Kudla Surprises for Tallahassee Challenger Title, Sandgren/Krajicek Take Doubles
Denis Kudla upset Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 6-3, 6-3 to take the Tallahassee Challenger title, his 3rd challenger title overall and first of 2013. Kudla got ahead early and didn’t look back, holding his serve against Stebe and continuing the solid baseline play he had shown all week in Tally. The match started late because of a rain delay.
In the doubles Tennys Sandgren and Austin Krajicek made it a sweep for the Americans in Tallahasseee, beating Peter Polansky and Greg Jones 1-6, 6-2, 10-8.
It was a perfect day in College Park for the Junior Tennis Champions Center’s 11th annual Free Tennis Day. As a connoisseur of Kids Days, if there is such a thing, I particularly enjoyed this one. This was a Kids Day with a twist. There was no moon bounce and no face painting going on here. This was the real deal.
You’re not just having fun, kids.
You’re being watched. And timed. And measured.
If you’re a tennis parent who even once fantasized about your 4 year old playing college tennis someday, this was your kind of Kids and Parents Day. Mine slept on the ride from Baltimore to the JTCC and woke up on the wrong side of the car seat. She was #48 and she defaulted when she demanded to be carried in from the car. Annabel settled on hitting solo against the wall.
There were over 350 people on hand for the event and at least 125 kids participating. Over the next two weeks, the JTCC’s coaching staff will deliberate over the participant’s performances. 20 of the entrants will receive offers for summer camp scholarships and one will receive a scholarship into the Junior Tennis Champions Center. Remember, this is the same event where today’s Tallahassee Champion Denis Kudla was ‘discovered’ 10 years ago ‘on this very night’, and you begin to understand the allure of this free-for-all event. It’s democracy in action in tennis.
The most unusual part of the day occurred when Slice, the Ms. Pac-Man of the Washington Kastles, was spontaneously attacked by children in an impromptu and slightly-frightening display. By the time the cameras (camera) got there, the little ones had switched to fists from racquets. Slice took it in all stride and has a bright future in elected office. Anyone who can take that kind of feedback at a Town Hall meeting and shake it all off is a lock for Congress.
2013 USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger Main Draw Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The main draw for the Tally Challenger starts bright and early Monday, and here is a preview of the action that will be on tap this week. I’ll provide three days of on site coverage.
USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger
ATP Challenger Tour/USTA Pro Circuit
Tallahasssee, Florida, USA
April 28-May 4, 2013
Prize Money: $50,000
Top 8 seeds:
1: Michael Russell
2: Ryan Harrison
3: Wayne Odesnik
4: Jack Sock
5: Tim Smyczek
6: Steve Johnson
7: Denis Kudla
8: Mischa Zverev
7 of the 8 seeds are Americans, and they represent the crowded American pack between the top 100 and the top 150.
Muscles Russell, coming off quarters in Savannah, will take on Suk-Young Jeong of Korea before facing the winner of Tennys Sandgren/Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Russell just beat Sandgren in Savannah round 2. While the 22 year old German Stebe was formerly known as a very promising young talent, he has flatlined a bit in his career, hovering inside the top 200 but not having won consecutive matches since January. He was ranked as high as 71 last year.
Steve Johnson, who lost to Sandgren in Savannah, will play a qualifier, and the winner gets a qualifier or defending finalist Frank Dancevic of Canada. The only caveat about defending finalist being is that last year’s event was on hard court, and this year’s event is on Har-Tru clay. Dancevic is 1-2 in his last 3 matches, all on the Har-Tru clay challenge circuit.
After breakthrough quarterfinals in Memphis, Sock has been a bit below average, and is on a two match losing streak heading into Tally. He will get the tough draw of Alex Kuznetsov, who of course won the Sarasota challenger and made the quarterfinals in Savannah. With those showings, Kuznetsov has nearly put a lock on the French Open wildcard spot and another win would clinch it for him. The winner gets current Florida State Seminole Dominic Cotrone, a wild card, or struggling Canadian Peter Polansky, who has lost two straight opening round matches.
