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Friday, April 14, 2017

Meyer's Commitment to Vanderbilt; Arconada Reaches Pelham $25K Final; Anisimova, Duval to Meet in $80K Semifinals; Escobedo, Vondrousova in First ATP, WTA Semifinals

While at the Easter Bowl, I had an opportunity to talk with blue chip Amanda Meyer about her commitment to Vanderbilt for this Tennis Recruiting Network article. I often ask players heading to college for their best memories of junior tennis and what it has meant to them, and Meyer articulated some of the reasons we all have such a passion for the sport.

Today's action produced a lot of firsts for young players.  Eighteen-year-old Usue Arconada has advanced to her first Pro Circuit final above the $10,000 level at the $25,000 tournament in Pelham Alabama. Arconada reached the final when No. 2 seed Amanda Carreras of Great Britain retired leading 7-6(8), 1-0. The first set alone had taken 68 minutes to decide.  Arconada, seeded fourth, will face unseeded Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway, who beat former Alabama star Alex Guarachi Mathison of Chile 1-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Carreras's injury was obviously serious, as she was unable to play in the doubles final, with No. 3 seeds Emina Bektas and Sanaz Marand getting the walkover from Carreras and Tena Lukas of Croatia.

Fifteen-year-old Amanda Anisimova has had very few appearances in Pro Circuit events--just three and all this year, at the $100,000 Dow Tennis Classic, the $25,000 event in Brazil and this week's $80,000 tournament at Indian Harbour Beach. She lost in the final round of qualifying in Midland, made the final as a qualifier in Brazil, and has reached the semifinals in Florida this week, after defeating 19-year-old Renata Zarazua of Mexico 6-2, 6-2 in today's quarterfinals. The 2016 French Open girls finalist will face wild card Vicky Duval, whose amazing comeback continued today with a 6-0, 6-3 win over top seed Genie Bouchard of Canada. Duval, who last played at 2016 Wimbledon, has spent the past months building up her health, saying her comeback at Wimbledon, after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014, was premature.

In Biel Switzerland, 17-year-old qualifier Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic advanced to the semifinals of a WTA event for the first time, defeating Kristyna Pliskova, also from the Czech Republic, 6-2, 7-5 in today's quarterfinals. Vondrousova, a former ITF junior No. 1, never reached a junior slam singles final, but she did win the doubles titles at the 2015 Australian and French Opens with Miriam Kolodziejova. Recently named to the Czech team that will face the US in the Fed Cup semifinals later this month, Vondrousova will play another Czech, top seed Barbora Strycova, in the semifinals. For more, see the WTA website.

In Houston, at the ATP's US Clay Courts, 20-year-old Ernesto Escobedo has reached his first ATP semifinal by virtue of a three-hour 7-6(6), 6-7(6), 7-6(5) win over No. 2 seed John Isner.  Escobedo, who received a wild card into the event and is playing in his first ATP tournament on clay this week, survived 35 aces by Isner.  Escobedo will face No. 8 seed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in the semifinals. Regardless of the outcome of that match, Escobedo is projected to move from his current ATP ranking of 91 into the 70s.

At the ATP Challenger in Mexico, ITF junior No. 1 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia has reached the semifinals, defeating No. 7 seed and former Tulsa star Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador 6-3, 6-4. The 17-year-old wild card will face No. 8 seed Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain, who is 14 years his senior, in the semifinals.  For more on Kecmanovic's breakthrough this week, see the ATP website.

Jared Hiltzik, who won last week's Futures in Memphis, is through to the semifinals of this week's $25,000 Futures in Little Rock. The former Illinois All-American defeated qualifier Winston Lin (Columbia) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals, setting up a meeting with No. 5 seed Philip Bester of Canada.  No. 4 seed Brayden Schnur of Canada, the former North Carolina star, beat wild card Ulises Blanch 6-7(1), 6-1, 6-1 and will face former Kentucky standout Eric Quigley, who defeated top seed Yannick Mertens of Belgium 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.