SCHOLTZ CAPTURES FIRST INTERNATIONAL TITLE

DOUBLE WIN FOR MADAGASCAR’S ZARAH RAZAFIMAHATRATRA

Potchefstroom, South Africa – Nikala Scholtz, the upcoming South African tennis star is flying high. The Boland based Davis Cup player captured his maiden international title in Potchefstroom Saturday by winning the RVTA NWU-PUKKE Futures.

Keep reading →


POTCH SUMMER RAINS DISRUPT SEMI-FINALS

SCHOLTZ BEATS THE RAIN TO WIN THROUGH TO FINALS

Potchefstroom, South Africa – Spoiling Potchefstroom rains disrupted the semi-finals of the RVTA NWU-PUKKE Futures being staged Potchefstroom on Friday.
However the men managed to beat the rain with unseeded Nikala Scholtz needing three sets to reach the final beating fellow South African Tucker Vorster, also unseeded 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3. Scholtz needed 4 hours, 13 minutes to beat Voster, his close friend and doubles partner for the week. Scholtz played aggressively from the outset which paid off and his lower unforced error total played a key role in his victory.
Scholtz will play the fifth seed Simon Cauvard for the title on Saturday. Cauvard was also forced into a third set by the fourth seed, Abdullah Maqdas of Kuwait in his semi-final. Cauvard, like Scholtz needed just over four hours to beat Maqdas 7-6(2) 4-6 6-3.
Tomorrow (Saturday) Cauvard will be attempting to repeat his victory from last week’s tournament played at the same venue whilst Scholtz will be vying for his first Futures victory.
It was after the men’s semi-finals that the Potchefstroom summer rains fell just as South Africa’s rising star; Ilze Hattingh was battling on court against Zarah Razafimahatratra of Madagascar. At the rain delay, Hattingh was 3-6 0-3 down against fifth seeded Razafimahatratra. In the second women’s semi-final, both Estelle Cascino of France and Stephanie Kent of the USA were warming up for their match when rain forced both semi-finalists off court. Referee, Iain Smith then called off matches for the day and announced both women’s semi-finals would resume tomorrow (Saturday) at 09:00am with the women’s finals following after both finalists had a suitable break.
The finals of the men’s singles will be played on Saturday at 10h00. There is no entry fee for spectators.


SIMMONDS ACED BY SHOULDER INJURY

Potchefstroom, South Africa – Tournament top seed Chanel Simmonds from South Africa pulled out of today’s RVTA NWU-PUKKE ITF Futures quarterfinals due to the tennis elbow. Simmonds, who struggled in her second round win on Wednesday due to the injury against Madrie Le Roux of South Africa withdrew ahead of her last eight match against fifth seed, Zarah Razafimahatratra of Madagascar. “I’m obviously very disappointed in having to pull out. Yesterday I really struggled with the elbow and when I woke up today it was even sorer that it was yesterday” said Simmonds. “I have had the tennis elbow before and it seems to have reoccurred. I usually experience it if I have been playing lot of tennis. I had a rough 2-3 months and it all seemed ok, so I was surprised it only came out now.”
Simmonds said that she was happy with her form going into this week having won the first tournament at the same venue last week. “I was playing very well until my last match yesterday when I couldn’t serve properly, so I had to pull out as the pain gradually worsens. I need to take care of my arm and be ready for the upcoming WTA tournament in Auckland later this month and right after that we have the other WTA in Australia and then I will be playing the Australian Open.”
South Africa’s Ilze Hattingh, African Junior Champion, scored her third upset in a row and booked her spot in tomorrow’s semi-finals upsetting sixth seed Lea Tholey of France 3-6 7-5 6-1. After losing the opening set, the second set went on serve until the thirteenth game when Hattingh broke to fight back and take the second set 7-5. An early break in the fourth game of the final set took the “wind out of Tholey’s sales” and Hatting lost only one game in winning the finals set. South Africa’s promising star, Hattingh said she was very happy with her performance from the outset of the tournament. “I have had some great matches in Potchefstroom and I’m very delighted with my performance. And I hope if I stick to my game I might make it to the finals.” Hattingh is the sole South African women’s player to reach Friday’s semi-final where she will meet fifth seeded Zarah Razafimahatratra of Madagascar.
Seventh seeded Estelle Cascino of France also needed three sets to beat Zimbabwe’s Valeria Bhunu 7-5 2-6 6-3. Cascino will play Stephanie Kent of the United State of America in the second women’s semi-finals.
Kent displayed great temperament as she survived a closely-fought three setter against South African junior Lynn Kiro 6-2 2-6 6-4.
In the men’s tournament, fourth seeded Abdullah Maqdas work hard in the second set to beat Austria’s Lukas Weinhandl 6-1 7-5 to move into the semi-finals. Tomorrow (Friday), Maqdas will play fifth seed Simon Cauvard of France who was a comfortable 6-2 6-2 over Evan Song of the USA. Cauvard is hoping to win two titles on the trot having win last week’s event at the same venue.
Pretoria-based Tucker Vorster is enjoying the week of his life. Unseeded, Tucker beat Cape Town’s Keith-Patrick Crowley also unseeded 6-3 6-4 and to unexpectedly move into the last four where he will have his hands full in his battle against new Davis Cup player Nikala Scholtz for a spot in Saturday’s finals.
Nikala Scholtz needed three hours to narrowly beat American Tyler Hochwalt 6-2 4-6 7-6(7).
Semi-finals will be played on Friday with the finals of the tournament scheduled for Saturday. There is no entry fee for spectators.


KEVIN ANDERSON APPOINTS NEW COACH

KEVIN ANDERSON SPLITS WITH COACH LOUIS VOSLOO
Johannesburg, South Africa – South African number one, Kevin Anderson, parted ways with his coach, fellow South African Louis Vosloo.
Both professionals were working together since April 2010 and during this spell, Anderson grabbed two ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) World Tour titles and reached his career high ranking of number 28 in the South African Airways ATP World Tour Rankings.
Anderson announced that he will now be coached by GD Jones from next year. Jones is from Auckland, New Zealand. “I have known GD since junior days, back since international under 14 tournaments. We went to University of Illinois together. GD played tennis there as well, and then for a couple years on the tour” said Anderson.
Under Vosloo, Anderson captured his maiden title at the South African Open, an ATP World Tour 250 Series event held in his home city in Johannesburg. His second title came at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.
Anderson wished his coach good luck for his future plans and ended the relation on a great note.
“It’s been a great experience working with Louis. I feel like I have improved immensely under his guidance and will always respect and look up to him as a coach and a friend. He helped me grow as a person, both on and off the court. I wish him all the best in his future endeavours” said Anderson.
The South African star started 2012 campaign ranked number 32. After an early loss in the Heineken Open, Anderson reached third round at the Australian Open (lost to seventh seeded Tomas Berdych). Anderson then made a quarter-final showing at the SAP Open in San Jose (lost to third seed Milos Raonic).
The 26-year-old exited from second round at Memphis but went berserk after that, grabbing his maiden title of the year at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships by overpowering the Australian qualifier Marinko Matosevic in straight sets in final round. The South African also stunned top seeded Andy Roddick in straight sets and top tenner, John Isner en route to the final showdown.
In the clay court season, Anderson secured a final eight berth at the US Men Clay Court Championships in Houston (bowed out to fourth seed Juan Monaco). He failed to progress in the remaining clay court tournament but re-focused at the AEGON Championships in Queens Club, a grass court tournament where he reached quarter-finals.
Recently the South African secured a quarter-final showing at the Swiss Indoors and cruised to the third round at the BNP Paribas Masters, beating Richard Gasquet in round two, which was his last tournament under Louis Vosloo regime.
Anderson is currently in Auckland training for the month, together with his New Zealand based fitness trainer Murray Hing preparing for his season opener at The Hopman Cup team mixed event to be played in Perth, Australia with countrywoman Chani Scheepers from 29 December to 5 January 2013.


UPSETS GALORE IN POTCHEFSTROOM

Potchefstroom, South Africa – It was a good day for South African tennis players in Potchefstroom on Wednesday. A host of seeded players were side-lined on day three of the RVTA NWU-PUKKE Futures by young up and coming local players.
Cape Town’s Keith-Patrick Crowley caused the day’s first upset when he came back from losing the first set to topple French third seed Elie Rousset 6-7(7) 6-4 4-6. Crowley will now meet unseeded Tucker Vorster of Pretoria in the quarter finals. Tucker also shocked a seed in six seed Mark Vervoort of The Netherlands, 6-2 6-2.
Tournament “dark horse” Nikala Scholtz was the third unseeded South African to cause an upset. Scholtz had a straight sets win 6-3 6-1, against seventh seeded Russia’s Stepan Khotulev. Scholtz now plays Tyler Hochwalt of the USA.
Fourth seeded Abdullah Maqdas was one of the few seeded players to make the last eight producing an outstanding performance beating Zimbabwe’s Mark Fynn 7-5 6-3.
In the women’s singles, South African top-seeded Chanel Simmonds struggled due to an injured arm in her second round match. Simmonds saw off fellow South African Madrie Le Roux 7-6(3) 6-2. It took the South African star over two hours to eliminate Le Roux.
Second seeded Anastasia Kharchenko of Ukraine was the highest seed to fall by the wayside in the women’s singles. In cloudy conditions in Potchefstroom Kharchenko was upended by Cape Town-based junior star Lynn Kiro 3-6 7-5 2-6.
Valeria Bhunu of Zimbabwe caused another upset beating fourth seeded Germany’s Kim-Alice Grajdek 6-1 0-6 6-1. Grajdek and will play seventh seed Estelle Cascino of France in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.
African Junior Champion, Ilze Hattingh of Pretoria continued her winning streak when she dominated against India’s Sharon Sanchana Paul in straight sets 6-2 6-1 today. Hattingh will meet Lea Tholey of France in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Quarterfinals will be played on Thursday with the finals of the tournament scheduled for Saturday. There is no entry fee for spectators.


