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Monday, May 23, 2022

A Dozen Seeds Fall on Opening Day of NCAA Division I Singles Championships, but No. 1s and Defending Champions Advance; Team Champions Continue Winning Ways

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Champaign IL--

The start of the NCAA Division I singles tournament is an exciting day for many of the 64 men and 64 women who have qualified for the most prestigious event in college tennis. For those who have competed in the team championships the previous day however, the energy and engagement are often lacking after the intense competition for team titles.

For Texas sophomore Kylie Collins, who is now a two-time team champion, the task was even more daunting, with the 19-year-old from Savannah Georgia facing No. 3 seed Petra Hule of Florida State on a cool and dry evening at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex on the University of Illinois campus.

But Collins found some traditional remedies for any emotional and physical lethargy and by the time of her 6 pm match, she was ready, defeating Hule 6-2, 7-5.

"It helped that we played late, Peyton and I," Collins said of her second-seeded teammate, who beat Sydney Ratliff of Ohio State 6-0, 6-4 shortly after Collins posted her upset. "I think we were both struggling, we got to bed pretty late, but we definitely got some sleep and our caffeine fix this morning, grooved a little bit beforehand and then just went out and played. I definitely wasn't my most engaged or dialed in, but I was pretty solid."

"After winning that so late, then coming back the next day, it's a little bit brutal," said Collins, who did not qualify for the singles championships last year, but made the doubles final. "So you've got to get through the first day, but hopefully we can keep it rolling."

Defending men's singles champion Sam Riffice is fully conversant with that mindset, after celebrating Florida's first men's team title last year and going on to the singles title.

Unseeded this year, Riffice faced No. 8 seed Cannon Kingsley of Ohio State, extending his winning streak in NCAA men's singles matches to seven with a 7-5, 6-2 victory.

"I feel like last year, everything worked out perfect," said the 23-year-old, who lives in the Orlando area. "I got to play at home, I was on a really good roll from the team event, so I feel this year is totally different. I'm not really thinking too much about last year; it's a totally different venue, a bunch of different guys in the draw, so I'm not feeling too much pressure. I was really happy to get the win today, Cannon's a really good player."

Riffice's teammate Ben Shelton played No. 5 singles for Florida last year as a freshman and didn't qualify for the individual tournament. This year, the 19-year-old is the top seed, and he too faced a tough Big Ten opponent in Ondrej Styler, the No. 1 player from the University of Michigan.

"I was looking around and it seemed like everyone had a tough draw," said Shelton, who came from 2-5 down in the first set to post a 7-5, 6-2 victory. "There's a lot of great players. When the defending champion is unseeded, it's too good at that point. It's a fun tournament, and every match is going to be quality."

Shelton was down 0-30 and 30-40 serving for the first set at 6-5, but two aces and a perfect passing shot in that game set the tone for the rest of the match.

"I was just pretty confident I could come up with the shots if I got into the point," Sheldon said. "He's really good at 1-2 punches and ending the point quick, so I thought the deeper I got into the point and the more shots I got back, the better chance I had."

Unlike Sheldon and Riffice, women's top seed and defending champion Emma Navarro of Virginia had a quick opener, defeating Margarita Skriabina of Texas Tech 6-0, 6-0 in less than an hour.

No. 4 seed Daria Frayman of Princeton was the highest women's seed to fall, losing to North Carolina freshman Carson Tanguilig 6-4, 6-4.

Tanguilig said playing two matches in the team event helped her get ready for the competition she would face in the individual event.

"I was just taking this as it's my freshman year and I have nothing to lose," said the 18-year-old from Alpharetta Georgia. "I definitely felt some nerves, closing it out at the end, but I'm not as nervous as I thought I would be, and I thought I hid the nerves pretty well."

The pivotal game in the match came with Tanguilig serving at 4-3 in the second set, down 30-40. 

"I like to ask the coach with me on the court where to serve because it definitely puts my focus on the first ball, the first strike," Tanguilig said. "Having an idea where to go with the serve and first ball definitely helps a ton and I think I've been serving well the entire year, so it's nice to have that confidence."

Two other women's Top 8 seeds went out Monday, with Tanguilig's teammate Cameron Morra, the No. 5 seed, losing to Veronika Miroshnichenko of Loyola Marymount 0-6, 6-1, 6-3 and No. 8 seed Carson Branstine of Texas A&M falling to Virginia's Natasha Subhash 7-5, 6-2. 

Three 9-16 seeds lost: Yuliia Starodtseva of Old Dominion who fell 6-2, 6-4 to Mananchaya Sawangkaew of Oklahoma State; Irina Cantos Siemers of Ohio State, who was beaten 6-3, 6-0 by Tatiana Makarova of Texas A&M, and Shiori Fukuda of Pepperdine, who lost to Paola Exposito Diaz-Delgado of VCU.

Two of the original 9-16 seeds, Duke's Georgia Drummy and Georgia's Mell Reasco, withdrew prior to the start of play, with Starodtseva taking on 9-16 seeding spot, but the other not replaced.

In addition to Kingsley's loss to Riffice, there were two other Top 8 seeds who were eliminated, with No. 5 seed Adrian Boitan of Baylor falling 6-3, 6-2 to Kentucky's Gabriel Diallo and No. 4 seed Liam Draxl of Kentucky bowing out to Eduardo Nava of Wake Forest. Draxl won the first set 6-4, but at 1-2 in the second, he retired, with what appeared to be problems with his breathing.

Two 9-16 men's seeds lost: Washington's Clement Chikdekh, who was beaten by Virginia's Jeffery Von Der Schulenburg 7-5, 6-3, and Nikola Slavic of Mississippi, who fell to Filippo Moroni of Wake Forest 7-6(4), 7-6(4).

Von Der Schulenburg was one of three Virginia men to advance, joining Chris Rodesch and Inaki Montes; the Oklahoma women, like the Texas women, got wins from their two participants: Layne Sleeth and Carmen Corley.

In addition to the second round of singles, Tuesday will mark the beginning of the doubles tournament.

TCU's Luc Fomba and Jacob Fearnley are the top seeds in the men's tournament; Jaeda Daniel and Nell Miller of NC State are the women's No. 1 seeds.

Draws, with times for Tuesday, can be found at the University of Illinois tournament page.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Virginia Men Defeat Kentucky for Fifth NCAA Team Title; Texas Repeats as Women's Champions with Victory over Oklahoma; Basavareddy Claims ITF Grade A Title in Milan

©Colette Lewis 2022--
Champaign IL--

Two programs new to the NCAA finals got a look at the highest levels of collegiate tennis Sunday, with the University of Kentucky men and the Oklahoma women bringing plenty of energy to the Khan Outdoor Tennis Center.

