Contemplating The Future After Tough 2015 Season
Jean-Yves Aubone, Tennis Atlantic
Contemplating The Future After Tough 2015 Season
Contemplating The Future After Tough 2015 Season
Jean-Yves Aubone, Tennis Atlantic
Defending champion University of Florida is led by senior Adam Decker, who has made three finals appearances at the TOC National Championships.
CLOSE QUARTERFINAL MATCHES HIGHLIGHT THE DAY AT USTA TENNIS ON CAMPUS FALL INVITATIONAL
Florida, Georgia “B”, N.C. State, Auburn Advance to Semifinals Sunday
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C., Oct. 11, 2014 – University of Florida knows the feeling of the thrill of victory at the USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational having won the 2013 title at the fifth annual tournament currently taking place at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center.
The Gators also know all too well the agony of the defeat at the TOC National Championships in April as they have been the Buffalo Bills of TOC finishing runners-up four of the past five years.
One of Florida’s top players and senior Adam Decker has been on three of those four finalists teams at Nationals. “We’re hoping for a different outcome at Nationals this year, but we have to get there first,” said Decker, who on Saturday led his team into Sunday’s semifinals with wins over William & Mary (29-16) and a close 22-20 overtime win over Georgia Tech’s “A” team.
The winner and runner-up from the Fall Invitational will qualify for an automatic bid to compete for the national title at the 2015 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship, to be held April 9-11, 2015, in Cary, N.C.
The Gators, from the USTA Florida section, moved one step closer to that automatic bid and will face Georgia’s “B” team on Sunday in an 8 a.m. Gold Bracket semifinal. A total of seven points is all that separated all four semifinals as the University of Georgia “B” team eked out a 27-26 victory against Boston College to advance.
Georgia was down heading into the final mixed doubles match, which involved former NCAA Division II player Callie Whitlock, who this year transferred from Rollins College to Georgia. Whitlock and her partner pulled out a 6-3 win to tie the match, then won the supertiebreaker 7-2 to clinch the win.
Whitlock could be the new poster child for Tennis On Campus as she said the pressure of collegiate tennis became too much, and she wanted to return to playing tennis “just for fun.”
“Plus my dad went to Georgia and I wanted to study music business and they were voted as one of the top programs for that major,” Whitlock said. “I love this format. This is the first time I got to play the ‘redemption’ match where we were down, tied it, then won the tiebreaker. It’s so much different but I just like it. I like the mixed doubles, and how much of a team environment there is.”
Whitlock said ever since coming to Georgia she has enjoyed college. “I was a little bit burned out on tennis,” she said. “We had practice every day for two hours and morning practice three times a week. I wanted to just enjoy college a little bit more. There’s just a lot more pressure and I wanted to get back to just playing for fun. That’s what Tennis On Campus is all about.”
Georgia’s “A” team came so close to having both Bulldog teams facing each other in the semifinals, but the “A” team dropped a 20-17 decision to Auburn.
Both Georgia teams are sharing a rented house on the beach, said senior captain Marissa Pulido, who plays women’s doubles for the “A” team. “To have two teams get to the quarterfinals is incredible,” Pulido said. “It’s never been done here before so we have a new record.”
Pulido said the depth of the Georgia Tennis On Campus team speaks to how strong the Metro-Atlanta area is in tennis. Led by Pulido, the Bulldogs beat — you guessed it — Florida to win the 2013 TOC National title. “That was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences I’ve ever had on the court,” Pulido said.
Pulido said that both the “A” and “B” teams were equal and were a mix of the program’s best players. She added that the “A” team also has a former varsity player in Brian Brandt, a transfer Birmingham Southern.
The Bulldog “A” team beat Harvard, 28-20, in the Round of 16 earlier in the day. Later in a battle of Ivy League schools, Harvard downed Cornell, 25-17.
