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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Four-Time NCAA D-III Champion Chong Reaches $25K Semifinals; Ma Advances to Quarterfinals in Baton Rouge $25K; Oracle Extends Agreement with ITA; Registration Open for New Balance High School Championships

This is the time of year that college players flood the ITF and USTA Pro Circuits, and this year the urgency in acquiring ATP and WTA points is greater than ever with the ITF's Transition Tour scheduled to begin next year.

Eudice Chong (photo courtesy Wesleyan Athletics)
Four-time NCAA Division III champion Eudice Chong returned to Hong Kong this month after graduation from Wesleyan and received a wild card into the $25,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit taking place there this week. The 22-year-old has beaten three Pro Circuit veterans, all ranked around 300, to advanced to the semifinals, where she'll face top seed Jia-Jing Lu of China, ranked 185.  Chong is due back in the United States this weekend to receive the Honda Division III Athlete of the Year Award Monday night in Los Angeles. I spoke to Chong earlier this week about her junior pathway, her historic collegiate career and her professional aspirations, with our conversation scheduled to be posted on the Tennis Recruiting Network on Monday.

The $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Baton Rouge has six current or former collegians in the quarterfinals, along with Duke recruit Maria Mateas and 15-year-old Connie Ma.  Ma, a qualifier, defeated Salome Devidze of Georgia, also a qualifier, 6-4, 6-1 today to advance to the last eight. She will face a player more than twice her age, 31-year-old Russian Nika Kukharchuk (Ole Miss) after the No. 8 seed defeated 15-year-old qualifier and French Open girls champion Coco Gauff 7-5, 6-3.

Julia Elbaba (Virginia) upset top seed Usue Arconada 6-3, 6-3 and will face Australian Astra Sharma (Vanderbilt), the No. 7 seed, in the quarterfinals.  No. 5 seed Mateas, who beat Anastasia Nefedova in a three-hour and 29-minute battle today, will face Paige Hourigan (Georgia Tech) of New Zealand, and NCAA singles finalist Ashley Lahey will play Sanaz Marand(UNC).  Lahey won the all-Pepperdine showdown with Luisa Stefani of Brazil, beating her teammate 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in two hours and 45 minutes.

Wake Forest's Petros Chrysochos won the contest between NCAA singles champions today at the $25,000 Futures in Winston-Salem, with the 2018 winner taking out 2014 champion Marco Giron(UCLA), the No. 5 seed, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to move into the quarterfinals . The 22-year-old from Cyprus, who captured last week's Wake Forest Futures, has now won 36 consecutive matches since an ATP Challenger loss in March.  Chrysochos will face unseeded wild card Skander Mansouri of Tunisia, the third teammate he has played in the past two weeks.  Except for top seed Tommy Paul, who is scheduled to play in Wimbledon qualifying next Monday (correction: Paul has withdrawn from Wimbledon qualifying), all the quarterfinalists have collegiate backgrounds.  Florida recruit Sam Riffice, a qualifier, will play former Denver star Henry Craig, Paul faces former UCLA Bruin Karue Sell[6] of Brazil and Michael Redlicki(Arkansas) plays Ronnie Schneider(North Carolina). Paul and Sell are the only two seeds remaining.

In other college news, Oracle and the ITA have announced an extension of their agreement, with the ITA National Team Indoor Championships and the ITA Summer Circuit added to the list of events and items sponsored by the tech giant. The only mention of the duration of the agreement is its description as "multi-year."  Oracle's co-CEO Mark Hurd played tennis at Baylor and has been a advocate for the collegiate game for many years now.  For the complete release, see this article on the ITA website.

Coming up next month is the fifth annual New Balance High School Championships, and this year, for the second year in a row, the tournament will be held at the Weil Academy in Ojai California.  This year's dates are July 21st-24th. Any member of a high school tennis team during the 2017-18 school year may enter, although the draws are limited to 64 players, with UTR part of the selection process, along with geographic diversity.  See the USTA's Tennis Link site for more information. Entries close on June 28th.