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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Texas Claims First Men's Team Title, Stanford Earns 20th Women's Championship; Mandlik, Stewart Capture $15K Titles; Four Americans Qualify at Milan Grade A; Men's Qualifying Begins at French Open

The word adversity pops up frequently in sports, and overcoming it has led to many inspirational stories. Finding a tougher position that the one the University of Texas men's program was put in this season is hard to imagine. At the end of March, in the midst of one of their best seasons, long-time head coach Michael Center was arrested in conjunction with the Varsity Blues college admission scandal that was headline news for weeks. Center was fired, and last month pleaded guilty; he has not yet been sentenced. Bruce Berque, the associate head coach, was given the title of interim head coach, and the team did not miss a beat, with their season culminating in the program's first NCAA team title today via a 4-1 victory over defending champion Wake Forest.

Maybe recovering from the shock of losing their coach mid-season gave the second-seeded Longhorns the confidence they could overcome a less dramatic but still discouraging predicament in the final: the loss of the doubles point.

Texas won at line 3 easily, with Chih Chi Huang and Yuya Ito defeating Siddhant Banthia and Julian Zlobinsky 6-2, but Wake won at line 2, with Bar Botzer and Petros Chrysochos beating Colin Markes and Leonardo Telles 6-3. Wake, who had not won a doubles point in their previous four matches, closed out this one with Alan Gadjiev and Borna Gojo beating Harrison Scott and Christian Sigsgaard 6-4.

Wake looked to be firmly in control with that point, with their top 3 considered nearly unbeatable, and at the start of singles, Wake Forest had early breaks on four courts. But Texas quickly set about hijacking that narrative, and ended with four first sets in singles, meaning it was Wake who would need a comeback.  The Demon Deacons were in a similar situation against North Carolina in the semifinals Saturday, although they were trailing 1-0, and it was Gojo who delivered the three-set win they needed at line 1 to earn a 4-3 victory.  But against Texas, Gojo looked tired and just plain off his game, and Sigsgaard seized his opportunity, drawing Texas even with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Wake looked to be in good position for its second point with Rrezart Cungu up 6-2, 4-1 over Scott at line 4, but Cungu couldn't hold the lead and that match went to a third set. Ito had already pushed 2018 NCAA champion Chrysochos to a third set at line 2, so the momentum had definitely shifted to the Longhorns, and when Rodrigo Banzer finally put away a stubborn Banthia 7-5, 6-4, Texas had a 2-1 lead. At line 5, Wake's Melios Efstathiou had a 4-2 lead in the second set, but he won just one of the next five games and Markes closed it out 6-4, 7-5 to make it 3-1 Texas.

Telles led Botzer 6-3, 5-3, but Botzer got it to a tiebreaker, and after saving two match (and championships points) in the tiebreaker, Botzer earned a third set. Scott was up 3-0 however in his third set with Cungu and Ito had managed to hold on to his early third set break over Chrysochos, so the title was beginning to look inevitable for the Longhorns. Serving for the championship at 5-4 in the third, Ito went up 40-15, but missed a forehand volley winner that would have ended it. But at 40-30 Chrysochos hit a forehand wide and the celebration for those in Burnt Orange began.

Three hours after the Texas men won their first NCAA team title, the Stanford women claimed their 20th, beating top seed Georgia 4-0.  Georgia had administered the only loss that Stanford suffered all season, in the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships back in February, so the third-seeded Cardinal knew what they were up against.

The doubles point came down to line 2, after Georgia's Lourdes Carle and Katarina Jokic defeated Kimberly Yee and Caroline Lampl 6-1 at line 1 and Stanford's Janice Shin and Melissa Lord defeated Marta Gonzalez and Meg Kowalski 6-3 at line 3. In what would become a theme of the evening, Stanford did eventually finish the job, with Michaela Gordon and Emily Arbuthnott defeating Elena Christofi and Vivian Wolff 7-5, after failing to serve out the match at 5-4.

Stanford had also taken the doubles point from Georgia in their previous meeting, but lost four singles matches, so they were not likely to be complacent, and they proved it by coming out strong in singles. They were up a break in the first set in four matches, and while Georgia never conceded, the Bulldogs couldn't find the quick first point they needed to stem Stanford's momentum. Stanford's Lampl couldn't end her match over Carle at line 3 on her first attempt, but she put Stanford up 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-4 win. Lord, who won the last match on last year to give her team a 4-3 win over Vanderbilt, had her struggles closing out Marta Gonzalez at line 2, but she made it 3-0 with a 6-2. 6-4 victory, holding on a deciding point after failing to convert four match points serving for the match at 5-2.

By this time Shin had gone up a break at line 5 and she finished the job, beating Christofi by the same score as the other two completed matches, 6-2, 6-4.

Despite their consistent success, and three of the last four NCAA championships, these back-to-back titles are the first for the Cardinal since they won three in a row in 2004-2006.

NCAA Division I Men’s Final
May 19, 2019, USTA National Campus
Orlando Florida

#2 Texas 4, #4 Wake Forest 1
Singles competition
1. #7 Christian Sigsgaard (UT) def. #11 Borna Gojo (WF) 6-3, 6-4
2. #12 Yuya Ito (UT) def. #8 Petros Chrysochos (WF) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
3. #80 Leonardo Telles (UT) vs. #50 Bar Botzer (WF) 6-3, 6-7(8), 1-0, unfinished
4. #55 Harrison Scott (UT) vs. Rrezart Cungu (WF) 2-6, 7-6(6), 5-0, unfinished
5. Colin Markes (UT) def. Melios Efstathiou (WF) 6-4, 7-5
6. Rodrigo Banzer (UT) def. Siddhant Banthia (WF) 7-5, 6-4

Doubles competition
1. #63 Alan Gadjiev/Borna Gojo (WF) def. #5 Harrison Scott/Christian Sigsgaard (UT) 6-4
2. #55 Bar Botzer/Petros Chrysochos (WF) def. Colin Markes/Leonardo Telles (UT) 6-3
3. Chih Chi Huang/Yuya Ito (UT) def. Siddhant Banthia/Julian Zlobinsky (WF) 6-2

Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (1,6,5,2)

NCAA Division I Women’s Final
May 19, 2019, USTA National Campus
Orlando Florida

#3 Stanford 4, #1 Georgia 0
Singles competition
1. #2 Katarina Jokic (UGA) vs. #24 Michaela Gordon (STAN) 7-5, 3-2, unfinished
2. #29 Melissa Lord (STAN) def. #19 Marta Gonzalez (UGA) 6-2, 6-4
3. #66 Caroline Lampl (STAN) def. #69 Lourdes Carle (UGA) 6-2, 6-4
4. #72 Vivian Wolff (UGA) vs. #44 Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) 7-5, 3-3, unfinished
5. #108 Janice Shin (STAN) def. Elena Christofi (UGA) 6-2, 6-4
6. Meg Kowalski (UGA) vs. #107 Emma Higuchi (STAN) 6-7(3), 2-0, unfinished

Doubles competition
1. #28 Lourdes Carle/Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #19 Kimberly Yee/Caroline Lampl (STAN) 6-1
2. #29 Michaela Gordon/Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) def. Elena Christofi/Vivian Wolff (UGA) 7-5
3. Janice Shin/Melissa Lord (STAN) def. Marta Gonzalez/Meg Kowalski (UGA) 6-3

Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (3,2,5)

The individual tournament begins Monday at 10:00 a.m., with men's singles matches, followed by women's singles matches. Nuno Borges of Mississippi State is the men's top seed; Ohio State's JJ Wolf is No. 2. Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami is the women's top seed, with Georgia Katarina Jokic the No. 2 seed. Doubles draws can be found in the Brackets window at the tournament website. Tennis Channel will be providing coverage of the singles and doubles tournaments throughout the week, beginning at 4 p.m. Monday.

The ITA announced its Division I National award winners today; more on each can be found here.

Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year
Men: Bid Goswami (Columbia University)
Women: Kevin Epley (University of South Carolina)

ITA Assistant Coach of the Year
Men: Devin Bowen (TCU)
Women: Cristina Sanchez-Quintar (University of Central Florida)

Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award
Men: Isaac Perez (US Air Force Academy)
Women: Sophie Whittle (Gonzaga University)

ITA Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award
Men: Paul Jubb (University of South Carolina)

ITA Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award
Women: Emma Davis (Wake Forest University)

ITA Rookie of the Year
Men: Andrew Fenty (University of Michigan)
Women: Maria Mateas (Duke University)

ITA Player to Watch
Men: Oliver Crawford (University of Florida)
Women: Alexa Graham (University of North Carolina)

ITA Most Improved Senior
Men: Jason Kros (Virginia Tech University)
Women: Sophie Whittle (Gonzaga University)

ITA Senior Player of the Year
Men: Nuno Borges (Mississippi State University)
Women: Ingrid Martins (South Carolina)

A lot going on today, with three American women winning titles, with the youngest of those Elli Mandlik, who gave herself a birthday present today with a title at the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in Barletta Italy. No. 6 seed Mandlik, who turned 18 today, defeated No. 2 seed Oana Simion of Romania 6-0, 6-2 for her second career 15K title.

Twenty-four-year-old Bernarda Pera won the biggest title of her career at the $100,000 ITF WTT event in Slovakia. The No. 2 seed defeated unseeded Anna Blinkova 7-5, 7-5 in today's final.

And at the $15,000 ITF WTT in Naples Florida, No. 2 seed Katerina Stewart won her first title since last March, beating top seed Belinda Woolcock(Florida) of Australia 6-4, 6-3 in the final. Stewart had not played a match this year prior to this week.  Woolcock, the 2017 NCAA singles finalist, did win the doubles title, with former Purdue star Mara Schmidt. The No. 2 seeds beat unseeded 14-year-old Reese Brantmeier and 16-year-old Kimmi Hance 6-3, 5-7, 10-6 in the final.

Five American juniors have advanced to the main draw in the ITF Grade A in Milan, with qualifying again played on indoor hard courts due to rain. Will Grant, Ronan Jachuck, Ellie Coleman and Katrina Scott earned their spots in the main draw with two wins today. Blaise Bicknell lost in the final round of qualifying, but made the field as a lucky loser. For more on today's qualifying, see the TennisUnderworld site.

Qualifying begins for men Monday at the French Open, with ten Americans on the schedule: Tennys Sandgren[1], Bjorn Fratangelo[20], Mitchell Krueger, Noah Rubin, Ryan Harrison[9], Chris Eubanks, Tim Smyczek, Michael Mmoh[22] (who hasn't played since Australian Open), Marcos Giron, Donald Young. Giron and Young will play each other. Women's qualifying begins on Tuesday.  The men's qualifying draw is here and the order of play is here.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Stanford Women, Wake Forest Men Return to NCAA D-I Finals; Qualifying in ITF Grade A in Milan Underway; Bernard, Pielet Win ITF Grade 4 Titles in Plantation

The defending champions were challenged Saturday in the NCAA Division I semifinals, but both the Stanford women and the Wake Forest men have earned a chance at another title Sunday at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida.  No. 3 Stanford defeated No. 2 seed North Carolina 5-2, while No. 4 seed Wake Forest went to the last match on to beat No. 9 seed North Carolina 4-3.

The day started with an impressive win from second-seeded Texas men, who took the doubles point from No. 3 seed Florida and rode that momentum to a 4-2 victory. The Longhorns came out quickly and took four first sets in singles, and although Florida managed to force a third set at line 4, that still left them short, as Texas got wins from Rodrigo Banzer at line 6, Yuya Ito at line 2 and Leonardo Telles at line 3 to send the large contingent of Gator fans home unhappy.

Wake Forest spotted North Carolina the doubles point, which has not been unusual for the Demon Deacons this tournament, but when the two ACC rivals split first sets in singles, Wake knew they had to get one match to a third set. Wake won the first two singles matches, with Petros Chrysochos taking out Benjamin Sigouin at line 2 and Bar Botzer beating Joshua Peck at line 3. Brian Cernoch pulled North Carolina even minutes later with a win over Rrezart Cungu at line 5. Wake Forest took the lead again, with Sid Banthia winning at line 6, but North Carolina responded with Blaine Boyden taking line 4.

That left the only match that went to a third set: Will Blumberg of North Carolina and Borna Gojo of Wake Forest at line 1. Blumberg had taken the first set 6-4, Gojo took the second set 6-2 and although Blumberg broke to open the third set, he wasn't able to hold that advantage. Gojo saved three break points to hold for 3-2, then broke Blumberg when he double faulted at 30-40. Gojo held for 5-2, and Blumberg won a deciding point/match point with a forehand winner to make it 5-3. With Gojo serving for the match, he got his first serve in on the first six points, taking a 40-15 lead, but unable to convert his second and third match points. On the fourth match point/deciding point, Gojo missed his first serve, but Blumberg couldn't get Gojo's second serve back in play and Wake Forest had its third, and most important, victory over the Tar Heels this year.

Stanford's win over North Carolina started with the Cardinal taking the doubles point, which was unusual for Stanford this tournament, while only the second time North Carolina had lost a doubles point this year, the first time being in Friday's win over UCLA.

The teams split first sets in singles, meaning Stanford only had to hold on to those three matches and they could secure the win. It looked as if Caroline Lampl would deliver that fourth point, when she served for the match against Sara Daavettila at line 3, but Daavettila broke, held, broke and held to force a third set, and Stanford now had to win a third set to convert their 3-0 lead into a victory.  Stanford's Michaela Gordon did force a third set at line 1, as did Janice Shin at line 5, but North Carolina had gotten wins from Cameron Morra at line 4 and Daavettila to keep the pressure on. Shin was up 5-1 over Jessie Aney in the third set, but didn't close it out at her first opportunity, while Gordon was up 5-3 over Makenna Jones. Both held on, with Shin and Gordon awarded a simultaneous clinch to put the Cardinal in the final for the fourth consecutive year.

Stanford will face top seed Georgia in Sunday evening's final, after the Bulldogs overcame a stubborn Duke team 4-2 Saturday night. Despite their grueling 4-3 win over Vanderbilt last night, Georgia showed no sign of physical and mental fatigue, and when they won the doubles point and took three first sets in singles, they appeared to be on their way.

Georgia got a quick second point from Katarina Jokic at line 1, and Duke looked to be ready to respond when Meible Chi took a 6-1, 5-1 lead over Marta Gonzalez at line 2. But Gonzalez came all the way back, winning six straight games to take the second set, and Duke had to settle for its first point from Kelly Chen at line 3. Ellyse Hamlin survived a tough second set and tiebreaker to give the Blue Devils their second point at line 5, but Vivian Wolff defeated Kaitlyn McCarthy at line 4 to put Georgia back in the lead.

Duke's Margaryta Bilokin had forced a third set from Meg Kowalski at line 6, and was up 4-1 in the third set, while Chi had taken a 4-2 lead on Gonzalez in their third set. Bilokin fought back, but at 3-4 was broken, giving Kowalski the opportunity to serve for the match. She couldn't hold, losing a deciding/match point, but she was able to break Bilokin on a deciding point in the next game to put the Bulldogs in the final for the first time since 2000.

The men's final is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday, with coverage on the Tennis Channel. The women's final will follow.  Live scoring is available at the tournament website.

