By Steve Pratt, special to USTA.com
ST. HELENA, Calif. -- Just two of eight USTA juniors managed to win singles matches with two others falling in three sets on the first day of the 12th annual Audi Napa Valley Classic being played at Meadowood Resort on Friday.
Seventeen-year-old Southern Californian’s Robbie Bellamy and Joseph DiGuilio both picked up wins in the unique event that combines eight of the top USTA juniors against four top players from six NCAA Division I programs.
Host California and Big 12 Conference representative Texas were the big winners on the day each going undefeated in four matches. The 32-man field is split into eight pools featuring three collegians and a USTA junior. The winner of each pool on Sunday advances to the quarterfinals of the PlayBrave Wild Card Shootout, a single-elimination, 10-point tiebreak tournament with the winner earning a wild card into a future USTA Pro Circuit event.
USTA coach Nick Fustar of the USTA Regional Training Center Eagle Fustar Tennis Academy in Santa Clara said some of the close matches could have gone in favor of the USTA, but experience was definitely a factor. "It’s a little disappointing to lose six matches at a level where the juniors can definitely compete with these guys," Fustar said. "But I’m proud of the guys. They had some battles out there. "
Fustar split coaching duties on the day with Brian Wilson, a former ATP Touring pro and now directing the USTA Regional Training Center Northwest High Performance Tennis out of Kirkland, Wash.
Last year the USTA juniors won five of eight matches on Day 1 and two years ago, led by Jack Sock, the squad went 6-2. Also last year, the USTA had two players (Connor Farren and Alexios Halebian) win their respective round-robin pools and advance to the quarterfinals with both winning one round in the Shootout before falling in the semifinals by 10-7 scores.
Two years ago, Halebian also won his pool, as did Mitchell Frank but both were beaten in the first or quarterfinal Shootout round.
On Friday, Bellamy from Pacific Palisades, faced three match points but hung on to beat Harvard’s Shaun Chaudhuri, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, while DiGuilio got past Tim Kopinski of Illinois, 6-4, 6-3
Bellamy, a Laurel Springs (independent study) senior who committed to USC just three weeks ago, was down a set and 4-5, 15-40 on his serve in the second set, but managed the comeback. "I was just going out there trying to be aggressive and keep the points in my control," said Bellamy, who was broken three times in the third set.
DiGuilio, from Lakewood, Calif., and also a senior, hasn’t made up his mind about a college choice, but has taken an official visit to Texas and is also considering UCLA and San Diego State. He expects to make a decision over the next few weeks. "I felt really great out there today," said the Easter Bowl boys’ 16s winner this year. "It was a tough match and every point was really close. I just came out on top on the big points."
He added: "I’m not used to playing the college guys. It’s a really great experience to see where the next level is. I’m going to college next year so it’s great to see what the competition is like. They have more experience and you have to be intense every point because they really want to win. I think that’s the biggest thing is just the intensity and the competition level. Everyone is really good here and you have to bring it every match.
Fustar is hoping for a better day from the juniors on Saturday. "The experience is really good for the kids and I think the experience factor is the reason we only won two matches today," he said. "I was really proud of Robbie. The kid from Harvard was just very steady and consistent. He was staying like eight feet behind the baseline and Robbie just found a way to just make that extra ball and wait for his chance to take the guys’ timing away."
He added: "I’ll look at the matchups tonight. I have some friends in college tennis so I’ll try an get an idea of what we’re facing. I want our juniors to know who they’re playing so I’ll give them some bullet points."
Last year’s finalist in the event Ben McLachlan of Cal had a tough time with the youngest player in the field, 16-year-old USTA junior Deiton Baughman of Carson, Calif., eventually winning 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
"He played great and hit a really hard ball," McLachlan said. "We definitely don’t want to lose many matches to the juniors. I think the pressure is on us and not much on them."
USTA junior T.J. Pura from Pacific Palisades, Calif., was the only other junior to take a set off a collegian as he fell to Mads Engsted of Cal, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Each school is represented by four players to compete alongside the eight juniors, and the 32-man field is split into eight pools featuring three collegians and a junior. Following three matches in pool play, the eight pool winners will compete in a single-elimination, 10-point tiebreak tournament. The winner of the tournament will receive a USTA-sponsored wild card into a USTA Pro Circuit event that is yet to be determined.
The juniors were selected by USTA Player Development based on ATP rankings (if applicable), national rankings and results, and a selection of younger players for developmental purposes.
