April 30, 2016

Henri Laaksonen To Play Singles and Doubles Final On Last Day At USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships Of Calabasas

(March 27, 2016) CALABASAS, Calif., — If Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland is to win both the singles and doubles titles on Easter Sunday at the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas, he will value them equally.

 

The top-seeded 23-year-old Finland native Laaksonen, who represents Switzerland, overcame a first-set loss in his semifinal singles match on Saturday against No. 7-seeded American Eric Quigley to rally for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, victory and a spot in the final where he will meet No. 2-seed Australian Matthew Barton.

 

Barton served and returned exceptionally well in his 7-6 (6), 6-4 victory over No. 3-seeded American Mitchell Krueger. It will be just the second time in the tournament’s 15 years that there will not be an American in the Calabasas final.

 

The only other time no American appeared in the final at Calabasas was in 2003 when France’s Jerome Golmard beat Germany’s Lars Burgsmuller in what was previously a $50,000 Challenger-lever tournament.

 

“I was a bit tired in the beginning and got down 1-5 in the first set,” said Laaksonen, who qualified for the doubles final with a semifinal win on Friday. “I got it to 4-5 and he served it out well to take the first set.”

 

Laaksonen said he started to play better as the match progressed, much the same way he did in his only other career win over the former University of Kentucky All-American Quigley in the Champaign, Ill., Challenger quarterfinal. “In the third set I had a break and then he broke back,” Laaksonen said.

 

With Quigley serving down 4-5 in the third set, Laaksonen opened up a 40-15 lead, and Quigley saved a match point before hitting an overhead into the bottom of the net to end the competitive match.

 

Laaksonen said it’s a real positive for him to be in both the singles and doubles final on Sunday.

 

“I don’t think anybody would complain about being in two finals,” he said. “It means you have had a good week.”

 

He continued: “At this moment in my career the main focus is in singles, but you try to get good practice in doubles. You always try to win as many matches as you can and to gain confidence. Doubles is perfect practice because you get the match preparation and you get the serve and the return and the baseline game and the volley. So you get the perfect situation of a match.”

 

In the later doubles semifinal on Saturday, the top-seeded team of Quigley and former UCLA star Nick Meister were able to hold off the young American teenage duo of Stefan Kozlov and Deiton Baughman, 6-4, 6-2, to make the doubles finals where they will face Laaksonen and the Czech Republic’s Marek Michalicka following the singles final.

 

Saturday’s Singles Semifinals

Henri Laaksonen, Switzerland (1), def. Eric Quigley, U.S. (7), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4

Matthew Barton, Australia (2), def. Mitchell Krueger, U.S. (3), 7-6 (6), 6-4

 

Saturday’s Doubles Semifinal

Followed by Nick Meister, U.S. / Eric Quigley, U.S. (1), vs. Deiton Baughman, U.S. / Stefan Kozlov, U.S., 6-4, 6-2

 

Sunday’s Singles Final

Starting at 1 p.m.

Henri Laaksonen, Switzerland (1), vs. Matthew Barton, Australia (2)

Followed by

Sunday’s Doubles Final

Henri Laaksonen, Switzerland / Marek Michalicka, Czech Republic, vs. Nick Meister, U.S. / Eric Quigley, U.S. (1)

Written by Steve Pratt

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Top Seeds Move On To Quarterfinals At USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships Of Calabasas

(March 25, 2016) CALABASAS, Calif., — Six of the eight top-seeded players won singles matches on Thursday at the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas with five of those being won in straight sets.

 

Americans were part of two of those wins as No. 3-seeded Mitchell Krueger and No. 7 Eric Quigley advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures event taking place at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Club.

 

Ernesto Escobedo of nearby West Covina, Calif., was one of the two unseeded players to move on as he downed No. 8 Australian Matt Reid, Australia, 6-3, 7-5, while Marcelo Zormann of Brazil was the only qualifier to advance, taking care of No. 4-seed Sekou Bangoura of Florida, 6-2, 6-2.

 

The No. 5-seeded Liam Broady of Great Britain was the only player to win after being extended to three sets as he came back to beat Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.

 

Broady’s quarterfinal opponent will be Krueger of Dallas, Texas, who in 2012 was the No. 1-ranked U.S. boy in the junior world rankings.

 

Fourteen months ago Krueger captured his first USTA Pro Futures Tournament ($15,000) at USC. “Since I won here in L.A., I’ve made five or six quarterfinals at the Challenger level ($50,000),” Krueger said. “I haven’t played many of the Futures events.”

