrik Wiersholm 7-5, 6-0, Holt certainly considered it one.

"Coming into it I thought it was going to be a tough match and one of the biggest wins of my life," said Holt, 17. "I'm speechless right now."

Holt, a rising senior, said he never really relaxed, even when he got his second break in the second set.

"I never actually relaxed," said Holt, the son of two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin. "In my [Southern California] sectionals, I was up 5-0 in the second set [of the final] and Kalman Boyd came back to 5-4 and I almost lost it. But I don't get super nervous. Everyone says I'm really calm and relaxed, so I guess that's a good thing."

Holt is on this trip with his father Scott, but he says although his mother doesn't coach him, she does accompany him to other tournaments, particularly the Winter Nationals in Arizona.

"There's pros and cons to having both," said Holt. "My dad's super relaxed and doesn't know as much about tennis, obviously, so it's more of a laid-back feeling. But with my mom, everything's set, ready to go. Right now I shouldn't be doing this, I should be stretching. She's super positive and looking forward. Both are great."

Although his mother taught him the game, she does not serve as his coach. He worked extensively with Peter Lucassen before the former USC player began traveling with Steve Johnson, and still does when Lucassen is in Southern California, but has no particular coach right now.

"I still hit with her sometimes, but not so much for coaching," said Holt. "She'll feed to me and stuff, but a lot of times to get her ready for an exhibition or get me ready for a tournament, or just because I want to hit some balls. So she's not so much a coach as she's always there for me when I need her. I mostly don't get advice on my strokes and things now. I just practice with the kids around, because there's a ton of good competition in California."

Holt has committed to USC for 2016, so beating Wiersholm, who has already spent a year at national rival Virginia, was special to him.

"I knew he was going to have all the pressure, because this was his last year, coming back from college and he has a lot of expectations," said Holt. "I knew he would be the one to get tight, and the times when I was supposed to get tight, I knew I had nothing to lose, deuce, break point, whatever. Up 4-0, I knew there was a chance he could still come back because on paper he is so much better than me, so I was just going to play my heart out. Even losing in three sets to him would be amazing, but I'm happy where I am and still want to keep going."

Holt will play No. 12 seed Eduardo Nava, who defeated unseeded Ben Vandixhorn 6-3, 6-0.

The 16s division produced the biggest upset to date, with unseeded Keenan Mayo defeating No. 2 seed Jake Van Emburgh 7-5, 6-3. Van Emburgh had lost the first set in his previous two matches, so Mayo was prepared for a possible third set.

"That's something that me and the coach I'm with talked about," said the 15-year-old Californian. "He was kind of letting up if he got down early, so I tried to bring the intensity early on, and I did that well in the first. I kind of let up a little bit, but still stayed on top enough and was mentally confident enough that I pulled through."

Mayo said the three-setters that Van Emburgh won in rounds two and three may have taken their toll.

"We also talked about how his legs may break down after a set," said Mayo. "And I definitely saw a little bit of that in the second set from him."

Having eliminated the No. 2 seed, Mayo likes his chances.

"I had a lot of confidence coming in," said Mayo, who reached the final of an ITF Grade 5 in Canada last month. "I was playing some good tennis before this tournament and now that I've beaten the two seed, the draw's opened up a bit, so I'm going to try to win the tournament."

16s No. 3 seed Patrick Kypson has dominated in his three victories, losing only eight games total, and he handled the pressure of playing on George Acker court today against unseeded Caleb Chakravarthi, rolling to a 6-2, 6-0 win. But after an emergency appendectomy and 12 days in the hospital, a tennis match doesn't have quite the same significance it had for him earlier this year.

"My appendix ruptured actually on the airplane to Guatemala," said the 15-year-old from North Carolina. "So we landed in Miami and I went to hospital and I had surgery. I got infections, because of the rupture. I was in the hospital in Miami for almost two weeks. That was the worst 12 days of my life. It was pretty scary. My dad (a cardiac surgeon) said I was pretty lucky to be alive after that."

