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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Four US Girls, One US Boy Reach ITF Grade 1 Banana Bowl Quarterfinals; Lilov Turns Pro; This Week's USTA Rankings Diverge from ITA's

The quarterfinals are set for the ITF Grade 1 Banana Bowl this week in Brazil, with US girls making up half the participants.

No. 2 seed Alexa Noel was expected to advance that far, but the other three were not.  No. 11 seed Hailey Baptiste defeated No. 7 seed Mariam Dalakashvili of Georgia 6-1, 6-4 to advance and she will face fellow 16-year-old American Vanessa Ong in Thursday's quarterfinals. Ong, who is unseeded, took out No. 4 seed Lea Ma 6-4, 6-3 in Wednesday's third round.

Kacie Harvey, also 16, who reached the first Grade 1 quarterfinal of her ITF junior career last month in Colombia, has had two more impressive wins this week. Yesterday she defeated No. 3 seed Maria Rivera Corado of Guatemala 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 and today Harvey took out No. 13 seed Ana Makatsaria of Georgia 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.  Harvey will face qualifier Olympe Lancelot of France in the quarterfinals. Noel, who defeated No. 14 seed Loudmilla Bencheikh of France 6-2, 6-4, will take on No. 8 seed Georgia Drummy of Ireland in the quarterfinals.

In the only girls quarterfinal without an American, top seed Maria Osorio Serrano will play Varvara Gracheva of Russia. Gracheva, a 17-year-old who hadn't played a junior event since last year's French Open, lost in the first round last week in Paraguay in her return to the ITF Junior Circuit, but today she eliminated No. 6 seed Peyton Stearns 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.  Her WTA ranking, boosted by a title at a $15,000 tournament last month, is at 570, so her lack of seeding this week is a bit deceptive. Osorio Serrano is on an 18-match ITF junior winning streak, having won three Grade 1 titles this year, and she has beaten Gracheva in their only previous meeting, but I expect a competitive match.

Only one American boy, No. 5 seed Tristan Boyer, survived the third round. Boyer defeated Joao Ferreira of Brazil 6-0, 6-2 and will face No. 2 seed Juan Cerundolo of Argentina in the quarterfinals.

Bolton and Les Petits As champion Victor Lilov has turned pro, according to this article by Stephanie Myles at TennisLife. Lilov, who just turned 14 and has yet to play on the ITF Junior Circuit, joins Coco Gauff and Zane Khan as Americans who have signed with management agencies at a very young age.

The USTA's weekly poll for Division I teams was released today, and I as expected, there are differences with the ITA's first computer-generated rankings, although not at the top, where the Wake Forest men and North Carolina women are lodged in both polls.

Team Indoor finalist UCLA is now No. 2 in the men's poll, and the Illinois women, ranked No. 5 in the ITA poll, are 20th in the USTA poll. The complete polls can be found at usta.com.

USTA Men’s Top 10 February 21, 2018
(previous week's ranking in parentheses)

1. Wake Forest (3)
2. UCLA (8)
3. Ohio State (1)
4. Stanford (4)
5. Texas A&M (6)
6. North Carolina (2)
7. USC (7)
8. Georgia (4)
9. Illinois (9)
10. Columbia (11)

USTA Women’s Top 10 February 21, 2018

1. North Carolina (1)
2. Pepperdine (2)
3. Vanderbilt (3)
4. Duke (5)
5. Georgia (4)
6. Georgia Tech (8)
7. Texas Tech (7)
8. Mississippi (10)
T9. Stanford (6)
T9. Oklahoma State (12)