Monday, January 6, 2020

Les Petits As Acceptances; Ann Arbor Challenger, Los Angeles $25K Kick Off 2020 USTA Pro Circuit

The acceptances for next month's Les Petits As are out today, with four US girls and four US boys receiving entry into the main draw of the prestigious event, held from January 27 to February 2 in Tarbes France.

It was initially thought that only three of the four Americans who reached the semifinals of last fall's US Les Petits As playoffs would be given main draw slots, with the fourth place finisher relegated to qualifying, but all eight Americans are in the main draw section of the list.

The US girls are Clervie Ngounoue, Maya Joint, Brooklyn Olson and Lexington Reed. The US boys are Mitchell Lee, Alexander Razeghi, Kaylan Bigun and Nikita Filin.

Martin Landaluce of Spain, who won the Super Category Christmas Cup U14 event last week has entered, as has finalist Atakan Karahan of Turkey. Eddie Herr 12s champion Manas Dhamne of India is also on the entry list; Junior Orange Bowl 12s champion Benjamin Gusic Wan is currently an alternate, but with his Lacoste sponsorship, I wouldn't be surprised if he received a wild card.

Thirteen-year-old Nikola Bartunkova of the Czech Republic leads the girls field; Bartuknova went 73-12 last year, winning two ITF Grade 4s. Last week she reached the final of a Grade 3 in Sweden. Brenda Fruhvirtova, who won the Eddie Herr 12s as a 10-year-old in 2017 and the Eddie Herr 14s as an 11-year-old in 2018, does not turn 13 until April, but she will be one of the favorites in the field. Brenda's sister Linda won the title in Tarbes last year.

Russians Alina Korneeva, the Eddie Herr 12s champion, and Mirra Andreeva, the Junior Orange Bowl 12s champion, are both in qualifying.

The USTA Pro Circuit's 2020 began today with two men's events, the new ATP Challenger 80 in Ann Arbor and the $25,000 tournament in Los Angeles.  Both are part of the Oracle Pro Series.

I plan to drive over to Ann Arbor on day this week to watch some of the action, and even with all that's going on in Australia, there are a lot of Americans in the draw. Brandon Nakashima, who recently signed with GSE Worldwide and will not be returning to Virginia, won his first round match today, as did Ohio State's John McNally, Stefan Kozlov and Michigan sophomore Andrew Fenty. Fenty and Ondrej Styler, a freshman at Michigan, received wild cards and faced each other today, with Fenty picking up his first Challenger-level win with a 7-6(4), 7-6(5) victory.

Bjorn Fratangelo, Noah Rubin and Sebastian Korda are the top three seeds. Live streaming is available at the ATP Challenger website.

The $25,000 tournament in Los Angeles, held on the USC campus, unsurprisingly features many current and former Trojans. Daniel Cukierman, Riley Smith and freshman Ryder Jackson received wild cards, with Brandon Holt and former Trojan Raymond Sarmiento receiving entry based on their rankings. Emilio Nava received the fourth wild card.

Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina and Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France are the top two seeds.