2015/03/31

Dennis Novikov Serves Way to Sixth Pro Circuit Title At USTA Men’s Pro Championships of Calabasas

Novikov Serving

(March 29, 2015) CALABASAS, Calif.– It was all about the serve Sunday in the final of the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas.

 

Former UCLA star and No. 2-seeded Dennis Novikov did it just it just a little bit better on Sunday to beat unseeded Francis Tiafoe, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), to capture his sixth USTA Pro Circuit Futures championship at the USTA $15,000 Pro Circuit Futures event played at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center.

 

Novikov’s serve was never broken and he rocketed 13 aces, double faulted just once and only faced a break point against him once the entire match. Tiafoe also served strong with nine aces, two doubles faults, and never lost his serve while saving two break points.

 

“It was a little bit warm out here so the conditions really suit serving,” said Novikov, who will break into the ATP World Top 200 when the rankings are releases on Monday. “It was just a battle of serves today. Like Sampras against whoever …. (Ivo) Karlovic or (Mark) Philippoussis.”

 

Novikov will get his name placed on a banner just like former champs Karlovic and Philippoussis, and has a goal to be in the top 100 by the end of the year.

 

Novikov led 5-4 in the first-set tiebreaker but was able to get two mini-break points against Tiafoe’s serve to close out the set, 7-4. The second set was much of the same story with Tiafoe unable to get close to breaking Novikov, but serving well enough to extend to another tiebreaker.

 

“That was tough,” said the 17-year-old Tiafoe, who has not turned pro yet. “I stayed cool and kept holding and I was serving great. I was returning OK but wasn’t able to get the break.”

 

Novikov made $2,160 prize money and gained 27 valuable ATP World ranking points while Tiafoe earned $1,272 for the week and 12 ranking points. “So far it’s been a good year for me,” Tiafoe said. “I took the fall off and in January I played better than I thought I would.”

 

Added Novikov: “I like warmer conditions and played well at Indian Wells qualifying there a few weeks ago.”

 

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.

 

To keep up with all the USTA Pro Circuit news and scores, don’t forget to download the Pro Circuit App. Search procircuit in the iTunes App Store or on Google Play.

 

Sunday’s Final Singles Scores

Dennis Novikov, U.S., (2) def. Francis Tiafoe, U.S., 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6)

 

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

 

By Steve Pratt

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Francis Tiafoe to Face Dennis Novikov in USTA Men’s Pro Championships of Calabasas Final on Sunday

 

(March 28, 2015) CALABASAS, Calif. – 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

By Steve Pratt

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Francis Tiafoe Continues Win Streak with Straight-Set Win At USTA Men’s Pro Championships of Calabasas

Francis Tiafoe-001

(March 27, 2015) CALABASAS, Calif., – 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 starting at 3 p.m., it will be an all UCLA affair as No. 2-seeded Dennis Novikov will play either qualifier and current UCLA sophomore Mackenzie McDonald or former Bruin and wild card Clay Thompson, who played in the late match Friday.

 

Earlier on Friday, Novikov downed Ecuador’s Giovanni Lapentti, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

 

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.

 

EVENTS: USTA Junior Team Tennis Kid’s Day with a Tennis Carnival is Saturday, March 28, from 1:30 p.m. till 3 p.m.

 

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), late

 

Friday’s Semifinal Doubles

Jason Jung, U.S. / Raymond Sarmiento, U.S., vs. Fabian Matthew, U.S. / Jeremy Hunter Nicholas, U.S., late

By Steve Pratt

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March Madness For Three UCLA Bruins Who Move On At USTA Men’s Pro Championships of Calabasas

Mitchell Krueger

Mitchell Krueger

(March 26, 2015) CALABASAS, Calif., – A day after former UCLA Bruin and defending NCAA and Calabasas champion Marcos Giron was forced to retire from the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas without ever hitting a ball, three current or former Bruins advanced to the Elite Eight of the USTA Pro Circuit $15,000 Futures tournament.

