Ohio State rising sophomore JJ Wolf is one win away from earning a main draw wild card into the US Open after he defeated Cornell commit Alafia Ayeni 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals of the USTA Boys 18 National Championship in Kalamazoo. Wolf's previous best singles performance at the Zoo was two years ago when he made it to the semifinals of the Boys 16 before falling to Patrick Kypson who then went on to win the title the next day. It just so happens that Wolf's opponent in Sunday's final will be Patrick Kypson after the 17 year-old from Greenville, North Carolina, rolled to a 6-0, 6-3 win over Ryan Goetz. Colette Lewis has plenty of quotes from Saturday's action in her recap on ZooTennis so make sure you check that out.
The final is best of five sets and there will be a live broadcast available at this link.
Ohio State rising sophomore JJ Wolf was a set away from winning the 2017 USTA Boys 18 National Championship in Kalamazoo but Patrick Kypson fought back to win the fourth and fifth sets to come away with the title and US Open main draw wild card. Kypson had the upper-hand for most of the first set with the 17-year old from Greenville (NC) holding serve rather quickly while Wolf had to work for his holds. Kypson had five set points on Wolf's serve, three at 4-5 and two at 5-6, but Wolf fought them off and then surprisingly cruised through the tiebreak 7-1.
Kypson earned his first break of the match in the second set when he broke Wolf for 3-2 but it looked like Wolf might get it back on serve. After Wolf held for 4-5, he had three break points to even it at 5-5 but Kypson managed to hold which gave him a 6-4 set.
Wolf jumped on Kypson early in the third set with a break for 2-0 and then after adding a second break for 5-1 he served out the set to take it 6-1.
Ohio State rising sophomore and No. 5 seed JJ Wolf advanced to the semifinals at the USTA Boys 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan, after ousting the top seed Sam Riffice. Wolf, who enrolled at Ohio State last January a month after turning 18, came back after dropping the first set to defeat Riffice (2018 Florida commit) 5-7, 6-4, 6-1. Wolf's semifinal opponent will be the No. 12 seed Alafia Ayeni after the Cornell commit came back from a set down to defeat the No. 8 seed Danny Thomas (2018 uncommitted) 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-4.
Ryan Goetz (2018 uncommitted) entered the week as the No. 29 seed but he's now won all five matches in straight sets after taking out the No. 6 seed John McNally (Ohio State commit) 6-3, 7-6(4). Goetz, who also beat the No. 3 seed Trent Bryde in the fourth round, will now face the No. 2 seed Patrick Kypson (2018 uncommitted). Kypson has yet to drop a set either after the Greenville (NC) native defeated the No. 7 seed Sebastian Korda 6-4, 7-6(4).
The winner of Sunday's championship match earns a main draw wild card into this year's US Open while the runner-up earns a qualifying draw wild card.
To get match recaps along with plenty of quotes make sure you check out ZooTennis with Colette Lewis doing a fantastic job as always covering her hometown tournament.
We are just two days away from the start of the 2016 USTA Boys National Championships so just as I did last year I thought I'd give everyone a little more background on the field in the 18s division. For many of these guys this will be the end of their junior career with college on the immediate horizon. One of the most interesting things about this tournament is the fact that the winner gets a main draw wild card into the US Open so you have guys that have already turned pro that come back to play for that coveted prize.
All rounds up through the semifinals are best of three sets but the finals are best of five sets. Frances Tiafoe won it last year defeating Stefan Kozlov 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4.
Kalamazoo College's Stowe Stadium and Western Michigan's Sorenson Tennis Courts will host the event with the two sites separated by just 1.6 miles.
All the top seeds took the court today in Kalamazoo for the second round of the Boys 18 National Championships and for the most part they had very little trouble. Each of the top 22 seeds won with 19 of them winning in straight sets however 6 of the bottom 10 were knocked out. Below were the seeded losers with college commitments listed in parenthesis.
Aleksandar Kovacevic (Illinois) def.  Matthew Lord 6-7(3), 6-0, 6-2
John Carlin def.  Ryan Seggerman 2-6, 6-3, 6-1
Robert Krill (Wisconsin) def.  Jason Lui (Columbia) 6-3, 4-6, 6-1
Kristopher Ortega (Illinois) def.  Maxwell Freeman 6-4, 6-1
Payton Holden (Princeton) def.  Brenden Volk (Northwestern) 6-1, 6-0
Galen Lee (Harvard) def.  Casey Ross 6-2, 6-3
Seeded players had a great day on Monday with 24 of 25 seeds moving on to the fourth round with the 15th seed William Genesen the only seeded loser. 24 of the 32 third round matches finished in straight sets with many winning rather convincingly. Full results from Monday are available here and on my spreadsheet under the 3rd round tab and below are the number of games that the winners dropped.
0 -  Austin Huang
1 -  Michael Mmoh,  JJ Wolf
2 -  Zeke Clark,  Trent Bryde,  Patrick Kypson
The higher seeds continued to win on Tuesday with 14 of the day's 16 winners being the higher ranked of the two competitors.  Alafia Ayeni pulled off a seeding upset over  Alexander Brown 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 but Ayeni was the higher rated player in just about every other category (TRN Class Ranking, UTR, ITF Jr, ATP) coming into the match. The other seeding upset came when  Timothy Sah ousted  Richard Ciamarra 2-6, 6-1, 6-1. Both of these two were pretty evenly matched with a just a .15 UTR difference so this was a toss-up going in.
It took almost almost a week but a top eight seed finally went down on Wednesday afternoon in Kalamazoo. In the only match of the day that went three sets it was  Timothy Sah upsetting  JJ Wolf 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(2). According to Colette Lewis's recap at ZooTennis, Wolf served for the match up 6-5 in the third but he wasn't able to close the door and Sah marched on through to score the upset. Colette has quotes from both Sah and Gianni Ross with the latter winning in straight sets despite an upset stomach.
The top seed Michael Mmoh cruised into the semifinals in Kalamazoo but none of the other top four seeds were as fortunate. The third seed JJ Wolf was knocked out on Wednesday in a third set tiebreak and on Thursday so was the second seed John McNally. Tampa's Vasil Kirkov managed to come back from a set down to outlast the 2017 Ohio State commit McNally in the only quarterfinal match to go three sets. Illinois commit Zeke Clark and Trent Bryde (#4 HS Class of '18) both won in straight sets as well and in fact both of those guys and Mmoh have yet to drop a set all week.
The Kalamazoo Boys 18 singles final is set and it will match up the top seed Michael Mmoh and the seventh seed Vasil Kirkov. Mmoh cruised into the finals with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Trent Bryde while Vasil Kirkov came back from a 4-0 first set deficit to win 12 straight games to defeat Zeke Clark 6-4, 6-0.
Cincinnati's John McNally and JJ Wolf, the fourth seed, won the Boys 18 doubles title with a 6-2, 6-3 win over unseeded Sean Sculley and Nick Stachowiak. McNally and Wolf earned a main draw wild card into this year's US Open with the win.