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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Texas's Center Fired; Gauff, McNally, Osuigwe Awarded Miami Open Wild Cards; Teens Andreescu and Kecmanovic Advance at BNP Paribas Open; Florida Men Beat Wake Forest; Little Change in USTA/Tennis Channel College Rankings

In the wake of the federal charges filed yesterday in the Operation Varsity Blues college admission scandal, the University of Texas announced this afternoon that Michael Center, head coach of the men's team for the past 19 seasons, has been dismissed. The school's release is here.  Rhiannon Potkey has more on the reaction to the scandal, including comments from blue chip recruit Siem Woldeab, in this Tennis Recruiting Network article.

The Miami Open, which begins next week at a new venue in South Florida, announced its wild card recipients today, with three young Americans getting wild cards into the women's main draw: Coco Gauff (who turns 15 today), Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe.

The other women's main draw wild card recipients are Olga Danilovic of Serbia, Mari Osaka of Japan, Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia and two 17-year-olds from China: Xinyu Wang and US Open girls champion Xiyu Wang.

The women's qualifying wild cards were given to Allie Kiick, Christina McHale, Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil, Qinwen Zheng of China and Karman Thandi of India.

Only one American man received a main draw wild card, former Georgia Tech star Chris Eubanks.  World junior No. 1 Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, Nicola Kuhn of Spain, David Ferrer of Spain and Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia are the other main draw wild cards.

Seventeen-year-old Zane Khan received a qualifying wild card, as did Reilly Opelka, whose current ATP ranking of 59 would get him in the main draw, but with the Miami cutoff coming before he won the New York Open, he was outside the main draw cutoff and didn't enter the qualifying. Other recent ATP champions in qualifying include Laslo Djere of Serbia[32] and Radu Albot of Moldova[53]. Mackenzie McDonald[62] and Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada[58], who also are in Miami qualifying, would have been in the main draw if the cutoff was not six weeks prior to the event.

IMG, which controls the tournament, distributes most of the wild cards to their clients, and has done so for years, but it is surprising to see a player the stature of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France given a qualifying wild card, rather than a main draw one. The other two qualifying wild cards were given to Jay Clarke of Great Britain and Mikael Ymer of Sweden.

The wild card release is available at the Miami Open website.

The only American left in singles at the BNP Paribas Open is Venus Williams, who plays her quarterfinal match against No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany on Thursday. The last US man, No. 8 seed John Isner, lost to No. 12 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-4, 7-6(1) this afternoon.

Two teenagers are still alive however, with 2016 ITF World Junior champion Kecmanovic, a lucky loser, advancing to the men's quarterfinal when Yoshito Nishioka of Japan retired after losing the first set 6-4. Eighteen-year-old Bianca Andreescu has been mowing down opponents this week, with the Canadian wild card beating No. 20 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-0, 6-1 in today's quarterfinal. Andreescu, who had a raft of injuries when she was playing the ITF Junior Circuit, yet still made it as high as No. 3, is up to 37 in the WTA live rankings now.

The big men's Division I match this afternoon had No. 2 Wake Forest in Gainesville to play No. 8 Florida, and the Gators came away with a victory after losing the doubles point.  Wake did not have Borna Gojo, who played in the Drummondville Challenger this week, in the lineup. Florida dominated in the 3, 4, 5 and 6 spots to take the match. The final score was 5-2, with Botzer winning over Andrade at 2 for Wake Forest and Crawford beating Chrysochos at 1 for Florida after the Gators had clinched the match.

I expect that Florida will move up in the rankings next week after this win, but in this week's USTA/Tennis Channel rankings there was very little movement in the Top 10 for men or women. The voting for this week's rankings ends with matches played on Sunday, so Texas A&M men's win over No. 1 Ohio State Monday is not included.  For the complete Top 25s, see the usta.com article.

USTA/Tennis Channel Men’s Top 10 March 13, 2019

1. Ohio State (1)
2. Wake Forest (2)
3. Texas (3)
4. North Carolina (4)
5. Virginia (5)
6. Stanford (6)
7. TCU (7)
8. Florida (9)
9. Columbia (8)
10. Baylor (10)

USTA/Tennis Channel Women’s Top 10 March 13, 2019
1. Georgia (1)
2. North Carolina (2)
3. Stanford (3)
4. Duke (4)
5. Vanderbilt (5)
6. Texas (6)
7. South Carolina (7)
8. UCLA (9)
9. Michigan (8)
10. Ohio State (10)