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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Kodat Defeats Top Seed to Reach ITF Grade A Porto Alegre Quarterfinals; Wolf Leads ITA Men's Indoor All-Tournament Team; Renowned Michigan High School Tennis Coach and Kalamazoo Volunteer Bob Wood Dies

Three US boys and two US girls have advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITF Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil.

Sixteen-year-old Toby Kodat, seeded No. 13, ended the seven-match win streak of Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain, beating the top seed 6-4, 6-4 in today's third round. Alvarez had won the Grade 1 Banana Bowl last week. Kodat also had a win earlier this year over Alvarez in the first round of the Grade 1 in Traralgon Australia.  Kodat faces No. 11 seed Taha Baadi of Canada in the quarterfinals.  Kalamazoo 16s champion Martin Damm has also advanced to the quarterfinals, where he'll play No. 2 seed Keisuke Saitoh of Japan. Damm defeated fellow 15-year-old Holger Rune of Denmark, the No. 5 seed, 6-3, 6-4 in today's third round.  No. 6 seed Tyler Zink is also through to the quarterfinals after beating Pedro Boscardin Dias of Brazil 7-6(5), 7-5. It's the first Grade A quarterfinal for Kodat and Damm, while Zink reached his other GA quarterfinal at the 2017 Orange Bowl.

No. 2 seed Alexa Noel defeated unseeded Gabriela Macias 6-3, 6-2 in today's third round, while unseeded Charlotte Owensby beat No. 8 seed Mylene Halemai of France 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.  The 15-year-old Owensby is making her debut in a Grade A quarterfinal, while Noel, 16, won the Grade A in Mexico in 2017. Unfortunately, Noel and Owensby now face each other for a place in the semifinals.

The ITA announced the Division I Men's Team Indoor All-Tournament Team today, with champion Ohio State's JJ Wolf named the Most Outstanding Player.

No. 1 singles and Most Outstanding Player: JJ Wolf, Ohio State
No. 2 singles: Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest
No. 3 singles: Bar Botzer, Wake Forest
No. 4 singles: Martin Joyce, Ohio State
No. 5 singles: Colin Markes, Texas
No. 6 singles: Hunter Tubert, Ohio State

No. 1 doubles: Alan Gadjiev and Borna Gojo, Wake Forest
No. 2 doubles: Kyle Seelig and Alex Kobelt, Ohio State
No. 3 doubles: John McNally and Hunter Tubert, Ohio State

Aaron Krickstein, Bob Wood and Todd Martin prior to 2006 Kalamazoo Exhibition

I received word earlier this week of the death of Bob Wood, who volunteered for the USTA Kalamazoo Nationals for 38 years. I met Bob when I began volunteering for the tournament in 2000, and we spent many an hour in the Stowe Stadium tower talking junior tennis, pro tennis, and most importantly to Bob, high school tennis.  Wood was a legendary high school coach at University Liggett in Gross Pointe Michigan, winning 39 state championships: 27 boys and 12s girls titles. Well into his 70s, he was still involved in camps and clinics on the east side of the state, and he would return to Kalamazoo every year to answer phones, promote the tournament on radio and provide commentary on the public access station during the final weekend.

After he retired, he moved to Tennessee and then Texas, and during those years he continued to coach and to follow high school tennis. His favorite question for any player who was called to the Tower was 'did you play high school tennis?' and he could not contain his delight if the answer was yes.

With a lifetime in the sport, Wood had many stories, including those involving his two years coaching Aaron Krickstein, who, unsurprisingly, went undefeated in his two years of high school tennis. Krickstein turned pro after his sophomore year at Liggett, winning the Kalamazoo 18s title in 1983 after turning 16 a few days earlier, so Wood had a good idea of the kind of game that could translate to success on the pro tour.

But Wood's greatest legacy will be the thousands of less talented young players he coached throughout his career. He demonstrated his commitment to transmitting a lifelong love of the sport with every camp and after-school session, embodying the role of coach and teacher.

For the complete obituary, prepared by his family, click here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

National Indoor Champions Georgia and Ohio State Top ITA Division I Rankings, Wolf and Jokic Move to No. 1 in Singles; Gauff, McNally, Nakashima Awarded Oracle Challenger Wild Cards

The first team rankings done by computer were released today by the ITA, with National Men's Team Indoor champions Ohio State taking over the top spot from Wake Forest.  Georgia, the Women's Team Indoor Champions, remained at the No. 1 spot.

The big movers in the Top 10 of the men's rankings were Virginia and Illinois, while Mississippi State fell from No. 3 to No. 9 after the Bulldogs went 1-2 at the Team Indoor and USC fell from No. 5 to No. 24.

ITA D-I men’s top 10 Team: (all numbers in parentheses are most recent previous rankings)

1. Ohio State (2)
2. Wake Forest (1)
3. Texas (6)
4. Virginia (13)
5. North Carolina (8)
6. Stanford (10)
7. Florida (4)
8. Illinois (14)
9. Mississippi State (3)
10. Columbia (12)

The USTA/Tennis Channel rankings, conducted by poll, are somewhat different, with TCU making a jump into the Top 10, and UCLA remaining there, unlike the ITA ranking, which has the Bruins at 14 now after being No. 7 last week.  For the complete USTA Top 25, see this article.

USTA Men’s Top 10 Team:
1. Ohio State (1)
2. Wake Forest (5)
3. Texas (4)
4. North Carolina (7)
5. Virginia (9)
6. Stanford (8)
7. TCU (15)
8. Florida (3)
9. Columbia (14)
10. UCLA (6)

The women's rankings are not drastically different from last week, but Kansas has moved into the Top 10 and South Carolina moved to No. 6. The USTA poll varies in its assessment of the top Big Ten teams, with Michigan No. 10 versus No. 24 in the ITA rankings, and Northwestern No. 21 vs versus No. 10 in the ITA rankings. 

ITA D-I Women’s Top 10 Team:
1. Georgia (1)
2. North Carolina (2)
3. Duke (4)
4. Stanford (3)
5. UCLA (8)
6. South Carolina (10)
7. Vanderbilt (5)
8. Kansas (12)
9. Texas (7)
10. Northwestern (11)

USTA Women’s Top 10 Team:
1. Georgia (1)
2. North Carolina (2)
3. Stanford (3)
4. Duke (4)
5. UCLA (5)
6. Vanderbilt (6)
7. Texas (8)
8. South Carolina (9)
9. Michigan (10)
10. Ohio State (11)

The singles rankings have new No. 1s, with Katarina Jokic of Georgia back in the top spot and JJ Wolf of Ohio State moving to No. 1 for the first time in his collegiate career. Paul Jubb of South Carolina went from 16 to No. 4, and Aleksandar Kovacevic of Illinois moved into the Top 10 after being 24 two weeks ago.  Although Wolf will likely be the choice for No. 1 singles on the all-tournament team, and rightly so, Kovacevic went 3-0 at the top spot and is undefeated this year in dual matches. Maxime Cressy, the UCLA No. 1 and Cleveland Challenger champion, has still not broken into the ITA singles rankings. He is No. 30, with Keegan Smith, in the doubles rankings.

1. JJ Wolf, Ohio State (2)
2. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest (1)
3. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (5)
4. Paul Jubb, South Carolina (16)
5. Jan Zielinski, Georgia (7)
6. Alex Rybakov, TCU (8)
7. Thomas Laurent, Oregon (3)
8. Christian Sigsgaard, Texas (6)
9. Aleksandar Kovacevic, Illinois (24)
10. Jack Lin, Columbia (11)

1. Henry Patten and Oli Nolan, UNC-Asheville (1)
2. Sven Lah and Jimmy Bendeck, Baylor (2)
3. Kyle Seelig and Alex Kobelt, Ohio State (7)
4. Fabian Fallert and Finn Reynolds, Ole Miss (5)
5. Jack Lin and William Matheson, Columbia (22)

Jokic, who went 4-0 at line 1 at the Team Indoor for the Bulldogs, also won the ITA Fall Nationals, so she is going to be hard to dislodge from the top spot going forward. 2018 NCAA singles finalist Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine is currently ranked 74 in singles.

1. Katarina Jokic, Georgia (2)
2. Makenna Jones, North Carolina (6)
3. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt (3)
4. Sophie Whittle, Gonzaga (1)
5. Alexa Graham, North Carolina (7)
6. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina (15)
7. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami (4)
8. Kate Fahey, Michigan (5)
9. Christina Rosca, Vanderbilt (12)
10. Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina (16)

1. Fernanda Navarro and Marie Leduc, Clemson (2)
2. Mia Horvit and Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina (4)
3. Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia, Kansas (3)
4. Cameron Morra and Makenna Jones, North Carolina (5)
5. Ashley Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova, Pepperdine (1)

Click on the headers to go to the complete ranking lists.

The Oracle Challenger Series moves to Indian Wells next week, with the WTA 125 event and the ATP Challenger played at site of the BNP Paribas Open.  Wild cards for the tournaments have been announced, with Caty McNally and Coco Gauff receiving them for the main draw, along with Lauren Davis, Wang Qiang of China and former Ohio State star Francesca Di Lorenzo, who received the Oracle College Award last year. 

