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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Scott Turns Pro; Pepperdine's Lahey and USC's Cukierman Top ITA Fall Rankings; Bryan Brothers Announce 2020 Retirement

Topnotch Management announced today that it has signed a contract with 15-year-old Katrina Scott to represent her as a professional tennis player. Scott, currently No. 40 in the ITF World Junior rankings after starting the year at 348, reached the quarterfinals of the 2019 US Open Junior Championships, helped the US to a Junior Fed Cup title at the end of September and reached the semifinals as a qualifier at last week's $25,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit event in Malibu. The Woodland Hills California resident will be represented by the Topnotch's LA-based agent Meilen Tu. According to the press release, Scott will be playing the Orange Bowl in December and the Australian Open in January. She will be around 615 in the WTA rankings when her points from Malibu are added next week.

The ITA published their final singles and doubles rankings for the fall season today, and once again they are demonstrating the problem with the method currently used to determine the rankings. Last season's final women's singles ranking had Katarina Jokic of Georgia at No. 1 and NCAA champion Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami at No. 2, even though Perez-Somarriba was the No. 1 seed going into the NCAA singles championships and beat No. 2 seed Jokic in the final. If the algorithm doesn't account for that scenario properly you have to wonder about its efficacy, and today's rankings just add more fuel to that fire.

Yuya Ito of Texas won the ITA All-American Championships and the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships, two of the individual majors in Division I College tennis, (the NCAA championships are the third), and he is not No. 1 in the rankings. Daniel Cukierman of USC, who lost in the quarterfinals of the Fall Nationals and did not play the All-American tournament, is at the top of the rankings, with Ito in second place.

In the women's doubles, Anna Rogers and Alana Smith of North Carolina State are No. 1, with Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart of UCLA No. 2, despite the fact that Bolton and Hart defeated Rogers and Smith  6-4, 6-3 in the Fall Nationals final.

The evidence is mounting that the current ranking procedure is producing flawed outcomes, and the ITA needs to recognize this and begin investigating ways to remedy it sooner rather than later.

Click on the headings to go to the full rankings.

Women's Division I Singles Fall Top 10:
1. Ashley Lahey, Pepperdine
2. Cameron Morra, North Carolina
3. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
T4. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
T4. Anna Turati, Texas
6. Abigail Forbes, UCLA
7. Michaela Gordon, Stanford
8. Alexa Graham, North Carolina
9. Jada Hart, UCLA
10. Kelly Chen, Duke

Women's Division I Doubles Fall Top 5:
1. Alana Smith and Anna Rogers, NC State
2. Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart, UCLA
3. Rebeka Stolmar and Marie Mattel, Central Florida
4. Jessie Gong and Samantha Martinelli, Yale
5. Cameron Morra and Makenna Jones, North Carolina

Men's Division I Singles Fall Top 10:
1. Daniel Cukierman, USC
2. Yuya Ito, Texas
3. Valentin Vacherot, Texas A&M
4. Sam Riffice, Florida
5. Richard Ciamarra, Notre Dame
6. Jack Lin, Columbia
7. Keegan Smith, UCLA
8. Joseph Guillin, UC Santa Barbara
9. Mor Bulis, USC
10. Hady Habib, Texas A&M

Men's Division I Doubles Fall Top 5:
1. Matej Vocel and Dominik Kellovsky, Oklahoma State
2. Robert Cash and John McNally, Ohio State
3. Jackie Tang and Jack Lin, Columbia
4. Christian Sigsgaard and Yuya Ito, Texas
5. Andrew Fenty and Mattias Siimar, Michigan

Mike and Bob Bryan announced today that they are retiring after the 2020 US Open. The twins, now 41, made their debut at the US Open in 1995 after winning the Kalamazoo 18s title, and have played that slam 25 times, with Bob winning five men's doubles title there and Mike six. There is little disagreement about their place in tennis history and they are certain to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as soon as they become eligible. For more on all their accomplishments and their plans for 2020, see this article from usopen.org.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Qualifying Complete, Main Draw Matches Underway at Orlando Men's and Women's $25Ks; Bellis Wins Again, Di Lorenzo Retires at Houston's WTA 125; UCLA's Smith Advances to Third Round at Champaign Challenger

This week's $25,000 tournaments are being play on the Har-Tru courts of the USTA's National Campus in Lake Nona Florida, as a part of the the Oracle Pro Series. The women's tournament was always on the schedule for Orlando, but the men were originally scheduled for their $25,000 event this week in Tuscaloosa Alabama. That has been cancelled and the men's event added to the women's event this week.

Qualifying was completed today, with just one American man and three American women earning places in the main draw. Recent Florida graduate Alfredo Perez lost only one game in his two qualifying wins, beating top qualifying seed Mwendwa Mbithi 6-0, 6-0 today to advance to the main draw. The US women moving into the main draw with wins today are Chanelle Van Nguyen(UCLA), Dasha Ivanova and Tori Kinard.

Wild cards into the women's draw were awarded to teenagers Carly Briggs, Alexandra Yepifanova and Elvina Kalieva, as well as former Duke star Maria Mateas. All three of the junior wild cards lost their first round matches today. Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands is the top seed. The 28-year-old from the Netherlands has won nine titles at the $25,000 level this year and is now back in the WTA Top 100 after reaching a career-high of 61 back in 2012. Claire Liu and Alycia Parks are the only other Americans, aside from the qualifiers and wild cards in the main draw.

Wild cards into the men's draw all went to teenagers: Toby Kodat, Martin Damm, Emilio Nava and North Carolina recruit Logan Zapp. Nava and Zapp met today in the first round, with Nava coming away with a 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 win. Kodat and Damm both play qualifiers in the first round Wednesday. 

The top seed was twice a point away from going out in the first round today, with 20-year-old Javier Barranco Cosano of Spain saving two match points serving at 3-5 in the third set and going on to defeat former LSU Tiger Justin Butsch 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(1).

Francesa Di Lorenzo's opportunity to earn the USTA's Australian Open wild card was hijacked this evening in Houston, when the former Ohio State star was forced to retired with a shoulder injury in her second round WTA 125 match with Canadian Eugenie Bouchard. No. 8 seed Di Lorenzo, who was in second place in the race after winning a title earlier this month in Toronto, trails Katerina Stewart in this final week of competition for the wild card. There are a number of other Americans in the Houston draw who can still pass Stewart, who is not playing this week, including Cici Bellis, who is into the third round with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5) win over No. 16 seed Varvara Lepchenko, her third win in three days.

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign Illinois, UCLA junior Keegan Smith, a wild card, earned his best ranking win, defeating former Baylor standout Roy Smith, the No. 16 seed, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) to advance to the third round of a Challenger for the first time.  He will face No. 4 seed Mikael Torpegaard(Ohio State) of Denmark next.

Denis Kudla is the top seed and he will take on Stefan Kozlov in the second round Wednesday.

