Saturday, November 28, 2015

Levine, Ambrozy Take Down No. 2 Seeds in First Round of Eddie Herr ITF Qualifying; Girls 16s Qualifying Complete; Gibbs Reaches WTA Carlsbad Final

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Bradenton, FL--

A beautiful Florida day was not pretty for the No. 2 seeds in the first round of qualifying of the Eddie Herr ITF Grade 1, with Eugenia Ganga of Argentina and Constantin Bittoun-Kouzmine of France falling to US juniors who didn't travel far for the competition.

Mimi Levine, who trains at the IMG Academy, saved two match points in her 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(5) win over Ganga, and she appreciated the support of  the half dozen friends cheering her on from the deck of the porch overlooking Court 1.

Serving at 4-5 in the third set, Levine found herself at ad out twice, but each time Ganga made unforced errors early in the point. Levine went on to hold and break, so she was serving for the match, but she was broken at love, a circumstance Levine did not let bother her.

"We kept breaking each other on that side," said Levine, who turned 17 last Sunday. "There was something with the wind. But she played a really good game, a solid four points. I just tried to go into the tiebreaker with a clean slate, not worry about that, because I knew that was the tougher side."

Levine fell behind 5-3 in the tiebreaker, but Ganga threw in her second double fault of the tiebreaker to make it 5-4, and Levine won her two serves, with Ganga making forehand errors in both points to give Levine a match point.  Levine converted when Ganga netted a backhand, with Levine's small cheering section expressing their delight, although doing so discreetly.

"It was kind of like my home court, and all my friends were watching, so it was a really fun atmosphere," said Levine. "One of them is my roommate, but most of them are golfers. I'm friends with a lot of golfers. They're generally more reserved, because golf is super polite and stuff. But it was fun to have them watching."

In addition to Ganga, No. 3 seed Hurricane Tyra Black and No. 5 seed Rafaella Baquerizo of Ecuador went out in first round play, with Kamilla Kokeladze of Russia beating Black 6-0, 2-6, 6-3 and Nadia Gizdova advancing over Baquerizo, 6-3, 3-1, retired. 

Four of the top eight seeds in boys qualifying lost, with wild card Ambrozy beating Bittoun Kouzmine 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 despite a gap of over 1200 places in the ITF junior rankings.

"I played one ITF like six months ago and I did well, I got to the semis, but that's my only points, so that's why I needed a wild card to get into qualies," said Ambrozy, who lives in nearby St. Petersburg.

Ambrozy, a senior who has committed to Columbia, obviously had no previous history with the 16-year-old from France, so he needed some time to assess his game.

"I knew he was lefty coming in, so I knew that much. When he came on court I saw he was short, so I thought my kick might be good," said the tall 18-year-old. "It took me a couple of games to learn he is a really fast, grinding player that gets balls back. I was struggling with that in the first and a little bit in the second, but I managed to figure it out."

Ambrozy said that growing up in Florida, he is comfortable on the Har-Tru courts used for the ITF tournament. He also is determined to make the most of his last nine months of junior competition before heading to Columbia next fall.

"A lot of people stop playing tournaments, and they get to school, and it's like, wow, I'm not playing well right now because I haven't played a match in a year," Ambrozy said. "I have a pretty good birthday, it's in September, so I want to play Clay Courts and Kalamazoo my last year and do well there."

No. 3 seed Alexis Galarneau of Canada, No. 7 seed Sebastian Arcila of Puerto Rico and No. 8 seed Jack Van Slyke of Canada all lost in opening round play.  Christos Antonopoulos of Greece beat Galarneau 6-3, 6-3, Jacob Eskeland of Norway defeated Arcila 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-2 and John McNally downed Van Slyke 6-0, 6-3.

Top qualifying seeds Hanna Chang and Rudolf Molleker of Germany advanced easily in their first round matches.

Qualifying will be completed on Sunday, with two rounds, and those who qualify will not play on Monday.

Usue Arconada and Denis Klok of Russia, both of whom would have been seeded in the main draw, have withdrawn.

Complete results and Sunday's order of play can be found at

The girls 16s qualifying is complete, with four US girls advancing to the main draw: Sarah Hua, Anna Letto, No. 4 seed Margaret Ownsby and No. 7 seed Vanessa Streng.  The other four qualifiers are: Azul Agustina Pedemonti of Argentina, Fernanda Labrana of Chile, Adelaide Lavery of Canada and Sofiya Sokolova of Russia.

The final round of qualifying for boys and girls 12s, boys and girls 14s and boys 16s is Sunday.

