Saturday, January 24, 2015

Keys Upsets Kvitova in Melbourne; Mmoh, Vondrousova Out at Australian Open Juniors; Tiafoe, Arconada Reach $10K Finals; Blanch vs Ruud for Colombia Grade 1 Title

Early this morning in the US, 19-year-old Madison Keys completed the biggest victory of her career defeating Wimbledon champion and No. 4 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 7-5 at the Australian Open, to set up a fourth round encounter with Madison Brengle. Earlier, Brengle had taken out CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-2 in another all-American matchup.  Brengle has already won two of those, beating Irina Falconi in the second round, and she'll get her chance for a third against Keys, who impressed everyone by overpowering Kvitova, who is usually the player doing the overpowering.  For more on Keys' win, see this article by Tom Perotta of the Wall Street Journal. The Williams sisters both won their third round matches after trailing by a set, meaning four US women are in the final 16, the most since 2003. It is the first time in the second week of a major for both Keys and Brengle.

The US juniors went 4-1 in the first day of play in Melbourne.  No. 11 seed Raveena Kingsley beat Monika Kilnarova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 7-6(5), Olivia Hauger, a quarterfinalist last year, recovered to beat Ojasvinee Singh of India 0-6, 6-4, 6-1 and Jessica Ho got her junior slam win with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Australian wild card Jaimee Fourlis. Will Blumberg, who will turn 17 on January 26, also collected his first junior slam victory, cruising past qualifier William Matheson of New Zealand 6-1, 6-1.

The lone loss was suffered by No. 5 seed Michael Mmoh, who was beaten by Sumit Nagal of India 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.  Nagal reached the semifinals of the Grade 1 in Traralgon, so that was a tough first round for both players, but it is the second straight junior slam that Mmoh has exited in the first round.

No. 3 seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, No. 8 seed Fiona Ferro of France and No. 8 seed Jumpei Yamasaki of Japan were the other Top 8 seeds ousted Saturday. For more on the first day of singles play, see the ITF website, where Stuart Fraser is providing onsite coverage.

Four US juniors will play in tonight's (Sunday in Australia) completion of the first round, including No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz, who takes on Alex Molcan of Slovakia.  Sameer Kumar plays Japanese qualifier Renta Tokuda of Japan, Mia Horvit gets Margot Yerolymos of France and Raquel Pedraza faces Tessah Andrianjafitrimo, also of France.

The doubles competition also begins tonight.  Ho and Kingsley are playing together again this week after making the semifinals in Traralgon, but the other three US girls are playing with partners from other countries.  Taylor Fritz, who had planned on playing with Michael Mmoh, is not in the draw, no doubt due to the shoulder pain that forced him out of Traralgon. Mmoh will be playing with fellow IMG student Miomar Kecmanovic of Serbia, and they are the third seeds. Blumberg is partnering Orlando Luz of Brazil, and they are seeded second.

For junior draws, click here.  Several junior matches each day will be live streamed via Watch ESPN.

Two Junior Tennis Champion Center students will play in their first $10,000 tournament finals on Sunday.  Francis Tiafoe overcame the loss of six straight games in the middle of the match to beat No. 6 seed Markus Eriksson of Sweden 6-3, 5-7, 6-0 in the Weston Futures. That sets up a rematch with No. 7 seed Benjamin Balleret of Monaco, who beat him 6-3, 6-0 in the semifinals last week in Sunrise.  Tiafoe, who just turned 17, had beaten the 32-year-old Balleret in the first round of qualifying at the ATP Atlanta tournament last summer, so Sunday's meeting will be the rubber match for the two.  Today, Tiafoe was serving at 6-3, 5-1, lost six straight games, then won six straight games to pick up his third win over Eriksson.

