Chirico, Stewart Reach Dothan Final; Virginia Women End North Carolina's Perfect Season; Third Set Tiebreakers Put Baylor and Oklahoma Men in Big 12 Final
The USTA's Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge could hardly have gotten off to a better start this week for two American women, with 17-year-old Katerina Stewart and 18-year-old Louisa Chirico reaching the final of the $50,000 Pro Circuit tournament in Dothan, Alabama.
Stewart, a wild card who won her first $25,000 title last month in Palm Harbor, Florida, defeated unseeded Paul Goncalves of Brazil 6-4, 6-0 in the day's first semifinal, while No. 4 seed Chirico needed considerably longer to defeat Serbia's Jovanan Jaksic 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-0. Whoever wins the title on Sunday will claim her first singles championship at the $50,000 level and will take the lead in the race for the French Open wild card.
The final will be available via the USTA's live streaming, with the singles final scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.
The $50,000 Savannah Challenger will not feature any Americans, with both Frances Tiafoe and Bjorn Fratangelo dropping their semifinal matches today. Tiafoe lost to former NC State star James McGee of Ireland 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, while Fratangelo was beaten by 18-year-old Hyeon Chung of Korea, the No. 4 seed, 6-2, 6-4. Tiafoe does leave Savannah with the lead in the men's race for the USTA"s reciprocal French Open wild card however, with one tournament left next week in Tallahassee.
At the $100,000 Challenger in Guadalajara, Mexico, Jason Jung will play in his first Challenger final, meeting Rajeev Ram. Jung, the 25-year-old from California, won the $15,000 Futures in Little Rock last week, so he is now on a nine match winning streak. Today he defeated Connor Smith 6-4, 7-6(3), while No. 7 seed Ram downed qualifier Kevin King 6-4, 6-3. Neither Ram nor Jung have faced a seed this week.
|photo via twitter|
Ram already has captured one title in Guadalajara, taking the doubles title with Austin Krajicek. The top seeds defeated No. 3 seeds Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela of Mexico 7-5, 4-6, 10-6.
In the ACC tournament, in a match moved indoors due to rain, No. 4 seed Virginia handed top seed North Carolina their first loss of the season, downing the Tar Heels 4-1. The Cavaliers had lost to North Carolina 4-3 just two weeks ago, but did not have Maci Epstein in the lineup. Virginia won the doubles point and got wins from Skylar Morton at 4, Danielle Collins at 2 and Cassie Mercer at 6 to spoil No. 1 North Carolina's perfect season. Virginia will play No. 6 seed Georgia Tech, who reached the final with a 4-3 win over No. 10 seed Florida State. The final is scheduled to be live streamed on ESPN3 Sunday, if the match is played outdoors.
The ACC men's final will feature top seed Virginia against No. 3 seed Wake Forest. Virginia defeated North Carolina 4-0, while Wake had no trouble with Georgia Tech, also advancing by a 4-0 score. The men's final is also scheduled to be live streamed at ESPN3.
The Big 12 men's final will be the fourth meeting this season between No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Baylor, but both needed third set tiebreakers to advance over Texas and TCU in today's semifinals. Baylor's Julian Lenz outlasted TCU's Nick Chappell at No. 1, 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (1), for the 4-3 win, while Oklahoma's Alex Ghilea defeated Texas's George Goldhoff 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) at line 4 to give the Sooners a 4-3 win. Oklahoma has won the three previous meetings against Baylor by scores of 4-2, 4-1 and, most recently, 4-3.
The Big 12 women's final will feature No. 1 seed Baylor against No. 2 seed Texas Tech.
In the Big 10 men's final, the perennial battle between Illinois and Ohio State will be rejoined, while the women's final has Michigan against Ohio State.