Sunday, November 15, 2020

Kudla Claims Championship at Cary Challenger; Parks Sweeps Titles at Orlando $25K; Qualifying Complete at Orlando Challenger; ITF Grade 5 in San Diego Begins Monday

Denis Kudla lost in the first round of qualifying at the French Open, but after a break to get married, the 28-year-old returned to competitive tennis at the first ATP Challenger in the US since March and emerged with his seventh Challenger title today in Cary North Carolina.

As he had done in his semifinal match against No. 3 seed Daniel Elahi Galan, Kudla spotted his opponent the first set, but elevated his game in the second and third sets; today he defeated No. 4 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, losing only six points in the 22-minute third set. Kudla, who had made the final of the Dallas Challenger in February, losing to Jurij Rodionov of Austria, gained only 10 points in his ATP ranking with the title, but he is inching closer to the Top 100 after disappointing results in the major tournaments since the restart.

At the $25,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Orlando, qualifier Alycia Parks came from behind in both the finals to sweep the singles and doubles titles.

The 19-year-old Parks dropped the first set to 16-year-old Robin Montgomery, but fought back for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory to earn the first Pro Circuit title of her career. Parks and her doubles partner Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech) had an even more impressive comeback in the doubles final, against No. 2 seeds Erin Routliffe(Alabama) of New Zealand and Jamie Loeb(UNC). Trailing 9-4 in the match tiebreaker, Parks and McAdoo won the last seven points of the match for a 4-6, 6-1, 11-9 victory. It's the first pro doubles title for Parks and the third for McAdoo.

After four USTA Pro Circuit events the past two months, the women's circuit is now finished for the year, but there is one more event for the men, an ATP Challenger 80 tournament, again at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona. 

The top five seeds in Orlando are the same as the they were in Cary: Thiago Monteiro of Brazil[1], Kudla[2], Galan of Colombia[3], Gunneswaran[4] and Mohamed Safwat of Egypt[5].

Qualifying finished a few hours ago, with Stefan Kozlov beating top seed Kevin King 7-6(1), 6-7(7), 6-4 in the day's final match, but both made it into the main draw, with King getting one of the two lucky loser spots and being placed against Kudla in the first round. Kozlov will face top seed Monteiro. The other three qualifiers are 2019 Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda, Christian Harrison and former Virginia star Alexander Ritschard. Nick Chappell(TCU), who lost to Harrison in the final round of qualifying today, received entry as a lucky loser.

All three wild cards in the Orlando Challenger went to current or former collegians: Brandon Holt(USC), Sam Riffice(Florida) and Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M). Holt will play Svajda and Kypson will play Harrison in first round matches Monday.

Live streaming is available here.

I had thought that the Orange Bowl was the next ITF Junior Circuit tournament in the United States, but I noticed recently that a Grade 5 tournament has been added in San Diego, with main draw action beginning Monday. The draw isn't out yet, but qualifying has concluded, and despite the short notice, the boys qualifying draw of 32 was full. The boys qualifiers are John Kim, Spencer Johnson, Masato Perera and Zane Ford; the girls qualifiers are Valeria Ray, Tomi Main, Tatum Evans and Morgan Pyrz.