Monday, July 21, 2014

New Balance High School Tournament Underway; Sarkissian Wins Futures in Canada; Teens Making Inroads; Pasha Receives ATP Atlanta Wild Card

The inaugural New Balance High School tournament began today in Cambridge, Mass., with Grant Solomon and Stephanie Schrage the top seeds.  So far, the seeding, which I understand was done with the help of the Universal Tennis Rating system, has held up well, with only 4 seeds--2 boys and 2 girls--losing in today's first round of the 64-player draw. The complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

Scott Gerber of compiled a review of this week's fields, using the Tennis Recruiting Network as a basis for his analysis.  Some of the players have since dropped out, but it provides data to assess the strength of the field.  Gerber also recently put together a detailed report on all the participants in June's Midwest Closed.

Last night after I posted my review of the Pro Circuit, 2014 NCAA finalist Alex Sarkissian(Pepperdine) won his first Futures title, at a $15,000 tournament in Canada.  Sarkissian, the No. 6 seed, defeated top seed Connor Smith(Ohio State) 7-6(3), 6-4. No. 2 seeds Daniel Chu of Canada and Kyle McMorrow(Washington) won the doubles title, beating unseeded  Riaan Du Toit and Alejandro Tabilo of Canada 6-2, 5-7 10-7.

Had I not been covering the Girls 18s Clays last week, I would have paid much more attention to the impressive results of 17-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany, the 2013 ITF World Junior Champion and 16-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia, who won two junior slams last year.  Zverev, as a wild card, reached the semifinals of the ATP 500 in Hamburg and Konjuh reached the semifinals of the WTA International in Instanbul.  Teen breakthroughs may have slowed a bit on the women's side, but still exist, while on the men's side, teenagers have had difficulty just getting into the Top 100, let alone going deep in ATP tournaments or slams.  Whether Zverev, and 19-year old Nick Kyrgios of Australia are outliers or the start of a trend remains to be seen, but Zverev's week has put him in the company of some impressive players when viewed historically.  Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times spoke with both Konjuh and Zverev after their dream weeks for this article.

Qualifying for this week's ATP tournament in Atlanta is complete, and due to late withdrawals of Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Radek Stepanek, three lucky losers got into the main draw, as well as four qualifiers. Kevin King(Georgia Tech), who lost to JP Smith(Tennessee) in the final round of qualifying was the only loser in the final qualifying round who did not get into the main draw.  Wild cards went to Ryan Harrison, Robby Ginepri and the University of Georgia's Nathan Pasha.  Pasha's wild card was originally offered to Georgia's Austin Smith, but his failure to withdraw from the Godfrey Futures this week left him unable to accept the wild card, so it went to teammate Pasha instead.  Pasha will play Lucas Lacko of Slovakia in the first round Tuesday night. For more on the wild card situation, see this article from

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gibbs Wins $50K in Carson, Takes Lead in US Open WC Race; Black, Frank, Guarachi Capture Futures Titles

Two-time NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs won the $50,000 Carson Challenger today, defeating Melanie Oudin 6-4, 6-4, collecting the third $50,000 singles title of her career. The 21-year-old Gibbs, who has received a wild card into the US Open the last two years as the NCAA champion, is now in the lead for the wild card the USTA is awarding for the best two performances out of the three $50,000 women's Pro Circuit events.  Seeded No. 2 this week, Gibbs lost in the second round last week in Sacramento, to Louisa Chirico, but beat Chirico this week in the semifinals en route to her meeting with No. 4 seed Oudin in the final.  The third tournament in the USTA Wild Card Challenge is this week in Lexington, a joint event with the men.

For more on Gibbs' win, read this release from Steve Pratt.

The men's Wild Card Challenge began this week in Binghamton, but it consists of four events, the last two of which are $100,000 tournaments, which will give them more weight in the final standings. No. 8 seed Wayne Odesnik reached the final of the $50,000 Binghamton Challenger, losing to No. 2 seed Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 7-6(9). Bradley Klahn, who was the top seed, withdrew with a foot injury after reaching the quarterfinals.  Denis Kudla also withdrew, tweeting that he's been diagnosed with mononucleosis.

