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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Top Two Seeds in Boys and Girls Draws Advance to Third Round at ITF Grade 1 International Hard Courts, Sleeth Ousts Fifth Seed Appleton; Americans Post 17 Wins on First Day of US Open Qualifying

©Colette Lewis 2017--
College Park, MD--

Tuesday was another hot and sticky day in the Washington DC area, but the top two seeds in both the girls and boys draws managed to avoid lengthy battles, with all four winning their second round matches at the ITF Grade 1 Prince George's County International Hard Court Championships in straight sets.

With the temperatures in the lower 90s and the heat index over 100 for the second consecutive day, the less time spent on court the better, and girls top seed Elena Rybakina of Russia made quick work of Draginia Vukovic of Serbia, posting a 6-3, 6-1 victory at the University of Maryland courts.  No. 2 seed Taylor Johnson also played at the Maryland courts, and she got by Rhea Verman of India 6-2, 6-2.  Boys No. 2 seed Trent Bryde, posted his second consecutive 6-1, 6-2 win, beating Mark Mandlik by that score at the University of Maryland.  The only one of the top seeds to play at the Junior Tennis Champions Center on Tuesday was boys No. 1 Axel Geller of Argentina, and he moved past Kirac Bekisoglu of Turkey in an uneventful 6-2, 6-3 contest.

No. 6 seed Uisung Park of Korea was eliminated in one of the day's longest matches, falling to Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4.  No. 8 seed Alexandre Rotsaert was the seventh boys seed to fall in the first two days, with Lukas Greif posting a 6-0, 6-1 victory at the University of Maryland courts.

No. 13 seed Brian Cernoch, playing on his home courts at the JTCC, needed all the support he could muster from the local community, saving a match point in the second set tiebreaker in his 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 win over Govind Nanda. So depleted was Nanda that he pulled out of his scheduled doubles match later in the day, while Cernoch returned two hours later to get his second victory of the day with doubles partner Andrew Fenty.

After losses by No. 3 seed Sofia Sewing and No. 4 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia on Monday, No. 5 seed Emily Appleton of Great Britain was eliminated Tuesday, going out to 16-year-old Layne Sleeth of Canada 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2.

Sleeth, who saved four match points in the second set, admitted her counter-punching game wore Appleton down.

"I just ran for every ball," said Sleeth, who had not played Appleton before. "I figured out she has a very strong forehand, so I needed to play to her backhand.  She made errors on the match points and she seemed to get discouraged after the second set. It was a really good win for me."

Sleeth will play No. 11 seed Jule Niemeier of Germany on Wednesday, and Niemeier also had a long slog in the heat, beating Lisa Piccinetti of Italy 5-7, 7-5, 6-3.

The only other girls seed to lose in Tuesday's second round was No. 15 seed Kamila Rakhimova of Russia, who was beaten 13-year-old wild card Cori Gauff 6-2, 6-2.  Gauff has played both her matches at the University of Maryland, but will play Johnson at JTCC on Wednesday. Only seven seeds remain in the girls draw for Wednesday's round of 16.

One of the biggest surprises of the day came in the boys doubles, with 15-year-olds Alex Lee and Marcus McDaniel taking out top seeds Geller and Rotsaert 3-6, 6-4, 10-6.  Geller is the reigning Wimbledon boys doubles champion.

The order of play for Wednesday's round of 16 can be found at the tournament website.

A long day of qualifying matches ended after 9 p.m. on Tuesday at the US Open, with the 28 Americans on the schedule going 17-11. Advancing to the second round of women's qualifying are wild card Vicky Duval, Grace Min, Alexa Glatch, Bernarda Pera[31], Danielle Lao, Sachia Vickery, Jamie Loeb, Louisa Chirico[30], Allie Kiick and Kristie Ahn[9]. Notably, USTA girls 18s finalist Kelly Chen took top seed Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan to a third set tiebreaker before falling 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(3).

US men advancing to the second round are: wild cards JC Aragone and Sekou Bangoura, Christian Harrison, Dennis Novikov, Bradley Klahn, Mackenzie McDonald and Reilly Opelka. Aragone's win was the most impressive, a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 decision over No. 5 seed Marco Cecchinato of Italy.

On Wednesday, 11 more US men and 11 more US women will take the courts for first round qualifying matches.   The men in action: Michael Mmoh[31], Tim Smyczek, Raymond Sarmiento(WC), Austin Krajicek(WC), Marcos Giron, Daniel Nguyen(WC), Mitchell Krueger, Jared Hiltzik(WC), JJ Wolf(WC), Evan King(WC) and William Blumberg(WC).

The women are: Nicole Gibbs, Francesca Di Lorenzo(WC), Ann Li(WC), Amanda Anisimova, Jacqueline Cako, Caroline Dolehide, Claire Liu(WC), Danielle Collins, Caty McNally(WC), Jessica Pegula and Usue Arconada.  There are two all-US first round matches again today in the women's qualifying, with Gibbs playing Di Lorenzo and Dolehide facing Liu.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Dozen Seeds Exit in First Round of ITF Grade 1 International Hard Courts; 50 Americans in US Open Qualifying

©Colette Lewis 2017--
College Park, MD--

The solar eclipse was the story of the day Monday outside the confines of the junior tennis world, and its impact was felt inside the competition too, as play was halted for over two and a half hours during the first round of the ITF Grade 1 Prince George's County International Hard Court Championships at the Junior Tennis Champions Center.

For Brian Shi, whose 7-6(5), 2-6, 7-6(7) win over No. 4 seed Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil spanned six hours, the challenge was maintaining his focus during the suspension of play.

"Even when you're not playing, you're thinking about the match," said the 17-year-old Shi, who has verbally committed to Harvard. "I called my coach and he told me to mentally stay in it, especially when I come back on court, to try to stay on top of things."

That advice from his coach, former Oklahoma star Andrei Daescu, didn't have the impact Shi would have hoped, as he dropped the second set after play resumed around 4 p.m.  But Shi kept his cool in the 92 degree heat, managing to overcome the disappointment of losing two match points with Seyboth Wild serving at 3-5 and failing to serve out the match at 5-4 in the third.

"The first match point he hit an ace, and the second the ball clipped the top of the net," said Shi. "He played pretty well that game. I thought I could have done better but I couldn't let it affect me."

Seyboth Wild held and with Shi serving to force a tiebreaker, he pulled out a second serve ace at 40-30.

"I've been working on that a lot," Shi said. "Second serves, going for more, mixing it up. I just went for it."

Shi suffered two double faults in the ensuing tiebreaker, which he attributed to the first signs of cramping.

"Earlier in the day it was brutal," Shi said of the 92 degree temperatures, with a heat index of 102. "It was really humid, so I was sweating a lot and in the last tiebreak I was starting to cramp up a little bit and on one double fault, my calf just tightened up."

Eight of the first ten points in the tiebreaker went to the returner, but Shi hit a good first serve to earn a third match point at 6-5.  Seyboth Wild hit a big forehand that forced an error to save the match point, then hammered a backhand winner to earn his first match point. Seyboth Wild and his coach thought he had won the match with another backhand, but Shi called the ball out, and the roving umpire on court confirmed Shi's call.

