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Friday, December 2, 2016

November Aces; Top Seeds Kecmanovic, Sigouin Advance to Eddie Herr ITF Semis, Cantos Siemers' Run Continues; Five Finalists Ready for 12s, 14s, 16s Championship Matches Sunday

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Bradenton, FL--

Before I get to the action today at the Eddie Herr Championships, here is my review of November's top college and junior tennis performers for the Tennis Recruiting Network. Fifteen players in all, with teenagers making up the bulk of the highlights, now that college tennis's individual season has been completed.

At the Grade 1 ITF event at the IMG Academy, top seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia and No. 2 seed Benjamin Sigouin of Canada continued to post impressive results, with both claiming their fourth consecutive straight-sets wins.

Kecmanovic, the ITF's top-ranked junior boy, defeated No. 6 seed Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina 6-4, 6-0 to advance to the Eddie Herr ITF quarterfinals for the first time after taking quarterfinal losses in both 2014 and 2015.

Kecmanovic will play fellow 17-year-old Ergi Kirkin of Turkey, who survived the day's longest singles match. Kirkin, seeded 12th, needed over three hours to work his way past No. 13 seed Alberto Lim of the Philippines 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-4.

Kenneth Raisma, the No. 3 seed, eliminated Lukas Greif, the last American boy in the draw, 6-1, 6-4, spoiling the Kalamazoo 16s champion's 17th birthday.

The 18-year-old Raisma, the Wimbledon boys doubles champion, will play Sigouin next, with the 17-year-old Canadian earning a 6-3, 6-3 victory over unseeded Finn Bass. Sigouin, who reached the semifinals here last year, has had some of his best results on clay.

Against Bass, Sigouin led 6-3, 5-0, unsuccessfully serving for the match twice before he finally broke Bass for the win, aided by a shanked backhand lob winner at 30-all that had spectators chuckling and Bass shaking his head in disbelief and repeating "wow" several times.

"I kind of got really relaxed after I got the third break," said Sigouin, "It's happened a couple of times. In Mexico City, the same thing happened, so I happy to get through."

As for the lob winner, Sigouin recognized his good fortune when Finn was no doubt feeling the momentum in the match had turned in his favor.

"Yeah, I was really relieved," Sigouin said. "It couldn't have come at a better time."

Sigouin's match with Raisma will be his first against a seeded player.

"I been happy with the way I've been playing, but honestly, I haven't had the toughest draw," Sigouin said. "But I think I've been dealing with my matches well and I deserve to be in the semis."

Sigouin, who is No. 2 in the Tennis Recruiting Class of 2017 rankings, is still considering college as an option, but he has told the many interested coaches that he is not making a decision on his future until the middle of next year.

"I haven't visited any schools and I haven't looked properly yet," said Sigouin, who trains with Tennis Canada at the National Centre in Montreal, and is traveling this week with Vasek Pospisil's former coach Fred Fontang, who is also working with last year's Eddie Herr ITF champion Felix Auger-Aliassime. "Maybe in the near future I will look. I'm not sure yet."

Sigouin, who has reached the semifinals and quarterfinals at Futures tournaments this fall, will continue to play juniors next year, with the Australian Open Junior Championships on his calendar.

"My goal is to be the No. 1 junior," said Sigouin. "So I'm going to try to play these tournaments to accomplish that."

Sigouin and Kecmanovic will play in the doubles final on Saturday after their singles semifinals, with the top seeds escaping with a 6-3, 5-7, 10-7 win over unseeded Gianni Ross and Danny Thomas. Ross and Thomas saved three match points at 3-5 in the second set, another on a deciding point at 5-4 in the second set and then two more at 9-5 in the match tiebreaker, but on match point No. 7 went the way of Sigouin and Kecmanovic.  Their opponents in the final are unseeded Alexandre Rotsaert and Govind Nanda, who beat No. 3 seeds Dan Added and Matteo Martineau of France 7-5, 4-6, 10-8.

With the top 5 seeds out of the girls singles draw after the third round, it's no surprise that two unseeded players have advanced to the semifinals.  One of them, Irina Cantos Siemers of Germany, has beaten three seeds in her last three matches, taking out No. 1 seed Xiyu Wang in the second round, No. 14 seed Morgan Coppoc in the third round and No. 9 seed Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine today.

Cantos Siemers was not feeling well and considered retiring early in the match, but for the second day in a row, she dominated in the final two sets taking a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 decision from the 14-year-old Kostyuk.

"I felt really bad in the first set, I was extremely dizzy, I have a cold," Cantos Siemers said. "But I don't know, I fought through it and then suddenly I won the second set, and I realized I can win this. It definitely gave me confidence to do the same thing yesterday."

After a bathroom break for both girls after the second set, Kostyuk took a medical timeout and emerged from her time with the trainer with her left leg taped above the knee.  Kostyuk's movement didn't appear to be affected and she took a 2-0 lead in the third set, but Cantos Siemers raised the level of her game, particularly on the backhand side and she won the final six games of the match over an increasingly dispirited Kostyuk.

"I felt better with my backhand, I started to get my rhythm again," Cantos Siemers said of her resurgence after breaking Kostyuk and holding for 2-2.  "And the new balls. She hits really flat, so the balls come really fast and I am already not feeling very well, so I am hitting everything late. But once I got the rhythm of the new balls, I started feeling better again."

Cantos Siemers was happy to get the extra few minutes of rest when Kostyuk took the medical timeout.

"It actually helped me. As I said before, I wasn't feeling too well, so I used that time to rest myself."

Cantos Siemers is playing with a heavily taped thigh after tweaking her hamstring in her first round match.

