Nakagawa, Bellis Capture 18s Singles Titles At USTA International Spring Championships

Nakagawa, Bellis Capture 18s Singles Titles At USTA International Spring Championships

Naoki Nakagawa (JPN)

Naoki Nakagawa (JPN)

CARSON, Calif., (April 6, 2014) – At 5-all in a third-set tiebreaker, No. 2-seeded Naoki Nakagawa knew he had to play the final two points like he had been the entire match: “patient yet aggressive.”

And that’s exactly what the Bradenton, Fla., resident from Fukuoka, Japan, did on Sunday as he went the distance to beat top-seeded Francis Tiafoe to capture the Boys’ 18s singles title, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5), on the final day at the 10th annual USTA International Spring Championships, an ITF level Grade 1 event played at the StubHub Center.

“I was really tight but I knew I had to go for it,” said Nakagawa, who took a second serve from the forehand side for a cross-court winner to go up 6-5 in the breaker. He then hit a powerful serve down the “T” that Tiafoe could only manage to hit into the net.

Tiafoe said he played an “unbelievable” game at 5-all to break Nakagawa’s serve and then had a chance to serve out the match. But Nakagawa returned some tough Tiafoe first serves to break back sending the match into a tiebreaker, the first time it’s gone that far in the event’s 10-year history. In fact, in the first nine Boys’ 18s finals before Sunday, only twice had a match gone to three sets.

“It could have gone either way,” said Tiafoe, the ITF world-ranked No. 7 player from College Park, Md. “I hit a bad second serve and for him to go for that at 5-all was pretty clutch, and you got to give that to him. Then he hits a big serve at match point so there’s nothing you can do there.”

Nakagawa, 17, is in his fifth year training at IMG Bolettieri Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He calls current world ATP Tour Top 20 player Kei Nishikori a good friend. “Yeah, we train together and sometimes I go to his house and we play games,” said Nakagawa.

Tiafoe headed straight for the desert two hours east after his match where he will take tomorrow off before his first match in the ASICS Easter Bowl. He said he won’t dwell on the loss for long, and that there is no pressure on him this coming week. “It’s not like it’s going to matter to me to play the Slams this summer,” he said. “It obviously hurts because I wanted to win but it’s not going to carry over to this week.”

In the girls’ 18s final contested at the same time, No. 5-seeded and 14-year-old CiCi Bellis of Atherton, Calif., made short work of 15-year-old and No. 9 Raveena Kingsley of Fulton, Md., 6-3, 6-0. Kingsley had beaten Bellis in their only prior meeting at the 12s USTA Spring Nationals back in 2011.

Catherine Cartan Bellis (USA)

Catherine Cartan Bellis (USA)

Kingsley, who trains out of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., had a tough three-set semifinal on Saturday and said she felt mentally and physically tired before the final. “And it’s my first Grade 1 final, so maybe that helped her confidence, that she’s been here before,” said Kingsley, who was coached by Frank Salazar all week.

Bellis was cheered on by her hitting partner and one of her coaches Jelena Pandzic, a former junior prodigy from Split, Croatia, who reached as high as No. 135 in the WTA World Tour rankings.

“I will rest the rest of today and maybe have a light hit tomorrow,” said Bellis, who turns 15 on Tuesday. “I really want to win the Easter Bowl. It’s going to be really hard because everyone in the draw is really good.”

In 2012, Bellis was a finalist in the Girls’ 14s at the ASICS Easter and last year she won the Girls’ 16s.

For a complete look at all the final draws, log onto the website at www.usta.com/isc.

SUNDAY’S FINAL SCORES

Boys’ 18 Singles

Naoki Nakagawa (2) (Japan) def. Francis Tiafoe (1) (College Park, MD) 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5)

Girls’ 18 Singles

CiCi Bellis (5) (Atherton, CA) def. Raveena Kingsley (9) (Fulton, MD) 6-3, 6-0

—Steve Pratt

About these ads

Former USC Player Danielle Lao (@TheLittleGiant) Reaches New Heights on Kindle

“The Invaluable Experience” Hits as High as No. 3 on Amazon

Two-time USC All-American Tennis Player Says College Sports are the Experience of a Lifetime

Danielle Lao

Danielle Lao

ATLANTA, Georgia, (January 2, 2014) Following a successful college tennis career, Danielle Lao, a two-time All-American at USC had something to say.

Less than a year ago, Lao started putting her thoughts about college, tennis, and life down in an online Tumblr blog that started attracting more and more readers. Basically, Lao answered questions many student-athletes might have.

Lao decided to turn her writings into a Kindle book, “The Invaluable Experience” with the help of tennis and sports technology writer Rick Limpert.

Many internet surfers read blogs because they are short bursts of information and for the most part, they are free.

The question was, would anyone buy a book based on Lao’s Tumblr posts?

Lao said it didn’t matter.

“Turning my blog posts in a book was a great way to organize my scattered thoughts that I was slowly collecting since the end of my collegiate career,” explained Lao. “College tennis was such a pivotal part in my development as a player as well as a person and my hope is to share with as many people as I can, how college is such an invaluable experience.”

While Lao’s college stories and advice make for a great fodder, an equally good story is how well the book has done after just 30 days.

In its first week, “The Invaluable Experience” was the No. 3 Kindle tennis book on Amazon.com; ahead of such titles as Rafa”, by Rafael Nadal, “Serve to Win” by Novak Djokovic, Brad Gilbert’s “Winning Ugly”, “Facing Federer”, and other books written by tennis heavyweights like John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.

“I was ecstatic (with) the news. I am so humbled to be in such great company. A lot of these authors have decorated profiles and some are grand slam champions.”