As for his match against Chakravarthi, Kypson said he was certain that his opponent was much less comfortable on the main show court in front of so many spectators.

"Caleb hits the ball really well," said Kypson. "But I think playing on Court 1 in front of all those people really helped me a lot. I have a lot more experience in front of crowds and I think that favored me a lot more. I think he was pretty nervous in the beginning and I just took control of it."

Kypson has set his goals high for this year at Kalamazoo.

"I'm hitting the ball well, I like Kalamazoo, and I want to go all the way, I want to win this year," he said.

Top 16s seed JJ Wolf advanced to a round of 16 meeting with No. 22 seed Kevin Zhu by beating Andrew Ton 6-2, 6-2.

The doubles fourth round in both divisions produced four notable upsets.

Top seeds Michael Mmoh and Frances Tiafoe were beaten by No. 9 seeds Alex Rybakov and Eduardo Nava 6-1, 7-6(4), and No. 3 seeds Tommy Paul and Henrik Wiersholm lost to No. 12 seeds Oliver Crawford and Johnathan Small 4-6, 6-2, 10-8.  No. 2 seeds Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka now assume the favorite's role as the only Top 5 seeds still in the 18s draw.

The top two seeds in the 16s division also went down in the fourth round. No. 14 seeds Jackson Allen and Carson Haskins defeated top seeds Jake Van Emburgh and JJ Wolf 6-3, 2-6, 10-4 and No. 2 seeds Trent Bryde and Patrick Kypson were defeated by unseeded Alexander Brown and Brady Draheim 6-1, 6-4.

Complete results and Wednesday's schedule can be found at ustaboys.com.

Monday, August 3, 2015

July Aces; Top 18s Seeds Minimize Drama in Monday's Third Round at Kalamazoo

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Kalamazoo, MI--

August and its huge junior tournaments are in full swing now, but have a look back at an eventful July in my monthly Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network, sponsored by Southern California Tennis Academy.

After a thunderstorm with heavy rain and lightning passed through Kalamazoo on Sunday evening, the temperatures dropped from the low 90s to the upper 70s, but the breezy conditions that have been around throughout the first three days of the tournament persisted. The top seeds at the USTA Boys 18 and 16 National Championships negotiated that challenge however, with just three 18s seeds and four 16s seeds falling, and none of those in the top 10.

After a scare on Sunday, 16s top seed JJ Wolf had no trouble with Jackson Allen, taking a 6-2, 6-1 decision, although No. 2 seed Jake Van Emburgh found himself down a set for the second day in a row before beating Ignacio Garcia 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.  No. 3 seed Patrick Kypson and No. 4 seed Alexandre Rotsaert collected straight set wins to reach Tuesday's fourth round.

The highest seed to fall in either division in Monday's third round was No. 14 Christian Alshon, who lost to Zummy Bauer 76(2), 6-1 in the 16s division. Phillip Quinn defeated No. 24 seed Ryan Goetz 6-1, 6-4, James Ignatowich downed No. 31 seed A.T. Pickens 7-5, 6-3 and Robert Baylon defeated No. 28 Chambers Easterling 6-2, 6-2.

One of the day's most exciting matches was played in front of a large crowd, who came to support Portage Central's Bill Duo in his match against 16s No. 26 seed Trey Hilderbrand. Duo and Hildebrand, taking center stage on the George Acker court 1, battled into a third-set tiebreaker before the match was decided in the Texan's favor 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(2).

Michael Mmoh, the No. 5 seed in the 18s, followed Duo and Hildebrand onto Court 1, against Nicholas Borchenko and the fans were treated to another three-setter, with Mmoh needing raise his game to earn a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 victory.
Borchenko didn't hold back, particularly in the second set, when he broke Mmoh, assisted by two net cords in his favor, and served out the set.

USTA rules require a 10-minute break between the second and third sets, but Mmoh did not leave the court to talk to his coach Glenn Weiner.