 

Current Bruin and qualifier Mackenzie McDonald, and former UCLA players wild card Clay Thompson and No. 2-seeded Dennis Novikov all posted wins Thursday at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center.

 

Thompson’s 6-3, 6-3, win over 17-year-old Stefan Kozlov was the most impressive, while McDonald needed three sets to down fellow qualifier Mico Santiago, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, and Novikov got past American Fritz Wolmarans, 7-5, 6-2.

 

It all happened a day before the storied UCLA men’s basketball team is to play Gonzaga in a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA basketball tournament on Friday.

 

It was March Madness, indeed, on Thursday as 17-year-old Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., resident and tournament wild card Taylor Fritz upset top-seeded Fabiano De Paula of Brazil, 6-2, 6-0.

 

Also moving into the quarterfinals was Torrance’s Jason Jung, a former University of Michigan All American. He beat former Big-10 rival Marek Michalicka of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Michalicka played his college tennis at the University of Wisconsin. Keeping with the March Madness theme, the top-seeded Badgers basketball team beat North Carolina later in day to move into their own version of the Elite Eight.

 

“It’s nice to be home and not traveling,” Jung said. “The wind early on wasn’t too big a factor and it was really ideal conditions. We are the same class in college and played a bunch of times in college.”

 

Mitchell Krueger, the No. 8 seed, was the seventh American of the final eight to reach the quarterfinals as he beat West Covina’s Ernesto Escobedo, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-3. Krueger won a $15,000 ITF Pro Circuit event to start the year at USC. “I was able to play in the first round of qualies at Indian Wells and ended up losing 6-7 in the third in the first round,” Krueger said. “I love playing here. I played the double of Carson and Easter Bowl in April ever since I was a kid, so it’s great to be out here and feels pretty familiar to me.”

 

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.

Thursday’s Second-Round Singles Scores

Taylor Fritz, U.S., (wc) def. Fabiano De Paula, Brazil (1), 6-2, 6-0

Jason Jung, U.S., (6) def. Marek Michalicka, Czech Republic, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Mackenzie McDonald, U.S. (q) def. Mico Santiago, U.S., (q) 3-6, 6-3, 6-1

Giovanni Lapentti, Eucador, def. Sekou Bangoura, U.S., (q) 6-2, 6-4

Mitchell Krueger, U.S., (8) def. Ernesto Escobedo, U.S., 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-3

Francis Tiafoe, U.S., def. Alexander Ward, Great Britain, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3

Clay Thompson, U.S., (wc) def. Stefan Kozlov, U.S., 6-3, 6-3

Dennis Novikov, U.S., (2) def. Fritz Wolmarans, U.S., 7-5, 6-2

 

Thursday’s Quarterfinal Doubles Scores

Jason Jung, U.S. / Raymond Sarmiento, U.S., def. Deiton Baughman, U.S. / Walker Duncan, U.S., 6-4, 6-2

Pedro Bernardi, Brazil, / Luis Fernando Ramirez, Venezuela, def. Fabino De Paula, Brazil / Pedro Sakamoto, Brazil, walkover

Fabian Matthew, U.S. / Jeremy Hunter Nicholas, U.S., def. Damon Gooch, South Africa / Lucas Renard, Sweden, 6-1, 6-4

Adrian Forberg Skogeng, Norway / Wil Spencer, U.S., def. Giovanni Lapentti, Ecuador / Dennis Novikov, U.S. (3) def. walkover

By Steve Pratt

 

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Qualifiers McDonald and Bangoura Upset Seeded Players On Day 2 at USTA Men’s Pro Championships of Calabasas

USTA pro circuit logo

(March 25, 2015) CALABASAS, Calif., – Five unseeded Americans took vastly different routes into the second round of the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas on Wednesday during first round play at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center.

 

Mico Santiago, Francis Tiafoe, Ernesto Escobedo, Mackenzie McDonald and Sekou Bangoura each posted victories on a gorgeous sunny day at the USTA Pro Circuit $15,000 Futures tournament.

