Falconi, Klahn Win Challenger Titles; Clemson's Harrington and Eidukonyte Claim USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational Titles
Irina Falconi put herself in excellent position to claim the USTA's Australian Open wild card, defeating UCLA sophomore Jennifer Brady 7-6(3), 6-2 in the final of the $50,000 New Braunfels Texas challenger today.
The sixth-seeded Falconi, who reached the semifinals last week in Macon, the first of three tournaments in the Wild Card Challenge series, managed her game well in Sunday's windy conditions. She was unable to serve out the first set at 6-5 after getting the first break of the match, but the former Georgia Tech star dominated the subsequent tiebreaker.
The game of the match came with Falconi serving at 3-1 in the second, having just broken Brady the previous game. Falconi saved six break points in the seven-deuce game, and saved two more break points serving at 4-2, managing to keep Brady's big forehand from taking the big points. Serving at 2-5, Brady fell behind 15-40 but saved the first match point with a penetrating forehand that Falconi couldn't handle. On her second match point, Falconi came up with something special. A short slice brought Brady in and she responded with a short angled forehand cross court just a few feet from the net. Falconi motored to it, barely getting there before a second bounce, and flicked cross court forehand of her own at an even sharper angle, which Brady could only watch go by. It was reminiscent of the match point when Falconi beat Dominika Cibulkova in the second round of the 2011 US Open, although the atmosphere was light years removed, of course. It was still a huge win for Falconi however, her first ITF women's circuit singles title since 2010 and her first in a tournament with prize money greater than $10,000.
In the doubles final, the No. 2 seeded team of Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay and Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia defeated Alex Glatch and Bernarda Pera 6-0, 6-3.
Qualifying for the third women's tournament in the Wild Card Challenge is underway in Captiva Island, Florida.
Bradley Klahn, another 24-year-old American, won the rain-dealyed $50,000 Traralgon Challenger in Australia, beating Jarmere Jenkins 7-6(5), 6-1. It was the 2010 NCAA champion's third Challenger title of the year.
At the Charlottesville Challenger, James Duckworth of Australia won the title, defeating Liam Broady of Great Britain 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. Qualifying for next week's Knoxville Challenger began today, with main draw play beginning on Tuesday. Malek Jaziri of Tunisia and Adrian Mannarino of France are the top two seeds. Wild cards went to Tennessee Volunteers Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, Daniel Nguyen and Jared Donaldson.
There is also a $10,000 Futures this coming week in Birmingham, Alabama, with Darian King of Barbados and Connor Smith the top seeds there, and wild cards to Alex Rybakov and Reilly Opelka.
Maria Sanchez fell just short in the final of the $50,000 Toronto Challenger, losing to No. 8 seed Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(7). Sanchez served for the match twice in the third set, at 5-2 and 5-4, but didn't have a match point until 6-5 in the tiebreaker. She didn't convert it, however, and although she saved one herself at 7-6, Dabrowski too the next two points to claim the title.
The USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational was streamed this morning on ESPN 3, with Clemson players claiming both singles titles. Unseeded junior Joana Eidukonyte beat top seed Stephanie Wagner of Miami 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in the final, having defeated the No. 3 and No. 2 seeds in matches on Saturday.
Senior and top seed Hunter Harrington took the men's title, defeating unseeded Nick Crystal of Southern Cal 6-2, 6-3.
The men's doubles title also went to the top seeds, with Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez of host Florida State beating teammates Jose Gracia and Cristian Gonzalez Mendez 7-6(8), 4-6, 10-8.
The top-seeded team of Michala Kucharova and Reka Muller of Auburn prevented a Seminole doubles sweep, beating Florida State’s Daneika Borthwick and Emily Fanning, seeded third, 7-6(5), 1-6, 14-12.
For all results, see the Florida State website.