2022 National Champions University of Virginia

But it was the more experienced teams from the University of Virginia and the University of Texas who prevailed on a cool and cloudy day, with the Cavaliers defeating Kentucky 4-0 for their fifth title and the Longhorns taking their second straight championship by a 4-1 score.

Virginia's first title came on the these very same courts back in 2013, when UCLA's Adrien Puget's net touch on match point gave Mitchell Frank new life, which led to the Cavaliers 4-3 victory.

Virginia head coach Andres Pedroso was Virginia's assistant coach that year, and he recalled that first title, which ended a long string of near-misses.

"I remembered that we played good tennis here and we won by a miracle," said Pedroso, who took over as head coach when Brian Boland left the program in 2017. 

It did not take a miracle for the Cavaliers to win their first title since 2017, with Virginia setting the tone for the match by taking the doubles point in 35 minutes with wins at lines 3 and 2.

That may not have bothered Kentucky, as they had dropped the doubles point in both their quarterfinal win over top seed TCU and in their semifinal win over Ohio State, but Virginia started strong in singles, taking four first sets, which deflated the large Kentucky contingent that had made the five-hour drive to support the Wildcats.

Liam Draxl and Millen Hurrion, who took the two first sets that Kentucky earned at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions, regularly asked the fans to raise their already impressive support, but neither was able to close out their opponents in straight sets, a boost that Kentucky sorely needed.

Virginia was up big at lines 2, 4, and 6, and with Bar Botzer's 6-1, 6-1 victory over Kentucky's JJ Mercer at line 6, the Cavaliers were on their way. 

Kentucky's Francois Musitelli was up a break in the second set against Ryan Goetz and line 4, but that was a rare bright spot for the Wildcats. Inaki Montes closed out Gabriel Diallo 6-2, 6-2 at line 2 to make it 3-0 Virginia, and then the questions centered on whether Kentucky would earn a point or which court would clinch. Virginia had won its semifinal over Tennessee Saturday by a 5-0 score, and it looked as if it might happen again, with Goetz and Gianni Ross at line 5 both on the cusp on that fourth point.

Goetz had fought back from a break down to serve for the match at 6-0, 5-4, but he was broken and went to a tiebreaker. 

Ross held a 0-40 lead with Joshua Lapadat serving at 3-5 in the second, but Lapadat held, saving those four championship points. Goetz had trailed Musitelli 5-3 in the tiebreaker, but was up 6-5, and at match point when Ross clinched the Cavaliers title as Lapadat's ball went long at 40-15.

"Clinching's tough. It's is one of the toughest things in the sport," said Ross, a fifth-year senior, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. "But I got lucky. If Bar didn't win, or Inaki didn't win, I might not have clinched. But it doesn't really matter."

Ross was the first recruit Pedroso called when he took the reins in Charlottesville.

"My first recruit, I remember I was on a date with my wife and he called me back, and I said, Erica, I'm sorry I have to leave the restaurant and I have to talk to this kid," Pedroso said. "It's been an incredible story, we've been through highs and lows, and this is so fitting."

Pedroso said his team, which was 5-5 early in the season before closing it on a 23-0 run, found their identity while processing those losses.

"We had some really tough talks," Pedroso said. "Honest talks, after each of those matches. Those bus rides were tough. But we kept fine-tuning things, adjusting, kept improving. We developed a clear plan for how we were going to look on the court, how we were going to talk to each other on the court, how we're going to play and how we're going to prepare, thanks to those five losses."

Kentucky coach Cedric Kauffmann was able to see the strides the program had made this year.

"If you had asked me before about making the final of the NCAAs, I would have taken it for sure," Kauffmann said. "I'm really proud of my boys. We didn't play great today, but the way they've been playing the last six weeks, I think has been incredible."

NCAA D-I Men's Final
May 22, 2022
Champaign IL

Virginia[7] d. Kentucky[8] 4-0

1. Bar Botzer/Chris Rodesch(Virginia) v Millen Hurrion/Francois Musitelli(Kentucky) 4-4, unfinished
2. Ryan Goetz/Inaki Montes(Virginia) d. Gabriel Diallo/Joshua Lapadat(Kentucky) 6-3
3. Gianni Ross/Jeffrey Von Der Schulenburg(Virginia) d. Liam Draxl/Alexandre LeBlanc(Kentucky) 6-1

Order of finish: 3,2

1. Chris Rodesch(Virginia) v Liam Draxl(Kentucky) 2-6, 7-5, unfinished
2. Inaki Montes (Virginia) d. Gabriel Diallo(Kentucky) 6-2, 6-2
3. Jeffrey Von Der Schulenburg(Virginia) v Millen Hurrion(Kentucky) 2-6, 6-3, 2-2, unfinished
4. Ryan Goetz(Virginia) v Francois Musitelli(Kentucky) 6-0, 6-6 (6-5), unfinished
5. Gianni Ross(Virginia) d. Joshua Lapadat(Kentucky) 6-4, 6-4
6. Bar Botzer(Virginia) d. JJ Mercer(Kentucky) 6-1, 6-1

Order of finish: 6,2,5

2022 National Champions University of Texas

The women's final, which followed the men's and finished under the lights, featured another one-sided doubles point, with Texas getting up early breaks on all three courts and eventually capturing lines 2 and 3 in just over 30 minutes.

In singles, Texas did take four first sets, but Oklahoma got the crucial quick point from Emma Staker at line 6. Staker, who clinched the Sooners' 4-3 quarterfinal win over Texas A&M and 4-3 semifinal win over Duke, was uncharacteristically first off with her 6-1, 6-1 victory over Vivian Ovrootsky.

In the meantime, Oklahoma had fought back in the second sets at lines 2, 3, 4 and 5, so Peyton Stearns' 6-0, 6-2 victory over Oklahoma's Layne Sleeth at line 1 came at a time when the Longhorns needed some reassurance.

Four matches were on the brink of third sets, and two went the way of Oklahoma, at lines 2 and 4, but it was Sabina Zeynalova at line 3 who all but ended the hopes of the Sooners. Down 5-1 in the second set to Ivana Corley, the freshman from Ukraine fought back to send the match to a tiebreaker, and she closed out the third Texas point with a 6-3, 7-6(4) victory. 