Cover of The Invaluable Experience

Lao’s nickname is “The Little Giant” and while you have to read the book to find out how she secured that unique moniker, the it has proven to be prophetic as even after 30 days the book still regularly makes the top-10 in the Kindle Store ahead of books by Peter Bodo, Monica Seles, and Allen Fox.

“The Invaluable Experience” is loaded with great advice for current and future student athletes, parents, and fans of college sports. It is available as a Kindle download on Amazon.com and through the book’s website at http://laod38.wix.com/thelittlegiant

“Danielle is what college sports are all about,” added Limpert. “This book is bigger than just the sport of tennis, as it has crossover appeal for anyone looking to play sports in college.”

About Danielle Lao:

Danielle Lao was a member of the USC Women’s Tennis Team (2009-2013). During her time there, she lead the Trojans to back to back PAC 12 Team championships and was team captain her senior year. She wraps up her collegiate career as a two time singles All-American, 3 time ITA title holder, and a recipient of both the Southwest Region Rookie and Senior of the Year. Danielle is currently pursuing a professional career.

About Rick Limpert:

Rick Limpert is an Atlanta-based freelance writer who covers tennis and sports technology for the likes of Yahoo, Examiner.com, TennisRecruiting.net, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and others. He hosts the popular “Tech Tuesday” gadget segment on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio and he is the 2013 USTA Georgia “Tennis Writer of the Year” and won the 2013 USTA Southern Section Marc Kaplan Media Excellence Award.

—R. Limpert

North Carolina, California Winners @USTA 14U Junior Team Tennis at National Championships

North Carolina, California Winners @USTA 14U Junior Team Tennis at National Championships

2013  USTA Junior Team Tennis National Championships

Wilmington, N.C. and Southern California team from San Diego, Calif. claim intermediate and advanced titles

CAYCE, S.C (Oct. 21, 2013) — Two teams were crowned Sunday at the 2013 USTA Jr. Team Tennis 14U National Championships, held at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center in Cayce, S.C., Oct. 18 – 20. A team from Wilmington, N.C., representing the USTA Southern Section, captured the Intermediate Division title while a team from San Diego, Calif., representing USTA Southern California, earned the Advanced title.

The 2013 USTA Jr. Team Tennis 14U National Championships brought together the top 32 teams at the Advance and Intermediate level from various USTA Sections throughout the country.

“This week featured a fun group of really enthusiastic kids,” said Adrienne Di Menna, USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Manager. “We crowned two brand-new national champions, yet the biggest win was seeing how the teams interacted with one another and established friendships. With technology and social media being what it is today, we think it’s awesome that we have players from different sections staying in touch long after they’ve left South Carolina. I think they all realize that we’re part of one big national team, trying to grow this sport.”

The Wilmington team, defeated a team from San Diego, Calif., 56 games to 44 in the Championship match. Earlier in the tournament, they defeated a team from Oklahoma City, Ok. 50-34 in the semifinals.

2013  USTA Junior Team Tennis National Championships

The team is coached by Lauren Isenhour and Jon Ingham and features: Keegan Bigoness, Lila Das, Lexi Lampkin, PJ Middleton, Taylor Walicki, Patrick Senior, Holland Baynard, Kara Ferner, Eddie Janosko, Robert Schuett and Westley Gaines.

“This is huge for them, this has been a goal that they’ve had for over a year now, talking about it every week at practice,” said Isenhour, of her squad that just missed Nationals last season. “Our team has worked so hard for this moment right here, so we’re really proud of them.”

The San Diego team, defeated a team from Providence, R.I., 50 games to 37 in the Championship match. Earlier in the tournament, they defeated a team from Ocean Springs, Ms., 56-34 in the semifinals.

The team is coached by Solomon Liu and features: Jennifer Kerr, Julia Ronney, Andrew Hu, Robert Liu, Kiev Moores, Nicholas Appel, Timothy Sah, Ryan Seggerman, Nicole Mossme and Olia Javidi.

“There’ll be a huge party when we get back home that’s going to be off the hook,” said Coach Liu. He and his team of 10 from San Diego were experiencing their first Jr. Team Tennis National Championship. “It was a fantastic experience. There’s no guarantees going forward, so to do this in the first year is special. Some of our kids are aging out [in the 14 & Under division], but we’ll try to come back in a few years and win it all in the 18s.”

—S. Houseknecht

2013 @USTAProCircuit @TiburonChallngr Preview, Predictions

2013 USTA Pro Circuit Tiburon Challenger Preview, Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

TiburonChallenger_Logo

The USTA Pro Circuit continues its California swing with a 100k event in Tiburon on hard courts. Here’s your preview.

First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger
USTA Pro Circuit
Tiburon,CA,USA
October 7-October 13, 2013
Prize Money: $100,000

Top 8 seeds
1: Denis Kudla
2: Tim Smyczek
3: Matt Ebden
4: Alex Kuznetsov
5: Rajeev Ram
6: Rhyne Williams
7: Donald Young
8: Bradley Klahn

Identical seeds as the event last week in Sacramento.

First round matchups to watch:

(3)Matt Ebden vs. Filip Peliwo

Matt Ebden

Matt Ebden

Matt Ebden has been in good form post US Open, reaching the semis, finals, and quarterfinals in his last 3 events. Peliwo meanwhile is moving up the rankings at 19, and is nearly inside the top 250 now. This year he has one challenger semifinal, and a host of good results at the futures level, including one futures title last month. Ebden has more experience and good form, but Peliwo could pull off the upset and continue his rise.

(6)Rhyne Williams vs. Nick Kyrgios

Williams lost in the first round of Sacramento to Dan Evans, while Kyrgios comes off semis in the same event. Both are up and coming players with plenty of talent and this could go either way, but I think Kyrgios will continue to work his way up the rankings and grab a win.