Last night, Brandon Nakashima kept his hopes alive for the USTA's Australian Open wild card, although he will have to win the tournament in Champaign to pass Michael Mmoh. Nakashima defeated Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern) 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-1 and will play No. 6 seed Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) tomorrow. Free live streaming, with Mike Cation doing commentary, is available at the ATP Challenger website.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Chervinsky Sweeps, Anthrop Earns Another Title at ITF Grade 4 in Boca Raton; Stewart, Mmoh Lead USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Race; Bellis Comeback Begins with Houston Wins; Eddie Herr Announces Admission Charge

After a day of rain on Saturday, the ITF Grade 4 in Boca Raton concluded on Sunday, with Elaine Chervinsky winning both the singles and doubles titles and Jack Anthrop earning his third title on the Junior Circuit this fall.

No. 3 seed Chervinsky, who turns 16 on Sunday, defeated No. 5 seed Lan Mi of China, who turns 15 Friday, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-0 in the final. Virginia recruit Chervinsky, who was a finalist at this event last year, trains at the Evert Academy, which hosts the tournament. Chervinsky partnered with another Evert Academy student, Makayla Mills, for the doubles title, with the No. 6 seeds beating top seeds Cadence Brance of Canada and Qavia Lopez 5-7, 6-1, 10-6. With the titles, Chervinsky has moved up to a career-high of 159 in the ITF Junior rankings.

Top seed Jack Anthrop, who turned 16 last week, won back-to-back titles at the Grade 5 in Austin and the Grade 4 in Corpus Christi and he earned another title with a 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1 win over No. 2 seed Bruno Kuzuhara. Anthrop fell just short of matching Chervinsky's sweep, with No. 5 seeds Ozan Colak and Hugo Hashimoto beating No. 2 seeds Anthrop and Braden Schick 6-2, 6-1 in the final. Colak and Hashimoto have won the last three tournaments they've played together, all Grade 4s this fall.

The USTA provided an update on its Australian Open Wild Card Challenge with Michael Mmoh taking over the top spot in the men's race and Katerina Stewart maintaining her lead in the women's race with one week to go. Mmoh, who won the Knoxville Challenger yesterday, leads Brandon Nakashima(Virginia) 80-36, with Mmoh playing the Oracle Series Houston Challenger and Nakashima playing the ATP 80 Challenger in Champaign. With 125 points on offer in Houston, any American who wins it could pass Mmoh, depending on how far Mmoh goes in the draw.

Stewart, who won her title at the $80,000 tournament in Macon three weeks ago, leads Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State), who won her title at the $60,000 tournament in Toronto two weeks ago 116-88. Stewart had an ankle sprain that led to a retirement last week in Las Vegas and she is not entered in the WTA 125 in Houston, while Di Lorenzo is the No. 8 seed.

The updated numbers for both men and women are here.

Speaking of Houston, Cici Bellis, the 2014 USTA Girls 18s champion, has finally returned to competition after more than 18 months out due to wrist surgeries. Bellis took a wild card into qualifying, won that match over Alexa Glatch 6-4, 6-3 yesterday and then beat Australian Ellen Perez(Georgia) in today's first round match 6-3, 6-2.

IMG announced today that admission will be charged for the Eddie Herr tournament, which begins December 2 at the Academy in Bradenton Florida. Previously, there was a parking charge, but admission to the site was free. I am not sure how this impacts parents and coaches, as the only reference I've seen to the fee is below.
There is also mention on the website of a new requirement that players must stay at the IMG Academy dorms, hotel or book accommodations through the tournament's travel agency. I understand there has been some resistance to this concept and I expect to hear more on that requirement from the USTA in the coming days.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Texas's Ito and North Carolina's Daavettila Win Titles at Oracle ITA National Fall Championships; Mmoh Takes Knoxville Challenger Title

Top seed Yuya Ito of Texas came from a break down in the third set to defeat unseeded Damon Kesaris of St. Mary's 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, earning his second consecutive ITA major title. North Carolina senior Sara Daavettila, seeded No. 8, won her first major singles championship, avenging her recent loss to No. 6 seed Anna Turati of Texas with a 7-6(5), 6-1 victory in the women's final at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Newport Beach California.

Ito couldn't hold onto the break he earned in the opening set, but at 5-5 in the first he broke Kesaris for a second time, and converted his third set point with an overhead winner.

Kesaris dropped the first game of the second set, and it appeared the senior from South Africa was in trouble, but he got the break back and held, with the first three games of the second set all going to a deciding point. Kesaris broke for a second time and that was all he needed, with Ito, a senior from Japan, committing more unforced errors than usual. 

Kesaris broke in the third game of the final set, but after holding for a 3-1 lead, he didn't win another game. Ito got back on serve by breaking Kesaris on a deciding point for 3-3, and on Kesaris's next service game, he could not convert either of his two game points from 40-15 up and Ito forced an error on the deciding point to earn the break. Kesaris, the first player from St. Mary's to appear in major final, kept fighting and had three chances to get the break back with Ito serving for the match, but two good serves and a forehand winner on another deciding point gave Ito the title.

Ito, who was the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA National Team Championships in May, is the first player to win both the All-American Championship and the Fall Nationals (formerly the Intercollegiate Indoor Championships) in the same year since Virginia's Mitchell Frank won both in 2011.
Daavettila had lost to Turati 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(7) in the quarterfinals of the All-American Championships last month, but once she took the first set, the Michigan native's pace was too much for the senior from Italy. Daavettila plays with little margin of error, aggressively going for lines, and she made almost no unforced errors in the second set. Serving for the match she went up 40-15, but a rare unforced error and some world class defense from Turati sent that game to a deciding point. After missing her first serve, Daavettila surprised Turati with an underhand serve and then took Turati's return and directed a forehand past her on the line for the title.

I wrote an article for the Tennis Recruiting Network about Daavettila's commitment to North Carolina more than four years ago, which can be found here.

UCLA's Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart won the women's doubles title, with the No. 5 seeds defeating top seeds Anna Rogers and Alana Smith of North Carolina State 6-4, 6-3.  No. 2 seeds Dominik Kellovsky and Matej Vocel of Oklahoma State won the men's doubles title, beating Ohio State's Robert Cash and John McNally, the No. 8 seeds, 6-4, 1-6, 10-4.

St. Mary's Mariia Kozyreva won the women's consolation title, beating Georgia's Vivian Wolff 6-5, 7-6(7) and Gabriel Decamps of Central Florida won the men's consolation title, beating South Carolina's Raphael Lambling 6-4, 6-4.  Wolff and Eleni Christofi of Georgian won the women's doubles consolation title, beating Yale's Jessie Gong and Samantha Martinelli 6-1, 2-6, 10-8. Michigan's Andrew Fenty and Mattias Siimar won the men's doubles consolation title, beating Iowa's Will Davies and Oliver Okonkwo 6-1, 6-1.