Sixteen-year-old Tornado Alicia Black won her second career $10,000 Pro Circuit title today in Evansville.  Black, the No. 7 seed, defeated top seed Caitlin Whoriskey(Tennessee) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the final. Natalie Pluskota, Whoriskey's former doubles partner at Tennessee, partnered Florida recruit Brooke Austin for the doubles championship.  They defeated Catherine Harrison(UCLA) and 2013 NCAA finalist Mary Weatherholt(Nebraska) 6-4, 3-6. 11-9 in the final.

This week's $10,000 event for women is in Austin, Texas.

Virginia rising senior Mitchell Frank claimed his first Futures title today at the $10,000 tournament in Tulsa.  Frank, who was unseeded, defeated top seed Liam Broady of Great Britain 6-2, 6-1 in the final.  As this article from the University of Virginia website points out, Frank beat the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds this week, and didn't drop a set.

This week's men's Futures tournament is a $10,000 event in Godfrey, Illinois, and is expected to feature Wimbledon boys champion Noah Rubin.  The final round of qualifying is Monday, and former Arkansas All-American Blake Strode, who had retired from the tour to attend Harvard Law School, is among those still in contention for a place in the main draw.

2013 NCAA semifinalist Alex Guarachi won her first title today at the $10,000 tournament in Vancouver. The former Crimson Tide star, seeded No. 4, beat top seed Yuka Higuchi of Japan 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(6) in the final.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stewart Claims USTA Girls 18 Clay Court Title, Extends Winning Streak to 34 Matches

 ©Colette Lewis 2014--
Memphis, TN--

After winning her first two matches at the USTA Girls 18s Clay Courts without losing a game,  Katerina Stewart admitted she needed a wakeup call.  That came in the third round, when she defeated Emma Davis, a No. 17 seed, 7-6(3), 7-5, the closest match Stewart had all week. The 17-year-old right-hander was wide awake the remainder of the tournament, finishing it with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Kennedy Shaffer on a cool and overcast Saturday morning at the Racquet Club of Memphis.

"I needed that match because I needed a rude awakening," said Stewart, who is on a 34-match winning streak dating back to March. "After two 6-0 6-0s, you're like oh, hey, I'm here. And then you get an opponent like that and you're like whoa, okay, hello.  [Davis] played really well, and what's weird is that she plays like an indoor player, but she does well on clay because she has exceptional timing. She was taking my balls on the rise and hitting everything really, really hard. I was panicking, because I hadn't had a tough match. But at 5-all I said, okay let's go, come on, you're used to this, grind it out and I did, thank god.  You always need that, even if you don't want it, which I really did not want it, you need it to prepare you for the tougher matches at the end."

Those matches never came, as Stewart lost only ten games in her last three matches, taking early leads and never losing focus or motivation.

"I had trouble focusing in the first couple of rounds, because I was all over the place mentally, but I really brought it all together," said Stewart, seeded No. 5. "I played really well today also. She's a great player, and she had some really good wins this week, but I'm happy I came through."

The first two games of the match went to deuce, but Stewart won them both, and from there took control of the first set, winning it in just over 30 minutes.

Shaffer could take comfort in the knowledge that she had trailed 6-1 after a set in her semifinal match with Jessie Aney, but when she was broken at love in the fourth game of the second set, another comeback and a third straight three-set win, looked unlikely.

"She's just an incredibly solid player," said Shaffer, a No. 17 seed who had never been beyond the fourth round at a USTA National Level 1 tournament. "I didn't feel like I had much energy left and against a player like her you have to be a hundred percent physically, mentally or she will just wear you down. Corner to corner, heavy balls, pushing you back...she moves well, she has that good slice, she covers the court very well. I just think she's an all around great athlete and she's tough. She's really tough to beat."

Although Shaffer didn't get many chances to get back in the match, making errors that she didn't make against Aney in the semifinals, when she did get a 0-30 lead or have a rare break point, Stewart came up with a big serve, usually drawing a weak return that could be efficiently put away.

