Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chen Wins Austin $10K; Gibbs Wins USO Wild Card; Black, Donaldson, Townsend Qualify for Citi Open in Washington, Zhao Reaches Main Draw at Bank of the West Classic

Fifteen-year-old Kelly Chen went straight from the G18s Clay Courts in Memphis to the qualifying tournament of the $10,000 Pro Circuit event in Austin.  Before she made that trip, Chen had only one main draw victory in a professional-level tournament, but this week she got five, beating 2013 NCAA finalist Mary Weatherholt 6-3, 7-6(7) in Sunday's final. The Cerritos, California resident, who works with former NCAA champion and WTA Top 40 player Debbie Graham, now heads back home to compete in the Girls 18s National Championships, with the main draw in that division beginning next Sunday.

At the men's $10,000 Futures in Godfrey, Illinois, Daniel Nguyen posted his second straight win over Mitchell Frank, this time in a final, defeating the Cavalier rising senior 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(2).  Frank served for the match at 5-3 in the third, but Nguyen rebounded and after trailing 2-0 in the tiebreaker, captured the finals seven points for his first title of 2014.  The former USC Trojan, who completed his eligibility in 2012, has won four Futures singles titles in his professional career.

Nguyen wasn't the only Trojan having a good week on the professional tour. Steve Johnson reached the BB&T Atlanta Open doubles final with Sam Querrey, losing to Wimbledon champions Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil 6-3, 5-7, 10-5 today.  Rising senior Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador swept the titles at this week's $15,000 Futures in Venezuela. The No. 7 seed, Quiroz downed former Duke star Henrique Cunha, seeded third, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals and defeated No. 8 seed Jorge Panta of Peru 6-3, 6-4 in the final for his first ITF Men's circuit singles title.  He and Mateo Martinez of Argentina were the top seeds in doubles, and they claimed the title when their opponents retired trailing 6-4, 1-1.  Quiroz now has 10 Futures doubles titles.

Nicole Gibbs lost in the final of the $50,000 Lexington Challenger to Madison Brengle today 6-3, 6-4, but the two-time NCAA champion while at Stanford secured her third straight US Open wild card by just reaching the final, after winning the $50,000 tournament in Carson last week.  The only player who could catch her was Melanie Oudin, whom she beat in the final last week, and when she again beat Oudin, this time in the semifinals, Brengle couldn't match Gibbs' point total.  Here is the article on Gibbs' US Open Wild Card Challenge win.

In the final round of qualifying at the Citi Open, Jared Donaldson, Tornado Alicia Black and Taylor Townsend all advanced to the main draw with straight-set wins.  Donaldson defeated Sekou Bangoura Jr. 6-3, 6-1 and will face fellow qualifier Rajeev Ram in the first round Monday evening.  Also on Monday, on the stadium court, televised by the Tennis Channel at 8 p.m., 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe makes his main draw ATP debut against Evgeny Donskoy of Russia. Monday's complete order of play is here.

Black and Townsend are also on Monday's schedule, with Black defeating Great Britain's Emily Webley-Smith 6-3, 6-0 in today's final round of qualifying, and Townsend downing top seed Tereza Smitkova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4.  Black meets Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan and Townsend plays Julia Goerges of Germany with both matches Monday night, but not on the stadium court.

Out at the WTA's Bank of the West Classic, rising Stanford sophomore Carol Zhao of Canada earned her way into the main draw, beating Marina Shamayko of Russia 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in today's second, and final, round of qualifying. She will play Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium Tuesday in the first round. Recent Stanford graduate Kristie Ahn meets CoCo Vandeweghe Monday night.  For more on Zhao and Ahn, see this article from the Stanford website. Sachia Vickery also advanced to the main draw, with a 6-4, 6-1 upset of top qualifying seed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada, 103 in the WTA rankings. The 2013 USTA National 18s champion will play Shuai Zhang of China in just her second WTA main draw appearance (not including her appearance in this year's Australian Open after winning the USTA wild card tournament, and her wild card into last year's US Open as junior champion, where she won a round).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Teens Get Opportunities During US Open Series; Chen, Weatherholt in Austin $10K Final; Frank and Nguyen Meet for Godfrey Futures Title

The US Open Series is underway with the ATP's BB&T Atlanta Open kicking off the five-week lead-in into the US Open. Defending champion and top seed John Isner is in the final for the fourth time in five years after his 7-5, 6-4 win today over Jack Sock. He will play either Germany's Benjamin Becker(Baylor) or Dudi Sela of Israel in Sunday's final. Steve Johnson(USC) and Sam Querrey have reached the doubles final.

