Thursday, September 23, 2021

Boitan Ousts Top Seed Bangoura, Shang Reaches Quarterfinals at Fayetteville $15K; Navarro and Graham Advance at Ft Worth $25K; Charney Wins Texas ITF J5 Via Walkover, Filin Goes for Sweep Friday

The quarterfinals are set at the $15,000 men's Pro Circuit tournament in Fayetteville Arkansas, with teenagers and current collegians picking up wins today.

Baylor junior Adrian Boitan of Romania, who received a special exemption into the main draw after reaching the final last week in Champaign, defeated top seed Sekou Bangoura(Florida) 6-3, 6-4.  He will play TCU newcomer Pedro Vives Marcos of Spain, the No. 8 seed, who beat John McNally(Ohio State) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. 

US Open boys finalist Juncheng Jerry Shang of China is the youngest quarterfinalist; the 16-year-old defeated qualifier Finn Bass of Baylor 6-2, 6-4 to earn his second professional win. He will play another IMG-based teenager in No. 4 seed Toby Kodat. The 18-year-old Kodat advanced when Kentucky junior Liam Draxl of Canada retired trailing 6-3, 3-3.

The third teenager to advance is University of Virginia sophomore Jeffrey Von Der Schulenburg of Switzerland. The 19-year-old defeated fellow qualifier and teammate Inaki Montes-De La Torre of Spain 6-4, 6-1 and will face British veteran Mike Whitehouse, the No. 7 seed.  In the fourth quarterfinal, qualifier Henry Patten(UNC-Asheville) of Great Britain will play compatriot Paul Jubb, the No. 2 seed and 2019 NCAA singles champion at South Carolina.

The quarterfinalists at the $25,000 women's Pro Circuit tournament in Fort Worth Texas include Virginia's Emma Navarro and recent UNC graduate Alexa Graham. Navarro, the No. 6 seed, defeated Oklahoma State newcomer Oona Orpana of Finland 6-4, 6-2 and Graham, a qualifier, beat TCU wild card Mercedes Aristegui of Spain 6-1, 6-0. Navarro gets top seed and WTA No. 68 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia next, with Graham playing Alexandra Bozovic of Australia. Bozovic defeated No. 7 seed Catherine Harrison(UCLA) 7-6(3), 7-6(4) in a two-hour and 48-minute straight-setter.

The ATP Challenger 80 in Columbus has no current Ohio State Buckeyes in the quarterfinals, but two former stars have advanced. No. 7 seed JJ Wolf defeated Evan King 6-3, 6-0 today and will face top seed Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) Friday. 2016 NCAA singles finalist Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark beat No. 4 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India 6-1, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal encounter with Stefan Kozlov. Unseeded Aleks Vukic(Illinois) of Australia is the fourth collegian in the quarterfinals, with Vukic set to face countryman and No. 3 seed Alex Bolt Friday.

The WTA 125 going on in Columbus at the same time as the Challenger doesn't feature any collegiate players, but four Americans are through to the quarterfinals: top seed Ann Li, who will play Coco Vandeweghe next, No. 3 seed Madison Brengle, and No. 5 seed Lauren Davis. 

Three of the four titles at the ITF J5 in McKinney Texas were decided today. No. 3 seed Bridget Stammel and No. 2 seed Emma Charney advanced to the final, but due to a previous commitment Stammel is unable to play in Friday's final, so Charney is the champion. Natalie Block and Charney won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds defeating Erica Jessel and Arina Oreshchenkova 7-6(7), 3-6, 10-5.

Wild card Nikita Filin is making an impressive ITF Junior Circuit debut, with the 15-year-old from Illinois winning the doubles title today and advancing to tomorrow's singles final. Filin defeated lucky loser Darwin Blanch 6-4, 6-3 in today's semifinals and will face qualifier Landon Ardila, who defeated Alex Cairo 6-2, 6-1. 

