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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Easter Bowl ITF, 16s Slideshow; Videos

I'm heading to Ojai today to experience that legendary Southern California tennis event for the first time, so that means a long day of travel and an early post.

This wraps up the adidas Easter Bowl, with a slideshow of the 16s and 18s and videos of the four finals.  (The 12s and 14s slideshow and videos are here). Replays of three of the finals are available on Livestream, with the boys ITF here, the girls ITF here, some of the boys 16s here and here. The girls 16s final does not appear in the archives, but there is a video of the postmatch ceremony.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gullikson Retires from USTA Player Development; Florida Women Stay No. 1 Despite Second Loss to Vanderbilt, Wake Forest Remains Atop Men's Rankings, TCU's Norrie Moves to No. 1 in Singles; Pro Circuit Update

The USTA announced today that Tom Gullikson, currently serving as Player Development's Lead National Coach of men's pro tennis, is retiring from full-time coaching effective June 2. Gullikson, 65, is a former ATP Top 40 player who first joined the USTA in 1988, serving in the USTA's initial Player Development department until 1997. He was Davis Cup captain in 1995, when the USA won the Davis Cup and also coached the US Olympic team in 1996. Gullikson then served as Director of Coaching at the USTA, leaving the organization in 2001.  He returned in 2009, and has served in a variety of roles in Player Development in the past eight years.  Knowing him as I do, I would not expect him to retire from tennis, and I don't think the USTA expects that either, with their pointed use of the "full-time" adjective.  The full USTA release is here.

Three years ago, I had an opportunity to interview Gullikson for the Tennis Recruiting Network at the USTA Spring Team Championships in Mobile.  We talked about team competition, college tennis as a pathway, what's changed over the years in the sport and what's stayed the same, the prospects for American men's tennis and other topics. I learned a lot, and that was just during a 30 minute conversation, so I assume the players that he's coached and mentored have collected his wisdom to a much greater degree.  He's part of the institutional memory of American tennis and all of us will miss regular access to that connection.

The new ITA Division I rankings are out, with the Florida women staying at No. 1 despite losing for the second time in eight days to Vanderbilt.  I think this is the point where the human poll that the USTA conducts will start to show its value; Vanderbilt is still suffering from a poor showing at the National Team Indoor, which Florida won.  In the long run, the NCAA championships settle the dispute, and next week's rankings are the last published by the ITA until after the tournament. (But we have College Tennis Today and Texas College Tennis helping us out with rankings in the week leading up to the NCAAs and they have discovered some errors affecting this weeks rankings).  In the singles rankings, Francesca Di Lorenzo continues at No. 1, and there were almost no changes in the Top 10, other than LSU freshman Jade Lewis's big jump from 22 to 10.

Women's Team Top 10: (previous ranking in parentheses)
1. Florida (1)
2. Vanderbilt (2)
3. Georgia (4)
4. Ohio State (5)
5. North Carolina (3)
6. Stanford (8)
7. Texas Tech (7)
8. Georgia Tech (6)
9. Oklahoma State (9)
10. Michigan (10)

1. Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State (1)
2. Hayley Carter, North Carolina (2)
3. Ena Shibahara, UCLA (3)
4. Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt (4)
5. Blair Shankle, Baylor University (5)
6. Belinda Woolcock, Florida (7)
7. Viktoriya Lushkova, Oklahoma State (6)
8. Jasmine Lee, Mississippi State (10)
9. Gabriela Talaba, Texas Tech (9)
10. Jade Lewis, LSU (22)

1. Hayley Carter and Jessie Aney, North Carolina (1)
2. Astra Sharma and Emily Smith, Vanderbilt (3)
3. Jasmine Lee and Lisa Marie Rioux, Mississippi State (5)
4. Ellen Perez and Caroline Brinson, Georgia (4)
5. Erin Routliffe and Maddie Pothoff, Alabama (8)

The men's No. 1 continues to be Wake Forest and they have a large lead over Ohio State at No. 2.  TCU is all the way up to No. 4 after not being ranked in the Top 50 back in February.  Another plus for the Horned Frogs comes in singles, where Cameron Norrie has dislodged Mikael Torpegaard of Ohio State from his No. 1 spot in the rankings.

Men's team Top 10:
1. Wake Forest (1)
2. Ohio State University (2)
3. Virginia (3)
4. TCU (9)
5. UCLA (8)
6. Baylor University (4)
7. Southern California (6)
8. Oklahoma State (5)
9. Texas (7)
10. Cal (11)

1. Cameron Norrie, TCU (2)
2. Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State (1)
3. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (4)
4. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest University (3)
5. Aleks Vukic, Illinois (5)
6. Arthur Rinderknech, Texas A&M (6)
7. Christopher Eubanks, Georgia Tech (7)
8. Alfredo Perez, Florida (9)
9. Hugo Di Feo, Ohio State (8)
10. Michael Redlicki, Arkansas (10)

1. Christian Seraphim and Skander Mansouri, Wake Forest (1)
2. Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb, Georgia (3)
3. Jose Salazar and Michael Redlicki, Arkansas (8)
4. Filip Bergevi and Florian Lakat, California (2)
5. Johannes Ingildsen and Alfredo Perez, Florida (6)

The qualifying is complete at the two USTA Pro Circuit events this week.  At the men's $15,000 Futures in Vero Beach, Sam Riffice, Alexandre Rotsaert and Oliver Crawford are among those earning their way into the main draw with wins today. Wild cards were given to Junior Ore, Vasil Kirkov, Patrick Kypson and 16-year-old Ivan Yatsuk. Calvin Hemery of France is the top seed.

At the $60,000 Women's Pro Circuit event, Robin Anderson and Canada's Carol Zhao advanced to the main draw, with Julia Elbaba getting in as a lucky loser.  She will play former Virginia teammate Danielle Collins in the first round.  Wild cards were given to Claire Liu, Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia (whose sister Hana played at UVA) and Maria Sanchez.  Madison Brengle is the top seed.

At the ATP Challenger in Tallahassee, top seed and Sarasota Challenger winner Frances Tiafoe withdrew and No. 2 seed Darian King of Barbados lost today.  Sarasota finalist Tennys Sandgren fell in his first round match, but wild card Bradley Klahn, Dennis Novikov, Mitchell Krueger and Christian Harrison are Americans who have advanced to the second round.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Gauff, Heller Win US Wild Card Tournament for French Open Juniors; Sandgren, Anisimova Lead USTA's French Open Wild Card Challenge; Kalamazoo College Wins 79th Consecutive Conference Title, More

Last week, Longines sponsored a tournament giving US juniors an opportunity to play for a French Open Junior Championship wild card. Held on red clay at the Boca West Country Club from April 19-22, the tournament is one of six the French Tennis Federation is sponsoring, with winners from the tournaments in Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea and India advancing to playoffs in France. After round robin competition on May 26th, the finals will be the following day, with the winner getting a wild card into the French Open Junior Championships, scheduled for June 4-10.

The United States will be represented by two Floridians: Cori (CoCo) Gauff and Michael Heller. Gauff, who just last month turned 13, the age required to compete in ITF tournaments, defeated 18-year-old Victoria Flores 6-2, 6-1 in the final. Heller, who will turn 17 next month, defeated Matthew Tsolakyan 6-4, 6-3 to earn his trip to Paris.

For more on the event, see this article from tennis.com.

The USTA distributed updated standings for the men's and women's main draw wild cards for the French Open.  With two weeks left to go, Amanda Anisimova and Tennys Sandgren are on top of the standings. Neither Anisimova nor Kristie Ahn, who is second place, are playing the $60,000 tournament in Charlottesville VA this week.  Sandgren is entered in the $75,000 Tallahassee Challenger this week, but No. 2 Denis Kudla is not.

The women's current standings are here; the men's current standings are here.

