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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Eubanks Earns First ATP Win in Atlanta; Greif Collects First ATP Point; Anisimova Beats Day in Sacramento $60K; Caty McNally's Wimbledon Ball Experience

Chris Eubanks Clinches 1st ATP Win (photo by Bill Kallenberg)
Tuesday was College Night at the ATP's BB&T Atlanta Open and Georgia Tech rising senior Christopher Eubanks made the most of it, picking his first victory on the ATP level with a 7-6(5), 6-4 win over fellow wild card Taylor Fritz.  This is the third year that Eubanks has played in the main draw of his hometown ATP event; last year he qualified but fell to Reilly Opelka in two tiebreakers in a first round match.

The day didn't go as well for the many other young Americans playing their first round matches today, with Opelka failing to convert on eight match points in a loss to Malek Jaziri of Tunisia, while Bjorn Fratangelo and Frances Tiafoe both lost in third set tiebreakers, to Vasek Pospisil of Canada and John Millman of Australia.  Stefan Kozlov also lost his first round match, to fellow qualifier Quentin Halys of France.

But because it's Atlanta and the first tournament of the US Open Series, there are plenty of Americans left in the draw.  Jack Sock and John Isner and Ryan Harrison, the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 seeds, have first round byes, with Donald Young, qualifier Tommy Paul, and Jared Donaldson also advancing to the second round.  Donaldson, the No. 8 seed, will face Eubanks next.

Despite the $75,000 ATP Binghamton Challenger being held the same week as the BB&T, the number of Americans at that event is impressive. TCU rising junior Alex Rybakov and UNC rising sophomore William Blumberg are among those advancing to the second round, joining Daniel Nguyen, Kevin King, Michael Mmoh and Christian Harrison.  Recent TCU standout Cameron Norrie of Great Britain beat No. 3 seed Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 7-6(3), 6-2 and former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany, who won the $25,000 Futures in Champaign last week, beat No. 7 seed Andrew Wittington of Australia 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.

There's a $25,000 Futures in Champaign Illinois again this week, with former Illinois star Jared Hiltzik the top seed.  2016 Kalamazoo 16s champion Lukas Greif picked up his first ATP point with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 3 seed and 2015 NCAA champion Ryan Shane. Shane double faulted 14 times in the match.  John McNally and Sam Riffice, two additional players who will be participating in the Kalamazoo 18s tournament next week, also won their opening round matches.

Qualifying for the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Sacramento was completed today, with UCLA rising sophomore Ena Shibahara and Vicky Duval the two Americans to reach the main draw. Irina Falconi, Danielle Collins[7], Kristie Ahn[2] and wild card Robin Anderson all advanced with first round wins today, as did Amanda Anisimova.  The 15-year-old Floridian defeated No. 3 seed Kayla Day 6-3, 7-5 and will play the winner of the Wednesday match between wild card Emina Bektas and 46-year-old Kimiko Date of Japan. Wimbledon girls champion Claire Liu takes on top seed Jennifer Brady in her first round match Wednesday.

French Open girls champion Whitney Osuigwe and Wimbledon girls finalist Ann Li are playing the $15,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Evansville this week, where former Tennessee star Caitlyn Whoriskey is the top seed.  Among the many top juniors who are playing in Evansville prior to the USTA 18s and 16s event in San Diego is Caty McNally, who reached the Wimbledon girls doubles final earlier this month for the second year in a row.  As a finalist, the 15-year-oldMcNally was invited to the Wimbledon Champions Ball (which is really a dinner now, from what I understand) and she spoke to her local newspaper in Cincinnati about what that experience was like. McNally also mentioned she may decide on whether to turn pro or go to college by the end of the year.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Hewitt, Baird Earn ITF Grade 4 Titles in Dominican Republic; Pera Claims $80K in Czech Republic; Rublev Wins ATP Title; Lleyton Hewitt Opens Academy in Bahamas

International Tennis Federation junior tournaments numbered 17 last week, but US juniors, most of whom were competing at the USTA Clay Courts or in USTA Pro Circuit events, earned just two singles titles, both at the Grade 4 in the Dominican Republic both in all-USA finals.  Dalayna Hewitt swept the girls events as the No. 1 seed in both singles and doubles.  The 16-year-old from Ohio beat No. 8 seed Sasha Wood 6-3, 6-4 in the final.  Hewitt and Ariana Arseneault of Canada collected the doubles title when Hina Inoue and Uruguay's Lucia De Santa Ana retired in the final trailing 6-3, 3-0. 

