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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mmoh, Kozlov Reach Knoxville Challenger Quarterfinals; Riffice, Thomas Advance at Futures; Min, Collins Win, Remain in Australian Open Wild Card Race

More early signings have been announced today, but I'm going to wait until tomorrow to post another update like yesterday's. My article for the Tennis Recruiting Network on Michaela Gordon's choice will be up on Friday morning and I'll include a link to that and all the other announcements I track down tomorrow.

The quarterfinals are set at the $50,000 ATP Challenger in Knoxville Tennessee, with both Michael Mmoh and Stefan Kozlov reaching the quarterfinals. Kozlov, the No. 8 seed, defeated Tennys Sandgren 6-2, 6-4 and Mmoh took out No. 6 seed Tim Smyczek 6-3, 6-2.  Kozlov's next opponent will be former Texas star Ed Corrie of Great Britain, who surprised Australian Sam Groth 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).  Mmoh avoided another Challenger-level meeting with friend Frances Tiafoe, when Austin Krajicek took out the No. 2 seed 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Wild card Mackenzie McDonald defeated Dennis Novikov 6-4, 6-1 in a battle of former UCLA Bruins and will play unseeded Peter Polansky of Canada in the quarterfinals. McDonald defeated Polansky last week in the Charlottesville quarterfinals, and also has won their previous two Challenger-level meetings. Polansky upset No. 1 seed, defending champion and ATP No. 61 Dan Evans of Great Britain 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 in today's second round. No. 3 seed Jared Donaldson beat Rhyne Williams and will play Charlottesville finalist Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium next. Bemelmans defeated Noah Rubin 6-4, 6-4.

Knoxville is the second of three tournaments in the USTA's Men's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, with Reilly Opelka the current leader. With Opelka not playing this week, all remaining Americans have a chance to chip away at his lead.

Two of the junior qualifiers who earned their first ATP points this week have been able to continue their runs with wins today.  Sam Riffice defeated fellow 17-year-old Benjamin Sigouin of Canada 7-5, 7-6(4) to advance to the quarterfinals of the $10,000 Futures in Niceville Florida. Riffice will play No. 3 seed Jose Statham of New Zealand next.  No. 4 seed Wil Spencer also advanced to the quarterfinals, defeating 17-year-old Alexandre Rotsaert 6-4, 6-1.  Also of note, No. 8 seed and last week's Birmingham Futures champion Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada lost to Tulane junior Constantin Schmitz of Germany, a qualifier, 6-0, 6-2. Auger-Aliassime has advanced to the doubles final however, with Patrick Kypson.  They will play Patrick Daciek and Dane Webb in Friday's final, with both teams unseeded.

The other teen moving on is 16-year-old Danny Thomas, who took out the Costa Rica $10,000 Futures top seed Connor Smith 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in today's quarterfinals. Thomas earned his first singles point earlier this week, although he is 772 in the ATP doubles rankings. He will play No. 5 seed Evan Song in the semifinals.

At the $50,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Waco Texas, Danielle Collins and Grace Min won their matches today to keep alive their chances to catch Kayla Day for the women's Australian Open wild card.  Collins, who received a wild card into the tournament, defeated Anastasia Pivovarova of Russia 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 to set a meeting with top seed Samantha Crawford.  Min, the No. 6 seed, advanced to the quarterfinals when Varvara Flink of Russia retired trailing 1-0 in the first set. Min's next opponent is Sesil Karatancheva of Bulgaria, who defeated qualifier Chanelle Van Nguyen 6-1, 6-2.  Robin Anderson and Sachia Vickery(7) will play in the other bottom half quarterfinal, with Jennifer Elie advancing to the quarterfinals against Scottsdale champion Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil.