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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Liu Wins $25K Naples Title; Tiafoe Claims Another Challenger Title; Baylor Sole D-I Women's Seed Missing from Sweet 16; Quarterfinals Set in D-III

Claire Liu, who turns 17 later this month, won her second career title on the Pro Circuit, defeating No. 7 seed Danielle Collins 6-3, 6-1 in the today's final at the $25,000 tournament in Naples Florida.

As a qualifier, Liu was playing her eighth match in eight days, but even after a tough three-set win over junior rival and No. 2 seed Kayla Day on Saturday, Liu had more than enough energy to sail through the one-hour and 12-minute final. Liu had told me at the Easter Bowl that she was devoting much of her practice sessions to her serve and her success was certainly evident today. In the second set, Liu made 19 0f 21 first serves, over 90% and overall her first serve percentage was over 74%.  Interesting to note that five of Liu's eight wins were over fellow teenagers.

Liu had already cracked the WTA Top 500 with her semifinal showing last week at the Charleston $60K, and these points won't be added until the May 22nd rankings, but she will make another big jump, into the mid-300s, then.  Her only previous pro title was at a 2015 $10,000 level tournament in Orlando, also on clay.

Nineteen-year-old Frances Tiafoe won his second consecutive ATP Challenger, following up his title at the $100K tournament in Savannah Georgia last month with an even bigger title today at the €127,000+H Challenger in Aix en Provence France.  Tiafoe, seeded No. 4, defeated No. 3 seed Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(5) in today's final. With the title, Tiafoe has moved his ATP ranking to 64, a new career high.

The women's Division I Sweet 16 field is now set, with play starting for them in Athens on Friday. As with the men, just one seeded host team failed to advance to the final site, with No. 16 Baylor falling to Texas A&M 4-3, the only match to go the distance of the nine played today. That leaves the Aggies to face No. 1 Florida, who shut them out in College Station back in March.

Last year four men's seeds failed to advance and two women's seeds, so just one from each this year is something of a surprise.

The complete women's second round results are below:

Women’s Second Round
Florida[1] def. Miami 4-0
Texas A&M def. Baylor[16] 4-3

Oklahoma State[9] Arkansas 4-0
Georgia Tech[8] def. Northwestern 4-0

Georgia[5] def. North Carolina St. 4-0
Pepperdine[12] def. UCLA 4-1*

Cal[13] def. LSU 4-0
Vanderbilt[4] def. Clemson 4-1*

Ohio State[3] def. Notre Dame 4-0
South Carolina[14] def. Texas 4-3*

Auburn[11] def. Florida State 4-2*
Texas Tech[6] def. Denver 4-1*

Stanford[7] def. TCU 4-2
Michigan[10] def. Kentucky 4-2*

Duke[15] def. Tennessee 4-1*
North Carolina[2] def. Ole Miss 4-0

*regional finals held on Saturday

The men's draw, with Thursday's times, is here.  The women's draw, with Friday's times, is here.

In other Division I news, Georgia men's associate head coach Bo Hodge and Georgia women's associate head coach Drake Bernstein have been suspended, as reported by Chip Towers in DawgNation.

The final eight have been decided for the men's and women's Division-III team championships May 22-24 in Chattanooga Tennessee.

The men's quarterfinals:
Emory vs Williams
Bowdoin vs Washington-St. Louis
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps vs Wesleyan
Gustavus Adolphus vs Middlebury

The big upset in today's men's round of 16 was No. 21 Gustavus Adolphus taking out No. 6 Chicago 5-4.

The women's quarterfinals:
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps vs Washington-St. Louis
Bowdoin vs Emory
Johns Hopkins vs Middlebury
Williams vs Chicago

The only women's team above that was not in the quarterfinals last year is Johns Hopkins.