The Kalamazoo College men's tennis team just won its 79th consecutive MIAA conference title this weekend, a streak that dates back to when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a first-term president.  It's the longest conference title streak in college sports.  Prior to K's win over Albion this weekend, which clinched the conference title outright, the Detroit News published this article on the program's mind-boggling accomplishment.

Did you know NBA star Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz concentrated on tennis for most of his youth?  Tom Perotta of the Wall Street Journal looks back on the growth spurt that changed his focus in this article. Hayward even had a Tennis Recruiting Network profile, with Purdue listed as his school of choice. As Perotta explains, Hayward ended up at Butler, thinking he would play both sports, but ended up concentrating on basketball.

Sixteen-year-old Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine, who hasn't played a junior event since reaching the final of the Wimbledon juniors last July, picked up her first WTA victory today, beating No. 8 seed Andrea Petkovic of Germany 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 in Istanbul.  It was also the first Top 100 victory for Yastremska, ranked 420. For more, see the WTA website.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ahn Wins Dothan $60K; Tiafoe Captures Sarasota Challenger Title; US Fed Cup Team Advances to Final; Vanderbilt Beats Florida Again to Claim SEC Conference Tournament Title

Kristie Ahn won the biggest title of her pro career today, beating 15-year-old Amanda Anisimova 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the $60,000 Women's USTA Pro Circuit event in Dothan AL.  The match, delayed for several hours by rain, saw the unseeded Anisimova do no wrong in the opening set, especially returning serve, with No. 8 seed Ahn able to win only 30 percent of her first serve points.

In the final game of the first set, with Anisimova serving at 5-1, the tenor of the match began to change. Although Anisimova ended up holding serve, she needed 16 points to do so, as Ahn began to eliminate her unforced errors.  After Ahn saved three break points to hold serve and go up 2-1 in the second set, Anisimova left the court after a medical timeout for what looked to be a problem with her right hip or thigh. She won only one game in the set after that, while Ahn's improved serving continued into the third set. Ahn went up 2-0, lost that break, but finished off the match by taking the last four games.

It's the sixth ITF Women's Pro Circuit title of the Stanford graduate's career, with her previous three at the $25,000 level and the first two at the $10,000 level.  She will move to a career-high of around 155 in Monday's WTA rankings and keeps the race for the USTA's French Open wild card interesting with two more tournaments yet to be played. Anisimova is now 0-3 in ITF finals, all of them since late February. She will move to around 260 in the WTA rankings.

Ahn also reached the doubles title in Dothan, but she and partner Lizette Cabrera of Australia lost to Sanaz Marand and Emina Bektas 6-3, 1-6, 10-2 in tonight's final.  It's the third doubles title of the year for Marand and Bektas, following their wins at the $15K in Orlando and the $25K last week in Pelham.

At the $15,000 men's Futures in Orange Park Florida, unseeded Felipe Mantilla of Colombia took the title, beating top seed Calvin Hemery of France 6-2, 6-4.

Frances Tiafoe won his third ATP Challenger title in another all-American final today at the $100,000 tournament in Sarasota Florida. No. 3 seed Tiafoe, who had outlasted Jurgen Melzer of Austria in last night's semifinal 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(5), beat Tennys Sandgren in today's final 6-3, 6-4. With the title, his first this year, the 19-year-old will move into the ATP Top 75 for the first time.  Melzer and Scott Lipsky won the doubles title, beating Peter Polansky of Canada and Stefan Kozlov 6-2, 6-4.

The US Fed Cup team defeated the Czech Republic 3-2 in Wesley Chapel Florida to advance to the final in November, where they will play Belarus for their first Fed Cup title since 2000.

CoCo Vandeweghe played a part in all three US points, beating 17-year-old Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-4 on Saturday and Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-0 on Sunday. Siniakova had beaten Shelby Rogers on Saturday and Vondrousova forced a deciding doubles match by beating Lauren Davis 6-2, 7-5 in the fourth singles match.  The doubles team of Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands is a formidable one, and they earned the USA's first trip to the Fed Cup final since 2010 with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Kristyna Pliskova and Siniakova.  For more on today's action, see this USTA article.

Most of the major conference championships begin later this week, but the SEC women's finished today, with the nation's No. 2 team Vanderbilt beating the nation's No. 1 team Florida 4-3 in Nashville. Vanderbilt won its first regular season conference title by knocking off Florida 4-3 last Sunday, also in Nashville. Vanderbilt won the tournament title today after dropping the doubles point (they had won the point a week earlier), getting singles wins from Astra Sharma at line 1, Sydney Campbell at line 2, Christina Rosca at line 3. Fernanda Contreras clinched for the Commodores at line 6.  Florida played today without Josie Kuhlman, who was scratched due to a stomach virus. See the Vanderbilt website for more on today's match.

For more on all this weekend's college results, see College Tennis Today.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Anisimova, Ahn Reach Dothan $60K Final; Sandgren Advances to Sarasota Challenger Final; Madurawe, Inoue Claim ITF Titles in Caribbean

Amanda Anisimova reached the final last week at the $80,000 Indian Harbour Beach USTA Pro Circuit event and has followed that up this week with another trip to the championship match, her third in three ITF Women's Circuit tournaments this year.  The 15-year-old from Florida defeated 18-year-old Sonya Kenin 6-3, 6-0 in today's $60,000 Dothan Alabama semifinal and will face No. 8 seed Kristie Ahn in the final. Ahn defeated unseeded Barbara Haas of Austria 6-2, 6-2 in the other semifinal. Ahn is looking for the biggest title of her pro career and her first since 2015. The 24-year-old, who graduated from Stanford in 2014, will reach her career high in the WTA rankings regardless of the result on Sunday.  Should Anisimova win the title , she will put herself in a commanding position in the USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge, even with two more tournaments still on the schedule.  Live streaming of the final will be available via this link.

Both US men in the semifinals of the $15,000 Orange Park Florida Futures lost today.  Qualifier Gianni Ross's string of victories ended at six, when he lost 6-4, 6-2 to top seed Calvin Hemery of France.  No. 2 seed Evan King led 5-3 in the second set against unseeded Felipe Mantilla of Colombia, but Mantilla won the final four games of the match to earn a place in the final.

Tennys Sandgren has had an outstanding start to 2017, and the former Tennessee Volunteer stayed on that track today, beating Vincent Millot of France 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the final of the $100,000 ATP Challenger in Sarasota.  Sandgren, now at a career high of 156 in the ATP rankings, will face the winner of tonight's match between No. 3 seed Frances Tiafoe and former ATP Top 10 player Jurgen Melzer of Austria. A free live stream of the match is available at the ATP Challenger website.

In ITF junior action, US juniors Niluka Madurawe and Hina Inoue won titles, with Madurawe capturing the championship at the Grade 4 in Trinidad and Tobago and Inoue claiming the title at the Grade 5 in Guadeloupe. No. 8 seed Madurawe's  6-1, 6-2 win over No. 2 seed Dakota Fordham gave the 17-year-old her second singles title on the ITF Junior Circuit, with the first earlier this year in Guatemala. Qualifier Inoue, just 13, defeated unseeded Selena Janicijevic of France 6-4, 6-2 in the final to win the first ITF junior tournament she has played.

Ronan Jachuck was the second American to pick up a title in Trinidad, taking the doubles championship with Kirac Bekisoglu of Turkey. The top seeds defeated No. 2 seeds Ignacio Garcia and Rafael Grovas of Puerto Rico 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final.

