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Monday, May 2, 2016

Easter Bowl Videos; Chirico Beats Ivanovic in Madrid; Other Junior, College, Pro Circuit Notes

When I wrote last Friday about my uncertainty regarding the Easter Bowl video processing, I didn't envision the three straight days of horrible spring weather here in Michigan that would give me ample time to complete the task.  Below are both finals of the ITF and 16s divisions, which I was able to film from above the courts. With so much else going on during the 12s and 14s finals on Wednesday, I had to do short individual videos for those eight players, which can be accessed by clicking on the names below.

Max Fardanesh, 12s champion
Samuel Landau, 12s finalist
Alex Lee, 14s champion
Andrew Dale, 14s finalist
Katrina Scott, 12s champion
Nikki Yanez, 12s finalist
Ava Hrastar, 14s champion
Skyler Grishuk, 14s finalist








Louisa Chirico, who turns 20 later this month, picked up one of the biggest wins of her young pro career today in Madrid, beating No. 14 seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 in the second round.  For Chirico, who has always liked and played well on clay, it was a second Top 20 win. Earlier last month, she had beaten Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic, then No. 15, on the Har-Tru courts of Charleston. For more on Chirico, see this WTA Insider Q and A, which came out after she qualified for Madrid with wins over Mariana Duque Marino of Colombia and Irina Falconi.  Next up for Chirico, who has yet to crack the WTA Top 100, is Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who at No. 4, is the highest seed still remaining in the tournament.

I missed this last month, but the US representative for the Longines Future Aces competition in Paris later this month has been decided, with Nikki Yanez winning the opportunity to compete with 15 of the best 12-and-under players in the world during the French Open. Yanez, whose video appears above, got revenge for her Easter Bowl loss at the hands of Katrina Scott, beating Scott 6-3, 6-2 in the final, which was contested between the two round robin group winners.  She will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Paris with a parent or guardian to compete in the event. I don't know if the international competition is played with no-ad scoring, but this US qualifying did use that format, plus a match tiebreaker in lieu of a third set. Complete results can be found here.

Playsight, which is now an advertiser on Zootennis, has announced they will be providing their product throughout the USTA's new 102-court campus in Lake Nona, Florida. Playsight has been busy adding streaming and SmartCourt technology at college sites this season, while sponsoring a PlaySight College Match of the Week.  For more on their partnership with the USTA at Lake Nona, see this release.

Speaking of new facilities, the University of Virginia is considering a new site for their outdoor tennis center, according to this article.

Another item I missed last month was University of North Carolina senior Ashley Dai discussing her path to coming out as a gay athlete in this article from Outsports.

A few more signings have been announced recently. Alexandar Lazarov of Bulgaria, who went 7-6 in the third with Norway's Casper Ruud at the Orange Bowl and 7-6 in the third with Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Eddie Herr, will be joining Wake Forest this fall.  Spencer Furman, a blue chip currently No. 8 in the class of 2016, has signed with Duke. Illinois has signed five-star recruit Kris Ortega and Arizona has signed Alejandro Reguant of Spain. Australian Chloe Hule has signed with the Colorado women.

Joey Dillon has written about at former Florida State star Jean-Yves Aubone's career in this article for The Tennis Recruiting Network. Aubone, who announced he will be retiring from pro tennis at the end of the year, is candid about all the ups and downs he has experienced in his years on the lower levels of the professional game.

Qualifying is complete at the $10,000 Tampa Futures, and three teenagers who qualified will be attempting to earn their first ATP points Wednesday: Canada's Victor Krustev, Ecuador's Andres Andrade and Georgia recruit Robert Loeb. Florida recruit Stephen Madonia, who earned his first ATP point last year in Tampa, will attempt to stay in the ATP rankings after qualifying, and two wild cards, 18-year-old Adam Ambrozy, a Columbia recruit who is from nearby St. Petersburg, and Taiwan's Ray Ho, a 16-year-old IMG client, will also be looking for their first ATP point.

