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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Kodat Defeats Top Seed to Reach ITF Grade A Porto Alegre Quarterfinals; Wolf Leads ITA Men's Indoor All-Tournament Team; Renowned Michigan High School Tennis Coach and Kalamazoo Volunteer Bob Wood Dies

Three US boys and two US girls have advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITF Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil.

Sixteen-year-old Toby Kodat, seeded No. 13, ended the seven-match win streak of Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain, beating the top seed 6-4, 6-4 in today's third round. Alvarez had won the Grade 1 Banana Bowl last week. Kodat also had a win earlier this year over Alvarez in the first round of the Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia.  Kodat faces No. 11 seed Taha Baadi of Canada in the quarterfinals.  Kalamazoo 16s champion Martin Damm has also advanced to the quarterfinals, where he'll play No. 2 seed Keisuke Saitoh of Japan. Damm defeated fellow 15-year-old Holger Rune of Denmark, the No. 5 seed, 6-3, 6-4 in today's third round.  No. 6 seed Tyler Zink is also through to the quarterfinals after beating Pedro Boscardin Dias of Brazil 7-6(5), 7-5. It's the first Grade A quarterfinal for Kodat and Damm, while Zink reached his other GA quarterfinal at the 2017 Orange Bowl.

No. 2 seed Alexa Noel defeated unseeded Gabriela Macias 6-3, 6-2 in today's third round, while unseeded Charlotte Owensby beat No. 8 seed Mylene Halemai of France 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.  The 15-year-old Owensby is making her debut in a Grade A quarterfinal, while Noel, 16, won the Grade A in Mexico in 2017. Unfortunately, Noel and Owensby now face each other for a place in the semifinals.

The ITA announced the Division I Men's Team Indoor All-Tournament Team today, with champion Ohio State's JJ Wolf named the Most Outstanding Player.

No. 1 singles and Most Outstanding Player: JJ Wolf, Ohio State
No. 2 singles: Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest
No. 3 singles: Bar Botzer, Wake Forest
No. 4 singles: Martin Joyce, Ohio State
No. 5 singles: Colin Markes, Texas
No. 6 singles: Hunter Tubert, Ohio State

No. 1 doubles: Alan Gadjiev and Borna Gojo, Wake Forest
No. 2 doubles: Kyle Seelig and Alex Kobelt, Ohio State
No. 3 doubles: John McNally and Hunter Tubert, Ohio State

Aaron Krickstein, Bob Wood and Todd Martin prior to 2006 Kalamazoo Exhibition

I received word earlier this week of the death of Bob Wood, who volunteered for the USTA Kalamazoo Nationals for 38 years. I met Bob when I began volunteering for the tournament in 2000, and we spent many an hour in the Stowe Stadium tower talking junior tennis, pro tennis, and most importantly to Bob, high school tennis.  Wood was a legendary high school coach at University Liggett in Gross Pointe Michigan, winning 39 state championships: 27 boys and 12s girls titles. Well into his 70s, he was still involved in camps and clinics on the east side of the state, and he would return to Kalamazoo every year to answer phones, promote the tournament on radio and provide commentary on the public access station during the final weekend.

After he retired, he moved to Tennessee and then Texas, and during those years he continued to coach and to follow high school tennis. His favorite question for any player who was called to the Tower was 'did you play high school tennis?' and he could not contain his delight if the answer was yes.

With a lifetime in the sport, Wood had many stories, including those involving his two years coaching Aaron Krickstein, who, unsurprisingly, went undefeated in his two years of high school tennis. Krickstein turned pro after his sophomore year at Liggett, winning the Kalamazoo 18s title in 1983 after turning 16 a few days earlier, so Wood had a good idea of the kind of game that could translate to success on the pro tour.

But Wood's greatest legacy will be the thousands of less talented young players he coached throughout his career. He demonstrated his commitment to transmitting a lifelong love of the sport with every camp and after-school session, embodying the role of coach and teacher.

