Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Eleven American Juniors Reach Wimbledon Round of 16; Liu Saves Match Point to Advance

©Colette Lewis 2015--

Only two American girls were seeded in the Wimbledon Junior Championships this year, but those two and four others have reached the round of 16 by posting second round victories on Tuesday.

The US boys fell short of last year's effort, when seven Americans reached the round of 16, but five did advance--all four seeds and Reilly Opelka, who eliminated No. 3 seed Corentin Denolly of France 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Top seed Taylor Fritz posted a routine 6-1, 6-2 win over Sora Fukuda of Japan, and No. 4 seed Michael Mmoh also had no difficulty, taking out Nuno Borges of Portugal by the same score, with both matches taking less than an hour.  Mmoh was fortunate to finish before a brief shower delayed most of the day's first matches for approximately 30 minutes. Despite threatening clouds, that proved to be the only disruption on a breezy and cool day at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

French Open boys champion Tommy Paul was taken the distance by Juan Jose Rosas of Peru, but the No. 7 seed picked up his play in the third set, taking a 5-0 lead and finishing with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory. No. 10 seed William Blumberg, who had played late into the evening on Monday before recording a three-set, come-from-behind win, had a more straightforward 6-4, 6-1 decision over qualifier Alberto Lim of the Philippines Tuesday.

None of the five Americans will play a seed in Wednesday's third round. Fritz will play Franco Capalbo of Argentina, Opelka faces Yosuke Watanuki of Japan and Blumberg will take on qualifier Denis Shapovalov of Canada.  Mmoh's opponent is Alvaro Lopez San Martin of Spain, and Paul meets John Nikles of Switzerland. Fritz has a win over Capalbo, but the other four matches are first-time encounters in ITF play.

No. 2 seed Duck Hee Lee of Korea, who received his seeding based on his ATP ranking of 276, had to save a match point to survive the challenge of Australian Marc Polmans 6-7(6), 7-6(3), 9-7.  Polmans twice served for the match, the first time at 5-4 in the second set. He didn't get to match point in that game, but broke with some solid net play to earn a second chance at 6-5.  A good first serve at 30-all gave Polmans his match point, but he put a slice backhand into the middle of the net, and Lee won the next two points to get to the tiebreaker. Polmans lost the first three points there and couldn't recover, and Lee survived some close games down the stretch to eke out the win.

Claire Liu had an even more dramatic match point save in her 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Evgeniya Levashova.  With Levashova serving for the match at 5-4 in the third, Liu failed to convert three break points and the 16-year-old Russian finally got the advantage.  Liu played several aggressive ground strokes and ultimately forced Levashova into a off-balance defensive lob that appeared to be headed well beyond the baseline.  Liu let it go, but a wind gust nearly kept it in. When the ball landed, the line umpire made the two-handed good signal, but the chair umpire overruled the call and play continued, despite Levashova's protest.

"On the match point I was trying to be aggressive because I knew she was going to be nervous," Liu said. "So I kept just trying to pressure her and I came to net. She hit a ball and I thought it was going way out, but the wind brought it in or something. It was really close. When she(the line judge) called it out, I went like, are you serious to the umpire, and he said it was out. I thought that she was probably super-mad right then, so I had to win the next one and then I played a lot better."

Liu hit two forehand winners to take the game and then saved a break point in the next game with a good first serve. Levashova got to 40-15 serving at 5-6, but her first serve deserted her and she also double faulted twice. Liu couldn't convert on her first two match points, but she got the third when Levashova's forehand went wide.

"She is really hard to play," said the 15-year-old Liu, who had lost to Levashova in the third round of the Eddie Herr last year. "She has a really good serve, especially first serve, and you can be up 40-0 and she can like serve three good serves and there's nothing you can do. I was just trying to get the first return in and trying to stay aggressive, and maybe come to net, but I didn't have to."

Liu will play wild card Tornado Alicia Black in the third round, the only Wednesday match that features two Americans. Black, a quarterfinalist last year, cruised past Maia Lumsden of Great Britain 6-1, 6-1 and has lost only five games in her first two matches.

