June 26, 2017

USTA Pro Circuit Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge Standings


USTA Pro Circuit Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge Standings

(as of April 25)

(April 25, 2016) From the USTA: Bjorn Fratangelo took a commanding lead in the USTA Pro Circuit Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge Standings at the end of Week 2 by winning the $50,000 St. Joseph’s/Candler Savannah Challenger in Savannah, Ga., putting him in a strong position to earn a main-draw wild card into the 2016 French Open. Fratangelo claimed 80 points from Savannah and 35 points by reaching the semifinals of the $100,000 Joey Gratton Sarasota Open in Sarasota, Fla., two weeks ago, totaling 115 points.

The men’s Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge concludes this week with the $50,000 USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger in Tallahassee, Fla. Jared Donaldson, who is in second place after reaching the final in Savannah, is the only player who can overtake Fratangelo and must win the title in Tallahassee to earn the wild card (a title in Tallahassee is worth 80 points). 

The women’s wild card challenge kicked off last week with the $50,000 Hardee’s Pro Classic in Dothan, Ala. Taylor Townsend reached the final in Dothan, earning 48 points and taking the early lead. Jessica Pegula, who reached the quarterfinals, is in second place. The second week of the women’s wild card challenge will take place at the $50,000 Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic in Charlottesville, Va., this week.

Tallahassee and Charlottesville will be streamed live on www.procircuit.usta.com. Action can also be followed on the USTA Pro Circuit app by searching “procircuit” in the app store.

USTA Player Development will award a French Open main-draw wild card to one American man and one American woman who earn the most ATP World Tour and WTA Tour ranking points in a series of USTA Pro Circuit clay-court events this spring.

Ranking points from two out of the three men’s and women’s events will be used and combined to calculate the point total and determine the French Open wild card recipient. If a player competes in more than two events, only his or her two best tournaments will be counted in calculating the point total. In the event of a tie, the player with the best ATP or WTA singles ranking in the published rankings of Monday, May 2 (men), and Monday, May 9 (women), will be awarded the wild card. Only players who have not earned direct acceptance into Roland Garros are eligible for the wild card.

The standings, as of April 25, are as follows:

The USTA first used the wild card challenge format for its 2012 French Open wild cards, won by Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker. Oudin and Baker each advanced to the second round at that year’s French Open and subsequently broke into the Top 100. In 2013, Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers earned the wild cards, with Rogers winning her first-ever Grand Slam singles match at the French Open. In 2014, young American Taylor Townsend and veteran Robby Ginepri received the wild cards, with Townsend becoming a top storyline by reaching the Roland Garros third round. Last year, young Americans Frances Tiafoe and Louisa Chirico secured the wild cards.


Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation To Run Vero Beach Fla., USTA Pro Circuit Event

MF foundation

(February 22, 2016) VERO BEACH, Fla., – The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation today announced it has taken over the management of the $10,000 “Futures” tennis tournament – one of the longest-running and best attended events on the U.S. Tennis Association Pro Circuit. The tournament – to be called The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships – will now benefit the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the non-profit tennis foundation benefiting children, named for Vero Beach native son Mardy Fish, a former top 10 tennis star, U.S. Davis Cup hero and silver medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games.

The event was managed for 20 years by Vero Beach tennis teaching professional Mike Rahaley, who made the annual Vero Beach stop one of the crown jewels on the USTA Pro Circuit. The 2016 tournament will be held April 22 through May 1 at The Boulevard tennis club.

“This announcement is all about the future of Vero Beach – to continue this important event and keep it in this community that is so passionate about tennis and to use the tournament to help raise funds for the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation which serves as an investment in the future of our community through the kids,” said Tom Fish, Chairman of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation. “We salute Mike Rahaley for the amazing job he has done with this event that last 20 years and we look forward to continuing his legacy for years to come as the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships.”

