Friday, March 6, 2020

Pratt Commits to Northwestern; Easter Bowl ITF Acceptances; Nakashima Faces Sock in Indian Wells Challenger Semifinals; US Davis Cup Team in Action Tonight

Last month at a Midwest section Level 2 tournament, I had an opportunity to talk with five-star recruit Sydney Pratt about her commitment, for 2021, to Northwestern. When during her freshman year, Pratt was a three-star recruit on Tennis Recruiting Network, not the level that a Big Ten contender like Northwestern would normally consider. But determined to give herself the best chance to get to the level that would put her on the Wildcats' radar, Pratt switched coaches and the wins started coming. More on how she earned an offer from Northwestern last summer at this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden Easter Bowl Courts
The Easter Bowl ITF Grade B1 is coming up beginning on March 30th, with the acceptances posted today. As is usually the case, the same top Americans are playing there and at the Carson ITF Grade 1 the week before, although there are often unexpected wild cards that strengthen the Easter Bowl field.  2019 Easter Bowl finalists Robin Montgomery and Martin Damm have not entered, but there is a notable Easter Bowl entry that is not in the Carson field: Connie Ma.  Ma, who goes to regular school and seldom competes during the school year, made the final at Carson last year, playing that event because she was on Spring Break. I'm assuming her Spring Break is falling during Easter Bowl this year. Although she won't be seeded, she'll be the favorite, along with Alexandra Yepifanova and Elvina Kalieva. The top US boys entered are Dali Blanch, Bruno Kuzuhara, Alex Bernard and Aidan Mayo.

The Las Vegas $25,000 quarterfinals have been slotted into a late afternoon and evening schedule, but Robin Montgomery has completed her match and advanced to the women's semifinals. The 15-year-old Orange Bowl champion, currently No. 5 in the ITF World Junior rankings, defeated qualifier Emiliana Arango of Colombia 6-3, 6-2 and will play unseeded Katherine Sebov of Canada Saturday. This is Montgomery's third USTA Pro Circuit event; she reached the quarterfinals of a $15K in California last year.

In the men's $25,000 Las Vegas quarterfinals, former TCU stars Nick Chappell and Alex Rybakov have advanced, with No. 5 seed Chappell beating No. 2 seed Alex Sarkissian(Pepperdine) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 and No. 8 seed Rybakov saving a match point in his 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-3 win over No. 4 seed Martin Redlicki(UCLA).

At the ATP Challenger 125 in Indian Wells, 18-year-old Brandon Nakashima(Virginia) has continued to build on his first ATP quarterfinal last month in Delray Beach, beating No. 14 seed Marcos Giron(UCLA) 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-2 to advance to Saturday's semifinals. Nakashima had trouble converting break points in the first half of the match, going 0 for 14, but he took control in the third set, earning three breaks and a chance to take on Jack Sock.  Sock defeated No. 11 seed Denis Kudla in another lengthy battle, with Sock taking a 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-4 decision. 

Unseeded Mitchell Krueger eliminated the last international player in the field, beating No. 9 seed Gregoire Barrere of France 6-4, 7-6(5). Krueger will face No. 5 seed Steve Johnson(USC), who beat Noah Rubin 6-3, 6-3. There has been nothing official announced yet, but Krueger is likely to have secured the second BNP Paribas Open main draw wild card, as he now has a quarterfinal and two semifinal finishes in the the previous three Challengers designated for the Road to Indian Wells.

The United States Davis Cup team takes on Uzbekistan in Hawaii tonight, with Reilly Opelka taking on Denis Istomin and Taylor Fritz playing Sanjar Fayziev in the first two singles matches. The Bryan brothers are playing their final Davis Cup match on Saturday, against Fayziev and Istomin, with reverse singles set for Sunday. Tommy Paul is also on the team. Tennis Channel is not covering the tie, with streaming at cbssports.com the only way to follow it.