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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

SoCal Pro Series $15Ks in Rancho Santa Fe Underway; Michelsen Among Americans Advancing at Little Rock ATP Challenger; Fifteen Americans Reach Second Round at Roland Garros After Six More Wins Tuesday

Most of the focus of the tennis world is on Paris, but the USTA Pro Circuit is providing opportunities away from the red clay of Europe with three tournaments this week.

The SoCal Pro Series is back, with the men's and women's $15,000 events taking place this week in Rancho Santa Fe, the first of seven such events around Southern California in the next seven weeks.

Qualifying was completed today, with five American men and four American women reaching the main draw.  The men are Noah Schachter(Texas A&M), Phillip Jordan(South Carolina/UC-Santa Barbara), 17-year-old wild card Trevor Svajda, Braden Shick(NC State) and 17-year-old Rudy Quan, who recently announced a verbal commitment to UCLA.

The women reaching the main draw are Anne Christine Lutkemeyer(UCLA), Nikki Redlijk(Pepperdine), Emily Gelber(Brown) and reigning Orange Bowl 16s champion Alexis Nguyen. 

Several players who competed in the NCAA tournament this month in Lake Nona are ready to get back to competition, including women's singles champion Fangran Tian of UCLA, who is unseeded, and will face top seed Eryn Cayetano of USC, who reached the women's doubles semifinals in Lake Nona, if both win their first round matches Wednesday. 

Megan McCray(Oklahoma State) is the No. 2 seed, with wild cards awarded to rising high school juniors Rachel Lee and Emily Deming. Cayetano was the third wild card recipient.

Rising sophomore Jack Anthrop, who competed in the team championships for Ohio State, won his first round match today; Schachter had lost in the second round of the NCAA singles tournament. No. 8 seed Edward Winter of Australia, a rising freshman at Pepperdine, defeated Stanford rising freshman Hudson Rivera 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-0. 

Aidan McHugh of Great Britain is the top seed, with Matias Descotte of Argentina the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to Cal rising freshman Ethan Schiffman, Kent Hunter(Cal/LSU), William Kleege, a rising high school junior, and rising SMU junior Alexander Stafford. Some of the wild cards in the SoCal Pro Series are decided by prequalifying tournaments.

Eighteen-year-old Alex Michelsen played in a couple of the SoCal Pro Series tournament last summer, both before and after his trip to Wimbledon, where he won the boys doubles title with Sebastian Gorzny(TCU). This year, he made the final of the Malibu $25K, which was also part of the SoCal Pro Series, and from there, he has worked his way into ATP Challengers. This week Michelsen is playing the Little Rock Challenger 75, and he advanced to the second round today with a tough 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over Denis Yevseyev of Kazakhstan. 

Michelsen's future has been a topic of conversation lately, particularly with Ethan Quinn's success at Georgia; he is one of the reasons that the Georgia recruiting class was No. 1 in yesterday's rankings. Now 251 in the ATP live rankings, Michelsen has an opportunity to reach the Wimbledon qualifying with a good showing this week, so speculation as to whether he will actually play for Georgia continues. He spoke with Mike Cation prior to this week's Little Rock Challenger about that decision and many other topics for the Behind The Racquet Podcast. It sounds as if he is open to turning pro should he improve his ATP ranking to around 150 this summer, but he is not ruling out college as of now.

Qualifying for Little Rock concluded Monday, with Columbia rising sophmore Michael Zheng reaching the main draw, after advancing to the round of 16 last week at the NCAA singles championships. He lost in his first round main draw match today to Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 7-6(5), 6-3.  

In addition to Michelsen, five other Americans have reached the second round: Evan Zhu(UCLA), who beat wild card Tristan Boyer(Stanford) 6-4, 6-7(7), 7-6(2), wild card Nathan Ponwith(Georgia/Arizona State), who defeated qualifier Christian Langmo(Miami) 2-6, 7-5, 7-5, Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia), Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) and No. 2 seed Nicolas Moreno del Alboran(UC-Santa Barbara).  Moreno del Alboran was in the final round of Roland Garros qualifying on Friday, so he might still be experiencing some jet lag, but he did defeat Marek Gengel of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 today.  Tung-Lin Wu of China is the top seed; he defeated wild card Bruno Kuzuhara 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 yesterday.

After three days of play, the first round at Roland Garros is complete, with a total of 15 Americans advancing to round two. The results from today and the second round matchups for Wednesday are below.

Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva of Russia continued her string of impressive results, with the 2023 Australian Open girls finalist, who ascended to No. 1 in the ITF junior rankings today, defeating Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2, 6-1 in less than an hour.

