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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.

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