NJT PLAYERS END UP WITH FEET OF CLAY

PORT ST LUCIE, Florida, USA – Light rain over Club Med Sandpiper Bay just before lunch and a threat of further precipitation throughout the day resulted in an enforced change to three of the finals at the NJT International Masters tennis tournament on Tuesday.
The Boys Under-12 tournament was always going to be played on clay but the other three events took place on hard court. However, the hard courts took quite a while to dry and with further rain impending, the organisers got together all the players and their coaches to decide how to handle the situation.
In the end it was agreed that all the matches would be completed on the clay courts.
When the rain came down the Boys Under-12 final had already been decided with third seeded Rudi Molleker of Germany taking the title with a 6-4 6-0 victory over top seed Alen Avidzba of Russia.
While the Girls Under-12 final had not yet started, the Boys Under-14 championship match had second seed Jay Clarke of Great Britain winning the opening set against unseeded Mate Valkusz of Hungary although the Hungarian had gone up 1-0 in the second.
In the Girls Under-14 final unseeded Serb Katarina Jokic held a 4-1 lead over No 6 Julia Payola of Spain.
Ironically both Valkusz and Jokic were not exactly over the moon about the change to clay but both went on to win their matches. Valtusz came back to beat Clarke 3-6 6-3 6-4 while Jockic defeated Payola 6-2 6-4.
“At first I wasn’t happy to move to the clay but once I started to play I was quite comfortable on the surface,” admitted Valkusz.
It is difficult to predict the outcome had they finished the match on hard court but by his own admission, Valkusz did not start off well. Whether he was a little tired after two tough matches on Tuesday or just having a bit of an off day, the youngster from Budapest did not move his feet well and his shot selection was questionable. At one point, serving at 2-2 with the score at 15-30 Valkusz attempted a drop shot from behind the baseline that did not even come close to reaching the net. He was struggling to hold serve and making too many errors on the return games to hurt Clarke who finally took the opening set when Valkusz overcooked a forehand.
He played better in the opening game of the second, breaking the Clarke serve, but when they returned on the clay, Clarke broke immediately to level at 1-1. In what was an extraordinary set, there was only one service hold and that was by Valkusz in the fourth game and it as enough for him to level the match.
However, in the third it was Clarke who took control early on, going up 3-0 with a double break of serve. Valkusz would not be denied and reeled off four successive games to go up 4-3. Clarke levelled at 4-4 but Valkusz held, and then broke the Briton to love to close out the match.
“My foot work wasn’t the best early on,” said Valkusz. “I played too defensive but then got more aggressive. This title is very important to me. I am so proud to have won it.”
Valkusz has to be one of the smartest players at the tournament. However, it is more than that. He not only was able to work out his opponent, but also how to counter any offence. It is all very well to know what you have to do, but you also have to be able to implement it and Valkusz could do it all.
He will return home to Hungary where he is looking forward to a nice long rest.
At the age of 12 Molleker already looks the “complete package”. He is a good athlete, reads a game well, moves fluently and has loads of game. He also appears to have a good work ethic and that should stand him in good stead for the future.
He had lost his two previous encounters against Avidzba but this time was determined to turn it around. In some ways it was a strange match. Like so many Under-12 matches breaks of serve were not uncommon. However, with Avidzba serving at 4-4, 30-30, a close game suddenly took a different complexion. Two unforced errors from the Russian gave Molleker the break and he held serve to take the set. After that Avidzba just compounded and Molleker just raced away with the next six games to win the set and the title. He fell over on his back yelling with delight. “I was more aggressive throughout the match and I came forwards whenever I had the chance. I played much better in the second set. I hit the ball more down the middle and never gave him the angles.”
While he was delighted with the victory, he is still looking ahead. “Of course it’s a very big title to win but I’m going to the Orange Bowl next week and will need to play well there as well.”
Jokic was the other player who was not keen to take on a Spaniard on clay. “I felt she would be better on the surface so I preferred to stay on the hard court. I also had not played on clay for two months.”
With the first set behind her, Jokic fell behind 1-3 in the second and suddenly there was a real prospect of the match going to three sets. “I didn’t want that to happen but I think I started to move better. I played more aggressively, used more spin and tried to move her around.
“This is probably my best win ever. I’m very happy,” said Jokic.
The Girls Under-12 match was expected to be a tight affair Americans Abigail Desiatnikov, seeded four, and Claire Liu, seeded six but the move to clay strongly favoured Liu who went on to win 6-1 6-0. “The last time I beat her was on clay so I was happy,” said Liu. “Abby doesn’t really play that much on clay but it’s just a matter of practice.”
Liu had got out of jail in her quarter-final match when a set and 1-4 down to second seed Dayana Yastremska on Monday but in her next two matches she was superb. “I attacked really well, compared to yesterday. Today I was placing it really well. This week has been really good. I competed well, played my game and did everything I wanted to. I’ve had a lot of fun.
“I really wanted to win this tournament so I did not party too much. Every night I went to the room at 8.30pm.”
However, she says she now goes into next week’s Orange Bowl with the pressure of being the Nike Junior Tour champion. “It’s pressure. Now that I’ve won people will say `she won Nike so now she should do well’.
“I feel like I have a bigger burden while they will be more relaxed so they play a lot better,” said Liu.
Liu became the sixth American winner of a NJT International Masters title in 12 years. “I couldn’t have been happier,” said USA coach Phil Cello. “It’s not easy to get there and to have two players in the final is amazing.”


SIMMONDSON FIREIN POTCH

HATTINGH UPSETS THE THIRD SEED

Potchefstroom, South Africa – The heat was on in Potchefstroom at the RVTA NWU-PUKKE Futures Tuesday. Chanel Simmonds the women’s top seed was “on fire” as she “burnt” unseeded American, Miriam Lane 6-0 6-1 to move into round 2. The South African, who won the first tournament at the same venue last week now has won six matches on the trot at the NWU-PUKKE venue without dropping a set. Her good form makes her one of the stand-out performers of the men’s and women’s Futures series.

The day however belonged to top South African junior Ilze Hattingh. The African junior champion shocked last week’s runner-up, Keren Shlomo, seeded three of Israel in a hard fought 7-6(4) 3-6 6-2 battle. Hattingh who made her Fed Cup debut this year showed impressive energy throughout the match. “This was a big win for me. It ranks right up there as one of the most important. I’m still a junior and playing international senior tournaments and beating seeded players gives me so much confidence going forward” said Hattingh. Hattingh will meet her India’s Sharon Paul in Wednesday’s second round.
Kim-Alice Grajdek seeded four from Germany overcame a first set scare to beat unseeded Nelise Verster from South Africa 7-6(5) 6-3, while Zimbabwe’s Valeria Bhunu defeated Julia Browne of the USA 6-2 6-0 in the battle of the unseeded players. Bhunu, like Hattingh is a junior player and comes into Potchefstroom fresh from winning the ITF title at the SAS Junior ITF in Stellenbosch.
In the men’s singles, there were mixed fortunes for South African players. Fourth seeded Abdullah Maqdas of Kuwait enjoyed victory when he put out South Africa’s Renier Moolman 6-4 6-1. Last week’s winner, Simon Cauvard of France, seeded five this week, had a straight sets win over Phenyo Matong from Botswana 6-3 6-2. Seventh seeded Stepan Khotulev from Russia came from a first set deficit to beat unseeded American William Boe-Wiegaard 2-6 6-1 6-1.
In a much anticipated first round clash between the two South African Davis Cup newcomers, Nikala Scholtz and Jean Andersen, Andersen was forced to retire due to a groin injury at 1-1 in the opening set.
Scholtz will now play Seventh seeded Stepan Khotulev of Russia in round two.
Round two will be played on Wednesday with the finals of the tournament scheduled for Saturday. There is no entry fee for spectators.


