Nanda Reaches Final Round of Qualifying at Orlando Futures; No. 1 Florida Faces No. 2 North Carolina in Women's Team Indoor Final; Rubin Wins Launceston Challenger; USA Advances in Fed Cup; Zink Wins Grade 4 in Mexico
©Colette Lewis 2017--
Govind Nanda is hoping to give himself an early birthday present on Monday, when he plays in the final round of qualifying at a USTA Pro Circuit Futures event for the first time. Nanda, who will turn 16 in five days, defeated 16-year-old Drew Baird 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 for his third qualifying win this week at the $15,000 Orlando Futures on the USTA National Campus.
Nanda has played in qualifying at four Futures tournaments, with three of those coming this year. He has also managed to squeeze in two ITF junior events in 2017, but decided not to stay in South America after the Grade 1 in Colombia, opting for professional experience instead.
"The level in the ITFs, the Grade 1s, everyone is good in those tournaments," Nanda said. "In Futures, some guys are playing just to have fun, but there's also some guys who are very good, the guys higher up. The level is pretty similar, but the Futures is less pressure right now."
Nanda defeated a 50-year-old wild card in the first round, losing just one game, but in Saturday's second round, he eliminated No. 10 seed Alon Elia of Israel, ranked 968, by a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3 score.
Nanda had played Baird in the back draw of the Kalamazoo 16s last year and beaten him 7-6(3), 6-2, but Baird ran out to a 3-0 lead in the first set.
"He just came out firing, and I thought if he kept playing like this, it's too good, he should win this match," said Nanda, who has been staying at the USTA National Campus for the past couple of weeks, but usually trains at the USTA's Carson California training center. "So I just tried to stay solid and stay in the match until he started to make some errors and give me chances. Eventually the chances came and I took them."
Nanda got a break in the first game of the second set and held on to it, although he had to save two break points serving for the set at 5-4, with Baird donating two unforced errors on those critical points. In the third set, Nanda again got an early break and Baird, playing in his first Futures, made too many errors to put any pressure on Nanda in the final few games.
Nanda will face 22-year-old Mico Santiago, the No. 3 seed, for a place in the main draw. Santiago advanced with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Illinois recruit Fletcher Scott.
Seven of the top eight seeds have advanced to Monday's final round of qualifying, with Connor Smith, Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic and Cameron Silverman all winning their third round matches in straight sets. Eighteen-year-old Jason Legall, a Florida Atlantic recruit, will take on Silverman for a spot in the main draw, with two other 18-year-olds, Evan Furness of France, and Genaro Olivieri of Argentina, also through with third-round wins today.
The University of Central Florida plays their home matches at the Collegiate Center in the USTA's new facility, but today four of the Knights were on the Har-Tru courts, having advanced to the third round of qualifying. As coach John Roddick looked on, Korey Lovett, Kalman Boyd, Enrique Paya Gonzalez and Harrison Richmond all lost, with Richmond's loss particularly tough. The Virginia graduate, now attending graduate school at UCF, battled No. 16 seed Victor Nunez of Chile for over three hours before Nunez took a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(4) decision.
The main draw is out, with no Americans among the seeded players. Michael Linzer of Austria is the No. 1 seed. Main draw play will begin on Tuesday.
The finals are set for the ITA Women's National Team Indoor Championship, with No. 1 Florida facing No. 2 North Carolina. North Carolina beat Ohio State 4-3, with Hayley Carter defeating Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the deciding match. Florida beat Georgia 4-0 in the other semifinal. Two-time Indoor champion North Carolina has advanced to the finals for the third straight year, while Florida is making its first appearance in the final since 2011, although the Gators have often skipped the NTI in previous years.
For more, see the ITA tournament page.
The same day that Jamie Loeb won the Launceston Australia $60,000 ITF Women's Circuit tournament, fellow New Yorker and John McEnroe Tennis Academy player Noah Rubin also won a title in Launceston. The 2015 NCAA finalist, seeded No. 7, defeated unseeded Mitchell Krueger 6-0, 6-1 in the final of the $75,000 ATP Challenger. It's Rubin's second Challenger title and with the win, the 20-year-old former Wake Forest star will reach a career-high ranking of around 163.
At the $100,000 San Francisco Challenger, qualifier Ze Zhang of China won the title, beating No. 7 seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. Pospisil had taken out Reilly Opelka, Frances Tiafoe and Michael Mmoh to reach the final. Top seeds Matt Reid and JP Smith of Australia won the doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Zhang and Mao-Xin Gong of China 6-7(4), 7-5, 10-7.
The United States Fed Cup team defeated Germany 4-0 in Maui to advance to the semifinals for the first time in seven years. Alison Riske and CoCo Vandeweghe picked up singles wins for the US, with Vandeweghe clinching the victory with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over Andrea Petkovic. The tie was marred by rain, which caused delays in the first match and postponement of the second singles match on Saturday, and by the playing of an outdated German national anthem stanza, which is associated with Hitler's Third Reich. The US team will play the Czech Republic in April's semifinals.
At the ITF Grade 4 in Mexico, Tyler Zink earned his second ITF junior singles title after winning his first last year at a Grade 5. The 16-year-old Zink, seeded sixth, defeated top seed Rafael Bejar Levy of Mexico 6-3, 6-1 in the final. Ryan Goetz and Canada's Liam Draxl won the doubles title, beating Francisco Vargas and Ramiro Villalobos Muela of Mexico 6-2, 7-6(5). Neither team was seeded. Unseeded Shelly Yaloz and Taylor Gruber lost in the girls doubles final to No. 2 seeds Dyane Barcena Del Bosque of Mexico and Raphaelle Lacasse of Canada 6-4, 6-0.