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Friday, November 17, 2017

My Interview with Ronnie Schneider; All-American Finals at Champaign Challenger, Grade A in Mexico City; All-American Semifinals in Norman $25K

While I was in Champaign for the $75,000 ATP Challenger earlier this week, I had an opportunity to talk with Ronnie Schneider, the recent University of North Carolina graduate, who is now pursuing a career as a professional.  I'm always interested in the transition from college to the Pro Circuit, a transition that was complicated for Schneider by surgery after his junior year that left him without an ATP ranking upon graduation. Now inside the Top 600, Schneider will continue playing in Futures the next month, and in our conversation, posted today at the Tennis Recruiting Network, he explains why he's not interested in an off-season right now.

The finals are set in Champaign, with Americans Tim Smyczek and Bjorn Fratangelo advancing via three-set wins today.  No. 7 seed Smyczek defeated No. 4 seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-3 and No. 5 seed Fratangelo beat No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, winning seven straight games from 3-all in the second set. Smyczek clinched the USTA's Australian Open wild card yesterday; Fratangelo would move into the Top 100 with a win tomorrow, which would assure him a place in the main draw. 

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Norman Oklahoma, all four semifinalists are Americans: the top three seeds and unseeded Maria Sanchez.  Top seed Sonya Kenin avenged her May loss to Claire Liu, taking out the Wimbledon girls champion 7-6(6), 7-5 in two hours and 22 minutes. Kenin will play No. 3 seed Danielle Collins next, with Collins defeating No. 5 seed Ulrike Eikeri of Norway 7-6(2), 6-2 in another two-hour-plus contest.  Collins beat Kenin 6-1, 7-6(10) two weeks ago in the semifinals of the $80,000 tournament in Tyler.  Sanchez, who beat No. 7 seed Michaela Honcova of Slovakia6-2, 6-4, will face No. 2 seed Sachia Vickery, who defeated Chiara Scholl 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.

At the $15,000 Futures in Pensacola Florida, Ulises Blanch is the only American to advance to the semifinals.  The 19-year-old, seeded fifth, will face No. 6 seed Roberto Cid, the former South Florida star from the Dominican Republic next. Cid ended the impressive run of 16-year-old wild card Will Grant with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory.

Mississippi State junior Nuno Borges of Portugal, the No. 4 seed, will face former USC standout Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, the No. 7 seed, in the other semifinal.


The girls singles and both doubles finals will be played on Saturday at the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City, with an American guaranteed to win all three titles. 

Fifteen-year-olds Whitney Osuigwe, the top seed, and unseeded Alexa Noel will face off for the girls singles title, the second year in a row that the girls championship match has been between Americans, with Taylor Johnson defeating Ellie Douglas in last year's final.  Osuigwe defeated No. 5 seed Lulu Sun of Switzerland 6-1, 7-5 and Noel beat unseeded Andreea Prisacariu of Romania 7-5, 7-5, Noel's fifth consecutive straight-sets win.  Osuigwe and Noel met in the 2015 Easter Bowl 14s championship match, with Osuigwe managing to post a 4-6, 6-0, 7-6(4) victory.

Osuigwe will also play in an all-American doubles final. Osuigwe and Douglas, the top seeds, will face unseeded Dalayna Hewitt and Peyton Stearns.  The boys doubles final will feature No. 7 seeds Andrew Fenty and William Woodall against top seeds Sebastian Korda and Colombia's Nicolas Mejia.  

Korda, also the top seed in boys singles, has advanced to the semifinals, where he will take on No. 5 seed Thiago Tirante of Argentina. Unseeded Drew Baird continued his impressive run, beating No. 9 seed Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic 6-3, 6-3.  He will face No. 13 seed Filip Jianu of Romania next.

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