"I always have a little pain, but I can't really tell," the 16-year-old left-hander said with a laugh. "I think it's actually better."

Cantos Siemers faces No. 6 seed Varvara Gracheva of Russia, who defeated unseeded Nicole Mossmer 6-3, 6-3.

"She's an amazing player; she has amazing timing," said Cantos Siemers, who will be playing the 16-year-old Russian for the first time. "I'm excited to play her, because she's my type of player."

Unseeded Carson Branstine lost her first set of the tournament today against No. 16 seed Astrid Brune Olsen but used her power to overcome the 17-year-old from Norway 6-1, 2-6, 6-1.  Branstine, who has agreed to play under the Canadian flag and is traveling with a Tennis Canada coach, although still technically representing the US at the moment, will play No. 12 seed Maria Carle of Argentina.  The crafty Carle, who won the 16s Orange Bowl title last year, defeated No. 15 seed Lea Boskovic of Croatia 6-3, 6-0.

Boskovic still has an opportunity for a title however, as she and partner Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, the No. 4 seeds, have advanced to Saturday's girls doubles championship, beating top seeds Yuki Naito of Japan and Xiyu Wang of China 6-4, 6-2.  They will play No. 7 seeds Maria Portillo Ramirez of Mexico and Sofia Sewing, who defeated No. 2 seeds Ellie Douglas and Natasha Subhash 6-4, 5-7, 10-8.

Five of the finalists in the younger age divisions have been determined with the results of those semifinals listed below.  Their opponents will be decided in the semifinals played on Saturday.  The girls 16s quarterfinals were all played today and both of those semifinals will be played Saturday. Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

Girls 12s:
Stela Peeva[11](BUL) v Katrina Scott[3](USA) SATURDAY
Dasha Plekhanova[4](CAN) def. Tatiana Muzykantskaya[2](RUS) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4

Girls 14s:
Gianna Pielet[5](USA) v Gabby Price[4](USA) SATURDAY
Emma Raducanu[2](GBR) def. Natasha Sengphrachanh[12](CAN)  6-7(1), 6-3, 6-1

Girls 16s quarterfinals:
Emma Navarro[9](USA) def. Cori Gauff[8](USA) 6-4, 7-5
Victoria Hu[4](USA) def. Hye Ran Yun[6](KOR) 6-3, 6-2

Margaryta Bilokin[3](UKR) def. Lauren Stein[10](USA) 6-0, 6-2
Katie Volynets[7](USA) def. Angelica Blake[11](USA) 0-6, 7-5, 6-2

Boys 12s:
Victor Lilov[1](USA) v Jonah Braswell[9](USA) SATURDAY
Gunuk Kang(KOR) def. Kenta Nakamura(JPN) 7-5, 6-3

Boys 14s:
Bu Yunchaokete[1](CHN) def. Toby Kodat(USA) 6-4, 1-6, 6-2
Ryota Kaneda(JPN) v Zane Khan[2](USA) SATURDAY

Boys 16s:
Vikash Singh[5](IND) v Jake Hersey[4](GBR) SATURDAY
Anton Matusevich[2](GBR) def. Jack Draper[3](GBR) 6-4, 7-5

Thursday, December 1, 2016

USTA National 16s Champions Move into Eddie Herr ITF Quarterfinals; Semifinals Set for 12s, 14s and Boys 16s; Day Withdraws From Orange Bowl

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Bradenton, FL--

Thursday's third round in the Eddie Herr ITF didn't go well for most of the US juniors with four of the five boys and six of the eight girls eliminated. But 2016 USTA National 16s champions Nicole Mossmer and Lukas Greif did make their way into the quarterfinals, with Mossmer saving match points in her 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-1 win over No. 3 seed Ellie Douglas and Greif beating Marko Miladinovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-4.

Mossmer has now played six consecutive three-set matches, three in last week's ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup and three this week at the Eddie Herr.

"My first match in Mexico(at the Grade A in Mexico City) I was down 6-3, 5-1 and I came back and won that," said the 16-year-old from La Jolla, California. "In the second tournament (Yucatan), I lost the first set 6-0 and in the second set tiebreaker she had match point. I double faulted and we were literally about to touch hands to shake hands when I asked to see a mark, and it ended up being in. And she had a couple of other match points in the tiebreak, but I won the third set 6-0.  The other ones were just super long too. It's been a grind."

Drawing on memories of that match last week in Mexico, Mossmer faced down two match points in the second set tiebreaker with Douglas, and went on to dominate in the third set.

"I kind of just went for it," said Mossmer, whose defensive skills contribute to many long games and points. "I don't mind being down, I kind of like it. I just play my game and I played without any pressure on those points. I just went for my shots, and I think I hit a backhand winner on one of them."

Mossmer said she does not get tired, crediting her soccer training, which she abandoned only two years ago, with providing her the stamina to regularly play three-hour matches.

"The longer the match, the better it is for me," said Mossmer said. "When I played soccer, my team was really good, we were No. 1 in the nation. When I was 14, I played both, maybe not tennis as competitively, but I decided to play just tennis. There's something about being out there on the court and having it all be on how I play that I really liked. But just from playing soccer all the time I have really good fitness, really good endurance. I was a center midfielder, so I had to run a lot."

Mossmer doesn't play much on clay in Southern California, but believes her speed is an advantage for her on the surface once she has adjusted.

"I can get to a lot more balls than the other girls and a lot of them don't expect the ball to come back, but I keep getting them back," Mossmer said.

Greif, who trains in Indianapolis, also has little experience with clay, but

"I don't play on it very much," said Greif, the 16s USTA Clay Court Champion. "The last time I played on green clay was Clay Courts, actually. I like it, I play well on it, but it's tough to adjust.  I do feel it helps me get to more balls that I could on hard court; I think it helps my game, but adjusting to it was tough at first. But now I feel adjusted and I'm playing well."