Tomorrow is the announcement of the seeds and fields for the NCAA Division I Team Championships, with the women going first at 5 p.m., followed by the men at 5:30.  Again this year, the selection shows will be available at NCAA.com.  But for a sneak peek, check out College Tennis Today, which has projections for both the men's and women's selections.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Townsend, Luetjen Sweep USTA Pro Circuit Titles; Ohio State Men and Women Win Big Ten Conference Championships; TCU Men, Oklahoma State Women Earn Big 12 Titles


Taylor Townsend put herself in great position to win the USTA's French Open Wild Card Challenge by defeating Grace Min 7-5, 6-1 today in the final of the $50,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Charlottesville, Virginia. Townsend, who made the final of last week's $50,000 tournament in Dothan, avenged her loss there to Rebecca Peterson of Sweden in the first round in Charlottesville, and barring a title by any of the eight Americans still mathematically alive in next week's $75,000 Indian Harbour Beach, Florida event, Townsend will earn the reciprocal wild card for the second time. She made the third round of the French Open when she won the wild card in 2014, having claimed the titles in Charlottesville and Indian Harbour Beach.

Townsend and Asia Muhammad also claimed their fifth doubles title of the year, with the No. 2 seeds defeating unseeded Alexandra Panova of Russia and Shelby Rogers 7-6(4), 6-0.

At the $10,000 Futures in Vero Beach, former Ole Miss star Jonas Luetjen of Germany also swept both singles and doubles. In the singles final, Luetjen, who completed his collegiate eligibility in 2013, beat Martins Podzus 7-6(4), 6-3. In the doubles final that followed, Luetjen and Serbian teen Miomir Kecmanovic, an unlikely pairing, defeated top seeds Deiton Baughman and Anderson Reed 6-1, 5-7, 10-8.

The last two of the Power Five conferences completed their conference tournaments today with both Ohio State teams winning the Big Ten titles, and the TCU men and Oklahoma State women taking the Big 12 titles.

Although three of the four matches were close, there was nothing like last week's Virginia - Wake Forest finish for the men's ACC title.

Indoors at Michigan State due to the cold and rainy weather, the Ohio State women, who had won the regular season conference title, beat Michigan 4-2 to win their first conference tournament title.  In Minnesota, the Ohio State men met Illinois for the ninth time in the last 11 years in the tournament final and it was the Buckeyes who came out with the title, by a 4-1 score.

At the Big 12 tournament in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the home team took its first tournament title since 2003 with the top-seeded Oklahoma State women blanking Texas Tech 4-0. Oklahoma State, who, like Ohio State, had gone undefeated in their conference's regular season, won the doubles point and got three straight-set wins at 1, 2, and 3 in singles to claim the title.

In the men's final, TCU defeated Texas Tech 4-2, avenging the 4-2 loss to the Red Raiders last weekend that left the two teams co-champions of the regular season. TCU again lost the doubles point but came back to take four points in singles points, with Jerry Lopez clinching at line 4.

Not all of the conference championships are complete, but they will be by tonight.  Scroll to the bottom of the College Tennis Today tournament page to see who has earned automatic NCAA bids from the other conferences.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

USA Junior Teams Advance to ITF World Competition; Bolton, Tsygura Win Grade 4 Titles in Florida; Pro Circuit Update; Big 12, Big Ten Finals Set

Three of the four teams from the United States went undefeated in the North American qualifying for the ITF's junior team competitions, with both 14-and-under teams and the Junior Fed Cup team winning their matches 3-0 today.  The 16-and-under Junior Davis Cup team fell to Canada 2-1, but will still advance to the world finals in Budapest in September.