Drew Baird, the No. 2 seed, won the boys singles title, beating No. 3 seed Blaise Bicknell 6-3 7-6(3).  It's the second ITF singles title for Baird, who won the Grade 4 Grass Courts in Philadelphia last month. 

At the ITF Grade 4 in Germany, 15-year-old Julian Steinhausen won the doubles title, with Benjamin Niv of Bulgaria.  The pair defeated Germans Fynn Kuenkler and Bastien Presuhn, the top seeds, 7-6(8), 5-7, 10-7 in the final.

Tristan Boyer won the boys doubles title at the ITF Grade 2 in Switzerland, partnering with Kaya Gore of Turkey.  The No. 2 seeds defeated the unseeded Swiss team of Luca Staeheli and Yannik Steinegger 6-7(4), 6-2, 10-7 in the final.

Andrew Fenty and Venezuela's Brandon Perez fell in the boys doubles final at the Grade 1 in Austria. The No. 6 seeds lost to No. 3 seeds Igor Gimenez and Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil 6-3, 6-7(8), 10-8 in the final.  Top seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina won the boys singles title and No. 12 seed Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy took the girls singles championship.

The big ITF Junior tournament this week is the Grade B1 European Championships in Switzerland.  Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and Corentin Moutet of France are the top seeds.

Bernarda Pera, the 22-year-old American (by way of Croatia), won the biggest title of her career yesterday at the $80,000+H tournament in the Czech Republic.  Pera, who was unseeded, beat No. 2 seed Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, and in the final, she defeated top seed Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.  With the win, Pera has reached a career high WTA ranking of 146.

Nineteen-year-old Andrey Rublev of Russia won his first ATP title last night in Umag, defeating Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-4, 6-2 in the final.  Rublev, who lost in the qualifying at the 250 level event in Croatia but got in as a lucky loser, has now moved into the ATP Top 50.  Rublev talks about his breakthrough, his young compatriots in the Top 50 and what parts of his game have improved since he left the juniors in this interview on the ATP website.

Grant Doyle, who was a top junior himself and has coached Sam Querrey and Ryan Harrison, is now working with Lleyton Hewitt at the elite tennis program of the Albany Sports Academy in the Bahamas.  The academy is starting small, with approximately 25 students, and will officially open on August 28th.  Doyle talked to Nina Pantic about the new venture; like me, you may not have been aware that Hewitt has had a residence there for years.

USTA Clay Court Champions; Kenin Wins Stockton $60K; Isner Claims ATP Hall of Fame Title in Newport; Shapovalov Captures Second Challenger Title

The 2017 USTA Clay Court Championships are in the books, with the singles and doubles titles in the 14s, 16s and 18s division decided today.  The Tennis Recruiting Network will have in depth coverage all next week; full draws are available from the TennisLink site by clicking on the headers below.

Girls 12s in Boca Raton:
Singles: Tsehay Driscoll[3] def. Clervie Ngounoue[4] 7-6(4), 6-2
Doubles: Tsehay Driscoll and Ava Krug[4] def. Natalie Block and Lara Smejkal 4-6, 6-4, 6-0

Girls 14s in Plantation:
Singles: Elise Wagle[26] def. Valencia Xu[5] 4-6, 6-4, 6-0
Doubles: Robin Montgomery and Katrina Scott[9] def. Mia Kintiroglou and Tara Malik[7] 6-3, 3-6, 6-1

Girls 16s in Virginia Beach:
Singles: Fiona Crawley[1] def. Ruth Marsh[2] 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Doubles: Sophia Sassoli and Rhea Shrivastava[15] def. Zoey Weil and Brigette Wu[9] 2-6, 6-1, 6-3