At the WTA Carlsbad $125K, No. 5 seed Nicole Gibbs advanced to the final with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Jennifer Brady.  Gibbs won the first nine games of the match, but Brady recovered from two breaks down in the second set to pull even, only to get broken a third time at 4-4, with Gibbs serving it out. The two-time NCAA champion will play top seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, who beat Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-4, 6-2.

Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland made it two straight titles in the US, beating Sekou Bangoura 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 in the final of the $15,000 Waco Futures.  Laaksonen won the ATP $50,000 Challenger last week in Champaign.

Next week, the ITF Men's Circuit will feature a new $15,000 Futures event in Tallahassee. Qualifying began there today.

Friday, November 27, 2015

My Eddie Herr ITF Preview, Qualifying Draws and Wild Cards; Day Reaches Yucatan Grade 1 Final; Gibbs, Brady in WTA 125K Semifinal

©Colette Lewis 2015--
Bradenton, FL--

Qualifying for the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions at the Eddie Herr are in full swing, and the dozens of hard courts were all occupied when I arrived on a warm and sunny Friday afternoon at the IMG Academy. The Har-Tru courts were being used for practice, with the ITF Grade 1 tournament beginning on Monday, and qualifying, which consists of three rounds over two days, starting Saturday.

Twenty US boys and 25 US girls are in the qualifying draws, with Hanna Chang the top seed and Hurricane Tyra Black the No. 3 seed.

My tournament preview for the Tennis Recruiting Network was posted this morning. When I wrote it, I didn't have access to the names of all the ITF main draw wild cards, but I have them now:

Andres Andrade, Ecuador
Nathan Perrone, USA
Sami Kirbert, USA
Trent Bryde, USA
Oliver Crawford, USA
Jake Van Emburgh, USA
Jason Legall, USA
Duarte Vale, Portugal

Amanda Anisimova, USA
Whitney Osuigwe, USA
Caty McNally, USA
Abigail Desitanikov, USA
Nathasha Subhash, USA
Ellie Douglas, USA
Nandini Das, India
Tate Schroeder, USA

Qualifying matches begin at 7:45 Saturday morning.  The draws and order of play can be found at

At the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup, top seed Sonya Kenin was beaten by No. 6 seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia 6-0, 6-4 in Thursday's quarterfinals. In today's semifinal, Potapova lost to No. 4 seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada 6-3, 7-5, in a rematch of last year's Junior Orange Bowl 14s final, which Potapova won.

Andreescu will play No. 5 seed Kayla Day in the final, after she won the all-American semifinal by downing No. 2 seed Usue Arconada 6-2, 6-3 tonight.

Arconada had defeated No. 7 seed Evgeniya Levashova of Russia 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 in the quarterfinals and Day had beaten No. 13 seed Maria Mateas 6-2, 7-5. 

The last remaining US boy, No. 8 seed Ulises Blanch, lost in Thursday's quarterfinals to No. 13 seed Kenneth Raisma of Estonia 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-2. Raisma has reached Saturday's final, but his opponent won't be determined until later tonight.

At the $125,000 WTA tournament in Carlsbad, California, Nicole Gibbs(5) and Jennifer Brady have reached the semifinals and will play each other.  Gibbs defeated No. 2 seed Tatjana Maria of Germany 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 in today's quarterfinals and Brady got past unseeded Marina Melnikova of Russia 6-2, 7-5.  CiCi Bellis, who had beaten Kat Stewart on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals, lost to top seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 6-4, 6-3. Wickmayer's opponent in the semifinals is Marie Sakkari of Greece, who beat Samantha Crawford 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-2.

At the $15,000 Waco Futures, Sekou Bangoura will meet Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland in the final.  No. 5 seed Bangoura edged Dennis Nevolo 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(1) and No. 2 seed Laaksonen topped No. 3 seed Nick Meister 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4.  Bangoura has already secured one title this week as he and Matt Seeburger won the doubles championship.  The top seeds beat wild cards Julian Lenz and William Little, who play for Baylor, 1-6, 6-3, 10-6 in the final.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eight US Girls, Two US Boys Reach Third Round at Grade 1 Yucatan Cup; More College Commitments, News; Paul Featured in Entouraj for Kids Charity Event

This is an early post today, and I will be taking Thanksgiving off, but look for a post on Friday from the Eddie Herr, which I'll be covering for the 12th straight year.

Keeping up with the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup in Mexico is not easy, with late night matches and limited live scoring and results posted, but today's third round features eight US girls in the final 16 and two US boys.  The girls advancing are Sonya Kenin(1), Abigail Desiatnikov, Alexandra Sanford(11), Kayla Day(5), Taylor Johnson, Maria Mateas(13), Jessica Livianu and Usue Arconada(2).  The boys are wild card Robert Loeb and No. 8 seed Ulises Blanch.