 

Top-seeded Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland beat former Pepperdine All-American Sebastian Fanselow of Germany, 7-6 (3), 6-1. He next plays the 19-year-old Escobedo in the first match on Friday at 11 a.m.

 

Laaksonen is a former Swiss Davis Cup team member. “Of course it’s nice to be the top-seeded player and not have to face the top guys right off the bat,” said Laaksonen, who has played the Tiburon Challenger and some other Northern California events, but had yet to visit Southern California before this week. “I’ve never played Ernesto, but I’ve seen him at a lot of tournaments and he’s got a big forehand. He’s got a nice overall game.”

 

Thursday’s Singles Second-Round

wc: wild card; q: qualifier

Eric Quigley, U.S. (7), def. Orlando Luz, Brazil, def. 6-2, 6-2

Ernesto Escobedo, U.S., def. Matt Reid, Australia (8), 6-3, 7-5

Matthew Barton, Australia (2), def. Alejandro Gomez, Colombia (q), 6-4, 7-6 (5)

Liam Broady, Great Britain (5), def. Gonzalo Escobar, Ecuador, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3

Henri Laaksonen, Switzerland (1), def. Sebastian Fanselow, Germany, 7-6 (3), 6-1

Marek Michalicka, Czech Republic (6), def. Joao Pedro Sorgi, Brazil (q), 6-4, 7-6 (4)

Marcelo Zormann, Brazil (q), def. Sekou Bangoura, U.S. (4), 6-2, 6-2

Mitchell Krueger, U.S. (3), def. Dennis Nevolo, U.S., 6-4, 6-4

 

Thursday’s Doubles Quarterfinals

Alexios Halebian, U.S. / Evan Song, U.S. (wc), def. Matthew Barton, Australia / Matt Reid, Australia, 7-5, 6-4

Nick Meister, U.S. / Eric Quigley, U.S. (1), def. Alejandro Gomez, Colombia / Joao Pedro Sorgi, Brazil, 7-5, 6-2

Deiton Baughman, U.S. / Stefan Kozlov, U.S., def. Orlando Luz, Brazil / Marcleo Zormann, Brazil, 6-7 (1), 6-1, 10-7

Henri Laaksonen, Switzerland / Mark Michalicka, Czech Republic, def. Francis Casey Alcantara, Philippines / Adrien Puget, France, 6-4, 6-4

Written by Steve Pratt

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Baughman and Kozlov Rebound From Singles Losses To Upset No. 3-Seeded Team In Doubles At USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships Of Calabasas

(March 23, 2016) CALABASAS, Calif., — Having both suffered tough first-round singles defeats on Tuesday, Deiton Baughman and his doubles partner Stefan Kozlov came back to record a straight-set doubles upset over the No. 3-seeded team on Wednesday at the USTA Men’s Pro Tennis Championships of Calabasas.

 

Baughman, 19, and Kozlov, 18, eliminated Keith-Patrick Crowley of South Africa and American Max Schnur, 6-1, 7-6 (4) to advance at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures event taking place at the Calabasas Tennis & Swim Club.

 

For Baughman, it was sweet revenge as he had lost in doubles to the Crowley/Schnur pairing a few week back at a similar $25,000 Futures event.

 

“In doubles, it’s just a little bit more relaxing being out there, which is nice,” said Baughman. “Especially playing with Koz; someone I’ve trained with so much in Florida the last few years.”

 

The last we’d heard of Carson’s Baughman he was raising the trophy at the $25,000 Claremont tournament the week after the US Open in September. He spent the rest of the fall struggling with exhaustion and was later diagnosed as having a long bout with Mononucleosis.

 

“Toward the end of the year I was feeling so tired and run down but kept brushing it off,” said Baughman, who needed a wild card to get into Calabasas with a current world ranking just outside the world top 400. “It was my first year on tour and I thought I was just tired.”

 

Once diagnosed, Baughman spent four weeks in bed, going a full three weeks without even hitting a ball. “It’s been a nightmare start to the year,” said Baughman, still trying to get back into playing shape. “I went from playing five-straight three setters going 7-6 in the Florida heat to not even being able to finish a set and a half.”

 

Another former Southern California Futures winner, Texas’ Mitchell Krueger, moved into the second round with a three-set win over qualifier Alexios Halebian of Glendale, Calif., 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

 

The No. 3-seeded Krueger won his first USTA Pro Circuit event in 2015 at the $15,000 Futures at USC. Krueger was the top-ranked American junior boy in 2012, peaking at a career-high No. 5 in the world junior rankings. He decided to turn pro, passing up a tennis scholarship to Texas A&M after signing a national letter of intent. Krueger’s father played for the Aggies and his mother is a tennis coach in Dallas having played for Louisiana Tech.