NIKE JUNIOR TOUR INTERNATIONAL MASTERS 2012 – FINAL DAY

PORT ST LUCIE, Florida, USA – Rudolf Molleker of Germany will be looking to turnaround two narrow losses to Russian No 1 seed Alen Avidzba when the two meet in the Boys Under-12 final at NJT International Masters on Tuesday.
Avidzba reached the final with a dominant 6-3 6-2 victory over fourth seed Nikola Kuhn of Spain while third seeded Molleker faced a more daunting task against No 2 seed Yshai Oliel of Israel before winning through 7-5 7-5 in one hour and 53 minutes.
The Molleker/Oliel match was of an incredibly high standard and any tennis enthusiast would marvel at the performance of these two 12-year-olds. As British coach Nick Brown commented: “In a few years you could see these two battling it out at a Grand Slam.”
Oliel had two set points to take the match into a decider with the German serving at 3-5 but Molleker hung in doggedly to hold and then broke the Israeli twice to close out the match. Last year Molleker reached the quarter-finals of the tournament but felt he was not ready to win the event. This year he has an entirely different view. “Of course I will win. Last year the guys were bigger and mentally tougher. Now I’m in the final because I played the right game. I’m more aggressive, I go forward and I know how to smash.”
He now has to cast aside his two losses to Avidzba, the first in Russia and the second just 10 days ago at the Eddie Herr Championships. “Last time I felt I was the better player but I made too many mistakes, especially on the important points. This time I want to play more aggressively and go forward same game.
“I’m confident I will beat him.”
Avidzba was happy to get off quickly and feels confident he can make it three wins in row over Molleker. “I was happy to get off quickly. It’s better to save the energy. Molleker is a very active player but I’ve beaten him before and I’m happy to play him again.”
It has been tough couple of days for Briton Jay Clarke but the No 2 seed burst into the Boys Under-14 final in dramatic style. He cramped badly in his third round match against American John McNally on Sunday and had to come back on Monday and play two matches.
He scored a relatively comfortable 6-3 6-2 semifinal win over Germany’s Samuel Sippel, seeded No 5, and then had to come back from a set down to get the better of No 4 Eduard Guell Of Spain, eventually winning through 4-6 6-4 6-2 in just under two hours.
“He started unbelievably well. I knew it was going to be tough going into the match,” said Clarke.
However, as night descended and the court lights were turned on, the momentum started to shift. “I think the lights changed the game and worked in my favour,” said Clarke.
On Tuesday he will meet Mate Valkusz in the final. The Hungarian came back from one set down to beat Marcus Walters of Great Britain 4-6 6-2 6-0 and then caused an upset by taking out No 3 seed Marko Osmakcic of Switzerland 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.
“The first set was tough. It was so close, we did not know who would win,” said Osmakcic. “When I lost that I was tired.”
The final should be a close affair and Clarke knows that he will need to be physically prepared. “I have to be mentally and physically ready for it to go to three sets.”
The Girls Under-14 final will pit sixth seed Julia Payola of Spain against unseeded Serb Katarina Jokic. Payola began the day with a 6-1 7-5 victory over top seed Fanni Stollar of Hungary and then put out No 7 Theo Gravouil of France 6-3 6-2.
Jokic defeated No 3 Jazzi Plews of Britain 6-3 6-2 before booking her place in the final by taking out No 5 Zaineb El Houari in the semis. That victory was especially pleasing as it was the Moroccan who beat Jokic in the NJT Under-12 final two years ago in the Bahamas.
“I expected a tough match against Plews because last time we played I won 6-4 in the third,” said Jokic. “I thought she would kill me on hard court but I forced her to make errors. I served well and I hit my forehand well.
“I was confident in my second match because she does not move that well. I played two good matches and I’m expecting to play well again tomorrow.”
Payola’s match was rain interrupted but she did not need much time to close it out. “We went on for about five minute. I was up a set and 5-1 so I managed to win the set 6-2.”
The pair have not played before but they have seen each other at a lot of tournaments. “She plays very well,” said Payola. “She hits the ball flat and hard and I play like a Spaniard, using a lot of spin. I will try my best.”
Speaking of the tournament the Spaniard added: “From the first day to the last day it has been fantastic.”
American coach Phil Cello is delighted to have an all-USA final in the Girls Under-12 draw. Fourth seed Abigail Desiatnikov first took out seventh seed Jovana Vukovic of Serbia 6-2 6-2 to book her place in the semifinals and then defeated Romanian giant-killer Mihaela Marculescu 6-3 6-0 to reach the final. In the bottom half of the draw sixth seed Claire Liu had a tough quarter-final encounter against second seeded Dayana Yastremska of the Ukraine, having to come back from a set and 1-4 down to win 2-6 6-4 6-2.
“I was really mad, I really wanted to win and I didn’t want to give her the match,” said Liu. “I didn’t want Abby to win the tournament because she had beaten Dayana at the Eddie Herr. She played very well in the first set and I made a lot of mistakes.
“Once I got my head in front I felt confident. I knew she couldn’t beat me.”
Her semifinal was a much easier affair as she raced past third seed Paula Arias Manjon 6-4 6-0 in just one hour.
Whoever wins the match will become the sixth American winner in 12 years at the tournament. “This is the first year we will have back-to-back winners at the tournament,” said Cello.
Liu and Desiatnikov have played twice Liu has won both, although they have been close affairs. “Right now we’re friends but tomorrow we’re going out to kill one another,” said Liu.
Desiatnikov quickly retorted: “Right now you’re my friend but tomorrow, you’re going down.”


DJOKOVIC AND WILLIAMS NAMED 2012 ITF WORLD CHAMPIONS

The ITF announced today that Novak Djokovic of Serbia and American Serena Williams are the 2012 ITF World Champions. This is the second successive year Djokovic has received this honour, while Williams is named Women’s World Champion for the third time.

Americans Bob and Mike Bryan are named Men’s Doubles World Champions for the ninth time in 10 years, while Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy become Women’s Doubles World Champions for the first time.

Canada’s Filip Peliwo and Taylor Townsend of USA are named ITF Junior World Champions, while the ITF Wheelchair World Champions are Esther Vergeer of Netherlands and France’s Stephane Houdet. Vergeer becomes world champion for an astonishing 13th successive year.

The ITF World Champions will receive their awards at the ITF World Champions Dinner on Tuesday 4 June, in Paris, during Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic finished on top of the rankings and as ITF World Champion for the second straight year. The 25-year-old successfully defended his Australian Open title and went on to reach the finals at Roland Garros and the US Open. Despite losing the No. 1 ranking to Roger Federer in July, he regained the top position in November and went on to win the ATP World Tour Finals. He won a total of six titles in 2012.

Djokovic said: “I am proud to have been named ITF World Champion for the second successive year. It was very difficult to follow up such a successful season in 2011, but it was extremely satisfying to win another Grand Slam title, reach two other major finals and finish the year at No. 1.”

Serena Williams’s superior record in the year’s major events sees her crowned Women’s World Champion ahead of Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. The 31-year-old captured Olympic singles gold for the first time, and won Wimbledon and the US Open to take her total number of Grand Slam titles to 15. She went on to capture the year-end WTA Championships to finish the season with a tour-best seven titles and a 58-4 win-loss record.

Williams said: “It means a lot to be named ITF World Champion for the third time. It has been such an amazing experience this year to win the Olympics and two Grand Slam tournaments, and I look forward to having an awesome 2013.”

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “This has been another memorable year for our sport, highlighted by the most successful Olympic Tennis Event in history. In such a strong era for men’s tennis, it is a great achievement for Novak to retain his year-end No. 1 ranking, while on the women’s side Serena proved herself to be one of the finest competitors of all time.”

Bob and Mike Bryan are named Men’s Doubles World Champions after a year in which they captured their first Olympic gold medal at Wimbledon, having won bronze in Beijing. The brothers equalled the all-time record for Grand Slam doubles titles by capturing their 12th title at the US Open, and were also runners-up at the Australian Open and Roland Garros. They won five more events in 2012 to stand at 82 career titles.

Bob Bryan said: “Mike and I are very grateful for receiving this honour, and we’d like to thank the ITF for this prestigious award. This is one of our achievements that we are most proud of, and we look forward to celebrating it next year in Paris.”

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are the first all-Italian pairing to be named Women’s Doubles World Champions. The duo captured their first two Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros and the US Open, and were also runners-up at the Australian Open. They won a tour-high eight titles during the year, including five successive tournament wins between April and June. They ended the year as the No. 1-ranked team.

Errani said: “We have had an amazing year and are proud to be named ITF World Champions. There have been so many highlights in singles and doubles, but we are very happy to be the first Italian pair to finish the season at No. 1. We’re already looking forward to next season.”

The ITF’s selection of its senior World Champions is based on an objective system that considers all results during the year, but gives weight to the Grand Slam tournaments, Olympic Tennis Event and two ITF international team competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

Filip Peliwo is only the second Canadian after Daniel Nestor to be named ITF World Champion in any category after securing the year-end No. 1 junior boys ranking. The 18-year-old became the first player since Mark Kratzmann in 1984 to reach all four junior Slam finals in a calendar year. He lost his first two finals at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, before winning Wimbledon and the US Open.

Peliwo said: “This is such a great achievement and a huge honour to be recognised by the ITF for this award. I exceeded even my own expectations this past year and to have the year-end No. 1 ranking is something really special that I am proud of.”

Taylor Townsend is the first American girl since Gretchen Rush in 1982 to be named Junior World Champion. The 16-year-old captured her first major singles title at the Australian Open, and narrowly failed to achieve the Grand Slam in doubles, winning three titles at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. She also led her country to victory in the finals of the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

Townsend said: “It’s a great honor. I mean, there’s so much that goes into the title World Champion, and I’m honored and blessed that they would even crown me that.”