"It was definitely out and I called it as soon as it bounced," said Shi. "But it definitely played with his mind in the last two points. He was calling a lot of tight calls in the first and second set, so I didn't feel guilty about it, because it was definitely out."

Seyboth Wild made two more backhand errors in the next two points and Shi had his second ITF Top 20 win, after beating top seed Trent Bryde in the first round of the International Spring Championships in Carson back in April.

Seyboth Wild was one of five boys seeds to fall in the first round.  No. 5 seed Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi of Argentina lost to qualifier Garrett Johns 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 at the University of Maryland courts; No. 14 seed Aidan McHugh went out to qualifier Ronan Jachuck 6-3, 6-2, also at the University of Maryland.  Wild card Siem Woldeab, who finished third in the 16s at Kalamazoo, made his ITF Junior Circuit debut a memorable one, beating No. 15 seed Mohamed Ali Bellalouna of Turkey 6-1, 6-4, and Lorenzo Musetti of Italy defeated No. 16 seed Andrew Fenty, who trains at the JTCC, 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.

Top seed Axel Geller of Argentina got off to a slow start against Will Grant, but won ten of the last 11 games for a 6-4, 6-1 victory.  Geller, who has been training in at the IMG Academy in Bradenton since reaching the final of the Wimbledon Juniors last month, had beaten Grant in the second round of the Grade 1 in Colombia back in January, so he said he knew what to expect.  But dealing with being the top seed in a Grade 1 tournament required an adjustment.

"Before I didn't play many matches so my ranking was low," said Geller, who will start at Stanford after the US Open juniors next month. "I was one of the guys who could win the tournaments, but I was never the one seed. Now I am supposed to win, so that's something that played on my mind at the beginning of the match. I lost my serve in the first game--I played really, really tight and very bad--but I got used to the conditions. He started playing really good, didn't give me many chances on his serve. Then I didn't do much either. He just started missing, and in the second set I played good."

Geller said he received many congratulations after his run to the Wimbledon boys final, but a substantial portion were not for his results, but for his decision to go to Stanford rather than immediately begin a pro career.

"Obviously, I played very good and they were congratulating me because of that, but also because of the decision," Geller said. "I appeared a lot on TV and stuff. Many people texted me and they were congratulating me about college, which makes me happy, makes me see that it's a good choice that I made."

Geller said he will play next week's Grade 1 in Canada, with his visa status a factor in that.

"I have two visas, a tourist and a student, and you've got a limit of time," Geller said.  "As a student you get in 30 days before you start your classes, and I've been here before, so I need to get out, and get in with that new one. So after the US Open, I start school. It's a week, then my first orientation."

Girls top seed Elena Rybakina had a much tougher journey to the second round, defeating qualifier Sophia Graver 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 as darkness fell around the grounds of the Junior Tennis Champions Center.  Rybakina led 3-0 in the third set, only to see Graver win the next three games. The ITF World No. 4 saved a break point at 3-3, the only opportunity for either player until Graver, a rising senior from New York, was broken serving at 5-6 in the final set.

No. 3 seed Sofia Sewing was the highest seed to fall, going out to Anna Laguza of Ukraine 7-5, 7-6(2).  No. 4 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia lost to Malkia Ngounoue (formerly Menguene) 6-2, 7-6(2) and No. 8 seed Caty McNally was beaten by Naho Sato of Japan 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.  Qualifier Peyton Stearns defeated No. 9 seed Maria Carle of Argentina 4-6, 6-2, 6-4; Alana Smith beat No. 10 seed Anastasia Kharitonova of Russia 6-3, 3-6, 6-4; Abigail Forbes eliminated No. 13 seed Anhzelika Isaeva of Russia 6-0, 6-4 and Hurricane Tyra Black downed No. 16 seed Mihika Yadav of India 6-3, 6-3.

Doubles will begin on Tuesday, with the top boys seeds Geller and Alexandre Rotsaert and the top girls seeds Taylor Johnson and Sewing.

For complete draws and the order of play for Tuesday, see the tournament website.

Qualifying draws for the US Open were released today, with 22 US men and 28 US women competing for places in the main draw.

The US men in qualifying:

Dennis Novikov*
Denis Kudla*
Mackenzie McDonald*
Marcos Giron
JC Aragone (WC)*
Noah Rubin*
Bradley Klahn*
Stefan Kozlov[29]*
Sekou Bangoura (WC)*
Reilly Opelka*
Alexander Sarkissian*
Christian Harrison*
Jared Hiltzik (WC)
JJ Wolf (WC)
Mitchell Krueger
Evan King (WC)
William Blumberg (WC)
Michael Mmoh[31]
Austin Krajicek (WC)
Daniel Nguyen (WC)
Tim Smyczek
Raymond Sarmiento (WC)

Opelka and Sarkissian are the only two Americans playing each other in the first round.

The US women in qualifying:
Kelly Chen (WC)*
Samantha Crawford*
Louisa Chirico[30]*
Jacqueline Cako
Danielle Collins
Amanda Anisimova
Alexa Glatch*
Grace Min*
Sachia Vickery*
Jamie Loeb*
Danielle Lao*
Ann Li (WC)
Caroline Dolehide
Claire Liu (WC)
Kristie Ahn[9]*
Katerina Stewart (WC)*
Ashley Lahey (WC)*
Caty McNally (WC)
Whitney Osuigwe (WC)*
Bernarda Pera[31]*
Usue Arconada
Vicky Duval (WC)*
Allie Kiick*
Asia Muhammad[24]*
Nicole Gibbs[14]
Francesca Di Lorenzo (WC)
Jessica Pegula
Irina Falconi*

Crawford and Chirico, Dolehide and Liu, Stewart and Ahn, and Gibbs and Di Lorenzo are the all-American matches in the first round.

The order of play for Tuesday features 28 Americans. Those playing Tuesday have asterisks next to the names above.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

ITF Grade 1 Begins Monday in College Park; Kalamazoo Photos, Videos

The draws are out for the ITF Grade 1 Prince George's County International Hard Court Championships, which begin on Monday at 8 a.m. at the Junior Tennis Champions Center and the University of Maryland courts in College Park Maryland.  I will be on site covering the tournament for the fourth consecutive year.  Wimbledon finalist Axel Geller of Argentina is the boys No. 1 seed and Elena Rybakina of Russia is the girls No. 1 seed.  Americans Trent Bryde and Taylor Johnson are the No. 2 seeds this week.

Qualifying was completed today, with six US boys and eight US girls earning main draw berths.

The boys:
Jaycer Lyeons
Blaise Bicknell
Ronan Jachuck
Pierce Rollins
Noah Schachter
Garrett Johns

The girls:
Peyton Stearns
Sophia Graver
Anika Yarlagadda
Charlotte Owensby
Gabby Price
Alexanddra Yepifanova
Zoe Hitt
Nicole Hammond

With Owensby and Price qualifying and Cori Gauff getting a wild card, the entire USA team which won the ITF World Junior Tennis Champions two weeks ago in the Czech Republic is in the main draw.

I'm wrapping up my Kalamazoo coverage today, with photos and videos. Recaps for the 16s and the 18s are available at Tennis Recruiting Network. YouTube is discontinuing its photo slideshow option next month, so I decided to dispense with the slideshow and just post all the photos of the top finishers in Kalamazoo singles and doubles in one post.  A few video highlights from the finals are also available below.

