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Thursday, May 10, 2018

My Look at Yonex's Push into US Junior Market; Barry and West Florida Meet for D-II Women's Title; NCAA Division I Regionals Begin Friday; Neff Takes Out Top Seed in ITF Grade 4 Copa Badia

I admit to not paying a lot of attention to what racquet a player is using, and my perennial New Year's resolution is to become more knowledgeable about racquets and strings. But some time last year, I began to notice how many young Americans were switching to Yonex racquets, and I decided to talk about it with Jacek Dabrowski, who I had seen at junior tournaments for years as a high performance coach. Now a representative for Yonex, Dabrowski explained to me why the company is focusing on American juniors and young players now and how he goes about getting them to try a new racquet.  He explained how quickly Whitney Osuigwe adapted to her switch to Yonex in 2016, and told me a story that I hadn't heard before about Michael Mmoh's switch prior to his Kalamazoo title that same year. My interview with Dabrowski can be found today at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The women's Division II championship match is set for Friday in Surprise Arizona, with No. 1 Barry taking on No. 4 West Florida.  All four seeded teams reached the semifinals, with Barry defeating No. 3 seed Columbus State 6-2 and West Florida taking down No. 2 seed Hawaii Pacific 5-4.  Hawaii Pacific won two of the three doubles points and quickly took a 4-1 lead with straight-sets wins at lines 1 and 2 but West Florida fought back, getting three singles wins, including one from a set down, to make it 4-4.  The deciding match, at line 6, had just started a third set when West Florida tied it up. An hour later, West Florida's Heather Mixon earned the 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 6-4 victory over Barbora Kijasova to finish the marathon semifinal. It will be interesting to see if the Argonauts have a physical or emotional letdown in the final Friday after all they went through to get there tonight.

The men's Division II semifinals are Friday, with three of the top four seeds.  Top seed Barry will face unseeded Indianapolis and No. 2 seed Columbus State meets No. 4 seed Azusa Pacific.  No. 3 seed Lander lost in the first round to Washburn, who lost to Indianapolis in today's quarterfinals.

The NCAA Division I regionals begin tomorrow, with 23 of the 32 regionals, including all 32 women's first round matches, on the schedule.  Bobby Knight has the times for all the matches at College Tennis Today. This post features the schedule and sites for the women's matches, the UTR Power 6 rankings and a recap of all the upsets over the years in regional competition.  Knight has a similar page for the men, and has also done previews and predictions for all 16 men's regionals here.

The second installment of the Tennis Recruiting Network's Roundtable will come out Friday morning.  If you are reading this Thursday night, you still have an opportunity to enter the Tennis Recruiting Network's May Madness Bracket Challenge.

At the ITF Grade 4 Copa Badia in Coral Gables Florida, unseeded Adam Neff defeated top seed Blu Baker of Great Britain 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals against unseeded Randy Wilson. The 17-year-old Wilson, who reached the quarterfinals at last year's tournament as a qualifier, is playing just his seventh ITF tournament this week.  Hunter Heck will take on the only seeded player remaining in the boys draw, No. 8 Yeudy Villar of the Dominican Republic, who beat No. 2 seed Blaise Bicknell 6-4, 7-5.

Top girls seed Hurricane Tyra Black will face in No. 3 seed Jada Bui of Canada in one semifinal, with unseeded Ellie Coleman taking on Elaine Chervinsky in the other.  Chervinsky defeated No. 2 seed Hina Ioue in the first round.