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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Collins and Day Reach Macon $50K Final; Kozlov Makes Challenger Final in China; Lyeons and Beck Win Titles at ITF Grade 4 in Atlanta

Danielle Collins and Kayla Day earned straight set victories today in the semifinals of the $50,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Macon, Georgia and will face off Sunday for the title and the lead in the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge.

Collins, a qualifier who has won seven matches since last Sunday, rolled past No. 3 seed and defending champion Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 6-2, 6-0 in just over an hour.  Collins could hardly have played better; everything was working for the 22-year-old Floridian, who is just three months into her pro career after graduating from Virginia this summer.  Peterson, who is 125 in the WTA rankings this week, didn't play badly, but Collins was on fire, hitting with such pace, depth, and angles that Peterson was a spectator for the last 11 games of the match, all won by Collins, who never faced a break point.  If you think I'm exaggerating her level of play, see for yourself. The match is available on replay here.

Day's 6-2, 7-5 win over No. 4 seed Grace Min was a tough one by comparison, but impressive too, since she had needed three hours to win her 6-0, 6-7(5), 7-6(4) quarterfinal over Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria on Friday.  Day dominated the first set, but trailed 3-0 in the second before winning three straight games to even it. None of her first four second-set service holds were easy--Day saved five break points in that stretch--but after she broke Min at love to take a 6-5 lead, she closed it out with a love hold. That had to be particularly satisfying for the 17-year-old Californian after failing to serve out the match three times against Karatantcheva.

Neither Collins nor Day has ever reached a $50,000 final before in their limited professional careers, but both have had plenty of experience in big finals, with Collins winning the NCAA singles title twice and Day playing one of the best matches of her life in the final of the US Open Junior Championships last month.  The winner will take the lead in the race for the USTA's reciprocal Australian Open wild card, with two tournaments left in the competition after this week.  The singles final will be streamed after the doubles final, which begins at noon EDT.

At the $75,000 ATP Challenger in China, 18-year-old Stefan Kozlov has reached the final, advancing when Alexander Kudryavtsev of Russia retired trailing 6-3, 0-1.  Kozlov, the No. 5 seed, will face top seed Yen-Hsun(Rendy) Lu of Taiwan in pursuit of his first Challenger title in his third career Challenger final.

At the $25,000 men's Futures tournament in Burlingame, California, both Americans lost in the semifinals.  Top seed Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium defeated Raymond Sarmiento(USC) 6-2, 6-3 and No. 2 seed Sam Barry of Ireland came from behind to eliminate Mico Santiago 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.   Top seeds Ruben Gonzales of the Philippines and and Ruan Roelofse of South Africa, both former Illinois players, defeated No. 3 seeds Barry and Peter Kobelt(Ohio State) 6-4, 6-4 to take the doubles title.

Jaycer Lyeons won his second ITF Grade 4 singles title of the month today in Atlanta.  The 15-year-old Texan defeated 17-year-old Sebastian Mermersky of Bulgaria 6-4, 7-5 in the final.  Fifteen-year-old Chloe Beck of Georgia won the girls title, beating Victoria Hu 6-3, 6-3 in the championship match.

Victoria Flores and Madeline Meredith won the girls doubles title, beating Ali Despain and Addison Guevara 5-7, 6-0, 10-8 in the final.
Neither team was seeded.

In the boys doubles final, No. 3 seeds Harrison Brown of Australia and Vikash Singh of India defeated Christian Alshon and Tyler Zink, the No. 4 seeds, 6-2, 6-2.

Alafia Ayeni has advanced to the final of the ITF Grade 2 in Japan. The No. 9 seed defeated No. 4 seed Naoki Tajima of Japan 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinals, and will play No. 3 seed Yuta Shimizu of Japan for the title.