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Monday, June 17, 2024

Thorat Wins J100 in Mexico; Ashar, Mata, Oak, Plunkett Earn ITF Junior Circuit Titles; Kratzer Among Winners on UTR Pro Tennis Tour

The only J300 tournament last week on the ITF Junior Circuit was on clay, in Bamberg Germany, with juniors not able to play on grass anywhere nearly as much as the pros in the weeks leading up to the Wimbledon Junior Championships. Generally it's just the Roehampton J300 the first week of Wimbledon that affords juniors any experience on the surface, although there are a variety of exhibition and junior team events often organized for the week before Roehampton.

In Bamberg, Mayu Crossley of Japan took the title, with the No. 1 seed going through qualifying in order to participate in the tournament; the UCLA recruit, who has won six of her seven ITF junior titles on clay, including two J500s, defeated 14-year-old Victoria Barros of Brazil, the No. 8 seed, 6-4, 7-5 in the final. Crossley, who did not drop a set all week, had lost in the first round of the Roland Garros Junior Championships this year, where she wasn't seeded, but now has her junior ranking back up to 22.

The boys title in Bamberg went to Germany's Diego Dedura-Palomero, the No. 3 seed, who defeated No. 4 seed Oskari Paldanius of Finland 6-1, 6-2 in the final. It is the seventh ITF Junior Circuit singles title for the 16-year-old, but his first at the J300 level, and he is up to a career-high of 37 in the latest ITF junior rankings.

American juniors collected five ITF Junior Circuit singles titles last week, with University of Florida recruit Abhishek Thorat taking top honors with the singles championship at the J100 in Veracruz Mexico. Thorat, a 17-year-old rising senior, defeated 16-year-old Gavin Goode 6-4, 6-2 in a final between unseeded Americans. It's the third ITF Junior Circuit singles title for Thorat, who did not drop a set in his six victories.
Goode and partner Ryan Cozad won the boys doubles title, with the unseeded pair defeating top seeds Ty Host of Australia and Harry Pugh of New Zealand 6-2, 6-4 in the final. Goode and Cozad dropped just one set, to the No. 2 seeds, in their five victories.

Unseeded Maria Aytoyan reached the girls singles final, losing to top seed Emma Dong of Canada 6-2, 7-6(5).

At the J60 in Guatemala, 16-year-old Floridian Ishika Ashar, the No. 5 seed, collected her second ITF Junior Circuit singles title, both coming this year. Ashar defeated unseeded Ireland O'Brien 6-4, 6-1, taking the title without dropping a set.  

Isabelle DeLuccia and Hadley Appling, the No. 4 seeds, won the all-US girls doubles final, beating the unseeded team of O'Brien and Sophia Budacsek 6-3, 6-0. Top seeds Zavier Augustin and Omar Rhazali won the boys doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Lev Seidman and France's Sasha Colleu 6-1, 6-1 in the final.

Thirteen-year-old Te'anna Mata won her second straigh J30 girls singles title in Congo, again taking out Anna Hsu of Taiwan in the final. Two weeks ago, Hsu was the No. 2 seed; last week she was No. 1, with the unseeded Mata posting another straight-sets victory, this one by a 6-2, 6-3 score. Mata also reached the girls doubles final last week.

At the J30 in Ottawa Canada, 16-year-old Connor Plunkett of New York swept the titles, winning his first singles title on the ITF Junior Circuit and his second doubles title. Plunkett defeated the top seed in the first round and didn't lose a set after that, getting the title when unseeded Arjun Prabhakar of the US retired trailing 3-1 in the first set.  Plunkett and Victor Maya of Canada took the doubles title, with the unseeded pair defeating No. 3 seeds Caden Colburne and Andy Kepche of Canada 6-2, 2-6, 10-7 in the final.

Sixteen-year-old Sobee Oak claimed her first ITF Junior Circuit title in Ottawa, with the unseeded New Yorker defeating unseeded Kaya Moe 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4 in another all-US singles final. Moe did win the doubles title, with partner Olivia Cutone; the No. 4 seeds defeated No. 3 seeds Oak and Canada's Neda Rahimkhani 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

And somehow I missed the girls singles title two weeks ago at the J60 in South Africa for Koronayashe Rugara. The 16-year-old Rugara, seeded No. 6, defeated top seed Danielle Dai Chapman of South Africa 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 in the final for her first ITF Junior Circuit title. 