Greif, who turns 17 Friday, was pleased with his level of play against the young Serbian, who will be 16 next week.

"Today I played really well," said Greif, who received a wild card into the tournament. "I played aggressive, got it done on big points. It was a long two-setter, we had a lot of deuce games in the first set. In the second set, the 4-all game was pretty big, it went to deuce and I broke him, then closed it out own my serve, came up with a few good shots."

Greif's quarterfinal opponent is No. 3 seed Kenneth Raisma of Estonia, who came back from a set down for the second straight match.

"I hadn't seen him play before this tournament, but I watched a little bit yesterday against Danny Thomas," Greif said. "He's good. It will be a tough one."

Mossmer will face No. 6 seed Varvara Gracheva of Russia, who is now the highest seed remaining in the girls draw.

Irina Cantos Siemers of Germany, who defeated top seed Xiyu Wang of China on Wednesday, continued her outstanding play, topping No. 14 seed Morgan Coppoc 6-7(2), 6-0, 6-1.  She will play No. 9 seed Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, the 2015 Eddie Herr 14s champion, who defeated Jimena Rodriguez-Benito 6-0, 6-3.

Carson Branstine, who is currently USA, but changing to Canada when her passport comes through, ended the run of 14-year-old Vanessa Ong with a 6-3, 6-4 victory. Branstine will play No. 16 seed Astrid Brune Olsen of Norway, who beat No. 4 seed Jodi Burrage of Great Britain 7-5, 0-6, 6-4.  No. 12 seed Maria Carle of Argentina defeated qualifier Victoria Emma 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 and will face No. 15 seed Lea Boskovic of Croatia. Boskovic eliminated Sofia Sewing 7-6(2), 6-1.

Boys top seed Miomir Kecmanovic got out of a tough first set with No. 14 seed Gianni Ross and went on to a 7-5, 6-1 victory.  He will play No. 6 seed Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina, who outlasted unseeded Patrick Kypson 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, ending the three-hour match by taking final five games.

No. 13 seed Alberto Lim of the Philippines defeated Vasil Kirkov 6-2, 6-2 and will meet No. 12 seed Ergi Kirkin of Turkey, who beat No. 7 seed Sam Riffice 6-4, 6-1.  Finn Bass of Great Britain joins Greif as the only unseeded players in remaining, and he will play No. 2 seed Benjamin Sigouin of Canada next. Bass beat Ray Ho of Taiwan 1-6, 7-6(1), 6-3, while Sigouin took out Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic 6-1, 6-3.

Friday's doubles semifinals will feature two unseeded US boys teams and three US girls.

Ross and Thomas will face top seeds Kecmanovic and Sigouin and Govind Nanda and Alexsandre Rotsaert will meet No. 3 seeds Dan Added and Matteo Martineau of France.

No. 2 seeds Douglas and Natasha Subhash will play No. 7 seeds Maria Portillo Ramirez of Mexico and Sewing in one semifinal.  The other has top seeds Yuki Naito and Wang against No. 4 seeds Kaja Juvan of Slovenia and Boskovic.

The bottom half semifinal in the boys and girls 12s and 14s divisions and the boys 16s division will play on Friday, with the top half semifinal matches scheduled for Saturday (the one exception is B14s).  After a rain delay earlier in the week, the girls 16s division will play all four of their quarterfinal matches on Friday and both semifinal matches on Saturday. Below are the matchups, with Friday's matches in bold.

Girls 12s:
Stela Peeva[11](BUL)v  Katrina Scott[3](USA)
Dasha Piekhanova[4](CAN) v Tatiana Muzykantskaya[2](RUS)

Girls 14s:
Gianna Pielet[5](USA) v Gabby Price[4](USA)
Natasha Sengphrachanh[12](CAN) v Emma Raducanu[2](GBR)

Girls 16s quarterfinals:
Emma Navarro[9](USA) v Cori Gauff[8](USA)
Victoria Hu[4](USA) v Hye Ran Yun[6](KOR)
Lauren Stein[10](USA) v Margaryta Bilokin[3](UKR)
Katie Volynets[7](USA) v Angelica Blake[11](USA)

Boys 12s:
Victor Lilov[1](USA) v Jonah Braswell[9](USA)
Kenta Nakamura(JPN) v Gunuk Kang(KOR)

Boys 14s:
Bu Yunchaokete[1](CHN) v Toby Kodat(USA)
Ryota Kaneda(JPN) v Zane Khan[2](USA)

Boys 16s:
Vikash Singh[5](IND) v Jake Hersey[4](GBR)
Jack Draper[3](GBR) v Anton Matusevich[2](GBR)

Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

According to the USTA, Kayla Day has withdrawn from next week's Metropolia Orange Bowl with an injury, thereby assuring Anastasia Potapova of Russia of the ITF year-end World Junior Champion title.

The USTA's Orange Bowl preview can be found here.

Qualifying for the Orange Bowl 16s tournament begins Friday, with the boys and girls draws now available.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Top Seed Wang, Second Seed Juvan Out in Second Round of Eddie Herr ITF; Quarterfinals Set for Thursday in 12s, 14s and Boys 16s

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Bradenton, FL--

Sixteen-year-old Irina Cantos Siemers of Germany spent several years training at the IMG Academy when she was younger, and although she had not been back since last playing the 14s age division of the Eddie Herr in 2013, she credits the atmosphere with an assist in her 6-3, 7-6(4) win over top seed Xiyu Wang of China in Wednesday's second round of the ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr.