"I've never played her," said Liu, who said she has no experience with Black's game, not even in a practice setting. "She's really good. I've heard she's a really good mover, a really good competitor. I'll just try to keep playing my game."

Caroline Dolehide advanced to the third round with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Olivia Tjandramulia of Australia and will play qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia, who beat Raveena Kingsley 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.  No. 6 seed Usue Arconada reached the third round with her second straight three-set win, beating qualifier Lucia Wargnier of France 6-3, 2-6, 6-4. Arconada's opponent Wednesday is No. 12 seed Anna Blinkova of Russia.

No. 9 seed Sonya Kenin defeated Jil Teichmann of Switzerland 7-5, 6-4, overcoming the rain delay, which stopped play when she was serving up 2-1 in the second set.

"It was tough when the rain started," said the 16-year-old, who said she had targeted Teichmann's backhand to get the advantage. "I was up 40-15, and I closed out the game. At that point her backhand was all of a sudden really good, so at that point she didn't have a weak spot at all. So I somehow just had to fight and find a way to win."

Kenin will play Katie Swan of Great Britain, who at No. 5 is the highest seed remaining in the girls draw. Kenin and Swan, who lives in the US, have played doubles together and are friends, but Kenin said she will put that aside on Wednesday.

"I know the Great Britain crowd is going to be behind her and I'll probably be on the big courts, 4 or 14 (the match is scheduled for show court 18)," said Kenin, who lost to Swan at the Eddie Herr last year. "Yes, she's my friend, but on court, we're not friends. On court is completely different. You just fight and try to win and off court you're friends."

The sixth US girl in the third round is Michaela Gordon, who defeated No. 15 seed Pranjala Yadlapalli 6-2, 6-3 in the day's last singles match.

Gordon, who reached the quarterfinals last year, did not play on grass prior to Wimbledon due to a wrist injury suffered during the Sumter $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event last month.

"It's been fine this whole week," said Gordon, who will turn 16 later this month. "I just tape it as a precautionary thing, because it was hurt like two weeks ago. I wanted to play Maureen Connolly (Cup) and then Roehampton and Wimbledon, but I couldn't do it."

Fortunately for Gordon, she needs only a few practices to feel comfortable on the surface.

"I don't have very much trouble adjusting to grass," said Gordon, who was broken only once in her win Tuesday evening. "After a few days of practice, usually I feel pretty good. I really like how it plays, how it bounces. It fits my game style and I'm trying to be more aggressive with my game, and I think it really helps if you're more aggressive on grass and moving forward into the court."

Gordon's opponent is 15-year-old Olesya Pervushina of Russia, who defeated No. 2 seed Shilin Xu of China 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

"I'm not really sure how she plays," Gordon said. "I think some of my friends know how she plays. But I try to focus more on how I'm playing and doing the right things, because that's been working pretty well for me so far."

Fifteen first round doubles matches were played on Tuesday, with the 17 remaining first round matches scheduled for Wednesday.  Top seeds Marketa Vondrousova and Miriam Kolodziejova of the Czech Republic, who are seeking the junior grand slam in doubles, have cleared the first hurdle at Wimbledon, beating Kenin and Jacqueline Cristian of Romania 6-1, 6-0.

No. 2 seeds Yunseong Chung and Seong Chan Hong of Korea lost to Yusuke Takahashi and Jumpei Yamasaki of Japan 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-3.

The draws are here and the order of play for Wednesday is here.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Brogan Upsets Girls Top Seed Vondrousova; Americans 9-0 Monday and 17-1 in Junior Wimbledon's First Round

©Colette Lewis 2015--

Losses by three of the top four girls seeds and a perfect day for US players made for a memorable Manic Monday on Day Two of the Wimbledon Junior Championships.

Wild card Anna Brogan of Great Britain took out World No. 1 and top seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-2,  while American juniors went 9-0 to give the US eight boys and nine girls in Tuesday's second round.

