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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Noel Claims Mexico City Grade A Title Over Top Seed Osuigwe; Baird, Korda in Boys Final; Boyer Wins Another Grade 2; Smyczek is Champaign Challenger Champion; Collins and Vickery Play for Norman $25K Title; Blanch Reaches Futures Final in Florida

Unseeded 15-year-old Alexa Noel had a breakout tournament this week at the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City and she topped it off with a 6-2, 6-4 win over the ITF World No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe in today's all-American girls singles final. 

Noel, who had not played a tournament since July, didn't drop a set in any of her six victories, and her variety-laden game proved too much for Osuigwe today. Noel was serving particularly well, and when things got tight late in the second set, her first serve and her willingness to use her lethal drop shot against the speedy Osuigwe proved the difference. Noel couldn't consolidate the break she earned for a 4-3 lead, but she broke Osuigwe in a four-deuce game to take a 5-4 lead and served out the match for her first ITF title above the Grade 4 level. Noel, who won the Junior Orange Bowl 14s last year, had lost to Osuigwe in the Easter Bowl 14s final in 2015.

Things didn't get any better for Osuigwe after the singles final, when she and Ellie Douglas, the top seeds, lost in the doubles final to unseeded Peyton Stearns and Dalayna Hewitt 6-4, 6-3.


Like Noel, unseeded Drew Baird is having the tournament of his ITF junior career, reaching Sunday's boys singles final despite his ranking of 192.  Baird, a 17-year-old who is playing in his first Grade A, has won two Grade 4 titles this year but has struggled to post wins at the Grade 1 level.  After dropping a set in his first match, Baird has advanced to the final without losing another, and in today's semifinal against Filip Jianu of Romania, Baird posted a 7-6(2), 7-6(1) victory.  He will face top seed Sebastian Korda, who had his toughest match of the week by far against No. 5 seed Thiago Tirante of Argentina, coming back for a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 victory. 

The boys final will be streamed live, but without commentary, at the tournament's website.

Tristan Boyer is now on a 15-match winning streak at the Grade 2 level, after claiming his second straight ITF singles title in Israel.  The 16-year-old Californian, who won a Grade 2 in Japan last month after reaching the semifinals of the Grade A in Osaka, was the top seed this week, and as was the case last week, he beat No. 2 seed Yanki Erel of Turkey in the final.  After a straight-sets loss last week, Erel did win a set today, but Boyer prevailed 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1.  Already in the Top 50, Boyer will move into the Top 40 with this week's title.  Fifteen-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez won the girls singles title, after she also won the title in the Grade 2 the previous week.

At the Grade 3 in Bolivia, 17-year-old Chloe Hamlin won her first ITF singles title. The No. 6 seed defeated top seed Maria Rivera Corado of Guatemala 7-6(5), 0-6, 7-5 in the final.  Jenna Dean reached the final of the girls doubles.

The USTA Pro Circuit Challenger season came to a close today at the $75,000 tournament in Champaign, with No. 7 seed Tim Smyczek winning the title with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 5 seed Bjorn Fratangelo.  Fratangelo struggled with a back injury throughout the match, so another comeback victory for him wasn't in the cards. The title is the second for Smyczek in the past three weeks, and he will move to around 130 in the ATP rankings with his recent run.

Top seeds Leander Paes and Purav Raja of India won the doubles title, beating No. 3 seeds Ruan Roelofse(Illinois) of South Africa and Joe Salisbury(Memphis) of Great Britain 6-3, 6-7(5), 10-5.

The final is set at the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Norman Oklahoma, with No. 3 seed Danielle Collins facing No. 2 seed Sachia Vickery.  Collins ousted top seed Sonya Kenin 6-1, 6-2, while Vickery needed just short of three hours to beat unseeded Maria Sanchez 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.  Collins won their last meeting two weeks ago in the first round of the $80K in Tyler; Vickery won their previous two meetings last year.  Chiara Scholl and Belgium's Tammy Hendler, who had to qualify into the doubles draw, won the title, beating top seeds Sanchez(USC) and Caitlin Whoriskey(Tennessee) 3-6, 6-3, 10-6.

At the $15,000 Futures in Pensacola Florida, 19-year-old Ulises Blanch will face former USC star Emilio Gomez of Ecuador in Sunday's final.  The fifth-seeded Blanch defeated No. 6 seed Roberto Cid of the Dominican Republic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach his second career Futures final.  The 25-year-old Gomez took out Mississippi State junior Nuno Borges of Portugal, the No. 4 seed, 7-6(5), 7-5. He is looking for his first Futures title since 2015.

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