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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Tiafoe Reaches Delray Beach Final; Novikov Wins Challenger; Emory and CMS Advance to D-III Men's Team Indoor Final; Oklahoma Men Beat Texas A&M, Florida Women Top Stanford; Illinois Women, Arizona State Men Claim Blue Gray Titles

Twenty-year-old American wild card Frances Tiafoe reached his first ATP semifinal earlier today and his first ATP final tonight, beating two of the top young players in the game at the Delray Beach Open.  After rain delayed the completion of his semifinal match with Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung, the No. 8 seed, Tiafoe, who was up 5-3 when rain stopped play, finished off the 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory.  A little more than five hours later, he was back on court against 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov of Canada with the 2015 Kalamazoo 18s champion earning an impressive 7-5, 6-4 win. Tiafoe got a break at 5-5 in the first set and closed out the set, then took a 3-0, two-break lead.  Shapovalov got one of the breaks back for 3-2, but Tiafoe continued to relentlessly attack the Canadian's one-handed backhand and kept his advantage with surprisingly little drama. After needing eight match points to subdue Chung, Tiafoe made it easy on himself, serving out the match with confidence.  He will face Germany's Peter Gojowczyk in the final, after Gojowczyk defeated Steve Johnson 7-6(3), 6-3.

At the $50,000 ATP Challenger in Mexico, former UCLA star Dennis Novikov, seeded No. 3, won his third career Challenger title and first since 2015, beating unseeded Christian Garin of Chile 6-4, 6-3. The 24-year-old, who won the 2012 Kalamazoo 18s title, lost only one set all week, in his opening match.  Venezuela's Roberto Maytin, the former Baylor star, won the doubles title with Fernando Romboli of Brazil. The unseeded pair defeated unseeded Evan King and Nathan Pasha 7-5, 6-3 in the final.

The top two seeds have advanced to Sunday's ITA Division III Men's Team Indoor final, with Emory and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps earning victories today.  Emory, the top seed and two-time defending champion, posted its second consecutive 5-4 victory; after beating host Gustavus Aldophus by that score last night, the Eagles downed the University of Chicago in today's semifinals, with Hayden Cassone defeating Jeremy Yuan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 at line 4 to clinch the victory.  CMS defeated Washington-St. Louis 6-3, with Avinash Vemuri earning the fifth point a 7-6(6), 6-2 win over Mark Wu at line 6.

The final begins at 9 a.m. Eastern Sunday morning, with live scoring and live streaming available here.

Several big Division I dual matches were on the schedule today, with the most visible being No. 29 Oklahoma's 4-3 win over No. 5 Texas A&M. Broadcast on Tennis Channel from the USTA's National Campus in Lake Nona, the match came down to No. 4 singles, with Oklahoma freshman Jake Van Emburgh defeating Valentin Vacherot 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-5. Vacherot served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, and had a match point in the deciding point in that game. But the sophomore from France double faulted, and Van Emburgh played a bit more freely in the final stages of the match to earn the fourth singles win of the day for the Sooners.

In one of college tennis's top rivalries, the Florida women got a big win, beating Stanford 4-3 in Palo Alto, despite the loss of the doubles point.  Josie Kuhlman clinched the victory at line 2, beating Caroline Lampl of Stanford 7-5, 1-6, 6-2.  Neither Brooke Austin of Florida nor Melissa Lord of Stanford played.

The Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic wrapped up today in Montgomery Alabama, and the University of Illinois claimed the women's title, beating two top 10 teams--Auburn(correction: Auburn's highest ranking this year is 12) and Wake Forest--to take the title.  In something of a theme of today's wins, Illinois lost the doubles point to Wake Forest in the final, but got four singles wins, with freshman Asuka Kuwai completing the comeback from 3-1 down with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Emma Davis at line 1. See the Illinois website for details.  The men's final was also a tense 4-3 contest, with Arizona State handing Alabama its first loss of the season. Michael Geerts defeated Mazen Osama 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 to clinch for the Sun Devils.

Both Americans in the ITF Grade 1 Banana Bowl finals were defeated, with top seeds Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia and Sebastian Baez of Argentina taking the singles championships.  Osorio Serrano defeated No. 2 seed Alexa Noel 6-3, 6-4 and Baez beat No. 5 seed Tristan Boyer 6-4, 6-3.

At the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit in Rancho Santa Fe California, unseeded Asia Muhammad reached the final with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 win over No. 3 seed Sachia Vickery.  She will face No. 2 seed Kurumi Nara of Japan, who beat lucky loser Ann Li 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.  Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria won their second doubles title of the month, with the top seeds beating unseeded Taylor Townsend and the Czech Republic's Eva Hrdinova 6-7(6), 6-1, 10-6. This is the 2013 NCAA champions' fourth title as a team.


College said...

Auburn is 26 in the country. Wake will also drop considerably.

Colette Lewis said...

Thanks for the correction. I thought they had been Top 10 earlier this year, but not so.