Brogan, who will be 18 next month, could hardly believe the result.

"It doesn't get much better than that," said Brogan, who is from Glasgow, Scotland and a protege of Judy Murray. "She's a very good player and that's why she's number one in the world, but I watched her play (at Roehampton) and felt like I had a good game plan going into the match. I knew what to expect, I got some good information from watching her last week, and I felt like I executed my game plan pretty much perfectly."

Closing out such an upset is not easy, and Brogan admitted to both butterflies and goosebumps.

"I know it's only juniors and all that, but I was playing at Wimbledon," said Brogan, who received four errors from Vondrousova in the final game. "I was up 30-15 and I messed up, missed a short ball. But I focused on each point, hit a good serve. I played a solid match."

Brogan said her serve is not always the most reliable part of her game, but it came through for her Monday.

"I think the biggest thing for me was how well I served," said Brogan, who plays qualifier Katerina Zavatska of Ukraine in the second round. "My serve can be a little in and out sometimes, but I felt like I served extremely well, and I knew I had to, because she has the good lefty serve."

Vondrousova had reached the semifinals of Wimbledon last year and the final at Roehampton last week, but she was not the only player with a grass pedigree to go out to an unseeded Scot on Monday.  Roehampton champion Dalma Galfi of Hungary lost to Maia Lumsden 7-5, 6-3.  No. 4 seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia was beaten by qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia 7-6(4), 6-4.

The boys Roehampton champion Michael Mmoh managed to avoid Galfi's fate, beating Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-5, despite a subpar serving day.

"I served awful," said Mmoh, who got only 58 percent of his first serves in and hit 10 doubles faults. "I didn't think I played that bad from the back, I just served horrendously, and I wasn't returning that well."

Mmoh did get a love hold to make it 5-5 in the third set, and Blancaneaux contributed two double faults, the final one on Mmoh's second break point.

"He definitely got nervous there," said Mmoh, who lost the first point in the final game but won the next four, getting all five of his first serves in. "I served well in the final game. I just tried to put all my energy into those first serves. If he hits a good return after one of my first serves that's just too good, but he'd been hitting really good returns off my second serves, so might as well try to get one of those first serves in."

Boys top seed Taylor Fritz faced his only break point of the match in the first game of his 6-3, 6-2 win over British wild card Jay Clarke, relieved that the sprained ankle he suffered in the second round at Roehampton had improved to the stage where he could push off on his serve.

"It's still bothering me, but the last two days, I've noticed a huge improvement," said Fritz, who made the semifinals here last year and considers grass his best surface. "I couldn't get up to serve, to push up off that back foot until yesterday. So when I was able to do it yesterday, it was a huge relief, because now I can actually serve well, and that's the most important thing. I'm still having a little bit of trouble moving my best, but I can play, which is good. Last week it wasn't looking too good."

French Open boys champion Tommy Paul, who beat Fritz in the Paris final, had no difficulty in his first match, defeating qualifier Benjamin Hannestad of Denmark 6-1, 6-1 in 44 minutes.

Paul, the No. 7 seed this week, lost in the third round at Roehampton, but believes he is beginning to get comfortable on grass.

"I went to Nottingham (the ATP 250 the week of Wimbledon qualifying) first and I didn't get into qualifying, I was the first person out, but it was really good that we came here that early," Paul said. "For me, it took me a while to get used to the grass. But now I'm finally timing the ball a lot better, which is awesome. When I first got here, it was my first time on grass, and I could not do anything. I was struggling, but the more I played on it the more comfortable I got. The way this grass is playing is nice. It stays in my strike zone, so I like it."

Ulises Blanch also kept his time on court to a minimum, defeating qualifier Charles Broom of Great Britain 6-1, 6-1.  That was in direct contrast to Reilly Opelka, who saved a match point in the third set of his 4-6, 6-3, 13-11 win over Australian qualifier Alex De Minaur.

