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Friday, November 24, 2017

My Conversations with Pros on Next Gen Experiments; Qualifying Begins Saturday for Eddie Herr ITF; Noel Reaches Grade 1 Yucatan Final

The Next Gen experiments, and recently, the Grand Slam committee's recent announcement of changes have been a hot topic in the tennis world, so  when  I was at the Champaign Challenger last week I spoke to a half dozen pros and other tournament officials to get their thoughts on the experiments held during the 21-and-under tournament the ATP held for the first time earlier this month.  In the first of a two-part series for the Tennis Recruiting Network, I sought their opinions on the all-electronic line calling, the 25-second serve clock, the four-game best-of-five sets and no-ad scoring.  In Friday's second part, the discussion turns to playing lets on serves, allowing coaching and fan movement, and reducing the number of medical timeouts.

The qualifying draws have been released for the ITF Grade 1 Eddie Herr, which begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. Both boys and girls draws are full this year, but only two wild cards were needed to fill the girls draw. 

Twenty US boys are in the 64-player qualifying draw, with five of them seeded: Jaycer Lyeons[1], Nathan Han[2], Sumit Sarkar[5], Boris Kozlov[14] and Pierce Rollins[15].

Twenty-three US girls are competing for a place in the main draw, with nine of them seeded: Kianah Motosono[2], Chloe Beck[4], Kacie Harvey[5], Chloe Hamlin[7], Victoria Hu[10], Lauren Stein[12], Abigail Forbes[14], Jenna Dean[15], and Jennifer Gadalov[16].

The order of play for Saturday's ITF qualifying matches is here.

Rain this week has put the qualifying for the 12s, 14s, and 16s behind schedule, and with four matches needed to determine the eight qualifiers, girls 16s will double up on Saturday, playing two rounds.  The weather forecast is good, with just a small chance of precipitation for the weekend and the week of the main draw.

At the ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup, Alexa Noel has reached the final after defeating No. 12 seed Sada Nahimana of Burundi 6-0, 6-1.  The 15-year-old had beaten top seed Maria Carle of Argentina 6-4, 6-3 on Thursday, and has now run her winning streak in Mexico to 11.  Understandably, Noel has withdrawn from the Eddie Herr, as has Andrew Fenty, who lost today in the Yucatan semifinals.  Fenty, the No. 2 seed, lost to No. 6 seed Juan Cerundolo of Argentina 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 in singles, but he and William Woodall have advanced to the doubles final,a result that puts Woodall into the main draw at the Eddie Herr.

Drew Baird, who pulled out of the Yucatan G1 after winning the Abierto Juvenil last week, has been given a wild card into the Eddie Herr. The other boys main draw wild cards:
Ronan Jachuck
Emilio Nava
Tyler Zink
Bradon Nakashima
Toby Kodat
Martin Damm
Manoel De Alencar(BRA)

The girls ITF main draw wild cards:
Katya Townsend
Sanyukta Gawande
Ana Geller(ARG)
Angelica Blake
Nikki Redelijk
Carolyn Campana
Elvina Kalieva
Alexandra Yepifanova

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving; USTA National Indoor Championships Begin Friday; Eddie Herr ITF Wild Cards; ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup Update

Photo by Peter Kleinau on Unsplash
I will be taking Thanksgiving Day off, but I do want to take the opportunity today to thank all of my readers, supporters and sponsors. I am grateful to all who have contributed to this website whether by reading, commenting, donating or supporting my advertisers, and I hope to continue to be able to cover junior and college tennis for many years to come.

The new USTA Level 1 gold ball National Indoor Championships begin this Friday at locations across the country.  Links to the TennisLink pages for each division are in the heading below. Because I am covering the Eddie Herr, I won't have the opportunity to follow these closely, but I will post the champions in the Honor Roll section to the left.

