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Friday, October 20, 2017

Zhu, Wolf Reach Harlingen Futures Semis; Townsend and Collins Meet in Florence Semis; Three Americans in Las Vegas Semis; Acceptances for Mexico's Grade A

College sophomores Evan Zhu of UCLA and JJ Wolf of Ohio State have advanced to the semifinals of this week's $25,000 Futures in Harlingen Texas.  Zhu, a qualifier, beat top seed Nik Scholtz, the former Ole Miss star from South Africa, in Thursday's second round. Today the 19-year-old advanced to his second career Futures semifinal with a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over French Open boys champion Alexei Popyrin of Australia.  Zhu, who is taking the fall off, but is expected to return to UCLA in the spring, will face No. 5 seed Luke Bambridge of Great Britain, who defeated No. 4 seed Ryan Shane 7-6(7), 7-5.

The 18-year-old Wolf, a wild card, earned his first Futures semifinal appearance with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 7 seed Ulises Blanch. The 2017 Kalamazoo finalist earned his first ATP points last month, at the Columbus Challenger, and had played very little at the Futures level until now.  Wolf will play qualifier Strong Kirchheimer, the 22-year-old Northwestern graduate, who outlasted 36-year-old Ryan Haviland(Stanford) 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 6-4 in a match that lasted four hours and 16 minutes. Wolf's match today took an hour and eight minutes to complete.

An American finalist is also assured in the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Florence South Carolina, with top seed Taylor Townsend meeting No. 3 seed Danielle Collins.  Townsend defeated No. 6 seed Victoria Rodriguez of Mexico 7-6(3), 7-5 for her eighth straight win,
while Collins beat No. 7 seed Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland 6-4, 6-3. Townsend won their previous Pro Circuit meeting last year in Scottsdale 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

The other semifinal will feature No. 4 seed Rebecca Peterson of Sweden against No. 8 seed Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium.

Three Americans are through to the semifinals at the $50,000 Las Vegas Challenger, again guaranteeing an American in the final, with No. 1 seed Tennys Sandgren facing No. 4 seed Stefan Kozlov Saturday.  Sandgren defeated qualifier Jan Choinski of Germany 6-1, 6-0 and Kozlov beat Kevin King 6-2, 6-3.  In the bottom half, Evan King defeated Bradley Klahn 7-6(7), 7-6(6) to reach his first Challenger level semifinal; the 25-year-old Michigan graduate had been 0-6 in Challenger quarterfinals until today's win.  King will play Great Britain's Liam Broady, who beat No. 8 seed Reilly Opelka 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4.

Rain has delayed the singles quarterfinals of the ITF Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup in Japan, with top seed Whitney Osuigwe and Tristan Boyer the Americans still alive in singles. The schedule has two rounds of play indoors on Saturday, with no-ad scoring and a match tiebreaker as the format. 

Acceptances for the ITF Grade A in Mexico City November 13-19 came out earlier this month, with 13 US boys and 15 US girls on the initial acceptance list.  There are no boys in the ITF Top 25, with Sebastian Korda the highest ranking player on the list at No. 26.  Other US boys in the main draw are: Sangeet Sridhar, Brian Shi, Axel Nefve, Tomas Kopczynski, Boris Kozlov, Nathan Han, Keenan Mayo, Drew Baird, Ronan Jachuck, William Woodall, Tyler Zink and Sumit Sakar.  The boys main draw cutoff was Sakar, at 256.

The girls field is stronger, with the cutoff 196, and the top five girls in the acceptances are all from the US: defending champion Taylor Johnson, Sofia Sewing, 2016 finalist Ellie Douglas, Natasha Subhash and Hurricane Tyra Black.  Other US girls in the main draw are: Nicole Mossmer, Dalayna Hewitt, Lea Ma, Elli Mandlik, Sabina Dadaciu, Vanessa Ong, Alexa Noel, Kianah Motosono, Katya Townsend and Peyton Stearns.

The acceptances for the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup and the Grade A Orange Bowl should be out next week.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

ITF Pan American Closed Recap, Videos, Photos

Today marks the conclusion of this year's coverage of the ITF Grade B1 Pan American Closed in Tulsa, with my written recap of Andrew Fenty and Whitney Osuigwe's titles available at the Tennis Recruiting Network.  With their titles, Osuigwe moved to No. 1 in the ITF Junior rankings and Fenty rose to 33, which is his career high.

