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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Woldeab, Kalieva Win Newport Beach Grade 4 Titles; Rojas Sweeps Grade 4 Titles in Puerto Rico; Giron and Aragone in Calabasas Futures Final; Tiafoe Beats Edmund in Miami; Scott Beats Top Seed Collins in Easter Bowl ITF Qualifying

I spent the day at Indian Wells, where two rounds of the ITF Grade B1 Easter Bowl qualifying were played today, but there's other news to tennis news to cover from around Southern California, Puerto Rico and Florida.

At the Grade 4 in Newport Beach, 16-year-old Siem Woldeab won his first ITF Junior Circuit title, beating fellow wild card Zachery Lim 6-2, 6-1 in the final. Woldeab, whose only other appearance in an ITF tournament came last year at the Grade 1 in College Park, where he reached the third round, beat top seed Daniel Moreno of Mexico in the first round and lost only one set in his six victories.  Reigning 14s Junior Orange Bowl champion Elvina Kalieva, still just 14, won her first ITF junior singles title.  The No. 15 seed beat unseeded Julia Haynes 7-6(6), 6-1 in the final. 

At the ITF Grade 4 in Puerto Rico, 15-year-old Sofia Rojas won her first junior circuit singles title and added the doubles title as well. Rojas, the No. 2 seeds, defeated unseeded Sonya Macavei 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the final. Rojas and Sasha Wood won the doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Elan Mnatsakanov and Emma Staker 7-6(4), 6-2.  Top seed Blu Baker of Great Britain won both boys titles, beating Spencer Whitaker 6-2, 6-3 in the singles final.

The finals are set for the $25,000 Futures in Calabasas California, with JC Aragone winning two matches today to reach the final against Marcos Giron, a former Calabasas champion.  Aragone, who didn't play his first round match until Friday, had two singles matches Friday and two today, beating Deiton Baughman in the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-4 and former Virginia teammate Collin Altamirano 6-0, 6-4 in the semifinals. Giron downed Stanford senior Tom Fawcett 6-2, 6-1, unable to continue the form that saw him beat top seed Mathias Bourgue of  France in the quarterfinals. 

For more on Giron's quest for a second Calabasas title and Aragone's win over Altamirano, see this recap from press aide Steve Pratt.

At the Miami Open, four American men advanced to the third round, including 2015 Kalamazoo 18s champion Frances Tiafoe, who beat No. 21 seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(5).  Steve Johnson, Sam Querrey[11] and Jack Sock[8] join Michael Mmoh, John Isner[14] and Jared Donaldson, who advanced to the third round with wins Friday.

Sloane Stephens[13] is the only American woman who reached the fourth round with a win today. Venus Williams[8], Sonya Kenin and Danielle Collins hope to join her with victories on Sunday.

In college tennis, the sixth-ranked Georgia Tech women defeated No. 1 North Carolina 4-3, taking the doubles point and the first three singles points earned, with wins from No. 1 Paige Hourigan, No. 5 Naomi Otsuka and No. 3 Kenya Jones.  For more on Georgia Tech's road victory, see this article.

When I looked at the draws for the ITF Grade B1 Easter Bowl qualifying, I was intrigued by the possibility of a second round match between 13-year-old Katrina Scott and top seed Kylie Collins.  Scott and Evans played twice in 2017, with Scott winning both matches. Five of the six sets they played went to tiebreakers, and although I didn't see the first one, at the Grade 5 in Austin last fall, I did watch much of their Eddie Herr 16s semifinal, in which Scott, who went on to win the title, came from 6-0, 4-0 down, saving four match points in a 0-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(3) victory.  Today's match was not nearly as dramatic, with Scott claiming a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory, but it was a battle nonetheless.

Evans went up 5-2 in the first set, with Scott not quite dialed in on her ground strokes, but Scott broke Collins serving for the set at 5-2 and held, demonstrating she was far from out of the set.  Collins did manage to hold to claim the first set, but after a bathroom break, Scott went up 3-0 and broke Collins two more times to take the second set. After another bathroom break, with both players leaving the court both times, Collins broke in the opening game of the third set.  But the 15-year-old began to have trouble with her serve, double faulting on break point to give the break back and double faulting twice in her next service game to give Scott a 3-1 lead. Scott saved a break point at 30-40 in her service game, with the roving umpire overruling Collins on a ball she called out, but the umpire said was on the line. Scott went on to hold for 4-1 and 5-2 and she broke Collins to take the match. Scott won the Easter Bowl 12s title in 2016.

Collins was far from the only seed to fall in the second round of qualifying, with No. 4 seed Jennifer Gadalov, No. 5 seed Nicole Hammond, No. 6 seed Victoria Hu and No. 7 seed Zoe Hitt also exiting in their first matches.

Boys qualifying top seeds Milledge Cossu and Jericho Grollman advanced, but No. 3 seed Quinn McLeod was beaten by Steven Sun, who has played very little since last year's Easter Bowl. Sun won the boys 14s Easter Bowl title in 2014.

The top two seeds in the boys 12s and 14s and girls 12s and 14s all won their first round matches today at sites around the Coachella Valley. Complete results can be found at the TennisLink site.