Daavettila Chooses North Carolina; Catching Up on Junior, Pro Circuit News; Oklahoma Moves to No. 1 after Team Indoor Title
What with the Men's Team Indoor and the Bayliss letter, I've definitely fallen behind in tracking the action outside the college realm.
When I was in Midland two weeks ago, I had an opportunity to talk with Sara Daavettila, who won the $100K wild card tournament, earning a place in the main draw. Because Daavettila rarely plays USTA National tournaments and never plays ITF tournaments, I had only seen her play at the Michigan High School championships last spring. The gap between that level and the calibre of players in Midland is wide, but Daavettila was able to bridge it, testing No. 5 seed Anna Tatishvili in the first round before falling 6-4, 6-2. Daavettila has verbally committed to North Carolina for the fall of 2016, explaining the reasons behind her decision in this article I wrote for the Tennis Recruiting Network.
At the Delray Beach ATP event, the news yesterday revolved around the success of a trio of teenagers, who reached the second round. ITF World junior No. 1 Andrey Rublev of Russia (d. Dudia Sela of Israel), Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia (d. Filip Krajinovic of Serbia) and Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan (d. Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands) are the first three teenagers to reach the second round of a 32-draw ATP event since four made the Indianapolis tournament's second round in 2007. Rublev and Kokkinakis lost today--Rublev to Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-3 and Kokkinakis to Ivo Karlovic 7-6(4), 7-6(2)--while Nishioka plays his second round match Thursday.
Stefan Kozlov, who, like Rublev, received a wild card into the Delray Beach main draw, lost to Tim Smyczek 7-5, 6-2 in the first round, but he is still among those featured in this ESPN article on seven teenagers having success on the ATP Challenger and World tour.
I don't believe I mentioned the first Challenger title for Bjorn Fratangelo, which came last week in at the $50,000 tournament in Launceston, Australia. The 21-year-old from Pittsburgh is now at a career-high of 172 in the ATP rankings. An article about Fratangelo's win, and the disappointment that preceded it, can be found at The Tennis Nerds website. Mitchell Krueger won his first Challenger doubles title in Launceston, teaming with Radu Albot of Moldova for the victory.
This week on the USTA Pro Circuit, a raft of juniors have advanced to second round play on Thursday. At the $10,000 Plantation Futures, wild cards Tommy Paul and Dennis Uspensky are US teens advancing, while qualifiers Naoki Nakagawa of Japan and Orlando Luz of Brazil, along with wild card Marcelo Zormann, also of Brazil, are the international teens who earned first round wins.
At the women's $25,000 tournament in Surprise, Arizona, Kelly Chen, Duke recruit Jessica Ho, CiCi Bellis, and USC recruit Jessica Failla all picked up victories today, with Canadian Francoise Abanda joining her fellow North American teens in the winner's circle. Failla, whose WTA ranking is 1113, defeated 27-year-old Shuko Aoyama of Japan, the No. 4 seed, 6-3, 7-5. Aoyama's WTA ranking is 182. Abanda took out No. 2 seed Jovana Jaksic of Serbia 7-6(8), 3-6, 6-4. Top seed Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal lost her first round match yesterday against Caitlin Whoriskey, meaning No. 3 seed Johanna Konta is the only one of the top five seeds to reach the second round.
The new team rankings came out on Tuesday, with National Indoor champions Oklahoma unsurprisingly moving into the top spot on the men's side. The men's top 10:
1. University of Oklahoma
2. University of Southern California
3. University of Georgia
4. University of Virginia
5. Baylor University
6. University of Illinois
7. Duke University
8. North Carolina
Baylor, the host of this year's NCAAs, was the big mover of the week, going from tied for 10th to 5th. The Bears do not, however, have a fan in Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim, who in his weekly mailbag today called their roster "simply unethical" regarding the number of international players on the team.