Frances Tiafoe celebrates winning a crucial point against Grigor Dimitrov during their 4th round clash at the Australian Open
DC-AREA NATIVE FRANCES TIAFOE (@FTIAFOE) NABS WILD CARD TO @CITIOPEN MAIN DRAW
DC’s Capital Tennis Tradition Begins July 16 at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center
WASHINGTON (June 21, 2016) — Frances Tiafoe, one of the most promising young American players and a native of Prince George’s County, Md., will receive a wild card entry into the main draw of the Citi Open® Tennis Tournament. The Nation’s Capital Tennis Tradition will be held July 16-24 at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center.
“I’m looking forward to the Citi Open this year more than any other tournament,” Tiafoe said. “I am thankful for the chance to play in front of my family and friends and will make the most of the opportunity.”
Tiafoe, 18, was the youngest player in the Top 200 of the ATP World Tour Rankings last year. In 2014, at 16 years old, Tiafoe made his ATP World Tour debut at the Citi Open with a wild card entry, in front of a cheering home crowd. In 2015, he secured his first ATP singles win at Winston-Salem, and competed in the main draws of both the French Open and U.S. Open. This year, he was named as one of 14 ATP “Next Generation” — young players who are rising to prominence in the sport.
“We’re excited to offer Frances home-court advantage in this year’s tournament,” said Jeff Newman, tournament director. “Washington fans have a chance to come out and support our homegrown talent — I know we can expect great things from him in the coming years.”
Tiafoe joins an exciting field of players at the tournament, which includes current top seed World No. 9 Tomas Berdych; three-time tournament champion and former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro; 2015 tournament finalist John Isner; dynamic players Gael Monfils and Nick Kyrgios; Americans Jack Sock, Sam Querrey, Denis Kudla, Steve Johnson, and Taylor Fritz; and top international stars Grigor Dimitrov, Kevin Anderson, Marcos Baghdatis, and Borna Coric.
In the exciting women’s field, the tournament boasts former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki; defending champion Sloane Stephens; former U.S. Open champion and current No. 1 seed Samantha Stosur; Grand Slam finalists Eugenie Bouchard and Sabine Lisicki; and American Shelby Rogers, who had an incredible run to this year’s French Open quarterfinals.
The full doubles field is expected about two weeks before the tournament, headlined by the world’s most successful doubles team of all time, Bob and Mike Bryan. Players are subject to change due to injury or other unforeseen circumstances.
—S. Pegarido, Citi Open
HAAS, KUDLA, AND JARRY RECEIVE WILD CARDS TO CITI OPEN® TENNIS TOURNAMENT MAIN DRAW;
@TennisAtlantic to provide on-site coverage all week long
WASHINGTON (July 30, 2015) — Tournament officials announced today the addition of three players receiving main draw wild cards into the strongest Citi Open® Tennis Tournament player field ever — Tommy Haas, Denis Kudla and Nicolás Jarry.
Haas, a perennial fan favorite in the Washington tournament, reached a career-high ranking of world No. 2. He reached the 2012 Citi Open finals in 2012. The German tennis star has won 15 titles over his 19-year professional career.
Kudla recently had his best-ever Grand Slam result by reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon, losing in four tough sets to last year’s U.S. Open Champion and 2015 Citi Open participant Marin Cilic. The Arlington, Va., talent is now back into the ATP World Tour top 100 rankings at No. 94.
Jarry, the grandson of Chilean tennis legend Jaime Fillol, will play his first ATP World Tour 500 event in Washington. The 19-year-old’s entry into the field continues the Citi Open’s longstanding tradition of providing young players a platform to excel and jumpstart their careers.
‘Turning Pro’ Francis Tiafoe to Face Dennis Novikov in USTA Men’s Pro Championships of Calabasas Final on Sunday
CALABASAS, Calif., (March 28, 2015) – Francis Tiafoe didn’t officially announce he was turning professional on Saturday after advancing to the final of the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas. But he did remind that it’s only a matter of time before that happens.
“I’m going to turn pro,” the 17-year-old unseeded Tiafoe, still an amateur, said after beating Jason Jung in the semifinals, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, at the USTA $15,000 Pro Circuit Futures event being played at the Calasbasas Tennis & Swim Center. “I’m not sure when it’s going to happen, but it’s only a matter of time.”
Tiafoe is on a nine-match win streak after winning his first ITF Futures title last weekend in Bakersfield. He will face former UCLA star and No. 2-seeded Dennis Novikov in the 1 p.m. final on Sunday, with a pro doubles exhibition starting at noon.