Usue Arconada reached her first pro level final at the ITF Women's Circuit event in Guadaloupe. The unseeded 16-year-old beat Maria Fernanda Alves of Brazil 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals and will meet top seed Victoria Bosio of Argentina for the title. Bosio defeated Nicole Frenkel 6-2, 7-5 in the semifinals.  Former Alabama All-American Alexa Guarachi won the doubles title, with former Georgia player Ayaka Okuno. The top seeds beat Lena Litvak(Harvard) and Sonja Molnar of Canada(Iowa), the No. 3 seeds, 7-5, 6-3 in the final.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Colombia, Ulises Blanch has reached his first Grade 1 final and will attempt to keep Norway's Casper Ruud from winning his third straight in Sunday's championship match.  No. 3 seed Blanch defeated Nuno Borges of Portugal 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals, while No. 1 seed Ruud downed Felipe Cunha Silva, also of Portugal, 6-2, 6-1.  In the girls final, No. 2 seed Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia will play No. 3 seed Maria Fernanda Herazo Gonzalez of Colombia.

Friday, January 23, 2015

My Australian Open Junior Preview; McNally and Matusevich Win Teen Tennis Titles; Tiafoe Defeats Paul to Reach Futures Semifinal; ITA Kickoff Weekend Underway

The draws are out for the Australian Open junior championships, and my preview of the tournament is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network.  First round action, which is split over two days, begins tonight in the US, with five of the nine American juniors and both No. 1 seeds on the Day One schedule.

Olivia Hauger, a quarterfinalist last year, plays Ojasvinee Singh of India, Jessica Ho faces Australian wild card Jaimee Fourlis and William Blumberg meets qualifier William Matheson of New Zealand.  Two of the three seeded Americans are also in action, with No. 11 Raveena Kingsley playing Orange Bowl semifinalist Monika Kilnarova of the Czech Republic and No. 5 seed Michael Mmoh taking on Sumit Nagal of India, who reached the semifinals at the warmup Grade 1 in Traralgon.

That leaves Taylor Fritz(3), Sameer Kumar, Mia Horvit and Raquel Pedraza to play on Sunday in Melbourne(Saturday night here in the US).

Complete draws are at the tournament website, with live scoring also available.

In addition to the five junior matches, eight other Americans will be playing singles matches, with John Isner(19) taking on Gilles Muller of Luxembourg and Steve Johnson playing No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan and on the women's side, Serena Williams(1) playing Elina Svitolina(26) of Ukraine, No. 30 seed Varvara Lepchenko playing Agnieszka Radwanska(6) of Poland, Madison Keys meeting No. 4 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, Venus Williams(18) facing Camila Giorgi of Italy, and CoCo Vandeweghe and Madison Brengle squaring off.

At the Nike Junior International Teen Tennis tournament in Bolton, England, the US swept the singles titles, with No. 2 seed Caty McNally beating doubles partner Amanda Anisimova, the No. 8 seed, 6-1, 6-3 and wild card Anton Matusevich defeating No. 10 seed Lodewijk Weststrate of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-1.  This is the first sweep of the singles titles by the US since 2010, when Gabby Andrews and Stefan Kozlov were the Bolton champions.   The successful US contingent now moves on to Tarbes, France for Les Petits As, with qualifying beginning there on Saturday.

Former Bolton champion Francis Tiafoe is playing this week at the $10,000 Futures in Weston, and he has reached the semifinals for the second consecutive week with a 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-1 win over fellow 17-year-old Tommy Paul.  Tiafoe, a wild card, battled back from 5-2 down in the second set, and had a match point with Paul serving at 5-6 in the tiebreaker, but didn't convert it.  Tiafoe went up 4-0 in the third set, but was broken in a long fifth game, momentarily giving Paul hope of recovering. But Paul was broken in the next game and Tiafoe served out the match, with No. 6 seed Markus Eriksson of Sweden awaiting him in the semifinals.  Tiafoe beat Eriksson 6-1, 6-2 last week in the Sunrise Futures quarterfinals, and also beat the 25-year-old Swede last year in the Palm Coast Futures.

In Daytona Beach, Samantha Crawford lost to Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Pro Circuit event, so all Americans are out of singles there.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Colombia, Americans Emil Reinberg(5), Ulises Blanch(3) and Hady Habib(15) have reached the quarterfinals in the boys draw.  Francesca Di Lorenzo(7) and Maria Mateas(14) are also into the girls final eight.  Top seed Evgeniya Levashova of Russia lost in the second round to qualifier Melany Krywoj of Argentina. Top boys seed Casper Ruud of Norway's quest for a third straight Grade 1 title is still alive.