Girls 18s in Memphis:
Singles: Katie Volynets[13] def. Abigail Forbes[2] 6-2, 6-2
Doubles: Abigail Forbes and Alyvia Jones[17] def. Sophia Graver and Marlee Zein[6] 6-4, 6-3

Boys 12s in Orlando:
Singles: Juncheng Shang def. Aidan Kim[4] 6-3, 7-5
Doubles: Lucas Brown and Cooper Williams[1] def. Andrew Delgado and James Rico[12] 6-3, 6-0

Boys 14s in Ft. Lauderdale:
Singles: Saud Alhogbani[11] def. Jonah Braswell[52] 6-1, 6-1
Doubles: Saud Alhogbani and Nishesh Basavareddy[27] def. Grant Durham and Isaac Smith[5] 6-7(3), 6-0, 6-3

Boys 16s in Delray Beach:
Singles: Garrett Johns[14] def. Jacob Bullard[8] 6-2, 6-2
Doubles: Robert Cash and Ryder Jackson[6] def. Jeffrey Fradkin and Phillip Jordan[2] 6-2, 6-4

Boys 18s in Delray Beach:
Singles: Axel Nefve[17] def. Ryan Goetz 6-2, 6-4
Doubles: Christian Alshon and Tyler Zink[5] def. Patrick Maloney and Harris Walker[12] 6-3, 6-2

Sonya Kenin won the title at the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Stockton California today, beating wild card Ashley Kratzer 6-0, 6-1 in the final.  The 18-year-old Floridian, seeded No. 4, now takes the early lead in the US Open Wild Card Challenge, which she won last year with her title at Sacramento.  Kenin also won the doubles championship on Saturday, with Usue Arconada. 

Top seed John Isner won his third title at the ATP Hall of Fame Championships, beating qualifier Matthew Ebden of Australia 6-3, 7-6(4).  It's Isner's first title since Atlanta in 2015 and his 11th overall.  He didn't face a break point during the tournament.   Rajeev Ram and  Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan won the doubles title, with the 33-year-old from Indiana, who won the 2013 NCAA doubles title while at Illinois, announcing that he was retiring from singles competition on the ATP and would concentrate on doubles.

Eighteen-year-old Denis Shapovalov of Canada won his second ATP Challenger title today in Gatineau Canada, with the 2016 Wimbledon boys champion, seeded No. 7, beating No. 5 seed Peter Polansky of Canada 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the final. Shapovalov moves to 130 in the ATP rankings with the title. Bradley Klahn and Jackson Withrow won the doubles title, beating Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico and Vincent Millot of France 6-2, 6-3 in a final between unseeded teams.

At the $25,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event in Gatineau, Aleksandra Wozniack of Canada, the No. 6 seed, beat qualifier Ellen Perez of Australia, the former Georgia star, 7-6(4), 6-4 in today's final.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Roddick Inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame; Isner into Newport Final; USTA Clay Court Finals; Koepfer Wins Champaign Futures; Kenin and Kratzer Reach Stockton Final

Andy Roddick was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame today in Newport Rhode Island, along with Kim Clijsters, Monique Kalkman, Steve Flink and, posthumously, Vic Braden.  Roddick, who will be in Kalamazoo for the tournament's  75th Anniversary Opening Ceremony and Exhibition on August 5th, is the last US man to win a slam title (US Open 2003).  The speeches of the inductees can be found here.

Shortly after the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the semifinals of the Dell Technologies ATP tournament were played, with qualifier Matthew Ebden and top seed John Isner advancing to Sunday's final.  Australia's Ebden defeated Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-3, 6-3 to advance to his first ATP final, while Isner, a two-time Newport champion, defeated Bjorn Fratangelo 6-2, 6-4.

