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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Wolf, Zhu Come Back to Reach Harlingen Futures Final; Osuigwe Advances to Osaka Grade A Final; Bellis Named WTA Newcomer of the Year

Qualifier Evan Zhu and wild card JJ Wolf will meet for the singles title Sunday at the $25,000 Futures in Harlingen Texas, after both staged impressive comebacks in Saturday's semifinal matches.  The 18-year-old Wolf, a sophomore at Ohio State, trailed qualifier Strong Kirchheimer, a recent Northwestern graduate, 6-3, 5-2 before reversing his fortunes for a3-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory.  Kirchheimer had played a four-hour singles match on Thursday, so winning a straight sets was almost a necessity for him.  Wolf, who earned his first ATP points just last month at the Columbus Challenger, is missing the Midwest Regional this week, where he was the top seed.

Zhu, who reached the final of a $10,000 California Futures last year fall, trailed No. 5 seed Luke Bambridge of Great Britain 6-3, 4-2 before rebounding top post a 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 win.  Zhu is taking the fall off from UCLA after playing the spring season, mostly at line 3, this year.

At the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Florence South Carolina, top seed Taylor Townsend saved a match point to defeat No. 3 seed Danielle Collins 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(6) and will play for her second consecutive title on Sunday against Belgium's Ysaline Bonaventure. Collins broke at 5-all and served for the match at 6-5 in the third, but didn't earn a match point until the tiebreaker.  Townsend won the first five points of the tiebreaker, Collins won the next six to get to match point, but Townsend took the last three to claim the 2-hour 24-minute victory.  Bonaventure, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 4 seed Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 6-2, 6-2. 

Townsend and Maria Sanchez, the No. 1 seeds, won the doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Tara Moore of Great Britain and Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland 6-1, 6-2.  It's Townsend's 14th pro doubles title and second in as many weeks.  Sanchez now has 20 pro doubles titles since graduating from USC in 2012.

At the $50,000+Hospitality Challenger in Las Vegas, 19-year-old Stefan Kozlov defeated top seed Tennys Sandgren 6-3, 7-6(6) to advance to his fifth career Challenger final. He will be going for his second title against Great Britain's unseeded Liam Broady, who defeated Evan King 6-4, 7-5.

Top Whitney Osuigwe has reached the final at the ITF Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup against No. 2 seed Xin Yu Wang of China.  Osuigwe defeated Qinwen Zheng of China 7-6(0), 6-2 in the quarterfinals, then got a walkover from No. 3 seed En Shuo Liang of Taiwan in the second match of the day.  The No. 1 and 2 seeds will also play for the boys title, with top seed Yuta Shimizu of Japan facing No. 2 seed Timofey Skatov of Russia.  Shimizu ended unseeded Tristan Boyer's run in the semifinals 7-5, 7-6(3).

The girls doubles championship went to unseeded Sohyun Park of Korea and Himari Sator of Japan, who received a walkover from No. 3 seeds Pei Hsuan Chen of Taiwan and Xiyu Wang of China.

The WTA announced its year-end awards yesterday, with 18-year-old CiCi Bellis receiving Newcomer of the Year accolades.  Bellis, the 2014 ITF World Junior Champion, is currently ranked 44 in the WTA rankings. For more on her accomplishments this year, see the WTA's announcement.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens was named Comeback Player of the Year.