To follow scores throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, follow @ustacollege10s
Friday’s singles results
Sudawa Sitaram (Texas) def. Alex Steinroeder (Harvard), 6-1, 6-1
Soren Hess Olesen (Texas) def. Denis Nguyen (Harvard), 6-3, 7-5
Daniel Whitehead (Texas) def. Gage Brymer (USTA), 6-1, 6-2
Robbie Bellamy (USTA) def. Shaun Chaudhuri (Harvard), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
Lloyd Glasspool (Texas) def. Konrad Zieba (USTA), 6-4, 6-3
Joseph DiGuilio (USTA) def.Tim Kopinski (Illinois), 6-4, 6-3
Brian Page (Illinois) def. Casey MacMaster (Harvard), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(6)
Ben McLachlan (Cal) def. Deiton Baughman (USTA), 5-7, 6-3, 6-4
Chris Konigsfeldt (Cal) def. John Morrissey (Stanford), 6-4, 7-6(6)
Ben Wagland (Georgia) defeated Stephen Hoh (Illinois), 6-3, 7-5
Daniel Ho (Stanford) def. Garrett Brasseaux (Georgia), 6-3, 7-6(7)
Riki McLachlan (Cal) def. Jack Murray (USTA), 6-0, 6-2
Nathan Pasha (Georgia) def. Henry Craig (USTA), 6-3, 6-2
Farris Gosea (Illinois) def. Matt Kandath (Stanford), 6-1, 6-4
Eric Diaz (Georgia) def. Robert Stineman (Stanford), 6-3, 6-7(1), 7-5
Mads Engsted (Cal) def. T.J. Pura (USTA), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Friday’s team tally:
USTA Juniors: 2-6
Friday’s doubles results
DiGuilio-Murray (USTA) def. Chaudhuri-Steinroeder (Harvard), 9-7
Konigsfeldt-B.McLachlan (Cal) def. Sitaram-Whitehead (Texas), 8-4
Nguyen-MacMaster (Harvard) def. Glasspool-Hess Olesen (Texas), 9-8 (6)
Baughmann-Pura (USTA) def. Pasha-Wagland (Georgia), 8-4
Kandath-Morrissey (Stanford) def. Bellamy-Craig (USTA), 9-8 (3)
Gosea-Kopinski (Ill) def. Brymer-Zieba (USTA), 8-3
Hoh-Page (Ill) def. Engstad-R.McLachlan (Cal), 8-2
Lloyd Glasspool (Texas) v. Garrett Brasseaux (Georgia)
Daniel Ho (Stanford) v. Konrad Zieba (USTA)
Alex Steinroeder (Harvard) v. Tim Kopinski (Illinois)
Sudawa Sitaram (Texas) v. Joseph DiGuilio (USTA)
Chris Konigsfeldt (Cal) v. Daniel Whitehead (Texas)
Gage Brymer (USTA) v. John Morrissey (Stanford)
Ben Wagland (Georgia) v. Robbie Bellamy (USTA)
Shaun Chaudhuri (Harvard) v. Stephen Hoh (Illinois)
Nathan Pasha (Georgia) v. Farris Gosea (Illinois)
Matt Kandath (Stanford) v. Henry Craig (USTA)
Robert Stineman (Stanford) v. Mads Engsted (Cal)
Eric Diaz (Georgia) v. T.J. Pura (USTA)
Ben McLachlan (Cal) v. Denis Nguyen (Harvard)
Casey MacMaster (Harvard) v. Jack Murray (USTA)
Riki McLachlan (Cal) v. Brian Page (Illinois)
Soren Hess Olesen (Texas) v. Deiton Baughman (USTA)
3 p.m. (or After Suitable Rest)
Ho-Stineman (Stanford) v. Sitaram-Whitehead (Texas)
Brymer-Zieba (USTA) v. Brasseaux-Diaz (Georgia)
Gosea-Kopinski (Illinois) v. Konigsfeldt-B.McLachlan (Cal)
4:30 p.m. (or After Suitable Rest)
Hoh-Page (Illinois) v. Chaudhuri-Steinroeder (Harvard)
DiGuilio-Murray (USTA) v. Engsted-R.McLachlan (Cal)
MacMaster-Nguyen (Harvard) v. Bellamy-Craig (USTA)
Pasha-Wagland (Georgia) v. Kandath-Morrissey (Stanford)
Glasspool-Hess Olesen (Texas) v. Baughman-Pura (USTA)