Saturday, January 12, 2019

Sandgren and Kenin Win First Titles; All-Ohio State Final at Columbus Challenger; All-UCLA Final at Tucson M25; Qualifying Underway at ITF Grade 1 in Costa Rica

It's exceptionally rare for Americans to win ATP and WTA titles on the same day, and particularly when it's the first titles for both.  Shortly after Tennys Sandgren defeated Cameron Norrie for his first title at the ATP 250 title in Auckland, Sonya Kenin defeated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova for her first title at the WTA International in Hobart.

The 27-year-old Sandgren, who spent two years at Tennessee and reached the NCAA singles semifinals in 2011, beat the 23-year-old former TCU star 6-4, 6-2, his fifth consecutive straight-sets victory. Sandgren didn't expect his first title to come quite as decisively, as he told the ATP in this article on the Auckland final.

"That’s weird. Tennis doesn’t normally work that way. Normally you have to come back from the brink of defeat to win a title," Sandgren said of not dropping a set. "To feel that I played well from start to finish is definitely strange. But I feel like I’ve been serving good and I’ve been moving well all week and it seems like all the risks that I’ve been taking on the court as far as when to be aggressive, when to pull back, it’s all worked out for me."

Sandgren will move up to a career-high of 41 in the ATP rankings Monday, but he does have quarterfinalist points to defend at the Australian Open.

Kenin, who turned 20 in November, equalled Sandgren's impressive run. After winning the last point from the 24-year-old from Slovakia in the 6-3, 6-0 blowout, the 2015 USTA Girls 18s champion didn't indulge in any celebration, but just fist-pumped and smiled as she approached the net for the handshake. Kenin did not lose a set all week, and is now up to a career-high of 37 in the WTA rankings. Kenin now heads to the Australian Open, where she lost in the first round last year, full of confidence.

"I feel in great form and I’m really proud of myself," Kenin told the WTA. "I’m so happy with my start and will try to keep the momentum going."

After the all-collegiate tennis final in Auckland, there will be two more in the United States on Sunday, and they both will feature players from the same Division I lineage. At the ATP 80 Challenger in Columbus Ohio, wild cards JJ Wolf and former teammate Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark will face off in the final after both claimed straight-sets victories today.

Torpegaard, who graduated last year, defeated No. 12 seed Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain 6-3, 7-5 to reach his second Challenger final, with the first one resulting in a title back in 2016, also in Columbus. Torpegaard defeated Sandgren in the semifinals that week.

Wolf, a junior at Ohio State, has been on fire all week on his home courts. The 20-year-old from Ohio, a finalist in the 18s Nationals at Kalamazoo in 2017, defeated unseeded Scott Griekspoor of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-3, hitting 14 aces in the process. Wolf has lost seven games in his last three matches.

In the doubles final played today, UCLA senior Maxime Cressy, who recently began playing under the United States flag (his mother is American, father is French) won his first Challenger title. Cressy and Bernardo Saraiva(San Francisco) of Portugal, who were unseeded, defeated No. 2 seeds Nathaniel Lammons(SMU) and Robert Galloway(Wofford) 7-5, 7-6(3) in the final. Cressy, who has already won 10 doubles titles on the ITF World Tennis Tour, picks up his first on the Challenger level; Saraiva, who has 13 ITF WTT doubles titles, also earned his first at the Challenger level.

Seventeen-year-old Govind Nanda aims for his first ITF World Tennis Tour title tomorrow, with the UCLA freshman taking on former Bruin Martin Redlicki in the Tucson M25 final. Nanda, a wild card, defeated unseeded Michail Pervolarakis(Portland) of Greece 6-3, 7-5 in today's semifinals, coming from 4-1 down in the second set to claim his third consecutive straight-sets victory this week. No. 3 seed Redlicki, the two-time NCAA doubles champion, defeated No. 2 seed Lloyd Glasspool(Texas) of Great Britain 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 to reach his third WTT final, but the first at the $25,000 level.

In the Tucson doubles final, Florida State senior Aziz Dougaz of Tunisia won his tenth ITF doubles title, paired with Manuel Guinard of France. The unseeded team beat Glasspool and his partner Evan Hoyt of Great Britain, who were also unseeded, 6-4, 5-7, 10-3 in the final.

Qualifying for the ITF Grade 1 in Costa Rica began today, with 11 Americans through to Sunday's final round. See the tournament website for Sunday's order of play.

Five American boys have advanced to the third round of the Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia: Eliot Spizzirri[16], Zane Khan, Cannon Kingsley[9], Toby Kodat and Emilio Nava[13]. Kodat, who turns 16 Sunday, defeated No. 5 seed Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain 6-0, 6-2 in the second round. All four US girls in the main draw have been eliminated.

Live scoring can be found at Tennis Ticker.


John King said...

We remember Sonya Kenin from when she was 5 years old making videos with Rick Macci. She looked like the most amazing 5 year old player ever since she started playing at age 3. But tennis is so competitive these days that it took her to age 20 and 2 months to win her first title. Amazing to think of the old days when a 13-15 year old could win in the woman's pro ranks.