Andy Roddick and Sam Riffice in doubles exhibition
Huge crowd for 75th Anniversary Celebration with Roddick and Mike Russell
Leighton Allen, 16s quarterfinalist
Sam Riffice, 18s 5th place

Britton Johnston, 18s sixth place

Sebastian Korda, 18s quarterfinals

JJ Wolf, 18s finalist

Ryan Goetz, 18s semifinalist

DJ Thomas, 18s quarterfinalist and Allen Stowe Sportsmanship winner

Patrick Kypson, 18s champion

John McNally, 18s quarterfinalist

Alex Lee, 16s quarterfinalist

Carolyn Binder and Hap Haasch of Public Media Network on live stream call

Garrett Johns, 16s quarterfinalist, Bobby Kaplan Sportsmanship winner

WMU site director Paul Ballard & Wes Richards Feed-In Sportsmanship winner Timothy Sah

Andrew Dale, 16s sixth place

Vasil Kirkov and DJ Thomas, 18s doubles champions

Nathan Perrone and Jake Van Emburgh, 18s doubles semifinalists
Patrick Kypson and Oliver Crawford, 18s doubles finalists

Eliot Spizzirri and Spencer Whitaker, 16 doubles semifinalists

Siem Woldeab and Eshan Talluri, 16s doubles finalists

JJ Wolf and John McNally, 18s doubles third place

Siem Woldeab, 16s third place

Will Grant, 16s semifinalist

Tyler Zink and Will Grant, 16s doubles champions

Robert Cash and Ryder Jackson, 16s doubles third place

Brandon Nakashima, 16s champion

Stefan Dostanic, 16s finalist

Alafia Ayeni, 18s semifinalist

Tournament Director Mark Riley with 16s fifth place finisher Cannon Kingsley

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Spizzirri and Breunich Earn ITF Grade 5 Titles in St. Vincent; Oudin Retires; Gojo Beats Bemelmans in WInston-Salem Qualifying

American juniors earned singles titles today at the ITF Grade 5 tournament in St. Vincent. 

The top-seeded Eliot Spizzirri, who exactly a week ago played in the third place 16s doubles match in Kalamazoo, won his second ITF singles title with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over unseeded Diego Gonzalez of Venezuela in the final. The 15-year-old from Connecticut won his first singles title at the Grade 5 in Martinique last April.

Sixteen-year-old Willa Bay Breunich, also the No. 1 seed, won her first ITF singles title when Mell Reasco Gonzalez of Ecuador retired trailing 5-2 in the first set.

Both Spizzirri and Breunich also reached the doubles finals, but both lost, with Spizzirri and Roger Lyn giving a walkover to their opponents, while Breunich and Sofia Rojas retired up 6-3, 1-2.

At the ITF Grade 4 in Mexico, Nathan Han, who also played Kalamazoo, won the doubles title and lost in the singles final.  Han and Blu Baker of Great Britain, seeded No. 1, defeated Alvaro Gonzalez of Mexico and Sasha Pachnev of Canada 6-0, 6-1 for the doubles championship.  Han, the No. 2 seed, lost to top seed Marcelo Sepulveda Garza of Mexico 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the singles final.

Jack Sock and Melanie Oudin won the US Open Mixed Doubles title in 2011
Melanie Oudin announced her retirement from professional tennis yesterday at the age of 25.  Oudin, whose amazing run to the quarterfinals of the US Open as a 17-year-old back in 2009 was one of the most unexpected and exciting sports stories of that summer, suffered from injury and illness for most of the last five years.  I watched Oudin come up through the juniors and she was talented, modest, hard-working and competitive. She was fun to watch and made the most of what she had; it's a shame her health didn't allow her to display those qualities the past several years. For more on Oudin's retirement, see the WTA website.

At the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, the last two Americans bowed out in today's semifinals, with wild card Sloane Stephens dropping a 6-2, 6-1 decision to No. 2 seed Simona Halep of Romania and No. 14 seed John Isner falling to No. 7 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-6(4), 7-6(10).  Both should be encouraged by their results this week however, as they look ahead to the US Open.

At the men's Winston-Salem Open, Wake Forest rising sophomore Borna Gojo played his first match against an ATP Top 100 player and got his first Top 100 win, beating No. 3 seed Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium 7-6(3),3-6, 7-6(6). Wild card Gojo, of Croatia, will face No. 8 seed Alex Bolt of Australia for a place in the main draw.  Former Georgia Tech star Kevin King defeated 18-year-old Alex De Minaur of Australia, the No. 5 seed, 6-1, 6-2 and will face Marton Fucsovics of Hungary in the final round of qualifying.

At the WTA's Connecticut Open, Christina McHale is the only American who made it through this weekend's qualifying (Correction: there were three rounds of qualifying and she lost in the final round). Sloane Stephens and Lauren Davis are the only Americans in the main draw. Rising Yale freshman Samantha Martinelli lost in the first round of qualifying, but she spoke with the media about her experience in this article from the New Haven Register.

Friday, August 18, 2017

My Kalamazoo 18s Recap; Isner Downs Donaldson to Reach Cincinnati Semis; Wild Cards Announced for ITF Grade 1 in College Park

The Tennis Recruiting Network completed its review of all last week's National Championships, and as has been the case for many years, I contributed the articles on the Boys 16s and the Boys 18s from Kalamazoo.  Today's article recounts the run of Patrick Kypson, who added the 18s title to the 16s title he won two years ago and he will make his ATP level debut at the US Open late this month.

I am currently in Cincinnati for the Midwest Section's semi-annual meeting, where I will be receiving the Fred Burns media award at a luncheon tomorrow. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to attend the Western & Southern Open for the first time in several years, and I was able to watch the quarterfinal match between John Isner and Jared Donaldson, as well as the Bryan brothers match with Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France.

Donaldson stayed with Isner throughout the first set, but two double faults and an unforced error from Donaldson in the tiebreaker gave Isner the first set 7-6(4). Isner continued to serve well--he had 25 aces and I saw one that hit 140 on the serve gun--but he couldn't shake Donaldson until 5-5, when he converted his first break point of the match thanks to a Donaldson backhand into the net.  The final game was a formality, with Isner ending it with an ace.

I had an opportunity to chat with coach Mark Bey prior to the Bryan brothers match. Bey, who usually does the commentary for the live stream of the Kalamazoo finals, was not able to make it this year due to two of the girls he coaches being the doubles semifinals in San Diego. So we had a lot to share about the respective National Championships and many other topics.  Bey was inducted into the USPTA Midwest section's Hall of Fame on Thursday night and was an on-court presenter this morning at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, in addition to helping coach the Bryans this week. I'm sure he was as disappointed as the thousands of fans on Stadium Court 3 Friday night when the Bryans twice failed to consolidate breaks in the second set and lost to Herbert and Mahut 4-6, 7-5, 10-8.

From Cincinnati, I will be heading to the ITF Grade 1 Prince George's County International Hard Court Championships in College Park Maryland, which I'll be covering for the fourth straight year. The wild cards for the tournament have been announced, with the qualifying beginning on Saturday.

