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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Roland Garros Junior Championships Begin Sunday with 12 Americans in Action; Blanch and Kang Draw No. 1 and No. 2 Seeds; NCAA Champion Tian Reaches Rancho Santa Fe $15K Final; Three US Women, No US Men Make Second Week at Roland Garros

The Roland Garros Junior Championships begin Sunday with 12 of the 17 Americans in first round singles action.

Three-quarters of the 64 singles matches are on Sunday's schedule, including one must-see match in the boys draw: No. 2 seed and reigning Australian Open boys champion Alexander Blockx of Belgium against Stanford rising freshman Kyle Kang.

Kang, who reached a men's ITF World Tennis Tour $25K semifinal last week, received entry into the main draw by virtue of his ATP ranking inside the Top 750, but didn't have a ranking high enough to get seeded by the ITF formula, unlike Dino Prizmic of Croatia, who, due to his ATP ranking of 293, was awarded the No. 3 seed.

Kang leads his head-to-head with Blockx 1-0, beating him 4-6, 6-3, 4-1 ret. in the second round of this year's J300 in Traralgon, the warmup to the Australian Open. 

Although it is not on Sunday's schedule, top seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico has drawn another tough American in 15-year-old Darwin Blanch. Blanch, the reigning Kalamazoo 16s champion, reached the semifinals of a ITF WTT men's $15K in Spain in April, while Pacheco Mendez has picked up a couple of wins at ATP Challengers in Mexico this spring.

ITF J300 Astrid Bowl doubles champion Alexia Harmon did make the main draw by way of a special exemption, as did Wakana Sonobe of Japan, who won the singles title today in Belgium. Sonobe, the No. 8 seed, defeated Elizara Yaneva of Bulgaria 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. The boys champion is unseeded 15-year-old Mees Rottgering of the Netherlands, who is not in the draw at Roland Garros, as his ITF junior ranking of 89 left him outside the qualifying acceptances, thus making him ineligible for a special exemption. Rottgering defeated No. 15 seed Lasse Poertner of Germany, also not competing at Roland Garros, 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match.

Below are the first round matchups for all 17 Americans in the draw, with the asterisks denoting those playing Sunday:

Darwin Blanch v Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez[1](MEX)
*Cooper Williams[9] v Abel Forger(NED)
*Alexander Razeghi v Hayato Matsuoka(JPN)
*Maxwell Exsted[Q] v Oliver Ojakaar[11](EST)
*Kaylan Bigun v Juan Carlos Prado Angelo[8](BOL)
*Alexander Frusina v Fernando Cavallo(ARG)
Roy Horovitz v Yuvan Nandal(IND)
*Learner Tien v Federico Bondioli[13](ITA)
*Kyle Kang v Alexander Blockx[2](BEL)

*Tatum Evans v Melisa Ercan(TUR)
*Ariana Pursoo v Astrid Lew Yan Foon[WC](FRA)
Kaitlin Quevedo[4] v Mingge Xu(GBR)
Tyra Grant[Q] v Renata Jamrichova[7](SVK)
*Valeria Ray v Cara Maria Mester(ROU)
*Mia Slama v Hayu Kinoshita(JPN)
Alexia Harmon[SE] v Tamara Kostic[Q](AUT)
*Clervie Ngounoue[2] v Lucia Pawlak[WC](FRA)

*first round Sunday

Live scoring is available at the Roland Garros website.

The singles finals are set at the SoCal Pro Series men's and women's $15,000 tournament in Rancho Santa Fe. To anyone who watched her play last week in Lake Nona, it's no surprise that NCAA singles champion Fangran Tian is one of the finalists, despite not being seeded. Tian defeated No. 3 seed Solymar Colling(San Diego) 6-2, 7-6(1) today to run her winning streak to 10 matches, all earned without the loss of a set. The 19-year-old from China, a rising sophomore at UCLA, will face No. 2 seed Megan McCray(Oklahoma State), who beat No. 7 seed Haley Giavara(Cal) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the other semifinal.