Stephane Houdet enjoyed a breakthrough year to be named Wheelchair World Champion for the first time at the age of 42. The Frenchman won his first Grand Slam singles title on home soil at Roland Garros to take over the No. 1 ranking, and stayed at the top for the rest of the year. He was also a singles silver medallist at the Paralympic Tennis Event and led France to victory in the BNP Paribas World Team Cup.

Houdet said: “This has been my best year with my first Grand Slam victory in my country in front of my friends and family, two Paralympic medals, and winning the World Team Cup. These are dreams come true, but also give me new dreams to continue along the same path.”

Esther Vergeer extended her winning streak to 470 matches en route to the year-end No. 1 wheelchair tennis ranking for the 13th consecutive year. The 31-year-old became tennis’s most successful Paralympian, winning her fourth successive singles gold in London. She won a total of 10 singles titles during the year, including the Grand Slam events at the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

Vergeer said: “Again I am very proud to be the year-end No. 1. My main goal for this year was winning a gold medal in London, but being No. 1 at the end of this year is something that I have worked for all-year long. So it is a crown for all the hard work I put in.”

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “I would like to pay tribute to all the 2012 ITF World Champions, who have contributed to a successful year for the sport at all levels.”


CLARKE, MCNALLY SHOW TRUE GRIT IN TITANIC STRUGGLE

PORT ST LUCIE, Florida, USA – There are times a draw would be the fairest outcome of a tennis match but unfortunately that is not an option. A dead-heat would have been the perfect result of the Boys Under-14 third-round match between second seed Jay Clarke of Great Britain and unseeded American John McNally as the two youngsters battled it out on court for three hours and seven minutes.
With Clarke cramping and McNally almost dead on his feet, it was the Briton who survived the bruising encounter 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7-4) and will be back to face another day.
McNally actually held a 5-3 lead and was up 40-0 on his serve in the opening set before Clarke increased the tempo and fought back well to win the next four games and charge ahead. But the American would not lie down and fought back strongly to level the match.
“He just upped his level, stepped up his game and got more aggressive,” said Clarke. “He took charge and I got a bit tired.”
Clarke broke the American in the 11th game and had an opportunity to serve for the set. However, the Briton lost his serve and the match went down to a tie-breaker. Although he was struggling to stand, Clarke managed to build up a 4-1 lead and maintained his advantage to close out the match.
“By the end it was more mental. I kept trying to hold serve, do my bit and hope I could break him. I got cramps but I had to keep going. I just wanted to hold my service points and I believed in my game.”
His plight was not helped by the fact that he had “a tiny breakfast and missed lunch’’.
His next opponent will be fifth seed Samuel Sippel of Germany, who defeated Guilherme Scarpellie of Brazil 3-6 6-1 6-2.
Israel’s Yenkel Zemel, who earlier had upset sixth seed Louis Tessa of France, moved into the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-2 victory over South Africa’s Nicolai Manchev to set up a quarter-final contest against fourth seed Eduard Guell of Spain.
Zemel has a somewhat unusual game for a 14-year-old in that he is a serve and volleyer. He is making his second appearance at the NJT International Masters after having played in the Bahamas two years ago as a 12-year-old.
“Two years ago I played badly. I was nervous. It was only my third tournament outside Israel and only my second on clay,” explained Zemel. “This time we’re playing on hard court, I’m not nervous and I’ve been playing well.
“I came into today’s match believing I was good enough to win. I didn’t play that well but I served well on the important points. Every time I was down I came back well to win the point.”
His decision to serve and volley came about when he watched Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic on YouTube.
“My strength is my serve and volley. I am playing well and I believe I have a chance of winning the tournament.”
Speaking about the NJT International Masters Zemel added: “This is the best tournament for juniors in the world.”
The other two quarter-final matches pit Marcus Walters of Britain against Mate Valkusz of Hungary while third seed Marko Osmakcic against Chile’s Maximiliano Rozas

BOYS UNDER-12

For a youngster who had not seen a tennis match or was aware the sport even existed until he was six years old, Russia’s Alen Avidzba has certainly taken to tennis like a polar bear to snow.
Avidzba, top seed in the Boys Under-12 draw, earned his place in the semifinals with a hard-fought 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory over China’s Yuefen Di in a match that lasted just one minute short of two hours.
He will play fourth seed Nikola Kuhn of Spain, a 6-4 6-0 winner over Brazil’s Igor Gimenez, for a place in the final.
In the bottom half of the draw second seed Yshai Oliel of Israel put out American Axel Nefve 6-2 7-5 and will face third seed Rudi Molleker of Germany. Molleker, who has lost just three games in three matches at this tournament, defeated Artsiom Bardzin of Belarus 6-1 6-0 in just 50 minutes.
Di looked to be one of the most dangerous floaters among the seeded players and when he took the opening set against Avidzba, looked on course for another upset win.
However, all the loss managed to do was “ignite the fire” within the young Russian. “After the first set I started to play more aggressively. My footwork began to improve and I started to get on top. When we got to the third set I could feel the Chinese guy’s intensity dropping and he started to get tired,” said Avidzba.
Di had no problem with the Russian’s assessment. “I felt a bit tired at the beginning of the second set but then I got a second wind. However, in the third set I did feel tired. My top priority is my fitness. I do need to get a lot stronger.”
Avidzba was introduced to tennis at the age of six when his father took him to a tennis club. At that stage he had no idea what tennis actually was but once he started playing, he loved it. After that his family moved to Sochi, which is on the Black Sea and was also the home of former French and Australian Open champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
This is his first visit to the USA and up until now, it has been most memorable. Avidzba won the Eddie Herr Championship last week and could notch up another title at the NJT International Masters. He will go on next week to contest the Orange Bowl.
The 12-year-old was unseeded at the Eddie Herr but remains unfazed by the burden of being No 1 seed this week. “I don’t care about the pressure. It does not matter whether I am seeded or not.”
Di had a different introduction to tennis. “I watched others play and I thought it looked a very cool sport.”
He said that he played last year when he was just 11 years old and lost in the opening round. “I’m not very happy about losing in the quarter-finals but compared to last year, it was a lot better.
“I love the Nike Junior Tour and I hope to come back next year again.”

GIRLS
UNDER-12

Abigail Desiatnikov and Claire Liu, seeded four and six respectively in the Girls Under-12 draw, are hoping it will be an all-American final on Tuesday. Both won through to the quarter-finals on Sunday with impressive victories. Desiatnikov did not drop a game as she swept past Israel’s Nicole Nadel while Liu conceded just one game in each set in her win over Zhibek Kulembayeva of Kazakhstan.
The two girls, who are more effervescent than a glass of Alka Seltzer, would love to play each other in the final. Liu defeated Desiatnikov to win the NJT Tour in the USA but the neither could agree on the final set score. They finally conceded that Liu did win the three sets after having lost the first. “She played a great match. She was awesome so I wasn’t really upset to lose. I’m so lucky that I got a wild card,” said Desiatnikov, who is from Cleveland, Ohio. “I’m so grateful. This is the best tournament I have ever been to because it’s just not about tennis.”
Dealing with a Desiatnikov monologue is almost like undergoing a volcanic eruption. “I first picked up a racket when I was two years old but only started hitting when I was three. I understood I wanted to be a professional and had to work hard when I was eight or nine.
“I love the grace of the sport and the beauty of how you play. When I hit a great winner I love that feeling. I hate losing more than I love winning. I usually cry when it’s very close and I know that I messed up a close point or made a mistake. I learn from every single loss. I played pretty well today although I made some unforced errors I shouldn’t have made.”
Liu, who lives in Thousand Oaks, California, admits she loves the travelling aspect of the sport and meeting new friends. “I love playing the game. In other sports the bigger stronger sportsmen will generally win but in tennis it isn’t always like that. Things like agility and mental approach are really important. If you don’t think positively when you make mistakes, you get down and you get mad but you can’t let it affect you. You need to calm down and focus on the next point,” said Liu.
It will be most interesting experience if the two end up playing the final. But they first have other matches to deal with. Desiatnikov plays No 7 Jovana Vukovic of Serbia while Liu meets second seed Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine.

UNDER-14

While the Americans will be hoping for an all-USA final in the Under-12 Girls draw, the Hungarians are anticipating a similar feat in the Under-14 draw. Top seed Fanni Stollar was untroubled by Swiss Alessia Welti to win 6-1 6-1 and at the bottom of the draw second seed Dalma Galfi was equally impressive with a 6-2 6-1 victory over Eva Nyikos of Austria.
“I think I would like to play the final against Fanni,” said Galfi. “It will be really great for Hungary. We’ve played quite a few times. She’s won some and I’ve won the others – it’s always close. I think she’s probably a better hard court player, though. I’m more suited to the clay.”
Galfi, who lost in the second round of the Eddie Herr Championship last week, feels the NJT International Masters is a unique event. “It’s really good because there are so many different things going on. It’s not just tennis, it’s about making friends and having fun. I don’t have to focus so much on the game.”
She meets fifth seed Zainab El Houari of Morocco while Stollar plays sixth seeded Julia Payolo of Spain.
However, before they get all excited about an all-Hungarian final they had better take note of Britain’s Jazzi Plews, who earned her place in the quarter-finals with a 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 victory over Viktoria Bardarova of Bulgaria.
Plews had a first-set scare when she found herself 1-4 down but came back well to take the set into a tie-break. “She was very good at defending. When I went 4-1 down I was pushing too hard. I wasn’t building the rallies well and after that I started to work the ball better.”
Plews says she’s been playing tennis “forever”. “I come from a tennis family and I got into tennis like that. I love the competitiveness. It’s such a tactical game.”
She faces Serbia’s Katarina Jokic who put out eighth seed Sofia Kenin of the USA 6-1 6-2. “I played her earlier this year on clay. She won 6-4 in the third and I know it’s going to be a close match.”


