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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving! Eddie Herr ITF Preview; Seven US Girls, Three US Boys Advance to Third Round at Yucatan ITF Grade A

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
I will be taking Thanksgiving Day off again this year, but I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for all the readers who have made Zootennis.com a part of their lives throughout the year. I continue to enjoy my role in connecting the junior and college tennis worlds to that of professional tennis and look forward to continuing to watch and comment on the sport.  Thank you again for your interest in the side of tennis that is not always in the spotlight, but is a crucial part of the sport's success.

The Eddie Herr ITF Grade 1 begins Saturday with the first round of qualifying, and the fields feature defending champion Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria and World No. 1 junior Clara Burel of France. My preview of the tournament is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The second round of the ITF Grade A in Yucatan is complete, with three US boys and seven US girls advancing to the third round.  Drew Baird[3], Tyler Zink[9] and Emilio Nava[10] are into the boys round of 16; US girls into the round of 16 are qualifier Alexandra Yepifanova, Savannah Broadus, Hurricane Tyra Black[8], Hina Inoue, Charlotte Chavatipon, Kailey Evans and Coco Gauff[2].

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Top Seeds Burel, Mejia Advance at Yucatan ITF Grade A; Columbus Futures Sole USTA Pro Circuit Event This Week

The first round of the ITF Grade A in Yucatan went as expected for the top seeds but only 17 of the 39 Americans who reached the main draw were able to advance to the second round.

Girls top seed and World Junior No. 1 Clara Burel of France defeated Kacie Harvey 6-3, 6-4, while boys No. 1 seed Nicolas Mejia of Colombia beat wild card Rafael De Alba Valdez of Mexico by the same score.  No. 2 seed Coco Gauff advanced to the second round when her opponent, Mell Reasco Gonzalez of Ecuador retired trailing 6-4, 3-0.

It's worth mentioning that last week's Grade 1 tournament in Campeche was played on hard courts, while this week the tour switches to clay for the next three weeks--red this week and green for the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl.  Two of the four finalists last week did not make a smooth transition, with boys champion Eliot Spizzirri, seeded No. 15, losing to Liam Draxl of Canada 7-6(5), 7-6(0) after having beaten Draxl on the hard courts of the Pan American Closed last month. Campeche girls champion Kamilla Bartone of Latvia, also seeded 15 this week, retired at 3-2 in the first set against Hina Inoue to end her winning streak in Mexico.  The finalists last week had better outcomes, with Tyler Zink[9] beating Sebastian Rodriguez of Peru 6-3, 6-0 and Hurricane Tyra Black[8] defeating Valentina Ivanov of New Zealand 6-3, 6-2. 

In addition to Zink, the other US boys advancing to the second round are Drew Baird[3], Emilio Nava[10], Ronan Jachuck, Blaise Bicknell and qualifier Alex Bancila.

In addition to Inoue, Gauff and Black, eight other US girls moved into the second round: Savannah Broadus, Kylie Collins, Nikki Redelijk, Sanyukta Gawande, Kailey Evans and three qualifiers, Alexandra Yepifanova, Elizabeth Stevens and Charlotte Chavatipon.

Live streaming of the stadium court is available at the tournament website.

The USTA Pro Circuit is winding down for the year now, with only one tournament on the schedule this week, a $25,000 Futures in Columbus Ohio.

Denis Yevseyev of Kazakhstan is the top seed, but the Ohio State Buckeyes are well represented in the draw, with sophomore John McNally, junior Kyle Seelig and recruit Cannon Kingsley all receiving wild cards and all advancing to the second round.  The fourth wild card, sophomore Tim Seibert of Germany, lost his opening round match.

Four seeds lost in the opening round, with No. 3 seed Ronnie Schneider(North Carolina) losing to qualifier Jonathan Chang(Rice) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2; No. 6 seed Diego Hidalgo(Florida) of Ecuador losing to qualifier Paul Oosterbaan(Georgia) 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3; No. 7 seed Harrison Adams(Texas A&M) losing to Andrew Watson(Memphis) of Great Britain 7-5, 6-4 and Alex Ghilea(Oklahoma) of Romania losing to Michael Geerts(Arizona State) of Belgium 6-4, 6-2.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Osuigwe Wins Australian Open Main Draw Wild Card; Yucatan ITF Grade A Underway; More College Signing Announcements

Whitney Osuigwe won the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge late last night, when Lauren Davis, the last player with an opportunity to pass her in the race, lost in the final of the WTA 125 in Houston. Davis took a quick first set, and went up 3-1 in the second set, but Peng Shuai of China fought back for a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory, denying Davis the points that would have given her the wild card.  The 16-year-old Osuigwe, who lost to Peng in the quarterfinals in Houston, had won the title at the $80,000 Pro Circuit event in Tyler Texas and her second round win over Varvara Lepchenko, who also won an $80,000 event, was the difference in the final standings.

