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Monday, June 17, 2019

Americans Claim Six ITF Junior Circuit Titles; Olson Among Florida Bobby Curtis Closed Champions; New WTA International Tournament Set for Week Before US Open

Although none of the ten Americans playing at the ITF Grade 1 in Offenbach Germany last week advanced past the third round, the United States captured 3 1/2 titles at the Grade 4 in Guatemala, and doubles titles at a Grade 3 in Switzerland and a Grade 5 in Ecuador.

Unseeded 14-year-old Qavia Lopez won her first ITF Junior Circuit title in Guatemala, beating No. 3 seed Nikita Vishwase of India 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the final. Lopez, whose previous best showing at an ITF junior event was the quarterfinals, saw her ranking jump from outside the Top 1000 to 555 with the title. Seventeen-year-old Jeffrey Fradkin, also unseeded, won the boys title, beating No. 3 seed Max McKennon 7-5, 6-3 in the final to claim his second ITF Junior Circuit title without the loss of a set.

McKennon and Spencer Brachman, the top seeds, won the boys doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Mateo Gomez of Colombia and Carlos Solares Midence of Bolivia 3-6, 6-3, 10-6 in the final. No. 3 seeds Camila Soares of Peru and Sofia Rojas won the girls doubles title, defeating No. 2 seeds Daianne Hayashida of Peru and Isabel Oliveira of Brazil 7-6(3), 4-6, 10-6 in the final.

At the Grade 3 in Switzerland, Katja Wiersholm and Rosie Garcia Gross won the girls doubles title. The unseeded pair defeated No. 4 seed Guillermina Grant of Uruguay and Gabriela Macias of Colombia 2-6, 7-5, 10-7 in the final. Garcia Gross, a blue chip recent graduate, has signed with Georgia Tech.

In Ecuador, No. 6 seeds Fiorella Bolona Medina and Jennifer Riester defeated No. 2 seeds Erika Cheng of Brazil and Petra Miszczak of Canada 4-6, 6-4, 10-5 to take the girls Grade 5 doubles title.

This week's Grade 1 is on clay, in Berlin, with the ITF junior circuit grass season beginning next week at a new Grade 1 tournament in Nottingham. Eight Americans are playing this week: Blaise Bicknell(12), Dali Blanch(4), Andrew Dale(7), Alexander Kiefer, Hina Inoue, Alexandra Yepifanova(12), Tara Malik and Madison Sieg.

In my review of the results on the pro tours yesterday, I neglected to mention another American title on the ITF World Tennis Tour, with 23-year-old Allie Kiick winning at the $60,000 tournament in Spain. The top seed, Kiick defeated unseeded Cagla Buyukakcay of Turkey 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-1 in the final, and is now at a career-high WTA ranking of 126.

The big USTA sectional tournaments are this month, and Florida always does an excellent job of covering their event, the Bobby Curtis Florida State Closed. Randy Wilson and Sophia Fornaris won the 18s titles in Lake Nona, and 2018 Junior Orange Bowl girls 12s finalist Brooklyn Olson claimed the 16s title. Final results, plus photos and videos, are available at the USTA Florida website.

With the WTA tournament in New Haven folding after last year, the lack of playing opportunities in the United States the week prior to the US Open was a concern, but that void has now been filled, with a new WTA International event at the Cary Leeds Tennis Center in the Bronx. The tournament, scheduled for August 16-24, will be called the NYJTL Bronx Open. The Cary Leeds facility is where the US Open Junior Championships' qualifying was held last year for the first time. See this article from the WTA website for details.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Riffice Earns First Title in Wichita; Baptiste Wins Sumter $25K; Carle Claims Wesley Chapel Title; Riske, Olmos, Krawczyk Capture WTA Championships

Sam Riffice, a rising sophomore at the University of Florida, had lost in his first three ITF World Tennis Tour finals, but today he ended that losing streak, beating USC rising senior Brandon Holt 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the $25,000 tournament in Wichita Kansas. The No. 4 seed, Riffice was impressive all week, never losing more than four games in a set while beating the No. 5, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in his last three victories.