The videos of the finals, which were played at the same time, are below, as are photos of the singles quarterfinalists and doubles semifinalists.

Michael Case Tennis Center, University of Tulsa
Abigail Forbes, USA, quarterfinalist
Niluka Madurawe, USA, quarterfinalist
Katie Volynets, USA, quarterfinalist
Alexandra Yepifanova, USA, quarterfinalist
Aidan Mayo, USA, quarterfinalist
Govind Nanda, USA, quarterfinalist
Axel Nefve, USA, quarterfinalist
Noah Schachter, USA, quarterfinalist
Margaryta Bilokin, Ukraine, semifinalist
Marlee Zein, USA, semifinalist
Nick Hardt, DOM, semifinalist
Jaycer Lyeons, USA, semifinalist
Nick Hardt, DOM and Brandon Perez, VEN, semfinalists
Brian Shi and Drew Baird, USA, semifinalists
Natasha Subhash and Lea Ma, USA, semifinalists
Alexandra Vagramov and Ariana Arseneault, CAN, semifinalists
Natasha Subhash, USA, finalist
Emilio Nava, USA, finalist
Sabina Dadaciu and Hailey Baptiste, USA, finalists
Andrew Fenty and William Woodall, USA, finalists
Peyton Stearns and Nicole Mossmer, USA, champions
Trey Hilderbrand and Govind Nanda, USA, champions
Whitney Osuigwe, USA, champion
Andrew Fenty, USA, champion

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ITF Features Next Week's Junior Masters Competitors; Osuigwe, Boyer Advance at Grade A Osaka Cup; Wu Yibing's Challenges; Evansville Cutting Women's Tennis

The International Tennis Federation has been running a series on the 16 competitors for next week's Junior Masters in Chengdu China.  Each of the eight boys and eight girls will be profiled separately, with a detailed look at their best results in both junior and ITF Pro Circuit events.  So far, two of the three US girls and the lone US boy have been profiled, with Sofia Sewing's article here, Taylor Johnson's article here, and Trent Bryde's article here.  An article on Whitney Osuigwe, who is also playing the Junior Masters, has not yet appeared.

The participants:

Yibing Wu (CHN)
Axel Geller (ARG)
Yu Hsiou Hsu (TPE)
Jurij Rodionov (AUT)
Marko Miladinovic (SRB)
Sebastian Baez (ARG)
Trent Bryde (USA)
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)

Whitney Osuigwe (USA)
Marta Kostyuk (UKR)
Elena Rybakina (RUS)
Kaja Juvan (SLO)
Sofia Sewing (USA)
Xin Yu Wang (CHN)
Maria Lourdes Carle (ARG)
Taylor Johnson (USA)

Osuigwe is playing the ITF Grade A Mayor's Cup in Osaka Japan this week, as is Wang, but they are the only two in the draws, boys or girls, who are playing the Junior Masters beginning next Wednesday. 

Both have advanced to the round of 16, which will get underway soon. Osuigwe will face No. 16 seed Oona Orpana of Finland, and Wang will play No. 13 seed Viktoriia Dema of Ukraine.  Americans Dalayna Hewitt and Hina Inoue lost their second round matches.

Sixteen-year-old Tristan Boyer, who like Osuigwe played the Pan American Closed last week, has advanced to the round of 16, his first third round appearance at a Grade A.  He will meet unseeded Stefan Storch of Australia next.  While 15 of 16 girls seeds advanced to the third round, only 10 of the 16 boys seeds did.  Top seed Yuta Shimizu of Japan and No. 2 seed Timofey Skatov of Russia are among those 10 who advanced.

US Open boys champion Wu Yibing of China will be playing the ITF Junior Masters next week after competing in the $125,000 ATP Challenger in Ningbo China. Wu, a wild card, lost in the first round to qualifier Jurij Rodionov of Austria, who also is in the Junior Masters field.  Since winning the title in New York, Wu has received wild cards into a Challenger, which he won, then an ATP 250, the Shanghai Masters and this week's Challenger. He has not won a match in those three events, which may help keep the attention away from him.  But becoming an ATP Top 100 player is Wu's goal, so he can expect to continue to receive more articles like this one from CNN, which explores why the Chinese women have been more successful than the Chinese men in breaking into the top levels of the pro game.