The latest results for the UTR Pro Tennis Tour tournaments in the United States are below. There have been less than two tournaments per month in the April, May and June, but the pace does pick up in the next six months, with 14 men's and 11 women's tournaments already scheduled for July-December. 

2017 USTA National 18s champion Ashley Kratzer has returned to competitive tennis after a four-year ban for testing positive for a banned substance in March of 2020. Kratzer, who reached a WTA career-high of 200 in August of 2018, last played on the Pro Circuit in January of 2020, where she lost in qualifying at a WTA 125 in Newport Beach California.

April 15 San Antonio TX
Victoria Rodriguez d. Ana Sofia Sanchez 6-1, 6-3

April 21 Boca Raton FL
Malkia Ngounoue d. Jada Robinson 6-1, 5-7, 6-4

May 13 Newport Beach CA
Ashley Kratzer d. Carolyn Campana 6-2, 6-4

June 10 Charleston SC
Piper Charney d. Kaitlyn Carnicella 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3

April 15 San Antonio TX
Trey Hilderbrand d. Osgar O'Hoisin 6-4, 6-4

April 28 Boca Raton FL
Alex Kuperstein d. Dian Nedev 7-5, 6-4

May 20 Newport Beach CA
Lui Maxted d. Duncan Chan 5-7, 6-2, 6-2

June 10 Charleston SC
Landon Ardila d. Lucas Brown 7-5, 6-3

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Braswell and Fearnley's Smooth Transition to Professional Titles; Rajecki Qualifies for WTA 250, Meets Familiar Face in First Round; Crawley and Tarvet Earn Titles in SoCal Pro Series $15Ks in San Diego

Four weeks ago today, University of Texas senior Micah Braswell and TCU fifth-year Jake Fearnley played each other in the NCAA Team Championships. Braswell won that match at line 2 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, although Fearnley's team did claim the title with a 4-3 victory overall. Both lost in the round of 16 of the NCAA singles championship, Braswell to eventual champion Filip Planinsek of Alabama, Fearnley to eventual finalist Michael Zheng of Columbia, but have now begun their pro careers with titles after qualifying for events this week.

Braswell defeated teammate Eliot Spizzirri 6-4, 6-3 in today's championship match of the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Wichita Kansas, capturing his second Pro Circuit title after winning a $25K in Austin in 2022. As impressive as the week was for the 22-year-old from Florida, Fearnley outdid him on the grass courts of Nottingham, winning the ATP Challenger 125 there today when he had not earned a victory on the Challenger Tour prior to this week.

The 22-year-old from Scotland had to play two matches today, beating Mattia Bellucci of Italy 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals, then downing fellow qualifier Charlie Broom(Dartmouth, Baylor) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Fearnley, who won a $25K to start 2024, before returning to Fort Worth for the dual match season, will improve his ATP ranking from 525 to 274, putting him in good position for US Open qualifying with any additional success this summer. It also marks him as a likely candidate for a Wimbledon main draw wild card, with the bulk of those expected to be announced Wednesday.

After posting her first WTA Top 100 victory yesterday in the first round of qualifying at the WTA 250 in Birmingham, NC State graduate Amelia Rajecki earned another one today to qualify for the main draw. The 22-year-old from Nottingham, who was named ITA Senior Player of the Year last week, defeated WTA No. 77 Katie Volynets 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4, coming from 4-0 down in the third set to earn a place in the main draw of a WTA tournament for the first time. 

Despite the fact that Rajecki is making her WTA main draw debut, she'll know plenty about the game of her first round opponent: Diana Shnaider. Currently 48 in the WTA rankings, Shnaider, who played No. 1 for the Wolfpack last year while Rajecki was playing at line 3, was inside the WTA Top 100 most of her time in Raleigh. For more on Rajecki's win, see this article from the LTA.

At the SoCal Pro Series $15,000 tournaments at the University of San Diego, top seed Fiona Crawley(North Carolina) and No. 8 seed Oliver Tarvet(San Diego) of Great Britain emerged this afternoon as the champions.

In the women's final, Crawley, a 22-year-old from Texas, beat No. 6 seed Sara Daavettila, a former teammate of Crawley's at UNC, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 for her third USTA Pro Circuit title. 

