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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks for Sponsors and Readers

photo via unsplash.com
Every year I do one post explaining the history of ZooTennis.com and how I keep it viable financially.  This year's post is a bit later than usual, because for all the gratitude I have for my sponsors and readers, it's easy to put off when there's news to report and tournaments to cover.

On the day before Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to start by acknowledging my direct sponsors: Own The Zone Sports, College Tennis Exposure Camps and IMG Academy. Clicking on their ads and learning more about their products could benefit all of us.  I also would be remiss if I didn't mention the Tennis Recruiting Network, which has been publishing my articles for nearly ten years now, giving me an outlet for freelance work that very few writers in my position are fortunate enough to have.

In addition to direct advertisers, I have ads delivered from a third party aggregator, which are usually those you see from the major racquet manufacturers.  Those ads are seasonal and appear primarily around the slams, but do generate income based on page views and click throughs.  Google ads, generally tailored to the individual reader, are also a source of advertising revenue, based on traffic numbers.

My affiliation with Tennis Warehouse is another longstanding partnership that generates income for the site. If you use the link at the upper left hand corner to purchase from them, I receive a small percentage of the profit.  The same goes for Amazon, so if you are going to do Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping there, please consider using the link on this site.

I also have set up a PayPal donation option (see link on the the sidebar at left). I receive contributions throughout the year this way, and I truly appreciate those who take time to acknowledge my efforts by sending actual money. Any amount is welcome, and if you are more comfortable sending a check instead of going through PayPal, my address can be found at the end of this document explaining the ZooTennis advertising rates.

If you follow me on twitter, which I know many of you do, please make a point to click through the links back to this site that I post there everyday. I enjoy communicating through twitter, but the financial reality is this: there is no income generated from that medium.  I need visitors to this site, and hey, there's always a pretty good photo to check out, even if you don't read the post.

I'm also thankful for comments and discussions on the site.  I ask for a name--anonymous comments aren't accepted--and for basic civility. I believe there's value in this exchange of ideas, which makes the occasional inappropriate comment worth tolerating.  I know it takes a little effort to go through the process of proving you are not a spambot, but I appreciate hearing from coaches, players, parents and fans.

I'll close as I always do, saying I love this work and look forward to keeping ZooTennis.com a free news source for those who share my enthusiasm for junior and college tennis.

Thank you, and have a wonderful holiday. My next post, on Friday, will come with a dateline of Bradenton, Florida.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Division I Early Signing Announcements

 

The Early Signing Period for Division I ended last week, with many signing announcements still being posted on the schools' athletic websites. Many commitments are still also appearing on the Tennis Recruiting Network.  Not all the commitments are for Fall of 2015; some are starting in January, others are transfers. Here are the major ones I've read; if there are others I've missed, please leave a link in the comments.

WOMEN:
Alabama has signed Andie Daniell
Arizona State has signed Sammi Hampton
Auburn has signed Lizette Cabrera, Alannah Griffin and Caroline Turner
Cal has signed Olivia Hauger
Clemson has signed Maria Fernanda Navarro and Theresa Piontek
Fresno State has signed Emma Wilson and Helen Olivia Noble
Georgia has signed Kennedy Shaffer
Illinois has signed Jaclyn Switkes and Ines Vias
Iowa has signed  Zoe Douglas, Kristen Thoms and Adorabol Huckleby (from Wayne State)
LSU has signed Jessica Golovin
Marshall has signed Jacqueline Carr
Memphis has signed Janina Berres
Michigan has signed Kate Fahey, Brienne Minor and Teona Velehorschi
Mississippi has signed Tereza Janatov√° and Allie Sanford
Nebraska has signed Macarena Olivares and Paula Del Cueto Castillo
North Carolina has signed Jessie Aney
Ohio State has signed Francesca DiLorenzo
South Carolina has signed Paige Cline and Rachel Rohrabacher
Southern Cal has signed Jessica Failla, Alex Letzt and Rianna Valdes
TCU has signed Marie Norris
Tennessee has signed Gabrielle Schuck, Ashley Bongart and Margo Taylor
Texas Tech has signed Felicity Maltby and Alexandra Valenstein
Utah has signed Taylor Calton, Brianna Turley and Margo Pletcher
Wake Forest has signed Anna Ulyashchenko and Emma Davis
Washington has signed Tami Grende and Kenadi Hance