The elimination of a Division I tennis program never comes at a good time, but the University of Evansville made a particularly poor choice in its decision to cut the women's program now, in the midst of the fall season.  This leaves the players with few options as far as transferring, although their scholarships will be honored if they choose to stay. They just won't be able to play varsity tennis.  For more on the decision to cut the program, see this article.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Seven Division I ITA Regional Champions Crowned; Di Lorenzo Beats No. 2 Seed Schmiedlova in Florence $25K; American Men Move on in Las Vegas Challenger, Harlingen Futures

The Division I ITA Regional Championships began last weekend, with five women's championships and two men's championships now in the books, with 17 remaining to be completed by next Monday. The winners receive automatic entry into the Oracle Fall Championships next month in Indian Wells. The results of the finals are below, with links to complete draws available at the ITA's webpage.

Women Singles/Doubles:

Marianna Petrei, Idaho, def. Linda Huang, Colorado 7-5, 6-4
Julia O'Laughlin and Hada Chang, Denver def. Marianna Petrei and Lucia Badillos, Idaho 6-3, 6-3

Ohio Valley:
Justina Mikulskyte, Kentucky def. Silvia Ambrosio, Purdue 7-6(9), 6-3
Mami Adachi and Akvile Parazinskaite, Kentucky def. Justina Mikulskyte and Lesedi Jacobs, Kentucky 6-4, 3-6, 10-8

Chiara Lommer, Michigan def. Shiori Fukudu, Ohio State 6-0, 6-4
Erin Larner and Madeline Lipp, Northwestern def. Lee Or and Alexandria Chatt, Northwestern 8-4 (I don't know why this regional did not play three sets in the final)

Natalie Novotna, Virginia Tech def. Rose Johanson, Virginia 6-1 6-4
Meghan Kelley and Rosie Johanson, Virginia def. Cassie Mercer and Teodora Radosavljevic, Virginia 6-7(5), 6-3, 10-7

Bianca Turati, Texas def. Petra Granic, Texas 7-5, 6-3
Lindsey Hodge and Wendy Zhang, Rice def. Marta Perez Mur and Dani Wagland, Texas 3-6, 6-4, 10-8

Men Singles/Doubles

Walker Duncan, Georgia def. Wayne Montgomery, Georgia 6-2, 6-3
Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski, Georgia def. Oliver Crawford and Chase Perez-Blanco, Florida 6-4, 6-2

Carolina: Henry Patten, UNC-Asheville def. Alex Favarot, Clemson 6-3, 6-1
Christian Seraphim and Julian Zlobinsky, Wake Forest def. Alexis Galarneau and Michael Ogden, NC State 2-6, 6-3, 10-0

The USTA Pro Circuit has three events this week, with a $25,000 women's event in Florence South Carolina, a $25,000 men's Futures in Harlingen Texas and a $50,000 Challenger in Las Vegas Nevada.

A complete rainout on Monday meant the women still in qualifying had to play two matches today, but the qualifying is now complete. Jada Robinson, Hanna Chang, and Sabrina Santamaria(USC) are the Americans through to the main draw, with former Alabama star Erin Routliffe of New Zealand also advancing.

Five main draw matches were also played today, with Ohio State junior Francesca Di Lorenzo beating No. 2 seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.  The 23-year-old Schmiedlova, now 163, has been as high as 26 in the WTA rankings, but struggled to win matches on the tour last year and has been playing on the ITF Pro Circuit this year.  Taylor Townsend, last week's champion in Sumter, is the top seed and will face Wimbledon finalist Ann Li, a wild card, in the first round Wednesday.

The first round is complete in Las Vegas, with nine American men through to the second round: Tennys Sandgren[1], Stefan Kozlov[4], Kevin King, Marcos Giron, Michael Mmoh[6], Bradley Klahn, Evan King, Reilly Opelka[8] and qualifier Jared Hiltzik.  Great Britain's Cameron Norrie, who took last week off after winning two consecutive $100,000 Challengers in Northern California, is the No. 2 seed.  Fairfield Challenger champion Mackenzie McDonald withdrew with a hamstring injury.

