Thursday, June 23, 2016

Final Round of Wimbledon Qualifying Rained Out; USA Girls Win Maureen Connolly Challenge in Eastbourne; Roehampton Qualifying Starts Friday; Oosterbaan, Dolehide Oust No. 2 Seeds in Tulsa and Baton Rouge

Rain overnight made for soggy courts at Roehampton, the site of the final round of Wimbledon qualifying, and although three matches were in progress when rain again halted play this afternoon, none of the 28 singles matches on Thursday's schedule were completed.   In one of the three matches that did start, all best-of-five men's matches, Bjorn Fratangelo leads Austin Krajicek 6-3, 6-1, 3-3.  Former Texas star Ed Corrie of Great Britain has lost the first two sets in tiebreakers to France's Albano Olivetti.  Friday's schedule is available here.

The annual Grand Slam Nations Cup for junior girls was held in Eastbourne, where the WTA event is taking place, and it too fell victim to bad weather.  Australia ended up winning the event, which is a round robin competition, after today's final day was first started with a shortened scoring format and then abandoned.  The Maureen Connolly Challenge, a competition between the US and Great Britain, was decided in their meeting during this competition, with the US winning 4-2.  The two teams split singles matches, with the US getting wins from Sonya Kenin and Claire Liu, and the US won both doubles matches. The US lost to Australia 4-2, finishing second in the event. Complete, or more accurately, final, results are available here.

The US boys are playing Great Britain in the LTA Junior Challenge Trophy in Nottingham, with the USA taking 7 of 8 matches today. Today's results:

John McNally(USA) def. Jay Clarke(GBR) 6-4, 6-4
Sam Riffice(USA) def. Alastair Gray(GBR) 7-6(6), 6-4
Ulises Blanch(USA) def. Ryan Storrie(GBR) 6-2, 6-2
JJ Wolf(USA) def. Alexis Canter(GBR) 6-1, 6-3
Ryan Storrie(GBR) def. John McNally(USA) 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6)
Sam Riffice(USA) def. Alexis Canter(GBR) 6-4, 6-2
Ulises Blanch(USA) def. Jay Clarke(GBR) 7-5, 7-6(6)
JJ Wolf(USA) def. Alastair Gray(GBR) 7-6(3), 6-3

Four more singles matches are scheduled for Friday, but even if Great Britain wins them all, plus the two doubles matches on the schedule, the best they can do is tie.

Qualifying begins tomorrow for the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton, the only warmup tournament for the Wimbledon Juniors.  Five US juniors are entered in qualifying: Chiara Lommer, Gianni Ross, Trent Bryde, Vasil Kirkov and Oliver Crawford. Only Lommer is on Friday's schedule, with all four US boys seeded and receiving byes into the final round of qualifying. The main draw will not be out until qualifying is complete Saturday, but the list of wild cards is here.

Several interesting results from the Pro Circuit today, with both No. 2 seeds going down in the men's and women's $25,000 events at the hands of qualifiers. Twenty-year-old Paul Oosterbaan, a rising junior at Georgia, earned his first ATP point in Tulsa yesterday with a win over teammate Walker Duncan. Today he defeated Sekou Bangoura, who won last week's $25,000 Futures in Winston-Salem, 7-6(5), 6-4. Oosterbaan's opponent in the quarterfinals is No. 7 seed Adam El Mihdawy.  Top seed Mitchell Krueger will play TCU's Cameron Norrie, No. 3 seed Tennys Sandgren faces recent Tulane graduate and qualifier Dominik Koepfer and Ryan Haviland meets No. 4 seed Michael Mmoh.