"I didn't want to do anything I normally don't do, talk to Glenn or something," said Mmoh, who was a semifinalist last year. "I just stayed on the court, because I'm never going to do that in any other tournament, so I didn't feel the need to."

Mmoh said he was able to relax when he got an early break in the third.

"Credit to him, he played unbelievable," said Mmoh. "But I felt he got a little fortunate to get that break, so I thought if I kept on holding I would get my looks and I did, fortunately pretty early, and I thought it was a good match for me, a lot better than my first one."

"With the conditions, super fast courts, pretty windy, he was just serving and going for everything," Mmoh said. "That was his game plan, and it's tough to weather that sometimes."

Mmoh, who won a Futures tournament in Illinois two weeks ago, said that helps him, even though there's an obvious difference between pro and junior events.

"It actually helps a lot," Mmoh said. "Matches like these, I may be a little bit more nervous, more anxious if I wasn't playing well coming into the tournament. So I think it helps confidence-wise a lot. The courts were really slow there, but I was playing really well there, definitely."

Mmoh's friend and doubles partner, top seed Frances Tiafoe, who won his match against Lubomir Cuba 6-3, 6-3, also mentioned the tricky conditions at Stowe Stadium.

"The conditions were pretty tough, it's pretty windy right now," said Tiafoe. "And the early rounds are not easy, especially when you don't know the guys you are playing and they are obviously going to play their best against you. You just have to be up, ready for anything, just look at Mmoh's match. The guy is bombing serves and ripping forehands. You can't take anyone for granted out here."

Tiafoe is training at the USTA's Boca Raton National Center now, but is on his own this week.

"Nico(Todero) and Jose(Higueras) are my two coaches," Tiafoe said. "Nico's not here but Jose will be here watching over all the Americans. I'm pretty much here alone this week, no real coach. I have Vesa (Ponkka) from College Park, but he's pretty much with the College Park kids. I just want him to watch my matches, get a little insight after my matches. But I'm setting up my practices. I know what I need to get ready, I don't really think a coach is really needed here. The work is already supposed to be done before you get out here, and there's only so much a coach can tell you during match play and I think I know what I need to do."

No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz, showing no ill effects from the knee injury that hampered him in his second round match on Saturday, closed out the day with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Asher Hirsch, while Stefan Kozlov, the No. 3 seed, overcame a slow start to defeat Charles Tan 6-3, 6-3.

The three seeded 18s players to fall were No. 17 Nick Stachowiak, No. 18 Spencer Furman and No. 31 seed Jacob Brumm.  Ben Vandixhorn defeated Stachowiak 6-4, 6-1, Vincent Rettke beat Brumm 6-2, 6-1 and Alexander Lebedev took out Furman 2-6, 6-1, 6-3.

No-shows are not unusual in the consolation tournament, but are nearly unheard of in the main draw. Vincent Lin was the beneficiary of that rare occurrence today when Alafia Ayeni failed to show up for their match and was defaulted.

The third round of 16s doubles was played this afternoon at Western Michigan University and the top seeded teams of Wolf and Van Emburgh and Kypson and Trent Bryde advanced with straight-set victories.

The fourth round of doubles in both divisions will be played Tuesday afternoon at Stowe Stadium.

Results, draws and match times are available at ustaboys.com.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Top 16s Seeds Wolf and Van Emburgh Survive Close Calls in Kalamazoo Second Round; Di Lorenzo Wins Austin $10K; ITF World Junior Tennis Competition Starts Monday

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Kalamazoo, MI--

JJ Wolf and Jake Van Emburgh, the top two seeds in the 16s, staved off major upsets Sunday in the second round of the USTA Boys Nationals at Stowe Stadium, with Wolf defeating Drew Baird 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 and Van Emburgh beating Lucas Biondi 4-6, 6-3 7-6(0).

Although the temperature reached 90 degrees and the winds gusted over 25 mph later in the afternoon, the swirling breeze was mostly just a nuisance when Wolf and Van Emburgh took on Baird and Biondi on show courts 2 and 3.