"I think this is part of why I won today," said Cantos Siemers, who is currently training in Barcelona. "I love it here. Every time I'm here, I'm so happy."

Cantos Siemers didn't have to do much in the first set against fellow left-hander Wang, who made a slew of unforced errors and not nearly enough first serves. Cantos Siemers then took a 2-0 lead in the second set, and stretched that to 5-2, but the 15-year-old Wang found her game just in time.

"She was missing quite a lot with her forehand, and I knew exactly what I had to do," Cantos Siemers said. "Then she switched it up a bit and I got a little bit tight and a little bit confused. And she didn't miss at all actually."

Wang began to find the depth and placement that had been missing from her game earlier and she won four straight games to take a 6-5 lead.  She failed to earn a set point however when serving for the set however, and Cantos Siemers got to where she wanted to be, in a tiebreaker.

"I love playing tiebreakers,"  Cantos Siemers said. "I don't know why, but I feel very secure in them, so yeah, I felt good. But I was obviously a little nervous, because she was playing better."

The tiebreaker was 3-3 at the first changeover, but Wang's backhand began to show signs of stress and she made two errors on that side, the second of which gave Cantos Siemers two match points.  She only needed one, hitting a backhand just inside the baseline that handcuffed Wang and forced an error.

"It's one of my best wins, definitely," said Cantos Siemers, who is supported by the German Tennis Federation and still visits there often. "She's probably the highest ranked player I've beaten."

Next up for Cantos Siemers is one of the eight US girls left in the round of 16, No. 14 seed Morgan Coppoc. Coppoc defeated Lina Glushko of Israel 6-4, 7-5.

Sofia Sewing has had a great deal of success on the courts of the IMG Academy, winning the Eddie Herr 14s title in 2013 and the 16s title in 2014. She suffered her first Eddie Herr loss in three years last year in the ITF tournament, going out to eventual champion Kylie McKenzie in the second round, but she has another winning streak going now after beating No. 2 seed Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4.

Sewing served for the first set at 5-4, but was unable to get to set point, and Juvan took the tiebreaker, aided by a fortunate net cord. The first set took over 75 minutes to complete, but despite the discouraging end to the set, Sewing stayed positive.

"That net cord hurt a lot," said the 17-year-old from Miami. "I held that grudge for a while but I had to try to move on, think about the next set. I had to just play my game, forget about the first set and start over."

Sewing found herself in control in many of the rallies in the final two sets.

"I think the key for both of us to win was who was going to be more aggressive," Sewing said. "Who could be more consistent, because we had a lot of long rallies, and it was a really tough match. I think it was a really good match from both of us; it was really close, a few games in the end, a few points, that really made the difference."

Sewing, who won in three sets in her first round match Tuesday against Canadian qualifier Brindtha Ramasamy, will play No. 15 seed Lea Boskovic of Croatia, who defeated lucky loser Abigail Desiatnikov 6-3, 6-4.

The six other US girls in the round of 16 include two qualifiers: Vanessa Ong and Victoria Emma.  Ong, 14, defeated No. 10 seed Daniela Vismane of Latvia 6-3, 6-4 and will play Carson Branstine, who is still playing for the USA in this tournament, but is expected to change to Canada soon.  Branstine defeated Zhibek Kulambayeva of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-2.  Emma took out fellow qualifier Salma Ewing 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 and will face No. 12 seed Maria Carle of Argentina. Jimena Rodriguez-Benito defeated Himari Sato of Japan 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 and will play No. 9 seed Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine.

The only all-US third round match will feature No. 3 seed Ellie Douglas and Nicole Mossmer.  Douglas advanced when Anastasia Iamachkine of Peru retired trailing 6-1, 2-0, while Mossmer defeated Katya Townsend 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

Five US boys advanced to the third round, with four of them in the top half of the draw. No. 14 seed Gianni Ross beat Jason Legall 7-6(5), 6-2, No. 7 seed Sam Riffice defeated Jack Mingjie Lin of Canada 6-2, 6-1, Vasil Kirkov downed Seon Yong Han of Korea 6-4, 6-1 and Patrick Kypson defeated qualifier William Grant 6-1, 6-3.  Ross will play top seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia next, Riffice faces No. 12 seed Ergi Kirkin of Turkey, Kirkov meets No. 13 seed Alberto Lim of the Philippines and Kypson takes on No. 6 seed Tomas Etcheverry of Argentina.

In the bottom half of the draw, Kalamazoo 16s champion Lukas Greif is the only US boy remaining.  He advanced when Sebastian Korda retired trailing 4-0 in the first set. Korda has been ill and his status for next week's Orange Bowl is questionable.  Greif will play Marko Miladinovic of Serbia, who beat No. 11 seed Trent Bryde 6-2, 6-1.  Bryde was the only boys seed to lose in the second round.

The doubles quarterfinals are set for Thursday, with three US teams still alive in the boys draw: Gianni Ross and Danny Thomas, Govind Nanda and Alexandre Rotsaert and Greif and Axel Nefve, who beat a seeded team for the second straight day today.

The girls doubles quarterfinals have eight US girls participating: No. 2 seeds Douglas and Natasha Subhash, Coppoc and Emma, Elysia Bolton and Mossmer and Sewing and Branstine.  Sewing is playing with Maria Portillo Ramirez of Mexico and Branstine is playing with Cantos Siemers.

The quarterfinals are set for the 12s and 14s divisions and the boys 16s division, with the girls 16s division a day behind due to rain late in the day on Monday.