MEN:
Alabama has signed Spencer Richey
BYU has signed Jacob Tullis
Cal Poly has signed Sreyas Kolachalam, Rafa Lenhard and Josh Ortlip
Clemson has signed Arturo Pinazo
Duke has signed Adrian Chamdani, Catalin Mateas, Vincent Lin and Ryan Dickerson
Florida has signed McClain Kessler and Alfredo Perez
Fresno State has signed Joshua Zeoli
Georgia has signed Walker Duncan and Emil Reinberg
Georgia Tech has signed Andrew Li
Illinois has signed Asher Hirsch and Pengxuan (Aiden) Jiang
Iowa has signed Tony Leto
Kentucky has signed Austin Hussey
Louisville has signed Michael QuangChristian HaushammerStjepan CagaljBrandon Lancaster and Christopher Morin-Kougoucheff
LSU has signed Cameron Andry
Memphis has signed Felix Rauch and Chris Patzanovsky
Michigan has signed Myles Schalet and Gabe Tishman
Mississippi has signed Grey Hamilton
Nebraska has signed Toby Boyer and Micah Klousia
New Mexico has signed Jorge Escutia
Notre Dame has signed Alex Lebedev, Daniel Rayl, Grayson Broadus and Nathan Griffin
Rice has signed Jacob Hansen
San Diego has signed Joshua Page (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College)
South Carolina has signed Yancy Dennis
TCU has signed Reese Stalder
Texas has signed Liam Caruana, John Goodwin and Harrison Scott
Texas Tech has signed Alex Sendegeya
UCLA has signed Daniel Gealer
Utah has signed Dan Little, Freddie McGeehan, David Micevski and Joe Woolley
Washington has signed Enzo Sommer

Two other college notes:  The Illinois women have a new assistant coach, Evan Clark,  and the Yale women have a new assistant coach,
Matej Zlatkovic.

Monday, November 24, 2014

USTA Holds Playoffs for 2015 Nike Junior International Teen Tennis and Les Petits As Teams

The USTA has been conducting a playoff for spots on its boys winter 14-and-under team for many years now. Usually in November and December, a group of the top ranked players who turn 14 the following year are invited to compete in a Boca Raton tournament that will decide who will go to the major European winter tournaments in England (now the Nike Junior International Teen Tennis) and France (Les Petits As).  The number of players and the playoff system has varied over the years, but the spots are decided on the court, with usually one place reserved for a "captain's pick" after the Eddie Herr results are in.

In the past, the girls have been chosen without the benefit of a playoff, but this year they too had a competition to determine three of the spots of the four-player team.

According to USTA National Coach Eric Nunez, these were the results from the boys semifinals, with both finalist qualifying for the trip:

Leighton Allen def Govind Nanda  6-3, 6-2
Cannon Kingsley def Nathan Han  6-4, 7-5

Nanda defeated Han in a third place playoff and will also be included on the team.

The semifinals results in the girls playoff, courtesy of USTA National Coach Kathy Rinaldi:

Caty McNally def Tyra Hurricane Black 6-3, 6-2
Amanda Anisimova def Kacie Harvey 6-4, 6-3

Black defeated Harvey 6-3, 7-6(2) to join McNally and Anisimova on the team. The fourth player will be named later.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mmoh, Galfi Take Abierto Juvenil Grade A Titles; Nguyen Beats Giron in Mexico Futures Final


Both Michael Mmoh and Dalma Galfi of Hungary have been playing great tennis on junior and professional levels recently and that confidence came through in the finals today of the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano in Mexico City.

Galfi, 16, had won two $10,000 ITF Women's Circuit events in Greece coming into the tournament and handled the switch in surface from hard to clay with no problem.  Seeded No. 10, Galfi beat second seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia 5-7, 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals and claimed her first Grade A title with a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over No. 6 seed Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia in the final. 