Tarvet, a rising junior at San Diego, defeated unseeded Nathan Ponwith(Georgia, Arizona State) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in a three-hour-plus men's final. It's the third Pro Circuit title for the 20-year-old Tarvet.

It was another big week for $15K titles for current/recent collegians in tournaments all over the world, with three picking up their first career singles titles on the Pro Circuit.

Illinois rising senior Karlis Ozolins of Latvia won his first ITF men's World Tennis Tour singles title at a $15,000 tournament in Korea.

Mississippi State rising junior Petar Jovanovic of Montenegro won his first title on the ITF men's WTT as qualifier, winning eight matches at a $15,000 tournament in Serbia.

Central Florida rising sophomore Olivia Lincer of Poland won her first ITF women's World Tennis Tour title at a $15,000 tournament in the Dominican Republic, beating Cal rising senior Katja Wiersholm 7-6(4), 6-1 in the final.

Recent Pepperdine graduate Janice Tjen won her second straight W15 in Tunisia.

And in non-college titles of note, 18-year-old Kaitlin Quevedo of Naples Florida, now representing Spain, won her sixth title, and her third this year, at a W15 in Madrid

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Longhorns Spizzirri and Braswell Meet for Wichita $25K Title; Two Tar Heels Reach San Diego W15 Final; British Collegians Earn ATP/WTA Top 100 Wins on Grass; Knight and Lorimer Earn Entry into Wimbledon U14 Tournament

The USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 men's title will be an all-Texas contest Sunday, with Eliot Spizzirri and qualifier Micah Braswell meeting for the championship in Wichita Kansas after straight-sets victories in today's semifinals.

Braswell defeated fellow qualifier Sebastian Gorzny 6-2, 7-6(5) after Gorzny, who recently announced his transfer from TCU to Texas, served twice for the second set, but couldn't force a third. Braswell, who won his sole Pro Circuit title in November of 2022, played  at line 2 for Texas all year, behind Spizzirri, who won his only Pro Circuit title back in 2021. Then unseeded Spizzirri, who finished the 2023-24 college season at No. 1 in the nation, defeated 2023 NCAA champion Ethan Quinn(Georgia) 6-3, 6-3 in today's other semifinal. 

Spizzirri and Braswell will meet for the first time on the Pro Circuit in Sunday's final.

In the doubles final today, No. 2 seeds Joshua Sheehy(Abilene Christian) and Pranav Kumar(SMU, Texas A&M) defeated  the unseeded team of Spizzirri and Canada's Cleeve Harper 6-7(4), 6-3, 10-8 for their first Pro Circuit title as a team. Spizzirri and Harper reached the NCAA doubles final last year, and the semifinals this year. 

At the women's W15 in San Diego, former North Carolina stars Fiona Crawley and Sara Daavettila will play for the title Sunday. Crawley, the top seed, defeated No. 5 seed Eryn Cayetano(USC) 6-2, 6-2, while Daavettila, who won last week's W15 in San Diego,  broke open a tight match late in the second set to defeat 17-year-old Alyssa Ahn 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in just under three hours.

The 22-year-old Crawley and the 26-year-old Daavettlia, who played together on the 2020-2021 North Carolina team, have not faced in other on the Pro Circuit.

In the women's doubles final today, unseeded Anita Sahdiieva(Baylor, LSU) of Ukraine and Basak Eryadin of Turkey defeated sisters Anna Campana(Wake Forest, Pepperdine) and Carolyn Campana(Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Pepperdine) 0-6, 6-3, 10-8. 

The men's final at the $15,000 SoCal Pro Series tournament in San Diego will feature University of San Diego star Oliver Tarvet of Great Britain and Nathan Ponwith(Georgia, Arizona State). USD rising junior Tarvet, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 2 seed Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern) 6-3, 6-3; the unseeded Ponwith defeated Patrick Maloney(Michigan), also unseeded, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

In the doubles final this evening, Ponwith and JJ Tracy(Ohio State), defeated Wally Thane(Utah, BYU) and Estonia's Johannes Seeman(San Diego State) 7-6(2), 6-2 in a contest between unseeded teams.

British players of any age traditionally excel on grass and this week's results have done nothing to dispel that maxim, with three former collegians getting their first ATP/WTA Top 100 wins  despite the many rain delays that also go with that surface.

