Friday, November 15, 2019

Brown Advances to Champaign Challenger Semifinals; Giron, Krueger to Meet for Spot in Houston Challenger Final; Mateas Reaches Final Four at Orlando $25K; Black Advances to Semifinals at Thailand $25K

University of Illinois junior Alex Brown is certainly taking advantage of his wild card into the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign, advancing to the semifinals on his home courts this evening with a 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 8 seed Juan Pablo Ficovich of Argentina. The left-hander from Iowa has now beaten three seeds in succession, all in the ATP Top 300, and will compete for a place in Sunday's final against a fourth, ATP 288 Sebastian Korda. The 19-year-old Korda, seeded No. 14, defeated Martin Redlicki(UCLA) 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(4) in today's quarterfinal.

In the semifinal in the top half, No. 9 seed JJ Wolf(Ohio State) will face unseeded Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia. Wolf took out Stefan Kozlov 6-2, 6-2 and Kavcic ended the run of UCLA junior Keegan Smith 7-6(3), 6-3.

A very long day is wrapping up at the Oracle Challenger Series in Houston, after the round of 16 was rained out on Thursday. The women's semifinals are set, with two unseeded American veterans, Irina Falconi(Georgia Tech) and Coco Vandeweghe still alive in the WTA 125 event. Falconi, who defeated No. 2 seed Taylor Townsend in the quarterfinals, will face No. 3 seed Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, while Vandeweghe, who defeated No. 10 seed Mandy Minella of Luxembourg in the quarterfinals, plays No. 7 seed Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland. I'm not sure of the protected ranking status of Falconi and Vandeweghe, but they both still have a chance to win the USTA's Australian Open wild card with the Houston title, as leader Katerina Stewart can still be passed.

The men's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge leader Michael Mmoh retired in his quarterfinal match in Houston to Christopher O'Connell of Australia, so he is done earning points. With the 125 points on offer to the Houston winner, both No. 8 seed Mitchell Krueger and No. 4 seed Marcos Giron(UCLA) can still catch him with the title, but one will be eliminated when they play in the semifinals tomorrow. No. 15 seed Michael Redlicki(Arkansas), who lost to Krueger 6-4, 6-4 in tonight's quarterfinal, got his best win by ranking earlier today, when he beat Tennys Sandgren, currently No. 70 in the ATP rankings, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4.

At the two $25,000 tournaments at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, just one American remains, with wild card Maria Mateas(Duke) advancing to the women's semifinal. Mateas will face unseeded Irina Fetecau of Romania, while top seed Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands takes on former Miami star Stephanie Wagner of Germany, the No. 8 seed.  No. 5 seed Ulises Blanch, the last American in the men's tournament, lost to top seed Javier Barranco Cosano of Spain today 6-2, 6-3. Barranco will next face former Duke star Nicolas Alvarez of Peru, the No. 3 seed.

Hurricane Tyra Black, who has been in Asia since competing in the ITF Junior Finals in China last month, has advanced to the semifinals of the $25,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Thailand. Black, a qualifier, defeated No. 6 seed Fang Ying Xun of China 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. It's Black's first victory over a WTA Top 500 player, with Xun now ranked 224. The 18-year-old from Florida, who reached the quarterfinals at last week's $25K in Thailand, plays top seed Valentina Ivakhnenko of Russia next.