 

The qualifier Santiago had the easiest time with his opponent, former USC star Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, posting a 6-3, 6-0 victory. “He seemed tired and I was feeling good and just seemed to take advantage of it,” said Santiago, a 21-year-old from Corvallis, Ore., who trained as a teenager at the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island, S.C. “After losing last week early (to Walker Duncan in Bakersfield), I just got re-committed and stayed focused.”

 

Tiafoe was playing his first match since winning the Bakersfield ITF title, his first as a professional, last Sunday. He beat No. 4-seeded Darian King of Barbados in a match that had an unusual finish. After dropping the first set, 6-7 (5), Tiafoe battled back to win the second set 7-5 and was leading 2-0 when King became agitated by what he thought were continuous bad calls by the chair umpire, and simply walked off the court and quitting the match.

 

“He just kind of lost it and sadly had to quit, because he couldn’t handle it,” Tiafoe said. “”That’s never happened to me. I don’t really know what to say.”

 

In a battle of big-serving 18-year-old Southern Californians, West Covina’s Ernesto Escobedo got past a hard-charging Deiton Baughman of Carson, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, to advance to the second round where he will meet No. 8-seeded Mitchell Krueger on Thursday.

 

Qualifiers Mackenzie McDonald, a UCLA sophomore, and former University of Florida star Sekou Bangoura both posted victories against seeded players with Bangoura taking out former collegiate rival and No. 5-seeded Daniel Nguyen in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

 

“We’ve played in college and at the Irvine Futures,” Bangoura said of Nguyen, who led the USC Trojans to four NCAA team titles, two of which ended with Nguyen clinching the final match, prompting Bangoura to call him the “clutchest player in college tennis history.”

 

Defending champion Marcos Giron, the 2014 NCAA singles champion from UCLA, appeared on the grounds of the tournament but was forced to withdraw because of injury.

 

EVENTS: A USPTA Coaches workshop with one or two of the Pro Circuit players and their coach will take place on Thursday, March 26 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Adult Pro-Am drill is Friday, March 27, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Community Tennis Association & USTA League appreciation night is Friday, March 27, starting at 6 p.m. A VIP sponsor dinner reception is also on Friday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. A USTA Junior Team Tennis Kid’s Day with a Tennis Carnival is Saturday, March 28, from 1:30 p.m. till 3 p.m.

 

Wednesday’s First-Round Singles Scores

Fabiano De Paula, Brazil (1), def. Damon Gooch, South Africa, 7-5, 2-6, 7-5

Jason Jung, U.S., (6) def. Maxime Tabatruong, France, 6-3, 6-2

Mackenzie McDonald, U.S. (q), def. Connor Smith, U.S., (7) 6-2, 7-5

Sekou Bangoura, U.S., (q) def. Daniel Nguyen, U.S., (5) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2

Marek Michalicka, Czech Republic, def. Raymond Sarmiento, U.S., (q) 6-4, 6-4

Mitchell Krueger, U.S., (8) def. Nicolas Meister, U.S., 6-4, 6-2

Francis Tiafoe, U.S., def. Darian King, Barbados, (4), 6-7 (5), 7-5, 2-0, ret.

Ernesto Escobedo, U.S., def. Deiton Baughman, U.S., (q) 6-2, 5-7, 6-2

Fritz Wolmarans, U.S., def. Boris Bakalov, Bulgaria, (q) 7-5, 6-3

Mico Santiago, U.S., def. Emilio Gomez, Ecuador, 6-3, 6-0

Giovanni Lapentti, Eucador, def. Michael Shabaz, U.S., (q) 6-4, 6-4

Alexander Ward, Great Britain, def. Walker Duncan, U.S., (ll) 5-7, 6-2, 6-3

 

Wednesday’s First-Round Doubles Score

Jason Jung, U.S. / Raymond Sarmiento, U.S., def. Keanu Ellen, U.S. / Jan-Michael Gambill, U.S., (wc) 6-2, 7-6 (6).