Canada is the defending Junior Davis Cup champion, so the US boys team of Keenan Mayo, Trey Hilderbrand and Sebastian Korda were the underdogs coming into today's tie. Although Denis Shapovalov is no longer age eligible, Felix Auger-Aliassime is, and his ITF junior ranking, 11, is much higher than any other participant in this year's Boca Raton qualifying. In today's tie, however, Korda got the better of him, posting a 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 win at No. 1 (Hilderbrand had lost to Nicaise Muamba 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2) to send the match to the doubles to decide it.  Muamba and Chih Chi Huang won the doubles over Korda and Mayo 3-6, 6-3, 10-3 to give the Canadian team first place.  This is the first year that the competition's doubles have been played with the no-ad, match tiebreaker format that has been in place for some time on the ITF Junior Circuit.

In the boys 14-and-under competition, Nicholas Garcia and Stefan Leustian won their singles to clinch the win against Canada, who did not qualify for the finals, with Mexico finishing second this year.  In the girls 14-and-under competition, Naomi Cheong and Whitney Osuigwe earned the two singles wins against Puerto Rico. In the Junior Fed Cup, the US team, a heavy favorite this week, had no difficulty with Canada, with Caty McNally and Amanda Anisimova getting singles wins.

Complete results can be found at the ITF tournament page.

Just down I-95 in Coral Gables, the ITF Grade 4 Copa Badia was completed today, with No. 2 seeds taking the titles with wins over the No. 1 seeds.  Elysia Bolton defeated Hurricane Tyra Black 6-4, 6-3, her second win over Black this month, having previously beaten her in the second round at the Carson Grade 1.  It is the 16-year-old's first ITF singles title.

Tsygura, who will turn 17 tomorrow, also claimed his first ITF singles title, beating Alexander Rotsaert 6-2, 6-0.  Rotsaert had beaten Tsygura in the semifinals of the Kalamazoo 16s last summer.

Mac Kiger and Aleksandar Kovacevic won the boys doubles, beating Steven Sun and Michael Heller 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 in a battle between unseeded teams.  The girls doubles champions also were unseeded with  16s Easter Bowl champions Chloe Beck and Emma Navarro beating Bolton (the ITF Easter Bowl doubles champion) and Emma Decoste, the No. 3 seeds, 6-4, 6-2.

Two Americans will play for the championship of the $50,000 Charlottesville event Sunday, with wild card Taylor Townsend and unseeded Grace Min facing off.  Townsend defeated unseeded Elitsa Kostova of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-1, while Min dominated No. 2 seed Anna Tatishvili 6-4, 6-0.  Townsend is the leader in the USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge, and will be very difficult to catch if she wins the title Sunday.  She also is again in the doubles final, with Asia Muhammad, with the pair going for their fifth title on the USTA Pro Circuit since late February. The No. 2 seeds will play unseeded Shelby Rogers and Alexandra Panova of Russia.

The news was not as good for the US boys competing today, with Frances Tiafoe suffering his fourth straight loss to Quentin Halys of France in the final of the Tallahassee Challenger and Vasil Kirkov falling in the semifinals of the $10,000 Vero Beach Futures.

Tiafoe, who is now 0-3 in Challenger finals, didn't hold in his last five service games, falling 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2 to the 19-year-old, who collected his first Challenger title.  In the doubles, Julio Peralta of Chile and Dennis Novikov defended their title, beating Peter Luczak and Marc Polmans of Australia 3-6, 6-4, 12-10.

In Vero Beach, lucky loser Kirkov fell to unseeded Martins Podzus of Latvia 6-2, 6-3.  The other 17-year-old in the draw, No. 3 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada, also lost, going out to former Ole Miss star Jonas Luetjen of Germany 6-0, 4-6, 6-3. Luetjen will also play for the doubles title Sunday, with 16-year-old Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia. They will play top seeds Deiton Baughman and Anderson Reed.

The finals are set for the Big 12 and Big Ten Conference Championships on Sunday.