There are three US Open series events on the schedule for next week. The ATP has a 500-level in Washington DC, with the women sharing the courts in an International level event. On the west coast, the women's premier event is the Bank of the West Classic, held on the Stanford campus.

It was announced on Friday that 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe, who trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in nearby College Park, Maryland, had received a main draw wild card into the Citi Open in Washington DC, where he'll face Evgeny Donskoy of Russia in the opening round.  The ITF's 2012 World Junior champion Filip Peliwo of Canada also received a main draw wild card, as did top seed Tomas Berdych and James Duckworth of Australia. The men's qualifying draw contained plenty of players with local connections including, Justin and Ryan Shane, Michael Shabaz and Sanam Singh, all current or former University of Virginia players.  They all fell in the first round today, but Jordi Arconada, who trains at the JTCC and lost in the final of a prequalifying tournament to Tiafoe, had better luck.  When Tiafoe got the main draw wild card, Arconada was given the qualifying wild card, and is now in the second round. Up a break 3-2 in the first set, Arconada got the win when French veteran Michael Llodra retired. Wimbledon boys finalist Stefan Kozlov was two points away from an upset of top qualifying seed Sam Groth of Australia up 6-3 and at 5-5 in the second set tiebreaker, but Groth came back for a 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory.  Jared Donaldson, last year's Kalamazoo finalist and most likely to be the top seed there next week, cruised past No. 10 seed Gonzalo Lama of Chile 6-1, 6-1 and will play former Florida Gator Sekou Bangoura for a spot in the main draw. Former USC Trojan Emilio Gomez also advanced to the final round of qualifying.

In the WTA Citi Open qualifying, Tornado Alicia Black defeated Louisa Chirico 6-3, 6-1 and will face Great Britain's Emily Webley-Smith in Sunday's final round of qualifying. Taylor Townsend also advanced to the final round of qualifying, with the No. 5 seed set to face top seed Tereza Smitkova of the Czech Republic, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon this year.

The Tennis East Coast blog is onsite covering the Citi Open and has posted articles and photos from today's qualifying action.

At the Bank of the West Classic, Kristie Ahn, who played No. 1 for Stanford this past year as a senior, received a main draw wild card and will face CoCo Vandeweghe in the first round.  Qualifying wild cards went to two current Cardinal rising sophomores--Caroline Doyle, who lost to top seed Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 7-5, 6-3, and Canadian Carol Zhao, who surprised fellow teenager and No. 2 seed Katerina Siniakova (WTA 123) of the Czech Republic 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3) in the day's final match in Palo Alto.

Wimbledon girls quarterfinalist Michaela Gordon, who turned 15 today, received an early birthday present in the form of a qualifying wild card, but she fell to Sachia Vickery, the No. 6 seed, 6-4, 6-1.  Doubles star Raquel Kops-Jones, a former Cal standout, received a wild card and surprised No. 3 seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 6-2, 7-6(8).

At the two Pro Circuit Futures events this week, all four finalists are from the United States, assuring another American sweep, just as last week.  University of Virginia rising senior Mitchell Frank, who won the $10,000 Futures last week in Tulsa, goes for his second straight title in Godfrey Illinois Futures, where he'll meet former USC Trojan Daniel Nguyen.  The unseeded Frank defeated North Carolina rising sophomore Ronnie Schneider 6-0, 7-5 in the semifinals today, while No. 8 seed Nguyen downed No. 4 seed Luke Bambridge of Great Britain 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Nguyen lost to Frank twice in college, when he was a senior and Frank a freshman, falling in the semifinals of the ITA All-American Championships in 2011 and in the NCAA team final in 2012. But Last month in the Buffalo Futures quarterfinals on clay, Nguyen beat Frank 7-5, 6-1.

