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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.

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