Boys main draw wild cards:
Finn Garner, Wild Card Challenge winner
Saud Alhogbani
Brandon Perez
Trinity Grear
Alex Lee
Cannon Kingsley
Siem Woldeab
Tyler Zink

Girls main draw wild cards:
Lauren Anzalotta
Lexi Merrill
Malkia Ngounoue, Wild Card Challenge winner
Mackenzie Clark
Katie Volynets
Cori Gauff
Sedona Gallagher
Abigail Forbes

Thursday, August 17, 2017

My Kalamazoo 16s Recap; Chrysochos Receives ATP Winston-Salem Open Wild Card; Donaldson and Isner to Meet in Cincinnati Quarterfinals

My review of Brandon Nakashima's title run at the USTA 16s National Championships in Kalamazoo is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network. I think it's a good overview of the week, especially if you were busy playing, watching or coaching at one of the other National Championships last week.  Make sure to read all the Tennis Recruiting Network's coverage of the 12s, 14s and 16s, with the 18s articles closing out Championship Week on Friday. Links to all articles are available here.

Chrysochos won the ITA All-American title last fall in Tulsa

The final ATP and WTA tournaments before the US Open, the Winston-Salem Open and the Connecticut Open, both end next Saturday due to the Open, so news is already surfacing from them.  Winston-Salem, which begins Sunday, announced its main draw wild cards.  In addition to Latvia's Ernests Gulbis, Croatia's Borna Coric and Taylor Fritz, who has reached the quarterfinals at the $100,000 Vancouver Challenger, the tournament has awarded a wild card to rising Wake Forest junior Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus.  Christian Seraphim and Skander Mansouri, rising seniors at Wake Forest, received a doubles wild card. They finished No. 2 in the final ITA national rankings.  The release announcing the wild cards (and Sam Querrey's withdrawal) quotes tournament director Bill Oakes as saying Chrysochos was "the best player in college tennis last season," an assertion that would no doubt draw an argument from fans at TCU, Ohio State and Virginia. It doesn't appear that North Carolina resident and newly crowned Kalamazoo 18s champion Patrick Kypson received a qualifying wild card, with Kyle Edmund of Great Britain and Wake Forest sophomore Borna Gojo of Croatia announced as the only qualifying wild cards.

The qualifying draw of the Connecticut Open has been released, with playing beginning on Friday. NCAA champion Brienne Minor received a wild card and drew top seed Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, who reached the semifinals at Wimbledon last month.  Maria Mateas, who lives in New England, received a qualifying wild card, as did Yale rising freshman Samantha Martinelli.  Virginia graduate Julia Elbaba and Sonya Kenin are the other Americans receiving wild cards.  Other Americans in qualifying are Kayla Day, Varvara Lepchenko, Christina McHale and Shelby Rogers.

The playoff for the US Open reciprocal wild card that Tennis Australia is conducting is also at the Connecticut Open, with the draw for that event available here.

Rain has been a problem all day in at the Western and Southern Open Cincinnati, where I'm heading tomorrow.  John Isner and Jared Donaldson managed to get their matches finished however, with No. 14 seed Isner defeating Frances Tiafoe 7-6(4), 7-5 and Donaldson beating Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-4, 7-6(4).  They will play each other for a semifinal berth.  It's the first ATP quarterfinal for Donaldson, who had gone 0-13 in ATP round of 16 matches prior to today. For more on Donaldson's win, see the ATP website.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

American Collegiate Invitational Fields Announced; Tiafoe, Donaldson Reach Round of 16 at Cincinnati Masters

The USTA announced the participants of the fourth annual American Collegiate Invitational to be held September 7-9, during the second week of US Open, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Eight American men and eight American women, who are either in college or have recently completed their eligibility, are invited to participate in the single elimination tournament according to their collegiate or professional rankings.

The criteria for selection:
  • The top two players in the ATP/WTA rankings as of August 7th
  • Top five American players in the year-end ITA rankings, including at least two graduating seniors
  • USTA wild cards
The men:
JC Aragone, Virginia (ATP)
William Blumberg, North Carolina
Christopher Eubanks, Georgia Tech(ATP)
Tom Fawcett, Stanford
Thai Kwiatkowski, Virginia
Alfredo Perez, Florida
Michael Redlicki, Arkansas
Alex Rybakov, TCU (wild card)

Brandon Holt is ranked above Rybakov in the final ITA list, so I assume he declined the invitation.

The women:
Sydney Campbell, Vanderbilt
Hayley Carter, North Carolina
Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State (WTA)
Alexa Graham, North Carolina (wild card)
Brienne Minor, Michigan
Ingrid Neel, Florida (WTA)
Ena Shibahara, UCLA

Campbell and Carter are the two graduating seniors in the group and neither are expected to play the Pro Circuit, so this may be their last competitive tennis match for some time.

Blair Shankle of Baylor would have been eligible based on her ITA ranking, but she must have decided against playing.  Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey also would have been eligible by ranking, but I'm guessing she has opted to play the US Open juniors instead, although she will need a wild card.

This year's tournament will again feature the serve clock, which was introduced last year at the event. Coaching will be allowed for the first time this year.  For a look at the other innovations being tested at the ACI (and the US Open Junior Championships), see my post from Monday.

The winners receive qualifying wild cards into the US Open next year, but neither of the 2016 ACI champions needed them.  Kwiatkowski won the NCAAs and so received a main draw wild card. Danielle Collins earned her way into qualifying on her own ranking, but fell short of the 120 ranking that is required to get a wild card into the main draw for the ACI champions.

Wednesday was a big day for young American men at the ATP Masters in Cincinnati, with both 19-year-old Frances Tiafoe and 20-year-old Jared Donaldson advancing to the round of 16.  

Tiafoe, the 2015 Kalamazoo champion, earned his first ATP Top 10 victory, beating No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.  He will play No. 14 seed John Isner next.  Donaldson took out lucky loser Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 and will face Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in Thursday's round of 16.  No. 15 seed Sam Querrey, the only other American man still in singles, plays later tonight.  For more on Tiafoe's win, see the ATP website.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Day, Eubanks Among Those Receiving US Open Main Draw Wild Cards: ITA National Summer Champions Crowned

Wild Cards for the US Open were announced today, revealing the three main draw wild cards unaccounted for previously.

Taylor Townsend, 21
Kayla Day, 17
Sonya Kenin, 18 (US Open Wild Card Challenge winner)
Ashley Kratzer, 18 (USTA National 18s champion)
Brienne Minor, 19 (NCAA champion)
Maria Sharapova, 30
Amandine Hesse, 24 (French reciprocal wild card)
TBD (Australian reciprocal wild card)

An article with more details on each women's wild card recipient is available at usopen.org.

Taylor Fritz, 19
Bjorn Fratangelo, 24
Christopher Eubanks, 21
Thai Kwiatkowski, 22 (NCAA champion)
Tommy Paul, 20 (US Open Wild Card Challenge winner)
Patrick Kypson, 17 (USTA National 18s champion)
Geoffrey Blancaneaux, 19 (French reciprocal wild card)
Alex De Minaur, 18 (Australian reciprocal wild card)

An article with more details on each men's wild card recipient is available at usopen.org.

