Saturday, November 7, 2020

Graham and Forbes Compete for ITA Fall Championship, All-UCF Men's Final; Korda Advances to Challenger 100 Final; UNC's Aney Takes Hockey Break, Returns to Tennis

UCLA sophomore Abbey Forbes and North Carolina fifth-year senior Alexa Graham will compete for the ITA National Fall Championships title tomorrow afternoon, while Central Florida teammates Trey Hilderbrand and Gabriel Descamps square off in the men's singles final.

No. 3 seed Graham, who lost to Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey in last fall's ITA All-American Championships, got her revenge today, defeating the top-seeded fifth-year senior 6-0, 6-1. Forbes, the No. 4 seed,  had a similarly dominant performance over Pepperdine's Jessica Failla, breaking serve six times in her 6-0, 6-2 win.

Decamps, the No. 3 seed, defeated unseeded New Jersey high school junior Michael Zheng 6-1, 6-3 to advance to the final against No. 8 seed Trey Hilderbrand. Hilderbrand had the toughest match by far, getting past unseeded Gavin Young 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. Decamps, a junior from Brazil, and Hilderbrand, a sophomore from Texas, will be making their first appearance in an ITA major final.

ESPNU will broadcast the women's final live at 4 p.m. on Sunday, followed by the men's final. Mark Bey and Kevin Skinner will provide the commentary. For more on the broadcast, see this article from the ITA website.

Twenty-year-old Sebastian Korda is through to the final of his third ATP Challenger, after defeating No. 3 seed Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 6-2, 6-4 today at the 100 level tournament in Eckental Germany. Korda, the No. 7 seed, faces unseeded Ramkumar Ramanathan of India in the final. Korda has lost both his previous appearances in a Challenger final. 

There is no opportunity for an American to win a USTA Pro Circuit title this week, with the the losses today by Brandon Holt in singles and Alex Kovacevic in doubles at the $15,000 tournament in Fayetteville Arkansas. Holt, a recent USC graduate and No. 8 seed, lost to North Carolina State fifth-year senior Alex Galarneau of Canada, the No. 7 seed, 7-5, 6-3. Galarneau will play No. 2 seed Roberto Quiroz(USC) of Ecuador, who prevented an all-Canada final with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 victory over University of Kentucky freshman Liam Draxl. Baylor teammates Charlie Broom of Great Britain and Matias Soto of Chile took the doubles title, beating Kovacevic(Illinois) and Draxl 2-6, 6-2, 10-5. 

I had already commented on the lack of Americans in the final stages of the USTA Women's Pro Circuit $100,000 tournament in Charleston, with all of them out before today's singles semifinals or doubles final. Former Pepperdine star Mayar Sherif, who has already won six matches, with her two qualifying victories, is through to her biggest final after beating No. 4 seed Misaki Doi of Japan 3-6, 6-3, 4-3 ret. Sherif will face unseeded Katarzyna Kawa of Poland, who defeated Renata Zarazua of Mexico 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinal. Kawa won the doubles title today, with Magdalena Frech, with the Polish pair beating Sherif and Astra Sharma(Vanderbilt) of Australia 4-6, 6-4, 10-2. 

I noted with interest this week the name of Jessie Aney in the draw at the $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Egypt, as the 2019 UNC graduate hadn't played this year. I had heard she was interested in a graduate transfer to a school that offered women's hockey, with that her first sports love, and a quick google search brought the news that she had indeed done that, spending the previous academic year at the University of Connecticut. This article from the Duluth News Tribune is a great overview of her switch from hockey to tennis, back to hockey and then back to tennis. She lost in qualifying in her first two tournaments in Egypt, but the 22-year-old from Minnesota made in through this time, and now is into the final after defeating three seeds en route. She'll face No. 7 seed Iryna Shymanovic of Belarus, a former top ITF junior, for the championship.