For the complete obituary, prepared by his family, click here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

National Indoor Champions Georgia and Ohio State Top ITA Division I Rankings, Wolf and Jokic Move to No. 1 in Singles; Gauff, McNally, Nakashima Awarded Oracle Challenger Wild Cards

The first team rankings done by computer were released today by the ITA, with National Men's Team Indoor champions Ohio State taking over the top spot from Wake Forest.  Georgia, the Women's Team Indoor Champions, remained at the No. 1 spot.

The big movers in the Top 10 of the men's rankings were Virginia and Illinois, while Mississippi State fell from No. 3 to No. 9 after the Bulldogs went 1-2 at the Team Indoor and USC fell from No. 5 to No. 24.

ITA D-I men’s top 10 Team: (all numbers in parentheses are most recent previous rankings)

1. Ohio State (2)
2. Wake Forest (1)
3. Texas (6)
4. Virginia (13)
5. North Carolina (8)
6. Stanford (10)
7. Florida (4)
8. Illinois (14)
9. Mississippi State (3)
10. Columbia (12)

The USTA/Tennis Channel rankings, conducted by poll, are somewhat different, with TCU making a jump into the Top 10, and UCLA remaining there, unlike the ITA ranking, which has the Bruins at 14 now after being No. 7 last week.  For the complete USTA Top 25, see this article.

USTA Men’s Top 10 Team:
1. Ohio State (1)
2. Wake Forest (5)
3. Texas (4)
4. North Carolina (7)
5. Virginia (9)
6. Stanford (8)
7. TCU (15)
8. Florida (3)
9. Columbia (14)
10. UCLA (6)

The women's rankings are not drastically different from last week, but Kansas has moved into the Top 10 and South Carolina moved to No. 6. The USTA poll varies in its assessment of the top Big Ten teams, with Michigan No. 10 versus No. 24 in the ITA rankings, and Northwestern No. 21 vs versus No. 10 in the ITA rankings. 

ITA D-I Women’s Top 10 Team:
1. Georgia (1)
2. North Carolina (2)
3. Duke (4)
4. Stanford (3)
5. UCLA (8)
6. South Carolina (10)
7. Vanderbilt (5)
8. Kansas (12)
9. Texas (7)
10. Northwestern (11)

USTA Women’s Top 10 Team:
1. Georgia (1)
2. North Carolina (2)
3. Stanford (3)
4. Duke (4)
5. UCLA (5)
6. Vanderbilt (6)
7. Texas (8)
8. South Carolina (9)
9. Michigan (10)
10. Ohio State (11)

The singles rankings have new No. 1s, with Katarina Jokic of Georgia back in the top spot and JJ Wolf of Ohio State moving to No. 1 for the first time in his collegiate career. Paul Jubb of South Carolina went from 16 to No. 4, and Aleksandar Kovacevic of Illinois moved into the Top 10 after being 24 two weeks ago.  Although Wolf will likely be the choice for No. 1 singles on the all-tournament team, and rightly so, Kovacevic went 3-0 at the top spot and is undefeated this year in dual matches. Maxime Cressy, the UCLA No. 1 and Cleveland Challenger champion, has still not broken into the ITA singles rankings. He is No. 30, with Keegan Smith, in the doubles rankings.

1. JJ Wolf, Ohio State (2)
2. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest (1)
3. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (5)
4. Paul Jubb, South Carolina (16)
5. Jan Zielinski, Georgia (7)
6. Alex Rybakov, TCU (8)
7. Thomas Laurent, Oregon (3)
8. Christian Sigsgaard, Texas (6)
9. Aleksandar Kovacevic, Illinois (24)
10. Jack Lin, Columbia (11)

1. Henry Patten and Oli Nolan, UNC-Asheville (1)
2. Sven Lah and Jimmy Bendeck, Baylor (2)
3. Kyle Seelig and Alex Kobelt, Ohio State (7)
4. Fabian Fallert and Finn Reynolds, Ole Miss (5)
5. Jack Lin and William Matheson, Columbia (22)

Jokic, who went 4-0 at line 1 at the Team Indoor for the Bulldogs, also won the ITA Fall Nationals, so she is going to be hard to dislodge from the top spot going forward. 2018 NCAA singles finalist Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine is currently ranked 74 in singles.