Wolf saved a break point at 4-4 in the third with a good first serve, then held with a world class down the line backhand winner, putting the pressure squarely back on Baird.  Serving at 4-5, Baird couldn't find his first serve, and a couple of errors made it 30-all. A big Wolf forehand into the corner forced an error from Baird to set up match point, and when Baird missed a short forehand putaway wide, Wolf had the victory.

"I knew I was going to have to fight," said Wolf, a 16-year-old from Cincinnati. "He was such a good player, I knew it could go either way. He hit the ball really cleanly, so it was tough on the faster courts of Kalamazoo."

Wolf said he worked out his nerves after the first set, but soon discovered attacking his 14-year-old opponent's one-handed backhand was not productive.

"I tried to go there, but he stepped up and hit it pretty well," said Wolf, who won the 16s Winter Nationals in January. "So I wasn't going to go out of my way to hit it to his backhand. I just hit my crosscourt shots and did what I could."


As precarious a position as Wolf was in, his doubles partner Van Emburgh was in even more danger. Down 3-1 in the final set, he won four straight games to serve for the match, but then double faulted at 30-40 to make it 5-5.  Biondi, who hadn't held serve since the first game of the set, held at 15 to make it 6-5 and Van Emburgh needed his second hold of the set just to force a tiebreaker.

After Biondi missed a forehand in the first point of the game, Van Emburgh finally found the rhythm on his serve, hitting three consecutive aces to send the match into a tiebreaker.  Biondi, a 16-year-old from New York, netted a forehand on the first point and Van Emburgh took it from there, with a combination of his winners, including another ace, and Biondi's errors giving him the next six points as well.

"Those aces definitely gave me a huge jump into the tiebreak," said Van Emburgh, who has recently relocated to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where his father has taken a coaching position. "I had some doubts there at the end when I couldn't hold my serve serving for the match, and I thought here we go. But then I found it, and once I got up 3-0 in the breaker, I was, okay, I've got this match, this is my match."

Van Emburgh said he felt nauseous throughout the match and also turned his ankle, which required a medical timeout for taping by the trainer.

"I don't know what was wrong," Van Emburgh said of his queasy feeling throughout the match. "I never get tired, or sick so it was like a first thing for me. I felt really crappy the whole time. So I was lucky to be able to hang in there and fight my way through."

Van Emburgh, who turns 17 next month, was confident his doubles partner would do the same, when he looked over to see Wolf trailing in his match.

"I was surprised when he lost the first set, but I knew he wasn't going to lose the match," said Van Emburgh. "It's just how he is."

Although the top two seeds survived, nine seeded 16s players did not. No. 13 seed Andrew Fenty lost to William Grattan-Smith 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, No. 17 seed Kevin Ma was beaten by Jeremy Yuan 6-3, 6-1 and No. 18 seed Robert Maciag was defeated by Andrew Ton 6-4, 6-4. No. 19 seed Abhijeet Joshi was defeated by Sean Hill 7-5, 7-6(1), No. 20 seed William Peters lost to Caleb Chakravarthi 6-4, 6-4 and No. 21 seed Jaycer Lyeons was beaten by Matthew Rodriguez 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. No. 29 seed John Speicher lost to Arjith Jayaraman 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, No. 30 seed Ajai Shekhera was defeated by Bryce Pereira 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 and No. 32 seed Cotter Wilson lost to Keenan Mayo 6-3, 6-4.

The second round of 16s doubles saw top seed Van Emburgh and Wolf and No. 2 seeds Trent Bryde and Patrick Kypson advance in straight sets.

The only 18s action on Sunday was the third round of doubles, with the top three seeded teams of Michael Mmoh and Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka, and Tommy Paul and Henrik Wiersholm all advancing in straight sets at the windswept courts at Western Michigan University.

Complete results and draws are at ustaboys.com.

Monday will feature third round singles play for both divisions, with the 16s beginning at 8 a.m. and the 18s starting at 12:30 p.m.

