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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Finalists for 2015-2018 NCAA D-I Championships Announced; Orange Bowl Acceptances; Chirico into $50K Quarterfinals

The University of Illinois hosted the NCAA championships for the first time in 2013

The NCAA has announced the finalists for its Division I Tennis Championships for the years 2014-2018.

The University of Georgia will be hosting the event in 2014, so for the four years after that, there are eight venues still in the running for the combined men's and women's event.  For all the talk of format changes--and I wouldn't presume that the team and individual championships will necessarily be scheduled back-to-back, as they are now--this seems to guarantee the men's and women's events will continue to be combined, which suits me just fine. I don't like to have to choose between tournaments, as I have to do for the All-American and (usually) the Team Indoor.

Five venues who have hosted previously are on the list: Georgia, Texas A&M, Stanford, Tulsa and Illinois.  Three schools who have not hosted also made the finalist cut: Baylor, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.

Whether all these schools will still be willing to host if the NCAA should move to a Final Four rather than Sweet 16 finals site remains to be seen.

The NCAAs complete list for all sports finalists can be found here.

The acceptances for December's Grade A Orange Bowl were released earlier this week, with world No. 1 Alexander Zverev of Germany and Karen Khachanov of Russia leading the boys entries. Zverev, who has reached the quarterfinals of this week's Pensacola Futures after making the semifinals last week in Birmingham, may be trying to solidfy his hold on the No. 1 position, which he recently claimed from Croatia's Borna Coric, who is not entered in the Orange Bowl.  European junior champion Khachanov reached the quarterfinals of an ATP tournament earlier this month, and has three wins at that level since the US Open Junior Championships, so it's a bit of a surprise that he would enter a junior tournament.  Wimbledon boys champion and world No. 3 Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy is entered as is 2012 finalist Elias Ymer of Sweden.

The US boys in the main draw with their current ITF rankings:
Stefan Kozlov(14)
Michael Mmoh(20)
Francis Tiafoe(42)
Martin Redlicki(48)
Thai Kwiatkowski(50)
Spencer Papa(57)
Danny Kerznerman(71)

Kwiatkowski, a freshman at Virginia, has not played this summer and fall due to wrist surgery, but he hopes to be ready to compete by next month to close out his junior career in Florida. He was a semifinalist last year at the Orange Bowl.

The highest ranked girl to enter is No. 5 Varvara Flink of Russia, followed by Ivana Jorovic of Serbia, No. 10, and Tornado Alicia Black, No. 11. 

In addition to Black, the US girls in the main draw are: Christina Makarova(21), Johnnise Renaud(43), Katrine Steffensen(46), Dasha Ivanova(62), Michaela Gordon(72), Usue Arconada(87), Rianna Valdes(89), Kaitlyn McCarthy(101) and Madison Bourguignon(103).

The complete acceptance list can be found at the ITF junior website.

Louisa Chirico, the US girl with the highest ITF ranking (7), is not on the acceptance list, which is disappointing if only because she is so fond of clay.  Chirico is having an excellent week on the hard courts at the $50,000 New Braunfels Texas Pro Circuit tournament, picking up her first WTA Top 100 win yesterday and following that up with another routine victory today.  Chirico beat top seed Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia, ranked No. 90, 6-1, 6-3 in the first round, and defeated veteran Petra Rampre of Slovenia 6-1, 6-2 today. Next up for the 17-year-old New Yorker is Bulgarian Elitsa Kostova, whom she beat earlier this year in a $25,000 tournament by the daunting score of 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 7-5. The other quarterfinal matches feature three former Pac-12 players, with USC's Maria Sanchez facing Stanford's Nicole Gibbs. USC's Danielle Lao, who qualified, meets Madison Brengle, while former UNC star Sanaz Marand plays Anna Tatishvili of Georgia.