Ito and Daavettila were the recipients of the sportsmanship awards.

The Turati twins went one for two in finals today, with Bianca taking the title at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Malibu. Bianca defeated 17-year-old Katie Volynets 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in a three-hour and 15 minute final for her second $25K title of the year. Down 4-1 in the third set, Volynets got it back to 4-all, but she was broken in her next service game and Turati closed it out.

At the men's $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Malibu, No. 2 seed Daniel Altmaier of Germany defeated Alex Sarkissian(Pepperdine) 6-2, 6-4 in the singles final. Top seeds Junior Ore(Texas A&M) and Alejandro Gomez(Kentucky) of Colombia won the doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Austin Rapp(UCLA) and Martin Redlicki(UCLA) 6-3, 6-7(14), 10-7.

Mayo Hibi of Japan won the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Las Vegas, beating Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in the final. No. 3 seeds Olga Govortsova of Belarus and Mandy Minella of Luxembourg won the double title, beating unseeded Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

Michael Mmoh won his first title of year today at the ATP Challenger 80 in Knoxville Tennessee, with the 2016 Kalamazoo 18s champion defeating No. 8 seed Christopher O'Connell of Australia 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Mmoh, who was out more than three months due to injury this year, moves his ranking to 237 with the title, improving his prospects for the Australian Open qualifying. He also now has a significant lead in the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge with one week to go. Mmoh is entered in next week's Oracle Challenger series tournament in Houston. 

The doubles title in Knoxville went to the unseeded team of Hans Hach Verdugo(Abilene Christian) of Mexico and Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain, who defeated unseeded Bradley Klahn(Stanford) and Sem Verbeek(Pacific) of the Netherlands 7-6(6), 4-6, 10-5 in the final.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Finals Set at ITA National Fall Championships; Volynets Reaches Malibu $25K Final; Houghton Wins ITF Grade 2 Title in Peru; Coleman, Krug Earn Grade 3 Titles

Sunday's finals are set at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships, with Texas's Yuya Ito going for his second straight major title against Damon Kesaris of St. Mary's and Anna Turati of Texas taking on Sara Daavettila of North Carolina in the women's final.

Ito, a senior from Japan, lost his first set of the tournament in today's semifinal, but recovered for a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 win over unseeded Valentin Vacherot of Texas A&M.  The unseeded Kesaris, a senior from South Africa, defeated unseeded Richard Ciamarra of Notre Dame 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 to become the first St. Mary's player to reach an Division I major final. 

John McNally and Robert Cash of Ohio State, seeded eighth, have reached the men's doubles final, and they will play the winner of tonight's match between No. 2 seeds Matej Vocel and Dominik Kellovsky of Oklahoma State and No. 6 seeds Franco Aubone and Benjamin Hannestad of Miami.

No. 8 seed Daavettila defeated reigning NCAA champion Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to reach the final, while Turati, the No. 6 seed, beat unseeded Megan Davies of South Carolina 6-3, 6-4. Both Daavettila and Turati are seniors.

In the women's doubles final, No. 5 seeds Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart of UCLA will face top seeds Anna Rogers and Alana Smith of North Carolina State.

The finals will be streamed live via ESPN3, and will be broadcast on tape delay next week on ESPNU.  Links and full draws can be found at the ITA tournament page.  Live scoring is available at Tennisticker.

Anna Turati's twin sister Bianca opted to play the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Malibu, rather than the ITA Fall Nationals, and she has also reached the final. Bianca defeated unseeded Claire Liu 6-3, 6-2 and will play unseeded Katie Volynets for her second $25,000 Pro Circuit title Sunday. The 17-year-old Volynets beat qualifier Katrina Scott 6-2, 6-2 to reach her first Pro Circuit final.

In the doubles final, top seeds Dalma Galfi of Hungary and Kimberley Zimmerman of Belgium defeated No. 4 seeds Lorraine Guillermo(Pepperdine) and Anna Hertel of Poland 7-6(5), 6-3.

Michael Mmoh has advanced to the final of the ATP Challenger 80 in Knoxville, assuring himself of the lead in the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge with one more week to go.  Mmoh, who is unseeded, defeated unseeded Liam Broady of Great Britain 6-2, 7-6(5) in the semifinals and will face No. 8 seed Christopher O'Connell of Australia in Sunday's final. O'Connell defeated top seed Tommy Paul 7-6(3), 6-3 in today's other semifinal.

For the third straight week, the results of the ITF Junior Circuit final matches in the US have not been available on the ITF Junior website, so I will have to wait on the the Grade 4 Boca Raton information, but four Americans won titles this weekend at the Grade 3 in Anguilla and India Houghton claimed the singles title at the Grade 2 in Lima Peru.

Houghton, who has verbally committed to Stanford, was unseeded at the event, but she defeated three seeds, including No. 2 seed Giulia Morlet of France in the semifinals. In the final, Houghton, a 17-year-old from Northern California, downed No. 8 seed Tina Smith of Australia 6-3, 6-0 for her third career ITF singles title and the first above the Grade 4 level. No. 15 seed Lorenzo Claverie of Venezuela won the boys singles title with a 6-2, 7-6(1) win over No. 2 seed Gustavo Heide of Brazil.

In Aguilla, Ellie Coleman, the top seed in both singles and doubles, won both. The 16-year-old from Michigan beat four Americans to take her first ITF Junior Circuit singles title, with No. 4 seed Sofia Camilla Rojas falling in the final by a 6-2, 7-6(3) score. Coleman and Sasha Wood took the doubles title with a 6-1, 6-4 win over unseeded Cora Barber of Germany and Gabriella Broadfoot of South Africa.

Connor Krug celebrated his 17th birthday with his first singles title on the ITF Junior Circuit. Dick Vitale's grandson, seeded No. 8, beat unseeded Gabrielius Guzauskas 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(2) in the final. Guzauskas prevented an all-Krug final by beating Connor's twin Jake 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals. Timothy Phung won the doubles title, partnering with Fnu Nidunjianzan of China. The unseeded pair defeated Nicholas Godsick and Ellis Short, also unseeded, 6-2, 7-5 in the final.

Friday, November 8, 2019

My Article on JJ Tracy Choosing Ohio State; Four Unseeded Semifinalists at Oracle ITA Fall Nationals; Three US Teens Reach Malibu $25K Semifinals

JJ Tracy is heading to Ohio State next fall, and last month at the ITF Pan American Closed Grade B1, I had an opportunity to talk with him about his decision to join the Buckeyes for this Tennis Recruiting Network article. This is the last article in TRN's Countdown to Signing Week, which begins Monday. Wednesday is the first day a high school senior can sign a National Letter of Intent.

At the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships, both the round of 16 and the quarterfinals in singles competition were played today in Newport Beach California. Three of the four men's semifinalists are unseeded, with the one seeded player No. 1 Yuya Ito of Texas. Ito plays Texas A&M's Valentin Vacherot while Damon Kesaris of St. Mary's takes on Richard Ciamarra of Notre Dame.