1. Katarina Jokic, Georgia (2)
2. Makenna Jones, North Carolina (6)
3. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt (3)
4. Sophie Whittle, Gonzaga (1)
5. Alexa Graham, North Carolina (7)
6. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina (15)
7. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami (4)
8. Kate Fahey, Michigan (5)
9. Christina Rosca, Vanderbilt (12)
10. Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina (16)

1. Fernanda Navarro and Marie Leduc, Clemson (2)
2. Mia Horvit and Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina (4)
3. Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia, Kansas (3)
4. Cameron Morra and Makenna Jones, North Carolina (5)
5. Ashley Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova, Pepperdine (1)

Click on the headers to go to the complete ranking lists.

The Oracle Challenger Series moves to Indian Wells next week, with the WTA 125 event and the ATP Challenger played at site of the BNP Paribas Open.  Wild cards for the tournaments have been announced, with Caty McNally and Coco Gauff receiving them for the main draw, along with Lauren Davis, Wang Qiang of China and former Ohio State star Francesca Di Lorenzo, who received the Oracle College Award last year. 

Men receiving wild cards include Kyle Edmund of Great Britain, Christian Harrison, UCLA senior Maxime Cressy, Virginia freshman Brandon Nakashima and Kalamazoo 18s champion Jenson Brooksby.

Qualifying wild cards were awarded to Kayla Day, Ena Shibahara(UCLA), 17-year-old Zane Khan, and Michael Redlicki (Duke/Arkansas).

For the complete release, click here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Sixteen Americans Reach Second Round at Porto Alegre Brazil Grade A; Rancho Santa Fe $25K Sole WTT Event in US This Week; Florida State Women Beat Florida in Gainesville

The first round of the ITF Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil is complete, with ten US girls and five US boys advancing.

Last week's Grade 1 Banana Bowl winners and top seeds this week have advanced to the second round, with Diane Parry of France and Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain picking up straight-sets victories today.

But Banana Bowl finalist Hurricane Tyra Black, the No. 3 seed, was beaten by Spanish qualifier Ane Mintegi Del Olmo 7-6(3), 6-0. This follows yesterday's 6-2, 6-0 loss by No. 4 seed Eliot Spizzirri, a semifinalist last week, to Thiago Tirante of Argentina.

Alexa Noel, who hasn't played the last three Grade 1s in South America, is back in action this week and is the No. 2 seed. She advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Tina Smith of Australia.  Fifteen-year-old Ellie Coleman eliminated No. 6 seed Gabriela Martinez Asensi of Spain 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 yesterday and 14-year-old qualifier Rebecca Lynn took out No. 15 seed Ana Luiza Cruz of Brazil 6-4, 6-3 today.  Zora Hudson, a 17-year-old American with no ITF junior ranking, got into qualifying, but lost in the final round. She got into the main draw as a lucky loser, replacing Gabby Price, and won her first ITF Junior Circuit match today. She defeated wild card Maria Fernanda Menezes of Brazil 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Winning your first ITF junior main draw match in a Grade A is rare; even wild cards usually have had some points from lower level ITF tournaments and it is difficult to get into qualifying at that level without any points.

Hina Inoue, Kailey Evans, Hibah Shaikh, No. 7 seed Charlotte Chavatipon, Sasha Yepifanova and Charlotte Owensby are the other US girls reaching the second round.

US boys posting wins in the first round are Toby Kodat[13], Blaise Bicknell, Andrew Dale, Tyler Zink[6], Dali Blanch and Martin Damm.

The only ITF World Tennis Tour event this week in the United States is a $25,000 tournament in Rancho Santa Fe California. Qualifying concluded today, with Usue Arconada, Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame) and Caroline Dolehide the Americans reaching the main draw. Dolehide took a wild card into qualifying; she would have been one of the top seeds in the main draw with her WTA ranking of 131 had she entered initially, but she is not seeded in the main draw now.

Wild cards Kayla Day and Katie Volynets recorded first round main draw wins today, with Day beating wild card Lorraine Guillermo(Pepperdine) 6-1, 6-3 and Volynets defeating Sandra Samir of Egypt 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Caty McNally, in her first match since winning the $100,000 Dow Tennis Classic, lost to No. 5 seed Kristie Ahn (Stanford) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Sachia Vickery and Nicole Gibbs are the top two seeds, seeing their first action on Wednesday.