Recent NC State graduate Amelia Rajecki, who reached the semifinals of the NCAA singles championships in 2023 and 2024, received a wild card into the qualifying of the WTA 250 in Birmingham, and the 22-year-old from Nottingham made good use of it today, beating WTA No. 72 Yafan Wang of China 7-6(5), 7-6(6). Rajecki, 794 in the WTA rankings, will face WTA No. 77 Katie Volynets, the 2019 USTA girls 18s champion, for a spot in the main draw.

Recent TCU graduate Jake Fearnley has had a banner week at the ATP Challenger 125 in Nottingham. Fearnley, a 22-year-old from Scotland, qualified for the main draw, then won the first Challenger match, and now is in the semifinals, after earning his first ATP Top 100 win today. Fearnley defeated No. 3 seed Jerry Shang of China 7-5, 7-5 and will try to continue his winning streak against Mattia Bellucci of Italy. Bellucci defeated Fearnley's TCU teammate Jack Pinnington Jones 6-4, 7-6(0) today; Pinnington Jones had gotten his first ATP Top 100 win with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over top seed and former Horned Frog Cam Norrie in the second round. 

Another British qualifer, Charlie Broom(Dartmouth, Baylor), also posted his best wins this week, advancing to the semifinals in Nottingham with wins over Lloyd Harris of South Africa in the second round and today, a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 2 seed and ATP No. 62 Dan Evans of Great Britain. Broom, 26, will face Billy Harris of Great Britain in his first Challenger semifinal Sunday.

The grass season has also begun for younger players, with a Tennis Europe Category 1 tournament, which serves as a qualifying event for the Wimbledon U14 tournament, concluding today in London. The tournament, open to all Tennis Europe players, ended with two all-British finals. No. 7 seed Megan Knight, the 2023 Junior Orange Bowl 12s finalist, defeated No. 3 seed Daniella Britton 6-4, 7-5 to secure her place in the 16-player tournament contested on the final four days of Wimbledon. Eric Lorimer, the top seed, defeated No. 4 seed Niall Pickerd-Barua 6-4, 6-3 in the boys final. Complete draws for this week's event are here

I hope to have the names of the two US girls and two US boys who will be competing in the third edition of the Wimbledon U14 event soon.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Quinn, Three Longhorns Advance to Wichita $25K Semifinals; Ahn Reaches First Pro Circuit Semifinal in San Diego; Becker Returns to College Tennis, Florida Announces New Assistant Coaches

The semifinals at this week's $25,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Wichita Kansas feature some of best-known names in Division I college tennis the past two years, with only one of them, No. 2 Ethan Quinn, seeded. 

Quinn, the 2023 NCAA champion as a redshirt freshman at Georgia, defeated qualifier Alex Kotzen(Columbia, Tennessee) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, and he was the sole semifinalist to finish his quarterfinal in less than two hours.  Quinn's opponent in Saturday's semifinals will be two-time ITA Player of the Year Eliot Spizzirri of Texas, who concluded his collegiate career last month in Stillwater Oklahoma. Spizzirri came from 3-1 down in the third set against No. 8 seed Filip Peliwo of Poland, winning the last five games of the three-hour match 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. Spizzirri and Quinn haven't played on the Pro Circuit, but met three times in college in the 2022-23 season, with Quinn winning twice.

Spizzirri's teammate Micah Braswell, who also completed his eligibility last month in Stillwater, advanced to the semifinals with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over No. 3 seed Liam Draxl of Canada, the 2021 ITA Player of the Year at Kentucky. That quarterfinal clocked in at three hours and nine minutes. 

Braswell's opponent in the semifinals is fellow qualifier Sebastian Gorzny, who announced his transfer from TCU to Texas last month. Gorzny, who also reached the Wichita semifinals last year, defeated top seed Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-1, 6-3 in the second round last night, and today got the better of now former teammate Lui Maxted of Great Britain, also a qualifier, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 34 minutes.  Braswell and Gorzny played in the second round of a $25K in Austin back in November of 2022, with Braswell winning 6-3, 6-3; Braswell went on to claim that title, his first and only to date.

