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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Osuigwe, Shane and Kwiatkowski Get Big Wins in Challengers; Georgia's Jokic, Wake Forest's Chrysochos Top ITA Rankings as Fall Season Comes to a Close

Whitney Osuigwe took a big step toward an Australian Open main draw wild card today, beating No. 6 seed Varvara Lepchenko 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round of the WTA 125 Series Oracle Challenger in Houston. The 16-year-old from Bradenton Florida now leads in the USTA's AO Wild Card Challenge, with Lepchenko, her closest rival, now falling to second place, with this the last tournament counting in the race. Osuigwe, the reigning ITF World Junior Champion, was down a break early in the second set, but her forehand proved too much for Lepchenko, who has been as high as 19 in the WTA rankings. Osuigwe, who should move into the WTA Top 200 after this week, will face the winner of Thursday's match between top seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and wild card Peng Shuai of China. No. 4 seed Jessica Pegula, who has a chance to make the Australian Open on her own ranking, also advanced to the quarterfinals with a win today.

Wednesday was a good day for former NCAA singles champions from the University of Virginia, with 2015 champion Ryan Shane reaching the quarterfinals at the $75,000 Challenger tournament in Champaign and 2017 champion Thai Kwiatkowski advancing to the quarterfinals of the $150,000+H Oracle Challenger in Houston.

Shane, a qualifier, picked up his first ATP Top 100 win today and he did it in style. The 24-year-old beat top seed and ATP No. 94 Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and nine minutes, and will play another former college star in the quarterfinals: No. 8 seed JP Smith of Australia, a former Tennessee All-American.

Kwiatkowski has posted impressive wins this fall, with his 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 4 seed and ATP No. 115 Paolo Lorenzi of Italy his fourth over a player in the ATP Top 120. Now at a ATP career high of 310, Kwiatkowski will play Baylor sophomore Roy Smith in the quarterfinals. Wild card Smith, now coached by Kwiatkowski's former coach at Virginia Brian Boland, defeated qualifier Harrison Adams(Texas A&M) 6-3, 6-4 in the second round today.

Today is the first day schools can sign a 2019 recruit to a National Letter of Intent, and a few schools have provided announcements, but I'm going to wait until tomorrow, when more releases will be posted.

There's plenty of news in Division I college tennis today however, with the updated fall rankings.  The two winners of the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships sit atop the rankings, which usually shuffle dramatically from the only other fall rankings, released in September, before play begins. Chrysochos is where he started the fall, at No. 1, but several of those in the Top 10 in the preseason rankings are not ranked, including USC's Brandon Holt, Mississippi States's Giovanni Oradini, Vanderbilt's Cameron Klinger and Virginia's Carl Soderlund.

For the full ranking lists on the ITA website, click on the headings.

Men’s Singles Top 10, November 14, 2018 (preseason rank in parentheses)

1. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest (1)
2. Jan Zielinski, Georgia (22)
3. JJ Wolf, Ohio State (17)
4. Christian Sigsgaard, Texas (54)
5. Thomas Laurent, Oregon (8)
6. Nicolas Moreno de Alboran, UC Santa Barbara (32)
7. Paul Jubb, South Carolina (27)
8. Daniel Cukierman, USC (31)
9. Oliver Crawford, Florida (20)
10. Alex Brown, Illinois (50)

Men’s Doubles Top 10

1. Constant De la Bassetiere and Gabriel Nemeth, Penn State (NR)
2. Henry Patten and Oli Nolan, UNC-Asheville (NR)
3. Jimmy Bendeck and Sven Lah, Baylor (NR)
4. Jack Mingjie Lin and William Matheson, Columbia (8)
5. Fabian Fallert and Finn Reynolds, Ole Miss (43)
6. Kyle Seelig and Alex Kobelt, Ohio State (NR)
7. Niclas Braun and Giovanni Oradini, Mississippi State (7)
8. Andy Andrade and Oliver Crawford, Florida (44)
9. Hunter Tubert and Martin Joyce, Ohio State (29)
10. Johannes Ingildsen and Brian Berdusco, Florida (24)

Bianca Turati of Texas was the top-ranked woman in the preseason, but she hasn't played college events this fall, so she is out of the rankings now. Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine has fallen from No. 4 to 106, and Michaela Gordon from 10 to 103. 