 

Three of the eight qualifiers in action on Wednesday were winners, and all from South American, including Brazil’s Marcelo Zormann, Joao Pedro Sorgi and Colombia’s Alejandro Gomez.

 

Wednesday’s First-Round Singles Scores

wc: wild card; q: qualifier

Henri Laaksonen, Switzerland (1), def. Hubert Hurkacz, Poland (q), 6-4, 6-4

Mark Michalicka, Czech Republic (6), def. Tyler Hochwalt, U.S. (q), 6-4, 6-4

Alejandro Gomez, Colombia (q), def. Francis Alcantara, Philippines (wc), 6-3, 5-7, 6-3

Marcelo Zormann, Brazil (q), def. Nick Meister, U.S., 6-4, 5-7, 6-4

Eric Quigley, U.S. (7), def. Joan Soler (q), France, 6-0, 7-5

Mitchell Krueger, U.S. (3), def. Alexios Halebian, U.S. (q), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

Dennis Nevolo, U.S., def. Jose Daniel Bendeck, Colombia (q), 6-4, 6-1

Joao Pedro Sorgi, Brazil (q), def. Jan Choinski, Germany, 6-4, 6-3

 

Wednesday’s First-Round Singles Scores

Deiton Baughman, U.S. / Stefan Kozlov, U.S., def. Keith-Patrick Crowley, South Africa, def. Max Schnur, U.S. (3), 6-1, 7-6 (4)

Francis Casey Alcantara, Philippines / Adrien Puget, France, def. Quinn Borchard, U.S. / Calle Hansen, Sweden (wc), 7-6 (5), 7-5

Henri Laaksonen, Switzerland / Mark Michalicka, Czech Republic, def. Sekou Bangoura, U.S., Ruben Gonzales, Philippines, 6-4, 3-6, 10-6

Matthew Barton, Australia / Matt Reid, Australia, def. Luke Bambridge, Great Britain / Liam Broady, Great Britain (4), 7-6 (6), 4-6, 10-5

Written by Steve Pratt

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Former WTA Chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster to Lead USTA Professional Tennis Unit

Stacey+Allaster+BNP+Paribas+WTA+Finals+Singapore+-6xs69uabenl

From the USTA: WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., March 14, 2016 – The United States Tennis Association (USTA) today announced that former WTA Chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster has been named Chief Executive, Professional Tennis for the USTA.  Allaster will report to USTA Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director Gordon Smith.

 

In her new position, Allaster will be tasked with setting the strategic vision for the USTA’s pro tennis division and will work closely with the USTA Board of Directors and the current USTA pro tennis staff to ensure the continued viability of professional tennis in the United States.  The USTA’s professional tennis holdings include the US Open, the Emirates Airline US Open Series, and the Western & Southern Open Masters event in Cincinnati, among others. USTA Chief of Professional Tennis Operations and US Open Tournament Director David Brewer will report to Allaster in her new role.

 

“Stacey’s track record in tennis is exemplary,” said Katrina Adams, USTA Chairman of the Board and President.  “She is a role model, has been a success at every level of the sport, and is driven by a passion for tennis.  We know that she will help bring the USTA’s professional tennis interests to even greater heights.”

 

“Stacey’s commitment to the sport is second to none, and her track record of sustained success would be hard to surpass,” said Smith.  “We have added a one-of-a-kind asset to our world-class professional team here at the USTA, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.”

 

During her tenure at the WTA, Allaster is credited with generating an estimated $1B in diversified contracted revenues; building and growing the brand globally with an emphasis in China and Asia Pacific; transforming the WTA Finals into a 10-day sports entertainment extravaganza; maximizing the fan experience through product innovations in media, data and technology; and securing a 10-year media agreement, the largest live media rights and production venture in women’s sports history.

 

Along with helping to ensure the financial success of the sport, Allaster was a strong advocate for women’s tennis, its promoters and athletes, and played a lead role in driving prize money growth – – including equal prize money at Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the WTA Finals and the four Premier Mandatory WTA events (Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid & Beijing).

Allaster’s long history in the sport began with her first job at age 12 cleaning red clay courts at a community tennis club.  After stints at the Ontario Tennis Association, Allaster joined Tennis Canada, where she served in a variety of positions that ultimately included Tournament Director of the Canadian Open in Toronto (she was the only female tournament director within the Masters Series) and as the defacto chief marketing and revenue officers as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the national governing body of the sport in Canada.

 

Among her numerous honors, Allaster has been named the Sports Media Canada Executive of the Year, the WISE Woman of the Year, a SBJ Gamechanger, and has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 10 most powerful women in sports.  In 2015, Allaster was recognized and commended by the International Tennis Hall of Fame for her contributions to the sport.