Founded in 2007, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation (www.mffkids.org and @MardyFishFound on Twitter) currently supports over 2,100 children in 15 elementary schools and six middle schools in Indian River County, Florida by providing after-school exercise, nutritional and enrichment programs in a safe environment to prepare them for healthy, productive and successful lives. The Foundation introduced the “Six Healthy Habits” in 2012 which are Get Sleep; Drink Water; Exercise Daily, Eat Healthy; Brush and Floss; Make Friends.” Mardy Fish recently completed his ATP professional tennis career at the 2015 U.S. Open, highlighted by a career-high ranking of No. 7, six ATP singles titles, eight ATP doubles titles and an Olympic silver medal in singles at the 2004 Olympics. He reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and was a mainstay on the U.S. Davis Cup team from 2002 to 2012.

“We are so appreciative to the USTA and Mike Rahaley for allowing the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation to take over this tournament and keeping it in Vero Beach,” said Mardy Fish. “Vero Beach is one of the most enthusiastic and sophisticated tennis communities in the country and we are looking forward to seeing this event continue to grow in the years to come. Most importantly, we are excited that the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation can use this event as a promotional and fundraising platform to benefit children in Vero Beach, Indian River County and beyond.”

The annual USTA Vero Beach Futures has an economic impact of approximately $500,000 per year on the Vero Beach local economy. Approximately 3,000 fans annually attend the event, which is seen as one of the best-attended events in the world on the “Futures” level of professional tennis tournaments.

Some of the past competitors in Vero Beach have gone on to succeed at the highest levels of professional tennis, winning major singles and doubles titles, Olympic medals and Davis Cup championships and earning No. 1 world rankings. Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion who attained the world No. 1 ranking and helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 2007 competed in Vero Beach in 1999. Thomas Johansson of Sweden, who reached the second round of the Vero Beach Futures in 1995, won the Australian Open seven years later in 2002. Nicolas Massu, the 1998 singles runner-up in Vero Beach, won the singles and doubles gold medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, beating Fish in the gold medal singles match. Kyle Edmund, the 2013 champion in Vero Beach, helped Great Britain to the Davis Cup title in 2015. Other notable former competitors in Vero Beach include former world No. 2 Magnus Norman, former world No. 4 Tim Henman, 2016 Australian Open semifinalist Milos Raonic among others. Former Vero Beach competitors have combined to win 19 titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at Grand Slam tournaments. Six former Vero Beach players have gone on to play Davis Cup for the United States – Roddick, Fish, Taylor Dent, Jared Palmer, Donald Young and Ryan Harrison.

Tickets for the qualifying rounds of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships from April 22 – April 25 will cost $10, while tickets for the main draw of singles and doubles from April 26 – May 1 will be $20. Season tickets that include both the qualifying and main draw events cost $100. Advance tickets can be purchased at www.VeroBeachTennisTickets.com. Admission for children 18 and under is free. Fans can follow news and developments on the tournament on Facebook and on Twitter at @VeroFutures.


Yannick Hanfmann Beats Michael Mmoh to win Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament

Yannick Hanfmann photo by Chris Ganz

Yannick Hanfmann photo by Chris Ganz

By Steve Pratt

(January 17, 2016) LONG BEACH, Calif. – A Trojan came up big in what he called his adopted hometown tournament as unseeded and former USC All-American Yannick Hanfmann of Germany beat 18-year-old rising American Michael Mmoh, 6-4, 6-0, in just 56 minutes to win the Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament final played Sunday at the El Dorado Park Tennis Center.


Many of the Long Beach fans who had watched the Bradenton, Fla., resident Mmoh all week were left shaking their heads in disbelief at the final-set score as Mmoh came up flat and couldn’t find any answers for Hanfmann’s big game.


“I was a little caught off at the start because I thought he would come out a little bit more aggressive and I got broken the first game,” said Hanfmann, who won $3,600 and 27 ATP ranking points. “It was a little bit weird. But once I settled in I thought I was able to play a little bit better than he did. I mean to win 4 and 0, you really don’t see that that often in the final.”


Mmoh hit four double faults to just one ace and looked lost as Hanfmann got stronger throughout the match.


“I felt like I wasn’t comfortable on the aggressive part of my game,” said Mmoh, who won $2,120 and 15 ATP points. “Yesterday I was aggressive and today’s I couldn’t hurt him. It was a good week here and I competed my way to the final, without even playing my best tennis.”