The ITA Kick-off Weekend, which will decide the 15 men's and 15 women's teams that will participate in next month's National Team Indoor Championships (hosts Virginia women and Illinois men are automatically granted the 16th place), is underway.  See the ITA hub page for the participating schools and the results throughout the weekend.

The Mississippi men's team is traveling to Florida for a first round match with the Gators on Saturday, and senior Nik Scholtz has bolstered the Rebels prospects for the season by returning to school for his senior year.  Scholtz, who won three Futures title while taking the fall off, is now 462 in the ATP rankings, but he decided to return to Oxford, with finishing his degree a major factor.  For more on his decision, see this article from the Ole Miss website.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Anisimova, McNally, Matusevich Reach Teen Tennis Finals; Tiafoe, Paul Make Weston Quarterfinals; Hong, Sebov Win Traralgon Grade 1 Titles; Fritz Feature

There's so much going on right now in tennis, in some wildly divergent time zones, it's hard to know where to begin.

I'll start in Bolton, England, where two American girls and one boy have reached the final of the big 14-and-under Nike Junior International Teen Tennis tournament.  No. 8 seed Amanda Anisimova defeated No. 14 seed Hurricane Tyra Black 6-3, 6-2 in the all-American semifinal and will meet fellow 13-year-old Caty McNally in the final. McNally, the No. 2 seed, defeated French qualifier Loudmilla Bencheikh 6-1, 6-1.  Later in the day, McNally and Anisimova teamed up for the girls doubles title, defeating unseeded Sonay Kartal and Mae McCutcheon of Great Britain 6-1, 6-1 in the final.

In the boys semifinal, No. 10 seed Lodewijk Weststrate of the Netherlands prevented an all-American boys final, defeating No. 12 seed Nathan Han 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Weststrate will play unseeded wild card Anton Matusevich of the US in the final, after Matusevich defeated No. 2 seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria 7-6(10), 6-2.   Han lost again to Weststrate in the boys doubles final, when No. 2 seeds Weststrate and partner Nini Dica of Romania beat No. 4 seeds Han and Govind Nanda 6-1, 6-3.

Complete draws are at the Tennis Europe tournament site.

In Melbourne, nine Americans--seven women and two men--have reached the third round of the Australian Open. Steve Johnson and John Isner are the men and the women are Venus and Serena Williams, Madison Keys, Madison Brengle, CoCo Vendeweghe, Varvara Lepchenko and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who plays Simona Halep tonight. For more on the US players in the third round, see Courtney Nguyen's article for Sports Illustrated.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon, Australia, Seong Chan Hong of Korea and Katherine Sebov of Canada won the singles titles Thursday.  The unseeded Sebov defeated No. 5 seed Kimberly Birrell of Australia 7-5, 6-2, to claim her first Grade 1 title.  Hong, the No. 6 seed, defeated Tim Van Rijthoven of the Netherlands 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 to win his first Grade 1 title since 2012.  Van Rijthoven did capture the doubles title, with he and Akira Santillan of Australia, the No. 4 seeds, defeating unseeded Marko Osmakcic of Switzerland and Andrea Pellegrino of Italy 6-3, 5-7, 10-5.  No. 6 seeds Vera Lapko of Belarus and Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia won the girls doubles championship, beating unseeded Olga Fridman of Ukraine and Eline Nepliy of Russia 7-5, 7-5.

The Australian Open junior draws should be out later tonight, with play beginning on Saturday (Friday night in the US) and I will have a preview available Friday morning for the Tennis Recruiting Network. I did learn that Taylor Fritz is expected to play, with shoulder pain the reason for his walkover in the Traralgon quarterfinals. Speaking of Fritz, the San Diego Union-Tribune featured the 17-year-old South Californian in this article, revealing he has narrowed his choice of colleges to Southern Cal or UCLA. Fritz plans to make his decision by this summer, and hope to finish school a semester early and start in January of next year.  Fritz's father Guy provides some sound reasons for believing his son should spend some time in college before going out on the tour.