Men receiving wild cards include Kyle Edmund of Great Britain, Christian Harrison, UCLA senior Maxime Cressy, Virginia freshman Brandon Nakashima and Kalamazoo 18s champion Jenson Brooksby.

Qualifying wild cards were awarded to Kayla Day, Ena Shibahara(UCLA), 17-year-old Zane Khan, and Michael Redlicki (Duke/Arkansas).

For the complete release, click here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Sixteen Americans Reach Second Round at Porto Alegre Brazil Grade A; Rancho Santa Fe $25K Sole WTT Event in US This Week; Florida State Women Beat Florida in Gainesville

The first round of the ITF Grade A in Porto Alegre Brazil is complete, with ten US girls and five US boys advancing.

Last week's Grade 1 Banana Bowl winners and top seeds this week have advanced to the second round, with Diane Parry of France and Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain picking up straight-sets victories today.

But Banana Bowl finalist Hurricane Tyra Black, the No. 3 seed, was beaten by Spanish qualifier Ane Mintegi Del Olmo 7-6(3), 6-0. This follows yesterday's 6-2, 6-0 loss by No. 4 seed Eliot Spizzirri, a semifinalist last week, to Thiago Tirante of Argentina.

Alexa Noel, who hasn't played the last three Grade 1s in South America, is back in action this week and is the No. 2 seed. She advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Tina Smith of Australia.  Fifteen-year-old Ellie Coleman eliminated No. 6 seed Gabriela Martinez Asensi of Spain 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 yesterday and 14-year-old qualifier Rebecca Lynn took out No. 15 seed Ana Luiza Cruz of Brazil 6-4, 6-3 today.  Zora Hudson, a 17-year-old American with no ITF junior ranking, got into qualifying, but lost in the final round. She got into the main draw as a lucky loser, replacing Gabby Price, and won her first ITF Junior Circuit match today. She defeated wild card Maria Fernanda Menezes of Brazil 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Winning your first ITF junior main draw match in a Grade A is rare; even wild cards usually have had some points from lower level ITF tournaments and it is difficult to get into qualifying at that level without any points.

Hina Inoue, Kailey Evans, Hibah Shaikh, No. 7 seed Charlotte Chavatipon, Sasha Yepifanova and Charlotte Owensby are the other US girls reaching the second round.

US boys posting wins in the first round are Toby Kodat[13], Blaise Bicknell, Andrew Dale, Tyler Zink[6], Dali Blanch and Martin Damm.

The only ITF World Tennis Tour event this week in the United States is a $25,000 tournament in Rancho Santa Fe California. Qualifying concluded today, with Usue Arconada, Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame) and Caroline Dolehide the Americans reaching the main draw. Dolehide took a wild card into qualifying; she would have been one of the top seeds in the main draw with her WTA ranking of 131 had she entered initially, but she is not seeded in the main draw now.

Wild cards Kayla Day and Katie Volynets recorded first round main draw wins today, with Day beating wild card Lorraine Guillermo(Pepperdine) 6-1, 6-3 and Volynets defeating Sandra Samir of Egypt 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Caty McNally, in her first match since winning the $100,000 Dow Tennis Classic, lost to No. 5 seed Kristie Ahn (Stanford) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Sachia Vickery and Nicole Gibbs are the top two seeds, seeing their first action on Wednesday.

The University of Florida women recently had the most dominating home court advantage in college tennis winning 163 straight matches until a loss to Georgia in March of 2017 ended that streak and several others.  They did go on to win the NCAA title that year, so it was hardly the end of the world, but the prospect of making the NCAA quarterfinals at nearby Lake Nona are less promising this year.

Already this year, the 24th-ranked Gators have lost three matches at home, to Cal, to NC State in the Kick-off weekend, and tonight in a 4-1 loss to arch-rival Florida State. Ranked No. 20, Florida State had its own disappointment at home this year when they lost in the first round of the Kick-off weekend to Tennessee, but they recently defeated Miami in Tallahassee and now have a win over Florida. Wins over those two programs are satisfying for any team, but only more so, I'm sure for the Seminoles, who play Duke Friday in Tallahassee.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Ohio State Holds Off Defending Champion Wake Forest to Win ITA D-I Men's Team Indoor Championships; Martin Wins Grade 4 in Mexico; 25 Americans Competing in Porto Alegre Brazil's ITF Grade A

Ohio State's JJ Wolf
photo courtesy Scott Gerber, OhioTennisZone.com
The doubles point Ohio State won in a tiebreaker didn't look particularly significant when the Buckeyes won four first sets in singles against defending champion and No. 3 seed Wake Forest at the ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor Championships today in Chicago.

But when Martin Joyce closed out top-seeded Ohio State's 4-2 victory with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Wake's Melios Efstathiou at line 4, a huge sigh of relief was almost audible at the Midtown Athletic Club, with the doubles point having given the Buckeyes a bit of breathing room that they ended up appreciating.

For the second match in a row, Ohio State won the doubles point when the other team was serving for it, and both times it was John McNally and Hunter Tubert at line 3 that mounted the comebacks.  Against Wake Forest's Siddhant Banthia and Julian Zlobinsky, McNally and Tubert saved two match points on deciding points serving at 3-5 and receiving at 5-4, and in the tiebreaker that decided the doubles point, came from 3-2 down to win the final five points of the match.

Ohio State, who had not lost a point in their previous three wins this weekend, began the singles confidently, taking four first sets in singles. JJ Wolf, who won the Columbus Challenger last month, has continued to play pro-level tennis in dual match season, and he quickly closed out Wake Forest's Borna Gojo 6-0, 6-3 to extend the lead to 2-0.

At that stage, Ohio State looked to be in great shape to grab its second National Team Indoor title, with McNally up a set and a break over Petros Chrysochos at line 2, Alex Kobelt up a set a and a break over Yuval Solomon at line 5 and Joyce securing his first set.

Kobelt quickly closed out his win for the Buckeyes third point, and again Wake looked down and out, but the Demon Deacons had been in jeopardy throughout the weekend, so they were plenty comfortable playing from behind.  When Tubert earned a split against Banthia at line 6, both McNally and Joyce were both just two games from another shutout for the Buckeyes, but Wake Forest was not about to concede.

Bar Botzer closed out his 6-2, 6-3 win over Kyle Seelig at line 3 to make it 3-1, just as McNally lost his break in the second set.  Tubert was up 3-1 in the third at line 6, but Joyce lost his break, and when Banthia won his fifth straight game to make it 3-2, a miracle comeback seemed possible for Wake.  Just as Chrysochos won a tiebreaker to send his match with McNally to a third set, Joyce got a break at 5-all and had an opportunity to serve for the match. The senior from Illinois continued to play his aggressive indoor game despite falling behind 15-30 and he calmly closed out the title, leaving the most exuberant celebrations to his teammates.

Four of the six Buckeyes playing singles today had played in the NCAA final last year against Wake Forest, with the Demon Deacons winning that by the same score that Ohio State posted today. Three of the six Americans in the Ohio State lineup are from Ohio and five are from the Midwest section, a rare team composition with the current trend toward international players in Division I tennis.

For more on today's final, see the Tennis Recruiting Network's recap, College Tennis Today's recap, and the Ohio State website recap.

#2 Ohio State 4, #1 Wake Forest 2
Singles competition
1. #2 JJ Wolf (OSU) def. Bona Gojo (WF) 6-0, 6-3
2. #62 John McNally (OSU) vs. #1 Petros Chrysochos (WF) 6-4, 6-7(4), unfinished
3. #21 Bar Botzer (WF) def. #12 Kyle Seelig (OSU) 6-2, 6-3
4. Martin Joyce (OSU) def. #49 Melios Efstathiou (WF) 7-5, 7-5
5. #86 Alex Kobelt (OSU) def. Yuval Solomon (WF) 6-3, 6-3
6. Siddhant Banthia (WF) def. Hunter Tubert (OSU) 6-2, 2-6, 6-3
Order of finish: 1,5,3,6,4

Doubles competition
1. Bona Gojo/Alan Gadjiev (WF) def. JJ Wolf/Martin Joyce (OSU) 6-3
2. #7 Kyle Seelig/Alex Kobelt (OSU) def. Petros Chrysochos/Bar Botzer (WF) 6-1
3. Hunter Tubert/John McNally (OSU) def. Siddhant Banthia/Julian Zlobinsky (WF) 7-6(3)
Order of finish: 2,1,3
At the ITF Grade 4 in Mexico, 17-year-old Georgia Tech recruit Andres Martin took the singles title, his first on the ITF Junior Circuit.  The top seed defeated No. 16 seed Marcus McDaniel 6-3, 7-6(4) in the all-US final, claiming all six of his victories in straight sets. McDaniel and his partner Max McKennon, the No. 2 seeds, won the doubles title, beating Martin and his partner Jeffrey Fradkin, the top seeds, 6-3, 7-6(3) in the final.

