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Thursday, November 1, 2018

UTR's California Championships in December to Feature Chance to Play Johnson, Querrey, Fritz; McNally, Osuigwe Advance to Face Each Other in Tyler Texas $80K Quarterfinals

A new tournament is coming to Southern California next month, with UTR holding its first California Championships at the Jack Kramer Club in Rancho Palos Verdes December 15-22.  The tournament, open to anyone with a UTR ranking, will provide players with an opportunity to continue progressing through rounds with top ATP Southern California-based touring pros and former professionals--Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson, Taylor Fritz, Mardy Fish, Tommy Haas-- awaiting them at the late stages of the tournament.

I spoke yesterday with UTR's Chief Tennis Officer Stephen Amritraj about this new tournament, which he admits he is "really excited" about.

"With UTR we are able to create a tournament with a French-style, staggered entry draw," Amritraj said. "I think these are the coolest things, but to this point, we've never had the capability to get top guys who have bought into the system, because they're playing ATPs or WTAs or Challengers, or whatever it is."

Amritraj, who grew in Southern California, said the pros who now live and train in that area were the impetus behind the California Championships.

"It actually started when at Carson [the USTA Training Center-West] they were talking about who is The Guy," Amritraj said. "So we're going to try to settle it. It's headlined by Sam, Stevie, Taylor Fritz, Mardy Fish, Tommy Haas, Bradley Klahn and Reilly Opelka and basically what we're going to do is open this to the Top 454 who enter on UTR, based on their UTR. We're going to have a staggered entry draw, and those guys will start in the round of 16 or quarterfinals based on their UTRs. People will basically begin playing in starting wherever they are, as a boys 14s player or a 12 players. The lower end will start on Saturday; an older junior, promising junior or college player or Future or Challenger player will start later. It's something I'm really excited about, because once you get those top-end guys, now all of sudden you're able to get Challenger guys and you'll get good juniors who are excited to play, good college players who are excited to play."

If playing top 50 ATP Pros isn't enough of an incentive, $30,000 of prize money, with $12,000 going to the winner, is also available.

"We're putting 30 grand into the pot, and that's driving some people," Amritraj said. "And it's really good for the pros to get some matches before Australia. We wanted to bring this to the community and you couldn't rate juniors, college, adult and actual pros of all different levels, at all different points, without subjectivity until now. So that's a unique opportunity here and something we hope to do more."

Tracy Austin is serving as Honorary Tournament Chair and a Sportsmanship Award in her name will be presented at the event.

The entry fee is $40, with the entry deadline December 6. See the tournament page at myutr.com to register.

For today's UTR press release, with comments from Austin, Johnson, Querrey, Fish and Amritraj, click here.

Two 16-year-olds have advanced at the $80,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Tyler Texas, with frequent doubles partners Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe, both unseeded, winning second round matches today to set up a quarterfinal showdown.

Wild card McNally, who beat Macon $80K finalist Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 6-0, 6-2 yesterday in the first round, lost only one more game today, defeating Nadia Podoroska of Argentina 6-2, 6-1. Osuigwe, entering via a junior exemption, won two three-set matches, beating wild card Sophie Chang 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 in the first round, and Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2 in today's second round.  McNally and Osuigwe have played twice on the ITF Junior Circuit, with McNally winning this year in the Roehampton Grade 1 semifinals and Osuigwe winning last year in the Roland Garros quarterfinals.

Kayla Day also advanced, beating No. 8 seed Christina McHale 6-4, 7-6(3). Day will face top seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who beat Macon champion Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 7-5.

In another all-US quarterfinal, Lauren Davis will face Danielle Lao(USC) after Davis took out No. 2 seed Madison Brengle 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 and Lao downed No. 6 seed Nicole Gibbs(Stanford) 6-2, 6-3.

Claire Liu[5] is a fourth US teen who could reach the quarterfinals; she is playing Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria this evening.

At the $60,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Toronto, Robin Anderson(UCLA) has reached the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Usue Arconada and will face No. 8 seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada.

Three more Americans advanced to the quarterfinals of the $75,000 Charlottesville Challenger today: lucky loser Tommy Paul, wild card Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia) and No. 2 seed Michael Mmoh. Paul beat Kamil Majchrzak of Poland 6-2, 6-1; Kwiatkowski defeated No. 5 seed Tim Smyczek 6-2, 5-7, 6-2; Mmoh downed Evgeny Karlovskiy of Russia 6-2, 7-5. Mmoh and Kwiatkowski will face off on Thursday, as will the other two Americans who advanced to the quarterfinals yesterday: top seed Bradley Klahn and Bjorn Fratangelo. Qualifier Marcos Giron could join them if he wins his second round match tonight against No. 3 seed Ivo Karlovic of Croatia. The winner of that match plays Paul on Friday.

Live streaming, with Mike Cation on the call, is available via the USTA's Pro Circuit page.