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Friday, September 27, 2013

Redlicki Joins Brother at Duke; Hibi, Rubin and Black Reach Pro Circuit Semis; Pre-Qualifying Begins Saturday for ITA All-American Championships

If you've been visiting the Tennis Recruiting Network's website regularly the past few weeks, you know it's the time of year when top juniors give verbal commitments to coaches for next fall (or even for the fall of 2015).  Martin Redlicki had already decided he would join his brother Michael at Duke when I spoke to him at the US Open earlier this month, but I was interested to hear from him how much his brother influenced his decision.  Martin also discussed his decision to live at home while training at the USTA's Boca Raton Center after spending one semester in the dorms there, and what his plans are for the months before he joins the Blue Devils.

Three juniors who recently competed at the US Open have reached the semifinals of the Pro Circuit events taking place this week.  Unseeded 17-year-old Noah Rubin defeated Cesar Ramirez of Mexico 6-4, 6-3 today at the $10,000 Futures in Laguna Niguel California, a day after beating last week's Futures champion Haythem Abid of Tunisia, who was the No. 7 seed this week. Rubin will play UCLA junior Marcos Giron, who won the Claremont Futures two weeks ago, in Saturday's semifinal. The other semifinal will feature ITA Player of the Year Jarmere Jenkins, seeded fourth, against unseeded Sahak Bazrganian, who shocked top seed Daniel Nguyen 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 today. Jenkins needed three sets to stop USC recruit Connor Farren 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

At the $10,000 women's tournament in Amelia Island, Florida, 15-year-old Tornado Alicia Black reached the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-3 win over 16-year-old Marie Norris and will play University of Florida senior Alex Cercone, a qualifier, on Saturday. Belgian Sofie Oyen, another Gator senior, who also qualified, will face the only seeded player left in the draw, No. 2 Alexandra Mueller. Black has also advanced to the doubles semifinals, with future Florida Gator Peggy Porter.

At the $50,000 Party Rock Open in Las Vegas, 17-year-old Mayo Hibi reached the semifinals with a 6-4, 7-6(2) win over top seed Ajla Tomljanovic, ranked 88 by the WTA.  That matches Hibi's best win of her career, as she beat Lauren Davis, then also 88, at the Portland Challenger in July. Hibi, ranked 229 and unseeded this week, will play the winner of tonight's Melanie Oudin - Chanel Simmonds match. CoCo Vandeweghe and Anna Tatishvili are in the other semifinal.

The pre-qualifying for the first Division I college major of the season starts Saturday.  The women are at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California, and the men are at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center at the University of Tulsa.  The draws for the women's tournament are much smaller, with only 64 players in the pre-qualifying, while the men have an open pre-qualifying, which doesn't fill every spot in a 256 draw, but comes close.  The women's smaller draws, which are filled with players ranked from the previous years, leave the best freshmen with the task of playing through pre-qualifying and qualifying just to get to the 32-player main draw.  UCLA's Jennifer Brady, Houston's Despoina Vogasari, Florida's Belinda Woolcock, Clemson's Jessie Rompies, Texas A&M's Rutuja Bhosale and North Carolina's Jamie Loeb and Haley Carter--all on the ITA's Top Newcomers list--are in pre-qualifying this year, while Carol Zhao of Stanford received a wild card into qualifying.  Last year, Virginia's Julia Elbaba, a freshman, took that grueling path all the way to the final, where she lost to Florida's Lauren Embree.

Eight of the 10 men on the Top Newcomers list are in qualifying for the men's All-American, welcoming a new sponsor this year in Saint Francis Health Care: UCLA's Gage Brymer, Virginia's Thai Kwiatkowski, North Carolina's Ronnie Schneider, North Carolina State's Nick Horton, Texas's George Goldhoff, South Florida's Alexandru Gozun and Oklahoma's Andrew Harris and Alexandru Ghilea.  UCLA's Mackenzie McDonald received a wild card into the main draw, and North Carolina's Brayden Schnur will not be starting school until January.  The other two main draw wild cards went to Drew Lied of Michigan State, who won the ITA Summer Circuit tournament, and Tulsa's Carlos Bautista.  The men's pre-qualifying draw can be found on the tournament home page.