NCAA Division I Team Championships Men’s Semifinals
May 18, 2019 at Orlando Florida
(USTA National Campus)

#2 Texas 4, #3 University of Florida 2
Singles competition
1. #9 Oliver Crawford (UF) def. #7 Christian Sigsgaard (UT) 6-4, 6-3
2. #12 Yuya Ito (UT) def. #54 Sam Riffice (UF) 6-2, 6-2
3. #80 Leonardo Telles (UT) def. #113 Johannes Ingildsen (UF) 6-4, 7-5
4. #55 Harrison Scott (UT) vs. Alfredo Perez (UF) 6-4, 3-6, 3-3, unfinished
5. #59 Andres Andrade (UF) def. Colin Markes (UT) 7-6(4), 6-4
6. Rodrigo Banzer (UT) def. McClain Kessler (UF) 6-2, 6-4

Doubles competition
1. #5 Christian Sigsgaard/Harrison Scott (UT) def. Johannes Ingildsen/McClain Kessler (UF) 6-3
2. Colin Markes/Leonardo Telles (UT) vs. Oliver Crawford/Alfredo Perez (UF) 5-6, unfinished
3. Chih Chi Huang/Yuya Ito (UT) def. Duarte Vale/Andres Andrade (UF) 7-6(1)

Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (2,6,1,5,3)

#4 Wake Forest 4, #9 North Carolina 3
Singles competition
1. #11 Borna Gojo (WF) def. #19 William Blumberg (UNC) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
2. #8 Petros Chrysochos (WF) def. #39 Benjamin Sigouin (UNC) 6-4, 6-2
3. #50 Bar Botzer (WF) def. #110 Josh Peck (UNC) 6-4, 6-1
4. #116 Brian Cernoch (UNC) def. Rrezart Cungu (WF) 6-3, 6-3
5. Blaine Boyden (UNC) def. Melios Efstathiou (WF) 6-2, 6-3
6. Siddhant Banthia (WF) def. Simon Soendergaard (UNC) 6-4, 6-3

Doubles competition
1. #63 Alan Gadjiev/Borna Gojo (WF) def. #13 William Blumberg/Blaine Boyden (UNC) 6-3
2. #90 Brian Cernoch/Benjamin Sigouin (UNC) def. #55 Petros Chrysochos/Bar Botzer (WF) 6-3
3. Simon Soendergaard/Mac Kiger (UNC) def. Siddhant Banthia/Melios Efstathiou (WF) 6-4

Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (2,3,4,6,5,1)

NCAA Division I Team Championships Women’s Semifinals
May 18, 2019 at Orlando Florida
(USTA National Campus)

#3 Stanford 5, #2 North Carolina 2
Singles competition
1. #24 Michaela Gordon (STAN) def. #5 Makenna Jones (NC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
2. #29 Melissa Lord (STAN) def. #7 Alexa Graham (NC) 6-1, 6-3
3. #20 Sara Daavettila (NC) def. #66 Caroline Lampl (STAN) 1-6, 7-5, 6-2
4. #46 Cameron Morra (NC) def. #44 Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) 6-3, 6-4
5. #108 Janice Shin (STAN) def. Jessie Aney (NC) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
6. #119 Sara Choy (STAN) def. Alle Sanford (NC) 7-5, 6-1
Doubles competition
1. #19 Kimberly Yee/Caroline Lampl (STAN) def. #2 Alexa Graham/Jessie Aney (NC) 6-4
2. #12 Makenna Jones/Cameron Morra (NC) def. #29 Emily Arbuthnott/Michaela Gordon (STAN) 6-4
3. Melissa Lord/Janice Shin (STAN) def. Alle Sanford/Sara Daavettila (NC) 6-3

Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (2,6,4,3,5,1)
Singles courts one and five finished at the same time

#1 Georgia 4, #5 Duke 2
Singles competition
1. #2 Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #11 Maria Mateas (DU) 6-0, 6-4
2. #19 Marta Gonzalez (UGA) vs. #33 Meible Chi (DU) 1-6, 7-6(5), 5-5, unfinished
3. #21 Kelly Chen (DU) def. #69 Lourdes Carle (UGA) 6-2, 7-5
4. #72 Vivian Wolff (UGA) def. Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) 6-3, 7-6(7)
5. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) def. Elena Christofi (UGA) 6-2, 7-6 (6)
6. #122 Meg Kowalski (UGA) def. Margaryta Bilokin (DU) 7-5, 5-7, 6-4

Doubles competition
1. #28 Lourdes Carle/Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #47 Kelly Chen/Ellyse Hamlin (DU) 6-2
2. Vivian Wolff/Elena Christofi (UGA) def. #24 Meible Chi/Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) 6-4
3. Meg Kowalski/Marta Gonzalez (UGA) vs. Margaryta Bilokin/Maria Mateas (DU) 5-3, unfinished

Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (1,3,5,4,6)

Qualifying for the ITF Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio began today in rainy Milan Italy, with first round matches played on indoor hard courts at various clubs around the city.  All six of the US boys in qualifying: William Grant[1], Andres Martin[3],  Ronan Jachuck[4], Blaise Bicknell[6], Mark Mandlik[8] and Murphy Cassone, won their opening round matches, but unlike the junior slams, where two wins suffice, it takes three wins to make the main draw this week.  The girls qualifying draw has byes for the top 8 seeds, meaning that Jenna De Falco[3] and Ellie Coleman[5] did not have to play today's first round. The other three US girls in qualifying won their first round matches: Hibah Shaikh[12] Katrina Scott[13] and Isabella Barrera Aguirre.

The main draw has been released, with Emilio Nava the top boys seed. The other Americans in the draw are Cannon Kingsley[7], Martin Damm[15], Eliot Spizzirri, Toby Kodat, Tyler Zink and Dali Blanch. The US girls in the main draw are Hurricane Tyra Black[2], Emma Navarro[3], Alexa Noel[6], Elli Mandlik[9], Robin Montgomery, Chloe Beck, Charlotte Chavatipon and Charlotte Owensby.

World No. 1 junior Clara Tauson of Denmark, the Australian Open champion, received a wild card, after mistakenly withdrawing from the event after initially entering.

I learned that and the saga of the day of indoor tennis, from Tommy Hemp, an Italian tennis fan, who wrote a preview and a recap of today's qualifying at the Tennisunderworld website.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Santa Croce Italy, Tyler Zink and Eliot Spizzirri won the doubles title, with the No. 2 seeds defeating top seeds Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan and Holger Rune of Denmark 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 10-7 in the final.  Rune, the No. 2 seed, won the boys singles title, beating No. 11 seed Alejo Lingua Lavallen of Argentina  6-2, 6-1. Unseeded Diana Shnaider of Russia won the girls title, beating unseeded Mell Reasco Gonzalez of Ecuador 7-6(5), 6-2.

At the ITF Grade 2 in Austria, Katrina Scott made the singles semifinals and won the doubles title with Gabby Price. The unseeded American pair defeated unseeded Aleksandra Jelen of Poland and Mavie Osterreicher of Austria 6-1, 1-6, 10-8 in the final.

The third and final ITF Grade 4 on the Florida clay this month wrapped up in Plantation, with Gianna Pielet and Alex Bernard winning the singles titles. No. 3 seed Pielet, who also won the first of the Grade 4s, in Delray Beach, avenged her loss in the first round of last week's event in Coral Gables, beating Lan Mi of China 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.  Pielet, 16, beat unseeded Ava Hrastar in two tiebreakers in the semifinals, and in today's final, Pielet downed qualifier Abigail Rencheli of Moldova 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Bernard, 15, won his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title, with the No. 3 seed beating unseeded Matthis Ross of Great Britain 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

The doubles titles also went to Americans.  No. 6 seeds Jameson Corsillo and Hunter Heck beat Jake Krug and Bruno Kuzuhara 6-4 7-6(7) in the boys final, and unseeded Ayshe Can and Karly Friedland defeated the top-seeded Canadian team of Erica Di Battista and Sarah-Maude Fortin 6-4, 6-7(4), 10-4.

Friday, May 17, 2019

My Division III Preview; Georgia Women Win Thriller to Advance to Semis Against Duke; Stanford and North Carolina Meet in Saturday's Semifinal

The NCAA Division III team championships quarterfinals kick off Monday here in Kalamazoo, and I have written a preview for the Tennis Recruiting Network, which was posted today. I covered the Division III Championships when they were last here, in 2016, and found it just as exciting as the Division I event, which I had covered for more than a decade. The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men and women are the top seeds, but there are arguments to be made for many other teams to emerge as National champions. My article is an overview, but for more detailed information, check out the Division III tennis blog, which is previewing each of Monday's eight matches.

The NCAA Division I women's quarterfinals were played today at the USTA's National Campus at Lake Nona, with No. 2 seed North Carolina and No. 3 seed Stanford earning 4-1 victories in the early matches, with the point lost for each in the doubles. For Stanford, who beat No. 6 seed Pepperdine, the loss of the doubles point is not that unusual, with the Cardinal coming back to win four times this season after losing the doubles point. But it was something of a shock for the Tar Heels, who beat No. 7 seed UCLA, as they had won 34 straight doubles points extending back to last season. The doubles point did come down to a tiebreaker at line 3, after UCLA had won at 2 and North Carolina had won at 1, but Bruins Abi Altick and Taylor Johnson edged Sara Daavettila and Alle Sanford 7-6(6).  North Carolina won four first sets, and managed to hold on to win all four matches without needing a third set, with Sara Daavettila defeating Ayan Broomfield 6-2, 6-3 at line 3 for the clinching point.