The University of Florida women recently had the most dominating home court advantage in college tennis winning 163 straight matches until a loss to Georgia in March of 2017 ended that streak and several others.  They did go on to win the NCAA title that year, so it was hardly the end of the world, but the prospect of making the NCAA quarterfinals at nearby Lake Nona are less promising this year.

Already this year, the 24th-ranked Gators have lost three matches at home, to Cal, to NC State in the Kick-off weekend, and tonight in a 4-1 loss to arch-rival Florida State. Ranked No. 20, Florida State had its own disappointment at home this year when they lost in the first round of the Kick-off weekend to Tennessee, but they recently defeated Miami in Tallahassee and now have a win over Florida. Wins over those two programs are satisfying for any team, but only more so, I'm sure for the Seminoles, who play Duke Friday in Tallahassee.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Ohio State Holds Off Defending Champion Wake Forest to Win ITA D-I Men's Team Indoor Championships; Martin Wins Grade 4 in Mexico; 25 Americans Competing in Porto Alegre Brazil's ITF Grade A

Ohio State's JJ Wolf
photo courtesy Scott Gerber, OhioTennisZone.com
The doubles point Ohio State won in a tiebreaker didn't look particularly significant when the Buckeyes won four first sets in singles against defending champion and No. 3 seed Wake Forest at the ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor Championships today in Chicago.

But when Martin Joyce closed out top-seeded Ohio State's 4-2 victory with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Wake's Melios Efstathiou at line 4, a huge sigh of relief was almost audible at the Midtown Athletic Club, with the doubles point having given the Buckeyes a bit of breathing room that they ended up appreciating.

For the second match in a row, Ohio State won the doubles point when the other team was serving for it, and both times it was John McNally and Hunter Tubert at line 3 that mounted the comebacks.  Against Wake Forest's Siddhant Banthia and Julian Zlobinsky, McNally and Tubert saved two match points on deciding points serving at 3-5 and receiving at 5-4, and in the tiebreaker that decided the doubles point, came from 3-2 down to win the final five points of the match.

Ohio State, who had not lost a point in their previous three wins this weekend, began the singles confidently, taking four first sets in singles. JJ Wolf, who won the Columbus Challenger last month, has continued to play pro-level tennis in dual match season, and he quickly closed out Wake Forest's Borna Gojo 6-0, 6-3 to extend the lead to 2-0.

At that stage, Ohio State looked to be in great shape to grab its second National Team Indoor title, with McNally up a set and a break over Petros Chrysochos at line 2, Alex Kobelt up a set a and a break over Yuval Solomon at line 5 and Joyce securing his first set.

Kobelt quickly closed out his win for the Buckeyes third point, and again Wake looked down and out, but the Demon Deacons had been in jeopardy throughout the weekend, so they were plenty comfortable playing from behind.  When Tubert earned a split against Banthia at line 6, both McNally and Joyce were both just two games from another shutout for the Buckeyes, but Wake Forest was not about to concede.

Bar Botzer closed out his 6-2, 6-3 win over Kyle Seelig at line 3 to make it 3-1, just as McNally lost his break in the second set.  Tubert was up 3-1 in the third at line 6, but Joyce lost his break, and when Banthia won his fifth straight game to make it 3-2, a miracle comeback seemed possible for Wake.  Just as Chrysochos won a tiebreaker to send his match with McNally to a third set, Joyce got a break at 5-all and had an opportunity to serve for the match. The senior from Illinois continued to play his aggressive indoor game despite falling behind 15-30 and he calmly closed out the title, leaving the most exuberant celebrations to his teammates.

Four of the six Buckeyes playing singles today had played in the NCAA final last year against Wake Forest, with the Demon Deacons winning that by the same score that Ohio State posted today. Three of the six Americans in the Ohio State lineup are from Ohio and five are from the Midwest section, a rare team composition with the current trend toward international players in Division I tennis.

