Bobby Knight

Bobby Knight

Monday was a good day at Wimbledon for players with college ties but Wednesday was not as the group went a combined 2-9 with one of the wins coming in a college versus college match. Former Tennessee Volunteer JP Smith, who was the NCAA singles runner-up in 2008, defeated former UCLA Bruin Mackenzie McDonald, who won the 2016 NCAA singles championship, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3. Smith held serve all 16 times while breaking McDonald twice. The other winner with college ties was Dennis Novikov as the former UCLA Bruin defeating fellow American Stefan Kozlov 7-5, 6-2. Novikov was a perfect 10 for 10 on his service games while also breaking Kozlov three times. Both Smith and Novikov will face 21-year old opponents from Chile in the final round of qualies with Smith taking on Christian Garin while Novikov meets Nicolas Jarry. 

Women's players with college ties went 3-2 in the first round with Jamie Loeb, Kristie Ahn, and Irina Falconi picking up the wins. 

Tulane Athletic Director Troy Dannen announced the hiring of Maria Brito as the Green Wave's new women's head coach. Brito comes to New Orleans after spending the last four season as the assistant coach at her alma mater Clemson. Brito replaces Terri Sisk who stepped down in April after going 120-75 over the past nine seasons including 22-7 this past season. Below are some quotes from Tulane's release:

"We feel very fortunate to add Maria as the leader to our women's tennis program," Dannen stated. "Her experience as both a player and coach at the highest level, and her demonstrated commitment to all aspects of an outstanding student-athlete, are tremendous assets for our program. Maria brings high energy and enthusiasm to New Orleans and Tulane University and shares our vision for Tulane women's tennis as a consistent top-25 program."

"First and foremost, I would like to thank Troy Dannen, Rob Bernardi, Mark Booras and the entire search committee for this incredible opportunity to join such a prestigious institution," Brito stated. "I am deeply grateful and humbled to be chosen to lead Tulane's Women's Tennis Program.

The opening day of Wimbledon qualies was a good one for those with college tennis ties as 11 of 18 men picked up opening round wins. 2015 USC graduate Roberto Quiroz defeated 2011 Texas graduate Ed Corrie in the only matchup between two former college players. Corrie jumped out to a 6-4, 3-1 lead but Quiroz won 10 straight games to go up 5-0 in the third and would close it out 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Benjamin Becker, who won the 2004 NCAA Singles Championship, moved on to the second round with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Yasutaka Uchiyama. The 36-year old former Baylor Bear broke Uchiyama to go up 5-3 in the second and then in the third set he broke for 3-2.

James McGee, who spent two seasons at the NC State almost 10 years ago, won his first-ever qualifying match at Wimbledon by coming back from 4-1 down in the third to defeat Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4. McGee will try to make it two in a row when he plays Andrey Rublev in the second round. 

Full results from Monday are down below along with the second round matchups. The women get started on Tuesday with five former college players in the qualifying draw.

It was a big weekend in upstate New York for Mikael Torpegaard as the Ohio State rising senior swept both the singles and doubles titles at the USA F20 Futures in Rochester. Torpegaard won his third career pro singles title after dispatching former Big Ten rival Sam Monette (Indiana '16) in straight sets. Torpegaard jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set and had three set points when serving up 40/0 but Monette managed to take the next five points to break for 1-5. Monette made it two straight with a hold for 2-5 but Torpegaard served out the set at love to take it 6-2 (note - there was a brief rain delay before Torpegaard's 5-2 service game). Torpegaard broke at love to start the second set and would lead *3-2 when the rain came again and delayed play for over three hours. Once things started back up Torpegaard maintained his break lead and closed out Monette 6-2, 6-4 in 57 minutes.

Georgia Tech rising senior Chris Eubanks and 2012 Georgia Tech graduate Kevin King lost in the doubles final last week in Winston-Salem but this week they struck pay dirt and won the title with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Dominik Koepfer (Tulane '16) and Luis David Martinez. Eubanks and King only faced two breaks points all match and they fought both off while breaking their opponents two times. Eubanks and King both won their quarterfinal singles matches and will meet in the semifinals just six days after playing in the final last week. Eubanks defeating USC rising sophomore Riley Smith 7-6(2), 6-4 while King defeated Henry Craig (Denver '16) 6-2, 6-4. The top seed Austin Krajicek (Texas A&M '11) will face Tommy Paul in the other semifinal after Krajicek came back from 3-1 down in the third set to defeat Jose "Rubin' Statham 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. 

East Tennessee State Athletic Director Dr. Richard Sander announced the hiring of Martin Stiegwardt as the Buccaneers new Director of Tennis and Men's Tennis Head Coach. Stiegwardt had spent the last six seasons as an assistant coach at three different schools (VCU/Auburn/LSU) with his most recent stop at LSU last season. Stiegwardt replaced Yaser Zaatini who resigned after 14 season due to allegations of falsified documents. Below are some quotes from ETSU's release and the video below is from today's press conference (starts at 1:21 mark). 

“Having one of the most successful tennis programs in the country, it was important to identify and recruit the next leader who could continue and build on our history of success,” Sander said. “In talking with some very accomplished college coaches, it became clear to me that Martin Steigwardt was the right person to lead the ETSU tennis program. Martin was an outstanding scholar-athlete in his playing days and quickly became a successful coach after graduation. He has worked for some of the best coaches in the history of college tennis.

