Sunday, October 4, 2015

US Girls Fall in Junior Fed Cup Final, Canadian Boys Win Junior Davis Cup; Smyczek Saves Match Points to Win Tiburon Challenger; Pre-qualifying Complete at Women's ITA All American Championships

Junior Davis Cup winners Canada and
Junior Fed Cup winners Czech Republic
(photo via the ITF Junior Facebook page)
The top seeds took the Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup titles today in Madrid, but both needed wins in the deciding doubles point to do so.  The Czech Republic defeated the second-seeded USA team for their first Junior Fed Cup title since 2001, with Marketa Vondrousova proving to be too strong for the Americans.  The Canadian boys won the country's first Junior Davis Cup title, beating Germany in a tense three-set doubles match.

The US girls got off to a great start, with Kayla Day taking out Monika Kilnarova 6-3, 6-1.  The 16-year-old left-hander from Santa Barbara was much stronger on serve than Kilnarova, who held only twice in the match, the second time when she trailed 5-0 in the second set.

Unfortunately for the US, the tables were turned in the No. 1 singles match, with Vondrousova, who was No. 1 in the ITF junior rankings until Dalma Galfi replaced her at the top last month, taking a 7-5, 6-4 decision over Claire Liu.  Liu had beaten Vondrousova in their previous two meetings, in the Junior Orange Bowl 14s final in 2013 and last year at the Eddie Herr ITF.  But Liu struggled with her serve, particularly her toss, all day, and even though she fought back to break Vondrousova twice when serving for the first set, she was broken for a fourth time at 5-all and Vondrousova finished it, on her fifth set point, with a nifty drop shot winner.

Trailing 2-0 and 4-2 in the second set, Liu again fought back, but she was broken at 4-all, and Vondrousova converted on her second match point.

Day, who played doubles in place of Michaela Gordon, and Liu were certainly the underdogs going into the doubles, with Vondrousova a two-time girls doubles slam champion, although she had not won them with Anna Slovakova, her fellow left-hander. But Day and Liu played poorly to start the match and lost the first ten games before Liu finally held her serve. That wasn't nearly enough however, and as she had done against No. 4 seed Canada in the semifinals, Vondrousova brought the Czech team back from 1-0 down to claim the win.

In Junior Davis Cup, Canada got off to a good start, with Denis Shapovalov beating Marvin Moeller 6-1, 6-4 at No. 2 singles.  But Nicola Kuhn, who was named the Most Valuable Player in a losing cause, defeated Felix Auger Aliassime 6-3, 6-3 in the No. 1 singles match.  Auger Aliassime had beaten Kuhn at No. 2 singles in the 14-and-under World Junior Tennis final in the Czech Republic last year, with Germany coming back to win 2-1.

Unlike last year, Auger Aliassime played in the deciding doubles match in this final, and he and Shapovalov, the US Open boys champions, took a tense 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Kuhn and Moeller.

For more on the finals, see the report from the ITF junior website.

The results of the finals and the third place matches are below.  For all of today's results, see the ITF tournament site.

CZECH REPUBLIC (1) defeated USA (2) 2-1:
Kayla Day (USA) d. Monika Kilnarova (CZE) 63 61
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) d. Claire Liu (USA) 75 64
Anna Slovakova/Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) d. Kayla Day/Claire Liu (USA) 60 62

Girls 3rd-4th place play-offs 
CANADA (4) defeated RUSSIA (3) 3-0:
Bianca Andreescu (CAN) d. Evgeniya Levashova (RUS) 62 62
Charlotte Robillard-Millette (CAN) d. Olesya Pervushina (RUS) 63 75

Bianca Andreescu/Vanessa Wong (CAN) d. Evgeniya Levashova/Elena Rybakina (RUS) 61 36 63

CANADA (1) defeated GERMANY (5) 2-1:
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) d. Marvin Moeller (GER) 61 64
Nicola Kuhn (GER) d. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 63 63
Felix Auger-Aliassime/Denis Shapovalov (CAN) d. Nicola Kuhn/Marvin Moeller (GER) 63 36 62

Boys 3rd-4th place play-offs
RUSSIA (4) defeated JAPAN (8) 3-0:
Alen Avidzba (RUS) d. Yunosuke Tanaka (JPN) 64 62
Artem Dubrivnyy (RUS) d. Toru Horie (JPN) 63 60
Alen Avidzba/Mikhail Sokolovskiy d. Yuta Shimizu/Yunosuke Tanaka (JPN) 62 64

In Sunday's USTA Pro Circuit finals, the only singles champion from the US is Tim Smyczek, who beat fellow American Denis Kudla 1-6, 6-1, 7-6(7), saving four match points, to take the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger. Kudla, the No. 1 seed, served for the match at 5-3 in the third set, but the third-seeded Smyczek saved a match point there, then two more serving at 4-5, then another in the tiebreaker, before finally securing the win and a return to the ATP Top 100.  Top seeds Johan Brunstrom of Sweden and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark won the doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Carsten Ball and Matt Reid of Australia 7-6(2), 6-1 in the final. 

At the women's $50,000 tournament in Las Vegas, Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands took her second straight USTA Pro Circuit final, beating No. 7 seed Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-1 in the final.  Krajicek, who won the $75,000 Albuquerque tournament last week as a qualifier and received a special exemption into Las Vegas, will return to the WTA Top 200 with this title. The 26-year-old was ranked as high as 30 when she was a teenager. 

Wild cards Nicole Gibbs and Julia Boserup took the doubles title, beating top seeds and Albuquerque champions Sanaz Marand and Paula Goncalves of Brazil 6-3, 6-4 in the final. 

South Africa's Nik Scholtz, who completed his eligibility at Ole Miss this spring, won his sixth career Futures title today at the $10,000 tournament in Laguna Niguel, California.  The No. 4 seed defeated No. 3 seed Wil Spencer 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The women's $10,000 tournament in Charleston, South Carolina was rained out for the third straight day, with a second round match still not completed.  Monday's order of play can be found here.

