Bondarenko, Brengle/Glatch Champs @USTAMacon50K

Bondarenko & Daughter (Photo: Rick Limpert)

Bondarenko & Daughter (Photo: Rick Limpert)

MACON, Georgia, (October 26, 2014) I know it sounds like a broken record, but chamber of commerce weather once again greeted players at Stratford Academy in Macon. Georgia for Championship Sunday at the 2014 Tennis Classic of Macon.

Actually with the thermometer hitting 85 degrees during the singles final, it was hotter than usual weather for Macon in October, but nobody was complaining.

The players weren’t complaining as a close first set, featured high quality tennis. Kateryna Bondarenko, back in tennis after giving birth to her daughter, Karin was lacing backhands down the line. Grace Min, who grew up playing many junior tournaments in Macon used her footspeed and her forehand to keep her in the set. Bondarenko had a little too much and she took the opener 6-4.

“I was broken early on and I was worried,” explained Bondarenko. “I thought I was starting the match like I did yesterday. I changed everything right away and then I got up 5-1.

Min jumped out to an early lead in the second before Bondarenko again found her range. Bondarenko was also giving a warning by the chair umpire for receiving coaching. That seemed to up the play another notch as both participants traded fierce groundstrokes and grunts in an evenly played second set. Min had her chances; a long game at 5-5 swayed back and forth for six deuces before Bondarenko closed out the set 7-5, to claim the 2014 Tennis Classic of Macon title. Her daughter, Karin ran on court to congratulate her.

“I didn’t even know if I would make it here to even play this tournament,” added Bondarenko while holding the winner’s trophy and check. “I guess it all worked out.”

For Min it is something to build on heading into the final two tournaments of the year.

“It’s good to be back in Macon. It’s probably my 15th time playing here and it’s good be be back in front of family and friends.”

Madison Brengle and Alexa Glatch may have lost their singles matches earlier in the week, but you would’ve never known that watching them play doubles.

Brengle and Glatch cruised to a 6-0 7-5 victory over the new team of Anna Tatishvili and Ashley Weinhold.

For Brengle and Glatch, it was the first time they had played in 2014, but not the first time they’ve joined forces.

“We’ve played together a lot in the past, and we always enjoy playing with each other,” said Brengle after the match.

Tournament director Eric Hayes summed up the week..

It was great tennis and just a great environment to be around. Thanks to the players for putting on a great show, the volunteers, the sponsors and the fans who came out all week to enjoy the professional tennis.”

This is one of the three fall events where U.S. players can earn points for the USTA’s wildcard into the first major of 2015, the Australian Open. Min takes the lead in this series.

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Finals Set @USTAMacon50K

Finals Set @USTAMacon50K

Grace Min (Photo: Tom Grason)

Grace Min (Photo: Tom Grason)

MACON, Georgia, (October 25, 2014) It was veteran vs. veteran and American vs. American in the singles semifinals of the 2014 Tennis Classic of Macon.

The international flavor here on Saturday at the Tennis Classic of Macon was provided by two WTA Tour veterans in Petra Martic of Croatia and Kateryna Bondarenko of the Ukraine.

A doubles semifinal kicked off the day as an all American dual featured the team of Madison Brengle and Alexa Glatch playing Samantha Crawford and Sasha Vickery.

Crawford/Vickery were hot early as they took the first set 6-4. Brengle/Glatch clawed back to take the second 6-4 and held on in the match tiebreak 10-6 to get the win and advance to Sunday’s final.

Kateryna Bondarenko is here with her husband and her new baby, Karin. They tooks a trip this week to Target to pick up supplies, and last night they took Karin to Chuck E Cheese.

Bondarenko looked out of sorts early on against Martic. Dropping the first set 6-1, Bondarenko took a bathroom break and emerged with a new attitude.

“After the first set, I felt I had to run a little more and move my feet,” explained Bondarenko.

Bondarenko credited her down the line backhand for the 1-6 6-2 6-1 win and is looking ahead to playing the finals.

“I am, I made the doubles in finals in Tampico, Mexico last week, this has all been great.”

Two players quite familiar with each other’s games faced off in the other semifinal. Grace Min and Irina Falconi both have ties to the state of Georgia. Min is from Lawrenceville, GA and Falconi was an All-American at Georgia Tech.

Although Falconi jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening set, it was Min who was the much more patient player early on as she outlasted Falconi on most rallies as she took the first set 7-5.

Min continued the consistent play in the second set as she produced errors from both Falconi’s forehand and backhand. Min takes the match 7-5 6-3 and advances to face Bondarenko.

