Virginia's Soderlund Defeats Groth, Kwiatkowski and Aragone Qualify at Charlottesville Challenger; Qualifying Complete at Birmingham Futures, Toronto $50K; Zhuk Wins Tampico Title; Holt is Southern Cal Intercollegiate Champion
Although Virginia freshman Carl Soderlund has yet to play a college match, he had already established himself as one of the top players in Division I with his ATP ranking inside the Top 500 and a semifinal appearance at the $25,000 Futures in Irvine California this fall.
The 19-year-old from Sweden received a wild card into this week's $50,000 ATP Challenger in Charlottesville and came away with an impressive first round win this evening, beating Sam Groth of Australia, the champion at the Las Vegas Challenger two weeks ago, 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-2. He will play the winner of Tuesday's match between Tommy Paul and No. 4 seed Denis Kudla. Cavalier junior Alexander Ritschard, who received a wild card into the main draw, fell to No. 2 seed Jared Donaldson tonight in his first round match 6-2 3-6, 6-2.
Two other members of the University of Virginia men's team are now in the main draw however, with seniors Thai Kwiatkowski and JC Aragone claiming victories in today's final round of qualifying.
Wild card Aragone defeated Dominik Koepfer of Germany, the recent Tulane star, 6-3, 7-6(7), while Kwiatkowski downed No. 5 seed Takanyi Garanganga of Zimbabwe 6-4, 6-3. Both Aragone, who is the ITA Atlantic Regional champion, and Kwiatkowski, who received a wild card, are in the singles draw at the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, which begins Thursday morning in New York. Aragone, who has never played a main draw Pro Circuit match above the Futures level before, faces unseeded Liam Broady of Great Britain in the first round Tuesday, with Kwiatkowski drawing No. 5 seed Tim Smyczek.
The other two qualifiers are Gonzales Austin, the former Vanderbilt star, who faces wild card Mackenzie McDonald in the first round and top seed Yuki Bhambri of India, who will play No. 6 seed Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland.
Reilly Opelka, who beat Sekou Bangoura 5-7, 7-5, 6-4, and Tennys Sandgren, who defeated Brydan Klein of Great Britain 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-1 advanced to the second round with wins earlier today.
All matches are being streamed free of charge this week in Charlottesville, with commentary by Mike Cation on those on Court 7, or Centre Court on the Livestream feed.
The main draw of the $10,000 Birmingham Alabama Futures begins on Tuesday, after eight qualifiers were determined in today's matches. Getting through a 128-player qualifying draw is an accomplishment in itself, although there are no ATP points awarded unless the qualifier wins his first round match. Seventeen-year-olds Benjamin Sigouin of Canada and Alexandre Rotsaert are through to the main draw, as are five current collegiate players: Niclas Braun(Mississippi State), Harrison Richmond(Virginia/Central Florida), Guillermo Nunez(TCU), Sasha Gozun(South Florida) and Alex Diaz(Georgia). Former Florida State/South Florida standout Dominic Cotrone is the eighth qualifier.
The top seed in the main draw is Jose Statham of New Zealand, with Wil Spencer the No. 2 seed. US Open boys champion Felix Auger-Aliassime is playing a US Futures event for the first time in his career. The 16-year-old is the No. 4 seed. Wild cards went to Hunter Johnson(SMU), Sam Edwards(Clemson), Martin Joyce(Ohio State) and Jimmy Bendeck(Baylor).
The qualifying is still underway at the $50,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit event in Scottsdale Arizona, but it is complete at another $50,000 event in North America, in Toronto Canada. Former Michigan teammates Emina Bektas and Ronit Yurovsky both qualified into the main draw, as did recent Virginia graduate Julia Elbaba. Seventeen-year-old Katherine Sebov of Canada also reached the main draw via qualifying. CiCi Bellis is the top seed, and will play Usue Arconada in the first round. Wild cards went to Gabriela Dabrowski, Layne Sleeth and Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada and Carson Branstine.
Raveena Kingsley, back in action for the first time since July due to an injury, won her first round match, beating Pia Konig of Austria 6-2, 6-4. Bianca Andreescu of Canada, a finalist two weeks ago in the Saguenay $50,000 tournament, also won her first round match, beating Dabrowski. Nicole Frenkel defeated No. 7 seed Lauren Albanese in first round action and Jessica Wacnik took out No. 5 seed Laura Robson.
The USTA released the standings for the women's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, with Kayla Day leading with 80 points, followed by Danielle Collins with 48 and Grace Min with 29. The complete list of those with points can be found here.
The final of the $50,000+H tournament in Tampico Mexico didn't finish until late last night, with 2015 Wimbledon girls champion Sofya Zhuk taking the title with a 6-4, 6-3 win over fellow Russian Varvara Flink. Zhuk, still just 16, was a wild card entry into the tournament.
Katie Swan of Great Britain and Usue Arconada, both of whom reached the singles quarterfinals, advanced to the doubles final, but were beaten by top seeds Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania and Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-0, 6-2.
The final of the Southern California Intercollegiate Championships was an all-Trojan affair, with USC freshman Brandon Holt, the No. 2 seed, defeating senior Nick Crystal, the No. 3 seed, 6-3, 6-4 for the title. Second seeds Holt and Riley Smith were in the doubles final, but their opponents from Texas Tech, top seeds Bjorn Thomson and Alexander Sendegeya, were unable to stay for the Monday final, so it went unplayed. Holt's next stop is New York, for the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate Championships. For more, see the USC website.