While that match hung in the balance, Allura Zamarripa was fighting back from 4-1 down in the second set in her match with Alexandra Pisareva at line 5. Zamarripa saved two set points serving at 5-6 and then brought her best tennis to the tiebreaker, with the freshman taking a 3-1 lead and holding onto it with a variety of offense and defense. Pisareva double faulted at 3-5 to give Zamarripa the chance to clinch the championship and she managed to take match point No. 2 with a perfectly executed pass.

"I was very nervous going into it," said Zamarripa, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, with wins in each of the three Texas victories. "But Taylor(Fogleman), the assistant coach, helped me through it and I came up clutch in a couple of shots and that totally set the momentum; I was really confident from there on out."

Zamarripa was not on the 2021 championship team, but Peyton Stearns, now a sophomore, said the paths to the titles were not similar.

"The road to this one was a lot different from last year, I will say that," Stearns said. "In the fall, including me, four of us were injured, in boots and even wheelchairs. So at the start of this season we weren't out on court, so we couldn't experience that team environment, and it took a lot of time, and with the freshmen, to learn how to cooperate."

Head coach Howard Joffe said he would have bet against his team repeating this year after the way the season had begun, and he admitted that injuries were just part of the reason for the slow start.

"It wasn't just tennis-wise that there was no traction to be had," Joffe said. "There were a lot of interpersonal struggles, which lots of teams in sports have after they achieve something. So the fall was really quite grim; there wasn't great chemistry on the team, the war breaks out in Ukraine and Sabina's parents are in Kyiv, so just a lot of difficulties on the court and off the court."

Joffe said Zeynalova has been an inspiration for the entire team. 

"Sabina is a freshman who breaks her ankle in the fall, doesn't get to do anything, goes home in December, comes back in the spring(term) and one month later a war breaks out in her country," Joffe said. "Her family had to flee Kyiv. And she went 23-1 in singles at number 3. That's just a testament to who she is. She could cope with the stress, feel it, and put it in a healthy container and come out and bring her best tennis self to the game. That's what she did, and that's why we're national champions."

For Oklahoma head coach Audra Cohen, the 2007 NCAA singles champion, the remarkable rise of her team this year won't be overshadowed by today's loss.

"This has been a storybook season," Cohen said. "When I got the job in 2016, we weren't ranked, and now to be top five in the country consistently, be in the finals of NCAAs, finals of National Indoors, finals of Big 12 championships and winning the regular season, that's a phenomenal run. I'm by no means happy about the result today, but it's an incredible job and deserving of huge applause from everybody here."

NCAA D-I Women's Final
May 22, 2022
Champaign IL

Texas[4] d. Oklahoma[2] 4-1

1. Ivana Corley/Carmen Corley(Oklahoma) v Allura Zamarripa/Peyton Stearns(Texas) 3-4, unfinished
2. Charlotte Chavatipon/Kylie Collins(Texas) d. Alexandra Pisareva/Layne Sleeth(Oklahoma) 6-1
3. Sabina Zeynalova/Bella Zamarripa(Texas) d. Dana Guzman/Emma Staker(Oklahoma) 6-2

Order of finish: 2,3

1. Peyton Stearns(Texas) d. Layne Sleeth(Oklahoma) 6-0, 6-2
2. Kylie Collins(Texas) v Carmen Corley(Oklahoma) 5-7, 6-2, 2-1, unfinished
3. Sabina Zeynalova(Texas) d. Ivana Corley(Oklahoma) 6-3, 7-6(4)
4. Dana Guzman(Oklahoma) v Charlotte Chavatipon(Texas) 4-6, 6-2, 5-2, unfinished
5. Allura Zamarripa(Texas) d. Alexandra Pisareva(Oklahoma) 7-5, 7-6(4)
6. Emma Staker(Oklahoma) d. Vivian Ovrootsky(Texas) 6-1, 6-1

Order of finish: 6,1,3,5

The singles championships begin Monday at 10 am CDT, with the doubles championships scheduled to start on Tuesday. See the University of Illinois tournament page for the draws and times, as well as links to streaming and live scores.

At the ITF Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan, No. 10 seed Nishesh Basavareddy became the first American boy to win the title since Ivan Baron in 1990, defeating top seed Daniel Vallejo of Paraguay 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. The 17-year-old from Indiana trailed 2-0 in the final set, but went to claim his second Grade A title of the year after winning in Brazil in February. Basavareddy also captured the doubles title Saturday with Aidan Kim.

Liv Hovde, the No. 5 seed, fell to No. 7 seed Celine Naef of Switzerland 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3 in the girls final.

Tommy Hemp has more on the tournament and what he looks for when assessing juniors in his post today at TennisUnderWorld.

No. 3 seed Kayla Day won the title today at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Naples Florida, defeating top seed Ana Sofia Sanchez of Mexico 6-1, 6-1 in the final. 

At the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Pelham Alabama, top seed and former University of Georgia star Maria Carle of Argentina defeated No. 2 seed Elvina Kalieva 6-1, 6-1.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Virginia and Kentucky Meet for NCAA Men's Division I Title Sunday Afternoon; Texas Women Aim for Second Straight Title after Ousting Top Seed North Carolina; Oklahoma Reaches First Final

 The men's NCAA Division I final Sunday in Champaign might be an  unexpected one, with No. 8 Kentucky facing No. 7 Virginia, but no one can say they didn't earn those spots, after both posted impressive victories indoors Saturday at the Atkins Tennis Center at the University of Illinois. 

For the second consecutive match, Kentucky dropped the doubles point, but the Wildcats roared back to beat No. 4 seed Ohio State 4-1, sweeping the top four lines in singles to earn the program's first berth in the NCAA Team Championships final.

Ohio State took the doubles point in 30 minutes or less, but the Buckeyes couldn't carry over any momentum that may have provided. Kentucky had won the top four spots in singles against top seed TCU in the quarterfinals after losing the doubles point, so the Wildcats knew they could rebound, and that was demonstrated early, when Gabriel Diallo defeated Ohio State's Matej Vocel at line 2 by a dominating 6-3, 6-2 score. 

The teams had split first sets, meaning Kentucky needed to win at least one three-set match; the problem for Ohio State was their inability to close out any of the three matches where they had taken the first set. Kentucky's Liam Draxl at 1, Joshua Lapadat at 5 and JJ Mercer at 6 all forced third sets, while their teammates Millen Hurrion and Francois Musitelli closed out their matches at lines 3 and 4 in straight sets. Hurrion's 6-1, 6-2 victory at line 3 over JJ Tracy, who hadn't lost a match all year, was a particularly disheartening result for the Buckeyes.

By the time Musitelli and Draxl closed out their wins over Van Emburgh at line 4 and Kingsley at line 1, Kentucky led in the other two singles matches still in progress, putting an exclamation point on their singles domination.