At the $10,000 Weston Futures, 17-year-olds Francis Tiafoe and Tommy Paul picked up wins today and will play each other for a place in the semifinals.  Tiafoe, a wild card, beat No. 8 seed Facundo Mena of Argentina 6-3, 6-2, while Paul, a lucky loser, ousted top seed Christian Lindell of Sweden 6-4, 6-4.  Paul and Tiafoe last met in the 2013 Kalamazoo 16s semifinals, with Paul winning 6-2, 6-4.  Former Florida star Greg Ouellette is the other US player in the quarterfinals, after he defeated Alex Rybakov 7-6(5), 6-3, and he will play No. 2 seed Darian King of Barbados on Friday.

At the $25,000 women's Pro Circuit event in Daytona Beach, Samantha Crawford is the only American in the quarterfinals, after losses today by Sachia Vickery(3), Maria Sanchez(8) and qualifier Lauren Embree.

I'll close with some sad news from the college tennis world--yesterday's passing of former Division III Gustavus Adolphus coach Steve Wilkinson, the all-time leader in men's college tennis victories. Wilkinson, who coached at Gustavus Adolphus for 39 years and won 929 matches, was one of the most respected and influential coaches in the sport throughout his career.  For more on his playing and coaching accomplishments and his legacy, see the school's website.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Australian Open Junior Wild Cards, Final Round of Qualifying; Grade 1 Traralgon Finals Set; Anisimova, Han Oust Top Seeds as Five Americans Reach Teen Tennis Semifinals

The final eight players in both the boys and girls main draws at the Australian Open junior championships will be decided tonight, when the second and final round of the qualifying is completed in Traralgon. All three US girls in the qualifying lost their first round matches last night.

The wild cards for the main draw, all but two to Australians, are below:

Yibing Wu, China
Alex De Minaur, Australia
Alexei Popyrin, Australia
Brian Tran, Australia
Scott Jones, Australia
Mitchell Harper, Australia
Daniel Hobart, Australia
Blake Ellis, Australia

Michaela Haet, Australia
Jaimee Fourlis, Australia
Xinyu Gao, China
Petra Hule, Australia
Chloe Hule, Australia
Nicole Kraemer, Australia
Violet Apisah, Australia
Baijing Lin, Australia

The finals are set at the Grade 1 in Traralgon. Australia's Kimberly Birrell, a wild card seeded No. 6, will play unseeded Canadian Katherine Sebov for the girls championship.  The boys final will feature No. 6 seed Seong Chan Hong of Korea and No. 10 seed Tim Van Rijthoven of the Netherlands. 

Raveena Kingsley and Jessica Ho, the last Americans still alive there, lost their doubles semifinal 6-0, 6-4 to Vera Lapko of Belarus and Tereza Mihailkova of Slovakia, who will play Olga Fridman of Ukraine and Elina Nepliy of Russia in the final.  The boys doubles final has Van Rijthoven and Akira Santillan of Australia facing Marko Osmakcic of Switzerland and  Andrea Pellegrino of Italy.  Osmakcic and Pellegrino received the two special exemptions into the main draw of the Australian junior singles due to their success in doubles in Traralgon.  Nepliy was one out of qualifying at the freeze date, so she did not receive a special exemption, but she did move into qualifying and won her first round match Wednesday.

In the men's and women's Australian Open, Bethanie Mattek-Sands was the only American to advance to the third round Wednesday, with 13 more getting their chance Thursday (tonight in the US). Christina McHale and qualifier Tim Smyczek lost, but Smyczek's 4-hour battle with Rafael Nadal, won by the No. 3 seed 6-2, 3-6, 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-5, was the talk of the tennis world today. Much of the conversation centers on Smyczek's sportsmanship when Nadal was serving for the match at 6-5 in the fifth.  Ben Rothenburg has more on the incident and the reaction for the New York Times.