Several US juniors are already in Europe, with Amanda Meyer reaching the singles semifinals and Nicole Mossmer advancing to the quarterfinals in singles and final in doubles at the Grade 2 in France.
At the Grade 2 in Italy, Easter Bowl champion Alafia Ayeni was the top seed but lost in the quarterfinals to Matias Soto of Chile. He did take the doubles title, however, with Soto as his partner. The top seeds defeated No. 2 seeds Francesco Forti and Mattia Frinzi of Italy 4-6, 6-2, 10-3 in the final.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ross Advances to Futures Semifinals; Anisimova vs Kenin for Finals Berth at $60K in Dothan; Tiafoe, Sandgren Reach Sarasota Challenger Semifinals; Junior Trio on Hand as US Fed Cup Team Hosts Czech Republic in Tampa

A day after reaching his first USTA Pro Circuit Futures quarterfinal 18-year-old Gianni Ross has advanced to his first semifinal, beating unseeded Thales Turini of Brazil 6-4, 6-0 today at the $15,000 Orange Park Florida tournament.  Ross, a qualifier who has now won six matches in the past seven days, will face top seed Calvin Hemery of France in Saturday's semifinals.

No. 2 seed Evan King will play in the bottom half semifinal against unseeded Felipe Mantilla of Colombia after King defeated Genaro Olivieri of Argentina 7-5, 6-2.

Former Michigan All-American King won the 20th doubles title of his pro career today, teaming with 2014 NCAA champion Hunter Reese, the former Tennessee Volunteer. The No. 3 seeds defeated unseeded Daniel Nolan of Australia and Yosuke Watanuki of Japan 2-6, 7-5, 10-8 in the final.

The semifinals of the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Dothan Alabama will feature three Americans, with 18-year-old Sonya Kenin facing 15-year-old Amanda Anisimova in one semifinal.  Former Stanford star Kristie Ahn, the No. 8 seed and the only seed remaining, will play Barbara Haas of Austria for a place in the final.  Kenin downed wild card Usue Arconada 6-4, 6-2, while Anisimova, a finalist at last week's $80K at Indian Harbour Beach, beat wild card Sophie Chang 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.  Ahn took out Fanny Stollar of Hungary 6-3, 6-3.

The $100,000 ATP Challenger in Sarasota Florida is down to its last four, with Tennys Sandgren and No. 3 seed Frances Tiafoe making the semifinals. Sandgren advanced over Denis Kudla via walkover and will play unseeded Vincent Millot of France, who beat top seed Jared Donaldson 6-4, 7-5.  Tiafoe beat No. 7 seed Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland 6-3, 6-4 and will face Jurgen Melzer of Austria.

The US Fed Cup team hosts the Czech Republic in the competition's semifinals, which begin Saturday at the Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel Florida. CoCo Vandeweghe will face 17-year-old Marketa Vondrousova in the in the first singles match, with Shelby Rogers taking on Katerina Siniakova in the second singles match of the day. The doubles matchup, played after the two reverse singles on Sunday, is scheduled to be Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lauren Davis against Kristyna Pliskova and Denisa Allertova.

Caty McNally, Natasha Subhash and Whitney Osuigwe, who are representing the US in the Junior Fed Cup, are training with the team this week, and spoke to the USTA's Ashley Marshall about what they've learned from observing the preparation for the most important team event in women's tennis.  McNally, Subhash and Osuigwe will be traveling to Mexico next week for the North/Central American qualifying for this fall's Junior Fed Cup.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Florida Gets Verbal Commitments From Riffice, Greif; Ross Reaches First Futures Quarterfinal; Kenin, Anisimova, Arconada Advance at Dothan $60K

Although 2017 signing week is over, two major blue chip commitments have come in this week for 2018, with the University of Florida landing 2016 Kalamazoo 16s champion Lukas Greif and Sam Riffice, No. 1 in the Tennis Recruiting Network's rankings.  Florida also has received verbal commitments from Harry and Grey Cacciatore, five-star recruits from Gainesville.

None of these players can sign before November, so these verbal commitments are not binding, but it's rare that a decision is changed once it has been announced by the player (the school cannot acknowledge a commitment until the player has signed).  With Riffice now living in Orlando, I'm not surprised by his choice, but Greif had been heavily recruited by all the top Big Ten schools, and I was expecting the Indiana resident to end up at one of them, or another school that plays indoors regularly.

One of the other notable signings announced recently comes from Texas A&M, who will have US Open boys doubles champion Juan Carlos Manuel Aguilar of Bolivia on their team this coming fall. When I spoke to Aguilar after his US Open title, he said he was going to play college tennis (he spent a great deal of time in Canada growing up and speaks excellent English), because his federation did not have the money to support him on the ITF Pro Circuit.  At that time, he was still exploring his options, but he has now decided to join the Aggies.

The University of Michigan has announced that the Siimar brothers from Estonia have signed for 2017.  Mattias Siimar, whose ITF junior ranking reached a high of 41, made the final of the 16s Orange Bowl back in 2014, losing to Riffice. His twin brother Kristofer has been ranked as high as 146 in the ITF juniors.

Arizona State is getting ready to resume collegiate competition after an eight-year hiatus and head coach Matt Hill so far has seven players committed to play for the Sun Devils. Read about them here.

Gianni Ross is one of the few senior blue chips who has yet to decide on if or where he will attend college.  Today the 18-year-old reached his first Futures quarterfinal, beating fellow qualifier Cameron Silverman 7-6(5), 7-5 in the second round of the $15,000 Orange Park Florida event.  Ross will play unseeded Thales Turini of Brazil on Friday. Evan King, the No. 2 seed, is the only other American to advance to the quarterfinals.

At the $60,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Dothan Alabama, Sonya Kenin, Usue Arconada and Amanda Anisimova have advanced to the quarterfinals, as have Kristie Ahn and Sophie Chang.  Kenin defeated Catalina Pella of Argentina 6-2, 6-1, after ousting No. 3 seed Tatjana Maria of Germany in the first round.  Arconada, a wild card, took out No. 6 seed Jamie Loeb 6-4, 7-5 today and will face Kenin in the quarterfinals. Kenin defeated Arconada 6-1, 6-3 in the first round of this January's $25K in Orlando and reached the final that week. Anisimova beat Paula Kania of Poland 6-3, 6-2 and will meet wild card Chang in the quarterfinals. Chang, who beat No. 2 seed Taylor Townsend in the first round, defeated qualifier Jaqueline Cristian of Romania 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 today.  Ahn, the No. 8 seed, beat Jennifer Elie 6-2, 6-2 and will play Fanny Stollar of Hungary in the quarterfinals. Live streaming of the main court can be found here.

Four Americans have advanced to the quarterfinals of the $100,000 ATP Challenger in Sarasota Florida: top seed Jared Donaldson, Tennys Sandgren and Denis Kudla, who play each other Friday, and No. 3 seed Frances Tiafoe, who is the only one of the four in the bottom half of the draw.  Live streaming is available at the ATP Challenger website.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter Bowl ITF Recap; 12s and 14s Divisions Slideshow, Videos

My recap of the ITF Grade B1 Easter Bowl is available today at the Tennis Recruiting Network. If you didn't have an opportunity to follow my daily on-site coverage, this is a chance to catch up on one of the biggest ITF tournaments of the year in the United States.

I decided to put together two separate slideshows for the Easter Bowl, and today's features the 12s and 14s divisions.  I also compiled brief videos of the finals.   Replays of the finals(and many other matches) are available via the archives on Livestream.  The boys 14s final (beginning at 3-3 in the first set) is here; the complete girls 14s final, and a dramatic one it was, is here; and the coverage (without commentary) of the 12s start with the girls and continue on to the boys here.  My Tennis Recruiting Network recap of the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions is here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Boys USTA Summer Team Set; NCAA Championship Sites Announced; Florida Women Remain No. 1 Despite Loss

The USTA camp to select the boys Team USA summer team was completed today at Lake Nona, with seven of the eight players earning their spots through a round robin competition.  The 16-and-under players named to the team are:

Govind Nanda (automatically qualified)
Alex Lee
Cannon Kingsley
Andrew Dale
Marcus McDaniel
William Grant
Siem Woldeab
Blaise Bicknell

Obviously not all the top 16-and-under players eligible participated, with Easter Bowl champion Brandon Nakashima, finalist Stefan Dostanic and Junior Davis Cup team member Tristan Boyer among those missing.

For the round robin results, click here.  A tournament was then held for the top eight finishers from the round robin groups. That draw is here.

