With clay season in full swing until the French Open that begins on May 22, ESPN's Peter Bodo took stock of IMG Academy alumnus Kei Nishikori's prowess on clay. Nishikori, at present, is competing at the Barcelona Open, and event that he has won each of the past two years. If Nishikori can complete the three-peat, he would be only the third player in history to win three consecutive Barcelona Opens, joining Mats Wilander and Rafael Nadal.
It has been a big week for IMG Academy student Katarina Kozarov. She signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Furman University women’s tennis team mid-week, then the Novi Sad, Serbia native won the Women’s Draw of the 2016 Sarasota Open on Sunday. In the final, Kozarov bested Gia Cohen with a spirited late rally, 1-6, 7-5 (10-3) to take the title.
The NCAA Regular Signing Period began on April 13, and at a special ceremony this week, 26 Ascenders were honored as they signed National Letters of Intents. With the current signing period ongoing until August 1, 2016, this week’s signees marked only the latest wave of many more commitments to come over the next several months as students make their final decisions.
A native of Blackshear, Georgia, Gautham Mudireddy has his sights set on helping as many people as he can. Now a junior at IMG Academy, he has his sights set on getting into a college with a great Pre-Med program. With a 4.94 GPA and keen interests in biology, he is well on his way. His ambition to help others gave Gautham the edge in being named this week’s IMG Academy Student-Athlete of the Week.
World #6 ranked Kei Nishikori arrived at IMG Academy in 2003 ready to chase his professional dreams, and made history in 2014 when he became the first-ever Asian born male player to reach a Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open. Nishikori is the highest ranked male player ever from Japan (#4 ATP Tour, March 2015), and has won 11 career pro titles to date.
IMG Academy senior Michael Mmoh won his fourth career professional men’s singles title at the Bakersfield Tennis Open, a $25,000 Futures event. Mmoh, currently ranked #359 on the ATP World Tour Singles Rankings was playing in his second Futures singles final of the year and was able to clinch his first title of 2016.
In the final, Mmoh downed Casper Ruud of Norway, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1. It was a momentous win for Mmoh, who is preparing to play in the Miami Open and coming off a loss at Indian Wells a week earlier.
Four years ago, Katarina Kozarov enrolled as a freshmen with only limited skills in English and unaccustomed to the culture of the United States. Today, Katarina, or “Kata,” as her friends call her, is one of the most socially active and engaged students in the class of 2016, and on her way to a bright future with a full scholarship to Furman University, where she plans to study business and continue playing tennis.
The University of North Carolina men's tennis program had reason to celebrate as the team won the ITA Team Men's Indoor national championship last week, besting the vaunted Virginia Cavaliers. One member of the team who helped that victory along was IMG Academy alumnus Anudeep Kodali, who earned a point for the Tar Heels with a straight-sets victory over Henrik Wiersholm, 6-2, 6-2, to get the Heels up 2-1. Ultimately, UNC would win the day, clinching a 4-2 decision.
IMG Academy alumnus Fabrice Martin has been on the rise since last year, and over the weekend brought home the doubles title, alongside partner Oliver Marach, at the 2016 Delray Beach Open, held Feb. 15-21. In the final, Martin and Marach were in the underdog role, facing off against doubles legends, the Bryan brother, Bob and Mike, the defending champions from last year's Delray Open. Martin and Marach saved six match points to fend off the defending champs, and win 3-6, 6-6 (9) [13-11].
The USTA Closed Regional Tournament took place recently in Tucson, Arizona, and sisters Carolyn and Anna Campana, won the Girls 18s and 16s division singles titles, respectively. In the Girls 18s finals, Carolyn upended #1 seed Marjorie Antohi of Texas with ease, 6-4, 6-1. Meanwhile, younger sister Anna was impressive, albeit with a much tougher road to the final. After consecutive marathon matches in the quarters and semis, Anna dug deep and took care of business in the final against California native Avery Aude, taking the title by a score of 6-1, 6-2.