After losing 4-0 to Ohio State in Columbus, a contest in which they won just one set in nine matches, Kentucky had its revenge on the biggest stage any of the Wildcats had performed on.

For more on the match, see this article from the Univeristy of Kentucky website.

NCAA D-I Men's Team Semifinals:
May 21, 2022
Champaign IL

Kentucky[8] d. Ohio State[4] 4-1

1. Matej Vocel/Robert Cash(Ohio State) d. Millen Hurrion/Francois Musitelli(Kentucky) 6-3
2. Andrew Lutschaunig/Justin Boulais(Ohio State) v Gabriel Diallo/Joshua Lapadat(Kentucky) 4-4 unfinished
3. Cannon Kingsley/JJ Tracy(Ohio State) d. Liam Draxl/Alexandre LeBlanc(Kentucky) 6-1

Order of finish: 3,1

1. Liam Draxl(Kentucky) d. Cannon Kingsley(Ohio State) 2-6, 6-3, 6-2
2. Gabriel Diallo(Kentucky) d. Matej Vocel(Ohio State) 6-3, 6-2
3. Millen Hurrion(Kentucky) d. JJ Tracy(Ohio State) 6-1, 6-2
4. Francois Musitelli(Kentucky) d. Jake Van Emburgh(Ohio State) 6-4, 7-6(4)
5. Joshua Lapadat(Kentucky) v Justin Boulais(Ohio State) 3-6, 6-1, 5-0, unfinished
6. JJ Mercer(Kentucky) v Andrew Lutschaunig(Ohio State) 2-6, 7-6(3), 3-1, unfinished

Order of finish: 2,3,4,1

In the day's second semifinal, also played indoors due to storms in the area, Virginia won the doubles point from No. 6 seed Tennessee with as much ease as Ohio State had against Kentucky. But unlike the Buckeyes, the Cavaliers didn't struggle in singles, getting early breaks in most of the first sets, and ultimately taking all six sets in singles. That took some time, as five of the six first sets were 7-5 or 7-6, but Virginia won all of them, leaving virtually no path to a comeback for Tennessee.

It was Bar Botzer at line 6 and Inaki Montes at line 2 who closed out the match for the Cavaliers, with the rare simultaneous clinch giving them a 5-0 victory and their first trip to a team final since 2017.

Kentucky and Virginia met in late March in Lexington, with Virginia taking a 4-2 decision, although the only matchup that will be the same Sunday will be at No. 4, with both teams adjusting their lineups since then.

Virginia[7] d. Tennessee[6] 5-0

1. Adam Walton/Pat Harper(Tennessee) v Bar Botzer/Chris Rodesch(Virginia) 4-4, unfinished
2. Ryan Goetz/Inaki Montes(Virginia) d. Johannes Monday/Mark Wallner(Tennessee) 6-2
3. Gianni Ross/Jeffrey Von Der Schulenburg(Virginia) d. Johannus Monday/Mark Wallner 6-3

Order of finish: 3,2

1. Chris Rodesch(Virginia) v Adam Walton(Tennessee) 7-5, 2-6, 2-0, unfinished
2. Inaki Montes(Virginia) v Johannus Monday(Tennessee) 7-6(3), 6-3
3. Jeffrey Von Der Schulenburg(Virginia) d. Emile Hudd(Tennessee) 7-5, 7-6(2)
4. Ryan Goetz(Virginia) v Shunsuke Mitsui(Tennessee) 7-6(4), 5-2 unfinished
5. Gianni Ross(Virginia) d. Angel Diaz(Tennessee) 6-1, 6-4
6. Bar Botzer(Virginia) d. Martim Prata(Tennessee) 7-5, 6-2

Order of finish: 5,3,2 and 6*

*simultaneous finish

The first women's semifinal between top seed North Carolina and No. 4 seed Texas was the only match to see any outdoor play on Saturday, but it didn't last. The doubles point and some first sets were completed but more rain sent the teams indoors and there was no attempt to return outdoors for the second women's semifinal.

Texas, the defending champions, won the doubles point, and the Longhorns asserted themselves at the top of the lineup, in contrast to their performance against Virginia in Friday's quarterfinal. Taking first sets at lines 1,2,3, Texas was in the driver's seat, with North Carolina needing to force at least one third set, while winning the three matches in which they took first sets.

Fiona Crawley got a quick point for North Carolina at line 4, beating Charlotte Chavatipon 6-0 6-4, while Texas countered with Sabina Zeynalova's 6-3, 6-3 victory over Reilly Tran at line 3.

Elizabeth Scotty got North Carolina the split it needed at line 2, but Texas's Allura Zamarippa earned a split at line 5. Cameron Morra had set points in the second against Peyton Stearns at line 1, but Stearns fought them off and closed out the Longhorns third point 6-2, 7-6(9).

Anika Yarlagadda, who had clinched UNC's 4-3 win over Pepperdine in the quarterfinals, defeated Vivian Ovrootsky 7-6(4), 6-4 at line 6 to cut Texas's lead to 3-2. Deep in the third sets of the remaining two matches at 2 and 5, Texas took break leads, with Zamarripa winning the battle of freshman over Carson Tanguilig 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-5 to put the Longhorns in the final for the second straight year.

CAA D-I Women's Team Semifinals:
May 21, 2022
Champaign IL

Texas[4] d. North Carolina[1] 4-2

1. Peyton Stearns/Allura Zamarripa(Texas) d. Fiona Crawley/Elizabeth Scotty(UNC) 6-3
2. Charlotte Chavatipon/Kylie Collins(Texas) d. Alle Sanford/Carson Tanguilig(UNC) 6-1
3. Sabina Zeynalova/Bella Zamarripa(Texas) v Cameron Morra/Reilly Tran(UNC) 5-4, unfinished

Order of finish: 2,1

1. Peyton Stearns(Texas) d. Cameron Morra(UNC) 6-2, 7-6(9)
2. Kylie Collins(Texas) v Elizabeth Scotty(UNC) 6-3, 5-7, 5-3, unfinished 
3. Sabina Zeynalova(Texas) d. Reilly Tran(UNC) 6-3, 6-3
4. Fiona Crawley(UNC) d. Charlotte Chavatipon(Texas) 6-0, 6-4
5. Allura Zamarripa(Texas) d. Carson Tanguilig(UNC) 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-5
6. Anika Yarlagadda(UNC) d. Vivian Ovrootsky(Texas 7-6(4), 6-4

Order of finish: 4,3,1,6,5

In the nightcap, which finished at 11:30 pm local time in Champaign, Oklahoma again got a clutch performance from freshman Emma Staker, who, for the second straight night, closed out a 4-3 victory at line 6.