Tuesday's first round results of Americans:

Holger Rune[6](DEN) d. Christopher Eubanks 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-2
Taylor Fritz[9] d. Michael Mmoh 6-2, 6-1, 6-1
Tommy Paul[16] d. Dominic Stricker(LL)(SUI) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Yoshihito Nishioka[27](JPN) d. JJ Wolf 1-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3

Claire Liu d. Ylena In-Albon[Q](SUI) 6-1, 6-4
Emma Navarro[WC] d. Erika Andreeva[LL](RUS) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
Lauren Davis d. Lin Zhu(CHN) 6-3, 6-3
Mirra Andreeva[Q](RUS) d. Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2, 6-1
Coco Gauff[6] d. Rebeka Masarova(ESP) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
Petra Martic(CRO) d. Shelby Rogers[32] 3-6, 6-3, 6-2

Wednesday's second round matches featuring Americans:

Jessica Pegula[3] v Camila Giorgi(ITA)
Peyton Stearns v Jelena Ostapenko[17](LAT)
Sloane Stephens v Varvara Gracheva(RUS)

Sebastian Korda[24] v Sebastian Ofner[Q](AUT)

Monday, May 29, 2023

Georgia Tops 2023 Men's Recruiting Class Rankings; Snell Sweeps, Kennedy Claims Second Straight Title on ITF Junior Circuit; Stearns, Shnaider Post Opening Round Victories at Roland Garros; US Players Get Seven Wins in Paris

The final edition of the Tennis Recruiting Network's men's rankings for the 2023 recruiting class was published today, with Georgia retaining its position at No. 1, having been in the top spot in January as well. Stanford stayed at No. 2, but several teams improved their positions in the four months since the first rankings were released, including No. 3 Tennessee, No. 4 Florida and No. 5 Princeton. The rest of the top ten, in order, are Harvard, Kentucky, Pepperdine, South Carolina and Ohio State. Three schools gathered No. 1 votes, and three schools posted their best rankings ever; those and other tidbits can be found in the article's notes.

In addition to Kaitlin Quevedo's singles title at the J500 in Milan, there were seven other championships claimed by Americans last week on the ITF Junior Circuit. 

I don't think the top American boys from the 2008 birth year expected to be playing each other most of the time on their spring trip to Spain, but for the third week in a row it was an all-US final there. This week's J60 in Les Franqueses Del Valles saw the four Americans facing off in the semifinals, with unseeded Jack Secord defeating No. 3 seed Keaton Hance 6-4, 6-3 and No. 2 seed Jack Kennedy beating No. 7 seed Ford McCollum 6-3, 7-5. Secord and Kennedy had met in the previous week's final, and Kennedy again came through in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1.

The 14-year-old from New York reached all three singles finals and also won two doubles titles with Hance at J60s this month, the first two on clay and the most recent on hard courts.

The other singles title came from Holland Snell, who also took the doubles championship at the J60 in El Salvador. The 18-year-old  top seed defeated No. 2 seed Boxiong Zhang of China 6-1, 6-2 for his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title of the year and second overall. Snell and partner Juan Carlos Fuentes Vasquez of El Salvador, the No. 2 seeds, defeated unseeded Zhang and Zhangsiqi Zhou of China 6-4, 7-6(9) in the doubles final.

Seventeen-year-old Yontha Tadoum won her first ITF Junior Circuit title in doubles, with partner Michelle Irigoyen of El Salvador. The unseeded pair took out top seeds Valentina Vargas of Ecuador and Yasmin Vavrova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-4 in the championship match.

Katie Rolls won the J100 doubles title last week in Bolivia, but the results of the singles finals, scheduled for Saturday, were never posted. Rolls, the top seed, reached the singles final, and has so far not received any ITF ranking points, which would be expected if the match was abandoned. Rolls has already won two J100 singles titles this month. In the doubles final, played Friday, Rolls and partner Catalina Padilla Udaeta of Bolivia, the top seeds, defeated No. 3 seeds Francesca Maguina Bunikowska of Peru and Natalia Trigosso of Bolivia 6-2, 6-0.  UPDATE: As of Tuesday morning, Rolls shows as the singles winner, beating No. 4 seed Bunikowska 6-2, 6-3.

Two more doubles titles for Americans were collected in Canada and Georgia. At the J60 in Fredericton New Brunswick, Mark Krupkin reached the singles final and won the doubles title. The 16-year-old from New Jersey and his partner Volodymyr Gurenko of Ukraine, seeded No. 2, defeated the unseeded Canadian pair of  Alec Anghel and Aidan Wang-Fan 6-2, 6-1 in the final. 

At the J30 in Tbilisi Georgia, 17-year-old Seth Sadikov won his second ITF Junior Circuit doubles title, with Itay Cohen of Israel. The top seeds defeated unseeded Nikoloz Gurgenidze and Alexsandre Shvangiradze of Georgia 6-4, 7-5 in the final. 

This week's warmup for the Roland Garros Junior Championships is the ITF J300 Astrid Bowl in Belgium. There were five American boys and 11 American girls in the main draw when play began this morning. Fully half the 16 girls seeds are Americans; seeds begin play on Tuesday in the 48-player singles draws. 

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker.

After disappointing American results Sunday on the first day of Roland Garros, Monday proved more successful, with seven of the 11 Americans in action earning victories. 2022 NCAA champion Peyton Stearns(Texas) got her first victory at a major in just her second attempt, beating Katarina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 7-6(7), 6-2.  NC State's Diana Shnaider, who was playing in the NCAA women's team final nine days ago, earned her second victory in a major in her second appearance, defeating Rebecca Marino of Canada 6-3, 7-5. 

Qualifier Kayla Day earned her first win in a major since 2016, when the USTA National 18s champion, aged 16, beat Madison Brengle in the first round of the US Open. Day beat former WTA Top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic of France, a wild card, 7-5, 6-1.