Osuigwe will be playing in her second straight women's slam, having made the main draw of the US Open this year as the USTA Girls 18s National Champion.

Jack Sock won the men's Australian Open wild card, with Reilly Opelka and Bradley Klahn finishing second and third. Because Opelka and Klahn have moved into the Top 100, they will make the main draw on their own rankings now. If Sock gets in on his own ranking, now 106, the wild card would go to the fourth place finisher, Tommy Paul.  Klahn, who won the Houston title with a 7-6(4), 7-6(4) win over Baylor sophomore Roy Smith, moved all the way up to 77 in the ATP rankings with that title.

Links to the final standings for the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge can be found here.

The ITF Grade A in Mexico is underway in Yucatan, with 25 US girls and 14 US boys in the main draw.  All eight of the qualifiers in the girls draw are from the US: Elizabeth Stevens, Alexandra Yepifanova, Rosie Garcia Gross, Katrina Scott, Sophia Hatton, Zoe Hitt, Sara Seivane Torres and Charlotte Chavatipon. The three US boys getting in through qualifying are Alexander Bernard, Adam Neff and Alex Bancila.

The US girls in the main draw are Coco Gauff[2], playing her first event since the US Open Juniors; Hurricane Tyra Black[8], Gabby Price[11], Chloe Beck[12], Savannah Broadus, Kacie Harvey, Kylie Collins, Charlotte Owensby, Nikki Redelijk, Sanyukta Gawande, Kailey Evens, Hina Inoue, Jenna DeFalco, Robin Montgomery, Elvina Kalieva, Jennifer Gadalov and Hiba Shaikh.

The US boys in the main draw are: Drew Baird[3], Tyler Zink[9], Emilio Nava[10], Eliot Spizzirri[15], Zane Khan[16], Toby Kodat, Martin Damm, Ronan Jachuck, Blaise Bicknell, Will Grant and Milledge Cossu.

ITF Junior Masters champion Clara Burel of France is the girls top seed, with Nicolas Mejia of Colombia the boys top seed.

The tournament website is here, but the live scoring link doesn't work for me.

More National Letter of Intent signing announcements have been released since I posted the initial batch last Thursday and links to them are below:

Louisville has signed Matthew Fung, Randy WilsonSergio Luis Hernandez Ramirez of Colombia and Tin Chen of Taiwan (a transfer from ASA Miami JC).

Texas Tech has signed Reed Collier and Tyler Stice.

LSU has signed Ron Hohmann.

Georgia has signed Tyler Zink.

Florida State has signed Juan Martin Jalif of Argentina and Marcus Walters of Great Britain (a transfer from Tyler JC).

UNC-Charlotte has signed Wesley Barnett.

Boise State has signed Kyryll Kryvchun of Canada (a transfer from College of the Desert and Mesa Community College).

Oregon has signed Luke Vandecasteele.

Iowa has signed Matt Clegg of Great Britain.

Duke has signed Michael Heller, Garrett Johns, Omni Kumar, Samuel Rubell and Andrew Zhang.

Illinois has signed Josie Frazier and Ashley Yeah.

Florida has signed Sydney Berlin of Sweden.

Arkansas has signed Laura Rijkers of the Netherlands.

Boston College has signed Hailey Wilcox.

Kansas has signed Carmen Roxana Manu of Romania.

North Carolina State has signed Lana Mavor and Marta Gonzalez-Ballbe of Spain

Notre Dame has signed Page Freeman.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Spizzirri Claims Singles Title at Grade 1 in Mexico, Grishuk Earns Grade 2 Title in Bolivia; Sock and Bryan Win ATP World Finals; Pro Circuit Update; Columbia's Lin Takes ATP New York Open Wild Card

Sixteen-year-old Eliot Spizzirri won his first ITF Grade 1 title today in Campeche Mexico, with the No. 7 seed defeating No. 3 seed Tyler Zink 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-0 in an all-American final. Spizzirri, who reached his first Grade 1 final last month at the Pan American Closed, defeated No. 14 seed Taha Baadi of Canada 6-3, 6-0 in last night's semifinals, while Zink had taken out No. 2 seed Harold Mayot of France by the same score to reach his first Grade 1 final.