In doubles, Filin and Mitchell Lee finished their straight-sets run to the title, beating Ardila and Marko Mesarovic 6-4, 6-1 in today's final. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

ITF J1 College Park Videos; Qualifier, Wild Card and Lucky Loser Advance to Boys Semifinals at J5 in McKinney Texas

My videos of the finals of the ITF J1 in College Park Maryland are posted now, with Mark Lajal of Estonia defeating Ryan Colby and Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic beating Mirra Andreeva of Russia in a final between two 14-year-olds.

The semifinals are set at the ITF J5 in McKinney Texas, and after today's quarterfinals, there are no seeds remaining in the boys final four. USTA 14s Clay Courts champion Darwin Blanch avenged his loss in the Les Petits As USA Playoffs to Maxwell Exsted today in a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 battle of lucky losers. Blanch, who turns 14 next week, will face wild card Nikita Filin, a 16s semifinalist this year at Kalamazoo, who took out Ian Bracks 6-4, 6-2. In the bottom half, qualifier Landon Ardila will face unseeded Alex Cairo, the only semifinalist who received direct entry into the main draw. Ardila advanced when No. 3 seed Adhithya Ganesan retired trailing 6-3, 4-0; Cairo defeated No. 5 seed Marko Mesarovic 6-3, 6-1. 

Ardila and Mesarovic have advanced to the boys doubles final, where they will face Filin and Mitchell Lee. Both teams are unseeded.

No. 2 seed Emma Charney and No. 3 seed Bridget Stammel have moved into the girls semifinals. Charney, who defeated No. 7 seed Catherine Walker 6-1, 6-4 in today's quarterfinals, will play unseeded Erica Jessel, while Stammel takes on qualifier Ava Bruno. Bruno defeated No. 8 seed Anya Murthy 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-2, while Stammel beat unseeded Teja Tirunelveli 6-2, 6-4. 

Thursday's girls doubles final will feature Charney and Natalie Block, the No. 3 seeds, against the unseeded team of Jessel and Arina Oreshchenkova.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Lucky Loser Blanch Beats Top Seed Brown at ITF J5 in Texas; Qualifying Complete, Main Draw Underway in Fayetteville and Ft Worth USTA Pro Circuit Events; Adam Peterson Fighting Cancer

 A day after the top seed Sophie Williams lost in the first round at the ITF J5 in McKinney Texas, the top seed in the boys draw, Kalamazoo 16s finalist Lucas Brown, was upset by 13-year-old lucky loser Darwin Blanch.

Blanch, the 2021 USTA 14s Clay Court champion, defeated Brown  6-3, 6-4 and will face another lucky loser, 14-year-old Maxwell Exsted, in the quarterfinals. Exsted and Blanch, who turns 14 next week, met in the Les Petits As USA qualifying tournament in July, with Exsted winning 6-2, 7-6(1). Blanch reached the semifinals at Les Petits As earlier this month in France, with Exsted advancing to the quarterfinals. 

The No. 2 seed in the boys draw, Omar Suarez Berrezueta of Ecuador, also lost today, falling to Alex Cairo 6-1, 6-4. All eight quarterfinalists are Americans, with just two seeds remaining: No. 3 seed Adhithya Ganesan and No. 5 seed Marko Mesarovic.

In the girls draw, qualifier Ava Bruno, who beat Williams yesterday, advanced to the quarterfinals, as did No. 2 seed Emma Charney and No. 3 seed Bridget Stammel. 

In addition to the combined WTA 125 and ATP Challenger 80 tournaments in Columbus Ohio this week, there are two smaller USTA Pro Circuit events, with a $25,000 women's tournament in Fort Worth Texas and a $15,000 men's tournament in Fayetteville Arkansas.

Although she would have easily been accepted into the draw in Columbus, the top seed in Fort Worth is Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, currently No. 68 in the WTA rankings. She defeated Sophie Chang 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 in today's first round.  NCAA champion Emma Navarro of Virginia, the No. 6 seed, also advanced to the second round, as did Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame) and Catherine Harrison(UCLA).