Holt did earn a winner's trophy in Wichita however, taking the doubles title with Alexander Cozbinov(UNLV) of Moldova. The No. 3 seeds defeated unseeded Jacob Dunbar(Richmond) and Great Britain's David Fox(Denver) 7-6(5), 6-3 in last night's final. It's Holt's fifth doubles pro circuit doubles title and Cozbinov's fourth, but their first as a team.

Hailey Baptiste won her second ITF World Tennis Tour title today at the $25,000 tournament in Sumter South Carolina, beating No. 8 seed Vicky Duval 6-2, 7-5. The second-seeded Baptiste, who turns 18 in November, won her first $25,000 title in Plantation Florida back in January and is now 14-2 this year on the World Tennis Tour.

Qualifier Maria Lourdes Carle of Argentina won the title at the $15,000 WTT event in Wesley Chapel Florida, with the 19-year-old beating qualifier Victoria Emma, a rising junior at Florida, 6-3, 6-1 in the final. Carle, who may not return for her sophomore year at the University of Georgia, now has three titles at the ITF WTT $15K level, one in each of the past three years.

No. 3 seeds Allura and Maribella Zamarripa won the doubles title in Wesley Chapel, with the 16-year-old twins beating top seeds Sofia Sewing and Kylie Collins 3-6, 6-4, 13-11. It's the second WTT title, both coming on clay, for the Californians.

No. 8 seed and hometown favorite Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark won the ATP Challenger 80 in Columbus Ohio, beating unseeded Ji Sung Nam of Korea 6-1, 7-5 in today's final. The former Ohio State star now has won two Challenger titles in his career, and both have come in Columbus.

Top seeds Roberto Maytin(Baylor) of Venezuela and Jackson Withrow(Texas A&M) won the Columbus doubles title, beating unseeded Hans Hach Verdugo(Abliene Christian) of Mexico and Donald Young 6-7(4), 7-6(2) 10-5 in the final.

Alison Riske won her second WTA title today in 's-Hertogenbosch, saving five match points in a 0-6, 7-6(3), 7-5 win over top seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. Riske, who had lost the last six times she made a WTA final since winning her first title back in 2014, should return to the Top 50 now. For more on Riske's championship week, see this WTA article.

Dom Inglot(Virginia) and Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M) won the men's doubles title at the ATP event in 's-Hertogenbosch yesterday, and the collegiate success continued today on the WTA side in Nottingham, with Mexico's Giuliana Olmos(USC) and Desirae Krawczyk(Arizona State) claiming the women's doubles title. The unseeded pair didn't drop a set all week, defeating the unseeded Australian team of Ellen Perez(Georgia) and Arina Rodionova 7-6(5), 7-5 in the final. It's the second WTA doubles title for Krawczyk, 25, and the first for the 26-year-old Olmos. According to Jonathan Kelley, Olmos made history today as the first woman from Mexico to win a WTA title.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Baptiste, Duval Reach Sumter $25K Final; Holt vs Riffice for Wichita $25K Title; Qualifiers Emma and Carle Meet in Wesley Chapel $15K Final

Seventeen-year-old Hailey Baptiste will play for her second $25,000 title of the year tomorrow in Sumter SC, with the No. 2 seed facing Vicky Duval, a former WTA Top 100 pro who has not won a title since 2013. Baptiste defeated University of Virginia rising freshman Natasha Subhash 6-3, 6-1 to make her second career final, after winning the first in Plantation in January. The 23-year-old Duval, who has been out for long stretches due to illness and injury since reaching her career-high ranking of 87 back in 2014, is competing in her first tournament since last October. For the second straight day, the No. 8 seed came from a set down to advance, beating wild card Kate Fahey(Michigan) 0-6, 6-2, 6-3 in today's semifinal.

The doubles title in Sumter went to No. 4 seeds Brynn Boren(USC) and Caitlin Whoriskey(Tennessee), who defeated No. 2 seeds Vladica Babic(Oklahoma State) of Montenegro and Hayley Carter(North Carolina) 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Whoriskey now has 16 ITF Pro Circuit titles; Boren has five.