The pre-qualifying is complete at the women's ITA/Riviera All American Championships.  Those reaching the 64-player qualifying draw are: North Carolina's Jessie Aney(9-16), Texas Tech's Gabriela Talaba, Duke's Kaitlyn McCarthy(9-16) and Ellyse Hamiln(9-16), USC's Rianna Valdes(7), Pepperdine's Luisa Stefani(9-16), Arkansas's Shannon Hudson and Oklahoma State's Kelsey Laurente.  Qualifying begins on Tuesday for the women. 

In Tulsa, the men still have another round of pre-qualifying Monday, and those who win will play immediately in the first round of qualifying. Both draws are available at the ITA tournament page.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Douglas, Hilderbrand Win ITF Grade 5 in Austin; Sah, Harvey Take Titles in Dominican Republic; ITA All-American Pre Qualifying Underway

The fall ITF junior circuit began this week in Austin, Texas, a new site for the Grade 5, which had been in Waco previously.  Two unseeded 15-year-old Texans, Ellie Douglas and Trey Hilderbrand, finished today as champions, winning their first ITF titles.

Douglas, the No. 3 seed, defeated unseeded Nadia Gizdova 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, while the unseeded Hilderbrand beat Brady Draheim, also unseeded, 7-6(6), 7-5 in the boys final.

Gizdova did get a title however, taking the doubles with Abigail Chiu. The No. 5 seeds beat unseeded Gabriella Cusano and Addison Guevara 6-2, 6-1 in the final. Hilderbrand went 1 for 2 in finals, losing in the boys doubles final, with Henry Cacciatore, to the fourth-seeded team of Mac Kiger and Sebastian Mermersky 6-1, 7-6(5).

At the Grade 5 in the Dominican Republic, Timothy Sah, who swept both titles at the Grade 5 in Puerto Rico last week, did it again. Seeded No. 15 in singles, the 16-year-old from California defeated 15-year-old qualifier Arnav Dhingra 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Sah and Zachary Garner, the No. 2 seeds, defeated No. 4 seeds Evan Bynoe and Vignesh Subramanyan 6-3, 7-6(4) in the doubles final.

Fourteen-year-old Kacie Harvey won her first ITF singles title in the Dominican Republic, with the No. 10 seed defeating unseeded 13-year-old Peyton Stearns 6-3, 6-3 in the final, taking all five of her victories in straight sets.  Harvey, who won a doubles title last month in Honduras for her first ITF junior title, also won as a team this week. She and Kianah Motosono, the No. 3 seeds, defeated top seeds Maria Yanez Diaz of Mexico and Jimena Rodriguez Benito 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

At the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup today in Madrid, the US boys finished seventh, defeating the Czech Republic 2-1.  The complete results of today's placement matches can be found here.

Boys 7th-8th place play-offs:
USA (3) defeated CZECH REPUBLIC (7) 2-1:
Patrick Kypson (USA) d. Michael Vrbensky (CZE) 64 63
Patrick Rikl (CZE) d. Vasil Kirkov (USA) 64 67(5) 60
Vasil Kirkov/Patrick Kypson (USA) d. Patrick Rikl/Michael Vrbensky (CZE) 76(5) 64

The semifinalists had the day off Saturday.  The US girls will play the Czech Republic for the Junior Fed Cup title.  The boys Junior Davis Cup final is between Canada and Germany. The finals be streamed here, beginning at 5 a.m. Eastern time Sunday.

The pre-qualifying for the ITA All-American Championships are underway for the men in Tulsa, and for the women in Pacific Palisades. The men's pre-qualifying draw is open to anyone who wishes to play, with the result a 512 draw this year (although there were actually "only" 266 players total). The women's pre-qualifying is a 64-draw. The women's PQ draw, along with the selections for the qualifying and main draw, can be found at the ITA tournament page.  Carol Zhao of Stanford and NCAA Most Outstanding Player in the Team Sweet 16 Astra Sharma of Vanderbilt are not among the participants, but the rest of the top women in college are scheduled to play.

As Bobby Knight has pointed out on his blog College Tennis Today, the participation in the men's All-American this year is disappointing, with the top four and eight of the top 15 in the preseason rankings skipping the tournament.  The increase in the number of Challengers in the fall here in the US could be one reason, and I agree with Knight that the no-ad format and the new Oracle Masters could also be contributing factors to the weak field this year. Or it may just be random. The fields at the Indoor next month may help determine that.

The men's pre-qualifying results and the selections for the qualifying and main draw are at the ITA's tournament page

Four Americans will play for USTA Pro Circuit singles titles on Sunday. At the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger, it will be top seed Denis Kudla and No. 3 seed Tim Smyczek in the final.  Kudla trailed wild card Mackenzie McDonald of UCLA 3-0 in the final set, but managed to come away with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 win.  Smyczek posted a routine 6-3, 6-1 win over unseeded 18-year-old Quentin Halys of France.

At the women's $50,000 tournament in Las Vegas, No. 7 seed Shelby Rogers will play unseeded Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands in the final.  Rogers defeated No. 3 seed Romina Oprandi of Switzerland 6-4, 6-4, while Krajicek, who won last week's $75,000 tournament in Albuquerque, beat No. 6 seed Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 7-6(6).  

In Laguna Niguel, No. 3 seed Wil Spencer will play No. 4 seed Nik Scholtz of South Africa for the singles title at the $10,000 Futures. Spencer defeated unseeded Lucas Gomez of Mexico 7-6(3), 7-6(6) in today's semifinals, with Scholtz advancing to the final with a 6-4, 6-2 decision over unseeded Phillip Simmonds. 

Rain has continued to keep any tennis from being played at the women's $10,000 tournament in Charleston, SC. A round of 16 match is still incomplete, and although the schedule shows matches including the semifinals on Sunday, the weather forecast continues to call for heavy rain the next several days. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

September Aces; US Girls Advance to Junior Fed Cup Final; Holt and Smith Take Doubles Title at Futures; McDonald into Tiburon Challenger Semis

My monthly review of the top performances by junior and college players is up today at the Tennis Recruiting Network, featuring, among others, US Open champions Taylor Fritz, who hasn't played since then, and Hungarian Dalma Galfi, who has reached the semifinals of a $15,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Australia.