FOREIGN LEGION TO THE FORE AT POTCH

TOP SEEDS TOPPLED OUT ON DAY ONE
Potchefstroom, South Africa – The ‘foreign legion’ came to the fore on the opening day of the RVTA NWU-PUKKE Futures tournament being staged at NWU-PUKKE Potchefstroom campus on Monday.
In women’s singles first round action, second-seeded Anastasia Kharchenko of Ukraine was in devastating form whitewashing Russian Varvara Kuznetsova 6-0 6-0, while Zarah Razafimahatratra, seeded five from Madagascar accounted for South Africa’s Tamar Shahaf 6-1 6-0.
Unseeded Stephanie Kent of USA recorded the first upset of the day when she toppled her fellow American Erin Clark, seeded eight 6-0 6-2.
Once again, “spoiling” Potchefstroom summer rains fell when South Africa’s rising stars, Jessica Simpson and Lynn Kiro were battling on court against Janneke Wikkerink of the Netherlands and Vanja Klaric of Serbia respectively. At the rain delay, Jessica Simpson was 1-6 4-4 down against Wikkerink whilst Kiro 5-4 up in the second set against Klaric after losing the opener 2-6. Both matches will resume Tuesday.
In the men’s tournament, unseeded Oran Reznik of Israel produced a workmanlike performance in upsetting the Zimbabwe top seed Takanyi Garanganga. Reznik needed three sets to beat Garanganga 6-2 3-6 6-3.
Second seeded South African Ruan Roelofse was yet another seed to tumble out on the opening day. America’s Tyler Hochwalt shocked Roelofse 7-6(5) 6-4 whilst third seed Elie Rousset of France failed to lose a game in his solid defeat of Japan’s Yu Takahashi.
The second round of the RVTA NWU-PUKKE Futures will be played tomorrow (Tuesday).


TWO TOP SEEDS SENT PACKING IN THE NIKE JUNIOR TOUR INTERNATIONAL MASTERS 2012

PORT ST LUCIE, Florida, USA – The second of the Nike Junior Tour (NJT) International Masters produced a couple of major upsets as two of the top seeds were sent packing.
The exit of Mikael Ymer of Sweden in the Boys Under-14 draw came as the biggest shock of the day as he was viewed by many pundits as the player to beat. However, he had no answer to the consistency and more aggressive play of Marcus Walters from Great Britain, who went on to win 6-4 4-6 6-4 in two hours and 40 minutes.
The other No 1 seed to go out was Anastasia Potapova in the Girls Under-12 draw. She had her chances to win the match and even held a match point in the final set tie-breaker but failed to quell the determination of Mihaela Marculescu of Romania who came through 6-2 5-7 7-6 (8-6) in a contest that went on for two hours and 33 minutes.
In his victory over Ymer, Walters used a stroke that most people had thought was as extinct as a dodo in junior tennis – a single-handed backhand. With the odd exception – such as Roger Federer and Richard Gasquet – the single-handed backhand is almost obsolete in the professional game. So to see a junior use it made one understand what botanists must have felt when they heard about the sightings of the Coelacanth, a fish thought to have died out thousands of years ago.
“I started using it when I was eight years old,” said Walters. “The double hander wasn’t working for me as I did not have the same amount of reach so I decided to change.”
This was the first time Walters and Ymer had played but the 14-year-old from Nottingham had seen the Swede play before. “I knew he was consistent and I had to be aggressive to beat him. I had to impose my game on him and see if he could cope with it. I knew I had to be patient otherwise I would make too many errors and he would win points.
“He was the No 1 seed and he had a bit more pressure on him. He’s seen me play before and told me I was pretty good. We are quite good friends.”
The pair exchanged breaks of serve in the first four games of the opening set but the Briton got ahead again in the sixth game and that was enough to win him the set. Walters got an early break for a 2-1 lead in the second but Ymer responded by winning three successive games to go up 4-2 which was all he needed to level the match.
The decider went up and down like a yo-yo and Ymer had his chance at 4-4 when he had a break point to set up a 5-4 lead and serve for the match. Walters snuffed it out and then set up a game point with an ace which he converted.
But a match played with so much intensity came to an unfortunate conclusion when Ymer played a poor game and handed Walters the match with a double fault.
Walters plays Karlo Boljat of Croatia for a place in the quarter-finals and will be looking for revenge. “We played a long time ago and he beat me, but that was on clay and I’ve got better.”
Looking at his chances for the tournament Walters added: “I probably have a little more pressure now. I’m playing guys who are not seeded but if I keep playing the way I did today, I have a good chance of going further.”
Marculescu was driven to win her match against the Under-12 Girls No 1. “I thought I must win because I always wanted a contract with Nike,” said the effervescent young Romanian. “I told myself `I must win these points because I am the best’. I was very brave.”
Winning the opening set was the key for Marculescu and she also sensed Potapova was getting tired.
Her next opponent will be Irina Cantos Siemers of Belgium. “I’ve beaten her before so I’m sure I can do it again.”
After all the upsets on Day 1 in the Boys Under-12 draw, normality was restored and the top four seeds all advanced to the quarter-finals. Among them was Israel’s Yshai Oliel who is seeded No 2 for the tournament. He scored a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alvaro Gonzalez and set up a meeting with American Axel Nefve.
There appear to be a number of lefthanders in this draw and both Oliel and Nefve are lefties. “I like playing another left-hander,” said the Israeli. “I have a good cross-court backhand and against a leftie, it is a weapon.”
Although there are few clay courts in Israel, Oliel enjoys playing on the surface. “It’s because I have more time and I can hit any shot.” He feels his forehand is his biggest strength but needs to be more inclined to volley when the opportunity opens up.”
He is also enjoying the tournament which he feels is more than tennis. “The facility is of a very high level and I feel like a professional on the court. The parties are very good and you meet players all over the world. I have made a lot of friends.”
Oliel only has one goal for this tournament. “To be No 1!”