Galfi and Vikhlyantseva were meeting for the first time in ITF junior competition, but Mmoh and his opponent in the final, Seong Chan Hong of Korea, had met twice before.  Mmoh had won both, once in 2013 and this year on clay in Belgium, but had needed three sets each time.

A large and demonstrative crowd was on hand for both finals, but Mmoh looked to limit their involvement with a quick first set. Hong kept to the previous script however, forcing a third set, before Mmoh prevailed 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-4.

Hong, using his speed and an effective drop shot, which shouldn't have surprised Mmoh, but seemed to, was up 4-1 in the second set before Mmoh tied it up and forced the tiebreaker.  A perfectly executed drop shot put the 17-year-old Korean up 6-3, but Mmoh held his next two serves and saved a third set point when Hong's forehand sailed long after an extended rally.  Mmoh netted a forehand to give Hong a fourth set point, and this time he converted with Mmoh's forehand going wide.

The crowd seemed solidly behind the Korean, a slight underdog perhaps as he was the No. 4 seed and Mmoh the No. 3 seed, and Hong gave them plenty to cheer about in the final set, breaking Mmoh at 3-3.  Mmoh took a medical time out for what appeared to be a shoulder problem at the changeover and broke Hong to get back on serve, crushing a forehand winner at 30-40 to make it 4-4.  Twice in that game a ball was called, or rather not called, in Hong's favor, and twice Mmoh asked for a check of the mark and received a reversal of the call. Displeasure from the crowd, mostly in the form of whistling, did not bother Mmoh and he held his next service game to make it 5-4.

In the first point of the final game, yet another call went by the chair umpire went in Mmoh's favor, resulting in a replayed point, but to the crowd's relief, Hong won it.  Mmoh hit a good return that handcuffed Hong to make it 15-15 and a deep forehand from Mmoh resulted in a netted reply from Hong. At 15-30 Mmoh won a 16-shot rally with a clean backhand winner, giving him two match points.  He took the first, with Hong netting a third-shot forehand, one of the few short rallies in the match. With the win, Mmoh's second Grade A title and first on clay, Mmoh will move closer to his goal of a year-end Top 10 ranking.

In the doubles competition, Fanni Stollar gave Hungary its first title of the day, partnering Anna Blinkova of Russia to a 6-1, 6-3 win over unseeded Maia Lumsden of Great Britain and American Ingrid Neel. Stollar and Blinkova were the No. 2 seeds.

The tournament closed with the boys doubles final, won by top seeds Taylor Fritz and Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-2, 7-6(6) over unseeded   Fabian Fallert and Tim Sandkaulen of Germany. Fallert and Sandkaulen saved six match points, four at 3-5 in the second set, one at 6-5 and one more at 5-6 in the tiebreaker before Fritz finally hit an unreturnable serve to close them out.

The second leg of the month-long clay swing in Mexico and Florida is the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup, where qualifying has begun.  The fields are not strong, with many players taking a week off before the Eddie Herr-Orange Bowl segment, but Rublev and US Open girls champion Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic are entered.

Farther west in Mexico, No. 3 seed Daniel Nguyen won the title at the $15,000 Futures in Mazatlan, with the former USC Trojan defeating former UCLA Bruin Marcos Giron 6-0, 2-6, 7-6(0). It is Nguyen's third Futures title of the year, and should move him near the Top 300 after starting the year at 526.

At the $10,000 Pensacola Futures, delayed most of the day by rain, 17-year-old Theo Fournerie of France, the No. 6 seed, won his first Futures title, beating former Cal standout Ben McLachlan of New Zealand 6-2, 7-5.