Tournament director Eric Hayes is delighted to have Min in the finals.

“When she signed up, being from so close, we knew she would help us draw some people. With what her ranking is, this tournament is very important to her with those 80 points she would earn heading into the Australian Open.”

Sunday will feature the doubles final at 12 noon followed by the singles final.

Saturday’s Results:

Madison BRENGLE/Alexa GLATCH def Samantha Crawford/Sasha VICKERY 4-6 6-4 [10-6]

Kateryna BONDARENKO (UKR) Petra MARTIC (CRO)WS 1-6 6-2 6-1

Grace MIN (USA) [4] Irina FALCONI (USA) [8]WS 7-5 6-3

—R. Limpert

2014 Charlottesville Challenger Main Draw, 1st Round Matchups Released

Charlottesville Facebook Page

CHARLOTTESVILLE MEN’S PRO CHALLENGER – CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, USA
$ 50,000.00
27 October – 2 November 2014

 

Main Draw Here: MDS Charlottesville 2014

Men’s Singles

First Round
[1] S Groth (AUS) vs. Qualifier
G Mina (FRA) vs. C Buchanan (USA)
R Ginepri (USA) vs. A Kuznetsov (USA)
R Williams (USA) vs. [8] F Dancevic (CAN)
[4] M Russell (USA) vs. M Arevalo (ESA)
T Daniel (JPN) vs. [WC] M Styslinger (USA)
E Corrie (GBR) vs. D King (BAR)
[WC] E Escobedo (USA) vs. [6] J Duckworth (AUS)
[5] G Elias (POR) vs. Qualifier
T Sandgren (USA) vs. J McGee (IRL)
H Cunha (BRA) vs. Qualifier
W Odesnik (USA) vs. [3] D Kudla (USA)
[7] R Ram (USA) vs. Qualifier
R Harrison (USA) vs. [WC] M Frank (USA)
P Torebko (GER) vs. [WC] S Kozlov (USA)
L Broady (GBR) vs. [2] T Smyczek (USA)

Charlottesville Challenger Qualifying Begins Today; Saturday OOP

Kudla Returns to Charlottesville

Kudla Returns to Charlottesville

It’s time for me to turn off Tennis Channel and go watch some live matches again. Tennis returns to the East Coast today, as 16 qualifying matches get underway at the stately Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville, Virginia. Many fans will be thrilled to see the return of 2012 champion Denis Kudla, who skipped last year to compete in qualifying at the Paris Masters. Kudla might be the only one who isn’t thrilled to be here, as his ranking has flat-lined since Paris. This would be an opportune time for Kudla and others to ramp it up in time for the ‘Happy’ Slam.

Speaking of champs, defending champ Michael Russell returns to Charlottesville at 36 1/2 years old. Russell’s 2014 highlight was a berth in the semis at Memphis.

Summer Surpriser Sam Groth is also in Charlottesville. Groth dazzled in Newport by reaching his first ATP semifinal this summer before winning his first grand slam match at the US Open six weeks later.

Robby Ginepri will also be in town, looking to snatch another grand slam wild card from an up-and-comer.

I’m looking for the next generation to rise up during this Wild Card Challenge. Kudla, Stefan Kozlov, Dennis Novikov, Rhyne Williams, Chase Buchanan, Eric Quigley, Tennys Sandgren, Noah Rubin and the rest of the youngsters could turn the tables on Ginepri, Odesnik, Russell and Ram this year.

Aside from my American pride, the event will also serve as a timely test for players on the rise like Daniel Taro, Gastao Elias and Liam Broady.

Charlottesville always provides an interesting contrast to me after covering ATP events throughout the summer. It’s Pro Sports without the Pro Paycheck. A main draw entry earns you $520 and players carry their laundry around in their racket bags all week. Some spend their off-time looking to catch a ride to Knoxville, Tennessee, the site of the next challenger and Round 2 venue of the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. The wild card is the real prize here, not the little trophy and the $7,200 paycheck to the winner. A leg up in the  Wild Card Challenge standings and a chance to play in the main draw in Melbourne motivates them all.

The USTA cheaped out in cancelling the AO Wild Card Playoffs in suburban Atlanta after a six year run. I jinxed it when I said in years past that it was the one thing the USTA did well. I always felt so conflicted complimenting the White Plains Trash, and I don’t have to anymore. The Playoffs always provided a packed house of fans and possessed a charged-up feeling, unlike these challengers, where you can hear a pin drop on center court even after match point. Perhaps the trio of Charlottesville, Knoxville and Champaign will get a small bump in attendance and on-line viewership. The Challengers and the excellent people who organize them and compete in them deserve that. But we all know that’s not going to happen. Thanks, USTA, for cancelling the only event you didn’t run into the ground. It’s now time to drown my sorrows in some quality live tennis in Central Virginia.

