Boyd wins battle of future Pac-12 rivals to reach Carson quarters

April 3, 2015 05:41 AM

By Steve Pratt, special to

CARSON, Calif. – Any time Kalman Boyd sees Michael Genender’s name across from his on a draw sheet, he knows he’s in for a tough time. And it doesn’t have anything to do with Genender being left-handed.

“Lefties don’t really bother me. It’s just that he really bothers me,” said 17-year-old Boyd (pictured above) of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., who beat his Southern California rival on Thursday, 7-6 (2), 6-4, to advance to the boys' 18s quarterfinals at the Grade 1 USTA International Spring Championships. "He doesn’t hit it in my strike zone and he gets everything. He’s such a good player, and we always have a good match.”

The future Pac-12 rivals could be seeing more of each other down the road. Boyd will play for USC next fall and Genender, from Los Angeles, has chosen Stanford.

In the two previous times they have faced each other, Boyd has eked out wins. The first was during the final of a sectional event, with Boyd winning 6-4 in the third. Last summer at the USTA National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., Boyd was down a set and 5-2 and faced match points before rallying for an early-round victory.

Boyd’s decision to play for USC was an easy one. His grandfather, Bob Boyd, was the USC men’s basketball coach for 13 seasons, from 1967 to 1979. He passed away in January at the age of 84.

“My dad and my uncle and my cousin, a lot of people in my family all went to USC,” said Boyd, who was watched by USC men’s coach Peter Smith during the first set. “Since I was 8 years old, I’ve been watching USC on TV. It’s really a dream come true for me.”

Boyd trains exclusively with Chris Groh, the former coach of Tommy Haas and former Stanford star and current ATP pro Bradley Klahn, who is injured but was on-site Thursday checking out the action.

Unseeded Emma Higuchi, 17, had another dramatic day at the SubHub Center on Thursday, rallying to eliminate No. 8 seed Caroline Dolehide of Hinsdale, Ill., 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4), to advance to the quarterfinals. Higuchi, who trains on-site, was down a set and 4-1 before rallying for the victory. On Wednesday, she was down 4-1 in the third set against her friend Claire Liu and came back to win.

“I was thinking, 'You’ve done it once, you can do it again,'” Higuchi said. “I think my mentality was just, 'Don’t let her get to five games.'”

Higuchi next plays No. 2-seeded Sofia Kenin in the quarterfinals. 

In other action, both top-seeded players in the 18s moved on to the quarterfinals. Girls’ 18s No. 1 Usue Arconada will face Ingrid Neel, the No. 7 seed from Bradenton, Fla., who took out fellow Floridian Taylor Russo of Deerfield Beach, 6-1, 7-5. Boys' 18s top seed William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., beat Sam Riffice of Roseville, Calif., 6-4, 7-6 (4), to set up a quarterfinal match against Jonathan Small of Zionsville, Ind.

A day after upsetting the No. 1 player in the girls’ 16s, 12-year-old Alexa Noel pulled off another surprising win, knocking out No. 5 seed Nicole Conard of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-1, 5-7, 6-3.

“I haven’t played any of the girls I’ve beaten,” said Noel, who is into the semifinals. “They aren’t good at just one thing. They hit heavy and keep it in play.”

To follow all the action this week at Carson, log on to for Ken Thomas’ commentary and interviews. To follow the live scores online, go to For a complete run down of news, photos, scores and updated draws, log onto the website at