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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Top Juniors Receive WTA Wild Cards; Hanfmann Beats Lopez to Reach Second ATP Quarterfinal; Champaign Futures Semifinals Set; Blumberg's Challenger Success

The US Open series begins next week for the WTA, with three prominent juniors receiving wild cards into three separate events.  The Bank of the West Classic, a Premier event in Stanford, has extended a main draw wild card to Wimbledon girls champion and ITF World Junior No. 1 Claire Liu. When I spoke to Liu about her schedule at Wimbledon, she mentioned playing in qualifying at Stanford, but she obviously raised her profile significantly with the title there.  Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova have also received main draw wild cards for the Stanford tournament, which begins on Monday.

Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who has not played a junior event in more than a year, but is still just 18, was granted a wild card into Cincinnati's Western & Southern Open, a WTA Premier 5 tournament that begins on August 12th.  Also receiving wild cards for Cincinnati are Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens.

Although the CitiOpen, a WTA international tournament the same week as Stanford, has not released an official statement, it's being reported that 17-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada has been given a main wild card into that tournament.  Andreescu, the No. 1 seed at the $60,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Granby, lost today to fellow Canadian teen Katherine Sebov 7-6(3), 7-5.

For the second time in three months, former USC star Yannick Hanfmann has reached an ATP quarterfinal as a qualifier.  The 25-year-old German posted his best career win today in Gstaad Switzerland, beating defending champion and No. 3 seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1. Hanfmann, who reached the quarterfinals of the ATP event in Munich back in May, will face No. 8 seed Joao Sousa of Portugal Friday.

The semifinals are set at the $25,000 Futures in Champaign Illinois. Two Illini, rising senior Aleksandar Vukic and alum Dennis Nevolo[4], have advanced and will play each other for a place in the finals. Qualifier Deiton Baughman and recent Valparaiso grad Jeffrey Schorsch will meet in the other semifinal.

At the Evansville $15K, Ann Li defeated Whitney Osuigwe 7-6(4), 6-1 and will play another 15-year-old, Caty McNally, in Friday's semifinals. McNally, a qualifier, beat Madeline Kobelt 6-3, 6-0 to advance to her first Pro Circuit quarterfinal.

2017 NCAA finalist William Blumberg will play his quarterfinal match at the Binghamton Challenger on Friday, taking on Ze Zhang of China. The 19-year-old rising UNC sophomore spoke with the ATP Challenger staff about his recent run of form and what differences he has observed between players in the college and in the pros.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Kalamazoo Wild Cards; Paul Reaches First ATP Quarterfinal in Atlanta; Brady Beats Liu in Stockton: USTA Foundation Announces College Scholarships

The wild cards for the USTA Boys 16 and 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, which begin a week from Friday, are listed below.

Boys 16s:
Tristan Boyer
Jaycer Lyeons
Pierce Rollins
Jackson Ross
Baylor Sai

Boys 18s:

Arnav Dhingra
Evan Felcher
RJ Fresen
Connor Hance
Nathan Perrone
Jordi Redelijk
Roy Smith
William Woodall

Tommy Paul's ATP ranking had fallen to 409 this spring, after reaching a career-high 191 in 2016, but he is back on the upswing now. The 20-year-old won a $25,000 Futures in Winston Salem in June and reached the semifinals of the Winnetka Challenger earlier this month.  Today at the BB&T Atlanta Open, he beat Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 event.  It's Paul's first ATP quarterfinal, and he will play No. 3 seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg on Friday.  For more on Paul's win, see this article from the ATP website.

A couple of long and interesting matches in the USTA Pro Circuit today featured Wimbledon girls champion Claire Liu and French Open girls champion Whitney Osuigwe, both competing for the first time since Wimbledon. Liu fell to Stockton $60K top seed Jennifer Brady 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 43 minutes. Osuigwe, unseeded at the $15K event in Evansville, got by qualifier Katerina Stewart 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(3) in two hours and 38 minutes.  

Other young winners in Stockton included Usue Arconada, Sonya Kenin, Ena Shibahara and Caroline Dolehide.  In Evansville, Caty McNally, Ann Li, Jada Robinson and Ellie Douglas advanced, with Wimbledon girls finalist Li playing Osuigwe next.

The top two seeds were eliminated at the $25,000 Futures in Champaign, with Jared Hiltzik beaten by 18-year-old Santiago Fa Rodriguez Taverna of Argentina, and Zimbabwe's Takanyi Garanganga falling to qualifier Deiton Baughman.

At the $75,000 Binghamton Challenger, wild card William Blumberg reached the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 6 seed Denis Kudla.  Former college stars Cameron Norrie and Blaz Rola also advanced to the quarterfinals with wins today.