The women's doubles title went to No. 4 seeds Eryn Cayetano(USC) and Princeton rising freshman Isabella Chhiv, who defeated the unseeded team of McCray and Brandy Walker 6-4, 6-3 in the final. It's the first pro title for Chhiv, while Cayetano now has four, two in singles, two in doubles.

The men's final will feature No. 3 seed Colin Sinclair(Cornell) of the Northern Mariana Islands and No. 4 seed Jaimee Angele of France. Sinclair defeated qualifier Noah Schachter(Texas A&M) 6-3, 7-5, while Angele beat No. 6 seed Keegan Smith(UCLA) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. 

Cracked Racquets is providing semifinal and final round coverage of all seven weeks of the SoCal Pro Series via their YouTube Channel.

The last three US men were eliminated from Roland Garros in today's third round action, with both Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe falling to lower seeds.

The news was better for women, with Coco Gauff getting past fellow teenager Mirra Andreeva and 28-year-old Bernard Pera reaching the second week of a slam for the first time. They join Sloane Stephens, who plays No. 2 seed and Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus Sunday.

Saturday's third round results of Americans:
Coco Gauff[6] d. Mirra Andreeva[Q](RUS) 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-1
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova(SVK) d. Kayla Day[Q] 6-1, 6-3 
Bernarda Pera d. Elisabetta Cocciaretto(ITA) 6-4, 7-6(2)

Francisco Cerundolo[23](ARG) d. Taylor Fritz[9] 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5
Alexander Zverev[22](GER) d. Frances Tiafoe[12] 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1, 7-6(5)
Nicolas Jarry(CHI) d. Marcos Giron 6-2, 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3

Friday, June 2, 2023

May Aces; Shelton Leaves Florida, Saia Joins Clemson; Exsted and Grant Qualify for Roland Garros Junior Championships; Stephens Reaches Fourth Round

May always seems overloaded with tennis, with the NCAA championships in the spotlight throughout the month, while the ITF Junior Circuit's big clay season gets underway in Europe. My monthly Aces column at the Tennis Recruiting Network features 18 of the top performances by current and former college players, as well as multiple titles by top juniors.

Yesterday's big news in Division I college tennis was the announcement that Boomer Saia would be leaving Iowa State to take the position of head coach for the Clemson women's program. In his five years in Ames, Saia took the Iowa State program from the bottom of the Big 12 to the NCAA team quarterfinals, amassing an untold number of firsts for the program. It's always a little bittersweet to see this, as you would hope that any Power Five school would have the resources to keep an outstanding coach, but sadly, that's not always the case, with Clemson's new(less than two years on the job) athletic director obviously willing and able to offer more support to its tennis programs. 

As significant a story as Saia's hiring at Clemson is, today's announcement that Bryan Shelton would be leaving his position as men's head coach at Florida is another level of bombshell. Shelton, who won the 2007 NCAA women's team championship while coaching the Georgia Tech women, took over the Florida job in 2012 and with the Florida men's first NCAA team title in 2021, became the first head coach to win both the women's and men's team titles.  

Shelton will accompanying his son Ben, the 2022 NCAA singles champion, on the ATP Tour, so he will still be coaching, just not a team. College tennis will not be the same without him, but the ATP Tour has gained a great addition to its coaching ranks.

The qualifying for the Roland Garros Junior Championships concluded today, with two Americans reaching the main draw.

Tyra Grant, who was the top seed in qualifying, had no difficulty earning her spot. The 15-year-old, who is currently No. 32 in the ITF junior rankings, defeated her Milan J500 doubles partner Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain 6-0, 6-1 in today's final round of qualifying. Grant lost only one game in her two matches.

Maxwell Exsted, who won three qualifying matches and earned a main draw win in Milan, also reached the main draw in Paris, defeating No. 5 seed Aryan Shah of India 6-3, 6-3.