The joint SoCal Pro Series events at the University of San Diego, both $15Ks, are also packed with college players in the final four. Recent North Carolina graduate Fiona Crawley, the No. 1 seed in the women's draw, is through to the semifinals, beating No. 7 seed Basak Eryadin of Turkey 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. She will face recent USC graduate Eryn Cayetano, the No. 5 seed, who beat UCLA rising junior Anne Christine Lutkemeyer 6-4, 6-2. Last week's San Diego champion and No. 6 seed Sara Daavettila, the former North Carolina All-American, defeated No. 2 seed Haley Giavara(Cal) 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-0 to set up a meeting with 17-year-old San Diego resident Alyssa Ahn. Ahn, a rising high school senior, is through to her first Pro Circuit semifinal, beating No. 3 seed Hong Yi Cody Wong of Hong Kong 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in a two-hour and 51 minute battle. Ahn, who played five of the SoCal Pro Series tournaments last year, going 4-5, is the 2022 USTA National 16s champion. 

The men's draw in San Diego features the only non-American to make the semifinals in this week's USTA Pro Circuit events: University of San Diego's All-American Oliver Tarvet of Great Britain. Tarvet, a rising junior, defeated fellow 20-year-old Jay Friend(Arizona) of Japan 6-2, 7-6(7). No. 8 seed Tarvet will play No. 2 seed Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern), who beat Collin Altimirano(Virginia) 6-0, 6-4.  

Patrick Maloney(Michigan) defeated No. 3 seed Alafia Ayeni(Cornell, Kentucky) 7-6(5), 7-5 and will play Nathan Ponwith(Georgia, Arizona State), who beat Derek Pham(Oklahoma State) of Australia 6-7(6), 6-1, 7-5 in three hours and five minutes.

The head coaching carousel has slowed as far as head coaching positions go, but there continues to be news on the assistant front. 

After one year out of college tennis, Benjamin Becker, the former Baylor All-American and ATP No. 35, is returning as the associate head coach at the University of Texas. Becker, who was Michigan's associate head coach under Adam Steinberg from 2018-2023 takes over for Ryan Lipman, who is leaving college tennis and returning to Nashville.

Florida has two new men's assistants, with Adam Steinberg naming Anthony Rossi associate head coach. Rossi, who was the men's head coach at Virginia Commonwealth for the past six years. Rossi replaces Matt Cloer, who is returning to the USTA as a National Coach. Max Koller, who was a men's assistant coach at Oklahoma State last season, is the second Florida assistant recently hired.

The Texas A&M women have a new associate head coach in former Georgia State men's coach James Wilson. Wilson, who also coached at Utah State and South Florida, is replacing Jordan Szabo, who is the new head coach at Auburn.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

TCU's Roditi and Tennessee's Ojeda Named ITA Coaches of the Year; Women's Kickoff Weekend Draft Complete; Wimbledon Junior Acceptances Include Svajda and Urhobo

The ITA Division I National Awards, which for many years were announced prior to the finals of the NCAA Team Championships, are on a different schedule now, with the ITA Regional Awards announced yesterday and the National Awards today. Below are the winners; while Texas's Eliot Spirzzirri and Texas A&M's Mary Stoiana didn't received any Regional awards, they are the National Players of the Year after finishing the season at No. 1 in the rankings. Congratulations to all coaches and players who earned acknowledgement of their great seasons.

ITA Division I National Awards

Wilson Coach of the Year: David Roditi, TCU

Assistant Coach of the Year: Devin Bowen, TCU
Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship: Alex Kiefer, Virginia
Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship: Ryan Fishback, Virginia Tech
Rookie of the Year: Cooper Williams, Harvard
Most Improved Player: Jake Fearnley, TCU
Player to Watch: Michael Zheng, Columbia
Senior Player of the Year: Micah Braswell, Texas
National Player of the Year: Eliot Spizzirri, Texas

Wilson Coach of the Year: Alison Ojeda, Tennessee

Assistant Coach of the Year: Jarryd Chaplin, Georgia
Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship: Connie Ma, Stanford
Cissie Leary Sportsmanship: Carol Lee, Georgia Tech
Rookie of the Year: Luciana Perry, Ohio State
Most Improved Player: Ange Oby Kajuru, Oklahoma State
Player to Watch: Amelia Honer, UC Santa Barbara
Senior Player of the Year: Amelia Rajecki, NC State
National Player of the Year: Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M

THe women's ITA Kickoff Weekend Draft was held today, with 42 teams choosing which of the 14 regional host sites they will travel to for the January 2025 regional competition that will determine the ITA National Team Indoor participants. 