Eighteen-year-old wild card Francesca Di Lorenzo, who will start this fall at Ohio State, won the $10,000 Pro Circuit event in Austin, Texas, beating Lauren Herring, the recent Georgia grad, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2 in Sunday's final.  Di Lorenzo is scheduled to play in the USTA Girls 18s Nationals in San Diego on Monday at 10 a.m.

Evan King won the $15,000 Futures in Edwardsville, beating Clay Thompson 6-4, 6-3.  Bobby Knight has full coverage of the former Michigan Wolverine's win over the former UCLA Bruin at College Tennis Today.

The ITF's 14-and-under World Junior Tennis Championships get underway on Monday in the Czech Republic with the Russian girls and Korean boys the top seeds.  The USA teams (the players representing the US are here) are both No. 1 in their round robin groups, meaning they are expected to advance to the semifinals.  The ITF Junior website article about the draw is here.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Top Kalamazoo 18s Seeds Survive After Anxious Moments; Wiersholm Defeats No. 8 Seed Blumberg, Stalder Ousts Riffice

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Kalamazoo, MI--

Not much came easy for the top seeds as they took to the Stowe Stadium courts for the first time in round two of the USTA Boys 18s Nationals.


Although No. 1 seed Frances Tiafoe picked up a routine 6-1, 6-3 win over Billy Rowe, No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz was just two points into his match with Alex Ross when something went awry with his knee.

"I don't know what shot I did it on," said Fritz, who won the match 6-1, 6-2. "It was one of two shots. One shot I jumped up and back for a deep forehand, so I could have landed funny on it, and then later on that point I went up and stop-started on that knee, so that might be what did it. I think I just jammed my knee in. I felt this weird pain on the next shot I hit on that point, it was bad actually. It was so painful when I went to serve, so I asked for a medical timeout."

The trainer wrapped the knee, and Fritz won that game and the next two, without being able to use his normal service motion.

"When I got back on, I still couldn't put any weight on it," Fritz said. "Any bending and pushing hurt. With the pain I was having, there was no chance I could play, but I was winning, so I kept playing. He was missing a lot of first serves, so I could move around his second serve and go for a winner. In the second set, he made more first serves and in the second set it started feeling better and better. I still couldn't do my full serve. But I'm not too worried about it."

No. 5 seed Michael Mmoh, who won a Futures title last week in Illinois, had his hands full with Sam Turchetta, but Turchetta blinked in the first set tiebreaker and Mmoh took advantage, closing out the match 7-6(0), 6-3. Nick Bollettieri, who is an honorary referee at the tournament, has mentored Mmoh throughout his five years at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, and watched Mmoh's performance while enjoying a picture-perfect midsummer day in Kalamazoo.

Wimbledon champion Reilly Opelka, the No. 6 seed, also had some nervous moments in the first set, falling behind Paul Barretto 3-1 before recovering for a 7-6(6), 6-3 win. No. 7 seed Alex Rybakov also was down early against Aron Pierce, with Pierce having four set points serving at 5-4, but Rybakov saved them all, won the subsequent tiebreaker and went on to a 7-6(4), 6-1 win.

No. 4 seed Tommy Paul needed only one set, which he won 6-2, to advance to the third round, with Lane Leschly retiring with a leg injury.  No. 3 seed Stefan Kozlov was tested by Ole Miss rising sophomore Grey Hamilton, but last year's semifinalist hit some clutch backhand winners late to take a 6-4, 6-4 decision.


No. 8 seed William Blumberg was the only top 8 seed failing to advance, with Henrik Wiersholm defeating him 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.  Wiersholm trailed 4-2 in the final set, but played error-free tennis in the final four games to get the win. A stunning running forehand winner at 4-all in the third got him the break, and he had no difficulty serving it out.

"It really came down to a couple of points here and there," said Wiersholm, the 2012 16s champion. "There was one point where I just hit a great passing shot. He should have won that. If he wins that point, you're probably talking to Will right now, to be honest."