Qualifying wild cards were also announced today.

Usue Arconada, 18
Kelly Chen, 18 (USTA National 18s finalist)
Francesca Di Lorenzo, 20
Vicky Duval, 21
Ashley Lahey, 17
Ann Li, 17
Claire Liu, 17
Whitney Osuigwe, 15
Katerina Stewart, 20

Arconada is very close to getting into qualifying on her own ranking, so that wild card may be available to someone else in the days ahead.

William Blumberg, 19
Marcos Giron, 24
Christian Harrison, 23
Evan King, 25
Bradley Klahn, 26
Austin Krajicek, 27
Daniel Nguyen, 26
Raymond Sarmiento, 25
JJ Wolf, 18 (USTA National 18s finalist)

Eight of the nine men Americans receiving qualifying wild cards are current or former college players.

The ITA National Summer Championships concluded today at TCU, with Notre Dame's Alex Lebedev and Winthrop's Lauren Proctor taking the singles titles.  No. 10 seed Lebedev defeated No. 44 Alexandru Grigorescu of Nebraska-Omaha 6-3, 6-2 and No. 4 seed Proctor defeated No. 15 seed Donika Bashota of TCU 6-2, 6-3 in the finals.

Lebedev and Proctor will receive main draw wild cards into the ITA All-American Championships this fall.

The men's doubles title went to Texas's Rodrigo Banzer and Leonardo Telles, with the No. 2 seeds beating Michigan's Myles Schalet and Gabe Tishman, the No. 5 seeds, 8-3 in the final.

No. 5 seeds Kaitlyn McCarthy and Ellyse Hamlin of Duke won the women's doubles title, defeating Iowa's Zoe Douglas and Elise Van Heuvelen 8-2.

The doubles champions also receive a wild card into the main draw of the ITA All-American championships.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Dimovska, Watane Win ITF Grade 5 Titles; Hansson Claims Singles and Doubles in Edwardsville Futures; US Open Announces Serve Clock, Coaching, Timed Warmups and Attire Changes for Qualifying, Juniors and ACI

I attempt to keep up on the other tennis news, while covering Kalamazoo but something's got to give during those 12-hour days, and I apologize if I've missed a significant victory or a title in the past 10 days.

In ITF junior tournaments last week, 17-year-old Nada Dimovska won the singles title at the Grade 5 in Bulgaria, her first on the ITF Junior Circuit.  Dimovska, who was unseeded, defeated qualifier Ana Manea of Romania 6-1, 6-2 in the final.  At the Grade 5 in St. Lucia, unseeded Anju Watane won his first ITF junior singles title, claiming the winner's trophy via a walkover from fellow 17-year-old Jericho Grollman.  At the ITF Grade 4 in Mexico, no Americans reached the singles finals, but Camille Townsend and Katya Townsend won the doubles title, with the top seeds beating No. 7 seeds Kailen Galazka and Maria Tanasescu of Canada 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

In ITF action the previous week, 14-year-old Hina Inoue won her third ITF junior singles title, this one a Grade 4 in Colombia.  The No. 2 seeds beat top seed Laura Rico Garcia of Colombia 6-2, 7-5 in the final, and is now up to 248 in the ITF rankings.

None of the singles finals of the Pro Circuit events last week featured any Americans.  At the $25,000 Futures in Edwardsville Illinois, Ole Miss senior Gustav Hansson of Sweden the first two pro titles, taking the singles and doubles.  Hansson defeated fellow qualifier and recent Tulsa graduate Or Ram-Harel of Israel 6-1, 6-2 in the singles final and partnered with former Ohio State Buckeye Hunter Callahan to defeat top seeds Robert Galloway(Wofford) and Alex Lawson(Notre Dame) 6-3, 6-4 in the doubles final.

At the women's $25,000 tournament in Landisville Pennsylvania, unseeded 18-year-old Vera Lapko of Belarus won her first title at that level, beating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) in the final.  Unseeded Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller won the doubles title, their third as a team, defeating No. 2 seeds Ksenia Lykina of Russia and Emily Webley-Smith of Great Britain 4-6, 6-3, 10-5.

The singles title at the $100,000 ATP Challenger in Aptos California went to unseeded Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, who defeated unseeded Liam Broady of Great Britain 6-2, 6-3 in the final.  No. 3 seeds Ken Skupski(LSU) and Jonathan Erlich of Israel won the doubles title, defeating No. 4 seeds Jordan Thompson and Alex Bolt of Australia 6-3, 2-6, 10-8 in the final.

Last week the USTA announced the US Open would implement several initiatives intended to speed up the pace of play. One of the changes, the serve clock, was used last year for the juniors and the American Collegiate Invitation, and there was little backlash from players or officials. The full release is below:

Changes Made to Enhance Fan Experience, Increase Speed of Play and Create Consistent Standards for Competitors
Moves Continue History of Tennis Innovation at US Open

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., August 10, 2017 - The United States Tennis Association today announced a series of in-game innovations that will be implemented across a variety of events at the 2017 US Open.  The US Open events affected include: Qualifying Tournament, Junior Tournament, Wheelchair Invitational, American Collegiate Invitational, Champions Invitational.  The new enhancements will not be instituted in the main draws of singles, doubles or mixed doubles. The introduction of these measures will create a consistent standard in areas that have traditionally been undefined or difficult to enforce, as well as open the discussion for further changes at all levels.

The following will be introduced:
  • Timing Related
    • Serve Clock* – Players will be given 25 seconds to serve following the completion of a point.  This is a five-second increase from the stated rules of tennis, as published by the ITF.  The clock will begin after the chair umpire announces the score.  Time violation penalties will be assessed on infractions
    • Warm-Up Clock* – A five-minute clock will be placed on all players during warm-ups prior to the start of matches.  At the completion of the five minutes, the umpire will announce the end of the warmup period.  After making this announcement, players will have 60-seconds to begin play.  A fine will be assessed on all infractions.
    • Change of Attire – Players will be given five minutes to complete an attire change, during set breaks only.  As not all courts have the same proximity to changing areas, the clock will not begin until a player enters the changing area, and will end when a player leaves the changing area.  Time violation penalties will be assessed on infractions.
*a countdown display will be visible by players and fans for these innovations

  • Coaching Related
    • In-Match Coaching – Coaching will be allowed between coaches and players between points.  Coaching will be limited to only those in the designated player box.  Verbal coaching will be allowed while the player is on the same end of the court as the player box, while signal coaching will be permitted when the player box is on the opposite end of the court.
“The US Open has always been at the forefront of tennis innovation, from blue courts to electronic line calling, and beyond,” said Gordon Smith, Executive Director & Chief Operating Officer, USTA .  “Throughout the years we have consistently looked for ways to enhance the experience of both our players and our fans, and we think these changes will continue to move the sport in an exciting direction.”

“These innovations were reviewed by the Grand Slam Board for use in the designated tournaments at the 2017 US Open.  In addition, the decision to implement these standards was made in consensus with the two tours and was approved by the ITF Rules of Tennis Committee,” said Stacey Allaster, Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, USTA. “Both throughout the event and following its completion, we will gather and analyze data and reaction, and determine the next steps for future usage, as well as the potential for further innovation in other areas of the game.”