As with the men's draft yesterday, the first regional to fill was Tennessee; the last to fill was Charlottesville, with Virginia hosting the final team in the field, No. 66 New Mexico. Texas A&M was the last site to be selected. In addition to Tennessee, the other two regionals to fill early, with all four teams among the Top 35, are Florida and North Carolina.

Three teams passed, as compared to the six men's teams that elected not to play the event: Notre Dame, Syracuse and Purdue. Northwestern and Illinois will be the cohosts of the Women's Team Indoor in February and therefore receive automatic entry. See the SLAM tennis draft page for the breakdown of each regional.

The acceptances for next month's Wimbledon Junior Championships, which I will be covering in person again this year, are out, with six US girls and eight US boys on the initial list of main draw acceptances. 

Every girl in the Top 10 of the ITF junior rankings has entered, including Australian Open girls champion Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia and Roland Garros girls champion Tereza Valentova of the Czech Republic. The US girls entered in main draw are Tyra Grant, Iva Jovic, Kristina Penickova, Kaitlyn Rolls, Thea Frodin and Akasha Urhobo. Urhobo received entry based on her Top 400 WTA ranking, with the 17-year-old from Florida having one of the best World Tennis Numbers in the field.  

Texas rising freshman Maya Joint of Australia, who is in the Wimbledon women's qualifying, has also entered the Junior Championships. Although she received entry based on her junior ranking, she will be seeded in junior event due to her WTA ranking, which is now 177.

The main draw cutoff was 50. Five US girls received entry into the qualifying, which had a cutoff of 84: Shannon Lam, Kate Fakih, Christasha McNeil, Monika Ekstrand and Maya Iyengar.

The boys field is missing two Top 10 players: No. 2 Joel Schwaerzler of Austria and No. 7 Joao Fonseca of Brazil, who is no longer competing in juniors. But aside from those two, every boy in the Top 23 has entered, including Roland Garros champion Kaylan Bigun and Australian Open champion Rei Sakamoto of Japan. The US boys on the main draw acceptance list are: Bigun, Cooper Woestendick, Jagger Leach, Max Exsted, Ian Mayew, Alex Razeghi, Jack Kennedy and Trevor Svajda. Like Urhobo, Svajda received entry based on his professional ranking. Boys inside the ATP 750 (Svajda is currently 662) received direct acceptance into the main draw of a junior slam. SMU rising sophomore Svajda currently has the best World Tennis Number of any player on the acceptance list. Mae Malige of France also received entry, as he did at Roland Garros, based on his ATP ranking inside the Top 750. He is at 718 in the ATP rankings right now. I don't remember a junior slam that had an acceptance for both a boy and a girl from the US based on their professional ranking. 

The boys main draw cutoff was 47. Five US boys were accepted into qualifying: Matthew Forbes, Kase Schinnerer, Nikita Filin, Noah Johnston and Rudy Quan.

Quan received entry into the qualifying based on his ATP ranking, which rose to 847 after his run to the quarterfinals of the Little Rock Challenger last month. Any boy with an ATP ranking between 750 and 850 is accepted into qualifying at a junior slam.
The cutoff for qualifying for the boys was 74.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

USTA Announces Summer Collegiate Team; Men's Kick-off Weekend Draft Complete; Ohio State Adds Transfers Li, Kim and Jansen; ITA D-I Regional Awards; Krajicek Endows Scholarship at Texas A&M

The USTA announced the Summer Collegiate Team today, with six American men and six American women chosen for support during competition this summer on the USTA Pro Circuit. With the exception of Perry and Williams, who ended the year as the top-ranked freshmen, and UNC's Fiona Crawley, who had so much success as a member of the team in 2023, these are the Americans with the best ITA season-ending rankings.

*Fiona Crawley, UNC (Sr.; San Antonio)
Connie Ma, Stanford (Jr.; Dublin, Calif.)
Kari Miller, Michigan (Sr.; Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Alexa Noel, Miami (Jr.; Summit, N.J.)
Luciana Perry, Ohio State (Fr.; Export, Pa.)
*Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M (Jr.; Southbury, Conn.)

