2016 NCAA Men's Finalists Seek Pro Circuit Titles Sunday; Smith Doubles Up in Israel; Berdusco Wins ITF Grade 5 Title in Puerto Rico
Back in May, UCLA's Mackenzie McDonald and Ohio State's Mikael Torpegaard met for the NCAA singles championship in Tulsa, with McDonald claiming a 6-3, 6-3 victory. The 21-year-old McDonald decided to turn pro this summer, foregoing his final year of eligibility, while the 22-year-old Torpegaard is back at Ohio State for his junior year. On Sunday, they will play in finals of USTA Pro Circuit events, although not each other, with McDonald competing in the $10,000 Futures in Irvine, California and Torpegaard in the final of the $50,000 ATP Challenger in Columbus, Ohio.
Both are wild cards, although McDonald's was necessary only because he was not initially entered. The No. 1 seed beat Alexios Halebian 6-2, 6-4 to advance the final against No. 2 seed Jan Choinski of Germany. Choinski defeated last week's California Futures champion No. 6 seed Sebastian Fanselow, also of Germany, 6-4, 6-4.
Denmark's Torpegaard did win a Futures event, the first of his career in singles, in Finland this summer, but his ranking, currently 642, would not have gotten him into the main draw of the Challenger, so he did need a wild card into his first tournament at that level. After beating No. 4 seed Peter Polansky in the second round, Torpegaard has gotten two straight-sets victories, over Gonzales Austin in the quarterfinals, and Tennys Sandgren in today's semifinal, by a 7-5, 7-6(5) score. Torpegaard will not be playing the current NCAA champion in the final, but he will be playing one, with 2004 champion Benjamin Becker of Germany his opponent. The former Baylor star, seeded No. 1 this week, defeated JP Smith of Australia 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 in today's semifinal.
Recent Georgia graduate Austin Smith left the United States for Israel without an ATP point to his credit, but he has reached the final of a $10,000 event in Israel, so he has earned at least 10 this week alone. Smith has already won seven matches, (well actually eight, I'll get to that in a moment) this week, including three in qualifying and the only set he has lost came in today's 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 win over Dekel Bar of Israel.
Smith played that match at 10 a.m. in Kiryat Gat and his first round qualifying match for next week's $25,000 Futures in Meitar, less than an hour's drive from Kiryat Gat, that afternoon. I'm not sure why he didn't receive a special exemption into the main draw; perhaps he didn't request one, or didn't get one due to his lack of an ATP ranking. In any case, Smith won that qualifying match with the loss of just one game, and it looks as if he will not have to play his second round qualifying match the same day as the final; he's not on the order of play for Sunday in Meitar.
In ITF Junior Circuit play, Brian Berdusco won his first title today, taking the singles championship at the Grade 5 in Puerto Rico. The 18-year-old from Bradenton, Florida was the No. 8 seed. He defeated unseeded Ignacio Garcia of Puerto Rico 6-4, 6-0 in the final. US boys swept the titles in Puerto Rico this week, with Russell Benkaim and William Woodall, the No. 3 seeds, taking the doubles, with a 6-7(5), 6-0, 10-4 over Garcia and Alejandro Rodriguez-Vidal, also of Puerto Rico.
Unseeded 15-year-old Ali Despain reached the girls final, falling to top seed Csilla Fodor of Hungary 6-2, 6-0.
At the Grade 5 in Togo, Aesha Patel of the US won the girls doubles title with Maxine Ng of Singapore. The No. 1 seeds defeated unseeded Angel Macleod and Oyinlomo Quadre of Nigeria 6-1, 6-3 in the final.