That completes the USTA Pro Circuit for the year, with the next Futures in Florida in January.  For the 2015 schedules, go to usta.com.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mmoh Beats World No. 1 Rublev to Advance to Grade A Final; Giron v Nguyen for Mexico Futures Title; Jenkins Wins Again in Australia; Indiana Dismisses Men's Tennis Coach


Michael Mmoh has been on a tear this fall. After saving match points in the quarterfinals of the Pan American Closed against Tommy Paul, the 16-year-old went on to win that tournament, reach the semifinals of the $15,000 Futures in Mansfield, Texas and win a $15,000 Futures in Brownsville. In his first tournament since his title in Brownsville, Mmoh has reached the final of the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano, defeating world No. 1 Andrey Rublev of Russia in today's semifinals 7-6(1), 6-4.

Mmoh, seeded third, has not dropped a set all week, winning three tiebreakers, all in first sets.  Against Rublev, Mmoh had three set points in the opening set with Rublev serving at 5-6, but he failed to convert, even when given the opportunity to feast on a second serve.  Rather than mope however, Mmoh stayed positive, and in the tiebreaker he ran out to a 5-1 lead, with Rublev spraying balls all over the court.

Rublev was broken at love to open the second set, but Mmoh couldn't capitalize, getting broken himself to make it 1-1. Mmoh broke again and consolidated, but again the 17-year-old Russian came back, gettting it to 3-all when Mmoh chipped in three double faults in losing his serve. With Rublev serving at 5-4, he again went down 15-40, a theme throughout the match, but after saving one break point, he hit a backhand long to get broken, allowing Mmoh to serve for the match.

An ace got Mmoh to 40-15, but a great pass from Rublev and a netted forehand by Mmoh made it deuce. Mmoh earned his third match point with a forehand winner, and this time he shut the door, getting in a good first serve that Rublev returned long.

Mmoh will play Seong Chan Hong of Korea in the final Sunday. Hong, the No. 4 seed, beat No. 5 seed Mikael Ymer of Sweden 6-0, 6-2. Hong and Mmoh have played twice, with Mmoh winning both, including on clay at the Grade 1 in Belgium this spring, but both matches went to three sets. Live streaming of the finals, starting at 11 a.m. Eastern time can be seen here.

Rublev and Taylor Fritz have reached the doubles final, beating Sora Fukuda of Japan and Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 6-7(7), 6-4, 10-4. The top seeds will meet unseeded Fabian Fallert and Tim Sandkaulen of Germany in Sunday's final, after Fallert and Sandkaulen beat No. 6 seeds Ulises Blanch and Ymer 6-3, 6-0.

The girls singles championship match will feature No. 6 seed Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia and No. 10 seed Dalma Galfi of Hungary, who each assured the other wouldn't face a compatriot in the final. Vikhlyantseva defeated No. 3 seed Fanni Stollar of Hungary 7-6(4), 6-1 and Galfi took out No. 9 seed Anna Blinkova of Russia 6-1, 6-3.

American Ingrid Neel has reached the girls doubles final with Great Britain's Maia Lumsden.  The unseeded pair defeated No. 3 seeds Galfi and Katie Swan of Great Britain 7-5, 6-1 in today's semifinal and will face No. 2 seeds Blinkova and Stollar in Sunday's final.

Both Americans lost in the semifinals of the $10,000 Pensacola Futures today, with Justin Shane falling to Ben McLachlan of New Zealand 6-3, 6-4 and Michael Shabaz going out to No. 6 seed Theo Fournerie of France 6-3, 7-6(6).

US fortunes were reversed at the $15,000 Futures in Mexico, with Marcos Giron defeating No. 4 seed Darian King of Barbados 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 and No. 3 seed Daniel Nguyen beating Tigre Hank of Mexico 6-2, 6-4. Nguyen is seeking his third Futures title of the year, Giron his second. Andre Dome and Oscar Fabian Matthews lost in the doubles final, with the unseeded Californians falling to No. 3 seeds Christopher Diaz-Figueroa of Guatemala and Luis Patino of Mexico 7-5, 6-3.

Jarmere Jenkins won his fifth Futures title of the year and third since October, with the top seed defeating unseeded Jose Statham of New Zealand 6-4, 7-5 in the final of the $15,000 Futures in Australia.

