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Friday, June 7, 2019

May Aces; Navarro, Kodat Reach French Open Junior Singles Finals; Subhash, Arconada Advance to Bethany Beach $25K Semis; Weiss Named Clemson Men's Head Coach

The May edition of my Tennis Recruiting Network monthly column highlighting the top junior and collegiate performances is up today, looking back at the NCAA Division I and Division III individual champions as well as a dozen others who posted outstanding results.

For the first time since 1989, an American boy and an American girl have reached the French Open final in the same year, with unseeded Toby Kodat and No. 8 seed Emma Navarro advancing to Saturday's championship matches.

The 16-year-old Kodat, who is playing his first French Open, defeated IMG training partner Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan 6-3, 6-4, for his fifth consecutive straight-sets win this week. No. 7 seed Holger Rune of Denmark prevented an all-USA boys final by defeating No. 10 seed Martin Damm 6-4, 6-2 in the other semifinal. The 16-year-old Rune also has not dropped a set in his French Open debut. Rune and Kodat have split two Grade 1 matches this year, both on clay, with Kodat winning in three sets back in February in Brazil and Rune winning April's meeting in France in straight sets.

The 18-year-old Duke recruit had lost, badly, her previous two meetings with No. 5 seed Qinwen Zheng of China at last year's Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl and it didn't look like Navarro was going to be able to break that pattern when she quickly dropped the first set 6-2. But she rebounded in the second set, winning it 6-1, and was a bit tougher on the key points in the tight third set to take it 6-4.  At 4-all, Navarro converted her third break point to give herself the opportunity to serve for the match at 5-4. She had to save a break point in that game, at 30-40, but won the final three points of the match for the victory.

Navarro will play top seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada, who beat No. 3 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals. The 16-year-old Fernandez, who reached the Australian Open girls final in January and won the Grade 1 warmup in Belgium last week, has been dominating her opponents all week, with her 7-5, 6-3 first round win over Maria Tkacheva of Russia the closest match she has had all week.

Navarro and Fernandez, who have not played before, are both featured in the ITF Junior Circuit website article about today's matches.

After winning her singles semifinal, Navarro was facing two doubles matches, and she and Chloe Beck got through one and a half. The unseeded pair beat Taisya Pachkaleva and Zheng 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals, and led No. 7 seeds Adrienn Nagy of Hungary and Sohyun Park of Korea 6-3, 1-0 when play was called for the day. The winner of that match will play No. 4 seeds Alina Charaeva and Anastasia Tikhonova in the final.

Damm and Kodat lost their quarterfinal match in doubles, as did Hurricane Tyra Black and Lea Ma[5] and Zane Khan, playing with China's Bu Yunchaokete.

Tennis Channel will provide coverage of the girls and boys finals beginning at 5 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, with the girls on first, followed by the boys, with the conclusion of the girls doubles semifinal to follow that.

Amanda Anisimova made a valiant comeback from 5-0 down in the first set in her women's French Open semifinal with No. 8 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia, and had a 7-6(4), 3-0 lead in the match, but Barty came back to win the next two sets 6-3, 6-3 to put an end to the run of the 17-year-old. Barty will play unseeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who came from 5-3 down in both sets to beat No. 26 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain 7-5, 7-6(2). For more on Anisimova's match with Barty, see this article from the WTA website.

While the quarterfinals are still going on at the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour men's event in Champaign and the third round at the rain-drenched ATP 90 Challenger in Little Rock, the semifinals are set at the women's $25,000 tournament in Bethany Beach Delaware.

Seventeen-year-old wild card Natasha Subhash, one of the May aces for her first title last month at the Williiamsburg $15K, is through to the semifinals. The University of Virginia rising freshman, who beat No. 8 seed Sanaz Marand(UNC) yesterday, advanced to the semifinals when No. 4 seed Belinda Woolcock(Florida) retired trailing 6-0, 3-1. Subhash will play unseeded Tess Sugnaux of Switzerland for a spot in the final. Top seed Usue Arconada advanced to the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 6 seed Sophie Chang and will play No. 7 seed Dea Herdzelas of Bosnia in the semifinals.

Clemson announced that Robbie Weiss has been hired to lead the men's tennis program, replacing John Boetsch, whose contract was not renewed after three seasons. Weiss has a wealth of coaching experience; most recently he was men's assistant at Alabama.