The second ITF Grade A of the year is underway in Porto Alegre Brazil, with 15 US girls and 10 US boys in the singles draws. The first round of singles play began today, and four Americans(noted with asterisks) have already been eliminated, but here are those that made the main draw:
Hina Inoue
Tara Malik*
Ellie Coleman
Hurricane Tyra Black[3]
Kailey Evans
Hibah Shaikh
Jaedan Brown*
Charlotte Chavatipon[7]
Sasha Yepifanova
Rosie Garcia Gross[Q]
Madison Sieg*
Charlotte Owensby
Rebecca Lynn[Q]
Alexa Noel[2]

Toby Kodat[13]
Blaise Bicknell
Andrew Dale
Eliot Spizzirri[4]*
Will Grant
Tyler Zink[6]
Adam Neff
Dali Blanch
Martin Damm
Alexander Kiefer

*lost 1st round

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Wake Forest, Ohio State Advance to Men's D-I ITA Team Indoor Final; Redlicki Wins Tucson Title, Gauff Comes Up Short in Surprise; Opelka Captures New York Open

Defending champion Wake Forest and top seed Ohio State have advanced to Monday's final at the ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor Championships, with the routes the two teams have taken to get there markedly different.  Wake Forest, who was the top-ranked team in the country in the last published rankings, has had to eke out wins in all three rounds prior to this one. Columbia had them on the ropes in the round of 16 Friday, they needed to come back from 4-1 down in the third of the last match on in Saturday's quarterfinal with UCLA and today the Demon Deacons were undeniably tested by ACC rival North Carolina before posting a 4-2 victory.

In contrast, the Buckeyes have yet to drop a point, blanking Tulane, Virginia and in today's semifinals, Texas.  Ohio State was looking at the loss of the doubles point today against the Longhorns, with Yuya Ito and Chi Chih Huang serving for the point at 6-5 against Kyle Seelig Hunter Tubert and John McNally at line 3, after the teams had split at lines 1 and 2. But Tubert and McNally broke and dominated the tiebreaker, with that momentum carrying over to the singles. Ohio State won five first sets in singles and JJ Wolf at line 1, Tubert at line 6 and McNally at line 3 closed out their opponents in straight sets to get the shutout. Texas's Colin Markes had match points at line 5, but he was not able to cash one in before McNally recorded his victory.

Wake Forest won the doubles point over North Carolina, an important start given that the two teams split the first sets in singles. The Tar Heels got a quick first point to tie it up, with Brian Cernoch beating Wake's Saturday hero Melios Efstathiou 6-2, 6-4, and with William Blumberg taking the second set over Borna Gojo at line 1, North Carolina looked to be in good position, especially when Simon Soendergaard earned a split at line 5. Bo Boyden won at line 6 for North Carolina to make it 2-1, but Wake got an important split at line 3, with Bar Botzer taking the deciding point with Josh Peck serving at 5-6 in the second.

Blumberg had gone up 3-0 in the third set, but Gojo got the break back, only to lose it again and go down 4-2. Again, Blumberg was unable to hold serve and this time Gojo did pull even, but Blumberg earned two match points with Gojo serving at 4-5. Gojo saved one with a forehand winner and on the deciding point, Blumberg sliced a backhand long to make it 5-5. Blumberg was broken in the next game, and although he saved one match point at 40-30, Gojo won another key deciding point with a big first serve to make it 2-2.  Wake took a 3-2 lead with Petros Chysochos's three-set win over Benjamin Sigouin at line 2, and by that time Wake's Botzer had taken complete control of his match against Peck at line 3. Botzer closed it out 6-1 in the third to send Wake Forest back to the final for a rematch of the 2018 NCAA men's team championship match.

Live scoring and the links to live streaming for Monday's final can be found at Slam Tennis.

Wake Forest d. North Carolina 4-2

Ohio State d. Texas 4-0

Martin Redlicki picked up his first singles title on the pro tour today at the $15,000 World Tennis Tour tournament in Tucson.  The recent UCLA graduate had lost his three previous finals, including one to his opponent today Karue Sell of Brazil, also a former Bruin.  Redlicki, the top seed, defeated No. 2 seed Sell 6-4, 6-4, hitting 10 aces and converting on four of his six break points.

A bit farther north at the $25,000 women's WTT event in Surprise Arizona, unseeded 14-year-old Coco Gauff came up short in her first pro singles final, losing to No. 3 seed Sesil Karatancheva of Bulgaria 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. Gauff could not overcome 13 double faults and won only two of her eight service games in the last two sets.

Gauff did win her first pro title however, capturing the doubles title this week with former Georgia Tech star Paige Hourigan of New Zealand. Gauff, the 2018 US Open girls doubles champion, and Hourigan defeated another unseeded team in the final, beating Usue Arconada and Emina Bektas 6-3, 4-6, 14-12.

Reilly Opelka claimed his first ATP title today at the New York Open, but it certainly wasn't easy. The 21-year-old from Florida needed six match points and 43 aces to defeat former University of North Carolina star Brayden Schnur of Canada 6-1, 6-7(7), 7-6(7). Opelka had two match points at 6-4 in the second set tiebreaker, but Schnur held steady and used his willingness to come forward and volley to his advantage on key points.

Schnur saved all three break points he faced in the third set, and down 6-4 in the third set tiebreaker, the 23-year-old saved two more match points, the second save by way of a double fault by Opelka, just his second of the match.  Schnur saved another match point at 6-7, but at 7-all he just missed an ace, which Opelka challenged. It was out by the smallest of margins, but Schnur had to hit another serve and he double faulted, only his second double fault of the match. On match point No. 6, Opelka hit an ace to end the two-hour battle, the 156th ace he hit during the week.  Opelka will move to 56 in the ATP rankings, a career high, while Schnur, who was an alternate for qualifying, will move to a career high of 107.

For more on the final, see the ATP website.

Opelka wasn't alone in earning his first ATP title in New York. Former Auburn star Andreas Mies won the doubles title, with fellow German Kevin Krawietz. The unseeded pair, who have won five Challenger titles in the past year, didn't drop a set all week. They defeated unseeded Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan 6-4, 7-5 in the final.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Semifinals Set at D-I Men's Team Indoor; Gauff Reaches Surprise $25K Final; Redlicki, Sell Meet for Tucson $15K Title; Schnur and Opelka in ATP New York Open Final

The quarterfinals of the ITA Men's Indoor Championships Saturday started as Friday's round of 16 ended, with two matches decided 4-3.  No. 7 seed North Carolina defeated TCU, with junior Josh Peck defeating Reese Stalder of TCU 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-1 at line 3 to decide it.  In the match that followed, No. 3 seed Wake Forest survived a scare from No. 6 seed UCLA, with Melios Efstathiou coming from 4-1 and two breaks down in the third to beat fellow freshman Matt Tsolakyan of UCLA 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 for the fourth point.

The later two matches were decidedly less dramatic, with top seed Ohio State blanking No. 8 Virginia, and No. 5 seed Texas doing the same to No. 13 Southern Cal. Click on the links below to go to the winning team's recap.

North Carolina[7] d. TCU[15] 4-3
Wake Forest[3] d. UCLA[6] 4-3
Ohio State[1] d. Virginia[8] 4-0
Texas[5] d. USC[13] 4-0

Fourteen-year-old Coco Gauff had not advanced past the second round of a pro tournament until this week at the $25,000 World Tennis Tour event in Surprise Arizona. But the current ITF World Junior No. 2 has won four matches this week, and today made her first pro final by defeating 30-year-old qualifier Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-3, 0-6, 6-3. After losing six straight games to drop the second set, Gauff took a 4-0 lead in the third set, but Govortsova, a former WTA Top 40 player, got one of the breaks back and drew as close as 3-4. Gauff steadied herself however, held for 5-3, then broke Govortsova to claim the win.

Gauff will face 29-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria, the No. 3 seed, who defeated No. 2 seed Allie Kiick  6-1, 6-3 in the other semifinal.

UCLA may not have had the result they wanted in today's Team Indoor quarterfinal, but the Bruins are coming up big at the $15,000 World Tennis Tour event in Tucson, with both Martin Redlicki and Karue Sell of Brazil advancing to Sunday's final.  Redlicki, the top seed, defeated unseeded Jose Olivares of the Dominican Republic 7-6(4), 6-1, while Sell, the No. 2 seed, reached the final with a 6-4, 6-4 decision over wild card Isaiah Strode. Redlicki will be looking for his first pro singles title while playing in his fourth pro final; one of those losses came at the hands of Sell, who beat him 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3 in the 2017 Claremont Futures final. Sell is a perfect 3 for 3 in Futures finals, with his most recent title last April.

Both will leave Tucson with a title regardless of the outcome of the singles final, with the pair taking the doubles championship today. The No. 2 seeds defeated Ireland's Julian Bradley(North Florida) and Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern), who were unseeded, 6-4, 6-1 in the final.