Hanfmann thinks Mmoh has the potential to make it big, if he can stay focused and aggressive. “I think he’s got a lot of weapons and I just told him I thought he played a little bit too passive today,” Hanfmann said. “Maybe he was a little bit nervous, but I think once he steps up and starts hitting that big forehand and good backhand and starts using his weapons, I think he can be really dangerous.”


Mmoh will be one of the young teenage Americans to watch as 2016 gets rolling in the world of tennis. Fellow 18-year-old Tommy Paul won a Futures tournament in Florida on Sunday, and another 18-year-old Taylor Fritz qualified for the main draw of the Australian Open over the weekend.


“Two years ago (Taylor) wasn’t that good a player, so it just goes to show you anything can happen through hard work,” Mmoh said of Fritz.


Hanfmann, who like Mmoh will travel next to Maui to play in the $50,000 USTA Challenger week after next, said he couldn’t ask for a better way to start 2016. “It means everything to start the year off winning a tournament,” he said. “I hope I can keep it going.”


Sunday’s Singles Final

Yannick Hanfmann, Germany, def. Michael Mmoh, U.S., 6-4, 6-0


Friday’s Doubles Final

David O’Hare, Ireland / Joe Salisbury, Great Britain (1), def. Evan King, U.S. / Raymond Sarmiento, U.S. (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4)


For more information including final draws, check out procircuit.usta.com.


Prize Money/Points

$25,000 Men SINGLES:

Prize Money    Points

Winner             $3,600             27

Runner-up       $2,120             15

Semifinalist     $1,255             8

Quarterfinalist $730                3

Round of 16    $430                1

Round of 32    $260                —


DOUBLES: Prize Money (per team)

Winner             $1,550

Runner-up       $900

Semifinalist     $540

Quarterfinalist $320

Round of 16    $180


Yannick Hanfmann to Meet Michael Mmoh in Final of the Long Beach Pro Futures

USTA Director of Player Development Martin Blackman, Michael Mmoh and his IMG Academy coach Glenn Weiner.  Photo by Steve Pratt

USTA Director of Player Development Martin Blackman, Michael Mmoh and his IMG Academy coach Glenn Weiner. Photo by Steve Pratt

By Steve Pratt

(January 16, 2016) LONG BEACH, Calif. – Two unseeded players will meet in the Long Beach Pro Futures singles final on Sunday as former USC All-American Yannick Hanfmann from Germany and 18-year-old Floridian Michael Mmoh both won straight-set semifinals matches on Saturday at the El Dorado Park Tennis Center.


The 24-year-old Hanfmann, who graduated last May with a degree in International Studies, beat fellow college graduate Eric Quigley, 6-2, 6-2. The No. 3-seeded Quigley, who obtained his Communications degree from the University of Kentucky in 2012, suffered from food poisoning late Friday night, and didn’t feel 100 percent on the court.


“He was out there really suffering,” said Hanfmann, who said a former Trojan teammate let him know Quigley had a rough night. “You want to have a competitive match and it was just tough for him. You have to go in prepared like nothing’s happened and it got into my head a little bit and mentally my level was down a little.”


Hanfmann, who was top-seeded in qualifying last week at USC winning three rounds before falling in the second round of the main draw, gained direct entry into the Long Beach Tournament in part because of withdraws from Tennys Sandgren and Mackenzie McDonald.


“I like it this way better,” said Hanfmann, who has won two Pro Futures titles, both $10,000 events in his native Germany. “Not having to qualify does make things easier for me.”


Quigley will hang out in SoCal next week and train in Carson before heading off to the $50,000 Maui Challenger where he is in qualifying.


“I felt a lot better when I woke up this morning, but I didn’t have anything in me,” Quigley said. “He’s a tough opponent, he’s fast and he makes you hit one extra ball. I thought I had some chances on some return games, but he came through. I hope he goes on to win the title.


Mmoh outlasted No. 8-seeded Daniel Smethurst of Great Britain, 7-5, 6-4, and was watched by USTA Director of Player Development Martin Blackman, who was in Los Angeles on a stopover on his way to the Australian Open. “I thought I started out kind of slow, and had kind of a rough warm-up,” Mmoh said. “I like it here and this tournament has been really nice.”