Defending champ Tim Smyczek will face a qualifier, and the winner gets Gerald Melzer (the promising younger brother of well known ATP pro Jurgen Melzer) or current FAMU player Salif Kante, a wild card who hails from Senegal.
Odesnik is the only other player in the running for the French Open Wild Card, but he would need at a minimum to make the final, and probably take the title, along with getting some help from Kuznetsov in the form of an early loss in order to have more overall points. With that in mind, he starts against Denys Molchanov, who he just beat in the Sarasota semis in 3 sets and the winner gets former Duke standout and wild card Reid Carleton, of Naples, Florida, or Savannah finalist Facundo Arguello. Odesnik just beat Arguello in Sarasota.
Denis Kudla is nearing his career high ranking inside the top 140 again, and he will open against Sarasota semifinalist Somdev Devvarman. The winner gets Bradley Klahn or Nicolas Barrientos.
Savannah champ Harrison will look to make a quick turnaround as he takes on Taro Daniel of Japan, who qualified in Savannah. The winner gets Alex Bogdanovic or wild card Austin Krajicek.
Veteran Mischa Zverev will take on Nikoloz Basilashvili and the winner gets Donald Young or a qualifier.
Melzer d. Russell
Young d. Devvarman
Russell or Stebe should emerge from the first quarter, while Melzer is due for a good run and seems to be the freshest talent in the 2nd quarter, though Kuznetsov is playing great right now. Odesnik and Arguello are both good on clay but you would have to assume both are worn out from Savannah and Sarasota runs, and Devvarman has shown he can do well on Har-Tru.
Young is slowly improving this year, and you would also have to assume Harrison is going to be tired out from the Savannah title. Watch out for Taro Daniel as well.
Melzer d. Young
Melzer Gets Much-Needed Mojo with Dallas Tennis Classic Title
Jurgen Melzer did the Dallas two step this week, taking both the singles and doubles titles at the Dallas Tennis Classic (Dallas Challenger-2) and getting some much-needed mojo after a rough spot of play these past few weeks. In what was an ATP level field, Melzer, who will remain in the top 50, beat Jan Hajek, Robby Ginepri, Denis Istomin and Ilya Marchenko, the last two matches both going 3 sets. He took the title over Denis Kudla 6-2, 2-6, 6-1. Melzer showed some serious grit and this will give him a much needed confidence boost as he continues on with more events.
Kudla, who qualified, really did well for himself this week in what was again ATP level competition, beating Lukas Rosol, Matthias Bachinger, Bobby Reynolds and Phillip Petzschner to make the final. Denis will be back in the top 150 after making this final and continues to be one of the top three young Americans ranking wise.
Petzschner joined with his buddy Melzer to take the doubles over Eric Butorac and Dominic Inglot.
2013 Maui Challenger Preview
USTA Pro Circuit
Maui, Hawaii, USA
January 20-27, 2013
Prize Money: $50,000
As I mentioned earlier this month, I am going to start doing previews and recaps of USTA Pro Circuit Challengers as well as monthly recaps of all the happenings on the ATP Challenger circuit around the world. Here is a preview of the first challenger on American soil this year, with professional action close to the sunny beaches of Maui, Hawaii!
Top 8 Seeds
1: Go Soeda
2: Tatsuma Ito
3: Michael Russell
4: Tim Smyczek
5: Alex Bogomolov
6: Denis Kudla
7: Thiago Alves
8: Ryan Sweeting
A lot of familiar names here and players who participated in either AO qualifying or the early rounds of the main draw.
First round matchups to watch:
Denis Kudla vs. Daniel Kosakowski
If you regularly visit this site, I’m sure you will be quite familiar with both Kudla and Kosakowski, two promising young Americans who have been working their way around the challenger circuit, the AO wild card and grand slam qualifying. Kudla is at a career high ranking of 136, while Kosakowski, who is also 20 years old, is over 100 spots below him at 256. This is always an interesting match.
Donald Young vs. Michael Russell
Two of the more familiar names in American tennis will meet in this one. The respectable grinder Russell remains just inside the top 100 at the age of 34 and comes off a 1stround loss in Australia. He takes on D Young, who is still trying to get his game together again after showing some slightly positive signs to start the year including making the final round of AO qualies. Russell won both of their meetings last year and he still has the edge here.