In Harlingen, former Ole Miss star Nik Scholtz of South Africa is the No. 1 seed, with No. 2 seed Dennis Nevolo(Illinois) already through to the second round with a 6-2, 6-0 win over wild card DJ Thomas.  Ohio State sophomore JJ Wolf, another wild card, also advanced as did Illinois senior Aron Hiltzik and No. 7 seed Ulises Blanch.  Texas A&M senior Jordi Arconada received a wild card and Sebastian Korda, a finalist last week in Houston, received a special exemption into the main draw.  They, like unseeded Houston champion Thai Kwiatkowski, play their first round matches Wednesday.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Grade A Osaka Cup Underway in Japan; Americans Claim ITF Titles in South America and Caribbean

The main draw of ITF Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup in Japan begins Tuesday (tonight here in the US) with three American girls and two American boys competing.  Pan American Closed champion Whitney Osuigwe, who is, of course, the No. 1 seed as the top-ranked ITF junior, had little time to overcome jet lag after leaving Tulsa on Sunday and arriving in Japan on Monday.  The other US girls in the draw are Dalayna Hewitt and Hina Inoue, both unseeded.  The top seed in the boys draw is Yuta Shimizu of Japan, with unseeded Tristan Boyer and Anuj Watane the two Americans in the 64-player draw.

In addition to the Grade B1 Pan American Closed last week, there were many other lower-level events, and while most Americans entered Tulsa, some found success elsewhere on the circuit.

At the Grade 5 in Curacao, 15-year-old Jennifer Kida claimed both the singles and doubles titles, losing just six games in her four singles victories. Kida, the top seed, defeated No. 6 seed Afrika Smith of the Bahamas 6-2, 6-1 for her second ITF junior title.  Although she has only been playing the ITF Junior Circuit since March, she earned her first title the day before, when She and Fiorella Bolona Medina, the No. 1 seeds, defeated the home country's team of Zima Gomez Osorio and Ana Sofia Jaramillo 6-1, 6-3 in the doubles final.

American juniors took three of the four titles at the Grade 5 in the Dominican Republic, with 16-year-old Gia Cohen and 15-year-old Andrew Dale claiming the singles championships and Kyra Foster winning the girls doubles.  The seventh-seeded Cohen, who had lost in the final of the previous week's Grade 5 in the Dominican Republic, won her first title with a 6-2, 6-7(7), 6-4 win over 15-year-old American Jackeline Lopez, the No. 4 seed.  Dale took his first ITF junior circuit title, with the No. 10 seed beating No. 8 seed Mateo Gomez of Colombia 6-2, 6-3 in the final. Foster and Cora Barber of Germany, the No. 7 seeds, won the doubles title with a 2-6, 6-2, 10-4 win over No. 4 seeds Isabella Perez of Venezuela and Eva Tasdemir of Turkey.

Fifteen-year-old Jaedan Brown won her second straight title this week at a Grade 4 in Brazil. Two weeks ago, after receiving a wild card into qualifying, Brown won her first ITF title without dropping a set. Last week, after earning entry via a special exemption, she again blitzed through the draw without dropping a set, beating top seed Nathalia Wolf Gasparin of Brazil 6-1, 6-0 in the final. Brown's only previous match in the  ITF Junior Circuit main draw (before these last two tournaments in Brazil) was a second round loss at the Grade 4 in Newport Beach California.