The USTA Foundation announced its annual college scholarship awards today, with 31 high school students receiving a total of $300,000.  For a complete list of all 31 recipients, see this release from the USTA.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Eubanks Earns First ATP Win in Atlanta; Greif Collects First ATP Point; Anisimova Beats Day in Sacramento $60K; Caty McNally's Wimbledon Ball Experience

Chris Eubanks Clinches 1st ATP Win (photo by Bill Kallenberg)
Tuesday was College Night at the ATP's BB&T Atlanta Open and Georgia Tech rising senior Christopher Eubanks made the most of it, picking his first victory on the ATP level with a 7-6(5), 6-4 win over fellow wild card Taylor Fritz.  This is the third year that Eubanks has played in the main draw of his hometown ATP event; last year he qualified but fell to Reilly Opelka in two tiebreakers in a first round match.

The day didn't go as well for the many other young Americans playing their first round matches today, with Opelka failing to convert on eight match points in a loss to Malek Jaziri of Tunisia, while Bjorn Fratangelo and Frances Tiafoe both lost in third set tiebreakers, to Vasek Pospisil of Canada and John Millman of Australia.  Stefan Kozlov also lost his first round match, to fellow qualifier Quentin Halys of France.

But because it's Atlanta and the first tournament of the US Open Series, there are plenty of Americans left in the draw.  Jack Sock and John Isner and Ryan Harrison, the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 seeds, have first round byes, with Donald Young, qualifier Tommy Paul, and Jared Donaldson also advancing to the second round.  Donaldson, the No. 8 seed, will face Eubanks next.

Despite the $75,000 ATP Binghamton Challenger being held the same week as the BB&T, the number of Americans at that event is impressive. TCU rising junior Alex Rybakov and UNC rising sophomore William Blumberg are among those advancing to the second round, joining Daniel Nguyen, Kevin King, Michael Mmoh and Christian Harrison.  Recent TCU standout Cameron Norrie of Great Britain beat No. 3 seed Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 7-6(3), 6-2 and former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany, who won the $25,000 Futures in Champaign last week, beat No. 7 seed Andrew Wittington of Australia 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.

There's a $25,000 Futures in Champaign Illinois again this week, with former Illinois star Jared Hiltzik the top seed.  2016 Kalamazoo 16s champion Lukas Greif picked up his first ATP point with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 3 seed and 2015 NCAA champion Ryan Shane. Shane double faulted 14 times in the match.  John McNally and Sam Riffice, two additional players who will be participating in the Kalamazoo 18s tournament next week, also won their opening round matches.

Qualifying for the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Sacramento was completed today, with UCLA rising sophomore Ena Shibahara and Vicky Duval the two Americans to reach the main draw. Irina Falconi, Danielle Collins[7], Kristie Ahn[2] and wild card Robin Anderson all advanced with first round wins today, as did Amanda Anisimova.  The 15-year-old Floridian defeated No. 3 seed Kayla Day 6-3, 7-5 and will play the winner of the Wednesday match between wild card Emina Bektas and 46-year-old Kimiko Date of Japan. Wimbledon girls champion Claire Liu takes on top seed Jennifer Brady in her first round match Wednesday.

French Open girls champion Whitney Osuigwe and Wimbledon girls finalist Ann Li are playing the $15,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Evansville this week, where former Tennessee star Caitlyn Whoriskey is the top seed.  Among the many top juniors who are playing in Evansville prior to the USTA 18s and 16s event in San Diego is Caty McNally, who reached the Wimbledon girls doubles final earlier this month for the second year in a row.  As a finalist, the 15-year-oldMcNally was invited to the Wimbledon Champions Ball (which is really a dinner now, from what I understand) and she spoke to her local newspaper in Cincinnati about what that experience was like. McNally also mentioned she may decide on whether to turn pro or go to college by the end of the year.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Hewitt, Baird Earn ITF Grade 4 Titles in Dominican Republic; Pera Claims $80K in Czech Republic; Rublev Wins ATP Title; Lleyton Hewitt Opens Academy in Bahamas

International Tennis Federation junior tournaments numbered 17 last week, but US juniors, most of whom were competing at the USTA Clay Courts or in USTA Pro Circuit events, earned just two singles titles, both at the Grade 4 in the Dominican Republic both in all-USA finals.  Dalayna Hewitt swept the girls events as the No. 1 seed in both singles and doubles.  The 16-year-old from Ohio beat No. 8 seed Sasha Wood 6-3, 6-4 in the final.  Hewitt and Ariana Arseneault of Canada collected the doubles title when Hina Inoue and Uruguay's Lucia De Santa Ana retired in the final trailing 6-3, 3-0. 

Drew Baird, the No. 2 seed, won the boys singles title, beating No. 3 seed Blaise Bicknell 6-3 7-6(3).  It's the second ITF singles title for Baird, who won the Grade 4 Grass Courts in Philadelphia last month. 