In college news, Indiana University has dismissed men's head coach Randy Bloemendaal and assistant coach Sander Koning as a result of the aftermath of an investigation into secondary NCAA violations. In the interim, associate athletic director Jeremy Gray will take over the program and will lead the search for replacements.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Video Tribute to Sean Karl; Mmoh Meets Rublev in Grade A Semifinals; Pro Circuit Update

At the memorial service yesterday for Sean Karl, a video produced by the University of Tennessee provided a look at the impact he had on the lives of those around him, particularly his coaches and teammates. If you knew Sean at all, I urge you watch it, with a box of tissues nearby. The celebration of the beauty of his life can't help but be bittersweet, knowing its impact must now continue without him.  The athletic department has also collected the stories and photos of and about Sean posted on Twitter in this post. The video is available here.


At the ITF Grade A in Mexico City, the top two seeds in the girls draw were beaten in today's quarterfinals.  No. 6 seed Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia defeated US Open girls champion and top seed Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2 and No. 10 seed Dalma Galfi of Hungary downed No. 2 seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia 5-7, 6-1, 6-0. Vikhlyantseva will play No. 3 seed Fanni Stollar of Hungary and Galfi meets No. 9 seed Anna Blinkova of Russia in Saturday's semifinals.

Four of the top five seeds reached the boys semifinals, with only No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz missing. Top seed Andrey Rublev of Russia defeated No. 12 seed William Blumberg 6-3, 6-3 and will face his fourth straight American opponent Saturday in No. 3 seed Michael Mmoh.  Mmoh defeated No. 10 seed Mate Valkusz of Hungary 7-6(2), 6-4.  The other semifinal features No. 4 seed Seong Chan Hong of Korea against No. 5 seed Mikael Ymer of Sweden. Hong beat No. 9 seed Alejandro Tabilo of Canada 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 and Ymer eliminated the last unseeded player, taking down Fabian Fallert of Germany 6-4, 6-4.  The match between Rublev and Mmoh will be streamed not before 2:30 Eastern time in the US here. The girls semifinal between Galfi and  Blinkova will be streamed starting at 11 a.m. Eastern.

The doubles quarterfinals were completed today, with three US players still in contention.  Ulises Blanch, playing with Ymer and seeded No. 6 is in one boys semifinal and Fritz, playing with Rublev and the top seeds, are in the other. Ingrid Neel, playing with Great Britain's Maia Lumsden and unseeded, is the only US girl still competing in Mexico City.

At the $10,000 Pensacola Futures, Tommy Paul lost to fellow 17-year-old Theo Fournerie of France 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. No. 6 seed Fournerie joins three former collegians in the semifinals, with former Virginia All-American Michael Shabaz his next opponent.  Unseeded Justin Shane, another former Cavalier, defeated No. 3 seed Daniel Garza of Mexico and will be playing in his first Futures semifinal against former Cal star Ben McLachlan of New Zealand.  McLachlan and Shane won the doubles title today, defeating current Mississippi State teammates Julian Cash and Florian Lakat 7-6(2), 6-2. The unseeded pair, both 22-year-old who recently completed their eligibility, did not drop a set in the tournament.

At the $15,000 Futures in Mexico, Marcos Giron and Daniel Nguyen have advanced to the semifinals. The unseeded Giron beat Andre Dome 7-5, 7-5, and No. 3 seed Nguyen defeated No. 8 seed Fritz Wolmarans of South Africa 6-2, 6-2. Nguyen faces unseeded Tigre Hank of Mexico in one semifinal and Giron plays No. 4 seed Darian King of Barbados.

In Australia, top seed Jarmere Jenkins has reached the finals of a $15,000 Futures and will face unseeded Jose Statham of New Zealand in the final. Jenkins is 29-4 in Futures and Challenger play since mid-September.

At the Challenger Tour Finals in Sao Paulo Brazil, Blaz Rola lost to wild card Guilherme Clezar of Brazil 6-4, 6-3, a result which kept the 2013 NCAA champion from advancing to the semifinal stage. Clezar, Diego Schwartzman and Rola all went 2-1 in the round robin group, and Rola could have advanced by winning just one set, but Clezar ended up with the better sets won percentage to move on.