At the Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup competition in Madrid, the US girls, seeded No. 2,  returned to the finals for the second year in a row, defeating No. 3 seed Russia 2-1.

Kayla Day, who played No. 2 singles in three of the four ties, got the Americans off to a fast start, defeating Elena Rybakina 6-4, 6-3, but at No. 1 singles, Claire Liu struggled in the opening set against Olesya Pervushina, losing it 6-2.  Liu quickly took the second set 6-1, but lost serve in a long opening game in the third set. Down 2-0, Liu won five games in a row, with Pervushina's double faults particularly damaging in that stretch.  Pervushina finally held for 5-3 and when Liu went down 15-40 serving for the match, another change of momentum seemed likely.  But an ace and a missed second serve return cost Pervushina, who saved one match point when Liu double faulted, but couldn't save the second, with Liu clinching the tie by a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 score.  Day and Michaela Gordon lost the moot doubles point to make the final score 2-1.

The US will play the Czech Republic in Sunday's final, with the top seed needing to come back twice to advance past No. 4 seed Canada. Bianca Andreescu gave Canada a 1-0 lead, but world No. 2 Marketa Vondrousova defeated Charlotte Robillard-Millette at No. 1 singles to make it 1-1.  The Czech team of Vondrousova and Anna Slovakova lost the first set of the doubles to Andreescu and Robillard-Millette, but came back to post a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory and secure their place in the final.

The Junior Davis Cup final will feature No. 1 Canada against No. 5 Germany, a rematch of last year's ITF World Junior Tennis 14-and-under team championships, won by Germany.

Germany had the much tougher time advancing, but Nicola Kuhn won a three-setter at No. 1 singles over Toru Horie of Japan and teamed with Marvin Moeller to win the doubles to give Germany a 2-1 victory over the No. 8 seeds.

Canada swept past No. 4 seed Russia, the fourth straight match they have won 3-0.

The third-seeded US boys lost to second-seeded Australia 2-1 today, with the Americans' point coming from Vasil Kirkov's 6-4, 6-3 win over Alex De Minaur.  The best the US boys can finish now is seventh, if they defeat No. 7 seed the Czech Republic on Saturday.

Below are the semifinal results and the US boys results.  The other results are available at the ITF tournament site.  For photos and a video of the US girls, see the ITF Junior Facebook page.

Girls Semifinals 
CZECH REPUBLIC (1) defeated CANADA (4) 2-1:
Bianca Andreescu (CAN) d. Monika Kilnarova (CZE) 62 46 63
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) d. Charlotte Robillard-Millette (CAN) 60 64
Anna Slovakova/Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) d. Bianca Andreescu/Charlotte Robillard-Millette (CAN) 26 63 62
USA (2) defeated RUSSIA (3) 2-1:
Kayla Day (USA) d. Elena Rybakina (RUS) 64 63
Claire Liu (USA) d. Olesya Pervushina (RUS) 26 61 63
Evgeniya Levashova/Elena Rybakina (RUS) d. Kayla Day/Michaela Gordon (USA) 36 75 62

Boys Semifinals
CANADA (1) defeated RUSSIA (4) 3-0:
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) d. Alen Avidzba (RUS) 64 63
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) d. Artem Dubrivnyy (RUS) 64 75
Felix Auger-Aliassime/Denis Shapovalov (CAN) d. Alen Avidzba/Mikhail Sokolovskiy (RUS) 61 63
GERMANY (5) defeated JAPAN (8) 2-1:
Yunosuke Tanaka (JPN) d. Marvin Moeller (GER) 63 57 64
Nicola Kuhn (GER) d. Toru Horie (JPN) 67(4) 76(2) 61
Nicola Kuhn/Marvin Moeller (GER) d. Toru Horie/Yunosuke Tanaka (JPN) 63 63

Boys 5th-8th place play-offs
AUSTRALIA (2) defeated USA (3) 2-1:
Blake Ellis (AUS) d. Patrick Kypson (USA) 76(5) 36 62
Vasil Kirkov (USA) d. Alex de Minaur (AUS) 64 63
Blake Ellis/Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d. Vasil Kirkov/Patrick Kypson (USA) 36 61 62

The singles semifinals are set at three of the four Pro Circuit events this week, with the $10,000 women's tournament in Charleston again falling behind schedule with more rain.

At the $10,000 Laguna Niguel Futures, the semifinals will feature No. 3 seed Wil Spencer against unseeded Lucas Gomez of Mexico and unseeded Phillip Simmonds against No. 4 seed Nik Scholtz of South Africa.  Spencer defeated No. 7 seed Noah Rubin 6-4, 3-6, 6-4; Gomez advanced over 16-year-old qualifier Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 1-6, 7-5(5), 7-5; Scholtz beat No. 8 seed Clay Thompson 7-6(3), 6-2, and Simmonds downed qualifier Hendrik Jebens of Germany 7-6(5), 7-5.

The doubles championship was played this afternoon, with wild cards Brandon Holt and Riley Smith taking the title. The high school seniors, both future USC Trojans, beat No. 4 seeds Spencer and Junior Ore 6-4, 6-3.  Holt and Smith, the US Open boys finalists and third place finishers in Kalamazoo, did not lose a set in their four victories. 

At the $50,000 women's event in Las Vegas, No. 6 seed Nicole Gibbs and No. 7 seed Shelby Rogers advanced to the semifinals.  Gibbs will play Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands, while Rogers will play No. 3 seed Romina Oprandi of Switzerland. 