Qualifying concluded today, with all qualifiers current or former collegians Alexa Graham(UNC), McCartney Kessler(Florida), Anna Hertel(Georgia), Tiphanie Fiquet(Ole Miss), Katarina Jokic(Georgia), Sara Daavettila(UNC), Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech) and Adriana Reami(North Carolina State) making the main draw.

Wild cards went to Haley Giavara(Cal), who lost to Gleason today, TCU's Mercedes Aristegui and Ashley Lahey(Pepperdine).

In Arkansas, the qualifiers included three players from the University of Virginia: Inaki Montes-De La Torre, Jeffrey Von Der Schulenburg and Gianni Ross. Finn Bass(Baylor), Florian Broska(Mississippi State) and Henry Patten(UNC-Asheville) are the other three qualifiers with collegiate ties that I'm aware of. (I've been alerted that qualifier Radu Papoe is a freshman at Cornell).

US Open boys finalist Juncheng Jerry Shang won his first main draw match on the Pro Circuit today, beating Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) 6-0, 3-6, 7-5. The 16-year-old, who is No. 1 in the ITF Junior Circuit rankings, used the ITF's junior reserved method for entry this week. 

Sekou Bangoura is the top seed in Fayetteville, with Champaign champion Martin Damm seeded No. 5. Paul Jubb, South Carolina's 2019 NCAA champion, is back in the US after winning back-to-back $25K titles in Spain the past two weeks and is the No. 2 seed.

Wild cards were given to Tyler Zink(Oklahoma State) and three Arkansas players: Aleksa Bucan, Nicolas Rousset and Alexandre Reco. 

Sad and startling news this week about Adam Peterson, a longtime USTA National Coach and former University of Southern California star. Peterson, who is 47 years old, took ill suddenly this summer and has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Burkitt Lymphoma, according to the gofundme page set up to help with his medical expenses. Peterson worked with many top US pros on the women's side, but also was involved with the juniors, which is how I got to know him. The photo above is from the 2015 North American qualifying for Junior Fed Cup competition, with Peterson the captain of the team of Kayla Day, Cici Bellis and Michaela Gordon.

If you can help, please consider a contribution. I know he will appreciate hearing from anyone who knew him from his many years playing, coaching and teaching tennis.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Girls Top Seed Out at ITF J5 in Texas; Oviedo Earns First ITF Junior Circuit Title in Nicaragua; Recent UTR Pro Tennis Tour Results

The ITF Junior Circuit's fall hard court swing in the United States began today at a J5 in McKinney Texas. The two lower-level events on this swing have stayed in Texas (they have been in various cities in that state over the years) even as the ITF JB1 which concludes it moved from Tulsa Oklahoma in 2018 and is now an indoor tournament in Nicholasville Kentucky. It is disappointing to see this tournament as a 32 draw, but next week's tournament, a J4 in Corpus Christi, is a 64-player draw, which is what these events have been in the past. 

Three of the boys who competed at Les Petits As in France earlier this month played qualifying in McKinney over the weekend; all three lost, but Maxwell Exsted and Darwin Blanch made the main draw as lucky losers and both won their first round matches today. 

Kalamazoo 16s finalist Lucas Brown is the boys top seed and will play Blanch in the second round.

The top seed in the girls draw, Sophie Williams, lost to qualifier Ava Bruno 6-2, 7-5 in today's first round. Bruno is one of three qualifiers to advance, as did lucky loser Cenan Liu of Canada.

Last week at the J5 in Nicaragua, Aida Oviedo won her first ITF junior circuit title, taking the singles championship. The 15-year-old from Las Vegas, seeded No. 3, defeated No. 7 seed Maria Araoz-Gosn 6-3, 6-0 in an all-USA final. Leah Kuruville won the girls doubles title, partnering with Anika Maldonado of Guatemala. The top seeds defeated Oviedo and her partner, Linda Segura of the US, the No. 2 seeds, 6-4, 6-0 in the final.

At the J5 in Azerbaijan, 17-year-old Baylen Brown won her first ITF Junior Circuit title in girls doubles, with partner Maria Pukhina of Russia. The No. 3 seeds took the trophy when their opponents retired leading 2-1 in the first set.

