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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Harrison, Paul and Maria Win Pro Circuit Titles; Shapovalov Defaulted in Davis Cup; Florida Wins Pac-12/SEC Showdown

Top seeds Ryan Harrison and Tommy Paul won titles this weekend in USTA Pro Circuit events, while Tatjana Maria of Germany returned to the winners circle at the only USTA Pro Circuit event in the US this week.

Harrison defeated No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz 6-3, 6-3 late Saturday night at the $125,000 ATP Challenger in Dallas, the fourth Challenger title of his career, and is now up to 62 in the ATP rankings.

Former University of Memphis stars Joe Salisbury of Great Britain and David O'Hare of Ireland won their tenth, and biggest, doubles title in Dallas. The unseeded pair defeated Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan of India and Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia 6-7(6), 6-3, 11-9, in the final, saving four match points.

At the $15,000 Palm Coast Futures, 19-year-old Tommy Paul defeated unseeded 18-year-old Renta Tokuda of Japan 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to win his fifth Futures title, all of which have come on clay.

At the $100,000 Dow Tennis Classic in Midland, 2015 champion Maria, seeded No. 5, defeated 2016 champion Naomi Broady of Great Britain, the No. 3 seed, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4.

The doubles title in Midland went to No. 2 seeds Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey, who downed unseeded wild cards Caroline Dolehide and Kayla Day 7-6(1), 6-3.  Weinhold and Whoriskey had won five titles together over the past two years, but, as with Salisbury and O'Hare, this is the biggest.

Davis Cup provided plenty of drama today, with Spain coming back against Croatia and Belgium upsetting Germany, but much of the attention has been focused on Denis Shapovalov's default in the fifth and deciding match of Canada's tie with Great Britain.  Trailing Edmund 6-3, 6-4 and 2-1, reports say the 17-year-old Canadian hit a ball in anger after being broken, which ricocheted off the umpire's mic and hit him in the eye. Shapovalov, the 2016 Wimbledon boys champion, was then defaulted. Shapovalov had been selected to play the tense fifth rubber over Peter Polansky.  For more on the incident, see the BBC website.  The ITF issued this statement:

After dropping serve in the third game of the third set, Denis Shapovalov hit the ball very hard, unintentionally striking chair umpire Arnaud Gabas in the left eye, causing him to need medical attention.

Referee Brian Earley, who witnessed the incident, declared an immediate default of Mr Shapovalov for unsportsmanlike conduct. It was clear that Mr Shapovalov did not intend to hit Mr Gabas.

The player sought out Mr Gabas in the referee’s office where he was being attended and apologised. Mr Gabas has bruising and swelling of the left eye. He has gone to Ottawa General Hospital for precautionary evaluation.

After the recent incident at the Australian Open Junior Championships, when an Italian girl was defaulted for hitting a ballrunner, you would hope that players would begin to realize how risking this swatting is, both for other people on the court and in the stands, and for themselves, when default is the result.

The University of Florida won the Pac-12/SEC Showdown this weekend in Gainesville, which featured four highly ranked men's teams: Florida(11), Georgia(5), USC(8) and UCLA(6).  The Gators defeated USC 4-3 in the first round Saturday and UCLA 4-2 in Sunday's final. For more on today's win over UCLA, see the Florida website.

At the ITF Grade 3 in New Zealand, two American girls claimed the doubles title.  Skyler Grishuk and Alana Smith, the No. 2 seeds, defeated top seeds Joanna Garland of Taiwan and Baijing Lin of Australia 6-3, 6-0 in the championship match. Grishuk and Smith won their first two matches without dropping a game.