"I was focusing on making a very high percentage of first serves," said Stewart, who trains with her father Caesar at Next Level Tennis Academy in Coral Gables and grew up on the same Har-Tru surface used at the Racquet Club. "She's an aggressive player and I didn't want her to attack my serve. So always on the big points, I wanted to serve into the body, to keep her off balance, and it worked for me today, because I was really focusing well on the serve."

"Her serve really kicks up high," said Shaffer, who turned 17 in May. "I felt like if I had taken even just a few more steps in I could have maybe tried to capitalize more off the returns, because that felt like my only chance. As we got farther into a rally, I got more tired, and she could just be out here hours, sliding side to side."

Stewart is delighted to have earned a wild card into the US Open Junior Championships with the title, and to have claimed a Clay Court gold ball after losing in the 14s final in 2011 and the 16s final in 2013.  But her sights are now set on a wild card into the main draw of the US Open, which goes to the winner of next month's USTA Girls 18s Nationals in San Diego.

"It's going to be stacked with really good players," said Stewart, who won the 16s title in San Diego last year. "Everyone wants that wild card--I want that wild card. Even though I'm going to the US Open juniors, that's the big one. I know there are going to be really good players, and I love playing great competition, so that's going to be fun."

Shaffer is excited by the prospect of returning to hard courts, her preferred surface, and by the confidence she's gained this week.

"That's a lot better for me," said Shaffer, who received the tournament's sportsmanship award . "I think confidence-wise this definitely gets me going. I haven't done too well recently, but I'm coming out of my slump. I'll take this result any day if I'm coming back. It was a good run, and I had a really good time, and I got my first [USTA] ball. That's all I really wanted."

In the other two singles matches played on Saturday, No. 4 seed Aney took the bronze ball, defeating No. 8 seed Caroline Lampl 6-2, 6-0.  Katherine Fahey, the No. 6 seed, defeated Mia Horvit 6-0, 6-3 in the consolation final.  In the new consolation draw for quarterfinalists, No. 1 seed Francesca Di Lorenzo won via walkover from No. 7 seed Kelly Chen.

Complete draws are available at the TennisLink site.

In today's other Clay Court finals, two champions stepped up a division, yet retained their titles.  No. 17 seed Tommy Paul, who won the 16s Clay Court title last year, won the 18s title this year, defeating unseeded Reilly Opelka 7-6, 6-1.  Claire Liu, the 2013 14s Clay Court champion, won the girls 16s title this year in Virginia Beach. The No. 5 seed defeated fellow Californian Ryan Peus, the top seed, 6-1, 6-2.  Top seed John McNally added the 16s Clay Court title to his Carson and Easter Bowl championships this year, defeating No. 5 seed Jacob Brumm 6-2, 6-2.  In the girls 14s, unseeded Victoria Emma claimed the title, defeating No. 8 seed Sophia Edwards 6-2, 3-6, 6-0.  Cori Gauff, a No. 17 seed, beat No. 7 seed Victoria Hu 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 to earn the Girls 12s title.  Links to the TennisLink draws for all other divisions are below:

Boys 12s in Winston-Salem, NC

Girls 12s in Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Boys 14s in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Girls 14s in Plantation, FL

Girls 16s in Virginia Beach, VA

Boys 16s & 18s in Delray Beach, FL

Friday, July 18, 2014

Katerina Stewart and Kennedy Shaffer Meet for USTA Girls 18s Clay Court Title Saturday

©Colette Lewis 2014--
Memphis, TN--

A steady rain Friday sent the remaining matches of the USTA Girls 18s Clay Court Championship indoors, to the four indoor Har-Tru courts at the Tunica National Golf and Tennis Club, about 30 miles south of Memphis.  Neither semifinal winner--No. 5 seed Katerina Stewart, who defeated No. 8 seed Caroline Lampl 6-0, 6-1, and No. 17 seed Kennedy Shaffer, who downed No.4 seed Jessie Aney 1-6, 6-1, 6-2--had any complaints about the change of venue.