Only one unseeded player remains in the women's semifinals: South Carolina's Megan Davies, who will play No. 6 seed Anna Turati of Texas. The other semifinals features No. 8 seed Sara Daavettila of North Carolina against NCAA champion Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami, the No. 5 seed.  After two easy wins for the No. 1, 2, and 3 seeds from UCLA in the first two days, none of the three Bruins were able to advance past the quarterfinals.  Below are all the singles results from the round of 16 and quarterfinals.  Live scoring can be found here.

Men’s Round of 16 results:
Yuya Ito[1], Texas d. Adrian Boitan, Baylor 7-6(6), 6-3
Jack Lin[8], Columbia d. Daniel Rodrigues[10], South Carolina 2-6, 6-3, 6-1
Daniel Cukierman[4], USC d. Cannon Kingsley[14], Ohio State 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
Valentin Vacherot, Texas A&M d. Sven Lah, Baylor 3-6, 6-4 1-0 ret.
Damon Kesaris, St. Mary’s d. Giovanni Oradini, Mississippi State 7-5, 6-2
Christian Sigsgaard[11], Texas d. John McNally[3], Ohio State 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Hady Habib[6], Texas A&M d. Joseph Guillin[13], UC-Santa Barbara 7-6(2), 6-0
Richard Ciamarra, Notre Dame d. Philip Henning, Georgia 6-3, 6-1

Men’s Quarterfinal results:
Yuya Ito[1], Texas d. Jack Lin[8], Columbia 6-3, 6-3
Valentin Vacherot, Texas A&M d. Daniel Cukierman[4], USC 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
Richard Ciamarra, Notre Dame d. Hady Habib[6], Texas A&M 7-6(5), 6-3
Damon Kesaris, St. Marys, d. Christian Sigsgaard[11], Texas w/o


Women’s Round of 16 results:
Kelly Chen[11], Duke d. Elysia Bolton[1], UCLA 6-4, 6-4
Anna Turati[6], Texas d. Georgia Drummy[10], Vanderbilt 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
Haley Giavara, Cal d. Alexa Graham[4], North Carolina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Megan Davies, South Carolina d. Shiori Fukuda[7], Ohio State 6-4, 6-2
Sara Daavettila[8], North Carolina d. Lexi Ryngler, Texas 6-4, 6-3
Mia Horvit[15], South Carolina d. Jada Hart[3], UCLA 3-6, 6-0, 6-4
Estela Perez-Somarriba[5], Miami d. Bunyawi Thamchaiwat[16], Oklahoma State 3-6, 6-4, 6-0
Abigail Forbes[2], UCLA d. Cameron Morra[12], North Carolina 6-3, 6-1

Women’s Quarterfinal results:
Anna Turati[6], Texas d. Kelly Chen[11] 7-6(5), 6-7(7), 6-4
Megan Davies, South Carolina d. Haley Giavara, Cal 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4
Sara Daavettila[8], North Carolina d. Mia Horvit[15], South Carolina 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
Estela Perez-Somarriba[5], Miami d. Abigail Forbes[2], UCLA 6-2, 6-3

Three of the four semifinalists at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Malibu are unseeded teenagers: Katie Volynets, Katrina Scott and Claire Liu.

Volynets, 17, defeated wild card Ashley Lahey(Pepperdine) 2-6, 6-2, 6-3; qualifier Scott, 15, beat unseeded Kimberley Zimmerman of Belgium 7-6(1), 7-5 and Liu, 19, downed wild card Jessica Failla(Pepperdine) 6-3, 6-2. Scott and Volynets will meet in the top half semifinal, with Liu taking on Bianca Turati, the University of Texas senior from Italy, in the bottom half semifinal. Turati defeated No. 2 seed Jovana Jaksic of Serbia 6-3, 6-0 in today's quarterfinals. 

Three Americans are also in the men's semifinals at their $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Malibu. Felix Corwin(Minnesota) will face Alexander Sarkissian(Pepperdine) in the top half semifinal, with No. 4 seed Collin Altamirano(Virginia) playing No. 2 seed Daniel Altmaier of Germany in the bottom half semifinal. 

No Americans reached the semifinals of the $60,000 Women's USTA Pro Circuit event in Las Vegas, with Alexa Glatch losing to Mayo Hibi of Japan today, No. 8 seed Caroline Dolehide falling to No. 3 seed Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine and No. 5 seed Varvara Lepchenko losing to Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine. Kalinina will face Katherine Sebov of Canada in the top half semifinal between unseeded players.

The semifinals are set at the ATP Challenger 80 in Knoxville, with top seed Tommy Paul facing No. 8 seed Christopher O'Connell of Australia and Michael Mmoh playing Liam Broady of Great Britain. Mmoh defeated Aleks Kovacevic 6-4, 6-3 today, but the University of Illinois senior won three matches this week to reach his first Challenger quarterfinal and earned his best win on the Pro Circuit with a 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 second round decision over No. 3 seed Bradley Klahn, 105 in the ATP rankings.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Lahey Beats Top Seed, Scott Advances to Quarterfinals at Malibu $25K; Smith Falls in Second Round at ITA Fall Nationals; Tiafoe Reaches ATP NextGen Semifinals

Pepperdine senior Ashley Lahey, who won the ITA All-American title last month in Tulsa, is not playing the Oracle ITA Fall National Championships, opting instead to take a wild card into the $25,000 Oracle Pro Series tournament in Malibu this week. So far that choice has paid off, with the 20-year-old reaching the quarterfinals after a 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-3 win over top seed Olga Danilovic of Serbia, currently 187 in the WTA rankings.  Lahey's quarterfinal opponent will be unseeded 17-year-old Katie Volynets, the USTA 18s national champion, who beat No. 8 seed Leonie Kung of Switzerland 7-6(5), 6-4. Lahey's Pepperdine teammate Jessica Failla, also a wild card, defeated Olivia Tjandramulia of Australia 6-3, 6-2 to join her in the quarterfinals.

Katrina Scott, who hasn't played since Junior Fed Cup at the end of September, qualified for the main draw in Malibu, and the 15-year-old Southern Californian has advanced to her first Pro Circuit quarterfinal. Scott, who won a match in women's qualifying at the US Open and reached the quarterfinals of the Junior Championships in New York, defeated No. 4 seed Dalma Galfi of Hungary, the 2015 US Open girls champion, 7-6(2), 6-4 today.

At the Oracle ITA Fall National Championships, No. 2 seed Keegan Smith of UCLA lost in today's second round action, with Notre Dame's Richard Ciamarra coming back for a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory. No. 5 seed Adam Walton of Tennessee lost to Valentin Vacherot of Texas A&M 6-0, 6-3 and No. 7 seed Matias Soto of Baylor was beaten by Giovanni Oradini of Mississippi State 6-7(2), 7-5, 6-1. Top seed Yuya Ito of Texas, the men's All-American champion, defeated Riley Smith of USC 6-3, 6-3.