Hurricane Tyra Black advanced to the finals of both doubles and singles, winning the doubles, but falling in the singles. Black, the No. 4 seed, beat No. 2 seed Lulu Sun of Switzerland 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals last night, but lost to No. 7 seed Kamilla Bartone of Latvia 6-2, 6-0 today.  Black and Selin Ovunc of Turkey, the No. 2 seeds, won the doubles title Saturday night, beating No. 3 seeds Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan and Adrienn Nagy of Hungary 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 in the final.

Unseeded Canadians Liam Draxl and Cleeve Harper won the boys doubles title, beating No. 5 seeds Roko Horvat and Admir Kalender of Croatia 6-3, 4-6, 13-11 in the final.

At the ITF Grade 2 in Bolivia, No. 4 seed Skyler Grishuk won her first title at that level, beating No. 3 seed Romina Ccuno of Peru 6-3, 6-1 in the final. The 16-year-old Grishuk, daughter of Olympic gold medalist in ice dancing Oksana Grishuk, had won a Grade 3 title earlier this year in New Zealand.

At the ITF Grade 5 in Antigua, top seed Sasha Wood, who received a wild card, earned her second title of the year on the ITF Junior Circuit. She defeated No. 2 seed Sydney Clarke of the Bahamas 6-3, 7-5 in the final.  No. 2 seeds Artemis Pados and Gabriella Soliman won the girls doubles title, beating top seeds Clarke and Tangia Riley-Codrington of Barbados 6-1, 6-4 in the championship match. Top seeds Toby Kodat and Billy Suarez won the boys doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Kaipo Marshall of Barbados and Xaveam van Mijk of Curacao 6-1, 6-0 in the final.

Although the Davis Cup final between France and Croatia is still to be played next weekend, the ATP season came to a close today at the Nitto ATP Finals in London, with 21-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany upsetting World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 to claim the singles title.  For more on the biggest title of Zverev's pro career, see this article from the ATP website.

Jack Sock and Mike Bryan completed an amazing second half of 2018 by winning the men's doubles title, saving a match point in their 5-7, 6-1, 13-11 decision over Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France. Sock and Bryan, who won Wimbledon and the US Open this year, will not be playing together in 2019, with Bob Bryan returning from his injury layoff.  For more on Sock and Bryan's title, see this article from the ATP website.

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Norman Oklahoma, 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada. the No. 1 seed, won her second $25K event in the past five weeks, beating unseeded 16-year-old Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia 6-1, 6-0 in the final. Andreescu, who has had her share of injuries throughout her junior and pro career, played five straight weeks in the US and Canada beginning in mid-October and went title, semifinal, semifinal, quarterfinal, title during that stretch. She added nearly 100 points to her total, meaning that Australian Open qualifying is now an option for her in January.

The men's singles title at the $25,000 Futures in Norman also went to the No. 1 seed, with Gijs Brouwer of the Netherlands defeating Oklahoma State sophomore Matej Vocel of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

Two-time NCAA singles semifinalist Nuno Borges, a 21-year-old senior at Mississippi State, won his fourth career Futures singles title today--his first outside his home country of Portugal--at the $15,000 tournament in Pensacola. The No. 2 seed, who won the inaugural Oracle ITA Fall National Championships last year, defeated Ricardo Rodriguez of Venezuela of 6-4, 6-3 in the final, his fifth consecutive straight-sets win. Borges is 26-5 this year in Futures competition.

No. 2 seed Jack Mingjie Lin of Columbia won the ATP New York Open main draw wild card Sunday at the USTA's Billie Jean King Tennis Center, beating top seed Alafia Ayeni of Cornell  6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final of the Collegiate Invitational Wild Card Tournament.  Although the TennisLink site said a match tiebreaker would be played in lieu of a third set, that was used only in the early rounds, with sophomore Lin winning a traditional three-setter in the semifinals, and then again in the final to earn his place in the February event. For more on the match, see this article from the New York Open website.

The men's and women's Oracle Series Challenger finals in Houston have been delayed all day by rain, and the finals were eventually moved indoors this evening. I will try to update the results here later tonight.

UPDATE 6:00 am Monday:  Bradley Klahn beat Roy Smith 7-6(4), 7-6(4) to win Houston $150K+H Challenger.  Peng Shuai of China beat Lauren Davis 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 for the WTA 125 title in Houston.  More details on Monday night's post.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Opelka Wins Champaign Challenger, Moves into ATP Top 100; Davis, Klahn and Smith Reach Oracle Challenger Finals in Houston; Sock and Bryan Advance to Championship Match at ATP Finals

Reilly Opelka defeated Ryan Shane 7-6(6), 6-3 Saturday after noon at the $75,000 Champaign Challenger, assuring himself a place in the ATP Top 100 and a berth in the main draw of the 2019 Australian Open. There were no breaks of serve in the first set of the championship match, and it was 2015 NCAA champion Shane who had the first set point, at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. But Opelka made a volley to save it and took the set on his first opportunity, giving him a chance to relax a bit in the second set. Another tiebreaker would not have been unexpected, but Opelka continued to serve well, and when he is making 75 percent of his first serves, it's his opponent who is going to feel the pressure. University of Virginia graduate Shane was broken at 2-all, and Opelka cruised from there, breaking in the final game for the title.