Saturday’s Final Pool Play Results
N.C. State (A) 30, Indiana 8
Univ. of Georgia (B) 30, Vanderbilt 6
Boston College 29, Tennessee (A) 18
Ferris State 28, Mercer 15
UNC-Chapel Hill 30, College of Charleston 9
Ohio University 25, Tennessee (B) 12
Auburn 27, William & Mary 14
Cincinnati (B) 25, Middle Tennessee State 11
Cornell 24, Cincinnati (A) 19
Wake Forest 27, South Carolina (B) 21
Georgia Tech (A) 23, Harvard 20
Furman 27, Old Dominion 19
GOLD BRACKET RESULTS
Winners’ Bracket Round of 16
Florida 29, William & Mary 16
Georgia Tech 24 (A), Kentucky 19
Georgia (B) 28, Wisconsin 17
Boston College 24, Clemson (A) 21
N.C. State (A) 22, UNC-Charlotte 20
Virginia 28, Ohio State (A)
Auburn 24, Cornell 13
Georgia (A) 28, Harvard 20
Florida 22, Georgia Tech (A) 20
Georgia (B) 27, Boston College 26
N.C. State 24, Virginia 23
Auburn 20, Georgia (A) 20
Losers’ Bracket Quarterfinals
Kentucky 23, William & Mary 17
Wisconsin 27, Clemson (A) 19
UNC-Charlotte 26, Ohio St. (A) 21
Harvard 25, Cornell 17
SILVER BRACKET RESULTS
Round of 16
South Carolina (A) 28, Wake Forest 15
Virginia Tech 23, Georgia College 22
Georgia Tech (B) 24, UNC-Charlotte 20
Tennessee (A) 24, Villanova 16
Alabama 26, Cincinnati (B) 15
College of Charleston 25, Duke 18
N.C. State (B) 22, Elon 21
Cincinnati (A) 30, Ferris State 7
South Carolina (A) 30, Virginia Tech 8
Tennessee (A) 23, Georgia Tech (B) 21
Alabama 29, College of Charleston 18
Cincinnati (A) 26, N.C. State (B) 15
Wake Forest 23, Georgia College 18
UNC-Charlotte 26, Villanova 23
Duke 20, Cincinnati (B) 14
Elon 30, Ferris State 20
BRONZE BRACKET RESULTS
Ohio University 30, Coastal Carolina 11
South Carolina (B) 27, Furman 24
Vanderbilt 25, Old Dominion 15
Connecticut 21, Colorado School of Mines 19
Ohio University 26, South Carolina (B) 19
Connecticut 28, Vanderbilt 19
Furman 30, Coastal Carolina 17
College of the Mines 21, Old Dominion 20
COPPER BRACKET RESULTS
Tennessee (B) 21, Middle Tennessee State 15
Indiana 27, Armstrong Atlantic State 8
Clemson (B) 22, Mercer 21
Ohio State (B) 30, Dayton 14
Indiana 27, Tennessee (B) 12
Ohio State (B) 27, Clemson (B) 17
Armstrong Atlantic State 26, Middle Tennessee State 13
Dayton 27, Mercer 18
8 a.m. – Gold, Silver, Copper Bracket Playoffs
10 a.m. – Gold, Silver, Bronze Bracket Playoffs
Noon – Gold, Silver, Copper Bracket Playoffs
Noon – TOC National Fall Invitational Gold Bracket Championship Match
Past USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational Champions
2010 – University of Alabama
2011– University of Virginia
2012 – Duke University
2013 – University of Florida
Israel-Argentina Davis Cup Day 1 Recap
Jonathan Morgan, Tennis East Coast
With the current unrest in the Middle East, the ITF decided to move the Davis Cup World Group Playoff between Israel and Argentina from Tel-a-Viv, Israel to Sunrise, Florida. This neutral venue would provide, in theory, an equal cheering section for both teams.
First, we had the opening ceremony:
The first match of the day was #25 in the world Leo Mayer of Argentina vs. Bar Botzer (#776) of Israel. Botzer was called in to replace the injured Amir Weintraub.
It appeared as though Israel still got the lion’s share of the support. Not as much as they’d receive at home, but throughout the day, Israel had on average more people cheering for them.
Botzer started out nervous, hitting several easy early errors in the opening game and was broken. After that opening game, however, he loosened up and held his own in the set before Mayer won it by 6-4.
Botzer is very Hewitt-like, both in appearance and game style, save for the one handed backhand he possesses.
In the Davis Cup, you play for your team first, and yourself 2nd:
In the 2nd set, Mayer had the break with 3-2, but with 2 double faults, some loud Israeli support and Botzer showing his best, he was able to break back, then hold for 4-3. On the changeover, the Israeli crowd support got even louder. And when Botzer broke again (Mayer a bit loose, and 2 more double faults), and served it out, he belted a big “C’mon!” like Hewitt and ripped out the lawn mower celebration!
After they split sets, both took a bathroom break. In the 3rd, Mayer calmed down a bit and was able to play a normal game and won it by 6-2. Botzer looked to strain a leg muscle sliding into a shot on the hard court and called the trainer between 3rd and 4th sets. He was still able to compete, but he was unable to keep up his level. Mayer won the remaining 2 sets by 6-2, 6-1, but Botzer played a very good match considering he is 700+ in the world rankings vs. a top 25er. The Israelis could not have asked for much more from their young guy in the opening rubber.
A point early in the match:
Argentina + Daft Punk:
After Botzer won the 2nd, the Israelis going crazy!- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sANikhalNgE
More Argentina singing:
2014 USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger (@TallyChallenger) Main Draw Preview
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The main draw has been released for the 2014 Tallahassee Challenger. Here is a preview. Our on-site coverage starts Monday and runs through Wednesday.