Oklahoma won a close doubles point, but the singles started strangely, with three 6-0 sets. Eventually those matches got more competitive as both teams settled in. As in the earlier match, the teams split first sets, leaving the onus on Duke for a third-set victory, but ultimately, only one match went the distance, the Emma Staker-Eliza Omirou contest at line 6.

Georgia Drummy had pulled Duke even with a  6-0, 7-5 win over Carmen Corley at line 2, but Oklahoma retook the lead with Layne Sleeth's 6-0, 6-4 victory over Chloe Beck at line 1. A few minutes later, Emma Jackson gave Duke its second point, beating Ivana Corley 7-5, 6-3 at line 3. Oklahoma took the lead for the third time with Alexandra Pisareva's 6-1, 6-4 win over Ellie Coleman at line 5, but for the third time, Duke pulled even, when Kelly Chen defeated Dana Guzman 6-3, 7-5 at line 4.

By that time, Omirou had forced a third set at line 6, but Staker was up 2-0 in the third. After winning her match against Texas A&M in the quarterfinals Friday 6-4 in the third to clinch, Staker didn't need to bring quite that level against Omirou, who, less comfortable in that position than Staker, made unforced errors that you simply can't afford against the freshman from Tulsa. Staker showed no mercy, winning the match by the bizarre score of 6-0, 5-7, 6-0 to send her team into the program's first NCAA team final.

Texas and Oklahoma have already played three times this season, with Oklahoma winning 4-1 in the quarterfinals of the ITA Team Indoor and 4-3 in Norman during Big 12 conference play, two significant matches in the validation of the Sooners as one of top teams in the nation. Texas won their most recent meeting, claiming a 4-2 victory in the B12 conference tournament final.

Oklahoma[2] d. Duke[3] 4-3

1. Ivana Corley/Carmen Corley(Oklahoma) d. Georgia Drummy/Karolina Berankova(Duke) 6-3
2. Alexandra Pisareva/Layne Sleeth(Oklahoma) d. Chloe Beck/Ellie Coleman(Duke) 7-5
3. Margaryta Bilokin/Eliza Omirou(Duke) d. Dana Guzman/Emma Staker 6-2

Order of finish: 1,3,2
1. Layne Sleeth(Oklahoma) d. Chloe Beck(Duke) 6-0, 6-4
2. Georgia Drummy(Duke) d. Carmen Corley(Oklahoma) 6-0, 7-5
3. Emma Jackson(Duke) d. Ivana Corley(Oklahoma) 7-5, 6-3
4. Kelly Chen(Duke) d. Dana Guzman(Oklahoma) 6-3, 7-5
5. Alexandra Pisareva(Oklahoma) d. Ellie Coleman(Duke) 6-1, 6-4
6. Emma Staker(Oklahoma) d. Eliza Omirou(Duke) 6-0, 5-7, 6-0

Order of finish: 2,1,3,5,4,6

The men's final is scheduled for 4 pm EDT Sunday, with the women's final scheduled for 8 pm. The weather forecast is for cool temperatures but no rain, so both finals should be played outdoors.

For the live scoring and streaming links, see the University of Illinois tournament page.

Hovde and Basavareddy Reach ITF Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio Finals, Basavareddy and Kim Win Doubles Title; Mesarovic Claims Second Straight ITF J3 Title, While Turley Sweeps J5 Titles Again; Kalieva Advances to Pelham $60K Final

With the NCAA Division I semifinals again expected to continue well into the night in Champaign, I'm again going to do a separate post about college tennis later tonight.

But there's much to report on the ITF Junior Circuit today, and on the USTA Pro Circuit, so let's look at those results now.

For the first time that I can remember (and I can't find full draws before 2008), two Americans have advanced to the singles finals of the ITF Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy. Actually I do remember the 2010 girls final between Beatrice Capra and Lauren Davis, but this is a finalist in both the girls and boys singles championship matches.

No. 5 seed Liv Hovde defeated No. 4 seed Lucie Havlickova of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to advance to her first Grade A final. She will face No. 7 seed Celine Naef of Switzerland, who defeated No. 3 seed Ksenia Zaytseva of Russia 7-5, 6-2. Nael hasn't lost a set this week, while Hovde has needed to come back from a set down in her last two matches. Tommy Hemp has more on Hovde's win today at TennisUnderWorld.

No. 10 seed Nishesh Basavareddy defeated No. 8 seed Martin Landaluce of Spain, also coming from a set down for the second straight day, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Basavareddy will play top seed Daniel Vallejo of Paraguay, the reigning Orange Bowl champion, who beat unseeded Learner Tien 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Basavareddy and Aidan Kim, who were unseeded this week, won the boys doubles title, defeating the unseeded team of Mika Brunold of Switzerland and Liam Gavrielides of Germany 6-2, 6-4 in today's final. They didn't drop a set in any of their five victories this week.

The girls doubles title went to No. 2 seeds Lucija Ciric Bagaric of Croatia and Sofia Costoulas of Belgium. They defeated the fifth-seeded Slovakian team of Irina Balus and Nikola Daubnerova 6-4, 7-5 in today's final.

In other ITF Junior Circuit action this week, Marko Mesarovic won his second consecutive Grade 3 title in the Dominican Republic, again as the top seed. The 17-year-old from Texas, who has verbally committed to Clemson, defeated No. 2 seed Hoyoung Roh of Korea 6-1, 6-3 in today's final. Mesarovic also defeated Roh in last week's final. 

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Lincer, who recently changed from representing the United States to representing Poland, matched Mesarovic's feat almost exactly. Seeded No. 1, Lincer defeated No. 2 seed Monika Stankiewicz of Poland 6-3, 6-4 in today's final, having also beaten Stankiewicz to win the previous week's tournament. Lincer has verbally committed to Central Florida.

Mesarovic also won the doubles title, with Russian Daniil Sarksian. The top seeds defeated the unseeded team of Rafael Botran Neutze of Guatemala and Mason Dace of Great Britain 6-1, 6-1 in the final.

Vessa Turley also went back-to-back in the past two weeks at Grade 5s in the US Virgin Islands. The 15-year-old from Arizona, seeded No. 2, defeated Sophia Cisse-Ignatiev 6-1, 6-2 in the all-American girls singles final. Turley also won the doubles title for the second straight week, with the same partner, Kayla Brianne Moore. The top seeds defeated the unseeded team of Cisse-Ignatiev and Olivia Bustos, also of the United States, 6-4, 7-5 in the final. 