The three top-seeded UCLA women--Bolton[1], Forbes[2] and Hart[3]--all won again today in straight sets.

Fall Nationals Seeds:
Men:
1. Yuya Ito, Texas
2. Keegan Smith, UCLA (out 2nd rd)
3. John McNally, Ohio State
4. Daniel Cukierman, USC
5. Adam Walton, Tennessee (out 2nd rd)
6. Hady Habib, Texas A&M
7. Matias Soto, Baylor (out 2nd rd)
8. Jack Lin, Columbia
9. Ondrej Styler, Michigan (out 1st rd)
10. Daniel Rodrigues, South Carolina
11. Christian Sigsgaard, Texas
12. Matej Vocel, Oklahoma State (out 2nd rd)
13. Joseph Guillin, UC-Santa Barbara
14. Cannon Kingsley, Ohio State
15. Kyle Seelig, Ohio State (out 1st rd)
16. Zeke Clark, Illinois (out 2nd rd)

Women:
1. Elysia Bolton, UCLA
2. Abigail Forbes, UCLA
3. Jada Hart, UCLA
4. Alexa Graham, North Carolina
5. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
6. Anna Turati, Texas
7. Shiori Fukuda, Ohio State
8. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
9. McCartney Kessler, Florida (out 1st rd)
10. Georgia Drummy, Vanderbilt
11. Kelly Chen, Duke
12. Cameron Morra, North Carolina
13. Adriana Reami, North Carolina State (out 2nd rd)
14. Michaela Gordon, Stanford (out 2nd rd)
15. Mia Horvit, South Carolina
16. Bunyawi Thamchaiwat, Oklahoma State

Live scoring can be found at TennisTicker. Live streaming links to Center Court matches can be found here.

Frances Tiafoe has advanced out of his round robin group into the semifinals of the ATP NextGen Finals in Milan Italy. Tiafoe defeated Mikael Ymer of Sweden 4-2, 4-2, 4-2 in today's final round robin match to finish 2-1 and second in his group, to Jannik Sinner of Italy. Tiafoe will face Alex de Minaur of Australia in the semifinals, after de Minaur finished undefeated in the other round robin group. Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia will face Sinner in the other semifinal Friday. For more on Tiafoe's win today, see this article from the ATP website.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Top Seeds Advance at ITA Fall Nationals; 18-yo Qualifiers Subhash, Parks Advance at Las Vegas $60K; Six Current Collegians Receive Wild Cards into Oracle Challenger Series in Houston


The first round of singles is complete at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Newport Beach California, with very few upsets. (I'm happy to see seedings numerically from 1-16 instead of the 5-8, 9-16 method that is so popular in college tennis). The trio of top-seeded UCLA women advanced, with Forbes winning 0 & 0, Hart 1 & 1 and Bolton 2 & 2. Top men's seeds Ito, Smith and McNally won, with only McNally needing three sets.  Only three seeds lost in total, all in the 9-16 range, as noted below.

It's always exciting for the non-Division I players to get a win, with ITA Cup champions Elyse Lavender(NAIA) of Brenau and Justine Leong(D-III) of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps advancing to the women's second round and Gabriel Ortiz of Seward County Community College(JUCO) advancing to the men's second round.

Live scoring is available via TennisTicker, with first round doubles matches continuing this evening.

Men:
1. Yuya Ito, Texas
2. Keegan Smith, UCLA
3. John McNally, Ohio State
4. Daniel Cukierman, USC
5. Adam Walton, Tennessee
6. Hady Habib, Texas A&M
7. Matias Soto, Baylor
8. Jack Lin, Columbia
9. Ondrej Styler, Michigan (out 1st rd)
10. Daniel Rodrigues, South Carolina
11. Christian Sigsgaard, Texas
12. Matej Vocel, Oklahoma State
13. Joseph Guillin, UC-Santa Barbara
14. Cannon Kingsley, Ohio State
15. Kyle Seelig, Ohio State (out 1st rd)
16. Zeke Clark, Illinois

Women:
1. Elysia Bolton, UCLA
2. Abigail Forbes, UCLA
3. Jada Hart, UCLA
4. Alexa Graham, North Carolina
5. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
6. Anna Turati, Texas
7. Shiori Fukuda, Ohio State
8. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
9. McCartney Kessler, Florida (out 1st rd)
10. Georgia Drummy, Vanderbilt
11. Kelly Chen, Duke
12. Cameron Morra, North Carolina
13. Adriana Reami, North Carolina State
14. Michaela Gordon, Stanford
15. Mia Horvit, South Carolina
16. Bunyawi Thamchaiwat, Oklahoma State

Virginia freshman Natasha Subhash  was scheduled to compete at the Fall Nationals this week but qualified for the $60,000 tournament in Las Vegas yesterday and withdrew from the collegiate event to continue on in the main draw. Today she picked up her second win at the $60K level, beating Johanna Larson of Sweden, a former WTA Top 50 player, 6-3, 6-2.  Another 18-year-old qualifier, Alycia Parks, earned the best win of her young career, beating WTA No. 95 and top seed Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. With Flipkens' loss and the retirement yesterday of No. 2 seed Patricia Tig of Romania, No. 3 seed Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine is the highest seed remaining. Zavatska advanced when wild card Katerina Stewart retired leading 3-2 in the first set.

Next week is the Oracle Challenger Series event at Rice University in Houston, which consists of a WTA 125 tournament and an ATP Challenger 125. The wild card list was published today, with a total of six currently collegians awarded main draw spots. Former collegian Danielle Collins(Virginia), currently 31 in the WTA rankings, is competing for the first time since announcing she has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and has accepted a wild card. Coco Vandeweghe and Bethanie Mattek-Sands also received main draw wild cards, as did Katarina Jokic, the Georgia junior from Serbia. Jokic earned an Oracle wild card for winning last year's Fall Nationals. Rice's Linda Huang also was given a main draw wild card.  Cici Bellis, finally back after over 18 months out for injury, received a qualifying wild card, as did Jamie Loeb.

Seventeen-year-old Zane Khan received a main draw wild card, as did Florida's Oliver Crawford, UCLA's Govind Nanda, USC's Brandon Holt and Rice's Sumit Sarkar.

For the wild card announcement, go to the Challenger Series website.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Parry, Fernandez Head Orange Bowl and Eddie Herr ITF Acceptances; Oracle Pro Series in Malibu This Week; Subhash Qualifies at Las Vegas $60K

The question of who is seriously pursuing the year-end ITF World Junior Championship was answered today, at least in part, when both Diane Parry of France and Leylah Fernandez of Canada entered next month's Grade 1 Eddie Herr and Grade A Orange Bowl. Parry, who is currently No. 1 in the ITF junior rankings after winning the Osaka Grade A and the ITF Junior Finals, pulled out of the Grade A in Mexico, where she is the defending champion, but entered the last two tournaments of the year.  Fernandez, currently No. 3 in the ITF Junior rankings, is the surprise entry, as the French Open girls champion has not played a junior event since taking the title in Paris. It's possible that one or both will pull out, of course, but it does add some intrigue to the two events, with those two the only Top 10 players currently in the field.

Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan is currently No. 3 in the ITF Junior rankings, and the Wimbledon champion has entered both events, as well as the Grade A in Mexico. Current No. 1 Holger Rune of Denmark, who took over the top spot when he won the title at the Junior finals last month, is still entered in Mexico, but did not enter the Eddie Herr or Orange Bowl. 

Martin Damm, currently No. 5, has entered both tournaments, but the other two Americans in the Top 10, Emilio Nava and Toby Kodat, are not entered in either event. Zane Khan, who reached the final of the Orange Bowl last year, is playing the Mexico Grade A, but did not enter the US tournaments.

Here are the American boys who received direct entry into the Orange Bowl main draw, with the cutoff at 130:

Martin Damm
Dali Blanch
Andrew Dale
Welsh Hotard
Micah Braswell
Alex Bernard
Aidan Mayo

The same seven American boys are entered in the Eddie Herr, which has a cutoff of 126, with three boys, none of them Americans, entered in the Eddie Herr but not the Orange Bowl. ITF No. 14, Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, is entered in the Eddie Herr, but not the Orange Bowl.

As far as the US girls go, quite a few of the top Americans are not playing either US event, with Emma Navarro[4], Alexa Noel[5] and Hurricane Tyra Black[11] all of whom played the tournaments last year, not entered.

Two US girls, Robin Montgomery and Katrina Scott, are playing the Orange Bowl but not the Eddie Herr. Both are playing the Grade A in Mexico and are taking a week off in between that tournament and the Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl cutoff for the girls is 108, and at the Eddie Herr it's 111.

In addition to Montgomery and Scott, these are the US girls in the Orange Bowl:
Alexandra Yepifanova
Savannah Broadus
Skyler Grishuk
Charlotte Chavatipon
Charlotte Owensby
Jenna DeFalco
Kailey Evans
Emma Jackson
Elvina Kalieva

All nine are also entered in the Eddie Herr. Ellie Coleman is in the main draw at Eddie Herr and next in at the Orange Bowl. Including Coleman, there are 16 US girls in Orange Bowl qualifying, but just six US boys.

The USTA Pro Circuit this week features a joint event in Malibu, with both the men's and women's tournaments at the $25,000 level. Several collegians who could be competing at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships, which begin tomorrow in Newport Beach California are playing here instead, including Stanford's Axel Geller, USC's Brandon Holt and Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey. 

Matias Descotte of Argentina was the top men's seed, but he was beaten in today's first round match by Alexander Cozbinov(UNLV) of Moldova 7-6(7), 6-2.  Wild cards were given to Pepperdine sophomore Corrado Summaria of Italy, Alexander Lebedev(Notre Dame), Alexandre Rotsaert(Stanford) and Pepperdine senior Adrian Oetzbach of Germany. Americans qualifying today are Spencer Papa(Oklahoma), Joshua Ortlip(Cal Poly), Reese Stalder(TCU), Drew Baird(UCLA) and Michael Shabaz(Virginia). 

In addition to Lahey, wild cards went to Pepperdine sophomore Anastasia Iamachkine of Peru (they play each other), Pepperdine graduate student Jessica Failla and North Carolina recruit Reilly Tran. The top seed is 18-year-old Olga Danilovic of Serbia. Americans Anastasia Nefedova, Kylie McKenzie, Sarah Lee(Michigan), Ellie Douglas(TCU) and Katrina Scott qualified for the main draw with wins today.

The top seed at the $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit women's event in Las Vegas is Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, with wild cards going to Fanny Stoller of Hungary, Grace Min, Jamie Loeb(North Carolina) and Katerina Stewart.

Virginia freshman Natasha Subhash, who was scheduled to compete in the ITA Fall Nationals beginning tomorrow, qualified today by beating No. 3 seed Giuliana Olmos(USC) of Mexico 2-6, 6-1, 10-6.

Other Americans qualifying for the main draw today in Las Vegas are Charlotte Chavatipon, Alycia Parks and Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame).

Monday, November 4, 2019

Yu, Banerjee, Bhakta Win ITF Junior Circuit Titles; Stewart, Nakashima Lead USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge with Two Weeks Remaining

Eleana Yu, who turns 15 on Friday, won her second straight ITF Grade 4 title yesterday in Lexington South Carolina, after several days of rain led to abbreviated scoring and extended the tournament an extra day.
I have no idea why the scores of the singles finals have yet to be posted, but Yu did receive the winner's points, and I understand the No. 13 seed beat No. 4 seed Allie Gretkowski in three sets in the final. (Update: Yu d. Gretkowski 3-6, 6-3, 6-4). Yu, who won the ITF in Atlanta two weeks ago, also in a rain-plagued week, is up to 350 in the ITF rankings after being at 1333 in April.

Seventeen-year-old Samuel Paquette of Canada, seeded No. 3, defeated No. 2 seed JJ Tracy 7-5, 6-3 in the boys final. Paquette, who has committed to Cornell, and Tracy, who is signing with Ohio State, both train at the Smith Stearns Academy in Hilton Head South Carolina.

No. 3 seeds Ozan Colak and Hugo Hashimoto won the boys doubles title, beating No. 5 seeds Aidan Kim and Lucas Brown 6-3 6-2 in the final. Carson Tanguilig, who won the title two weeks ago in Atlanta with Gretkowski, earned her second straight doubles title this week, with Sophie Williams. The No. 5 seeds defeated the Swedish team of Ida Johansson and Agnes Mitteregger, seeded sixth, 6-0, 6-1 in the final.

At the Grade 5 in Curacao, 16-year-old Samir Banerjee swept the titles in just the third appearance in an ITF Junior Circuit event. The unseeded Banerjee did not drop a set in his five wins, beating unseeded Yannik Rahman 6-2, 6-3 in the singles final. Banerjee partnered with Jacob Lowen to win another all-US final in the doubles. The unseeded pair defeated top seeds Sam Scherer and Azuma Visaya 2-6 6-4, 10-7 for the title. Charlotte Cartledge gave the US three titles, partnering with Luana Avelar of Brazil for the girls doubles title. The No. 3 seeds defeated top seeds Cora Barber of Germany and Jingyi Li of China 5-7, 6-4, 10-3 in the final.

