Thursday, November 21, 2019

Qualifier Houghton Advances to Cancun Grade 1 Semifinals; Wild Card Damm Reaches Quarterfinals at Naples $25K; US Eliminated in Davis Cup

India Houghton took a wild card into qualifying at the ITF Grade 1 in Cancun this week, although she would have made the main draw had she not withdrawn earlier. Perhaps because of her recent success earlier this month, winning the Grade 2 in Peru, the 17-year-old Stanford recruit changed her mind, and after being the top seed in qualifying, needed only one win to reach the main draw. Once there, she has steamrolled her opponents, losing only seven games in four matches, and in today's quarterfinal she defeated unseeded BoYoung Jeong of Korea 6-1, 6-0. Houghton will face No. 2 seed Maria Bondarenko of Russia in the semifinals after Bondarenko had a much tougher time of it today, beating No. 9 seed Julie Belgraver of France 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3. Top seed Sada Nahimana of Burundi, who beat unseeded Hibah Shaikh 6-1, 6-2 in today's quarterfinal, plays No. 8 seed Dayeon Back of Korea next.

Both US boys in the quarterfinals lost, with No. 16 seed Stefan Leustian beaten by No. 8 seed Sebastian Gima of Romania 6-3, 6-2 and Hunter Heck falling to No. 3 seed Juan Bautista Torres of Argentina 7-6(12), 6-2.

Benjamin Kittay is the sole US player in the doubles semifinals. He and Torres are the No. 6 seeds.

Martin Damm had not won a match in limited play on the Pro Circuit, but he has now earned his first three ATP points by advancing to the quarterfinals of the $25,000 event in Naples Florida. The 16-year-old, No. 5 in the ITF Junior World rankings, defeated No. 4 seed Pedro Sakamoto of Brazil in the first round yesterday 6-4, 6-4 and today beat qualifier Benjamin Dhoe of Belgium 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Damm's quarterfinal opponent is No. 5 seed and last week's champion in the Orlando $25K, former Duke All-American Nicolas Alvarez of Peru. Alexander Ritschard, the No. 6 seed, is the other American through to the quarterfinals in Naples.

At the women's $25K tournament in Naples, top seed Danielle Collins in through to the quarterfinals, as are qualifier Kate Fahey(Michigan) and Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame).

The women's $25K in Tucson has been disrupted by rain all week, and there are still first round matches to be completed on Friday's schedule. It looks like quarterfinal and semifinal matches will both be played on Saturday.

At the men's $15,000 tournament in Austin Texas, five Americans have advanced to the quarterfinals, including Texas freshman Siem Woldeab, a wild card. Woldeab will take on former UCLA standout Evan Zhu, the No. 4 seed, in the quarterfinals. Georgia freshman Tyler Zink advanced with a 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 7 seed Tadeus Paroulek of the Czech Republic. Top seed Collin Altamirano(Virginia) and No. 3 seed Harrison Adams(Texas A&M) are also through to the quarterfinals.

I spent a few hours in East Lansing yesterday at the new men's $15,000 tournament there, and will have an article on how Michigan State brought men's pro tennis back to Michigan after a long hiatus for Tennis Recruiting Network next week. The quarterfinals feature some familiar Big Ten faces, with Illinois senior Zeke Clark[8], former Northwestern star Strong Kirchheimer[5], Ohio State senior Kyle Seelig and Ohio State freshman Cannon Kingsley all advancing.

The United States team beat Italy 2-1 yesterday (or this morning actually) in the round robin portion of the Davis Cup in Madrid, with Jack Sock and Sam Querrey clinching the victory with a 7-6(4), 6-7(2), 6-4 decision over Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini that ended after 4 a.m., giving them second place in their group, but it wasn't enough to send them onto the quarterfinals. Two second-place teams, as well as the six group winners, advance, but those are chosen based on rubbers and sets won, and the US did not qualify for either of those two spots. Canada advanced out the US group, and today they beat Australia 2-1 to reach the semifinals. For more on the US - Italy match, see this article from the AP.