 

Allaster, 52, is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario where she holds both a Bachelor’s degree and Doctor of Law, honoris causa (LL.D.).  She also has an MBA from the Ivey School of Business in Canada.  She became a U.S. citizen in 2015, and lives with her husband and two children

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Davis Cup: Isner “Aces” Australia, Powers U.S. to Quarterfinals with Victory over Tomic

DAVIS CUP: ISNER “ACES” AUSTRALIA

Powers U.S. to Quarterfinals with victory over Tomic

By Junior Williams

(March 6, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – John Isner blasted 49 aces – including one on match point – to give the United States a 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4) victory over Bernard Tomic and Australia, securing an unassailable 3-1 lead and advancing into the quarterfinal round of the Davis Cup World Group.

In the first set, Isner took advantage of his first break point opportunity with a successful backhand volley, putting the U.S. up 3-2.

The world No. 11 finished the set with ten aces and won all six of his net points.

Isner’s next break of serve came in the second set when Tomic netted a return from the American, resulting in a 4-3 U.S. lead. Tomic shook his right wrist numerous times during that game and had it wrapped during the changeover. Isner went on to win the set after a Tomic volley at net went wide.

The momentum shifted in the third set, when Tomic began impersonating a backboard, successfully defending against the Isner serve. The world number 24 secured the set on his fifth break point of the game, giving hope to a home crowd cheering for a comeback.

But in the end, Isner pulled through after being down a mini-break early in the fourth-set tiebreak, rebounding to go up 5-4 – putting the match on his racket.

It was only fitting that he closed out the match — and the tie — with his 49th ace.

”We always knew it was going to be very difficult coming down here,” said U.S. captain Jim Courier. ”Our team came good. John stepped up today.”

“It was incredible tie for us,” Isner said. “We knew Australia was going to be tough and they put up a great fight.”

With the victory, The U.S. avoided a fifth and deciding rubber that the Aussie faithful at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club had been hoping for: A potential match-up between American Jack Sock and Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt.

Halfway through the second set Tomic was picked up on a court microphone berating his countryman Nick Kyrgios who could not play the tie due to a virus. Tomic said to Hewitt during a changeover: “While I’m here, Nick’s sitting down in Canberra. Bull**** he’s sick.”

Next up for the U.S. A home tie in July against the winner of the first round tie between Belgium and Croatia.

***************************************************************************************************

Some irony involving the U.S. victory over Australia: International Tennis Federation admitted the tie should have played on hard court instead of on grass. That’s because of an agreement in 1999 to have the Aussies play the Americans in the U.S. that year to celebrate the Davis Cup centennial – this despite it being Australia’s turn to host a tie between the two countries.

 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Melbourne covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Australia.

 

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Bryan Brothers Hang on to Beat Hewitt and Peers in Davis Cup Five-Set Thriller

DAVIS CUP: U.S. HANGS ON TO BEAT AUSTRALIA

Goes up 2-1 after Bryans hold off Hewitt & Peers in 5-set thriller

By Junior Williams

(March 5, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – Bob and Mike Bryan fought off a comeback attempt by Lleyton Hewitt and John Peers to give the U.S. a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Australia at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, putting the Americans up 2-1 against the home team in their Davis Cup World Group First Round tie.

Australian Davis Cup Captain, the recently retired Lleyton Hewitt, inserted himself into Saturday’s line-up.

“Yeah we made the decision last night,” said Hewitt, making his debut as Davis Cup Captain. “Just, you know, sharing the workload really. You know, that was the determining factor. We thought whatever pair we went with had an outside chance of going well. But, you know, that was probably the determining factor in the end.”

The Bryans raced out to a two sets to none lead by breaking the Aussies three times — twice on team captain Hewitt’s serve. But Australia began to rally after breaking the U.S. to go up 4-3 in the third set – Hewitt hitting solid returns and yelling “come on” for good measure, while Peers was stellar at the net and with his ground strokes. He closed out the set with a serve and volley point.

Australia maintained its momentum buy winning the fourth set, capped by put away at the net by Hewitt which sent the crowd into a frenzy.

But in the end, the Bryans showed why they’ve won 106 titles as a doubles team. They regained their groove by going up 2-0 in the fifth set after breaking Australia at love. With strong net play and service games, the Americans remained consistent throughout the set, winning all six of their second serve points and committing no unforced errors. The final point was an overhead smash at the net, followed by the twins’ trademark celebratory chest bump. The Bryans are now 24-4 as a doubles team in Davis Cup competition.

