Monday, August 31, 2015

Ten American Women Claim First Round Victories at US Open; Kenin, Paul, Shane Fall in New York Debuts

The first day of the US Open saw a slew of upsets, with No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori, last year's finalist, going out to Benoit Paire of France and No. 7 seed Ana Ivanovic falling to Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.

No. 8 seed Karolina Pliskova also lost to US qualifier Anna Tatishvili, with the 25-year-old originally from the country of Georgia getting the 6-2, 6-1 win in less than an hour.

Tatishvili was one of ten US women to advance to the second round, with the complete results below:

WC Bethanie Mattek-Sands def. Kateryna Kozlova UKR 6-4, 6-3
CoCo Vandeweghe def. Sloane Stephens(29) 6-4, 6-3
Madison Keys(19) def. Klara Koukalova CZE 6-2, 6-4
Irina Falconi def. WC Samantha Crawford 6-4, 6-2
Venus Williams(23) def. Monica Puig 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-3
Madison Brengle def. Saisai Zheng 6-2, 5-7, 7-5
Q Anna Tatishvili def. Karolina Pliskova(8) CZE 6-2, 6-1
Lauren Davis def. Heather Watson 7–6(3), 7-6(0)
Q Jessica Pegula def. Alison Van Uytvanck BEL 7-5, 6-3
Serena Williams(1) def. Vitalia Diatchenko RUS 6-0, 2-0 ret.

One of the three US women to suffer losses was USTA National 18s champion Sonya Kenin, who went down to Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia 6-3. 6-1.  Duque-Marino served too well against the obviously nervous 16-year-old from Florida, who had no break point opportunities and committed more unforced errors than usual.

Roberta Vinci def. Vania King 6-4, 6-4
Mariana Duque-Marino COL def WC Sonya Kenin 6-3, 6-1
Eugenie Bouchard(25) CAN def. Alison Riske 6-4, 6-3

Only five US men were in action on Monday, with four of them losing.
The sole winner, Mardy Fish, who is retiring after the tournament, defeated Marco Cecchinato 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in front of a supportive crowd on the Grandstand Court, which will also be retired after this year.

Qualifier Tommy Paul had a 4-2 lead in the first set against No. 25 seed Andreas Seppi of Italy, but lost 11 straight games, as Seppi shook off his early match lethargy. Paul went up 3-0 in the third set, broke Seppi when he served for the match at 5-4, but was immediately broken, with Seppi taking his second chance to close out the victory.

NCAA champion Ryan Shane of Virginia nursed an injury for two months after taking the title in Waco, and had only one victory in the four tournaments he played once he returned.  Chardy had no difficulty in the first two sets, winning them 6-2, 6-1, but in the third Shane began to find his target with his serve. He hit seven aces and won all but two points when he got his first serve in, but he was broken at 4-4, giving Chardy a chance to serve out the match in straight sets.  Shane picked up his only break in that game, with Chardy appearing nervous, and Shane went on to claim the tiebreaker on his second set point, without allowing Chardy a match point.  In the fourth set, Shane's serve deserted him, with seven double faults offsetting his six aces, and Chardy took advantage, staying in points until Shane committed an error.

Mardy Fish def. Marco Cecchinato ITA 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3

Andreas Seppi(25) ITA def. Q Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-0, 7-5
Milos Raonic (10) CAN def. Tim Smyczek 6-4, 7-6(8), 6-1
Jeremy Chardy (27) FRA def. WC Ryan Shane 6-2, 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-2
Fabio Fognini (32) ITA def. Steve Johnson 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(2)

Tuesday's schedule will feature NCAA women's champion Jamie Loeb against No. 4 seed Caroline Wozniacki on Arthur Ashe Stadium, while Frances Tiafoe will make his US Open main draw debut against No. 22 seed Viktor Troicki of Serbia on Court 11.

John Isner(13) and Jack Sock(28) are the only two seeds among the 18 Americans in action on Tuesday.

The mixed doubles draw was released today, with several juniors receiving wild cards.  Taylor Fritz and Claire Liu are the only all-junior team, but Tiafoe will be playing with Sachia Vickery and Stefan Kozlov with Christina McHale. Vicky Duval and Christian Harrison were also given a mixed doubles wild card.

James Blake and Andy Roddick talked about the upcoming group of American boys in this USA Today interview, conducted by Nick McCarvel.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

NCAA Champions Routliffe and Jansen Win US Open Doubles Wildcard; US Open Doubles Draws; Ahn Claims Winnipeg $25K Title; Althea Gibson Biography Debuts on PBS American Masters Friday

Routliffe and Jansen with head coach Jenny Mainz at 2015 NCAAs
The US Open National Playoffs concluded over the weekend, with all three of the teams earning US Open main draw wild cards having college ties.

