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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Americans McDonald, Kwiatkowski and Townsend Win Pro Circuit Titles; Small College Champions Crowned at Oracle Cup

2016 NCAA champion Mackenzie McDonald won the first Challenger of his career today at the $100,0000 ATP tournament in Fairfield California, defeating 2010 NCAA champion Bradley Klahn 6-4 6-2.  The 22-year-old from Piedmont California, which is less than an hour away from Fairfield, had been a regular at the quarterfinals and semifinal stages of Challengers since (and even before) leaving UCLA after his junior year last spring.  But this was his first final, capping an impressive week that saw him defeat No. 6 seed Stefan Kozlov in the first round and No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals.  Klahn, who has been ranked as high as 63 before injuries set him back, is also displaying excellent form, making his second consecutive final at $100,000 Challengers this week.  McDonald will move past his previous career high of 196 to around 164.

David O'Hare of Ireland, who competed in college at Memphis, won the doubles title with Great Britain's Luke Bambridge.  The No. 2 seeds beat the wild card team of  Akram El Sallaly of Egypt and Bernardo Oliveira of Brazil 6-4, 6-2 in the final. El Sallaly and Oliveira are members of the University of the Pacific men's team.


At the $25,000 Futures tournament in Houston, 2017 NCAA champion Thai Kwiatkowski claimed his second career Futures title, beating 17-year-old Sebastian Korda 6-2, 6-2 in another final between unseeded players.  Kwiatkowski, who graduated from Virginia this spring, won his first title late last year in Puerto Rico, but hadn't gotten past the quarterfinals in any event this year.  This week the 22-year-old from North Carolina didn't lose a set and took out three seeds, including top seed Austin Krajicek in the semifinals.  Korda reached his first Futures final with an impressive 6-1, 6-2 win over No. 2 seed Lucas Miedler of Austria. His best showing at a Futures until this week was a quarterfinal back in January.

The unseeded team of Dennis Nevolo and Aron Hiltzik, former and current University of Illinois standouts, won the doubles title, beating top seeds Kwiatkowski and Krajicek 7-6(3), 6-3. It's the first Pro Circuit title for Hiltzik, a senior at Illinois.

Unlike the men's USTA Pro Circuit events, the women's final at the $25,000 tournament in Sumter South Carolina featured two seeded players, with top seed Taylor Townsend taking the title.  Townsend, who didn't lose a set all week, defeated No. 7 seed Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway 6-1, 6-2 in the singles final today. Townsend also won the doubles title Saturday, with Jessica Pegula. The unseeded pair beat top seeds Alexandra Mueller and Caitlin Whoriskey 4-6, 7-5, 10-5 in the final. It's Townsend's 13th career doubles title on the Pro Circuit, but her first this year.

The Oracle Cup, the ITA's National Championships for the Small Colleges, concluded today in Rome Georgia with the doubles playoffs.
Yesterday the singles champions were decided for Junior College, NAIA, Division II and Division III, with all eight winners receiving entry into next month's National Fall Championships in Indian Wells.  Previously, only the playoff winner, decided in a competition between the four champions, would advance to the National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, but now that the tournament is a 64 draw, not 32, all four singles champions will earn a spot in the draw.  The doubles champions did have a playoff, with only one men's and one women's team receiving entry into the Fall Championships.  Those teams were decided today, with NAIA Georgia Gwinnett's Kevin Konfederak and Gilad Berman winning the men's overall doubles title and Division III's Eudice Chong and Victoria Yu of Wesleyan taking the women's overall doubles title.

The singles champions who will advance to Indian Wells:

MEN:
NAIA: Kevin Konfederak, Georgia Gwinnett
Division II: Kiranpal Pannu, Columbus State
Division III: Mohanad Al Houni, Gustavus Adolphus
Junior College: Marcus Walters, Tyler JC

WOMEN:
NAIA: Camille Gbaguidi, Savannah College of Art and Design
Division II: Sonja Larsen, Barry
Division III: Eudice Chong, Wesleyan
Junior College: Tamara Arnold, Tyler JC

The ITA's recap of Saturday's singles finals is available here.  The recap of the doubles playoffs is here.

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