The streak of Grade 1 titles for American girls ended at four today in Brazil, with Hurricane Tyra Black, the No. 2 seed, falling to top seed Diane Parry of France 6-4, 6-4 in the Banana Bowl final.  The top seed in the boys draw also claimed the championship, with Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain defeating No. 12 seed Harold Mayot of France 6-4, 6-2 in the final.

Former University of North Carolina star Brayden Schnur of Canada has reached the final of the ATP's New York Open after defeating No. 6 seed Sam Querrey 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-3. Schnur, 23, has won five Futures titles, but has not captured a Challenger title yet. If he should  defeat Reilly Opelka on Sunday, Schnur will move into the ATP Top 100 for the first time. Even if he doesn't take the title, Schnur has already had an amazing week, getting through qualifying, winning his first ATP match (over wild card Jack Mingjie Lin of Columbia) and then getting his first ATP Top 50 wins over Steve Johnson and Querrey. He is also 5-1 in tiebreakers this week, which certainly helps in picking up wins.

I interviewed Schnur after his freshman year at UNC, back in 2014, for this Tennis Recruiting Network article.

Speaking of tiebreakers, Opelka has also earned his first trip to an ATP final in New York, beating top seed John Isner 6-7(8), 7-6(14), 7-6(4) tonight, his second consecutive all-tiebreaker win over Isner. Opelka, who beat Isner in four sets in the first round of the Australian Open last month, saved six match points in the second set tiebreaker. Isner and Opelka combined for 81 aces and just two double faults.

Friday, February 15, 2019

My Conversation with Francesca Di Lorenzo; TCU Beats No. 2 Seed Mississippi State at Men's Team Indoor; Gauff into Surprise $25K Semifinals; Black Reaches Grade 1 Banana Bowl Final

I had an opportunity to sit down with Francesca Di Lorenzo late last month at the Dow Tennis Classic in Midland. I knew she was just coming back from an injury and I hadn't spoken to her about her first year as a professional since leaving Ohio State after her sophomore season in 2017.  One of the toughest competitors I ever saw in junior tennis, Di Lorenzo has continued to improve and had made her way to 150 in the WTA rankings before her injury last fall.

In this question and answer session, published today at the Tennis Recruiting Network, Di Lorenzo told me why college tennis was right for her, what she liked about it, a couple of the drawbacks and how she has changed her game since then. I encourage everyone who has pro tennis ambitions to read her candid comments about her transition from junior to college to pro tennis and what the support of her coaches and Oracle have meant to her success.

The first day of the ITA Men's Team Indoor Championships in Chicago. which concluded a few minutes ago, with Friday's round of 16's best matches closing out the day.  Both No. 4 Florida vs No. 13 USC and No. 5 Texas vs No. 12 Illinois were decided in the last match on in third set tiebreakers, with the Longhorns watching their 3-0 lead disappear and needing a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(5) win from Leonardo Telles over Zeke Clark at line 3 to secure the 4-3 win. USC and Florida also went down to the wire, with five of the six singles matches going to a third set.  USC took the doubles point and, eventually, earned wins at lines 1, 2 and 3, with Brandon Holt defeating Florida's Oliver Crawford 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(3) at line 1 to give the Trojans the victory.

In an early match, TCU, seeded No. 15, defeated No. 2 seed Mississippi State 4-1, taking four singles matches after dropping the doubles point.  Click on the link shown in the results below for a recap of the matches.  Slam Tennis has the bracket and schedule for Saturday's quarterfinals.

Round of 16 results:

TCU[15] d. Mississippi State[2] 4-1

North Carolina[7] d. Baylor[10] 4-0

Wake Forest[3] d. Columbia[14] 4-2

UCLA[6] d. Notre Dame[11] 4-1

Ohio State[1] d. Tulane[16] 4-0

Virginia[8] d. Stanford[9] 4-2

USC[13] d. Florida[4] 4-3

Texas[5] d. Illinois[12] 4-3

The $25,000 Women's World Tennis Tour event in Surprise Arizona got back on schedule today with two rounds played, the second round and the quarterfinals. The second round matches were shortened to a match tiebreaker in lieu of a third set, but only one match was decided in that format, with the other seven all straight sets.  Fourteen-year-old Coco Gauff beat No. 4 seed Ashley Krazter 7-5, 6-1 in the second round, then took out No. 8 seed Ann Li  6-4, 7-5 to advance to her first professional-level semifinal. She will face 30-year-old qualifier Olga Govortsova of Belarus, who was ranked in the WTA Top 50 more than a decade ago.  The other semifinal will feature No. 2 seed Allie Kiick against 29-year-old Sesil Karatancheva of Bulgaria, the No. 3 seed.

In case you missed it, I spoke to Gauff last month in Midland about her transition from junior to pro tennis for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Hurricane Tyra Black, the No. 2 seed, has advanced to the final of the ITF Grade 1 Banana Bowl this week in Brazil. Black defeated No. 11 seed Charlotte Owensby 6-3, 6-3 and has lost only 11 games in her four victories. She will play top seed Diane Parry of France, who beat No. 3 seed Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Kawaguchi did get a title this week, winning the doubles with partner Shavit Kimchi of Israel. The No. 2 seeds defeated unseeded Romino Ccuno of Peru and Metka Komac of Slovenia 6-0, 6-0 in the final.

Top seeded Americans Tyler Zink and Eliot Spizzirri won the boys doubles title when Santiago De La Fuente and Juan Bautista Torres of Argentina, the No. 5 seeds, retired trailing 5-2 in the first set.

Spizzirri, the No. 3 seed in singles, lost to top seed Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain 6-3, 7-5.  Alvarez will face No. 12 seed Harold Mayot of France, who beat No. 16 seed Torres 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5).

Three Americans plus former North Carolina star Brayden Schnur of Canada have reached the semifinals of the ATP 250 New York Open this week.  The 23-year-old Schnur, who qualified in New York after reaching the quarterfinals of the Dallas Challenger last week, beat Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-7(7), 7-6(5), 7-5 to reach his first ATP semifinal. He will play No.  6 seed Sam Querrey, who beat Jason Jung(Michigan) of Taiwan 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.  The top half semifinal will be a big one, with No. 1 seed John Isner(Georgia) taking on Reilly Opelka. Isner defeated No. 7 seed Jordan Thompson of Australia 6-4, 6-1 while Opelka downed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-3, 6-4.  Opelka beat Isner in the first round of the Australian Open last month in four tiebreakers.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Spizzirri, Owensby and Black Reach Grade 1 Banana Bowl Semifinals; Rain Disrupts Pro Circuit Events in Arizona; Jokic Named Most Outstanding Player at Women's Team Indoor; Men's Team Indoor Begins Friday in Chicago

Charlotte Owensby and Hurricane Tyra Black will meet in the semifinals of the ITF Grade 1 Banana Bowl Friday in Brazil, assuring an American girl will reach the final of five consecutive Grade 1s in Central/South America to start the year.  Fifteen-year-old Owensby, the No. 11 seed, defeated unseeded Mell Reasco Gonzalez of Ecuador 6-2, 6-0 to reach her second Grade 1 final of the year, with the first of her career coming last month in Costa Rica.  No. 2 seed Black, playing her first tournament this year, defeated unseeded Ellie Coleman  6-1, 6-2.

No. 1 seed Diane Parry of France will face No. Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan in the top half's semifinal.

No. 3 seed Eliot Spizzirri is the only American boy to advance to the semifinals after four made the quarterfinals.  Spizzirri eked out a  5-7. 6-4, 7-6(3) win over No. 10 seed Arthur Cazaux of France. Spizzirri will play top seed Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain, who beat unseeded Blaise Bicknell 7-5, 6-3. No. 6 seed Tyler Zink lost to No. 16 seed Juan Bautista Torres of Argentina 6-2, 6-2 and No. 15 seed Toby Kodat was beaten 6-0, 6-2 by Harold Mayot of France.

Spizzirri and Zink, the top seeds, have advanced to the boys doubles final, where they will play No. 5 seeds Torres and Santiago De La Fuente of Argentina.

Rain in Arizona kept any second round matches from being played at the $25,000 women's World Tennis Tour tournament in Surprise Arizona. Round of 16 and quarterfinal matches are scheduled for Friday.

At the $15,000 WTT men's event in Tucson, four singles matches were completed, with the top two seeds, Martin Redlicki(UCLA) and Karue Sell(UCLA) of Brazil advancing to the quarterfinals. The remaining four matches, all in progress, were suspended until Friday, with the quarterfinals to be played Friday as well.

As is usually the case, the All-Tournament Team at the Women's ITA Team Indoor Championships is skewed toward members of the two finalists. This year champion Georgia and runner-up North Carolina earned recognition in eight of the nine spots. Georgia sophomore Katarina Jokic, who clinched the 4-3 semifinal win over Stanford and the 4-3 final win over North Carolina, was named the Most Outstanding Player.