At the Grade 5 in Cancun Mexico, 14-year-old Ria Bhakta won her first ITF Junior Circuit title without much resistance. The unseeded Bhakta lost only 10 games in her five matches, beating three seeds en route to the final, where she beat unseeded Vanesa Suarez of Venezuela 6-1 6-3. Cecilia Alcobe Garibay won the girls doubles title with Ana Paula Chavez Sanchez of Mexico. The No. 2 seeds defeated Maria Elean Munoz Colin and Sofia Isabel Teran Rios of Mexico, the No. 4 seeds, 6-1, 6-2 in the final.

The final ITF Junior Circuit tournament of the month in the United States is this week's Grade 4 in Boca Raton Florida. Jack Anthrop and Charlotte Owensby are the top seeds.

The USTA's update on its Australian Open Wild Card Challenge went out today and the release follows.  Women's leader Katerina Stewart is playing the $60,000 event in Las Vegas as a wild card after taking last week off. After reaching the semifinals last week at the Charlottesville Challenger, men's leader Brandon Nakashima received a wild card into this week's ATP Challenger 80 in Knoxville and defeated Filip Peliwo of Canada 6-2, 6-2 in the first round tonight.


Francesca Di Lorenzo, Danielle Lao and Shelby Rogers All Within 35 Points of Leader Katerina Stewart in Women's Challenge

Brandon Nakashima Leads Men's Challenge After Week 1

November 4, 2019 -- Former college stars Francesca Di Lorenzo and Danielle Lao and 2016 French Open quarterfinalist Shelby Rogers have all positioned themselves to possibly overtake Katerina Stewart in the next two weeks to clinch the women's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. 

All three players are within 35 points of Stewart, with the former Ohio State standout Di Lorenzo in second place after winning the singles title at the W60 event in Toronto last week. Di Lorenzo leads the former USC star Lao by four points and Rogers by eight, while former US Open girls' finalist Alexa Glatch banked 70 points and sits in fifth place thanks to a run to the singles final at the W80 in Tyler, Texas. Click here to view the full Challenge standings.

After Week 1 of the Men's Challenge, current University of Virginia sophomore Brandon Nakashima took advantage of familiar surroundings to put himself atop the table with a run to the semifinals at the Challenger 80 tournament in Charlottesville, Va. Former NCAA champion Marcos Giron is in second with two weeks left to play on the men's side. 

Americans who otherwise earn direct entry into the Australian Open are not eligible, nor are players ranked in the ATP or WTA Top 50 at the start of the Challenge. Should the player with the highest number of Challenge points earn direct entry into the Australian Open, the wild card will go to the next eligible American in the Challenge points standings. In the event of a tie, the player with the best ATP or best WTA singles ranking on November 18 will earn the wild card.

All USTA Pro Circuit tournaments will be streamed live on www.procircuit.usta.com. The Challenge will consist of the following events:

Women’s Events
  • Week of November 4: USTA Pro Circuit W60 Event: Las Vegas; ITF World Tennis Tour W100: Shenzhen, China.
  • Week of November 11: WTA $125,000 Series Events: Houston, Texas; Taipei; ITF World Tennis Tour W100: Tokyo.
Men’s Events
  • Week of November 4: ATP Challenger 110: Bratislava, Slovakia; USTA Pro Circuit / ATP Challenger 80s: Knoxville, Tenn.; Kobe, Japan.
  • Week of November 11: ATP Challenger 125: Houston; USTA Pro Circuit / ATP Challenger 80s: Champaign, Ill.; Helsinki, Finland; Ortisei, Italy; Pune, India.
The 2020 Australian Open will be held January 20-February 2.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Di Lorenzo Claims Title at Toronto $60K, Glatch Falls in Tyler Texas $80K Final; ATP's Next Gen Finals Begin Tuesday in Milan

Francesca Di Lorenzo, the No. 2 seed, won her first title in nearly two years today at the $60,000 ITF World Tennis Tour in Toronto, defeating top seed Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 7-6(3), 6-4 in a two-hour and 16 minute final. The 22-year-old Di Lorenzo, a former All-American at Ohio State, now has four singles title on the Pro Circuit; this is her first over the $25,000 level.

With the title, Di Lorenzo should move a few spots ahead of her career-high WTA ranking of 125; when I spoke to her in January about goals for 2019, after she was off four months at the end of 2018 with a foot injury, Di Lorenzo mentioned finishing in the Top 130, which seems quite likely now.  She also will take over second place in the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, behind last week's Macon $80K winner Katerina Stewart. Two more weeks remain in that competition.

Alexa Glatch fell just short of her first title since 2015, with the 30-year-old wild card dropping a 6-4, 6-4 decision to Mandy Minella of Luxembourg in the final of the $80,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Tyler Texas. Although nowhere near her career-high WTA ranking of 102, reached ten years ago, Glatch will move to around 325, which will get her into a lot of main draws in tournaments $25,000 and above.

At the $15,000 tournament in Cancun, 15-year-old Rachel Gailis lost to University of Texas recruit Adrienn Nagy of Hungary, the No. 6 seed, 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

No. 5 seed Genaro Olivieri of Argentina won the $25,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Naples Florida, beating unseeded Cristian Rodriguez of Colombia 7-5, 6-3 in today's final.

Vasek Pospisil, the No. 10 seed, won the ATP Challenger 80 in Charlottesville Virginia, beating fellow Canadian and top seed Brayden Schnur(North Carolina) 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-2 in the final. Mitchell Krueger and Blaz Rola(Ohio State) of Slovenia won the doubles title in a final between two unseeded teams. Krueger and Rola defeated Sekou Bangoura(Florida) and Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic 6-4, 6-1. It's the first Challenger doubles title for Rola since 2017 and the first for Krueger since 2016.

This year's Next Gen ATP Finals competition in Milan begins on Tuesday, with Frances Tiafoe representing the United States in the eight-player competition for those 21-and-under. Now in its third year, the tournament has always served as a innovation laboratory, and this year players are allowed to use "wearable technology." There is also video review for judgment calls from the chair umpire. I think those are the only additions this year, but there is a subtraction: the no-let rule is not being used. Playing lets on serve has been part of men's Division I college tennis for many years, and the ITF has been using it on its Junior Circuit since January 2018, but I gather from its absence in Milan this year that it's now unlikely to be adopted in professional tennis. 

The ATP preview, with the round robin groups and the order of Tuesday's matches, is available here. The explanation of the 2019 format and rules is here.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Gailis Advances to Final of Cancun $15K; Di Lorenzo, Glatch Play for Titles in Canada and Texas Sunday; LA Tennis Bash Set for December 7 in Manhattan Beach

Rachel Gailis, who turned 15 in August, has advanced to the final of the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament this week in Cancun Mexico. Gailis, of Studio City California, had played only three ITF World Tennis Tour Pro Circuit events prior to this one, all this year, and had won one match, at the $15,000 tournament in Williamsburg in May. Gailis, who got into the main draw without needing to qualify, despite having no WTA ranking, beat top seed Sofia Sewing(Miami) 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 in the first round and did not face another seed in advancing to the final. She will play No. 6 seed Adrienn Nagy of Hungary, who will be joining Texas in January for the dual match season, in Sunday's final.

