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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tiafoe Reaches Final Round of French Open Qualifying; Seven US Juniors in Milan Grade A Round of 16; NCAA D-I Sweet Sixteen Begins Thursday

Kalamazoo champion Frances Tiafoe is one win away from the main draw of the French Open after defeating No. 28 seed Saketh Myneni of India in the second round of men's qualifying today. Tiafoe, who played in the main draw last year as the USTA's wild card, beat the former Alabama star 7-6(5), 7-5 before rain began to disrupt play.  Tommy Paul and Dennis Novikov lost their second round matches, with Ryan Harrison's match with No. 17 Gerald Melzer still undecided, with darkness suspending play with Melzer up 4-2 in the third set.  Jared Donaldson did not start his match with Axel Michon; that second round match is on Thursday's schedule.  Tiafoe's third round match with Adrian Ungur of Romania is also scheduled for Thursday.

In first round women's qualifying today, top seed Louisa Chirico advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic, and Grace Min moved into the second round with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over No. 11 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece.  Chirico, who plays Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic and Min, who faces Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium, join five other US women--Jennifer Brady, Kristie Ahn, Sachia Vickery, Melanie Oudin and Vania King--in second round action on Thursday.

The round of 16 in singles and doubles quarterfinals are set for Thursday at the ITF Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan, with seven US juniors advancing in singles, and six still alive in doubles.

Top seed Amanda Anisimova and Natasha Subhash, both 14, are the two US girls in the third round.  Anisimova came back to defeat Australian qualifier Seone Mendez 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, while Subhash picked up an impressive 6-3, 7-6(4) win over No. 4 seed Katie Swan of Great Britain.  Although both are very early in their junior careers, Anisimova and Subhash have already shown they can compete at the Grade A level, with Anisimova winning a title in Mexico last fall and Subhash reaching the semifinals recently in Brazil.

Claire Liu lost to No. 5 seed Olesya Pervushina of Russia 6-0, 6-2, and Caty McNally fell to unseeded Ioana Minca of Romania 6-2, 6-2.

In all, there are eight seeds, two qualifiers and six other unseeded players remaining in the girls draw.

Sam Riffice and No. 12 seed John McNally had earned their spots in the third round on Tuesday, while qualifier Alexandre Rotsaert advanced when No. 4 seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia withdrew. Today, No. 5 seed Ulises Blanch advanced, again needing to come from a set down, this time in a 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Italian wild card Andrea Guerrieri.  Qualifier Trent Bryde defeated unseeded Louis Tessa of France 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 and will play No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece Thursday.

In the boys round of 16, there are five seeds, three qualifiers, a lucky loser and seven other unseeded players.

Two US boys doubles teams have reached the quarterfinals: No. 5 seeds McNally and JJ Wolf, and Patrick Kypson and Oliver Crawford. Blanch, who is partnering Juan Carlos Aguilar of Bolivia, has also reached the quarterfinals.

Claire Liu, playing with Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada, is the only US girl still in the doubles draw.

The NCAA Division I Team Championships kick off Thursday in Tulsa with the women's round of 16 matches. Live video and scoring links, as well as links to the draws, are at Tulsa's Tournament Central.

The women's schedule for Thursday follows:

North Carolina(3) vs. Virginia(14) 10 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time)
Auburn(11) vs. Vanderbilt(6) 10 a.m.

Miami(7) vs. Michigan(10) 1 p.m.
Stanford(15) vs. Florida(2) 1 p.m.

Cal(1) vs. Texas Tech(16) 5 p.m.
Texas vs Pepperdine(8) 5 p.m.

Georgia(5) vs. Oklahoma State(12) 8 p.m.
Georgia Tech vs. Ohio State(4) 8 p.m.

I will not be onsite covering the tournament this year for the first time in more than ten years, but I hope to follow from home for the first few days, until the NCAA Division III championships begin here in Kalamazoo. Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today will be providing onsite coverage beginning with the men's round of 16 on Friday.  He has his predictions for four of the men's matches up now, with the remaining four sure to follow before Friday.

He also spoke to the UCLA's Daily Bruin about that team's chances, the parity in college tennis this year and dark horses who may surprise over the next five days for this article.

Also, at the Tennis Recruiting Network, Marcia Frost looks at last weekend's men's regional at the University of Illinois, which saw Mississippi State blank the hosts to advance to the Sweet 16.