The NCAA announced the host venues for the NCAA championships for the four years beginning in 2019.

For Division I Tennis:
2019--USTA National Campus, Lake Nona Florida, University of Central FL
2020--Oklahoma State, Stillwater OK
2021--USTA National Campus, Lake Nona Florida, UCF
2011--University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana IL

For Division II Tennis:
2019--Rollins and Central Florida Sports Commission, Sanlando Park, Atlamonte Springs FL
2020--Lindenwood Mo, St. Charles CVB and St. Louis Sports Commission, St. Louis MO
2021--Pacific West Conference and City of Surprise, Surprise Arizona
2011--Rollins and Central Florida Sports Commission, Sanlando Park, Atlamonte Springs FL

For Division III Tennis:
2019--Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo MI
2020--Washington-St. Louis, St. Louis MO
2021--Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Claremont CA
2022--Oglethorpe and Central Florida Sports Commission, USTA National Campus, Lake Nona FL

I'm excited to see the Division III tournament returning to Kalamazoo so soon and look forward to covering it as I did last year when it was here.

I had heard doubts expressed about the Division I tournament being held at an off-campus site such as the USTA's National Campus, but I think some of those concerns may have been allayed by the obvious commitment to college tennis that the USTA demonstrated this dual match season. The college facility there is perfect for the event, although as with most venues, rain during the tournament will present problems, with just six indoor courts onsite.

As a reminder, here are the sites for 2017 and 2018:

Division I
2017--University of Georgia
2018--Wake Forest

Division II
2017--Altamonte Springs Florida
2018--Surprise Arizona

Division III
2017--Chattanooga Tennessee

The NCAA release on all its championship venues for all divisions can be found here.

The latest ITA Division I rankings are out, with the same two teams at the top.  Despite its loss to Vanderbilt, the Florida women maintained their No. 1 position. Vanderbilt moved up to No. 2, the most significant movement in either ranking list this week. Wake Forest remains No. 1 in the men's team rankings.  The No. 1s in both men's and women's singles and doubles also are unchanged from last week. Click on the heading to see the full rankings.

Women's team Top 10 (previous ranking in parentheses):
1. Florida (1)
2. Vanderbilt (5)
3. North Carolina (3)
4. Georgia (2)
5. Ohio State (4)
6. Georgia Tech (6)
7. Texas Tech University (7)
8. Stanford (10)
9. Oklahoma State (8)
10. Michigan (9)

Women's singles Top 10:
1. Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State (1)
2. Hayley Carter, North Carolina (2)
3. Ena Shibahara, UCLA (3)
4. Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt (4)
5. Blair Shankle, Baylor University (5)
6. Belinda Woolcock, Florida (7)
7. Viktoriya Lushkova, Oklahoma State (6)
8. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina (8)
9. Gabriela Talaba, Texas Tech (10)
10. Jasmine Lee, Mississippi State (16)

Women's doubles Top 5:
1. Hayley Carter and Jessie Aney, North Carolina (1)
2. Aldila Sutjiadi and Mami Adachi, Kentucky (2)
3. Astra Sharma and Emily Smith, Vanderbilt (5)
4. Ellen Perez and Caroline Brinson, Georgia (11)
5. Jasmine Lee and Lisa Marie Rioux, Mississippi State (3)

Men's team Top 10:
1. Wake Forest (1)
2. Ohio State University (2)
3. Virginia (3)
4. Baylor University (4)
5. Oklahoma State (5)
6. Southern California (6)
7. Texas (8)
8. UCLA (7)
9. TCU (9)
10. Texas A&M (10)

Men's singles Top 10:
1. Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State (1)
2. Cameron Norrie, TCU (3)
3. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest University (2)
4. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (4)
5. Aleks Vukic, Illinois (6)
6. Arthur Rinderknech, Texas A&M (8)
7. Christopher Eubanks, Georgia Tech (5)
8. Hugo Di Feo, Ohio State (7)
9. Alfredo Perez, Florida (9)
10. Michael Redlicki, Arkansas (11)

Men's doubles Top 5:
1. Christian Seraphim and Skander Mansouri, Wake Forest (1) 1
2. Filip Bergevi and Florian Lakat, California (4)
3. Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb, Georgia (2)
4. Arjun Kadhe and Julian Cash, Oklahoma State (3)
5. William Blumberg and Robert Kelly, North Carolina (8)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Bowl Recap; Milan Grade A Acceptances; Michigan Wins Tennis on Campus National Title; ITA Production of Siegel's Story; Q and A with USTA President Katrina Adams

Now that Signing Week is complete at the Tennis Recruiting Network, it's time for my recaps of the adidas Easter Bowl. Today I look back at the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions; on Wednesday, my review of the ITF Grade B1 Championships will be published.  The slideshows and videos will be coming, if not soon, before the end of the month.

The acceptances for the third ITF Grade A of the year, the Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan, have been released, with ten US boys and 11 US girls receiving entry into the main draw.  The girls are: Claire Liu, Taylor Johnson, Whitney Osuigwe, Sofia Sewing, Ellie Douglas, Hailey Baptiste, Caty McNally, Hurricane Tyra Black, Elysia Bolton, Nicole Mossmer and Natasha Subhash.  Liu had said recently she was only playing the junior slams, so she may withdraw; missing is Carson Branstine of Canada, who had said she was planning to play doubles in Milan with Douglas, after the pair had won the Carson ITF last month.  Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who has not played a junior event since the Australian Open and has won two $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit events this year, is entered, as is Australian Open champion Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine, Orange Bowl champion Kaja Juvan of Slovenia and Olesya Pervushina of Russia.

The US boys receiving direct entry are: Trent Bryde, Oliver Crawford, Vasil Kirkov, Sam Riffice, Alafia Ayeni, Danny Thomas, Alexandre Rotsaert, Gianni Ross, Patrick Kypson and Sebastian Korda. Orange Bowl finalist Yibing Wu of China[3] and Australian Open boys finalist Yshai Oliel of Israel[5] are the highest ranked boys players entered.  The tournament begins May 22nd.

The Tennis on Campus National Championships were completed on Saturday at the USTA campus in Lake Nona Florida, with the University of Michigan taking home the title for the first time with a 24-20 win over the University of California-Irvine. Interesting to note that team member Laura Ucros, a former ITF Top 40 junior, played on the varsity team at Michigan before injury set her on a different course. For details on the final, see this article from the USTA.

The ITA has produced a video supporting The Team Luke Foundation, created recently in the wake of the tragic golf cart accident in 2015 involving Luke Siegel, the young son of former Texas Tech men's coach Tim Siegel. It's heart-wrenching to see the Siegel family coping with the aftermath of the accident, which left Luke with serious brain damage, but it's also inspiring to see their persistence and determination. The college tennis community has supported the Siegels throughout these difficult months, but the foundation now gives that support a focal point.  Luke turns 11 tomorrow, please consider donating to his foundation or participating in one of the events scheduled in the months ahead.

USTA president Katrina Adams spoke with ESPNW recently about how she knew she was ready for pro tennis after competing at Northwestern and how she used the lessons learned on the tennis courts to pursue a career in tennis after her years on the pro tour.  

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Vondrousova Wins WTA Title; Anisimova Falls in Indian Harbour Beach Final; Johnson Claims Second ATP Title; No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Georgia Women Upset

Seventeen-year-old qualifier Marketa Vondrousova had played only one WTA event prior to this week, last year in her home country, the Czech Republic. As a wild card, Vondrousova earned her first WTA victory in her first attempt last April in Prague, losing in the second round to eventual finalist Samantha Stosur of Australia.  This year, Vondrousova qualified for a WTA event for the first time in Biel Switzerland, then ran the table, beating unseeded Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-4, 7-6(6) in today's final.  The former ITF junior No. 1, Vondrousova didn't lose a set in her five main draw wins and will see her WTA ranking go from 233 to around 117. That means she's certain to receive entry into the French Open qualifying, where she reached the junior semifinals in 2015.  For more on Vondrousova's title, see the WTA website.