Since Monday's post, a few more college commitments have been announced.

A couple of big ones have not been on the schools' websites, but tweets indicate that Brandon Holt and Riley Smith are now officially committed to attending Southern Cal (no surprise there) and Emily Arbuthnott of Great Britain, currently No. 30 in the ITF junior rankings, has signed with Stanford.

Florida State has announced the signing of Alex Knaff.
North Carolina has announced the signings of Simon Friis Soendergaard and Joshua Peck.
Cal has announced the signings of Bjorn Hoffman and Connor Heap.
South Florida has announced the signings of Benjamin Hannestad and Mathieu Scaglia.
Tulane has announced the signings of Jonathan Star and Tim Ruetzel
Denver has announced the signings of Sean Huynh and Pedro Fernandez Del Valle.
Gonzaga has announced the signings of Samuel Feit, Simon Homedes, and Vincent Rettke.

SMU has announced the signing of Sarai Delfina Monarrez Yesaki.
Saint Mary's has announced the signing of Jacqueline Pelletier.

The University of Virginia put together an extensive account of sophomore Henrik Wiersholm's run to the title at the Pensacola Futures last week, with several quotes from Wiersholm on his learning experience as a freshman.

Duke announced that Marc Spicijaric has been promoted to associate coach for the women's team, and that former University of Illinois women's head coach Michelle Dasso is the Blue Devils new volunteer assistant.

I neglected to mention in Sunday's post that former UCLA star Jean-Julien Rojer won the ATP World Tour Finals with partner Horia Tecau. With their performance in London, the Wimbledon champions clinched the World No. 1 ranking for 2015, displacing Mike and Bob Bryan, who had finished No. 1 for the past six years. For more on Rojer and Tecau's year, see the UCLA website.

Zootennis sponsor College Tennis Exposure Camps has its 27th annual camp scheduled for December 5 and 6 at the University of South Florida.  For more information on registering for the event and a list of college coaches expected to attend, click here.

If you are in the Indianapolis area, consider attending ATP pro Rajeev Ram's annual Entouraj for Kids charity event December 5 and 6 at the Carmel Racquet Club. Denis Kudla, Tommy Paul and Eric Butorac and of course, Ram, will be there, for exhibitions, clinics and auctions.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bellis Defeats Seed in Carlsbad $125K; College Players Dominate Waco Futures; USTA's October Honor Roll; ITA Division II, III and NAIA Fall Rankings

Sixteen-year-old CiCi Bellis returned to competition for the first time since the US Open women's qualifying today at the $125,000 WTA Carlsbad, California tournament, beating No. 6 seed Julia Glushko of Israel 6-3, 6-4. Bellis, who has been injured, will play Katerina Stewart next. The 18-year-old Floridian advanced to the second round with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Paula Goncalves of Brazil Monday. Bellis and Stewart have played four times, twice in juniors and twice in Pro Circuit events last October, with Bellis going 4-0.

Other Americans advancing to the round of 16 include Kristie Ahn, Samantha Crawford, Jennifer Brady and No. 5 seed Nicole Gibbs. Gibbs won in unusual fashion on Monday, when her opponent, Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia, was defaulted with Gibbs leading 6-3, 3-2 after apparently for unsportsmanlike conduct. She apologized on twitter, specifically to Gibbs and to her doubles partner, Vania King, calling her behavior "unacceptable." Defaults for misconduct put the player out of the tournament, so King was unable to compete in doubles with an alternate team taking their place.

At the $15,000 Waco Futures, 12 of the 16 players remaining in the draw are current or former college players.

Dennis Nevolo (Illinois),  who defeated top seed Daniel Nguyen(USC) yesterday, will play Texas A&M sophomore Arthur Rinderknech, a qualifier;  TCU sophomore Cameron Norrie will face No. 6 seed Stefan Kozlov; No. 4 seed Tom Jomby(Kentucky) will play qualifier Jacob Sude(Oklahoma State); Clay Thompson(UCLA) meets No. 5 seed Sekou Bangoura(Florida); qualifier Robbie Mudge(North Carolina State) plays No. 8 seed Maximiliano Estevez of Argentina; Baylor senior Julian Lenz faces No. 3 seed Nick Meister(UCLA); TCU sophomore Guillermo Nunez plays No. 7 seed Tigre Hank of Mexico and Baylor junior Maxime Tchoutakian faces Champaign Challenger champion, No. 2 seed Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland.

The USTA posts an Honor Roll every month of the top performances by US players aged 20 and under, recognizing both the player and their coaches.  Although I try to mention as many of these achievements as I can for those 18-and-under, I do miss a few, so please check out this detailed list.

