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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Liu, Osuigwe and Two US Boys Doubles Teams Reach Semifinals at French Open; Day Advances to Quarterfinals in Marseille $100K; ITA Announces All-America Teams; Men's D-I Kickoff Weekend Draft

Claire Liu has been on an impressive run since winning the Easter Bowl ITF for the second time back in early April.  The 17-year-old from Southern California has lost only twice since then, to Jamie Loeb and Madison Brengle in $60,000 Pro Circuit events, while winning 28 matches (including qualifying). Only the last four wins have been in an ITF junior event, this week's French Open Junior Championships, and she has yet to drop more than three games in a set.  Liu's 6-3, 6-3 win over Bianca Andreescu of Canada was particularly impressive, in that she had lost their previous two meetings, one just a few months ago, and she was down 3-0, two breaks of serve, before winning the final six games of the match.  Liu will face unseeded Marta Paigina of Russia in the semifinals, after the 18-year-old defeated No. 5 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland 6-2, 6-3.

Fifteen-year-old Whitney Osuigwe is playing in just her second junior slam, but she is already a semifinalist, after defeating unseeded Caty McNally 6-3, 6-3. Osuigwe's opponent on Friday will be No. 11 seed Elena Rybakina of Russia, who beat 2016 finalist Amanda Anisimova 7-6(7), 6-4.  For more on Osuigwe's win, see the ITF junior website.

While neither of the girls semifinals features a rematch of any kind, both pairs in the semifinals do have history.  Top seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, who came from behind to eliminate Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in today's quarterfinals, will face No. 11 seed Nicola Kuhn of Spain. Kuhn, who reached the semifinals here last year, disposed of unseeded Australian Blake Ellis 6-0, 6-3 to set up a third match with Kecmanovic. Kuhn won their first meeting, in three sets, but lost their most recent encounter, also in three sets, in the quarterfinals of the 2016 US Open Junior Championships.

Another Spanish junior has reached the semifinals, with unseeded Alejandro Davidovich Fokina beating wild card Clement Tabur of France 6-1, 6-0 to set up a meeting with No. 3 seed Alexei Popyrin of Australia. Popyrin defeated unseeded Gianni Ross 4-6, 6-1, 7-5, getting a late break and a hold from 0-30 down in the final game to advance. Popyrin, who won the Grade A in Milan last month, lost to Davidovich Fokina at that same tournament last year.

The doubles semifinals are also set for Friday, with two teams of American boys still alive. The unseeded team of  Ross and Sam Riffice will play top seeds Kuhn and Zsombor Piros of Hungary, and unseeded Vasil Kirkov and Danny Thomas will take on No. 4 seeds Jurij Rodionov of Austria and Michael Vrbensky of Czech Republic. Kirkov and Thomas have already defeated the No. 2 and No. 5 seeded teams without needing a third set (match tiebreaker).

In the men's doubles semifinals, Donald Young has advanced to his first slam final.  He and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico defeated Fernando Verdasco of Spain and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-3 in today's semifinals.  Young and Gonzalez will face the winner of tomorrow's semifinal between Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia and Michael Venus of New Zealand and Ryan Harrison.

At the $100,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event in Marseille France, No. 7 seed Kayla Day saved three match points to defeat Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia 5-7, 7-6(7), 6-3 and move into the quarterfinals, where she will face qualifier Priscilla Heise of France.

At the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Bethany Beach Delaware, 18-year-old Raveena Kingsley defeated No. 2 seed seed Ellie Halbauer 7-6(4), 0-6, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals. Kingsley is playing her first tournament since February.  Teens Ashley Krazter and Maria Mateas have also reached the quarterfinals.

The ITA announced its All-America teams today, for all Divisions.
The Division I list is here.
The Division II list is here.
The Division III list is here.
The NAIA list is here.
The Junior College list is here.

The men's Division I Kickoff Weekend draft was held today, with some regionals filling up fast and others taking much longer. As I mentioned yesterday regarding the women's draft, there are many factors that go into a team selecting one site over another, but the most interesting aspect is the handicapping of teams hosting who may not be as strong next season as they were this season.  Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today pointed out the four men's teams that were losing three singles starters and Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Cal and Virginia, were the first regionals to fill up. Ohio State, on the other hand, had no takers until the very end, with the Buckeyes hosting three non-Top 50 teams in Columbus in January.  Florida is the only other host to have more than one non-Top 50 team, perhaps due to the Gators strong incoming recruiting class, which features both Oliver Crawford and Duarte Vale, who reached the third round of the French Open Junior Championships this week.

The complete draft is available here.