No. 1 singles: Katarina Jokic, Georgia
No. 2 singles: Sara Daavettila, UNC
No. 3 singles: Alexa Graham, UNC
No. 4 singles: Vivian Wolf, Georgia
No. 5 singles: Elena Christofi, Georgia
No. 6 singles: Meg Kowalski, Georgia

No. 1 doubles: Graham and Jessie Aney, UNC
No. 2 doubles: Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy, Duke
No. 3 doubles: Jokic and Kowalski, Georgia

The ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor begins Friday at the Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago.

Below are the times (all times Central) for the eight matches on the schedule.

9:00 AM:
TCU[15] v Mississippi State[2]
Baylor[10] v North Carolina[7]

Wake Forest[3] v Columbia[14]
Notre Dame[11] v UCLA[6]

3:30 PM:
Ohio State[1] v Tulane[16]
Stanford[9] v Virginia[8]

6:30 PM:
USC[13] v Florida[4]
Illinois[12] v Texas[5]

For live streaming and live scoring links, see the Slam Tennis site.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Seven Americans Advance to Quarterfinals at Grade 1 Banana Bowl; New No. 1s in Division I College Tennis; US World Tennis Tour Update; New Home for USTA Player Development West Announced

Four US boys and three US girls have advanced to the quarterfinals at this week's ITF Grade 1 Banana Bowl in Brazil.

Unseeded Blaise Bicknell, No. 3 seed Eliot Spizzirri, No. 6 seed Tyler Zink and No. 15 seed Toby Kodat are the US boys posting wins today in Criciuma. Bicknell, a Florida recruit, defeated No. 5 seed Santiago De La Fuente of Argentina 6-3, 6-2 and will face top seed Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain in Thursday's quarterfinals. Kodat took out No. 4 seed Holger Rune of Denmark 1-6, 6-2, 6-1.

If a US girl is going to win a fifth consecutive ITF Grade 1 title in Central/South America this year, the winner will come from the bottom half of the draw, where No. 2 seed Hurricane Tyra Black, No. 11 seed Charlotte Owensby and unseeded Ellie Coleman all advanced to the quarterfinals. Coleman defeated No. 5 seed Mylene Halemai of France 6-4, 7-5 and will face Black in the quarterfinals. Owensby will play unseeded Mell Reasco Gonzalez of Ecuador.

Both the men and the women have new No. 1s in the USTA/Tennis Channel rankings this week, after the Georgia women claimed the ITA Team Indoor Title yesterday and previous men's No. 1 Wake Forest lost to Virginia last Friday.  The USTA/Tennis Channel Top 10s are below, with the complete Top 25 lists available here.

February 13, 2019

USTA Men’s Top 10 (previous week's ranking in parentheses):
1. Ohio State (2)
2. Mississippi State (4)
3. Florida (5)
4. Texas (6)
5. Wake Forest (1)
6. UCLA (6)
7. North Carolina (9)
8. Stanford (10)
9. Virginia (14)
10. Baylor(8)

USTA Women’s Top 10:
1. Georgia (4)
2. North Carolina (3)
3. Stanford (1)
4. Duke (2)
5. UCLA (5)
6. Vanderbilt (6)
7. Pepperdine (7)
8. Texas (9)
9. South Carolina (8)
10. Michigan (T10)

The ITA released women's rankings today, and I believe it is the last set of rankings that will be via poll, with computer rankings starting next week.  Because the Men's Team Indoor is this weekend, there are no new men's team rankings, but from the seedings released in yesterday draw, it's obvious that Wake Forest has dropped from No. 1 in those rankings as well.

ITA Women’s Top 10 (previous week's ranking in parentheses):
1. Georgia (5)
2. North Carolina (3)
3. Stanford (1)
4. Duke (4)
5. Vanderbilt (2)
6. Texas (6)
7. Pepperdine (7)
8. UCLA (8)
9. South Carolina (15)
10. Ohio State (16)

Two ITF World Tennis Tour events are being held this week in the US, with the women at a $25,000 tournament in Surprise Arizona and the men just down the road for a $15,000 tournament in Tucson.

The first round was completed today in Surprise, with top seed Maria Bouzkova of the Czech Republic advancing to the second round.  Fourteen-year-old Coco Gauff used a junior exemption for entry this week and won her first round match yesterday; she will play No. 4 seed Ashley Kratzer in the Thursday's second round. Gauff defeated 2017 USTA National 18s champion Krazter 7-6(6), 6-7(6), 6-4 in the first round of the Dow Tennis Classic in Midland last month. Other US women advancing to the second round are Usue Arconada and Grace Min[5], Allie Kiick[2] and Kayla Day, and Ann Li[8] and Pamela Montez[WC], all of whom play each other in the second round.

In Tucson, former UCLA star Martin Redlicki is the top seed, and he has advanced to a second round meeting with Jordi Arconada(Texas A&M). Other Americans winning their first round matches are Vasil Kirkov,  Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern), Isaiah Strode[WC], Gage Brymer[Q](UCLA), Jenson Brooksby(Baylor recruit) and Dusty Boyer(Nebraska).

The USTA announced today that its Foundation is a partner in the new
Carol Kimmelman Athletic and Academic Campus to be developed in Carson California, just a short distance from the StubHub Center, the current home of the USTA's Player Development West Headquarters and the ITF Grade 1 International Spring Championships. The new complex will feature academic and athletic facilities, including soccer, multipurpose fields and as many as 52 tennis courts.  The USTA's Southern California section will move there, as will USTA Player Development. Groundbreaking could take place as early as next year. For the complete release, click here.

For more on the Kimmelman campus, see its website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Georgia's Jokic Clinches ITA Women's Team Indoor Title in Third Set Tiebreaker; Ohio State Top Seed in Men's Team Indoor Beginning Friday in Chicago

For the third day in a row No. 5 seed Georgia overcame the loss of the doubles point to eke out a 4-3 victory, with the stakes growing each day. Today in the final of the ITA Women's Team Indoor Championships in Seattle, the Bulldogs took out No. 2 seed and defending champion North Carolina, with sophomore Katarina Jokic once again providing the final point.

The doubles point gave no indication of the drama that was to come, with the Tar Heels winning at lines 1 and 2 by scores of 6-1, 6-2, while Georgia won at line 3 6-1.

In singles, Georgia pulled even quickly, with Elena Christofi beating Alle Sanford 6-2, 6-2 at line 5, but it was a long time before any other points were posted. With first sets in singles split evenly, Georgia needed to force a third set, and they got it when UNC's Alexa Graham was unable to close out Maria Lourdes Carle at line 3 despite leading 6-0, 5-3.  Georgia also earned a third set at line 4, with Vivian Wolff coming back against Cameron Morra and at line 1, with Jokic taking her second set with Makenna Jones.

Momentum began to swing toward Georgia when Meg Kowalski defeated Jessie Aney 6-2, 7-6(3) at line 6 for a 2-1 lead. Graham finally closed out Carle to pull the Tar Heels even, but Wolff claimed her match to make it 3-2 Georgia.

North Carolina's Sara Daavettlla had forced a third set in her match with Marta Gonzalez at line 2, but as Jokic earned her split on 1, Daavettila was already down a break in the third at 3-1. She lost her serve again on a deciding point and when Gonzalez held for a 5-1 lead, the final set in the match at line 1 didn't appear to have any significance. But Gonzalez couldn't get to match point on her first attempt to serve it out at 5-2, or at 5-4. Her only match point came the deciding point with Daavettila serving at 3-5, which Daavettila saved by forcing an error from Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, Jones had earned a 4-2 lead on 1, and a miracle comeback seemed possible for North Carolina, when Gonzalez again failed to serve out the championship up 6-5 in the third. Jokic had taken a medical timeout on court 1 after Jones went up 5-2 and when she returned to action, won four straight games.

With some big hitting, Daavettila dominated the tiebreaker, tying the score and giving North Carolina new hope. But Jones was broken at love, dampening the Tar Heel spirits, only to have them raised again when Jokic lost her serve at love to send the national championship to a third-set tiebreaker. Jones fell behind early and Jokic stepped up her game, with much of the drama drained from the outcome when Jones made an unforced error on the forehand side to fall behind 5-1. Jokic, who had clinched the 4-3 semifinal win over No. 1 Stanford on Monday, came through again, closing out the title on her second match point.

Having beaten No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 1 Stanford and No. 3 North Carolina in succession, Georgia will now move to No. 1 in the rankings. The National Indoor title is the first for Georgia since 2002, and they avenged their loss to North Carolina in the 2015 final.

For more on Georgia's title, see the Georgia athletic website.

