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  • Writer's pictureMichael Augsberger

Mills wins 15-13 at incredible Halloween extravaganza


An incredible Halloween party brimming with costumes, music, dancing, and tennis could only be brought to a close by a final befitting its setting, and what a final it was. Carter Mills and Finn Coco played into almost twilight. Trading sets quickly, their tiebreak saw no fewer than six match points before Mills claimed the winner and the Halloween 16U championship.

Mills rode his Nimbus 3000 to greater heights than he's seen before: He gains three places to land fifth in the 16U tour and maintains his No. 2 ranking at 14U, closing the gap to Jon Ozenci to 85 points, within striking distance in two tournaments.

In all, twenty-nine players competed for three tennis grands prix and also costume bragging rights at one of the best-attended UTR events on the calendar. At the second tier 16U, Isabella Sofia Martelli won her first Tennis Central Junior Circuit title 4-2, 4-2 against newcomer Derin Goktepe.

Both had hotter cauldrons to escape in the lead-up to the final. Martelli navigated two tiebreaks. After dropping the opening set 4-1, she cruised past Emma Choi 10-1 to make the semifinal, where she had to surpass old rival Lila Briskin-Watson 7-5 in their second-set breaker. Meanwhile, Goktepe just managed to sneak past a greatly improved Lara Isler 10-8 in their semifinal.

In just three tournaments played, the win brings Martelli up to 30th on the 16U tour, making her by far the longest leaper of any non-debutante this week.

Vincent Finisdore debuts at No. 30 on the 12U tour thanks to his victory over veteran and Tour Championship winner Likitha Gaddipati in the 12U final. She gave him a run for his money at 5-3, 5-4 (7-3), taking him to his second tiebreak of the day. Earlier, in the quarterfinals, it was Zain Beg who almost overcame the Australian, going 7-4 in a second-set tiebreak.

Now third on the 12U tour, Gaddipati takes aim at Shiloh and Siena Auzoux, who are 73 and 13 points ahead respectively and had their own success this weekend, with Siena closing the gap to her brother after her semifinal performance before bowing out to Gaddipati.

Beg and Shannon Bu came out successfully in the tables, both vaulting nine spots in a Round of 16 win and a consolation win, respectively.

Mills's path to the final was fairly straightforward with two-set wins in each round, including 4-2, 4-2 against Pakistan's Zakariya Khan. Coco, the top seed, was tested by Raelyn Chen at 5-3 in the second in the semifinal. All except Mills, a tour mainstay, are tour rookies debuting in the 16U rankings this week.

And yet Renata Cavallo won perhaps the most coveted prize of the 16U day: Best Costume. She arrived in athletic dress with the mottos "Defend till the End" and "No Pain, No Gain" draped over her. The kicker, however, was the sawed tennis ball latched to her head and Oscar-esque makeup signaling a spooky experience.

The costume inspired her to win her tight consolation match over Sumaer Sarangal 5-3, 4-2 after she ran into the eventual champion in the tough first-round draw.

Meanwhile the 12U players and coaches took the costumes more seriously than Cavallo's opponents. We spotted a chef, Batman, and a Pittsburgh Steelers player among a myriad of others.

In league play, Jake Snow earned the Player of the Week honors with two wins, both by the same scoreline, that brought him to 3-3 on the season and into first place in Group B. He took on Kate LeBlanc and Lila Briskin-Watson, the latter fresh off the Halloween semis appearance, winning 8-2.

LeBlanc, now fourth in Group C, won the match of the weekend over Finn Koski, with 6-4 the final score. Koski remains in first in Group D despite the loss with his 2-1 record, but Rhett Dove did her best to chase him down and set up an interesting rematch later on. She grabbed the first Blue Glove Open win of her career by defeating Allison Tran 8-3.

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 A 16U: Carter Mills

UTR B 16U: Isabella Sofia Martelli

UTR 12U: Vincent Finisdore

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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