Liu, McKenzie Qualify in Scottsdale $50K; Kalamazoo Champions Go 3-2 at Charlottesville Challenger; Escobedo Feature; Round of 16 Set at ITF Grade 4 in South Carolina
Sixteen-year-old Claire Liu and 17-year-old Kylie McKenzie won their third and final qualifying matches today at the USTA Women's $50,000 Pro Circuit tournament in Scottsdale and have drawn each other for their first round match Wednesday. Liu defeated Brynn Boren 6-2, 6-3 after having beaten No. 3 seed Ema Burgic Bucko of Bosnia Monday, while McKenzie took out Megan McCray 6-1, 6-4 after having beaten No. 4 seed Yulia Beygelzimer of Ukraine on Monday. Whoever takes their match on Wednesday will get her first win at the $50,000 level.
Alyona Sotnikova of Ukraine and Sanaz Marand were the other two qualifiers, while Boren got in as a lucky loser. Nicole Gibbs is the top seed, and she advanced to the second round with a win today, as did wild card Ellie Halbauer and Melanie Oudin. Macon champion and USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge leader Kayla Day plays Robin Anderson in the first round Wednesday and Macon finalist Danielle Collins, who received a special exempt entry, faces No. 7 seed Taylor Townsend. Sonya Kenin, who did not play Macon, drew No. 2 seed Samantha Crawford.
In Charlottesville, no fewer than five past Kalamazoo 18s champion were on Tuesday's schedule for their first round matches at the $50,000 ATP Challenger. 2014 Kalamazoo champion and defending Charlottesville Challenger champion Noah Rubin fell to No. 7 seed Peter Polansky of Canada 6-3, 6-2; 2008 Kalamazoo champion Austin Krajicek defeated Ed Corrie of Great Britain 7-6(3), 6-4; 2015 Kalamazoo champion and top seed Frances Tiafoe defeated wild card Ryan Shane 6-3, 2-6, 6-4; and 2016 champion Michael Mmoh got the better of 2012 champion and No. 8 seed Dennis Novikov 6-3, 6-2. Mmoh will play Reilly Opelka in the second round Wednesday, with Mmoh currently leading the head-to-head 3-2, all in junior matches.(Correction: Mmoh and Opelka also played in Charlottesville qualifying in 2015, with Mmoh winning).
ESPN's Greg Garber caught up with Ernesto Escobedo and his father to get the background on the 20-year-old Southern Californian's impressive rise in 2016. Escobedo is in Ecuador this week for the $50,000 ATP Challenger there, and he advanced to the second round with a win today.
At the $50,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Toronto, top seed CiCi Bellis defeated Usue Arconada 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the second round. Qualifier Ronit Yurovsky claimed her second win at the $50,000 level (her first was last week in Macon) by defeating former Stanford star Carol Zhao of Canada 6-1, 2-6, 6-2. Julia Elbaba, also a qualifier, defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-2, 7-5.
At the $10,000 Futures in Birmingham, Alabama, nine first round matches were played today, with No. 2 seed Wil Spencer, No. 3 seed Nick Chappell, Austin Smith and Nathaniel Lammons the Americans posting wins. Qualifier Alex Diaz, who plays for Puerto Rico, picked up his first ATP point with a 7-6(3), 7-5 win over Andrew Carter. Diaz is a freshman at Georgia and the son of Georgia head coach Manny Diaz. His next opponent, No. 4 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, will challenge Diaz's streak of five straight-set wins on Thursday.
The ITF Grade 4 in South Carolina is underway, with two rounds completed on Monday and Tuesday. Top boys seeds Nathan Perrone and Lleyton Cronje of South Africa are safely through to the round of 16, as are top girls seeds Georgia Drummy of Ireland and Malkia Menguene.
The biggest ITF junior tournament this week is the Grade B1 Asia Oceania Closed in Korea. Top boys seed Yibing Wu of China and top girls seed Ayumi Miyamoto of Japan have advanced, but No. 2 seed Yuki Naito of Japan lost in the opening round to Shou Na Mu of China.