No. 5 Georgia 4, No. 3 North Carolina 3 

1. #2 Katarina Jokic (UGA) def. #6 Makenna Jones (UNC) 6-7 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (2)
2. #15 Sara Daavettila (UNC) def. #10 Marta Gonzalez (UGA) 3-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3)
3. #7 Alexa Graham (UNC) def. #102 Lourdes Carle (UGA) 6-0, 5-7, 6-2
4. #58 Vivian Wolff (UGA) def. #20 Cameron Morra (UNC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
5. Elena Christofi (UGA) def. #104 Alle Sanford (UNC) 6-2, 6-2
6. #84 Meg Kowalski (UGA) def. Jessie Aney (UNC) 6-2, 7-6 (3)

Order of Finish: 5, 6, 3, 4, 2, 1

1. Aney/Graham (UNC) def. Carle/Wolff (UGA) 6-1
2. #5 Jones/Morra (UNC) def. Christofi/Coppoc (UGA) 6-2
3. Goulak/Gonzalez (UGA) def. Daavettila/Sanford (UNC) 6-1

Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2
The Men's ITA National Indoor Championships begin Friday in Chicago, with the University of Illinois serving as hosts.  Unlike the women's field, the men's field is seeded 1 through 16, and the draw was revealed today.  After No. 1 Wake Forest's loss to Virginia on Friday, the defending champions have dropped to No. 3 in the seedings, with Ohio State now No. 1.  Matchups for Friday's first round:

Ohio State[1] v Tulane[16]
Mississippi State[2] v TCU[15]
Wake Forest[3] v Columbia[14]
Florida[4] v USC[13]
Texas[5] v Illinois[12]
UCLA[6] v Notre Dame[11]
North Carolina[7] v Baylor[10]
Virginia[8] v Stanford[9]

Links to live scoring and streaming can be found at the Slam Tennis site.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Georgia Beats Top Seed Stanford, UNC Downs Duke to Reach D-I Women's Team Indoor Final; 19 Americans in Main Draw at Grade 1 Banana Bowl; Sinclair Wins Claremont $15K

Georgia will play defending champion North Carolina in the final of the Division I ITA Women's Team Indoor Championships Tuesday in Seattle, after the fifth-seeded Bulldogs defeated top-ranked Stanford 4-3 in a thriller that came down to No. 1 singles.

Katarina Jokic of Georgia
For the second consecutive day, Georgia dropped the doubles point, but as in their win over No. 4 Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals, they were able to counter that with four wins in singles.  Georgia got two quick wins from Meg Kowalski at No. 6 and Vivian Wolff at No. 4 to take the lead over Stanford, then went up 3-1 with Marta Gonzalez's win at line 2. Janice Shin pulled the Cardinal within one point with a win at line 5, and Stanford tied it when Caroline Lampl came back to win at line 3. That left line 1, where sophomores Katarina Jokic of Georgia and Michaela Gordon of Stanford were entering the third set Jokic had forced. Jokic took a 3-1 lead only to seed Gordon tie it up, but another break gave Jokic a 4-3 lead and she was able to coast home from there, taking a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory.  So Stanford's first trip to the Team Indoor Championships since 2011, when they won the title, ends with a semifinal loss.

North Carolina has established itself as the dynasty of Women's Indoor Championships, having now advanced to the final for the fifth consecutive year after blanking No. 3 seed Duke 4-0 today. The second-seeded Tar Heels took the doubles point with wins at lines 1 and 3, then earned points from Alexa Graham at line 3, Makenna Jones at line 1 and Jessie Aney at line 5.

Tomorrow's championship, at 10 a.m. Pacific, will be a rematch of the 2015 final, which North Carolina won 4-1.  For links to live scoring and live streaming, see the Slam Tennis site.

No. 5 Georgia 4, No. 1 Stanford 3
1) No. 11 Lampl/Yee (STAN) d. Carle/Wolff (UGA) 6-3
2) No. 13 Arbuthnott/Gordon (STAN) d. Christofi/Morgan Coppoc (UGA) 7-5
3) Jokic/Kowalski (UGA) d. No. 31 Lord/Niluka Madurawe (STAN) 6-4
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2

1) No. 2 Katarina Jokic (UGA) d. No. 23 Michaela Gordon (STAN) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
2) No. 10 Marta Gonzalez (UGA) d. No. 46 Melissa Lord (STAN) 7-5, 6-2
3) No. 57 Caroline Lampl (STAN) d. No. 102 Lourdes Carle (UGA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-0
4) No. 58 Vivian Wolff (UGA) d. No. 14 Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) 6-2, 6-2
5) No. 37 Janice Shin (STAN) d. Elena Christofi (UGA) 6-3, 6-2
6) No. 84 Meg Kowalski (UGA) d. No. 44 Emma Higuchi (STAN) 6-1, 6-1
Order of Finish: 6, 4, 2, 5, 3, 1
No. 3 North Carolina 4, No. 4 Duke 0
1)Aney/Graham (UNC) vs. #30 Mateas/Bilokin (Duke) 6-2
2)McCarthy/Hamlin (Duke) def. #5 Jones/Morra (UNC) 6-2
3) Daavettila/Sanford (UNC) def. Chi/Chen (Duke) 6-4
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1

#6 Makenna Jones (UNC) def. #11 Maria Mateas (Duke) 7-6, 6-0
#15 Sara Daavettila (UNC) vs. #8 Meible Chi (Duke) 6-2, 4-6, 2-2
#7 Alexa Graham (UNC) def. #21 Kelly Chen (Duke) 6-1, 6-4
#20 Cameron Morra (UNC) vs. #100 Kaitlyn McCarthy (Duke) 6-4, 3-6, 0-4
Jessie Aney (UNC) def. Margaryta Bilokin (Duke) 3-6, 6-3, 6-1
#104 Alle Sanford (UNC) vs. Ellyse Hamlin (Duke) 6-7, 6-6
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 5
For the fifth straight week, a Grade 1 tournament is underway in Central/South America, with this week's Banana Bowl in Brazil a warmup for the Grade A next week in Porto Alegre.  As usual, there is a large contingent of Americans in the draw, with seven US boys and 12 US girls in the 48-player main draws. The seeds all had first round byes, with Adam Neff, Blaise Bicknell, qualifier Martin Damm and Ulises Blanch, the non-seeded US boys, getting first round wins today. Eliot Spizzirri[3], Toby Kodat[15] and Tyler Zink[6] will play their first matches on Tuesday.

Unseeded US girls advancing out of the first round today are Hina Inoue, last week's Grade 1 champion Charlotte Chavatipon, wild card Madison Sieg, qualifier Jaedan Brown, Hibah Shaikh and Ellie Coleman. The seeded US girls are Gabby Price[8], Kailey Evans[9], Charlotte Owensby[11] and Hurricane Tyra Black[2].

Diane Parry of France and Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain are the top seeds.

The singles final at the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Claremont California was played today after rain prevented it from starting on Sunday.  Former Cornell standout Colin Sinclair of the Northern Mariana Islands won his first pro title in his sixth final, all coming since August of last year. The top seed defeated Florida State senior Lucas Poullain of France, a qualifier, 6-3, 7-6(3) in today's final.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Stanford, Georgia, UNC and Duke Advance to Semifinals at D-I Women's ITA National Team Indoor Championships; Krueger Claims Dallas Challenger Title; US Women Fall to Australia in Fed Cup

After a day off due to the snowstorm in Seattle, the quarterfinals of the ITA Division I Women's National Team Indoor Championships were played today, with the top four seeds advancing.  Top seed Stanford squeezed past No. 6 seed Texas 4-3, with Emily Arbuthnott clinching for the Cardinal at line 4.

The only top 4 seed to fail to advance to the semifinals is Vanderbilt, who lost to No. 5 Georgia 4-3, with Maria Lourdes Carle clinching for the Bulldogs at line 3.  But it was Georgia's Elena Christofi who will go down as the hero, coming from 5-0 down in the third set and saving two match points to beat Emily Smith at line 5 to give Carle her chance to close it out.

The afternoon matches were less exciting affairs, with No. 2 seed North Carolina taking out No. 7 seed UCLA 4-1 and No. 3 seed Duke beating No. 6 seed Pepperdine by the same score.

Stanford and Georgia will meet at 10 am Pacific on Monday, with Duke and defending champion North Carolina scheduled to play at 4 p.m.

See the Slam Tennis site for links to live scoring and live streaming.

See College Tennis Today for updates on all the collegiate tennis action on a very busy weekend.

Mitchell Krueger won his first career ATP Challenger title, coming from a set and a break down against top seed Mackenzie McDonald to record a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 win in his hometown of Dallas.  The 25-year-old Krueger, who recently moved back to Dallas from Orlando and is working with his former junior coach Dave Licker again, started off the year by qualifying for the Australian Open and with this title at an ATP 110 Challenger will be at a career-high of 160 in tomorrow's ATP rankings.  McDonald, a finalist last year in Dallas, had looked dominant all week, but Krueger, the No. 14 seed, kept his cool when he lost his 4-2 lead in the second set, winning the tiebreaker without much difficulty. McDonald was definitely not sharp in the second half of the match and Krueger took full advantage.

In the doubles final played earlier today, unseeded Marcos Giron and Dennis Novikov, former UCLA teammates, won the title, beating unseeded Ante Pavic of Croatia and Ruan Roelofse (Illinois) of South Africa 6-4, 7-6(3).  It's Novikov's fifth Challenger doubles title, while Giron had not won a Challenger doubles title before today.