In Baton Rouge, Caroline Dolehide continued her impressive results this month, beating second seed Arina Rodionova of Australia 6-2, 6-3. Dolehide, now 15-1 the past four weeks (including qualifying), will play unseeded Jennifer Elie. All four US players are in the bottom half, with Raveena Kingsley taking on No. 4 seed Jamie Loeb in its other quarterfinal.  Last week in the Sumter $25K, CiCi Bellis defeated Valeria Solovyeva of Russia 6-1, 6-3 in the final. They met again today in Baton Rouge, and three and a half hours later, Solovyeva had her revenge 7-6(5), 6-7(1), 6-3.  Solovyeva will play Australia's Olivia Rogowska and top seed Riko Sawayanagi of Japan faces No. 7 seed Francoise Abanda of Canada.

In the $25,000 Futures in Canada, two US men have reached the quarterfinals.  Top seed Jason Jung(Michigan), now playing for Taiwan, will play Alexios Halebian and Raymond Sarmiento(USC) will face former Illinois star Farris Gosea of Great Britain.

A couple of second round matches are yet to finish at the $10,000 Futures in Rochester, but three US players have advanced to the quarterfinals: wild cards Julian Zlobinsky(Texas) and Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia), and No. 6 seed Nathan Pasha(Georgia). 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Three US Men, Two US Women Advance to Final Round of Qualifying at Wimbledon; Aljosa Piric Named Men's Head Coach at Miami; Registration for Oracle ITA Junior Masters Underway

The final round of men's and women's singles qualifying Thursday at Wimbledon will feature three US men and two US women, with at least one men's qualifier from the US guaranteed after both Bjorn Fratangelo and Austin Krajicek won.  Fratangelo, the No. 6 seed, defeated Axel Michon of France 6-7(9), 6-1, 6-2, while Krajicek, the No. 22 seed, earned a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over wild card Joe Salisbury to set up the all-American contest in the final round.  Neither player has ever reached the main draw at Wimbledon, adding more drama to Thursday's matchup.

Dennis Novikov is also looking for his first appearance in the main draw at Wimbledon. The No. 28 seed outlasted Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus 2-6, 7-6(3), 10-8 to move into the final round of qualifying, where the 22-year-old will face unseeded Hiroki Moriya of Japan.

Julia Boserup had no trouble with the two Americans she faced in the first two rounds of qualifying, beating Jennifer Brady 6-2, 6-2 Tuesday and Jessica Pegula 6-2, 6-1 today.  Next up for the 24-year-old is Barbara Haas of Austria, who defeated No. 6 seed Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-3.  The winner of the Boserup - Haas match will make her slam debut, but the 20-year-old Haas has made only one previous attempt, last month at Roland Garros. Boserup, on the other hand, is trying for the 11th time to get through qualifying; she has made the final round three times now, with the previous two times coming in Australia, in 2012 and this year.

Vania King is the other US woman to advance to the final round of qualifying. She defeated wild card Gabriella Taylor of Great Britain 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 today, and will play unseeded Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand for a place in the main draw.

Former Texas Longhorn Ed Corrie received a wild card into qualifying and is just one win away from his slam debut. After beating Tommy Paul 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 in the first round, Corrie ousted No. 10 seed Michael Berrer of Germany 6-0, 6-3 today to reach the final round of Wimbledon qualifying for the first time in five attempts.  He will play unseeded Albano Olivetti of France Thursday.  For more on Corrie's run, see the Wimbledon website.

One of the Power 5 men's head coaching positions was filled today with the announcement that Aljosa Piric would be joining the University of Miami.  Piric, who was the men's head coach at Old Dominion for the past five years, replaces Mario Rincon, whose contract was not renewed after 12 years in Coral Gables.  Prior to taking the Old Dominion position, Piric spent three years as Kenny Thorne's assistant at Georgia Tech.  For more on Piric, see the Miami website.