No. 6 seed Ashton Bowers was beaten 6-1, 6-1 by Mia Ristic of Serbia, who, with a WTA ranking of 425, just missed the WTA Top 400 cutoff for main draw entry. 

Cooper Woestendick lost his final round qualifying match 6-2, 6-0 to Hoyoung Roh of Korea.

The draws are not yet out; with the tournament beginning Sunday, the draws should be available Saturday, as should the order of play, at the Roland Garros website.  Iva Jovic, who would have been seeded, withdrew with an injury last week.

At the J300 Astrid Bowl warmup in Belgium, No. 4 seeds Valeria Ray and Alexia Harmon took the girls doubles title today, defeating unseeded Mia Slama and Rose Marie Nijkamp of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-1. 

Sloane Stephens was the only American to win her third round match today at Roland Garros; six more will try to join her by winning their third round matches Saturday. Below are today's results and Saturday's matchups. This is the third year in a row that Stephens has advanced to the fourth round; she reached the quarterfinals last year.

Friday's third round results of Americans:

Elise Mertens[28](BEL) d. Jessica Pegula[3] 6-1, 6-3
Daria Kasatkina[9](RUS) d. Peyton Stearns 6-0, 6-1 
Sloane Stephens d. Yulia Putintseva(KAZ) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2

Saturday's third round matches featuring Americans:
Coco Gauff[6] v Mirra Andreeva[Q](RUS)
Kayla Day[Q] v Anna Karolina Schmiedlova(SVK)
Bernarda Pera v Elisabetta Cocciaretto(ITA)

Taylor Fritz[9] v Francisco Cerundolo[23](ARG)
Frances Tiafoe[12] v Alexander Zverev[22](GER)
Marcos Giron v Nicolas Jarry(CHI)

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Four Americans Reach Final Round Qualifying at Roland Garros Junior Championships; Schachter and Tian Oust Top Seeds at Rancho Santa Fe $15Ks; 21 Collegiate Men Qualify for ATP Accelerator Program; Six More Americans Advance to Third Round at Roland Garros

Friday's final round of qualifying for the Roland Garros Junior Championships will feature four Americans; top seed Tyra Grant, No. 6 seed Ashton Bowers, No. 14 seed Cooper Woestendick and No. 16 seed Maxwell Exsted.

Grant didn't drop a game in getting past wild card Eva Marie Desvignes of France, while Bowers cruised past another French wild card, Zlata Baranusz, 6-1, 6-0. Thea Rabman[5] and Anya Murthy lost their first round qualifying matches today.

Woestendick defeated wild card Felix Balshaw of France 6-0, 6-2 and Exsted beat Zoran Ludoski of Serbia 6-4, 6-2.  Woestendick and Exsted are the only two US boys in qualifying. 

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker.

Alexia Harmon lost her quarterfinal singles match today at the J300 in Belgium, but she and Valeria Ray, the No. 4 seeds, advanced to the girls doubles final, where they'll play unseeded Mia Slama and the Netherlands' Rose Marie Nijkamp. Ray and Slama are in the main draw at Roland Garros; Harmon is hoping for a special exemption to reach the main draw.

Live scores are available at Tennis Ticker.

The top two seeds were eliminated in the second round of the $15,000 men's and women's SoCal Pro Series tournaments in Rancho Santa Fe.  Although USC's Eryn Cayetano was the top seed, it isn't really a surprise that she lost to unseeded Fangran Tian of China, who won the NCAA women's singles title Saturday in Lake Nona. Tian is obviously the in-form player, given her series of straight-sets victories last week, and she took out Cayetano 6-3, 6-2.  Stanford rising freshman Katherine Hui, who defeated No. 4 seed Carolyn Ansari(Auburn) in the first round, advanced to her third $15K quarterfinal with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Madison Bourguignon today.