Bambridge and Liam Broady, the top seeds, defeated unseeded Schneider and teammate Brett Clark 6-3, 6-2 in the doubles final.

At the $10,000 women's tournament in Austin, Texas,, qualifier Kelly Chen, a quarterfinalist last week at the Clay Courts, has reached her first Pro Circuit final with a 7-6(5), 6-2 win over Usue Arconada, Chen's first straight-set win of the week.  Arconada, by the way, had earned a wild card into the Citi Open qualifying in the JTCC's prequalifying tournament, but because she is playing in an international junior team tournament at Wimbledon next week, she was unable to accept it.

Chen will play 2013 NCAA finalist Mary Weatherholt(Nebraska), who is just returning to competition this summer after recovering from yet another serious knee injury. Weatherholt defeated No. 5 seed Nives Baric of Australian 6-4, 6-1 to reach her first singles final. She has first title already however, and she and Catherine Harrison of UCLA won the doubles championship, beating Alexa Guarachi (Alabama) and Alex Cercone (Florida) 6-2, 7-5.

Peter Kobelt and Devin McCarthy (Ohio State) won their fourth Futures doubles title since the first of June at this week's Hong Kong Futures. Kobelt and McCarthy have reached the final of all six Futures they've played together this summer.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Girls 18 USTA Clay Courts Recap, Slideshow and Videos

In less than a week, qualifying for the Boys and Girls 16s and 18s National Championships will begin, but before we start anticipating that, it's time to take a final look back at last week's USTA Clay Court championships. My review of the Girls 18s in Memphis is up this afternoon on the Tennis Recruiting Network, but make sure you read all eight articles on one of the three individual gold ball events remaining in the USTA junior tournament structure. Links to all eight articles can be found at the bottom of my recap at TR Net.

A slideshow of the top performers in Memphis and videos of finalists Katerina Stewart and Kennedy Shaffer are below.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Clarke, Kuhar Win New Balance National High School Championships; Coric Advances to Quarterfinals at ATP's Umag; Papa, Chen, Arconada Reach Futures Quarterfinals

The first annual New Balance High School Tennis Championships were completed today in Cambridge, Mass, with No. 2 seeds in both the boys and girls draws winning the title. Madison Clarke, a rising senior from Phoenix, won the girls championship, defeating No. 5 seed Jenna Moustafa of Los Angeles, a rising sophomore, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the final. The boys final was also a three-setters, with Matt Kuhar of Rhode Island, who will be competing for Bryant University this fall, defeating No. 7 seed Maxwell Cancilla, a rising junior from Huntington Beach, Calif., 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.  For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

Another week, another 17-year-old making waves on the ATP Tour. 2013 US Open boys champion Borna Coric of Croatia received a wild card into Umag, in his home country, and he has beaten tour veterans Edouard Roger Vasselin of France, the No. 7 seed, and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, to advance to the quarterfinals. He will play top seed Fabio Fognini of Italy next.  

After so many years without any male teenagers in the top 200, all of sudden we have three: Nick Kyrgios of Australia, Alexander Zverev of Germany and with his win today, Coric.  Is this a trend? It's too early to tell, but for more on Coric's win today, see this from Steve Tignor at (Don't put much stock in his ATP height references. Those are notoriously inaccurate.)

Teenagers at the Austin, Texas $10,000 tournament for women and the Godfrey, Illinois $10,000 tournament for men, also had a good day. Eighteen-year-old Spencer Papa, who had beaten No. 3 seed and current Wimbledon boys champion Noah Rubin in the first round, defeated TCU's Nick Chappell 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals.  Papa, who starts at Tulsa this fall, had advanced to the final of a Futures in Mexico earlier this month, and reached the quarterfinals at last week's Futures tournament on his future campus. One of the unfortunate results of the current entry system for the Nationals is that Papa, who will not be 19 until October, was unable to get a wild card into Kalamazoo, with all eight going to other (deserving) players.  Certainly setting aside four wild cards for qualifying should be considered when suggestions for improving the new system are solicited.

