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  • Writer's pictureMichael Augsberger

Group tiebreak drama at USTAs


Four matches and two nerve-wracking tiebreaks after his early morning start, Ethan Massay raised the Sweet Spotter Classic 12U trophy on Saturday. In doing so he had to qualify from the Round of 16, sidestep two-time champion Vincent Finisdore, and vanquish overall No. 1 player Shiloh Auzoux in the final.

Massay opens his account at 34th on the 12U Tour, just behind one-time division champion Dakshesh Karthigayan, who made this week's quarters but bowed to the winner 4-2, 4-1.

It was the semifinal that truly tested Massay. Inches from the finish line in the first set, he lost 8-6 in a tiebreak to Finisdore, a man on fire who's won three of five events he's entered. But Massay righted the ship and got revenge in a 10-7 match tiebreak.

Finisdore sits at 10th and 18th but given the points dropped will rise to at least 6th and 11th on the 10U and 12U Tour, respectively, next week. With that level of dominance coming all during this fall, he's a lock for the fall points tickets to the UTR Fall Finals on December 9, where the top-ranked players overall and in just the fall tournaments will qualify.

Shiloh and Siena Auzoux, along with Shannon Bu and Lara Dabney, hit double duty this weekend at both Saturday's Classic and Sunday's USTA events.

Two incredible matches punctuated the UTR early rounds for Dabney. In the opener Dabney ousted Siena Auzoux in a 10-6 tiebreak after trading close 4-2 sets. Then she may have put up the performance of her short career against Finisdore in the quarters, grabbing the first set and then only conceding 5-3 in the second before a 12-10 tiebreak that pushed the three-time champion to the brink.

For her trouble she maintained her No. 3 spot on the 10U Tour. Though she repeated her victory over Siena in Sunday's group match at the USTA 12U, she faltered 7-4 in a tiebreak to win the group facing Socrates Gaunt in the day's last heat. With each player finishing at 1-1, Auzoux had the better game difference to take the title. The extra points from two tournaments helped keep Siena at the No. 2 position at 10U.

But Likitha Gaddipati, making the semifinals on Saturday, leapt over her in the 12U. Now she's twenty points ahead at No. 2 and just outside one tournament's striking distance of the leader, Shiloh, who went 2-0 on Sunday to win another USTA division title.

Indeed, two other three-way ties dominated the headlines at the 10U Green. In Group A, Jack Kivov, Stefan Ceric, and Kayden Toth each went 1-1. Kivov defeated Ceric by a score of 6-3 to bring his games record to 10-9, while Ceric finished .500 at 9-9, just one game behind. To add to the drama, Toth went 9-10, a minuscule two games separating the entire group for the championship.

Bu won the second division title of her career, the first since August 27, in a similar fashion---she topped a three-way tie at 2-1 having defeated Nela Klescova 6-3 to take a two-game lead over her in the standings. She now claims No. 6 on the 10U Tour after entering nine events.

Austin Johnson and Blake Stephenson were rampant in their 16-2 and 16-1 records to win USTA divisions, while Group A at the 10U Orange produced more drama. Benjamin Zhang had to earn it against Chiaoyang Qu, 4-3, in the opener that eventually decided the title, but Milan Smith tried to throw a wrench in the mix, also taking Zhang to 4-3 before finishing third.

It is Johnson's third title in as many tries. The win bumps him into the Top 10, falling at ninth place after gaining five spots this week. Zhang, who had entered once before and winning just one match, vaulted to 26th, while Smith, a group winner on October 15, grabs 15th place.

As we head into another big weekend for the younger players at 12U and 14U, the only major change elsewhere on the tours belonged to the 16U Top 10, where Beckham Hoang took Kiran Mathura's spot at No. 10.

In league play, Lara Isler won the Player of the Week award with her 6-4 win over Group C leader Annie Lippard. With the win Isler begins her challenge for the title, though time is running out on the season. Four weekends remain to jockey for position and finals places.

Lila Briskin-Watson notched two victories, while Vincent Finisdore also added to his collection of wins this weekend at the Blue Glove Open.

2024 Points Change

A change to the points applied to higher-level tournaments from lower levels should reflect ages and skills better from now on. It used to be that all points were halved when applied to a higher age group's rankings. Now, the points are halved each step up the ladder, not just once.

So a player can no longer earn 80 points at 10U and count them as 40 at 16U. They would be halved at 12U (40 points), again at 14U (20 points), then again at 16U (10 points). It provides the incentive without disrupting the older players' earnings too much.

However, a younger player earning points in an older tournament, much as Arnav Nadikatla did in this Tour Championship edition, is still a sure way to rise faster in those rankings.

Remember the newly added feature to the rankings: the Plus / Minus, which will tell you how far up or down the player has moved within the last week.


UTR 12U: Ethan Massay

USTA 10U Green: Jack Kivov, Shannon Bu

USTA 10U Orange: Benjamin Zhang, Austin Johnson, Blake Stephenson

USTA 12U: Shiloh Auzoux, Siena Auzoux

The full tables now look like this.

Each weekend this spring and summer, Tennis Central is bringing you USTA and UTR tournaments at Holton-Arms School. Earn points for advancing through each round, just like on the pro tours, and qualify for the TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP at season's end.

Bigger events offer more points, with the TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP offering the most, as well as prizes.

Check here for updates each week to the Tennis Central Tour Rankings, a 52-week points system based on the pro tours, as well as recaps of all the action and photos.



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