“The level was incredible on both sides of the net,“ noted U.S. Captain Jim Courier. “Grass court doubles can sometimes be a little bit messy because it’s so quick, tough to return. But man, the level from first ball was extremely high and obviously it got very complicated there after the second set. Those guys lifted, Lleyton in particular lifted his returns and fortunately Bob and Mike did the same in the fifth set and really put a stamp on it early which was big and just held it out.

Bob Bryan was not surprised by Hewitt’s decision to take the court. “No, not at all, He said. “He was practising 10 feet from us all week, playing lots of doubles, playing lots of singles, playing more than anyone out there and, you know, the guy’s an accomplished doubles player and probably this is his best surface to play on. With that serve, you know, it slides away, those cutter serves and he can return well on anything.”

On Sunday, World No. 11 John Isner will look to clinch the tie in a reverse singles match against Australia’s Bernard Tomic. Both players won their respective Friday matches. If it comes down to a fifth and deciding rubber, it’s scheduled to be American Jack Sock versus Sam Groth, but don’t rule out the possibility of Captain Hewitt stepping in for the Aussies.

“Well, it’s going to be an exciting day for sure,” Courier said, “Bernie played awfully well yesterday, so did John. So that’s where we’ll start and it looks like it’s going to be a toasty one again, so you know, that could play a part in the match. Hopefully John has been, I would think a little fresher than Bernie given he only played three sets might be a factor. But it’s going to be exciting, the crowd’s going to be jacked up. You know, we’re going to be ready for a fifth obviously too, and at this stage we don’t know necessarily if it’s going to be Sam or Lleyton playing in that fifth. Where Lleyton played, you know, I would think he would give himself consideration should there be a live fifth match.

“So we’ll be ready for that eventuality if it comes to pass. But this is why we love this competition, you know, it’s Sunday, it’s live, it’s all on the line and energy levels are going to be extraordinary.”

As to what to expect on Sunday, Hewitt said: “We need Bernie to win, so it’s pretty simple at the moment. So, you know, that’s obviously our main focus. He’s our number one player, he’s the leader of the team and you know, he played awfully well yesterday and we’re going to need that again out of him tomorrow.”

As for the former No. 1, will he insert himself into the singles line-up? Hewitt said, “ Possibly, wait and see.”

 

===============

 

NET CORDS

 

Unlike Friday, fans and players at Kooyong received a break from severe heat. Temperatures ranged between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with lots of cloud cover and an occasional light breeze.

 

Kudos to the Aussie “Fanatics” band for their cover versions of songs including Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” and Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon.”

 

Prior to the match, a moment of silence was observed in memory of legendary tennis journalist and commentator Bud Collins, who died at the age of 86.

 

U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim courier on the passing of Bud Collins: “Bud meant an immense amount to the sport of tennis and touched so many people. The things I remember about Bud were his generosity to everyone and general enthusiasm for life. Not just for tennis, but for travel and for learning and for sharing his stories. He was so kind and super positive. I had the privilege of working on television with Bud for NBC for several tournaments, so I go to know him and his lovely wife Anita very well. It is a sad day.”

 

Bob Bryan on the passing of Bud Collins: “It’s obviously a sad day, the guy meant a lot to tennis, he was so colorful and a positive part of our sport. We knew him pretty well and he was always so kind to us and gave us great advice, and you know, he was such a veteran and had been around this tour for so many years and he was a very familiar face at every tournament and we’ll definitely miss him.”

 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Melbourne covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Australia.

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Davis Cup: Deadlocked Down Under, USA and Australia Tied at 1-1

 

DAVIS CUP: DEADLOCKED DOWN UNDER

U.S., Australia tied at 1-1 in World Group First Round

 

By Junior Williams

(March 4, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – On a sizzling hot afternoon which saw temperatures surge close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Bernard Tomic defeated Jack Sock 7-6(2), 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, to bring Australia even with the United States at 1-1 in their Davis Cup World Group First Round tie at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.

Tomic’s victory came after American John Isner dispatched Sam Groth 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-2 to give the U.S. an early lead.

It was a tight but impressive first set for Tomic, who won all 22 of his first serve points. His ball striking and defense of Sock’s ground strokes also gave the Australian the edge.

The world’s 20th-ranked player continued his momentum in the second set, securing it by breaking Sock with a shot that handcuffed the American on what was the fifth set point.

Sock bounced back in the third set, breaking Tomic for the first time in the match after the Australian mishit a ball past the baseline. The world number 24 also broke Tomic in the final game of the set.