Jung won the toss but elected to receive Tiafoe’s serve, which he promptly broke quickly. “I came out flat, but got the break back but then gave up the first set,” Tiafoe said. “I was just trying to find my range on both sides. I was serving extremely well and my best shot my forehand started working for me in the second set.”
Tiafoe said he still plans to play the remaining Junior Grand Slams, and that he has improved tremendously from one year ago when he was No. 7 in the world ITF junior rankings. He was a finalist at the Carson USTA Spring International Championships and won the ASICS Easter Bowl. Both mega junior events take place over the next two weeks.
Earlier this month, Tiafoe was named as a practice partner for the United States Davis Cup team that lost to Great Britain in Scotland. “I worked hard in the off-season and at Davis Cup I gained a lot of confidence,” he said. “My serve is 10 times better and off the ground I’m so much better.”
Novikov, 21, lost the first set to McDonald, 4-6, but used his big serve to take advantage of the match over the final two sets, 6-3, 6-2.
In the doubles final on Saturday night, Fabian Matthews and Hunter Nicholas beat Adrian Forberg Skogeng and Wil Spencer, 6-1, 2-6, 10-6.
Follow along on Twitter at http://twitter.com/calabasastennis. For more information check out the official website, calabasasprotennis.com. Don’t forget to download the Pro Circuit App. Search procircuit in the iTunes App Store or on Google Play.
Saturday’s Semifinal Singles Scores
Francis Tiafoe, U.S., def. Jason Jung, U.S., (6) 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
Dennis Novikov, U.S., (2) def. Mackenzie McDonald, U.S. (q) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Saturday’s Final Doubles Score
Fabian Matthews, U.S. / Hunter Nicholas, U.S., def. Adrian Forberg Skogeng, Norway / Wil Spencer, U.S., 6-1, 2-6, 10-6
Francis Tiafoe Continues Win Streak with Straight-Set Win At USTA Men’s Pro Championships of Calabasas
CALABASAS, Calif., (March 27, 2015) – Francis Tiafoe moved one stepped closer to a second-straight USTA Pro Circuit Futures singles title as he beat No. 8-seeded Mitchell Krueger in the quarterfinals on Friday at the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas.
Tiafoe, a 17-year-old from College Park, Md., won his eighth consecutive match taking out the No. 8-seeded Krueger, 21, of Aledo, Texas, 7-5, 6-4, in the $15,000-level event being played at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center.
“Yeah, I guess it is eight straight but I’m not really thinking about that number,” said Tiafoe, who won three consecutive three-setters in the first three rounds last week in claiming his first Pro Circuit title. “I’m just focusing on continuing to play good tennis in Cali and want to put on a good show for the fans who come out tomorrow.”
He had never faced Krueger before, but the two have practiced together all week, and Tiafoe said he was able to get familiar with his game.
Tiafoe will face 25-year-old former University of Michigan star Jason Jung in one of Saturday’s semifinasl. Jung beat 17-year-old wild card Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals on Friday, 6-3, 6-3. Fritz had his chances early on, squandering 15-40 and love-40 games on Jung’s serve in the first set.
“Sure, he hits a big ball, but I was just better today,” said Jung, as he rested in preparation for an evening doubles semifinal. Jung also beat Fritz in the USC Pro Circuit Futures semifinals during the first week of the year.
In the other semifinal on Saturday, it will be an all UCLA affair as No. 2-seeded Dennis Novikov will play current UCLA sophomore Mackenzie McDonald, the winner of the late match on Friday night.
Earlier on Friday, Novikov downed Ecuador’s Giovanni Lapentti, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
Play begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday with Tiafoe-Jung match, followed by Novikov-McDonald. Not before 8 p.m. will be the doubles final between Fabian Matthew and Jeremy Hunter Nicholas and Adrian Forberg Skogeng and Wil Spencer.
Follow along on Twitter at http://twitter.com/calabasastennis. For more information check out the official website, calabasasprotennis.com.