Down 30-40 serving at 4-5 in the third, Opelka hit a big forehand to force an error from the quick and aggressive 16-year-old.  Opelka went on to hold, and got a break to take a 10-9 lead, but he was unable to serve out the match.

"I can't believe I lost my serve the first time," said Opelka, who benefitted from two net cord winners in the final two games of the match. "I shanked two short forehands and I was lucky I got another chance, to be honest.  Today was one of those days when you just have to get through it. It was ugly from the first point and it was ugly until the last point."

Opelka credited De Minaur for his good play, but couldn't find anything positive in his own performance.

"Usually there's a time in a match, especially in a long match, where you start to establish your game and it clicks, even if it's not a hundred percent, your best, you start finding something," said Opelka, who was credited with 48 winners but 72 unforced errors. "It just didn't happen, never happened today. I think he had a lot to do with it, because I was hitting the ball great, practicing well, I had a good week last week."

Opelka said he wasn't worried about the physical toll the match may have taken, which, despite the score, was only two hours and 23 minutes in length.

"Ideally I would like to win in straight sets, and if there's a third, not win it 13-11," said Opelka, who had never played in an advantage third set before today. "But I think for tomorrow, I can't get much worse than today, so that's how I'm going to go into it."

Qualifier Emil Reinberg also needed an extended third set to get his first junior slam victory, overcoming a 5-3 deficit in the final set to beat Federico Bonacia of Italy 6-4, 5-7, 8-6.

With Raveena Kingsley's 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 win over Australian qualifier Destanee Aiava and No. 9 seed Sonya Kenin's 6-3, 6-1 victory over Canadian Bianca Andreescu, the quest for a perfect day for Americans fell to No. 10 seed William Blumberg.

Blumberg trailed Djurabeck Karimov of Uzbekistan 4-1 in the final set, but reeled off the final five games of the match for a 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4 victory.  The match was moved from Court 9 to Court 19, which is adjacent to Court 1. With the light fading and the spectators gasping as the scoreboard showed men's top seed Novak Djokovic going down two sets to Kevin Anderson, Blumberg found his highest level. After failing to convert break points at 3-1, Blumberg simply stopped making errors, while playing aggressively from all positions on the court. Once he broke Karimov at 4-2, Blumberg's confidence grew, and the winners began to accumulate, while Karimov's game and his attitude deteriorated. Blumberg broke again and served out the match, celebrating his first Wimbledon victory with loud roar.

The boys draw had only two seeds go out in the first round, with No. 5 seed Seong Chan Hong of Korea losing to Canadian qualifier Denis Shapovalov 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 today, after No. 13 seed Nam Hoang Ly of Vietnam lost on Saturday. Seven of the 16 girls seeds lost in the first round.

The US players(in bold) in Tuesday's second round:

Yunseong Chung (KOR) [11] vs Ulises Blanch
Taylor Fritz [1] vs Sora Fukuda (JPN)
Tommy Paul [7]  vs Juan Jose Rosas (PER)
Olivia Tjandramulia (AUS) vs Caroline Dolehide
Fanni Stollar (HUN) [11] vs Kayla Day
Ingrid Neel vs Tereza Mihalikova (SVK) [10]
Pranjala Yadlapalli (IND) [15] vs Michaela Gordon
Nuno Borges (POR) vs Michael Mmoh [4]
Nathan Ponwith vs Mikael Ymer (SWE) [12]
Qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) vs Raveena Kingsley
Corentin Denolly (FRA) [3] vs Reilly Opelka
Sonya Kenin [9] vs Jil Teichmann (SUI)
Usue Arconada [6] vs qualifier Lucie Wargnier (FRA)
Claire Liu vs Evgeniya Levashova (RUS)
William Blumberg [10] vs qualifier Alberto Lim (PHI)
Wild Card Tornado Alicia Black vs Maia Lumsden (GBR)
Qualifier Emil Reinberg vs qualifier Denis Shapovalov (CAN)

Junior draws are here. Tuesday's order of play, including the first round of doubles, is here.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Former College Stars Sweep USTA Pro Circuit Events; Nine US Juniors in First Round Action Monday at Wimbledon; Four US Juniors Take ITF Titles

©Colette Lewis 2015--

Wimbledon's Middle Sunday isn't really a break for the juniors, because only half of them have even begun the tournament, but it does provide me with an opportunity to catch up on what's gone on this week in the USTA Pro Circuit events and the lower level ITF tournaments away from SW 19.