UCLA's Mackenzie McDonald has reached his second Challenger semifinal at the $100,000 tournament in Tiburon.  The 20-year-old advanced to a meeting with top seed Denis Kudla when his quarterfina opponent, No. 6 seed Bjorn Fratangelo, retired with a back injury trailing 4-0 in the first set. The other semifinal will feature No. 3 seed Tim Smyczek and 18-year-old Quentin Halys of France.  McDonald, with partner Deiton Baughman, have also advanced to the doubles semifinals as wild cards. Links to the tournament's live stream can be found at the tournament website.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

US Girls Advance to Junior Fed Cup Semifinals, US Boys Lose to Japan; Blackman on Sports Illustrated Tennis Podcast; UCLA's McDonald Reaches Tiburon Challenger Quarterfinals

Two countries--Canada and Russia--still have an opportunity to sweep the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup titles this weekend in Madrid, but the United States, which did it last year, is not among them.

The US girls, the No. 2 seeds, are still in contention for a second straight title, after defeating No. 6 seed Spain 3-0, with Michaela Gordon and Claire Liu posting singles victories to clinch the Americans' spot in the semifinals. They will play Russia on Friday, with the No. 3 seeds defeating No. 8 seed Brazil 3-0.

The other girls semifinal will feature top seeds the Czech Republic, who beat No. 5 Australia 2-1, and No. 4 seed Canada, who defeated unseeded Japan 3-0.

In Junior Davis Cup, the top half went as projected, with No. 1 Canada, a 3-0 winner over the No. 7 seeds the Czech Republic, meeting No. 4 seed Russia, who defeated No. 6 seed Argentina 2-1.

The bottom half semifinal is more surprising, with No. 8 seed Japan taking on No. 5 seed Germany.

The US boys, who won two difficult ties to start the competition, couldn't overcome the hamstring injury to Sam Riffice on Wednesday. Patrick Kypson and Vasil Kirkov both lost their singles matches, putting Japan in the semifinals before the doubles point, also won by Japan, was played.

Germany was expected to contend for the boys championship after winning the ITF World Junior Tennis 14-and-under title last year, but when Rudolf Molleker did not make the trip, their chances appeared to take a hit, and they were seeded No. 5.  But Nicola Kuhn, like Molleker just 15 years old, stepped in to the No. 1 spot and has dominated, losing just four game in his first two matches, then beating US Open semifinalist Alex De Minaur of No. 2 seed Australia 6-3, 6-2 today, clinching the tie with the Germans' second point.  At 97, Kuhn is a full 70 spots lower in the ITF junior rankings than De Minaur, but he dominated today.

The US boys will play Australia on Friday in the 5-8 playoff.

Live streaming of selected matches is available here.  Live scoring is here.

Complete results below:

Girls Group A
CZECH REPUBLIC (1) defeated AUSTRALIA (5) 2-1:
Jaimee Fourlis (AUS) d. Monika Kilnarova (CZE) 61 57 62
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) d. Destanee Aiava (AUS) 62 61
Anna Slovakova/Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) d. Destanee Aiava/Seone Mendez (AUS) 63 64
Suzan Lamens (NED) d. Paula Baranano 61 61
Maria Lourdes Carle (ARG) d. Isolde de Jong (NED) 36 75 64
Paula Baranano/Maria Lourdes Carle (ARG) d. Isolde de Jong/Suzan Lamens (NED) 75 46 61

Girls Group B
CANADA (4) defeated JAPAN 3-0:
Bianca Andreescu (CAN) d. Mai Hontama (JPN) 62 62
Charlotte Robillard-Millette (CAN) d. Kimika Sakata (JPN) 62 63
Bianca Andreescu/Vanessa Wong (CAN) d. Ayumi Miyamoto/Kimika Sakata (JPN) 63 61
GREAT BRITAIN (7) defeated COLOMBIA 2-1:
Sofia Munera (COL) d. Ali Collins (GBR) 64 26 63
Katie Swan (GBR) d. Emiliana Arango (COL) 64 75
Ali Collins/Katie Swan (GBR) d. Emiliana Arango/Sofia Munera (COL) 61 63

Girls Group C
RUSSIA (3) defeated BRAZIL (8) 3-0:
Evgeniya Levashova (RUS) d. Nathalia Gasparin (BRA) 61 61
Olesya Pervushina (RUS) d. Thaisa Pedretti (BRA) 26 64 62
Evgeniya Levashova/Elena Rybakina (RUS) d. Marcelle Cirino/Nathalia Gasparin (BRA) 63 60
Tatiana Pieri (ITA) d. Chen Pei Hsuan (TPE) 64 26 62
Federica Bilardo (ITA) d. Lee Yang (TPE) 62 63
Monica Cappelletti/Tatiana Pieri (ITA) d. Chen Pei Hsuan/Lee Yang (TPE) 57 62 62

Girls Group D 
USA (2) defeated SPAIN (6) 3-0:
Michaela Gordon (USA) d. Paula Arias Manjon (ESP) 61 36 64
Claire Liu (USA) d. Eva Guerrero Alvarez (ESP) 64 62
Kayla Day/Claire Liu (USA) d. Noelia Bouzo Zanotti/Eva Guerrero Alvarez (ESP) 61 60
NEW ZEALAND defeated EGYPT 2-1:
Laila Elnimr (EGY) d. Valentina Ivanov (NZL) 63 62
Nina Paripovich (NZL) d. Dalila Said (EGY) 36 75 63
Lauren Alter/Valentina Ivanov (NZL) d. Laila Elnimr/Dalila Said (EGY) 67(5) 75 75

Boys Group A
CANADA (1) defeated CZECH REPUBLIC (7) 3-0:
Benjamin Sigouin (CAN) d. Michael Vrbensky (CZE) 60 76(7)
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) d. Patrik Rikl (CZE) 64 16 4-3 ret.
Denis Shapovalov/Benjamin Sigouin (CAN) d. Daniel Velek/Michael Vrbensky (CZE) 76(2) 36 62
POLAND defeated HONG KONG 2-1:
Konrad Fryze (POL) d. Sou Ming Chun Alan (HKG) 57 63 76(2)
Kacper Zuk (POL) d. Lam Ching (HKG) 62 64
Cheung Ngai Long/Lam Ching (HKG) d. Konrad Fryze/Daniel Michalski (POL) 63 36 75

