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Monday, February 25, 2019

Teens Falter in Opening Round of Oracle Challenger Series at Indian Wells; Barry Men and Women Top Division II Rankings

The Oracle Challenger series continues this week with the WTA 125 and ATP Challenger 125 tournaments at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the only pro events scheduled in the US this week.

Sponsor Oracle has demonstrated a particular interest in promoting American tennis, and several teenagers from the US were given main draw wild cards, but unfortunately they were not able to post wins today against their more experienced competition.

Seventeen-year-old wild card Zane Khan, who has not played since the Australian Open Junior Championships, got off to a good start against Yosuke Watanuke of Japan, but he couldn't close out the 20-year-old, who is 177 in the ATP rankings, losing 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.  Seventeen-year-old wild card Katie Volynets was beaten 6-3, 6-3 by former UCLA star Jennifer Brady, who broke back into the WTA Top 100 this week after making the third round in Dubai.

University of Virginia freshman Brandon Nakashima, another 17-year-old wild card, lost his opening round match to JC Aragone, a former Cavalier, who was playing Challengers in Thailand the past two week. Aragone, ranked 248, defeated Nakashima 6-1, 6-4.

Sixteen-year-old Whitney Osuigwe, who made the field on her own WTA ranking, now 215, lost to Kristie Ahn 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-5. Ahn, who played in the final yesterday at the $25,000 World Tennis Tour event in Rancho Santa Fe, didn't get a late start, but she managed to fight through any fatigue in two-and-a-half hour match. Service holds were at a premium, with 16 breaks in the 33 service games, with Osuigwe letting a 4-0 lead slip away in the second set and Ahn unable to hold her 4-1, two-break lead in the third set.

Wild card Coco Gauff couldn't close out former WTA Top 10 player Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland despite a 4-0 lead in the third set, with the 14-year-old losing the last six games of the match in the 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 decision.

The only teen to post a victory today was 18-year-old Olga Danilovic of Serbia, who beat Caroline Dolehide 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.  Caty McNally, another 17-year-old wild card, was in the third set of her match when it was interrupted.

Two US women advanced to the main draw via the four-player qualifying, with wild card Ena Shibahara(UCLA) defeating top seed Mayo Hibi 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 and wild card Kayla Day beating No. 2 seed Jovana Jaksic of Serbia 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-1.

The two US men advancing to the main draw from qualifying are Ulises Blanch, who beat Martin Redlicki(UCLA) 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 and Michael Redlicki(Arkansas), who beat Alex Sarkissian(Pepperdine) 6-3, 6-3.

US men advancing to the second round are Donald Young, Chris Eubanks, Christian Harrison and Mitchell Krueger.  For more on the first round matches today, see the tournament website.

The top two American finishers in the Oracle Challenge series, which concludes at this event, will receive wild cards into the BNP Paribas Open next month.  The current points totals for the men and women can be viewed here.

I missed the release of the ITA Division II rankings last week but the Top 10 are below, with the Barry men and Barry women both in the No. 1 positions this month. These rankings come out less frequently than the Division I rankings, and there were no individual rankings in January or February, with the first of those since November scheduled for next month. Beginning March 20th the D-II team and individual rankings will come out every week. Click on the header to go to the full rankings list.

Women’s D-II Feb. 20 Top 10 Team (previous ranking in parentheses)

1. Barry University (1)
2. Lynn University (5)
3. Saint Leo University (7)
4. Hawaii Pacific University (4)
5. Academy of Art University (6)
6. Columbus State University (3)
7. Nova Southeastern University (8)
8. Univ. of West Florida (2)
9. Florida Southern College (17)
10. Univ. of Indianapolis (10)

Men’s D-II Feb. 20 Top 10 Team

1. Barry University (2)
2. Columbus State University (1)
3. Lynn University (3)
4. Univ. of West Florida (4)
5. Wingate University (11)
6. Saint Leo University (7)
7. Univ. of Hawaii, Hilo (10)
8. Lander University (5)
9. Univ. of Indianapolis (9)
10. Southwest Baptist (12)

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