 

Charlottesville Facebook Page

CHARLOTTESVILLE MEN’S PRO CHALLENGER – CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, USA
$ 50,000.00
27 OCTOBER – 2 NOVEMBER 2014

ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2014
COURT 7 start 10:00
Qualifying

First Round
[1] L Lokoli (FRA) vs. B Schnur (CAN)
J Shane (USA) vs. R Bogaerts (BEL)
[WC] J Richmond (USA) vs. A Ritschard (SUI)
L Burton (GBR) vs. [7] S Bangoura (USA)
[2] K King (USA) vs. [WC] H Wiersholm (USA)
[WC] J Cornish (GBR) vs. E Elliott (USA)
A Carter (USA) vs. [WC] R Shane (USA)
J Dadamo (USA) vs. [5] M Giron (USA)
[3] D Nguyen (USA) vs. A Halebian (USA)
N Kryvonos (USA) vs. R Schneider (USA)
S Bader (AUT) vs. E King (USA)
[WC] L Corinteli (USA) vs. [6] J Spir (COL)
[4] M Willis (GBR) vs. N Rubin (USA)
[WC] J Aragone (USA) vs. B Lock (ZIM)
G Ouellette (USA) vs. M Reyes-Varela (MEX)
T Kwiatkowski (USA) vs. [8] F Nielsen (DEN)

Not Before 12:00 noon
Qualifying – [WC] J Richmond (USA) vs A Ritschard (SUI)
Qualifying – M Willis (GBR) vs N Rubin (USA)

Not Before 15:00
Qualifying – A Carter (USA) vs [WC] R Shane (USA)

Not Before 16:30
On First Available Court – Qualifying – [WC] J Aragone (USA) vs B Lock (ZIM)

COURT 9 start 10:00
Qualifying – L Lokoli (FRA) vs B Schnur (CAN)
Qualifying – D Nguyen (USA) vs A Halebian (USA)

Not Before 12:00 noon
Qualifying – J Dadamo (USA) vs M Giron (USA)
Qualifying – [WC] J Cornish (GBR) vs E Elliott (USA)

Not Before 15:00
Qualifying – [WC] L Corinteli (USA) vs J Spir (COL)

COURT 10 start 10:00
Qualifying – N Kryvonos (USA) vs R Schneider (USA)
Qualifying – G Ouellette (USA) vs M Reyes-Varela (MEX)

Not Before 12:00 noon
Qualifying – L Burton (GBR) vs S Bangoura (USA)
Qualifying – S Bader (AUT) vs E King (USA)

Not Before 15:00
Qualifying – K King (USA) vs [WC] H Wiersholm (USA)

 

—S. Fogleman

Americans Falconi and Min Advance to Semifinals @USTAMacon50K

Americans Falconi and Min Advance to Semifinals @USTAMacon50K

Falconi (Photo: R. Limpert)

Falconi (Photo: R. Limpert)

MACON, Georgia, (October 24, 2014) Bright sun and big time tennis have been the theme to week in Macon for the 2014 Tennis Classic of Macon.

The first match on at the Jaime Kaplan Tennis Center at Stratford Academy was Thursday’s upset winner and wildcard entry, Ellie Halbauer against tour veteran Petra Martic of Croatia. Martic, a former world No. 42 from Split owns three career ITF titles and she’s looking for No. in Macon.

Martic, an aggressive baseliner gave the 17-year old from South Carolina a lesson as she handed Halbauer a 6-2 6-0, an hour long lesson.

In an intriguing match on Court 1, Kateryna Bondarenko continued her comeback to tennis after the birth of her daughter, Karin with a 6-2 6-0 victory over American, Julia Boserup.

Bondarenko, a qualifier here in Macon felt that playing the qualifying has helped her reach the semifinals.

“It helped me get used to the courts as I was in Mexico and the weather was completely different,” explained Bondarenko.

Bondarenko is working her way back up the rankings as she gave birth to her daughter about a year and a half ago.

“I’m traveling with my daughter and husband. It’s different, now it’s all about my daughter and all the time I have, I spend with her.”

As for the sights Bondarenko and her family have seen while in Macon, one place stood out as it does to most new mothers.