Boys Group B
RUSSIA (4) defeated ARGENTINA (6) 2-1:
Alen Avidzba (RUS) d. Santiago Rodriguez Taverna (ARG) 76(5) 36 64
Artem Dubrivnyy (RUS) d. Tomas Etcheverry (ARG) 64 63
Camilo Ugo Carabelli/Santiago Rodriguez Taverna (ARG) d. Artem Dubrivnyy/Mikhail Sokolovskiy (RUS) 64 62 
Jonas Eriksson Ziverts (SWE) d. Yu Hua Chen (TPE) 75 63
Hsu Tyu Hsiou (TPE) d. Karl Friberg (SWE) 61 62
Hsu Tyu Hsiou/Yu Hua Chen (TPE) d. Linus Bergevi/Jonas Eriksson Ziverts (SWE) 75 75

Boys Group C
JAPAN (8) defeated USA (3) 3-0:
Yunosuke Tanaka (JPN) d. Patrick Kypson (USA) 62 06 61
Toru Horie (JPN) d. Vasil Kirkov (USA) 76(4) 64
Yuta Shimizu/Yunosuke Tanaka (JPN) d. Vasil Kirkov/Patrick Kypson (USA) 76(5) 64
BRAZIL defeated SPAIN 2-1:
Andres Fernandez Canovas (ESP) d. Gabriel Bugiga (BRA) 64 62
Gabriel Decamps (BRA) d. Nikolas Sanchez-Izquierdo Vivar (ESP) 62 64
Gabriel Decamps/Enzo Kohn (BRA) d. Alejandro Davidovich Fukina/Andres Fernandez Canovas (ESP) 75 46 62

Boys Group D
GERMANY (5) defeated AUSTRALIA (2) 2-1:
Marvin Moeller (GER) d. Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 75 36 63
Nicola Kuhn (GER) d. Alex de Minaur (AUS) 63 62
Alex de Minaur/Blake Ellis (AUS) d. Marvin Moeller/Maximilian Todorov (GER) 67(7) 75 61

Nicolas Mejia (COL) d. Joshua Howard-Tripp (RSA) 63 62
Sergio Hernandez (COL) d. Richard Thongoana (RSA) 64 60
Alejandro Hoyos/Nicolas Mejia (COL) d. Albertus Kruger/Richard Thongoana (RSA) 06 62 62

Two USTA Player Development items.  The Team USA quarterly forum was last night, and if you missed it, it should be available here, although you may need to register to access it.

General Manager Martin Blackman was a guest on Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim's Beyond the Baseline podcast this week.  Blackman discusses the challenges and expectations for American tennis, with Lake Nona, setting the bar high for the current junior boys, the lack of women's coaches, the role teams play in attracting youngsters to the sport, and what success will look like for him among the topics.

Except for the $10,000 women's event in Charleston, where rain has intervened, the quarterfinals are set at the other USTA Pro Circuit events.  

At the $10,000 Laguna Niguel Futures, No. 3 Wil Spencer is the top seed remaining.  He will play No. 7 seed Noah Rubin in the quarterfinals. Sixteen-year-old qualifier Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia took out top seed Thales Turini of Brazil 7-6(3), 6-2 to make his first Futures quarterfinal, and he will go against unseeded Lucas Gomez of Mexico. No. 4 seed Nik Scholtz and No. 8 seed Clay Thompson will play in the third quarterfinal, with Phillip Simmonds and qualifier Hendrik Jebens, a San Diego State junior, facing off in the bottom quarter.

US Open boys doubles finalists Brandon Holt and Riley Smith, high school seniors who received a wild card, have reached the doubles final, and they have yet to be taken a match tiebreaker. They will play the unseeded team of Spencer and Junior Ore in Friday's final.

At the $50,000 women's event in Las Vegas, Nicole Gibbs(6), Alexa Glatch(5), Jennifer Brady, Shelby Rogers(7) and Anna Tatishvili(2) have reached the quarterfinals. 

In Tiburon, California, where the $100,000 ATP Challenger is taking place, UCLA junior Mackenzie McDonald is among those reaching the quarterfinals.  McDonald, a wild card, led Sekou Bangoura 6-3, 3-0 in their second round match today, only to watch as the former Florida star reeled off eight straight games.  Trailing 2-0 in the third, McDonald got the break back and held, but couldn't put any pressure on Bangoura's serve after that.  Serving at 5-6, McDonald went down 30-40, but a huge forehand pass just catching the sideline saved the match point for McDonald and he held to force a tiebreaker.  The 20-year-old from nearby Piedmont, California dominated it, going up 6-1 before securing the 6-3, 3-6, 76(3) victory. 

McDonald will play No. 6 seed Bjorn Fratangelo in one of Friday's quarterfinals.  Top seed Denis Kudla meets No. 7 seed Blaz Rola of Slovenia. Mitchell Krueger will play 2014 US Open boys finalist Quentin Halys of France, and former Wisconsin Badger Marek Michalicka of the Czech Republic will face No. 3 seed Tim Smyczek.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Riffice Injured, but US Boys Survive in Junior Davis Cup, US Girls Cruise in Junior Fed Cup

The United States teams will both play Thursday for a place in the semifinals of the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup competition, but how each team stayed undefeated couldn't be more different.

The girls, seeded second, have yet to lose a set, with Claire Liu and Kayla Day winning both their singles matches and then partnering to win the doubles for a 3-0 victory over New Zealand.  They will play No. 6 seed Spain in the third and final tie in their round robin group, with Spain also winning both their previous ties 3-0.

In two of the four Junior Fed Cup round robin groups, undefeated and seeded teams will face each other: No. 1 Czech Republic v. No. 5 Australia and the USA vs Spain.  The other two groups have been less predictable.  No. 4 seed Canada needed a third set in doubles to get by No. 7 seed Great Britain, which has now lost both their ties and is eliminated from contention.  Canada will play unseeded Japan, one of two unseeded teams with a chance to move into the semifinals.  Italy defeated No. 8 seed Brazil today, leaving both countries with a 1-1 record. If Brazil defeats No. 3 Russia and Italy also wins over Taiwan, three teams would be 2-1 in that group, so percentages would decide the group winner. Russia is the clear favorite to advance, however.