Women’s Singles Top 10, November 14, 2018 (preseason rank in parentheses)

1. Katarina Jokic, Georgia (8)
2. Makenna Jones, North Carolina (2)
3. Kate Fahey, Michigan (18)
4. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina (27)
5. Sophie Whittle, Gonzaga (35)
6. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt (7)
7. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami (3)
8. Maria Mateas, Duke (NR)
9. Ida Jarlskog, Florida (65)
10. Meible Chi, Duke (10)

Women’s Doubles Top 10

1. Ashley Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova, Pepperdine (26)
2. Cameron Morra and Makenna Jones, North Carolina (NR)
3. Fernanda Navarro and Marie Leduc, Clemson (16)
4. Martina Okalova and Vera Ploner, Tulsa (NR)
5. Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia, Kansas (NR)
6. Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield, UCLA (64)
7. Kimberly Yee and Caroline Lampl, Stanford (17)
8. Lauryn John-Baptiste and Ilze Hattingh, Arizona State (8)
9. Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson, LSU (7)
10. Sofia Munera and Meghan Kelley, Virginia (NR)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Sieg Ousts Top Seed Zheng in Mexico Grade 1 First Round; Two Women's, Four Men's USTA Pro Circuit Events This Week


The first round of singles is complete at the ITF Grade 1 in Campeche Mexico, and the No. 1 seed in the girls draw is out.  Fifteen-year-old Madison Sieg, who reached the semifinals at last week's Grade 4 in Boca Raton, took out top seed and ITF Junior No. 16 Qinwen Zheng of China, 7-5, 6-2 today.  Sieg was one of 12 US girls to advance to the second round, but the only one to beat a seed. Seven of the 10 US boys moved into the second round, with Alex Lee beating No. 10 seed Ki Lung Ng of Hong Kong, Adam Neff defeating No. 11 seed Peter Makk of Hungary, and Ronan Jachuck beating No. 16 seed Nini Dica of Romania.

There are four men's tournaments in the United States this week, a crammed week on the calendar not likely to be duplicated in 2019, with the advent of the ITF World Tennis Tour.  The most significant tournament, in terms of points and prize money, is in Houston, with Oracle sponsoring a $150,000+H Challenger.  Weather is generally not a problem there this time of year, but it's been rainy and cold so far this week, unpleasant for players, officials and fans (if any). All four qualifiers are from the college ranks, with current North Carolina State junior Alexis Galarneau and former collegians Harrison Adams(Texas A&M), Michael Redlicki(Arkansas) and Julian Lenz(Baylor) reaching the main draw. All but Lenz won their first round matches too, with Adams taking out No. 7 seed Tim Smyczek.  Adams will face Baylor sophomore Roy Smith, who received a wild card into the main draw and used it to earn his first Challenger-level victory with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4) win today over Darian King of Barbados.  Top seed Tennys Sandgren lost his opening match to Kamil Majchrzak of Poland 6-2, 7-5. 

The other ATP Challenger this week is a $75,000 tournament in Champaign Illinois. I usually attend this for a couple of days every year, but bad weather led to me to cancel my plans, so I'll be following it mostly by watching the live stream and listening to the Fighting Illini's own Mike Cation doing the commentary. Tommy Paul defeated No. 2 seed Ugo Humbert of France, one of two Top 100 players in the field, yesterday.  Qualifiers were also three former and one current collegians: Mikael Torpegaard(Ohio State), Ryan Shane(Virginia), Ruan Roelofse(Illinois) and Keenan Mayo, a freshman at Illinois.  Shane defeated Mayo tonight, 6-3, 6-4, while Cornell sophomore Alafia Ayeni, who lost to Shane in the last round of the qualifying, got in as a lucky loser and beat Roelofse by the same score earlier today.  Knoxville champion Reilly Opelka[4], Chris Eubanks[7](Georgia Tech), Jared Hiltzik(Illinois), and Sekou Bangoura(Florida) have also advanced to the second round.

