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Friday, July 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The men's teams:
Emory
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
Washington University in St. Louis
Chicago
Carnegie Mellon
University of Redlands
Trinity (TX)
Gustavus Adolphus (Host)

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

The ITA release is here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Novikov, Fratangelo Reach ATP Newport Quarterfinals; Adams Beats Top Seed Saville in Champaign Futures; Stockton $60K Kicks Off Women's US Open Wild Card Challenge; Ewing Ousts Top Seed in Austria Grade 1

Two Americans reached their first ATP quarterfinal today at the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open in Newport Rhode Island.  2011 French Open boys champion Bjorn Fratangelo is generally considered a bigger threat on clay than on other surfaces, but he has won two matches on the grass this week, beating No. 8 seed Illya Marchenko of Ukraine 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-4 in the opening round and today advancing to his first AT quarterfinal with a 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-1 over Akira Santillan of Australia, last week's Winnetka Challenger champion.  Santillan had played for Australian as a junior, then changed to Japan, and, as of this week, is back with Australia.   Fratangelo will face No. 4 seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France in the quarterfinals.

2012 Kalamazoo champion Dennis Novikov has recorded two straight-sets wins this week to reach his first ATP final, beating Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland 6-1, 6-3 in the first round and qualifier Frank Dancevic of Canada 6-3, 6-2 in today's second round.  Former UCLA star Novikov will face top seed John Isner in the quarterfinals.


At the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures in Champaign Illinois, former Texas A&M standout Harrison Adams, a qualifier, took out top seed Luke Saville of Australia 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 to advance to a Futures quarterfinal for the third time.  Rising sophomores Brandon Holt(USC) and Zeke Clark(Illinois), both of whom received wild cards, also have advanced to the quarterfinals. Recent Valparaiso graduate Jeffrey Schorsch, a qualifier, picked up his first ATP point yesterday and advanced to the quarterfinals with a 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 7 seed Dennis Nevolo today.

The women's event this week on the USTA Pro Circuit is a $60,000 tournament in Stockton California, which is the first tournament in the US Open wild card challenge for the women.  The men's wild card race began last week in Winnetka, with Tommy Paul currently in the lead, and extends an extra week past the women's event, with tournaments the week of August 7 counting for the men.  

In Stockton, Kristie Ahn is the top seed, with Jamie Loeb seeded No. 2. Caroline Dolehide and Amanda Anisimova have advanced to the second round, with Dolehide meeting Loeb Thursday and Anisimova facing No. 6 seed Grace Min.  Wild card Ashley Kratzer, No. 4 seed Sonya Kenin, No. 7 seed Usue Arconada, Francesca Di Lorenzo and China's Shilin Xu are other teenagers who have moved into the second round.

The ATP Challenger in Gatineau, a $75,000 tournament, has attracted several Americans, with Alex Sarkissian, Marcos Giron, Sekou Bangoura and recent Virginia graduate JC Aragone still alive.  A $25,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit tournament is also being played this week in Gatineau, with Danielle Lao, the No. 2 seed, the only American still remaining in the singles draw.

Three Americans are through to the third round of the ITF Grade 1 this week in Austria.  No. 7 seed Andrew Fenty and unseeded Tomas Kopczynski are in the final 16 of the boys draw, while unseeded Salma Ewing defeated top seed Viktoria Morvayova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-3 today to advance.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

USTA Clay Court Championships Underway with Expanded Draws; US Open Prize Money at Record $50.4 Million


I'm usually in Memphis this week of the year, covering the Girls 18s Clay Courts, but with Wimbledon a week later this year, I couldn't manage it this year.  I'm barely able to keep my eyes open right now as it is.  But the Tennis Recruiting Network will have coverage of all the tournaments next week, and they have published their predictions for this year along with an excel file in Google document with UTR ratings, TRN ratings, college commitments and additional information.

Except for the 12s, which are using their usual compass draws, the other divisions are all 256 draws with byes for the top 32 seeds.  Some of the divisions are using 64 seeds, with 16 designated as 33 seeds, some are seeding numerically to 64. I believe Kalamazoo is going to use 32 seeds, not 64.

Below are the top eight seeds in each division.  I've lined through the seeds who have already been eliminated, with the boys 16s and 18s particularly notable, with Bill Duo, the top seed in the 18s already out, and Evin McDonald, the No. 2 seed in the 16s, also beaten early. Click on the headers will take you to the Tennis Link site.