Friday’s Quarterfinal Singles Scores
Jason Jung, U.S., (6) def. Taylor Fritz, U.S., (wc) 6-3, 6-3
Dennis Novikov, U.S., (2) def. Giovanni Lapentti, Eucador, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
Francis Tiafoe, U.S., def. Mitchell Krueger, U.S., (8) 7-5, 6-4
Mackenzie McDonald, U.S. (q) def. Clay Thompson, U.S., (wc), 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
Friday’s Semifinal Doubles
Fabian Matthew, U.S. / Jeremy Hunter Nicholas, U.S., def. Jason Jung, U.S. / Raymond Sarmiento, U.S., 6-7 (6), 7-5, 10-4
Adrian Forberg Skogeng, Norway / Wil Spencer, U.S., def. Pedro Bernardi, Brazil, / Luis Fernando Ramirez, Venezuela, 6-4, 4-6, 11-9
Anna Kalinskaya had an easy peasy day yesterday in taking two titles at the ITF International Hardcourts in College Park, Maryland. First up was a two set 6-2, 2-1 win in retirement against Romanian Elena Ruse. The tournament’s top seed, she followed up the singles win with a 6-3, 7-5 doubles title with teammate Evgeniya Levashova, besting the American team of Gabrielle Andrews and Mia Horvit.
After the match, Kalinskaya told me that the timing of the title was fortuitous. “It’s great, because I feel more confident now for the US Open.” She admitted it was a nice treat to have more energy for the doubles match to follow than she normally would.
Her opponent, Elena Ruse, who retired, was still in very good spirits and clutched a Wimbledon towel, a spoil of war from her semifinal run through the junior tournament this summer. Ruse, whose middle name is Gabriela, prefers to be known as Gabby.
“My leg was bad”, she explained. “In the second round, I felt something in my leg, put on some tape and everything was good. Today, I felt so bad. I hope I will be much better for US Open”.
And what about that Wimbledon towel?
“It was my second Grand Slam and I played amazing. I love grass courts and I hope I will be there next year”.
Does she hope to have a special US Open towel to remind her of a great run through New York? “Of course”, she said.
Reilly Opelka, an unseeded American, posted an impressive 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) comeback win over Tim Van Rijthoven to capture the boys title. Both players did a nice job of holding serve throughout. Opelka’s serve really bailed him out in the final two stanzas. I missed the end of the match, but I was impressed with the resolve of both players. Opelka reminds me a little of Sam Querrey or John Isner.
Let me give you some reminders about junior tournaments:
1) They hang towels anywhere they can: There’s no one to hand your towel to, so you hang it yourself: from a fence post, for example. But if you’re playing indoors, there is no fence. Then, you find something else. A door knob or a fire alarm will do.
2) The delays of chasing down running balls: They aren’t a bunch of time-wasters in the Juniors like they are in the pros. In fact, they often quick-pitch and sometimes opponents have to tell the player on the other side of the net to slow down. No commercial breaks and speedy changeovers means the matches move quickly. The balls are the one impediment to the smooth progress of the game. No ball kids means everyone is a ball-kid: fans, line judges, and even the Chair will occasionally hop down to kick a nearby ball in a server’s direction. Imagine that in a pro match.
Also, players who want to slow down the pace of a match can do just that depending on how passively they gather up the balls before service. A player about to return serve can also slow down the game depending on how quickly or not they return the ball from their side of the net. It’s a moment to catch your breath, if nothing else.
3) Keep your own score: Just like when you’re playing your buddy on the concrete courts behind the middle school. Like a broken clock, the flip scoreboard is only accurate once every two games when the players flip it on the changeover. We all take electronic scoreboards for granted until they’re gone. Or, you could always ask Colette Lewis of ZooTennis.com. She keeps a reporter’s note book up-to-date with score and stats.
3) The Fans: They’re aren’t too many of them at a match, and they are probably related to the player on court, so watch what you say. Yesterday was unusual in terms of light turnout. The stars of the host Junior Tennis Champions Center had been eliminated in the semis, and the torrential downpour moved the finals inside. And by inside, I mean you had to walk through four buildings to find the courts. I walked through two buildings full of tennis lessons in progress, each time saying thinking, ‘No, this can’t be it’. Finally, I walked into the last tennis barn on the property, saw Colette Lewis, and knew I had arrived!
It was a pleasure to watch Colette at work yesterday. There’s no one like her in the world of tennis, and everything I learned about junior tennis, I learned from her. She also has a very diligent assistant, when he’s not busy with other duties.
For me, this Saturday used to be about Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day in New York. After watching title-match tennis a short drive from home, this seemed like a much better way to spend the Saturday before the US Open instead.
—Stephan Fogleman, Tennis East Coast
Secret to @CitiOpen Success: Homegrown Volunteers
Stephan Fogleman, Tennis East Coast
A few years ago, I was elated as a Marylander and a first-time tennis blogger to cover the inaugural Citi Open, a fledgling WTA-only International level tournament in College Park, Maryland. It was, by all accounts, an attendance bust. It was with a slightly heavy heart that I learned the following year that the WTA event was moving across the border into Washington to merge with the long-standing and successful ATP event. Worse yet for my Baltimore pride was the announcement that Citi had replaced venerable Baltimore-based financial institution Legg Mason as named sponsor of the newer, bigger event. I lamented that we’d lost a local stake in our own local tournament.