Monday's first round results featuring Americans:

Sloane Stephens d. Karolina Pliskova[16](CZE) 6-0, 6-4
Kayla Day[Q] d. Kristina Mladenovic[WC](FRA) 7-5, 6-1
Madison Keys[20] d. Kaia Kanepi(EST) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1
Bernarda Pera d. Anett Kontaveit(EST) 7-6(6), 6-2
Marketa Vondrousova(CZE) d. Alycia Parks 6-4, 6-0
Peyton Stearns d. Katerina Siniakova(CZE) 7-6(7), 6-2
Simona Waltert[Q](SUI) d. Elli Mandlik[Q] 6-1, 4-6, 6-2

Novak Djokovic[3](SRB) d. Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6[1]
Denis Shapovalov[26](CAN) d. Brandon Nakashima 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3
Frances Tiafoe[12] d. Filip Krajinovic(SRB) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
Marcos Giron d. Hamad Medjedovic[Q](SRB) 6-0, 6-2, 1-6, 6-0

Tuesday's first round matches featuring Americans:

Claire Liu v Ylena In-Albon[Q](SUI)
Emma Navarro[WC] v Erika Andreeva[LL](RUS)
Lauren Davis v Lin Zhu(CHN)
Alison Riske-Amritraj v Mirra Andreeva[Q](RUS)
Coco Gauff[6] v Rebeka Masarova(ESP)
Shelby Rogers[32] v Petra Martic(CRO)

Christopher Eubanks v Holger Rune[6](DEN)
Michael Mmoh v Taylor Fritz[9]
Tommy Paul[16] v Dominic Stricker(LL)(SUI)
JJ Wolf v Yoshihito Nishioka[27](JPN)

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Quevedo Claims ITF J500 Trofeo Bonfiglio Title in Milan; Princeton Freshman, TCU Senior Take $15K USTA Pro Circuit Titles in Huntsville; Ten of Twelve Americans Drop First Round Roland Garros Matches Sunday

Last year Kaitlin Quevedo competed in the ITF Junior Circuit clay swing prior to Roland Garros, but had limited success, falling in the first round of both the J300 in Santa Croce and the J500 in Milan, although she did go on to qualify for both Roland Garros and Wimbledon. But that was before she had won three $15K titles last fall, as well as her first J300 in Mexico last November.  The 17-year-old from Naples Florida again showed how much she has improved in the past twelve months at this week's Trofeo Bonfiglio J500 in Milan, winning one of the most prestigious titles in junior tennis while dropping just one set in her six victories.

Quevedo, seeded No. 8, earned the title when No. 12 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia retired after losing the first set 7-5. It marked the first time Quevedo had advanced past the third round at a J500 event, and she will move into the ITF Junior Top 10 with this title, which marks her as one of the favorites going into the Roland Garros Junior Championships in two weeks.

No. 12 seed Cooper Williams, also playing in his first J500 final, lost to top seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico 6-4, 7-5. Pacheco, who last year lost in the first round of the Trofeo Bonfiglio J500 in Milan to NCAA singles champion Ethan Quinn, now holds two J500 titles, having won last November's tournament at that level in Mexico; he also reached the final at the 2022 Orange Bowl. The 18-year-old left-hander should move to No. 1 in the ITF Junior rankings next week.

With the NCAA Division I singles and doubles championships going on late into the night most of last week, I wasn't able to follow the results from the two $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournaments in Huntsville Alabama, but two collegians did end up taking the singles titles today.

Princeton rising sophomore Fnu "Top" Nidunjianzan of China, who did not qualify for the NCAAs, won the men's singles title, beating No. 4 seed Roberto Cid(South Florida) of the Dominican Republic 7-5, 6-3 in the final. The unseeded 19-year-old's best finish in a pro event prior to today was a semifinal last summer at a $15K tournament in the SoCal Pro Series.

He defeated No. 3 seed and 2017 NCAA champion Thai Kwiatkowski 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 in the first round, one of three three-set victories he posted during the week.

The women's singles title in Huntsville went to TCU senior and top seed Tiphanie Lemaitre of France, who ended the impressive run of Auburn rising sophomore DJ Bennett with a 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-2 victory that was nearly three hours in duration. Bennett, who played No. 3 for Auburn this year as a freshman, did not qualify for the NCAA individual tournament, but her teammates Carolyn Ansari and Ariana Arseneault did, meaning they could not compete in Huntsville. Their consolation was a run to the round of 16 in singles, so both earned All-American status.

Bennett, 19, won six matches in Huntsville, a week after qualifying and winning a round at the $60K tournament in Pelham. Those were her first two professional level tournaments.

Sixteen-year-old Mia Yamakita won her first professional title Saturday, taking the women's doubles title with Rhiann Newborn(Baylor). The No. 4 seeds defeated No. 2 seeds Kolie Allen(Ohio State) and Paris Corley(LSU) 7-5, 6-3 in the final. Texas Tech teammates Lorenzo Esquici of Brazil and Franco Ribero of Argentina won the men's doubles title, beating Elijah and Isaiah Strode 6-4, 6-3 in the final. Neither team was seeded.