The ITA released the NAIA fall rankings today, with Kevin Konfederak and Jordan Cox of Georgia Gwinnett No. 1 and No. 2. Georgia Gwinnett also has the top-ranked women in NAIA, Valeria Podda.

In the Division II rankings, released yesterday, Alejandra Cisneros of Armstrong State is the top-ranked woman, and Jan Meyer of Azusa Pacific is No. 1 in the men's rankings.

The Division III fall rankings came out earlier this month, with Eudice Chong of Wesleyan and Noah Farrell of Middlebury No. 1 in singles.

The links to the complete lists for all divisions can be found at the ITA rankings page.

Monday, November 23, 2015

My Conversation with Austin Krajicek; College Commitments Galore

While I was at the Champaign Challenger last week, I had an opportunity to catch up with Austin Krajicek, who reached the quarterfinals in singles and the final in doubles there. Krajicek, who won the Kalamazoo 18s title in 2008 and the NCAA doubles title with Jeff Dadamo in 2011, his last year at Texas A&M, explained how he has made the transition to the pro game in the past four years. Now just outside the Top 100, Krajicek has been as high 94, having reached the quarterfinals of an ATP 500 event in Tokyo last month. My interview with Krajicek is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Now that the early signing period for 2016 is over, many schools have posted their releases on their incoming recruits.  I've been collecting links of those I've seen on Twitter, and I'm providing them below. I apologize if I've missed some.


The University of Georgia has announced the signings of Nathan Ponwith, Robert Loeb, Alex Phillips and Alex Diaz.

The University of Tennessee has announced the signing of Steven Karl.

LSU has announced the signings of Agustin Moreno and Nikola Samardzic.

Texas A&M has announced the signing of Hady Habib.

Vanderbilt has announced the signing of Billy Rowe.

The University of Washington has announced the signing of Amit Batta.

The University of Oregon has announced the signing of Ty Gentry.

The University of Arizona has announced the signing of Andres Reyes.

The University of Utah has announced the signings of Jon Dollahite and RJ Parker.

Indiana University has announced the signings of Bennett Crane and Zac Brodney.

The University of Illinois has announced the signings of Zeke Clark and Gui Gomes.

The University of Michigan has announced the signings of Nick Beaty and Connor Johnston.

The University of Wisconsin has announced the signings of Chase Colton and Osgar O'Hoisin.

The University of Nebraska has announced the signings of Dylan Bednarczyk and Chris Dean.

Georgia Tech has announced the signing of Christopher Yun.

Florida State has announced the signing of Guy Orly Iradukunda.

Duke University has announced the signings of Robert Levine and Nick Stachowiak.

North Carolina State has announced the signing of Sean Burnette.

The University of Louisville has announced the signing of Parker Wynn.

The University of Texas has announced the signing of Yuya Ito.

Texas Tech has announced the signing of Augusto Stodart.

Brigham Young  has announced the signings of Brocton Andrus and Garret Vincent.

The University of Michigan has announced the signing of Chiara Lommer.

The University of Nebraska has announced the signings of Jeannie Lozowski, M’Balia Bangoura, Hayley Haakenstad and Emma Worley.

Michigan State  has announced the signing of Samantha Memije.

The University of Wisconsin has announced the signing of Michelle Linden, Melissa Pick and Christina Zordani.

The University of Minnesota has announced the signings of Tina Kreinis and Karyna Bihel.

The University of New Mexico has announced the signing of Alexandra Chung.

Boise State has announced the signings of Lilian PolingJovana Kuljanin and Wilhelmina Palmer.

Utah State has announced the signings of Sophia Haleas, Ellee Bullock and Hannah Jones.

Tulane has announced the signing of Christina Sisti.

Middle Tennessee State has announced the signings of Lidia Burrows and Holly Horsfall.

Old Dominion has announced the signing of Holly Hutchinson.

North Texas has announced the signing of Kalani Soli.

Brigham Young has announced the signings of Natella Nabieva Samantha Smith and Kate Cusick.

The University of Tennessee has announced the signings of Mary Caroline Meredith and Ariadna Riley.

Auburn University has announced the signings of Taylor Russo and Roos Van Der Zwaan.

The University of Missouri has announced the signings of Mackenzy Middlebrooks and Tate Schroeder.

The University of Mississippi has announced the signing of Anna Vrbenska.

Texas A&M has announced the signing of Constance Branstine.

The University of Florida has announced the signing of Ingrid Neel.

The University of Georgia has announced the signing of Marta Gonzalez Encinas.