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Kypson Claims Kalamazoo 18s Title with Five-Set Win over Wolf; Nakashima Cruises to 16s Championship; Kratzer Captures Girls 18s Title

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Kalamazoo MI--

The journey from Kalamazoo 16s champion to Kalamazoo 18s champion is one few have made. But 17-year-old Patrick Kypson added his name to that select group Sunday, coming from two sets to one down to beat JJ Wolf 6-7(1), 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 in front of 2000 appreciative fans at Stowe Stadium.

In a match that took nearly four hours to complete and five sets to decide, turning points are many, although the tension of the first set was not duplicated later in the match. Fortunately, the conditions could not have been better for such a marathon, with partly cloudy skies, low humidity and temperatures in the low 80s.

Neither Kypson nor Wolf faced a break point in their first service games, but the tiebreaker slipped away from Kypson quickly and he had nothing to show for over an hour of excellent tennis.

The first break point for either player came with Kypson serving down 1-2, but he saved it, then broke Wolf, who played a rare sloppy game. Kypson held on to the break, but the tension mounted when he served for the second set, saving three break points with an ace, a good second serve and a forehand volley winner, pulling even in the match when Wolf sent a second serve backhand return wide.

Wolf took control early in the third set, breaking a lethargic Kypson twice and holding easily.  A ten-minute break between the third and fourth sets gave Kypson an opportunity to rebound, but he was immediately broken to start the fourth set.

"I was ready to go home," Kypson said. "I don't know what happened to break him back. But when I got back on serve I was just telling myself to hold serve and see if I can sneak out a break later in the set."

Serving down 2-3 in the fourth set, Wolf fell behind 0-40, but came all the way back with two of his signature forehand winners and a 121-mph ace. The Ohio State rising sophomore saved another break point with another huge forehand, but Kypson earned a fifth with a forehand return winner and got the break when Wolf's backhand went long.

"Up two sets to one, up a break, if I could have just stayed with it 10 or 15 more minutes, I think I would have had a lot better chance," said Cincinnati resident Wolf, who was playing his first tournament since the NCAAs in May due to a stress fracture in his foot. "He got that break back right away--I kind of let him back in and he held it, so that's how it went."

Kypson closed out the fourth set on his first try, hitting a forehand winner, then, similar to Wolf in the fourth set, broke in the first game, only to give the break right back after leading 40-0, failing to convert six game points.

As crushing as that could have been, Kypson didn't show much frustration, and he promptly broke Wolf for a 2-1 lead.  An easy hold made it 3-1 and another break saw his lead extend to 4-1, but Wolf broke back for 4-2. Then he lost the next game, from 40-15 up, on a double fault, to give Kypson an opportunity to serve for the match.

"I think one of the hardest things to get back after you're out for a couple of months is how to hold serve," said Wolf, who will receive a US Open qualifying wild card for reaching the final. "Making a first serve is a very accurate shot and I just wasn't holding serve. And you can't win that way."

Up two breaks, Kypson recognized that he was in control, but also under pressure, and at 5-2, he had to save a break point.

"When you're up two breaks and you're serving for it, there's really no excuse to lose that set or that match," Kypson said. "He missed a return by a half an inch.  But even if I had gotten broken there, I was playing aggressive on his service games--I actually felt better returning than serving. My legs were kind of gone on my serve."

At deuce, Kypson hit a backhand volley winner, a shot he rarely misses, and arrived at his first match point. A good first serve to Wolf's backhand led to a to a netted return, and Kypson collapsed on the court in celebration.

"I had to," Kypson said. "6-2 in the fifth, you've got to show something."

Kypson is the first player since Alex Bogomolov in 2001 to win both 16s and 18s titles, joining Justin Gimelstob, Paul Goldstein, Ricky Brown, Aaron Krickstein, Larry Gottfried, Billy Martin and Erik van Dillen as the only double winners in the tournament's 75-year history.

"I guess it's cool to say, but I guess at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter," said Kypson, who also expressed similar sentiments after reaching the Wimbledon Boys semifinals this year.  "If I won the US Open, I'd tell you differently. But it shows my level is there. These are the best players in the country, so my level's there with the best in the country and I think I've proven it's also there with the best in the world in the juniors, so now the next step is to play with the pros, guys 200 and 300, then Top 100, and then from there it's a game of small margins. That's the ultimate goal, to be a top 100 player, and once you're top 100, you can do anything."

Despite toughing out a best-of-five match on one of tennis' most pressure-packed tournaments in Kalamazoo, Kypson knows he'll face a different test in his first round match at the US Open.

"Playing a man in three out of five sets is going to be a whole different set of challenges, bigger tennis, " said the Greenville North Carolina native. "I've got to prepare well for that. I'm not really trying to play Federer at night on Arthur Ashe. Now that I've said that, it's probably going to happen. But [who I play] doesn't really matter to me."

As for the US Open Juniors, Kypson is still planning to play that tournament for the fourth and final time, with last year's quarterfinals his best showing.

"Unless I make the [men's] quarters, and then I'll say, see you guys later," Kypson joked. "Then I'll probably turn pro and take my 300 (actually 470) grand. But as of right now, yes, I'll play it."

The boys 16s final was decidedly less suspenseful, with top seed Brandon Nakashima defeating No. 8 seed Stefan Dostanic 6-0, 6-1 to capture the title and the US Open Junior championships wild card that goes with it.

Nakashima, who didn't lose a set all week, had beaten Dostanic 6-1, 6-2 in the Easter Bowl final back in April, and was at least as dominant on Sunday.

Nakashima won the first nine games of the match, with Dostanic having only three game points in that stretch.  One was on Nakashima's serve however, at 2-0 in the second set, and converting that could have given Dostanic hope. But Nakashima won one of the longest rallies of the match, then hit an ace and another excellent first serve, and it was 3-0.

"It was really discouraging," said Dostanic, a 15-year-old from Irvine California playing in his first Kalamazoo. "I tried to get my energy up but whenever I'd do that, he'd hit a winner on me or I'd miss an easy ball in the beginning of the rally. It was tough to get a rhythm."

"I knew that was a really important game, to go up 3-0," said Nakashima, a 16-year-old from San Diego. "I just hit a couple of big serves at the right time, played the points smart and right and I ended up holding in that game."

Dostanic did convert his fourth game point to make it 3-1 and had a break point in the next game as well, but another good first serve by Nakashima brushed it aside and he finished with a break and a hold, ending the match in just 50 minutes.

"Today I felt more in a rhythm," said Nakashima, comparing his performance to Saturday's 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 3 seed Siem Woldeab. "I felt like I was hitting all my shots really well."

Although he didn't show any signs of it, Nakashima wasn't immune to the nerves of a Kalamazoo final.

"Yeah, I was pretty nervous at the beginning of the tournament, and today before the final," said Nakashima, who is coached by Christian Groh and Larry Stefanki. "I try not to think too much about the whole scene and everything. I just try to focus on hitting the ball."

Dostanic admitted nerves played a role in his performance.

"It was nerves and Brandon," Dostanic said. "Brandon's a great player. I wish I could have played a little better, to make it more interesting, but it wasn't really my day and he was also making me play a lot worse. He was playing solid deep balls off my serve. He played really well."