Mmoh won his first career USTA Pro Circuit singles title at the $15,000 Futures in Brownsville, Texas, in 2014. He added two additional USTA Pro Circuit titles in 2015 at the $15,000 Futures in Godfrey, Ill., and the $15,000 Futures in Houston.


Saturday’s Singles Semifinals

Michael Mmoh, U.S., def. Daniel Smethurst, Great Britain (8), 7-5, 6-4

Yannick Hanfmann, Germany, def. Eric Quigley, U.S. (3), 6-2, 6-2

NOTE: Sunday’s singles final will begin at 10 a.m.


Friday’s Doubles Final

David O’Hare, Ireland / Joe Salisbury, Great Britain (1), def. Evan King, U.S. / Raymond Sarmiento, U.S. (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4)


For more information including draws and schedules, check out procircuit.usta.com.


Prize Money/Points

$25,000 Men SINGLES:

Prize Money    Points

Winner             $3,600             27

Runner-up       $2,120             15

Semifinalist     $1,255             8

Quarterfinalist $730                3

Round of 16    $430                1

Round of 32    $260                —


DOUBLES: Prize Money (per team)

Winner             $1,550

Runner-up       $900

Semifinalist     $540

Quarterfinalist $320

Round of 16    $180


Michael Mmoh Moves Into the Semifinals of the Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament

Michael Mmoh

By Steve Pratt

(January 15, 2016) LONG BEACH, Calif. – IMG Academy tennis coach Glenn Weiner has had no trouble finding his way to El Dorado Park this week to coach his student, 18-year-old rising star Michael Mmoh, into the semifinals of the Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament.


On Friday in the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament, Mmoh came back to beat 19-year-old Carson, Calif., resident Deiton Baughman, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, in the quarterfinals. Mmoh will face No. 8-seeded Daniel Smethurst of Great Britain in the second semifinal on Saturday. In the first semifinal starting at 11 a.m., No. 3-seeded Eric Quigley will face Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann.


Weiner, who turns 40 in April, is a former USTA No. 1 junior and ATP touring pro who moved with his family to Long Beach from Johannesburg, South Africa, when he was 9-years-old. His mother still lives just a mile from the site where the tournament is taking place and Weiner has stayed at her house all week.


Weiner attended Poly High in Long Beach and played high school tennis his freshman year before moving on to the Nick Bollettieri Academy in 1992 at age 15. Because he lived across the street from Long Beach State, Weiner started taking lessons at age 11 from a 23-year-old unknown coach at Long Beach State named Peter Smith.


Smith’s junior academy is run out of the El Dorado Park Tennis Center and Smith is helping run this week’s tournament along with director Cathy Jacobson-Guzy. The way Smith tells it, he had no choice but to started teaching the young prodigy Weiner, who at one point was the No. 1 12-year-old in the USTA national rankings.


“It was literally my first week on the job and I get this call from Glenn’s mother and she says she wants me to work with her son, and she’s not going to pay me,” Smith said. “So I think I’m just going to put her off. But a week later she called back and said I hadn’t called her back. She said, ‘Well, have you come up with an answer? Will you do it?’ And I said yes.”


So Smith started hitting with the 11-year-old Weiner once a week and soon after it turned into every day for two hours a day, although he was by then getting $15 an hour, half his normal rate. “He was really the first kid I ever worked with,” Smith said. “I still think he hits his forehand like me, which I don’t think is a great thing.”


“He was my coach. He was my guy,” Weiner said of the current USC men’s coach Smith. “He really took care of me and developed me.”


After four and a half years together, the two parted ways as Smith took the coaching job at Fresno State, and Weiner decided to accept a scholarship to attend Bollettieri’s.


Weiner turned pro in 1994 and had shoulder injuries that sidelined him early on. He got to as high as No. 119 in the world in 2004 and retired shortly after.


Weiner, who has worked and traveled with Mmoh for the past two years, has also coached pros like Kei Nishikori and Philip Bester and has been an IMG Academy coach for the past nine years.


Smith smiles at the irony of seeing his first junior student now, who played junior tournaments at El Dorado Park close to 30 years ago, enjoying a successful career as a top-level coach.