Two Futures events are taking place this week, with a $25,000 tournament in Norman Oklahoma and a $15,000 tournament in Pensacola.  The Norman tournament has plenty of representation from the Sooners team, with sophomore Jake Van Emburgh, senior Aleksandre Bakshi, senior Ferran Calvo and senior Spencer Papa getting wild cards, while freshman Mason Beiler made it through qualifying. Gijs Brouwer of the Netherlands is the top seed.

Rain in Pensacola has kept the qualifying from being completed, with those seven matches(one qualifying final was decided by walkover) scheduled to be played on Wednesday as well as all first round matches. Fabrizio Ornago of Italy is the top seed, with Mississippi State senior Nuno Borges is seeded No. 2. 

The two women's tournaments are being held in conjunction with the men's in Houston and Norman.

The Houston tournament is a WTA 125 level event, but the prize money is the same as the men's: $150,000. Top seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who won the Las Vegas $80,000 tournament title last week, got a scare today from Allie Kiick, but managed to survive by a 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-0 score. 

Qualifier Whitney Osuigwe won her first round match today, beating Naomi Broady of Great Britain 6-4, 6-3, and will face No. 6 seed Varvara Lepchenko in the second round. That match could decide the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card, with Lepchenko and Osuigwe now tied in the standings, but Nicole Gibbs, who is in fourth place currently, won her first round match today and still in contention. Other Americans advancing to the second round are lucky loser Jacqueline Cako(Arizona State) and Lauren Davis.

Juniors Ellie Douglas, Dalayna Hewitt and Katie Volynets qualified into the women's $25,000 tournament in Norman, with Pamela Montez(UCLA), Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech) and Monica Robinson(Notre Dame) the other American qualifiers. Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu is the top seed, with three wild cards going to Oklahoma Sooners: sophomore Martina Capurro, junior Oleksandra Korashvili and sophomore Camila Romero. Recent OU graduate Lily Miyazaki received the fourth wild card.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Kalamazoo 16s Champion Damm, Finalist Khan Win ITF Junior Circuit Titles, Pielet, Krug Earn First ITF Titles; Grade 1 Underway in Campeche Mexico; Sock Claims USTA's Australian Open Wild Card

Kalamazoo 16s champion Martin Damm won his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title last week at the Grade 4 at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, while his opponent in the Kalamazoo final, Zane Khan, won his fourth ITF Junior Circuit singles final at the Grade 2 Inka Bowl in Peru.

The 15-year-old Damm, the No. 6 seed, defeated No. 9 seed Leighton Allen, a Texas recruit, 7-6(5), 6-2 in the final, after beating No. 2 seed Keshav Chopra 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals.

Sixteen-year-old Gianna Pielet, playing in her first ITF Junior Circuit tournament, came through qualifying in Boca Raton, posting nine wins in the tournament, all in straight sets.  After beating No. 2 seed Madison Sieg 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals, Pielet defeated No. 5 seed Elaine Chervinsky 7-6(5), 6-4 in the championship match.  Chervinksy, who turns 15 Saturday, beat top seed Elvina Kalieva 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals.

Both singles finalists won doubles titles, with top seeds Allen and Chopra beating No. 5 seeds Jeremie Casabon and Venezuela's Lorenzo Claverie 7-5, 6-2 for the boys championship.  Top seeds Chervinsky and Sieg defeated No. 7 seeds Julia Andreach and Rosie Garcia Gross 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 for the girls doubles title.

In Peru, No. 2 seed Khan defeated reigning Junior Orange Bowl 14s champion Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan, the No. 4 seed, 6-2, 6-3 in the final.  With the title the 16-year-old Khan is up to 77 in the ITF junior rankings, the first time he has reached the Top 100.

Kacie Harvey won the doubles title in Peru, with Giulia Morlet of France. The top seeds defeated No. 5 seeds Viktoriya Petrenko of Ukraine and Ekaterina Vinnik of Russia 6-2, 7-6(4) in the final.