"I love clay, I could like roll in the clay," said Stewart, who grew up playing on the surface in Miami.  "It's so much slower than the other site (the Racquet Club of Memphis), which is surprising, because I thought it was going to be fast. This is my first time playing an indoor clay court, but I really liked it.  Clay already gives me enough time, and especially this one. It was way slower than the other one, so it helped me a lot."

Stewart, who won the 16s USTA National Hard Court title last year in San Diego, prefers clay, using her topspin and heavy, deep ground strokes to physically wear down her opponents.  Calling her match against Lampl her best of the tournament, Stewart said she was focused and "really feeling the ball well."  Lampl was more error-prone than she had been in her previous matches, and was unable to find any solution to Stewart's depth and power.

Now on a 33-match winning streak which extends back to a $25,000 Pro Circuit event in March, Stewart said so many consecutive wins can add both confidence and pressure.

"I actually didn't know how many matches in a row I'd won until you told me, so I haven't thought about it," said Stewart, who said she feels like Novak Djokovic when he had his 42-match winning streak in 2011.  "It gives you confidence winning and also that pressure of 'wow, I've won so many matches, I don't want to lose this next one'. Everyone's going out there to beat you, so you don't want to add extra pressure to yourself, so I just take it one point at a time."

Unlike Stewart, who has a classic clay court game, Shaffer plays more first-strike tennis, but she too found the Tunica National courts to her liking.

"I loved them," said Shaffer, who chalked up her slow start in the opening set to nerves and a lack of experience in big matches. "Everybody keeps saying they're a lot slower, but I thought they were faster.  Indoor courts are better for me because I was playing on indoor all my life, so the faster the ball came the more I liked it. I loved these courts, they were really easy to move on, I would take these any day."

Shaffer recovered in the second set and began to find her range, but Aney's defense tested her patience, with Shaffer needing to hit three or four extra balls before she could finally get one past the 16-year-old from Minnesota.

Even when Shaffer's big shots drew a short ball from Aney and she closed the net to put it away, she was ready to hit another shot.

"She's so fit and her game is covering everything, wearing you down every possible way, and that's not me, I'm not that kind of player," said Shaffer, who grew up in Ohio, but trains at the Ivan Lendl Academy in Hilton Head. "So I had to work super hard from the baseline until I found a ball I could move in on. I had short balls that took ten short balls to put away, before I could actually finish the point.  But anything that was service line or a little behind it, I was going to move in."

At the 10-minute break between sets, Shaffer had an opportunity to consult with her coach Ana Ceretto, who arrived in Memphis in the early hours of the morning Friday.

"It means the world to me to have her here watching," Shaffer said. "She said it was going to be on me, if I won or lost. If I attacked, and I made my shots, or I didn't play too smart and let her wear me down physically and mentally."

True to her reputation, Aney did not relent even when she was broken for a second time in the third set to give Shaffer a 5-2 lead and an opportunity to serve for the match.  Betraying a few nerves, Shaffer made a couple of errors and was facing a 15-40 deficit, but two exquisite points, with 20-to-30 ball rallies that Shaffer finally ended with a forehand winner each time brought it back to deuce. Both girls took a little extra time after each of those two gruelling break points, but Shaffer did not relax or lose her concentration on the next one. Instead, she pounced on a ball she liked early in the rally, hitting a backhand winner to reach match point, then converted it when Aney's mishit backhand hit the ceiling.

Shaffer said she wasn't aware that the winner of the Girls 18s Clay Courts receives a wild card into the US Open Junior Championships.

"I've always dreamed of that, but I never thought the day would come that I would have a shot at it, to be completely honest," Shaffer said. "This kind of feels like a dream. A Super National, I always wanted to play them when I was younger, wanted to do good, but I never anticipated ever playing for a spot in the US Open juniors. That would mean all the ups and downs, the injuries and time off I've tried to work past have been worth it.  I'm improving and I'm enjoying competing, so that's all that matters to me."