But Tomic — who was 0-3 head-to-head against Sock prior to this match — took control in the fourth set, going up 5-4 winning a break point after rocketing a deep return of serve that Sock hit into the net.

Tomic closed out the 2 hour 24-minute match in the following game, to the delight of the home crowd. He won 120 points to Sock’s 114.

“It was very tough out there,” Tomic said. “I haven’t beaten Sock before so I knew that it was going to be tough. Anyone that you haven’t beaten before in your career – I think he’s on 2 or 3-0 record against me. So, for me I knew it was going to be tough but also playing him on a surface where I could beat him on and I was very happy because the conditions were very tough because I travelled so quickly here and you have to reset and you only have two or three days. So for me it was very tough out there.”

The top Australian admitted that it was difficult to get through the fourth set: “It was very tough because I had chances to be up a break in the third and then he got that break and it became a little bit hotter and after playing those first two sets everything got to me. So I had to find a bit of that energy and sometimes that’s good, I mean, I lapse away with my concentration a lot and that, to me, is a good thing because you rebuild your energy and it worked out in my favour in that fourth set. Gee, can you listen to that rain? I swear I finished and three minutes later it started.”

“Bernie did really well,” said Australian Davis Cup Captain Lleyton Hewitt. “Right from the start he came out serving great, hitting his spots really well. That was obviously a key to not let Jack get into too many of Bernie’s service games and we felt like Bernie’s going to get a lot more into his and put a lot more pressure on his second serve and he was able to do that. Bernie, the first set was a huge key as well and he played a great tie break, he picked the right side on a couple of shots and came up with a couple big passes and to have that first set, you know, it was hot out there as well especially those first couple of sets and once he went two sets to love up, he had a little lull there, which, you know, it happens in any five set matches. It’s about how you respond to that and he found a way in the fourth set. It’s not an easy thing to do to come out when you’re the number one player for your country and you’re one love down in Davis Cup in a World Group match. Bernie did fantastic today and he’s done absolutely everything that we’ve asked of him all week.”

“Bernie played some good tennis today when he needed to and came up with some good shots and, I’ll just take away you know the things I need to work on from that and take it into Sunday,” Sock said in press.

“Well we were put on grass, that’s the biggest difference I would say. I’ve played him on some slow hardcourts and some other hardcourts where you know my style definitely matches up well against and you know, his favourite surface is grass. His best results, you know, in the Slam are on grass and very crafty out there and his game is suitable for it. But, you know, I was in there and I felt confident after getting that third and then having a few chances early in the fourth, definitely felt like I was right. So, you know, for me my least experience has been on grass, so for me it actually did take away some confidence today playing out there against an experienced grass player and I’ll definitely use that for Sunday.”

In the opening match — a battle of high-powered servers — John Isner hit 20 aces and held serve throughout the match, despite six break point opportunities for Sam Groth, who was tapped to play singles for Australia after Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the competition due to illness.

The first set included a lot of what you’d expect, with eleven aces for Groth and ten for Isner. Groth also sprinkled in some doubles skills, winning four out of six net points. But Isner won a first set tiebreak, helped by a successful challenge that gave him a mini-break, and an ace up the middle to capture the set.

After that it was all Isner. Aside from his service game, the world No. 11 consistently cracked forehand and backhand winners up the sidelines. He also was helped by Groth’s first-serve percentage of 48-percent in the second set. The Georgia Bulldog notched his victory in 1 hour 49 minutes.

“It was a lot of confidence, you know, getting through that first set, I mean, I knew I was going to go out there, I knew I wasn’t going to be feeling fantastic right away,” Isner said. “Of course there’s a lot of nerves and you know, I haven’t seen his serve yet. So I got rid of those nerves in the first set and I got used to seeing the serve out there, so I became a lot more comfortable after that first set and I think it showed right away. I believe I broke the first game of the second set.

“So it was a very, very good performance for me and certainly I’ve played some matches in a lot in my career where I’ve struggled on return but I think today I was pretty solid.”

Isner commented on the court conditions with temperatures close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. “Yeah I thought the court was great, he said. “The heat was pretty hot. It was more humid than I’ve ever played in Melbourne it’s generally dryer in my opinion, but it was pretty humid. At the same time in a match up like that, you tell me how many rallies we had more than five shots, so it could have been 200 degrees out there and I probably would have felt all right.”

“I think the first set was always going to be big, especially in the way we both play, we both play with a little bit of confidence, both play behind our serve and especially on a day where it’s quite hot out there as well,” Groth said. “You know, had I maybe taken a chance, that 0-40 game earlier, maybe it’s a different story but I felt like after that when he won that back-hand winner that clipped the line in the tie breaker and then his confidence just seemed to build. He started taking cuts on returns and, you know, to his credit they started going in.”