Also of note, Kyle Kang warmed up for the Roland Garros Junior Championships not in Milan, but at a $25,000 ITF Men's Tennis Tour tournament in Spain, where he reached the semifinals after coming through qualifying. Kang lost to eventual champion and No. 2 seed Nikolas Sanchez Izquierdo of Spain 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-2.

Nineteen-year-old Elvina Kalieva won her first professional singles title yesterday at the $25,000 ITF Women's Tennis Tour tournament in Austria. The top-seeded Kalieva defeated 18-year-old Julie Struplova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the final. 

The first day of the Roland Garros main draw competition proved to be a disappointing one for Americans, who went 2-10 on the day and got those two wins at the expense of other Americans. Eleven more Americans are on Monday's schedule, with the remaining 11 matches featuring Americans on Tuesday. Caty McNally withdrew today, so there were 34 Americans in the first round.

The NCAA Division I Most Outstanding Player of the team event, Diana Shnaider of North Carolina State, will play Rebecca Marino of Canada on Monday.

Sunday's first round results of Americans:

Jessica Pegula[3] d. Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-2
Anastasia Potapova[24](RUS) d. Taylor Townsend[Q] 6-1, 6-2
Mayar Sherif(EGY) d. Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-1
Liudmila Samsonova[15](RUS) d. Katie Volynets 6-0, 6-1

Sebastian Ofner[Q](AUT) d. Maxime Cressy 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-2
Sebastian Korda[24] d. Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 7-5, 6-4
Radu Albot[Q](MDA) d. Patrick Kypson[WC] 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
Roberto Carballes Baena(ESP) d. Emilio Nava[Q] 7-6(7), 6-3, 6-2
Nuno Borges(POR) d. John Isner 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(9)
Lorenzo Sonego(ITA) d. Ben Shelton[30] 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3

Monday's first round matches featuring Americans:

Sloane Stephens v Karolina Pliskova[16](CZE)
Kayla Day[Q] v Kristina Mladenovic[WC](FRA)
Madison Keys[20] v Kaia Kanepi(EST)
Bernarda Pera v Anett Kontaveit(EST)
Alycia Parks v Marketa Vondrousova(CZE)
Peyton Stearns v Katerina Siniakova(CZE)
Elli Mandlik[Q] v Simona Waltert[Q](SUI)

Aleksandar Kovacevic v Novak Djokovic[3](SRB)
Brandon Nakashima v Denis Shapovalov[26](CAN)
Frances Tiafoe[12] v Filip Krajinovic(SRB)
Marcos Giron v Hamad Medjedovic[Q](SRB)

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Quinn Saves Four Match Points to Claim D-I Men's Singles Title; Tian Takes Women's Championship; Ohio State Men, UNC Women Win Doubles Titles; Quevedo and Williams Reach ITF J500 Milan Finals; 12 Americans Kick Off Roland Garros Action Sunday

Freshmen champions are rare in NCAA singles competition, with their lack of experience the obvious explanation. Yet 2023 winners Ethan Quinn of Georgia and Fangran Tian of UCLA, both in their first year of collegiate competition, proved up to the task against more seasoned opponents Saturday, becoming the first freshman pair to hoist the singles trophies since 2009.

No. 2 seed Quinn had the far more dramatic victory, saving four match points in his 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-2 win over Michigan's Ondrej Styler, on a rare sunny day at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida. 

The redshirt freshman, who joined Georgia in January of 2022 but did not play for the Bulldogs until this past fall, got off to a quick start, taking a 5-2, two-break lead over the senior from the Czech Republic, seeded eighth. The second break came thanks to Styler, who conceded a game point to Quinn on a backhand lob that had been called out by the line umpire. While that unusually generous gesture cost him the game, Styler did raise his level after that, while Quinn's, not high to begin with, dropped.

Neither player was employing his forehand effectively, and despite the lead he had built, Quinn didn't look comfortable trying to serve out the set, failing to earn a set point in either the 5-2 or 5-4 game, as the forehand remained erratic. Styler won his fourth straight game to go up 6-5, and although Quinn held to force a tiebreaker, Styler took control in the final game of the set, winning the last five points to take the lead. 

Quinn was broken, with two double faults contributing, in the opening game of the second set, but the 19-year-old from Fresno California got it back to 3-3, only to get broken in the next game on a deciding point. After Styler held for 5-3, Quinn followed with a hold for 5-4, forcing Styler to serve out the championship. Styler went up 40-0, giving himself four match points in the no-ad format. Quinn hit a forehand volley winner to save the first, then forced an error from Styler with a big forehand. Match point No. 3 will probably be the one Styler regrets most, as he missed a routine forehand wide to set up a deciding point. Styler hit a good first serve, but Quinn, who had been returning well throughout the match, made another fine return that Styler couldn't keep in the court, with his forehand again going wide. 

In the second set tiebreaker, Quinn went up 5-3 with a great cross court forehand winner, but he double faulted on the next point. Styler hit a forehand on the line, a call Quinn didn't agree with, to make 5-5, but shanked a forehand on the next point to give Quinn his first set point of the day. He hit a forehand volley winner to take the set, and after securing that, Quinn appeared to relax.