Pepperdine captured the doubles point with wins at 1 and 2, with 3 going unfinished, but Stanford went right to work in singles, winning first sets in five matches, with none of them close. Stanford got the clinching point from Emily Arbuthnott, who beat Dzina Milovanovic 6-1, 6-4 at line 4.

It was a big day for Greek tennis in Rome, with both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari advancing to the semifinals of the Italian Open, and another player from Greece delivered at the NCAAs, with Elena Christofi of Georgia winning the last match on in the top-seeded Bulldogs 4-3 victory over No. 8 seed Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt, who had lost both of their previous meetings with Georgia this year, took the doubles point with wins at lines 1 and 2, with line 3 going unfinished. The Commodores took four first sets in singles, putting them in good position; they could drop one of those four in a third set and still prevail. But Georgia wasn't about to go quietly. They pulled even at 1, with Katarina Jokic taking out Georgia Drummy 6-3, 6-3. Vanderbilt went back in front with Fernanda Contreras beating Marta Gonzalez 6-3, 6-2, but Georgia tied it with Vivian Wolff flipping her match with Amanda Meyer 3-6, 6-0, 6-3. Christina Rosca gave Vanderbilt its last lead, beating Lourdes Carle 7-5, 6-4 at line 3, just as Carolyn Campana was converting her ninth set point to send her match with Christofi into a third set.  Georgia's Meg Kowalski, who was sick more than once in her match with Emily Smith at line 6, took a third-set lead and posted a 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-1 win to make it 3-3, with Christofi up a break at 2-1 in the third set.  Campana, a freshman, stayed with Christofi, but couldn't challenge the junior on serve, and Christofi took a deciding point in the final game for a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3 victory.

In the late night match, which started at close to 9 p.m., No. 5 seed Duke took the doubles point and four first sets in singles against No. 4 seed South Carolina, but as Vanderbilt learned earlier, more work was left to be done. Duke took the doubles point with wins at 1 and 3, with line 2 going unfinished. Two hours into the match, Duke had a 3-1 lead, with Meible Chi winning at line 2 and Kaitlyn McCarthy at line 4 for the Blue Devils, while Ingrid Martins got the Gamecocks on the board with a victory at line 1.  But Mia Horvit at line 3 and Silva Chinellato at line 5 got late breaks to force third sets for South Carolina, while Margaryta Bilokin of Duke had forced a third set at line 6. It was freshman Bilokin who ended up delivering the fourth point, beating Rachel Rohrabacher 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 to return Duke to the semifinals for the second straight year.

Below are three of the four box scores, with the school's recap available by clicking on the score heading. I will add the Duke-South Carolina box score and recap later.

NCAA Women’s Division I Quarterfinals
May 17, 2019
USTA National Campus, Orlando Florida

#2 North Carolina 4, #7 UCLA 1
Singles competition
1. #45 Jada Hart (UCLA) vs. #5 Makenna Jones (NC) 6-4, 4-6, 1-0, unfinished
2. #7 Alexa Graham (NC) def. #32 Elysia Bolton (UCLA) 6-2, 6-4
3. #20 Sara Daavettila (NC) def. Ayan Broomfield (UCLA) 6-2, 6-3
4. #46 Cameron Morra (NC) def. Alaina Miller (UCLA) 6-2, 6-3
5. #120 Abi Altick (UCLA) vs. Jessie Aney (NC) 6-4, 6-5, unfinished
6. Alle Sanford (NC) def. Gabby Andrews (UCLA) 6-1, 6-0

Doubles competition
1. #2 Jessie Aney/Alexa Graham (NC) def. #5 Gabby Andrews/Ayan Broomfield (UCLA) 6-3
2. #11 Elysia Bolton/Jada Hart (UCLA) def. #12 Makenna Jones/Cameron Morra (NC) 6-1
3. #82 Abi Altick/Taylor Johnson (UCLA) def. Sara Daavettila/Alle Sanford (NC) 7-6(6)

Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,4,2,3)

#3 Stanford 4, #6 Pepperdine University 1
Singles competition
1. #24 Michaela Gordon (STAN) vs. #37 Ashley Lahey(PEPP) 4-6, 6-2, 0-2, unfinished
2. #29 Melissa Lord (STAN) def. #102 Adrijana Lekaj(PEPP) 6-1, 6-3
3. #66 Caroline Lampl (STAN) vs. #53 Jessica Failla(PEPP) 6-3, 4-4, unfinished
4. #44 Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) def. Dzina Milovanovic(PEPP) 6-1, 6-4
5. #108 Janice Shin (STAN) def. Daria Kuczer (PEPP) 6-1, 6-1
6. #107 Emma Higuchi (STAN) def.Anastasia Iamachkine(PEPP) 6-2, 6-0

Doubles competition
1. #41 Jessica Failla/Anastasia Iamachkine (PEPP) def. #19 Caroline Lampl/Kimberly Yee (STAN) 6-1
2. #86 Daria Kuczer/Ashley Lahey (PEPP) def. #29 Emily Arbuthnott/Michaela Gordon (STAN) 6-4
3. #57 Melissa Lord/Niluka Madurawe (STAN) vs. Adrijana Lekaj/Dzina Milovanovic (PEPP) 6-5, unfinished

Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (5,6,2,4)

#1 Georgia 4, #8 Vanderbilt 3
Singles competition
1. #2 Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #64 Georgia Drummy (VANDY) 6-3, 6-2
2. #6 Fernanda Contreras (VANDY) def. #19 Marta Gonzalez (UGA) 6-3, 6-2
3. #18 Christina Rosca (VANDY) def. #69 Lourdes Carle (UGA) 7-5, 6-4
4. #72 Vivian Wolff (UGA) def. #93 Amanda Meyer (VANDY) 3-6, 6-0, 6-3
5. Elena Christofi (UGA) def. Carolyn Campana (VANDY) 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3
6. #122 Meg Kowalski (UGA) def. #117 Emily Smith (VANDY) 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-1

Doubles competition
1. #38 Emma Kurtz/Emily Smith (VANDY) def. #28 Lourdes Carle/Katarina Jokic (UGA) 6-3
2. Fernanda Contreras/Georgia Drummy (VANDY) def. Elena Christofi/Vivian Wolff (UGA) 6-4
3. Marta Gonzalez/Meg Kowalski (UGA) vs. Christina Rosca/Amanda Meyer (VANDY) 5-4, unfinished

Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (1,2,4,3,6,5)

#5 Duke 4, #4 South Carolina 1
Singles competition
1. #4 I. Gamarra Martins (SC) def. #11 Maria Mateas (DU) 6-2, 6-1
2. #33 Meible Chi (DU) def. #17 Paige Cline (SC) 7-5, 6-0
3. #81 Mia Horvit (SC) vs. #21 Kelly Chen (DU) 2-6, 7-5, 2-3, unfinished
4. Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) def. Megan Davies (SC) 6-1, 6-3
5. Silvia Chinellato (SC) vs. Ellyse Hamlin (DU) 6-7(5), 6-4, 4-1, unfinished
6. Margaryta Bilokin (DU) def. Rachel Rohrabacher (SC) 3-6, 7-5, 6-2

Doubles competition
1. #47 Kelly Chen/Ellyse Hamlin (DU) def. #3 Mia Horvit/Ingrid Gamarra Martins (SC) 6-3
2. #39 Megan Davies/Rachel Rohrabacher (SC) vs. #24 Meible Chi/Kaitlyn McCarthy (DU) 4-5, unfinished
3. Maria Mateas/Margaryta Bilokin (DU) def. Silvia Chinellato/Paige Cline (SC) 6-2

Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (2,1,4,6)

Saturday’s Division I Semifinals:

Men: Texas[2] v Florida[3], Noon
Women: Stanford[3] v North Carolina[2], 2 p.m.
Men: Wake Forest[4] v North Carolina[9], 4 p.m.
Women: Georgia[1] v Duke[5], 6 p.m.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

North Carolina Ousts Top Seed Ohio State in NCAA Division I Men's Quarterfinals, Meets Wake in Semis; Texas and Florida Advance in Bottom Half; Women's Quarterfinals Friday

According to the SLAM Tennis projections, the men's quarterfinal match between No. 1 seed Ohio State and No. 9 seed North Carolina was the least competitive of the four matches Thursday at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida. The Buckeyes were given an 86% chance of winning the match, but it was the Tar Heels who came out on top, taking a 3-0 lead and holding off a late surge from Ohio State to claim a 4-2 victory.