NCAA champion Jamie Loeb won her first Pro Circuit event at the $25,000 tournament in El Paso today, defeating No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady 6-7(7), 6-4 6-2. UNC's Loeb, a qualifier, had lost to Brady, who left UCLA after her sophomore season ended in May, in the second round of the Sumter $25,000 tournament two weeks ago.  After losing in qualifying last week in Baton Rouge, Loeb won seven matches this week, beating top seed Taylor Townsend in three sets, Stanford's Carol Zhao(7) in three sets (a repeat of this year's NCAA final), and No. 3 seed Mayo Hibi in the semifinals.

Two other former college players, a bit farther removed from their university days, won the two men's Futures in Pittsburgh and Wichita.

Former USC Trojan Emilio Gomez of Ecuador(1) won his second straight title, following up his title last week in Rochester by defeating qualifier Mikael Torpegaard (Ohio State sophomore from Denmark) 6-4, 6-4 in the Pittsburgh $10,000 final today. Reigning Kalamazoo 16s champion John McNally made the quarterfinals before falling to Gomez 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Former University of Virginia standout Sanam Singh of India claimed the title at the $15,000 Futures in Wichita, with the No. 5 seed beating No. 4 seed Mitchell Krueger 7-6(6), 7-6(4). Singh had avenged his loss to NCAA finalist Noah Rubin last week in the semifinals. Jared Hiltzik (Illinois senior) reached the semifinals at the Futures level for the first time in his career.  Singh also won the doubles title with Darian King of Barbados, with the top seeds defeating No. 4 seeds Gonzales Austin(Vanderbilt) and Max Schnur(Columbia) 6-3, 6-3.

The men's USTA Pro Circuit now moves to the Winnetka $50,000 Challenger, where qualifying has begun.  Frances Tiafoe is in the field, and Stefan Kozlov, Jared Hiltzik, Tom Fawcett and Mackenzie McDonald received main draw wild cards. Be sure to check Jonathan Kelley's On The Rise blog for onsite coverage; he is credentialed media for the tournament.

There are no USTA Pro Circuit women's events this week.

After an opening day of play in which the US juniors won eight of nine matches at the Wimbledon Junior Championships Saturday, Monday has nine more Americans on the schedule. Five of the US boys are scheduled for Court 9, so if you are on the grounds, you can probably find me there. Feel free to stop and say hello. I'll have my straw hat with a leopard print hat band on, and I'll have a notebook in hand.

US juniors in action Monday are in bold.

Qualifier Alex De Minaur (AUS) v Reilly Opelka
Taylor Fritz [1] v wild card Jay Clarke (GBR)
Tommy Paul [7] v qualifier Benjamin Hannestad (DEN)
Geoffrey Blancaneaux (FRA) v Michael Mmoh [4]
Qualifier Emil Reinberg v Federico Bonacia (ITA)
William Blumberg [10] v Djurabeck Karimov (UZB)
Ulises Blanch v qualifier Charles Broom (GBR)
Sofia Kenin [9] v Bianca Vanessa Andreescu (CAN)
Raveena Kingsley v qualifier Destanee Aiava (AUS)

The complete order of play is here and the draws are here.

Four US juniors won singles titles in lower level ITF events last week. Andrew Fenty won his first ITF title at the Grade 4 in Aruba, beating fellow 15-year-old and Junior Tennis Champions Center training partner Brian Cernoch 6-1, 6-0 in the final. Both were unseeded.  Fourteen-year-old Jordan Harris won the girls title in Aruba, her first ITF title, defeating No. 8 seed Zoe Spence 7-5, 6-2 in the final. No. 2 seeds Ally Miller-Krasilnikov and Spence won the doubles title, beating Harris and partner Safiya Carrington 6-1, 6-2 in the all-USA final.

