Sunday, October 25, 2020

Bellis Wins Macon $80K Title; Coleman and Sieg Take Grade 1 Doubles Championship in Bulgaria; Orlando Grade 4 Starts Monday; More ATP Doubles Titles for Former Collegians

With nearly four years between titles, Cici Bellis knows that winning one is difficult, with injuries and bad luck often creating insurmountable roadblocks. Today at the $80,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Macon Georgia, Bellis saw her opponent come up against one of those roadblocks, when 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk was forced to retire with cramps in the first game of the third set, giving Bellis a 6-4, 6-7(4) victory.

The first two sets took over two hours to play, with the grueling baseline rallies favoring neither player. Bellis broke at love at 4-all and was able to serve out the set, hitting a terrific crosscourt forehand pass on the run at 30-15 to give herself some breathing room.

Kostyuk, the No. 6 seed, took a 4-1 lead in the second set, only to see Bellis come roaring back to win five of the next six games. But she couldn't serve out the match at 6-5, and in the tiebreaker, Kostyuk stepped up her game, making no errors, while Bellis was less consistent.

The first game of the third set was another tense one, with Bellis saving two break points from 15-40 down, before earning two game points. Bellis couldn't convert the first and it was after she had earned the second that Kostyuk began to cramp, eventually crumpling to the court. She received medical attention, but was in no condition to continue, and, for the second consecutive day, Bellis had won via a walkover.

The Macon title is the first for Bellis since she won the WTA 125 in Hawaii back in 2016, and with the title, she should move up to around 142 in the WTA rankings after starting the week at 173. I assume she will get a special exemption into the main draw at the $80K in Tyler Texas, where qualifying begins Monday.

Sieg and Coleman win doubles title in Bulgaria
(contributed photo)

At the ITF Grade 1 in Bulgaria, Ellie Coleman and Madison Sieg won the girls doubles title. The top seeds, who will now head back to the United States after competing in Europe for the past two months, defeated the unseeded team of Anaelle LeClercq of France and Radka Zelnickova of of Slovakia 7-5, 4-6, 10-6. 

In the girls singles final, top seed Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra defeated No. 7 seed Sofia Costoulas of Belgium 6-2, 6-1. Jimenez Kasintseva took a wild card into qualifying as a late entrant and won eight matches to claim her first Grade 1 title. 

The ITF Grade 4 in Orlando begins on Monday, with Alexis Blokhina and Ava Krug the top two girls seeds. Blokhina and Krug did not play the ITF Grade 4 in Atlanta last week. The boys top two seeds are the same as in Atlanta: No. 1 Adolfo Daniel Vallejo of Paraguay and No. 2 Nishesh Basavareddy. 

The boys qualifiers, all from the US, are Alexander Razeghi, Jackson Armistead, Niles Rachal and Joseph Phillips. The girls qualifiers are Mary Stoiana, Tsehay Driscoll, Sarah Hamner of the US and Sarah L'allier of Canada. Girls singles wild cards were given to Katherine Hui, Ria Bhakta, Ashlyn Krueger and Sophie Llewellyn, all of the United States.  The boys wild cards went to Jonah Braswell, Kian Vakili, Nicholas Godsick and John Kim, all from the US.

The ATP doubles tour has been fertile ground recently for former collegians, and at the two 250 events this week, three of the four doubles champions played college tennis.

Michael Venus(LSU) and John Peers(Baylor) won their third title in this abbreviated year, their first as a team, taking the championship at the European Open in Antwerp Belgium. Venus and Peers, the No. 2 seeds, defeated the unseeded team of Rohan Bopanna of India and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Venus and Peers did not drop a set all week. For more on their title, see this article from the ATP website.

At the ATP event in Cologne Germany, Ben McLachlan of Japan and Raven Klaasen of South Africa won the title in their first tournament as a team. The unseeded pair did not drop a set all week, beating No. 3 seeds and two-time French Open champions Andreas Mies(Auburn) and Kevin Krawietz of Germany 6-2, 6-4 in the final. McLachlan, who now has six ATP doubles titles, played college tennis at Cal. For more on their win, see this article from the ATP website.