He lost a 2-0 lead in the third set, but got the break right back for a 3-2 lead. Quinn was making fewer unforced errors and swinging more freely, and he eventually built another 5-2 lead. This time however, Quinn looked more confident, starting with a backhand winner, a forehand winner and a good first serve for a 40-0 lead. He missed a backhand long on the first match point, but put away a forehand volley into the open court to secure the first NCAA singles title for Georgia since Matias Boeker won his second straight in 2002.

Quinn, who also saved a match point in his first round win over Luc Fomba of TCU, is the third straight American to win the NCAA singles title, following Sam Riffice and Ben Shelton of Florida. Like Shelton, Quinn was a runnerup at the previous year's Kalamazoo 18s final and won the ITA All-American championship in the fall portion of the season. Although the wild card is discretionary, Quinn is expected to receive a US Open main draw wild card as an American champion.

Quotes from Quinn and the Georgia coaches can be found in this article from georgiadogs.com.

Women's champion Tian didn't come into the NCAA tournament in the best of form. While the 19-year-old from Beijing had gone undefeated in the dual match portion of the season heading into the NCAA team event, she had suffered losses to Chloe Beck of Duke and Thasaporn Naklo of Iowa State in UCLA's regional and super regional dual matches. 

That all changed in Orlando, where Tian, a 9-16 seed, did not drop a set in her six victories, including her 6-2, 6-4 win over unseeded Layne Sleeth of Oklahoma in the championship match.

Tian found the right balance of patience and aggression against Sleeth, who is more than happy to play long points and defend brilliantly until her opponent feels the pressure to go for too much. 

After a quick exchange of breaks, the first set was poised on the edge the rest of the way, with Sleeth broken serving at 4-5. Sleeth saved two set points with winners from 15-40 down, but Tian got the biggest one of the set with a backhand down the line winner on the deciding point. 

Tian broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set, then went up 5-1 with another break on a deciding point. Serving for the championship, Tian showed her first sign of nerves, making three unforced errors to give Sleeth hope of a comeback. But the Canadian was unable to force Tian to serve for the match a second time, with Tian breaking to take the nearly two-hour championship match 6-4, 6-2.

Tian is the first collegian from China to capture an NCAA individual title and the first woman from UCLA to claim the singles title since Keri Phebus in 1995.

The last time two freshmen won the singles titles in the same year was 2009, when Ole Miss's Devin Britton and Duke's Mallory Cecil were the champions.

The North Carolina Tar Heels were assured of their third NCAA women's doubles title before today's final, and it was the unseeded team of Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig who will have their name on the winners' trophies, after they defeated No. 8 seeds Elizabeth Scotty and Reese Brantmeier 6-1, 2-6, 11-9.  Given the circumstances, which was the first final between teams from the same school since Stanford did it in 2005, the atmosphere was subdued, and even after the tense tiebreaker, neither team had much of a reaction when it ended.

Crawley and Tanguilig, who did not play together in UNC's run to its first team title last week, went up 5-1 in the match tiebreaker, but Brantmeier and Scotty won five of the next six points for a 6-6 score at the second change of ends. At 8-all, Tanguilig poached to set up a match point on her serve, but she double faulted and it was 9-9. Crawley hit a volley winner for 10-9, and then came up with a service return winner on Scotty's serve to seal the title and deny Scotty her second NCAA doubles title. Scotty won the title with Makenna Jones in 2019 at the National Campus; the first UNC doubles title came in 2007, with Sara Anundsen(now O'Leary, women's head coach at Virginia) and Jenna Long the champions.

For all its doubles prowess throughout the past several decades, Ohio State had only one NCAA men's title to show for it--until today. The unseeded team of Andrew Lutschaunig and James Trotter defeated No. 3 seeds Eliot Spizzirri and Cleeve Harper 6-4, 6-4 to join Buckeyes Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola as NCAA doubles champions.

Both sets followed a similar pattern, with Lutschaunig and Trotter getting a late break and serving out the sets. They won a deciding point on Spizzirri's serve at 4-4 in the first set, with Lutschaunig finishing it with no drama.

After an exchange of breaks to open the second set, holds continued until, at 4-4, Spizzirri was broken again. This time, with Trotter serving, the Buckeyes fell behind 15-40 in the final game, but they worked their way to a deciding point/match point, which Trotter converted with an ace.

Trotter and Lutschaunig avenged last year's finals loss by Robert Cash and Matej Vocel to Texas's Harper and Richard Ciamarra. Since Buchanan and Rola's 2012 title, Ohio State teams had lost three NCAA men's doubles finals.

Although the draws have yet to be updated with the final results, the men's D-I draws are here and the women's D-I draws are here.

At the ITF J500 Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy, Americans Cooper Williams and Kaitlin Quevedo will play for the singles titles Sunday.  

No. 12 seed Williams, who is set to join the Harvard team this fall, avenged his Australian Open Juniors loss to No. 2 seed Yi Zhou of China, with Zhou retiring trailing 6-3, 4-0 in today's semifinal. Williams will face top seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico, who defeated No. 16 seed Joel Schwaerzler of Austria 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. Williams and Pacheco have met three times on the ITF Junior Circuit, with Pacheco winning two, most recently a 6-4, 6-4 quarterfinal victory at last fall's J500 in Mexico. 