American Donald Young is the top seed and he was the 2011 champion of this tournament when it was played on hard courts. The world number 74 gets a tough opening round opponent in the very talented 18-year-old Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis, who already made waves this season by qualifying for the ATP event in Brisbane and reaching the second round of the Australian Open, where he played a competitive match with Rafael Nadal. Kokkinakis is primarily a hard court player (as is Young), but he did last qualify in Savannah on Har-Tru and reached the final round of qualifying at ATP Houston on clay, winning 2 matches there. Kokkinakis also reached 2 junior Grand Slam finals last year at the junior Aussie Open and the junior US Open. Young was, of course, once the world’s top junior player and this season he reached quarterfinals in Houston on clay. He has had a decent season thus far, though he comes off an opening round loss at the Savannah challenger on this same surface last week.
Expect a battle, and Young/Kokkinakis will meet a qualifier in the next round.
In the quarterfinals, it will be one of Young/Kokkinakis/qualifier vs. either Darian King/Cristian Gonzalez Menendez or Alex Kuznetsov/qualifier. American journeyman Kuznetsov won the USTA Har-Tru wild card for the French Open last year, but this year his best result in the 2 previous Har-Tru events is quarterfinals in Savannah. He also reached the quarters at the ATP event in Memphis this year and that is his best result of the season so far.
Darian King of Barbados primarily plays Futures-level events, but he has been big for Barbados in Davis Cup play as he is 4-0 for his country this year in singles rubbers. King is another player who prefers hard courts over clay and the current Florida State Seminole Menendez, a wild card, who hails from Spain, has a chance to pull off a bit of an upset and reach the second round.
4 seed Frank Dancevic, a finalist here in 2012, the last year the tournament was played on hard courts, is looking to find some mojo in Tallahassee. Dancevic reached quarters in Savannah and was out with injury for a few weeks this season. This will be just his third tournament back since the layoff. Dancevic faces 18-year -old American wild card Collin Altamirano, who reached final round qualifying at the Sarasota challenger and has only played a partial professional level schedule, most notably losing in straight sets in the first round of the US Open last year as a main draw wild card. Altamirano was a talented junior who is looking to break into the professional circuit. Dancevic/Altamirano will face Antonio Veic or David Rice in round 2. Rice is a 25-year-old British player better known for his doubles play and he prefers faster surfaces over clay. Veic is a former top 120 player who is accomplished on clay, having played most of his matches on the surface, with a challenger title on clay in 2012 and 2 challenger finals on the surface. He has only played 4 tournaments this season all on clay, and though he may be a bit rusty, he’s the best dirtballer in this section and is looking to build his ranking back. He has 9 career ATP main draw level wins.
Dancevic/Altamirno/Veic/Rice will face either Bobby Reynolds/Nicolas Meister/Gerald Melzer/Sanam Singh in the quarterfinals. Melzer, the younger brother of well-known ATP pro Jurgen Melzer, has been on the rise and is now at a career high ranking in the top 150. He won his first career challenger this year in Mexico (on hard court) and also has 2 challenger semis, including Sarasota, on his resume. Both of those results came on clay. He lost in the second round of Savannah and will face the former University of Virginia player Singh, who plays a vast majority of his matches on hard courts, in round 1. Former UCLA player Meister will face 2008 Tally challenger champ Bobby Reynolds, a career journeyman who has played at the Tally challenger 10 times, earning him the local nickname “Mr. Tallahassee”. Neither Meister nor Reynolds are known for their prowess on clay.
Nishioka has 4 futures titles on his resume between the last 2 seasons and is on the rise, now ranked in the top 400. He qualified and reached the second round in Savannah last and is considered to potentially be the next big thing in Japanese tennis.
Smyczek is primarily a hard court player and has had an average season, with 1 challenger semi on his resume. He’s lost 4 straight matches, including 2 straight on clay and is in poor form right now. Smyczek/Nishioka will face Rhyne Williams or Takanyi Garanganga in round 2. Rhyne is 2-0 career against Garanganga, with both wins coming on hard courts, but he’s another player really struggling right now, having lost 5 straight matches including 3 straight on clay. He looked forward to a promising season after pushing Juan Martin Del Potro to 4 sets as a qualifier at the Australian Open, but things have thus far not panned out as he wanted. Garanganga comes off a first round loss in Savannah.
Smyczek/Nishioka/Williams/Garanganga will face one of Nick Kyrgios/James McGee/Ilija Bozoljac/qualifier in the quarterfinals. Kyrgios is red hot right now and a huge rising commodity. He won the Sarasota Challenger, and is currently in the final of the Savannah Challenger in back to back weeks.
