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Friday, January 11, 2019

ITF World Tennis Tour Bypasses College; Eubanks Among Four Americans Qualifying for Australian Open; USTA CEO Smith to Retire; Nanda, Wolf Advance to Tucson, Columbus Semis; All-Collegiate Final in ATP Auckland; Kenin Reaches First WTA Final

When I was in Florida for the big junior events, I had many conversations about the ITF's new World Tennis Tour, which was on everyone's mind as 2019 approached. I spoke with college coaches about the impact it could have on their recruits and players and what some of the consequences may be for the sport at the Division I level in this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Qualifying is now complete for the Australian Open, with four Americans gaining entry with a third win on Friday in Melbourne. Former Georgia Tech star Chris Eubanks will make his slam debut outside the United States against No. 19 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia. Mitchell Krueger has drawn top seed Novak Djokovic and Bjorn Fratangelo will play No. 29 seed Gilles Simon of France. The only US women to advance to the main draw is Varvara Lepchenko, who will play fellow qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia.  American results from the final round of qualifying are below.

Christopher Eubanks d. Pedro Martinez(ESP) 6-3, 6-3
Iga Swiatek(POL) d. Danielle Lao 6-1, 6-3
Beatriz Haddad Maia(BRA) d. Jennifer Brady[16] 6-3, 6-4
Bjorn Fratangelo[24] d, Ze Zhang(CHN) 6-7(4), 7-6(1), 6-1
Varvara Lepchenko[23] d. Christina McHale 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (10-1)
Karolina Muchova[28](CZE) d. Jamie Loeb 6-4, 6-1
Viktorija Golubic[3](SUI) d. Nicole Gibbs[18] 6-3, 7-6(3)
Gleb Sakharov(FRA) d. Tim Smyczek 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Mitchell Krueger d. Marco Trungelliti[13](ARG) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4

Australian Astra Sharma, who graduated from Vanderbilt last year, qualified for the main draw, saving three match points in her 5-7, 7-6(7), 7-6(12-10) win over Irina Khromacheva of Russia. The 22-year-old will face Australian wild card Priscilla Hon in the opening round of her first appearance in a slam.

The USTA announced today that Gordon Smith, the Chief Executive Officer of the organization, will be retiring at the end of this year. Smith, who has led the USTA since November of 2007, played at the University of Georgia before pursuing a law career.  For more on Smith's tenure and the timetable for selecting his successor, see the USTA's release.

Seventeen-year-old Govind Nanda, who is beginning his collegiate career at UCLA this month, reached his first ITF World Tennis Tour semifinal today at the M25 in Tucson Arizona. Nanda, a wild card, defeated Felix Corwin(Minnesota) 6-3, 7-6(4) in Friday's quarterfinals. He will play unseeded Mikhail Pervolarakis(Portland) of Greece in Saturday's semifinal. Pervolarakis came from 5-2 down in the third set to beat top seed Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. No. 3 seed Martin Redlicki(UCLA) will face No. 2 seed Lloyd Glasspool(Texas) of Great Britain in the other semifinal.

Ohio State junior JJ Wolf has advanced to the semifinals of a Challenger for the first time, reaching the final four on his home courts in Columbus at the ATP 80 there. Wolf, who just turned 20 last month, hit 10 aces in a 6-2, 6-1 dismantling of Jan Choinski of Great Britain (formerly Germany). Wolf had beaten No. 2 seed Filip Peliwo of Canada 6-0, 6-0 in the third round Thursday. Wolf, a wild card, will play the winner of the match between No. 4 seed Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus and unseeded Scott Griekspoor of the Netherlands. In the top half, recent Ohio State graduate Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark, also a wild card, has advanced to the semifinals and will play No. 12 seed Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain, who ended Marcos Giron's Challenger winning streak at 8 with a win over the Orlando champion in Thursday's third round.

Two former collegians, TCU's Cameron Norrie and Tennessee's Tennys Sandgren, face off Saturday in the final of the ATP 250 tournament in Auckland. Norrie, who grew up in New Zealand, but now represents Great Britain, will be playing in his first ATP final after beating Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.  Sandgren, who reached his only other ATP final at the US Clay Courts in Houston last spring, cruised past Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-4, 6-2. This ATP article notes that Norrie has won their past three meetings, all in 2017, all in Challengers.

Sonya Kenin has advanced to her first WTA final, beating No. 6 seed Alize Cornet of France 6-2, 6-4 at the WTA International in Hobart. The 20-year-old from Florida has defeated three seeds this week, including top seed Caroline Garcia in the first round. She will face unseeded Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia in the final.