Quevedo, the No. 8 seed, cruised past No. 6 seed Sayaka Ishii of Japan 6-1, 6-1 and will play No. 12 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia in Sunday's final. Jamrichova prevented an all-US girls final by defeating No. 2 seed Clervie Ngounoue 6-1, 2-6, 6-1.

Tyra Grant and her partner Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain lost in the girls doubles final today, with wild cards Noemi Basiletti and Gaia Maduzzi of Italy taking the title with a 6-0, 6-3 victory.

Top seeds Pacheco and Russia's Yaroslav Demin won the boys doubles title, beating No. 5 seeds Federico Cina of Italy and Rei Sakamoto of Japan 6-3, 6-3 in the final. 

Live scoring is available via Tennis Ticker.

The first day of the 2023 Roland Garros main draw begins Sunday, with a dozen Americans in action. Below are the matchups, with Sunday's full order of play available here.

Sunday's first round matches featuring Americans:

Danielle Collins v Jessica Pegula[3]
Taylor Townsend[Q] v Anastasia Potapova[24](RUS)
Madison Brengle v Mayar Sherif(EGY)
Katie Volynets v Liudmila Samsonova[15](RUS)

Maxime Cressy v Sebastian Ofner[Q](AUT)
Mackenzie McDonald v Sebastian Korda[24]
Patrick Kypson[WC] v Radu Albot[Q](MDA)
Emilio Nava[Q] v Roberto Carballes Baena(ESP)
John Isner v Nuno Borges(POR)
Ben Shelton[30] v Lorenzo Sonego(ITA)

Friday, May 26, 2023

My Conversation with USC's Learner Tien; Quinn and Styler, Sleeth and Tian Reach NCAA Singles Finals; All-UNC Doubles Final; D-I Coaching News; Williams, Quevedo and Ngounoue into J500 Milan Semis; Townsend and Nava Qualify at Roland Garros

Before recapping all the semifinal action today in the NCAA Division I singles and doubles, I have other college tennis news, which comes from my conversation two weeks ago with University of Southern California freshman Learner Tien. In my article posted today at the Tennis Recruiting Network, the 2022 Kalamazoo 18s champion reflects on his long wait to compete, his college experience, his adjustment to no-ad, his plans for this summer and whether he plans to return to compete as a Trojan next season.

The player Tien beat to win the Kalamazoo title will play for the NCAA singles title Saturday, after No. 2 seed Ethan Quinn of Georgia came back to defeat No. 9-16 seed Chris Rodesch of Virginia 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

For the fourth time in the five days of the individual tournament, rain again disrupted play, this time in the morning instead of the afternoon. Quinn and Rodesch played their entire match indoors, which would seem to favor Rodesch, and that appeared to be the case in the first set, with Rodesch not making errors and routinely holding serve, while Quinn was not quite settled in. But Quinn got an immediate break to open the second set, his first of the match, and when Rodesch lost his serve a second time, a third set was just three games away.

The key stage of the final set came with Quinn serving down 2-3. Up 40-0, Quinn saw his lead disappear and faced a deciding point. He went to his potent forehand and it didn't let him down, with the clean winner pulling him even. Rodesch, who had been in action nine straight days, began to look a little weary and when he went down 0-40, the hole he had dug himself was too deep. Quinn held for 5-3 and after Rodesch put the pressure back on, the 19-year-old redshirt freshman served it out at love, becoming the first Georgia man to reach an NCAA singles final since John Isner in 2007.

Quinn will face No. 8 seed Ondrej Styler of Michigan, who rolled past Arizona State sophomore Murphy Cassone 6-1, 6-2. Styler, who defeated top seed Eliot Spizzirri of Texas 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals, looked extremely comfortable indoors, where the senior has played the bulk of his collegiate career.  Styler is the first Michigan man to play in an NCAA singles final since Dan Goldberg in 1987. 

As was the case for Quinn last August in Kalamazoo, a US Open main draw wild card will be on the line; Styler, who is from the Czech Republic, is extremely unlikely to receive a US Open wild card should he take the title.

The women's final will feature two international players: Canada's Layne Sleeth of Oklahoma and China's Fangran Tian of UCLA.

The rain came at a bad time for Tian, who led fellow freshman Maddy Seig of USC  6-3, 4-1 when play was stopped. It was over 90 minutes when they resumed the match indoors, and Sieg did get one of the two breaks back for 4-2. But Tian, who had two wins over Sieg in the past two months, immediately broke back on a deciding point and held in the final game, becoming the first UCLA women's singles finalist since Keri Phebus won the title in 1995.

Sleeth's 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 victory over NC State's Amelia Rajecki made even more history, with the senior the first Sooner to reach the final, although Oklahoma head coach Audra Cohen will have some wisdom to impart to Sleeth after reaching the final while at Northwestern in 2005 and winning the title after transferring to Miami in 2007. 

Sleeth might have been at a disadvantage indoors, and she did trail the big-hitting Rajecki 3-1 in the third set, but she got it back to 3-3, and won a deciding point to take her first lead since the first game of the set. Rajecki held for 4-all, but after an easy hold for Sleeth, the pressure was right back on Rajecki serving at 4-5. Her first serve was nowhere to be found and a double fault and a backhand error gave Sleeth three match points at 15-40. Rajecki saved the first, scrambling and defending, but not the second, as she tried to shorten the next point and hit her backhand volley wide. 