Additionally, he reached round 2 of the Aussie Open where he lost to Benoit Paire in 5, was selected for the Aussie Davis Cup team for their tie against France where he played 2 singles rubbers, plus he’s currently the top ranked teenager and should be close to the top 150 if he wins Savannah.
With all that said he might be tired, and McGee, the top ranked Irish player, who reached a career-high ranking this year already, might have a bit of a chance. He prefers hard courts and reached a challenger semi on those courts this year. Bozoljac has lost 2 straight in Sarasota and Savannah after being out for 5 weeks with the injury bug, but he does have a challenger final and a challenger semi, both on hard courts in India on his resume this season.
3 seeded Canadian Peter Polansky, who reached the second round in both Sarasota and Savannah along with qualifying at ATP Houston and pushing Lleyton Hewitt to 3 sets, faces Illya Marchenko, who just beat him in Savannah in 3 sets last week. Marchenko went on to lose in the next round and comes off quarters in Savannah. Polansky/Marchenko will face veteran American Robby Ginepri or former Florida State standout Jean-Yves Aubone, a wild card, in round 2. Ginepri is a former top 20 player and 2005 US Open semifinalist, but he hasn’t been ranked in the top 100 since 2010 and has lost 3 straight matches, all on clay. He did qualify at ATP Houston and Indian Wells this season. Aubone, who mainly plays futures, qualified in Savannah and a lost 3-setter in round 1.
Polansky/Marchenko/Aubone/Ginepri will face one of James Ward/Dennis Nevolo or Daniel Kosakowski/Jason Kubler in the quarterfinals. The British journeyman Ward reached quarters in Sarasota and has been so-so this season. Nevolo is a former University of Illinois standout who hasn’t done anything great at the challenger or ATP level this season, and the 20 year old Aussie Kubler is a former world number 1 junior (in 2010), who is accomplished on clay with 8 futures titles since 2010 on the surface including one this year, along with 2 finals this season. He has played nothing but clay court tournaments this year.
Kosakowski leads the Har-Tru challenge right now, pending Savannah points being added up, as he reached the semis in Sarasota. The 22-year-old American is competitive on clay and has 2 challenger semifinals this season along with qualifying in Indian Wells. He reached a challenger final on clay last season as well. The first round match with Kubler will be a tough ask, though.
2014 Tallahassee Tennis Challenger Qualifying Preview
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
For the third year in a row, Tennis East Coast will have live on site coverage from the USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger, which again this year is the final stop on the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge.
The American man who posts the best results across 3 Har-Tru green clay tournaments (Sarasota, Savannah and Tallahassee will be awarded a main draw wild card for Roland Garros. A host of other players will be competing and our on-site coverage starts Monday and runs through Wednesday. In the meantime, here is a look at the Men’s qualifying, which starts Saturday morning and is free to the public.
23-year-old Italian lefty Erik Crepaldi, the world number 422, is the top qualifying seed. His best result of note was a futures title last season in Cyprus and he also made a futures semifinal in Turkey this season, splitting his time between hard and clay courts. He gets a bye and faces the winner of former SMU Mustang Adham El-Effendi vs. 17-year-old Alex Rybakov, one of the top-tier American juniors who is top 50 in the ITF junior standings and nationally ranked as a top 5 high school tennis recruit.
Either Crepaldi/Rybakov/El-Effendi will face will face one of Ryan Agar, the 7 seed who gets a bye into round 2 of the qualies, or Takura Happy/Sebastian Bader for a spot in the main draw. Happy is a current Florida A&M player, while Bader and Agar are both 26-year-old journeymen who share the same coach, according to the ITF.
20-year-old former French Open Junior champion Bjorn Fratangelo is the number 2 qualifying seed. The young American, who is very comfortable on clay, qualified at the Savannah Challenger last week and his best result as a professional is a challenger semifinal last year on clay in Brazil. Fratangelo will face Anderson Reed or Franko Skugor for a spot in round 3 of qualifying. Reed is a Florida State player and Skugor is a former top 150 as recently as 2011. He’s had injuries that derailed his improvement. He’s been struggling this season, but has a challenger title and an ATP quarterfinal (Bastad 2011) on his resume. He’s also reasonably accomplished on clay. Fratangelo/Skugor/Reed will face one of Eric Quigley/Benjamin Lock/Courage Okungbowa for a spot in the main draw. Former Kentucky Wildcat Quigley is the seed and gets a bye into round 2. Lock is from Zimbabwe and a current Florida State Seminole and he will face current Florida A&M player Okungbowa in a battle of collegiate players in round 1. Okungbowa is a well-respected 18-year-old Freshman.