“Life comes full circle,” Smith said. “He’s a great kid from a great family.”


Weiner said he feels a little guilty coming to work at a place where he feels so comfortable. “Some people have come up to me and said they remember watching me play here,” Weiner said.


In the doubles final Ireland’s David O’Hare and Great Britain’s Joe Salisbury lived up to their top seeding to beat No. 3-seeded Evan King and Raymond Sarmiento, 6-3, 7-6 (4). The winner’s split $1,550 while the runner-ups received $450 each.


Friday’s Singles Quarterfinals

Daniel Smethurst, Great Britain (8), def. Sebastian Fanselow, Germany, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

Michael Mmoh, U.S., def. Deiton Baughman, U.S., 4-6, 6-4, 6-4

Eric Quigley, U.S. (3), def. Evan King, U.S. (7), 6-4, 6-3

Yannick Hanfmann, Germany, def. Ernesto Escobedo, U.S. (6), 6-4, 6-4


Friday’s Doubles Final

David O’Hare, Ireland / Joe Salisbury, Great Britain (1), def. Evan King, U.S. / Raymond Sarmiento, U.S. (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4)


Michael Mmoh Upsets Fourth seed Stefan Kozlov at Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament

By Steve Pratt

LONG BEACH, Calif. (January 13, 2015) – Michael Mmoh remembers the first time he met good friend Stefan Kozlov when the two were both just 11 years old. Mmoh was living in Saudi Arabia where he grew up, and had heard a lot about the youngster from South Florida who at the time was one of the best 12-and-under players in the world.


“I wasn’t very good back then and I came over to train with him for a few days in Florida,” said Mmoh, who upset the No. 4-seeded Kozlov, 7-5, 6-4, in the first round of the Long Beach Pro Futures Tournament, a USTA $25,000 event taking place at the El Dorado Tennis Center on Wednesday. “We’ve practiced a lot together but had never played a match.”


A year after that first meeting, Mmoh and his family moved to the United States to train full-time and settled near the Washington D.C. area.


Mmoh, who turned 18 on Sunday at trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is currently ranked No. 455 in the ATP World Tour rankings and has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the world ITF junior rankings after reaching the singles semifinals at the junior French Open and the quarterfinals at the junior U.S. Open in 2015.


Kozlov, 17, was coming off winning his second professional title last weekend at the USC Futures event. Even with two full days of rest, Mmoh said he could tell Kozlov was tiring at the end of the second set. “We played some really long points, and it just came down to who was a little stronger mentally.”


Mmoh, whose father Tony Mmoh was a professional tennis player from Nigeria and once reached a high of No. 105 in the world, said because he and Kozlov are among a small group of young Americans who many think may break through to the top someday, there was added intrigue in the match. “Yeah, it definitely felt a little bit bigger than just another first round of a Futures tournament,” he said.


Both players are living in the same room this week at the Manhattan Beach home of Rick Buchta, who runs the RAMP Tennis Academy out of the StubHub Center in Carson. “It was nerve wracking watching it,” said Buchta, a former Loyola Marymount player who works in talent ID for Head Racquet Sports. “I was so nervous and completely neutral. It’s hard to believe the two had never played before after growing up in the juniors together.”


Mmoh spent his 18th birthday on Sunday with Kozlov and Buchta helping Kozlov celebrate his USC win. And watching his favorite NFL team the Washington Redskins get eliminated from the playoffs. Mmoh will meet former UCLA star Clay Thompson in the second round on Thursday.


The player Kozlov beat in the USC final on Sunday, No. 2-seeded Philip Bester of Canada, also fell in his first-round match on Wednesday as former USC No. 1 Yannick Hanfmann of Germany beat him in three sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.


Two other American teenagers had nice first-round wins as Deiton Baughman (19) and Liam Caruana (17) posted victories, as did Hanfmann’s former USC teammate Raymond Sarmiento, who also advanced to the semifinals in doubles with partner Evan King.