The tie now moves to doubles Saturday. Future Hall of Famers Bob and Mike Bryan are slated for the U.S., with Groth and doubles specialist John Peers scheduled to go for Australia.

But the watch is on to see if captain Lleyton Hewitt will put himself in the mix for the green and gold.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Melbourne covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Australia.

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US Open National Playoffs Return for Seventh Year

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From the USTA: (March 2, 2016) WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., – The USTA today announced that the US Open National Playoffs will be held for the seventh 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 all five draws at the US Open. Tennis players of all levels can compete in men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and 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 2016 US Open.

 

“The US Open National Playoffs are all about giving players of all abilities the opportunity to dream big and be a part of the US Open,” said Katrina M. Adams, USTA Chairman of the Board, CEO and President. “This year, players have more ways than ever to make it to New York, with all five of the US Open’s draws in play. We look forward to another year of great tennis and watching top juniors, collegians, aspiring pros, and weekend warriors connect with the US Open and compete for the chance to play on tennis’ grandest stage.”

 

Registration for the 2016 sectional qualifying tournaments opens on Tuesday, 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. 29, 2016.

 

The US Open National Playoffs begin as a series of 15 sectional qualifying tournaments held in different USTA sections across the country (see complete schedule on page 2). The 15 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. 19-22
  • Men’s and Women’s Doubles Championship, Aug. 21-24
  • Mixed Doubles Championship, Aug. 24-27

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.

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE 2016 US OPEN NATIONAL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE

 

More than 2,000 players competed in the 2015 US Open National Playoffs—the largest number of players ever. 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, who competed in three draws in the 2015 US Open National Playoffs sectional qualifiers; 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. 23-26, the US Open men’s and women’s doubles championships begin Aug. 30, and the US Open mixed doubles championship begins Aug. 31 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The 2016 US Open is scheduled to take place from Aug. 29 to Sept. 11.

 

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

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Leslie Allen Among Four Inductees into Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., (February 24, 2016) – The Junior Tennis Foundation (JTF) will recognize four integral members of the tennis community on Friday, April 29, 2016 at 7 p.m. during the 29th Annual Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame celebration at the Beach Point Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
The four individuals who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame are: Leslie Allen, former ATA, NCAA and WTA champion who earned a No. 17 singles world ranking and is the founder of the Leslie Allen Foundation, Marcel Freeman, former ATP player who trained as a junior at Port Washington Tennis Academy and was a four-time All American at UCLA, Eric Fromm, former ATP player and current president and managing director of Christopher Morley Tennis at Port Washington Tennis Academy and Loretta Van Raalte, founder and executive director of the Jerry Alleyne Memorial Foundation and the former director of tennis for the Hudson Valley Health and Tennis Club.

 

Proceeds from the celebration will benefit JTF, which provides scholarships and grants for junior and adaptive tennis players throughout the Eastern Section. At the event, two junior players will receive David N. Dinkins Scholarship Awards for their accomplishments both athletically and academically.
“This year we have four incredibly accomplished, deserving inductees who have made significant contributions to Eastern tennis,” Dick Scheer, Eastern Hall of Fame selection committee chairman said. “They will join an impressive group of prior inductees who have also made lasting contributions to the game of tennis.”

Since its inception in 1979, JTF has provided more than $2 million for programs and scholarships in the Eastern Section.

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Isner, Sock and Bryan Brothers Selected to Face Australia in Davis Cup World Group First Round

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From the USTA: (February 23, 2016)The USTA and United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier announced that top-ranked American and world No. 11 John Isner, world No. 23 Jack Sock, and 16-time Grand Slam doubles champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan will represent the U.S. in the 2016 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group First Round against Australia. The best-of-five match series will be played on an outdoor grass court at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, March 4-6, in Kooyong, Australia.

 

Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who retired at this year’s Australian Open and will be making his debut as Australia’s Davis Cup captain, named world No. 21 Bernard Tomic, world No. 33 Nick Kyrgios, world No. 75 Sam Groth, and doubles specialist John Peers to compete against the United States.

 

Play begins at 11 a.m. local time (7 p.m. ET the day prior) on Friday, March 4, and Sunday, March 6. Play begins on Saturday at 12 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET on Friday). Friday will include two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Saturday’s schedule features the pivotal doubles match. And the final day of play on Sunday features the two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off, followed by the No. 2 players meeting each other in the final match. All matches are best-of-five sets until one nation clinches the tie. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match.