Former top American junior Mitchell Krueger, who like Fratangelo is 20 and is at a career high ranking inside the top 450, is the number 3 seed. He gets a bye into round 2 and will face local high school player Allen Vinson or former South Florida player Mark Oljaca in his first match. Krueger came up just short of qualifying in Savannah and would like to do one better in Tally.
Krueger/Vinson/Oljaca will take on one of former Louisville player Andrew Carter, British doubles specialist Sean Thornley or the seed Nikita Kryvonos, who 11 years ago was a promising American junior that had his career derailed by injuries for a spot in the main draw. Kryvonos gets a bye into round 2 and faces the Thornley/Carter winner.
Former Michigan All-American Evan King is the 4 seed. He gets a bye and will face the winner of Florida State player Jordan Kelly-Houston, who hails from New Zealand vs. local Tallahassee high school recruit Terrell Whitehurst, who has verbally committed to Florida State. King/Kelly-Houston/Whitehurst will face one of former Florida Gator Sekou Bangoura, Mico Santiago, another 20-year-old American, or Bethune-Cookman graduate assistant Emil Vassilev for a spot in the main draw.
As with most challenger qualifying draws, things are lopsided in some parts, but there are bound to be competitive matches throughout.
Old Guys Take Young Guys to School @DelrayBeachOpen Tuesday
Jonathan Morgan for Tennis East Coast
February 18, 2014—There was a theme for today at the beach named Delray.
In the opening match, the veteran Marcos Baghdatis was able to grind down, out think, out move, out hit, and outsmart the younger Jiri Vesely, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Kevin Anderson beat Tim Smyczek 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 on Court 1 in the early 11 am match, and Dudi Sela defeated Alex Bogomolov 6-0, 6-2. In the 2nd match on stadium court, the theme again rang true. Lleyton Hewitt, the wily old vet faced the younger Bradley Klahn. Hewitt absolutely took him to school, exposing all of Klahn’s weaknesses. But Klahn is learning what it will take to get to where he needs to be.
On an outside court, it was Teymuraz Gabashvili vs. Matt Ebden. You could hear Gabashvili’s intense grunting from stadium court. When I arrived on scene, he was looking a man possessed, with such intensity. Ebden even talked to himself: “I’m playing against a f***ing monkey.” In the crucial part of the third set, at 2-3, 15-40, Ebden was called for an unjust time violation and lost his first serve. He, of course, hits the 2nd serve out also to double-fault away the game, and as it turned out, the match. Ebden got into an argument with the umpire on a bad call on a critical point, saying that it was egregious. I am of course paraphrasing, as he said it with much more vulgarity.
American Steve Johnson was able to beat Mikhail Kukushkin by 6-4, 6-3. Also, Marinko Matosevic was too powerful for the quick David Goffin. Next up on stadium court was Tommy Haas vs. Wayne Odesnik. Haas was ruthless, destroying Odesnik 6-2, 6-1.
Tommy looks in good form.
American Ryan Harrison was able to advance after Yen Hsun Lu had to retire at 0-1 in the second after having won the first 6-4.
Ivo Karlovic defeated Sam Groth in the ultimate battle of big serves, 7-6(4), 6-3.
Rhyne Williams was able to beat Alejandro Falla 6-3, 4-0, retiring late in the afternoon, which is a great win for the qualifier Williams. Perhaps he will break through this tournament?
A tired-looking Kei Nishikori stumbled past the talented Portugese Gastao Elias 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 in the late afternoon/early evening stadium match.
In the last match of the day on stadium, John Isner was clutch in the tiebreak to win 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 over Michael Russell.
Querrey, Sock Fall @DelrayBeachOpen Monday; Nishikori Sluggish in Practice
Jonathan Morgan for Tennis East Coast
Monday was a bright and very sunny day in Delray Beach Florida, with few clouds, little wind, and roughly 80 degrees. Sorry about that, rest of the country.
The first match of the day was the American Steve Johnson vs. the massive serving Aussie Sam Groth. It was the final round of qualifying to get into the main draw. Groth has an old school serve and volley game, and he was making his way to the net on both first and second serve on these quick Delray hard courts. It was a big serving battle, with scarcely a rally over 10 shots. A few double faults at 3-4 in the second to give the break and we are one set all. Groth also smacked two serves that clocked at 141 miles per hour.
Johnson had chances in the 1-2 game in the third with Groth serving to take an advantage, but Groth held to 2-2. His 2-2 game is very long, I lost track of how many deuces, probably 11. Eventually, he breaks Groth in the 4-5 game with a great pass from the backhand side, two backhands that cause Groth to miss the forehand volley, and one more great backhand pass to seal the deal, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Very clutch in the end, making points from his weaker side. Though Johnson won, Groth still deservedly made it into the main draw via a lucky loser position.