Top Half:

Denis Kudla, who is struggling a bit, is coming off a first round loss in Sacramento. He’ll open with wild card Mitchell Frank, and if he wins, he sees James McGee or Austin Krajicek in the second round. In the quarters, one of Steve Johnson/JP Smith/Daniel Nguyen/Rajeev Ram awaits and they could all use a good result.

Ebden/Peliwo will play either wild card Marcos Giron or Sam Groth, a Sacramento quarterfinalist, in round 2. The winner will get one of Williams/Kyrgios/Ben Mitchell/Qualifier in the quarters in what is a very open section.

Bottom Half:

Sacramento finalist Tim Smyczek will open with Matt Reid, while Denys Molchanov/Salvatore Caruso await on deck. Smyczek could perhaps get a Sacramento final rematch with Donald Young in the quarters.

Young is in good form and needs wins over a qualifier and Peter Gojowczyk/Dan Evans to reach that point.

Alex Kuznetsov will face Jarmere Jenkins, who comes off semis in Sacramento, while Kuznetsov lost in round 1 of the same event. If Kuznetsov wins, he could get a rematch with Peter Polansky, who bested him in Sacramento. Polansky just has to beat wild card Campbell Johnson.

The quarterfinalist from this section will face Bradley Klahn, a pair of qualifiers or Tennys Sandgren in the quarters.

Predictions

Semis:

Ebden d. Ram
Smyczek d. Klahn

Final:

Ebden d. Smyczek

Late Night TV Host @ConanOBrien Visits With #USTA Wheelchair Tennis Campers @TeamCoCo HQ

Conan O’Brien Visits With USTA Wheelchair Tennis Campers

A Visit With Conan O'Brien (Photo: Tiffany Roohani / Team Coco)

A Visit With Conan O’Brien (Photo: Tiffany Roohani / Team Coco)

Late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien recently visited with youth athletes and coaches who last week participated in the 2013 USTA-ITF International Junior Wheelchair Tennis Camp in Mission Viejo, Calif.

The kids visited with O’Brien on the Warner Brothers lot and later enjoyed the day at Universal Studios located in Studio City, Calif. The camp was for players ages 12-18 who live with a permanent disabling condition and use a wheelchair when playing sports including tennis.

This year’s camp included players from 10 different states and six different countries (Argentina, Canada, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States). The camp is geared towards fun and camaraderie, while developing tennis skills in these young athletes.

—S. Pratt

2013 Aptos @USTAProCircuit Preview, Predictions

2013 Aptos Challenger Preview

Pro Circuit

The USTA Pro Circuit will have its fourth summer hard court event, the $100,000 challenger in Aptos, California, as a strong field vies for the title under the California sun.

Comerica Bank Challenger
USTA Pro Circuit
Aptos, California, USA
August 3-August 11, 2013
Prize Money: $100,000

Top 8 seeds:
1: Guido Pella
2: Evgeny Donskoy
3: Steve Johnson
4: Ryan Harrison
5: Wayne Odesnik
6: Bobby Reynolds
7: Mischa Zverev
8: Jimmy Wang

The entry cutoff was 189 and the top 2 seeds are top 100 players, giving Aptos a solid field.

First round matchups to watch:

James Duckworth vs. Brian Baker

Brian Baker, Newport 2013

Brian Baker, Newport 2013

Brian Baker is finally back on tour, and he looks fit and healthy from what I saw of him on the practice courts in Atlanta. He will not be given an easy match back though, as he faces the red hot and career high ranked James Duckworth, who made the final in the Lexington challenger and won a round in DC. Even if Baker is 100%, the rust alone makes Ducky a favorite here.

(7)Mischa Zverev vs. Mikhail Kukushkin

Kukushkin is 2-0 career against higher-ranked Zverev and he beat Mischa on clay this year in Germany. After a downright terrible start to his year, Kuku is doing well, as he made the final in the Astana challenger, and has won/made final at two challengers since June. Zverev has struggled to close out matches and he will be in danger of getting upset here.

Top Half:

Guido Pella is the top seed, but tends to do poorly off of clay for now. He opens with Tunisian journeyman Malek Jaziri. This could spell a loss for the Argentine. Regardless, the winner will face the Duckworth/Baker winner.

8 seed and Vancouver semifinalist Jimmy Wang faces big server and Vancouver quarter finalist Greg Jones, who can do damage on fast surfaces. Dan Evans, a current Vancouver finalist, will take on young American Mitchell Krueger.

Photo Retweeted by Ben Rothenburg of Harrison Signing Busted Racquet for the Fan who Snagged It. (Now Famous)

Photo Retweeted by Ben Rothenburg of Harrison Signing Busted Racquet for the Fan who Snagged It. (Now Famous)

Ryan Harrison has had a solid summer swing so far, semis in Atlanta and an upset of Lleyton Hewitt in DC. Harry hopes to continue that strong play against a qualifier, followed by Olivier Rochus or a qualifier, in what should be an easy start.

Grinding vet Bobby Reynolds, coming off Vancouver challenger semis, takes on an inconsistent Yuichi Sugita. Tennys Sandgren gets a wild card and an opening round date with Maxime Authom, a Belgian who usually plies his trade in Europe.

Bottom Half:

Donskoy

Donskoy

Evgeny Donskoy lost in the opening round of the Vancouver challenger and will hope to do better in Aptos with a qualifier. Up next would be a struggling Ruben Bemelmans or wild card Andre Dome. The Zverev/Kukushkin winner faces Matt Reid or wild card Dennis Novikov.

Steve Johnson will play Donald Young once again, as Young continues to do poorly, with the winner facing an in form Bradley Klahn or Tatsuma Ito. Wayne Odesnik gets a qualifier, then a qualifier or Hiroki Moriya.