FINE WEATHER AND UPSETS SET THE TONE ON OPENING DAY OF NJT INTERNATIONAL MASTERS

PORT ST LUCIE, Florida, USA – A short burst of rain early on Friday morning was soon overtaken by clear skies as Day 1 of the NJT International Masters kicked off at Club Med Sandpiper Bay.
The first round matches will only be completed on Saturday but there were a number seeded players who were blown away in the opening round.
Three of the matches programmed for Friday were unable to be completed due to darkness and will resume on Saturday morning.
BOYS
UNDER-14
Only three seeded players were in action on Friday and all but one made it through to the next round. No 3 Marko Osmakcic of Switzerland is out to add the Under-14 title to the Under-12 crown he won in the Bahamas two years ago. He began in perfect style with a 6-2 6-1 victory over Slovakian Lukas Klein and will next face Mexico’s Santiago Suarez.
Also through to the next round is No 8 Casper Ruud of Norway who put out Yibing Wu of China 6-2 6-3. His next opponent will be Chile’s Maximiliano Rojas.
However, there was no such fortune for No 7 Dylan Bednarczyk of Canada who went out 2-6 3-6 to Mate Valkusz of Hungary. Winning matches is hard enough at the best of time but when you’re not well, it is an almost impossible task. Bednarczyk, who coughed his way through the match, said: “It’s been going on since the Eddie Herr tournament. It started a few days before and it hasn’t allowed me to play 100%. If I play a long point I need time to get myself together or the next point is a disaster because I can’t control it.
“My opponent knew I was sick because I was training with him and he knew if he stayed in there long enough he could win. Not being able to play to my potential in a tournament like this is disappointing.”
However, Valkusz said it was a difficult match for him. “It’s tough to play somebody you know well. I felt he was ill because he kept getting upset and that affected me quite a lot.”
The two had played twice before with the head-to-head split 1-1. “Last time he beat me 6-1 6-2 but both of our meetings have been on clay,” said Valkusz. “I play better on hardcourt and I think this time I surprised him.”
With Bednarczyk serving at 3-5, Valkusz still needed four match points before he could end the match. “It was so hard to win the match point because my hands were shaking,” explained the Hungarian.
Valkusz reached the semifinals of the Under-12 draw in the Bahamas in 2010 but is looking to go at least one better this time. “I want to be in the final. I think it will be easy until the semis. I might have to play (no 1 seed) Mikael Ymer and I have lost both times we have played – but on clay.”
Speaking about the NJT International Masters he added: “Its great fun. The other tournaments are so serious but this tournament always has something happening. It makes the tournament special. It’s not just about the tennis but you play your matches and you can still have some fun.”
For Bednarczyk the year will continue in 10 days’ time at the Orange Bowl but he might reconsider plans to travel to Dubai next month. “My coach wanted me to have fun and relax but I went into today’s match thinking too much.
“I was very stressed about this tournament. Going in as a seeded player and a wild card people expect me to go far. I came out of an injury that put me out for seven weeks. I only started playing again two or three weeks before Eddie Herr. I am still not where I want to be but it’s part of life.
“I still have Orange Bowl but with my results I’m not sure what I’m going to do.
“I’m scheduled to play ITF’s in January but as I’m not living up to my standard and potential if can’t keep up my results it’s not worth travelling.
“As far as the Nike Junior Tour is concerned I love the tournament. I’m shocked by the setting, the hotel, the pools and the way it is organised. It really makes you feel important.
“If every tournament was like this everybody would want to play tennis. I feel privileged to have been invited.
“I came here to get recognition but a loss in the first round doesn’t help your cause.”
UNDER-12
The Boys Under-12 draw was completed on Friday and only the top four of eight seeded players managed to win through to the next round. Easiest winner of the day was No 3 Rudi Molleker, who scored a “double bagel” (6-0 6-0) victory over Erik Grevelius of Sweden.
Second seed Yshai Oliel of Israel threw away a 6-1 5-2 lead, losing the second set 5-7 to Mischa Lanz of Switzerland. The match was poised on a knife’s edge when the pair were locked at 2-2 in the third with Oliel serving at 15-30, but the Israeli won the next three points to hold and then made the all-important break of serve for a 4-2 lead.
He almost had a second lapse in the next game when serving at 40-0, conceding the next four points to face a break point himself. However, he gathered himself once again and managed to hold. Lanz had very little left in the tank at that stage and Oliel went on to break again and take the match.
Top seed Alen Avidzba of Russia had a tight first set against Dorian Bahloul of France but then ran away with the second set to win 7-6 (7-5) 6-1. Also cruising into the next round was No 4 Nikola Kuhn of Spain who beat Tibo Colson of Belgium 6-0 6-3.
However, out went No 5 Boris Kozlov of the USA, beaten 6-3 7-6 (7-2) by Igor Gimenez of Brazil, No 6 Mark Keki of Hungary, who fell 2-6 1-6 to Artsiom Bardzin of Belarus, No 7 Tomas Macac of the Czech Republic bowed out to Yuefeng Di of China 2-6 3-6 and American Axel Nefve put out eighth seeded Czech Tomas Jirousek 6-4 6-2.
Both Gimenez and Nefve look dangerous floaters in the draw and could still cause more havoc. Gimenez overcame a nervous start in which he found himself down 1-3 but once he found his rhythm Kozlov’s best way of winning points was to hope the Brazilian lost them.
Gimenez has remarkable natural court craft and he read the Kozlov game to perfection. He moves about the court like a puma on the prowl and plays with explosive enthusiasm. At 1-3 he reeled off six games in a row to take the opening set and break the American’s opening service game of the second.
Kozlov managed to break back but looked to be fighting a losing battle when the Brazilian broke for a 5-4 lead. But he failed to take advantage and dropped his serve to love. The pair eventually went to a tie-breaker and from the first point it was all Gimenez. He stormed into a 6-1 lead and although Kozlov saved the first match point, he conceded the match tamely when he put a forehand wide.
“I was nervous at the beginning but I became more confident in myself and in my game and from there everything just grew,” said Gimenez. “In the tie-breaker I sensed he was getting more tired and as I was playing with the wind, could go into more of an attacking mode.”
Even though he has beaten on of the seeded players, Gimenez will not get too carried away. “I don’t feel any different. Every match I have a chance to win or to lose, like any other player.
“As far as the Nike Junior Tour is concerned I am having a great time. I have done everything the hotel offers but even though it’s NOT JUST TENNIS I’m still staying focused on the tournament,” said the Brazilian.
Nefve spent more than two hours on court to achieve his victory over Jirousek. In the process, he learned that patience on clay is a virtue. “I come from Chicago and normally play on indoor courts where I would rip the ball and try to put it away. Here you have to hit three or four shots before you can look at going for winners.
The American found himself 1-4 down before he managed to turn things around. “He had a huge forehand, so I was trying to work his backhand but made some mistakes in the first five games, so I slowed it down and that worked. He started missing and my confidence improved. He seemed to tire in the first set at 4-4 and began limping around.”
In fact, at 1-2 in the second set the Czech asked for the trainer to be called.
Nefve is hoping history repeats itself and he can emulate last year’s Under-12 winner, Gianni Ross. “We live within a few blocks of one another and play at the same club. There’s not a tournament where I don’t get to see him.”
According to US coach Phil Cello, there are a lot of similarities between the two players. “Gianni was a surprise qualifier last year and also put out a seed early on. He won a couple of really close matches to win the tournament.”
Nefve plays Viktor Banczi of the Slovak Republic in the next round.
GIRLS
UNDER-14
Only one seeded player managed to complete her match before darkness descended over Sandpiper Bay and that was No 6 Julia Payola of Spain. She put out Vera Lapko of Belarus 6-3 6-1 and will play Petra Granic of Croatia for a place in the quarter-finals.
Both No 4 Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovak Republic and No 7 Theo Gravouil of France had won the first set of their respective matches before they were forced to come off.
UNDER-12
Three seeded players took to the courts in the Girls Under-12 draw and all three emerged unscathed. Fourth seed Abigail Desiatnikov of the US put out Judith van Kessel of The Netherlands 6-4 6-3 while No 7 Jovana Vukovic of Serbia came through her encounter against Vanessa Langes of Germany 6-2 6-3.
Eighth seed Laura Rohacova had a more difficult passage against Simona Waltert of Switzerland, having to come back after losing the opening set. She took her time but eventually stamped her authority on the match to win through 2-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 10 minutes.
“I was too nervous, stiff and shaky,” explained Rohacova. “At home we play indoors and on clay and this was different. It’s difficult to change from indoor to outdoor. It is also the first match I have ever played outside of Europe.”
So shaky was her start that before she knew what was going on, the Slovakian found herself down 0-5. However, she managed to stop the rot by winning the next game and then breaking Waltert before conceding the opening set.
“It was Important to win the game at 5-0. It helped me to change my mental approach,” said Rohacova.
The second set went with serve until 3-3 at which point the eighth seed took control and won the next three games to level the match. However, she fell behind 2-0 in the third before getting back into contention to level at 4-4. She managed to hold for a 5-4 lead and then broke the Swiss to close out the match.
“The fact is that I played badly and still won. I’m happy to be in the second round. I just kept thinking I would end up playing in the Consolation Draw. But I love the tournament. The atmosphere is fantastic,” she added.


SIMMONDS CONQUERS POTCHEFSTROOM

DE VOEST FAILS IN FINAL HURDLE

Potchefstroom, South Africa – South African top seed, Chanel Simmonds was the victor on final day in Potchefstroom where the TSA NWU-PUKKE Futures tournament came to an end on Saturday.
The 20-year-old Simmonds beat third seeded Keren Shlomo 6-1 6-4 to lift the tournament trophy.
Despite easily clinching the opening set 6-1, Simmonds was made to fight hard in the second set for her victory. “I played a great first and came out firing and in the second set when Keren took a medical timeout. I think her arm was sore but after the time out she started playing better but I kept my composure and was able to pull it through.”
Simmonds said she was happy with her performance all week. “I didn’t lose a set all week and even though I was strongly challenged in my quarterfinal match against seventh seeded Estelle Cascino, I really am happy with my performance.”
Simmonds said the importance of international tournaments being hosted in South Africa could not be stressed enough as it gave her and other South African players a great opportunity to improve their rankings at home. “It is very nice to play local tournaments, I don’t have to fly ten hours somewhere to play and also this tournaments are a very good preparations for the New Year. I’m also going to Australia late this month, so it is very good to get some few matches now” said Simmonds following her win.
Unfortunately South Africa could not make it a double win, when top seeded Rik De Voest lost in the men’s singles final. Simon Cauvard, the seventh seeded Frenchman produced an all-round solid performance eliminating the South African 6-3 6-4.
This was De Voest’s first tournament in South Africa since the 2011 South African Tennis Open. “I played an ‘okay’ match today but ‘okay’ was not good enough. I felt I was creating more chances while he only created a few. But the difference was he took advantage of his chances and I did not. Simon attacked the net more often and he was playing well on the big points.”
De Voest admitted he was disappointed in not having won the title. “I’m very happy for making it to the finals but my goal as top seed was to come out here and win and I’m a little disappointed it did not work out according to plan.”
Like Simmonds, De Voest said that Tennis South Africa need to be complimented on their initiative in hosting international tournaments here at home. “We South African professionals love playing at home in front of our fans. We enjoy the conditions and to be able to earn world ranking points in your home country is always a bonus.”
The men’s doubles final was won by top seeded South African’s Jean Andersen and Ruan Roelofse. Andersen and Roelofse beat second seeded French pair, Simon Cauvard and Elie Rousset 6-1 4-6 [10-7] .
This was the ninth tournament title for Andersen and Roelofse as a team.
In the women’s doubles final top seeds Kim-Alice Grajdek (Ger) and Keren Shlomo (Isr) beat unseeded Lynn Kiro (South Africa) and Zarah Razafimahatratra (Mad) 2-6 6-4 [10-8].
The second tournament of the two Futures circuit, the RVTA NWU-PUKKE Futures will be played at the same venue in Potchefstroom from 10-15 December.