Talk about leaning in to the serve:
Next, I made my way down to Court 1, where Wayne Odesnik was taking on Mischa Zverev in another final qualifying round. I did not stay too long, and Odesnik won it 7-6(5), 6-4, but in the brief time I was there, I did see Odesnik being very rude with a ball boy to hold his umbrella at a certain angle to shield him from the sun. Zverev is another one playing serve and volley first and second serves on these courts.
I left early in the first from there to check out some of the practice courts. On one, it was Mikhail Kukushkin hitting with Alex Bogomolov.
Practicing just next to them were Alejandro Falla and Lleyton Hewitt.
After that I went back into the stadium court to watch Gastao Elias and Robby Ginepri. Ginepri, trying to get himself back into the main tour level and Elias trying to break through. This match was much less serve-dominated than the Groth-Johnson affair, and was won through the baseline war of attrition. Elias won in 3 tough sets, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, to make it into the main draw.
The next match after that was Jack Sock and Adrian Mannarino. It was very disappointing watching Sock attacking with the serve and the forehand, with Mannarino getting everything back and Sock never approaching the net. Mannarino’s game is a bit funky, awkward, and Sock was off balance the entire time. Some shockingly bad errors at times from him, and a general malaise and lack of focus. He even broke back in the second set and there was a chance for a comeback, but even when he broke serve, there was no fire, no will to fight, and he when down meekly, 6-4, 6-2.
During these matches, Rhyne Williams also destroyed Bjorn Phau 6-0, 6-2 to also make it into the main draw. There was also a practice session on an outside court with Kei Nishikori hitting with one of the world’s top juniors, Stefan Kozlov. Kei looks really exhausted from Memphis, I would not be surprised at all if he lost this week.
There was a few hours break in the action, so I was able to get a good gym session in. It was leg day, and I’m glad I didn’t skip it. I returned to watch Lopez-Querrey. Sam was doing well, winning the first set, but early in the 2nd, Lopez began to play better, but Sam’s body language was so terrible. I went to go sit next to Lopez’s coaches and talk to them, and immediately Sam gets broken twice in a row.
Example: He hits a first serve, he misses. Massive shoulder slump, horrible negative body language. Slumping into his 2nd serve, laboring. In the critical moment, early in the second set, where he could have taken control of the match, he lets it slip. He didn’t seize it. Watching him, you could feel the negative energy coming from him. Contrast that with Lleyton Hewitt in his practice match vs. Falla, even there you could feel the positive energy coming from Lleyton, and that was just a practice match.
After he lost, I got up, ran out to where the players went to the locker room, and sure enough, Querrey had grabbed his stuff, shuffled quickly off the court. It appeared that he had signed no autographs and went as fast as he could into the locker room. Probably just as well, as he was surely disappointed. A fan ran him down, and, just as he approached the door to the locker room, he yelled out: “Sam! Good in luck in Indian Wells, man!” He just opened the door (everyone there knowing he’d heard the fans), and ran into the locker room, as if he was invisible.
2014 ATP @DelrayBeachOpen Preview, Picks
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
We’re looking forward to providing you with some on-site coverage from Delray Beach this week from Jonathan Morgan.
ATP Delray Beach
Delray Beach Open by The Venetian® Las Vegas
ATP World Tour 250
Delray Beach, Florida, USA
February 17-February 23, 2014|
Prize Money: $474,005
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Tommy Haas (12)
2: John Isner (13)
3: Kei Nishikori (16)
4: Kevin Anderson (22)
All the seeds are ranked in the top 40, giving Delray Beach a good field for a 250, and a better field than Memphis last week.
First Round matchups to watch:
(6)Feliciano Lopez vs. Sam Querrey
Lopez lost his opening match in Memphis and will be looking to rebound against Querrey, who is struggling badly right now, having lost four straight matches. That 4 straight includes a very bad loss to Alex Bogomolov in Memphis where he choked away the lead. Lopez has a 2-1 edge against Querrey on outdoor hard courts historically, and should be favored in this one as well.
(8)Lleyton Hewitt vs. Bradley Klahn
The 23-year-old American Bradley Klahn will have a great chance at winning his fourth career ATP main draw level match against the tenacious veteran Hewitt, who won the Delray Beach title way back in 1999.
Klahn is up to 67 in the rankings, a career high, and is on a 10 match winning streak, having won 2 straight hard court challengers in Hawaii and Australia. Klahn is at the point in his career ranking-wise where he is going to have to step up to the tougher competition of the ATP level, but I think he is talented and has a good mental focus that will give him staying power in the long term.
Hewitt played poorly in Memphis, though he did win a match, and he is just 1-4 in his last five matches. He will grind away against Klahn’s quality forehand, and I’m going with Bradley to pull off the upset.