LSU has announced the signings of Rebecca Weissman, Jade Lewis and Raveena Kingsley.

The University of Alabama has announced the signings of Makenna Jones and Madison Pothoff.

Vanderbilt has announced the signing of Christina Rosca.

The University of Oregon has announced the signing of Julia Eschet.

The University of California has announced the signing of Alexis Nelson.

The University of Washington has announced the signings of Katarina Kopcalic and Lana Slavica.

The University of Arizona has announced the signing of Paris Corley.

Arizona State has announced the signing of Savannah Slaysman.

UCLA has announced the signing of Ena Shibahara.

Southern Cal has announced the signing of Angela Kulikov.

The University of Utah has announced the signing of Emily Maxfield.

Florida State has announced the signings of Nandini Das and Mary Haffey.

Notre Dame has announced the signings of Zoe Spence and Bess Waldram.

Clemson has announced the signing of Sydney Riley.

Georgia Tech has announced the signings of Kenya Jones, Nadia Gizdova and Nami Otsuka.

The University of North Carolina has announced the signings of Alexandra Sanford and Sarah Daavettila.

North Carolina State has announced the signings of Anna Rogers and Adriana Reami.

The University of Virginia has announced the signings of Hunter Bleser, Camille Favero and Chloe Gullickson.

The University of Oklahoma has announced the signings of Ann Selim and Julie Byrne.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Anisimova Defeats Swan in Girls Singles Final in Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano, Olivieri Wins Boys Title; Wiersholm Claims Pensacola Futures Championship

Amanda Anisimova's first ITF junior title was a big one, with the 14-year-old from Florida defeating No. 3 seed Katie Swan of Great Britain 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 to capture the Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano title.

Ranked 368 last week, Anisimova beat the sixth-ranked Swan by weathering several storms along the way.  Trailing 5-2 in the first set, with Swan's first serve clicking, Anisimova finally began to return better and find her forehand in the eighth game.  Saving a set point with a forehand winner at 2-5, 30-40, Anisimova broke Swan at 30-40 with a forehand winner. Yet another forehand winner ended Anismova's service game, bringing the set back to even at 5 and she broke Swan on her third break point of the game, with a, you guessed it, forehand winner.  Anisimova closed out the first set on her third set point, when her backhand forced an error from Swan.

Anismiova went up 2-0 in the second set, winning seven straight games from 5-2 down it the first set, but it was Swan who fought back and took control, running off five straight games of her own before Anisimova held for 5-3 after saving three set points at 0-40.  Swan needed two more set points on her own serve, but finally converted and immediately broke Anisimova to start the third, helped by a inadvertent drop shot winner. But Swan's 2-0 lead disappeared as it had for Anisimova in the second set, with a long game, which included a pair of double fault/ace sequences, eventually going the way of Anisimova on her sixth break point.

Anisimova held and broke at love for a 4-2 lead, then saved a break point to hold for 5-2, with Swan saving a match point in the next game, but forcing Anisimova to serve it out.  Getting three first serves in, Anisimova went up 40-0, but then double faulted for 40-15. She missed another first serve on match point number two, but Swan netted a backhand return to end the match.

It was sweet revenge for Anismova, who had lost to Swan, the Australian Open girls finalist, at the Easter Bowl back in April by a 6-2 6-3 score.  She said after the match that she hopes to do well enough in the remaining three tournaments of the year to receive Australian Open entry in January, but the 250 points she earned this week are probably enough regardless.

Anisimova is among the 24 American girls in the main draw of the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup, which begins Monday. Five US boys are in the main draw.

The boys singles championship at the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano went to unseeded Genaro Olivieri of Argentina, who defeated No. 13 seed Youssef Hossam of Egypt 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

At the $10,000 Pensacola Futures, qualifier Henrik Wiersholm won the battle of the 18-year-olds, beating Alex Rybakov 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.  The University of Virginia sophomore won nine matches in ten days, picking up his first ATP point with a win on Wednesday and rolling from there. Rybakov saved one break point serving at 3-4 in the third set, but Wiersholm converted the second and held to 30 to close out the title. It was the second straight week that Rybakov, the TCU recruit, had come up short in a Futures final.

There are no men's Pro Circuit events the rest of the year in the United States, but there are two more $15,000 ITF Men's Futures tournaments, one in Waco this coming week, and one in Tallahassee the following week.

The last women's event in the United States is a WTA $125K series event, new this year, in Carlsbad, California. CiCi Bellis is returning to competition after an injury, with Katerina Stewart, Samantha Crawford, Kristie Ahn, Grace Min, Nicole Gibbs(5), Jennifer Brady and Sachia Vickery(7) among the young Americans in the draw.