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.