(5)Vasek Pospisil vs. Alejandro Falla
This is a rematch of the Bogota semifinals last year which Falla won in 3 tough sets against Pospisil. Pospisil returns to the ATP tour after a back injury sidelined him for a few weeks. Vashy has a great chance to make some noise and keep moving up his ranking, but matches against steady competitors like Falla are must wins for any top 30 player.
Falla is playing well this year, as he has won 2 challengers, including a hard court challenger.
This match is a toss-up to me, and a lot depends on if Pospisil’s rust factor.
Jiri Vesely vs. (WC) Marcos Baghdatis
Baghdatis finally won a match this year, beating Rajeev Ram in the opening round of Memphis. He played well for a set against Hewitt in Memphis, but then fell apart and crashed out. He’s just not a reliable competitor anymore, having fallen well outside the top 100.
Vesely, meanwhile, continues to rise and he grabbed a nice win against Marinko Matosevic in Memphis before being drubbed by Jack Sock in the next round. The Czech is talented but struggles with consistently playing well. All that said, he should be favored against Baggy, and I think he gets this win.
Zagreb finalist Tommy Haas lost in the second round of Rotterdam and has made his way back to the states.
He opens with a qualifier and will face Mikhail Kukushkin or a qualifier in round 2. Haas vs. Lopez/Querrey is the likely quarterfinal, though Jack Sock/Adrian Mannarino are also in this section.
Sock repeated as a quarterfinalist in Memphis, and gets a wild card. He just beat Mannarino in Memphis last week. Overall, he is 2-0 against the Frenchman, with both of those wins coming on hard courts this year. Sock beat Haas in Auckland in January on hard courts, and Tommy will be looking for revenge if he meets him in the quarters.
Kevin Anderson returns to the ATP tour against Tim Smyczek. Anderson is 3-0 career against Smyczek, all on hard courts. Anderson should advance to a second round match against fellow big server Ivo Karlovic, a finalist in Memphis. Karlovic will need to beat a qualifier to get there. The h2h in that one is 1-1, with Karlovic having the hard court win in Bogota last year. Karlovic/Anderson vs, Klahn/Hewitt or Marinko Matosevic/David Goffin will be the quarterfinal. Matosevic and Goffin are simply hoping to find form.
John Isner also returns to the ATP tour this week after being sidelined with an ankle problem. His first match will be against Memphis semifinalist Michael Russell (Isner 4-0 h2h), and then he will face Dudi Sela or Memphis quarterfinalist Alex Bogomolov in round 2. Isner will get Pospisil/Falla or Vesely/Baghdatis in the quarters, and he should be favored in all of those matches, assuming he is healthy. He feasts on American outdoor hard courts.
Memphis champion and former Delray Champion Kei Nishikori faces a qualifier before Teymuraz Gabashvili/Matt Ebden in round 2 and one of Rendy Lu/Ryan Harrison/Marin Cilic/Benjamin Becker in the quarters.
Cilic comes off the title in Zagreb and the final in Rotterdam, but given the geographic distance and his fatigue level after so much tennis over the past 2 weeks, I suspect he will withdraw and be replaced by a lucky loser. If he does not, I still don’t think he gets past his first 2 matches.
Memphis semifinalist Lu has a great chance at yet another strong showing in what has been a great year for him (reached final in Auckland as well), but he retired in his last match in Memphis and will need to heal quickly.
Becker and Harrison, meanwhile, are struggling with their form. This is a weak section where even a fatigued Nishikori should be able to take advantage.
Dark Horse: Yen-Hsun Lu
Rendy Lu has had a career year thus far, reaching his first ATP final in Auckland and an ATP semi in Memphis, both career showings after 13 years on tour.
He has a chance to shine again in Delray, given the big hole in the draw that is Cilic, who will either be very fatigued, or withdraw. Lu must first beat Ryan Harrison, who he has never defeated in three attempts. If he survives, he will get a tired Cilic or Becker/lucky loser in round 2 and should get Nishikori in the quarters, who could also be fatigued. Lu is a slight favorite for the quarterfinals in my book and has a chance at the semis as an unseeded player.
Anderson d. Haas
Isner d. Nishikori
Former champion Anderson should get past a fatigued Karlovic and anyone else in his way until the semis, where I predict he meets Haas (1-1 h2h). Their last meeting was a win for Haas in Cincy last year. Haas hasn’t played that well this year though, and he may be tired, giving Kev an edge. This semi would be a meeting of former Delray Beach champions.
Both top 20 players, Isner and Nishikori have surprisingly never met in a tournament match. That being said it’s an outdoor American hard court and Isner is fresh, while Nishikori has played a lot more tennis as of late.
Big John should prevail.
Isner d. Anderson
Isner and Anderson, two former college tennis players, have met a lot on tour and all but once on outdoor hard courts. Most recently, Isner prevailed in the ATP Atlanta final last year in a close 3 setter.