Reigning NCAA champions Erin Routliffe of Canada and Maya Jansen won the women's title, beating Yasmin Schnack and Katsiaryna Zheltova 6-4, 7-5 in the final. Routliffe and Jansen defending their 2014 title this year in Waco, but knowing from their 2014 experience that they would not receive a wild card as NCAA champions due to Routliffe's Canadian citizenship, they entered the Southern section's qualifying and went on to earn the title.

They will play No. 6 seeds Abigail Spears (UCLA) and newlywed Raquel Kops-Jones(Cal) in the first round.

The men's doubles wild card went to Julio Peralta of Chile and Matt Seeberger, the former UC-Santa Cruz standout who won three NCAA Division III singles titles. The only seeded team to reach any of the finals, the top seeds defeated Ashley Fisher and Nathan Healey 6-4, 6-3. They will play Santiago Giraldo of Colombia and Rameez Junaid of Australia in the first round

The mixed doubles wild card went to two former University of Oklahoma stars, Anda Perianu and Andrei Daescu (that is not them pictured on the National Playoffs landing page) Perianu and Daescu defeated Jacqueline Cako and Joel Kielbowicz 6-2, 6-4 in the final. The mixed doubles draw has not yet been released.
In other doubles notes, Kalamazoo champions Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka have drawn an unseeded team in the first round, Marcus Daniell of New Zealand and Jonathan Marray of Great Britain.  San Diego champions Ingrid Neel and Tornado Alicia Black face the unseeded team of Karin Knapp and Roberta Vinci in the opening round.

Sabrina Santamaria and Kaitlyn Christian, the 2013 NCAA champions who were overlooked for a wild card that year in spite of both being Americans, received a wild card this year (Santamaria was out with an injury last year) and drew top seeds Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza.

The US Open men's doubles draw is here and the women's doubles draw is here.

Kriste Ahn, who graduated from Stanford last year, won her second $25,000 title this week in Winnipeg, beating Sharon Fichman of Canada 6-2, 7-5.  With the win, Ahn, who was seeded No. 5 in the tournament, will climb near the WTA Top 250 for the first time.  She and Lorraine Guillermo (Pepperdine) reached the doubles final, losing to top seeds Fichman and Jovana Jaksic of Serbia.

Bobby Knight has recaps of the four former college players--Kevin Anderson, Eric Johnson, Gonzalo Escobar and Tucker Vorster--who won men's titles this week at College Tennis Today.

Today is the conclusion of Althea Week, designated in honor of the great African-American tennis pioneer Althea Gibson, who is the subject of Rex Miller's biographical film, which debuted this week in New York. Miller's film will be shown on PBS as part of the network's American Masters Series on Friday, September 4 at 9:00 p.m.  Reading the show notes will provide background on how important a figure Gibson was, not just in the tennis world, but in American culture.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Kalinskaya Again Sweeps ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships; Auger Aliasimme Takes Boys Title

©Colette Lewis 2015--
College Park, Maryland--

Top seed Anna Kalinskaya kept intact her perfect record at the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships Saturday, taking both the singles and doubles titles for the second straight year.  The boys champion is new to Grade 1 success, with 15-year-old Felix Auger Aliassime collecting his first title at that ITF level.

Both singles finals, played simultaneously on the courts of the Junior Tennis Champions Center, were contested by friends and doubles partners, and both were tense and often error-strewn affairs, but No. 7 seed Auger Aliassime's 6-2, 7-6(6) win over fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov produced significantly more emotion.

At 6-4 in the tiebreaker, Shapovalov served what he thought was an ace on his first serve and the center line judge agreed, giving the good signal.  The chair umpire overruled the call however, and Shapovalov argued long and loudly that the serve was good and the chair was incompetent for making such a call. Still seething, he double faulted on his second serve to squander one set point, and Aliassime hit a forehand winner, the only winner of the 14 points played in the tiebreaker, to saved the second set point.  Still failing to get his emotions under control, Shapovalov made a backhand error to give Aliassime a match point, and he converted when Shapovalov again double faulted.

After the match, Shapovalov, who did not shake the umpire's hand, continued his rant, which including the statement "this guy ruined my week."  After several minutes he did calm down, and had an impromptu hit with a young JTCC player, as did Auger Aliassime.

"The linesman called it in, and [the chair umpire] changed the call," said the 16-year-old left-hander, seeded 15th. "I shouldn't have gotten as upset as I got, but there shouldn't be calls like that in a match. That was such an important part of the game. That would have been set and it would have been third set now."

Auger Aliassime was not sure the overrule was correct, but said, "I play my tennis and they call the lines. It was a tough end, we had a great match all the way, it was intense. I understand his frustration if he really saw it in, but as I said, I'm there to play my tennis and the ref called it out.  He's going to be ok, I don't think he's mad at me."