SIMMONDS DOUBLE BAGELS INTO FINALS

Potchefstroom, South Africa – Top seeded Chanel Simmonds produced a polished performance on Friday to advance to the finals of the TSA NWU-PUKKE Futures tournament in Potchefstroom.
Simmonds whitewashed Zarah Razafimahatrata, seeded five (5) from Madagascar 6-0 6-0 in her semi-final.
In a dominating performance, the 20-year-old Simmonds needed just over an hour to beat the Madagascar champion.
In the second women’s semi-final, third seeded Israeli, Keren Shlomo ended the giant killing run of South African junior Lynn Kiro 6-1 7-5. Shlomo had an easy first-set win but encountered a stubborn resistance from Kiro who fought back aggressively in the second set but her efforts were to no avail.
Shlomo will now meet Simmonds in Saturday’s final. It is the first time the two will do battle against each other.
Men’s top seed Rik de Voest also won through to the finals with a 6-4 6-4 win over France’s Elie Rousset. The South African Davis Cup stalwart said that he needed to work on his unforced error stats going into the finals. “Elie was serving very well; he forced me into a few errors, he got an early break of serve but luckily in the next game I was able to break straight back and not give him all the momentum” said De Voest following his win. “I kept my positive energy going and started to serve better and managed to get another break to come back and win my match. It was getting hot out there and I knew I wanted to close it up in straight sets, so I gave it a little more energy in one match and I was able to win through.”
In the second men’s semi-final, another France vs South African affair, France took the honours this time with seventh seeded Simon Cauvard beating the up and coming Nikala Scholtz 7-6(2) 6-2.
Unseeded Scholtz who impressed en route to the semi-final upset sixth seeded Abdullah Maqdas of Kuwait in the second round.
“I’ve had a good tournament this week and am happy with getting to the semi-finals. Let’s hope next week I can keep up the momentum” said Scholtz.
The finals will be played on Saturday from 10:00am at the NWU-Pukke Potchefstroom Campus. There is no entry fee.


TOUGH OPENERS FOR SEEDS AT NJT INTERNATIONAL MASTERS

PORT ST LUCIE, Florida, USA – Seventh seeded Dylan Bednarczyk of Canada is expected to face a stern test in his opening match of the Boys Under-14 draw at the Nike Junior Tour (NJT) International Masters at Club Med Sandpiper Bay on Friday.
Bednarczyk, who received a wild card into the tournament, has been drawn to play Hungary’s Mate Valkusz, who was one of the players also considered to be seeded as he is ranked No 5 in Europe. In addition, Valkusz has a solid history at the NJT International Masters because in 2010, when the tournament was played at Club Med Columbus Isle, he won through to the semifinals.
It is difficult to compare Canadian rankings with those on other continents but Bednarczyk has played in Europe during the year.
All of the seeded players have first-round byes and while top seed Mikael Ymer of Sweden and No 2 Jay Clarke of Great Britain have to wait to find out who they will take on the in second round, the balance of the seeds will face other players who have been granted a bye. Third seeded Marko Osmakcic of Switzerland, who won the Under-12 title in the Bahamas two years ago, faces Luka Klein of the Slovak Republic while No 4, Eduard Guell of Spain, meets Belorussian Maksim Tybar. In other second-round action fifth seeded Simon Sippel of Germany takes on Romania’s Calin Manda, Louis Tessa of France faces Israel’s Yankel Zemel and Norwegian wild card Casper Ruud of Norway, seeded No 8, will come up against Yibing Wu of China.



Hungary’s Fannie Stollar, winner of last week’s Eddie Herr Championship, tops the Girls Under-14 seeds with compatriot Dalma Galfi at the bottom of draw at No 2. As with the boys, the two top seeds will have to wait for the outcome of two first-round matches before they will know who their second round opponents will be. Stollar is drawn to come up against sixth seed Julia Payola of Spain, who opens her tournament against Vera Lapko of Belarus.
No 3 seed is Jazzi Plews of Great Britain and she will meet South Africa’s Lee Barnard in her second round encounter. Plews is in the bottom half of the draw, as is Eddie Herr runner-up Sofia Kenin (seeded No 8) of the USA, and they are drawn to meet in the quarter-finals. The winner is expected to meet Galfi in the semis.
Viktoria Kuzmova of the Slovak Republic is the fourth seed and is another who could face a tough first-round match when she comes up against Russia’s Aleksandra Pospelova. Both are highly ranked in Europe and this could go down to the wire.
Kuzmova is drawn to play seventh seeded Theo Gravouil of France, who will first have to get past Lulia Ivasci of Romania in her first match, in the quarter-finals.
An interesting aspect of the Girls Under-14 draw is that with the exception of Galfi, all of the others seeds, as well as Pospelova, played in the Under-12 draw in the Bahamas in 2010. That title went to Zainab El Houari of Morocco, who is seeded No 5 for this event. She dropped only one set on her way to the title and that was in the final.
It might well prove to be a good-luck omen for the Moroccan because once again she is seeded No 5 and, as was the case in the Bahamas, she is in the bottom half of the draw.


Alen Avidzba was unseeded for the Eddie Herr Championships but that posed no problem for the young Russian as he defeated all of his opponents to win the title. His reward for that accomplishment is the top spot in the Boys Under-12 draw this week.
Russian coach Vladimir Dmitriev hopes his player generates the same intensity at the NJT International Masters as he did last week but does have one concern. “This is a different tournament and there are a lot of other things happening. It’s NOT JUST TENNIS!”
Avidzba is drawn to meet Czech wild card Tomas Machac, who is seeded No 7, in the quarter-finals.
The other two seeds in the top half of the draw are No 4 Nikola Kuhn of Spain and No 5, Boris Kozlov of the USA.
Second seed is Yshai Oliel of Israel, another tournament wild card. He was the top seed at the Eddie Herr but lost in the semifinals to eventual runner-up Nikolay Vylegzhanin in two tight tie-breaker sets. He will be looking to atone for that loss but has some tough opposition along the way. He is seeded to meet eighth seeded Czech Tomas Jirousek in the quarters.
If things go according to plan, third seed Rudi Molleker of Germany is seeded to meet No 6 Mark Keki of Hungary at the same stage, with the winner taking on Oliel.
Molleker reached the semifinals of the Eddie Herr last week, losing 2-6 6-4 6-3 to Avidzba, and last year, as an 11-year-old, won through to the quarter-finals of the NJT International Masters. Even though he had two matches left to play, the young German felt he was not ready to win the tournament. He is certain to have a more positive attitude about his chances this year.


The Girls Under-12 event is expected to be one the most competitive of this year’s NJT International Masters. Once again the outcome of the Eddie Herr Championship has had an impact on the seedings and the No 1 position has gone to finalist Anastasia Potapova of Russia.
She looks to have quite a decent draw and is expected to meet eighth seeded Laura Rohacova in the quarter-finals and the winner of fourth-seeded American Abigail Desyatnikov and No 7 Jovana Vukovic in the semis.
The No 2 position has gone to wild-carded Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska. In her half of the draw are No 6 Claire Liu of the USA, who she is seeded to meet in the quarters, as well as No 3 Paula Arias Manjon of Spain and No 5 Anna Kynclova of the Czech Republic.


TOP SEEDS THROUGH TO POTCHEFSTROOM SEMI-FINALS

Potchefstroom, South Africa – The top seeded players namely Rik De Voest and Chanel Simmonds both of South Africa won through to the semi-final of the TSA NWU PUKKE Futures in Potchefstroom on Thursday.
Women’s top seed Chanel Simmonds remained on her victory path with a 62 63 quarter final win over Estelle Cascino seeded seven from France. “I must admit, Estelle gave me a tough match despite the score-line but I’m glad I was able to come through and win. I look forward to playing Zarah Razafimahatrata in tomorrow’s semi-finals” said Simmonds following her win.
Razafimatrata of Madagascar, seeded five (5) ended the fine run of Serbian Vanja Klaric winning 6-1 6-0.
Cape Town’s Lynn Kiro who caused a major upset Wednesday toppling the second seed, continued her winning ways when she upset Lea Tholey seeded six of France 6-0 6-3. The South African junior will now face third seeded Keren Shlomo of Israel in Friday’s semi-final. Shlomo beat fellow Israeli Lee Or 6-0 6-3.
In the men’s singles, top-seeded Rik de Voest overcame his fellow country man Jean Andersen 6-4 6-2. De Voest said that he was very happy with the result and how he played. “Despite my win there are a couple of things that I need to look into going forward into the tournament” said de Voest. “But I am pleased to be in the semis and hopefully I will be able to make it into the finals Saturday.”
De Voest will meet fifth seeded Elie Rousset of France in Friday’s semi-finals. Rousset booked his place against the top seed when he caused a minor upset eliminating the third seed Takanyi Garanganga from Zimbabwe 6-4 6-1.
Seventh seed Simon Cauvard of France upset fourth seeded South African Ruan Roelofse in the last quarter final of the day. Cauvard beat the South African Davis Cup player 6-3 6-4 to meet tournament “dark horse” Nikala Scholtz in tomorrow’s semi-finals. Scholtz who plays NCAA University tennis for Mississippi in the USA beat Austrian, Lukas Weinhandl 6-4 7-6(2) in the last eight.
The semifinals will be played from 10:00am


