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Monday, November 21, 2016

Alison Ojeda Named Head Coach at Tennessee; Columbus Challenger Underway; Sixteen US Girls Reach Second Round at ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup

I'm en route to Florida for my annual onsite coverage of the Eddie Herr, Metropolia Orange Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl, so most of this week's posts will be brief, and I will take a break on Thanksgiving.

The University of Tennessee announced today that former Volunteer All-American Alison Ojeda will head the women's program in Knoxville, replacing Mike Patrick, who retired last week.  Ojeda, who spent six years as an assistant/associate head coach at Baylor, returned to her alma mater this June. See the Tennessee website for more on Ojeda's background. A video of her press conference is also available there.

The inaugural $75,000 ATP Challenger in Columbus is underway, with qualifying completed today as well as four first round matches.  Three of the qualifiers are current collegians, with Northwestern senior Strong Kircheimer, Virginia senior JC Aragone, Illinois junior Aron Hiltzik and former Ohio State standout Hunter Callahan earning a spot in the main draw.  A lucky loser will also get into the main draw with the withdrawal of No. 2 seed Rajeev Ram, who lost in the ATP World Tour Finals doubles championship Sunday.

In today's first round action, former Tulane All-American Dominik Koepfer of Germany beat Marcos Giron, Dennis Nevolo defeated fellow Illinois alum Jared Hiltzik, Georgia Tech's Kevin King, an alternate, beat wild card Martin Joyce and Christian Harrison got the better of No. 7 seed Austin Krajicek 6-2, 7-5. I spoke briefly to King at the Champaign Challenger, where he was among Chris Eubanks' most vocal supporters, and the 25-year-old left-hander told me after recovering from hip surgeries and serving as a volunteer assistant at Georgia Tech, he was committed to rejoining the tour full time in 2017.

Taylor Fritz, who has not played a Challenger match since April, is the top seed.

Following the ITF Grade 1 Yucatan Cup results has always been a challenge with some of the matches scheduled to be played at 9 or 10 p.m., on courts that have seven or eight matches to be completed before those matches begin. But I think all the US girls have finished their first round matches today, with 16 of them reaching the round of 32. No. 4 seed and Mexico City Grade A champion Taylor Johnson has withdrawn.

Top seed Amanda Anisimova, No. 8 seed Sofia Sewing and No. 15 seed Dalayana Hewitt advanced, as did Amanda Meyer, Elysia Bolton, Hailey Baptiste, Ann Li, lucky loser Victoria Flores, Carson Branstine, Alexa Noel, Chloe Hamlin, Kacie Harvey, Nicole Mossmer, Malkia Menguene and Vanessa Ong.  Qualifier Peyton Stearns defeated No. 7 seed Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

US boys advancing to the second round include qualifiers Caleb Chakravarthi and Noah Schachter, Keenan Mayo, Axel Nefve and No. 10 seed Trent Bryde.

The tournament website is here, with links to live streaming and live scoring, but I couldn't get either to work for me.