Nakashima, who attends regular school, has not played extensively on the ITF Junior Circuit, but he is looking forward to his US Open debut next month.

"It'll be a great experience," said Nakashima, who qualified for the 18s, but decided to play the 16s division with that wild card in mind. "I've never been to the US Open and I'm looking forward to the experience and the matches over there. I know all the players in the tournament are really tough, they've been playing a lot of ITFs. I'll just have to play my game and we'll just see how it goes over there."

In addition to the 16s and 18s singles finals, the third and fourth place matches and the Feed-In champions were decided on Sunday.

Sam Riffice, the top seed, won his second consecutive 18s Feed-In championship, defeating No. 32 seed Britton Johnston 6-2, 6-0 in the final. Riffice had also reached the 18s Feed-In final back in 2015 and has won 14 Feed-In matches in those three years, not including walkovers.

Cannon Kingsley, the No. 20 seed, won the 16s Feed-In title, beating No. 2 seed Andrew Dale 4-6, 6-4, 10-5.

Third place in the 16s division went to Siem Woldeab, the No. 3 seed, who defeated No. 4 seed Will Grant 7-6(6),7-6(4).  The bronze ball in 18s was awarded to No. 12 seed Alafia Ayeni, who beat No. 29 seed Ryan Goetz 6-3, 6-4.

The tournament's three main sportsmanship awards were presented this weekend, with Timothy Sah earning the Wes Richards Feed-In award, Garrett Johns earning the 16s Bobby Kaplan award and DJ Thomas earning the Allen B. Stowe award for 18s.

At the USTA Girls 18s Nationals in San Diego, No. 3 seed Ashley Kratzer won the title and the US Open women's wild card, beating No. 33 seed Kelly Chen 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.  Chen, a rising Duke freshman, trailed 4-0 in the final set, but got it back to 4-all, only to see Kratzer respond with a hold and break for the title.

The girls 18s doubles title went to Claire Liu and Taylor Johnson, the No. 5 seeds, who beat Hailey Baptiste and Ellie Douglas, the No. 6 seeds, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2. Liu and Johnson will receive a main draw wild card into the women's doubles at the US Open.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Kypson and Wolf Meet for Kalamazoo 18s Title; Nakashima and Dostanic to Decide 16s Championship; Doubles Champions Crowned; Blake 16s Girls Champion; US Girls Win ITF World Junior Tennis Title

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Kalamazoo MI--

Patrick Kypson will aim to become the first player since Alex Bogomolov to win both the 16s and 18s titles at the USTA Nationals in Kalamazoo on Sunday, after the No. 2 seed defeated Ryan Goetz 6-0, 6-3 Saturday.  Standing in his way will be No. 5 seed JJ Wolf, a rising sophomore at Ohio State, who defeated Alafia Ayeni 6-3, 6-1 on an unseasonably cool day at Stowe Stadium.

The 16s final will be a rematch of this spring's Easter Bowl championship match, with two Southern Californians, No. 1 seed Brandon Nakashima and No. 8 seed Stefan Dostanic, vying for the title.

Kypson was not about to take Goetz lightly, despite his No. 29 seed. After Goetz defeated No. 3 seed Trent Bryde and No. 6 seed John McNally, Kypson was prepared for a battle and he got it in the first game of the match.

"I went down 0-30 in that game, but I held and then I kind of loosened up," said the 17-year-old from North Carolina. "I made a ton of balls in the first set, didn't really give him much, didn't make many errors. I was able to stay in the rallies long enough to break his will a little bit. Obviously he's playing well and I needed to stay on my toes. I gave him a lot of respect before the match. That's one thing I'm pretty good at, respecting other people."

In the second set, Goetz saved a break point down 0-1, then Kypson had to save a couple of break points to keep his lead.

"That was a good hold at 1-all," said Kypson. "But still, I wouldn't have been too concerned going down a break because it was so early in the set. And I was controlling most of the points. But obviously, you always want to be leading."

Wolf never trailed in his match with No. 12 seed Ayeni, and although he didn't lose his serve in the match, it was his return that he credited for his performance.

"It's really hard to tell until you play that first point, but after that first hold and the first point in his service game, I could feel I was going to return well," said the 18-year-old from Ohio. "My return was on, which is key when you play Alafia, because his serve is so big. That's what I built my game around today."

Wolf broke in the opening game of the second set, but had to save three break points to keep his lead serving at 2-1.  Once he got a second break, Ayeni began to press, with unforced errors mounting, and Wolf giving him no free points.  Wolf held for 5-1 then went up 40-0 in the final game, with Ayeni double faulting on the second match point to give Wolf the win.

A month ago, Wolf was in a boot for a stress fracture in his foot, so reaching the final this week was not something he allowed himself to think about.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to get it off in time to start practicing for the tournament," Wolf said. "I barely made it. I tried not to think about Kalamazoo, because this is my last year, and I if I didn't get to play, it would be rough."

Wolf's successful first semester at Ohio State, where he played No. 2 and finished the year ranked No. 50 in the country, provided him with valuable experience and training opportunities that aren't often available in junior tennis.

"When you're a junior, depending on where you're training, a lot of times you don't have other guys that can play with you," Wolf said. "It's hard to find that, because everyone's from different places. So I think day-in, day-out, five, six days a week playing hard practices with guys just makes you a lot tougher. I think it trains the fear out of you a little bit and makes me a little more confident when I go out on the court."

Wolf and Kypson have previous history in Kalamazoo, with Kypson taking out Wolf in the semifinals of the 16s en route to the 2015 title. In their most recent meeting, last year at the US Open Junior Championships, Kypson beat Wolf 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals.

Kypson doesn't think his title back in 2015 will give him any advantage over Wolf in the best-of-five final.

"Playing three out of five, and with JJ having a whole season at college, I think he got a lot of experience from that,"  said Kypson, who will be trying to match Bogomolov's accomplishments in 1998 and 2001. "In college, you obviously play for more than just yourself. You learn to manage your nerves a little bit better. I think we're both in pretty good shape going into the final, we know each other pretty well, and it's going to be a good match."

While the drama was minimal in the 18s semifinals, the 16s did provide tension.  Although Nakashima has yet to drop a set in the tournament, he acknowledged that No. 3 seed Siem Woldeab presented a challenge in Nakashima's 6-4, 6-3 victory.

"It was a close one," said the 16-year-old from San Diego. "He was playing pretty well so I had to play my best at the right times. He started out well, and I knew I had to play my best the whole match. He gets a lot of balls back, runs everything down, doesn't miss much, so I had to try to take time away from him, come to net, and play my game."

Woldeab's defense is difficult to penetrate, but his commitment to a more offensive style of play was apparent to Nakashima, who had beaten him in the semifinals of the Southern California 18s sectionals earlier this summer.

"Today I felt like his was playing a lot more aggressive," said Nakashima, who needed five set points to close out the first set, after trailing 3-1. "I feel like in the other matches, he was just trying to get balls back, hoping the other guy was going to miss.  But today he knew he had to try to be aggressive, to try to hit as many winners as he could."