By Steve Pratt

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USTA Announces Sixth Annual US Open National Playoffs

From the USTA: US OPEN NATIONAL PLAYOFFS RETURN FOR SIXTH SEASON, ADDING MEN’S AND WOMEN’S DOUBLES DRAWS

 

PLAYOFFS OFFER EVERYONE AGE 14 AND OLDER

THE OPPORTUNITY TO EARN A BERTH INTO 2015 US OPEN

IN SINGLES, DOUBLES AND MIXED DOUBLES

 

ENTRIES OPEN MARCH 15 FOR ALL 14 SECTIONAL QUALIFYING TOURNAMENTS

 

US OPEN NATIONAL PLAYOFFS CHAMPIONSHIPS RETURN TO NEW HAVEN, CONN.

 

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., March 4, 2015 – The USTA today announced that the US Open National Playoffs will be held for the sixth season this year, expanding the footprint of the US Open to cities nationwide by providing the opportunity for all players 14 years of age and older to earn a berth into the US Open. New this year, the US Open National Playoffs will include a men’s and women’s doubles competition. Also, players can continue to compete in both men’s and women’s singles, as well as mixed doubles.

 

The US Open National Playoffs men’s and women’s singles champions earn a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held the week prior to the US Open. The US Open National Playoffs men’s, women’s and mixed doubles champions receive a wild card into the main draw of the 2015 US Open.

 

“The US Open National Playoffs are all about connecting people to the US Open,” said Katrina Adams, USTA Chairman of the Board, CEO and President. “This year, by adding men’s and women’s doubles, the National Playoffs are giving competitors the opportunity to earn their way into the US Open in every possible way. We look forward to another year of great tennis and watching top juniors, collegians, aspiring pros, and weekend warriors compete for the chance to play on tennis’ grandest stage.”

 

Registration for the 2015 sectional qualifying tournaments opens on Sunday, March 15, at www.USOpen.org/NationalPlayoffs. The entry fee for each of the sectional qualifying tournaments varies, with men’s and women’s singles entries ranging from $75-$100 per player and men’s, women’s and mixed doubles entries ranging from $45-$60 per player. All players competing must have a current USTA membership valid through Aug. 31, 2015.

 

The US Open National Playoffs begin as a series of 14 sectional qualifying tournaments held in different USTA sections across the country (see complete schedule on page 2). The 14 champions or top available finishers in each division from each sectional qualifying tournament advance to the following US Open National Playoffs Championship events that will take place in conjunction with the Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies, an Emirates Airline US Open Series event, in New Haven, Conn.:

  • Men’s and Women’s Singles Championship, Aug. 21-24
  • Men’s and Women’s Doubles Championship, Aug. 25-28
  • Mixed Doubles Championship, Aug. 26-29

Players may compete at different sectional qualifying tournaments in each division (one for men’s or women’s singles, one for mixed doubles and/or one for men’s or women’s doubles). However, a player may only compete in one sectional qualifying tournament per division during a calendar year. Participants can be of any playing level, giving everyone an opportunity to advance.

 

More than 1,200 players competed in the 2014 US Open National Playoffs, which marked the largest year-over-year increase in entries in the program’s five-year history. Players ranged from experienced professionals who were once ranked in the Top 50, to junior players and current/ former college standouts, to recreational players of all playing abilities and walks of life. Participants included those competing for charity, businesspeople, musicians, lawyers, reporters, former athletes, and stay-at-home mothers.

 

Notable past participants include Olympic skier Bode Miller; musician Redfoo of the music group LMFAO; ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, who teamed with six-time US Open champion Chris Evert in mixed doubles; and LuAnn De Lesseps and Jill Zarin of “The Real Housewives of New York City.”