Two US girls reached the finals of J3s in Europe. Sonya Macavei, seeded No. 3, lost to top seed Irina Balus of Slovakia 6-0, 6-1 in the final in Spain and Lara Smejkal, the No. 6 seed, lost to No. 8 seed Andrea Obradovic of Serbia 6-4, 6-0 in the final in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This week features the rescheduled J1 in Belgium, which has always been before the French Open in the spring. Two Americans are in the draws: Sebastian Sec and Krystal Blanch. As the 15 seed, Blanch has a bye. Sec won his first round match today. US Open boys doubles champion Coleman Wong of Hong Kong is the top boys seed; Sofia Costoulas of Belgium is the No. 1 girls seed.

It's been over a month since I posted results from the UTR Pro Tennis Tour in the United States, so here's the latest. Marcela Zacarias continues to collect titles and prize money, but others have been able to break through, with the winners receiving $3475, and the finalists $1750.  For the results from May through early August, see this post

August 23 New York
Tatiana Makarova d. Jessica Livianu 5-7, 7-5, 6-0

August 23 Newport Beach
Marcela Zacarias d. Solymar Colling 6-4, 6-1

August 30 Dallas
Marcela Zacarias d. McCartney Kessler 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

September 6 Bradenton

Sophie Chang d. Anastasia Sysoeva 6-3, 6-2

September 12 Bradenton
Ena Koike d. Anastasia Sysoeva 3-6, 6-1, 6-3

September 12 Dallas
Quinn Gleason d. Marcela Zacarias 7-5, 6-4

August 16 Naples

Jake Van Emburgh d. Jorge Panta 2-6, 6-3, 6-3

August 22 Newport Beach
Tristan Boyer d. Raymond Sarmiento 6-3, 6-4

August 23 Naples
Jorge Panta d. Matthew Segura 6-3, 6-5 ret.

August 29 Newport Beach
Tristan Boyer d. Drew Baird 6-3, 6-4

August 30 Dallas
Luc Fomba d. Evan Zhu 7-6(3), 6-7(1), 7-5

September 6 Bradenton
Kiranpal Pannu d. Rubin Statham 1-0 ret.

September 12 Bradenton

Michal Lusovsky d. Michal Schmid 7-6(2). 3-6, 6-2

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Damm Claims First Pro Singles Title in Champaign; Krueger Wins A Second Challenger in Cary; Three Americans Qualify at WTA 125 in Columbus

Martin Damm gave himself an early birthday present this week, claiming his first Professional Circuit singles title today at the $15,000 USTA men's tournament in Champaign Illinois. Damm, who will turn 18 on September 30th, was the No. 2 seed this week, and one of the few non-collegiate players in the draw, and he was no stranger to ITF or USTA Pro Circuit finals, having made the final of a $25K in Naples Florida two years ago and a $15K in Croatia this spring. With three pro doubles titles already this year on the surface, and one in 2020, Damm has had his best results on clay, so this one, on the hard courts at the University of Illinois stands out.

Baylor junior Adrian Boitan made Damm work for it, today, with the unseeded Romanian forcing a third set after nearly two hours of play. But Damm, who had to be disappointed in his round of 32 loss as the No. 2 seed in Kalamazoo last month, came from a break down in the the third set, hitting seven of his 12 aces, to earn his first singles title on the pro circuit. His semifinal win over John McNally Saturday took three hours and 13 minutes, so he has to be happy with his fitness in taking the final five games of his 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory.

The ATP Challenger 80 in Cary North Carolina finished the same way as the Challenger there in July, with Mitchell Krueger as the champion. The 27-year-old, seeded sixth, defeated No. 2 seed Denis Kudla in the semifinals last night 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(2) and came back this afternoon to beat No. 8 seed Bjorn Fratangelo 6-4, 6-3. Fratangelo had also prevailed in a long, tough semifinal last night, beating former University of Illinois star Aleks Vukic of Australia 6-7(2), 7-6(4), 6-2.