“We went shopping to… Target,” added Bondarenko.
The general consensus in Macon on Friday morning was that Madison Brengle was playing the best tennis of anyone in the event.

Irina Falconi disagreed.

Falconi then let her racquet do the talking as she took out the second seeded Brengle with a strong forehand and a well devised gameplan, 6-2 7-5.

Grace Min grew up about 90 minutes from Macon in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Grace Min (Photo: R. Limpert)

Grace Min (Photo: R. Limpert)

She knows what’s it’s like to play tennis in Macon and she appears in great form as she defeated fellow American, Sanaz Marand 6-2 6-2.

“It’s rare that I get to play in Georgia,” said Min after her victory. It’s nice since I have a lot of friends who live here and I get to see a lot of familiar faces.”

All singles semifinals will be held on Saturday and on doubles semifinal that will begin at 10 am..

Friday’s Results:

Petra MARTIC (CRO) def Ellie HALBAUER (USA)WS 6-2 6-0
Irina FALCONI (USA)[8] def Madison BRENGLE (USA) [2]WS 6-2 7-5
Kateryna BONDARENKO (UKR) def Julia BOSERUP (USA)WS 6-2 6-0
Grace MIN (USA) [4] def Sanaz MARAND (USA)WS 6-2 6-2
Anna TATISHVILI (USA) / Ashley WEINHOLD (USA) Irina FALCONI (USA) [2] / Petra MARTIC 6-4 6-2

This is one of the three fall events where U.S. players can earn points for the USTA’s wildcard into the first major of 2015, the Australian Open.

You can see the qualifying draw here: http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/qualifying_draw382.PDF

See the singles main draw here:

http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/15/singles_draw384.PDF

Friday’s Tennis Classic of Macon Fast Facts:

- The 32-player singles main draw features players from at least 12 different countries
-Tournament Director Eric Hayes is the men’s and women’s tennis coach at Mercer University. He ran this event in Troy, AL before bringing it to Macon in 2013..
– The Falconi/Min singles semifinal features two players with ties to the state of Georgia (Falconi – GA Tech and Min from Lawrenceville, GA)

Live streaming of the USTA Pro Circuit can be viewed on the USTA Pro Circuit’s website at http://www.procircuit.usta.com.

—R. Limpert

2014 Pune, Cordoba Challenger Previews & Picks

2014 Pune, Cordoba Challenger Previews & Picks
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast

ATP Challenger Tour Official Page

A repeat of last week’s schedule, with one hardcourt event in India and one on clay in Argentina.

KPIT MSTLA Challenger

ATP Challenger Tour
Pune, India
20-25 October
Prize Money: $50,000

Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)

1: Aleksandr Nedovyesov (118)
2: Alexander Kudryavtsev (125)
3: Somdev Devvarman (143)
4: Yuichi Sugita (146)
5: Hiroki Moriya (154)
6: Adrian Menendez-Maceiras (162)
7: Yuki Bhambri (183)
8: Kimmer Coppejans (202)

The last direct acceptance is Toshihide Matsui, ranked 419th.

First round match-ups to watch

Sanam Singh – Stefano Travaglia

Singh took out #2 seed Alexander Kudryavtsev last week on his way to the quarterfinal, while Travaglia had a good week as well, reaching the semi-final. Travaglia should be the favorite, but the Indians have shown themselves to play better than their rankings in their home country.

(4) Yuichi Sugita – Ramkumar Ramanathan

The same thing applies here: Ramanathan is a promising 19 year old who reached the semi-final last week and could well repeat that great result by upsetting the #4 seed in the first round.

Top Half

After he made the final last week, top seed Nedovyesov has a tricky draw. He is lined up to face the man against whom he lost last week in the final, Saketh Myneni, but this time even sooner, in the quarterfinal. Given their respective forms, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the winner of this encounter taking a decisive spot in the final.

Bottom Half

Despite his early loss last week, second seed Alexander Kudryavtsev should be a favorite in this half, especially given his easy draw to the quarterfinal with a wild card and two qualifers being placed in his section. In the top half, Kimmer Coppejans and Somdev Devvarman are scheduled to battle it out for a semi-final spot, which is a difficult match-up to predict.

Predictions

Semis:

Nedovyesov > Bhambri
Devvarman > Kudryavtsev

Final:

Devvarman > Nedovyesov

This is all very hypothetical given Devvarman’s form, but he has played Kudryavtsev and Nedovyesov on hardcourt earlier this year and those matches ended in respectively 6-3 6-3 and 6-3 6-1, so that speaks greatly in his favor.