At the Grade 5 in Cuba, No. 2 seed Naomi Waters won the singles and doubles titles. She downed No. 1 seed Saya Usui of Japan 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 in the singles final. The top seeds in doubles, Usui and Waters took that championship match, defeating No. 2 seeds Karen Alvarez of Mexico and Rut Galindo of Guatemala 7-5, 6-2.

At the Grade 5 in Greece, top seed Nicole Anderson won the singles title, the first for the 17-year-old, beating unseeded Vasiliki Karvouni of Greece 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4) in the final.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Eight American Juniors Celebrate Independence Day with Wimbledon Victories

©Colette Lewis--

Eight of the nine US juniors in action on a gorgeous English summer day celebrated the 4th of July with victories as the Wimbledon championship began at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Fifteen-year-old Claire Liu and 17-year-old Nathan Ponwith had markedly different paths to the second round, with Liu defeating No. 13 seed Luisa Stefani of Brazil 6-0, 6-1 in 45 minutes, while Ponwith had his first taste of an advantage third set, beating Yusuke Takahashi of Japan 4-6, 7-6(5), 8-6.

Liu, who is making her first appearance at Wimbledon, hadn't had an opportunity to practice at the site until she warmed up there this morning.

"Yesterday we practiced at another place and I was hitting at the Roehampton courts the whole time," Liu said. "But we went to Eastbourne before Roehampton for the Maureen Connolly Cup, so that was good."

Liu said she likes grass, despite her limited experience on the surface.

"Because I like to try to take time away and stuff, it's really nice that the courts are fast and it's hard to move on," Liu said. "If I can get the first good ball in, I can start the point well."

Liu said she was nervous in her Wimbledon debut, but having played the US Open juniors twice already, she wasn't overwhelmed.

"I was really nervous in the beginning, because I wanted to do well here," said Easter Bowl champion Liu, who is just returning to competition after a torn labrum that did not require surgery. "The first couple of matches in a grand slam, it's hard. The first time I was at the US Open, I was really nervous, people were watching me and that was the first time that had ever happened, but it certainly has helped me with dealing with my nerves better."

While Ponwith wasn't as convincing in his victory, he was happy with the way he played, particularly at the very end of the second set tiebreaker and in the final set. Ponwith had failed to serve out the set at 5-3, and Takahashi, serving at 5-6, saved a set point with a huge backhand winner. In the ensuing tiebreaker, Takahashi had the match on his racquet when Ponwith lost both points on his serve to go from 4-3 up to 5-4 down in the second set tiebreaker. The 17-year-old from Japan, who, like Ponwith, was playing in his first Wimbledon, netted a defensive slice for 5-5, and Ponwith got his set point with a forehand swing volley winner.  Taking his time, Ponwith collected himself, went to his towel, and hit one of his best serves of the match, which Takahashi could only get his racquet on.  Up a break at 2-1 in the third set, Ponwith lost it, but neither dropped serve until Ponwith got a break at 6-6 in the third.

"We were both playing well throughout the third, holding our serves," said Ponwith. "I faced a couple of break points at 3-4 and was lucky to not get broken. At 6-all 15-40, he hit a big serve and saved that break point, but I was able to break at 30-40 on a lucky shank return that he ended up missing. But I'm thankful for it. I played really well today and we both brought really good tennis."

Ponwith said that failing to serve out the second set never entered his mind when he went to serve out the third set. Down 0-30, he won the final four points of the match, finishing it with a forehand winner.

"I actually forgot about that," Ponwith said of his previous inability to close. "I got a little bit nervous, but after 0-30, I calmed down, maybe hit a couple of big serves. And the big forehand, that was nice."