At the Nike Junior International Teen Tennis tournament in Bolton, England, three of the girls semifinalists are from the US and two of the boys semifinalists.  Amanda Anisimova, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 1 seed Oona Orpana of Finland 6-3, 6-2 to advance against compatriot Hurricane Tyra Black.  Black, the No. 14 seed, defeated unseeded wild card Holly Fischer of Great Britain by the same score.  Caty McNally, the No. 2 seed, defeated unseeded Victoria Allen of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4.  McNally will play French qualifier Loudmilla Bencheikh in the semifinals. McNally and Anisimova have reached the doubles final against the unseeded British team of Sonay Kartal and Mae McCutcheon, which will be played on Thursday.

photo courtesy, March 2014

Nathan Han, seeded No. 12, took out top seed Jack Draper of Great Britain 1-6, 6-1, 6-1 to advance to the semifinals, where he will meet No. 10 seed Lodewijk Weststrate of the Netherlands.  Weststrate defeated No. 16 seed Cannon Kingsley 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2 to prevent an all-American semifinal. Wild card Anton Matusevich, the other US boy in the semifinals, defeated No. 9 seed Duje Ajdukovic of Croatia 7-5, 6-2 to set up his encounter with No. 2 seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria, who has yet to lose more than four games in a set.   No. 4 seeds Han and Govind Nanda defeated top seeds Roi Ginat of Israel and Mihailo Popovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-4 to advance to Thursday's final, where they will meet No. 2 seeds Weststrate and Nini Dica of Romania. 

Complete draws are available at the Tennis Europe tournament site.

At the $10,000 Futures in Weston, wild card Francis Tiafoe and qualifier Dennis Uspensky won their first round matches, while Reilly Opelka fell to top seed Christian Lindell of Sweden.  Connor Smith and Greg Ouellette also picked up victories.

In Daytona Beach, Samantha Crawford, Sachia Vickery, Lauren Embree and Maria Sanchez reached the second round of the $25,000 tournament there. For the second week in a row, top seed Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal lost in the first round, this time to Elise Mertens of Belgium.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Qualifying Draws for Australian Open Junior Championships; Six Americans Reach Teen Tennis Quarterfinals; USC Men, UCLA Women Stay No. 1 in ITA Rankings

The qualifying draws for the Australian Open Junior Championships were released Tuesday, with play beginning tonight (Wednesday in Australia) and finishing tomorrow night.  This year the draw is a standard 32, the same as the other junior slams, with two wins required to reach the main draw. In past years, the Australian junior qualifying has been larger.

Three Americans are in the qualifying--Madison Bourguignon(3), Ally Miller-Krasilnikov and Stephanie Hazell.  Olivia Hauger was one spot out of the main draw at the freeze deadline, but she is not in the qualifying draw, so I assume last year's quarterfinalist moved in when the special exemptions weren't used. There are no US boys in qualifying this year.

At the Grade 1 in Traralgon, the upsets continued, with No. 10 seed Tim Van Rijthoven of the Netherlands taking out No. 2 seed Roman Safiullin of Russia 7-6(6), 7-5 to reach the semifinals. No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz gave a walkover to unseeded Sumit Nagal of India, but no reason was provided.  Nagal will play No. 6 seed Seong Chan Hong of Korea and Van Rijthoven will play unseeded Alexander Bublik of Russia. Rijthoven beat Bublik in three tough sets in the quarterfinals of the Grade 1 International Hard Courts last August, where he reached the final.

Australian Kimberly Birrell, a wild card seeded No. 5, reached the girls semifinal with a tough win over Eddie Herr champion Dalma Galfi, the No. 4 seed from Hungary. Birrell will face unseeded Tessah Andrianjafitrimo of France, while two unseeded players will meet in the other semifinal. Canadian Katherine Sebov, who received a walkover, again unexplained, from No. 2 seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, will face Vera Lapko of Belarus in the other semifinal.

Raveena Kingsley and Jessica Ho have reached the doubles semifinals, after the No. 5 seeds defeated top seeds Galfi and Anna Blinkova of Russia 6-2, 3-6, 10-8. It was Kingsley and Ho's third straight win in a match tiebreaker.