For more on today's final, see the Tennis Recruiting Network's recap, College Tennis Today's recap, and the Ohio State website recap.

#2 Ohio State 4, #1 Wake Forest 2
Singles competition
1. #2 JJ Wolf (OSU) def. Bona Gojo (WF) 6-0, 6-3
2. #62 John McNally (OSU) vs. #1 Petros Chrysochos (WF) 6-4, 6-7(4), unfinished
3. #21 Bar Botzer (WF) def. #12 Kyle Seelig (OSU) 6-2, 6-3
4. Martin Joyce (OSU) def. #49 Melios Efstathiou (WF) 7-5, 7-5
5. #86 Alex Kobelt (OSU) def. Yuval Solomon (WF) 6-3, 6-3
6. Siddhant Banthia (WF) def. Hunter Tubert (OSU) 6-2, 2-6, 6-3
Order of finish: 1,5,3,6,4

Doubles competition
1. Bona Gojo/Alan Gadjiev (WF) def. JJ Wolf/Martin Joyce (OSU) 6-3
2. #7 Kyle Seelig/Alex Kobelt (OSU) def. Petros Chrysochos/Bar Botzer (WF) 6-1
3. Hunter Tubert/John McNally (OSU) def. Siddhant Banthia/Julian Zlobinsky (WF) 7-6(3)
Order of finish: 2,1,3
At the ITF Grade 4 in Mexico, 17-year-old Georgia Tech recruit Andres Martin took the singles title, his first on the ITF Junior Circuit.  The top seed defeated No. 16 seed Marcus McDaniel 6-3, 7-6(4) in the all-US final, claiming all six of his victories in straight sets. McDaniel and his partner Max McKennon, the No. 2 seeds, won the doubles title, beating Martin and his partner Jeffrey Fradkin, the top seeds, 6-3, 7-6(3) in the final.

The second ITF Grade A of the year is underway in Porto Alegre Brazil, with 15 US girls and 10 US boys in the singles draws. The first round of singles play began today, and four Americans(noted with asterisks) have already been eliminated, but here are those that made the main draw:
Hina Inoue
Tara Malik*
Ellie Coleman
Hurricane Tyra Black[3]
Kailey Evans
Hibah Shaikh
Jaedan Brown*
Charlotte Chavatipon[7]
Sasha Yepifanova
Rosie Garcia Gross[Q]
Madison Sieg*
Charlotte Owensby
Rebecca Lynn[Q]
Alexa Noel[2]

Toby Kodat[13]
Blaise Bicknell
Andrew Dale
Eliot Spizzirri[4]*
Will Grant
Tyler Zink[6]
Adam Neff
Dali Blanch
Martin Damm
Alexander Kiefer

*lost 1st round

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Wake Forest, Ohio State Advance to Men's D-I ITA Team Indoor Final; Redlicki Wins Tucson Title, Gauff Comes Up Short in Surprise; Opelka Captures New York Open

Defending champion Wake Forest and top seed Ohio State have advanced to Monday's final at the ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor Championships, with the routes the two teams have taken to get there markedly different.  Wake Forest, who was the top-ranked team in the country in the last published rankings, has had to eke out wins in all three rounds prior to this one. Columbia had them on the ropes in the round of 16 Friday, they needed to come back from 4-1 down in the third of the last match on in Saturday's quarterfinal with UCLA and today the Demon Deacons were undeniably tested by ACC rival North Carolina before posting a 4-2 victory.

In contrast, the Buckeyes have yet to drop a point, blanking Tulane, Virginia and in today's semifinals, Texas.  Ohio State was looking at the loss of the doubles point today against the Longhorns, with Yuya Ito and Chi Chih Huang serving for the point at 6-5 against Kyle Seelig Hunter Tubert and John McNally at line 3, after the teams had split at lines 1 and 2. But Tubert and McNally broke and dominated the tiebreaker, with that momentum carrying over to the singles. Ohio State won five first sets in singles and JJ Wolf at line 1, Tubert at line 6 and McNally at line 3 closed out their opponents in straight sets to get the shutout. Texas's Colin Markes had match points at line 5, but he was not able to cash one in before McNally recorded his victory.