Shapovalov's frustration was building after he failed to hold the break he earned to take a 3-2 lead in the second set. After not getting a single break point opportunity in the first set, Shapovalov needed some momentum badly, but he was immediately broken back in the sixth game after failing to convert two break points.

Auger Aliassime, who had lost to Shapovalov 6-1, 6-2 just two weeks ago at the Canadian Junior Nationals, said his serve was much better today as was his mental outlook.

"Getting beat easily last time, I felt I had less to lose and would have a better match," said Auger Aliassime. "I started out pretty solid, was constructing well my points, playing aggressive and loose at the same time."

Auger Aliasimme's level dropped in the second set and Shapovalov brought his up a bit, but Shapovalov, who had gone the distance in three of his wins, was not happy with his overall level of play during the week.

"I haven't been playing my best tennis," said Shapovalov. "I've been grinding out matches, winning ugly. So I'm happy to be in the final, and I think Felix has been playing great this whole week. In the first set, he was playing too strong. I couldn't really keep up. I was trying to stay in it, trying to fight. I had chances to maybe win it ugly again, but credit's to Felix for playing great, staying tough and pulling through with the win."

Both players are heading to the Grade 1 in Repentigny, Canada next week, then on to the US Open junior championships, where Auger Aliassime is in the main draw and Shapovalov is in qualifying.

"Playing at home is always the best," said Auger Aliassime, who is from Montreal and trains at the Tennis Canada National Centre there. "Next week we're in the province of Quebec, so all the people speak French. That's my first language, but I've been working on my English."

Kalinskaya may be from Moscow, but the 16-year-old has made the Junior Tennis Champions Center her home during the International Hard Courts for the past two years.  She has yet to lose a set in singles or doubles, although in today's 6-4, 7-6(3) win over No. 2 seed Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia she was a point away from her first third set in two years on five different occasions.

Serving at 5-6 in the second set, Kalinskaya saved five set points in the seven-deuce game.

"I was up 30-0 and then I did two double faults," said Kalinskaya, who reached the French Open girls final this year. "So my serve was not working good, I was nervous, but in the set points, I started to move better and I won."

Mihalikova was disappointed she was unable to capitalize on all those chances to force a third set.

"I was so nervous every time when I had advantage," said Mihalikova, the Australian Open girls champion. "When she had advantage, I finally hit the returns I wanted, and said to myself, why not when I had set point?  On my set point, every time I did mistakes, she didn't need to do something."

Kalinskaya recognized the match was not the highest quality, and provided a possible reason.

"It was difficult to take her serve, because she served very well, but I think we both did a lot of mistakes, I think we could do better," said Kalinskaya. "Maybe because we're friends."

In the tiebreaker, errors were more common than winners, but a let called by the chair umpire that neither player heard proved to be Mihalikova's undoing.  Looking incredulously at Kalinskaya and at the chair umpire after what appeared to be an ace, Mihalikova ended up double faulting at 5-3, and Kalinskaya converted the first of her three match points with a perfectly executed drop shot.

Although not as demonstrative as Shapovalov, Mihalikova made it clear that the officiating was not to her liking today.

"They made some--a lot--of mistakes," the 17-year-old said with a smile. "But still, I should play. Today I made a lot of mistakes, and when it was the important time, I did a mistake and Anya won the ball. So today, she deserved it."

Kalinskaya said after the singles match that she was determined to get her friend the doubles title, and the pair again dominated, beating No. 2 seeds Vera Lapko and Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus 6-1, 6-4 in the final.  The top seeds did not lose a set in their five wins.

Kalinskaya, who won the doubles title last year with Evgeniya Levashova, is not playing the Grade 1 next week, nor is Mihalikova. But Kalinskaya believes her success this week, her first tournament of the summer on hard courts, will help her at the US Open Junior Championships.

"This is very good preparation for the US Open," said Kalinskaya who turns 17 in December. "That's why I came here," said Mihalikova. "I came here from clay and it was just so fast for me. But now it's ok. I am already ready for the hard courts and I want to do well in the US Open so bad."

Complete draws can be found at the ITF junior website.

Friday, August 28, 2015

All-Canadian Boys Final at International Hard Courts, Kalinskaya and Mihalikova to Decide Girls Championship; Paul Among Four US Open Qualifiers

©Colette Lewis 2015--
College Park, Maryland--

A rematch of the recent Canadian National Junior final is set for Saturday, after No. 15 seed Denis Shapovalov and No. 7 seed Felix Auger Aliassime advanced to the finals of the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships in contrasting fashion.

Top seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia will go for her second straight sweep of the girls titles when she takes on No. 2 seed Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia in Saturday morning's finals.

