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Friday, June 22, 2018

Kenin, Kudla, Mmoh Advance on European Grass; Mandlik Reaches Semifinals at ITF Grade 1 in Germany; Kingsley and McNally Claim Pro Circuit Doubles Title

Nineteen-year-old Sonya Kenin's ranking trajectory has consistently tracked toward the Top 100, with the 2015 USTA Girls 18s National Champion's ranking going from 624 at the end of that year to 108 at the end of 2017.  Today Kenin, a qualifier, earned her first Top 10 win at the WTA International event in Mallorca, reaching her first WTA semifinal with a 6-3, 6-3 win over top seed Caroline Garcia of France.  Kenin, who plays Tatjana Maria of Germany in Saturday's semifinals, has been in the Top 100 since March and will reach a career-high ranking in the 70s, regardless of her result tomorrow.  For more on Kenin's breakthrough week, see this article from the WTA website.

While Kenin hasn't had much success on grass prior to this week, Denis Kudla, also a qualifier, has a reputation for excelling on the surface and today he reached the semifinals of the ATP 500 in Halle, beating Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-2, 7-5. Kudla, who has yet to face a seed or lose a set, will play top seed Roger Federer in Saturday's semifinal.  The 25-year-old from Virginia, who has reached one other ATP semifinal, is back in the Top 100 now, although still some results away from his career-high ATP ranking of 53 two years ago. With five Wimbledon main draw wild cards still yet to be distributed, Kudla's case is a strong one.

Michael Mmoh hadn't won a professional level match on grass until this week at the €127,000 ATP Challenger in Ilkley England, but he now has three wins on the surface after the 20-year-old seventh-seed defeated No. 3 seed Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 6-1, 6-2. Mmoh will face No. 8 seed Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine, who beat top seed Jordan Thompson of Australia today in the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-4. Mmoh should move inside the ATP Top 120 with his results this week.

Mmoh's friend and junior rival Frances Tiafoe lost today in the quarterfinals of the Queens Club ATP 500 to France's Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-4.

Elli Mandlik reached the final of the ITF Grade 1 last week in Offenbach Germany and she is through to the semifinals of the second Grade 1 in Germany this week as the No. 11 seed. Mandlik defeated No. 4 seed Taisya Pachkaleva of Russia 6-3, 6-1 in today's quarterfinals, with No. 10 seed Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia next up on Saturday. Top seed Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine, who trains at IMG and has committed to Duke, is through to the semifinals in the top half.

Fifteen-year-old qualifier Connie Ma's run came to an end at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Baton Rouge Louisiana, but it took over three hours for No. 8 seed Nika Kukharchuk of Russia to earn her 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 quarterfinal victory.  Kukharchuk will face recent Vanderbilt graduate Astra Sharma of Australia, who beat Julia Elbaba 6-3, 6-2.  The other semifinal features unseeded Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine and Duke recruit Maria Mateas, the No. 5 seed.

The main event at the $25,000 Futures in Winston-Salem figured to be this afternoon's match between 2018 NCAA champion Petros Chrysochos of Cyprus and Wake Forest teammate Skander Mansouri of Tunisia.  Unfortunately Chrysochos's oral surgery disrupted that quarterfinal and he gave a walkover to Mansouri. Although the walkover counts as neither a win or a loss on the two players' records, the streak of 36 straight wins is considered over for Chrysochos, who won last week's Futures at Wake Forest.  Mansouri will play Michael Redlicki in the bottom half semifinal, with top seed Tommy Paul facing Henry Craig in the top half.  JC Aragone(Virginia) and Harrison Adams(Texas A&M) won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seed beating Wake Forest's Ian Dempster and Christian Seraphim of Germany 7-5, 6-7(4), 10-3 in the final.

At the $15,000 Futures in Rochester New York, No. 4 seed Alex Rybakov is the only seed to reach the semifinals. The rising TCU senior will play wild card Andres Andrade, the rising Florida sophomore, who beat wild card Ryan Goetz 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.  Virginia rising sophomore Gianni Ross, a qualifier, advanced to the second Futures semifinal of his career with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Collin Johns to earn a meeting with unseeded Russian Markos Kalovelonis of Russia.

Wild cards Cannon Kingsley and John McNally won the Rochester doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Alejandro Gomez of Colombia and Pavel Krainik of Canada 6-4, 6-4 in tonight's final. It's the first Pro Circuit title for both the 17-year-old Kingsley, who has committed to Ohio State for 2019, and the 19-year-old McNally, a rising sophomore at Ohio State.

The $25,000 men's Futures in Calgary was not able to complete its quarterfinals, I assume due to rain, but the women's $15,000 tournament in British Columbia couldn't have that problem as its the rare June tournament played indoors.  The semifinals are set there, with just one seed remaining, No. 7 Alexa Graham, the North Carolina rising junior. Graham will play 27-year-old Gail Brodsky, who is back competing regularly on the Pro Circuit after having two children.  The other semifinal features two former Pac-12 stars: Cal's Maegan Manasse, a qualifier, and UCLA's Pamela Montez. Until this year, the 27-year-old Montez hadn't played on the Pro Circuit since 2010 and the 23-year-old Manasse had, prior to this month, played only one Pro Circuit event since the summer of 2016.

Brodsky and Brynn Boren (USC) won the doubles title, with the unseeded pair beating No. 2 seeds Safiya Carrington and Alana Smith 6-1, 6-2 in the final.