After winning Champaign this week and Knoxville last week, his third and fourth Challenger titles, Opelka makes his debut in the ATP Top 100 Monday, joining Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe as Americans aged 21-and-under in that elite group.

The doubles title in Champaign went to No. 2 seeds JP Smith(Tennessee) and Matt Reid of Australia, who beat unseeded Hans Hach(Abilene Christian) of Mexico and Luis Martinez of Venezuela  6-4, 4-6, 10-8 in the final.

The Champaign Challenger final was an all-American affair and the winner tomorrow at the $150,000+H Oracle Series Challenger in Houston will also be from the host country.  No. 2 seed Bradley Klahn(Stanford) beat No. 8 seed Dominik Koepfer(Tulane) of Germany 6-3, 6-4 to reach his third Challenger final of the year.

There are improbable Challenger finalists and then there is Roy Smith, the 20-year-old Baylor sophomore who advanced to the Houston final today.  The wild card, whose previous best Pro Circuit results was a final at a Futures last month in Waco, advanced to the final when Kamil Majchrzak of Poland retired in today semifinal with a leg injury, trailing 6-4, 2-3. Smith, unranked in the ITA collegiate rankings and 870 in the ATP rankings, will be facing his first ATP Top 100 player in Klahn.

Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M) and Nicholas Monroe(North Carolina) won the doubles title in Houston, with the top seeds beating No. 3 seeds Marcelo Arevalo(Tulsa) of El Salvador and Jamie Cerretani(Brown) 4-6, 7-6(3), 10-5 in the final.

The women's final in Houston, a WTA 125 Series tournament, will have more on the line than just a big title.  Qualifier Lauren Davis can win the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge if she defeats wild card Peng Shuai of China.  With Jessica Pegula[4] losing today to Peng 6-4, 6-3, Davis, who had such a memorable match against Simona Halep in the third round of the Australian Open this year, is the only player who can pass Whitney Osuigwe, who currently leads in the race, but she must claim the title to do so. Davis defeated No. 7 seed Sofya Zhuk of Russia 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 in today's semifinal.

Unseeded Pegula and Maegan Manasse(Cal) won the Houston doubles title, beating No. 3 seeds Giuliana Olmos(USC) of Mexico and Desirae Krawczyk(Arizona State) 1-6, 6-4, 10-8.

The three Americans still alive in singles semifinals at the other USTA Pro Circuit tournaments this week all lost today.

No. 3 seed Jordi Arconada was beaten 6-4, 6-3 by top seed Gijs Brouwer of the Netherlands at the $25,000 Futures in Norman Oklahoma. Brouwer will face No. 7 seed and Oklahoma State sophomore Matej Vocel of the Czech Republic in the final.

Brouwer and Justin Butsch(LSU) won the doubles title in Norman, with the unseeded pair beating No. 4 seeds Vocel and Dominik Kellovsky(Arizona State) of the Czech Republic 6-3, 2-6, 10-5 in the final.

Unseeded Isaiah Strode lost 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals of the $15,000 Pensacola Florida Futures to No. 6 seed Ricardo Rodriguez of Venezuela.  Rodriguez will face Mississippi State senior Nuno Borges of Portugal for the title.  Borges, the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan 7-5, 6-2 in today's semifinal.

The singles final at the women's $25,000 Norman tournament will feature two teenagers: 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada against 16-year-old Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia.  Andreescu, the top seed, defeated wild card Lily Miyazaki(Oklahoma) of Japan 6-1, 6-3, while Osorio Serrano came from 4-1 down in the first set to beat qualifier Katie Volynets 6-4, 6-2. It's Osorio Serrano's second win over Volynets this year, with the first coming in ITF Junior Circuit competition.

Ena Shibahara, who I understand has turned pro and will not be returning to UCLA, and 2018 NCAA doubles finalist at Oklahoma State Vladica Babic of Montenegro won their second straight doubles title today.  The unseeded pair, who won last week at the $25K in Lawrence Kansas, extended their winning streak to eight with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Sofia Sewing and Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico in today's final.

At the Nitto ATP Finals in London, former University of Illinois star Kevin Anderson fell in the semifinals to Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-2. Djokovic will face Alexander Zverev in the final, after Zverev beat Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6(5).