After a less than exciting doubles point with Ohio State winning 6-1 at 1 and North Carolina winning 6-2 at 2 and 3, Ohio State came back in singles, taking four first sets. But the Buckeyes could not get that one first point on the board and North Carolina's Blaine Boyden and Brian Cernoch quickly closed out their matches at lines 4 and 5 to make it 3-0 Tar Heels. Ohio State's Hunter Tubert led Simon Soendergaard 6-4, 4-0 at line 6, but lost six straight games to send that match to a third set. Kyle Seelig got Ohio State on the board with a win at line 3, and JJ Wolf took out Will Blumberg at line 1 to make it 3-2, but Ohio State's John McNally couldn't hold his lead in the second set at line 2 and Benjamin Sigouin forced a third.  Sigouin went up 3-0, two breaks, in the third, but McNally fought back, taking four straight games. Tubert and Soendergaard were still neck and neck deep in the third set at line 6, but McNally was broken, given Sigouin an opportunity to serve it out.  Down 15-30 in the game, Sigouin hit a clutch second serve ace, then McNally was overruled on the far sideline on a Sigouin shot he called out. On the first match point, McNally hit a backhand long, and the upset was complete.

North Carolina will face defending champion and No. 4 seed Wake Forest in the all-ACC semifinal, after the Demon Deacons defeated No. 5 seed Virginia 4-2.  Wake Forest has yet to win a doubles point in the NCAAs, but the only point they have lost in singles came today, with Ryan Goetz beating Rrezart Cungu 6-2, 6-3 at line 4. That made the score 2-1 Virginia, with Wake having earned its first point with a 6-3 6-0 win by Sid Banthia  over Matthew Lord at line 5. That was the last point the Cavaliers would post, although Brandon Nakashima did extend hope for the Virginia fans when he saved two match points in the second set tiebreaker against 2018 NCAA champion Petros Chrysochos to force a third set at line 2.  But Virginia's Carl Soderlund began to cramp early in the third set of his match with Borna Gojo at line 1 and could barely move by the end, with Gojo clinching with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory.

North Carolina and Wake Forest have met twice this year, at the Team Indoor and in conference play (at Wake), with the Demon Deacons winning both matches.

No. 2 seed Texas earned an impressive 4-1 win over No. 10 TCU, with the Longhorns winning the doubles point with relative ease and getting wins from Rodrigo Banzer at 6, Yuya Ito at 2 and Harrison Scott at 4. TCU's lone point came from Alex Rybakov at line 1.

The match projected to be closest was No. 3 Florida vs No. 6 Baylor, with the Gators having just a 55% win probability. But it was all Florida in the night match in front of a large Gator crowd, with the doubles point and routine wins from McClain Kessler at 6, Andy Andrade at 5 and Sam Riffice at 2 for the day's only 4-0 score.

Click on the headings below to go to the winning school's recap, except for Florida, which I will add Friday morning, along with box score.

A few words on the Tennis Channel coverage. It was great that the USTA provided streaming on Facebook and Periscope when Tennis Channel had to join the Ohio State - North Carolina match in progress due to late matches at the Italian Open. At times during that match there were more than 5000 viewers on Periscope, so the word did get out.  But there were perplexing glitches, with the draw graphic wrong, the semifinal matchups being incorrectly announced on multiple occasions, and the break point graphics not reflecting that a deciding deuce point is also a break (or game) point. A point is assessed for a medical timeout in men's college tennis, a rule commentator Sam Gore did not seem familiar with, and sideline reporter Hana Ostapchuk didn't seem all that conversant with tennis.  This is the first day of the first time that Tennis Channel has broadcast the NCAAs in years, so there is every reason to think coverage will improve in the next three days, providing Divison I tennis with the exposure it deserves.

Men's NCAA Division I Quarterfinals
May 16, 2019 at Orlando, Fla.
(USTA National Campus)

#4 Wake Forest 4, #5 Virginia 2
Singles competition
1. #11 Borna Gojo (WF) def. #3 Carl Soderlund (VA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
2. #8 Petros Chrysochos (WF) vs. #82 Brandon Nakashima (VA) 6-3, 6-7 (6), 2-1, unfinished
3. #50 Bar Botzer (WF) def. #114 Henrik Wiersholm (VA) 6-3, 6-2
4. Ryan Goetz (VA) def. Rrezart Cungu (WF) 6-2, 6-3
5. Melios Efstathiou (WF) def. Aswin Lizen (VA) 6-3, 6-4
6. Siddhant Banthia (WF) def. Matthew Lord (VA) 6-3, 6-0

Doubles competition
1. #33 Brandon Nakashima/Henrik Wiersholm (VA) def. #63 Alan Gadjiev/Borna Gojo (WF) 6-2
2. #55 Bar Botzer/Petros Chrysochos (WF) def. Matthew Lord/Carl Soderlund (VA) 6-4
3. Gianni Ross/William Woodall (VA) def. Siddhant Banthia/Melios Efstathiou (WF) 7-6(5)

Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (6,4,3,5,1)

#2 Texas 4, #10 TCU 1
Singles competition
1. #4 Alex Rybakov (TCU) def. #7 Christian Sigsgaard (UT) 6-4, 6-2
2. #12 Yuya Ito (UT) def. #28 Alastair Gray (TCU) 7-5, 6-1
3. #80 Leonardo Telles (UT) vs. Reese Stalder (TCU) 7-6(3), 4-3, unfinished
4. #55 Harrison Scott (UT) def. Bertus Kruger (TCU) 7-6(4), 6-3
5. Colin Markes (UT) vs. Luc Fomba (TCU) 6-4, 5-6, unfinished
6. Rodrigo Banzer (UT) def. Sander Jong (TCU) 6-4, 6-2

Doubles competition
1. #5 Harrison Scott/Christian Sigsgaard (UT) def. #15 Alastair Gray/Alex Rybakov (TCU) 6-2
2. Colin Markes/Leonardo Telles (UT) def. #22 Bertus Kruger/Reese Stalder (TCU) 6-3
3. Chih Chi Huang/Yuya Ito (UT) vs. Sander Jong/Luc Fomba (TCU) 3-5, unfinished

Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (1,6,2,4)

#10 UNC 4, #1 Ohio State 2
Singles competiton
1. JJ Wolf (OSU) d. William Blumberg (UNC), 7-5, 6-4
2. Benjamin Sigouin (UNC) d. John McNally (OSU). 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
3. Kyle Seelig (OSU) d. Josh Peck (UNC), 6,3, 6-4
4. Brian Cernoch (UNC) d. Martin Joyce (OSU), 6-2, 6-0
5. Blaine Boyden (UNC) d. Alex Kobelt (OSU), 6-1, 6-3
6. Hunter Tubert (OSU) vs. Simon Soendergaard (UNC), 6-4, 4-6, 5-6 unfinished

Doubles competition
1. JJ Wolf/Martin Joyce (OSU) d. Will Blumberg/Blaine Boyden (UNC), 6-1
2. Benjamin Sigouin/Brian Cernoch (UNC) d. Alex Kobelt/Kyle Seelig (OSU), 6-2
3. Mac Kiger/Simon Soendergaard (UNC) d. John McNally/Hunter Tubert (OSU), 6-2

Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (4,5,3,1,2)

#3 Florida 4, #6 Baylor 0
Singles competition
1. #9 Oliver Crawford (UF) vs. #20 Johannes Schretter (BU) 4-6, 5-2, unfinished
2. #54 Sam Riffice (UF) def. #25 Matias Soto (BU) 6-3, 6-4
3. #113 Johannes Ingildsen (UF) vs. #112 Adrian Boitan (BU) 4-6, 3-1, unfinished
4. Alfredo Perez (UF) vs. #78 Will Little (BU) 6-3, 5-5, unfinished
5. #59 Andres Andrade (UF) def. #76 Sven Lah (BU) 6-2, 6-2
6. McClain Kessler (UF) def. Jimmy Bendeck (BU) 6-1, 6-0

Doubles competition
1. Johannes Ingildsen/McClain Kessler (UF) def. #1 Jimmy Bendeck/Sven Lah (BU) 7-5
2. Oliver Crawford/Alfredo Perez (UF) def. Will Little/Matias Soto (BU) 6-4
3. Duarte Vale/Andres Andrade (UF) vs. Johannes Schretter/Constantin Frantzen (BU) 5-5, unfinished

Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (6,5,2)

The women's quarterfinals are Friday, beginning at noon.