In the second set, Nakashima again went down an early break, but broke back, took a 4-1 lead, then allowed Woldeab to get back on serve. But a loose service game by Woldeab at 3-4 gave Nakashima the chance to serve out the match, and despite a subpar serving day, Nakashima was able to close it out, hitting a forehand winner on his first match point.

Dostanic's 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 4 seed Will Grant was a two-hour ordeal, with a strategy change and tournament technology providing and assist.

After recognizing that he was playing too defensively and too far behind the baseline, Dostanic made an adjustment.

"I was like ten feet behind the baseline, running around slicing," said the 15-year-old from Irvine California, who lost the last four games of the first set. "I think in the second and third sets I stepped up more and made less mistakes as well. I let him miss and let him go for the bigger shots, and I was standing closer to the baseline."

In the 10-minute break between the second and third sets, Dostanic received some long distance help from coach Chuck Brymer.

"He was watching at Brymer-Lewis Academy on the live stream," Dostanic said. "He called me and told me what to do."

Dostanic got the decisive break at 3-all in the third set, but serving out a match, especially for a place in the Kalamazoo final, is not easy. Dostanic, who couldn't serve out the first set, got five of six first serves in that final game, converting his second match point when Grant netted a forehand.

"I was very conscious of that," said Dostanic. "Coach told me in tense moments, always get in your first serve. You don't want to give your opponent a chance to hit a winner off your second serve. I think that really helped me win the match."

In the Easter Bowl final, Nakashima beat Dostanic 6-1, 6-2, but Dostanic is expecting Sunday's final to be more competitive.

"I'm feeling very confident," Dostanic said. "I'm playing the best tennis of my life and I'm looking forward to it tomorrow. I knew it would be a tough road, and I'm relieved I made it here, and very excited as well."

Grant's hopes for a gold ball in singles were dashed by Dostanic, but he did leave Kalamazoo with the title in doubles, with partner Tyler Zink.

Grant and Zink, the No. 3 seeds, defeated No. 24 seeds Eshan Talluri and Woldeab 6-2, 6-3 Saturday afternoon on Stowe Stadium's George Acker Court.

The two 16-year-olds had just one sectional title to their credit when they decided to team up in Kalamazoo.

"We played a sectional about six months ago and we won that," said Zink, of Bradenton Florida. "So it was an instant connection. This is just our second tournament together, and it's a good one to win."

Zink said leading early was a key to their success throughout the match.

"One of goals was to keep really good energy, keep positive, and when we got up early, it just made our jobs that much easier," Zink said. " I just thought we played really well."

"We played really aggressive," said Grant, a resident of Boca Raton Florida. "That's one of the key things. They were pretty solid, had good hands and stuff, but I think once we really pounced on their serves and got to the net, we were winning a lot of points."

Up 5-3 in the second set, Grant and Zink refused to concede Talluri's service game, even down 40-0.  Talluri and Woldeab saved three match points in the five-deuce game, but on the fourth, Talluri's forehand sailed long and Grant and Zink celebrated with a chest bump.

"It's an honor," Grant said of the title. "It's one of the most prestigious tournaments, not in America, but in the world. So to be on the board with the other people who have made it as a career, it's pretty special. It's really cool."

In the 18s doubles final, top seeds Vasil Kirkov and DJ Thomas claimed a tight first set, then went on to defeat No. 2 seeds Oliver Crawford and Kypson 7-6(1), 6-2.

Neither team faced a break point in the first set, which made the lopsided tiebreaker an even bigger surprise.

"Everyone was serving really well," said Kirkov. "Once we got to a tiebreak we knew that we needed a lot of first serves, to execute at the net. Every point matches in a tiebreaker, so we couldn't play any loose points. Once we got a mini-break in the beginning, it kind of helped us get through it, once we got a lead, we just took off with it."

"Tiebreaks can go either way," Thomas said. "Whoever wins the first two points has the momentum and can usually run through it. So our goal was to start off with first serves, energy, close into the net, play some tight tennis."

The tension eased considerably when they broke Crawford in the third game of the second set and Kypson in the fifth.

"We relaxed a little bit more," said Thomas, who served out the match after three deuces.  "We got another break and then I think we relaxed a little too much, had a close service game there, but we held it together. I'm happy with the way we played."

Kirkov and Thomas will receive a main draw wild card into the men's doubles draw at the US Open and are not particular about their opponents.

"Bryan brothers wouldn't be bad," said the 17-year-old Thomas. "I'd like to give that a go."

"Every team in the US Open is going to be tough," said the 18-year-old Kirkov. "There's not much you can choose. But having a big name out there is good experience."

Kirkov has played the US Open Juniors twice and the men's qualifying last year as the Kalamazoo finalist, but Thomas has never been to Flushing Meadows, so he'll be relying on Kirkov to show him the ins and outs of the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center.

Kirkov had no plans to celebrate aside from a late night flight home to Tampa, but Thomas still has unfinished business. He is still in the feed-in tournament and will play Sam Riffice at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning in the semifinals.

The bronze ball match in the 16s doubles went to No. 1 seeds Robert Cash and Ryder Jackson. They defeated No. 2 seeds Eliot Spizzirri and Spencer Whitaker 6-4, 6-2.

Third place in the 18s doubles went to John McNally and Wolf, the No. 3 seeds, who were given a walkover by Nathan Perrone and Jake Van Emburgh.

For complete results in all singles, doubles and feed-in draws, see ustaboys.com.

The 16s singles final is scheduled to begin at 11:30 Sunday, with the 18s singles final to follow. Streaming, with commentary, will be available here.

The finals are set for the girls 18s, with No. 33 seed Kelly Chen facing No. 3 seed Ashley Kratzer.  Chen, a rising freshman at Duke, defeated No. 12 seed Caty McNally 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, while Kratzer downed No. 8 seed Whitney Osuigwe 7-6(6), 6-0.  The final will be shown on Tennis Channel beginning at 4 p.m. EDT Sunday.

The girls 16s title went to No. 9 seed Angelica Blake, who beat No. 14 seed Nikki Redelijk, her friend and doubles partner, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Blake and Redelijk won the 16s doubles title later in the afternoon.

Complete results from San Diego are available at the Tennis Link site.

The finals were also played today in the 12s and 14s divisions.

At the girls 12s in Alpharetta Georgia, No. 2 seed Eleana Yu defeated No. 9 seed Natalie Block 6-3, 6-1.

At the girls 14s in Rome Georgia, No. 17 seed Robin Montgomery defeated No. 33 seed Reese Brantmeier 6-0, 6-1.

At the boys 12s in Mobile Alabama, No. 4 seed Lucas Brown defeated No. 1 seed Aidan Kim 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

At the boys 14s in Mobile Alabama, No. 4 seed Saud Alhogbani defeated No. 17 seed Ben Shelton 7-5, 6-3.

The second-seeded USA girls team won the title at the ITF World Junior Tennis competition in the Czech Republic today, beating top seed Ukraine 2-1.  Cori Gauff and Charlotte Owensby won the doubles point to seal the victory, after Gauff had evened the match with a win at No. 1 singles. Gauff, 13, went 6-0 in singles during the week, leading the USA to a record seventh title at the 14-and-under team event.

The unseeded Swiss team won the boys title, beating No. 3 seed Spain 2-1.  For more on today's finals, see the ITF Junior website.