Jack Sock and Mike Bryan will play for the doubles title Sunday against Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France.  Sock and Bryan beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-3, 4-6, 10-4 to advance, while Mahut and Herbert defeated Robert Farah(USC) and Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia 6-3, 5-7, 10-5. Sock and Bryan, the Wimbledon and US Open champions, lost to French Open champions Mahut and Herbert in the round robin stage of the competition earlier this week.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Shane, Opelka Meet for Champaign Challenger Title; Baylor Soph Smith Makes Houston Challenger Semis; Volynets Advances at Norman $25K

2015 NCAA singles champion Ryan Shane had never reached an ATP Challenger quarterfinal before this week, but he has advanced to the final at the $75,000 Champaign Challenger with another routine victory in today's semifinals. The 24-year-old University of Virginia graduate won two three-set qualifying matches to reach the main draw, but since then he has been cruising. He got his first Top 100 win over top seed Marcel Granollers of Spain in the second round 6-3, 6-4, beat No. 8 seed JP Smith(Tennessee) of Australia 7-5, 6-1 in the quarterfinals and today needed only 54 minutes to take out 2013 NCAA singles champion Blaz Rola(Ohio State) of Slovenia 6-4, 6-3.

Shane will face last week's champion at the Knoxville Challenger, Reilly Opelka, who won the battle of 21-year-old friends and training partners with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Tommy Paul in their first meeting as professionals.  Opelka broke Paul on his only break point in the second set, at 4-5, 30-40 to pull even. In the second set, Opelka saved two break points and Paul three with the fourth against Paul a match point at 4-5 30-40.  Below is the video of that point, the best of the match, which Paul saved with an amazing pass, but he lost the next point to give Opelka a second match point, which Opelka converted for his ninth straight Challenger victory.

If Opelka wins the title Saturday, he will move into the ATP Top 100, so would almost certainly not need the Australian Open Wild Card the USTA is handing out after this week's results. He has already moved ahead (as of next week's rankings) of Jack Sock, who earned the USTA's Australian Wild Card, if he needs it, with two wins at the Paris Masters.

Another American who has earned his way into the Australian Open with a good run this fall is 2019 NCAA singles champion Bradley Klahn(Stanford). Klahn has returned to the Top 100 and today reached the semifinals of the $150,000+H Oracle Challenger in Houston, beating Evan Song 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.  Klahn, seeded No. 2, will face former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany, seeded No. 8, in the semifinals, after Koepfer beat No. 3 seed Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-1, 6-4.

The surprise semifinalist in Houston is wild card Roy Smith.  The 20-year-old Baylor sophomore has won two of his three matches in third set tiebreakers, including today's  4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(1) quarterfinal victory over 2017 NCAA singles champion Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia). Smith will face 2013 Eddie Herr ITF champion Kamil Majchrzak of Poland, who is unseeded, in the semifinals.

At the $25,000 Futures in Norman Oklahoma, No. 3 seed Jordi Arconada(Texas A&M) has reached the semifinals, where he'll face top seed Gijs Brouwer of the Netherlands.

At the $15,000 Futures in Pensacola Florida, which has been plagued by rain, unseeded Isaiah Strode is the only American to advance to the semifinals. Strode defeated top seed Fabrizio Ornago of Italy 7-6(4), 7-5 in today's second round match and beat qualifier Rowland Phillips of Jamaica 6-2, 6-4 in tonight's quarterfinal.

In women's Pro Circuit action today, Whitney Osuigwe lost to wild card Peng Shuai of China 6-2, 7-6(3) at the WTA 125 in Houston, but she is still in the running for the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card, which will be decided this week. Jessica Pegula[4] won her match over Fanny Stollar[5] of Hungary 6-3, 6-3 today and qualifier Lauren Davis beat lucky loser Katherine Sebov of Canada 6-1, 6-3, so they both still have a chance to pass Osuigwe, if they go on to win the title. Pegula would be close to direct entry on her own ranking if she wins, so second place is important in this race too.

And finally, at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Norman, Katie Volynets had, for the second week in a row, advanced to the quarterfinals coming through qualifying.  The 16-year-old from California defeated No. 4 seed Miharu Imanishi of Japan 6-3, 7-6(2) in today's quarterfinals and will face another 16-year-old, ITF Junior Masters finalist Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia. Osorio Serrano, who is unseeded, defeated No. 7 seed Mai Hontama of Japan 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.  Osorio Serrano and Volynets have met once in ITF Junior Circuit play, with Osorio Serrano winning in the quarterfinals of the Grade 1 Asuncion Bowl 6-3, 7-6(4) back in February.