Top  seed Lulu Sun of Switzerland won the singles title, beating No. 13 seed Petrenko 6-0, 6-2 in the final.

In addition to Damm and Pielet, another American junior claimed a first ITF Junior Circuit title: 13-year-old Ava Krug, the granddaughter of ESPN commentator Dick Vitale. Krug, the No. 4 seed, won the girls singles title at the Grade 5 in Anguilla, beating fellow American Sifa Butcher, the No. 3 seed, 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Krug's older brother Jake, the No. 7 seed, lost in the boys singles final to No. 5 seed Casper Christensen of Norway 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Butcher won the girls doubles title, with Elan Mnatsakanov; the top seeds defeated Krug and her partner Leonie Hoppe of Germany 6-2 ,7-5 in the final.

At the Grade 5 in Canada last week, two Americans won doubles titles. Daniel Milavsky and Canadian Nick Lagaev, the top seeds, took the boys championship, with Lagaev beating Milavsky in the singles final.

Top seeds Maryam Ahmad and Canadian Oleksandra Gorchanyuk won the girls doubles title via a walkover.

This week's Grade 1 in Campeche Mexico has drawn a total of 27 Americans, with 10 boys and 17 girls starting the tournament in the main draw.

The US boys: Tyler Zink[3], Eliot Spizzirri[7], Alex Lee, Cezar Rata[Q], Mark Mandlik, Alex Bernard, Alex Bancila, Adam Neff, Ronan Jachuck and Murphy Cassone.

The US girls: Hurricane Tyra Black[4], Kylie Collins[13], Madison Sieg, Sophia Hatton, Jennifer Gadalov, Sara Seivane Torres, Charlotte Owensby, Alexandra Yepifanova, Hibah Shaikh, Jenna Defalco, Daniella Benabraham, Robin Montgomery, Elizabeth Stevens, Rossie Garcia Gross, Zoe Hitt, Jenna Dean and Charlotte Chavatipon.

The boys top seed is Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain; the girls top seed in Qinwen Zheng of China.

The USTA announced today that Jack Sock has won the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, after Bjorn Fratangelo's loss in the Knoxville final kept him from having a mathematical chance to overtake Sock with a title in this week's Challenger in Houston. Sock may still get into the Australian Open on his own ranking, now at 106, so who finishes second is important and that will be decided this week in Houston, Champaign and Bangalore India.  Varvara Lepchenko leads the women's race, but that wild card is still very much up for grabs, with Whitney Osuigwe just one point behind Lepchenko, and three of the top four playing the WTA 125 in Houston this week.  For links to the current standings, see this article at usta.com.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Chrysochos Claims Another ITA Major Title, Jokic Earns Her First at ITA Fall Championships; Opelka, Mejia, Bencic Win Pro Circuit Titles; US Fed Cup Team Loses to Czech Republic

Wake Forest's Petros Chrysochos
photo courtesy ITA
Petros Chrysochos of Wake Forest is developing quite a Division I collegiate resume. The senior from Cyprus defeated Daniel Cukierman of USC 6-4, 7-5 today in the final of the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships to earn his sixth major title, team and individual, in his collegiate career.  Chrysochos, who won the doubles title at the Fall Championships last year, and the All-American singles title back in 2016, added this year's Fall singles title to the NCAA singles championship he won back in May. Wake Forest's titles at the Team Indoor and NCAA Team Championships this year give him four majors in this calendar year alone, and he gave some indication what his opponents have been up against in today's final.

The top-seeded Chrysochos trailed 5-1 in the second set, and was down 0-40 serving at 2-5, but he saved all four set points in that eighth game after saving one on a deciding point with No. 6 seed Cukierman serving at 5-1. After breaking Cukierman at love to get back on serve at 4-5, Chrysochos went down 30-40, but saved two more set points to put his total at seven.  Cukierman, who countered Chrysochos' impressive baseline game by moving forward frequently, wasn't able to come up with any answers once Chrysochos found his form and he was broken for a third straight time to give Chrysochos the opportunity to serve out the match. He had no trouble doing so, dictating with his forehand to close out the championships on his first match point.