At the ITF Grade 4 in Germany, 15-year-old Julian Steinhausen won the doubles title, with Benjamin Niv of Bulgaria.  The pair defeated Germans Fynn Kuenkler and Bastien Presuhn, the top seeds, 7-6(8), 5-7, 10-7 in the final.

Tristan Boyer won the boys doubles title at the ITF Grade 2 in Switzerland, partnering with Kaya Gore of Turkey.  The No. 2 seeds defeated the unseeded Swiss team of Luca Staeheli and Yannik Steinegger 6-7(4), 6-2, 10-7 in the final.

Andrew Fenty and Venezuela's Brandon Perez fell in the boys doubles final at the Grade 1 in Austria. The No. 6 seeds lost to No. 3 seeds Igor Gimenez and Matheus Pucinelli de Almeida of Brazil 6-3, 6-7(8), 10-8 in the final.  Top seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina won the boys singles title and No. 12 seed Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy took the girls singles championship.

The big ITF Junior tournament this week is the Grade B1 European Championships in Switzerland.  Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and Corentin Moutet of France are the top seeds.

Bernarda Pera, the 22-year-old American (by way of Croatia), won the biggest title of her career yesterday at the $80,000+H tournament in the Czech Republic.  Pera, who was unseeded, beat No. 2 seed Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, and in the final, she defeated top seed Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.  With the win, Pera has reached a career high WTA ranking of 146.

Nineteen-year-old Andrey Rublev of Russia won his first ATP title last night in Umag, defeating Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-4, 6-2 in the final.  Rublev, who lost in the qualifying at the 250 level event in Croatia but got in as a lucky loser, has now moved into the ATP Top 50.  Rublev talks about his breakthrough, his young compatriots in the Top 50 and what parts of his game have improved since he left the juniors in this interview on the ATP website.

Grant Doyle, who was a top junior himself and has coached Sam Querrey and Ryan Harrison, is now working with Lleyton Hewitt at the elite tennis program of the Albany Sports Academy in the Bahamas.  The academy is starting small, with approximately 25 students, and will officially open on August 28th.  Doyle talked to Nina Pantic about the new venture; like me, you may not have been aware that Hewitt has had a residence there for years.

USTA Clay Court Champions; Kenin Wins Stockton $60K; Isner Claims ATP Hall of Fame Title in Newport; Shapovalov Captures Second Challenger Title

The 2017 USTA Clay Court Championships are in the books, with the singles and doubles titles in the 14s, 16s and 18s division decided today.  The Tennis Recruiting Network will have in depth coverage all next week; full draws are available from the TennisLink site by clicking on the headers below.

Girls 12s in Boca Raton:
Singles: Tsehay Driscoll[3] def. Clervie Ngounoue[4] 7-6(4), 6-2
Doubles: Tsehay Driscoll and Ava Krug[4] def. Natalie Block and Lara Smejkal 4-6, 6-4, 6-0

Girls 14s in Plantation:
Singles: Elise Wagle[26] def. Valencia Xu[5] 4-6, 6-4, 6-0
Doubles: Robin Montgomery and Katrina Scott[9] def. Mia Kintiroglou and Tara Malik[7] 6-3, 3-6, 6-1

Girls 16s in Virginia Beach:
Singles: Fiona Crawley[1] def. Ruth Marsh[2] 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Doubles: Sophia Sassoli and Rhea Shrivastava[15] def. Zoey Weil and Brigette Wu[9] 2-6, 6-1, 6-3

Girls 18s in Memphis:
Singles: Katie Volynets[13] def. Abigail Forbes[2] 6-2, 6-2
Doubles: Abigail Forbes and Alyvia Jones[17] def. Sophia Graver and Marlee Zein[6] 6-4, 6-3

Boys 12s in Orlando:
Singles: Juncheng Shang def. Aidan Kim[4] 6-3, 7-5
Doubles: Lucas Brown and Cooper Williams[1] def. Andrew Delgado and James Rico[12] 6-3, 6-0

Boys 14s in Ft. Lauderdale:
Singles: Saud Alhogbani[11] def. Jonah Braswell[52] 6-1, 6-1
Doubles: Saud Alhogbani and Nishesh Basavareddy[27] def. Grant Durham and Isaac Smith[5] 6-7(3), 6-0, 6-3

Boys 16s in Delray Beach:
Singles: Garrett Johns[14] def. Jacob Bullard[8] 6-2, 6-2
Doubles: Robert Cash and Ryder Jackson[6] def. Jeffrey Fradkin and Phillip Jordan[2] 6-2, 6-4

Boys 18s in Delray Beach:
Singles: Axel Nefve[17] def. Ryan Goetz 6-2, 6-4
Doubles: Christian Alshon and Tyler Zink[5] def. Patrick Maloney and Harris Walker[12] 6-3, 6-2

Sonya Kenin won the title at the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Stockton California today, beating wild card Ashley Kratzer 6-0, 6-1 in the final.  The 18-year-old Floridian, seeded No. 4, now takes the early lead in the US Open Wild Card Challenge, which she won last year with her title at Sacramento.  Kenin also won the doubles championship on Saturday, with Usue Arconada. 