Top 75 player Go Soeda opens with American wild card Dennis Lajola and then will get either Denis Zivkovic or wild card Petr Michnev. In the quarters, he could draw Bradley Klahn, who opens with the still struggling Ryan Sweeting, while Austin Krajicek and Jonathan Eysseric of France are also options.
The tenacious Tim Smyczek comes off a positive showing in Melbourne and will open with Tsung-Hua Yang of Taipei. Afterward, he may get an AO WC final rematch with Rhyne Williams, who also comes off a positive showing in Melbourne and opens with former NCAA champ Devin Britton. Britton hasn’t lived up to expectations as a pro so far. A Williams-Smyczek rematch could be quite a battle between two in form players.
Top 150 player Thiago Alves of Brazil opens with a qualifier, then will get a tough ask in the form of Steve Johnson, who also played in Melbourne. Johnson opens with a qualifier.
This is a stacked top half filled of in-form Americans and the consistent Soeda.
Soeda’s countryman and AO 2nd round participant Tatsuma Ito will play former top 50 player Mischa Zverev. Ito would get a a qualifier or Suk-Young Jeong of South Korea in the second round. AO qualifier Alex Bogomolov, who opens with Michael McClune, could be Ito’s quarterfinal opponent. Peter Polansky of Canada and wild card Ma Rong of China are also options.
The winner of Kosakowski/Kudla will get Tennys Sandgren or Blaz Rola of Slovakia, before doing battle with the Russell/Young winner. Alex Kuznetsov and a qualifier are also options.
I will not do a dark horse for challengers, since most everybody at a challenger can usually be considered a dark horse, excluding the very top seeds.
Soeda d. Williams
Ito d. Russell
Kudla, Sandgren or Young could also get out of the bottom half while Smyczek could make it out of the top half. You have to go with the consistent Japanese players here, though.
Soeda d. Ito
I will go with the higher ranked Soeda here, though Ito won their only pro match against each other last year on clay. They know each other’s games very well and there will not be many surprises.
KUDLA CRUISES TO CLAIM SINGLES FINAL, PEERS AND SMITH WIN DOUBLES CROWN AT CHARLOTTESVILLE MEN’S PRO CHALLENGER
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., November 4, 2012 – After a week of exciting tennis, No. 8 singles seed Denis Kudla and No. 2 doubles seed John Peers and John-Patrick Smith took home the respective hardware at this year’s Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger at The Boar’s Head Sports Club on Sunday.
Kudla, who won his first-ever youth tennis tournament at The Boar’s Head when he was just eight years old, dominated Kuznetsov from the first serve of the match. The 20-year old resident of Arlington, Va. started the match by breaking his opponent’s serve, a trend that would continue all afternoon. In the first set – which took just over 20 minutes – Kudla broke Kuznetsov twice more en route to a 6-0 win, in which he won 77 percent of the points played (24 of 31), including 12 of 15 return points.
Kuznetszov, who admitted after the match that Kudla was “way too good for me today,” finally notched a game to begin the second set, but ultimately fell 6-3 and would settle for the runner-up prize.
Kudla, who was also presented with the tournament’s annual Chase Sportsmanship Award, will receive 90 points and $10,800 in prize money, while Kuznetsov gets 55 points and $6,360. Kudla went on to break Kuznetsov two more times in the second set, and won 60 of the 94 points played in Sunday’s final match.
On the doubles side, Peers and Smith survived a tough first set against University of Virginia standout Jarmere Jenkins and fellow American Jack Sock, 7-5. The second set was a different story, as Peers and Smith took control by winning the first five games and would only drop one. The duo will split $4,650 and 90 points.
