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Hot 100 List - June '17

Intro paragraph. We take a look at a few players who climbed the ranking charts over the past month in the June edition of the Hot 100.

As schools let out across the country, junior players are quick to put their free time to good use by getting out on the courts. We check in with a few players who have posted notable performances in the July edition of the Hot 100.

The Hot 100 lists are published each month, and the July Hot 100 lists feature the one hundred boys and girls who most improved their rankings during the month of June. You can find out more about the Hot 100 - and how the lists are calculated - by reading here.

The latest lists, published today, are available here:

Let's take a look at a few of these players ...




Kayla Wilkins (Charlotte, N.C.)

Four-star rising junior Kayla Wilkins made a major change in her tennis game a few years ago. She switched from a western forehand to a semi-western forehand. Her tennis-playing parents, Chris and Lisa Wilkins, credit this difficult transition for much of their daughter's growth as a player.

Four-star junior Kayla Wilkins
"Not only is it a grip change but it is a complete swing path change. It took a good year before she was comfortable on the match court," they said. "She did not take time off from tournament play and gritted through many losses to get where she is today."

Wilkins's parents believe that the switch also influenced her mental game. "A lot of kids would have given up, but her determination, fight and perseverance not only helped her through, but it is what she continues to draw upon to be the best she can be," they said.

More recently, Kayla Wilkins has been working on minimizing her errors. "I felt that I had the skills to compete with the top players but I was always coming up a bit short," she said. "I have now found the balance between still playing aggressively but in a more controlled manner."

Wilkins works with coach Tiago Ruffoni, former ATP tour player and current coach at the Charlotte Indoor Tennis Academy. Wilkins also points to Ruffoni as a catalyst for her improvements.

"I credit him for helping me formulate a game plan that works for my personal style of play and my mind set," she said. "We continue to work on all aspects of my game, technical, tactical and strategical."

Wilkins named the Midlothian Tennis Club National Tournament as her best result to date. She started the month of May strong by winning this tournament with defeats over four highly-ranked players. "They were all close matches which required me to stay focused and to fight for every point," she said.

The Charlotte, N.C. native went on to reach the consolation semifinals of a National Level 2 in Rome, Ga., and won the consolation semifinals of the N.C. State Tarheel Qualifier. She earned a 12-2 record for the month of May.

Wilkins believes that her mental toughness will continue to set her apart from her peers. "Whether I am down in a match or I am winning, my attitude is the same. I just try to focus on one point at a time," she said. "I try to learn from every experience and every match and take it forward."


Joshua Miller (Delray Beach, Fla.)

Five-star rising sophomore Joshua Miller competed in three USTA events last month. He reached the playoff finals in a National Level 3 in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Five-star sophomore Joshua Miller
© Bill Kallenberg
He later won the USTA Florida Gulfstream and cinched the backdraw of a National Level 2 in Orlando. With his good play, this already top-100 ranked player jumped up into the Top 50 last month.

The USTA event in Orlando is what Miller considers the highlight of his last month of tennis. There, he defeated the number one seed, five-star rising junior Ronald Hohmann in the round of 32.

"I had a good serve and good forehand for the match, and I was very confident," said Miller, who won the match, 7-5; 6-2.

Miller describes himself as an all-court player who excels both on the baseline and as an attacker. "My strengths are my forehand and service," he said.

The six-foot-two player trains with coaches Jeff Cohen and Mark Merklein of the Woodfield Country Club. They are currently working on some of Miller's weaknesses.

"I am working on increased footwork as well as strengthening the backhand stroke," he said.

Miller's parents, Paul and Marianne Miller, see a bright future for their son's game. "He has a strong playing desire and love of the game, as well as the physical size to do well in the future," they said.

Joshua Miller, who has just started thinking about college, has the same outlook. He is preparing to register with the NCAA D-I.

"I will decide which schools offer the best opportunities and coaching over the next year," he said. "I look forward to going to a good college as I continue developing my game."


Solymar Colling (Orange, Calif.)

Four-star rising senior Solymar Colling credits her development as a player to a shift in her mentality about winning and losing. While she worked hard daily in practices and had the skills to succeed, she never had the self esteem to match.