Skip ahead to 2014. Citi has a three-year track record by now, and they’ve done a good job at maintaining the successes of the old event while adding new and welcome amenities. After speaking with several volunteers at Citi Open last week, I was touched to learn that the children, men and women who form the core of a visitor’s experience to the tournament remain very local. I also interviewed two Marylanders who donate their time, their gas money and their sweat to assist with the tournament they continue to love–by any name.
19-year-old Saboor Khan (@SaboorTweets) of Owings Mills, Maryland makes the one hour drive each day to Citi Open in Washington, DC. The Houston native is a 2nd year volunteer who attended the tournament for several years as a fan. He’s working toward his goal of being a professional tennis player, having played varsity tennis at Baltimore County’s science & technology magnet high school, Western Tech.
“Since age 5, I’ve been watching tennis and playing it myself. My goal was to become a professional tennis player. I’m still working toward that and trying my best.”
The self-described 3.0 ranked player attends the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and plans to join the team this fall. At 5’4”, he happily accepts the label of “counter-puncher”.
I ran into Khan at the Citi Open, US Open and Fed Cup in years past, and I was impressed with his dedication to hit the road as a fan. He’s also been to Cincinnati, Charleston and Miami. He is often accompanied by his father on the road, “who’s a die-hard like me”. Atlanta and Newport remain on his East Coast bucket list.
He served as an airport greeter this year, entering Reagan National and making sure the hotel-bound players got from the terminal into a shiny new Citi Open Lexus SUV. “That’s my main responsibility here right now and it’s a great experience”, he told me while on break from his duties last Wednesday. He also made deliveries to the player hotel hospitality lounge last week at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Khan’s best moment of the 2014 event was picking up the affable Irina Falconi, a 2011 Citi Open quarterfinalist, who played doubles this year. “She’s very friendly”, he proclaimed.
The only thing he’d change at Citi Open is the obvious one. “They need to renovate the Stadium”, he says, but quickly acknowledges the difficulties entailed since the tournament is held on National Park Service property.
The next volunteering goal for Khan? “I plan on volunteering at the US Open soon”.
Like many rabid devotees, he prefers the early rounds of the US Open. “Early rounds are much better because all the players are there. In the later rounds, the players are all gone.”
While Federer and Sharapova are his two all-time favorites, he now prefers to focus his fandom on the next tier. “Donald Young is a person to watch out for. Also, Jack Sock is pretty good”. He follows Genie Bouchard, saying “she’s made a big leap”. He calls Sloane Stephens “a good person and a friend”.
With his training in information technology, he’s looking to mix his love of computers with his passion for the sport. “I’m going to be a tennis player or a tennis journalist. I’m going to start a website soon”, he says in a tone of certainty.
The three-set Isner/DelPotro final last year was the most enjoyable match he watched during his volunteer time at Citi Open.
21-year-old Shannon Ramsey, from Dunkirk, Maryland, has volunteered as a ball person at Citi Open since she was 14. She’s been attending the Washington event since she was 5, and her father worked as a ball boy there before she was born. Now in her eighth year, she’s a captain. Ramsey wanted to get out on those courts earlier in life, but the tournament raised the minimum age from 12 to 14 when she was 12. She also has a one hour commute each way to the tournament.
She was 14 when she first stepped foot on Stadium Court. Her first match was Arnaud Clement and James Blake.
She finally worked her first ATP singles final last year. She’d done a few doubles finals in the past, but the Del Potro/Isner title match was a special memory for Ramsey as well.
“To do this job, you have to love tennis”, she states. And Ramsey is no exception to that. She’s a member of the tennis team at St. Mary’s College in Leonardtown, where she’s a junior. An active athlete, she played a variety of sports before focusing on her court game.
I played every sport in the book when I was younger— basketball, softball, soccer, gymnastics—but tennis was the one I gravitated toward. I also stuck with running in middle school and high school, but tennis was my favorite sport. My dad would encourage me and put me in tournaments.
Ramsey also coaches at Pointer Ridge Racquet Club in Bowie, Maryland, and check this out: She was a Washington Kastles ball person at all three venues since the inception of the team.
What are her best off-court moments at Citi Open? It’s hard to tell since she’s constantly adding new ones.
