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  • Writer's pictureMichael Augsberger

Record 88 players compete at Waterfall


Players from all over the DMV and beyond descended upon Tennis Central and host site Holton Arms as never before. A record 88 participants vied for the USTA Waterfall championships last weekend.

The 12U Boys final was hotly contested, as James Amis and Decker Warnken, who debuted in style two weeks prior, fought through two rounds of the top flight to get there. Amis emerged victorious in the 6-4 set.

Julian Rinaldi's training paid off with the 14U championship, besting the field of eight and taking off with a bang. Unseeded, he eclipsed the second seed Steven Brannon 7-6 en route to polishing his silverware in a 6-2 final win over Dylan Reilly.

Reilly notched his own signature win as well. He met top seed Grayson Leeper in the semis.

On the girls' side the 14U Final provided the same excitement. Leila Lotfi defeated Isha Stauber 6-4 in a championship that went down to the wire.

Reiko Levine ended the 12U drama early with her emphatic 6-1 championship triumph against the second seed, Sharaz Pourahmadi. In fact Caroline Le proved the toughest opppnent despite bowing out in the first round to Levine, extending the match to a 7-3 tiebreak. 

Each of the two age groups was so numerous that brackets were grouped into flights based on rating to match the players up better.

That's actually where the best finals of the day was to be found. In the first, where the chalk prevailed just as Connecticut did in the men's tournament against Purdue, top seeds Lara Dabney and Naila Bournissa slugged it out over an hour to determine the 12U second flight champion. 

Dabney proved why she's in the Top 5 of the rankings as she ground out the 7-5 tiebreak, separating the two greats by the thinnest of margins possible.

Almost a mirror image was the boys' second flight for 14U. Benjamin Chew just edged Gerald Mugera in another marathon, 7-5 in the tiebreak.

It was Tour staple Tiago Eozenou who rollicked the second flight final at 12U, winning 6-0, while Miles Tung found similar success in the third flight after another Tour veteran, Zander Abramson, reached the final for those extra rankings points.

Sydney Seay-Lee earned the first title of her short career after meeting fellow Incubator player Parker Javdan in their 6-2 third flight final at 14U.

After a record weekend, the No. 1 players remained atop the rankings: Shiloh Auzoux at 10U and 12U, Jon Ozenci at 14U, and Atlee Hilliard at 16U and 18U. There was little shuffling at the bookend age groups, though Carter Mills jumped two places into the Top 5 at 16U.

With the majority of play at the 12U and 14U level, most of the shake-ups occurred there. After his final appearance Mills also took second place from William Van Horne at 14U. The big winner, however, was Elijah Park, who won the Tour Championship one level lower and added to his silverware collection with the Flight 3 title this week. He debuts at No. 27, while Rinaldi moves up 100 places to No. 34.

At 12U, Zahra Doriwala is poised to make a run having registered for an upcoming event and moving up two spots into the Top 5. Eozenou and Nicolas Kidd both catapulted into the Top 20 thanks to stellar weekends. Amis and Levine, champions of first flights this week, grabbed Top 50 spots in their first rankings.

The Tour heads into another USTA event this weekend before making the dogleg to the first massive UTR tournament of the spring, with more than forty signed up already.

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.

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. We'll post the 2024 schedule soon!

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