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Monday, March 12, 2018

Collins, Fritz Reach Round of 16 at BNP Paribas Open; Qualifying Complete at Bakersfield $25K Futures, Irving Challenger

Wild cards Danielle Collins and Sofya Zhuk had met in the final of January's Oracle Challenger Series, a WTA 125 event in Newport Beach California. Collins was forced to fight back after dropping the first set to the 2015 Wimbledon girls champion, beating the 19-year-old Russian 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.  Today at the BNP Parbias Open in Indian Wells, Collins didn't need three sets, beating Zhuk 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the round of 16, where she will play Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain. The 24-year-old Floridian, who graduated from Virginia in 2016, after winning her second NCAA singles title that year, should move into the WTA Top 100 with her recent results.  Courtney Nguyen of the WTA Tour spoke to Collins after her win over Madison Keys two days ago for the tour's "Getting to Know" feature, and Collins discusses why she went to college in the first place and why she stayed to get her degree after winning the NCAAs the first time in 2014.

Taylor Fritz, who won the Easter Bowl at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden three years ago,  has advanced to the fourth round of a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career, defeating Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(1). Fritz failed to convert two match points with Verdasco serving at 15-40, 4-5 in the third set, but he showed no sign of frustration after that and played an excellent tiebreaker to defeat the Spanish veteran. Fritz will play Borna Coric of Croatia, who has been impressive in his first three wins, including today's 6-1, 6-3 beatdown of No. 13 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.

The USTA Pro Circuit is back for the men this week, with a $25,000 Futures in Bakersfield California.  Sixteen-year-old Tristan Boyer is among the Americans qualifying. He joins Sekou Bangoura[2], Tyler Lu[9] and Isaiah Strode[10] in the main draw.

The men also have a $150,000 ATP Challenger in Irving Texas this week, but it hasn't drawn the players one would expect for that kind of prize money.  Only 10 places in the 16-player qualifying draw were filled, meaning most played only one match to qualify and earn 5 ATP points. And in the main draw, although the top two players--Yuichi Sugita of Japan and Jared Donaldson--are in the ATP Top 50, 10 players received entry as alternates.  Three current college players qualified: Texas A&M's Arthur Rinderknech and Patrick Kypson and Wake Forest's Petros Chrysochos. 

In addition to Bakersfield, another reason for the sparse field in Irving is another ATP Challenger this week in Drummondville Canada, this one featuring $75,000 in prize money.  The only Top 100 ATP player in the draw is top seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada. North Carolina freshman Benjamin Sigouin received a wild card; Illinois senior Aleks Vukic[6] won three matches in qualifying to reach the main draw.

The women have moved west from Orlando to Tampa for another $15,000 Pro Circuit event.  Portugal's Michelle Larcher de Brito and Katerina Stewart are the top two seeds. Wild cards were given to Elli Mandlik, Emory's Daniella Moreno-Kaste, Victoria Hu and 2017 Orange Bowl finalist Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine, who has not played since falling to Whitney Osuigwe in the championship match in December. Qualifying will be completed on Tuesday.


Petey said...

Another side note for the Irving Challenger. I noticed tournament officials aren't supporting any US players. All four wild cards were given to foreign players, although US players applied. It's sad a US Challenger tournament won't support US players, especially since the number of pro tournaments in the US is declining.