 

The US Open Qualifying Tournament will be held Aug. 25-28, the US Open men’s and women’s doubles championships begin Sept. 1 and the US Open mixed doubles championship begins Sept. 2 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The 2015 US Open is scheduled to take place from Aug. 31, to Sept. 13.

 

US Open National Playoffs information is available at www.USOpen.org/NationalPlayoffs.

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USTA President Katrina Adams to be honored The Network Journal’s 17th Annual 25 Influential Black Women Awards in

Jan. 18, 2013; Kiawah Island, SC; Katrina Adams

From the USTA -WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Feb. 11, 2015 – The USTA today announced that Chairman of the Board, CEO and President Katrina Adams has been named to the 2015 list of “25 Influential Black Women in Business” by The Network Journal (TNJ). Adams will be honored at the 17th Annual 25 Influential Black Women in Business Awards Luncheon, presented by Morgan Stanley on March 26 at the New York Marriott Marquis.

 

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized by The Network Journal as one of this year’s 25 Influential Black Women in Business,” said Adams. “I look forward to being among so many successful and inspiring black women who are leading the way in areas that impact our world in such a positive and meaningful way. And I thank The Network Journal for leading this charge in shedding light on all of our accomplishments.”

 

Adams was appointed the Chairman of the Board, CEO and President of the USTA in January 2015. She is the first African-American, first former professional tennis player and youngest person to serve as the association’s chairman of the board, CEO and president.

 

At the awards presentation, Adams will be joined by honorees from a variety of business backgrounds including finance, television, corporate relations, colleges and universities, and Diversity and Inclusion, to name a few. Those honored will be featured in the Spring 2015 issue of the magazine.

 

This year’s program includes a networking reception, lunch and awards presentation with Mistress of Ceremonies Brenda Blackmon, an Emmy Award-winning journalist. This is a signature TNJ event, attracting a veritable “Who’s Who” of business executives and decision makers.

 

“For 17 consecutive years The Network Journal has recognized the outstanding professionalism of 25 African-American women annually, and for 17 years I have been amazed by the heights these women continue to achieve,” said TNJ Publisher and CEO Aziz Gueye Adetimirin.

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Former World No 4 James Blake to become Chairman of the USTA Foundation Board of Directors

James Blake (L) and Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio (R)

James Blake (L) and Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio (R)

From the USTA: (February. 09, 2015)WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The USTA Foundation, the national charitable organization of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), announced that it has appointed former world No. 4 James Blake as chairman of the Foundation’s board of directors. In his new role, Blake will serve as the Foundation’s spokesperson and ambassador to promote the mission and impact of its national outreach efforts.

 

Blake will help promote the Foundation’s mission of providing tennis and education opportunities to under-resourced youth and individuals with disabilities. He succeeds former pro and longtime tennis journalist and advocate Mary Carillo, who served as chairwoman from 2009 to 2014.

 

“I’m honored to have been selected as the chairman of the USTA Foundation board of directors. I admire the Foundation’s pursuit to support the combination of tennis and education and the impact it has on so many youth around the country,” said Blake. “I grew up playing tennis at a young age and participated in a National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) program. It was there that I learned the value and influence tennis can add to my life while being encouraged to stay academically focused. It’s through the support of the USTA Foundation where students today are given the same opportunities. And I’m proud to be a part of this outstanding mission to serving up dreams.”

 

Blake’s professional career spanned 14 years, in which he won 10 ATP singles titles, seven doubles titles and a Davis Cup Championship. He also reached the semifinals of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and climbed to a career-best No. 4 in the world, ranking as the top American during that time. Blake joined the U.S. Davis Cup team in 2001 – becoming the third African-American to play Davis Cup for the U.S., following in the footsteps of Arthur Ashe and MaliVai Washington. He teamed with Andy Roddick, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan to capture a record-extending 32nd Davis Cup championship title for the U.S. in 2007.

