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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Wesleyan's Chong Wins Fourth Consecutive Division III Singles Title, Urken Claims Men's Title; Pepperdine Women, Wake Forest Men Earn D-I Semifinal Berths; Nanda and Zink Capture Grade A Doubles Title in Milan

For all the excitement of the Division I singles and doubles quarterfinals, and there was plenty, the top story of the day comes from the Division III Championships, which concluded today in Claremont California.  Eudice Chong of Wesleyan won her fourth consecutive women's singles title, the first player ever to accomplish that in the history of the NCAA.  Chong defeated teammate Victoria Yu 7-6(3), 6-2, and although she was never really in trouble once she took the first set, closing out a career undefeated in NCAA competition wasn't going to be easy. She served for the match at 5-1 in the second set, but didn't get to match point, with her unforced error followed by a double fault giving Yu the game. Yu had a game point to force Chong to serve out the match, but Chong saved it, and four points later had closed out her singles career.

The teammates exchanged a long hug at the net, but had little time to reflect on the singles final with their doubles semifinal coming up.  The top seeds won that match to reach the final for the second consecutive year, but the 2017 champions couldn't repeat, with No. 2 seeds Julie Raventos and Julila Cancio of Williams coming from behind to take the title 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. Chong and Yu served for the match at 5-3, but after over three hours, Raventos and Cancio prevailed. Raventos has had a fine career herself, with this her third NCAA Division III women's doubles title.

The men's singles title went to unseeded Bowdoin junior Grant Urken, who defeated unseeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps freshman Jack Katzman 6-3, 6-2.  Lubomir Cuba of Middlebury repeated as doubles champion, with a different teammate as his partner, Kyle Schlanger. Cuba and Schlanger, the top seeds, defeated unseeded Scott Rubinstein and James Spaulding of Emory 6-0, 6-2 in the final.

Host Wake Forest will have two men in the Division I semifinals on Sunday, after No. 7 seed Borna Gojo and No. 4 seed Petros Chrysochos won their quarterfinals matches today.  Rain in the morning set the matches back by two hours, and another brief delay for rain, followed by a third for lightning, had officials deciding to quickly move the remaining matches indoors.

Gojo had completed his 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 2 seed and 2017 finalist William Blumberg of North Carolina before the first delay, but Chrysochos was down 5-2 in the third set to No. 6 seed Mikail Torpegaard of Ohio State, with the Buckeye senior serving for the match. Chrysochos saved a match point on a deciding point at 5-2, then went down 15-40 in the next game.  He saved all three of those match points, buoyed by the vocal home crowd, beginning a run of 11 consecutive points that gave him a 6-5 lead. Torpegaard managed to hold to force the deciding tiebreaker, which hadn't begun when a shower stopped play.  When it resumed about 15 minutes later, Chrysochos took a 5-2 lead in the tiebreaker, only to have lightning stop play.  They quickly moved indoors, with Chrysochos winning the final two points before the live streaming and scoring were available.

Chrysochos will face the last American in the men's draw, top seed Martin Redlicki of UCLA, who beat Mazen Osama of Alabama, a 9-16 seed, 6-4, 7-5. Redlicki was up a break in the second set, lost it, but got another to take a 6-5 lead, closing out the match with an ace.

Gojo will face No. 3 seed Nuno Borges of Mississippi State, who reached his second straight NCAA semifinal with a 7-6(4), 6-4 win over Timo Stodder[9-16] of Tennessee.

As with the Wake Forest men, the Pepperdine women came through in tough matches, although they did lose one of their three quarterfinalists, with Luisa Stefani falling to No. 6 seed Arianne Hartono of Ole Miss 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.  Hartono prevented an all Pepperdine semifinal, because Mayar Sherif Ahmed went on to finish her 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(5) victory over Vanderbilt's Astra Sharma[9-16] indoors. Behind 6-3 in the tiebreaker after Sherif Ahmed hit a great first serve, Sharma saved two match points with aggressive play on her two serves, but she netted a backhand crosscourt pass to end it.