In the Big 12, Texas Tech can take both the men's and women's titles, with the third-seeded women meeting top seed Oklahoma State and the No. 1-seeded men taking on No. 2 seed TCU. Both tournaments are being held in Stillwater.  The women's final will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2 at 1 p.m. Central.

In the Big Ten, Ohio State can take both the men's and women's titles, with the top-seeded women facing No. 3 seed Michigan in East Lansing, and the No. 1-seeded men taking on No. 3 seed Illinois in Minneapolis.

Friday, April 29, 2016

April Aces; Asics Easter Bowl Slideshow; USA Rolls on in ITF Junior Team Qualifying; Kirkov into Futures Semifinal; Tiafoe Advances to Tallahassee Challenger Final

Usually my Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network is published early in the following month, but with 18 aces for April already, there was no need to include this weekend's results too. Check out the notable performances from the first four weeks of April here.

I finished the slideshow of the singles semifinalists and the doubles finalists from all eight Asics Easter Bowl divisions, which is below. I still have all 16 Easter Bowl videos to process, and currently I don't have an estimate for when I'll be posting those. The link to the album for mobile devices is here.


At the North American qualifying for the ITF Junior Team events, the United States again won all four of its matches, although in the boys 14-and-under event, the USA team needed to win the doubles point to advance over Guatemala. In the girls 14-and-under World Junior Tennis competition, Naomi Cheong and Alexa Noel won singles matches to defeat Mexico. In the Junior Davis Cup, Sebastian Korda and Keenan Mayo won singles matches to defeat the Dominican Republic and in Junior Fed Cup, Caty McNally and Amanda Anisimova surrendered just one game between them in singles against Puerto Rico. Saturday's final day will see the USA play Canada for first place in both the Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup, but regardless of the results Saturday, all four US teams have qualified for the 16-team world competitions in August and September.

Complete results can be found at the ITF tournament page.

At the $10,000 Vero Beach Futures, lucky loser Vasil Kirkov continues his run. A win on Thursday put the 17-year-old from Tampa Florida in a Futures quarterfinal for the first time, and now he is into his first semifinal after defeating Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador 7-6(5), 6-4. He will play unseeded Martins Podzus of Latvia in Saturday's semifinal. The only seed remaining is No. 3 Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who will play Jonas Luetjen of Germany, a former Ole Miss standout.

At the $50,000 tournament in Charlottesville, the women were required to play two rounds today, with wild card Kayla Day winning her first match 6-2, 6-4 over Jennifer Brady, but falling to Elitsa Kostova of Bulgaria 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. The semifinals will see Kostova play wild card Taylor Townsend in the top half, and Grace Min will meet No. 2 seed Anna Tatishvili in the bottom half.


Frances Tiafoe defeated Ryan Harrison 7-6(4), 6-4 tonight at the $50,000 Tallahassee Challenger to return to the final for the second straight year. Last night Tiafoe defeated top seed Donald Young 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 for his sixth career ATP Top 100 win.  Tiafoe will play 19-year-old Quentin Halys of France for the second time in three weeks in Saturday's final. Halys, who beat Tiafoe twice at the US Open in the Junior Championships, posted a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over the 18-year-old from Maryland in the second round of the Sarasota Challenger.

Tiafoe will be playing in his third Challenger final, having lost in both previous appearances, including last year in Tallahassee to Facundo Arguello of Argentina.  Halys will be playing in his first career Challenger final after beating James McGee of Ireland 6-4, 6-1 in today's semifinal.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

USA Dominates First Day of ITF Junior Team North American Qualifying; Kirkov Reaches Vero Beach Futures Quarterfinals; Emory Men, Women Top Division III Rankings; Men's SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Ivy Year End Awards

Last year I was in Boca Raton for the North American qualifying for the ITF World Junior Tennis competition for 14-and-unders and the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup for the 16-and-unders. The drama was minimal, with the US finishing first in all four events and Canada finishing second, with both qualifying for the World Finals.

