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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.