The matchups:

Girls 12s:
Jade Haller[15](SUI) v Stela Peeva[11](BUL)
Katrina Scott[3](USA) v Denislava Glushkova[9](BUL)
Alexandra Eala(PHI) v Dasha Piekhanova[4](CAN)
Rebecca Lynn[6](USA) v Tatiana Muzykantskaya[2](RUS)

Girls 14s:
Qinwen Zheng[1](CHN) v Gianna Pielet[5](USA)
Gabby Price[4](USA) v Jada Bui[14](CAN)
Kylie Bilchev[8](GBR) v Natasha Sengphrachanh[12](CAN)
Elaine Chervinsky(USA) v Emma Raducanu[2](GBR)

Boys 12s:
Victor Lilov[1](USA) v Jackson Armistead[5](USA)
Ron Ellouck[4](ISR) v Jonah Braswell[9](USA)
Kenta Nakamura(JPN) v Haesun Lee[3](KOR)
Dinko Dinev[6](BUL) v Gunuk Kang(KOR)

Boys 14s:
Bu Yunchaokete[1](CHN) v Stefan Leustian(USA)
Nicholas-David Ionel[4](ROU) v Toby Kodat(USA)
Ryota Kaneda(JPN) v Alexander Gaponenko[3](ISR)
Juan Torres(ARG) v Zane Khan[2](USA)

Boys 16s:
JanMagnus Johnson(USA) v Vikash Singh[5](IND)
Jake Hersey[4](GBR) v Stefan Palosi[7](ROU)
Tyler Zink[8](USA) v Jack Draper[3](GBR)
Liam Draxl(CAN) v Anton Matusevich[2](GBR)

Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ball Hit in Anger Leads to Default; Ewing Defeats Naito as Qualifiers Advance at Eddie Herr ITF

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Bradenton, FL--

The eight qualifiers and one lucky loser who advanced to the second round of the ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr normally would have been the highlight of Tuesday's action, but a rare default had players, officials and spectators buzzing throughout the afternoon at the IMG Academy.

The match on court one between qualifier Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria and Kyrylo Tsygura had been contentious from the start, with a long delay in the second game of the match as Andreev disputed Tsygura's line call and called the roving umpire to rule on the mark. The call went against Tsygura and he asked for the referee, a request that was denied.  These disputes continued throughout the match, which I caught only glimpses of at its beginning and did not see its abrupt ending. The account below is based on what I was told by those who were there.

After the 15-year-old Andreev took the first set 6-4, Tsygura came back to take the second 6-3, and led 4-1, I believe, in the final set. (Without chair umpires and with scoring devices adjusted only on changeovers, it's difficult to be sure). Andreev held for 4-2 and when Tsygura was broken to put the match back on serve, he angrily swatted a ball that ended up hitting a spectator sitting in the courtside bleachers. That spectator turned out to be Andreev's coach, and the roving officials called tournament referee Steve Reitman to the court. After hearing the accounts of the incident, Reitman issued the default, awarding the match to Andreev.

A default in singles does not automatically result in a default from the doubles competition under ITF rules, but if the reason for default is deemed serious enough, it can result in a default from both, which is what happened in this case, with the team of Andres Andrade and Duarte Vale of Portugal moving into the second round by default. Harrison Brown of Australia was Tsygura's doubles partner.

Although he won his fourth match of the tournament in the most unconventional manner, Andreev was one of a quartet of qualifiers to advance to the second round. William Grant had reached the second round with a win over lucky loser Sebastian Mermersky of Bulgaria on Monday after beating Mermersky in the final round of qualifying on Sunday. On Tuesday, Javier Rodriguez Sanchez of Peru defeated No. 15 seed Oliver Crawford 6-2, 6-2 and Timothy Sah beat Maxeno Broville of France 6-3, 6-4.

Sah has yet to drop a set this week, and the 17-year-old Southern Californian has begun to adjust to the clay after qualifying for both the Grade A in Mexico City and the Grade 1 last week in Yucatan.

"I've been on the road for three weeks, and it's really nice to play qualies, especially if you're playing well, because it gives you extra time to get used to the courts," said Sah, who lost in the first round at both tournaments in Mexico. "I've always liked to play on clay. I played the 12s Spring Nationals when it used to be on clay in Florida, and I had one of my breakthrough tournaments on clay at the 16s Clay Courts two years ago. I got fifth (place) that year and this year I also got fifth in the 18s. I just think my game fits pretty well on clay and I like playing on it."

Sah, who reached the quarterfinals of the 18s Nationals in Kalamazoo this year, has committed to Stanford for next fall.

"I tried not to worry about it on court, back when I was undecided," Sah said. "Now, it's like a big relief to have committed. I'm happy with my decision and now I can just focus on school and playing."

Eight qualifiers and a lucky loser played their first round matches on Tuesday, with five getting through.   Abigail Desiatnikov took the place of Shelly Krolitzky of Israel, who withdrew Tuesday morning with an injury. Desiatnikov faced Peyton Stearns, also a lucky loser, and Desiatnikov emerged with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

Vanessa Ong, who knows something about a lucky loser's second chance, having made the quarterfinals of the US Open Junior Championships this year after losing in the final round of qualifying, earned her entry the more conventional way in qualifying at the Eddie Herr. Today she defeated Georgia Drummy of Ireland 6-4, 6-2.

Imani Graham defeated Mihaela Marculescu of Romania 7-6(7), 7-6(5) and Victoria Emma beat Anhzelika Isaeva of Russia 6-3, 6-1.  The only girls seed to lose on Tuesday was No. 5 seed Yuki Naito of Japan, who went out to Salma Ewing 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Ewing, who spent most of this month playing $10,000 ITF Women's Circuit hard court events in South Africa, said her two qualifying wins over the weekend helped her prepare for an encounter with an ITF Top 25 player like Naito.