Copa Gobierno de Cordoba

ATP Challenger Tour
Cordoba, Argentina
20-26 October
Prize Money: $40,000

Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)

1: Diego Schwartzman (89)
2: Alejandro Gonzalez (97)
3: Horacio Zeballos (99)
4: Joao Souza (104)
5: Maximo Gonzalez (113)
6: Facundo Bagnis (119)
7: Facundo Arguello (140)
8: Jason Kubler (152)

The last direct acceptance is Andrea Collarini, ranked 260th. Two brothers of well known players are in as well, Federico Coria on a wild card and Martin Cuevas through qualifying.

First round match-ups to watch

(1) Diego Schwartzman – Guido Andreozzi

It’s safe to say that Andreozzi would be ranked a lot higher without Schwartzman. This is the fifth time they face off this year, with Schwartzman winning all prior meetings. Three of them ended in a third set, of which two in a third set tiebreak, including their quarterfinal match last week.

(5) Maximo Gonzalez – Gianni Mina

It has been a while since Gonzalez has played on clay, playing on hardcourt since his first round loss at the San Marino Challenger in the first week of August. He hasn’t had much success, seeing his ranking drop from #83 to his current ranking of #114. Mina has had good results in the past weeks with two semi-finals, so he might be able to surprise a rusty Gonzalez here.

Top Half

Top seed Schwartzman should be a clear favorite once again, especially since he had a first round loss in between his three finals, so fatigue shouldn’t be kicking in yet. However, he has a tough draw with Andreozzi, Nicolas Jarry and Maximo Gonzalez on his road to the semi-final. His semi-final might even be less challenging, since he is likely to face Horacio Zeballos or Facundo Arguello, who are both in dodgy form.

Bottom Half

#4 seed Joao Souza can be marked the favorite here, especially after he reached the final last week, absolutely trashing the current #2 seed Alejandro Gonzalez 6-1 6-1 on his way. Perhaps #8 seed Jason Kubler can cause a surprise by taking out Gonzalez himself in the quarterfinal, although he has a tough opener against the veteran in his second life, Andre Ghem.

Predictions

Semis:

Schwartzman > Zeballos
Souza > Kubler

Final:

Schwartzman > Souza

This repeat of last week’s San Juan final would mean Schwartzman’s fifth Challenger title of the year, tying Gilles Muller.

2014 Indore, San Juan ATP Challenger Recaps

2014 Indore, San Juan ATP Challenger Recaps
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast

ATP Challenger Tour Official Page

Indore

There was a big difference between the seeds in the top and bottom half, as they held up in the former and fell like flies in the latter. I predicted #6 seed Yuki Bhambri to go all the way, but he lost in the second round to Ramkumar Ramanathan. The same happened to #7 seed Kimmer Coppejans, while the #2 and #4 seeds Alexander Kudryavtsev and Hiroki Moriya lost even sooner, both in straight sets. The way things unfolded resulted in a surprising semi-final between the home country players Ramanathan and Saketh Myneni, ending in an easy victory for Myneni: 6-2 6-1. Myneni won a gold medal at the Asian Games in mixed doubles two weeks ago, partnering with Sania Mirza.

In the top half, only #3 seed Somdev Devvarman failed to live up to his seeding, as he lost 6-7(4) 6-4 6-4 to Liang-Chi Huang in the second round. Huang fell to #8 seed Stefano Travaglia in the quarterfinal, who in turn lost to top seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the semi-final. The final saw another big surprise, as Myneni beat Nedovyesov 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3 to claim his first ever Challenger title. A huge jump in the rankings followed, rising 168 spots to #283. Nedovyesov climbed a modest five spots to #113.

San Juan

In San Juan, there was no such thing as seeds getting upset, as the only two who didn’t live up to their seeding (Zeballos and De Bakker) weren’t expected to make that big of a dent anyway.

Top seed Diego Schwartzman needed to overcome a thriller in the quarterfinal against #8 seed Guido Andreozzi to make it through: 2-6 7-6(4) 7-6(5). The same thing went for #3 seed Alejandro Gonzalez against Facundo Bagnis: 7-5 4-6 6-3. However, Gonzalez got absolutely hammered by #2 seed Joao Souza in the semi-final, receiving a double breadstick. Schwartzman came through as well for his sixth Challenger final of the year, while Souza went up for his fourth. The match ended with the exact score their previous match two years ago ended, a 7-6 6-3 win for Schwartzman, who took home his fourth Challenger title of the year and a new career high ranking of #77, rising twelve spots. Souza entered the top 100 at #97, jumping seven spots.