Wake Forest won the doubles point over North Carolina, an important start given that the two teams split the first sets in singles. The Tar Heels got a quick first point to tie it up, with Brian Cernoch beating Wake's Saturday hero Melios Efstathiou 6-2, 6-4, and with William Blumberg taking the second set over Borna Gojo at line 1, North Carolina looked to be in good position, especially when Simon Soendergaard earned a split at line 5. Bo Boyden won at line 6 for North Carolina to make it 2-1, but Wake got an important split at line 3, with Bar Botzer taking the deciding point with Josh Peck serving at 5-6 in the second.

Blumberg had gone up 3-0 in the third set, but Gojo got the break back, only to lose it again and go down 4-2. Again, Blumberg was unable to hold serve and this time Gojo did pull even, but Blumberg earned two match points with Gojo serving at 4-5. Gojo saved one with a forehand winner and on the deciding point, Blumberg sliced a backhand long to make it 5-5. Blumberg was broken in the next game, and although he saved one match point at 40-30, Gojo won another key deciding point with a big first serve to make it 2-2.  Wake took a 3-2 lead with Petros Chysochos's three-set win over Benjamin Sigouin at line 2, and by that time Wake's Botzer had taken complete control of his match against Peck at line 3. Botzer closed it out 6-1 in the third to send Wake Forest back to the final for a rematch of the 2018 NCAA men's team championship match.

Live scoring and the links to live streaming for Monday's final can be found at Slam Tennis.

Wake Forest d. North Carolina 4-2

Ohio State d. Texas 4-0

Martin Redlicki picked up his first singles title on the pro tour today at the $15,000 World Tennis Tour tournament in Tucson.  The recent UCLA graduate had lost his three previous finals, including one to his opponent today Karue Sell of Brazil, also a former Bruin.  Redlicki, the top seed, defeated No. 2 seed Sell 6-4, 6-4, hitting 10 aces and converting on four of his six break points.

A bit farther north at the $25,000 women's WTT event in Surprise Arizona, unseeded 14-year-old Coco Gauff came up short in her first pro singles final, losing to No. 3 seed Sesil Karatancheva of Bulgaria 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. Gauff could not overcome 13 double faults and won only two of her eight service games in the last two sets.

Gauff did win her first pro title however, capturing the doubles title this week with former Georgia Tech star Paige Hourigan of New Zealand. Gauff, the 2018 US Open girls doubles champion, and Hourigan defeated another unseeded team in the final, beating Usue Arconada and Emina Bektas 6-3, 4-6, 14-12.

Reilly Opelka claimed his first ATP title today at the New York Open, but it certainly wasn't easy. The 21-year-old from Florida needed six match points and 43 aces to defeat former University of North Carolina star Brayden Schnur of Canada 6-1, 6-7(7), 7-6(7). Opelka had two match points at 6-4 in the second set tiebreaker, but Schnur held steady and used his willingness to come forward and volley to his advantage on key points.

Schnur saved all three break points he faced in the third set, and down 6-4 in the third set tiebreaker, the 23-year-old saved two more match points, the second save by way of a double fault by Opelka, just his second of the match.  Schnur saved another match point at 6-7, but at 7-all he just missed an ace, which Opelka challenged. It was out by the smallest of margins, but Schnur had to hit another serve and he double faulted, only his second double fault of the match. On match point No. 6, Opelka hit an ace to end the two-hour battle, the 156th ace he hit during the week.  Opelka will move to 56 in the ATP rankings, a career high, while Schnur, who was an alternate for qualifying, will move to a career high of 107.

For more on the final, see the ATP website.

Opelka wasn't alone in earning his first ATP title in New York. Former Auburn star Andreas Mies won the doubles title, with fellow German Kevin Krawietz. The unseeded pair, who have won five Challenger titles in the past year, didn't drop a set all week. They defeated unseeded Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan 6-4, 7-5 in the final.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Semifinals Set at D-I Men's Team Indoor; Gauff Reaches Surprise $25K Final; Redlicki, Sell Meet for Tucson $15K Title; Schnur and Opelka in ATP New York Open Final

The quarterfinals of the ITA Men's Indoor Championships Saturday started as Friday's round of 16 ended, with two matches decided 4-3.  No. 7 seed North Carolina defeated TCU, with junior Josh Peck defeating Reese Stalder of TCU 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-1 at line 3 to decide it.  In the match that followed, No. 3 seed Wake Forest survived a scare from No. 6 seed UCLA, with Melios Efstathiou coming from 4-1 and two breaks down in the third to beat fellow freshman Matt Tsolakyan of UCLA 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 for the fourth point.