"I am thrilled to have this opportunity to be the Director of Tennis at ETSU,” Stiegwardt said. “I want to thank Dr. Sander, President Noland, Scott Carter and Mac Hart for giving me this great opportunity and for trusting me to lead the tennis program. I have always known of the history and success of the ETSU tennis team and it is something that I am looking forward to continuing and elevating to new heights.

Plenty of current, future, and former college players were in action today at pro events all across the globe. There are a pair of Futures events in the United States this week with one taking place on the clay in Rochester and another on the hard courts in Winston-Salem. Recent Virginia graduate Thai-Son Kwiatkowski won the longest match of the day with the former Hoo defeating TCU's Alex Rybakov in 3 hours and 11 minutes. Rybakov came back from a 4-1 first set deficit to take the set in a tiebreak 7-5 but Kwiatkowski would get a split by taking the second set in a tiebreak 11-9. Rybakov led that second set tiebreak 5-3 but he never had a match point. Kwiatkowski broke Rybakov to start the third set and he'd add another break to go up 5-2 and would close it out with a love hold to win 6-7, 7-6, 6-2. 

Kwiatkowski will face recent South Florida graduate Sasha Gozun in the second round after Gozun defeated 16 year-old Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 7-6. Other players with college ties that advanced to the second round are Mikael Torpegaard (Ohio State), Winston Lin (Columbia), Alexander Knight (Michigan), Sam Monette (Indiana), Dennis Nevolo (Illinois), Charles Broom (Dartmouth), Cameron Silverman (Elon). Julian Zlobinsky (Texas), and Ohio State commit John McNally. 

Ryan Shane (Virginia), Wil Spencer (Georgia), and Riley Smith (USC) scored upset wins in Winston-Salem to join the nine other players with college ties in the second round. 

Shane defeated the No. 2 seed Alex Sarkissian (Pepperdine) in a pair of tiebreak sets. In the first set tiebreak Shane came back from a 4-0 deficit to take it 8-6 but Sarkissian rebounded in the second set and went ahead 3-0. Shane won three straight to even it at 3-3 and he'd break for 5-4 but Sarkissian broke at love to knot it at 5-5. After an exchange of holds, Shane raced out to a 6-0 lead in the tiebreak and ended up winning it 7-4. Shane will meet Henry Craig (Denver) in the second round after Craig defeated last year's Kalamazoo Boys 18 runner-up Vasil Kirkov 6-1, 6-3

What a tremendous week for players with college tennis ties with 46 winning or finishing as runner-up at pro tournaments across the globe. Georgia Tech rising senior Chris Eubanks won his first career pro title with a long three-set win over 2012 Georgia Tech graduate Kevin King. King spent this past season as a volunteer coach at Georgia Tech while rehabbing an injury and he and Eubanks also played doubles this week with the pair finishing as runner-up to USC's Brandon Holt and Riley Smith. In Sunday's final at the USA F17 Futures in Winston-Salem, Eubanks came back from a 2-0 first set deficit to take the set 7-5 but King bounced back in the second set and took it 6-2. There are were no breaks of serve in the third set with the only break opportunity coming when King served 3-4 (ad-out). King went up a mini-break to start the third set tiebreak but he wouldn't lead again as Eubanks led 4-2 at the changeover and ended up taking it 8-6. 

The last vacant Power Five head coaching position was filled on Friday when Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle announced the hiring of Catrina Thompson as the new women's head coach of the Gophers. Thompson comes to Minneapolis from South Bend where she has been the women's assistant coach for the last four years. Thompson played at Notre Dame from 2003 to 2007 and also coached at Yale and Boise State. Thompson replaces Chuck Merzbacher who retired after 28 years as a head coach with the final five coming at Minnesota. Below are some quotes from Minnesota's recap:

"As an assistant coach, Catrina has contributed to significant academic and athletic success for her student-athletes during the past seven seasons. She is a person of great substance, and her dedication to the total collegiate experience is exactly what we want from all of our head coaches," said Athletics Director Mark Coyle. "Catrina was an All-American and a professional athlete before becoming a coach. She's competed, coached and won at the highest levels. That experience will serve her and our student-athletes well."

"I am thrilled to be a part of the Gopher family. I am looking forward to helping Gopher student-athletes develop and reach their goals on and off the court, and also building on the success and tradition that the University of Minnesota embodies," said Thompson. "I am humbled by this incredible opportunity with which I have been entrusted. I want to thank Mark and everyone at Minnesota for this honor and responsibility, and I'd also like to thank Jay Louderback and Beck Roghaar for their mentorship throughout my college coaching career."

Thursday, 15 June 2017 08:44

Thursday Pro Circuit Update

There are three pro events this week in the United States and all three have a slew of players with college ties that are still in the draw as the weekend approaches. In Winston-Salem, seven of the eight singles quarterfinalists and all four of the doubles finalists have college ties. Georgia Tech rising senior Chris Eubanks and 2012 Georgia Tech graduate Kevin King advanced to the doubles finals where they'll meet USC rising sophomores Brandon Holt and Riley Smith.

Eubanks, King, and Holt also advanced to the singles quarterfinals with King getting a walkover win over the No. 3 seed Christian Harrison. Holt came back from 5-3 down in the third to defeat Wake Forest's Borna Gojo 7-5, 6-7, 7-5. Gojo served for the match and had a pair of match points at 5-4 (40/15) but Holt won four straight to break for 5-5 and then broke again at love to close it out. Eubanks won a pair of tiebreak sets over 2016 Denver graduate Henry Craig. There were no breaks of serve in the match and in fact there was only one break point which came when Craig served at 5-6 (30/40) in the first set. 

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