"I hadn't really practiced on clay that much, like just one day before this," said the 16-year-old from Southern California. "So I felt like qualifying helped to get acclimated to the court, adjust to the different surface."

Ewing said she changed her court positioning after losing the first set.

"I stepped in, started hovering around the baseline, not standing back," Ewing said. "Once I stood back it opened the court for her and she has really good angles. When I stepped in, she didn't have those angles anymore and I started winning more points, so I told myself to keep doing that."

Down 2-0 in the third set, Ewing won four straight games, but lost her break serving at 4-3, with a disputed call on the baseline going in Naito's favor.  Ewing was determined not to let the loss of that point derail her and she broke Naito right back, using her backhand to maximum effect while Naito's backhand betrayed her.

"I told myself to imagine that the ball was out and think of it as the first point of the first set," Ewing said. "I told myself to stay calm and keep fighting, dig deep and don't give up. I tried to stay as positive as I could and it really helped."

Ewing went down 0-30 serving for the match, but she stayed aggressive and hit two winners to make it 30-all. Naito was unable to get a second serve return in play to give Ewing a match point, and Ewing took advantage, hitting an ace to seal the victory.

Ewing credits her mother Reyana, who is also her coach, with providing a simple mantra that works in the difficult situations that come up late in a match.

"She just tells me to do PFT: positive, footwork and towel," said Ewing. "Not to think about the outcome or anything, just positive, footwork and towel. And usually when I do all those things, I get the results."

Ewing will play Emma in Wednesday's second round, one of just two all-USA matches, with the other between Katya Townsend and Nicole Mossmer.  Of the 16 girls second round singles matches Wednesday, 14 will feature Americans.

Top seed Xiyu Wang of China advanced to the second round with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over qualifier Jada Robinson.

Half of the boys seeds in doubles lost in Tuesday's first round, with No. 2 seeds Toru Horie and Yuta Shimizu of Japan falling to Alexandre Rotsaert and Govind Nanda 3-6, 7-6(5), 10-7, and No. 4 seeds Shinji Hazawa and Naoki Tajima of Japan losing to Danny Thomas and Gianni Ross 6-4, 6-4.  Trent Bryde and Brian Cernoch, the No. 8 seeds, lost to Barnaby Smith and Max Stewart of Great Britain and No. 6 seeds Patrick Kypson and Oliver Crawford were beaten by Daniil Glinka and Kenneth Raisma of Estonia.

Only one seed lost in the first round of the girls doubles, with No. 3 seed Varvara Gracheva of Russia and Daniela Vismane of Latvia losing to Morgan Coppoc and Victoria Emma 2-6, 6-3, 10-7.

Due to damp hard courts this morning after rain overnight, play was delayed in the younger divisions, and not all the first round doubles have been played.  The girls 16s division is a day behind now, with their second round matches scheduled for Wednesday. The other age groups will play their third round matches on Wednesday, with second round singles completed today. Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

Monday, November 28, 2016

World No. 1 Kecmanovic Cruises to First Round Win at Eddie Herr ITF, but Eight Seeds Exit; Top Seeds in Boys 16s and Girls 12s Eliminated

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Bradenton, FL--

Miomir Kecmanovic, the top seed at the ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr, decided at the beginning of 2016 that reaching No. 1 in the world in the ITF Junior rankings was a goal he wanted to pursue before focusing on professional tennis. The 17-year-old Serbian, who trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, took over the top spot in the rankings earlier this month when he won the Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano and he may not have any competition for the year-end title of World Junior Champion, despite needing to defend his points at the Grade A Orange Bowl next week.

By taking wild cards into the Grade A two weeks ago and last week's Grade 1 in Mexico, Kecmanovic had a chance to surpass then No. 1 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece with a title, and he also build a cushion in prior to his Orange Bowl defense.

"That was basically the thought process," said Kecmanovic. "I got the wild card a week before I went, so it turned out pretty good for me. Now I think it's a little easier coming into Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl."

Kecmanovic was initially expected to go head-to-head with Tsitsipas at the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl, where they met in the quarterfinals and finals respectively in 2015, but Tsitsipas withdrew from the Eddie Herr, and is not expected to play the Orange Bowl.

"He's still in (the entry list), but he said he's done for the season," Kecmanovic said. "It's not like him, because he usually plays every week possible. He posted it on Facebook, and I got on Facebook and I was like, yes."

In his 6-0, 6-1 victory today over No. 181 Siphosothando Montsi of South Africa, Kecmanovic had both a physical advantage and an experience advantage.  Although Montsi, like Kecmanovic, turned 17 recently, he would not have been out of place in the 14s draw, with his slight build.  Montsi has played and won events throughout Africa, but this is his first visit to North America, and he was simply overpowered by Kemanovic on most of the points.

"Physically he wasn't that ready," said Kecmanovic. "I had to be focused, stay in every point played as I normally would, to practice for the next round."

Kecmanovic will play another boy outside the Top 100 in Wednesday's second round, Great Britain's Max Stewart, who beat wild card Russell Benkaim 7-5, 6-2.

Of the 12 boys seeds who played first round matches on Monday, five lost, with four of them beaten by Americans.

Vasil Kirkov took out No. 4 seed Yuta Shimizu of Japan 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on the Academy Park courts, which are a tram ride away from the main site.  Earlier in the day at Academy Park, Patrick Kypson defeated No. 9 seed Dan Added of France 6-4, 6-1, with Ivan Lendl, who has served as a coaching consultant for several USTA boys, in attendance for the first part of the match.  Lendl then made his way to the main site to watch Sebastian Korda defeat No. 8 seed Toru Horie of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Govind Nanda  took out No. 10 seed Naoki Tajima of Japan 6-3, 6-3. The fifth seed to go out was No. 5 seed Duarte Vale of Portugal, who was beaten by Finn Bass of Great Britain 6-3, 6-0.