Qualifier Noah Schachter's two-and-a-half hour 6-3, 7-6(4) win over No. 1 seed Aidan McHugh of Great Britain was arguably more unexpected, although the Texas A&M fifth-year has played at the top of the Aggies lineup for several years and was injured prior to the NCAA individual championships, where he lost in the second round. Ohio State rising sophomore Jack Anthrop is also through to the quarterfinals, after defeating Pepperdine rising freshman and No. 8 seed Edward Winter of Australia 6-3, 6-2.

More attention than usual is directed at this $15K due to the men's doubles draw, which features James Blake, who is teaming up with Stanford rising freshman Hudson Rivera in doubles. The wild card pairing defeated No. 3 seeds Schachter and Trey Hilderbrand(UCF/Texas A&M) 6-4, 1-6, 10-7 last night in the first round; they play Anthrop and rising Ohio State freshman Bryce Nakashima in the quarterfinals later tonight.  For more on their win last night, see this article from Steve Pratt.

The ITA today released a confirmation of the Division I men's players who have qualified for the ATP's new Accelerator program. The criteria for qualification is top 20 in the final ITA rankings or reaching the NCAA singles quarterfinals. The only player who advanced to the quarterfinals but did not make the Top 20 rankings is Ohio State freshman Alexander Bernard. As I mentioned last night, there is currently no comparable program for collegiate women.

The 21 players eligible for the ATP Accelerator program:

1. Eliot Spizzirri, Texas
2. Ethan Quinn, Georgia
3. Arthur Fery, Stanford
4. Ondrej Styler, Michigan
5. Chris Rodesch, Virginia
6. Johannus Monday, Tennessee
7. Melios Efstathiou, Wake Forest
8. Antoine Cornut-Chauvinc, Florida State
9. Andres Martin, Georgia Tech
10. Toby Samuel, South Carolina
11. Liam Draxl, Kentucky
12. Cannon Kingsley, Ohio State
13. Murphy Cassone, Arizona State
14. Andrew Fenty, Michigan
15. Sebastian Dominko, Notre Dame
16. Nishesh Basavareddy, Stanford
17. Connor Thomson, South Carolina
18. Garrett Johns, Duke
19. Jake Fearnley, TCU
20. Alafia Ayeni, Kentucky
21. Alexander Bernard, Ohio State

Six more Americans advanced to the third round at Roland Garros with wins today, with qualifier Kayla Day and Bernarda Pera pulling off upsets. Day defeated No. 20 seed Madison Keys 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 and Pera took out No. 22 seed Donna Vekic of Croatia 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen spoke with Day about all her setbacks in the past seven years, with injuries and the pandemic stalling the progress so many expected after she won the USTA 18s title, a round in the US Open main draw and the US Open girls title in 2016. Day is into the third round of a major for the first time, where she'll face unseeded Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia.

Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva of Russia continues her mastery of the WTA competition, defeating French wild card and 2019 ITF World Junior Champion Diane Parry 6-1, 6-2. She will play Coco Gauff in the third round Saturday.

Thursday's second round results of Americans:

Iga Swiatek[1](POL) d. Claire Liu 6-4, 6-0
Kayla Day[Q] d. Madison Keys[20] 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
Bernarda Pera d. Donna Vekic[22](CRO) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Coco Gauff[6] d. Julia Grabher(AUT) 6-2, 6-3
Bianca Andreescu(CAN) d. Emma Navarro[WC] 6-1, 6-4
Lesia Tsurenko(UKR) d. Lauren Davis 6-3, 1-0 ret.

Frances Tiafoe[12] d. Aslan Karatsev[Q](RUS) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2
Nicolas Jarry(CHI) d. Tommy Paul[16] 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 
Marcos Giron d. Jiri Lehecka(CZE) 6-2, 6-3, 6-2
Taylor Fritz[9] d. Arthur Rinderknech(FRA) 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4

Friday's third round matches featuring Americans:

Jessica Pegula[3] v Elise Mertens[28](BEL)
Peyton Stearns v Daria Kasatkina[9](RUS)
Sloane Stephens v Yulia Putintseva(KAZ)