Ozan Baris, Michigan State (Soph.; Okemos, Mich.)
​*Nishesh Basavareddy, Stanford (Soph.; Carmel, Ind.)
Micah Braswell, Texas (Sr.; Sarasota, Fla.)
*Eliot Spizzirri, Texas (Sr.; Greenwich, Conn.)
Cooper Williams, Duke (Fr.; New York)
Michael Zheng, Columbia (Soph.; Montville, N.J.)

​*members of 2023 Summer Collegiate teams

From today's USTA release:
Each of the players was selected based on a number of criteria, including rankings, individual collegiate tournament results or Intercollegiate Tennis Association honors. Players on the team are eligible to receive a grant for travel to USTA Pro Circuit events and coaching support over the summer.

Oklahoma State Assistant Coaches Martin Redlicki and Samantha Crawford will travel with and coach the men and the women, respectively, and will provide assistance to any American collegians playing at tournaments throughout the summer. The program is led by USTA National Coach Maureen Diaz.

“As the level of training and competition in college tennis continues to rise in the U.S. and become an increasingly more important and viable pathway for our best American prospects to mature and develop before they enter the professional ranks, our USTA PD commitment to our top collegians is also strong and comprehensive,” said USTA Player Development GM Martin Blackman. “We commend the ITA for working closely with the ATP and WTA to establish important and powerful linkages for top collegians into professional tennis events. We look forward to seeing this year's Summer Team compete, perform and progress during a robust and exciting summer of great USTA Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S. Congratulations also to the coaches from these great universities for their success in developing these great young players.”
The ITA Men's Kickoff Weekend Draft was held today, with 42 teams selecting which one of the 14 regional host sites where they wish to compete in the January 2025 event. Given the unique nature of the draft, which allows a team to select a regional that it prefers based on competitive or travel considerations, reading the tea leaves is irresistible, although there is no question this is way too early to make a prediction on the strength of a host (or other teams in the region).

The first regional to fill was Tennessee; the last to fill was Columbia, who will host Miami, who at a ranking of 64, was the last team to draft. The last regional to get a No. 2 seed was Ohio State; Tennessee had its regional full before No. 36 Princeton chose Columbus. In addition to Tennessee, Harvard and Mississippi State were popular destinations for top seeds. No. 10 Florida State quickly got its No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in No. 15 South Carolina and No. 19 San Diego, but their fourth seed was one of the last teams to draft: No. 60 UNC-Wilmington.

Six teams passed: Florida Atlantic,  Notre Dame, Utah State, Penn, Clemson and Cal. SMU and Baylor receive direct entry into the 16-team Men's ITA National Team Indoor Championships as co-hosts.

See SLAM tennis for the full regional lineups. The women's draft is Thursday at noon Eastern, with the SLAM tennis page to follow it is here.

The Ohio State men, who lost four of its top six, announced three significant transfers today: rising sophomore Aidan Kim from Florida, rising junior Will Jansen from North Carolina and rising senior Chris Li from Tennessee(previously North Carolina).  With the NCAA no longer involved in the transfer process, signings like these are likely to become an even bigger part of building rosters each summer. 

The ITA announced its Regional Award winners today; the National Award winners will be announced on Thursday. For all the Regional winners, see the ITF pages for men and women. Interesting that Eliot Spizzirri of Texas and Mary Stoiana of Texas A&M, both of whom finished ranked No. 1 in the nation, did not receive any of the Texas Region's awards. I will list all the National winners in my post Thursday.

Former Texas A&M All-American Austin Krajicek, a former ATP World No. 1 in doubles and now ranked No. 14, won the NCAA doubles title in 2011 with Jeff Dadamo and reached the ATP Top 100 in singles before focusing solely on his doubles career. T

The 33-year-old from Florida, who now lives in Texas, was married recently and his wife, the former Misia Kedzierski, who played at Illinois, is a graduate of the Texas A&M Mays business school. Earlier this year, the couple announced an endowment for a marketing scholarship at Mays for students, who like Kedzierski, are not from Texas. As this quote from Misia in the Texas A&M Today article explains, "The scholarship will support out-of-state marketing graduate students because Texas A&M offers such a great college experience. We thought more people from around the country should know about Aggieland and experience its culture like we did while having fun being an Aggie."