Last month the ITA announced the Oracle Junior Masters, a series of tournaments for juniors this summer.  Entries are now being accepted for these 12 events, geographically dispersed throughout the country, with all scheduled to take place in August or September. Winners of these events, plus four wild cards, are invited to October's Oracle ITA Masters in Malibu, for a junior competition alongside the collegiate event. Travel, food and lodging vouchers are provided. Entry is by Universal Tennis Rating, and links to each of the 12 events is at the UTR website.  Lisa Stone has more details on these events at

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Eleven US Players Advance to Second Round of Wimbledon Qualifying; Five Teens Reach Main Draw in Baton Rouge $25K; College News and Notes

The weather improved today in London, allowing all but one of the first round qualifying matches in both the men's and women's draws to finish.  After the long day had ended, five US men and six US women had advanced to Wednesday's second round, although both Tim Smyczek and Dennis Novikov had the day off after getting their first round matches in on Monday.

Former USC star Daniel Nguyen, playing in his first Wimbledon qualifying, defeated 2010 Wimbledon boys champion Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 6-3, 6-3 and will play Alexander Kudryavtsev of Russia in the second round. No. 6 seed Bjorn Fratangelo topped Ryan Harrison 6-4, 7-5 and No. 22 seed Austin Krajicek outlasted JP Smith of Australia 6-2, 3-6, 11-9. Fratangelo and Krajicek will play each other for a spot in the main draw if Fratangelo beats Axel Michon of France and Krajicek defeats wild card Joe Salisbury, the former Memphis star.
Smyczek's second round opponent is Hiroki Moriya of Japan and Novikov faces Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus.

In the women's section of eight that featured four Americans, three won, with No. 6 seed Lauren Davis defeating Lesley Kerkhove of Netherlands 6-3, 6-3, Jessica Pegula beating Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium 6-1, 6-1 and Julia Boserup topping No. 23 seed Jennifer Brady 6-2, 6-2. Pegula and Boserup will meet in the second round, with the winner playing Davis, if Davis beats Barbara Haas of Austria.

Taylor Townsend defeated Olga Savchuk of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4, Vania King eliminated her frequent doubles partner Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 and Robin Anderson ousted No. 12 seed Xinyun Han of China 6-1, 7-6(4). King will play 18-year-old wild card Gabriella Taylor of Great Britain, while Anderson meets another player from China, Lin Zhu. Townsend's second round opponent is also from China, No. 16 seed Ying Ying Duan.

In Wimbledon Junior news, the withdrawal deadline was today, and Australian Open champion Vera Lapko of Belarus is the most notable player to pull out.  Since the initial acceptances, Claire Liu, Morgan Coppoc and Caty McNally have moved into the main draw, putting the number of US girls at 10. The US boys main draw number remains at 4, although eight are now in qualifying.

Qualifying was completed today at the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Baton Rouge Louisiana, with several teenagers reaching the main draw.  Sixteen-year-old Elysia Bolton, playing in her second professional event (her first was qualifying last week in Sumter) advanced to the main draw with a 6-0, 6-3 win over No. 7 seed Jaeda Daniel.  Teens Usue Arconada, Francesca Di Lorenzo, Nicole Frenkel and Caroline Dolehide also earned their places in the main draw, as did former college stars Lauren Herring(Georgia), Giuliana Olmos(USC) and Caitlin Whoriskey(Tennessee).  Japan's Riko Sawayanagi is the top seed, and will play wild card Ronit Yurovsky(Michigan) in the first round. Other wild cards went to Abigail Desiatnikov, Ashley Kratzer and Ella Taylor of Great Britain. Desiatnikov and Kratzer lost their first round matches today.

College tennis may be over, but there's no off-season for news.

Jeremy Feldman, the men's assistant at Wake Forest for the past two years, has taken the head coaching position at UNC-Charlotte.

Tina Samara, who was head women's coach at Wisconsin for the past three years, is taking over at University of the Pacific.  The Big Ten now has two head coach openings, at Michigan State and now at Wisconsin. Oklahoma is the only other Power 5 school with a women's head coaching vacancy, according to Bobby Knight at College Tennis Today.

One of the high-profile assistant positions was filled last week, with Tanner Stump of Mississippi State moving over to Florida to replace Gators men's assistant Mark Merklein, who is leaving coaching.

Former Florida player Spencer Newman and his younger brother Baker Newman, now competing at Vanderbilt, will represent the Bahamas in Davis Cup.