Playing in his first ITF Junior Circuit tournament, Alexander Sterin won the boys singles title, with the 17-year-old from Pennsylvania claiming it when qualifier Penghan Zhang of China retired trailing 6-4, 3-3. 

Sixteen-year-old Luca Benaibbouche won his second straight boys doubles title in the Virgin Islands, this time with Nicholas Steden of Mexico. The No. 3 seeds received a walkover from Zhang and his partner, Antonio Jose Chavez of Honduras in the final.

At the Grade 4 in Nicaragua, No. 2 seed Maria Araoz-Gosn won her first ITF Junior Circuit singles titles, with the 16-year-old defeating top seed Deborah Dominguez Collado of Guatemala 6-3, 6-0 in the final. 

Dominguez Collado and her American partner Aida Oviedo won the doubles title, with the top seeds beating No. 3 seeds Ika Raju Kanumuri of India and Jemima Williams-Phillips of Australia 6-2,  6-1 in the final.  

And finally, Violeta Martinez won the girls doubles title at the Grade 3 in Portugal. Martinez, a University of Illinois recruit, and her partner Ariana Geerlings of Spain, seeded No. 8, defeated No. 5 seeds Manal Ennaciri of Morocco and Nela Jandova of the Czech Republic 1-6, 6-1, 10-5 in the final.

On the USTA Pro Circuit, 18-year-old Elvina Kalieva has reached her second final at the $60,000 level, with the No. 2 seed defeating unseeded Erica Oosterhout(Harvard) 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2 today in the semifinals of the tournament in Pelham Alabama. She will face top seed Maria Carle(Georgia) of Argentina, who beat No. 8 seed Ashlyn Krueger 6-3, 6-1 in the other semifinal.

Auburn teammates Ariana Arsenault of Canada and Carolyn Ansari won the doubles titles, with the unseeded pair defeating No. 3 seeds Reese Brantmeier and Kalieva 7-5, 6-1 in today's final.

At the $25,000 tournament in Naples Florida, No. 3 seed Kayla Day and top seed Ana Sofia Sanchez of Mexico will play for the title Sunday. Day defeated last week's Sarasota $25K champion Ellie Halbauer, the No. 8 seed, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in today's semifinals. Sanchez beat 18-year-old Hina Inoue 6-2, 6-2. 

Top seeds Anna Rogers(NC State) and Christina Rosca(Vanderbilt) won the doubles title, defeating No. 2 seeds Sanchez and her partner Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech) 6-1, 6-4 in the final. The pair, who did not drop a set this week, have won three $25K titles already this year, to go with the three titles they collected in 2021.

Friday, May 20, 2022

All Tough Battles, but Top Four Seeds Advance to Saturday's Women's NCAA Division I Semifinals

The men delivered in Thursday's quarterfinals, with three underdogs claiming victories in tense battles, both outdoors and indoors. Not to be outdone, the women also played nothing but compelling matches Friday, and although the favorites won them all, the margins were razor thin.

Top seed North Carolina defeated No. 8 seed Pepperdine 4-3, with the Waves nearly overcoming some of the worse luck of the tournament. Taisiya Pachkalev suffered a serious knee injury in the doubles and had to retire, which gave the Tar Heels the point, and because she was unable to play at her line 4 singles spot, the three players below her moved up a spot. 

But Pepperdine came out strong in singles, taking four first sets to put the pressure squarely on North Carolina. A quick win at line 1 for Janice Tjen and another fast one by Lisa Zaar at line three gave Pepperdine the lead for the first time, but Elizabeth Scotty drew North Carolina even with a victory at line 2.

So both teams needed two of the bottom three spots, all of which were now early in the third sets, as North Carolina's Carson Tanguilig and Anika Yarlagadda had come back at lines 5 and 6, and Pepperdine's Savannah Broadus had forced a third at 4.

Tanguilig made it 3-2 with a win over Vicky Flores, Broadus handed Fiona Crawley a rare loss, so the match came down to  line 6: Yarlagadda and Nikki Redelijk. Redelijk, who had not played in the Waves three previous NCAA wins with Pachkaleva in the lineup, fell behind early in the third and couldn't find a path to a comeback, with Yarlagadda taking the match 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

North Carolina had lost to Pepperdine 4-3 in last year's semifinals.

NCAA D-I Women's Team Quarterfinals
May 20, 2022
Champaign IL

North Carolina[1] d. Pepperdine[8] 4-3

1. Fiona Crawley/Elizabeth Scotty(UNC) d. Lisa Zaar/Victoria Flores 6-1
2. Alle Sanford/Carson Tanguilig(UNC) v Savannah Broadus/Janice Tjen(Pepperdine) 4-3, unfinished
3. Cameron Morra/Reilly Tran(UNC) d. Taisiya Pachkaleva/Shiori Fukuda(Pepperdine) 4-1 ret, injury

Order of Finish: 1,3

1. Janice Tjen(Pepperdine) d. Cameron Morra(UNC) 6-1, 6-3
2. Elizabeth Scotty(UNC) d. Shiori Fukuda(Pepperdine) 6-3, 6-4
3. Lisa Zaar(Pepperdine) d. Reilly Tran(UNC) 6-1, 6-2
4. Savannah Broadus(Pepperdine) d. Fiona Crawley(UNC) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
5. Carson Tanguilig(UNC) d. Victoria Flores(Pepperdine) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
6. Anika Yarlagadda(UNC) d. Nikki Redelijk(Pepperdine) 2-6, 6-3, 6-2

Order of Finish: 1,3,2,5,4,6

In the day's second quarterfinal, also played indoors, No. 4 Texas held off No. 5 Virginia 4-2, despite winning only three games at lines 1 and 2 in singles. The defending champion Longhorns did have the doubles point, so when Virginia's Emma Navarro and Natasha Subhash cruised to victories in the top two spots, Texas had a little cushion and claimed the three first sets that could, and ultimately did, suffice.

With the highly anticipated match between No. 1 Emma Navarro and No. 2 Peyton Stearns not competitive, the drama had to come from the bottom of the lineup. After Texas's Charlotte Chavatipon tied it at 2 with a win at line 4, the last three matches were battles, but only one, at line 6, split. Sabina Zeynalova gave Texas its third point with a late break at line 3 and Allura Zamarripa clinched it with a win over Hibah Shaikh at line 5.

Texas[4] d. Virginia[5] 4-2

1. Emma Navarro/Hibah Shaikh(Virginia) d. Peyton Stearns/Allura Zamarripa(Texas) 6-2
2. Charlotte Chavatipon/Kylie Collins(Texas) d. Elaine Chervinsky/Natasha Subhash(Virginia) 6-3
3. Sabina Zeynalova/Bella Zamarripa(Texas) d. Sofia Munera/Amber O'Dell(Virginia) 6-3

Order of Finish: 1,3,2

1. Emma Navarro(Virginia) d. Peyton Stearns(Texas) 6-1, 6-0
2. Natasha Subhash(Virginia) d. Kylie Collins(Texas) 6-2, 6-0
3. Sabina Zeynalova(Texas) d. Elaine Chervinsky(Virginia) 6-4, 7-5
4. Charlotte Chavatipon(Texas) d. Sofia Munera(Virginia) 6-4, 6-1
5. Allura Zamarripa(Texas) d. Hibah Shaikh(Virginia) 7-5, 6-4
6. Sara Ziodato(Virginia) v. Vivian Ovrootsky(Texas) 6-2, 5-7, 3-2, unfinished

Order of Finish: 1,2,4,3,5

The match between No. 2 seed Oklahoma and No. 7 seed Texas A&M also was played indoors, with strong winds, rather than rain, the primary reason for the adjustment in the day's schedule.

Texas A&M lost the doubles for just the third time this season, but like Pepperdine, the Aggies came out strong in singles, taking five first sets. Needing four of those, they couldn't afford to lose more than one of those matches, and Oklahoma's push was certain to come at some point. 

Texas A&M took the lead by closing out wins from Mary Stoiana at line 3 and Jayci Goldsmith at line 4. Oklahoma responded with Layne Sleeth's win at line 1, then Texas A&M took the lead with a win from Gianna Pielet at line 5. Texas A&M had won the first sets in the two matches remaining at line 2 with Tatiana Makarova and line Jeanette Mireles at line 6, but Carmen Corley and Emma Staker fought back. Corley made it 3-3 with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Makarova, so all eyes turned to line 6, where Staker had taken a 3-1 lead in the third set. She couldn't hold it, losing a deciding point on her serve to make it 3-3, but the freshman from Tulsa immediately broke on a deciding point to take a 4-3 lead and held for 5-3. The level of play from both freshmen was outstanding throughout, under any circumstances, let along the pressure of deciding a spot in the Final Four, and they continued to play both great offense and great defense, with long points the norm. Mireles held for 5-4, forcing Staker to serve it out. Mireles saved the first match point with a sizzling forehand winner, but couldn't save the second, netting a backhand to end the four hour and nine minute contest.

Oklahoma[2] d. Texas A&M[7] 4-3

1. Ivana Corley/Carmen Corley(Oklahoma) d. Jayci Goldsmith/Tatiana Makarova(Texas A&M) 6-3
2. Carson Branstine/Mary Stoiana(Texas A&M) d. Alexandra Pisareva/Layne Sleeth(Oklahoma) 6-3
3. Dana Guzman/Emma Staker(Oklahoma) d. Renee McBryde/Gianna Pielet(Texas A&M) 7-5

Order of Finish: 1,2,3

1. Layne Sleeth(Oklahoma) d. Carson Branstine(Texas A&M) 6-2, 6-3
2. Carmen Corley(Oklahoma) d. Tatiana Makarova(Texas A&M) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
3. Mary Stoiana(Texas A&M) d. Ivana Corley(Oklahoma) 6-2, 6-1
4. Jayci Goldsmith(Texas A&M) d. Dana Guzman(Oklahoma) 6-4, 6-2
5. Gianna Pielet(Texas A&M) d. Alexandra Pisareva(Oklahoma) 6-2, 6-3
6. Emma Staker(Oklahoma) d. Jeanette Mireles(Texas A&M) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4

Order of Finish: 3,4,1,5,2,6

While that match was coming to its dramatic conclusion, the final quarterfinal between No. 3 Duke and No. 6 North Carolina State began outdoors. The winds had subsided enough to allow outdoor play and given the nearly four-hour duration of Duke's 4-3 win, it was fortunate that was possible.

Duke, who beat NC State 4-3 in Raleigh early this spring, took the doubles point from the Wolfpack, which they did not do in that previous meeting. As with the other teams who dropped the doubles point today, NC State started strong in singles, taking four first sets, and Priska Nugroho put them on the board with a quick victory at line 3. But the top of Duke's lineup asserted itself, with Georgia Drummy winning at line 2 and Chloe Beck coming back from a set down to post a win at the top spot. At 3-1 Duke, there was no clear path for either team, and the 4, 5 and 6 spots all went to third sets. NC State's Rajecki closed the gap to 3-2 with a comeback win at line 5, but they still needed the last two matches on court. Duke's Kelly Chen went up early over Nell Miller in the third set at line 4, and Blue Devil Eliza Omirou, who had not played in the previous two NCAA matches, was up several times in the third set at line 6, including serving for the match at 5-4 and 6-5.  But Omirou couldn't close out Sophie Abrams, sending that match to a tiebreaker, while Chen saw four match points go begging serving for it at 5-1 in the third against Miller.

Chen managed to break Miller to secure the win, but not before Abrams had secured the Wolfpack's third point in a tiebreaker.

Duke will be seeking revenge over Oklahoma, who traveled to Durham for Kickoff Weekend and beat the Blue Devils 4-2, keeping them from competing in the National Team Indoor Championships.

Duke[3] d. NC State[6] 4-3

1. Georgia Drummy/Karolina Berankova(Duke) d. Jaeda Daniel/Nell Miller(NC State) 6-4
2. Amelia Rajecki/Abigail Rencheli(NC State) d. Chloe Beck/Ellie Coleman(Duke) 6-2
3. Margaryta Bilokin/Eliza Omirou(Duke) d. Sophie Abrams/Priska Nugroho(NC State) 6-3

Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3

1. Chloe Beck(Duke) d. Jaeda Daniel(NC State) 1-6, 6-1, 6-4
2. Georgia Drummy(Duke) d. Abigail Rencheli(NC State) 7-5, 6-2
3. Priska Nugroho(NC State) d. Emma Jackson(Duke) 6-3, 6-2
4. Kelly Chen(Duke) v Nell Miller(NC State) 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-2
5. Amelia Rajecki(NC State) d. Ellie Coleman(Duke) 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-2
6. Sophie Abrams(NC State) d. Eliza Omirou(Duke) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3) 

Order of Finish: 3,2,1,5,6,4

The schedule for Saturday is for all four semifinals, beginning with the men.

Ohio State[4] will play Kentucky[8] at 11 am EDT, with rain in the forecast. Tennessee[6] and Virginia[7] are scheduled for 2 pm.

North Carolina[1] and Texas are the 5 pm match, with Duke and Oklahoma scheduled for 8 pm.

See the Illinois tournament website for links to live streaming and scoring.

No Ranking Points at Wimbledon This Year, Including for Juniors; Hovde, Basavareddy and Tien Reach Semifinals at ITF Grade A in Milan; Fratangelo and Baptiste Qualify for Roland Garros Main Draw; Scholarship to Honor Kevin Minor, Who Died Suddenly This Week

Because the NCAA women's quarterfinals are expected to go late, as the men's did last night, I'm doing two posts today, with this one on all the other news, significant as it is. 

The ATP, WTA and ITF announced today that they would be withholding ranking points from Wimbledon this year, due to the tournament's decision to ban players from Belarus and Russia from competing. In the case of the ITF, that means that the Junior Championships, scheduled to take place from July 2-July 10, will not award points for the singles and doubles competitions.

The entries for the Junior Championships don't close until June 7, so it remains to be seen if this will keep players from signing up, or ultimately participating; those in their final year of juniors who have not played it before may still want the experience, while those that competed last year may decide to compete in lower level tournaments closer to home that do offer ATP and WTA points. As of now, the tournament still appears on the ITF Junior Circuit calendar, but I'm not sure it will remain there.

Wimbledon's response to the announcement from these three entities can be found here.

In more positive junior news, three Americans have advanced to the semifinals of the ITF Grade A in Milan, with Liv Hovde and Nishesh Basavareddy both taking out the No. 2 seeds.

Hovde, the No. 5 seed, defeated Diana Shnaider of Russia 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Tommy Hemp has a detailed report on the match at TennisUnderworld. Hovde's opponent in the semifinals is No. 4 seed Lucie Havlickova of the Czech Republic. The top half semifinal will feature No. 7 seed Celine Naef of Switzerland and No. 3 seed Ksenia Zaytseva of Russia.

No. 10 seed Basavareddy had beaten No. 2 seed Gonzalo Bueno of Peru 6-0, 6-1 in the final of the Grade 1 in Brazil in February; today's match was not as straightforward, but Basavareddy earned the 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-1 victory to move into the semifinals against No. 8 seed Martin Landaluce of Spain.

Unseeded Learner Tien continued his impressive run this week on the Italian red clay, defeating No. 9 seed Lautaro Midon of Argentina 4-6, 6-3, 6-0. Tien will face top seed Daniel Vallejo of Paraguay in Saturday's semifinals.

Hemp also has an analysis of Tien's win, and as a bonus for  college tennis fans, a glowing report on Oklahoma recruit Anastasiya Lopata of Ukraine, who lost today to Zaytseva.

Hovde and Qavia Lopez, the top seeds, lost in the girls doubles semifinals today; Basavareddy and Aidan Kim advanced to Saturday's boys doubles final with a 7-5, 6-0 win over Nicholas Godsick and Ethan Quinn. Basavareddy and Kim, who are unseeded, will face Mika Brunold of Switzerland and Liam Gavrielides of Germany, also unseeded, for the title. 

Two of the 24 Americans who competed in the Roland Garros qualifying have advanced to the main draw: Bjorn Fratangelo and Hailey Baptiste. Fratangelo, who also qualified for the main draw in Paris last year, defeated Nino Serdarusic of Croatia 7-5, 6-4 in today's final round. He has been drawn against No. 11 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy in the first round.

Baptiste, the No. 17 seed in qualifying, defeated 2021 Wimbledon girls finalist Nastasja Schunk of Germany 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 in today's final round of qualifying. Baptiste, who also qualified last year, will play Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in the first round.  Christina McHale lost to Valentini Grammatikopoulou of Greece 6-3, 6-3.

The Roland Garros men's and women's singles draws feature 16 US women and 15 US men, which prompted this press release from the USTA:

American Tennis Leads All Nations with 31 Players Competing in French Open Singles Main Draws


Seven U.S. Men Seeded is Most for Any Nation at a Major Since 2015


Thirty-one Americans are set to compete in the singles main draws at the French Open beginning next week -- 16 women and 15 men -- leading all nations in total players and seeded players competing on both the men's and women's sides.


The 15 American men in the singles main draw this year is the most since 19 in 1995. This is the third consecutive year 13 or more American men are playing in the French Open singles main draw, the first time for those numbers over a three-year span since 1994-96.


The 16 women marks the eighth year in a row 16 or more Americans have featured in the women's main draw at Roland Garros.


Seven American men and five American women are seeded, both numbers that lead all nations. 


The seven seeded men is the highest number of American seeds in the men's draw at Roland Garros since Grand Slams began seeding 32 players after the 2001 French Open. The previous high was four, set in 2003 and 2017. The last time the French Open actually had seven American men's seeds in singles was 1982, when Grand Slams had 16 seeds.


The seven American men seeded are also the most for any country at a Grand Slam event since seven Spaniards were seeded at 2015 Roland Garros.


This continues the consistent upward trend of American tennis, most recently on the men's side. As of the May 16 ATP rankings, the U.S. led all nations with 13 players ranked in the Top 100 and eight in the Top 50, ahead of Spain's seven. Eight of those Americans in the Top 100 are also age 25 or younger, ahead of Spain's five.


The U.S. continues to lead all nations in players ranked in the WTA Top 100, with 12. 


Said USTA Player and Coach Development GM Martin Blackman: 


"Over the last 13 years, the USTA's Player Development team has worked in a strong and coordinated three-way partnership with the private sector and the 17 USTA Sections. We realized at the beginning of this project back in 2008, that we could only be successful if we worked through this partnership to create a developmental pathway and a cultural unity in Team USA that recognized and respected the critical role that our great American private sector coaches play in junior development.


"In order to do that we relied on the knowledge, expertise and passion of Section staff for Player Development in all 17 Sections. Their leadership ensured that our pathway could be customized at the Sectional and Regional level, recognizing the fact that every city and state is different. It's been an amazing journey and the continuity over the last 13 years is bearing more and more fruit every year."

Kevin Minor, the father of Kristina, Jasmine and Brienne, unexpectedly passed away early this week, with the funeral set for Saturday in Hoffman Estates Illinois. The family has established a scholarship in his name for junior players in the Chicago area. If you would like to donate, please visit the Kevin Minor Legacy Scholarship page at gofundme.com.

For a look at the parental support that surrounded the Minor sisters, all of whom played Division I college tennis, see this recent article, focused on journalist Jasmine, at usta.com.