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Friday, April 24, 2015

Neel Commits to Florida, Paul to Georgia; Tiafoe Reaches Savannah Challenger Semifinals, Stewart into Dothan Semis; Upsets in ACC Tournament

Ingrid Neel, the No. 2 recruit in the Tennis Recruiting Network's Class of 2016, has verbally committed to the University of Florida.  I spoke to Neel about her decision at the Easter Bowl and wrote this article about her choice and her aspirations for a professional career.

The No. 2 recruit in the boys class of 2015, Tommy Paul, has announced his commitment to the University of Georgia. Reilly Opelka, the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2015 , has not yet announced his decision.

Frances Tiafoe, who turned pro less than three weeks ago, has lost only one match since then.  He qualified for the $100,000 Sarasota Challenger and reached the quarterfinals; this week at the $50,000 Savannah Challenger, he received a wild card and is now into the semifinals after a 6-2, 7-6(3) win over Mitchell Krueger.  I've watched a lot of matches on the live stream this week and Tiafoe's forehand has been the most dynamic shot on display.  That and his flair for the unexpected is reason enough to tune in on Saturday, when he'll play James McGee of Ireland for a place in the final.  McGee defeated top seed Tim Smyczek 6-0, 6-3.  Tiafoe has also now taken the lead in the USTA's Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge for the French Open.  Bjorn Fratangelo, who Tiafoe beat in the second round last week in Sarasota, defeated Jared Donaldson 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-0 in the other all-American quarterfinal.  He will play No. 4 seed Hyeon Chung of Korea, who defeated No. 5 seed Gastao Elias of Portugal 6-2, 6-4.

At the Women's $50,000 Pro Circuit tournament in Dothan, Alabama, wild card Katerina Stewart defeated Samantha Crawford 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 to reach the semifinals, where she'll play unseeded Paula Goncalves of Brazil. Louisa Chirico defeated Jessica Pegula 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to advance to the semifinals against Jovana Jaksic of Serbia.

In the $50,000 Santos Challenger in Brazil, 17-year-old wild card Orlando Luz reached a Challenger semifinal for the first time, with qualifier Agustin Velotti of Argentina retiring down 5-0 in their quarterfinal meeting today. Luz, currently ranked No. 2 in the ITF Junior World rankings, will play unseeded Germain Gigounon of Belgium in the semifinals.

At the $100,000 Guadalajara Challenger, an American champion is assured before the quarterfinals have finished.  Unseeded Connor Smith defeated No. 6 seed JP Smith of Australia 6-4, 7-5 to earn his first berth in a Challenger semifinal.  Smith will play Jason Jung, who defeated Adam El Mihdawy 6-3, 6-4..  No. 7 seed Rajeev Ram defeated Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador 7-6(2), 6-3 and will play qualifier Kevin King in the semifinals.  King defeated top seed Adrian Menendez Maceiras of Spain 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(2).

King capped what was an outstanding day for Georgia Tech, with both the men's and women's teams posting upsets in the ACC tournament in Cary, NC.  Fresh from a 4-3 win over Duke in the final weekend of the season, the men, seeded 10th, beat Notre Dame on Thursday and today took out No. 2 seed and 14th-ranked Virginia Tech 4-3.  They will play No. 3 seed Wake Forest in the semifinals.  Top seed Virginia will play No. 4 North Carolina, after the Tar Heels got by No. 5 seed Duke 4-3.

The sixth-seeded Georgia Tech women defeated No. 3 Duke 4-3, but the real surprise came in the other other quarterfinal in the bottom half, with Florida State, seeded 10th, beating No. 2 seed Miami 4-3.

In the top half of the ACC women's tournament, No. 4 seed Virginia plays top seed North Carolina.