Predictions:

Semis:
Harrison d. Duckworth
Kukushkin d. Klahn

The top half is stacked but I’ll take the experienced Harrison over the host of others who would all do well. Meanwhile, in the weaker bottom section, Kuku or Donskoy should get out and Klahn has a nice draw if he can get past Steve Johnson.

Final:
Harrison d. Kukushkin

Harrison has played well and I think he will earn some hardware in Aptos.

—Steen Kirby

Gage Brymer Survives Luca Corinteli @asicseasterbowl 18s

Gage Brymer Survives Luca Corinteli at 46th Annual ASICS Easter Bowl

Gage Brymer (Photo: Dave Kenas)

Gage Brymer (Photo: Dave Kenas)

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (April 14, 2013) – Just because he won four of his six ASICS Easter Bowl matches after dropping the first set and five total three-setters, doesn’t mean that Gage Brymer enjoys playing in them.

“No, I don’t really like them,” was Brymer’s response to a question posed by USTA First Vice President Katrina Adams, who was handling Tennis Channel on-court commentating duties following the unseeded Brymer’s 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, win over Luca Corinteli in the Boy’s 18s ITF singles final on the final day of the 46th annual event that took place for the first time at the Sunrise Country Club.

Adams called Brymer the “Marathon Man”, who later added in his post-match media interviews: “I wish I could get it done it two sets every match. It’s been quite a week, quite a grind.”

For the third straight year the boys’ 18s ITF singles was won by a UCLA Bruin recruit as Marcos Giron (2011), Mackenzie McDonald (2012) and now Brymer have captured the coveted title. It’s a junior title their coach Billy Martin, who many regard as one of the best junior players of all-time, never won.

Gage_Brymer_by_DK_5082--Action

“I don’t think it’s that I’m getting warmed up because I feel good when I go on the court and I’m hitting good,” Brymer said. “I think the other guy just really comes out pumped up and it takes a little bit of time to get into the match. It’s funny because this is the first tournament where it’s been the case. It’s not that I’m known for losing the first set. It’s just been this week. It’s not too disheartening now when I lose the first set because I know I can come back.

“I can’t put my finger on it. I guess it’s a good thing because I’ll never count myself out in the second set.”

Corinteli, the No. 3 seeded player from Alexandria, Va., who trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., played a solid first set and used his big serve to take the early lead. “Maybe I thought in my head I really wouldn’t face any adversity and that it’s kind of going to go as smooth as it has the first set and a half,” he said. “But tennis is never like that and this has happened to me before. A couple of times you pass by it and think you’ve overcome it and then it happens again. You never really know what to expect in this sport because I was in cruise control and then a couple different points go his way and it’s a different match.”

Brymer also won the ASICS Easter Bowl in 2011 in the boys’ 16s. “I don’t like getting second place,” he said. “I feel like once I get to the final I’m there to win it. A couple of weeks ago at the Claremont ITF I got second and that was my first second in a while. I really can’t remember the last time I got second place. I just hate it. I can’t stand going all that way and losing.”

Brymer said he got a little nervous up 5-0 and then 5-1 in the final set. “It’s definitely an incredibly tough place to be up 5-0, 5-1, 5-2. Some people say, you’re up by so much and you’ve got nothing to lose and you’ve got nothing to be worried about, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. It’s much harder to get up 5-0 and close it out then to get up 5-0.

Brymer doesn’t have much time to rest before he returns to play for his high school team, University High in Irvine, on Tuesday. Then it’s off to play the 113th Ojai Valley Championships Boys’ CIF Interscholastic division April 25-28. This year, Brymer is trying to be the first player since Bobby Riggs to win three straight high school titles at The Ojai since Bobby Riggs did it from 1934-36 playing for Franklin High School in Los Angeles.

Two 14-year-olds battled for the Girls’ 16s singles title as last year’s ASICS Easter Bowl finalist CiCi Bellis, the No. 8-seeded player from Atherton, Calif., defeated No. 7 Caroline Dolehide of Hinsdale, Ill., 6-4, 6-1.

“I thought about it a little bit before the match,” Bellis said of her finals loss last year. “It was pretty disappointing. I didn’t want to think about that before the match.”

Dolehide got down two breaks early in the match, but was able to come back and had game point at 4-all before Bellis was able close out the first set, 6-4.

“I missed a little bit too much to stay in the match,” Dolehide said. “I didn’t feel tired but I felt like I had to pick it up to stay with her. All her balls were going pretty deep.”

Dolehide said she wasn’t nervous playing in the final, just “excited.”

Dolehide later teamed with partner Brienne Minor to win the gold ball in doubles to go along with her singles silver as the pair beat Emma Higuchi and Rebecca Weissmann, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2

In the Boys’ 16s final, top-seeded Sameer Kumar of Carmel, Ind., won his second straight USTA Supernational with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Kalman Boyd of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

“I just couldn’t hang with him,” Boyd said. “He was so fresh and mentally tough and I just got too tired after every point. I was just dead and trying to recover. I never played on Stadium and I never played in front of a crowd all week. So I think that was a factor. I’m already looking forward to my next tournament.”

Kumar said he and his coach actually hit on Stadium court late Saturday night just to get a feel for it. “We wanted to see how the conditions were,” said Kumar, who won the 16s Winternationals to start the year. “Today was tough, but obviously the scoreline doesn’t seem so. I played very well today.”

Not even paired together until the day before the tournament, Jordi Arconada and Spencer Papa beat JC Aragone and Mackenzie McDonald, 6-1, 7-5 to win the Boys’ 18s doubles.