After the completion of the semifinals and a couple of hours of rest for Stewart, the doubles championship was contested between two No. 9 seeds, with Gabby Andrews and Kenadi Hance defeating Stewart and Mia Horvit 6-3, 7-5.

Andrews and Hance had not planned to play together, but when their previously arranged partners pulled out, they paired up at the last minute, when Andrews was checking in prior to the tournament.

Although both are from Southern California, they had not played together since the 12s, and it looked as if their tournament was going to end in the semifinals, when they trailed Jacqueline Urbinati and Melissa Lord 6-3, 5-2 before pulling out a 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory, which included saving a match point.

"Down 2-5, I'm hitting underhand serves," said Andrews, who is experiencing pain in her right shoulder. "She said, if we're going to go out, we're going to go out having fun. And somehow we win that game, and then another, and momentum's going our way.  I didn't even care about my arm anymore, my new serve, I don't care what anyone else thinks."

Andrews, who won two junior grand slam doubles titles with Taylor Townsend in 2012, started the final serving conventionally, but by the fourth game of the second set she was back to the underhand variety.

"I was planning on staying with the traditional serve but Kenadi was smart," said Andrews. "She said, you know your underhand serve is working, why don't you just do that for the rest of the time?"

Andrews rarely missed a first serve, and the underhand slice on it made it difficult for Horvit and Stewart to attack it.  That didn't mean Andrews and Horvit held serve--there were five consecutive breaks from 3-3 in the third set--but Andrews used her soft hands and exceptional placement while Hance did a lot of the cross court ground stroke work in rallies.

"We stayed calm and I think we played smart," said Hance, who like Andrews is 17. "We made them play and we weren't making too many mistakes. We only went for shots when we knew it was the right time."

"Patience was key," added Andrews, who closed out the match by holding serve. "We weren't trying to go for shots that weren't there. We were really consistent, didn't go for extreme shots at the wrong time."

There are three matches on the schedule for Saturday, all at 10 a.m. In addition to the singles final, the consolation final between Horvit and Katherine Fahey and the third place match between Aney and Lampl will also be contested.

Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

Below are the results and/or finals matchups for the other Clay Court divisions:

B12s: Zane Khan(5) def. Faris Khan(11) 1-6, 6-0, 6-0
G12s: Cori Gauff(17) v Victoria Hu(7)
B14s: Keenan Mayo(1) def. Bradley Frye 6-3, 6-3
G14s: Sophia Edwards(8) v Victoria Emma
G16s: Ryan Peus(1) v Claire Liu(5)
B16s: John McNally(1) v Jacob Brumm(5)
B18s: Tommy Paul(17) v Reilly Opelka

Complete draws are here:

Boys 12s in Winston-Salem, NC

Girls 12s in Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Boys 14s in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Girls 14s in Plantation, FL

Girls 16s in Virginia Beach, VA

Boys 16s & 18s in Delray Beach, FL

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shaffer Defeats Former Champion Andrews in Third Set Tiebreaker, Stewart Celebrates Birthday with Win Over Top Seed Di Lorenzo in Girls 18s Clay Courts Quarterfinals

©Colette Lewis 2014--
Memphis, TN--

Out for most of the spring with a back injury, Kennedy Shaffer lost not only her physical edge but her mental game as well. After defeating 2011 champion Gabby Andrews 7-6(4), 5-7, 7-6(4) in the USTA Girls 18s Clay Court Nationals quarterfinals Thursday, the 17-year-old from Ohio can pronounce herself fully fit in both categories.

"Tennis is so mental," said Shaffer, who stayed calm throughout the three and a half hour match, which was played in unseasonably cool and cloudy conditions. "And if you're out of practice, physically, that will come. But your mind, that's a whole different story. That takes a lot of extra work. But the better I see myself play, the more my head feels like it's where it needs to be."

Shaffer, like Andrews a No. 17 seed, had ample opportunity to crumble after a shaky end to the second set. She served for the match at 5-3, but Andrews hit three return winners in that game, which was not all that remarkable given the countless return winners by both players throughout the match.  Shaffer then failed to capitalize on a match point with Andrews serving at 4-5, 30-40. Andrews hit a big forehand near the line and Shaffer, a bit late reacting to it, sent her defensive forehand reply wide.  She not only lost that game, but the next two, with Andrews getting a rare love hold at 6-5 to even the match.