A total of 16 Americans have reached the second round of the Australian Open--12 women and four men, including two-time NCAA champions Steve Johnson and Nicole Gibbs. A recap of the Americans' Day Two action is available at  Among the biggest wins was Madison Brengle's 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory over No. 13 seed Andrea Petkovic of Germany.  In the post match news conference, Brengle revealed she had recently had skin cancer, jeopardizing her trip to Australia, and has a benign growth in her jaw which will require reconstructive surgery.  For more on Brengle's match, see the website's article. Quotes from Brengle on her health scare can be found at the Wall Street Journal.

In Bolton, England, six US players--3 boys and 3 girls--have reached the quarterfinals of the Nike Junior International Teen Tennis tournament for 14-and-under players.  No. 2 seed Caty McNally needed three sets to get by Eddie Herr 12s champion Himari Sato of Japan 6-1, 5-7, 6-1.  Amanda Anisimova(8) and Tyra Hurricane Black(14) both won their matches in straight sets.   The US boys advancing to the final eight are Nathan Han(12), Cannon Kingsley(16) and wild card Anton Matusevich, all of whom won today in straight sets. Han will play top seed Jack Draper of Great Britain Wednesday.

Han and Govind Nanda, the No. 4 seeds, have reached the doubles semifinals, as have McNally and Anisimova, the No. 2 seeds.  Complete draws are available at the Tennis Europe tournament page.

The second Division I team rankings of the year were released today, with the Southern Cal men and UCLA women remaining atop the polls. With most teams just beginning to play dual matches, there wasn't likely to be a dramatic change, but the Duke women's 4-3 win over William and Mary caused their ranking to drop from 2 to 4. The Georgia women's loss to Baylor sent them from 5 to 10, with Baylor moving from 15 to 9.  The ITA release is here.

In the first day of main draw singles at the $10,000 Weston Futures, wild card Alex Rybakov and lucky loser Tommy Paul picked up victories. Rybakov defeated David Vega Hernandez of Spain 6-3, 6-2 and Paul outlasted wild card Walker Duncan 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.  Wild card Francis Tiafoe and qualifiers Dennis Uspensky and Reilly Opelka are American teens on Wednesday's schedule.

At the $25,000 women's event in Daytona Beach, qualifying was completed today with former Florida star Lauren Embree and Russian teenager Natalia Vikhlyantseva among those reaching the main draw. World No. 1 junior CiCi Bellis was defeated in her first round match, one of four main draw matches played today, losing to 24-year-old Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, herself a former junior No. 1, 6-2, 6-4.

Monday, January 19, 2015

ITF Announces Field for April's Junior Masters; 18 Americans in Action at Australian Open; Other News and Notes

The ITF today announced the fields for its new April competition in China, the Junior Masters.  As I mentioned in my annual Intriguing Questions column for the Tennis Recruiting Network last week, there didn't seem to be a clamor to participate by the top juniors, but the ITF did receive commitments from World Junior champion Andrey Rublev of Russia and No. 2 Shilin Xu of China.  Reserved for the top eight players in the ITF year-end rankings, the ITF only had to reach to No. 13 to fill those draws, with Gabby Ruse of Romania and Marcelo Zormann of Brazil the last two players in. Zormann is the only one of the 16 players no longer eligible to compete in the ITF juniors--he turns 19 in June.

CiCi Bellis, the ITF girls World Junior champion, is not playing, nor is Stefan Kozlov.  The US will be represented by Taylor Fritz and Michael Mmoh.

The ITF also mentioned in this announcement that it has received commitments for wild cards for the winners, but all commitments are for Challenger level or below.  Matches will be live streamed.

