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Friday, September 21, 2018

Discussing the ITF's New Junior Heat Rule; Navarro Wins Grade 2 Title in Montreal; Nakashima Reaches Semis at Laguna Niguel Futures; Oracle Masters Update

The ITF's new heat rule caught nearly everyone by surprise earlier this month at the US Open Junior Championships. Tournament director Lew Brewer was hoping it wouldn't be necessary to implement it, but on two different occasions, junior play was suspended or postponed due to conditions considered too dangerous. Not having seen the rule invoked at other events I attended this year, I had quite a few questions about it, and I spoke to Brewer on the last weekend to help me understand it. I also spoke with quite a few players about the heat, throughout the week, and although I couldn't quote them all in this Tennis Recruiting article, most agreed they had played in worse conditions and therefore were not expecting play to be stopped. As the article notes, Brewer does not anticipate this rule changing, so expect more disruptions to ITF tournaments in warm weather months.

The singles finals were played today at the ITF Grade 2 in Montreal, with No. 2 seed Emma Navarro defeating friend and doubles partner Chloe Beck, the top seed, 6-2, 6-2 in the girls championship match. The 17-year-old Navarro, who won two Grade 4s last year and has reached two Grade 1 semifinals this year, dropped only one set this week. It was announced this week that her father, Ben Navarro, has purchased Charleston's Volvo Car Open and the Family Circle Tennis Center where it is held.  Beck and Navarro, the top seeds in doubles, lost in the final to No. 2 seeds Kylie Collins and Puerto Rico's Lauren Anzalotta 6-2, 6-4. 

The boys title went to No. 4 seed Taha Baadi, who beat unseeded Liam Draxl 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in an all-Canadian final.  The unseeded team of Draxl and Cleeve Harper won the doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Ronan Jachuck and Canadian Alexandre LeBlanc 6-4, 6-2 in the final.

Wild card Brandon Nakashima has advanced to the semifinals of the $15,000 Laguna Niguel Futures tournament after beating No. 4 seed Martin Redlicki(UCLA) 6-3, 7-5.  The Kalamazoo 18s finalist will face No. 2 seed Henry Craig(Denver), with Craig advancing by beating Alessandra-Damiano Ventre of Brazil 6-1, 7-5. While Nakashima did advance to his first Futures semifinal, fellow 17-year-old Southern Californian Emilio Nava could not, with the qualifier falling to Alan Cohen of Argentina, also a qualifier, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2.  Cohen will face UCLA senior Maxime Cressy of France, who beat No. 5 seed Michael Zhu(Michigan) 6-0, 6-7(2), 6-4. In the doubles final, unseeded Nick Meister(UCLA) and Redlicki, a two-time NCAA doubles champion, beat top seeds Hunter and Yates Johnson(SMU) 6-4, 3-6, 10-6.

The singles final of the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Lubbock Texas tomorrow will feature Rebecca Marino of Canada against Robin Anderson, the former UCLA star.  The 27-year-old Marino, who is coming back after stepping away from the sport for more than five years, started the year with no WTA ranking, but is now up to 215 with four titles on the ITF Pro Circuit. Marino, seeded No. 7, defeated qualifier Hayley Carter(UNC) 6-1, 6-2 in just 38 minutes, hitting 11 aces and winning all 21 points on her first serve.  The unseeded Anderson defeated No. 8 seed Emina Bektas(Michigan) 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-4 to reach her second final of the year.

Doubles qualifiers Carter and Vladica Babic of Montenegro, who reached the NCAA doubles final this year as an Oklahoma State senior, lost in the final to No. 2 seed Nadia Podoroska of Argentina and Naomi Broady of Great Britain 3-6, 6-2, 10-8.

At the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Columbus Ohio, No. 3 seed Michael Mmoh has advanced to the semifinals, where he'll meet former Ohio State star Mikael Torpegaard of Denmark, who won the title at this tournament two years ago. Torpegaard defeated qualifier Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia) 6-4, 6-2. Former USC star Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador, the No. 7 seed, will play No. 1 seed Jordan Thompson of Australia in the other semifinal.

The semifinals are set in the women's draw at the ITA Oracle Masters in Malibu, with top seed Fernanda Contreras of Vanderbilt playing No. 4 seed Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami and No. 6 seed Evgeniya Levashova of Pepperdine facing No. 2 seed Kate Fahey of Michigan. The men's semifinals also will feature only seeded players, although not No. 1 seed Yuya Ito of Texas. Ito lost to No. 8 seed Mitch Harper of Virginia Tech 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-1.  Harper will play No. 6 seed Laurens Verboven of USC, while No. 5 seed Christian Sigsgaard of Texas will play the winner of the match between No. 7 seed Nicolas Moreno of UC-Santa Barbara and No. 2 seed Daniel Cukierman of USC.