At the Grade 2 in Chile, Kacie Harvey won the doubles title, with partner Ana Makatsaria of Georgia.  The No. 5 seeds defeated No. 4 seeds Marina Figueiredo of Brazil and Jimar Gerald Gonzalez of Chile 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

USTA National 14s champion Saud Alhogbani, who lives in Virginia and trains in College Park Maryland but plays under the flag of Saudi Arabia, won his first ITF junior title last week at the Grade 5 in Kuwait.  The unseeded 14-year-old defeated top seed Viktor Jovic of Serbia 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals and qualifier Raphael Collignon of Belgium 7-5, 6-1 in the final.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Americans McDonald, Kwiatkowski and Townsend Win Pro Circuit Titles; Small College Champions Crowned at Oracle Cup

2016 NCAA champion Mackenzie McDonald won the first Challenger of his career today at the $100,0000 ATP tournament in Fairfield California, defeating 2010 NCAA champion Bradley Klahn 6-4 6-2.  The 22-year-old from Piedmont California, which is less than an hour away from Fairfield, had been a regular at the quarterfinals and semifinal stages of Challengers since (and even before) leaving UCLA after his junior year last spring.  But this was his first final, capping an impressive week that saw him defeat No. 6 seed Stefan Kozlov in the first round and No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals.  Klahn, who has been ranked as high as 63 before injuries set him back, is also displaying excellent form, making his second consecutive final at $100,000 Challengers this week.  McDonald will move past his previous career high of 196 to around 164.

David O'Hare of Ireland, who competed in college at Memphis, won the doubles title with Great Britain's Luke Bambridge.  The No. 2 seeds beat the wild card team of  Akram El Sallaly of Egypt and Bernardo Oliveira of Brazil 6-4, 6-2 in the final. El Sallaly and Oliveira are members of the University of the Pacific men's team.

At the $25,000 Futures tournament in Houston, 2017 NCAA champion Thai Kwiatkowski claimed his second career Futures title, beating 17-year-old Sebastian Korda 6-2, 6-2 in another final between unseeded players.  Kwiatkowski, who graduated from Virginia this spring, won his first title late last year in Puerto Rico, but hadn't gotten past the quarterfinals in any event this year.  This week the 22-year-old from North Carolina didn't lose a set and took out three seeds, including top seed Austin Krajicek in the semifinals.  Korda reached his first Futures final with an impressive 6-1, 6-2 win over No. 2 seed Lucas Miedler of Austria. His best showing at a Futures until this week was a quarterfinal back in January.

The unseeded team of Dennis Nevolo and Aron Hiltzik, former and current University of Illinois standouts, won the doubles title, beating top seeds Kwiatkowski and Krajicek 7-6(3), 6-3. It's the first Pro Circuit title for Hiltzik, a senior at Illinois.

Unlike the men's USTA Pro Circuit events, the women's final at the $25,000 tournament in Sumter South Carolina featured two seeded players, with top seed Taylor Townsend taking the title.  Townsend, who didn't lose a set all week, defeated No. 7 seed Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway 6-1, 6-2 in the singles final today. Townsend also won the doubles title Saturday, with Jessica Pegula. The unseeded pair beat top seeds Alexandra Mueller and Caitlin Whoriskey 4-6, 7-5, 10-5 in the final. It's Townsend's 13th career doubles title on the Pro Circuit, but her first this year.

The Oracle Cup, the ITA's National Championships for the Small Colleges, concluded today in Rome Georgia with the doubles playoffs.
Yesterday the singles champions were decided for Junior College, NAIA, Division II and Division III, with all eight winners receiving entry into next month's National Fall Championships in Indian Wells.  Previously, only the playoff winner, decided in a competition between the four champions, would advance to the National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, but now that the tournament is a 64 draw, not 32, all four singles champions will earn a spot in the draw.  The doubles champions did have a playoff, with only one men's and one women's team receiving entry into the Fall Championships.  Those teams were decided today, with NAIA Georgia Gwinnett's Kevin Konfederak and Gilad Berman winning the men's overall doubles title and Division III's Eudice Chong and Victoria Yu of Wesleyan taking the women's overall doubles title.

The singles champions who will advance to Indian Wells:

NAIA: Kevin Konfederak, Georgia Gwinnett
Division II: Kiranpal Pannu, Columbus State
Division III: Mohanad Al Houni, Gustavus Adolphus
Junior College: Marcus Walters, Tyler JC

NAIA: Camille Gbaguidi, Savannah College of Art and Design
Division II: Sonja Larsen, Barry
Division III: Eudice Chong, Wesleyan
Junior College: Tamara Arnold, Tyler JC

The ITA's recap of Saturday's singles finals is available here.  The recap of the doubles playoffs is here.