Shapovalov had been taken to three sets three times in his first four matches, but against qualifier Jake Van Emburgh, the 16-year-old left-hander needed only 53 minutes to post a 6-0, 6-2 victory.

"I got off to a good start today very quickly," Shapovalov said. "I felt more comfortable on the courts. And I think he was a bit tired today, he's had a long week, but playing very well. He came out a little flat today and he got a bit frustrated and I took advantage of that."

Shapovalov took the first 11 games of the match, with Van Emburgh holding and breaking before losing his last service game.

"At 5-0, I lost a little bit of focus, lost two games, but I bounced right back."

Shapovalov's friend and doubles partner Auger Aliassime needed to bounce back more urgently in his semifinal with No. 14 seed Alex De Minaur of Australia, but for the second time in the tournament, the 15-year-old came from a set down, this time recording a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.

"He was a tough opponent and I had some difficulties understanding his game," Auger Aliassime said. "He was crafty. The beginning of the match was tough, but I adapted and started playing better, looser."

De Minaur's level dropped in the second set, and once Auger Aliassime got a break to open the third, he relaxed and just focused on winning his serve the remainder of the match, which he did without facing a break point.

Just last week in the Canadian National 18s final, Shapovalov defeated Auger Aliassime 6-1, 6-2, but there's no chance he'll be overconfident.

"I think he wants his revenge, and I've been teasing him about killing him," Shapovalov said. "But I think it's going to be a great match, he's a great player. It's not going to be easy again for sure."

Auger Aliassime, who is the youngest player ever to be ranked in the ATP Top 750, acknowledges that competing in junior tournaments has different dynamics.

"Playing in Challengers I was playing without any stress," said Auger Aliassime, who qualified and the reached the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Granby Challenger in Canada last month. "I was just there to get experience, and I was playing looser than here. I felt like sometimes in some matches here you have some things to defend. But I try to continue to play loose and have fun on the court. I'm still young, in the juniors, so I have a lot to learn."

Auger Aliassime and Shapovalov have played only once before in competition back in the 12s, with Auger Aliassime winning that one, but there have been many practices matches between the two.

"We talked about it yesterday, that maybe I could get a rematch," said Auger Aliassime. "He's a great player and it's always tough to play him. I'm motivated to win for sure. I know what to prepare myself for and I think it's going to be a great battle, yeah."

The girls final will also be between two friends and doubles partners after Kalinskaya ended the impressive run of qualifier Madison Battaglia 6-1, 6-4 and Mihalikova defeated No. 5 seed Vera Lapko of Belarus 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Mihalikova will have had practice playing against a friend, as she and Lapko are also close.

"It was a very tough match, because me and Vera are very good friends," said Mihalikova, the reigning Australian Open girls champion. "It was hard psychologically, to play her, and we didn't play our best today and I saw it, because we were both too nervous. But every time it got to important games I broke her down, so I was more up today."

Mihalikova, 17,  avenged her third round loss to Lapko at Wimbledon this year and will be looking to even her record against the 16-year-old Kalinskaya, who beat her in a 14s tournament in their only previous meeting.

Kalinskaya said she has yet to play her best tennis in College Park, but she has yet to drop a set in her consecutive 11 wins at the International Hard Courts.

"I like this tournament a lot," Kalinskaya said. "It's very good organization, and courts, very good. I play well here, not my best, but well."

"It's going to be fun with Anya," said Mihalikova. "I hope it will be good match and we will enjoy it, and afterward we will win the doubles."

Top seeds Mihalikova and Kalinskaya will play No. 2 seeds Lapko and Irinia Shymanovich of Belarus in the girls doubles final Saturday.  Mihalikova and Kalinskaya beat unseeded Elysia Bolton and Clarissa Hand 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals and have yet to drop a set in the tournament. Lapko and Shymanovich have also gotten through to the finals without needing a match tiebreaker. They defeated the unseeded Chinese team of Siqi Cao and Shuyue Ma 6-4, 6-4.

The boys semifinals and finals were played Friday afternoon when No. 3 seeds Shapovalov and Auger Aliassime lost to Andres Andrade of Ecuador and Benjamin Hannestad of Denmark 6-4, 6-4. With the two singles finalists out of the doubles, the final could be played, and Andrade and Hannestad took the title, beating top seeds Yunseong Chung of Korea and Casper Ruud of Norway 6-1, 7-5.

Chung and Ruud had beaten No. 5 seeds Alexey Aleshchev of Russia and Hady Habib 7-6(3), 7-5 in the morning semifinal.

Hannestad and Andrade both train at the IMG Academy, but this is their first tournament playing as team.

"We've just been practicing together the past week," said Andrade, "and we've been playing great doubles. We had a tough match in the semis, the two Canadians were pretty tough."

"I wouldn't say I was surprised," said Hannestad. "We had had a huge level in practice and had fun. We've been very focused on the doubles."