Smith Hinton is transferring from Kansas to Alabama.

The Dartmouth men announced two additions to its team: Charlie Broom of Great Britain and David Horneffer of Wisconsin.

NCAA champion Virginia announced the signing of Ammar Alhogbani of Alexandria, Virginia.

The Tennis Recruiting Network announced its top Division III recruiting classes for women last Friday, with the University of Chicago at the No. 1 position.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Escobedo Wins First ATP Match; Novikov, Smyczek Advance to Second Round of Wimbledon Qualifying; Ten US Women in Wimbledon Qualifying Action Tuesday; Qualifying Complete in Tulsa, Rochester and Canada Futures

Ernesto Escobedo hadn't played a match on grass prior to this month, but he certainly has adapted quickly to the surface. After qualifying for the ATP 250 event in S'hertogenbosch two weeks ago, his first successful ATP qualifying attempt, he lost in the first round to Great Britain's Aljaz Bedene, ranked 58.  This past weekend in Nottingham, Escobedo again qualified for an ATP 250 event and today he  picked up his first main draw ATP win, beating ATP No. 72 Diego Schwartzman 6-0, 6-3 in 48 minutes.  Escobedo, who turns 20 next month, was ranked 399 at the end of last year and will move close to 260 with this recent success. He will play No. 5 seed Sam Querrey Tuesday.

Nottingham was fortunate to get most of its matches in on Monday, but rainy weather allowed only 16 of the 64 Wimbledon men's qualifying matches to be completed today at Roehampton.  Both US men who finished their matches won, with No. 28 seed Dennis Novikov beating wild card Lloyd Glasspool of Great Britain 6-2, 7-5 and No. 14 seed Tim Smyczek defeating Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 7-6(3), 6-2. The other eight US men--Daniel Nguyen, Alex Sarkissian, Stefan Kozlov, Bjorn Fratangelo(6), Ryan Harrison, Austin Krajicek(22), Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe--are on Tuesday's schedule.

Also on Tuesday's schedule are the ten US women who are entered in Wimbledon qualifying: Sachia Vickery, Taylor Townsend, Grace Min, Lauren Davis(6), Jessica Pegula, Julia Boserup, Jennifer Brady(23), Asia Muhammad, Vania King and Robin Anderson.  Unfortunately, Davis, Pegula, Boserup and Brady are all in the same section, so only one of those four can qualify.  Boserup and Brady play each other in the first round.

Qualifying is now complete at the three Pro Circuit events this week in North America.

At the $25,000 Futures tournament in Tulsa, the University of Georgia had three players qualify today and two of them, Paul Oosterbaan and Walker Duncan, will meet in the first round. Nathan Ponwith, who starts school in Athens this fall, will play No. 2 seed Sekou Bangoura, who won the Winston-Salem Futures title yesterday. Mitchell Krueger is the top seed and wild cards went to Emil Reinberg, another Georgia team member, Georgia Tech's Christopher Eubanks, and two local Tulsa players who will begin their college careers this fall, William Genesen (Stanford) and Zeke Clark(Illinois).

The $25,000 Futures in British Columbia this week has attracted quite a few American players, with two qualifiers incoming freshman and two more current Stanford teammates. Spencer Furman(Duke) and Canadian Alexis Galarneaux(North Carolina State) earned a place in main draw, as did Stanford rising sophomore Michael Genender and rising junior David Wilczynski.  Former Michigan star Jason Jung is the top seed.

