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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Pro Circuit Back with Women's Events in Las Vegas, California; Men in North Carolina, California and Toronto

Fortunately for me, the USTA Pro Circuit goes on hiatus during the US Open, so I don't miss much while I am in College Park and New York.

During that time Canada picked up the slack in North American Futures events, with 19-year-old Ulises Blanch winning his first pro singles title at the $25,000 Calgary Futures last month, and former Georgia Tech star Kevin King claiming the $25,000 Futures title in Toronto last week, with Dennis Nevolo(Illinois) and Deiton Baughman winning the doubles championship.  There's another $25,000 Futures in Canada--this week the surface is hard, not clay--with three Americans advancing to Thursday's quarterfinals: Alexios Halebian[8], Nevolo[6] and former Texas A&M star Shane Vinsant.  Eighteen-year-old Benjamin Sigouin, who withdrew from the US Open Junior Championships just prior to the tournament, defeated No. 2 seed Peter Kobelt 7-5, 6-0 and will face Halebian in the quarterfinals.

The women have two events this week, a $25,000 tournament in Redding California and a $60,000 tournament in Las Vegas.  In Redding, there are six Americans remaining after the first round, recent Arizona graduate Lauren Marker, a qualifier, Cal freshman Anna Bright, a wild card, Lorraine Guillermo(Pepperdine), a wild card, Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame), Caitlin Whoriskey(Tennessee) and Robin Andereson(UCLA), who beat No. 2 seed Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway.  Top seed Sofya Zhuk also lost in the first round, to Ana Veselinovic of Montenegro, who is nearly 300 places lower in the WTA rankings.

In Las Vegas, Louisa Chirico is the top seed, and she advanced to Thursday's second round with a 6-4, 6-1 win over US Open girls semifinalist Emiliana Arango of Colombia. Sophie Chang defeated ACI champion Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 and Allie Kiick picked up a 6-3, 6-2 win over Katie Boulter of Great Britain.  Nicole Coopersmith defeated Sanaz Marand(North Carolina) in a battle of qualifiers, while Maria Mateas, also a qualifier, advanced to the second round with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Cristiana Ferrando of Italy. I spoke to Mateas briefly at the US Open, and she confirmed that she has verbally committed to Duke for 2018, but is still considering turning pro if she has success on the Pro Circuit in the next 12 months.

The men's Futures event in Claremont California is a $15,000 tournament with a 128-player qualifying field.  Seeds have had a rough go of it in the first round, with No. 1 seed Christopher O'Connell of Australia falling to former UCLA standout Karue Sell of Brazil, a qualifier, 6-4, 7-6(3). No. 6 seed Hunter Callahan lost to USC junior Laurens Verboven of Belgium, No. 3 seed Evan Song lost to Arizona State's Michael Geerts of Belgium, No. 8 seed Greg Jones of Australia was beaten by John Lamble(Santa Clara) and No. 5 seed Mattias Descotte of Argentina fell to wild card Isaiah Strode.  Strode is one of three wild cards to advance to the second round, with Henry Craig and Jenson Brooksby also picking up wins. Deiton Baughman and Ronnie Schneider(North Carolina) are the other Americans advancing to the second round.

This is the recap of today's action by media aide Steve Pratt:

CLAREMONT, Calif., (Sept. 13, 2017) – Karue Sell kept us his winning ways during the first round of action at the Claremont Club Pro Classic as the former UCLA player from Brazil upset top-seeded Christopher O’Connell from Australia, 6-4, 7-6 (3) on Wednesday at the Claremont Club.

Sell, who finished his fourth year at UCLA at the start of summer of 2016, said having to win four matches in qualifying over the weekend to make the main draw has helped him. “I got some good matches in and got used to the courts,” the 23-year-old Sell said. “I’ve been trying to work on some things in my game.”

Sell spent last season as the volunteer assistant coach at Pepperdine University, and said the 10-month break from tournament tennis has helped jump-start his game. “Now I’m ready to focus and go full-out on tour over the next six months,” he said.

Sell’s doubles partner Deiton Baughman did the same thing last year coaching at USC. Baughman, the 2015 Claremont champion, beat Sweden’s Andre Goransson on Wednesday in his first round, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. He later teamed up with sell as the pair beat the No. 4-seeded team of Matias Franco Descotte of Argentina and American Ronnie Schneider, 6-1, 6-4.

Sell and Baughman have never played each with each other, but Sell said they are on similar career paths having taken some time off and are now both fully committed to pro tennis. Unlike Sell, Baughman turned pro forgoing college tennis and is now 21 years old. He holds three ITF Pro Circuit singles titles and seven doubles titles during his career.

This week's $50,000+Hospitality Challenger in Cary North Carolina is the first of five consecutive Challengers in the US, with a $75K in Columbus, Ohio next, followed by three $100Ks in California: Tiburon, Stockton and Fairfield. Cary has had several rain delays due to the remnants of Irma, but the first round has been completed, with Ernesto Escobedo[1], Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee)[2], Mitchell Krueger[5], Noah Rubin(Wake Forest)[6], Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA)[7], Dennis Novikov(UCLA)[8], Kevin King(Georgia Tech), Christian Harrison, wild card William Blumberg(North Carolina sophomore) and qualifier Julian Zlobinsky, who recently transferred from Texas to Wake Forest, winning first round matches.  Escobedo beat wild card Patrick Kypson, the 18s Kalamazoo champion, 6-1, 7-6(0) today in a match postponed from Tuesday night.

There are no ATP events this week due to Davis Cup play this weekend, but the WTA has tournaments in Quebec City Canada and Tokyo Japan.  Caroline Dolehide, who will not be attending UCLA, but instead has turned pro, reached her first WTA quarterfinal when No. 2 seed Oceane Dodin of France gave her a walkover.  Dolehide, 19, won three qualifying matches and advanced to the second round with a win over fellow qualifier Charlotte Robillard-Millette, an 18-year-old Canadian.

Christina McHale is the only American still alive in Tokyo.