Andrade credited his partner with outstanding returns, and Hannestad was the one who took the deciding points. He wasn't able to get Chung's serve back on their first deciding/match point at 5-4, but on the second deciding/match point, Hannestad's backhand return was too much for Chung to handle.

"We both know how to move well at the net, and we move together, not as a singles team. I feel we're very united," said Hannestad.

Hannestad is heading to the Grade 1 in Canada, which starts Monday, but Andrade is not, so they are not sure when their next tournament together will be.

The draws and Saturday's order of play is available at the tournament website.

Four Americans qualified for the main draw of the US Open today, including 18-year-old wild card Tommy Paul.  Paul is the first boy I can recall who played Kalamazoo and went on to qualify for the US Open. Paul is one of four players(Andrey Rublev, Frances Tiafoe, Alexander Zverev) still eligible for ITF junior competition to reach the men's main draw, with Zverev and Rublev qualifying today. Paul will play No. 25 seed Andreas Seppi of Italy on Monday.  The ATP website has a report on the men's qualifying with a quote from Paul.

Anna Tatishvili, Shelby Rogers and Jessica Pegula are the US women who advanced with wins today.

Friday's final round qualifying results for Americans:
Jessica Pegula def. Melanie Oudin 7-6(8), 6-0
Shelby Rogers def. Alla Kudryavtseva RUS[15] 1-6, 6-2, 6-4
Anna Tatishvili[16] def. Ysaline Bonaventure BEL 6-1, 0-6, 6-2
Tommy Paul WC def. Marco Chiudinelli SUI 6-1, 6-4
Alexandra Panova RUS[26] def. Claire Liu 6-4, 6-1
Jelena Ostapenko LAT[11] def. CiCi Bellis 6-3, 6-2

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Qualifiers Van Emburgh, Battaglia into International Hard Court Semifinals; Paul, Liu, Bellis Reach Final Round of Qualifying at US Open; Taylor Fritz Turns Pro

©Colette Lewis 2015--
College Park, Maryland--

Madison Battaglia and Jake Van Emburgh are hardly the most likely semifinalists at the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships, but both qualifiers have proved their mettle throughout the week to join six high-profile juniors in the tournament's Final Four.

Battaglia, who has played seven matches over the past six days, earned her third straight win over a seeded player Thursday, defeating No. 6 seed Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3 after three hours and 30 minutes.

Battaglia served for the match at 6-4, 5-4 and had a match point, but the former world No. 2 junior wasn't quite ready to concede. A good backhand return forced an error from Battaglia on match point, and Shymanovich broke back on one of her many effective drop shots. The errors Shymanovich had been giving Battaglia disappeared in the second set tiebreaker, and Battaglia had to regroup before beginning her first third set of the tournament.

"I just tried to come and forget about the second set, just start fresh and stay calm and focused as possible," said the 17-year-old from New York, playing in just her third ITF event. "I think I was. It was a very up and down match, it kept flipping, there were a lot of deuces and everything, so I just tried to stay as positive as possible."

With Shymanovich serving at at 3-4 in the third set, Battaglia got the break, and for the second time, and well over an hour after the first, served for the match.  Up 30-0, she lost the next three points, but a good first serve had Shymanovich netting the backhand return.  A Shymanovich backhand long gave Battaglia her second match point, and this time she converted, with a Shymanovich sending a return long.

Battaglia said she didn't know that Shymanovich had reached two junior slam quarterfinals last year, but she wasn't going to be intimidated by her opponent's resume regardless.

"I didn't look that deep into it, but I knew she had played Wimbledon, US Open, the other slams," said Battaglia, who trains at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy. "She's from Belarus, so I'm sure she plays only ITFs, which changes the rankings a little bit."

Next up for Battaglia is top seed and defending champion Anna Kalinskaya of Russia, who defeated No. 8 seed Maia Lumsden of Great Britain 6-2, 6-4.

"It's really exciting," said Battaglia, who said the mild weather and just one match a day has helped keep her fresh despite all the matches she has played. "It's all positive. I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as possible and have fun. I've been playing great matches with great players, so everything is just really positive."

The other semifinals will feature No. 5 seed Vera Lapko against No. 2 seed Tereza Mihalikova.  Lapko defeated unseeded Kelly Chen 7-5, 7-6(4) and Mihalikova put an end to 13-year-old qualifier Amanda Anisimova's impressive run 6-3, 7-6(3).

Van Emburgh did not come into the tournament with much confidence, but he advanced to the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-4 win over unseeded Trent Bryde.

