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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tiafoe, Rubin Win Opening Round Matches at Binghamton Challenger; Auger Aliassime, 14, Reaches Second Round at Granby $100K; Sarkissian Posts First ATP Victory

It was a busy day in the Americas, with noteworthy wins from Canada to Colombia.

Frances Tiafoe, who has struggled a bit since his Challenger run this spring, picked up his first main draw win since May in the opening round of the $50,000 Challenger in Binghamton, New York. He defeated Gregoire Barrere of France 6-4, 7-6(1) today to set up a second round match against No. 2 seed Bjorn Fratangelo, who he beat back in April during the run that secured the USTA's French Open wild card.

Wild card Noah Rubin picked up his second Challenger level win, defeating Omar Jasika of Australia 6-3, 6-3 in a battle between two recent junior slam champions.  Rubin will play top seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain in the second round Thursday. Edmund beat Ernesto Escobedo 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-1.

Wimbledon champion Reilly Opelka lost his Challenger debut to qualifier Sekou Bangoura 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 after leading 4-2 in the final set.  Bangoura held and broke to pull even in the third set, and then a huge wind gust tore the wind screen from the fence, which basically made the court unplayable. After the storm passed, the players returned to the court and Bangoura held (from deuce), then broke Opelka for the win.

No. 5 seed Jared Donaldson had just completed his 6-3, 6-2 win over Takuto Niki of Japan when play was suspended. Due to the delay, Tommy Paul's match with Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador was postponed until Wednesday.

At the $15,000 Futures in Godfrey, Illinois, the top two seeds are out. Clay Thompson advanced over top seed Deiton Baughman 3-6, 7-5, 3-0 retired, and Fred Saba, the former Duke star, beat No. 2 seed Kaichi Uchida of Japan 6-4, 6-1.  Nick Chappell, the recent TCU standout, defeated No. 4 seed Harry Bourchier of Australia 7-5, 6-3.

The top two seeds in the women's $10,000 tournament in Evansville, Indiana--Bianca Botto of Peru and Naomi Totka of Hungary--will begin play on Wednesday. A host of US college and junior players are in the draw, with wild card Sara Daavettila collecting her first professional level main draw victory. No. 7 seed Alexa Graham, Daavettila's future teammate at North Carolina, defeated Francesca Di Lorenzo 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.

Qualifying for the women's $50,000 Sacramento Challenger was completed today, with Michaela Gordon moving into the main draw with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Jacqueline Cako. Nicole Frenkel defeated Kelly Chen in the final round of qualifying, but both reached the main draw, with Chen taking a lucky loser spot.  Gordon will play wild card Brooke Austin and Chen will meet wild card Jamie Loeb, with Frenkel drawing No. 6 seed Mayo Hibi of Japan.  In first round action today, No. 3 seed CiCi Bellis, No. 8 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine and No. 2 seed Eri Hozumi of Japan advanced to the second round with straight-set wins.

In Granby, Canada, at the $100,000 men's Challenger, Felix Auger-Aliassime recorded his first Challenger victory, beating fellow qualifier Andrew Whittington of Australia 6-3, 6-2.  Auger-Aliassime, who turns 15 next month, made a big splash in March when he qualified for the Drummondville Challenger, but an injury forced him to withdraw before he could play his first round match.  In Granby qualifying, he beat fellow Canadian teen Jack Lin and Jean-Yves Aubone to advance to the main draw.  Auger-Aliassime's ITF junior ranking is not high enough to get him into the junior slams, and, although he has had good results this summer in ITF events on European clay, he has yet to win an ITF tournament above a Grade 3. He will play No. 8 seed Darian King of Barbados in the second round, after King defeated qualifier Raymond Sarmiento 6-2, 6-3.

Young Canadians Katherine Sebov and Charlotte Robillard-Millette are playing the women's $50,000 tournament in Granby, with Sebov qualifying for the main draw and Robillard-Millette getting a first round win.  Qualifier Ellie Halbauer advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 6-1 win over wild card Erin Routliffe of Canada, a two-time NCAA doubles champion at Alabama.

At the ATP 250 in Bogota, Colombia, 2014 NCAA finalist Alex Sarkissian won his first ATP-level match tonight, defeating ATP No. 97 John Millman of Australia 6-3, 6-3.  The former Pepperdine star will play No. 7 seed Malek Jaziri of Tunisia in the second round.

The Tennis Recruiting Network has begun its Clay Courts Championship Week coverage with recaps of the 12s tournaments. The article on Saud Alhogbani's title is here, and Elvina Kalieva's championship is here.

The USTA's New Balance High School Championships began on Monday in Boston, and the draws can be found here.