After checking that off my bucket list last year, I didn't make the trip this year, but after today's first round robin results, it appears to be more of the same for the US and Canada.  The US won all four of its matches 3-0, with only one of those against Canada. In the 14U girls event, Whitney Osuigwe and Alexa Noel got the singles wins against Canada.  In the Junior Fed Cup, Claire Liu and Amanda Anisimova won their singles matches against Mexico and in Junior Davis Cup, Keenan Mayo and Sebastian Korda picked up singles wins, also against Mexico. In the boys 14U event, Nicholas Garcia and Stefan Leustian won their singles matches against Mexico.

Friday's matches do not feature any US vs Canada matches, with those coming on Saturday, the final day of competition.  For today's complete results and tomorrow schedule, see the ITF tournament website.


Vasil Kirkov lost in the final round of qualifying to fellow teen Hady Habib at the $10,000 Vero Beach Futures, but received entry as a lucky loser when Alejandro Gomez of Colombia withdrew. The 17-year-old from Florida is now into his first Futures quarterfinal after beating Daniel Garza of Mexico, 4-6, 6-4, 4-1 ret.  Kirkov will play former USC star Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador, who outlasted wild card Gianni Ross 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-5. Eighteen-year-old Marcelo Barrios Vera of Chile defeated top seed Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals, and the third teenager in the quarterfinals is last week's Orange Park Futures winner Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who squeezed past former Michigan standout Michael Zhu, a qualifier, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(1).

The last rankings for Division III before the NCAAs were released today, with the Emory men and women staying at No. 1.  The NCAAs are here in Kalamazoo this year, and I'll be staying home to cover them instead of traveling to Tulsa for the Division I tournament this year. It's only a six-day tournament, compared to the 12-day Division I NCAAs, with eight men's and women's teams, instead of 16 of each. The individual tournament is a 32 draw that is completed in three days, with first and second rounds on the first day and quarterfinals and semifinals on the second day. The manual for the tournament can be found at ncaa.org.

The men's Top 10 (previous week)
1. Emory (1)
2. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (3)
3. Middlebury (4)
4. Bowdoin (2)
5. Carnegie Mellon (8)
6 Washington St. Louis (7)
7. Case Western (6)
8. Chicago (5)
9. Williams (9)
10. Pomona-Pitzer

The women's Top 10 (previous week)
1. Emory (1)
2. Williams (2)
3. Pomona-Pitzer (3)
4. Claremonth-Mudd-Scripps (4)
5. Middlebury (7)
6. Bowdoin (6)
7. Amherst (5)
8. Wesleyan (8)
9. Chicago (16)
10. Washington St Louis (12)

The ACC, SEC, Big Ten and Ivy League released their men's year-end awards today. You can view the all-conference teams by using the link in the header.

ACC:
Player of the Year: Chris Eubanks, Georgia Tech
Freshman of the Year: Petros Chrysochos Wake Forest
Coach of the Year: Tony Bresky, Wake Forest

SEC
Player of the Year: Diego Hidalgo, Florida
Co-Freshmen of the Year: Alfredo Perez, Florida and Ryotaro Matsumura, Kentucky
Coach of the Year: Bryan Shelton, Florida

Big Ten:
Player of the Year: Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State
Freshman of the Year: Hugo Di Feo, Ohio State
Coach of the Year: Ty Tucker, Ohio State

Ivy League:
Player of the Year: Shawn Hadavi, Columbia
Freshman of the Year: David Wolfson, Cornell
Coach of the Year: Chris Drake, Dartmouth

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kozlov, Tiafoe Reach Tallahassee Challenger Quarterfinals; Ross, Kirkov Advance at Vero Beach Futures; Carter, Austin Win ACC, SEC POY Awards

Stefan Kozlov continued his outstanding play this month at the $50,000 Tallahassee Challenger, beating No. 2 seed Gerald Melzer of Austria 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 today to reach the quarterfinals of the $50,000 event. Kozlov, who reached the $100,000 Guadeloupe Challenger final at the beginning of the month, and won the $25,000 Futures in Little Rock the following week, took last week off, but was right back in qualifying for Tallahassee. The 18-year-old will break into the ATP Top 200 with this week's results, and has also been accepted into the French Open qualifying next month.  He will play fellow qualifier James McGee of Ireland in Thursday's quarterfinals.