The women's title went to University of Georgia sophomore Katarina Jokic, the No. 9 seed, who beat No. 11 seed Kate Fahey of Michigan 6-3, 7-5.  Jokic trailed 3-0 in the second set, got back even, then broke for 5-4, but she was unable to close out the match on her first opportunity. She broke Fahey again to take a 6-5 lead, but again fell behind 15-40 in her second opportunity to serve it out. This time she recovered, forcing a deciding point, and Fahey hit a forehand long to give Jokic the title. Jokic won all six of her matches this week in straight sets.

With their titles,  Chrysochos and Jokic have earned main draw wild cards into an Oracle Challenger Series tournament next year. The singles finals will be re-aired on ESPNU on Tuesday, November 13 at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Clemson's Marie-Alexandre Leduc and Fernanda Navarro won the women's doubles title, beating Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova 7-6(5), 6-2. University of North Carolina-Asheville's Oli Nolan and Henry Patten defeated Bjorn Thomson and Parker Wynn of Texas Tech 6-2, 6-1 to claim the men's title.

Emily Arbuthnott of Stanford won the women’s consolation singles competition for those losing in the first round, defeating Michigan’s Chiara Lommer 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the final.

Alex Lebedev of Notre Dame won the men’s consolation singles title by beating Sameer Kumar of Stanford 6-4, 6-1.

Meghan Kelley and Sofia Munero Sanchez of Virginia won the women’s consolation doubles final, defeating Vera Ploner and Martina Okalova of Tulsa 7-6(4), 6-2.

Penn State’s Constant De La Bassetiere and Gabriel Nemeth won the men’s doubles consolation final, beating Loic Cloes and Clement Marzol of South Alabama 6-3, 6-7(6), 10-7. 

No. 8 seed Reilly Opelka won his second ATP Challenger title of the year and the third of his career today at the $75,000 tournament in Knoxville Tennessee, beating unseeded Bjorn Fratangelo 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(2).

Toshihide Matsui(BYU-Hawaii) of Japan and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark, finalists last week in Charlottesville, captured the doubles title this week in Knoxville. The unseeded pair defeated former Tennessee Volunteers Tennys Sandgren and Hunter Reese, also unseeded, 7-6(6), 7-5 in the final.

No. 8 seed Nicole Gibbs(Stanford) fell in the final of the $80,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Las Vegas, with top seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland earning a 7-5, 6-1 victory.

Eighteen-year-old Nicolas Mejia of Colombia won his first ITF Men's Pro Circuit title today at the $15,000 Futures in Niceville Florida. The unseeded IMG Academy student defeated No. 2 seed Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern) 6-4, 6-4 in a two-hour-plus final.

The US Fed Cup team lost to the Czech Republic in the second day of the final in Prague. After Barbora Strycova had beaten Sonya Kenin 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 and Katerina Siniakova had defeated Alison Riske 6-3, 7-6(2) on Saturday, the US needed the final three matches to pull out the win. Kenin was close to sending it to a fourth match, coming back several times in a nearly four-hour battle with Siniakova, but Kenin did not convert her two match points late in the third set, and Siniakova claimed a 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 victory to give the Czech an insurmountable 3-0 lead. The remaining two matches were not played. For more on Sunday's deciding match, see this article from the Fed Cup website.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

McNally Claims First Pro Singles Title; Fahey and Jokic Reach ITA Fall Nationals Women's Final, Chrysochos and Cukierman Vie for Men's Title; Gibbs, Opelka, Fratangelo and Kirchheimer Advance to Pro Circuit Finals; Tsitsipas Champion at ATP Next Gen Finals

Sixteen-year-old qualifier Caty McNally won her eighth match in the past eight days at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Lawrence Kansas, beating lucky loser Catherine Harrison 6-2, 6-2 in today's final for her first singles title at the pro level.  McNally needed exactly an hour to get past the former UCLA Bruin, who also played a match every day since last Saturday. Unlike Harrison, who had fashioned two comebacks to win three-setters in the quarterfinals and semifinals, McNally won all eight of her matches in straight sets. She is listed in the qualifying for the $25,000 tournament in Norman Oklahoma next week, and with that not starting until tomorrow, special exempts may not be offered.

