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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Nakashima Wins Boys ITF Masters Title, Burel Claims Girls Championship; McNally Captures Doubles Title at Macon $80K; Former Collegians Win Three ATP Titles in Europe

Brandon Nakashima played sparingly on the ITF Junior Circuit until this year, but he has risen steadily to the top of the rankings and now has claimed one of the ITF's most prestigious events, the ITF Junior Masters.

The Juniors Masters, now in its fourth year, is unique in that only eight girls and eight boys can take part, and it is patterned after the WTA and ATP year-end championships, with top seven players in the ITF Junior rankings, plus one wild card. Not all the top juniors in the rankings accept the invitation; Coco Gauff and Whitney Osuigwe didn't, for example, and Nakashima got in with his ranking of 10, only because Sebastian Korda, Jack Draper of Great Britain and US Open champion Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil declined. But Nakashima, who has since fallen to 13 in the junior rankings while playing Futures events post-US Open, went 4-1 against the top juniors at the Masters this week.

After two three-set wins and a loss in the round robin stage, the 17-year-old from San Diego really hit his stride in the semifinals and finals; he defeated Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria 7-6(4), 6-3 to reach the final against World No. 1 Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, the French Open and Wimbledon boys champion. From all accounts, (I did not get up at 4 a.m. to watch the livestream) Nakashima played brilliantly in the final, beating Tseng 6-2, 6-1 and will earn $15,000 in travel grants and 750 ranking points, which should move him into the Top 5 in the ITF rankings.

For more on the boys final, see this article on the ITF Junior Circuit website.

The girls title went to Clara Burel of France, who ended her string of runner-up finishes by beating Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia 7-6(6), 6-1. Burel, who was a finalist at the Australian Open, US Open and silver medalist at the recent Youth Olympic Games, had beaten Osorio Serrano three times since September including in the round robin stage this week, but she trailed in the first set 5-2 and saved set points before claiming the tiebreaker. With the consistency Burel has shown all year, she is now poised to take over No. 1 spot in the ITF junior rankings, and has entered both the Grade A in Mexico and the Orange Bowl, although withdrawals are always possible this far out.

For more on the girls final, see this article from the ITF Junior Circuit website.

Americans swept the titles at the $80,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Macon Georgia today.  Varvara Lepchenko won her first title in more than seven years, with the 32-year-old left-hander defeating Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Lepchenko is the early leader in the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. 

Caty McNally, who turns 17 later this month, won her biggest Pro Circuit doubles title by far today, partnering with Jessica Pegula. The unseeded pair defeated former Florida teammates Ingrid Neel and Kazakhstan's Anna Danilina, also unseeded, 6-1, 5-7, 11-9 in the final. McNally has won four other Pro Circuit doubles titles, with all those at the $15,000 level.

At the $60,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Saguenay Canada, 19-year-old Katherine Sebov took the title, beating Quirine Lemoine of the Netherlands 7-6(10), 7-6(4) in the final between unseeded players. It's Sebov's first Pro Circuit title.

Connie Perrin of Switzerland and Tara Moore of Great Britain won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds beating unseeded Maria Sanchez(USC) and Canada's Sharon Fichman 6-0, 5-7, 10-7 in the final.

At the $50,000+H ATP Challenger in Las Vegas, unseeded Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis defeated unseeded Blaz Rola(Ohio State) of Slovenia 6-4, 6-4 in the singles final.

Venzuela's Roberto Maytin(Baylor) and El Salvador's Marcelo Arevalo(Tulsa), the top seeds, won the doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Nathan Pasha(Georgia) and Robert Galloway(Wofford) 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

Former collegians swept the ATP 500 tournament in Vienna, with Kevin Anderson(Illinois) claiming the biggest tournament title of his career with a 6-3, 7-6(3) win over Japan's Kei Nishikori. With the title, Anderson qualified for the year-ending ATP Finals for the first time in his career.

Joe Salisbury(Memphis) and Neal Skupski(LSU) of Great Britain won their first title as a team in Vienna, beating Mike Bryan and France's Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(5), 6-3 in the final. It's the second ATP title for both Salisbury and Skupski, with both earning championships with other partners earlier this year.

Another former college player, Dom Inglot(Virginia) of Great Britain, won the title at the ATP 500 Swiss Indoor in Basel. Inglot, the 2009 NCAA doubles champion, and Franko Skugor of Croatia won their third ATP title as a team, all this year, with a 6-2, 7-5 decision in the final over Alexander and Mischa Zverev of Germany.