Girls 12s, Boca Raton
1. Wang, Matilyn
2. Nelson, Priya
3. Driscoll, Tsehay
4. Ngounoue, Clervie
5. Yu, Eleana
6. Yakoff, Stephanie
7. Jesudason, Meera
8. Roeck, Emma

Girls 14s, Plantation
1. Hibah R. Shaikh
2. Katja Wiersholm
3. Tara Malik
4. Alexandra Torre
5. Valencia Xu
6. Misa Malkin
7. Madison Sieg
8. Allie Gretkowski

Girls 16s, Virginia Beach
1. Fiona Crawley
2. Ruth P. Marsh
3. Gianna Pielet
4. Reilly H. Tran
5. Karina Miller
6. Savannah Broadus
7. Kiana Graham
8. Julia Andreach

Girls 18s, Memphis
1. Chelsea Kung
2. Abigail Forbes
3. Sedona S. Gallagher
4. Anika Yarlagadda
5. Briana Crowley
6. Rachel Lim
7. Cali Jankowski
8. Anna Brylin

Boys 12s, Orlando
1. Cooper Williams
2. Learner Tien
3. Lucas Brown
4. Aidan Kim
5. Kurt Miller
6. Thomas Faurel
7. Nicholas Herdoiza
8. Joseph Phillips

Boys 14s, Ft. Lauderdale
1. Aryan Chaudhary
2. Griffin Daehnke
3. Filipe Costa
4. Jack Anthrop
5. Evan Wen
6. Eli Gordon
7. Samir Banerjee
8. Connor Krug

Boys 16s, Delray Beach
1. Andrew Dale
2. Evin McDonald
3. Leighton Allen
4. Eliot Spizzirri
5. Ryder Jackson
6. Andres Martin
7. Alex Lee
8. Jacob Bullard

Boys 18s, Delray Beach
1. Bill Duo
2. Harris Walker
3. Robert Maciag
4. Christian Alshon
5. Trey Hilderbrand
6. Carson Haskins
7. Jake Sands
8. Mac Kiger

The USTA announced the prize money for the 2017 US Open today, and it's a record $50.4 million dollars.  First round prize money is up to $50,000, and there's been a substantial increase in prize money, nearly a million dollars more, for the qualifying tournament, to $2.9 million. The breakdown for each round of qualifying was not provided in the release.

2017 US Open Prize Money

Singles:
Winner: $3,700,000
Runner-Up: $1,825,000
Semifinalist: $920,000
Quarterfinalist: $470,000
Round of 16: $253,625
Round of 32: $144,000
Round of 64: $86,000
Round of 128: $50,000

Doubles:
Winner: $675,000
Runner-Up: $340,000
Semifinalist: $160,000
Quarterfinalist: $82,000
Round of 16: $44,000
Round of 32: $26,500
Round of 64: $16,500

Monday, July 17, 2017

Rollins and Madurawe Take Grade 4 Titles in Jamaica; Dolehide Wins Winnipeg $25K; Kuhn Captures First Challenger; Embree Named Assistant Coach at Pepperdine

I'm not quite home yet, but in between flights I've got a few minutes to catch up on some of the tennis that took place away from Wimbledon last week.

At the ITF Grade 4 in Jamaica, 16-year-old Pierce Rollins won his first singles title, with the No. 6 seed beating No. 2 seed Keenan Mayo 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 in the all-USA final.  The girls final was also between two Americans, with 17-year-old Niluka Madurawe, the fourth seed, beating 14-year-old Hina Inoue, seeded eighth, 7-5, 7-6(3) in the final.  It's Madurawe's fourth Grade 4 singles title this year.

The boys doubles title in Jamaica went to the unseeded team of Drew Baird and Keenan Mayo's younger brother Aidan, who beat No. 2 seeds Blaise and Jacob Bicknell of Jamaica 6-1, 6-1 in the final.  Ariana Arseneault of Canada was the only champion not from the US, as she and Lindsay Lampert, the No. 4 seeds, beat unseeded Maxi Duncan and Sasha Wood 0-6, 7-5, 10-6.

Also of note in ITF Junior circuit results, Argentina's Anna Geller, the 15-year-old sister of Wimbledon singles finalist and doubles champion Axel Geller, won her first ITF junior titles, sweeping singles and doubles at the Grade 5 in Paraguay.


