Sunday, September 27, 2015

Novikov Claims Second Straight Challenger Title; Shane, Singh Win Futures; Cal's Griffith Takes Napa Shootout

Dennis Novikov won his second straight $50,000 Challenger title today in Columbus, Ohio, again beating Ryan Harrison in the final, as he had last week in Cary, North Carolina.  The 21-year-old beat Harrison in straight sets in Cary, but this week the final went the distance, with Novikov getting two breaks of serve to Harrison's one in a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory.  Novikov and Harrison will not meet in the final of the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger this week, as they have been drawn to a possible second round meeting there.  With his first two Challenger titles, the former UCLA Bruin is up to a career-high of 144 in the ATP rankings.

Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola also repeated as champions this week after winning the doubles title in Cary last week.  Playing on their former home courts, the 2012 NCAA champions were unseeded again, but didn't drop a set until the final. Against unseeded Eric Quigley and Mitchell Krueger in the final, Buchanan and Rola won a 36-point tiebreaker to win their fourth Challenger title as a team, taking a 6-4, 4-6, 19-17 decision.

Reigning NCAA singles champion Ryan Shane won his first career Futures title today in Costa Mesa, beating Ernesto Escobedo 6-4, 6-3. Shane, a wild card, was playing in his first Futures final, while Escobedo is now 0-5 in singles championship matches at that level.

From tournament press aide Joel Beers:

“I started off a little shaky,” said Shane, who is currently a senior at the University of Virginia majoring in foreign affairs.  “It was my first pro-anything final and I was just trying to get the ball on the court, not trying to do anything flashy. And then I kind of loosened up and realized I had nothing to lose, so might as well swing for it, and it just kind of worked today.”

“He hits really, really big and I couldn’t get a good rhythm from the start,” said Escobedo. “He just came up on me and I couldn’t get a good pace. He could be a top-100 player very soon. He’s playing well.”

Unseeded Mackenzie McDonald and Martin Redlicki won the doubles title in Costa Mesa, with the UCLA teammates defeating No. 4 seed Jean-Yves Aubone and Benjamin Lock 6-2, 3-6, 10-5. It is McDonald and Redlicki's second Futures title together.  The Bruins also won a third title this weekend, with Adrien Puget of France taking the singles title at the $15,000 Futures in Egypt. It is the 24-year-old's third Futures title, all coming this year.

At the $15,000 Futures in Canada, Sanam Singh gave the University of Virginia its third title of the day (Treat Huey won the doubles title at the ATP event in St. Petersburg Russia earlier), avenging his loss to Canadian Frank Dancevic in last week's final.  The top-seeded Dancevic had won three consecutive Futures titles this month, but Singh, the No. 2 seed, stopped his winning streak at 19 with a 6-4, 6-2 victory. Dancevic had beaten Noah Rubin in the semifinals, while Singh got by Jared Hiltzik.

Georgia's Nathan Pasha and USC's Raymond Sarmiento won the doubles title in Canada, their first together, although both have a Futures title with another partner.  Pasha and Sarmiento, the No. 2 seeds, defeated top seeds Marko Tepavac of Serbia and Kaichi Uchida of Japan 7-6(4), 6-2 in the final.

At the $75,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Albuquerque, qualifier Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands won the title, beating No. 7 seed Naomi Broady of Great Britain 6-7(2), 7-6(3), 7-5 in the final.  Top seeds Paul Goncalves of Brazil and Sanaz Marand won the doubles title, beating Tamira Paszek of Austria and Anna Tatishvili 4-6, 6-2, 10-3, in the final.

I've twice covered the Napa Valley tournament, which combines USTA juniors and college players in a round robin format, with the winners of the eight groups playing in a shootout of match tiebreakers to decide the overall winner and a Pro Circuit wild card. This year Cal, which hosts the event at the beautiful Meadowood resort, had three players win their groups: Florian Lakat, Mads Engsted and Billy Griffith.  Texas also had three group winners: Liam Caruana, Harrison Scott and Michael Riechmann. Princeton's Alexander Day and Baylor's William Little were the other two group winners. The USTA boys were shut out of the final stage.

The semifinals of the shootout were both Texas vs Cal contests, with Cal winning both. Griffith beat Caruana 14-12 and Lakat beat Scott 11-9.  With nearly all the fans in attendance cheering for Cal players, the final was quieter than it might have been, with Griffith, a sophomore, coming out on top, defeating Lakat, the recent Mississippi State transfer, 10-6.

The last year I covered the tournament, in 2011, Cal also had both finalists.

This google document has all the daily results, including today's shootout.

The results from each round robin group can be found in this google document.

Bobby Knight is following the other men's fall tournaments held this weekend at College Tennis Today.