The other US boys advancing to Wednesday's second round are qualifier William Grant, No. 7 seed Sam Riffice, wild card Lukas Greif, who plays Korda next, No. 11 seed Trent Bryde and Danny Thomas.

The top two girls seeds, Xiyu Wang of China and Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, have drawn qualifiers and will not play their first round matches until Tuesday.

No. 3 seed Ellie Douglas had her hands full with Emiliana Arango of Colombia, but the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano finalist came through with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 victory.

"I started out the first set well, but I had my problems in the second set," said the 16-year-old from Texas, who did not play last week's Grade 1 Yucatan Cup. "I relaxed a little bit and as soon as you do that everything kind of falls apart. So in the third set, I just had to regroup, stick to what I knew, keep swinging at the ball."

Douglas has had difficulties with double faulting late in matches, particularly in her last two finals, so she had to be pleased with her serving at 5-4 in the third set.  She made all six of her first serves, with a particularly good one earning her a free point at 15-30 and closed out her first match point with a well-executed forehand pass.

"That's my goal," Douglas said when asked about her serving in the final game. "It's always good to make a first serve and not put any pressure on the second. Coming up with a good serve at 15-30, so that helped a lot. First round is always a little tough, so I'm excited to get through that and on to the next round."

Douglas's opponent on Wednesday will be Anastasia Iamachkine of Peru, who was a semifinalist last week at the Yucatan Cup.

Of the 12 girls seeds in action Monday, three were beaten: No. 7 seed Natasha Subhash, No. 8 seed Malene Helgo of Norway and No. 13 seed Maria Portillo Ramirez of Mexico.  Subhash lost to Zhibek Kulambayeva of Kazakhstan 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, Helgo was beaten by Jimena Rodriguez-Benito 6-2, 6-1 and Portillo Ramirez fell to Nicole Mossmer 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(3).

First round US girls winners in addition to Douglas, Rodriguez-Benito and Mossmer are: No. 14 seed Morgan Coppoc, Elysia Bolton, Katya Townsend, Ann Li, wild card Marlee Zein and Whitney Osuigwe. Carson Branstine, who won a tough three-setter over Helene Pellicano of Malta, is still technically playing for USA until her Canadian passport comes through.  My article on her move to Canada can be found here.

The doubles draws have been posted with Kecmanovic and No. 2 singles seed Benjamin Sigouin of Canada the top boys seeds.  Oliver Crawford and Patrick Kypson are seeded No. 6 and Trent Bryde and Brian Cernoch are the No. 8 seeds.

Yuki Naito of Japan and Kiyu Wang of China are the top seeds in the girls doubles draw, with Douglas and Subhash the No. 2 seeds. Sofia Sewing and Portillo Ramirez of Mexico are the No. 7 seeds and Branstine and Irina Cantos Siemers of Germany are seeded No. 8.

First round matches in the girls 14s and girls 16s are still being played as of 8:00 p.m., but the No. 1 seeds in those divisions, Qinwen Zheng of China and Eun Ji Oh of Korea, are safely through.  Girls 12s top seed Katerina Dimitrova of Bulgaria was beaten by qualifier Daria Zykova of Russia 6-3, 6-2.

Boys 16s No. 1 seed Yeong Seok Jeong of Korea went out to wild card JanMagnus Johnson 7-5, 7-6(4). Top 14s seed Bu Yunchaokete of China and top 12s seed Victor Lilov both advanced with straight-sets victories.

Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

In Sunday's recap, I neglected to mention the results of last week's $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Nashville.  Twenty-four-year-old qualifier Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada defeated No. 1 seed Jennifer Elie 7-6(6), 6-4 for her second career singles title and first since 2014. Catherine Harrison and Madison Kobelt won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds beating unseeded Melissa Kopinski and Felicity Maltby 6-3, 6-0 in the final.

This week the men are in Waco Texas for a $25,000 Futures, with qualifying completed today.  TCU's Cameron Norrie of Great Britain is the No. 1 seed.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Creative Game; Eleven Americans Qualify at Eddie Herr ITF; Anisimova Wins Yucatan Grade 1; Bellis, Kozlov Take Titles in WTA, ATP Events

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Bradenton, FL--

It was a big weekend for US teenagers, but before I get to all that news, I want to make sure you are aware of the article renowned tennis journalist Joel Drucker wrote for the Tennis Recruiting Network. Joel and I have conversations about the topics he addresses in this article when I run into him at the slams, and I'm glad I was successful in getting him to provide his thoughts to a wider audience. Anyone interested in tennis as a game for life needs to consider Joel's thoughts on what's missing in many junior development structures today.

The only tennis played today at the Eddie Herr were the second and final rounds of qualifying for the ITF Grade 1.  Four US boys and six US girls are among the qualifiers for the 64-player draws.

The ITF boys qualifiers:
Javier Rodriguez Sanchez, PER
Yusuf Khamis, EGY
William Grant, USA
Brian Shi, USA
Adrian Andreev, BUL
Harrison Brown, AUS
Sangeet Sridhar, USA
Timothy Sah, USA

Sridhar, seeded No. 7, had to play only two and a half sets to advance to the main draw in the second and final rounds of qualifying, with his opponent in the second round, Petros Tsitsipas of Greece, retiring down 4-1 in the first set.