Rain in Southern California has delayed the final of the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour men's event in Claremont. Florida State senior Lucas Poullain, a qualifier, is set to take on former Cornell standout and No. 1 seed Colin Sinclair of the Northern Mariana Islands for the title.

The US Fed Cup team was unable to keep its home court advantage Sunday against the Australians, with Ashleigh Barty and Priscilla Hon taking the deciding doubles match over Nicole Melichar and Danielle Collins 6-4, 7-5.  Madison Keys lost to Barty 6-4, 6-1 to give Australia a 2-1 lead, but Collins beat Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 to send the match to the deciding doubles.  The US will now need to play and win in April to keep their place in the World Group.  For more on today's matches, see the Fed Cup website.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Chavatipon Wins Grade 1 in Paraguay; Milavsky and Chervinsky Claim Grade 4 Titles in Mexico; Snow Postpones Women's Team Indoor Quarterfinals; US, Australia Tied After Fed Cup Opening Singles Matches

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Chavatipon won her first ITF Grade 1 title today at the Asuncion Bowl in Paraguay, and she did it in convincing fashion. The 12th-seeded Californian lost only 12 games in her five victories, half of those in her quarterfinal win over No. 2 seed Mylene Halemai of France. In yesterday's semifinals, she beat No. 7 seed Ana Luiza Cruz of Brazil 6-1, 6-0 and today defeated No. 9 seed Shavit Kimchi of Israel 6-3, 6-0.

Chavatipon's title is the fourth straight for American girls at the Grade 1s in Central and South America this year, with Abigail Forbes winning titles in Costa Rica and Ecuador and Savannah Broadus taking the title in Colombia.

The boys title in Paraguay went to unseeded Carlos Gimeno Valero of Spain, who beat No. 3 seed Lucian Tacchi of Argentina 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 in the final.

Kimchi and Alexandra Vagramov of Canada, seeded No. 3, won the girls doubles title, beating No. 5 seeds Romina Ccuno of Peru and Jimar Gerald Gonzalez of Chile 6-3, 6-1 in the final. Top seeds Shunsuke Mitsui and Keisuke Saitoh of Japan won the boys doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Arthur Cazaux of France and Nini Dica of Romania 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

At the ITF Grade 4 in Mexico, Americans swept the singles titles, with top seed Elaine Chervinsky and No. 6 seed Daniel Milavsky winning their first titles on the ITF Junior Circuit.  The 15-year-old Chervinsky, who reached the final in this same tournament last year, losing to Broadus, defeated No. 6 seed Camila Soares of Peru 6-0, 6-3 in the final.  Milavsky, 17, defeated No. 4 seed Jackson Ross 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the final. 

Milavsky fell just short of sweeping the titles, dropping the doubles final. He and Maxime St. Hilaire of Canada, the No. 4 seeds, lost to No. 6 seeds Mario Duron Garza and Alan Kam of Mexico 6-1, 4-6, 11-9.

Minorka Miranda and Maya Rukosuev gave the US three titles, winning the girls doubles. The unseeded pair defeated No. 4 seeds Alejandra Cruz of Mexico and Sofia Cabezas Dominguez of Venezuela 6-4, 5-7, 10-4 in the final.

The quarterfinals of the ITA Women's National Team Indoor Championships were postponed due to a snowstorm in Seattle.  All eight seeds advanced with wins on Friday. For more on the matches from Friday's first round, see College Tennis Today.  Sunday's schedule has not been released as of now, but check the Slam Tennis website for updates.

The USA's Fed Cup team hosted Australia today in two singles matches in Asheville North Carolina, with each team posting a win.  Ashleigh Barty defeated Sonya Kenin 6-1, 7-6(2) to give Australia a 1-0 lead, but Madison Keys beat Kimberly Birrell 6-2, 6-2 to give the US its first point going into the two singles matches Sunday.  Danielle Collins has been ill, but she could play in the reverse singles Sunday.  For more on today's tie, see the Fed Cup website.

The finals are set at the ITF World Tennis Tour 15K in Claremont California, with qualifier Lucas Poullain of France taking on top seed Colin Sinclair of the Northern Mariana Islands. Poullain, a senior at Florida State, defeated unseeded Jordi Arconada(Texas A&M) 6-4, 6-0 in under an hour, while Sinclair(Cornell) got by unseeded Henry Craig(Denver) 6-4, 6-2.

The doubles title went to wild cards George Goldhoff(Texas) and Austin Rapp(UCLA), who beat Michael Zhu(Michigan) and Jumpei Yamasaki of Japan 4-6, 6-3, 10-7. It's the first pro title for both Goldhoff and Rapp.

The ATP 110 Challenger in Dallas will have an American champion, after four US men reached the semifinals.  No. 14 seed Mitchell Krueger, whose is from the area, advanced to the final when No. 6 seed Bjorn Fratangelo was unable to play in the afternoon semifinal due to a leg injury. Krueger will play the winner of tonight's match between top seed Mackenzie McDonald and No. 3 seed Reilly Opelka.

Friday, February 8, 2019

My Article on Coco Gauff; Long Day as ITA Women's Team Indoor Kicks Off in Seattle; Virginia Men Surprise Top-Ranked Wake Forest 5-2

I knew that I would probably not have too many more opportunities to talk with Coco Gauff, who announced after winning the Orange Bowl that she was moving on from junior tennis. So when I went to the Dow Tennis Classic last week in Midland, I spoke at length with her about how she was planning to negotiate the transition between junior and pro tennis, which is particularly fraught for her because she is just 14 years old. I wrote about how she and her father Corey, who remains her primary coach, have chosen to approach these challenges in this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

A winter storm forecast for the Seattle area caused a change in times and format for the first day of the ITA Women's Team Indoor Championships, with the University of Washington scheduled to close down this afternoon. Matches were moved up two hours and singles were played first to save time, but three of the first four matches were tied at 3-3, so doubles had to be played anyway, and two matches are still unfinished as of 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, including No. 1 Stanford's match with LSU and No. 8 Texas's match with Northwestern. The winners of those two matches will face off in the quarterfinals.

Although there were close calls for the other seeds, all advanced.

North Carolina[2] d. Oklahoma State 4-0
Duke[3] d. Ohio State 4-3
Vanderbilt[4] d. Washington 4-0
Georgia[5] d. NC State 4-2
Pepperdine[6] d. Syracuse 4-3
UCLA[7] d. South Carolina 4-3

If weather permits quarterfinals matches to be played Saturday, the matchups are as follows: (updated)

North Carolina[2] v. UCLA[7]
Duke[3] v.  Pepperdine[6]
Vanderbilt[4] v. Georgia[5]
Stanford[1] v. Texas[8]

For updated draws, see the Slam Tennis site, which also includes links to live scoring and live streaming (U of W site only).

The men's ITA Team Indoor Championships begin next week, but a big match took place tonight in Charlottesville, with NCAA champion and No. 1 ranked Wake Forest traveling to Virginia and getting knocked off 5-2.  Wake Forest won the doubles point with wins at 1 and 2, with 3 doubles going unfinished, but the Cavaliers took control in singles.  Freshmen Ryan Goetz and Brandon Nakashima picked up the first two Virginia points with wins at line 5 and line 3, with sophomore Gianni Ross making it 3-1 with another straight-sets win at line 4.  Wake Forest got its second point from NCAA champion Petros Chrysochos, playing at line 2 tonight, but Wake's Borna Gojo lost to Carl Soderlund at line 1 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 and Aswin Lizen defeated Julian Zlobinsky 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 nearly simultaneously to give Virginia the 5-2 victory.

Both teams are traveling to Chicago next week for the Team Indoor.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Chavatipon Advances to Grade 1 Asuncion Bowl Semifinals; Four Americans Reach Grade 4 Semis in Mexico; Quarterfinalists at Claremont $15K Include Jenson Brooksby; Giron Moves On at Dallas Challenger

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Chavatipon has advanced to the semifinals of this week's ITF Grade 1 in Paraguay, the first time in her career that she has gone past the quarterfinals in ITF Junior Circuit competition. Chavatipon, the No. 12 seed, defeated No. 2 seed Mylene Halemai of France 6-2, 6-4 in today's quarterfinals, her third consecutive straight-sets win.  Chavatipon will face No. 7 seed Ana Luiza Cruz of Brazil. The two other Americans in the quarterfinals, unseeded Madison Sieg and No. 11 seed Tara Malik, lost today, leaving Chavatipon as the last American in singles or doubles this week in Paraguay.

At the Grade 4 in Mexico, three US boys have advanced to the semifinals, although not top seed Max McKennon, who today lost to No. 7 seed Alex Barrena of Argentina 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.  Barrena will face No. 6 seed Daniel Milavsky in one semifinal, with No. 4 seed Jackson Ross and No. 8 seed Marcus McDaniel meeting in the other.  The only US girl to advance to the semifinals is top seed Elaine Chervinsky, who will play unseeded 14-year-old Annabelle Xu of Canada next.