The 12s champions have been crowned at the USTA Clay Court Championships, with the finals set for Sunday in the other age divisions. Below are the results/matchups:

Tsehay Driscoll and Ava Krug (photo courtesy Robin Driscoll)

Girls 12s in Boca Raton:
Singles: Tsehay Driscoll[3] def. Clervie Ngounoue[4]
7-6(4), 6-2

Doubles: Tsehay Driscoll and Ava Krug[4] def. Natalie Block and Lara Smejkal 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Girls 14s in Plantation:
Singles: Valencia Xu[5] vs. Elise Wagle[26]

Girls 16s in Virginia Beach:
Fiona Crawley[1] vs. Ruth Marsh[2]

Girls 18s in Memphis:
Katie Volynets[13] vs. Abigail Forbes[2]

Boys 12s in Orlando:
Singles: Juncheng Shang def. Aidan Kim[4] 6-3, 7-5

Lucas Brown and Cooper Williams[1] def. Andrew Delgado and James Rico[12] 6-3, 6-0

Saud Alhogbani[11] vs. Jonah Braswell[52]

Garrett Johns[14] vs. Jacob Bullard[8]

Ryan Goetz vs. Axel Nefve[17]

The $25,000 Champaign Futures finished today, with former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany claiming his third career Futures title since graduating last year.  Koepfer, seeded No. 3, defeated No. 2 seed Jose Statham of New Zealand 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-5 in the two hour and 32 minute final. 

Riley Smith and Brandon Holt won the doubles titles, beating Tomas Stillman and Shane Vinsant 3-6, 6-1, 12-10.  It's the third Futures title for Smith and Holt, who will be sophomores at USC this fall.

The finals of the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Stockton will feature two 18-year-old Americans, with No. 4 seed Sonya Kenin facing wild card Ashley Kratzer.  Kenin defeated Croatia's Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6(3), 7-5 to reach her third final at the $60,000 level, while Kratzer, who beat No. 2 seed Jamie Loeb 6-2, 6-4 will be playing in her first Pro Circuit final above the $15,000 level.

Kenin and Usue Arconada won the doubles title today, with the unseeded 18-year-olds beating No. 3 seeds Tammi Patterson of Australia and Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 4-6, 6-1, 10-5.

At the $25,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event in Gatineau, Australia's Ellen Perez, who recently turned pro after her junior season at Georgia, has reached the final.  Perez, a qualifier, will play No. 6 seed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada in Sunday's championship match. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

My Wimbledon Junior Recap; Fenty Reaches Semifinals at ITF Grade 1 in Austria; Loeb, Kenin and Kratzer Advance in Stockton $60K; Next Team USA Web Forum; Fratangelo Reaches Semis at Newport

I hope you were able to follow my daily coverage from Wimbledon last week, but if you weren't, my recap of the tournament for the Tennis Recruiting Network is a quick way of catching up on the rare American girl's and Spanish boy's singles championship.  I've now covered in person four all-US junior slam finals, with this the first one involving girls.

After his appearance in the doubles quarterfinals at Wimbledon, Andrew Fenty decided to stay in Europe for the ITF Grade 1 in Austria this week, where he is the No. 7 seed in singles. The 17-year-old from Washington DC advanced to his first Grade 1 semifinal there today, beating unseeded Emile Hudd of Great Britain 7-5, 6-3. Fenty will now face top seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina, a semifinalist at the Orange Bowl last year and the 16s Orange Bowl champion in 2015.  Fenty also has reached the doubles semifinals, playing with fellow Junior Tennis Champions Center student Brandon Perez of Venezuela.  The No. 6 seeds defeated top seeds Hugo Gaston and Clement Tabur of France 3-6, 7-6(4), 10-8 in the quarterfinals.  They will face the all-US team of Tomas Kopczynski and Mark Mandlik, who advanced to the semifinals via a walkover.

Three of the four semifinalists at the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Stockton California are from the United States, and two of them are 18 years old.  Sonya Kenin, the No. 4 seed, defeated Ohio State rising junior Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1, and wild card Ashley Kratzer beat Shilin Xu of China 6-4, 6-2.  The third, No. 2 seed Jamie Loeb, moved into the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over 15-year-old Amanda Anisimova.  2015 NCAA champion Loeb will take on Kratzer in the semifinals, with Kenin facing Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia, who beat Irina Falconi 2-6, 6-0, 6-2.