Andrey Rublev, Russia
Orlando Luz, Brazil
Jaume Munar, Spain
Taylor Fritz, USA
Yunseong Chung, Korea
Michael Mmoh, USA
Duckhee Lee, Korea
Marcelo Zormann, Brazil

Shilin Xu, China
Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia
Iryna Shymanovich, Belarus
Jil Teichmann, Switzerland
Kristina Schmiedlova, Slovakia
Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, Spain
Marketa Vondrousova, Czech Republic
Gabby Ruse, Romania

Six Americans kicked off play in Australia last night, with three of them--qualifier Tim Smyczek, Christina McHale and Bethanie Mattek-Sands posting victories. McHale's 12-10 in the third win over qualifier Stephanie Foretz of France was especially notable, given her oncourt vomiting at 4-4 in the third.

That leaves 18 Americans on tonight's schedule, including two in high profile matches, with Sloane Stephens facing two-time women's champion Victoria Azarenka and Taylor Townsend meeting No. 8 seed Caroline Wozniacki.  The order of play is available at the tournament website.

At the Nike International Junior Teen Tennis in Bolton, all three seeded US girls advanced, with Amanda Anisimova(8), Caty McNally(2) and Tyra Hurricane Black(14) reaching the third round with straight set wins.  Whitney Osuigwe lost to No. 7 seed Paula Joukanen of Finland 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.  Two of the US boys who lost went out to the top two seeds, with Andrew Puscas losing to No. 1 Jack Draper of Great Britain and Leighton Allen falling to No. 2 seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria. Nathan Han(12) and Cannon Kingsley(16) won their matches, but No. 8 seed Govind Nanda lost.  Qualifier William Grant beat the No. 7 seed, and wild card Anton Matusevich defeated the No. 4 seed, giving the US four boys in the final 16.

Complete draws are here.

Qualifying is complete at the $10,000 Weston Futures, with 18-year-old Dennis Uspensky and 17-year-old Reilly Opelka the two American qualifiers.  Opelka defeated former Georgia star Wil Spencer, who had won his first Futures title last November after a lengthy hiatus, 6-2, 6-3 in the final round of qualifying today.  The final round of qualifying will be played Tuesday at the $25,000 women's event in Daytona Beach, but the draw is out. Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal is again the top seed. Plantation champion Sachia Vickery has drawn wild card Katerina Stewart, and CiCi Bellis will play Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands in the first round. Plantation finalist Samantha Crawford received a special exemption into the main draw and will play a qualifier.

Photo of associate coach Kwinta and Quiroz via USC's twitter account
A few notes from college tennis.  Roberto Quiroz of Southern California won the Sherwood Cup, a prestigious individual tournament in California prior to the start of the dual match season. The field was strengthened this year by the addition of Baylor, including Julian Lenz, fresh from his Futures final in Plantation two weeks ago.  Lenz lost to UCLA's Dennis Mkrtchian in the semifinals, while Quiroz beat teammate Jonny Wang.  Quiroz downed Mkrtchian 6-2, 6-0 in today's final. Stanford's Tom Fawcett and Maciek Romanowicz won the doubles title, beating Quiroz and Max de Vroome 6-4.  Complete results can be found here.

Those speculating on the future of Jennifer Brady now have all the evidence they need that she is indeed back competing on the collegiate level this spring. Brady, currently 217 in the WTA rankings, won the Freeman Memorial tournament in Las Vegas, beating Giuliana Olmos of Southern Cal 7-6, 0-6, 7-5.  Kyle McPhillips of UCLA won the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Palm Springs, beating Lorraine Guillermo of Pepperdine 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

In dual match action, the second-ranked Duke women survived 4-3 against William and Mary Sunday, and today, the No. 12 Duke men defeated No. 18 Kentucky 5-2 in Lexington. No. 14 Notre Dame had beaten Kentucky 4-3 on Saturday.

The No. 34 Northwestern men defeated No. 19 Vanderbilt 4-3 in Nashville Sunday, and No. 15 ranked Baylor defeated No. 5 Georgia 4-3 in Waco Sunday.

The ITA has announced the hiring of a search firm to fill its Executive Director's position now that David Benjamin has set a July date for his retirement.  The release, with link to the job description, is here.

The Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland has announced a partnership with former ATP star and now coach Brian Gottfried and the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida. For more on the partnership between the JTCC and the college prep school, see the school's website.  The JTCC has also recently announced a partnership with Wilson.