"I had been playing the worst tennis of my life in practice," said the 16-year-old from Wisconsin, who recently began training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. "And at Kzoo, I was really sick. But the weeks leading up to this I was just playing terrible in practice, just awful. So I didn't come here and think I was going to semi, I was trying to get some points because I'm not playing too well and just get some matches, and all of a sudden, I just started playing good. The timing clicked, and I'm not getting broken at all."

Van Emburgh, who defeated No. 8 seed Benjamin Hannestad of Denmark in the first round and No. 10 seed Artem Dubrivnyy of Russia in the third round, said he played well in the first set against Bryde, but then counted on holding his serve when his level dropped in the second set.

"I was controlling everything in the first set," said Van Emburgh, also playing in just his third ITF tournament. "There really wasn't anything he could do. But then we both sort of got tight and started missing, and it was kind of like, who's going to miss first. No one was striking the ball well in that second set."

When Van Emburgh went to serve out the match, Bryde's comeback in his second round victory, in which Bryde saved five match points, wasn't far from his mind.

"I had a match point at 3-5," said Van Emburgh, who has played six matches in the past six days.  "And he saved one, and I thought, here we go again."

But Van Emburgh was able to think positively in the final game.

"I thought if I get tight, I'm not going to hit the serve that I need to hit," Van Emburgh said. "So I just went up loose and swung free on the first serve. I missed three first serves in that game (an ace got him to 40-15 however), but my second serve I'm feeling really confident with right now. It's kicking really high and getting me on the offense, which is helping a lot."

Van Emburgh finished with a forehand winner to set up a meeting with No. 15 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who won his third three-set match of the week, beating No. 6 seed Alberto Lim of the Philippines 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.  Lim had served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but never got closer than two points from the win.

No. 14 seeed Alex De Minaur of Australia defeated No. 5 seed Nathan Ponwith 6-2, 7-5, leaving his opponent, No. 7 seed Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada as the top remaining boys seed. Auger Aliassime defeated unseeded Alex Rotsaert 6-2, 6-2.

Shapovalov and Auger Aliassime, the No. 3 seeds, have advanced to the doubles semifinals, where they will face the unseeded team of Hannestad and Andres Andrade of Ecuador. Top seeds Yunseong Chung of Korea and Casper Ruud will face No. 5 seeds Alexey Aleshchev of Russia and Hady Habib in the other boys doubles semifinal.

In the girls doubles semifinals, top seeds Kalinskaya and Mihalikova will play unseeded Elysia Bolton and Clarissa Hand, while No. 2 seeds Lapko and Shymanovich face unseeded Siqi Cao and Shuyue Ma of China.

For complete results and Friday's order of play, see the tournament website.

Seven Americans have reached the final round of qualifying at the US Open, including three teenagers: 15-year-old Claire Liu, 16-year-old CiCi Bellis and 18-year-old Tommy Paul.  The results of today's second round and the matchups for Friday's final round for US players are below.

Second Round Wins:
Jessica Pegula def. Margarita Gasparyan (RUS)[1] 6-3, 6-3
Melanie Oudin def. Yafan Wang (CHN)[24] 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-6(5)
Claire Liu WC def. Jana Cepelova (SVK)[9] 7-6(4), 6-4
CiCi Bellis def. Romina Oprandi (SUI)[22] 7-5, 7-5
Shelby Rogers def. Mandy Minella (LUX) 6-2, 6-3
Anna Tatishvili [16] def. Laura Pous-Tio (ESP) 6-0, 6-0
Tommy Paul WC def. Jose Hernandez-Fernandez (DOM) 6-3, 7-5

Second Round Losses:
Matthew Ebden (AUS)[26] def. Dennis Novikov 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2
Guido Pella (ARG)[3] def. Noah Rubin WC 6-4, 7-6(6)
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN)[23] def. Daniel Nguyen 6-2, 2-6, 6-2
Kimmer Coppejans (BEL)[7] def. Reilly Opelka WC 6-4, 6-2
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)[5] def. Mitchell Krueger WC 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)[15] def. Vicky Duval WC 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-0
Tereza Mrdeza (CRO) def. Raveena Kingsley WC 6-1, 3-6, 7-5
Daria Kasatkina RUS[27] def. Taylor Townsend 6-2, 6-2

Friday’s Final Round Qualifying Matches Featuring Americans:
Jessica Pegula vs. Melanie Oudin
Claire Liu WC vs. Alexandra Panova RUS[26]
CiCi Bellis vs. Jelena Ostapenko LAT[11]
Shelby Rogers vs. Alla Kudryavtseva RUS[15]
Anna Tatishvili[16] vs. Ysaline Bonaventure BEL
Tommy Paul WC vs. Marco Chiudinelli SUI

The men's and women's singles draws were released today, with 19 US women and 15 US men competing (possibly more, pending the results of qualifying).

Kalamazoo champion Frances Tiafoe has drawn No. 22 seed Viktor Troicki of Serbia, and San Diego champion Sonya Kenin will play Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia.

