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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Baird and Baptiste Reach Semifinals at ITF Grade 1 in Paraguay; Daavettila Named Most Outstanding Player at Team Indoor; Bellis and Tiafoe Through to Quarterfinals


This week's ITF Grade 1 in Paraguay is the start of three consecutive tournaments, which culminates in the Porto Alegre Grade A in Brazil. Several of the US juniors who are playing in this South American swing did not play in the previous Grade 1 events in Central and South America: Drew Baird, who played Australia instead, Katie Volynets, who hadn't played in 2018 until this week, Hailey Baptiste, who played just one Pro Circuit tournament last month and Charlotte Owensby, who played only the Coffee Bowl back in early January.

All four have had good weeks at the Asuncion Bowl this week, with the 14-year-old Owensby, a qualifier, and 16-year-old Volynets reaching the quarterfinals before losing today. Owensby lost to Ana Geller of Argentina 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 and Volynets, the No. 9 seed, was beaten by top seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia 6-3, 7-6(4).  Osorio Serrano won the Grade 1 in Costa Rica and the Grade 1 in Colombia back-to-back late last month.  The fourth-seeded Baptiste, who struggled in the second half of 2017, last made a Grade 1 semifinal at last February's Banana Bowl. She defeated No. 7 seed Loudmilla Bencheikh of France 6-4, 7-5 in today's quarterfinals and will face Osorio Serrano in Friday's semifinal.  Alexa Noel, the No. 2 seed, lost to unseeded Leylah Fernandez of Canada in the third round.

Baird, the No. 4 seed, defeated No. 7 seed Taisei Ichikawa of Japan 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals to set up a semifinal meeting with No. 5 seed Filip Jianu of Romania. Baird has also reached the doubles final, with Nicolas Mejia of Colombia.  At least one of the girls doubles champions will be from the United States, with Noel and Ana Makatsaria of Georgia, the No. 1 seeds, facing No. 2 seeds Kacie Harvey and Vanessa Ong.


The ITA announced the All-Tournament team for the Women's Division I Team Indoor, with champion North Carolina's Sara Daavettila named the Most Outstanding Player.  The All-Tournament team is below, with details on each player's results available in the ITA release.

No. 1 singles: Ashley Lahey, Pepperdine
No. 2 singles: Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
No. 3 singles: Christina Rosca, Vanderbilt
No. 4 singles: Alexa Graham, North Carolina
No. 5 singles: Meible Chi, Duke
No. 6 singles: Amanda Meyer, Vanderbilt

No. 1 doubles: Jessie Aney and Alexa Graham, North Carolina
No. 2 doubles: Mariana Gould and Katarina Jokic, Georgia
No. 3 doubles: Christina Rosca and Amanda Meyer, Vanderbilt

Most Outstanding Player: Sara Daavettila, North Carolina

Two young Americans earned professional milestones today, with CiCi Bellis getting her first WTA Top 5 win and Frances Tiafoe reaching his first ATP quarterfinal.  Bellis, a qualifier, defeated No. 5 seed and defending champion Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-6(4), 6-3 to advance the the quarterfinals at Doha's WTA Premier 5 event, where she will face No. 2 seed Simona Halep of Romania. For more on the Bellis upset, see the WTA website.

Tiafoe downed Dudi Sela of Israel 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 in the second round of the ATP 250 New York Open to reach an ATP quarterfinal for the first time. The 20-year-old will face top seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa, who just squeezed by qualifier Ernesto Escobedo 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5).

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