At the $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Winnipeg, 18-year-old Caroline Dolehide won her second title at that level this year.  The No. 4 seed defeated No. 5 seed Mayo Hibi of Japan 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Hibi had taken out top seed Nicole Gibbs in the semifinals.  Dolehide also made the doubles final in Winnipeg, with Kimberly Birrell of Australia.  The unseeded pair lost to top seeds Hiroko Kuwata of Japan and Valeria Savinykh of Russia 6-4, 7-6(4). Dolehide is still age eligible to compete in next month's USTA 18s Nationals in San Diego, although she is not currently on the entry list, which does not include wild cards. Kayla Day is also not entered.

At the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Winnetka, Akira Santillan of Japan won his first title at that level.  The unseeded 20-year-old defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan of India, the No. 5 seed, 7-6(1), 6-2 in the final. Santillan is featured in this ATP Challenger article.

French Open boys finalist Nicola Kuhn of Spain, who turned 17 in March, won his first Challenger title at the 127,000 event in Braunschweig Germany, the country he played Junior Davis Cup for in 2015 before switching to Spain.  Kuhn, a qualifier, defeated unseeded Viktor Galovic of Croatia 2-6 7-5 4-2 ret. in the final.  For more on Kuhn's victory, see this article from the ATP website.

Former Florida Gator All-American Lauren Embree was announced today as the new women's assistant coach for the Pepperdine women's program, led by Per Nilsson.  Embree replaces Mario Toledo, who resigned for personal reasons.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Davidovich Fokina Captures Wimbledon Boys Title; Geller and Hsu, Juvan and Danilovic Win Junior Doubles Championships

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Wimbledon--

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina lost in the first round at the Wimbledon Junior Championships last year, going out in three sets to current ITF Junior No. 1 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia. This year, the 18-year-old from Spain marched through the draw without dropping a set, earning Spain's first Wimbledon boys title in 50 years with a 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Axel Geller of Argentina.

After his semifinal win over Patrick Kypson on Saturday, Davidovich said he would not allow himself to think about the occasion until 30 minutes before Sunday's final.  So when he walked out onto Court 1 on an overcast but dry afternoon, he began to appreciate the opportunity he had to entertain the seven or eight thousand fans witnessing his first junior slam final.

"I was thinking, OK, I will not think about that," said Davidovich, the No. 8 seed. "I will think, I want to win this. I want to show to the people who I am, that I want to play tennis, professional tennis. I want to show them what I want to do with my life. I was thinking, OK, you be yourself, and just enjoy."

Davidovich got off to a quick start, breaking the big-serving Geller in the opening game.

"He returned very well," said Geller, who averaged 127 mph on his first serve and had one clock in at 135 at 3-all in the first set. "He got some of my big first serves back with very good returns, to be honest. That's why he broke in the first game, because I was surprised at his returns."

Geller managed to get the break back in the sixth game, and held in a tense, well-played seventh game, which not only included that 135 mph serve after a double fault, but some brave shotmaking when he was down two break points.

After two more close and entertaining games gave Geller a 5-4 lead, three easy holds led to a tiebreaker, which Davidovich dominated.

"In the tiebreak, I think I push more the game, I push him more to attack him," said Davidovich, who didn't miss a first serve in taking a 5-1 lead.

"In the tiebreak, he made a few big, big returns and I feel like he went for the tiebreak more than I did," Geller said. "I missed my first serve and he didn't, so that's an advantage for him, and I was really, really tired too."

Geller, who won the ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton last Friday, then played both singles and doubles six of the seven days this week, took a medical timeout before serving at 1-2 in the second set.  After work on his back, Geller resumed play and held serve in the next two games, but Davidovich got the break at 4-3, with a big backhand giving him a break point and immediately converting it, forcing an error from Geller.

Davidovich closed confidently, and his willingness to close the net when sensing an advantage continued, even under the stress of serving for the match.  At 30-all, he forced an error from Geller, and finished with a stylish backhand volley, becoming the first Spanish Wimbledon boys champion since Manuel Orantes in 1967, and only the second overall.