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Final ITA Division I Rankings Put NCAA Team Champions No. 1, but Not Individual Winners; Roland Garros Junior Qualifying Begins Thursday with Six Americans in Draw; Stearns Beats Former Champion to Reach Roland Garros Round Three

The final ITA rankings were released today for team, singles and doubles. As is always the case, the NCAA champions finish No. 1 in the team rankings. Not so in the individual rankings, where none of the four NCAA singles and doubles champions finished No. 1. Below are the Top 16 in the final team rankings, with the Top 15 getting to host the Kickoff Weekend in January for the National Team Indoor Championships. (The men are in New York and the women are in Seattle; with No. 13 Columbia men hosting and therefore getting an automatic bid, No. 16 Mississippi State should get the final host spot). I've listed the Top 20 in singles and Top 10 in doubles because those rankings determined All-American status. It looks as if both 19 and 20 in the men's and women's rankings earned All-American status via the Top 20 final ranking criteria. 

The men's top 20 is significant for the ATP Accelerator Program, which you can read about here. A similar program for women has yet to be implemented by the ITF and WTA.

The full ranking lists can be found here.

D-I Men's Team Top 16:
1. Virginia
2. Ohio State
3. Texas
4. TCU
5. Kentucky
6. Michigan
7. Georgia
8. South Carolina
9. Tennessee
10. Southern California
11. Duke
12. Harvard
13. Columbia
14. North Carolina
15. Arizona
16. Mississippi State

D-I Women Team Top 16:
1, North Carolina
2. Georgia
3. Texas A&M
4. North Carolina State
5. Stanford
6. Michigan
7. Texas
8. Iowa State
9. Pepperdine
10. Ohio State
11. Duke
12. Virginia
13. Oklahoma
14. Tennessee
15. Florida
16. Miami

D-I women's singles Top 20:
1. Fiona Crawley, North Carolina
2. Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M
3. Lea Ma, Georgia
4. Diana Shnaider, NC State
5. Maddy Sieg, Southern California
6. Alexa Noel, Miami
7. Chloe Beck, Duke
8. Fangran Tian, UCLA
9. Reese Brantmeier, North Carolina
10. Dasha Vidmanova, Georgia
11. Ayana Akli, South Carolina
12. Daria Frayman, Princeton
13. Anastasiya Komar, LSU
14. Carol Lee, Georgia Tech
15. Layne Sleeth, Oklahoma
16. Alana Smith, NC State
17. Amelia Rajecki, NC State
18. Janice Tjen, Pepperdine
19. Celia-Belle Mohr, Vanderbilt
20. Sara Dahlstrom, Florida

D-I women's doubles Top 10:
1. Savannah Broadus/Janice Tjen, Pepperdine
2. Reese Brantmeier/Elizabeth Scotty, North Carolina
3. Carson Tanguilig/Fiona Crawley, North Carolina
4. Kari Miller/Jaedan Brown, Michigan
5. Diana Shnaider/Alana Smith, NC State
6. Julia Adams/Melodie Collard, Virginia
7. Carson Branstine/Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M
8. Kylie Collins/Anastasiya Komar, LSU
9. Eryn Cayetano/Maddy Sieg, Southern California
10. Ivana Corley/Carmen Corley, Oklahoma

D-I men's singles Top 20:
1. Eliot Spizzirri, Texas
2. Ethan Quinn, Georgia
3. Arthur Fery, Stanford
4. Ondrej Styler, Michigan 
5. Chris Rodesch, Virginia
6. Johannus Monday, Tennessee
7. Melios Efstathiou, Wake Forest
8. Antoine Cornut-Chauvinc, Florida State
9. Andres Martin, Georgia Tech
10. Toby Samuel, South Carolina
11. Liam Draxl, Kentucky
12. Cannon Kingsley, Ohio State
13. Murphy Cassone, Arizona State
14. Andrew Fenty, Michigan
15. Sebastian Dominko, Notre Dame
16. Nishesh Basavareddy, Stanford
17. Connor Thomson, South Carolina
18. Garrett Johns, Duke
19. Jake Fearnley, TCU
20. Alafia Ayeni, Kentucky

