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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Halbauer Wins Qualifying Wild Card into WTA Family Circle Cup; Pro Circuit Update; Ohio State Rises to Top Spot in Men's Rankings

A qualifying wild card into the WTA Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina has always attracted some big names into the girls 18s draw for an otherwise unremarkable USTA tournament in South Carolina. The past two years, North Carolina's Hayley Carter, now a Top 10 ITA player as a freshman, won the tournament and the wild card that goes with it.

This year, the ITF's No. 2 junior and Orange Bowl champion Vavarva Flink of Russia entered the tournament, and was the top seed, with Kaitlyn McCarthy, No. 3 in the USTA's 18s rankings, the No. 2 seed.  Terri Fleming and Laura Patterson were the No. 3 and 4 seeds, but it was 16-year-old Ellie Halbauer, one of four No. 5 seeds, who won the tournament and the wild card.  Halbauer, who now lives and trains in Boca Raton, Florida, is from the Charleston area, and back in October, she won a $10,000 Pro Circuit tournament in Hilton Head.

Halbauer certainly earned her wild card, beating Flink 4-1, 4-2 (rain made short scoring a necessity early) in the quarterfinals, Patterson in the semifinals, 6-0, 6-2 and, in Sunday's final, McCarthy, 3-6, 6-2, 10-8. Complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

Charleston's The Post and Courier provides an account of the match and quotes Halbauer in this article.  Qualifying for the Family Circle Cup begins on March 29th.

Americans were shut out in the three Pro Circuit events last week in the United States.  At the $100,000 Midland women's challenger, Heather Watson of Great Britain won both the singles and doubles titles. The unseeded Watson defeated Ksenia Pervak of Russia, also unseeded, 6-4, 6-0 in the singles final.  Watson and partner Anna Tatishvili of Georgia, seeded fourth, took the doubles title with a 7-5, 5-7, 10-6 win over No. 2 seeds Sharon Fichman of Canada and American Maria Sanchez(USC).

At the $25,000 women's tournament in Rancho Santa Fe, No. 5 seed Tamira Paszek of Austria won the singles championship, defeating unseeded Shuko Aoyama of Japan 6-1, 6-1 in the final. Paszek had beaten Sanaz Marand(UNC) in the semifinals, after Marand had taken out top seed Sachie Ishizu of Japan in the second round.  Connie Hsu(Penn), Mayo Hibi, Danielle Lao(USC) and 16-year-old Emma Higuchi all reached the quarterfinals.  Samantha Crawford of the US, who turns 19 today, teamed with Yi-Fan Xu of China to take the doubles title. No. 3 seeds Crawford and Xu defeated unseeded Lao and Keri Wong(Clemson), 3-6, 6-2, 12-10 in the final.

At the $10,000 Futures in Sunrise, Florida, 18-year-old Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan, the No. 4 seed, won his fourth career Futures title, defeating unseeded Tiago Lopes of Brazil 6-2, 6-3.  Greg Ouellette(Florida) was the only American to reach the quarterfinals. Mexicans Daniel Garza and Hans Hach, seeded No. 3, defeated the Austrian team of Marc Rath and Nicolas Reissig, the No. 2 seeds, 7-6(4), 6-4 in the final.

In a $10,000 women's ITF tournament in Spain, Southern Cal recruit Madison Westby and South Carolina recruit Hadley Berg won the doubles title. The wild cards defeated No. 3 seeds Yoshimi Kawasaki and Yumi Nakano of Japan 6-4, 6-2 in the final.

This week, the Pro Circuit events include the $25,000 women's tournament in Surprise, Arizona, and another $10,000 Futures for men, in Boynton Beach, Florida.  Nathan Ponwith, Deiton Baughman and Collin Altamirano qualified, winning four matches to reach the main draw.  In Arizona, Sachia Vickery, 14-year-old CiCi Bellis, Meredith Xeopoleas and Jacqueline Cako(Arizona State) are among those qualifying today.

There is also a big ATP Challenger in Mexico that has drawn a bundle of former college players, with today's schedule looking more like the 2011 NCAA championships than a $75,000 plus hospitality Challenger. The draws are here.

And, speaking of the 2011 NCAAs, at the ATP Delray Beach tournament, the two singles finalists that year, Steve Johnson(USC) and Rhyne Williams(Tennessee), won their first round matches after qualifying over the weekend.

The new ITA team rankings are out, the last of the polled rankings before the computer takes over next week, and Ohio State has taken the top men's spot after their Indoor title in Houston.  The Top 10 Men's Teams:

1. Ohio State
2. Southern Cal
3. Virginia
5. Oklahoma
6. Texas
7. Baylor
8. Texas A&M
9.  Cal
10. Notre Dame

Georgia dropped from No. 4 to No. 12, and Mississippi State also fell out of the Top 10, from 9 to 11.

There were also a couple of changes in the women's Top 10, with UCLA overtaking Stanford for the No. 2 spot, and Virginia falling out of the Top 10 after a loss to Alabama.

The women's Top 10:
1. Duke
3. Stanford
4. Cal
5. Florida
6. North Carolina
7. Georgia
8. Northwestern
9. Southern Cal
10. Texas A&M

There were no new individual rankings this week.  For complete team rankings, see the ITA ranking page.