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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sanford, Loeb, Falconi and Anderson Reach Midland Quarterfinals; LSU First in Recruiting Class Rankings; Four Top US Girls Attend Fed Cup Camp in Hawaii

Three Intercollegiate Tennis Association Players of the Year and a blue chip recruit have reached the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, and one of them will reach the final, with all four in the bottom half of the draw.

The least surprising of those four quarterfinalists is No. 3 seed Irina Falconi, the 2010 Player of the Year as a sophomore at Georgia Tech. Currently 76 in the WTA rankings, Falconi was a finalist in Midland in 2011 and the 25-year-old took another step in that direction today with a 6-1, 6-1 win over qualifier Lauren Albanese.

Falconi will face another qualifier Friday in NCAA champion Jamie Loeb, who was named ITA Player of the Year in 2014, after her freshman year at North Carolina.  Loeb, who had not won three matches in a row since last July, now has won five since Sunday, with the 20-year-old New Yorker beating No. 5 seed Lauren Davis 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in the second round today.  Davis, who reached the third round of the Australian Open, is now ranked 98, so Loeb has the first Top 100 win of her career.

Robin Anderson, the 2015 ITA Player of the Year after her senior year at UCLA, received a wild card into the tournament. Today the 22-year-old from New Jersey defeated 16-year-old CiCi Bellis 7-5, 6-3 and will, for the third straight match, play a teenager.  Alexandra Sanford, a 17-year-old qualifier from Ohio, won her fifth consecutive match today when Alexa Glatch retired with an injury down 6-4.  Sanford, who has committed to North Carolina, had never won a pro level match until yesterday.

Maui finalist Raveena Kingsley led Shelby Rogers by a set and a break, but eventually fell by a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.   Rogers will play the winner of tonight's match between Mayo Hibi of Japan and No. 8 seed Louisa Chirico. Madison Brengle, the top seed, will play unseeded Naomi Broady of Great Britain in the other quarterfinal.

For draws and a link to the live streaming, see the tournament website.

In men's Pro Circuit action, Frances Tiafoe lost to Japan's Tatsuma Ito 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the $100,000 Dallas Challenger this afternoon, leaving Tim Smyczek, who plays qualifier Marinko Matosevic of Australia in the quarterfinals tonight.

Tiafoe has received a main draw wild card into next week's ATP event in Memphis, joining Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul.  Wimbledon champion Reilly Opelka, who was originally awarded a main draw wild card, has a stress fracture and is unable to to compete right now.

At the $10,000 Futures in Palm Coast, Florida, all remaining Americans went out in today's second round.  Wil Spencer has reached the doubles final, with former Texas A&M-Corpus Christi star Peter Nagy of Hungary.

The Tennis Recruiting Network announced its women's recruiting class rankings, with LSU finishing No. 1.  Kingsley is one of three blue chips the Tigers have signed, and I spoke with her about the likelihood that she'll enter next fall for an upcoming article for Tennis Recruiting Network.  North Carolina, who finished third in the voting, has two blue chips scheduled to begin in the fall, including Sanford.

The women's Top 10:
1. LSU
2. Stanford
3. North Carolina
5. Alabama
6. Virginia
7. Georgia Tech
8. Washington
9. Princeton
10. Florida

The USTA announced the participation of four junior girls--Usue Arconada, Kayla Day, Caroline Dolehide and Claire Liu--in the Fed Cup camp being held in Hawaii this week in advance of the USA's tie with Poland Saturday and Sunday.

An excerpt from the release is below. The complete release can be found here.

KAILUA-KONA, HI., February 4, 2016 – The USTA today announced that four top junior players are taking part in USTA Player Development’s Fed Cup camp, which is held alongside the United States’ Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II First Round tie vs. Poland, February 6-7, at the Holua Tennis Center in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Usue Arconada (age 17; College Park, Md.), Kayla Day (age 16; Santa Barbara, Calif.), Caroline Dolehide (age 17; Hinsdale, Ill.), and Claire Liu (age 15; Thousand Oaks, Calif.) are all participating in the camp, an opportunity traditionally held in conjunction with Fed Cup ties in the U.S.

The camp is an opportunity for some of America’s top young players to train with one another, as well as practice and interact with the U.S. Fed Cup Team of Captain Mary Joe Fernandez, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, CoCo Vandeweghe, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. USTA National Coach Kathy Rinaldi and guest coach Marianne Werdel are running the camp.