Blanch Beats Crawford to Reach G1 Banana Bowl Final; Stewart, Kozlov Advance to Pro Circuit Finals; Nefve, Harvey Win G4 Panama Titles; Northwestern Men End Losing Streak to Illinois
Ulises Blanch will play for his second Grade 1 singles title Sunday at the Banana Bowl in Brazil after defeating unseeded Oliver Crawford 6-3, 7-5 in today's semifinals. Blanch, the No. 2 seed, will face No. 10 seed Louis Wessels of Germany, who advanced to his first Grade 1 final with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 win over No. 1 seed Yosuke Watanuki of Japan. Blanch defeated Wessels in three sets last November in the third round of the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup.
Watanuki recovered from his semifinal loss to take the doubles title, partnering Blanch against No. 7 seeds Juan Carlos Aguilar of Bolivia and Bruno Britez of Paraguay. The top seeds defeated the South American pair 7-6(4), 7-6(4) in today's final.
The girls final will be between No. 5 seed Panna Udvardy of Hungary and unseeded Emily Appleton of Great Britain. Udvardy beat No. 3 seed Lara Escauriza of Paraguay 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 and Appleton defeated No. 14 seed Mirjam Bjorklund of Sweden 6-4, 6-4. The girls doubles title went to the Japanese pair of Mai Hontama and Ayumi Miyamoto. The top seeds defeated No. 6 seeds Bjorklund and Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico 7-5, 6-4 in the final.
At the women's $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Weston, Florida, Katerina Stewart secured one title and will go for a second on Sunday. Stewart, the top seed, defeated No. 3 seed Shilin Xu of China 6-1, 6-3 in the semifinals and will play No. 4 seed Chanel Simmonds of South Africa in the final after Simmonds downed Nina Alibalic of Croatia 6-4, 6-4.
Stewart won the doubles title with Tess Sugnaux of Switzerland, beating Julieta Estable of Argentina and Jasmine Paolini of Italy 7-6(2), 6-3 in a final between two unseeded teams.
Kozlov will play Great Britain's Lloyd Glasspool, who prevented an all-teen final with his 6-4, 6-2 win over wild card Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada. The 22-year-old Glasspool, who completed his eligibility at Texas last year, is looking for his first Futures title of 2016 after winning two $10,000 Futures titles last fall.
Two US juniors won singles titles at the ITF Grade 4 in Panama today, with both victories coming over fellow Americans. Fifteen-year-old Axel Nefve, seeded No. 7, beat unseeded Fletcher Scott 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 to earn his second Grade 4 title, both coming in the past two months. Fourteen-year-old Kacie Harvey, also a No. 7 seed, beat No. 8 seed Dalayna Hewitt 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4) for her second ITF singles title. Hewitt had beaten Harvey last week in the quarterfinals of the Grade 3 in Costa Rica.
Hewitt did get a title, taking the doubles in yet another all-American final. Hewitt and Alana Smith, the top seeds, downed No. 2 seeds Harvey and Kate Paulus 6-2, 6-4 in the final.
A noteworthy win for the No 11 Northwestern men today in Evanston, beating No. 8 Illinois 4-3. The Wildcats' only loss of the season was a 4-3 decision to Illinois in the final of the kickoff weekend in January, but beyond avenging that loss, there was additional significance to the Northwestern program. The Wildcats had lost 27 consecutive times to Illinois, dating back to 1999, and had not beaten a Top 10 team since at least 1981, according to this account of the match at the Northwestern website.