Sunday, November 4 – RESULTS
Men’s Singles – Finals  Denis Kudla, United States d Alex Kuznetsov, United States, 6-0, 6-3
Men’s Doubles – Finals
 John Peers, Australia / John-Patrick Smith, Australia d [WC] Jarmere Jenkins, United States / Jack Sock, United States, 7-5, 6-1
Denis Kudla has had a great weekend. His fans were in the stands on Saturday during a big win over ODU alum Izak Van der Merwe. A blogger could get used to these right-after-the-handshake interviews. They’re quick and insightful.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., November 3, 2012 – The finals are set at this year’s Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger at The Boar’s Head Sports Club. No. 8 singles seed Denis Kudla and Alex Kuznetsov each had a long day that ended with mixed results during Saturday’s semifinal action at the USTA Pro Circuit event.
Kuznetsov started the day with a hard-fought 7-6(5), 7-6(4) win over the tournament’s top remaining seed, No. 2 Alex Bogomolov Jr. of Russia. Kudla then took the court against the tournament’s defending singles champ, South African Izak Van der Merwe, and walked away with a 6-4, 7-5 victory after registering the only break point of the second set, which was a very important one that put him up 6-5 en route to the win.
Both Kuznetsov and Kudla were born in Kiev, Ukraine. Oddly enough, the 25-year old Kuznetsov, who resides in Philadelphia and trains in Florida, has never faced Kudla, who is 20 years old and lives in Arlington, Va.
Kuznetsov defeated Samuel Groth, Fritz Wolmarans, Bradley Klahn and Bogomolov to reach the championship match, while Kudla knocked off Daniel Smethurst, Michael Lammer, Somdev Devvarman and Van der Merwe along the way.
After punching their respective tickets to the finals in singles play, both competitors still had unfinished business in the doubles bracket as well.
Kuznetsov teamed up with Germany’s Mischa Zverev against the wild card duo of University of Virginia standout Jarmere Jenkins and fellow American Jack Sock, and Kuznetsov’s dreams of a Sunday sweep were the first to be erased. Jenkins and Sock saved four break points en route to a 7-6(4) first-set win, but Kuznetsov and Zverev won the second set 6-4, setting up a deciding 10-point tiebreak. Jenkins and Sock jumped out to a 7-1 lead and held on for a 10-7 victory to advance to Sunday’s championship match.
In the last match of the day, Kudla and teammate Jesse Levine fell to the second-seeded Australian duo of John Peers and John-Patrick Smith, 6-3, 6-3, in just 51 minutes. Peers and Smith will face Jenkins and Sock in the doubles final on Sunday.
The singles winner will receive 90 points and $10,800 in prize money, while the runner-up gets 55 points and $6,360. The doubles champs will split $4,650, while the second-place finishers will divvy up $2,700.
SINGLES QUARTERFINAL ROUND SET AT THE CHARLOTTESVILLE MEN’S PRO CHALLENGER
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., November 1, 2012 – The Main Draw resumed on Thursday at the Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger at The Boar’s Head Sports Club, and the singles quarterfinal round is set at the USTA Pro Circuit event.
No. 8 seed Denis Kudla started the day’s action with a three-set win over Switzerland’s Michael Lammer. The 20-year old Arlington, Va., native will now face University of Virginia legend Somdev Devvarman in the quarterfinal round in Friday’s featured match. Devvarman dropped the first set on Thursday to qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan, but rallied to take the final two sets in front of an ecstatic audience.
No.6 Bobby Reynolds was upset by Australian 23-year old John-Patrick Smith, 7-6(4), 7-6(3). Smith will face 2011 Charlottesville singles champion Izak Van der Merwe of South Africa, who knocked off up-and-coming Nebraska native Jack Sock, 6-3, 6-4. Only two seeded players – Kudla and No. 2 seed Alex Bogomolov Jr. of Russia – remain after two rounds of singles competition.
In doubles, No. 1 seed Reynolds and Treat Huey, a UVa graduate, defeated another former Cavalier, Drew Courtney, and American 17-year old phenom Christian Harrison, 6-1, 6-3. The Boar’s Head Sports Club’s own Brendan Evans and Jarmaine Jenkins’ run was ended by the pair of Tim Smyczek and Ryan Sweeting, 7-5, 6-4.
The No. 4 seeded group, Americans Devin Britton and Austin Krajicek, were upended by Alex Kuznetsov and Mischa Zverev, who won the match-deciding tiebreak, 12-10. Kuznetsov and Zverev are the second duo to advance to the semifinals, and will await the winner between Huey and Reynolds and Jarmere Jenkins and Jack Sock.