"You can't afford to be negative against such a good player," Shaffer said of her lack of emotion during that four game stretch. "You don't have time to dwell on what you are doing wrong. You have to keep yourself moving constantly if you want to have a fighting chance."

During the 10 minute mandatory rest break between the second and third sets Shaffer received encouragement from her mother Lorri, with her coach Ana Ceretto unable to leave the Ivan Lendl Academy in Hilton Head this week to be with her.

"My mom gets really nervous and she just tells me, 'it's okay, it's okay, you're going to be okay. Just do what you're doing, you're doing well,'" Shaffer said. "Reassurance helps."

Shaffer led 4-2 in the final set, but she made almost no first serves in the seventh game, which is asking for trouble against Andrews' returns, and was broken. Andrews saved a break point with a drop shot winner in the eighth game to make it 4-all, and both held their next two service games to reach the tiebreaker.

After so many entertaining rallies and outright winners hit in the previous games, the deciding tiebreaker proved anticlimactic.  Shaffer hit the only two winners of the first six points to take a 5-1 lead at the change of ends, and although Andrews saved two match points, one on a Shaffer double fault and another on a netted backhand by Shaffer after a long rally, she couldn't save the fourth.  She missed her first serve, and with Shaffer moving inside the baseline to return the second, Andrews hit her second, which clipped the net and bounced out of the box, putting Shaffer in her first National Level 1 semifinal.

"I was so scared," said Shaffer. "But a tiebreaker was better because instead of having to go through a whole game of her serving, it was 2, 2, 2. I was holding my serve most of the time, so if I could put together two good serving points and then two solid returns, I'd have a four point lead, with is massive against someone as good as she is."

Shaffer admits that the grinding mentality of clay does not come naturally to her.

"I'm not really a patient player," said Shaffer, who recently committed to the University of Georgia for 2015. "You can see it here and there. But I've been working with Ana on heavy topspin and moving my margins in, because if I can hit a heavier ball and more to the corner, less toward the line, I can really open up the court and people can't even get a racquet on that sometimes. So it's less taxing on my body, not hitting out every single's so much more than trying to outhit people. That does nothing for me anymore. I used to think that was the only way I could win, but that's when I lost."

Shaffer will play No. 4 seed Jessie Aney in the semifinals.  Aney spent several fewer hours on the court than Shaffer, cruising past No. 7 seed Kelly Chen 6-3, 6-0.

"It's by far the best match I've played all tournament," said Aney, who has yet to lose more than three games in any set this week. "I think I stepped up a few more times today, hit some big shots, not necessarily coming to the net, but getting on the attack and pushing her around a little bit. I think I did that well, and also, I didn't make any errors and my passing shots were on point, so it was good all around."

Aney doesn't think the extra time Shaffer spent on court will have much of an impact on the semifinal, which will be their first meeting.

"I think she's in good enough shape that a day's recovery is going to be enough," said Aney, who was last in the singles semifinals of a National Level 1 back in the 12s division. "The adrenaline of the moment pretty much powers people through I think. I think she'll come out strong tomorrow, so I'm ready."

The other semifinal will feature No. 8 seed Caroline Lampl against No. 5 seed Katerina Stewart.

Stewart, who turned 17 today, defeated top seed Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-2, 6-3 in a well-played quarterfinal.  Stewart was much happier with her play against Di Lorenzo than in Wednesday's round of 16.

"I had a little hiccup yesterday," said Stewart, who has now won 32 consecutive matches since March. "So today I was just trying to focus on playing well.  She's a great player and we both have the same style, so it was whoever took the opportunity first, and whoever could stay in the point longer."

Stewart has never even seen Lampl play before, so she will focus on her own game at the beginning of the match.

"Usually, every match, I try to do every point tough," said Stewart, who is seeking the US Open junior championships main draw wild card that goes to the winner. "I focus and try my best on every single point, then see what happens and adjust my game plan as I go along."