Americans Madison Appel(Indiana) and Elle Christensen won the doubles title in Cancun, beating Jennifer Dourado of Brazil and Anastasia Sysoeva of Russia 6-1, 6-4 in a final between two unseeded teams.

At the $80,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Tyler Texas, they are back on schedule after rain delays midweek, and unseeded wild card Alexa Glatch will look to win her biggest title when she faces unseeded Mandy Minella of Luxembourg in Sunday's final. The 30-year-old from Irvine California defeated qualifier Marcela Zacarias of Mexico 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in today's semifinals, while Minella took out unseeded Danielle Lao(USC) 6-1, 7-5. If Glatch should win, she would tie Katerina Stewart in the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge race, with Stewart not playing this week.

Former Clemson doubles stars Beatrice Gumulya and Jessy Rompies of Indonesia won their 11th title as a team in Tyler, but it is by far their biggest title. The unseeded pair, who won the ITA Riviera All-American Championships title in 2014, defeated Zacarias and Connie Hsu(Penn) of Taiwan, also unseeded, in today's final 6-2, 6-3.

At the $60,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Toronto, it will be No. 1 versus No. 2 for the title Sunday. Top seed Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium will take on former Ohio State All-American Francesca Di Lorenzo. Di Lorenzo reached her first final of the year by downing No. 3 seed Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands 7-5, 0-6, 6-2, while Flipkens beat former Northwestern star Samantha Murray of Great Britain 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

No. 4 seeds Robin Anderson(UCLA) and Jessika Ponchet of France won the doubles title today, beating the Canadian junior wild card team of Melodie Collard and Leylah Fernandez 7-6(7), 6-2 in the final. Collard and Fernandez also reached the doubles final last week at the $60,000 tournament in Saguenay Canada.

Americans were shut out of titles at the $25,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit tournament in Naples Florida, with No. 2 seed Jordi Arconada falling in today's semifinals and Oliver Crawford and Sam Riffice losing the doubles final last night.  Arconada lost to No. 5 seed Genaro Olivieri of Argentina 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-0 in three hours and 4 minutes. Olivieri will face unseeded Cristian Rodriguez of Colombia in Sunday's final. Rodriguez and his partner Jose Bendeck(Idaho) beat Florida teammates Crawford and Riffice 4-6, 6-2, 10-2 for the doubles title.

It will be an all-Canadian final at the ATP Challenger 80 in Charlottesville, after top seed Brayden Schnur(North Carolina) defeated No. 16 seed Dimitry Popko of Kazakhstan 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 and former ATP No. 25 Vasek Pospisil, seeded No. 10,  beat wild card Brandon Nakashima 6-1, 6-1. Live streaming of the singles and doubles finals is available at the ATP Challenger website.

The annual charity fundraiser for the First Break Academy in Carson California is scheduled for December 7, 2019 at the Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan Beach. Plenty of tennis stars past and present, as well as Los Angeles celebrities, participate in the event and this year is no exception, with Steve Johnson, Bradley Klahn, Tracy Austin, Pam Shriver, Lindsay Davenport, Jason Collins, Steve Nash and Boris Kodjoe among those scheduled to appear. For more on the event and tickets, which are sold to support the introduction to tennis and other sports to underprivileged youngsters in the LA area, see this website.

Friday, November 1, 2019

October Aces; Nakashima Reaches Charlottesville Challenger Semis; Fields Announced for Oracle ITA National Fall Championships

My monthly column for the Tennis Recruiting Network features what I believe is a record number of aces, with 20 (21 including the Turati twins) highlights from October. No fewer than seven juniors won their first Pro Circuit singles titles, and with major college and junior events throughout the month, there was a lot to cover.

Brandon Nakashima has put up some impressive results since reaching the semifinals of the US Open Junior Championships, reaching the quarterfinals at the Tiburon ATP 100 Challenger, the semifinals at the Fairfield ATP 100 Challenger and the semifinals this week at the ATP 80 Challenger in Charlottesville. The 18-year-old Nakashima, who entered college early and played the dual match season this year at the University of Virginia, has now beaten Taro Daniel of Japan twice in the quarterfinals in the past month, including today's 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-3 victory over the No. 4 seed. Those two wins are the best ranking wins that Nakashima has had, with Daniel at 110 and 111 in the ATP rankings.

Although Nakashima cruised in the second set, closing out the third set was a challenge, with Daniel saving five match points serving at 2-5 and two more with Nakashima serving for it at 5-3. But Nakashima stayed aggressive despite the mounting tension and hit two forehand winners to go from break point down to earn his eighth match point and a good first serve finally sealed the win.

Nakashima, a wild card this week, will play No. 10 seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada in Saturday's semifinals. Pospisil defeated Nakashima 6-0, 7-6(3) in their only previous meeting, in the qualifying of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells back in March of 2018, when Nakashima was just 16 years old.

The other semifinal will feature top seed Brayden Schnur(North Carolina) of Canada against No. 16 seed Dimitry Popko of Kazakhstan. Popko took out No. 5 seed Marcos Giron(UCLA) 6-3, 6-4 in today's quarterfinals. With Giron out, Nakashima is the last American remaining, meaning he will lead in the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge after this first week.

The ITA today released the fields for next week's Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Newport Beach California. ITA All-American champion Yuya Ito of Texas is entered on the men's side, but women's All-American champion Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine is not. Other notable absentees on the women's side are 2019 NCAA singles finalist Katarina Jokic of Georgia, Makenna Jones of North Carolina, Kenya Jones of Georgia Tech and Bianca Turati of Texas. Even without Jones, North Carolina has four players in the main draw: Sara Daavettila, Alexa Graham, Cameron Morra and Alle Stanford. Six schools have three players participating: Cal, Central Florida, Duke, NC State, Oklahoma State and UCLA.

Florida's Sam Riffice, the All-American finalist, is not playing, nor is his teammate Oliver Crawford. Virginia's Carl Soderlund, who is No. 1 in the ITA pre-season rankings, hasn't played at all this fall in college events and isn't entered here either. USC's Brandon Holt, Stanford's Axel Geller and NC State's Alex Galarneau are also missing.

Even with Holt not participating, USC has four players in the field, the most of any school: Riley Smith, Daniel Cukierman, Mor Bulis and Stefan Dostanic. In addition, Jake Sands and Bradley Frye from USC are alternates. Schools with three participants are Ohio State, Texas and Texas A&M.

In men's doubles, Baylor, Iowa and Oklahoma State each have two teams in the field; in women's doubles, Central Florida, NC State, North Carolina and Oklahoma State have two teams competing. UCLA has an astounding three teams in the women's doubles field.

The complete list of men's competitors is here; the complete list of women's competitors is here.

The ITA has published an article focusing on the non-Division I players who have made the field here.