And finally, at the $10,000 Futures in Rochester, two young players who picked up their first ATP point last week, Evan Zhu and Sebastian Korda, have earned an opportunity to double their number after advancing through qualifying. The 15-year-old Korda will play No. 3 seed Winston Lin, and the 17-year-old Zhu, whom I recently spoke to for an upcoming Tennis Recruiting Network article about his commitment to UCLA, faces No. 5 seed Cameron Silverman.  Wild cards were given to Dennis Uspensky, Thai Kwiatkowski, Julian Zlobinsky and Marcus Fugate. Gavin Van Peperzeel of Australia is the top seed.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Bellis, Fahey, Bangoura, King and Keys Win Titles; Ten US Men Begin Wimbledon Qualifying Monday

All four Pro Circuits events in North America produced US champions, with CiCi Bellis winning in Sumter, Sekou Bangoura in Winston-Salem, Evan King in Buffalo and Kate Fahey in Victoria British Columbia.

Seventeen-year-old Bellis defeated qualifier Valeria Solovyeva of Russia 6-1, 6-3 in the final of the $25,000 tournament in Sumter South Carolina, her first title of 2016 and the fourth of her career.  Nineteen-year-old Kate Fahey, who played No. 3 at Michigan this year as a freshman, earned her first title at the $10,000 tournament in Canada. Her 6-2, 6-1 victory over No. 8 seed Jessica Failla, who played at No. 5 at USC as a freshman, ended a week in which Fahey dropped only one set, to No. 2 seed Alexandra Morosova in the second round.

Fahey wasn't the only Wolverine to claim a title today, with former Michigan All-American Evan King winning his second straight, in two different countries, at the $10,000 tournament in Buffalo.  The second-seeded King, who won a title in Japan last week, defeated top seed Gavin Van Peperzeel of Australia 7-6(4), 6-3 in the final, collecting his fifth career Futures singles title. The 24-year-old didn't drop a set in his five wins.

At the $25,000 Futures in Winston-Salem, top seed Sekou Bangoura won his first title of the year and fourth singles title of his career, beating No. 2 seed Darian King of Barbados 6-3, 6-2 in the final. His last match was the only one all week that didn't go to a third set.

Madison Keys will move into the WTA Top 10 for the first time tomorrow after reaching the final of the Birmingham Premier event, and she went on to claim the title today, beating Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4. The 21-year-old now has two WTA titles, both on grass. Keys is the first US woman to enter the WTA Top 10 since Serena Williams in 1999. For more on today's final, see the WTA website.

For the second week in a row, 19-year-old Ernesto Escobedo has qualified for an ATP event, this time in Nottingham.  He will play Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, and if he wins his first ATP match, he will face Sam Querrey. Taylor Fritz, who picked up his first ATP level win last year in Nottingham, lost to Adrian Mannarino of France in the first round today.

Wimbledon qualifying begins Monday with the men's first round. Ten US men are in the draw: Daniel Nguyen, Alex Sarkissian, Stefan Kozlov, Bjorn Fratangelo(6), Ryan Harrison, Austin Krajicek(22), Tommy Paul, Tim Smyczek(14), Dennis Novikov(28) and Frances Tiafoe.  Fratangelo and Harrison will play each other, with Krajicek also in their section.  Paul and Novikov will both play wild cards and former Texas Longhorns, with Paul taking on Ed Corrie and Novikov facing Lloyd Glasspool.  Monday's scheduled is here.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Berlin, Amina Anshba of Russia ended the 16-match winning streak of French Open girls champion Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland, with the No. 2 seed taking a 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4 victory over the top seed. The boys title went to No. 3 seed Daniel Altmaier of Germany, who defeated Constant de la Bassetiere of France 6-3, 7-6(4).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Bellis into Sumter $25K Final; College Sophomores Fahey, Failla Vie for Victoria $10K Championship; Noel, Bauer Win ITF Grade 4 Grass Courts Titles

CiCi Bellis defeated wild card Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-2, 6-4 today at the Sumter South Carolina $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event to reach her second final of the year at that level.  The 17-year-old, seeded No. 3, will face qualifier Valeria Solovyeva of Russia, who defeated wild card Caroline Dolehide 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to reach her second $25,000 final of the year. Solovyeva, 23, won the Naples $25,000 event last month. Bellis, who lost in the semifinals in Naples, reached the final of the $25,000 Surprise tournament in February, losing to Jamie Loeb.