The US boys got a quick lift from Kalamazoo 16s champion Patrick Kypson, who was named to the team last week to replace Gianni Ross, who was ill and unable to travel. Kypson, playing No. 2 singles, defeated Gabriel Bugiga of Brazil 6-1, 6-1 giving the US a 1-0 lead, but Sam Riffice dropped the opening set of his match against Gabriel Decamps at No. 1 singles. Riffice was up 4-2 in the second set when he suffered an injury, which was reported as a torn hamstring by the ITF.  He received treatment (the score was deuce in the game), lost the next two points and retired, with the score 6-1, 3-4.

That meant the US had to win the doubles point, and without Riffice, who has played regularly with Vasil Kirkov for some time now.  Kypson was called on again, and after dropping the first set, Kirkov and Kypson claimed a 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Enzo Kohn and Decamps.  The final set was not quite as easy as the score might indicate, with Kirkov saving two break points serving at 2-4. But another break gave Kypson an opportunity to serve out the match, and after seeing two match points come and go, the Americans converted the third.

Kypson and Kirkov will play No. 8 seed Japan to decide which country advances to the semifinals. All four of the matches so far in their round robin group have been decided by the doubles point, a rare occurrence.
In the article linked to above, USA captain Sylvain Guichard says that Ross was going to be the No. 2 player, meaning the US now is relying on players originally 3 and 4 on the depth chart.

The other three ties on Thursday will also be winner advances to the semifinals, with all seeds going 2-0.   No. 1 Canada will play No. 7 Czech Republic, No. 2 Australia will face No. 5 Germany, and No. 4 Russia will meet No. 6 Argentina.  Australia's No. 1, Alex De Minaur, who reached the US Open boys semifinals as a qualifier, has an interesting international background, as revealed in this feature by Sandy Harwitt.

Live streaming is available, and I expect the US girls to be on a streamed court given that host Spain provides the opposition. Live scoring is available here.

Full results from Day 2 in Madrid:

Girls Group A 
Monika Kilnarova (CZE) d.  Paula Baranano (ARG) 61 26 63
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) d. Maria Lourdes Carle (ARG) 62 64
Monika Kilnarova/Anna Slovakova (CZE) d. Paula Baranano/Camila Moreno (ARG) 36 62 62
Suzan Lamens (NED) d. Seone Mendez (AUS) 76(5) 76(4)
Destanee Aiava (AUS) d. Isolde de Jong (NED) 63 16 63
Destanee Aiava/Jaimee Fourlis (AUS) d. Isolde de Jong/Suzan Lamens (NED) 63 64

Girls Group B
CANADA (4) defeated GREAT BRITAIN (7) 2-1:
Bianca Andreescu (CAN) d. Jodie Anna Burrage (GBR) 36 76(7) 61
Katie Swan (GBR) d. Charlotte Robillard-Millette (CAN) 63 75
Bianca Andreescu/Charlotte Robillard-Millette (CAN) d. Jodie Anna Burrage/Katie Swan (GBR) 61 26 63
JAPAN defeated COLOMBIA 2-1:
Mai Hontama (JPN) d. Sofia Munera (COL) 76(6) 57 63
Emiliana Arango (COL) d. Ayumi Miyamoto (JPN) 62 62
Ayumi Miyamoto/Kimika Sakata (JPN) d. Emiliana Arango/Sofia Munera (COL) 64 75

Girls Group C
RUSSIA (3) defeated CHINESE TAIPEI 3-0:
Elena Rybakina (RUS) d. Chen Pei Hsuan (TPE) 76(5) 61
Olesya Pervushina (RUS) d. Lee Yang (TPE) 61 61
Evgeniya Levashova/Elena Rybakina (RUS) d. Lee Yang/Wu Fang Hsien (TPE) 26 64 75
ITALY defeated BRAZIL (8) 3-0:
Tatiana Pieri (ITA) d. Marcelle Cirino (BRA) 62 61
Federica Bilardo (ITA) d. Thaisa Pedretti (BRA) 75 62
Federica Bilardo/Tatiana Pieri (ITA) d. Nathalia Gasparin/Thaisa Pedretti (BRA) 64 57 63

Girls Group D
USA (2) defeated NEW ZEALAND 3-0:
Kayla Day (USA) d. Valentina Ivanov (NZL) 61 63
Claire Liu (USA) d. Nina Paripovich (NZL) 64 61
Kayla Day/Claire Liu (USA) d. Lauren Alter/Valentina Ivanov (NZL) 60 61
SPAIN (6) defeated EGYPT 3-0:
Paula Arias Manjon (ESP) d. Laila Elnimr (EGY) 63 46 63
Eva Guerrero Alvarez (ESP) d. Dalila Said (EGY) 60 75
Noelia Bouzo Zanotti/Eva Guerrero Alvarez (ESP) d. Laila Elnimr/Dalila Said (EGY) 57 62 62

Boys Group A
CANADA (1) defeated HONG KONG 3-0:
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) d. Sou Ming Chun Alan (HKG) 61 61
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) d. Lam Ching (HKG) 61 63
Felix Auger-Aliassime/Denis Shapovalov (CAN) d. Lam Ching/Sou Ming Chun Alan (HKG) 62 63
CZECH REPUBLIC (7) defeated POLAND 2-1:
Michael Vrbensky (CZE) d. Daniel Michalski (POL) 62 64
Patrik Rikl (CZE) d. Kacper Zuk (POL) 63 63
Konrad Fryze/Daniel Michalski (POL) Daniel Velek/Michael Vrbensky (CZE) 75 60