"Now I'm very happy to be the second junior champion at Wimbledon," said Davidovich, who has not decided whether he'll enter the US Open Junior Championships, but did express a desire to finish as the ITF World Junior Champion in 2017. "Like, I'm in shock. I'm not thinking about that I win. I don't have time to realize."

Geller, who does plan on playing the US Open Junior Championships prior to starting his freshman year at Stanford, felt that fatigue may have been a factor in his inability to force a third set.

"It was a good match, I'm just a bit sad that I couldn't finish winning," Geller said. "Today I was not 100 percent, but that's not an excuse, and I gave everything I had, but he was better."


Geller did end the day as a Wimbledon champion however, earning the boys doubles title with Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan.  Geller and Hsu, the No. 2 seeds, defeated No. 3 seeds Jurij Rodionov of Austria and Michael Vrbensky of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4 in the late afternoon final.

Hsu and Geller had not played together prior to Roehampton, and as the No. 2 seeds there, went out in the first round to eventual champions Sebastian Korda and Colombia's Nicolas Mejia. But Hsu said they managed to develop as a team with every win during their week at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

"The first time, we didn't communicate very well," Hsu said, with the assistance of an interpreter. "We were just trying to keep talking every day, to make ourselves more connected."

Geller agreed that it took time to find their form.

"Our first match was a disaster," Geller said. "We had no chemistry as a team...but we found a way to start playing better. He is a bit like, silent, and my former partner, we used to be so pumped, so I was used to that. But [Hsu] started shouting more on the big points and everything, and I think that was important. But he played so well after. At the net, he's unbelievable."

Geller and Hsu broke Vrbensky to take a 4-3 lead and held easily in their next two service games to take the set.

In the second set, Geller and Hsu broke Vrbensky in the first game and again the next time he served, after Vrbensky had been up 40-15 and 40-0 in those two games.  Geller then had an opportunity to serve out the match and he was automatic in those situations all week, offering that he had not dropped serve in doubles in any of their five victories.

As to whether winning the doubles eased the pain of losing in the singles final, Geller wasn't sure that it did.

"It does a bit, it's so different though," Geller said. "I'm happy in like a different dimension, I don't know how to explain it."


The girls doubles championship went to the unseeded team of Olga Danilovic of Serbia and Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, who beat No. 4 seeds Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe 6-4, 6-3.

Danilovic and Juvan got the only break of the first set to take a 5-3 lead and served it out, then broke Osuigwe in the opening game of the second set on their way to a 5-1 lead.  McNally and Osuigwe broke Juvan serving for the match at 5-2, but Juvan and Danilovic broke Osuigwe to earn the title.

Juvan and Danilovic had played together only once before, and that resulted in a first round loss at the 2016 Australian Open Junior Championships  But their common language and game styles proved a perfect combination at Wimbledon.

"We speak the same language and our coaches, they make some plans before every match, we talk about it," Juvan said. "We were really prepared for every match," Danilovic added.

Although Danilovic won the French Open girls doubles title in 2016 with Paula Arias Manjon of Spain, the 16-year-old left-hander was happy to reunite with Juvan despite their lack of success in Australia.

"She knows really good how to play doubles, and that's the most important thing," Danilovic said. "She's really good at understanding doubles and me as well, and I think we managed to do what we know to do, and I think that was more than enough."

"From the first match, we knew we played good," Juvan said. "We beat some good opponents so I think that's when we started to believe we could win this tournament."

Danilovic and Juvan said they played their best match in the final, an Osuigwe and McNally agreed.

"We've watched them play all week, and this was definitely the best they've played," Osuigwe said. "We played really well yesterday, I thought" said McNally, recalling their 6-2, 6-2 win over top seeds Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and Carson Branstine of Canada. "They were a really tough team yesterday, but today, they just played really well, just were really solid."

McNally, who also lost in last year's Wimbledon girls doubles final playing with Mariam Bolkvadze of Georgia, is now looking ahead to the hard court season.

"I'm not going to think about this anymore," said McNally. "I'm going to put it in the past. It's a good result. Now we're going to focus on Hard Courts. That's our main goal right now, to win it."

Juvan is not planning on playing the US Open juniors this year, but Danilovic hopes they'll find time to take the courts again together soon.

"When we're at the same tournaments, for sure we will be playing, because we're the Wimbledon champs," Danilovic said. "In pros, there are a lot of tournaments, so you're not always going to the same ones."

All junior draws can be found at the Wimbledon website.