Friday’s NCAA Division I Women’s Quarterfinals:
UCLA[7] v North Carolina[2] Noon
Stanford[3] v Pepperdine[6] 2 p.m.
Georgia[1] v Vanderbilt[8] 5 p.m.
Duke[5] v South Carolina[4] 7 p.m.

*Tennis Channel coverage

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

NCAA Division I Quarterfinals Begin with Men Thursday; Recent D-I Coaching Departures; Blanch Reaches Santa Croce G1 Quarterfinals; Top Seed Out in Plantation Grade 4; Teens Advance at Naples $15K

The NCAA Division I team quarterfinals begin Thursday at the USTA's National Campus at Lake Nona, with four men's matches. The men will get Friday off, with the women taking the courts for their quarterfinals. For live scoring, links to streaming, ticket information and more, see the USTA's tournament site.

Thursday’s NCAA Division I Men’s Quarterfinals:

Virginia[5] v Wake Forest[4] Noon
TCU[10] v Texas[2] 2 p.m.
Ohio State[1] v North Carolina[9] 5 p.m.*
Florida[3] v Baylor 7 p.m.*

Friday’s NCAA Division I Women’s Quarterfinals:
UCLA[7] v North Carolina[2] Noon
Stanford[3] v Pepperdinep6] 2 p.m.
Georgia[1] v Vanderbilt[8] 5 p.m.*
Duke[5] v South Carolina[4] 7 p.m.*

*Tennis Channel coverage

Once the conference tournaments are over, coaching positions are reevaluated, and I've seen several announcements recently regarding changes at Division I programs. Lauren Spencer has resigned as women's head coach at Auburn after eight seasons. Spencer had a 143-92 record at Auburn. Chris Cagle has resigned as women's head coach at Penn State after five seasons. Utah announced the departure of Mat Iandolo after 12 years as women's head coach.  And Clemson announced it was not renewing the contract John Boetsch after three years as men's head coach.

Back in March, Gordon Ernst resigned as the Rhode Island women's coach after being indicted in the Varsity Blues college admission scandal.  Michael Center, men's coach at Texas, was fired in March, and he pleaded guilty in the Varsity Blues scandal last month. Texas, of course, is still competing in the NCAAs, with Bruce Berque, the associate head coach, stepping up to head coach when Center was fired. The Washington Post today had an article stating that Georgetown is expelling two students implicated in the scandal.

Because the NCAAs will be the focus the next four days, I'll do a review of the ITF Junior Circuit and World Tennis Tour events today. Only one American is left in singles at the ITF Grade 1 in Santa Croce Italy, No. 15 seed Dali Blanch. The 16-year-old defeated unseeded Fausto Tabacco of Italy 6-2, 6-2 today to advance to Thursday's quarterfinals. 
No. 3 seed Eliot Spizzirri lost to No. 16 seed Admir Kalender of Croatia 7-5, 6-3, but he remains in doubles. Spizzirri and Tyler Zink, the No. 2 seeds, advanced to the semifinals, as did Ellie Coleman and Charlotte Chavatipon in the girls doubles draw.

Top seed Hunter Heck was beaten 6-1, 6-3 in the third round of the ITF Grade 4 in Plantation Florida by unseeded Matthis Ross of Great Britain, but four Americans have advanced to the quarterfinals: No. 7 seed Daniel Milavsky, No. 12 seed John Bernard, No. 3 seed Alex Bernard, John's younger brother, and No. 16 seed Welsh Hotard. Four US girls have also advanced to the Plantation quarterfinals: Ava Catanzarite[14], Ava Hrastar, Gianna Pielet[3] and India Houghton[16]. The two Avas will play Thursday for a place in the semifinals.

At the Grade 2 in Austria, No. 6 seed Andrew Dale and unseeded Katrina Scott are the two Americans advancing to the singles quarterfinals. 
As was the case with the $15,000 tournament in Williamsburg last week, this week's $15k in Naples Florida is providing an opportunity for juniors to get their first wins on the ITF's World Tennis Tour. Fifteen-year-old qualifier Carson Tanguilig earned her first WTT win by beating wild card Amber McGinnis 6-4, 6-4. Fourteen-year-old Eleana Yu is playing her first WTT event, and has her first main draw win after qualifying. Yu defeated LSU recruit Safiya Carrington 7-5, 6-3 in the first round today. Fifteen-year-old Hina Inoue won her first WTT main draw match, beating fellow qualifier Isabella Robbiani of Paraguay 3-6, 7-5, 6-0.  Qualifier Victoria Hu, 17, beat wild card Elaine Chervinsky 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 in just under three hours to advance the to the second round.  Wild cards Reese Brantmeier, 14, and Kimmi Hance, 16, who reached the quarterfinals last week in Williamsburg, won their first round matches today.  Other American juniors moving into the second round are Peyton Stearns, Lea Ma and Kylie Collins.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Roland Garros 2018 Champion Gauff Receives Women's Qualifying Wild Card; Bobby Knight's D-I Quarterfinal Previews; ITA Men's Hall of Fame Induction Set for Sunday

Wild cards for the French Open were announced today, and aside from the Tennis Australia and USTA reciprocal wild cards, all were given to French players, except for one women's qualifying wild card, which went to 2018 girls Roland Garros champion Coco Gauff.

Gauff, No. 2 in the ITF World Junior rankings, has been using her Junior Exemptions to enter ITF World Tennis Tour events in the US this spring, and this week she is playing a $60,000 WTT tournament in France, so she may have anticipated receiving the qualifying wild card. She is not entered in the Roland Garros junior event.

The boys 2018 Roland Garros champion, Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, currently No. 1 in the ITF World Junior rankings and the 2018 ITF World Junior champion, did not receive a men's qualifying wild card.

French junior Diane Parry, No. 9 in the ITF Junior rankings, received a women's main draw wild card, as did 16-year-old Selena Janicijevic, who recently moved into the Top 30 of the ITF Junior rankings.  One qualifying wild card is reserved for the winner of April's Grade 1 in Beaulieu-sur-Mer (if French) and this year the girls champion was 16-year-old Elsa Jacquemot.  Seventeen-year-old Loudmilla Bencheikh, currently No. 43 in the ITF Junior rankings,  and 18-year-old Manon Leonard, ranked 111 in the ITF Junior rankings, also received women's qualifying wild cards.  The French federation has also instituted a Wild Card Challenge with two men's and two women's wild cards distributed that way.