The weather cleared for the semifinals of doubles, which were played outdoors, and North Carolina has assured itself of another National Championship before the final, with both their teams getting wins today.

No. 8 seeds Reese Brantmeier and Elizabeth Scotty, the only seeds to reach the semifinals, defeated Sieg and Eryn Cayetano of USC 6-4, 6-3, while Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig earned a 6-4, 7-6(3) win over Virginia's Julia Adams and Melodie Collard. Scotty won the 2021 NCAA women's doubles title at the USTA National Campus in 2021, with Makenna Jones. It will be the first time that teammates played each other in the final since 2005, when Stanford's Alice Barnes and Erin Burdette defeated Amber Liu and Anne Yelsey. As with UNC, Stanford also won the team title that year.

Ohio State and Texas will meet for the men's doubles title Saturday for the second straight year, with the only player in common 2022 champion Cleeve Harper. Harper, who won the title last year when he and Richard Ciamarra defeated Robert Cash and Matej Vocel of Ohio State, is partnering with Eliot Spizzirri this year. The No. 3 seeds, and the only seeds in the semifinals, defeated Andres Martin and Marcus McDaniel of Georgia Tech 6-1, 7-5 this evening in Lake Nona. Ohio State's James Trotter and Andrew Lutschaunig needed to win two tiebreakers in their comeback win over Pepperdine's Daniel De Jong and Tim Zeitvogel, taking the match 3-6, 7-6(2), 10-4.

The singles finals are both scheduled for 10:00 a.m., with the doubles following, not before 11:30 a.m.  Cracked Racquets will provide coverage via their YouTube Channel. Live scoring and results are here, and individual courts are available via Playsight.

A quick update on two SEC coaching hires announced recently, with University of Virginia associate head coach Scott Brown taking over the men's program at Vanderbilt, his alma mater, and James Madison's Shelly Jaudon named to lead the women's program at Kentucky.  Earlier this month, Texas Tech removed the interim tag from men's coach Michael Breler and announced that volunteer assistant Parker Wynne would be promoted to assistant coach.

There is a new Power Five opening today however, with Nebraska's Scott Jacobson announcing his retirement after 32 years guiding the women's program in Lincoln.

All three Americans competing in today's quarterfinals at the ITF J500 Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy have advanced to Saturday's semifinals. No. 12 seed Cooper Williams defeated No. 3 seed Branko Djuric of Serbia 6-2, 7-6(4) and will look to avenge his third round loss at this year's Australian Open Junior Championships when he faces No. 2 seed Yi Zhou of China.

No. 8 seed Kaitlin Quevedo beat unseeded Iva Ivanova of Bulgaria 6-0, 6-7(5), 6-4 to advance to a meeting with No. 6 seed Sayaka Ishii of Japan. No. 2 seed Clervie Ngounoue rebounded for a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over No. 10 seed Ena Koike of Japan and will face No. 12 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia for a place in the final. 

Tyra Grant and her partner Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain have advanced to the girls doubles final, where they will play another unseeded team, wild cards Noemi Basiletti and Gaia Maduzzi of Italy. 

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker.

Two more Americans won their final round qualifying matches as the qualifying tournament concluded today at Roland Garros. Two-time junior slam singles finalist Emilio Nava defeated home favorite Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to reach his first slam main draw outside of the United States. Taylor Townsend defeated teenager Maria Timofeeva of Russia 7-5, 6-2 to reach the main draw. Ashlyn Krueger lost to Storm Hunter of Australia 7-6(3), 7-5 and Nicolas Moreno de Alboran(UC-Santa Barbara) lost to top seed Aslan Karatsev of Russia 6-4, 6-3. 

The two Americans qualifying today brings the number of players from the US in the main draw up to 35: 19 women and 16 men. That's the most since 39 Americans made the Roland Garros main draw in 1995.

Czech teens Brenda Fruhvirtova and Sara Bejlek both qualified for the main draw with wins today.

Play begins Sunday; I'll have the matchups of Americans playing Sunday in Saturday's post. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Styler Takes Down Top Seed Spizzirri to Make D-I Final Four; Freshman Sieg Reaches Singles and Doubles Semifinals; Williams, Quevedo and Ngounoue Advance to ITF J500 Milan Quarterfinals; Day and Mandlik Qualify at Roland Garros

The quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I singles produced only one three-set match, so the drama was limited Thursday, but the upsets were not, with top seed Eliot Spizzirri of Texas and No. 3 seed Arthur Fery of Stanford eliminated.

Spizzirri, who had lost only one match this year, to Rafa Izquierdo Luque of NC State, suffered loss No. 2 to Michigan's Ondrej Styler, the No. 8 seed, by a 6-4, 6-3 score. Styler will face Arizona State sophomore Murphy Cassone, who avenged his straight-sets Pac-12 conference loss to Fery with a 7-6(5), 7-5 victory today.