Lampl defeated Gabby Pollner, a No. 17 seed, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2, overcoming the change in game plan Pollner introduced down 4-1 in the opening set.

"She hit a lot of spinny balls, hitting it high to my backhand," Lampl said. "Her ball has a lot of kick to it, so it was hard to return. That was how she got back in the first set, but eventually I pulled it out. In the second set, she was playing really well and I had a lot of trouble returning her balls."

Lampl said her conversation with her coach Vince Pulupa during the 10 minute break helped her calm down and refocus.

"He told me I couldn't really do anything about that second set, she was just playing really well," said Lampl, who recently made a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt. "He told me I only had one set to do this, and I wanted to go to the semis, so I just really focused."

Lampl, who turns 17 later this month, reached the semifinals of the 16s Clay Courts two years ago, but she isn't certain it's her best surface.

"I'm a hard-hitter, so I really like hard courts as well, but once I get the hang of the clay court style, I really enjoy it," the Virginia resident said.  "I'll pull balls out wide sometimes, because my forehand has a lot of spin, so that does help. I do enjoy clay, I just prefer hard courts honestly."

Both semifinals are scheduled for 8 a.m. on Friday, with the weather forecast calling for rain most of the day.

The doubles semifinals were played Thursday evening, with the finalists taking two distinct paths to the final.

Mia Horvit and Stewart, seeded No. 9, defeated No. 3 seeds Lauren Goodman and Di Lorenzo 6-1, 6-2.  Meanwhile, on show court 4, a long and tense semifinal ended with Andrews and Kenadi Hance, also a No. 9 seeded team, defeating No. 8 seeds Melissa Lord and Jacqueline Urbinati 3-6, 7-5, 7-5.

Andrews, who had her shoulder wrapped with Kinesio tape in her singles match with Shaffer, was unable to hit an overhand serve from the first game of the doubles match, using an underhand motion throughout the two and a half hour contest.  Although she struggled on serve early, she began to hit some very tricky low slicing serves as the match wore on.

Down a match point at 6-3, 5-2 with Andrews serving, the comeback began, with Hance and Andrews winning five straight games to take the match into a third set.

Hance served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, but was unable to hold. Urbinati was broken to give Andrews an opportunity to serve it out and she succeeded, ending her sixth set of tennis on the day with a victory.

The time for the doubles final has not been established, but will depend on the completion of Stewart's semifinal in singles.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

The other Clay Court Nationals are also at the semifinal or final stage. Friday's matches:

Ryan Peus(1) v Makenna Jones(4)
Claire Liu(5) v Kayla Day(2)

Tommy Paul(17) v Tom Fawcett(17)
Reilly Opelka v Alfredo Perez(17)

John McNally(1) v Connor Hance(17)
Jake Van Emburgh v Jacob Brumm(5)

Sophia Edwards(8) v Abigail Forbes
Victoria Emma v Marlee Zein(17)

Keenan Mayo(1) v Bradley Frye
Katie Volynets(1) v Cori Gauff(17)
Victoria Hu(7) v Nin Gulbransen(6)

Zane Khan(5) v Faris Khan(11)

Complete draws are available at the TennisLink sites:

Boys 12s in Winston-Salem, NC

Girls 12s in Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Boys 14s in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Girls 14s in Plantation, FL

Girls 16s in Virginia Beach, VA

Boys 16s & 18s in Delray Beach, FL

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

USTA Girls 16s and 18s Nationals Wild Cards

Here are the wild cards for next month's USTA Girls 18 and 16 National Championships in San Diego.  For the Kalamazoo wild cards, see this post.

Girls 18s:
Brooke Austin
Tornado Alicia Black
Louisa Chirico
Ellie Halbauer
Sofia Kenin
Josie Kuhlman
Christina Makarova
Ingrid Neel

Girls 16s:
Helen (Abi) Altick
Kylie McKenzie
Ndindi Ndunda
Adriana Reami
Sydney Riley
Rebecca Weissman