 

Blake attended Harvard University, where he became the No.1 player in the nation and acquired numerous accolades including ITA All-American, first team All Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association (EITA) honors and EITA/Ivy Rookie of the Year, to name a few. Blake turned pro in 1999, following his sophomore year with the Crimson. Blake began playing tennis at the age of 5, where he attended the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program (HJTEP), an NJTL program in New York City supported by the USTA Foundation. It was there where he heard Arthur Ashe speak to a group of kids that inspired him to pursue the sport of tennis.

 

In 2007, Blake co-wrote a New York Times best-selling autobiography, “Breaking Back.” The following year he was honored with the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year Award. Blake officially retired from professional tennis at the 2013 US Open.

 

“The board of directors of the USTA Foundation proudly welcomes James as our new chairman and ambassador for our important mission of  serving under-resourced youth and those in need through tennis and education,” said Thomas Chen, president of the USTA Foundation board of directors. “We have admired his success and reputation as a professional tennis player and are pleased that he shares our core beliefs in giving back through the sport of tennis.  We are honored to have him join the Foundation and know he will continue the great work and leadership we enjoyed by our outgoing chairwoman, Mary Carillo.”

 

A Yonkers, N.Y., native, Blake created the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Cancer Research Fund at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 2004. He runs an annual celebrity tennis and entertainment event, Serving for a Cure, to raise funds for cancer research and prevention.  He lives in Connecticut with his wife Emily and daughters Riley and Emma.

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Qualifier Takanyi Garanganga wins USTA Pro Circuit Long Beach Pro Futures

Takanyi Garanganga photo by Chris Ganz

Takanyi Garanganga photo by Chris Ganz

By Steve Pratt

LONG BEACH, Calif., (Jan. 18, 2015) – For three straight days Takanyi Garanganga dropped the first set at the USTA Pro Circuit Long Beach Futures Pro Tournament, and teetered on the brink of elimination. And each time he came back to pull out improbable victories, including Sunday’s final match of the $15,000 tournament played at the El Dorado Park Tennis Center.

 

The 24-year-old Garanganga, of Harare, Zimbabwe, rallied once again to defeat No. 6-seeded Frederik Nielsen of Denmark, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4, in the final to capture the $2,160 first-place check and 27 valuable ATP ranking points.

 

Ranked No. 382 in the world, Garanganga did it the hard way all week. Having traveled from Amsterdam where he was training, he missed the entry deadline and showed up last week to sign into qualifying needing a wild card. Garanganga sat through two days of rain delays last Saturday and Sunday where not one ball was hit and then played and won every match he played for seven consecutive days, including two in qualifying and five in the main draw.

 

“I missed the deadline but I had to come here anyway on my way to Maui (for next week’s USTA Pro Circuit Challenger),” Garanganga said. “It was actually good for me to get the matches at the start of the year. I wasn’t playing very good at the beginning so it was good for me.”

 

The final was a match of momentum shifts and the large crowd on hand enjoyed the high-level tennis. Nielsen opened strong with an early break and led 4-1 in the first when midway through the sixth game Garanganga reached wide for a forehand and seemed to roll his right ankle.

 

He took a medical timeout and had his ankle wrapped, proceeded to break Nielsen’s serve and quickly got it to 4-4. In the first-set tiebreaker, Nielsen fell down 5-2 and on the eighth point following a missed forehand wide, Nielsen launched a ball halfway to downtown L.A. and was given a ball abuse warning.

 

But that seemed to lift his level of play as Nielsen then hit two big serves to pull it to 5-4. Garanganga missed a critical overhead long to make it 6-5 Nielsen, who then served out the set, which finally ended after an hour and 15 minutes.

 

Garanganga said he didn’t think back to the quarterfinals and semis where he also dropped the first set before coming back. “I just keep playing,” he said. “I just kept waiting for my chances. I was just playing in the moment and wasn’t thinking about past.”

 

He added: “I’m tired. I’m tired and my body is feeling it. But I will take a day off and then fly to Maui probably on Wednesday.”

