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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Dolehide Claims Title at $60K Indian Harbour Beach; Johnson Beats Sandgren to Defend ATP Houston Title; Ohio State Surprise Winner of Tennis On Campus Nationals

Nineteen-year-old Caroline Dolehide won the biggest singles title of her pro career today at the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Indian Harbour Beach Florida.  Dolehide, the No. 7 seed, beat unseeded Irina Bara of Romania 6-4, 7-5 in the final, after trailing 4-2 in the first set and 5-3 in the second set.  With the title, her fourth, with two at the $25,000 level and one at the $10,000 level, Dolehide will move to 120 in the WTA rankings, which means she still may need the USTA's wild card into the main draw at Roland Garros. She is now leading that race, with three more tournaments left, with the $80,000 tournament in Dothan Alabama next week.

This week's $25,000 tournament in Pelham Alabama, not a part of the USTA Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge, went to 16-year-old qualifier Iga Swiatek of Poland, who defeated Allie Kiick 6-2, 6-0 in today's final. Swiatek led Poland to the Junior Fed Cup title back in 2016, winning all of her matches, including both singles and doubles in the 2-1 victory over the US in the final.  Swiatek, who was out with injury for six months in the last half of 2017, now has five singles titles on the Pro Circuit, with this her first above the 10/15K level. 

At the $25,000 Futures in Little Rock, former UCLA Bruin Karue Sell of Brazil won his third career Pro Circuit singles title, all in the past seven months, beating former Ole Miss star Nik Scholtz of South Africa 7-5, 6-2 in the final.  The 24-year-old Sell was unseeded, while Scholtz was the No. 5 seed.

At the US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, an ATP 250 event, Steve Johnson defended his title with a 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-4 win over Tennys Sandgren. Johnson, the No. 6 seed, defeated five Americans in taking the title: Ernesto Escobedo, Frances Tiafoe, John Isner[1], Taylor Fritz and Sandgren, the No. 8 seed.  The win was an emotional one for Johnson, who lost his father Steve Sr., a prominent Southern Californian tennis coach, shortly after his title in Houston last year.  Johnson and Sandgren were in college together, Johnson at USC and Sandgren at Tennessee, from 2009-2011, with their teams squaring off for the NCAA team title in 2010 (Sophomore Johnson played at line 2, freshman Sandgren at line 5) and both making the semifinals of the singles tournament in 2011 (Johnson won the title, Sandgren lost to teammate Rhyne Williams in the semifinals).  The hug at the net after the tense match (Johnson saved a break point serving for the match with a forehand on the line) provided a glimpse of the connection the two share and not just in tennis; Sandgren also lost his father unexpectedly several years ago.  For more on the final, see this article on the ATP website.

The Ohio State varsity tennis programs are among the country's best, but their club team was not expected to be a contender this year at the USTA's Tennis On Campus Nationals in Lake Nona Florida.  The Buckeyes finished third in the Midwest section and the team president said she was hoping for a Top 10 finish at Nationals, but last night on the courts of the USTA's National Campus, Ohio State defeated North Carolina 27-13 to claim their first national title.  For more on the finals, see this article at usta.com.