Krueger is projected to reach a new career high with his second Challenger title of the summer, moving to 156. His previous career-high was 159 in February of 2019, after he won the Dallas Challenger.

The qualifying is complete for the WTA 125 in Columbus Ohio, with three Americans reaching the main draw: Alexa Glatch, Louisa Chirico and Danielle Lao(USC). Priscilla Hon of Australia is the fourth qualifier. 

Three main draw matches were played today as well, with No. 5 seed Lauren Davis defeating Usue Arconada 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3, Caroline Dolehide losing to No. 6 seed Renata Zarazua 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(8), and Coco Vandeweghe taking out wild card Peyton Stearns, a sophomore at the University of Texas, 6-2, 6-4.

Wild card Elvina Kalieva, the US Open girls doubles finalist, will face her first WTA Top 100 player tomorrow: No. 2 seed Nuria Parrizas-Diaz of Spain, who is No. 88 in the rankings.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Kalamazoo Finals Videos; Blumberg and Schnur Win Cary Challenger Doubles Title; Damm and Boitan Reach Champaign $15K Final; Columbus Challenger, WTA 125 Wild Cards

It's the first weekend since late July that I haven't been at or traveling to a tournament, so I finally had the opportunity to process the videos from last month's finals in Kalamazoo. 

The Tennis Recruiting Network's Bill Kallenberg also created a photo gallery from Kalamazoo, with more than 100 photos. 

It's rare to have your first professional doubles title come at the ATP level, but Will Blumberg's title with Jack Sock in Newport back in July was that rarity.  Today, the recent North Carolina grad got his second pro title, at the ATP Cary Challenger, partnering with former Columbia star Max Schnur. Blumberg and Schnur, who were unseeded, beat top seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Nick Monroe in the first round, No. 4 seeds Christian Harrison and Dennis Novikov in the semifinals and today, unseeded Stefan Kozlov and Canadian Peter Polansky 6-4, 1-6, 10-4.

Schnur, who is 28, had a dozen titles coming into this week, with a career-high ATP doubles ranking of 95 back in 2017. 

The singles semifinals are now underway in Cary, with Mitchell Krueger facing No. 2 seed Denis Kudla, followed tonight by Aleks Vukic(Illinois) against Bjorn Fratangelo. Vukic defeated Kalamazoo champion Zachary Svajda 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 on Friday.

Live streaming is available here.

The singles final at the $15,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit tournament in Champaign Illinois Sunday will feature 17-year-old Martin Damm and Baylor junior Adrian Boitan of Romania. Damm, the No. 2 seed, defeated John McNally(Ohio State) 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-3 in a three-hour-plus battle of former Kalamazoo 16s champions (McNally 2014, Damm 2018). The unseeded Boitan defeated Ohio State junior Cannon Kingsley 6-4, 6-4. The 22-year-old Boitan will be appearing in his first Pro Circuit singles final, while Damm is looking to win his first title after two previous losses in the finals, both on clay.

The fourth-seeded team of Karlis Ozolins, a freshman at Illinois, and Kweisi Kenyatte, a senior at Illinois, won the doubles title today, defeating Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) and Ryan Shane(Virginia) 7-5, 2-6, 10-7. It's the first pro circuit title for both Ozolins and Kenyatte.

The ATP Challenger circuit moves to Columbus next week, where it combines with a new WTA 125 event. I received an email Thursday with this information on wild cards:

The qualifying has begun for the women, with Yu and Cantos losing their first matches today.

WTA 125 Wildcards:
Katrina Scott (Main Draw), Peyton Stearns (Main Draw), Elsa Jacquemot (Main Draw), Elvina Kalieva (Main Draw), Eleana Yu (Qualification), Irina Cantos Siemers (Qualification).

ATP Challenger Tour Wildcards:
Matej Vocel (Main Draw), Cannon Kingsley (Main Draw), JJ Tracy (Main Draw), James Trotter (Qualification), Justin Boulais (Qualification), Jake Van Emburgh (Qualification).