Weekend ASICS Easter Bowl sightings: USTA First Vice President Katrina Adams, USTA Director of Coaching Jose Higueras and former Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kathy May Fritz.

The 18s singles draws can be found here: http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=122977
For 16s and 14s go to TennisLink here:

http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=122896

To keep up with all the ASICS Easter Bowl news, visit the website at http://www.easterbowl.com and check out the tournament on Facebook (www.facebook.com/EasterBowl) and Twitter (@easterbowl). For more information on ASICS, check out: http://www.ASICSAmerica.com and follow on Twitter @ASICSAmerica.

Sunday’s Scores
Boys’ 18s Singles (Final)
Gage Brymer, Irvine, CA def. Luca Corinteli (3), Alexandria, VA 3-6, 6-4, 6-1

Boys’ 18s Doubles (Final)
Jordi Arconada / Spencer Papa (2) def. JC Aragone / M. Mackenzie. McDonald (4) 6-1, 7-5

Boys’ 16s Singles (Final)
Kalman Boyd (17), Rancho Santa Fe, CA def. Sameer Kumar (1), Carmel, IN 6-0, 6-0

Boys’ 16 Singles (Playoff)
Taylor Fritz (3) Rancho Santa Fe, CA def. Emil Reinberg (17) Atlanta, GA 6-3, 6-4

Girls’ 16s Singles (Final)
Catherine Bellis (8), Atherton, CA def. Caroline Dolehide (7), Hinsdale, IL 6-4, 6-1

Girls’ 16 Singles (Playoff)
Emma Higuchi (4) Los Angeles, CA def. Hanna Chang Fontana, CA 6-4; 6-4

Girls’ 16 Doubles (Final)
Caroline Dolehide / Brienne Minor (1) def. Emma Higuchi / Rebecca Weissmann (3) 1-6, 6-4, 6-2

Girls’ 16 Doubles (Playoff)
Jessie Aney / Alexis Nelson (6) def. Jada Hart / Stephanie Hazell 4-6, 6-2, 6-4

 

—S. Pratt

Mackenzie McDonald Attempts to Become First Repeat @EasterBowl Champ in 41 Years

Mackenzie McDonald (Photo: Bob Kenas)

Mackenzie McDonald (Photo: Bob Kenas)

MCDONALD ATTEMPTS TO BE 1ST REPEAT WINNER OF ASICS EASTER BOWL SINCE 1971-72

UCLA Recruit Will Face Strong Field In Boys’ 18s; New Venue Highlights
Year of Change for Iconic USTA Junior Spring Nationals Starting Sunday

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (April 6, 2013) – UCLA recruit Mackenzie McDonald will attempt to become the first boys’ 18s back-to-back winner since Grey King in 1971-72 as the 46th annual ASICS Easter Bowl, the nation’s elite junior tennis tournament, begins on Sunday.

The ASICS Easter Bowl will be played for the first time at the Sunrise Country Club just down the road from its former home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The ASICS Easter Bowl is a USTA National Spring Championships in boys’ and girls’ 14s and 16s and an International Tennis Federation Grade 1 level tournament in the 18s.

McDonald is also attempting to become a three-time winner of the event, having previously won the boys’ 14s in 2009. In recent years, Donald Young did the same, winning the 14s and then the boys’ 18s twice in 2004 and 2006. In 2005, US Davis Cup player Sam Querrey took home the 18s title.

In last year’s 18s final, McDonald defeated Alexios Halebian in straight sets. On the girls’ side, ITF world No. 1 junior Taylor Townsend took home the singles title in the 18s.

Once again this year, the winner of the boys’ and girls’ 18s this year will receive a wild card into the main draw at the US Open Juniors and a USTA Pro Circuit Futures event.

ASICS America is a popular athletic footwear, apparel and accessories company headquartered in Irvine, Calif., ASICS has made a huge leap with its involvement into tennis by offering award-winning tennis footwear and apparel, launching a collection of tennis rackets, and sponsoring some of the top professional tennis athletes in the world such as WTA former No. 1 Samantha Stosur of Australia. The U.S. ASICS tennis team features former Easter Bowl standouts Steve Johnson and Irina Falconi, both currently making huge waves on the national and international stages.

Laurel Springs School, an accredited, online private school, has signed on as a major sponsor of the event and like ASICS will be on-site all week during the tournament. On Monday night, Laurel Springs will host an informational gathering and Coaches Seminar as Laurel Springs School founder Marilyn Mosley Gordanier will be on hand to answer questions and share information about Laurel Springs. The event begins at 5 p.m. at the Sunrise Country Club. Coaching legends Larry Stefanki (John McEnroe, Marcelo Rios and Andy Roddick) and USC men’s coach Peter Smith will entertain questions. More than 60 Easter Bowl players attend Laurel Springs.

Here are the top three seeded players in each division:

Boys’ 18s: Noah Rubin (Rockville Centre, N.Y.); Stefan Kozlov (Pembroke Pines, Fla.); Mackenzie McDonald (Piedmont, Calif.)

Girls’ 18s: Jamie Loeb (Ossing, N.Y.); Louisa Chirico (Westchester, N.Y.), Marika Akkerman (Toronto, Canada)

Boys’ 16s: Sameer Kumar (Carmel, Ind.); Kyle Seelig (Hatfield, Pa.); Taylor Fritz (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.)

Girls’ 16s: Francesca Dilorenzo (New Albany, Ohio); Ena Shibahara (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.); Meredith Xepoleas (Huntington Beach, Calif.)

Boys’ 14s: John McNally (Cincinnati); Connor Hance (Torrance, Calif.); Zeke Clark (Tulsa, Okla.)

Girls’ 14s: Claire Liu (Thousand Oaks, Calif.); Kelly Chen (Cerritos, Calif.); Jaeda Daniel (Port Charlotte, Fla.).