 

Final Singles Results:

q: qualifier

Takanyi Garanganga (q), Zimbabwe def. Frederik Nielsen (6), Denmark, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4

 

Final Doubles Result:

Nick Meister, U.S. / Eric Quigley (3), U.S., def. Dimitar Kutrovsky, Bulgaria / Dennis Novikov (4), U.S., 6-3, 6-2

 

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Wimbledon Doubles Champ Frederik Nielsen Reaches Final of USTA Pro Circuit $15,000 Long Beach Futures Tournament

By Steve Pratt

LONG BEACH, Calif., (Jan. 17, 2015) – Steadiness and experience have gone along way for Frederik Nielsen this week at the USTA Pro Circuit $15,000 Long Beach Futures Tournament taking place at the El Dorado Park Tennis Center.

 

The 31-year-old 2012 Wimbledon doubles champion and No. 6-seeded singles player this week, Nielsen of Denmark held off 2014 NCAA singles runner-up Alex Sarkissian from Glendale, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, to advance to Sunday’s final.

 

Nielsen, who avenged a 2013 loss to Sarkissian at the Aptos Challenger in their only career meeting, will play qualifier Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe in the 11 a.m. final.

 

Garanganga battled to the very end against hometown favorite Jason Jung of Torrance, pulling out the close 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory over the No. 3 seeded former University of Michigan star.

 

The average age of the four players Nielsen beat this week was an average age of 19.5, including Martin Redlicki (19), Mackenzie McDonald (19), Stefan Kozlov (16) and Sarkissian (24).

 

Sarkissian held a 4-2 lead with Nielsen serving in the second set, and had two break points to go ahead 5-2 and serve out the match. But Nielsen stayed steady and held on to win the game and eventually the set.

 

“At the start of the match I felt like he was a step ahead of me and he was playing better than me and faster than me,” Nielsen said. “I started slicing and slowing the pace down.”

 

He added: “Physically I feel amazing, and mentally I feel tough. All and all I’m very happy with where I’m at.”

 

Nielsen has made some time for some sight-seeing this week and has been enjoying the picture-perfect 72-degree sunny weather this week. On Friday, he saw the sunset and views of the Pacific from the Griffith Observatory, and on Saturday evening he was headed to the Santa Monica Pier for dinner.

 

He surprised many with his 6-0 win in a third set against Kozlov in the quarterfinals on Friday. “I think it’s very tough to evaluate him now because of his age,” Nielsen said of Kozlov. “He’s only 16 years old and it’s outrageous his composure and how impressive he handles everything. I do feel he let me play a little too much on my terms and that he may have some physical limitations over the next couple of years. But he’s very mature and he’s a great fighter. I’m just glad I was able to beat him now.”

 

USTA League Captain’s Appreciation Day is Sunday, Jan. 18, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The tournament is free and open to the public.

 

Saturday’s Semifinal Singles Results:

q: qualifier

Frederik Nielsen (6), Denmark, def. Alex Sarkissian, U.S., 3-6, 6-4, 6-3

Takanyi Garanganga (q), Zimbabwe, def. Jason Jung (3), U.S., 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4

 

Friday’s Final Doubles Result:

Nick Meister, U.S. / Eric Quigley (3), U.S., def. Dimitar Kutrovsky, Bulgaria / Dennis Novikov (4), U.S., 6-3, 6-2

 

Sunday’s Final Singles Schedule

Starting at 11 a.m. PT

Frederik Nielsen (6), Denmark, vs. Takanyi Garanganga (q), Zimbabwe

 

SINGLES:                  Prize Money                Points

Winner                         $2,160                         27

Runner-up                   $1,272                         15

Semifinalist                 $753                            8

Quarterfinalist             $438                            3

Round of 16                $258                            1

Round of 32                $156                            —

 

DOUBLES:                Prize Money (per team)

Winner                         $930

Runner-up                   $540

Semifinalist                 $324

Quarterfinalist             $192

Round of 16                $108

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