The final is set at the $25,000 Men's Futures in Champaign Illinois, with No. 3 seed Dominik Koepfer of Germany playing No. 2 seed Jose Statham of New Zealand. Koepfer beat unseeded Ricardo Rodriguez-Pace of Venezuela 6-0, 6-3, while Statham ended the run of wild card Brandon Holt, grinding out a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3 victory.  Holt will play for a title on Saturday however, after he and USC teammate Riley Smith advanced to the doubles final with a 3-6, 7-6(4), 11-9 win over Harrison Adams and Yates Johnson.  Smith and Holt, who have already won two Futures titles as a team, will play Shane Vinsant and Tomas Stillman for the title.

The USTA has announced its next Team USA Web Forum, which is Thursday, August 3 at 8 p.m.  The topic is Empathetic Coaching and will feature Fed Cup Captain Kathy Rinaldi, Mental Skills Specialist Larry Lauer, and guest presenters Dustin Taylor and Brian Baker.  You can register for this free webinar here.

At the ATP Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open in Newport Rhode Island, Bjorn Fratangelo has advanced to the semifinals, beating No. 4 seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.  Fratangelo, who made his first ATP quarterfinal this tournament, will face top seed John Isner in the semifinals, after Isner beat Dennis Novikov 6-4, 6-4.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Holt Reaches Champaign Futures Semifinal; Anisimova Advances to Quarterfinals in Stockton $60K; ESPN to Stream Boys 12s Clay Courts Finals; ITA Announces D-III Indoor Fields

USC rising sophomore Brandon Holt has advanced to his first Futures semifinal, with the 19-year-old wild card beating former Trojan Eric Johnson 6-2, 6-1 at the $25,000 Champaign Futures.  Holt, who reached the quarterfinals of one of the Wake Forest Futures last month, will face No. 2 seed Jose Statham of New Zealand in the semifinals. Statham got past wild card Zeke Clark, an Illinois rising sophomore, 6-3, 7-6(2).  Former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany, the No. 3 seed, will face unseeded Ricardo Rodriguez-Pace of Venezuela in the other semifinal.  Holt and teammate Riley Smith are also through to the doubles semifinals, as are John McNally and Govind Nanda, both of whom are entered in the Kalamazoo 18s next month.

At the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Stockton California, 15-year-old Amanda Anisimova defeated No. 6 seed Grace Min 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals against 2015 NCAA champion Jamie Loeb, the No. 2 seed.  Loeb defeated Caroline Dolehide 6-3, 6-2.  Also advancing to the quarterfinals are 18-year-olds Sonya Kenin[4] and Ashley Kratzer and 19-year-old Ohio State rising junior Francesca Di Lorenzo.  Top seed Kristie Ahn was beaten by Irina Falconi, and No. 3 seed Danielle Collins lost to Shilin Xu of China, a former ITF world junior No. 1.

The USTA announced today that the singles and doubles finals of the USTA Boys 12s Clay Courts will be streamed on Watch ESPN at 10:00 am this Saturday with Jimmy Arias and Steven Goldstein providing commentary.  I believe this ESPN involvement is a first for a USTA National Junior Championship.

Only one of the No. 1 seeds in the eight divisions is still alive in the USTA Clay Court Championships: Fiona Crawley, the top seed in the Girls 16s.  The top seeds in the seven other divisions all have been eliminated prior to the semifinals and often considerably earlier.  Links to the draws can be found in my post from Tuesday.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced the teams that will be participating in the 2018 Division III Team Indoor Championships.  The women's event is March 2-4, 2018; the men's event is February 23-25, 2018.

The women's teams:
Washington University in St. Louis
Carnegie Mellon
Johns Hopkins
Washington & Lee
Sewanee (Host)

The men's teams:
Washington University in St. Louis
Carnegie Mellon
University of Redlands
Trinity (TX)
Gustavus Adolphus (Host)

The participation of CMS is something of a novelty, but certainly strengthens the field.

The ITA release is here.