Friday’s highlights include the other two singles quarterfinal matches, as well as the final two doubles quarterfinal matches. Bogomolov Jr. will take on Rhyne Williams, and former Stanford standout Bradley Klahn will face fellow American Alex Kuznetsov. Smyczek and Sweeting will go up against No. 2 seeds John Peers and John-Patrick Smith of Australia. A full schedule is listed below.
The Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger features 32 singles players and a 16-team doubles field. Thanks to the generosity of this year’s sponsors, admission to the tournament is free all week long, and will again benefit Special Olympics Virginia.
Once again this year, play at The Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger will take place on a limited number of courts, ensuring plenty of tennis action for fans both day and night. Main Draw quarterfinal matches will start at noon on Friday. The semifinal matches will begin at 1:00 PM on Saturday and the finals will be played on Sunday, beginning at 1:00 PM.
The Boar’s Head Sports Club is located at 200 Wellington Drive in Charlottesville.
–Scott Ratcliffe, USTA
Former UT student-athlete Rhyne Williams knocked out 5 seed Ryan Sweeting yesterday. Hours later, his former roommate at the University of Tennessee, Tennys Sandgren, almost sent 2 seed Alexander Bogomolov packing before his game collapsed in the third set as Bogo prevailed 1-6, 7-5. 6-0. Incidentally, this was the same scoreline by which President Obama won the three sets of Presidential Debates earlier this month.
Rhyno will face USC’s Steve Johnson in the Round of 16, while Bogomolov will see wild card Austin Krajicek.
On tap for Tuesday is DC’s Dennis Kudla against Britain’s Daniel Smethurst for the opener. Later, UVA product Somdev Devvarman will try to use the crowd support to overcome Mischa Zverev. UVA ‘First Year’ Mac Styslinger, who tore through qualifying, will test his game against Izak Van Der Merwe.
The nightcap will feature the most highly anticipated match of the tournament, as top seed Jesse Levine takes on phenom Jack Sock. No, it’s not Sock vs. Roddick under the lights of Arthur Ashe, but it’s guaranteed entertainment. Here’s your printable Order of Play.
Main Draw First Round
Tim Smyczek d. Alex Domijan 7-5,6-4
Brad Klahn d. Michael McClune 6-3, 6-3
Rhyne Williams d. Ryan Sweeting 6-4, 6-4
Steve Johnson d. Alex Bogdanovic 7-6 (5), 7-5
Austin Krajicek d. Tsung-Hua Yang 6-2, 6-1
Alex Bogomolov, Jr. d. Tennys Sandgren 1-6, 7-5, 6-0
Fritz Wolmarans d. Darian King 6-3, 6-4
Taro Daniel d. Devin Britton 6-3, 6-4
Eric Quigley d. Edward Corrie 6-4, 6-2
Mac Styslinger d. Jeff Dadamo 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 (2)
It was Wednesday at the 2012 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, and still the biggest story on the bulletin board outside the media center was about Denis Kudla that had appeared in the Newport Daily News. Kudla lost in singles qualifying and had just been defeated in doubles with Steve Johnson. After his post-match meal of pasta and salad, he gave me an update on the summer.
It was the second time he’s played Treat Huey “and the second time he beat me badly”.
He loves Newport and yesterday took a boat tour around Aquidneck Island. He especially enjoys the long, interesting window-shopping walks around town.
Are ranking points a big concern for him at this point?
I just lost points here. I think now I’m 195 or 197. I’m not worried about it too much. Points are going to come off so I have to put on new ones. I’m not really looking at rankings right now. I was at the beginning of the year. Now I’m just focusing on trying to improve. I think if I work hard, in the right direction, the results will come and the ranking will rise.
Lexington, Binghamton and CitiOpen qualifying are next in the works for Kudla.
The DC-raised Philadelphia Eagles fan does support the Washington Nationals. Denis said “I’m crossing my fingers for them”.
I’m crossing mine for Denis for a great US Open Summer Series.