The finals are set for the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Surprise Arizona, with men's top seed Petros Chrysochos advancing to the championship match for the second consecutive year. The Wake Forest senior defeated No. 5 seed Thomas Laurent of Oregon 6-1, 6-2 to set up a clash with No. 6 seed Daniel Cukierman of USC, who had a considerably tougher semifinal. Cukierman, a sophomore, defeated No. 8 seed Nicolas Moreno de Albano of UC-Santa Barbara 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to reach his first ITA major final.

The women's final will feature No. 11 seed Kate Fahey of Michigan against No. 10 seed Katarina Jokic of Georgia. Fahey, a senior, dropped her first set of the tournament in today's semifinal against No. 10 seed Makenna Jones of North Carolina, but came through on a deciding point with Jones serving at 4-5 in the third set for a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win. Jokic, a sophomore, breezed past unseeded Christina Rosca of Vanderbilt 6-1, 6-0 for her fifth consecutive straight-sets victory.

The women's final is scheduled to be shown on ESPN3 and the ESPN app on Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m Eastern, although the ESPN schedule is showing a 2 p.m. start. The men's final will follow.

The doubles finals are also set, with all four teams in the men's and women's championship matches unseeded.

Ashley Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova of Pepperdine will face Marie-Alexandre Leduc and Fernanda Navarro of Clemson for the women's title, while Oli Nolan and Henry Patten of UNC Asheville meet Bjorn Thomson and Parker Wynn of Texas Tech for the men's title.

An all-American final is on deck Sunday at the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Knoxville Tennessee, with No. 8 seed Reilly Opelka taking on unseeded Bjorn Fratangelo.  Opelka hit 18 aces in defeating unseeded Nikola Milojevic of Serbia 6-3, 6-4; Fratangelo downed Chris Eubanks 7-6(4), 6-4 to reach his eighth Challenger final. The 25-year-old, who won the French Open boys championship back in 2011, keeps his quest for the USTA's Australian Open wild card alive with a title, as he is entered in the Oracle Houston Challenger next week.  Opelka is not.

Photo credit-Tracey Lee
Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Nicole Gibbs(Stanford) will meet in Sunday's final at the $80,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Las Vegas after each picked up straight-sets wins in today's semifinals. Bencic, the top seed, defeated unseeded Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-1, 6-4, while No. 8 seed Gibbs downed qualifier Giuliana Olmos(USC) 6-2, 6-4. Gibbs is also in the running for the USTA's Australian Open wild card, with next week's WTA 125 in Houston likely to decide the winner. For more on today's semifinals, see tournament press aide Steve Pratt's recap here.

At the $15,000 Futures in Niceville Florida, No. 2 seed Strong Kirchheimer will attempt to complete the task he fell short of last week, when he lost in the Futures final in Birmingham. Kirchheimer defeated No. 4 seed Justin Butsch(LSU) 6-1, 6-3 after completing his quarterfinal win, interrupted by rain Friday, this morning. The 23-year-old former Northwestern star will play unseeded 18-year-old Nicolas Mejia of Colombia, who has not lost a set all week. Mejia defeated top seed Fabrizio Ornago of Italy 6-2, 6-4 this afternoon. Both Kirchheimer and Mejia are looking for the first Pro Circuit title of their careers.

The doubles title in Niceville went to Trevor Johnson(TCU) and Patrick Kawka(BYU), with the unseeded pair beating No. 2 seeds Butsch and Julian Bradley(North Florida) of Ireland 7-6(5), 6-4 in the final. It's Johnson's first Pro Circuit title; Kawka has earned one other Pro Circuit doubles title.