Boys Group B
RUSSIA (4) defeated CHINESE TAIPEI 2-1:
Alen Avidzba (RUS) d. Yu Hua Chen (TPE) 63 61
Artem Dubrivnyy (RUS) d. Hsu Tyu Hsiou (TPE) 61 61
Hsu Tyu Hsiou/Yu Hua Chen (TPE) d. Alen Avidzba/Artem Dubrivnyy (RUS) 76(3) 62
ARGENTINA (6) defeated SWEDEN 3-0:
Camilo Ugo Carabelli (ARG) d. Jonas Eriksson Ziverts (SWE) 76(0) 60
Tomas Etcheverry (ARG) d. Karl Friberg (SWE) 62 61
Camilo Ugo Carabelli/Santiago Rodriguez Taverna (ARG) d. Linus Bergevi/Jonas Eriksson Ziverts (SWE) 64 76(1)

Boys Group C
USA (3) defeated BRAZIL 2-1:
Patrick Kypson (USA) d. Gabriel Bugiga (BRA) 61 61
Gabriel Decamps (BRA) d. Sam Riffice (USA) 61 3-4 ret.
Vasil Kirkov/Patrick Kypson (USA) d. Gabriel Decamps/Enzo Kohn (BRA) 46 60 62
JAPAN (8) defeated SPAIN 2-1:
Andres Fernandez Canovas (ESP) d. Yunosuke Tanaka (JPN) 63 57 63
Toru Horie (JPN) d. Alejandro Davidovich Fukina (ESP) 63 26 63
Toru Horie/Yunosuke Tanaka (JPN) d. Alejandro Davidovich Fukina/Nikolas Sanchez-Izquierdo Vivar (ESP) 63 61

Boys Group D
AUSTRALIA (2) defeated COLOMBIA 3-0:
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d. Nicolas Mejia (COL) 75 63
Alex de Minaur (AUS) d. Alejandro Hoyos (COL) 60 61
Alex de Minaur/Blake Ellis (AUS) d. Alejandro Hoyos/Nicolas Mejia (COL) 61 62
GERMANY (5) defeated SOUTH AFRICA 2-1:
Marvin Moeller (GER) d. Albertus Kruger (RSA) 62 76(1)
Nicola Kuhn (GER) d. Joshua Howard-Tripp (RSA) 62 60
Albertus Kruger/Richard Thongoana (RSA) d. Nicola Kuhn/Maximilian Todorov (GER) 57 64 61

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

US Teams Open Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup with Wins; Anderson Qualifies in Las Vegas, McDonald Wins in Tiburon; Team USA Forum Wednesday

Only one of the 16 seeds in the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup lost in Tuesday's opening day of play, but several of the favorites were tested, including the US boys.

Seeded third and playing unseeded Spain, the US went down early to the hosts, with Vasil Kirkov losing to Andres Fernandez Canovas 6-0, 6-3. That meant Sam Riffice had to win at the No. 1 spot, which he did, meaning the doubles would decide the match.  Up 6-3, 4-2, Kirkov and Riffice lost five straight games, but then won five straight and finished off the 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win. The US boys will play unseeded Brazil on Wednesday, and according to the order of play, will be on one of the courts that is streamed at

Top seed Canada defeated Poland 3-0, but Felix Auger Aliassime, the highest ranked ITF junior in the field, had to come back from 6-4, 4-0 down against Poland's Kacper Zuk to win 4-6, 7-6(1), 6-4 and avoid having the doubles decide it.

The seeded team that did lose was Junior Fed Cup seventh seed Great Britain, who fell to Japan 2-1.  I'm not sure why Katie Swan didn't play doubles, after the British No. 1 won her singles match to send the tie into a deciding doubles, but she didn't, and Ayumi Miyamoto and Kimika Sakata defeated  Jodie Anna Burrage and Ali Collins 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to complete the upset.

The No. 1 seeded Czech Republic team won both singles, but lost the doubles point to the Netherlands, while the USA team, seeded No. 2, breezed past Egypt 3-0.

For more on the first day's action, see the ITA Junior website.

Complete results are below, and live scoring can be found here.

Girls Group A 
Czech Republic (1) defeated Netherlands 2-1:
Monika Kilnarova (CZE) d.  Suzan Lamens (NED) 62 76(6)
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) d. Isolde de Jong (NED) 76(0) 61
Isolde de Jong/Suzan Lamens (NED) d. Monika Kilnarova/Anna Slovakova (CZE) 64 16 75
Australia (5) defeated Argentina 3-0:
Jaimee Fourlis (AUS) d. Paula Baranano (ARG) 60 62
Seone Mendez (AUS) d. Maria Lourdes Carle (ARG) 63 64
Destanee Aiava/Seone Mendez (AUS) d. Paula Baranano/Camila Moreno (ARG) 61 61

Girls Group B
Canada (4) defeated Colombia 3-0:
Bianca Andreescu (CAN) d. Maria Osorio (COL) 63 62
Charlotte Robillard-Millette (CAN) d. Emiliana Arango (COL) 76(1) 75
Bianca Andreescu/Vanessa Wong (CAN) d. Emiliana Arango/Sofia Munera (COL) 76(8) 64
Japan defeated Great Britain (7) 2-1:
Mai Hontama (JPN) d. Ali Collins (GBR) 60 16 63
Katie Swan (GBR) d. Kimika Sakata (JPN) 63 62
Ayumi Miyamoto/Kimika Sakata (JPN) d. Jodie Anna Burrage/Ali Collins (GBR) 64 46 62

Girls Group C
Russia (3) defeated Italy 3-0:
Elena Rybakina (RUS) d. Tatiana Pieri (ITA) 64 26 75
Olesya Pervushina (RUS) d. Federica Bilardo (ITA) 64 75
Evgeniya Levashova/Elena Rybakina (RUS) d. Federica Bilardo/Tatiana Pieri (ITA) 63 62
Brazil (8) defeated Chinese Taipei 2-1:
Chen Pei Hsuan (TPE) d. Nathalia Gasparin (BRA) 75 63
Thaisa Pedretti (BRA) d. Lee Yang (TPE) 63 61
Nathalia Gasparin/Thaisa Pedretti (BRA) d. Chen Pei Hsuan/Wu Fang Hsien (TPE) 76(5) 62