Roland Garros women's main draw wild cards:
Audrey Albie (FRA)
Selena Janicijevic (FRA)
Chloe Paquet (FRA)
Diane Parry (FRA)
Jessika Ponchet (FRA)
Harmony Tan (FRA)
Priscilla Hon(AUS)*
Lauren Davis(USA)*

*reciprocal wild card

Women's qualifying wild cards:

Tessah Andrianjafitrimo(FRA)
Loudmilla Bencheikh(FRA)
Coco Gauff(USA)
Myrtille Georges(FRA)
Elsa Jacquemot(FRA)
Manon Leonard(FRA)
Alize Lim(FRA)
Margot Yerolymos(FRA)

Roland Garros men's main draw wild cards:
Gregoire Barrere(FRA)
Quentin Halys(FRA)
Antoine Hoang(FRA)
Maxime Janvier(FRA)
Nicolas Mahut(FRA)
Corentin Moutet(FRA)
Alexei Popyrin(AUS)*
Tommy Paul(USA)*

*reciprocal wild card

Men's qualifying wild cards:
Elliot Benchetrit(FRA)
Geoffrey Blancaneaux(FRA)
Antoine Cornut-Chauvinc(FRA)
Corentin Denolly(FRA)
Hugo Gaston(FRA)
Manual Guinard(FRA)
Matteo Martineau(FRA)
Alexandre Muller(FRA)

The first ball of the NCAA Division I Team Championships in Lake Nona will be struck at noon Thursday, but Bobby Knight at College Tennis Today has already posted his previews and predictions.  Knight is forecasting a big upset in the 5 p.m. men's match Thursday between Ohio State[1] and North Carolina[9]. He also has No. 5 Duke beating No. 4 South Carolina in the women's 7 p.m. match Friday. If you have Tennis Channel, you should be able to see for yourself how his predictions play out in those two matches. I don't like to make predictions, primarily because I'm so bad at it. My participation in the Tennis Recruiting Network's NCAA Division I roundtable every year forces me into it once a year, but I do appreciate Bobby's insight into the matches, and unlike me, he's very good at it.

The men's previews are here; the women's previews are here.

The ITA announced its Men's Hall of Fame Induction Class at the end of March, but I was so wrapped up in the Easter Bowl/Carson ITF junior tournaments I didn't have a chance to mention it at the time and then  forgot about it. That's a shame, because I know three of the inductees very well from covering them for many years: Boise State's Greg Patton, Harvard's Dave Fish and Virginia's Somdev Devvarman. 

The other three members of this year's class are, like Devvarman, being inducted for their playing careers: Roy Barth, UCLA, Sargis Sargsian, Arizona State and Doug Verdieck, University of Redlands.  Congratulations to all six for their outstanding contributions to college tennis.

The ceremony, previously a dinner on the first night of the individual tournament, at least when I've attended, has been moved to a luncheon prior to the team finals, this year on Sunday. 

For a detailed look at the accomplishments of all the inductees, see this release from the ITA.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Nicole Gibbs Diagnosed with Cancer, Surgery This Week; US Juniors Compete at ITF Grade 1 in Italy, Grade 2 in Austria; Tennis Channel's Schedule for NCAAs

Two-time NCAA singles champion Nicole Gibbs, currently 117 in the WTA rankings, announced today that she had been diagnosed with a rare cancer of the saliva glands and will be having surgery on Friday. In the tweet, the 26-year-old former Stanford star said the prognosis for recovery is great and she hopes to be back for Wimbledon qualifying at the end of June. All of us who have known Gibbs since her early teens know she'll face this with determination and optimism and wish her the best in getting back to full health soon.

The ITF Grade 1 in Santa Croce Italy is the first of three major clay events on the Junior Circuit leading up to the French Open championships. With a $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour women's event in Naples Florida this week and a Grade 4 in Plantation Florida, American juniors have other options this week, but six boys and five girls are in the 48-player draws there.

Four of the six US boys are seeded and have first round byes: Dali Blanch[15], Eliot Spizzirri[3], Will Grant[14] and Tyler Zink[5]. Mark Mandlik lost his first round match today, with Andres Martin winning his opening match.  None of the five US girls were seeded, so all played today, with qualifier Rosie Garcia Gross, Hibah Shaikh and Ellie Coleman falling in the first round. Charlotte Chavatipon and Chloe Beck won their opening matches. 

The top seed in the boys draw is Bu Yunchaokete of China, with Sohyun Park of Korea the top seed in the girls draw.

A Grade 2 in Austria this week has also drawn several Americans: boys Blaise Bicknell[7], Andrew Dale[6] and Ronan Jachuck and girls Katrina Scott, Jenna De Falco, Charlotte Owensby[6] and Gabby Price. With just a 32-player draw, the first round begins Tuesday.

Tennis Channel has released its broadcast windows for the NCAA Division I tournament, beginning with coverage of the men's 5:00 pm Ohio State[1] vs North Carolina[9] match and the 7:00 pm Florida[3] vs Baylor[6] matches Thursday. The same times for women on Friday will feature No. 1 Georgia vs No. 8 Vanderbilt and No. 4 South Carolina vs No. 5 Duke.

The singles finals are scheduled for Saturday May 25th, with the women's final followed by the men's final. (This is a huge improvement, with the two events having been played simultaneously for at least the past seven years). The finals window is showing as 4-11 p.m., which is much, much longer than the two finals are likely to take. Maybe the doubles finals will also be included?

The complete Tennis Channel schedule is available at the USTA's NCAA Tournament Portal, which also contains information on tickets for those who have the opportunity to attend the event on the Lake Nona National Campus.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Davis Claims Bonita Springs $100K Title, French Open Wild Card; Quarterfinals Set for NCAA Division III Team Championships; Roa Takes ITF Grade 5 Singles Title, Bicknell, Jachuck Earn Grade 2 Doubles Titles

Lauren Davis knew she had no margin for error coming into the $100,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Bonita Springs Florida. After reaching the final of the $80,000 tournament in Dothan the first week of the USTA's Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge, Davis didn't play the Charlottesville $80K and lost in the second round of the $100K in Charleston last week, to Whitney Osuigwe, who was leading the points race, despite having skipped Dothan. But only two results counted in the women's Wild Card Challenge, and Osuigwe's win in Charlottesville provided fewer points than what were on offer in Bonita Springs, giving Davis a chance.

Davis had the same opportunity to win the USTA's 2019 Australian Open wild card late last year, needing a title at the WTA 125 in Houston to catch Osuigwe. Davis lost in the final to Peng Shuai of China 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, but this year she did not stumble at the final hurdle, beating wild card Ann Li 7-5, 7-5 in the final to win her first title since 2017.  Li served for both sets at 5-3, but with half of the games in the match won with breaks of serve, it wasn't exactly surprising that she failed to hold either time.

The 25-year-old Davis will play in the main draw of the French Open for the seventh time, but she has had little success on the terre battue, with her only win coming in her first appearance back in 2012. 

The doubles title in Bonita Springs went to top seeds and former Alabama stars Alexa Guarachi of Chile and Erin Routliffe of New Zealand. They defeated No. 4 seeds Caroline Dolehide and Usue Arconada 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final. It's Guarachi and Routliffe's fifth title together and their biggest; they won two $80K titles on this clay swing last year as a team.

At the $80,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in France, Christina McHale won her first title since 2016. Unseeded, McHale defeated No. 3 seed Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland in the final 7-6(4), 6-2, her fifth consecutive straight-sets win, which included three tiebreakers.

Harrison Adams fell short in his quest for a first ITF World Tennis Tour singles title, with the second-seeded former Texas A&M star falling to top seed Juan Pablo Varillas of Peru 6-2, 6-4 in today's final at the $25,000 ITF WTT event in Pensacola Florida.

Former UCLA Bruin Austin Rapp also fell one match short of his first WTT singles title at the $15,000 tournament in Cancun Mexico. The unseeded 22-year-old, who graduated last spring, lost in the final to No. 2 seed and former Memphis star Ryan Peniston of Great Britain 6-4, 6-4.  Rapp did pick up his second career ITF WTT doubles title, partnering with Alexandr Cozbinov(UNLV) of Moldova. The top seeds defeated No. 2 seeds David Fox(Denver) and Isaac Stoute of Great Britain 6-2, 4-6, 10-1 in the final.

The NCAA Division III quarterfinals are set after regional play ended today.  Fifteen of the 16 seeds advanced to the quarterfinals, which begin Monday, May 20th in Kalamazoo.  While North Carolina is the only Division I school to place both men's and women's teams in the quarterfinals, six schools have both in Division III: Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Middlebury, Amherst, Wesleyan, Emory and Chicago.