Fifteen-year-old Amanda Anisimova fell short in her quest for a Pro Circuit title, falling to Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the final of the $80,000 tournament in Indian Harbour Beach Florida. There were 16 breaks of serve in the match, but it was the 28-year-old Govortsova who got the most important one, with Anisimova serving at 3-4 in the third set.  True to the theme of the day, Govortsova struggled to serve out the match, but she converted her fourth match point to win her first title since last September.

In doubles, unseeded Kristie Ahn and Quinn Gleason won their first title as a team, beating No. 2 seeds Laura Pigossi of Brazil and Renata Zarazua of Mexico 6-3, 6-2 in the final.  It's Ahn's first doubles title on the ITF Women's Circuit since 2010 and Gleason's first ITF Women's Circuit title of any kind in her first year on the pro circuit after graduating from Notre Dame in 2016.

Two-time NCAA singles champion Steve Johnson won his second ATP title in dramatic fashion today, beating Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5) at the US Men's Clay Court Championships in Houston. USC alum Johnson, the No. 4 seed, began to cramp down 2-4 in the third set, but he managed to get the break back, save his energy for the tiebreaker and gut out a win over the No. 8 seed with a blistering forehand winner on his third match point.  For more on the final, see the ATP website.

Former North Carolina All-American Brayden Schnur won his first Futures title of the year and the fourth of his career today at the $25,000 tournament in Little Rock Arkansas, beating fellow Canadian Philip Bester 7-6(4), 6-1 in the final.  The 21-year-old, who was seeded fourth, has now won his last two encounters with Bester, the No. 5 seed. Bester had won five of their previous six meetings, all of which took place in Canada.

The SEC regular season came to an end today and it delivered two big surprises on the women's side, with No. 1 Florida falling to No. 5 Vanderbilt 4-2 in Nashville and No. 2 Georgia losing to No. 21 Texas A&M by the same score in Athens.  Vanderbilt took the doubles point and got wins from Fernanda Contreras at line 6 and Astra Sharma at line 1 before senior Sydney Campbell clinched at line 2.  The win gave Vanderbilt the SEC regular season conference title for the first time in program history. The Commodores will be the top seed in the conference tournament, which they will host beginning on Wednesday.

Texas A&M also won the doubles point in their win over Georgia, with their three singles points coming from Rachel Pierson at line 1, Eva Paalma at line 6 and Rutuja Bhosale with the clinching point at line 2. It is the best win, by ranking, for any team in the program's history.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Anisimova Reaches Final at Indian Harbour Beatch $80K; Vondrousova Shocks Strycova to Advance to WTA Final in Switzerland; Kozlov, Shi and Gawande Win ITF Junior Titles

Amanda Anisimova just keeps rolling at the $80,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Indian Harbour Beach Florida, reaching Sunday's final with a 6-0, 6-2 win over wild card Vicky Duval.  The 15-year-old Floridian won the first nine games of the match, and Duval, who had not played for nine months, might have tapped all the reserves she had in beating Genie Bouchard and Ajla Tomljanovic prior to today's semifinal. Anisimova will face unseeded Olga Govortsova of Belarus, who beat No. 5 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

Normally the spotlight would be squarely on Anisimova after such an impressive run, and she is starting to draw notice, but the result of the day for a teenager came from 17-year-old Marketa Vondrousova, who beat top seed and WTA no. 18 Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic 7-6(3), 6-2 to advance to Sunday's final at the WTA International tournament in Biel Switzerland.  The Czech left-hander, who needed three sets to get through two of her three qualifying matches, hasn't lost in her four main draw matches and will face another former top junior, unseeded Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, in the final.  Vondrousova, who turns 18 this summer, is still eligible for junior events, but has not played in one since the French last year. She was out with an injury the last half of 2016, but since returning she has gone 32-4 in ITF Women's Pro Circuit events (including qualifying) and is now 7-0 against WTA competition. For more on Vondrousova's win today, see the WTA website.

Three US juniors won titles in ITF tournaments today, with 17-year-old Brian Shi and 15-year-old Sanyukta Gawande taking the singles titles at the Grade 4 in Barbados and 16-year-old Boris Kozlov sweeping the titles at the Grade 5 in Canada.

Shi, the top seed, defeated No. 2 seed Kirac Bekisoglu of Turkey 7-5, 6-1 in the final, earning his third ITF singles title and his second this year.  No. 7 seed Gawande, who also won an ITF Grade 4 title last month in Puerto Rico while I was focused on the California tournaments, won her third career ITF singles title with a 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-0 win over unseeded Tara Malik.

No. 2 seeds Lillian Gabrielsen of Norway and Kennedy Bridgforth won the girls doubles in Barbados, beating unseeded Zoe Hitt and Michelle Sorokko 6-4, 4-6, 10-8 in the final. Unseeded Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan and Martin Damm won the boys title, beating top seeds Bekisoglu and Ronan Jachuck 6-1, 0-6, 13-11 in the final.

In Burlington Ontario, the top-seeded Kozlov won all five of his matches in straight sets, defeating No. 8 seed Ivan Mitric of Canada 6-1, 7-6(5). It was the first ITF singles title for Kozlov, the brother of Stefan Kozlov. In  doubles, Kozlov and 2016 Kalamazoo 16s doubles champion Max Wild, the No. 3 seeds, beat No. 2 seeds Razvan Baiant and Niels Peter Van Noord of Canada 6-4, 6-4 in the championship match.

At the $25,000 Little Rock Futures, both Jared Hiltzik and Eric Quigley were beaten, with No. 5 seed Philip Bester topping Hiltzik 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-2 and No. 4 seed Brayden Schnur beating No. 6 seed Quigley 6-1, 7-5. 

Usue Arconada fell in the final of the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Pelham Alabama.  The 18-year-old, seeded No. 4 lost to Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway 7-5, 6-2.

At the ATP's US Clay Court Championships in Houston, the run of Ernesto Escobedo came to an end, after the 20-year-old wild card lost to No. 8 seed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.  In the all-US semifinal, No. 4 seed Steve Johnson defeated top seed Jack Sock 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to reach his third ATP final.  Sock had defeated Johnson the past two times they had played earlier this year, with Sock winning in straight sets in both the Auckland semifinals and Delray Beach quarterfinals.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Meyer's Commitment to Vanderbilt; Arconada Reaches Pelham $25K Final; Anisimova, Duval to Meet in $80K Semifinals; Escobedo, Vondrousova in First ATP, WTA Semifinals

While at the Easter Bowl, I had an opportunity to talk with blue chip Amanda Meyer about her commitment to Vanderbilt for this Tennis Recruiting Network article. I often ask players heading to college for their best memories of junior tennis and what it has meant to them, and Meyer articulated some of the reasons we all have such a passion for the sport.

Today's action produced a lot of firsts for young players.  Eighteen-year-old Usue Arconada has advanced to her first Pro Circuit final above the $10,000 level at the $25,000 tournament in Pelham Alabama. Arconada reached the final when No. 2 seed Amanda Carreras of Great Britain retired leading 7-6(8), 1-0. The first set alone had taken 68 minutes to decide.  Arconada, seeded fourth, will face unseeded Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway, who beat former Alabama star Alex Guarachi Mathison of Chile 1-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Carreras's injury was obviously serious, as she was unable to play in the doubles final, with No. 3 seeds Emina Bektas and Sanaz Marand getting the walkover from Carreras and Tena Lukas of Croatia.

