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Friday, November 20, 2015

How I'd Change Lineups in College Tennis; Fritz into Champaign Challenger Final; Anisimova, Sanford into Grade A Semifinal in Mexico; Three Teens in Pensacola Semis

Last month Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today wrote a guest post here providing his suggestions for growing college tennis. Only a couple of Bobby's excellent proposals mentioned lineups or format, but I've developed a pet concept of my own about lineup selection that I detailed today for the Tennis Recruiting Network. With drafts now a regular part of the sports landscape, why not set lineups for each dual match in a similar fashion, rather than a exceedingly hard to define and police "order of strength"?  I would love to hear from you, pro or con, on what I've proposed. What are the drawbacks? How could it be improved? Does it promote parity, favor stronger teams, or is it neutral?

Taylor Fritz has reached his third Challenger final since October, defeating qualifier Mackenzie McDonald 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-2 in a two-hour battle at the Atkins Tennis Center in Champaign.  Fritz, who saved 15 of 15 break points tonight, will play unseeded Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland in Saturday's final, after Laaksonen outlasted qualifier Clay Thompson 5-7 ,6-3, 7-6(2).  After a week of multiple scenarios for the distribution of the USTA's Australian Open wild card, it is now simple: if Fritz wins the title, he will when the wild card. If Laaksonen, who will be playing in his first Challenger final, wins it, the wild card will go to Charlottesville champion Noah Rubin.

The doubles final will be between top seeds Austin Krajicek and Nick Monroe and unseeded David O'Hare of Ireland and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain, former University of Memphis players.  That begins at 1 p.m. eastern Saturday, with the singles final to follow. Live streaming is available at the ATP Challenger website.

For additional coverage of the Champaign Challenger, visit Jonathan Kelley's On The Rise Tennis blog. He spoke with Clay Thompson after his quarterfinal win last in this post.

Two US girls have reached the semifinals of the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano: unseeded Amanda Anisimova and No. 11 seed Alexandra Sanford.  Anisimova defeated fellow 14-year-old Abigail Desiatnikov 6-3, 6-2 and has yet to lose a set in just her second Grade A tournament.  She will play No. 7 seed Evgeniya Levashova of Russia, who took out top seed Sonya Kenin 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. The 16-year-old Sanford, who is into her first Grade A semifinal, beat unseeded Hanna Chang 6-1, 7-6(2) and will play No. 3 seed Katie Swan of Great Britain. Swan survived against Sofia Sewing 7-5, 3-6, 7-5.

Swan and Kenin, the top seeds in doubles, reached the final, where they will play No. 2 seeds Levashova and Anna Blinkova, also of Russia.

No. 8 seed Ulises Blanch, the last US boy still alive, lost to unseeded Genaro Alberto Olivieri of Argentina 2-6 6-3, 6-4.  The boys top seed, Mate Valkusz of Hungary, also lost today, falling to No. 12 seed Benjamin Sigouin of Canada 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Live scores, live streaming, draws and schedules can be found at the tournament website.

Three teenagers have reached the semifinals at the $10,000 Futures in Pensacola: 18-year-olds Henrik Wiersholm and Alex Rybakov and 16-year-old Denis Shapovalov of Canada. Wiersholm, the University of Virginia sophomore, won his second straight 6-0, 6-0 match, beating No. 3 seed Evan King today after blanking Andrew Carter on Thursday. Wiersholm will put that streak of 6-0 sets to the test in Saturday's semifinal against fellow qualifier Denis Shapovalov, who beat Denis Nguyen(Harvard), also a qualifier, 6-0, 6-3 in today's quarterfinal.

Rybakov will be looking for his second straight Futures final when he takes on 26-year-old Maximiliano Estevez of Argentina, the No. 6 seed, Saturdya. Estevez defeated Nick Chappell 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4, while Rybakov took out No. 4 seed Wil Spencer 6-2, 6-4.


Phred said...

Giving the wild card to Rubin is laughable. Yes, he had a good run at a very weak Challenger, but then proceeded to get bounced the first round at the next two events. At least Fritz shows consistency.

Dave said...

I agree Fritz is the stronger player at this point, but your argument here is pretty weak since Fritz DNP and lost 1R in the other two challengers. He obviously had a ton of success earlier in the fall, but the Australian Open WC challenge is based on these three tournaments.

It's tough to be consistent in challengers because most of the players are close in level. There isn't a huge difference between a seed ranked 110 and a non-seed ranked 200. Rubin's two first round opponents were arguably tougher than the players he faced in the semis and finals of Charlottesville.

College Fan said...

Congrats to Rubin. He earned more ATP points this year than Kudla did last year when he earned the Aussie WC. Fritz, Tiafoe, and Paul were each less than a set away from earning the WC vs. an unseeded player, but none could close it out. It's seemingly some sort of karma for Rubin. He missed out on the US Open WC when he lost the final in Waco that he was in control of and a few points from winning. Now he's on the good side of a similar equation.