In the Sumter doubles final today, No. 3 seeds Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey defeated No. 4 seeds Loeb and Carol Zhao of Canada 7-6(5), 6-1 for the title. Weinhold and Whoriskey won two titles together, at a $50,000 tournament and a $25,000 tournament last year, and Weinhold won Sumter last year with Alexandra Mueller.

At the $10,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event in Victoria British Columbia, two college rising sophomores have advanced to the final, with USC's Jessica Failla and Michigan's Kate Fahey both reaching a final for the first time.  Failla, the No. 8 seed, outlasted top seed Alexa Graham 7-6(9), 4-6, 6-2 in a 3 hour and 15 minute battle, while Fahey had a much less taxing semifinal, beating Lorraine Guillermo 6-1, 6-3 in an hour and 11 minutes.  Fahey, 19, has no WTA ranking, having played in only three main draws on the Pro Circuit. Failla, 18, had been ranked in the 700s earlier this year, and won this year's USTA National Open Hard Courts earlier this month. For more on Failla's background, see this article.

In the two Men's USTA Pro Circuit finals Sunday, the No. 1 seed will face the No. 2 seed for the title.  At the $25,000 Futures in Winston-Salem, top seed Sekou Bangoura will face No. 2 seed Darian King of Barbados. Bangoura defeated No. 7 seed Alex Kuznetsov 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(1), with King advancing with a 5-7, 7-2, 6-0 win over No. 6 seed Peter Polansky.  It's Bangoura's first final of the year; King has now reached three finals in 2016, winning one.

At the $10,000 Futures in Buffalo, top seed Gavin Van Peperzeel of Australia will face Evan King for the title.  King, who won a Futures title last week in Japan, defeated No. 4 seed Tigre Hank of Mexico 7-5, 6-2. Van Peperzeel, who beat Ohio State No. 1 Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark 6-4, 6-1, will be looking for his first Futures title of the year.

In the Buffalo doubles final today, top seeds Kaichi Uchida of Japan and Hans Hach of Mexico defeated former Illinois teammates Farris Gosea and Tim Kopinski 6-2, 6-3.

The ITF Grade 4 International Grass Courts concluded today with the singles finals, with Alexa Noel and Zummy Bauer collecting the titles. Scores have not yet been posted, but tweets indicated that Noel defeated Gabby Price and Bauer downed Fletcher Scott. It's Noel's first ITF title and Bauer's second, with his previous one coming at a Grade 4 in Barbados last year. [Update: Bauer won 7-5, 6-3, Noel won 6-2, 6-2.]

At the ITF Grade 1 in Berlin, Ashley Lahey's run came to end at the hands of No. 2 seed Amina Anshba of Russia 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.  Anshba will face No. 1 seed Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland, the French Open girls champion, who will take over the No. 1 spot in the ITF junior rankings if she wins Sunday.  The boys final will feature No. 3 seed Daniel Altmaier of Germany against unseeded Constant de la Bassetiere of France.

In the doubles finals, unseeded En Shuo Liang of Taiwan and Anri Nagata of Japan beat Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and Deniza Marcinkevica of Latvia 2-6, 7-5, 10-8 in the girls final. In the boys final, Ryan Nijboer of Netherlands and Ajeet Rai of New Zealand defeated Patrick Kaukovalta and Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 4-6, 6-4, 10-8. None of the four teams in the finals were seeded.

In other ITF junior events, three American girls captured doubles titles. At the Grade 4 in Guatemala, No. 2 seeds Willa Bay Breunich and Jimena Rodriguez-Benito defeated Marina Figueiredo of Brazil and Maria Gabriela Linares de Faria of Venezuela 4-6, 7-6(5), 10-4 for the title.  At the Grade 4 in Tunisia,  Miranda Ramirez and her partner Dalila Said of Egypt, the top seeds, beat No. 3 seeds Mariam Dalakishvili of Georgia and Kseniya Yersh of Belarus 1-6, 6-3, 10-6 for the title.