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Saturday, November 15, 2014

University of Illinois Team of Guignon and Kopinski Win Champaign Challenger Title; Spencer Reaches Futures Final; Branstine, Storrie Claim ITF Grade 4 Titles at Everts


For the second time in two weeks, a collegiate team has taken home the doubles title at the $50,000 Pro Circuit Challenger held on its campus.  After Tennessee's Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese took last week's title at the Knoxville Challenger, University of Illinois wild cards Ross Guignon and Tim Kopinski followed suit in Champaign, defeating unseeded Frank Dancevic and Adil Shamasdin of Canada 7-6(2), 6-2 in the final.

A loud post-football game crowd urged on the pair of seniors, but unlike Guignon and Kopinski's previous two opponents, the college atmosphere didn't seem to both Dancevic and Shamasdin.  After Guignon and Kopinski got off to a great start, both holding at love then breaking Shamasdin for a 3-1 first set lead, Dancevic and Shamasdin recovered to 3-3.  The Illini pair, who reached the National Indoor finals last weekend but have not won a collegiate major, had two set points on deciding points at 4-5 and 5-6, but the Canadians took both forcing a tiebreaker.  A double fault by Shamasdin at 2-4 gave Guignon and Kopinski some breathing room and Guignon served out the set.

The second set was much easier, with the Illinois pair taking a 4-0 lead, as Dancevic and Shamasdin made too many unforced errors to threaten to come back. Again it was up to Guignon to serve it out, and he did, at love, to give them the title.

According to the USTA's live stream announcer Mike Cation, the $3100 check they received can only be used for expenses but those are not confined to the expenses (or in this case, the lack thereof) of the current tournament. With the 80 points, they will both move up into the 600s in the ATP doubles rankings, which would get them seeded in Futures doubles competition should they try that in January.

In the Champaign singles final, top seed Adrian Mannarino of France won his second consecutive Pro Circuit Challenger, with the Knoxville champion defeating qualifier Fredrik Nielsen of Denmark 6-2, 6-2. With the two titles, the 26-year-old Mannarino will now move to a career high in the ATP rankings, beating his previous best of 49.

Wil Spencer continued his surprising run today at the Niceville Futures, beating No. 3 seed Jean Yves Aubone 6-3, 6-1 to reach the final of the $10,000 event.  The former Georgia All-American will face No. 7 seed Peter Nagy of Hungary in the final, after Nagy defeated 17-year-old Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-3.  Nagy is a senior on the Texas A&M-Corpus Christie team. Ken Thomas of radiotennis.com has been providing play-by-play coverage of the tournament.


At the ITF Grade 4 at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, Florida 14-year-old wild card Carson Branstine won her first ITF title. The Southern Californian, who won the 12s Clay Courts last year and was a finalist at the 12s Hard Courts, beat her first seed in today's final, downing No. 3 seed Jade Lewis of New Zealand 7-6(4), 6-3.  Branstine has only played in three ITF tournaments, all in the past three weeks, so it didn't take her long to break through.


The boys title went to No. 9 seed Ryan Storrie, a 16-year-old from Great Britain, who defeated unseeded 15-year-old Kyrylo Tsygura 6-1, 6-2 in the final.  Tsygura had stopped the winning streak of top seed Sam Riffice in the semifinals, beating the winner of the past two ITF Grade 4s in the US 6-7(9), 6-4, 7-5.   The title was Storrie's second, both this fall. He also made the final in Wichita Falls, losing to Riffice.

Branstine made it a sweep, winning the doubles title with Taylor Johnson. Branstine and Johnson, unseeded, beat Emma Decoste and Kariann Pierre-Louis, also unseeded, 2-6, 7-5, 11-9 in the final. Johnson and Branstine also won the Atlanta ITF doubles title two weeks ago.

William Howells also picked up his second doubles title in three weeks. Howells, who won Atlanta with Johnathan Small, partnered Sami Kirberg this week and the pair defeated Jacob Hansen and Robert Loeb 6-2, 4-6, 10-7 in the final.  Both teams were unseeded.

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