Isner also beat Anderson in Delray Beach last year in straight sets, but Anderson beat him in the 2012 Delray Beach semifinals en route to a title. Tiebreaks have to be expected in this one, and both players are coming off of layoffs and have struggled to stay healthy. I give Isner a slight edge because of the 5-4 hard court h2h record.
STEFAN KOZLOV FINISHES AS AUSTRALIAN OPEN JUNIOR RUNNER-UP
Fifteen-Year Old from Pembroke Pines, Fla.,
Becomes First American Boy to Reach Junior Grand Slam Final since 2011
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., January 24, 2014 – Top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Alexander Zverev of Germany overcame 15-year old American Stefan Kozlov, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., 6-3, 6-0, to win the Australian Open boys’ singles title today in Melbourne.
The No. 2 seed, Kozlov advanced to his first Grand Slam junior singles final and became the first American boy to reach the singles final at a junior Grand Slam since Bjorn Fratangelo won the French Open boys’ title in 2011. Donald Young (2005) and Andy Roddick (2000) are the only Americans to win the Australian Open boys’ singles championship. Taylor Townsend won the girls’ singles title in 2012.
Kozlov, who trains with both his father, Andrei, and USTA National Coach Nicolas Todero out of the USTA Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., projects to ascend to No. 2 in the world junior rankings for all players ages 18 and under. Three American boys, who were born within a month of one another in 1998, are currently ranked in the Top 10 – Kozlov, 2013 Metropolia Orange Bowl champion Francis Tiafoe (No. 7) and Michael Mmoh (No. 8), who teamed with Kozlov to reach the doubles quarterfinals and advanced to the second round in singles in Melbourne.
“This is an exciting and well-deserved achievement for Stefan,” said Patrick McEnroe, General Manager of USTA Player Development. “We are incredibly proud and are happy for him, his family and the team in Boca.”
Kozlov, who turns 16 on February 1, had beaten the 16-year old Zverev, the reigning ITF World Junior Champion, in their previous three meetings, each in the last six months. In December, Kozlov defeated the 6-foot-5 German in the semifinals of the Orange Bowl, setting up the historic final between 15-year old Americans, won by Tiafoe, of College Park, Md.
In the Australian Open girls’ singles draw, 16-year old Olivia Hauger, of Tulsa, Okla., reached the quarterfinals, upending No. 1 seed Varvara Flink, of Russia, in the second round.
—P. Mitsch, USTA
Florida Defeats VIRGINIA 23-18 TO capture USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational
Both Teams Earn Automatic Bids Into 2014 Nationals; N.C. State Needs Super Tiebreaker to Knock Off Rival UNC-Chapel Hill In Third-Place Match, 25-24
Both Florida and Virginia qualify for an automatic bid to compete for the national title at the 2014 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship in Surprise, Ariz., April 10-12, 2014.
In the semifinals, Florida defeated North Carolina State, 30-14, and Virginia squeaked past North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 23-20. In the third-place match, N.C. State needed a super tiebreaker to beat UNC, 25-24.
“This is our first time here but we’ve been to Nationals and we are used to playing in these high-pressure matches,” Florida captain Adam Decker said. “In this format every game counts and we knew Virginia was going to be very tough to beat.”
Decker sat and watched doubles teams Stephanie Cruz and Barrie Eisenburg and Alex Peckham and Stephen Ireland win their matches 6-4 and 6-1, respectively, before Virginia’s Taylor Wingo downed Florida’s Barrie Eisenberg in singles, 6-1, to make the score 13-11 in favor of Florida. But Decker beat Aaron Paul, 6-1, for the 19-12 lead heading into the final mixed doubles match won by Wingo and Roseblum over Decker and Cruz, 6-3. That sent the match into overtime with Florida leading 22-18, but Decker and Cruz took the next game to clinch the match.
“It feels great,” said Cruz, the vice president of the Florida club team. “We are a close team and we had so much fun, just winning it with your friends. We’re on Hilton Head Island so we just hung out and went to the beach and bonded. Now our focus turns to the Nationals.”
The Cavaliers advanced to the final at the Fall Invite for the third straight year.
“It seems like we know what it takes to get to the final here,” Virginia captain Derek Gale, who along with doubles player Marina Hehenwarter has been on all three Fall Invitational finalist teams. “It’s figuring out how to win it all that has proved a little tougher. It really was a great weekend. We’re excited to get the Nationals bid out of the way.”
Auburn was given the Sportsmanship Award at the player party on Saturday night. The award is voted on by all the teams, according to USTA Tennis On Campus Coordinator Kelly Goodhart. “There is just something about the Auburn team that everyone loves,” Goodhart said. “They just have that great spirit that embodies what this event is all about.”