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Thursday, May 2, 2019

NCAA Roundtable Part I; Paul Wins USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge; Navarro, Osuigwe and Gauff Reach Charleston $100K Quarterfinals; Big 12 and Big 10 Conference Awards

For the past dozen years, I've been participating in the Tennis Recruiting Network's NCAA Division I roundtable discussions, and part 1 of this year's edition is out today, with the tournament beginning Friday with 32 men's first round matches (plus 16 women's first round matches).

Track all the results at the SLAM Tennis's Championship Central and don't forget to turn in your entry in their bracket challenge in before 8 a.m. Eastern Friday.

Tommy Paul has clinched the USTA's French Open wild card, with the deciding match today's 6-2, 7-6(5) third round loss by top seed Tennys Sandgren to No. 15 seed Federico Coria of Argentina. Sandgren had to win the ATP 80 Challenger in Savannah this week to have a chance to catch Paul, after he lost to Paul in the last two tournaments: in the final at Sarasota and the semifinals in Tallahassee.  The 21-year-old Paul, the 2015 French Open boys champion, will be making his main draw debut at Roland Garros, with the US Open the only other slam main draw he's experienced.  Paul, the No. 5 seed this week, managed to overcome a mid-match ankle sprain to defeat Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 and advance to the quarterfinals against former Illinois star Aleks Vukic of Australia. The only other American in the Savannah quarterfinals is No. 6 seed Chris Eubanks(Georgia Tech), who plays No. 2 seed Paolo Lorenzi of Italy Friday.

The US teens continue to impress at the $100,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Charleston South Carolina, with 15-year-old Coco Gauff and 17-year-olds Emma Navarro and Whitney Osuigwe posting victories today.

Gauff, a qualifier, defeated unseeded Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 6-4, 6-1 to reach her first quarterfinal at the $100K level, and she will face No. 2 seed Taylor Townsend Friday.

Wild card Navarro, playing at the club her father Ben owns, eased past last week's Osprey $25K champion Ann Li 6-3, 6-4, breaking Li's serve 8 times in 9 service games. Navarro will play No. 4 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, one of only two non-Americans in the quarterfinals. Osuigwe came back to defeat No. 5 seed Lauren Davis 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 and will face qualifier Louisa Chirico in the quarterfinals.  Osuigwe continues to strengthen her position for the women's French Open wild card, but Bernarda Pera has advanced to the semifinals of the WTA International in Prague this week, and there is another week of results for the women to consider, so Osuigwe, who won the last USTA Wild Card Challenge for the Australian Open, is not home yet.

No. 3 seed Nicole Gibbs defeated Robin Anderson 6-4, 7-5 and will take on No. 7 seed Kaja Juvan of Slovenia in the quarterfinals.

Last Thursday I published the ACC and SEC conference awards, and this week the Big 10 and Big 12 conferences are featured. The Big 10 actually published their men's awards last week, but I decided to wait until the women's awards were revealed to post both of them. Click on the headings for the all-conference teams. The Pac-12 hasn't announced their awards prior to the NCAAs in past years, so I don't expect them until next month.

Big 10 Women:
Athlete of the Year: Kate Fahey, Michigan
Freshman of the Year: Isabelle Boulais, Ohio State and Clarissa Hand, Northwestern
Coach of the Year: Ronni Bernstein, Michigan

Big 10 Men:
Athlete of the Year: JJ Wolf, Ohio State
Freshman of the Year: Andrew Fenty, Michigan
Coach of the Year: Ty Tucker, Ohio State

Big 12 Men:
Player of the Year: Alex Rybakov, TCU and Christian Sigsgaard, Texas
Newcomer of the Year: Matej Vocel, Oklahoma State
Freshman of the Year: Adrian Boitan, Baylor
Coach of the Year: Bruce Berque, Texas (Interim Head Coach)

Big 12 Women: <-(same release as men's)
Player of the Year: Felicity Maltby, Texas Tech
Newcomer of the Year: Oleksandra Korashvili, Oklahoma
Freshman of the Year: Ellie Douglas, TCU
Coach of the Year: Todd Chapman, Kansas