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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

My Conversation with NCAA Champion Brienne Minor; Top Seed Potapova Out, Four US Girls, Ross Reach Quarterfinals at French Open; Swain Hired at USC; Women's Kickoff Weekend Draft

Although NCAA singles champion Brienne Minor has been to the USTA's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center twice, both times to compete at the USTA/ITA Intercollegiate Indoor Championships held there, she has never been to the US Open as a junior competitor or as a spectator.

Her first experience of it will be as a competitor in the women's draw, this August, with the wild card she will receive from the USTA as an American NCAA champion.  I spoke to Minor about her surprising title last week in Athens--what led to it, whether she had doubts, why she didn't feel pressure--for this article at the Tennis Recruiting Network. Because Minor did not play ITF junior events with any regularity, many don't know much about her, yet the rising University of Michigan junior didn't skip a beat in the transition to Division I college tennis, being named an All-American as both a freshman and sophomore. We discussed her pathway, her inspirations, her physical struggles and her hidden talent, plus several other topics, in the interview.

Four US girls reached the quarterfinals of the French Open Junior Championships today, with Claire Liu, Whitney Osuigwe, Caty McNally and Amanda Anisimova earning victories.  Liu, the No. 6 seed, defeated former ITF Junior No. 1 Olesya Pervushina of Russia, the No. 12 seed, 6-3, 6-3 and will play No. 3 seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada in the quarterfinals.  Andreescu has beaten Liu both times they have played, in the 2015 Orange Bowl and this February in a USTA Pro Circuit event in Surprise.  Liu has not been tested in her three wins, but Osuigwe has needed three sets each time, beating unseeded Xin Yu Wang of China 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 today.  She will play friend and doubles partner Caty McNally, who defeated Amina Anshba of Russia 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. No. 2 seed Anisimova beat No. 15 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia 6-2, 6-4 and will play No. 11 seed Elna Rybakina of Russia in the quarterfinals. Rybakina beat unseeded Hailey Baptiste 6-2, 6-4.

Top seed Anastasia Potapova was ousted today, beaten by fellow Russian Marta Paigina 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.  The 18-year-old Paigina has played regularly on the ITF Pro Circuit, with this just her second junior slam.  She will play No. 5 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland in the quarterfinals. For more on Paigina's win today, see the ITF junior website. The article also states that Andreescu is playing her last junior slam this week, although she is still showing as entered in the Wimbledon Junior Championships.

Paigina and McNally are the only two unseeded girls in the quarterfinals, but five quarterfinalists in the boys draw are unseeded. Australian Open champion and No. 4 seed Zsombor Piros of Hungary lost to Blake Ellis of Australia 3-6, 6-1, 6-2; No. 12 seed Jurij Rodionov of Austria lost to Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4 and wild card Clement Tabur beat No. 10 seed Oliver Crawford 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.  With Crawford's loss, the only American boy remaining is Gianni Ross, who beat Sebastian Korda 2-6, 6-4, 6-0. Ross will face No. 3 seed Alexey Popyrin of Australia in Thursday's quarterfinals.

The boys and girls singles quarterfinals are all scheduled for Thursday, along with seven doubles matches in each draw.  Still behind due to rain on Tuesday, three boys and three girls doubles teams will play two rounds of doubles Thursday.  American boys teams still in are Ross and Sam Riffice, Vasil Kirkov and Danny Thomas, Crawford and Patrick Kypson, as well as Korda, playing with Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia and Alexandre Rotsaert, playing with Ryan Nijboer of the Netherlands.

US girls still in the doubles draw include Liu and Taylor Johnson[3] and Osuigwe and McNally[8]. Ellie Douglas is also still in doubles, with Colombia's Emiliana Arango.

One of the Power Five conference head coaching jobs was filled today with the announcement that Alison Swain, the Williams head coach, has been hired at the University of Southern California.  Swain, who has led the Ephs to eight NCAA Division III titles in the past ten years, replaces Richard Gallien, who was let go this spring. For more on Swain's departure from Williams, her alma mater, see this article.

The draft for the ITA Women's Kickoff Weekend was held today, with non-host teams selecting which of the 15 regionals they would like to travel to. Not all top teams participate in the Kickoff Weekend, which is a qualifying regional for the Team Indoors, with Stanford again opting out, along with Texas A&M and Baylor. 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. Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Kentucky and South Carolina were the first regions to fill up, while Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida were the last to fill, with the Tar Heels and Gators not attracting any teams ranked in the Top 50.  The full draft is available here.

The men's draft is Thursday, with the ITA using Facebook Live to stream it in real time.