Papa is one of five Americans in the quarterfinals, with UNC's Ronnie Schneider, Virginia's Mitchell Frank and former collegians Daniel Nguyen(USC) and Jeff Dadamo(Texas A&M) the others.

In Austin, 15-year-olds Usue Arconada and Kelly Chen are through to the quarterfinals, with Chen going directly from the Clay Courts in Memphis to the qualifying in Austin.  Arconada and Chen are joined in the quarterfinals by three former US collegians: Alex Guarachi of Alabama (last week's Vancouver $10K winner), 2013 NCAA finalist Mary Weatherholt (Nebraska), who play each other in a rematch of the 2013 NCAA semifinals, won 6-0, 6-3 by Weatherholt,  and recent Florida graduate Alex Cercone of Florida, who faces Chen.

At the $50,000 Lexington Challenger, two-time NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs kept her hopes for a third straight US Open wild card alive, saving a match point in her 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 win over UCLA rising sophomore Jennifer Brady.  Gibbs, Oudin and Brengle, all into the quarterfinals, still have an opportunity to win the USTA's Wild Card Challenge.

At the men's $50,000 Challenger in Lexington, Chase Buchanan(Ohio State) and Wayne Odesnik are the sole Americans still in the singles draw.

For those waiting for a release from the University of Virginia on Andres Pedroso's decision to leave his position as men's assistant, it's here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Quinzi, Ymer, Donaldson and Rubin Enter US Open Juniors; Round of 16 Set at European Championships; Cal's Men's Tennis on Mythbusters

The acceptance lists for the US Open Junior Championships are out. fIn the boys draw, not only are the top three boys in the ITF junior rankings entered, but several of the best young players who haven't been competing regularly on the ITF junior circuit, but rather in the lower levels of the professional tour.

Elias Ymer of Sweden, whose current ATP ranking of 286 will have him seeded third in the US Open Juniors should he keep that top 350 ATP ranking, has entered, as has Italy's Gianluigi Quinzi (ATP ranking 312, also assuring a top 4 seed in USO Juniors), and Jared Donaldson of the US (ATP ranking 333, which, in the ITF's current seeding protocol, will put him in the top 4 too). Wimbledon boys champion Noah Rubin, with his ATP ranking of 537, also received direct entry to the main draw. There is no guarantee all four will play, of course, with withdrawals permitted up to August 19th.

In addition to the four players above, world No. 1 Andrey Rublev of Russia, the French boys champion, No. 2 Stefan Kozlov, a finalist at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, and No. 3 Orlando Luz of Brazil are also entered.

In fact, only six of the top 48 boys in the ITF rankings are missing, the most notable of whom are No. 7 Alexander Zverev, the Australian Open boys champion, who has risen to 161 in the ATP rankings after making the semifinals at Hamburg last week, and No. 4 Jaume Munar of Spain.

In addition to Kozlov, six other US boys have been accepted into the main draw: Francis Tiafoe, Michael Mmoh, Taylor Fritz, Alex Rybakov, Logan Smith and Henrik Wiersholm.

Three girls received entry into the main draw via their Top 350 WTA rankings: Anhelina Kalinina(269) of Ukraine, Francoise Abanda(220) of Canada and Ipek Soylu(342) of Turkey.

Four of the ITF Top 10 did not enter, including No. 1 Ivana Jorovic of Serbia and French Open girls champion Darya Kasatkina (No. 3) of Russia. Both are committed to play in the Youth Olympic Games in China from August 17-24, which could be a factor, although Kasatkina said she was done with junior tournaments after the French.  Rublev is also slated to play in the Youth Olympics, as are Luz and Rybakov, among others (full YOG acceptance list is here), so the travel/time zone changes are not discouraging everyone.

CiCi Bellis(2) and Tornado Alicia Black(4) are the top two players on the girls entry list. Other American girls in the main draw are: Sofia Kenin(another YOG participant), Usue Arconada, Dasha Ivanova and Michaela Gordon.  Several other US girls are just out of the main draw, including Katrine Steffensen, Kaitlyn McCarthy, Jessica Ho and Raveena Kingsley.

As I have for the past ten years, I will be covering the US Open junior tournament onsite again beginning with the final round of qualifying on August 30th.

