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  • Writer's pictureMichael Augsberger

Wild group finish at opening 16U major


Level 6 means business. And it means Major. Fitting that as the golfers gear up for the PGA Championship this week, we hosted our own first major of the season.

Fourth seeded Ivanna Baguma toppled Maeva Hunter 5-3, 4-1 in the final of the 12U girls draw, one of the two age groups with Grand Slam style single elimination. It followed a tense semifinal in which Baguma had to correct her steering, having fought hard to win the first set 5-3 but then drop the second 4-0 to Alexandra Barshay. The eventual champion emerged from the tiebreak 7-0.

Barshay herself had played the closest match of that event, getting through the quarters over Jade Palmer 7-5.

It's Baguma's first major victory on Tour. It brought an incredible boost to her ranking, placing her immediately at No. 13 on the 12U Tour. Indeed, this week we saw massive shake-ups in the leaderboard thanks to the hefty points earned here at the Level 6. Hunter, who hadn't played in over a year, hopped back up to No. 35, just ahead of most of the 12U boys' group champions.

The 16U boys also used the Grand Slam method in two different draws. Shreyash Upadhyay dominated the Blue bracket as only Matthew Gillespie, in the quarters, could wrangle a single game from him all day. The now major champion took on Mohammad Abbasi in the final, before which Abbasi settled his nerves enough to take the day's best tiebreak, 11-9, and sneak past Jack Schwarzwelder in the semis.

The Red draw provided more drama. Andrew Kinnear used only a few extra frames in his semifinal with Alpha Vongxaiburana, at 5-3 in the second. The real fireworks took off in the other semi, where Ryan Newton and Peter Terrico squared off. The second seed Newton won the first set close. Then Terrico stormed back to win the second in a tiebreak, 7-5. The match tiebreak was even tighter, but Newman prevailed 8-6 to meet Kinnear for the championship.

So after all that, it still came down to chalk as No. 1 played No. 2. True to form, the final proved you can have colorful and even riveting chalk, as the top seed captured the title in a tiebreak, 7-5 to Kinnear.

In the Waterfall style selection for players in each draw, as in the original Pokemon cartridges, both Red and Blue were equally strong, resulting in 200 points for each champion.

Making the quarterfinals, Richard Caddell gained five places to land at No. 5. Kinear and Upadhyay, by virtue of their championships, went to the top sixteen.

The 16U girls played in round robin groups, where Group 2 produced an epic finish. Marie Boy, Katharine Morrison, and Avery Wagner each went into their fourth match with eyes on the championship, thanks in part to Wagner's 9-7 tiebreak win over Boy to stay unbeaten. Wagner might have had the chance to clinch it against Morrison, but the latter opened the door for all three by winning 5-3 in the penultimate match.

That left Boy and an unbeaten Morrison to face off while Wagner played Leila Lotfi. She took care of business but needed help in the Boy-Morrison match.

Late on Sunday, major-defining time, Boy took the tiebreak in the first set 8-6 and matches on from there. It came down to set difference between the three 3-1 ladies. Boy had the edge in both sets and games, by the finest margins taking her ranking to No. 9 at both 16U and 18U Tours.

Tour veteran Nicoletta Savvas and Layla Hajj had little trouble in their groups, with Savvas jumping twenty-seven places to No. 18. Irina Ghosh had to fend off Ashni Amin and Roxi Hodor to claim her Group 4 crown.

The 12U boys also lined up at the blocks in groups. Aniketh Shah and Zachary Zhang put on a show that decided Group 1, when Shah outlasted his opponent in the first set tiebreak 7-4 before closing out the second set. He ended up No. 25 this week after the major boost.

In Group 3, Artin Asgarpour went down to the wire with Theodore Perez-Anastasiou. Their 8-6 tiebreak battle meant Asgarpour remained unbeaten to win the group.

Ayan Nambiar and Simon Zusin won their groups in imperious style, hardly losing a game. The group champions' total haul of points was one hundred, allowing for the smaller number of players in each draw. But overall eighty-four players took part---one of the the largest weekends in Tennis Central competition history.

Ashvin Ellentuck's impressive showing, coupled with a tournament win last weekend of play in April, placed him just outside the Top 20 at 16U.

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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