Another significant change at this year’s ASICS Easter Bowl is that Lornie Kuhle has taken over as tournament chairman, seeking to continue a tradition started in 1968 by New Yorker and tournament founder Seena Hamilton.

First played in 1968, the ASICS Easter Bowl has been noted not only for the hospitality given to players and parents, but for its far-reaching media exposure and for keeping all the game’s important issues in public view.

Sponsors include ASICS America, Laurel Springs School, Advantage Tennis Academy and the Southern California Tennis Association.

The 18s ITF page for the 2013 event can be found here: http://www.itftennis.com/juniors/tournaments/tournament/info.aspx?tournamentid=1100028051

For 16s and 14s go to TennisLink here:

http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments/TournamentHome/Tournament.aspx?T=122896

To keep up with all the ASICS Easter Bowl news, visit the website at http://www.easterbowl.com and check out the tournament on Facebook (www.facebook.com/EasterBowl) and Twitter (@easterbowl). For real deal coverage, follow @zootennis!

—S. Pratt

Qualifier Yee Surprises, Tiafoe-Kozlov Showdown Set @USTA_ISC Spring Championships

Kimmie YeePhoto: Cynthia Lum/USTA

Kimmie Yee
Photo: Cynthia Lum/USTA

Qualifier Yee Turns Tables On Porter

At USTA International Spring Championships

Tiafoe, Kozlov Headed for Showdown

 

CARSON, Calif., (Friday, April 5, 2013) – Getting stronger and stronger as each round progresses, Las Vegas qualifier Kimberly Yee won her seventh match in seven days on Friday, exacting some revenge against Dallas’ Peggy Porter in convincing fashion, 6-1, 6-2, to advance to the girls’ 18s semifinals at the USTA International Spring Championships being played at the Home Depot Center.

 

Just last week, Yee fell to Porter in the quarterfinals of the Claremont ITF. “I just felt more confident today, I was the attacker,” said Yee, 16. “She was making a few more errors but it was because I was forcing them.”

 

Yee feels fortunate just to be alive in the tournament as she has won two third-set tiebreaks, including one in the quarterfinals on Thursday where she faced a match point, and in her second-round qualifying match last Sunday when she overcame two match points. Later that day she qualified for the main draw with a straight-set win before a much needed day of rest on Monday.

 

Yee will next face No. 5 seeded Jamie Loeb of Ossining, N.Y., who needed nearly three hours to defeat No. 2-seeded Victoria Rodriguez of Weston, Fla., 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

 

In the other 18s semifinal, top-seeded Christina Makarova will face unseeded Mayo Hibi of Irvine, as both were easy straight-set winners on Friday.

 

In the boys’ 18s, two 16-year-olds and a pair of 15-year-olds all won big matches Friday to make the Final Four weekend. Henrik Wiersholm, 16, of Kirkland, Wash., upset top-seeded top Noah Rubin of Rockville Centre, N.Y., 6-4, 6-3. Just like Yee’s revenge win, the same was true for Wiersholm, who fell to Rubin in their only other meeting at the ITF Pan American Championships in Tulsa, Okla., last fall.

 

“The ’97 and ’98s (years born) are coming through here,” Wiersholm said. “We all train together and push each other a lot so when we come to big events like this it really shows.”

 

Wiersholm is a former winner of Les Petits As, a prestigious Under-14 event played in France, and he’s joined in the semifinals by another former Les Petits As victor, 15-year-old Francis Tiaofe of College Park, Md.

 

Tiafoe, the No. 14 seed who is No. 114 in the ITF world rankings, won his second consecutive third-set tiebreak match, and said afterward that he doesn’t fear anyone in the draw, including his semifinal opponent, fellow 15-year-old Stefan Kozlov.

 

“He’s considered the best from ’98 in the U.S., and I put myself at No. 2,” Tiafoe said of Kozlov. “He’s an unbelievable player, Top 15 in the world. I’ve never been able to beat him and he’s gotten the better of me the three or four times we’ve played.”

 

Tiafoe said his confidence level is at an all-time high. “I know I can beat anyone in the draw,” he said. “You can never be too confident. Every match I play I believe I can win.”

 

In the girls’ 16s final, 12-year-old Claire Liu of Thousand Oaks will face No. 13-seeded Ena Shibahara of Rancho Palos Verdes. It’s a home match for Liu, a seventh-grader who trains three days a week at the Carson site which is the home for the USTA Training Center West. Shibahara beat No. 12-seeded Samantha Martinelli of Denver, Colo., 6-2, 6-1.

 

In the boys’ 16s final, No. 7-seeded Catalin Mateas of Braintree, Mass., will face No. 4-seeded Jake Devine of Boca Raton, Fla.

 

For a complete run down of Friday’s scores and updated draws, log onto the website at www.usta.com/isc.