Top seed John Isner won his third title at the ATP Hall of Fame Championships, beating qualifier Matthew Ebden of Australia 6-3, 7-6(4).  It's Isner's first title since Atlanta in 2015 and his 11th overall.  He didn't face a break point during the tournament.   Rajeev Ram and  Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan won the doubles title, with the 33-year-old from Indiana, who won the 2013 NCAA doubles title while at Illinois, announcing that he was retiring from singles competition on the ATP and would concentrate on doubles.

Eighteen-year-old Denis Shapovalov of Canada won his second ATP Challenger title today in Gatineau Canada, with the 2016 Wimbledon boys champion, seeded No. 7, beating No. 5 seed Peter Polansky of Canada 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the final. Shapovalov moves to 130 in the ATP rankings with the title. Bradley Klahn and Jackson Withrow won the doubles title, beating Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico and Vincent Millot of France 6-2, 6-3 in a final between unseeded teams.

At the $25,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event in Gatineau, Aleksandra Wozniack of Canada, the No. 6 seed, beat qualifier Ellen Perez of Australia, the former Georgia star, 7-6(4), 6-4 in today's final.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Roddick Inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame; Isner into Newport Final; USTA Clay Court Finals; Koepfer Wins Champaign Futures; Kenin and Kratzer Reach Stockton Final

Andy Roddick was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame today in Newport Rhode Island, along with Kim Clijsters, Monique Kalkman, Steve Flink and, posthumously, Vic Braden.  Roddick, who will be in Kalamazoo for the tournament's  75th Anniversary Opening Ceremony and Exhibition on August 5th, is the last US man to win a slam title (US Open 2003).  The speeches of the inductees can be found here.

Shortly after the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the semifinals of the Dell Technologies ATP tournament were played, with qualifier Matthew Ebden and top seed John Isner advancing to Sunday's final.  Australia's Ebden defeated Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-3, 6-3 to advance to his first ATP final, while Isner, a two-time Newport champion, defeated Bjorn Fratangelo 6-2, 6-4.

The 12s champions have been crowned at the USTA Clay Court Championships, with the finals set for Sunday in the other age divisions. Below are the results/matchups:

Tsehay Driscoll and Ava Krug (photo courtesy Robin Driscoll)

Girls 12s in Boca Raton:
Singles: Tsehay Driscoll[3] def. Clervie Ngounoue[4]
7-6(4), 6-2

Doubles: Tsehay Driscoll and Ava Krug[4] def. Natalie Block and Lara Smejkal 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Girls 14s in Plantation:
Singles: Valencia Xu[5] vs. Elise Wagle[26]

Girls 16s in Virginia Beach:
Fiona Crawley[1] vs. Ruth Marsh[2]

Girls 18s in Memphis:
Katie Volynets[13] vs. Abigail Forbes[2]

Boys 12s in Orlando:
Singles: Juncheng Shang def. Aidan Kim[4] 6-3, 7-5

Lucas Brown and Cooper Williams[1] def. Andrew Delgado and James Rico[12] 6-3, 6-0

Saud Alhogbani[11] vs. Jonah Braswell[52]

Garrett Johns[14] vs. Jacob Bullard[8]

Ryan Goetz vs. Axel Nefve[17]

The $25,000 Champaign Futures finished today, with former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany claiming his third career Futures title since graduating last year.  Koepfer, seeded No. 3, defeated No. 2 seed Jose Statham of New Zealand 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-5 in the two hour and 32 minute final. 

Riley Smith and Brandon Holt won the doubles titles, beating Tomas Stillman and Shane Vinsant 3-6, 6-1, 12-10.  It's the third Futures title for Smith and Holt, who will be sophomores at USC this fall.

The finals of the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Stockton will feature two 18-year-old Americans, with No. 4 seed Sonya Kenin facing wild card Ashley Kratzer.  Kenin defeated Croatia's Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6(3), 7-5 to reach her third final at the $60,000 level, while Kratzer, who beat No. 2 seed Jamie Loeb 6-2, 6-4 will be playing in her first Pro Circuit final above the $15,000 level.

Kenin and Usue Arconada won the doubles title today, with the unseeded 18-year-olds beating No. 3 seeds Tammi Patterson of Australia and Chanel Simmonds of South Africa 4-6, 6-1, 10-5.

At the $25,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event in Gatineau, Australia's Ellen Perez, who recently turned pro after her junior season at Georgia, has reached the final.  Perez, a qualifier, will play No. 6 seed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada in Sunday's championship match.