Four-star senior Solymar Colling
"I have always had the skill level to compete against the top players, but I never thought I was good enough to win," she said.

It took a bitter loss at a national tournament recently for her to begin focusing on enjoying the sport rather than winning or losing.

Colling says that her size is something that separates her from her peers. "I'm a little bit smaller, or petite, than most are," she said. "I think once we start the match, most [of my peers] aren't ready for my ball based on my appearance."

In contrast, Colling describes her game as extremely aggressive. "I'm always the person on offense, and if I'm playing defense, I make sure I turn that around and go on the offensive," she said. "My main strength has to be my groundstrokes. I hit pretty hard."

The five-foot-six player had the opportunity to put these skills to use last month in an important match. She played five-star Camille Kiss in the round of sixteen of the Woody Hunt South Bay Junior Tournament. This match was significant for Colling because Kiss defeated her in the finals of the same tournament last year.

"When I had the opportunity to face her again, I was excited," Colling said. "I lost the first game, but I didn't get mad or nervous, I just walked out on the court knowing I was going to do whatever I had to do to win." Colling did just that, taking the match 6-1; 6-0.

Colling went on to win the Woody Hunt Tournament. She also was the champion of the Esme Pearson Open Memorial Tournament in May. She went undefeated with ten wins in May and June, leaping into the Top 100 of the Senior Class Rankings.

Colling continues to carry forward with her the lessons she has learned about victory in tennis. "I realized that you don't really have control over winning or losing," she said. "You just have to play your best and figure it out."


Joshua Keitelman (Chevy Chase, Md.)

Three-star rising senior Joshua Keitelman had a unique experience last year that left a major impact on his game. He spent his sophomore year of high school living in Barcelona and training at the Barcelona Total Tennis Academy.

Three-star senior Joshua Keitelman
"It was an unbelievable experience that helped me grow up a lot," he said. "Living in a group house with a house mother, who spoke no English, and a group of tennis players from around the world was the most transformational experience of my life."

Keitelman's parents, Jeff and Charis Keitelman, say that their son's transition back to the U.S. was difficult.

"Josh had a huge adjustment when he returned from living in Spain," they said. "Being back at his high school, adjusting back to his friends here and resuming training and competing in the US were all extremely challenging, and it took him a little time to regain his stride."

Something that helped with this transition was Joshua Keitelman's all-around athleticism. "I think having been an all-around athlete before I started tennis has made a big difference for me and sets me apart from many of my tennis peers," he said. "I played high level travel baseball for many years before I switched to tennis."

Fitness is an important aspect of Keitelman's athleticism, and physical conditioning is one thing on which he and his coach, Vesa Ponkka of the Junior Champions Tennis Center, have been focusing.

"I have been working hard on fitness and I think that has given me a lot of confidence to compete on every point," he said. "I had a few matches where I played very badly but still competed very hard and ending up winning, which I think gave me a lot of confidence."

They have also been working on the rising senior's consistency with his serve. "In particular I am working on not rushing my serve, catching my toss if necessary," Keitelman said. "I have had an issue with double faults and I think one of the reasons I have been playing better is that I have been double faulting less and getting the point started."

Highlights of Keitelman's last month of tennis include winning the DCSAA High School Tennis State Championships and taking the backdraw of a National Level 2 in Aston, Pa.

Keitelman says his best win came at the USTA Tournament in Aston. He met five-star rising senior David Mizrahi in the consolation quarterfinals. Although he lost the first set and was down twice in the second set, he won the match, 6-7(8); 7-6(8); 10-5.

As a rising senior, Keitelman has been thinking about college. "Of course my dream is to play D-I tennis with a competitive tennis program," he said. "Academics are also extremely important to me, so I want to play at a school that values both education and sports."


Have a look over the Hot 100 lists - and take a look at some of the other players who have stepped up their game.

The next edition of the Hot 100 will be available on August 14, 2017.


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Colette Lewis has covered topflight junior events as a freelance journalist for over a decade. Read her weekly column, follow her on Twitter, and and find more of her daily commentary at ZooTennis.

Page updated on Sunday, June 18, 2017
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