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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Arconada and Blumberg into Grade A Final in Brazil; Liu Beats Top Seed, Reaches Final in Orlando $10K; USC Women Beat Cal, Men Fall to Baylor; UCLA Women Top Stanford

Usue Arconada and William Blumberg will face the top seeds in Sunday's final of the ITF Grade A Campeonato Internacional in Porto Alegre, Brazil after tough three-set wins over Australians.

Although the stadium court matches are streamed at the tournament website, the Americans were not featured today in singles, with Brazilian players in the other semifinals, so I can't offer any insight into the matches.  Arconada, the No. 3 seed and the champion at last week's Banana Bowl, defeated No. 2 seed Seone Mendez 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-1, while No. 6 seed Blumberg downed unseeded Alex Di Minaur 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Blumberg will play No. 1 seed and defending champion Orlando Luz of Brazil, who also found himself in a close match against No. 10 seed Manuel Pena Lopez of Argentina, but survived 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-4.  Arconada meets No. 1 seed Juliet Estable of Argentina who escaped against No. 4 seed Luisa Stefani of Brazil 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 after Stefani served for the match at 6-5 in the second set.

Neither finalist has played the other before in ITF junior competition.

Francesca Di Lorenzo took the doubles title with partner Stefani, with the No. 3 seeds beating No. 4 seed Arconada and Emilie Francati of Denmark 6-2, 6-1. Di Lorenzo and Stefani, who won the Grade 1 Banana Bowl last week, didn't lose a set in their five victories.  The boys doubles title went to No. 6 seeds Felipe Cunha Silva of Portugal and Alejandro Tabilo of Canada, who beat top seeds Luz and Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 6-4, 7-5.

At the $10,000 Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Orlando, 14-year-old Claire Liu upset top seed Irina Khromacheva of Russia 7-5, 6-2 to advance to the final, where she'll meet 16-year-old qualifier Fanni Stollar.

Liu held serve to take a 6-5 lead in the first set, then immediately got three set points  with Khromacheva, a 19-year-old left-hander, falling behind 0-40.  Khromacheva got it back to deuce, but Liu converted on her fourth set point.  Serving up 4-2 in the second set, Liu faced her only break point of the set, but she fought it off, held, then broke Khromacheva at 30-40 to take the match.

Stollar, 16, defeated wild card Raveena Kingsley 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(2), saving two match points with Kingsley serving at 5-4, 40-15 in the third set.  The 16-year-old Kingsley was a point from going down 4-0 in the final set, but fought back to win five straight games, only to fall a point short of a rematch of the 2014 Pan American Closed final against Liu.  It's the first singles final on the professional circuit for either player.

In doubles, Stollar and Ingrid Neel won their second straight championship, defeating No. 4 seeds Katerina Kramperova of the Czech Republic and Katerina Stewart 6-3, 7-6(4). The unseeded Stollar and Neel, who won the doubles title last week in Gainesville, did not lose a set in their four matches.

The semifinals in the $15,000 Bakersfield Futures is just underway, with wild card Francis Tiafoe playing No. 8 seed Emilio Gomez of Ecuador and qualifier Connor Farren taking on Maxime Trabatruong of France.

The seventh-ranked Southern California women got a big home win today in Pac-12 play, defeating No. 3 Cal 4-3, with Meredith Xepoleas beating NCAA finalist Lynn Chi 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3 at line 6 to clinch. It was Chi's first dual match of the year.

In the other important Pac-12 women's battle in Los Angeles today, No. 5 UCLA defeated No. 10 Stanford 5-2, with Kristin Wiley getting the clinch for the Bruins at line 6.

At the Oracle Collegiate Challenge at the BNP Paribas Open, No. 3 Baylor defeated the No. 4 Southern Cal men 4-3, with Julian Lenz clinching the victory at line 1 with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Yannick Hanfmann.

Baylor will play No. 1 Oklahoma in the final, after the Sooners escaped the Columbia challenge 4-2Oklahoma defeated Baylor 4-2 in the semifinals of the National Team Indoor last month.