Wednesday’s First-Round Singles

wc: wild card; q: qualifier

Deiton Baughman, U.S., def. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, U.S. (q), 6-3, 6-2

Clay Thompson, U.S., def. Brandon Holt, U.S. (q), 6-3, 6-3

Liam Caruana, U.S. (q), def. Gonzales Austin, U.S. (wc), 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4

Michael Mmoh, U.S., def. Stefan Kozlov, U.S. (4), 7-5, 6-4

Yannick Hanfmann, Germany, def. Philip Bester, Canada (2), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3

Daniel Smethurst, Great Britain (8), def. Max de Vroome, Netherlands, 6-3, 6-7 (10), 6-3

Raymond Sarmiento, U.S., def. Alejandro Tabilo, Canada (q), 7-6 (0), 6-1

Ryan Lipman, U.S. (q), def. Logan Smith, U.S. (wc), 7-6 (8), 7-5

Henrik Weirsholm, U.S. (q) def. Farzin Amiri, U.S. (q), 0-6, 6-2, 6-1


Wednesday’s Second-Round Doubles

Jean-Yves Aubone, U.S. / Dennis Nevolo, U.S. (4), def. randon Holt, U.S. / Riley Smith, U.S., 6-2, 6-4

David O’Hare, Ireland / Joe Salisbury, Great Britain (1), def. Alberto Lim, Philippines / Alejandro Tabilo, Canada, 6-1, 6-0

Evan King, U.S. / Raymond Sarmiento, U.S. (3), def. Thibault Forget, France, Tanner Smith, U.S. (wc), 6-4, 6-3

Nicolas Meister, U.S. / Eric Quigley, U.S. (2), def. Gonzales Austin, U.S. Ryan Lipman, U.S. w.o.


Stefan Kozlov Reaches Southern California Pro Futures Tournament Final

Stefan Kozlov photo by Dan Avila

Stefan Kozlov photo by Dan Avila

By Steve Pratt

(January 9, 2016) LOS ANGELES –Stefan Kozlov will attempt to win his second professional singles title on Sunday at the Southern California Pro Futures Tournament taking place at USC.


The No. 6-seeded 17-year-old from Pembroke Pines, Fla., hopes to draw from his past experiences winning a Futures final in Belarus in October and reaching the final in three others so far in his young career. Kozlov made quick work of top-seeded Tennys Sandgren, 6-1, 6-1, using a solid all-court game and serving eight aces during the one hour, 11-minute semifinal played on a cool day under cloudy skies.


You wouldn’t blame Sandgren for being a bit distracted as he had earlier learned that he had gotten into qualifying at the year’s first Grand Slam the Australian Open and was anxious to get to LAX and board a late flight in preparation for the start of qualifying on Wednesday. Sandgren was also not 100 percent healthy as he had stubbed his big right toe during his quarterfinal match on Friday.


“I didn’t realize it until near the end of the first set that he was limited in his running,” Kozlov said. “It’s been a good week so far for me and now the final tomorrow. I couldn’t go to Australia because of my ranking but I’m happy to be here. I could have stayed in Florida and played the Futures there, but I love SoCal and playing here.”


Eighteen months ago, Kozlov turned heads by making it to the final of the $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit Challenger in Sacramento, Calif., losing to former Top 20 player Sam Querrey. By reaching the Sacramento final at age 16, Kozlov became the youngest American to reach a Challenger final since Andre Agassi in 1986.


Kozlov’s final’s opponent will be No. 4-seeded Philip Bester, who is poised to break into the world top 300 after a solid week in Los Angeles. Bester got past former UCLA All-American Clay Thompson on Saturday, 6-3, 6-3, in the other semifinal.


Canada’s Bester had a 1-1 career record against Thompson heading into the match having lost to him in the Vancouver Challenger, and then beating him a few months later at Sacramento.


“I knew he would come out firing,” Bester said. “He has a big serve and big forehand so I had to try and neutralize that as much as possible.”


Bester has never faced Kozlov but is well aware of his game. “I know he’s young and up and coming,” he said. “I just have to use my experience and keep playing like I have all week. I just need to really go out there and compete because it’s the last match of the tournament.”