Girls 12s, Chatham NJ
Top 8 seeds:
1. Matilyn Wang
2. Stephanie Yakoff
3. Aubrey Nisbet
4. Grace Levelston
5. Madeleine Jessup
6. Reya Coe
7. Natalia Perez
8. Meera Jesudason

Boys 12s, Flushing NY
Top 8 seeds:
1. Cooper Williams
2. Nicholas Herdoiza
3. Nicholas Mangiapane
4. Lucas Pak
5. Alan Hua
6. Adam Sun, Adam
7. Santiago Muhala
8. Adhithya Ganesan

Girls 14s, Toledo OH
Top 8 seeds:
1. Valencia Xu
2. Madison Sieg
3. Alexandra Torre
4. Reese Brantmeier
5. MiaAngelina Ruja
6. Elisabeth Jones
7. Calissa Dellabarca
8. Eleana Yu

Boys 14s, Chicago IL
Top 8 seeds:
1. Noelle Andrey Ampong
2. Samir Banerjee
3. Andrew Chang
4. Eli Gordon
5. Max Fardanesh
6. John Kim
7. Ozan Colak
8. Braden Shick

Girls 16s, Minneapolis MN
Top 8 seeds:
1. Gianna Pielet
2. Karine Miller
3. Zoe Howard
4. Anessa Lee
5. Chidimma Okpara
6. Carmen Corley
7. Eleanor Schulson
8. Maryam Ahmad

Boys 16s, Wayland MA
Seeds not yet posted

Girls 18s, Weymouth MA
Seeds not yet posted

Boys 18s, Overland Park KS
Top 8 seeds:
1. Bill Duo
2. Robert Maciag
3. Carson Haskins
4. Britton Johnston
5. Kevin Zhu
6. Jared Pratt
7. William Peters
8. A. Trice Pickens

Several of the wild cards for the ITF Eddie Herr Grade 1 have been awarded. There will be others in the next few days.

Boys Main Draw:
Brandon Nakashima
Emilio Nava
Tyler Zink
Ronan Jachuck

Boys Qualifying:
Adam Neff
Michael Heller
Patrick Maloney

Girls Main Draw:
Alexandra Yepifanova
Nikki Redelijk
Elvina Kalieva
Angelica Blake

Girls Qualifying:
Charlotte Owensby
Megan Polnet

The first two rounds of the ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup are complete, with many Top 8 girls seeds ousted.  No. 2 seed Lulu Sun of Switzerland lost in the first round to Andreea Prisacariu of Romania, who was then beaten by Ana Geller, Axel's sister, in the second round.  Americans Vanessa Ong, qualifier Alexandra Yepifanova, Gabby Price and Peyton Stearns all took out Top 8 seeds. Top seed Maria Carle of Argentina is through to the round of 16, as is Grade A Abierto Juvenil champion Alexa Noel.

Boys top seed Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan and No. 2 seed Andrew Fenty have advanced. Drew Baird withdrew from this week's event after winning the Abierto Juvenil last week in Mexico City.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Anisimova Gets Top 100 Win in WTA Honolulu $125K; Buckeyes Advance at Columbus $25K Futures; Eddie Herr Qualifying Begins Wednesday; Service Lets Trial Coming to ITF Junior Circuit

US Open girls champion Amanda Anisimova defeated No. 2 seed Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan 6-0, 6-1 today to advance to the second round of the $125,000 WTA tournament in Honolulu Hawaii. Allie Kiick, Julia Boserup, Danielle Lao, Jacqueline Cako and Sachia Vickery[6] have also advanced to the second round.  Vickery defeated Danielle Collins 6-4, 7-6(2) avenging her loss in Sunday's final at the $25,000 tournament in Norman Oklahoma.

The $25,000 Columbus Futures is unsurprisingly filled with Ohio State Buckeyes, with two of them facing off in the second round on Wednesday.  Senior Mikael Torpegaard, who beat No. 4 seed Ed Corrie 6-4, 6-2 today, will play freshman John McNally, who defeated Illinois sophomore Noe Khlif 7-5, 6-2.  Sophomore JJ Wolf was the third current Ohio State player to advance, beating Nico Mostardi 6-2, 6-2, while former Buckeye Hunter Callahan also picked up a first round win. Top seeds Christian Harrison and Alex Sarkissian posted straight-sets wins in their first round matches.

Qualifying for the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions at the Eddie Herr International begins Wednesday at the IMG Academy in Bradenton Florida.  Draws can be found at Tennis Link.

Announcements of changes coming to the Grand Slams were released today, with a serve clock of 25 seconds being used this year at the Australian Open, and beginning in 2019, the seeds being reduced from 32 to 16.  The problem of less than healthy players retiring in the first round just to claim the prize money has been addressed, with a 50% split to a lucky loser and a player who withdraws at the last minute.  For more on these changes, see this article.