Two current collegians will meet for the title at the $25,000 men's event in Wichita Kansas, with USC rising senior Brandon Holt, the No. 3 seed, taking on No. 4 seed Sam Riffice, a rising sophomore at Florida. Holt defeated No. 7 seed Evan Zhu(UCLA) 7-6(4), 6-3 today, while Riffice took out No. 2 seed Alexander Ritschard(Virginia) 6-2, 6-1. Holt will be looking for his third World Tennis Tour singles title, having claimed a $15K last fall and a $25K in January. Riffice is looking for his first title in his fourth appearance in a WTT final, the most recent at the $25K in Tulsa last summer.

At the $15,000 women's WTT tournament in Wesley Chapel Florida, 19-year-old qualifiers Maria Lourdes Carle of Argentina and Victoria Emma will meet for the title Sunday. Carle, who played at the University of Georgia in the just-completed season, defeated No. 4 seed Allura Zamarripa 7-5, 6-4 to advance against Emma. Emma, a rising junior at the University of Florida, had won only one main draw match on the Pro Circuit prior to this week, but she picked up her fourth this week in a 6-1, 6-7(6), 7-6(7) win over Lauren Proctor(Winthrop) today. Carle and Emma met twice in ITF Junior Circuit play back in 2016, with Carle winning both Grade 1 round of 16 matches in three sets.

At the ATP Columbus Challenger 80, former Ohio State All-American Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 12 seed Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia) 6-4, 7-6(5) to reach the final, where he'll take on unseeded Ji Sung Nam of Korea. Nam advanced to the championship match when No. 6 seed Dudi Sela of Israel retired trailing 6-3, 5-3.

In WTA results today, Jennifer Brady's WTA Nottingham semifinal match with top seed Caroline Garcia of France was interrupted by rain several times, with the completion pushed to Sunday with Garcia leading 4-6, 6-3, 4-3.

And at the WTA tournament in 's-Hertogenbosch, Alison Riske reached the final with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5) win over Veronika Kudermetova of Russia. Riske, who won last week's $100,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in Surbiton, will face top seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands for the title.

On the ATP tour, two former NCAA doubles champions teamed up for the first time and won a title, with Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M) and Dom Inglot(Virginia) claiming the doubles championship in 's-Hertogenbosch. Krajicek, who won the NCAA title in 2011 with Jeff Dadamo, and Inglot, who won the 2009 NCAA title with Michael Shabaz, defeated Marcus Daniell of New Zealand and Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands 6-4, 4-6, 10-4  in the final. It's the 12th career ATP title for Inglot and the second for Krajicek. For more on their run to the title, see this article from the ATP website.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Brady Advances to Semis at WTA Nottingham; Kwiatkowski into Columbus Challenger Semifinals; Two Qualifiers Make Final Four at Wesley Chapel $15K; All-US Semis in Wichita and Sumter; Lilley Named Head Coach at Auburn

Former UCLA star Jennifer Brady has advanced to the semifinals of the WTA International tournament in Nottingham, beating No. 4 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece 7-5, 6-3 in today's quarterfinals. The unseeded Brady, 24, had beaten No. 7 seed Shuai Zhang of China in the opening round. This is the second WTA semifinal for Brady, who advanced that far previously at the Hong Kong International back in the fall of 2017.  Currently at No. 80 in the WTA rankings, Brady is approaching her career high of 60 with her performance this week. She plays top seed Caroline Garcia of France next.

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Columbus, No. 12 seed Thai Kwiatkowski has advanced to the semifinals, after beating No. 3 seed Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 today. The University of Virginia's 2017 NCAA singles champion will meet 2016 NCAA singles finalist Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark, the No. 8 seed, who beat No. 2 seed Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan 6-3, 6-3 today. The former Ohio State star has had his best Challenger results in the Buckeye state, with his only title coming in Columbus back in 2016 and two finals this year in Columbus and Cleveland.  The other semifinal will feature unseeded Ji Sung Nam of Korea against No. 6 seed Dudi Sela of Israel.

Two qualifiers have advanced to the semifinals of the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in Wesley Chapel Florida, with Georgia rising sophomore Maria Lourdes Carle of Argentina beating top seed Tori Kinard 6-3, 1-6, 6-0 and Florida rising junior Victoria Emma beating fellow qualifier Megan McCray(Oklahoma State) 7-5, 6-3.  Carle will play No. 4 seed Allura Zamarripa, while Emma takes on recent Winthrop graduate Lauren Proctor.