Like Ponwith, Michaela Gordon was also two points away from defeat before she reversed her fortunes with some aggressive play to beat Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-2.  Trailing 5-3 in the second set, Gordon fell behind 5-3 in the second set tiebreaker after double faulting. But two aggressive, line-seeking winners made it 5-all and a forehand just wide by Masarova gave Gordon a set point. Another winner and she had the set, and the 15-year-old Californian, who was a quarterfinalist here last year, was into the second round.

Seconds later, Caroline Dolehide joined her there, defeating No. 14 seed Julieta Estable of Argentina 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Dolehide's ability to finish a point with her forehand providing the difference in the match.

Ingrid Neel has always thought grass would be her favorite surface, and she does have a title on grass at last year's ITF Grade 4 in Philadelphia, but Wimbledon is obviously where she would have her best chance to prove it. Her debut went well, as she used her net instincts to outmaneuver 15-year-old British wild card Lauryn John-Baptiste 6-4, 6-2.

"Even before stepping on the court, just being around here, well, one, it's beautiful," said the 17-year-old Floridian, who reached the semifinals at Roehampton Thursday. "Two, the grass. It's my favorite surface. That sounds weird, since I've only played two weeks on it or less, but I think it will be my favorite surface throughout my career. Today the match went very well. I held serve nicely, which is very key on grass. There were some nerves, but I really couldn't ask for a better first day at Wimbledon."

Neel knew nothing about her opponent, but in that situation, she prefers to focus on her own game.

"I mostly think, I'm just going to try to get into net," Neel said. "Early on I just tried to figure out her weakness and strengths. Her forehand was her big shot, she loved it. But yeah, it's different when you've played a player many times, very different than when you've never seen them before. Both can be equally tough, so I'm glad it worked out today."

Fifteen-year-old Kayla Day also had a successful Wimbledon debut, defeating Tessah Andrianjafitrimo of France 7-6(5), 6-3.  Wild card Tornado Alicia Black, who reached the quarterfinals here last year, need just over an hour to dismiss Canadian Katherine Sebov 6-2, 6-1.

No. 6 seed Usue Arconada avenged her 2014 Orange Bowl loss to Monika Kilnarova, but it was far from easy, with Arconada taking a 7-6(7), 6-7(5), 6-3 victory over the 15-year-old from the Czech Republic.

Francesca Di Lorenzo was the US junior to lose Saturday, falling to 14-year-old wild card Anastasia Potapova of Russia 7-5, 6-3.

The doubles draws are out, with Taylor Fritz and Michael Mmoh the top seeds, Tommy Paul and William Blumberg are the No. 3 seeds and Reilly Opelka and Akira Santillan of Japan are seeded No. 4.

In the girls doubles, Arconada and Canadian Charlotte Robillard-Millette are the No. 2 seeds, and Stefani and Di Lorenzo are the No. 8 seeds.

Complete draws are available at the Wimbledon website.

Friday, July 3, 2015

June Aces; Mmoh Wins Roehampton; Wimbledon Junior Championships Begin Saturday

©Colette Lewis 2015--

There was a lot going on today, but in my attempt to minimize my jet lag and try to get over some sort of bug I picked up on the plane(s), I'll make this brief.

My monthly collection of outstanding performances, June version, is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Michael Mmoh won the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton today. The No. 3 seed defeated No. 5 seed Viktor Durasovic of Norway 7-6(4), 6-3. No. 3 seed Dalma Galfi of Hungary took the girls title, beating top seed and world No. 1 Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 7-6(3), 6-2.

Tommy Paul and William Blumberg lost in the boys doubles final to Australians Jake Delaney and Marc Polmas 6-7(3), 6-1, 10-7.  The outstanding play of top girls doubles seeds Miriam Kolodziejova and Vondrousova continued with their 6-3, 6-3 win over Australians Destanee Aiava and Olivia Tjandramulia.

Alejandro Tabilo of Canada and Tornado Alicia Black

Emil Reinberg qualified for the Wimbledon boys junior championships today, defeating Alexandar Lazarov of Bulgaria 2-6, 6-4, 8-6. Reinberg will join 17 other Americans in the boys and girls singles draws, but as with all qualifiers, he will have the day off on Saturday and will begin play on Monday, as do all the Roehampton finalists. Top seed Taylor Fritz plays a qualifier, so he too will begin play on Monday.