Girls Group D
USA (2) defeated Egypt 3-0:
Kayla Day (USA) d. Laila Elnimr (EGY) 63 62
Claire Liu (USA) d. Dalila Said (EGY) 64 60
Michaela Gordon/Claire Liu (USA) d. Laila Elnimr/Dalila Said (EGY) 64 61
Spain (6) defeated New Zealand 3-0:
Paula Arias Manjon (ESP) d. Valentina Ivanov (NZL) 63 60
Eva Guerrero Alvarez (ESP) d. Nina Paripovich (NZL) 62 60
Paula Arias Manjon/Noelia Bouzo Zanotti (ESP) d. Lauren Alter/Valentina Ivanov (NZL) 76(4) 62

Boys Group A
Canada (1) defeated Poland 3-0:
Benjamin Sigouin (CAN) d. Daniel Michalski (POL) 64 62
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) d. Kacper Zuk (POL) 46 76(1) 64
Denis Shapovalov/Benjamin Sigouin (CAN) d. Konrad Fryze/Daniel Michalski (POL) 61 61
Czech Republic (7) defeated Hong Kong, China 3-0:
Michael Vrbensky (CZE) d. Sou Ming Chun Alan (HKG) 63 64
Partik Rikl (CZE) d. Lam Ching (HKG) 62 64
Daniel Velek/Michael Vrbensky (CZE) d. Lam Ching/Sou Ming Chun Alan (HKG) 63 76(3)

Boys Group B
Russia (4) defeated Sweden 3-0:
Alen Avidzba(RUS) d. Jonas Eriksson Ziverts (SWE) 62 60
Artem Dubrivnyy (RUS) d. Karl Friberg (SWE) 60 63
Artem Dubrivnyy/Mikhail Sokolovsky (RUS) d. Linus Bergevi/Jonas Eriksson Ziverts (SWE) 64 64
Argentina (6) defeated Chinese Taipei 3-0:
Santiago Rodriguez Taverna (ARG) d. Huang Tsung Hao (TPE) 61 61
Tomas Echeverry (ARG) d. Hsu Tyu Hsiou (TPE) 61 61
Camilo Ugo Carabelli/Santiago Rodriguez Taverna (ARG) d. Hsu Tyu Hsiou/Yu Hua Chen (TPE) 57 76(5) 64

Boys Group C
USA (3) defeated Spain 2-1:
Andres Fernandez Canovas (ESP) d. Vasil Kirkov (USA) 60 63
Sam Riffice (USA) d. Alejandro Davidovich Fukina (ESP) 60 76(10)
Vasil Kirkov/Sam Riffice (USA) d. Alejandro Davidovich Fukina/Nikolas Sanchez-Izquierdo Vivar (ESP) 63 46 62
Japan (8) defeated Brazil 2-1:
Gabriel Bugiga (BRA) d. Yuta Shimizu (JPN) 61 63
Toru Horie (JPN) d. Gabriel Decamps (BRA) 60 62
Yuta Shimizu/Yunosuke Tanaka (JPN) d. Gabriel Decamps/Enzo Kohn (BRA) 64 62

Boys Group D
Australia (2) defeated South Africa 3-0:
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d. Joshua Howard-Tripp (RSA) 62 62
Alex de Minaur (AUS) d. Richard Thongoana (RSA) 63 60
Blake Ellis/Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d. Albertus Kruger/Richard Thongoana (RSA) 62 60
Germany (5) d. Colombia 3-0:
Marvin Moeller (GER) d. Nicolas Mejia (COL) 76(7) 61
Nicola Kuhn (GER) d. Sergio Hernandez (COL) 61 61
Marvin Moeller/Maximilian Todorov (GER) d. Alejandro Hoyos/Nicolas Mejia (COL) 64 57 62

Four USTA Pro Circuit events are underway this week in the United States, with a women's $10,000 tournament in Charleston, South Carolina, a $50,000 women's tournament in Las Vegas, a men's $100,000 Challenger in Tiburon, California, and another $10,000 Californian Futures, this one in Laguna Niguel.

Lauren Herring was the top seed in Charleston, but lost her first round match today 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 to LSU junior Joana Vale Costa. As is common for $10,000 level events, most of the qualifiers are juniors, with Americans Abigail Desiatnikov, Meibel Chi, Elizabeth Scotty, Stephanie Nemtsova among the eight who advanced to the main draw. US Open girls semifinalist Francesca Di Lorenzo received direct entry and will play No. 2 seed Laetitia Sarrazin in the first round Wednesday.

Qualifying was also completed today in Las Vegas, with Robin Anderson moving into the main draw after three qualifying wins for the second week in a row.  Anderson, the No. 5 seed in qualifying, defeated No. 3 qualifying seed Sharon Fichman of Canada 6-2, 7-5 and will play No. 5 seed Alexa Glatch in the first round on Wednesday. As was the case last week in Albuquerque, An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium and Anna Tatishvili are the top seeds.

At the $50,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Mexico, Grace Min and Kristie Ahn have advanced to the second round. 

In Tiburon, the first round will be completed today, with 11 matches scheduled, after five were played on Monday.  UCLA junior Mackenzie McDonald has continued his outstanding play this month, with the wild card collecting a 6-4, 6-4 win over Frederik Nielsen of Denmark. Frances Tiafoe and No. 7 seed Blaz Rola played an entertaining first round match with the 2013 NCAA champion taking it 6-7(0), 7-6(6), 6-3. Top seed Denis Kudla, No. 3 seed Tim Smyczek, Ryan Harrison(5), Bjorn Fratangelo(6), Jared Donaldson(8), Alex Kuznetsov, Mitchell Krueger and qualifier Dennis Nevolo are Americans who have reached the second round. Dennis Novikov, coming off two straight Challenger titles, lost to former Wisconsin star Marek Michalicka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3, avoiding a third straight meeting with Ryan Harrison, this one in the second round, that everyone had anticipated.

The USTA's third TeamUSA forum of the year is scheduled for tomorrow--Wednesday, September 30--at 8 p.m. Eastern, with the Player Pathway, resources and drills and a Q and A with Player Development general manager Martin Blackman on the agenda. Register now at this page. There is no charge for the webinar.