Fifteen-year-old Amanda Anisimova has had very few appearances in Pro Circuit events--just three and all this year, at the $100,000 Dow Tennis Classic, the $25,000 event in Brazil and this week's $80,000 tournament at Indian Harbour Beach. She lost in the final round of qualifying in Midland, made the final as a qualifier in Brazil, and has reached the semifinals in Florida this week, after defeating 19-year-old Renata Zarazua of Mexico 6-2, 6-2 in today's quarterfinals. The 2016 French Open girls finalist will face wild card Vicky Duval, whose amazing comeback continued today with a 6-0, 6-3 win over top seed Genie Bouchard of Canada. Duval, who last played at 2016 Wimbledon, has spent the past months building up her health, saying her comeback at Wimbledon, after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014, was premature.

In Biel Switzerland, 17-year-old qualifier Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic advanced to the semifinals of a WTA event for the first time, defeating Kristyna Pliskova, also from the Czech Republic, 6-2, 7-5 in today's quarterfinals. Vondrousova, a former ITF junior No. 1, never reached a junior slam singles final, but she did win the doubles titles at the 2015 Australian and French Opens with Miriam Kolodziejova. Recently named to the Czech team that will face the US in the Fed Cup semifinals later this month, Vondrousova will play another Czech, top seed Barbora Strycova, in the semifinals. For more, see the WTA website.

In Houston, at the ATP's US Clay Courts, 20-year-old Ernesto Escobedo has reached his first ATP semifinal by virtue of a three-hour 7-6(6), 6-7(6), 7-6(5) win over No. 2 seed John Isner.  Escobedo, who received a wild card into the event and is playing in his first ATP tournament on clay this week, survived 35 aces by Isner.  Escobedo will face No. 8 seed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in the semifinals. Regardless of the outcome of that match, Escobedo is projected to move from his current ATP ranking of 91 into the 70s.

At the ATP Challenger in Mexico, ITF junior No. 1 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia has reached the semifinals, defeating No. 7 seed and former Tulsa star Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador 6-3, 6-4. The 17-year-old wild card will face No. 8 seed Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain, who is 14 years his senior, in the semifinals.  For more on Kecmanovic's breakthrough this week, see the ATP website.

Jared Hiltzik, who won last week's Futures in Memphis, is through to the semifinals of this week's $25,000 Futures in Little Rock. The former Illinois All-American defeated qualifier Winston Lin (Columbia) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals, setting up a meeting with No. 5 seed Philip Bester of Canada.  No. 4 seed Brayden Schnur of Canada, the former North Carolina star, beat wild card Ulises Blanch 6-7(1), 6-1, 6-1 and will face former Kentucky standout Eric Quigley, who defeated top seed Yannick Mertens of Belgium 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships Slideshow, Videos

Below is the slideshow from last month's International Spring Championships in Carson, California, plus videos of the six finalists. The girls 16s singles final was not played, so obviously no videos are available of Lauren Stein and Vivian Ovrootsky.  I again used the YouTube slideshow option and they have made improvements to adding text, but I'm at a loss to explain what happened to the photo of the girls 16s doubles finalists during processing. Unfortunately it's not possible to edit a slideshow without doing the whole thing over again, including the captions, so I'm providing the photo of Britt Pursell and Rachel Wagner below.

G16s doubles finalists Britt Pursell and Rachel Wagner

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Shin, Berdusco and McQuaid Announce College Commitments; USTA Grant Information; Brandi's Blog; Kecmanovic Earns First Challenger Win; Duval Back

Today is Division I spring Signing Day and the Tennis Recruiting Network offered three announcements today, from blue chip Janice Shin (Stanford), five-star Brian Berdusco (Pepperdine) and five-star Riley McQuaid (Texas A&M). Berdusco explains how a new mindset and dedication after a difficult tournament early last year changed his recruiting profile. McQuaid, who had verbally committed to Alabama very early, recounts how that commitment fell apart last fall and how she rebounded from that disappointment.  For Shin, one of the few blue chips who did not commit last fall, the wait was worth it, with Stanford her dream school.

In other commitment news, the University of Central Florida has added two top ITF players, announcing the commitments of Alan Rubio of Mexico and Gabriel Decamps of Brazil. Decamps, who has been as high as 17 in the ITF rankings is now 49; Rubio, now 39, has an ITF career-high of 29. These are the first high profile recruits for John Roddick, who is completing his first academic year as head coach of the Knights.

With the revamping of the USTA website, it's a bit easier to find items of interest to juniors, and I want to call attention to the section on USTA player grants.  Few people I talk with, even those who have been around US junior tennis for a long time, are aware of the system the USTA has created to award these grants, which are based on reaching certain ranking benchmarks or reaching certain rounds in major tournaments.  These grants are not just for juniors either, as they extend through the age of 20; also included is a section for college players.

USTA National Coach Andy Brandi has recently provided a blog post on usta.com containing advice for junior players and their parents. Part 1 of this two-part article is here.  I spoke to Brandi about some of the same topics early last year in this article at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

World No. 1 junior Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia won his first ATP Challenger match today at the $50,000 tournament in Mexico, beating Stefan Kozlov, the No. 3 seed, 6-2, 7-5 in match suspended overnight Tuesday.  Kecmanovic, 17, has not played any juniors this year and probably won't as he attempts to build his ATP ranking, which is still outside the Top 500.

The quarterfinals are set for the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Pelham Alabama, with Usue Arconada the only American advancing to the final eight. The 18-year-old, seeded fourth, will face No. 6 seed Tena Lukas of Croatia next.

At the $80,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Indian Harbour Beach Florida, Vicky Duval won her first match since September of 2015, beating fellow wild card Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia 7-6(0), 2-6, 6-3. Sonya Kenin topped Barbara Haas of Austria to reach the second round, with qualifier Kaitlyn Christian also getting a good win. The former USC star beat No. 8 seed Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-2 and will play Duval next.  Top seed Genie Bouchard was tested by former Florida Gator Brianna Morgan, but the Canadian prevailed 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Few Changes in This Week's ITA Division I Rankings; Anisimova Ousts Moore at Indian Harbour Beach $80K; Wild Cards Rotsaert, Blanch Open Little Rock Futures with Wins

For all the noteworthy results this year, the ITA Division I rankings have not reflected the idea, voiced by many, that there is unusual parity this year when it comes to NCAA title contenders.

The Florida women have been No. 1 all year, even after a loss to Georgia that ended their home winning streak at 163.  The men have had three different No. 1s, with Virginia, Ohio State and the current leader Wake Forest, which has been at the top of the rankings for five weeks.

The singles and doubles rankings have also been quite stable, and again this week it is Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenzo and Mikael Torpegaard at the top spot in singles. Florida's Belinda Woolcock is the only new member of the women's singles Top 10. Alfredo Perez of Florida and Tom Fawcett of Stanford have returned to the Top 10 this week. Click on the headers of the lists below for the complete rankings.

Women's team Top 10 (previous ranking in parentheses):
1. Florida (1)
2. Georgia (2)
3. North Carolina (4)
4. Ohio State (3)
5. Vanderbilt (7)
6. Georgia Tech (6)
7. Texas Tech University (5)
8. Oklahoma State (9)
9. Michigan (8)
10. Stanford (10)

Women's singles Top 10:
1. Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State (1)
2. Hayley Carter, North Carolina (3)
3. Ena Shibahara, UCLA (2)
4. Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt (4)
5. Blair Shankle, Baylor University (5)
6. Viktoriya Lushkova, Oklahoma State (6)
7. Belinda Woolcock, Florida (13)
8. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina (6)
9. Luisa Stefani, Pepperdine (8)
10. Gabriela Talaba, Texas Tech (10)

Women's doubles Top 5:
1. Hayley Carter and Jessie Aney, North Carolina (1)
2. Aldila Sutjiadi and Mami Adachi, Kentucky (2)
3. Jasmine Lee and Lisa Marie Rioux, Mississippi State(5)
4. Rutuja Bhosale and Rachel Pierson, Texas A&M (6)
5. Astra Sharma and Emily Smith, Vanderbilt (10)

Men's team Top 10:
1. Wake Forest (1)
2. Ohio State University (2)
3. Virginia (4)
4. Baylor University (3)
5. Oklahoma State (8)
6. Southern California (5)
7. UCLA (10)
8. Texas (6)
9. TCU (9)
10. Texas A&M (7)

Men's singles Top 10:
1. Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State (1)
2. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest University (2)
3. Cameron Norrie, TCU (3)
4. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (4)
5. Christopher Eubanks, Georgia Tech (5)
6. Aleks Vukic, Illinois (6)
7. Huge Di Feo, Ohio State (7)

8. Arthur Rinderknech, Texas A&M (8)
9. Alfredo Perez, Florida (11)
10. Tom Rawcett, Stanford (17)

Men's doubles Top 5:
1. Christian Seraphim and Skander Mansouri, Wake Forest (1) 1
2. Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb, Georgia (3)
3. Arjun Kadhe and Julian Cash, Oklahoma State (5)
4. Filip Bergevi and Florian Lakat, California (2)
5. Jack Findel-Hawkins and Lasse Muscheites North Florida (6)

For more on the rankings and a look at who is likely to make the NCAAs ($), see College Tennis Today.

