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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fifteen-year-old Ma, Fourteen-year-old Gauff Qualify for Baton Rouge $25K; Chrysochos Wins Again in Winston-Salem Futures; Kingsley, Poling Qualify at Rochester Futures; Guillermo Nunez Feature


Qualifying for the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Baton Rouge Louisiana was completed today, with 14-year-old Coco Gauff and 15-year-old Connie Ma among the eight to earn their way into the main draw.  Gauff, who is back in the US after winning the French Open girls title earlier this month before heading to Roehampton and Wimbledon, had already qualified and won a round at a $25,000 tournament last month in Florida, but Ma will be making her Pro Circuit debut. Ma, who finished third at the USTA 16s Nationals in San Diego last year, played her first Pro Circuit qualifying match last week, losing to former WTA Top 35 player Olga Govortsova of Belarus in the first round. This week, the Tennis Recruiting Network's top player in the class of 2021 defeated three accomplished college players: Mary Closs of Notre Dame, LSU's Jessica Golovin, the 2018 NCAA doubles champion, and today, Texas Tech All-American Gabriela Talaba of Romania.  Ma will play No. 4 seed Emiliana Arango of Colombia on Wednesday, with Gauff facing qualifier Hayley Carter, who is returning to professional tennis after spending last year as the assistant coach for the women's program at Oklahoma State. Carter, a seven-time All-American at North Carolina explained her decision to pursue a pro career earlier this month at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Sixteen-year-old Hailey Baptiste, Duke rising sophomore Kelly Chen and Allie Will, the former Florida star, are the other Americans advancing to the main draw.  Usue Arconada, who was hoping to play for LSU this past season, but ran into eligibility issues, is the top seed. Wild cards were given to 15-year-old Alexandra Yepifanova, LSU's Ryann Foster, UCLA's Ena Shibahara and 17-year-old Hurricane Tyra Black. Black defeated Shibahara 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 in first round action today.

In addition to the Baton Rouge event, many Americans have also made their way to Victoria British Columbia for the $15,000 ITF Women's Circuit tournament there. Fifteen-year-old Tara Malik, 16-year-old Anna Zhang and 17-year-old Haley Giavara are among the qualifiers. Amanda Rodgers is the top seed, with three wild cards going to young Canadians and the other to University of Oregon rising sophomore Paiton Wagner of Washington.

The men's USTA Pro Circuit is at Wake Forest again this week, for a second straight $25,000 Futures event.  NCAA champion Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus, who won last week's Futures tournament on his home courts, is not seeded, but remains a favorite to win the tournament. He defeated teammate Christian Seraphim of Germany, a wild card, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to extend his winning streak to 35 matches.  Top seed Tommy Paul, making his first appearance in a sanctioned event since late January, also advanced to the second round, defeating qualifier Oliver Crawford (Florida) 6-2, 6-4.  Like Seraphim, the other three wild cards are all members of the Wake Forest team: Eduardo Nava, Skander Mansouri of Tunisia and Rrezart Cungu of Montenegro.

The second USTA Pro Circuit tournament this week is a $15,000 Futures in Rochester New York.  Several qualifying matches were delayed until today, with Ohio State recruit Cannon Kingsley, Princeton recruit Karl Poling, LSU's Shane Monroe joining Ohio State's John McNally, Virginia's Gianni Ross and Texas A&M's Jordi Arconada as American qualifiers. Top seed Mattias Descotte of Argentina, who lost in the first round last week as the No. 1 seed, has suffered another early loss this week, with Isaiah Strode earning a 7-6(3), 6-4 decision in action today.  John Speicher(Dartmouth), Andres Andrade(Florida), Ryan Goetz(Virginia) and Alex Knight(Michigan) were awarded wild cards.

The men also have a $25,000 tournament in Calgary Alberta, with 15 Americans in the main draw, including 2017 NCAA champion Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia). Canadians Steven Diez and Samuel Monette(Indiana) are the top two seeds. Diez is one of the wild cards; the other three are also Canadians: 16-year-old Taha Baadi, and Calgary residents Harrison Scott(Texas) and Joshua Peck(North Carolina).

Bobby Knight tweeted out a link to this article about recent TCU graduate Guillermo Nunez of Chile. Nunez, who was a Top 10 junior in the ITF rankings, decided not to pursue pro tennis and, now employed on Wall Street, he explains why he took the college route, while his contemporary Christian Garin went straight to the Pro Circuit and is currently 173 in the ATP rankings. The article is in Spanish, but it sounds as if his decision to begin his career is based on visa requirements as well as an assessment of the likelihood of making a living in the lower levels of tennis. Nunez is going to continue his involvement with tennis however, with some part-time work at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy.

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