Friday, February 3, 2017

January Aces; Osuigwe Ousts Top Seed to Reach Paraguay Grade 1 Final; Sebov Through to Semifinals in Midland; Volynets Feature

My monthly Tennis Recruiting Network article highlighting the top performances of the previous month is now up, with 16 juniors and former collegians featured for their January accomplishments. One notable item I learned during my research pertains to the college commitment of Great Britain's Emily Appleton, now No. 11 in the ITF junior rankings.

At the ITF Grade 1 Asuncion Bowl in Paraguay, unseeded 14-year-old Whitney Osuigwe has reached Saturday's final by taking out No. 1 seed and Eddie Herr champion Maria Lourdes Carle of Argentina 7-5, 6-3. Osuigwe, who reached the semifinals of the Grade A Orange Bowl in December, will be making her debut in a Grade 1 final when she meets unseeded Draginja Vukovic of Serbia.  Vukovic defeated No. 6 seed Francesca Jones of Great Britain 7-5, 7-6(2).

The boys final will feature No. 5 seed Constantin Bittoun Kouzmine of France and unseeded wild card Thiago Tirante of Argentina.  Bittoun Kouzmine defeated No. 4 seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina 7-5, 7-6(2) and Tirante, the 2015 Junior Orange Bowl 14s champion, beat unseeded Joao Reis da Silva of Brazil 6-4, 6-0.  Bittoun Kouzmine has already claimed one title, winning the doubles with Matias Soto of Chile. The No. 3 seeds defeated top seeds Ondrej Styler of the Czech Republic and Baez 6-3, 7-5 in the final.

The girls doubles title was won by Fernanda Labrana of Chile and Helene Pellicano of Malta.  The No. 4 seeds downed No. 3 seeds Sofia Munera Sanchez of Colombia and Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico 6-3 6-3 in the final.

The semifinals are set for the $100,000 Dow Tennis Classic in Midland, with qualifier Katherine Sebov once again producing a stunning result. The 18-year-old Canadian, who beat No. 7 seed Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay in the first round, took out No. 2 seed Varvara Lepchenko 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5). It wasn't easy, taking two-and-a-half hours and requiring Sebov to recover from blowing a two-break lead in the third set and serving for the match twice. Sebov will face defending champion Naomi Broady of Great Britain in Saturday's semifinals.

The other teen in the quarterfinals, Kayla Day, saw her run end at the hands of No. 5 seed Tatjana Maria of Germany, who played nearly flawless tennis in her 6-3, 6-1 win.  Maria will play No. 8 seed Julia Boserup, who defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 2-6, 6-2, 7-5.  

Day and doubles partner Caroline Dolehide got a big win in first round doubles last night, beating top seeds Madison Brengle and Maria 6-4, 7-6(5). They advanced to Saturday's doubles semifinals when quarterfinal opponent Lepchenko, playing with Boserup, withdrew.  See the tournament website for order of play, draws and a link to the live stream.

At the $125,000 Dallas Challenger, top seed Ryan Harrison moved into the final with a 6-3, 6-0 win over unseeded Tatsuma Ito of Japan and will face the winner of tonight's match between No. 6 seed Denis Kudla and No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz.

Tommy Paul, the top seed, has advanced to the semifinals of the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures in Palm Coast Florida after beating No. 8 seed Peter Nagy of Hungary 6-4, 6-4. Paul will play unseeded Facundo Arguello of Argentina, who beat him in three sets at the 2015 Tallahassee Challenger, next.  The other semifinal features US Open boys champion Felix Auger-Aliassime and Renta Tokuda of Japan. Arguello and his partner Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina, the top seeds, won the doubles title today, beating unseeded Julian Bradley of Ireland and Isaiah Strode 6-2, 6-3.

In junior news, check out this feature on 16s Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl champion Katie Volynets. Paul Bauman spoke with Volynets and her parents about their emigration from Ukraine, how Katie started in tennis, why she prefers it to other sports, and the source of her mental toughness.