The later two matches were decidedly less dramatic, with top seed Ohio State blanking No. 8 Virginia, and No. 5 seed Texas doing the same to No. 13 Southern Cal. Click on the links below to go to the winning team's recap.

North Carolina[7] d. TCU[15] 4-3
Wake Forest[3] d. UCLA[6] 4-3
Ohio State[1] d. Virginia[8] 4-0
Texas[5] d. USC[13] 4-0

Fourteen-year-old Coco Gauff had not advanced past the second round of a pro tournament until this week at the $25,000 World Tennis Tour event in Surprise Arizona. But the current ITF World Junior No. 2 has won four matches this week, and today made her first pro final by defeating 30-year-old qualifier Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-3, 0-6, 6-3. After losing six straight games to drop the second set, Gauff took a 4-0 lead in the third set, but Govortsova, a former WTA Top 40 player, got one of the breaks back and drew as close as 3-4. Gauff steadied herself however, held for 5-3, then broke Govortsova to claim the win.

Gauff will face 29-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria, the No. 3 seed, who defeated No. 2 seed Allie Kiick  6-1, 6-3 in the other semifinal.

UCLA may not have had the result they wanted in today's Team Indoor quarterfinal, but the Bruins are coming up big at the $15,000 World Tennis Tour event in Tucson, with both Martin Redlicki and Karue Sell of Brazil advancing to Sunday's final.  Redlicki, the top seed, defeated unseeded Jose Olivares of the Dominican Republic 7-6(4), 6-1, while Sell, the No. 2 seed, reached the final with a 6-4, 6-4 decision over wild card Isaiah Strode. Redlicki will be looking for his first pro singles title while playing in his fourth pro final; one of those losses came at the hands of Sell, who beat him 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3 in the 2017 Claremont Futures final. Sell is a perfect 3 for 3 in Futures finals, with his most recent title last April.

Both will leave Tucson with a title regardless of the outcome of the singles final, with the pair taking the doubles championship today. The No. 2 seeds defeated Ireland's Julian Bradley(North Florida) and Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern), who were unseeded, 6-4, 6-1 in the final.

The streak of Grade 1 titles for American girls ended at four today in Brazil, with Hurricane Tyra Black, the No. 2 seed, falling to top seed Diane Parry of France 6-4, 6-4 in the Banana Bowl final.  The top seed in the boys draw also claimed the championship, with Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain defeating No. 12 seed Harold Mayot of France 6-4, 6-2 in the final.

Former University of North Carolina star Brayden Schnur of Canada has reached the final of the ATP's New York Open after defeating No. 6 seed Sam Querrey 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-3. Schnur, 23, has won five Futures titles, but has not captured a Challenger title yet. If he should  defeat Reilly Opelka on Sunday, Schnur will move into the ATP Top 100 for the first time. Even if he doesn't take the title, Schnur has already had an amazing week, getting through qualifying, winning his first ATP match (over wild card Jack Mingjie Lin of Columbia) and then getting his first ATP Top 50 wins over Steve Johnson and Querrey. He is also 5-1 in tiebreakers this week, which certainly helps in picking up wins.

I interviewed Schnur after his freshman year at UNC, back in 2014, for this Tennis Recruiting Network article.

Speaking of tiebreakers, Opelka has also earned his first trip to an ATP final in New York, beating top seed John Isner 6-7(8), 7-6(14), 7-6(4) tonight, his second consecutive all-tiebreaker win over Isner. Opelka, who beat Isner in four sets in the first round of the Australian Open last month, saved six match points in the second set tiebreaker. Isner and Opelka combined for 81 aces and just two double faults.