NCAA men's champion Ryan Shane faces No. 27 seed Jeremy Chardy of France, and NCAA women's champion Jamie Loeb meets No. 4 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

Loeb, who according to this New York Daily News article has turned pro after completing her sophomore year at North Carolina, is the second NCAA champion Wozniacki will have faced in the US Open. 2010 NCAA champion Chelsey Gullickson lost to No. 1 seed Wozniacki in the first round that year.

In other pro news, Taylor Fritz, who had said he would make a decision regarding his status by the US Open at the latest, has signed with CAA, according to this release. He and Reilly Opelka are playing in the main draw of doubles with the wild card they earned winning Kalamazoo.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Three Qualifiers Reach Quarterfinals at International Hard Court Championships; Fifteen Americans in Action Thursday in Second Round of US Open Qualifying

©Colette Lewis 2015--
College Park, Maryland--

Three qualifiers, all playing in just the third ITF tournament of their junior careers, advanced to the quarterfinals of the Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships with straight set wins on an unusually refreshing midsummer day in the Washington DC area.

Amanda Anisimova, who will be 14 next Monday, continued her run, posting her fifth consecutive straight-set win, which includes two qualifying victories over the weekend. In Wednesday's third round, Anisimova beat unseeded Abigail Desiatnikov 6-4, 7-5, saving two set points with USTA 16s girls champion Desiatnikov serving at 5-3 in the second set.  Anisimova will face No. 2 seed and Australian Open girls champion Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia in the quarterfinals, with Mihalikova defeating Karman Thandi of India 6-3, 6-0.

The second girls qualifier to reach the quarterfinals is 17-year-old Madison Battaglia, who took out a seed for the second day in a row. Battaglia defeated No. 14 seed Jessica Hinojosa Gomez of Mexico 6-3, 6-3, with No. 6 seed Iryna Shymanovich of Belarus her opponent on Thursday.

Battaglia, who won an ITF Grade 5 title in Bermuda this summer, said her lack of familiarity with her international opponents has allowed her to concentrate on her own game.

"I haven't really known most of the people I've played, which is a good thing," said Battaglia, who defeated No. 3 seed and ITF No. 17 Wushuang Zheng of China 6-1, 6-3 on Tuesday. "I've never played them, I don't know anybody they've played, so it's just going in there, focusing on myself, playing my game and having fun."

Hinojosa Gomez took a medical timeout right after breaking Battaglia, who was serving at 3-1 in the second set, but Battaglia didn't let that disruption bother her.

"I stay relaxed, and I took a couple of practice serves and then came out and played even better," said the New Yorker, who trains at the John McEnroe Academy. "I didn't worry about what was wrong with her. I just went out there and played."

Battaglia, who won three matches in qualifying, called her win over Zheng "a good confidence boost. And I thought today, I played really well."

As for her decision to begin playing ITF tournaments this summer, Battaglia said her coach Felix Alvarado, who also coached Jamie Loeb throughout her junior career, encouraged it.

"I did really well last year in my section in USTA," said Battaglia. "So I wanted to play different tournaments and my coach wanted me to play ITFs to see how they go. So I played the Grass Courts, my first one, because that was close to home. Then I played Bermuda, and this is my third one, because this was close to home too, relatively close. I thought it would be good to go to, and it has been been really fun so far."

In addition to the two qualifiers, one other unseeded American girl advanced to the quarterfinals, with Kelly Chen defeating No. 13 seed Ioana Pietroiu 6-2, 6-2. Chen will play No. 5 seed Vera Lapko of Belarus, a Wimbledon semifinalist, in the quarterfinals.

Top seed and defending champion Anna Kalinskaya of Russia had her hands full with 13-year-old wild card Caty McNally, barely avoiding a third set in her 7-5, 7-6(9) win. McNally had two set points in the tiebreaker, but Kalinskaya came up with big shots on both. For her part, McNally saved three match points in the tiebreaker, but double faulted on the fourth to give Kalinskaya the win. The Russian will play No. 8 seed Maia Lumsden of Great Britain, who beat Kylie McKenzie 7-5, 6-2.

The third qualifier in the quarterfinals is Jake Van Emburgh, who beat No. 10 seed Artem Dubrivnyy of Russia 6-2, 6-4.  Van Emburgh's win, his second over a seed, assured an American boys semifinalist, with Van Emburgh facing unseeded Trent Bryde next.  Bryde defeated qualifier Oliver Crawford 7-5, 6-1.

Australian Alex De Minaur defeated No. 2 seed Casper Ruud of Norway 6-2, 6-4, leaving No. 5 seed Nathan Ponwith as the highest seed remaining in the boys draw.  Ponwith overcame a slow start against No. 12 seed Lev Kazakov of Russia, but earned a 6-7(5) 6-1, 6-1 victory to set up a meeting with De Minaur in the quarterfinals.

