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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Spence Wins Grade 4 in Guatemala; Kudla Claims Ilkley Challenger Title; Embree and Hibi Reach Sumter Final

Zoe Spence won her first ITF title today at the Grade 4 in Guatemala, with the unseeded 17-year-old Notre Dame recruit beating top seed Camila Romero of Ecuador 6-1, 6-2 in the final.  Spence had ended Melissa Plambeck's 12-match winning streak in the quarterfinals, with Plambeck having taken the last two Central American Grade 4 titles. Spence then defeated No. 2 seed Saya Usui in the semifinals to reach her first ITF final.

International juniors were successful on the ITF Pro Circuit this week, with 15-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, the World No. 1, claiming the singles and doubles titles at a $15,000 tournament in her home country.  The unseeded wild card defeated No. 6 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia 6-1, 6-4 in the final.

Vondrousova and Miriam Kolodziejova won the doubles title, their second straight on the ITF Women's circuit.  Vondrousova and Kolodziejova have won both the junior slams so far in 2015, and also won the Grade A in Milan, so they are 23-0 at Grade A or ITF pro circuit events. Their only loss as a team this year was a second round walkover they gave at the Grade 1 in Australia back in January. So add them to the list of the women still alive for a grand slam, along with Serena Williams and Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova.

Seventeen-year-old Sumit Nagal, who won the Grade 1 in Germany last week, won his first Futures title this week in his home country of India. The unseeded wild card defeated No. 8 seed Gustavo Vellbach of Argentina 6-2, 6-0 in the final of the $10,000 tournament.

Evan King (Michigan) has 11 Futures doubles titles to his credit, but today won his first singles title, defeating Tyler Hochwalt(Florida) 6-4, 7-5 in the battle of unseeded Americans at the $10,000 tournament in Zimbabwe.

Denis Kudla won the $50,000 Ilkley Challenger in England, avenging his loss last week in the final of the Surbiton Challenger to Matthew Ebden of Australia. Kudla defeated Ebden 6-3, 6-4 and although it has yet to be made official by Wimbledon, Kudla is said to have received the final Wimbledon main draw wild card.

Here in the US, No. 5 seed Lauren Embree (Florida) will face No. 3 seed Mayo Hibi of Japan for the singles title at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Sumter, South Carolina. Embree defeated No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady (UCLA) 6-0, 3-6, 6-0, while Hibi downed Stanford rising junior Carol Zhao of Canada 6-4, 7-6(7).   The unseeded doubles team of Alexandra Mueller and Ashley Weinhold won the title, beating No. 3 seeds Jacqueline Cako (Arizona State) and Danielle Lao (USC) 5-7, 7-5, 10-6.

At the $10,000 Buffalo Futures, wild card Winston Lin(Columbia) fell to No. 8 seed Maximilano Estevez of Argentina 7-5, 6-0, so the final will not feature an American.  No. 6 seed Kaichi Uchida of Japan defeated No. 7 seed Hans Hach (Abilene Christian) of Mexico 7-6(4), 6-1 in the other semifinal.

Nathan Pasha (Georgia) and Sekou Bangoura, seeded third, won the doubles title by virtue of a walkover from top seeds Estevez and Daniel Garza of Mexico. The latter has a reputation for frequent retirements, with another one coming Friday in the singles quarterfinals against Hach.

And if you'd like a review of the first six months of tennis from the American perspective, check out this post from Jonathan Kelley at his On the Rise blog.