Wiersholm knew Blumberg had been ill and pulled out of doubles on Friday, but thought that may not have been an advantage for him.

"He has a sinus infection, so he was breathing heavy at points, but I think that made him actually go after his shots more," said Wiersholm. "And when Will's going after his shots, he's really tough to play, because he has such good timing. The first set was kind of a blur. He was teeing off, I was hitting a little bit short and he was playing good ball. Fast tennis and 6-1 just like that. I told myself you have to recognize he's firing on all cylinders and you have to step it up now, hitting the ball deeper, moving him up and back and I was able to do that in the second set."

Wiersholm, who was seeded No. 12 last year, but is unseeded this year after a year at the University of Virginia, was philosophical about that position. And in teammate Collin Altamirano, who won the tournament unseeded in 2013, he has a blueprint if he needs one to inspire him.

"Collin is a great example of how seeding doesn't really matter," Wiersholm said. "If you want to win the tournament, which is the goal of all these players here, you have to beat everybody. So if I have to start early--first round was just as tough as this one, I played another great player--so be it. Just get after it."

Blumberg was the highest seed to fall in the second round, but far from the only one.


At a match played late in the afternoon at Western Michigan University, Reese Stalder defeated No. 9 seed and Clay Court champion Sam Riffice 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(6). According to those at the match, the last twenty minutes of the match featured great tennis and great sportsmanship by both players, with both playing to win until Stalder collected the final point of the match.

No. 15 seed Eric Rutledge lost to Michael Genender 6-2, 6-1, No. 16 seed Zeke Clark lost to Logan Smith 6-3, 6-4 and 2014 16s finalist Connor Hance, the No. 21 seed this year in 18s, lost to Grayson Broadus 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.  No. 26 seed Kalman Boyd lost to Jack Turchetta 6-4, 7-5, No. 27 seed Andrew Heller was beaten by Vincent Lin 6-2, 6-2 and No. 32 seed Matthew Gamble lost to Ryan Dickerson 7-5, 6-4.

First round action in the boys 16s began Saturday, with all seeded players and doubles teams starting their tournament on Sunday. The boys 18s have only the third round of doubles on Sunday.

Complete draws with results can be found at ustaboys.com

Friday, July 31, 2015

My Kalamazoo Preview; Former Champion Wiersholm Overcomes Tough Challenge in Opening Round at Kalamazoo; Clay Champions Riffice and Kirkov Fall in Doubles


©Colette Lewis--
Kalamazoo, MI--

Seeded players in the 18s all received byes in the first round, meaning their opening matches will be Saturday, and obviously the focus is on them in my Kalamazoo preview for the Tennis Recruiting Network. But a former champion will always receive attention at Kalamazoo, and 2012 16s winner Henrik Wiersholm fought his way past Alex Knight 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in one of the featured matches at Stowe Stadium.

Both Wiersholm and Knight have completed their freshman years in college, with Wiersholm at Virginia and Knight at Michigan, and Wiersholm anticipated he would have his hands full against the left-hander from Florida.

"He plays at Michigan and I knew they had a pretty good program over there, so I knew it was going to be a tough match," said Wiersholm. "It wasn't going to be junior tennis, because he goes to college, he knows how to play. I knew it was going to be long points, move the ball around. In the first set, I came out pretty nervous, honestly. I was playing tight, not looking for the ball and he capitalized on that. In the second set, I was just telling myself, yeah, it's Kalamazoo, but you've played this tournament for the fourth time, so what are you doing playing tight? Just go out and play."

In the third set, Knight's service game at 2-2 went to ten deuces and he saved eight break points before holding with an ace.  And although Wiersholm lost the game, he held easily and then broke Knight for a 4-3 lead in a game almost as short as Knight's previous service game was long.

"I think that took a little bit out of him," said Wiersholm. "I don't how many minutes it was, so long, so many deuces. I had a lot of chances but I knew if I put him in a position like that, the next game I could capitalize because he'd be thinking like, wow, that last service game was tough, this one is going to be tough. And so I went after a couple of returns in that game and was able to get the break."