Top seed Usue Arconada, who won the $25,000 event last week in Bethany Beach saw her winning streak snapped by Vicky Duval, coming back from an eight-month layoff this week in Sumter South Carolina. Duval, the No. 8 seed, beat Arconada 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in just under three hours. I also discovered today that Duval is the new volunteer assistant for the University of Florida women, and longtime associate head coach Dave Balogh is no longer on the staff.

Duval's opponent in Saturday's semifinal is wild card Kate Fahey(Michigan), who defeated No. 5 seed Sophie Chang 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Two 17-year-olds from the Washington DC area will meet in the other semifinal, with No. 2 seed Hailey Baptiste facing Natasha Subhash. Virginia rising freshman Subhash advanced when No. 6 seed Dea Herdzelas of Bosnia retired trailing 6-4, 1-0. Baptiste needed exactly three hours to get past Marcela Zacarias of Mexico 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(5). Baptiste defeated Subhash in the quarterfinals of the Grade 1 ITF junior tournament in Carson last year.

The semifinals are not yet set at the men's $25,000 WTT tournament in Wichita, with the quarterfinal between Sumit Sarkar(Rice) and No. 2 seed Alexander Ritschard(Virginia) yet to start this evening, but the top half semifinal will feature No. 3 seed Brandon Holt(USC) and No. 7 seed Evan Zhu(UCLA). Holt defeated Oliver Crawford(Florida) 6-4, 6-4 and Zhu took out unseeded Jacob Dunbar(Richmond) 6-3, 7-6(3). No. 4 seed Sam Riffice(Florida) will face the winner of tonight's quarterfinal, with Riffice beating No. 5 seed Jordi Arconada 6-3, 6-3 today.

Auburn has filled its women's head coaching position, with Kansas assistant Caroline Lilley named to the post today. Lilley, who played at Kentucky and Georgia Tech, was an assistant at Gonzaga before coaching at Kansas for the past four years. Lilley replaces Lauren Spencer, who resigned last month after eight seasons.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Subhash Reaches Quarterfinals at Sumter $25K; Top Seed Redlicki Ousted in Wichita $25K; USTA National Campus Will Search for New Director of Tennis; Blue Chip McKennon Chooses Arizona State

University of Virginia rising freshman Natasha Subhash lost in the second round of this spring's Easter Bowl ITF and Carson Grade 1, and her junior ranking, once as high as 26 and consistently in the Top 50 last year, dropped outside the Top 100. But the 17-year-old from Virginia found her form in the past two months on the Pro Circuit, where she won her first ITF World Tennis Tour event at the $15,000 tournament in Williamsburg Virginia last month, and reached the final of the $25,000 tournament in Bethany Beach last week. Subhash is continuing to post impressive results this week at the $25,000 tournament in Sumter South Carolina. Today she had to play both her first and second round matches and she won both, beating No. 4 seed Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia, the 2015 Australian Open girls champion, 6-3, 6-2 and then posting a 6-2, 7-6(5) win over Gergana Topalova of Bulgaria. Subhash will face No. 6 seed Dea Herdzelas of Bosnia in Friday's quarterfinals.

Top seed Usue Arconada, who beat Subhash in the Bethany Beach final Sunday, advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win over qualifier Petia Arshinkova of Bulgaria and will play No. 8 seed Vicky Duval, who dropped only two games to qualifier Carson Branstine of Canada in her second round win. Duval is playing her first tournament since last October due to injury. Wild card Kate Fahey, the recent Michigan graduate, will play No. 5 seed Sophie Chang in another all-US quarterfinal. Seventeen-year-old Hailey Baptiste, the No. 2 seed, defeated Hayley Carter, North Carolina's 2016 NCAA singles finalist, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. She will play unseeded Marcela Zacarias of Mexico, who beat No. 7 seed Katie Volynets 6-3, 6-1.

At the $25,000 men's Pro Circuit event in Wichita, Jacob Dunbar(Richmond) surprised top seed Martin Redlicki(UCLA) 6-4, 7-6(4) in today's second round action. Dunbar will play the winner of tonight's match between Michigan rising sophomore Andrew Fenty and No. 7 seed Evan Zhu(UCLA).