What keeps me coming? The veterans. My best and closest friends are the ball people. It’s the people that keep me coming back. Hanging out off-court with them, making memories with them. We always play cards in there and hang out in the lounge. We all go to different schools now, and we try to get together on winter break, spring break, and next week—the week before we go back to school, we all try to hang out together one more time.
In her educated opinion, she thinks the tournament is constantly upgrading to provide a better experience for every visitor.
I’m really glad they added the extra grandstand court. I like the set-up of the volunteer lounge and the player lounge. They also have all these extra practice courts, and fans love that. The tournament’s getting better and better every year and I’m excited for it.
With her seniority as a ball person, is she the best one out there? She rejected the accolades, choosing to focus on how much she enjoys teaching.
I’m one of the captains. I don’t consider myself one of the best ballkids. There are so many others I can’t hold a candle to. I try to be a good role model and be inclusive. I love working with the kids. I want to do that after I graduate, so I really enjoy mentoring them.
It’s fun being out there, but it doesn’t become fun until you’re comfortable out there. When you’re out there and constantly nervous about what you need to be doing, it’s not that fun. I love seeing the transition during the first few days of ball kids until the end of the week when they actually feel comfortable and confident out there on the court. They’re not worried about making a mistake.
What about the idea that the best thing you can do on the job is do your job so well that you’re invisible?
When you’re just starting out, and you’re thinking that all eyes are on you, you just have to shut it out and focus on doing your job as quick as possible. You don’t want to make a scene out there. You want to be fast out there, but you want to be efficient and not over-do it. After a while, it happens naturally.
But is she approaching retirement and what will happen after that?
I know it’s inevitable. My brother helps run the ball kids, he’s one of the chair people. I would love to eventually be a chair person so I can stay involved in the tournament. I have two years left in school before I go to grad school and get a Masters in Education. There will be two summers when I won’t be able to come. I want to keep helping out. I love this tournament and it’s been such a big part of my life.
When a middle-aged tennis fan like me looks at how pro tennis (all sports, really) has changed so much over the years, slicker, more expensive, more corporate, more moneyed, more internationally-focused, we’re reminded that nothing has changed with the tireless volunteers on the court whose love of this sport remain a constant. The sponsors may not be locally-headquartered anymore, but that matters less. What matters are that the hardest workers at Citi Open are very home-grown. That’s comforting to me.
Francis Tiafoe has every reason to be proud after a close loss to Evgeny Donskoy at the Citi Open in Washington, DC tonight. Though he lost 4 & 4, his big serve looked great. He fired up the crowd and they fired him up right back. In addition to his parents and family, his debut match was witnessed by players, friends and the extended family known as Every Serious Tennis Fan in Washington.
The 16-year-old got his first break of serve on Donskoy early in the second set, and the Junior Tennis Champions Center prodigy was never out of a set or the match until the final point of each. The Baltimore-born Tiafoe has trained at the College Park, Maryland training facility since he was a child and attended Citi Open every year since he was 9. Tiafoe saved 9 break points and other than a few double faults, it didn’t appear that the big stage made him nervous. In fact, he seemed to feed on the energy from the partisan crowd.
Donskoy said of his opponent, “I know this guy has a great future”.
After the match, he said “I just hope I can come back here” (to the Citi Open). I’m pretty sure that can be arranged, Francis. In fact, I’m very sure. Thanks for making everyone around here proud, Big Foe.
A few years ago, I was surprised and a little saddened to learn that my cousin had sold platelets to a North Carolina blood bank just to get the cash to take a bus to visit me in Baltimore. The idea of selling your blood for a grueling 12-hour Greyhound cruise didn’t seem like a just reward.
The American Red Cross says that you can save three lives for each blood donation you make.
On Wednesday, come out to Citi Open, save three lives, and score two tickets for a session at the Nation’s Tennis Capital Event. It sure beats a 400-mile bus ride with some guy next to you regaling you with his tales of woe.
Inova Health is hosting a bloodmobile from 1-10 p.m. and the first 100 donors get their choice of two tickets to a match below:
Wednesday 7/30 (Session 5- Main Draw)
Friday 8/1 (Session 7- Quarterfinals- Day)
Friday 8/1 (Session 8- Quarterfinals- Evening)
Saturday 8/2 (Session 9- Semifinals)
As a bonus, you’ll be entered into a drawing for two (2) courtside box seat tickets to Sunday’s finals.
If you’re a tennis fan who regularly gives blood and you’re a “Donor for Life” like me, plan your next donation to be at Rock Creek Park this Wednesday. Even if you’re a first-timer, the idea of $100 worth of free tickets to see your favorite players will ease the momentary sting.