None of the third round matches went to 5-4, and the only 5-3 score was the MIT women's upset of No. 6 seed Bowdoin.  MIT had lost to Bowdoin 8-1 last month.  Here are the quarterfinal matchups:

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps[1] v Carnegie Mellon[8] 
Middlebury[4] v Amherst[5] 
Wesleyan[3] v MIT 
Emory[2] v Chicago[7]

CMS[1] v Bowdoin[8] 
Amherst[5] v Chicago[4]
Middlebury[3] v Wesleyan[6] 
Emory[2] v Washington-St Louis[7]

See the SLAM Tennis Championship Central site for today's results, brackets and odds. I will have a preview of the Division III NCAA tournament for Tennis Recruiting Network late next week.

Four Americans won ITF Junior Circuit titles this weekend, with 15-year-old Jillian Roa winning her first title at the Grade 5 in Macedonia. The unseeded Roa, who has been playing competitively in Europe the past couple of years, won five matches, two from a set down, to reach the final, where she defeated her fifth seed of the week, No. 15 seed Tijana Sretenovic of Serbia 7-6(5), 7-6(6). 

Seventeen-year-old Lauren Cooper, who swept the titles at the Grade 4 in Namibia last week, won the doubles title this week at the Grade 5 in the same country. Cooper, playing with Brigitte Manceau of France and seeded No. 2, defeated No. 3 seeds Beau Deleu and Ines Stephani of Belgium 6-2, 6-3 in the final. 

At the Grade 2 in Austria, Blaise Bicknell took the doubles title, partnering with Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan. The top seeds defeated Adrien Burdet of Switzerland and Peter Sallay of Hungary 3-6, 7-6(9), 10-5 in the final. 

At the Grade 2 in Romania, Ronan Jachuck, who reached the semifinals in singles, won the doubles title with Cezar Cretu of Romania. The top seeds received a walkover from unseeded Kristijan Juhas of Serbia and Nemanja Malesevic of Bosnia in the final. Tara Malik reached the girls doubles final, with Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain. 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

NCAA Division I Quarterfinals Set; Subhash Wins $15K Title; Li's Comeback Puts Her in $100K Final; Adams Advances to Pensacola $25K Final; Houghton Sweeps ITF Grade 4 Titles in Florida

The top 8 women's seeds all advanced to the NCAA Division I quarterfinals, with the four in action on Saturday having varying degrees of resistance from their lower-seeded visitors.

Top seed Georgia dropped the doubles point, and Kate Fahey cruised past Katarina Jokic 6-0, 6-4 for the Wolverines second point, but Georgia's depth earned them a 4-2 victory over the No. 16 seeds. Georgia will face No. 8 seed Vanderbilt, who had a much more difficult time with unseeded Texas A&M than the 4-0 final score would indicate.
No. 4 seed South Carolina made it three SEC teams in the top half quarterfinals, cruising past No. 13 seed Southern Cal 4-0, and they will face No. 5 seed Duke, who had blanked No. 12 seed NC State on Friday night.

No. 2 seed North Carolina had its hands full with No. 15 Oklahoma State, but the Tar Heels took it 4-2, with Makenna Jones getting the clinching point with a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-0 comeback over Katarina Stresnakova at line 1. North Carolina will play No. 7 seed UCLA, who beat Washington 4-0 Friday night.  The other women's quarterfinal on Friday will see defending champion and No. 3 seed Stanford play No. 6 seed Pepperdine.

Two visiting teams did break through to the men's quarterfinals this evening, with No. 10 seed TCU taking out No. 7 Mississippi State 4-2 in Starkville and No. 9 seed North Carolina beating No. 8 seed Southern Cal 4-1 in Los Angeles.

The top six seeds did advance, with most getting through in tight battles. Top seed Ohio State defeated No. 16 seed Columbia 4-1 (the headline saying the Buckeyes trounced the Lions is inaccurate), with John McNally providing the clinching point for Ohio State at line 2. Ohio State will play North Carolina on Thursday in Lake Nona in what is the ACC half of the draw, with three ACC teams in the quarterfinals. No. 5 seed Virginia fought off a comeback by No. 12 seed Stanford to earn a 4-2 victory in a match that went from outdoors to indoors in the middle of the singles matches. Virginia will play defending champion Wake Forest for the fourth time this season, with No. 4 seed Wake holding a 2-1 advantage.

In the bottom half, No. 2 seed Texas had no trouble with unseeded Cal, taking a 4-0 victory in a rain-delayed match in Austin, and the Longhorns will face TCU, who they beat 6-1 in conference play last month, in the quarterfinals.

No. 3 Florida, the only SEC team left in the men's draw, was pushed hard by No. 14 seed Tennessee, but the Gators survived 4-2. As in the conference semifinals last month, when Florida led 3-1 but lost the final three matches to give Tennessee the win, Florida seemed to be in control, but Tennessee forced third sets in two matches before Florida's Duarte Vale earned a comeback victory at line 5 over Preston Touliatos 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(8). Florida will face No. 6 seed Baylor, who beat No. 11 UCLA 4-1 last night in Waco. The Big 12 has three teams in the bottom half quarterfinals.

See the Slam Tennis Championship Central for quarterfinal odds, with the Baylor - Florida match considered the closest of the four men's matches, and Duke - South Carolina the closest of the four women's matches.

Natasha Subhash won her first ITF World Tennis Tour singles title today, with the 17-year-old University of Virginia recruit beating 23-year-old Nina Stadler of Switzerland, the No. 6 seed, 6-2, 6-3 in today's final at the $15,000 tournament in Williamsburg Virginia. Subhash, the No. 3 seed, lost only one set all week, to qualifier Jaedan Brown in the quarterfinals.

It was an all-US junior girls sweep in Williamsburg, with 16-year-old Savannah Broadus and 17-year-old Vanessa Ong taking the doubles title with a 6-3, 6-1 win over fellow teenagers Elaine Chervinsky and Kylie Collins. It's the first professional title for both Broadus and Ong.

The plot has definitely thickened in the USTA's French Open Wild Card Challenge. Whitney Osuigwe had a substantial lead over Lauren Davis coming into the $100,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament this week in Bonita Springs Florida. Osuigwe couldn't add to her total points unless she won the event, while Davis knew coming in that winning the title was the only way she could pass Osuigwe. That is exactly the same scenario that confronted Davis late last year, with the Australian Open wild card on the line at the Houston WTA 125, but Davis lost in the final to Peng Shuai of China and Osuigwe claimed the wild card.

Davis's opponent in the final looked as if it would be No. 6 seed Osuigwe, when she had a 6-0, 4-2 lead over wild card Ann Li. But Li fought back, with help from some ill-timed double faults by Osuigwe, earning a 0-6, 7-5, 6-4 semifinal win.  Davis, the No. 4 seed, had beaten Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals, after Di Lorenzo had to come back to play again after her quarterfinal match against qualifier Louisa Chirico was held over due to rain last night. Chirico served for the match twice and had two match points in the tiebreaker, but Di Lorenzo won the three-hour battle 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9).

The top two seeds will meet in the final of the $25,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Pensacola Florida, with No. 2 seed Harrison Adams going for his first singles title of the ITF WTT. The 24-year-old former Texas A&M Aggie defeated former Minnesota star Felix Corwin 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top seed Juan Pablo Varillas of Peru. Varillas defeated teenager Nicolas Mejia of Colombia 6-4, 6-3.

The doubles title in Pensacola went to No. 3 seeds Alejandro Gomez(Kentucky) of Colombia and Junior Ore(Texas A&M), who defeated unseeded Ian Dempster(NC State/Wake Forest) and Korey Lovett(Alabama/Central Florida) 4-6, 7-6(4), 10-6 in the final.

At the ITF Grade 4 Copa Badia in Coral Gables Florida, India Houghton swept the singles and doubles titles. Houghton, the No. 15 seed, defeated Allura Zamarripa 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in the singles final for her second ITF Junior Circuit singles title. In doubles, Houghton and Gianna Pielet, the No. 6 seeds, defeated No. 8 seeds Annabelle Xu of Canada and Zamarripa 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final.

Zamarripa wasn't the only player to suffer two finals losses Saturday. Hunter Heck, the No. 2 seed, lost in singles to No. 5 seed Nicolas Zanellato of Brazil 6-3, 7-6(4). He and Alexander Kiefer, the top seeds, then lost to unseeded Joshua Miller and Quinn Snyder 6-7(4), 6-4, 10-3 in the doubles final.