Like Kozlov, Bester said he enjoys playing in Southern California, and even entered and won last year’s Open money tournament at the 115th Ojai Tennis Tournament. He said he’d love to do it again if his schedule is open and said the prize money came in handy and allowed him to travel into the summer. “I’ve been in touch with Mark Weil up there and just really love it there,” said Bester, who beat former touring pro Lester Cook in the final at Ojai. “If it works out to make my way up there again, I will definitely do that.”


In the doubles final, former college stars Evan King (Michigan) and Raymond Sarmiento (USC) beat Jean-Yves Aubone (Florida State) and Dennis Nevolo (Illinois), 6-4, 3-6, 11-9.


Sunday’s singles final is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and admission is free to attend.


Saturday’s Singles Semifinals Scores

wc: wild-card; q: qualifier

Stefan Kozlov (6), U.S., def. Tennys Sandgren (1), U.S., 6-1, 6-1

Philip Bester (4), Canada, def. Clay Thompson, U.S., 6-3, 6-3


Saturday’s Final Doubles Scores

Evan King, U.S. / Raymond Sarmiento (4), U.S., def. Jean-Yves Aubone, U.S. / Dennis Nevolo, U.S., 6-4, 3-6, 11-9



Former University of Michigan Star Evan King Upsets No. 8 Mackenzie McDonald from UCLA at Southern California Pro Futures Tournament

(January 5, 2016) LOS ANGELES – Former three-time University of Michigan All-American Evan King’s big upset on Tuesday was worth the wait.


Following a day of rain that drenched Southern California, a total of nine first-round singles matches were finally completed under the lights on the first day of main-draw action at the Southern California Pro Futures Tournament, a USTA $25,000 Pro Circuit event taking place at Marks Tennis Stadium on the campus of USC near downtown Los Angeles.


The 23-year-old King, ranked No. 414 in the ATP world rankings, posted a convincing 6-2, 6-3, win over the Bruin No. 1 player and junior Mackenzie McDonald, the tournament’s No. 8 seed who peaked at a high of No. 2 last year in the ITA collegiate singles rankings.


King owns the Michigan program record for most combined career singles and doubles wins (196), and he ranks third all-time on Michigan’s singles wins list with 117 victories. In the pro ranks, King has captured 13 USTA Pro Circuit and ITF Pro Circuit doubles titles.


McDonald’s one-time UCLA teammate Clay Thompson eliminated a seeded player as the SoCal native ousted former University of Kentucky All-American and the tournament’s No. 5-seeded Eric Quigley, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-4, in a match that lasted 2 hours, 13 minutes and finished at a quarter past 11 p.m.


But that wasn’t even the last match of the marathon day as 17-year-old Stefan Kozlov played well past his bedtime in beating fellow American Jean-Yves Aubone, 6-0, 7-5, in a match that finished at 11:27 p.m.


Rain is supposed to fall for most of the day on Wednesday, with Thursday offering a little more hope with some clearer skies forecasted.


This is the second consecutive year the Southern California Pro Futures Tournament is taking place to start the year. Prize money has increased, however, from a total of $15,000 to $25,000.


Tuesday’s First-Round Singles Scores

wc: wild-card; q: qualifier

Sebastian Fanselow, Germany, def. Eric Johnson, U.S., 6-1, 6-1

Evan King, U.S., def. Mackenzie McDonald (8), U.S., 6-2, 6-3

Nicolas Meister (3), U.S., def. Alexios Halebian, U.S., 7-6 (4), 7-5

Gianluigi Quinzi, Italy, def. Gonzales Austin (wc), U.S., 7-6 (3), 7-5

Dennis Nevolo, U.S., def. Nicolas Barrientos (2), Colombia, 6-4, 7-6 (3)

Philip Bester (4), Canada, def. Brandon Holt (wc), U.S., 6-4, 6-3

Edward Corrie, Great Britain, def. Ernesto Escobedo, U.S., 7-6 (3), 7-5

Clay Thompson, U.S., def. Eric Quigley (5), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-4

Stefan Kozlov (6), U.S., def. Jean-Yves Aubone, U.S., 6-0, 7-5


For more information including draws and schedules, check out procircuit.usta.com. For more information on the Southern California Tennis Academy run by Smith and Mitch Bridge, go to sctennisacademy.com.

By Steve Pratt



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



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