An American is already guaranteed to be the Wichita champion, with the last of the international players in the draw eliminated today.  No. 3 seed Brandon Holt(USC) will face No. 6 seed Oliver Crawford(Florida) in a current collegian battle, while Texas A&M graduate and No. 5 seed Jordi Arconada will play Florida rising sophomore Sam Riffice, the No. 4 seed. Rice rising junior Sumit Sarkar defeated No. 8 seed Mark Whitehouse of Great Britain 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-2 to advance to a quarterfinal meeting with No. 2 seed Alexander Ritschard(Virginia).

The USTA announced today that Kathy Woods will be stepping down from her position as Director of Tennis at the USTA's National Campus in Lake Nona at the end of the year. The press release says a national search for her replacement will begin in the next several weeks.

Max McKennon, a blue chip in the 2020 recruiting class, announced last month that he had committed to Arizona State. In 2017, the Arizona State men's program was reinstated after an eight-year absence, and they have made the NCAA tournament both years, winning their first NCAA tournament match since 2004 this year. McKennon explains why he decided on the Sun Devils over the highly ranked Pac-12 and Big 12 schools that recruited him in this Tennis Recruiting Network article.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Seeds Falter at Columbus Challenger; Dartmouth's Drake Named Men's Head Coach at Yale; ITA Summer Circuit Begins Next Weekend, Registration Still Open

The ATP Columbus Challenger 80 lost its top seed today in the second round, when Michael Mmoh retired trailing Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia 6-2, 1-2. Mmoh, playing in just his third event since January after being out with an injury, has yet to post a win since returning, losing in the first round of French qualifying and in the second round last week at the Little Rock Challenger.

No. 2 seed Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan came close to joining Mmoh on the sidelines, but he managed to defeat Evan Song 6-7(7), 7-6(4), 6-4 in three hours and 48 minutes.

Ohio State Buckeyes JJ Wolf, seeded No. 14, and wild card John McNally lost today, with Wolf going out to Ji Sum Nam of Korea 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and McNally, who had picked up a first round win yesterday, falling to No. 11 seed Duckhee Lee of Korea 6-3, 7-5. Former Ohio State star Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark, seeded No. 8, did move into Thursday's third round, beating Raymond Sarmiento(USC) 6-4, 7-5.

Qualifier Dennis Novikov defeated No. 4 seed Donald Young 7-6(6), 6-2 in a battle between former Kalamazoo 18s champions. Novikov trailed 5-0 in the first set before roaring back for the win.

The only other American to advance to the third round today was No. 9 seed Tim Smyczek, who beat 2017 Australian Open boys champion Zsombor Piros of Hungary 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.  Two former University of Virginia stars from the US won their second round matches yesterday, with 2017 NCAA champion Thai Kwiatkowski, the No. 12 seed, beating Daniel Nguyen(USC) 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 and Collin Altamirano, the No. 15 seed beating Ohio State wild card James Trotter of Japan 6-3, 6-1.  Kwiatkowski will take on 2018 US Open boys champion Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil, while Altamirano's third round opponent is No. 3 seed Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador.

Both of the men's Power Five conference head coaching positions have been filled, with NCAA champions Texas elevating Bruce Berque to head coach and Robbie Weiss named to lead the program at Clemson. There are still three women's vacancies at Power Five schools, with Maryland, Penn State and Auburn yet to name new head coaches. [Correction: Utah's women's coaching position is also still unfilled.]

While not Power Five, interest is always high in the Ivy League positions, and today Yale named its replacement for Alex Dorato, who had announced his retirement prior to the start of the 2018-19 season. Chris Drake, who has been head coach at Dartmouth for the past nine seasons, will take over for Dorato, who was head coach at Yale for 26 years.

And speaking of Yale, Oracle recently announced that its Challenger Series will be coming to the New Haven campus during the second week of the US Open, with tournaments for both men and women. Last year, Chicago was the site of that event, but the proximity to New York, plus the loss of the WTA event there, makes New Haven an intriguing alternative.

The ITA Summer Circuit begins next weekend at 11 campus venues across the country and extends five more weeks before culminating in the National Summer Championships August 9-13 at TCU. Registration is now open for all six weeks, with juniors and collegiate players accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. These events, which will be seeded using UTR, are a great way to get matches during the summer months and a few are even offering prize money.

The complete list of sites and more information on fees is here.