At the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in Claremont, four Americans have reached Friday's quarterfinals: qualifier George Goldhoff(Texas), Henry Craig(Denver), Jenson Brooksby and Jordi Arconada(Texas A&M).  Goldhoff will play the only seed remaining in the draw, No. 1 Colin Sinclair(Cornell) of the Northern Mariana Islands. Kalamazoo 18s champion Brooksby, who recently signed with Baylor for this fall and received his entry based on his ITF Junior ranking, will face Craig, who beat Brooksby last spring in the final round of qualifying at the Calabasas Futures. Arconada will play Jose Olivares of the Dominican Republic, while the other quarterfinal features qualifier Lucas Poullain, a Florida State senior from France, and Michail Pervolarakis of Greece, a former Portland standout.

At least four Americans have advanced to the quarterfinals of the ATP 110 Challenger at the T Bar M Club in Dallas, with top seed Mackenzie McDonald possibly the fifth. Former UCLA Bruin McDonald, who reached the final last year in Dallas, losing to Kei Nishikori, faces No. 16 seed Dustin Brown later tonight.  The Challenger has been featured this week on Tennis Channel, which is great exposure for that level of the game.

No. 3 seed Reilly Opelka defeated No. 15 seed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-4, 6-4 and No. 6 seed Bjorn Fratangelo reached the quarterfinals with a 7-6(3), 7-6(2) win over Jared Hiltzik(Illinois).   No. 14 seed Mitchell Krueger advanced to the quarterfinals in his home town, beating Mario Vilella Martinez of Spain 6-2, 6-1 this afternoon. Unseeded Marcos Giron(UCLA) continued his excellent start to the year, beating lucky loser Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador 6-3, 6-4. Giron, already at a career-high of 225 beginning this week, can move into the Top 200 with a win Friday over Krueger.  The other quarterfinalists all have college backgrounds: No. 4 seed Jason Jung(Michigan) of Taiwan, No. 9 seed Dominik Koepfer(Tulane) of Germany and No. 10 seed Brayden Schnur(North Carolina) of Canada.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Whittle Moves to No. 1 in ITA Division I Women's Rankings, Chrysochos and Wake Forest Remain Atop Latest Men's Rankings; Draws Revealed for Friday's Women's Team Indoor

Sophie Whittle of Gonzaga has been making history for her school for months now and can add another notable accomplishment, as she takes over the No. 1 position in the ITA Division I women's singles rankings released today.  Whittle, who won the ITA/Riviera All-American title in October, takes over from Katarina Jokic of Georgia, who lost to Ana Roman of South Florida in the Bulldogs first match of the Kick-off Weekend. These are the first individual rankings since last November.

NCAA singles champion Petros Chrysochos of Wake Forest stays at No. 1 on the men's side, while the NCAA champion Wake Forest men also remain at the top of the rankings. There are no women's team rankings this week, with the Women's National Team Indoor Championships beginning Friday in Seattle.  The draws are out for the event, with Stanford, the NCAA champion, the top seed, followed by defending champion North Carolina, Duke and Vanderbilt.  The ITA preview is here.

The top 10 in singles and top 5 in doubles are below. The full list can be found by clicking on the link in the headings.

ITA Women's Division I Top 10 Singles Rankings, February 6, 2019
(Previous ranking in November in parentheses)
1. Sophie Whittle, Gonzaga (5)
2. Katarina Jokic, Georgia (1)
3. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt (6)
4. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami (7)
5. Kate Fahey, Michigan (3)
6. Makenna Jones, North Carolina (2)
7. Alexa Graham, North Carolina (18)
8. Meible Chi, Duke (10)
9. Silvia Ambrosio, Purdue (19)
10. Marta Gonzalez, Georgia (14)

ITA Women's Division I Top 5 Doubles Rankings, February 6, 2019
1. Ashley Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova, Pepperdine (1)
2. Fernanda Navarro and Marie Leduc, Clemson (3)
3. Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia, Kansas (5)
4. Mia Horvit and Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina (11)
5. Cameron Morra and Makenna Jones, North Carolina (2)

ITA Men's Division I Top 10 Singles Rankings, February 6, 2019
1. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest (1)
2. JJ Wolf, Ohio State (3)
3. Thomas Laurent, Oregon (5)
4. Daniel Cukierman, USC (8)
5. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (11)
6. Christian Sigsgaard, Texas (4)
7. Jan Zielinski, Georgia (2)
8. Alex Rybakov, TCU (14)
9. Nicolas Moreno De Alboran, UC Santa Barbara (6)
10. Axel Geller, Stanford (20)

ITA Men's Division I Top 5 Doubles Rankings, February 6, 2019
1. Henry Patten and Oli Nolan, UNC Asheville (2)
2. Jimmy Bendeck and Sven Lah, Baylor (3)
3. Johannes Ingildsen and Brian Berdusco, Florida (10)
4. Constant De La Bassetiere and Gabriel Nemeth, Penn State (1)
5. Fabian Fallert and Finn Reynolds, Ole Miss (5)

ITA Men's Division I Team Top 10, February 6, 2019
1. Wake Forest (1)
2. Ohio State (2)
3. Mississippi State (3)
4. Florida (4)
5. USC (5)
6. Texas (8)
7. UCLA (7)
8. North Carolina (6)
9. Baylor (10)
10. Stanford (9)

The Tennis Channel/USTA poll does have both men's and women's team rankings this week.  Below are the top 10, with the full lists available at usta.com. Previous week's ranking is in parentheses.
1. Wake Forest (1)
2. Ohio State (2)
3. USC (T3)
4. Mississippi State (T3) 
5. Florida (5)
6. Texas (8)
7. UCLA (6) 
8. Baylor( 10) 
9. North Carolina (7) 
10. Stanford (9)

1. Stanford (1) 
2. Duke (2) 
3. North Carolina (3) 
4. Georgia (6) 
5. UCLA (5)
6. Vanderbilt (4) 
7. Pepperdine (7) 
8. South Carolina (10) 
9. Texas (8) 
T10. Michigan (21) 
T10. NC State (19) 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Sieg Takes Out Top Seed at ITF Grade 1 in Paraguay; Cressy's Win Streak Ends at Dallas Challenger; Poor Weather Plagues Claremont $15K

The fourth of the Grade 1s in Central and South America starting off the year is being played this week in Paraguay. After the first two or three, many American juniors returned to the US, at least for a week or two before the Grade 1 Banana Bowl and the Grade A in Porto Alegre in Brazil next week and the week after. But even with many fewer Americans in the draw, there is still news on their results to report this week at the Grade 1 Asuncion Bowl, with 15-year-old Madison Sieg taking out top seed Gabriela Martinez Asensi of Spain 7-5, 6-2 in today's second round. Sieg, the Eddie Herr 16s finalist and Orange Bowl 16s champion last year, had not had a particularly impressive start to the year, getting just two wins total in Costa Rica and Colombia, but with her recent success, she is a dangerous unseeded player to encounter early in a draw. 

The other US girls advancing to the third round are all seeded: Jenna De Falco[10], Tara Malik[11] and Charlotte Chavatipon[12].

In the boys draw, unseeded Blaise Bicknell and wild card Benjamin Kittay advanced to the second round, but both were beaten today.

At the Grade 3 in Auckland New Zealand, five US girls were in the draw, but only top seed Skyler Grishuk was able to advanced to the second round.

The Grade 4 in Mexico has drawn a dozen or so Americans, with Max McKennon and Elaine Chervinsky the top seeds.

There are no women's World Tennis Tour events this week in the United States, but there are two men's tournaments, a $15,000 event in Claremont California and the ATP 110 Challenger in Dallas.

The weather has been abysmal in California, with temperatures barely reaching 50 and rain, with snow in the higher elevations. None of the qualifying matches were played Monday, and two rounds of qualifying are scheduled for today, as well as six main draw singles matches.  The top seed in the tournament is Colin Sinclair (Cornell) of the Northern Mariana Islands, with wild cards going to Texas recruit Siem Woldeab, Winter Nationals champion Ishaan Ravichander, Duke recruit Omni Kumar and Penn recruit Aditya Gupta.

At the Dallas Challenger, the weather is not a factor, with the $135,400 tournament played indoors at the T Bar M Racquet Club.

UCLA senior Maxime Cressy, fresh from his title at the Cleveland Challenger Sunday, had to qualify for Dallas on Monday, which he did, giving him eight wins in eight days, starting with his qualifying win in Cleveland last Monday.  His streak ended today however, in the first round, with Christian Harrison beating him 6-4, 7-6(4).  Wild cards Alex Rybakov (TCU senior) and Evan King(Michigan) both are still alive, with Rybakov beating Stefan Kozlov 6-2, 6-1 in a first round match today and King, who won his first round match Monday, advancing to the third round when No. 5 seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia retired after losing the first set 6-3.  Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA) is the top seed, with Ryan Harrison seeded No. 2.

The tournament has attracted some star power in its doubles draw, with John Isner receiving a wild card and playing with Alex Kuznetsov, and Nick Kyrgios teaming up with Dallas area resident Mitchell Krueger. Neither team is seeded and have drawn the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds respectively.