Georgia redshirt freshman Ethan Quinn, the No. 2 seed, defeated Michigan's Andrew Fenty 6-2, 6-4 to book his place in the semifinals, where he'll face the NCAA team tournament's Most Outstanding Player Chris Rodesch of Virginia. Rodesch, a 9-16 seed, defeated Ohio State freshman Alexander Bernard 6-3, 6-4.

An unseeded finalist in the women's singles championship was guaranteed after Amelia Rajecki of North Carolina State defeated Georgia Tech's Carol Lee, a 9-16 seed, 6-4, 6-3. Rajecki will play unseeded Layne Sleeth of Oklahoma, who kept her court time under three hours today in a 7-6(4), 6-4 win over unseeded Angelica Blake of Stanford. 

University of Southern California's Madison Sieg won the only three-setter of the day, defeating Ayana Akli of South Carolina, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, and she will be looking for revenge in the semifinals against fellow freshman Fangran Tian of UCLA. Tian, who defeated Michigan's Kari Miller 6-4, 6-2, has beaten Sieg both times the Pac-12 rivals have played: a 6-3, 1-0, retired decision in March and by a 6-4, 6-3 score in April. 

Sieg is the only player left who is still in contention for two titles, after she and Eryn Cayetano advanced to the doubles semifinals with a 5-7, 6-3, 10-3 win over Akli and Sarah Hamner. The USC pair will take on the only seeded team left in women's doubles, No. 8 Reese Brantmeier and Elizabeth Scotty of North Carolina, who beat No. 2 seeds Miller and Jaedan Brown of Michigan 7-6(7), 6-7(5), 10-8. Scotty won the 2021 NCAA doubles title with Makenna Jones.

Another Tar Heels team reached the semifinals, with Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig defeating Alicia Dudeney and Bente Spee of Florida 6-1, 6-2. They will face Virginia's Melanie Collard and Julia Adams, who beat Illinois's Katherine Duong and Megan Heuser 6-1, 6-3.

With men's doubles cancelled Tuesday due to rain, today was the makeup day, with both the round of 16 and quarterfinals on the schedule. The weather cooperated, allowing all matches to be played outdoors for the first time this week, and when the 12 men's doubles matches were completed, only one seeded team remained.  That team is No. 3 Texas, with Cleeve Harper still in the hunt for his second consecutive NCAA doubles title, this time with Spizzirri. They defeated Natan Rodrigues and Fabien Salle of Louisville 6-2, 6-7(0) 10-4 in the quarterfinals. They will face Georgia Tech's Andres Martin and Marcus McDaniel, who beat Fenty and Gavin Young of Michigan, No. 5-8 seeds, 6-2, 6-3.

The bottom half semifinal will feature two unseeded teams: Pepperdine's Daniel De Jonge and Tim Zeitvogel and Ohio State's Andrew Lutschaunig and James Trotter.  De Jonge and Zeitvogel beat NC State's Izquierdo Luque and Joseph Wayand 6-3, 6-2, while Lutschaunig and Trotter squeaked past the last team to get into the draw, Hunter Heck and Karlis Ozolins of Illinois, 6-2, 6-7(0), 10-8.  

All the quarterfinalists mentioned above have earned All-American status, if they hadn't already earned that status by being seeded.

The women's singles semifinals are scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday and the men's semifinals are not before 11:30 a.m. The women's doubles are not before 1 p.m. and men's doubles not before 2:30. Cracked Racquets will provide coverage via their YouTube Channel. Live scoring and results are here, and individual courts are available at Playsight.

Three Americans have advanced to Friday's quarterfinals at the ITF J500 Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy.  No. 12 seed Cooper Williams, playing his first junior event since the Australian Open  in January, defeated No. 8 seed Adriano Dzhenev of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-2 in today's third round and will face No. 3 seed Branko Djuric of Serbia. Unseeded Darwin Blanch lost to No. 5 seed Juan Carlos Prado Angelo of Bolivia 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. 

No. 8 seed Kaitlin Quevedo defeated unseeded Hannah Klugman of Great Britain 6-3, 6-2 and will play unseeded Iva Ivanova of Bulgaria. Ivanova had beaten top seed Sara Saito of Japan in the second round. No. 2 seed Clervie Ngounoue defeated Italian wild card Vittoria Paganetti 6-3, 6-3 and will take on No. 10 seed Ena Koike of Japan in the quarterfinals. 

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker

The draws were released today for Roland Garros with 16 American women and 15 American men receiving direct entry. Two more American women reached the main draw today, with Kayla Day and Elli Mandlik winning their final round qualifying matches.  Day won a three-hour and nine-minute nail-biter over Elina Avanesyan of Russia 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(7) to reach her first slam main draw since the 2017 Australian Open. Mandlik made the Australian Open main draw this year as a lucky loser, but in her next slam she cleared that final hurdle, beating Laura Pigossi of Brazil 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. 

The remaining four Americans in qualifying play for a place in the main draw Friday: Emilio Nava, Nicolas Moreno de Alboran, Taylor Townsend and Ashlyn Kreuger.  The order of play is here.

Teenagers Jerry Shang of China and Mirra Andreeva of Russia both won their final round qualifying matches today; Brenda Fruhvirtova plays for a place in the main draw Friday, as does fellow Czech teen Sara Bejlek.