D-I men's doubles Top 10:
1. Toby Samuel/Connor Thomson, South Carolina
2. Eliot Spizzirri/Cleeve Harper, Texas
3. Ethan Quinn/Trent Bryde, Georgia
4. Jake Fearnley/Luc Fomba, TCU
5. Gavin Young/Andrew Fenty, Michigan
6. Andrew Lutschaunig/James Trotter, Ohio State
7. William Grant/Axel Nefve, Florida
8. Pat Harper/Johannus Monday, Tennessee
9. Natan Rodrigues/Fabien Salle, Louisville
10. Ozan Baris/Max Sheldon, Michigan State

Qualifying for the Roland Garros Junior Championships, which begin Sunday June 4, starts Thursday, with six Americans attempting to make the main draw.

Although Tyra Grant is now 32 in the ITF junior rankings, primarily due to her title at the J300 in Santa Croce, she wasn't even accepted into qualifying at Roland Garros prior to the freeze date. She did get into qualifying, however, and she is, of course, the No. 1 seed. The other American girls in qualifying are Anya Murthy, Thea Rabman[5] and Ashton Bowers[6]. Alexia Harmon was accepted into qualifying, but she is still competing at the J300 in Belgium, reaching the singles quarterfinals and the doubles semifinals. She may be eligible for a special exemption entry into the Roland Garros main draw, but with qualifying beginning so early, there are a lot of players in the running for those two spots so it's impossible to predict. Alanis Hamilton, who had been accepted into qualifying, did not play this week in Belgium and is not in the qualifying draw.

The two US boys in the Roland Garros qualifying are Cooper Woestendick[14] and Maxwell Exsted[16]. Charlie Camus of Australia is the No. 1 seed in the boys qualifying.

The ITF Junior Circuit website's Roland Garros preview is here.

2022 NCAA singles (and team) champion Peyton Stearns was a big story in the women's second round today at Roland Garros, with the 21-year-old American defeating 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, the no. 17 seed, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. According to No-ad, No-problem's John Parsons, the former Texas Longhorn is the first woman's NCAA champion since Stanford's Debbie Graham in 1991 to make the third round at Roland Garros the year after her title. Today was the first time Stearns had played a Top 20 player (she earned her first Top 50 win in the first round over the Czech Republic's Katerina Siniakova); on Friday she will face her first Top 10 opponent in Daria Kasatkina of Russia.

Tennis Channel's Jon Wertheim interviewed Stearns after her win, and when asked how she managed to stay calm in all the chaos, she credited her college tennis experience. The Tennis Channel tweet featuring the brief interview is here.

I interviewed Stearns last fall at the WTA 125 in Midland for the Tennis Recruiting Network. That article can be found here(subscription required for full access.)

Wednesday's second round results of Americans:

Jessica Pegula[3] d. Camila Giorgi(ITA) 6-2, ret.
Peyton Stearns d. Jelena Ostapenko[17](LAT) 6-3, 1-6, 6-2
Sloane Stephens d. Varvara Gracheva(RUS) 6-2, 6-1

Sebastian Ofner[Q](AUT) d. Sebastian Korda[24] 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-4

Thursday's second round matches featuring Americans:

Claire Liu v Iga Swiatek[1](POL)
Kayla Day[Q] v Madison Keys
Bernarda Pera v Donna Vekic[22](CRO)
Coco Gauff[6] v Julia Grabher(AUT)
Emma Navarro[WC] v Bianca Andreescu(CAN)
Lauren Davis v Lesia Tsurenko(UKR)

Frances Tiafoe[12] v Aslan Karatsev[Q](RUS)
Tommy Paul[16] v Nicolas Jarry(CHI)
Marcos Giron v Jiri Lehecka(CZE)
Taylor Fritz[9] v Arthur Rinderknech(FRA)

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)