Fifteen-year-old Amanda Anisimova advanced to the second round of the $80,000 Women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament at Indian Harbour Beach, beating No. 6 seed Tara Moore of Great Britain 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the feature night match.  Anisimova, who got her first WTA Top 100 win back in February, saved three break points at 3-4 in the third set and broke the 152nd-ranked Moore in the next game to serve for the match. She went up 30-0, but lost the next four points. Anisimova broke Moore again for another chance to serve it out, and although it took two match points, she got the victory.

Kaitlyn Christian, Quinn Gleason and Brianna Morgan qualified with wins today, and Kristie Ahn won her first round match. No. 3 seed Taylor Townsend lost to Anna Zaja of Germany 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-5.

At the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Pelham Alabama, Americans Usue Arconada [4], Emina Bektas, Sanaz Marand, Sophie Chang and qualifier Keri Wong picked up wins. Bektas defeated No. 3 seed Katherine Sebov of Canada 6-3, 6-2. Top seed Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal lost to Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway 6-3, 6-4.

It was a good day for teenage wild cards at the men's $25,000 Little Rock Futures, with 19-year-old Ulises Blanch and 17-year-old Alexandre Rotsaert picking up victories in first round action. Blanch defeated No. 8 seed Ante Pavic of Croatia 7-6(3), 7-6(4) and Rotsaert beat Filipp Kekercheni of Ukraine 6-3, 6-2.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Qualifying Complete at USTA Pro Circuit Events in Pelham and Little Rock; Signing Week Begins at the Tennis Recruiting Network; Tennis on Campus National Championships Begin Thursday in Orlando

Usually qualifying at women's USTA Pro Circuit events doesn't finish until Tuesday, but this week there are two such events, the $25,000 tournament in Pelham Alabama and the $80,000 tournament in Indian Harbour Beach Florida, and the Alabama tournament's qualifying began on Saturday, not Sunday as usual.

Earning places in the main draw in Pelham are four Americans: Madeline Kobelt(Syracuse), Keri Wong(Clemson), Frances Altick(Vanderbilt) and Georgia Tech recruit Victoria Flores. Three of the other qualifiers have college ties: Alabama senior Erin Routliffe of Canada, former Clemson star Beatrice Gumulya of Indonesia and former St. Mary's College standout Catherine Leduc of Canada. The eighth qualifier is Turkey's Cagla Buyukakcay, who is currently 106 in the WTA rankings and six months ago was No. 60. Buyukakcay took a wild card into qualifying, but unlike the ITF Men's Circuit, which waits to do the draw when such a highly ranked player is in qualifying, the Women's Circuit doesn't wait, with the result that Buyukakcay is unseeded in the main draw, where she would have been the top seed had she not been in qualifying.

As a junior, Maria Mateas had terrible luck in ITF junior circuit draws last year, drawing the number one seed in the first round at the last three Grade As she played: Wimbledon, the US Open and the Orange Bowl (for an interesting look at another player who has had bad draws this year, see this Heavy Topspin article). Although her draws have been better on the USTA Pro Circuit, where she's played exclusively this year, her luck ran out this week, and Mateas, who received a wild card, has drawn Buyukakcay.  Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal is the top seed this week, with the other wild cards given to Alexa Guarachi Mathison of Chile, Ashley Kratzer and Cameron Morra. Sophie Chang, a finalist last week in Jackson Mississippi received a special exemption. There is a lucky loser spot not yet filled that will also go to an American.

The Indian Harbour Beach qualifying will finish on Tuesday. That tournament features Genie Bouchard of Canada, who took a wild card and will be the No. 1 seed and Madison Brengle, the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to Vicky Duval, who is coming back from injury, Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia and Nicole Coopersmith. This is the first of four women's Pro Circuit events that will count toward the race for the French Open reciprocal wild card the USTA distributes every year.

At the $25,000 Men's Futures in Little Rock, seven of the eight qualifiers are Americans, all with college ties: Henry Craig(Denver), Christopher Haworth(Oklahoma State), John Lamble(Santa Clara), Winston Lin(Columbia), Tim Kopinski(Illinois) and recruits Mac Kiger(Illinois) and John McNally(Ohio State).  The eighth qualifier, Alastair Gray of Great Britain, is a TCU recruit.  Junior Danny Thomas got in as a lucky loser. The top seed is Yannick Mertens of Belgium, and wild cards went to Julio Olaya, Alexandre Rotsaert, Ulises Blanch and Kevin King.

A few US women are also in Mexico for the $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit tournament there. Ellie Douglas received a main draw wild card, with Alexa Ryngler, Alexandra Riley, Desirae Krawczyk and Akiko Okuda the Americans who advanced via qualifying.

Signing Week has begun over at the Tennis Recruiting Network, and they will have several features each day, some commitment announcements, others articles that highlight an already announced choice. I will have one of the latter Friday, on Amanda Meyer's decision to join Vanderbilt this fall.

This year's USTA Tennis on Campus National Championships will be held beginning Thursday at the new USTA Campus in Lake Nona.  This competition for club teams at universities across the country has grown dramatically since its inception in 2000, with more than 35,000 students now participating.  Sixty-four teams will travel to Orlando for the Nationals; the list of those teams can be found here.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hiltzik Claims First Futures Title; Top Seeds Danilovic and Davidovich Win Grade 1 Titles in Spain; Rubin, Sandgren Qualify for ATP Clay Courts in Houston

Jared Hiltzik is in his first full year on the Pro Circuit after an All-America career at the University of Illinois, so he could hardly be frustrated by his lack of singles titles to date.  Prior to this week, he had made three Futures finals however, once while still in school and two since, and had lost all three. So the 22-year-old's 6-3, 6-3 win today in the final of the $25,0000 Memphis Futures over Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe after a big comeback win over top seed Mackenzie McDonald Saturday must have been something of a relief. Hiltzik, who has won three doubles titles on the Pro Circuit, is now 12-7 on the USTA Pro Circuit in 2017, and is playing again this coming week, at the $25,000 Futures in Little Rock Arkansas. As the draw fates would have it, Garanganga and Hiltzik play in the first round in Little Rock, with both unseeded, as they were this week.

At the women's $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Jackson Mississippi, 19-year-old wild card Sophie Chang battled hard in her first Pro Circuit singles final, but fell to No. 2 seed Barbara Haas of Austria 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4 in three hours and seven minutes.  Chang, who at 741 is ranked more than 500 places behind Haas, stayed in the match until the very end, despite 12 doubles faults.  Top seeds Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia and Anna Zaja of Germany won the doubles titles, beating Alexa Guarachi Mathison of Chile and Ronit Yurovsky 6-2, 6-0 in the final.

Danilovic and Davidovich Fokina, photo courtesy Richard van Loon
The champions at the ITF Grade 1 Trofeo Juan Carlos Ferrero in Alicante Spain were both seeded No. 1.  Sixteen-year-old Olga Danilovic of Serbia defeated No. 2 seed Eva Guerrero Alvarez of Spain 7-5, 6-3 to win her first Grade 1 title, while 17-year-old Alejandro Davidovich of Spain overtook No. 11 seed Simon Carr of Ireland 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 for his third Grade 1 title.