 

The United States has faced Australia in Davis Cup play more times than any country, holding a 25-20 overall record. The last time the Americans and Aussies met was in 1999 in a World Group Quarterfinal tie played in Chestnut Hill, Mass., where the U.S. lost, 4-1. The site of that tie was chosen as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Davis Cup due to its proximity to the first site of the Davis Cup at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston. The U.S. last defeated Australia in the 1997 World Group Semifinal in Washington D.C., 4-1, behind a team of Pete Sampras, Todd Martin and Michael Chang. The U.S. is 78-46 in ties played on the road.

 

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Quarterfinal, July 15-17, and will play either Croatia or Belgium. Should the U.S. defeat Australia, it will host the tie in July. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 16-18, for the right to remain in the World Group in 2017.

 

Isner, 30, is ranked No. 11 in the current world rankings and will be competing in his 11th Davis Cup tie; he is 8-9 in singles and 2-0 in doubles. His last Davis Cup appearance was in the 2015 World Group First Round against Great Britain. His biggest Davis Cup victory came in 2012, when he defeated Roger Federer in the U.S. Davis Cup team’s first-round win at Switzerland. The tallest player in U.S. Davis Cup history, at 6-foot-10, Isner made his Davis Cup debut in the 2010 World Group First Round in Serbia, where he became the first U.S. player since 2003 to compete in three live rubbers in the same tie. He also represented the U.S. in the 2012 London Olympics, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to Federer. Isner turned pro after an outstanding four-year career at the University of Georgia, leading the Bulldogs to the 2007 NCAA team title as a senior. Isner holds 10 career tour singles titles, the last of which came in Atlanta during the 2015 Emirates Airline US Open Series. So far this year, he has reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and the quarterfinals of the ATP event in Auckland, New Zealand.

 

Sock, 23, is ranked No. 23 in the world. He made his Davis Cup debut last September in the World Group Playoff in Uzbekistan, where he won both of his singles matches to keep the U.S. Davis Cup team in the World Group for this year. Sock reached the final of the ATP event in Auckland earlier this year. He won his first career ATP singles title in 2015 at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, defeating American Sam Querrey in the final. He then reached the fourth round at the 2015 French Open and the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I. He has also thrived in doubles, winning the 2014 Wimbledon doubles title and the 2015 Indian Wells crown with Vasek Pospisil and peaking at a career-high No. 6 in the individual doubles rankings in May 2015; he also reached the doubles quarterfinals of the 2015 French Open and 2016 Australian Open. In 2011, Sock won the US Open mixed doubles title with fellow American Melanie Oudin.

 

Bob and Mike Bryan, both 37, hold a 23-4 doubles record together in U.S. Davis Cup competition; the 23 wins are first all-time in U.S. Davis Cup history for a tandem. Bob and Mike, the only brothers to pair in victory for the U.S. Davis Cup team, hold the all-time Open era record of most Grand Slam men’s doubles titles (16) and ATP doubles titles (109). In addition, the Bryan brothers won the gold medal in doubles at the 2012 Olympics in London, where they completed a career Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal. The Bryans ended 2014 as the No. 1-ranked doubles team in the world for a record 10th time in 12 years.

 

Overall, Bob holds a 24-4 doubles record in Davis Cup competition; he is also 4-2 in singles (all dead rubbers). Mike holds a 25-4 record in Davis Cup doubles matches, playing without Bob just twice in his Davis Cup career. Bob did not compete in the 2012 first-round match at Switzerland due to the birth of his daughter, Micaela; in that case, Mike teamed with Mardy Fish to defeat 2008 Olympic doubles gold medalists Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka to clinch the tie. Mike also partnered with Fish in the 2008 semifinal against Spain. Bob played without Mike (food poisoning) in the 2010 first round in Serbia, partnering instead with Fish.

 

Additionally, U.S. Captain Jim Courier announced the practice partners for the U.S. Davis Cup team—former Ohio State standouts Connor Smith and Peter Kobelt. Smith, 25, graduated from OSU in 2013 after transferring from Florida State after his sophomore season. He went 36-7 in singles and 33-7 in doubles during his senior year. Smith had a breakthrough 2014 on the USTA Pro Circuit and in ITF-level events, winning two USTA Pro Circuit singles titles and a title in Ecuador; he also holds seven USTA Pro Circuit/ITF-level doubles titles. In 2015, Smith won an ITF-level event in Korea, and this year, he competed in Australian Open qualifying for the first time. Kobelt, 25, graduated from OSU in 2014 and finished his college career as just the fourth player in program history to earn All-America honors four times. He also became the program’s all-time career doubles win leader with 142 doubles wins and reached the doubles final of the 2014 NCAA championships with Kevin Metka.

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