Twenty-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece won the ATP's Next Gen Finals competition, beating 19-year-old Alex De Minaur of Australia  2-4, 4-1, 4-3(3), 4-3(3) in today's championship match. Tsitsipas, currently at a career-high of No. 15 in the ATP rankings, did not lose a match all week.  For more on today's final in Milan, see this article from the ATP.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Chinese Coaches Add to Knowledge at Arizona State; McNally Through to Lawrence $25K Final; Semifinals Set at ITA Fall Championships; DeMinaur and Tsitsipas Face Off in ATP Next Gen Final

Much of what I've written for the Tennis Recruiting Network this fall has been tournament recaps and college commitment announcements, but today's article is definitely a change of pace. When chatting with Arizona State's women's head coach Sheila McInerney this year at the US Open Junior Championships, the conversation turned to the rise of the Chinese juniors the past few years, and she mentioned that ASU would be hosting 25 Chinese tennis coaches during the fall semester. When I started doing interviews for the article, I began to understand why both the Chinese version of the NCAA and Arizona State and the Pac-12 would want to participate in this type of program, and what the commitment to improvement in coaching might mean for Chinese tennis.  Please take a few moments to read how Arizona State is spreading its expertise in tennis coaching to those outside its normal comfort zone.

Sixteen-year-old qualifier Caty McNally has advanced to the final of the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Lawrence Kansas, defeating unseeded Romy Koelzer(Clemson) of Germany 6-3, 6-3. Lucky loser Catherine Harrison, the former UCLA star, came from two breaks down in the final set to defeat current UCLA star Ena Shibahara 0-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) in the other semifinal. Harrison, 24, reached a $10,000 Pro Circuit final way back in 2010, and McNally is in her first Pro Circuit singles final, so the winner of tomorrow's championship match will earn her first Pro Circuit singles title.

Shibahara finished her tournament with a doubles title, with former Oklahoma State star Vladica Babic of Montenegro.  Although I don't believe they had played together prior to this week, their success is not a surprise, with Shibahara the 2016 US Open girls doubles champion and Babic a finalist at this year's NCAA championships.  Shibahara and Babic defeated Anna Danilina(Florida) of Kazakhstan and Ksenia Laskutova(Tulsa) of Russia 6-4, 6-2 in the final. Neither team was seeded.


Today was a busy day at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Surprise Arizona, with the round of 16 and quarterfinals played in both the men's and women's singles draws.  The men's draw has four single-digit seeds advancing to Saturday's semifinals, including top seed Petros Chrysochos of Wake Forest, but the highest seed remaining in the women's semifinals is No. 9 Katarina Jokic of Georgia.

Jokic beat No. 6 seed Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine 6-1, 7-6(1) in the third round and advanced to the semifinals when top seed Fernanda Contreras of Vanderbilt retired down 6-0, 2-1 in the second match of the day.  Jokic will face unseeded Christina Rosca of Vanderbilt, who beat No. 12 seed Andie Daniell of Alabama 6-2, 6-2  and unseeded Eden Richardson of LSU 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.  No. 11 seed Kate Fahey of Michigan will face No. 10 seed Makenna Jones of North Carolina in the other semifinal after Fahey beat No. 3 seed Evgeniya Levashova of Pepperdine 7-5, 6-4 and Jones downed No. 13 seed Elysia Bolton of UCLA 6-2, 6-3. Bolton had beaten No. 2 seed Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami in the third round.

Chrysochos, the reigning NCAA singles champion, earned straight-sets wins over unseeded David Volfson of Cornell and Jason Kros of Virginia Tech to advance to the semifinals, where he'll meet No. 5 seed Thomas Laurent of Oregon. The other semifinal will feature No. 6 seed Daniel Cukierman of USC against No. 8 seed Nicolas Moreno de Alboran of UC-Santa Barbara.  Cukierman beat No. 3 seed Paul Jubb of South Carolina 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 in the quarterfinals, while Moreno de Alboran eliminated No. 2 seed Christian Sigsgaard of Texas 6-3, 6-4.

Links to live streaming and live scoring can be found at the ITA tournament page.

The championship match of the ATP's Next Gen Finals is Saturday, with Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece facing Alex De Minaur of Australia. The 20-year-old Tsitsipas has the highest ATP ranking among the tournament eight participants at 15; De Minaur, age 19, has the second highest ranking at 31, and neither has lost a match this week. US participants Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz did not advance out of their respective round robin groups. For more on today's semifinals, see this article from the ATP.