The complete acceptance lists can be found here.

The European Championships, which at the 18-and-under level are an ITF Grade B1, are into the round of 16 after today's action.  The boys top four seeds--Jaume Munar(ESP), Quentin Halys(FRA), Johan Sebastien Tatlot(FRA) and Roman Safiullin(RUS) are still vying for the title, as are three of the top 4 girls: Wimbledon champion and No. 1 seed Jelena Ostapenko(LAT), No. 3 seed Jil Belen Teichmann(SUI) and No. 4 seed Iryna Shymanovich(BLR).  Wimbledon finalist and No. 2 seed Kristina Schmiedlova of Slovakia lost in the second round to Julia Terziyska of Bulgaria 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.  It's not the 18-year-old Terziyska's first big upset; back in December she ousted Eddie Herr champion Ostapenko in the third round of the Orange Bowl.  Results from the 14s and 16s tournaments can be found at the Tennis Europe site.

If you are a fan of Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel (and who isn't?), tune in Thursday night to see Cal men's tennis assistant Tyler Browne play tennis on the wing of an airplane.  Head coach Peter Wright also appears on the show. The segment is scheduled for 9 p.m. Thursday night.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Taylor to Leave USTA, Join Virginia as Men's Assistant; Other College News; Clay Court Recaps at Tennis Recruiting Network

Dustin Taylor, who early in 2013 became the USTA's National Coach for Collegiate Tennis, will be leaving that position to join the Virginia men's program as assistant coach beginning on September 1st.  Andres Pedroso, who was Brian Boland's assistant for five (correction: four) years, is returning to South Florida, where he grew up, and will be doing private coaching there.

Taylor, who has been with the USTA since 2010, as professional players before accepting the new Collegiate Tennis position, told me his young family and the appeal of less travel led him to consider the possibility of coaching in college.

"I truly love what I do at the USTA and I believe in the road that they're going down, with working together and bringing the country together, and I hope I've exemplified that in my time with the USTA," said Taylor in a telephone conversation from his current coaching stop at the Lexington Challenger. "So this isn't a decision to leave the USTA; this was a decision to work with Brian and the University of Virginia. It's about another wonderful opportunity to learn and grow professionally and personally and learn from one of the best and most successful coaches there is at an institution that's as storied and famed athletically and academically as any in the world, really."

Taylor said he is advocating the USTA fill his position with Steven Amritraj, the former Duke star now working with young professionals, many of them former collegians, as a National Coach at the USTA's Carson Training Center. But whether the position is filled internally or from the outside, the announcement of Taylor's replacement is unlikely to be made in the next month.

Taylor will continue to travel with collegiate players through the US Open's qualifying and first week. The USTA National Collegiate Team, one of the centerpieces of Taylor's plan to enhance college tennis, will be named in mid-August, based on the WTA and ATP rankings of the eligible players. Clay Thompson and Marcos Giron of UCLA and Mitchell Frank of Virginia are three of the six men already on the team, with three spots available. Jamie Loeb and Danielle Collins, who did have wrist surgery and is expected to return to competition at the Landisville $25K in two weeks, are the two women who have earned their place on the team, with four more spots open.

It's been over a week since my last update on college coaching changes, so here's what's happened since that July 10th post.

The University of Memphis named its new head women's coach, with Hayden Perez, longtime women's assistant at the University of Nebraska, getting the job. Perez left Nebraska in 2013 to take the women's assistant coaching position at Texas Tech.

The Pepperdine men's head coaching position has been assumed by assistant Marcelo Ferreira.

Sander Koning has been named men's assistant at Indiana.

Former player Tanner Stump will return to Mississippi State as the assistant to new coach Matt Roberts.

Luc Godin has been hired as women's assistant at the University of Arkansas.

The University of Texas women's head coaching job has not yet been filled.

Paul Goldstein, who took over the Stanford men's head coaching job last month, received his first blue chip commitment, with Sameer Kumar announcing he will join the Cardinal in 2015.

The Tennis Recruiting Network has begun its recap of the USTA Clay Court Championships, with James Hill and Marcia Frost providing the first updates, on the Boys 12s and Girls 12s.