US boys seeded, in addition to Fritz, are Michael Mmoh(4), Tommy Paul(7) and William Blumberg(9).  Two US girls are seeded: Usue Arconada(6) and Sonya Kenin(9).

The US juniors in action on Saturday in bold:

Wild card Anastasia Potapova (RUS) vs Francesca Di Lorenzo

Luisa Stefani (BRA) [13] vs Claire Liu

Wild card Lauryn John-Baptiste (GBR) vs Ingrid Neel

Usue Arconada [6] vs Monika Kilnarova (CZE)

Yusuke Takahashi (JPN) vs Nathan Ponwith

Rebeka Masarova (SUI) vs Michaela Gordon

Kayla Day
vs Tessah Andrianjafitrimo (FRA)

Katherine Sebov (CAN) vs wild card Tornado Alicia Black

Caroline Dolehide vs Julieta Lara Estable (ARG) [14]

There will be live scoring at the Wimbledon website.  The complete draws are here.  The complete qualifying results are here.

Congratulations to unseeded Americans Denis Kudla and CoCo Vandeweghe for making the second week at Wimbledon with wins today.  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mmoh Reaches Grade1 Final in Roehampton; Boys Team USA Summer Playoffs Begin Sunday

A travel day and night for me as I head over to Wimbledon, so this early post will not include all the day's Wimbledon results.

The finals are set for the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, with Michael Mmoh reaching the championship match.  Mmoh, seeded No. 3, defeated Reilly Opelka, seeded No. 16, 6-3, 6-2 in today's semifinal.  Mmoh will play Viktor Durasovic of Norway, the No. 5 seed in the final. Mmoh is 2-0 against Durasovic, including a quarterfinal win at the International Hard Courts Grade 1 last August.

The girls final will feature No. 3 seed Dalma Galfi against top seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.  Galfi defeated Ingrid Neel 6-2 7-6(6), while Vondrousova advanced to the final via a walkover from No. 5 seed Katie Swan from Great Britain. I hope it's nothing serious so Swan can play Wimbledon Juniors.

Tommy Paul and William Blumberg have reached the doubles final. The No. 2 seeds defeated Ulises Blanch and Juan Pablo Ficovich of Argentina 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals today.

The USTA Junior Summer Team for girls was decided back in May; the boys playoffs will be held this Sunday at Boca Raton.  Sam Riffice and Vasil Kirkov are already on the team, with six players to be chosen from the 16 players listed below.  Those invited to participate in the playoffs, with the names of their coaches:

Player    Hometown    Personal Coach
Gianni Ross  -- Burr Ridge, IL  -- Jack Sharpe

Trent Bryde --  Suwanee, GA  --  Will Wright

Alafia Ayeni --  San Diego, CA -- Brian Teacher/Anthony Ayeni

Alexandre Rotsaert -- Boca Raton, FL -- Hafeez Hameed

Alexander Brown -- Urbandale, IA -- Elliott McDermed/Zach Buenger

Kyrylo Tsygura -- North Potomac, MD --Vesa Ponkka

Brian Shi -- Jericho, NY -- Mihai Grecu

Oliver Crawford -- Spartanburg, SC --  Kelly Jones/Anthony Stewart

Austen Huang -- Elk Grove, CA -- James Roberts

William Howells -- Boca Raton, FL -- Cyril Saulnier

Matthew Tsolakyan -- Glendale, CA -- Greg Grigorian

Steven Sun -- Boca Raton, FL -- Andres Pedroso

Trey Hildebrand -- San Antonio, TX -- Mark Hildebrand

Ryan Goetz -- Greenlawn, NY -- Keith Kambourian

Matthew Rodriguez -- Highland Beach, FL -- Maurice Trail

Danny Thomas -- Boca Raton, FL -- Maurice Trail