Kalamazoo 16s finalist Alexandre Rotsaert had played his first two matches at the University of Maryland courts, so adjustments for the faster courts at the Junior Tennis Champions Center were necessary. He managed to find his game just in time, beating Alan Rubio Fierros of Mexico 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-3, after Rubio Fierros had served for the match at 6-5 in the second set.

"I had practiced on these courts, but I hadn't played any matches on them," said Rotsaert. "They're much faster over here, so this was like a first round for me. I came out and everything was like a blur....slowly, slowly I started playing a little better. At 6-5, I was a little worried. I kind of earned it, but he kind of gave it to me too, a couple of stupid errors and he started cramping a bit. He started getting a little impatient, going for shots he shouldn't have and I capitalized on that and had a really good breaker."

Rubio Fierros began to really struggle with his movement, apparently due to cramps, late in the third set, and became very aggressive as a result.

"At 5-3 in the third, he just started ripping it," said Rotsaert, who showed no signs of any fatigue during the three-hour match. "Going ace, ace, and I was like, what's going on?"

But Rotsaert said he has learned to ignore the disruption that a visible injury or illness can create, and he closed out the match with no further difficulty.

Next up for Rotsaert is No. 7 seed Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada, who defeated unseeded Vasil Kirkov 6-3, 6-2.

"I'm excited to play Felix, he's such a great player," said Rotsaert. "I really look forward to try and give it my best."

Rotsaert has respect for Auger Aliassime's ATP Challenger victories, but he's not intimidated by those results.

"He's a really good player, but he's a kid, like all of us," Rotsaert said. "You have to be able to do it, but he's playing with no pressure [in ATP Challengers]. Coming into a junior tournament, it's much tougher, everyone here's gunning for you. I was hoping to get him first round, but I guess it's the quarters."

The fourth quarterfinal will be between No. 15 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada and No. 6 seed Alberto Lim of the Philippines, both of whom won three-set struggles. Shapovalov defeated unseeded Gianni Ross 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-2 and Lim got by his doubles partner Tung-lin Wu of China, the No. 9 seed, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Complete draws and Thursday's order of play can be found at

On the second day of qualifying at the US Open, American players had five wins and ten losses.  Complete US results from today's first round and the Thursday second round matches of the 15 Americans remaining are below.

Anna Tatishvili[16] def. Gabriela Dabrowski CAN 6-4, 6-2
Taylor Townsend def. Pauline Parmentier FRA 6-2, 7-5
Mitchell Krueger WC def. Niels Desein BEL 6-1, 6-2
Daniel Nguyen def. Philip Bester CAN 7-6(7), 2-6, 6-4
Reilly Opelka WC def. Christian Lindell SWE 7-6(2), 6-4

Naomi Osaka JPN def. Katerina Stewart 7-6(8), 7-6(5)
Shuai Zhang CHN def. Jennifer Elie WC 6-3, 6-0
Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor[19] ESP def. Usue Arconada WC 6-0, 7-5
Elizaveta Kulichkova[7] RUS def. Jennifer Brady 6-2, 6-4
Ipek Soylu TUR def. Maria Sanchez 5-7, 7-5, 6-1
Kiki Bertens[8] NED def. Robin Anderson WC 6-2, 6-4
Renata Voracova  CZE def. Bernara Pera WC 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
Guido Andreozzi ARG def. Stefan Kozlov WC 6-2, 5-7, 6-3
JP Smith[18] AUS def. Jesse Witten WC 7-6(5), 6-1
Alejandro Gonzalez [15] COL def. Marcos Giron WC 7-6(1), 6-2

Americans in Second Round Qualifying Thursday:
Dennis Novikov vs. Matthew Ebden (AUS)[26]
Daniel Nguyen vs. Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN)[23]
Mitchell Krueger WC vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)[5]
Noah Rubin WC vs. Guido Pella (ARG)[3]
Tommy Paul WC vs. Jose Hernandez-Fernandez (DOM)
Reilly Opelka WC vs. Kimmer Coppejans (BEL)[7]
Taylor Townsend vs. Daria Kasatkina (RUS)[27]
Jessica Pegula vs. Margarita Gasparyan (RUS)[1]
Claire Liu WC vs. Jana Cepelova (SVK)[9]
Melanie Oudin vs. Yafan Wang (CHN)[24]
Shelby Rogers vs. Mandy Minella (LUX)
Anna Tatishvili [16] vs. Laura Pous-Tio (ESP)
CiCi Bellis vs. Romina Oprandi (SUI)[22]
Raveena Kingsley WC vs. Tereza Mrdeza (CRO)
Vicky Duval WC vs. Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)[15]