Danilovic, the 2016 French Open girls doubles champion, made it a sweep of the titles in Spain, winning the doubles title with Irina Cantos Siemers of Germany. The No. 2 seeds defeated No. 3 seeds Astrid Brune Olsen and Malene Helgo of Norway 7-6(4), 6-2 in the final.  The boys doubles champions are No. 8 seeds Jesper de Jong and Ryan Nijboer of the Netherlands, who beat unseeded Nicolas Alvarez Varona and Alberto Colas Sanchez of Spain 7-6(1), 7-5 in the final. 

Qualifying is complete at the ATP 250 US Men's Clay Courts in Houston, with Tennys Sandgren and Noah Rubin advancing to the main draw with wins today.  Sandgren defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-3, 6-2 to qualify for an ATP event for the first time in his career. He will play wild card Ernesto Escobedo in the first round. Noah Rubin defeated Bradley Klahn 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(2) to advance to a first round match against Nicolas Kicker of Argentina.  The entire US Davis Cup team, who just lost a 3-2 decision in the quarterfinals to host Australia yesterday, is entered in Houston and all have byes in the first round: Jack Sock[1], John Isner[2], Sam Querrey[3] and Steve Johnson[4].

And congratulations to 2014 French Open girls champion Daria Kasatkina of Russia, who won her first WTA title today at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston. Kasatkina defeated fellow 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, the 2014 Wimbledon girls champion, 6-3, 6-1 in the final. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Looking at the ITF's Pro Circuit Restructuring; Chang and Hiltzik Reach Pro Circuit $25K Finals

At the end of last month, the International Tennis Federation announced a change in the structure of the pro circuit it sponsors. Its lowest level events (formerly $10,000 prize money, now $15,000) will be converted to what the ITF calls a Transition Tour and will no longer award ATP/WTA points. Instead, ITF Entry points will be earned, which will allow entry into the higher level ITF Pro Circuit events.

Although this sounds straightforward, it is complicated by the fact that the only higher level on the ITF Men's Pro Circuit is $25,000, with the other higher dollar events all ATP sanctioned Challengers, while on the ITF Women's Pro Circuit, there are four higher levels: $25K, $60K, $80K and $100K. This means the ITF will need to create an entry point structure that works for both, and for the men, that will require much more collaboration with the tour's governing body.

The ITF can not be accused of not doing its homework.  Stakeholder surveys were undertaken last year, one for players and one for non-players, and the results of those surveys is available via links in this article, which explains the just-announced change. I do find it odd that the questions revolve around the 2013 calendar year, when 2015 or certainly 2014 data would have been available at the time the survey was developed.

The impetus for change seems to be too many players chasing too few points and dollars, and the ITF says it is aiming for a pool of 750 professional men's tennis players and 750 professional women's players. I'm not sure where this number comes from, perhaps it is a mathematical determination of a pool big enough to encompass those who may exceed the break-even professional ranking, which is 336 for men and 253 for women. Some of this may be semantics, as it is difficult to imagine that the over 6000 Pro Circuit competitors who did not earn any prize money during 2013 consider themselves professionals.

But discouraging those 6000 and the thousands more that make very little has its drawbacks. It amounts, basically, to saving the players from themselves. Now anyone with the money to travel can usually find a place in lowest-level qualifying, and maybe that will continue on the Transition Tour, but with the link to ATP/WTA points less direct, that may serve as a deterrent. Of course qualifying entry fees remain a major source of revenue for tournaments, so smaller draws could mean shortfalls.
"The next step is to ensure the structure of professional tennis is fit for purpose through a targeted job opportunities approach that will create a smaller group of true professional players. At the same time it is imperative that we do not reduce the chance for players of any nation or background to start their journey towards the top 100."--ITF president Dave Haggerty
Those are two goals that will not be easy to reconcile, but the ITF is going to try. How will this impact the junior tour? I assume the ITF will make changes to its junior exempt program, which provides entry into various levels of Pro Circuit events for those with a Top 20 ITF year-end ranking. Will this new structure make the junior to Top 100 pro pathway easier to navigate? Maybe if it can eliminate the grueling 128-qualifying draws for some of the US Pro Circuit Futures, but right now, it's hard to see just where and how the pathway widens for juniors.

And I'm sure Stephen Amritraj, the head of Collegiate Tennis at the USTA, is busy studying how this re-structuring will impact Americans playing college tennis. It could mean more players from around the world will gravitate to college rather than grind through the new Transition Tour, but that is just speculation until the new system is up and running in 2019.

In the two $25,000 tournaments being played this week on the USTA Pro Circuit, Americans Jared Hiltzik and Sophie Chang have advanced to the Sunday's singles finals by defeating the tournaments' top seeds. The unseeded Hiltzik defeated Mackenzie McDonald 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 coming from 4-2 down in the third set at the Memphis Futures. Hiltzik, the former Illinois star, has reached a Futures final three times before, losing all three championship matches. He will play unseeded Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe in the final.   McDonald did leave with one title, in doubles, when he and Great Britain's Lloyd Glasspool, the No. 4 seeds, defeated top seeds Philip Bester of Canada and Alex Lawson 6-2, 7-6(3).

Chang will also be seeking her first Pro Circuit singles title in Jackson Mississippi after defeating Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. The 19-year-old wild card also was down 4-2 in the final set and came back to win four straight games and the match. Chang will face No. 2 seed Barbara Haas of Austria in her first ITF Pro Circuit singles final. Haas defeated No. 8 seed Usue Arconada 6-3, 6-1 in the other semifinal.

Friday, April 7, 2017

March Aces; ITA Summer Circuit Nationals Move to TCU; Stanford and Mississippi State Men Take Down Top 10 Conference Opponents; Crandell Leaving IMG

With so much going on in Southern California the last half of March, I may have neglected to mention some of the important results of college and junior players at Pro Circuit events around the world. I spent the past few days catching up for my monthly Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network and I hope I didn't miss anyone while looking at so many tournaments and scores. It certainly was a good month for junior girls on the ITF Women's Pro Circuit.

The ITA announced the schedule for this year's Summer Circuit, with over 50 tournaments to be held in locations around the country during the six weeks from June 23rd to July 31st. I wrote about this series some years back for the Tennis Recruiting Network and I know from the time I spent at Western Michigan tournament that a wide variety of players, juniors and collegians, take advantage of the opportunity to play a lot competitive matches over a short period of time. It also is an excellent opportunity for juniors to combine unofficial visits with competition. I'm not sure what the impact of the recent announcement of the UTR sponsorship will be, but one change is definitely on the horizon, with the National Championships, the culmination of all these individual tournaments, will be played at TCU this year, leaving its longtime home at the University of Indiana.  See the release for all the dates and contact information, as well as comments from TCU women's coach Lee Walker about the move to Fort Worth.

In other relocation news, the New Balance High School Championships, which have been held in Boston for its first three years, is moving to the Weil Tennis Academy in Ojai California for this July's tournament.  See the event's Facebook page for more information.

A couple of upsets today in men's Division I tennis, with No. 19 Stanford beating No. 5 Southern Cal 4-1 in Palo Alto and No. 18 Mississippi State defeating No. 7 Texas A&M 4-3 in Starkville.  Check out College Tennis Today later for all the results from a busy weekend in college tennis.

I received an email today from Ben Crandell, longtime agent at IMG, saying that he was leaving the company. Crandell, whose clients included, among others, Vera Zvonareva, the Harrison brothers, Heather Watson, Hyeon Chung and Michael Mmoh, had been with IMG 13 years. Although the email didn't specify what he's doing next, I hope it still involves tennis. For those of us on the junior circuit, he was always great fun to talk to and his clients had nothing but praise for him.