On Thursday, look for the first of a two-part article I wrote for the Tennis Recruiting Network about how several players I spoke to at the Champaign Challenger feel about many of the recent trials and experiments that have been tested.

Not be left out, the ITF Junior Circuit has joined the no-let experiment, according to a recent message from the ITF as shown in the tweet below. I don't have any more information about that now, but I will try to find out more while I'm in Florida covering the two big ITF events there.

Monday, November 20, 2017

2018 College Match Days Announced; More NLI Signings; Rychagova of Kansas, Redlicki of UCLA Top Final ITA Fall Rankings

The USTA announced its six 2018 College Match Days beginning in February at the National Campus in Lake Nona Florida. For more on these free events at the stunning new facility outside Orlando, see this article at usta.com.

Saturday Feb. 3
Florida v Florida State (men/women)

Friday Feb. 9
Georgia v Georgia Tech (men)

Saturday Feb 24
Oklahoma v Texas A&M (men)

Saturday March 3
Central Florida v Michigan (men/women)

Sunday April 1
Florida v Texas (women)

Sunday April 15
Central Florida v South Florida (men)

The early signing announcements are starting to wind down, so this will be my last update.  See my previous compilations from November 8. November 10 and November 13.

Auburn has signed Matteo De Vincentis of Italy.

BYU has signed Kobe Tran.

Central Florida has signed Trey Hilderbrand.

Georgia has signed Britton Johnston and Blake Croyder.

Georgia Tech has signed Joseph Gandolfo.

Medhi Laale of Morocco is transferring from Division II Lynn to Louisville.

Mississippi has signed Sebastian Rios.

Oklahoma State has signed Matej Vocel of the Czech Republic. Dylan Bednarczyk of Canada has transferred from Nebraska.

San Diego has signed Noah Dufort.

South Carolina has signed Joseph Brailovsky, Nick Watson, Jacob Beasley and Patrick Cacciatore.

Tennessee has signed Sean Presson.

Virginia has signed Ryan Goetz, William Woodall and Gianni Ross.  Ross will start in January of 2018.

Washington has signed Kasper Smith.

Western Michigan has signed Nicholas Hebda, Peter Kuszynski of Canada and Jack Randall.

Wisconsin has signed Daniel Nuzhny, Jared Pratt and Lenard Soha of Germany.


Alabama has signed Kimika Sakata of Japan.

Central Florida has signed Domenika Turkovic of Croatia.

Kansas has signed Julia Deming.

Kentucky has added Tiphanie Fiquet of France to its previous signing announcement.

Memphis has signed Leonarda Janko of Croatia, Hannah Davies of  Hannah Davies of Great Britain and Aleksandra Topalovic of Great Britain.

North Carolina State has signed Alana Smith.

Ohio State has signed Kolie Allen, Emma DeCoste and Isabelle Boulais of Canada.

Tennessee has signed Kylie Duckworth.

Utah has signed Anya Lamoreaux, Lindsay Hung, Emily Dush and Madison Tattini.

The ITA released the final fall rankings last week, with Martin Redlicki of UCLA and Anastasia Rychagova of Kansas in the top spot. Click on the headers for the complete lists.

Men's Singles Top 10:
1. Martin Redlicki, UCLA
2. William Blumberg, North Carolina
3. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State
4. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest
5. Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State
6. Thomas Laurent, Oregon
7. Johannes Ingildsen, Florida
8. Alfredo Perez, Florida
9. Alex Knight, Michigan
10. Valentin Vacherot, Texas A&M

Men's Doubles Top 5:
1. Johannes Ingildsen and Alfredo Perez, Florida
2. Will Little and Johannes Schretter, Baylor
3. William Blumberg and Robert Kelly, North Carolina
4. Petros Chrysochos and Skander Mansouri, Wake Forest
5. Rodrigo Banzer and Leonardo Telles, Texas

Women's Singles Top 10:
1. Anastasia Rychagova, Kansas
2. Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, Florida Atlantic
3. Andrea Lazaro, Florida International
4. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt
5. Gabriela Talaba, Texas Tech
6. Stacey Fung, Washington
7. Samantha Harris, Duke
8. Anna Danilina, Florida
9. Alle Sanford, North Carolina
10. Bianca Turati, Texas

1. Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen, Duke 
2. Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy, Duke 
3. Emily Arbuthnott and Michaela Gordon, Stanford
4. Erin Larner and Maddie Lipp, Northwestern
5. Paige Hourigan and Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Baird Surprises Top Seed Korda to Claim Grade A in Mexico City; Collins Wins $25K in Norman; American Juniors Capture ITF Titles in El Salvador, Antigua and Philippines

Yesterday unseeded Alexa Noel upset No. 1 seed Whitney Osuigwe to earn the girls singles trophy at the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City. Today, unseeded Drew Baird pulled off a similar surprise, beating top seed Sebastian Korda 76(4), 3-6, 6-0.