 

Boys’ 18 Singles (Quarterfinals)

Stefan Kozlov (2), Pembroke Pines, FL   def.  Spencer Papa (6), Edmond, OK   6-2, 6-2

Naoki Nakagawa (4), Japan  def.  Alexander Zverev (11), Wesley Chapel, FL   2-6, 6-3, 6-3

Henrik Wiersholm, Kirkland, WA   def.  Noah Rubin (1), Rockville Centre, NY   6-4, 6-3

Francis Tiafoe (14), College Park, MD   def.  Daniel Kerznerman (10), Brooklyn, NY   3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3)

 

Boys’ 18 Doubles (Semifinals)

Tommy Mylnikov / Naoki Nakagawa (2)  def.  Walker Duncan / John Mee  6-2, 6-2

Spencer Papa / Alexander Zverev (3)  def.  Luca Corinteli / Martin Redlicki (1)  3-6, 6-4, 10-4

 

Girls’ 18 Singles (Quarterfinals)

Christina Makarova (1), San Diego, CA   def.  Madison Bourguignon (8), Boynton Beach, FL   6-3, 6-2

Mayo Hibi, Irvine, CA   def.  Alejandra Cisneros Gomez (3), Mexico  6-1, 6-1

Kimberly Yee, Las Vegas, NV   def.  Peggy Porter, Dallas, TX   6-1, 6-2

Jamie Loeb (5), Ossining, NY   def.  Victoria Rodriguez (2), Weston, FL   5-7, 6-3, 6-3

 

Girls’ 18 Doubles (Semifinals)

Mayo Hibi / Denise Starr (7)  def.  Alejandra Cisneros Gomez / Victoria Rodriguez (1)  6-4, 2-6, 10-6

Jamie Loeb / Maegan Manasse  def.  Brooke Austin / Kimberly Yee  6-2, 6-1

 

Boys’ 16 Singles (Semifinals)

Catalin Mateas (7), Braintree, MA   def.  Kalman Boyd, Rancho Santa Fe, CA   7-6(3), 6-1

Jake Devine (4), Boca Raton, FL   def.  Kyle Seelig (12), Hatfield, PA   7-6(5), 4-6, 6-1

 

Boys’ 16 Doubles (Semifinals)

Chase Colton / Kyle Seelig (5)  def.  Grayson Broadus /  Jean Thirouin (2)  6-2, 6-4

Taylor Fritz / Daniel Gealer (8)  def.  Emil Reinberg /  Brian Tsao (6)  6-3, 2-6, 10-8

 

Girls’ 16 Singles (Semifinals)

Claire Liu, Thousand Oaks, CA   def.  Caroline Dolehide (14), Hinsdale, IL   7-5, 6-0

Ena Shibahara (13), Rancho Palos Verdes, CA   def.  Samantha Martinelli (12), Denver, CO   6-2, 6-1

 

Girls’ 16 Doubles (Semifinals)

Caroline Dolehide / Alexis Nelson (8)  def.  Madison Appel / Rebecca Weissmann (1)  6-1, 6-3

Ena Shibahara / Savannah Slaysman  def.  Paulina Ferrari /  Jada Hart (6)  6-1, 6-2

—S. Pratt

Loeb, Tiafoe Advance @USTA_ISC Spring National Championships

jamie loeb win

Tight Matches Rule the Day At

USTA International Spring Championships

 

CARSON, Calif., (Thursday, April 4, 2013) – It’s safe to say that if you make it to Friday of the USTA International Spring Championships you are considered one of the best junior tennis players in the world.

Sixteen was cut to eight in the boys’ and girls’ 18s division on Thursday as some very close three-set matches highlighted the day of play at the Home Depot Center on Thursday.

In one of the straight-set matches, Jamie Loeb, the No. 5 seeded player from Ossining, N.Y., used her experience to defeat 14-year-old Maria Shishkina, the No. 11 seed from Bradenton, Fla., 6-3, 6-4.

The 18-year-old Loeb is headed to the University of North Carolina on a full-ride tennis scholarship in the fall, but first would like to use her positive results in Carson and possibly next week at the Easter Bowl to qualify for the main draw of the junior French Open, Wimbledon and US Open over the next five months.

“I’m going to try and get into all the remaining junior Grand Slams,” said Loeb, who trains at the John McEnroe Academy on Randall’s Island in New York. “I really haven’t thought much about it, that this is it for my junior career; my last Carson and Easter Bowl. But, you know, it’s time to move on.”

Frances Tiafoe

Frances Tiafoe

Moving on is what 15-year-old Francis Tiafoe, the No. 14 seed from College Park, Md., did taking out No. 3 seeded Mackenzie McDonald of Piedmont, Calif., 7-6 (4), 1-6, 7-6 (3) in two hours and 26 minutes in one of the day’s most competitive matches.

Similarly, Las Vegas qualifier Kimberly Yee pulled out a nearly three-hour marathon, also needing a three-set tiebreak to down Nicole Frenkel of Winchester, Mass., 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (6).

“I couldn’t just keep it in and get it back because I knew she would put away everything if I did,” said Yee, who battled a mid-afternoon wind. “It can get windy in Las Vegas so I’m used to it.”

With his grandmother loyally watching him all week, No. 6-seeded Spencer Papa of Edmond, Okla., beat Tommy Mylnikov, the No. 9 seed from Bradenton, Fla., 7-5, 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals on Friday.

He next meets friend and USTA National Training partner for the past two years Stefan Kozlov, the No. 2 seed.

“It’s always nice to have someone in your family at your matches,” said Papa, whose father’s family is from nearby Orange County. His grandmother Sharon Tisdale Papa resides in Laguna Niguel.

Papa, 17, is a junior in school, but still has no plans for college. “I’ve always wanted to turn pro,” he said. “I have no idea where I’d go if I had to decide tomorrow.”

Loeb later teamed with Maegan Manasse of Redondo Beach to make the semifinals of the doubles with a straight-set win over Usue Arconada and Jessica Cortes, 6-4, 6-3.

Manasse’s singles run ended earlier in the day as she fell to Dallas’ Peggy Porter, 6-1, 6-2.

In the biggest upset of the day in the boys’ 16s, top-seeded William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., fell to No. 7 Catalin Mateas of Braintree, Mass., 6-4, 6-2.

For a complete run down of Thursday’s scores and updated draws, log onto the website at www.usta.com/isc.