Frances Tiafoe is no longer required to qualify for Challenger events, but he is defending finalist points from last year at Tallahassee, where he lost to Facundo Arguello of Argentina 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.  As luck would have it, he drew Arguello in the first round this year, getting his revenge with a 6-3, 6-3 win yesterday over the No. 6 seed. Today Tiafoe defeated Mitchell Krueger 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals, where he'll meet top seed Donald Young for the first time. An American finalist is certain in Tallahassee, with Ryan Harrison also advancing in the top half, to play the winner of tonight's match, currently in a rain delay, between Brian Baker and Noah Rubin. Kozlov is the sole American in the bottom half.

Two 17-year-olds have picked up their second ATP points at the $10,000 Vero Beach Futures, now sponsored by Mardy Fish's Children's Foundation.  Yesterday, lucky loser Vasil Kirkov advanced to the second round with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Alejandro Mendoza of Bolivia; Kirkov had previous collected his first point in January at the Weston Futures. Today, wild card Gianni Ross got his second point by beating former Illinois star Dennis Nevolo, the No. 4 seed, 6-3, 6-3.  Ross's first ATP point came last November in the Pensacola Futures. You can read about Kirkov, Ross and other players with local ties to event at the Tennis Vero Beach website.  For more on Ross and his plans for the summer, see this recent article from the Chicago Tribune.

The first round is nearly complete at the women's $50,000 tournament in Charlottesville, Virginia, with no fewer than 11 US women into Thursday's second round.  Qualifier Raveena Kingsley and wild card Danielle Collins were on serve at 3-4 in the first set when rain interrupted the match.  On Tuesday, Kayla Day got her first win at the $50,000 level, beating former USC star Maria Sanchez 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1, a match that was over three hours in duration. Day will play former UCLA Bruin Jennifer Brady next, who took out top seed Shelby Rogers 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

The year end conference awards are beginning to be released. The ACC women's awards were announced last week, with Hayley Carter of North Carolina the Player of the Year, Ayan Broomfield of Clemson the Freshman of the Year and Rodney Harmon of Georgia Tech the Coach of the Year.  The all-ACC teams can be found here.


The SEC announced its women's awards today, with Florida's Brooke Austin named Player of the Year, Alabama's Andie Daniell named Freshman of the Year and Florida's Roland Thornqvist named Coach of the Year. Austin was also SEC Player of the Year last year. The all-SEC teams can be found here.

The Ivy League's women's awards were also announced today. Columbia's  Kanika Vaidya is Player of the Year, Erica Oosterhout of Harvard is Rookie of the Year and Princeton's Laura Granville is Coach of the Year.  The all-Ivy teams can be found here.

The Ivy League does not have a conference tournament, so the Princeton women and Columbia men will advance to the NCAAs as regular season champions.

The Tulsa women and South Florida men won the American Athletic Conference tournaments last weekend.

The final conference tournaments, including those of the Big 12 and Big Ten, are this weekend.  Ohio State's men and women both won outright regular season championships last week, with the men going through the conference season without dropping a point in their 11 matches. I would have expected this to be Ohio State's first women's conference title, but that's not really the case, according to this article, as they won the regular season title back in 2000.

The Oklahoma State women won the regular season conference title in the Big 12, going undefeated, with TCU and Texas Tech sharing the men's regular season conference title after Tech beat TCU in the final match.

Check out the ITA Conference Central page for other conference tournament winners and links.