Tsitsipas, younger brother of ITF No. 2 Stefanos Tsitsipas, took a nasty fall in the second game of the match and was nursing his elbow when he got up. He took a medical timeout, then continued playing for two more games, but he was not effective, and so chose to retire. Sridhar, 16, had a tough match in his final round of qualifying against No. 9 seed Simen Bratholm of Norway, but came through with a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory.

Unlike many of the juniors playing the Eddie Herr ITF, Sridhar has not played on the ITF clay circuit the previous weeks, coming straight to Bradenton's IMG Academy from his home in Arizona.

"It's nice to play qualifying; I got some extra matches under my belt before I go into the main," Sridhar said. "It's good practice, if you make it through, and now the goal is to start winning matches in the main draw. I trained a couple of weeks and it's my first tournament for a while."

Fifteen-year-old William Grant is one of two unseeded qualifying players to make it to the main draw. Grant defeated No. 3 seed Carlos Sanchez Jover of Spain 6-1, 6-2 and No. 13 seed Sebastian Mermersky of Bulgaria 6-2, 7-6(2). He will have to beat Mermersky again in the main draw on Monday, after Mermersky received entry as a lucky loser.

Timothy Sah is the other unseeded American to advance. The Stanford recruit lost only 12 games in his three victories, and on Sunday he defeated Yuchen Wu of China 6-4, 6-0 and No. 8 seed Boris Kozlov 6-1, 6-3.

There are 23 US boys in the draw, with Sam Riffice(7), Trent Bryde(11), Gianni Ross(14) and Oliver Crawford(15) seeded.  World No. 1 Miomir Kecmanovic is the No. 1 seed.

The ITF girls quailfiers:
Victoria Emma, USA
Brindtha Ramasamy, CAN
Amanda Meyer, USA
Imani Graham, USA
Jada Robinson, USA
McCartney Kessler, USA
Salma Ewing, USA
Vanessa Ong, USA

The only unseeded qualifier to advance to the main draw is 17-year-old Jada Robinson, who beat Melissa Plambeck and No. 5 seed Malkia Menguene to advance to the main draw.  In three USA vs Canada matches, the USA won two, with No. 3 seed Amanda Meyer beating No. 14 seed Raphaelle Lacasse 7-6(1), 7-5 and No. 7 seed Salma Ewing defeating No. 11 seed Alexandra Tutecky 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.  The Canadian winner was No. 10 seed Brindtha Ramasamy, who defeated No. 2 seed Abigail Desiatnikov 6-2, 7-6(7) as the light began to fade.

Knowing a third set would not be completed Sunday, as there are no lights on the Har-Tru courts, Ramasamy had extra motivation to get the win in straight sets.

"I just wanted to finish," said the 15-year-old from Toronto, who couldn't convert on her first two match points at 6-4 in the tiebreaker. "I went for it, just went with my gut instead of being too safe, and I guess it worked."

Ramasamy's first round opponent on Tuesday will be Sofia Sewing.

There were two late withdrawals, with Elli Mandlik and Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia giving their spots in the main draw to lucky losers Peyton Stearns and Lacasse.

There are 28 US girls in the draw, with Ellie Douglas(3), Natasha Subhash(7) and Morgan Coppoc(14) seeded.  Xiyu Wang of China is the top seed.

Although the first round of the Eddie Herr ITF is split over two days, all the other age divisions will play their first rounds on Monday. Full draws are at the TennisLink site.

The top seeds:
Boys 16s: Yeong Seok Jeong, KOR
Boys 14s: Bu Yunchaokete, CHN
Boys 12s: Victor Lilov, USA

Girls 16s: Eun Ji Oh, KOR
Girls 14s: Qinwen Zheng, CHN
Girls 12s: Katerina Dimitrova, BUL

Top seed Amanda Anisimova won the ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup last night in Merida, defeating No. 2 seed Jodie Burrage of Great Britain 6-1, 6-2 in the final. No. 7 seed Gabriel Decamps of Brazil won the boys title, defeating No. 2 seed Yshai Oliel of Israel 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the final. Burrage is the only Yucatan singles finalist competing in the Eddie Herr this week.

The boys doubles title went to Oliel and Andrew Fenty, the No. 6 seeds. They defeated unseeded William Woodall and Brian Cernoch 6-4, 2-6, 10-8 in the final. Oliel and Fenty also won the doubles championship last week at the Grade A in Mexico City. Unseeded Sada Nahimana of Burundi and Maileen Nuudi of Estonia won the Yucatan girls doubles title with a 4-6, 6-3, 11-9 decision over No. 2 seeds Maria Portillo Ramirez of Mexico and Sofia Sewing.

Eighteen-year-old Stefan Kozlov closed out the 2016 ATP Challenger season in style, claiming the the $75,000 Columbus Challenger title with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 decision over No. 6 seed Tennys Sandgren. Kozlov, the No. 4 seed, had lost in his previous three appearances in an ATP Challenger final. He will move inside the ATP Top 120 with the title.

The ATP website has more on the amazing 2016 run by American teenagers in Challengers (which includes three titles in the last four weeks).

Former University of Memphis standouts Joe Salisbury of Great Britain and David O'Hare of Ireland, seeded fourth, won the doubles title in Columbus, beating Great Britain's Luke Bambridge and Cameron Norrie, the latter a junior at TCU, 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

The year's last event on the WTA's 2016 calendar came to close this evening in Hawaii, where 17-year-old CiCi Bellis, seeded fourth, captured the Hawaii Open title with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over top seed Shuai Zhang of China. The title at the WTA 125 level tournament is Bellis's third straight, coming after two consecutive $50K titles in Canada.  The 27-year-old Zhang, a wild card into the tournament, is currently 23 in the WTA rankings.  With the title, Bellis will move to around 75 in the WTA rankings.

For more on Bellis's title see the WTA website.