The other Pepperdine semifinalist is Ashley Lahey, who defeated fellow 9-16 seed Andrea Lazaro of Florida International 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in a match that also was completed indoors.  Lahey had a 5-2 lead in the second set, but Lazaro reeled off five straight games, a scenario that replicated itself in the third set. Up 5-2 in the third set, indoors, Lahey saw Lazaro hold for 5-3, but Lahey ended the drama serving for it at 30-all. Lazaro netted a forehand to give Lahey two match points and she converted the first with a good first serve, which had missing in action in that game until then.

Lahey will face the other American in the draw, No. 8 seed Fernanda Contreras of Vanderbilt. Contreras had the only straight-sets win of the day in the women's quarterfinals, beating Anna Danilina[9-16] of Florida 7-5, 6-1.

Both top seeds in doubles went out today in match tiebreakers.  The No. 1 men's team of Borges and Strahinja of Mississippi State lost to Redlicki and Evan Zhu 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 and the No. 1 women's team of Paige Hourigan and Kenya Jones fell to Sara Daavettila and Alle Sanford of North Carolina 6-4, 1-6, 10-7.  Daavettila and Sanford were the last team in the draw, and were given a chance to play only when No. 4 seeds Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen of Duke withdrew.

Daavettila and Sanford will face another unseeded team, LSU's Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson in the semifinals. The other women's semifinal features the only seeded team left in either doubles draw, No. 5-8 seeds Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy, and Vladica Babic and Sofia Blanco of Oklahoma State.

The third championship that will boast two semifinalists from one school is the men's doubles, with Redlicki and Zhu joined by UCLA teammates Austin Rapp and Keegan Smith. Rapp and Smith defeated No. 2 seeds Blumberg and Robert Kelly of North Carolina 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.  Standing in the way of an all-Bruin doubles final are Ryan Peniston and Andrew Watson of Memphis, who play Redlicki and Zhu, and Torpegaard and Martin Joyce, who face Rapp and Smith.

The semifinals begin tomorrow at noon, with the two women's singles matches.  Draws and links to streaming and scoring are available at the Wake Forest tournament page.

The singles finals are set for the ITF Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Sunday, with the boys doubles final decided today.  In the  championship match between unseeded American teams, Govind Nanda and Tyler Zink defeated Emilio Nava and Cannon Kingsley 6-4, 7-5.  Caty McNally will play for the girls doubles title on Sunday, with she and partner Leonie Kung of Switzerland taking on No. 2 seeds Yuki Naito and Naho Sato of Japan. McNally and Kung defeated Manon Leonard of France and Lenka Stara of Slovakia 7-5, 6-0 today.

In the boys singles final, top seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina will take on No. 16 seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaris. Baez beat No. 13 seed Naoki Tajima of Japan 6-2, 6-2 and Andreev defeated No. 14 seed Facundo Diaz Acosta of Argentina 7-6(5), 6-4.

No. 9 seed Naito defeated No. 5 seed Clara Tauson of Denmark 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3 to reach the girls final, where she will face No. 13 seed Eleonara Molinaro of Luxembourg. Molinaro defeated No. 7 seed Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy 7-6(3), 2-6, 7-6(4).

Tommy Hemp has details and observations on the Molinaro - Cocciaretto match at the Tennis Underworld website.

The $25,000 Women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Osprey Florida has had rain for most of two days(not to mention short scoring in the first round early in the week), so only one quarterfinal match has been completed. Ashley Kratzer[2], the reigning USTA Girls 18s champion, has reached the semifinals with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over No. 6 seed Allie Kiick but Usue Arconada[5] and Katarina Stewart are still in their second set, with Hailey Baptiste (vs top seed Deniz Kahzanuik of Israel) and Salma Ewing (vs Sophie Chang[7]) yet to start their quarterfinals.