The 17-year-old Baird, playing in his first Grade A event, got the first break of the final at 4-3, but Korda got the break right back. After four holds, the tiebreaker was similarly close, with Korda twice taking a mini-break lead.  But leading 4-3, Korda began to spray balls, especially on his backhand side, and Baird won the final four points of the set, closing it out with a good serve on his first set.

Korda fought back in the second set, coming forward more often, but after nearly and hour and a half of play, the 17-year-old began to show signs of an injury and quickly went down two breaks, 3-0, in the third set.  After a lengthy off-court medical timeout, Korda returned, but Baird did not let the injury affect him, efficiently finishing off his IMG Academy training partner.

Neither Osuigwe nor Korda are playing next week's Grade 1 Yucatan Cup, but both Baird and Noel are in the singles draws, with both unseeded.  There are 22 US boys and 21 US girls in the 64-player draws.  Maria Carle of Argentina is the top seed in the girls draw and Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan is the top seed in the boys draw. 

Two-time NCAA champion Danielle Collins won her second $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit title of 2017 today in Norman Oklahoma.  The University of Virginia graduate, seeded No. 3, defeated No. 2 seed Sachia Vickery 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.  Collins, who has reached five finals on the USTA Pro Circuit this year, is playing in the WTA $125K event this coming week in Hawaii, as is Vickery.  Stanford freshman Michaela Gordon has received a wild card. The complete player list is here.

Former USC star Emilio Gomez of Ecuador won the $15,000 Futures title in Pensacola Florida, with the No. 3 seed defeating No. 5 seed Ulises Blanch 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.  It's Gomez's first Futures title since 2015.
Top seeds Hunter and Yates Johnson(SMU) won their fifth title as a team and second this year, beating No. 2 seeds Junior Ore and Harrison Adams(Texas A&M) 6-3, 6-3.

All the action for US juniors wasn't just in Mexico, with four Americans winning ITF Grade 4 and 5 singles titles.  At the Grade 4 in the Philippines, 16-year-old Nicole Hammond won her first ITF junior singles title, beating Elizabeth Stevens 6-1, 6-4 in the all-USA final. Neither was seeded.  Hammond and Stevens won the doubles title too, with the unseeded pair defeating Jingyi Li and Fangran Tian of China 6-3 6-4 in the final.

At the Grade 5 in El Salvador, No. 2 seed Midori Castillo Meza beat top seed Kennedy Bridgforth 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in another all-USA final. The 14-year-old Castillo Meza won Grade 5 in Costa Rica last week. Jackson Ross teamed with Alfredo Casso of Mexico to take the boys doubles title.

Fifteen-year-old Spencer Brachman, who just began competing on the ITF Junior Circuit this fall, won his first titles at the Grade 5 in Antigua. The unseeded Brachman defeated top seed Jeffrey Fradkin 6-3, 6-2 in yet another all-USA singles final, then paired with Fradkin to take the doubles title as well. The unseeded Brachman and Fradkin beat Canada's Christopher Heck of Canada and Tom LeBlanc Claverie, the No. 2 seed, 7-6(0), 6-3 in the final. 

Fifteen-year-old Hibah Shaikh won the girls singles title in her ITF Junior Circuit debut, beating top seed Alexandra Anttila of Finland 6-3, 6-1 in the final. The two singles finalists then paired up for the doubles title, defeating No. 1 seeds Sydney Clarke of the Bahamas and Tangia Riley-Codrington of Barbados 6-0, 6-3 in the final.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Noel Claims Mexico City Grade A Title Over Top Seed Osuigwe; Baird, Korda in Boys Final; Boyer Wins Another Grade 2; Smyczek is Champaign Challenger Champion; Collins and Vickery Play for Norman $25K Title; Blanch Reaches Futures Final in Florida

Unseeded 15-year-old Alexa Noel had a breakout tournament this week at the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City and she topped it off with a 6-2, 6-4 win over the ITF World No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe in today's all-American girls singles final. 