One of the characteristics of Kalamazoo that sets it apart from other junior events is its ability to draw players back from college, Pro Circuit and ITF junior circuit events. 

Stefan Kozlov, who has not played a junior event since last December and accompanied his friend Wiersholm to his press conference in the Tower, explained.

"This tournament is like nothing else," said Kozlov, 17. "Everyone you see, it seems like you haven't seen in years. It's crazy. You see everyone and you've got to talk to them, you've got to plan an extra 30 minutes just for that. Even at junior slams, it's not like this."

Wiersholm agreed.

"It's all the U.S. players, we're all best buds, and a lot of these guys I haven't seen in a year. I walked out to practice yesterday, and like for an hour, everyone was like, ooo, whaah," said Wiersholm, imitating good friends greeting each other after a long absence. "It's insane."

Wiersholm will play No. 8 seed William Blumberg in the second round Saturday. 

"I'm excited," Wiersholm said. "Will's a damn good player."

Blumberg may not be in top physical condition however, as he withdrew from doubles with an illness. His partner Nathan Ponwith did find another player whose partner had also withdrawn, Adrian Chamdani, and they advanced to the third round with a straight-set victory.

No. 5 seeds Sam Riffice and Vasil Kirkov did not survive their first contest however.  The Clay Court champions fell to Alex Diaz and Zach Jennings 6-2, 6-3.

The only other seeded team to lose was No. 14 Jordan Benjamin and Matthew Gamble, who were beaten by Billy Rowe and Reese Stalder 6-1, 1-6, 10-7.

Top seeds Frances Tiafoe and Michael Mmoh, No. 2 seeds Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka and No. 3 seeds Tommy Paul and Wiersholm all advanced in straight sets.

The 16s division begins play on Saturday with unseeded players taking the courts in the first round and the opening round of doubles to follow in the afternoon.  Jake Van Emburgh and JJ Wolf are the top seeds in doubles, with Trent Bryde and Patrick Kypson the No. 2 seeds.  The complete draw for the 16s doubles can be found at ustaboys.com.

Live streaming can be found for one of the show courts can be found here throughout the tournament.

The opening ceremonies, featuring an exhibition with 1995 18s champion Justin Gimelstob, are scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. at Stowe Stadium.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tiafoe and Mmoh Top Seeds in Kalamazoo Doubles; Southern Cal Girls Take 18s National Team Title


The doubles draws have been posted for the Kalamazoo 18s, with two rounds scheduled for Friday. As in the singles, a main draw US Open wild card goes to the winners. Last year's defending champion Stefan Kozlov, who partnered Noah Rubin, is not entered in doubles this year.

The 18s doubles seeds:
1 Michael Mmoh and Frances Tiafoe
2 Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka
3 Tommy Paul and Henrik Wiersholm
4 William Blumberg and Nathan Ponwith
5 Vasil Kirkov and Sam Riffice
6 Joshua Sheehy and Parker Wynn
7 Brandon Holt and Riley Smith
8 Zeke Clark and William Genesen
9 Eduardo Nava and Alex Rybakov
10 Spencer Furman and Eric Rutledge
11 Lane Leschly and Alex Ross
12 Oliver Crawford and Johnathan Small
13 Joseph Haig and William Sharton
14 Jordan Benjamin and Matthew Gamble
15 Martin Joyce and Gianni Ross
16 Liam Caruana and Sameer Kumar

The seeded teams receive a bye in the first round, so will play only one doubles match on Friday.

The 16s begin singles play on Saturday and their doubles draw will come out on Friday afternoon.

The match times for singles and doubles are now posted at ustaboys.com. Click the Match Times button at the top of the home page for a printable pdf.

The Southern Cal girls won the USTA Girls 18 National Team Championship, beating the Southern section's team 6-1 yesterday in Claremont, California.  The Southern Cal section had won the boys version of the tournament in Champaign on Tuesday.

Below are the results from the final: