Harrison Wins First Futures; Fratangelo in Final for Second Straight Week; Dallas, Midland Challenger Qualifying; Illinois Men Surprise No. 5 Duke
Eighteen-year-old Christian Harrison won his first professional event today, at a $10,000 ITF Men's Circuit event in England. For the second week in a row, it was Harrison and Ed Corrie of Great Britain in the final, neither of whom were seeded, and after Corrie won 7-5 in the third last week, Harrison won an even closer match today, taking the championship by a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5) score.
At the only Pro Circuit event this week in the United States, Bjorn Fratangelo and Arthur De Greef of Belgium will also meet in the final of a $10,000 Futures for the second week in a row, this time in Palm Coast, Florida. Fratangelo, the 2011 French Open boys champion, won last week's contest in Weston unseeded, and unseeded again this week, he earned another spot in the final by defeating No. 1 seed and ATP No. 283 Florian Reynet of France 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 today. The 20-year-old De Greef, the No. 2 seed, beat 31-year-old qualifier Julio Peralta of Chile 7-5, ret. today. Peralta had already won seven matches since last Friday, needing to win four just to qualify for the main draw.
Sunday's doubles final in Palm Coast is an all-college affair, with unseeded Joey Burkhardt (North Carolina) and Jean-Yves Aubone(Florida State) taking on No. 2 seeds Kevin King(Georgia Tech) and Vahid Mirzadeh(Florida State).
In the $15,000 Futures event in Mexico, the run of 16-year-old qualifier Ernesto Escobedo of the US came to an end in the semifinals, where he lost to former Florida Gator Antoine Benneteau, the No. 3 seed, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2. Benneteau lost in the final to No. 2 seed Nicolas Barrientos 5-7, 6-3, 7-5. Benneteau did earn the doubles title however, teaming with former Virginia Cavalier Ted Angelinos of Greece to defeat Chris Letcher of Australia and Adam El Mihdawy of the United States 7-5, 6-4.
Two $100,000 Challengers are in the spotlight next week in the US, with qualifying underway for the men in Dallas, and starting Sunday for the women in Midland, Mich.
The top-ranked University of Virginia men won their Kick-off weekend Saturday and are not scheduled to play again until the ITA Men's Indoor on the 15th, so they have sent three players to Dallas for the qualifying. All three--Alex Domijan, Mac Styslinger and Jarmere Jenkins--won their first round matches today. Sophomore Mitchell Frank, just returning from the knee injury that kept him out all fall, played in the recent Kick-off matches, but did not make the trip to Dallas.
Jesse Levine is the top seed in the main draw, with Mike Russell the No. 2 seed. Complete qualifying and main draws are available at the Pro Circuit page at usta.com. There will also be free live streaming available through this page at usta.com.
In Midland, the young Americans are entered in force, with Lauren Davis and Melanie Oudin among those scheduled to compete. US Open girls champion Samantha Crawford received a wild card into the main draw, but was close to direct admission, so she may not have needed it. Crawford has not played since the $75,000 Phoenix event last November. Asia Muhammad and Liz Jeukeng also received main draw wild cards.
Taylor Townsend was in the qualifying entries, but is not in the qualifying draw, so she may have received a wild card into the main draw. The indoor hard courts in Midland are usually quite fast, so conditions should suit her game. The qualifying draw and order of play for Sunday are available at usta.com.
In addition to Midland, there is a $25,000 women's pro circuit event in Rancho Mirage, California next week. According to the entry list, Jan Abaza, Louisa Chirico and Christina Makarova have received wild cards into the main draw.
Although it is a bit early in the dual match season to pronounce any result an upset, I think most men's college tennis fans would agree that No. 25 Illinois' 4-3 win over No. 5 Duke is in that category. Less than a week after losing to both Tennessee and Tulsa at home during the Kick-off Weekend, Illinois dropped the doubles point, then won four out of six singles matches from Duke to get a much-needed victory at home.
Freshman Jared Hiltzik clinched the match for Illinois, beating Duke's Fred Saba 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3 at No. 2 singles.
For more on the match, see fightingillini.com.
In a non-conference match between two Top 10 men's teams on Sunday, the No. 4 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes host No. 6 Georgia. Ohio State now has live streaming for its matches, which can be found here.