Noel, who had not played a tournament since July, didn't drop a set in any of her six victories, and her variety-laden game proved too much for Osuigwe today. Noel was serving particularly well, and when things got tight late in the second set, her first serve and her willingness to use her lethal drop shot against the speedy Osuigwe proved the difference. Noel couldn't consolidate the break she earned for a 4-3 lead, but she broke Osuigwe in a four-deuce game to take a 5-4 lead and served out the match for her first ITF title above the Grade 4 level. Noel, who won the Junior Orange Bowl 14s last year, had lost to Osuigwe in the Easter Bowl 14s final in 2015.

Things didn't get any better for Osuigwe after the singles final, when she and Ellie Douglas, the top seeds, lost in the doubles final to unseeded Peyton Stearns and Dalayna Hewitt 6-4, 6-3.

Like Noel, unseeded Drew Baird is having the tournament of his ITF junior career, reaching Sunday's boys singles final despite his ranking of 192.  Baird, a 17-year-old who is playing in his first Grade A, has won two Grade 4 titles this year but has struggled to post wins at the Grade 1 level.  After dropping a set in his first match, Baird has advanced to the final without losing another, and in today's semifinal against Filip Jianu of Romania, Baird posted a 7-6(2), 7-6(1) victory.  He will face top seed Sebastian Korda, who had his toughest match of the week by far against No. 5 seed Thiago Tirante of Argentina, coming back for a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 victory. 

The boys final will be streamed live, but without commentary, at the tournament's website.

Tristan Boyer is now on a 15-match winning streak at the Grade 2 level, after claiming his second straight ITF singles title in Israel.  The 16-year-old Californian, who won a Grade 2 in Japan last month after reaching the semifinals of the Grade A in Osaka, was the top seed this week, and as was the case last week, he beat No. 2 seed Yanki Erel of Turkey in the final.  After a straight-sets loss last week, Erel did win a set today, but Boyer prevailed 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1.  Already in the Top 50, Boyer will move into the Top 40 with this week's title.  Fifteen-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez won the girls singles title, after she also won the title in the Grade 2 the previous week.

At the Grade 3 in Bolivia, 17-year-old Chloe Hamlin won her first ITF singles title. The No. 6 seed defeated top seed Maria Rivera Corado of Guatemala 7-6(5), 0-6, 7-5 in the final.  Jenna Dean reached the final of the girls doubles.

The USTA Pro Circuit Challenger season came to a close today at the $75,000 tournament in Champaign, with No. 7 seed Tim Smyczek winning the title with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 5 seed Bjorn Fratangelo.  Fratangelo struggled with a back injury throughout the match, so another comeback victory for him wasn't in the cards. The title is the second for Smyczek in the past three weeks, and he will move to around 130 in the ATP rankings with his recent run.

Top seeds Leander Paes and Purav Raja of India won the doubles title, beating No. 3 seeds Ruan Roelofse(Illinois) of South Africa and Joe Salisbury(Memphis) of Great Britain 6-3, 6-7(5), 10-5.

The final is set at the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Norman Oklahoma, with No. 3 seed Danielle Collins facing No. 2 seed Sachia Vickery.  Collins ousted top seed Sonya Kenin 6-1, 6-2, while Vickery needed just short of three hours to beat unseeded Maria Sanchez 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.  Collins won their last meeting two weeks ago in the first round of the $80K in Tyler; Vickery won their previous two meetings last year.  Chiara Scholl and Belgium's Tammy Hendler, who had to qualify into the doubles draw, won the title, beating top seeds Sanchez(USC) and Caitlin Whoriskey(Tennessee) 3-6, 6-3, 10-6.

At the $15,000 Futures in Pensacola Florida, 19-year-old Ulises Blanch will face former USC star Emilio Gomez of Ecuador in Sunday's final.  The fifth-seeded Blanch defeated No. 6 seed Roberto Cid of the Dominican Republic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach his second career Futures final.  The 25-year-old Gomez took out Mississippi State junior Nuno Borges of Portugal, the No. 4 seed, 7-6(5), 7-5. He is looking for his first Futures title since 2015.