Boys’ 18 Singles (Round of 16)

Naoki Nakagawa (4), Japan  def.  AJ Catanzariti, Pittsburgh, PA   1-6, 6-4, 6-2

Francis Tiafoe (14), College Park, MD   def. Mackenzie McDonald (3), Piedmont, CA   7-6(4), 1-6, 7-6(3)

Spencer Papa (6), Edmond, OK   def.  Tommy Mylnikov (9), Bradenton, FL   7-5, 6-4

Stefan Kozlov (2), Pembroke Pines, FL   def.  Alex Rybakov, Coral Springs, FL   6-1, 7-5

Henrik Wiersholm, Kirkland, WA   def.  Ciro Riccardi, Los Angeles, CA   6-0, 6-3

Daniel Kerznerman (10), Brooklyn, NY   def.  Grant Solomon, Dallas, TX   6-1, 6-0

Alexander Zverev (11), Wesley Chapel, FL   def.  Andres Alfonso, Paredes, Venezuela, 6-0, 6-2

Noah Rubin (1), Rockville Centre, NY   def.  JC Aragone, Yorba Linda, CA   2-6, 6-4, 6-4

 

Boys’ 18 Doubles (Quarterfinals)

Luca Corinteli / Martin Redlicki (1)  def.  Justin Butsch /  Lucas Gomez (6)  7-5, 7-6(6)

Spencer Papa / Alexander Zverev (3)  def.  JC Aragone /  Mackenzie. McDonald (5)  6-2, 6-0

Walker Duncan / John Mee  def.  Michael Mmoh /  Francis Tiafoe (4)  2-6, 7-6(4), 10-7

Tommy Mylnikov / naoki nakagawa (2)  def.  Jordi Arconada / Tommy Paul  6-4, 7-5

Girls’ 18 Singles (Round of 16)

Jamie Loeb (5), Ossining, NY   def.  Maria Shishkina (11), Bradenton, FL   6-3, 6-4

Victoria Rodriguez (2), Weston, FL   def.  Adeliya Zabirova, Pembroke Pines, FL   7-5, 6-1

Madison Bourguignon (8), Boynton Beach, FL   def.  Ellie Halbauer (12), Daniel Island, SC   6-4, 3-0  Ret.

Peggy Porter, Dallas, TX   def.  Maegan Manasse, Redondo Beach, CA   6-1, 6-2

Kimberly Yee, Las Vegas, NV   def.  Nicole Frenkel, Winchester, MA   6-3, 1-6, 7-6(6)

Mayo Hibi, Irvine, CA   def.  Spencer Liang, Potomac, MD   6-2, 6-4

Alejandra Cisneros Gomez (3), Mexico  def.  Ellyse Hamlin, Fairfield, CT   6-2, 2-6, 6-0

Christina Makarova (1), San Diego, CA   def.  Ines Vias, Germantown, MD   6-0, 6-4

Girls’ 18 Doubles (Quarterfinals)

Brooke Austin / Kimberly Yee  def.  Tornado Ali Black /  Sandra Samir (3)  6-2, 6-1

Mayo Hibi / Denise Starr (7)  def.  Nicole Frenkel / Rianna Valdes (4)  6-3, 3-6, 12-10

Alejandra Cisneros Gomez / Victoria Rodriguez (1)  def.  Mingxiu DU /  Johnnise Renaud  6-3, 2-6, 10-6

Jamie Loeb / Maegan Manasse  def.  Usue Arconada / Jessica Cortes (8)  6-4, 6-3

Boys’ 16 Singles (Round of 8)

Kalman Boyd, Rancho Santa Fe, CA   def.  Robert Levine (5), Bedford, NY   6-1, 6-7(3), 6-3

Kyle Seelig (12), Hatfield, PA   def.  Jean Thirouin (2), Houston, TX   6-3, 4-6, 7-5

Jake Devine (4), Boca Raton, FL   def.  Alexander Lebedev, Island Park, NY   6-3, 6-0

Catalin Mateas (7), Braintree, MA   def.  William Blumberg (1), Greenwich, CT   6-4, 6-2

Boys’ 16 Doubles (Quartefinals)

Chase Colton / Kyle Seelig (5)  def.  Michael Genender /  James Wasserman  6-3, 3-6, 10-7

Taylor Fritz / Daniel Gealer (8)  def.  Hady Habib / Max Pham  6-1, 6-3

Grayson Broadus / Jean Thirouin (2)  def.  Jake Gabay / Alan Sweet (7)  6-3, 6-3

Emil Reinberg / Brian Tsao (6)  def.  Robert Levine / Evan Zhu (4)  7-5, 6-2

 

Girls’ 16 Singles (Quarterfinals)

Caroline Dolehide (14), Hinsdale, IL   def.  Angela Kulikov, Sun Valley, CA   6-1, 3-6, 6-3

Claire Liu, Thousand Oaks, CA   def.  Sydney Van Alphen, Laguna Beach, CA   6-4, 6-1

Ena Shibahara (13), Rancho Palos Verdes, CA   def.  Kylie McKenzie (7), Anthem, AZ   2-6, 6-4, 6-4

Samantha Martinelli (12), Denver, CO   def.  Jada Robinson (2), Reisterstown, MD   6-4, 6-4

Girls’ 16 Doubles (Quarterfinals)

Madison Appel / Rebecca Weissmann (1)  def.  Aliya Alenikov /  Kalani Soli  6-4, 2-6, 10-3

Ena Shibahara / Savannah Slaysman  def.  Abigail Chiu /  Madison Tedford  6-1, 6-1

Caroline Dolehide / Alexis Nelson (8)  def.  Marjorie Antohi / Rylie Cox  6-0, 6-0

Paulina Ferrari / Jada Hart (6)  def.  Alexa Corcoleotes /  Vanessa Nommensen (2)  6-2, 6-4

—S. Pratt