SEEDED PLAYERS SIDELINED IN POTCHEFSTROOM

Potchefstroom, South Africa – Better weather conditions brought about better fortunes for the unseeded players on day two of the TSA NWU-PUKKE Futures in Potchefstroom today.
Rising Cape Town star Lynn Kiro, one of our countries most promising juniors caused the major upset of the day when she toppled the second seed Anastasia Kharchenko of Ukraine. Kiro won 6-3 4-6 6-4 in a 3hour and 16 minutes battle. “I went on court with nothing to lose because I was unseeded and Anastasia was the second seed. I won the first set 6-3 and then she fought back to split sets. I knew that I had to hold my nerve and lift my game to have a chance of winning the match. Im pleased I did just that!”
Despite the win, Kiro was not happy with her performance. “I felt like I was holding back sometimes but I will improve that and try to be aggressive throughout the rest of the tournament.” Kiro will hope to continue her impressive run Thursday when she comes up against Lea Tholey of France.
Top women’s seed Chanel Simmonds breezed into the quarter finals with a dominant 6-1 6-1 win over Charlotte Roemer of Ecuador. It took Simmonds only 56 minutes to book herself a spot in the last eight where she will come up against no. 7 seed Estelle Cascino of France.
Israel’s Keren Shlomo, the third seed made an impressive come back when she overcame “stubborn resistance” from American, Stephanie Kent. Shlomo took just over two hours to defeat Kent 6-7(4) 6-3 6-2.
Another seed to be side lined was Germany’s Alice Grajdek. The fourth seed, went down to another top junior Vanja Klaric of Serbia 3-6 6-3 6-3. Klaric, although from Serbia is based at the Riaan Venter Tennis Academy at the Potchefstroom University Campus so in essence her victory was welcomed warmly by the locals.
In the men’s singles, top seeded South African Rik de Voest produced yet another comprehensive performance beating Israel’s Oran Reznik 6-1 6-0. “I enjoy the strategic side of tennis, working on my strengths and weaknesses on court. I use that as much as possible to keep going each day and it helps me get better and better” said De Voest after him solid performance. De Voest will play fellow South African Jean Andersen in Thursday’s last eight.
Zimbabwe’s number 3 seed Takanyi Garanganga produced impressive all court tennis to beat fellow African Hassan Ndayishimiye of Burundi 6-0 6-4.
Nikala Scholtz, the new South African Davis Cup star, upset sixth seed Abdullah Maqdas of Kuwait 6-3 6-2.
South African Davis and Fed Cup captain, John Laffnie De Jager was a supportive spectator in Potchefstroom today (Wednesday). De Jager said it is a great opportunity for our players to be part of international tournaments as it helps them earn valuable ATP and WTA points. “It is great to have international tournaments in South Africa. This gives our local players the opportunity to expose themselves and earn world ranking points in their own back yard. This also gives me the chance to watch our current Davis and Fed Cup players and the next generation in action.”
The quarter finals will be played on Thursday from 10:00am at the NWU-Pukke Potchefstroom Campus. There is no entry fee.


ANDERSON AND SCHEEPERS HEAD FOR HOPMAN CUP

Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa have not been invited to play in the Hyundai Hopman Cup in Perth since the days of Wayne Ferreira and Amanda Coetzer. However, Kevin Anderson and Chani Scheepers will be teaming up to take on players from seven other countries in Perth, Australia, from December 29 to January 5.

The Hopman Cup, which will be celebrating its 25th year, is an invitational team-based tournament that consists of eight teams, which are made up of one male and one female player. Teams are split into two groups of four, with each team playing the other three teams in their group. The two teams that finish top in their group play off in the final.
Each tie consists of a men’s and women’s singles match and a mixed doubles match. All matches are the best of three sets, except for the mixed doubles. If a mixed match is tied at one set all, a match tiebreak is played to decide the final set.

The South Africans have been seeded sixth for the event with Serbia – to be represented by men’s world No 1 Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic – topping the seedings. The balance of the teams are John Isner and Venus Williams from the USA (seeded 2), Italians Andreas Seppi and Francesca Schiavone (3), Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues representing Spain (4),
Tommy Haas and Andrea Petkovic of Germany (5), Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Mathilde Johansson of France (7) and Australians Bernard Tomic and Casey Dellacqua (8).
Serbia, Italy Germany and Australia are in Group A with the USA, Spain, South Africa and France in Group B.
The South Africans will open play on Saturday, December 29 against Spain.

Anderson said he was really looking forward to playing in the Hopman Cup with Scheepers.” The field is very strong this year but I believe that we can do well together. It’s a fantastic event and it’s also a good opportunity to help prepare for Sydney and the Australian Open” said Anderson

Chani Scheepers was equally excited to be part of the season opening tournament. “I am very excited to represent South Africa at the Hopman Cup. It is a prestigious event with great tradition and I can’t wait to be a part of it. I will have an opportunity to play 3 matches against the world’s best players which is a perfect way for me to prepare for the Australian Open. I am also lucky to have Kevin Anderson on my side, after having another fantastic season on the ATP tour.”

Ferreira and Coetzer won the title in 2000, beating Thailand in the final. They also reached the final in 1997 but after splitting the singles matches with Americans Justin Gimelstob and Chanda Rubin, went down narrowly in an enthralling mixed doubles encounter.

The tournament will be played for the first time at the brand new, state-of-the-art Perth Arena, which promises a whole new level of comfort for spectators. Just one of the features of the new venue is climate controlled seating, ensuring patrons keep their cool during the hottest matches, even with the retractable roof open. Tennis fans can enjoy watching the stars sweating it out on court from any of the 13 910 air-conditioned and cushioned stadium seats.


ALL SEEDS STAND FIRM ON THE OPENING DAY OF THE TSA NWU-PUKKE FUTURES

Potchefstroom, South Africa – Most of the seeds came good on the opening day of the TSA NWU-Pukke Futures tournament at the NWU-Pukke Campus in Potchefstroom today (Tuesday). Spoiling Potchefstroom rains caused a major delay during the day, the rain stroked at which stage the top seeded Rik de Voest was 5-1 in the first set head against unseeded Evan Song of United States of America. After the rain stopped De Voest clinched the first set within a minute and had an easy second set in beating Evan Song 6-1 6-2. De Voest had a fairly decent start this year but a couple of matches didn’t go his way later in the year but gained confidence during the US Open in September and injured himself in Canada during the Davis Cup tie against Canada which was the little stop to the momentum and had to take a couple of weeks without tennis. “I’m trying to pick up after a couple of falls that I encountered and it feels great to play in South Africa after a while. I’m here to win, I will put great efforts into this and hopefully I will be playing over the weekend”.

Top seed Rik De Voest en-route to the second round of the TSA NWU-Pukke Futures event at Potchefstroom following a fine, solid performance in his 6-1 6-2 win over the unseeded Evan Song of United State of America.

Top seed Chanel Simmonds won through to the second round of the TSA NWU-Pukke Futures in fine style with a straight sets win over Eden D’Oliveira. Simmonds won 6-1 6-0.
Pictures Credit: Mario Van De Waal


The woman’s top seed, Chanel Simmonds of Kempton Park in Johannesburg, caught the eye on the opening day of the TSA NWU-Pukke tournament at the NWU-Pukke Campus in Potchefstroom on Tuesday.
Simmonds played her country girl Eden D’Oliveira and won easily to a 6-1 6-0 victory. “There weren’t so many rallies, it was very short and I served very well and that definitely helped. I’m looking forward to my next match.” said Simmonds.

Unseeded Nikala Scholtz, who hails from Greyton in Western Province but currently doing his University studies with the University of Mississippi in the United States, defeated Zimbabwe’s Mark Fynn 6-3 7-6(6) after a challenging match. Scholtz implied that having represented South Africa in the recent Davis Cup tie against Canada, especially having played the world no. 15 Milos Raonic has taught him so much, “It actually felt very good to see that I could compete with those guys but I still have a lot to learn and things to improve on to get to the next level. I’m really thankful for that opportunity; it meant so much to me and taught me so much. The experience of seeing how those guys at the top are doing it was great because that’s where we all want to be” said Scholtz. “My match today was a bit rusty, I had to take all my final exams about a week ago so I have been studying more than playing. I’m glad I made it today but I still need to work on my confidence as I have been playing in doors in America, so I’m still adapting”. Scholtz continued.

The fourth seeded Ruan Roelofse, who currently plays tennis professionally full-time and training at Kainos tennis Academy in Stellenbosch, looked in control from the onset on his way to a 6-2 6-0 over his training mate and best friend Adriaan Du Toit. Roelofse won eight (8) ITF Futures doubles titles this year and he believes 2012 has been a great year of tennis for him. “I felt I played a pretty good level today, me and Adriaan are very good friends and we train together in Stellenbosch. He’s younger than me and I think that was a bit of an advantage for me but is always hard playing a good friend. I’m happy with my performance and happy to go through into the second round of the tournament.” said Roelofse.

View Our Archives

View our categories

Subscribe via RSS