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Friday, June 30, 2017

June Aces; Falconi Qualifies at Wimbledon, Joining 24 Other Americans in Main Draw; US Girls Win Maureen Connolly Challenge Cup; Pro Circuit Update

My Tennis Recruiting Network Aces column is early this month, coming out today with 17 current junior and college players, plus several former collegiate standouts, receiving recognition for what they accomplished in June.

The women's Wimbledon qualifying was completed today at Roehampton, and, as with the American men, just one woman from the US advanced to the main draw.  Former Georgia Tech star Irina Falconi, who had struggled this year on the WTA tour and has seen her ranking fall to 246, defeated No. 8 seed Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia 6-1, 6-4 to earn a place in the main draw for the third straight year. Falconi, who did not drop a set in her three qualifying victories, will play top seed Angelique Kerber of Germany in the opening round.  Kristie Ahn[6] lost to Aryna Sabalenka[13] of Belarus 6-1, 6-1 in today's final round of qualifying, and Asia Muhammad[17[ was beaten by No. 3 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-4, 6-0.

In addition to 19-year-old Sabalenka, three other teenagers reached the main draw with qualifying wins today.  Eighteen-year-old Anna Blinkova[5] of Russia, the 2015 Wimbledon girls finalist, defeated Jana Fett of Croatia 1-6, 6-3, 6-3; 17-year-old Bianca Andreescu of Canada beat Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-3 and 16-year-old Anastasia Potapova of Russia, the 2016 Wimbledon girls champion, defeated Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia 6-3, 7-5 to make their Wimbledon man draw debuts.

The draws were released today for men's and women's singles with 15 US women, including Falconi, and 10 US men, including qualifier Taylor Fritz competing.

Fritz was drawn to face No. 23 seed John Isner in the only all-US first round match in the men's draw.  Other US men in the main draw are: Sam Querrey[24], Donald Young, Steve Johnson[26], Jack Sock[17], Frances Tiafoe, Jared Donaldson, Ryan Harrison and Ernesto Escobedo.

Three women's first round matches are all-US affairs, with Shelby Rogers facing Julia Boserup, Lauren Davis[28] meeting Varvara Lepchenko and Alison Riske playing Sloane Stephens, who has not played since the Olympic Games last August.  The other US women in the draw are wild card Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Christina McHale, CoCo Vandeweghe[24], Jennifer Brady, Venus Williams[10], Madison Keys[17], Madison Brengle and CiCi Bellis.  Bellis has drawn to play former WTA No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who has just begun playing again after having a baby late last year.

The women's draw is here; the men's draw is here.

Victorious US team kneeling, British team standing (courtesy photo)
The US won the Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy, the competition featuring the top junior girls from Great Britain against their counterparts from the United States, by a score of 6-4.  The two teams split eight singles matches, with Vanderbilt recruit Emily Appleton of Great Britain defeating both Claire Liu and Whitney Osuigwe.  After a default due to injury in the first of two doubles matches gave the US a 5-4 lead, the US needed to take the final doubles match to avoid a deciding tiebreak, and they got it, with Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe beating Appleton and Holly Fischer 6-4 to give the Americans the victory.

2017 Maureen Connolly Challenge Trophy results:


Emily Appleton (GBR) bt Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 6-4

Claire Liu (USA) bt Holly Fischer (GBR) 6-3

Taylor Johnson (USA) bt Gemma Heath (GBR) 7-5

Emma Raducanu (GBR) bt Sofia Sewing (USA) 7-5

Emily Appleton (GBR) bt Claire Liu (USA) 6-4

Holly Fischer (GBR) bt Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 7-5

Sofia Sewing (USA) bt Gemma Heath (GBR) 6-4

Taylor Johnson (USA) bt Emma Raducanu (GBR) 7-6 (2)


Walkover to USA due to GBR injury

Osuigwe and McNally (USA) bt Appleton and Fischer (GBR) 6-4

Final score: USA 6-4 GBR

The semifinals are set for the three USTA Pro Circuit events with all three champions from last week's events still in the running for a second straight title.

At this week's $25,000 event in Auburn Alabama, top seed Nicole Gibbs(Stanford), who won in Baton Rouge last week, beat Emina Bektas(Michigan) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 to advance against unseeded Australian Ellen Perez(Georgia), who beat qualifier Ashley Lahey(Pepperdine) 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.  In the bottom half, Canada's Carol Zhao(Stanford) defeated No. 2 seed Olivia Rogowska of Australia 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 and will play No. 5 seed Miharu Imanishi of Japan. Imanishi took out No. 3 seed Mayo Hibi 7-5, 6-3. 

At the men's $15,000 Futures in Pittsburgh, top seed Mikael Torpegaard(Ohio State) of Denmark, who won in Rochester last week, defeated unseeded Collin Johns 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 to reach the semifinals, where he will face No. 4 seed Kaichi Uchida of Japan. Uchida defeated Canadian qualifier Huge Di Feo(Ohio State) 6-3, 6-0.  In the bottom half, unseeded Nathan Pasha(Georgia) will take on No. 6 seed Dennis Nevolo(Illinois) after Pasha beat Gonzalo Lama of Chile 6-3, 6-4 and Nevolo took out No. 2 seed Jose Statham of New Zealand 6-4, 6-4.

Torpegaard and Di Feo won the doubles title for the second week in a row, with the unseeded pair beating top seeds Pasha and Great Britain's Farris Gosea(GBR) 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Torpegaard and Di Feo did not come close to losing a set all week.

At the $25,000 Futures in Tulsa, Wake Forest champion Tommy Paul advanced to the semifinals with a 7-5, 6-4 win over wild card Zeke Clark(Illinois).  Paul will face top seed Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M), who beat wild card Spencer Papa(Oklahoma) 6-3, 6-3. Paul and Krajicek met last week in the Wake Forest semifinals, with Paul recording a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 victory.  In the bottom half, Georgia rising junior Emil Reinberg defeated wild card William Blumberg(North Carolina) 6-4, 6-3 to reach the first Futures semifinal of his career.  Reinberg had taken out No. 2 seed Max Purcell of Australia on Thursday. Reinberg will face No. 4 seed Christian Harrison, who posted a 7-6(5), 6-1 victory over No. 8 seed Ryan Shane(Virginia) in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek and Jackson Withrow(Texas A&M) won the doubles title, with the top seeds beating No. 2 seeds Paul and Nathan Ponwith(Georgia) 6-4, 6-2 in the final.  Like Torpegaard and Di Feo, Krajicek and Withrow did not lose more than four games in any set during the week, winning their fourth title of the year, with two of those on the ATP Challenger circuit.

In Canada, three of the four finalists at the $25,000 Futures in British Columbia are from the US.  Deiton Baughman beat No. 2 seed Marcos Giron 6-3, 6-4 and will play No. 3 seed Filip Peliwo of Canada in the semifinals. Peliwo downed No. 6 seed Alexios Halebian 6-2, 7-6(3).  In the top half, No. 4 seed Raymond Sarmiento(USC), seeded fourth, will face top seed Alex Sarkissian(Pepperdine). Sarmiento beat No. 7 seed Marcel Felder of Uruguay 6-2, 6-2, while Sarkissian defeated unseeded Mark Whitehouse of Great Britain 6-1, 7-5.

The doubles title went to unseeded Peliwo and Ronnie Schneider(North Carolina) who beat unseeded Jody Maginley of Antigua and Whitehouse 7-5, 6-4 in the final.