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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Borges, Perez-Somarriba Named Top Seeds for NCAA D-I Championships; Kingsley and Korda Advance at Savannah Challenger; Gauff Qualifies for Charleston $100K

The fields have been announced for the NCAA Division I Individual Championships May 20-25 in Lake Nona Florida, and although the current ITA rankings will not be released until Thursday, the top two singles seeds certainly don't fit the narrative that was built throughout the season.

Katarina Jokic of Georgia, who has been No. 1 in the rankings for months, is the No. 2 seed, with Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami moving up to No. 1.

In the men's seedings, JJ Wolf of Ohio State, who was undefeated until a loss to Michigan's Andrew Fenty in the Big 10 tournament and No. 1 in the rankings since February, is the No. 2 seed, with Mississippi State's Nuno Borges given the No. 1 seed.

No. 1 seeds, or seeds in general, don't have the best record in NCAA individual competition, so putting too big an emphasis on the seeding is a waste of energy, but there's no question this was a surprise.

Women’s singles seeds:
1. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
2. Katarina Jokic, Georgia
3. Kate Fahey, Michigan
4. Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina
5. Makenna Jones, North Carolina
6. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt
7. Alexa Graham, North Carolina
8. Sophie Whittle, Gonzaga

9-16 (alphabetical)
Paige Cline, South Carolina
Ida Jarlskog, Florida
Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech
Gabriela Knutson, Syracuse
Maria Mateas, Duke
Eden Richardson, LSU
Anna Rogers, NC State
Anastasia Rychagova, Kansas

Women’s doubles seeds:
1. Angela Kulikov and Rianna Valdes, USC
2. Jessie Aney and Alexa Graham, North Carolina
3. Lauryn John-Baptiste and Ilze Hattingh, Arizona State
4. Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield, UCLA

5-8 (alphabetical by school)
Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia, Kansas
Alana Smith and Anna Rogers, NC State
Mia Horvit and Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina
Kaitlin Staines and Sadie Hammond, Tennessee

Men’s singles seeds:
1. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State
2. JJ Wolf, Ohio State
3. Carl Soderlund, Virginia
4. Alex Rybakov, TCU
5. Paul Jubb, South Carolina
6. Brandon Holt, USC
7. Christian Sigsgaard, Texas
8. Aleks Kovacevic, Illinois

9-16 (alphabetical)
Alberto Barroso-Campos, South Florida
Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest
Oliver Crawford, Florida
Axel Geller, Stanford
Borna Gojo, Wake Forest
Yuya Ita, Texas
Thomas Laurent, Oregon
Nicolas Moreno De Alboran, UC Santa Barbara

Men’s doubles seeds:
1. Sven Lah and Jimmy Bendeck, Baylor
2. Maxime Cressy and Keegan Smith, UCLA
3. Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic, Mississippi State
4. Henry Patten and Oli Nolan, UNC-Asheville

5-8 (alphabetical by school)
Christian Sigsgaard and Harrison Scott, Texas
Timo Stodder and Preston Touliatos, Tennessee
Cameron Klinger and Billy Rowe, Vanderbilt
Juan Carlos Aguilar and Barnaby Smith, Texas A&M

Players of note in the women's field who are not seeded are 2018 finalist Ashley Lahey of Pepperdine and 2017 champion Brienne Minor of Michigan. Last year's top seed, Bianca Turati of Texas, is also unseeded.  In the women's doubles, the defending champions, Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson of LSU, did make the field, but, as you can see above, are not seeded.

In the men's field, 2017 finalist and 2018 quarterfinalist William Blumberg of North Carolina is not seeded, nor is 2018 quarterfinalist Mazen Osama of Alabama or Cleveland Challenger champion Maxime Cressy of UCLA.

Brandon Nakashima of Virginia, the ACC freshman of the year, did not make the field, although he and Henrik Wiersholm are the first alternates in doubles.

Michigan's Andrew Fenty got quite a boost from his win over Wolf, as the Big 10 freshman of the year moved from 109 in last week's rankings into the 64-player draw.

Note that all those listed as seeds above have earned All-American honors for 2019.

The complete list of women's selections, including alternates, is here.
The complete list of men's selections, including alternates, is here.

Ohio State recruit Cannon Kingsley made his main draw ATP Challenger debut today as a wild card in Savannah Georgia and made good use of his wild card. The 17-year-old New Yorker, No. 12 in the ITF world junior rankings, defeated Johannes Haerteis of Germany 6-2, 6-2 in first round action. No. 3 seed Corentin Moutet of France is next for Kingsley.  Wild card Sebastian Korda, who has won at least one match in the past three US ATP Challengers, defeated Jared Hiltzik(Illinois) in the first round yesterday and advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 9 seed Mikael Torpegaard(Ohio State) of Denmark today.  The USTA announced yesterday that only Tommy Paul and Tennys Sandgren are still in the running for its French Open wild card, with this the last week to earn points. No. 5 seed Paul has yet to play his second round match; top seed Sandgren defeated Alexander Ritschard(Virginia) tonight 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to move into the third round.

At the $100,000 women's World Tennis Tour event in Charleston SC, Coco Gauff qualified for the main draw, beating top seed Olivia Rogowska of Australia 6-1, 6-3 in today's final round of qualifying. Gauff, 15, will play another Australian, Kimberly Birrell, in Wednesday's first round.  Louisa Chirico, Kayla Day and Sophie Chang are the other US qualifiers. 

Easter Bowl champion Emma Navarro received a main draw wild card in her hometown and will play No. 8 seed Allie Kiick Wednesday. The other wild cards were awarded to Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech), Alycia Parks and Ann Li, last week's champion at the $25K in Osprey Florida. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Georgia Women, Ohio State Men Receive Top Seeds with Division I NCAA Draws Revealed; SLAM Tennis's May Madness Bracket Challenge Entries Now Open

The NCAA streamed the draws of the Division I Team Championships today, and if you missed it, you can rewatch the men's half-hour show here and the women's half-hour show here.  In the past few years, these streams have been a very cut-and-dried display of the brackets, but this year former ESPN reporter Andy Katz conducted interviews with several top players and coaches when their team's place in the draw was revealed. Among those being featured were coaches Jeff Wallace of Georgia, Ty Tucker of Ohio State and Andres Pedroso of Virginia and top American players Brandon Holt(USC), Oliver Crawford(Florida) Ashley Lahey(Pepperdine) and Maria Mateas(Duke).

The seeds are below, with all the Top 16 seeds hosting the first two rounds at their campus facilities this coming weekend. Long gone are the days when the committee occasionally sent Top 16 teams on the road, and that is good riddance.

If you've been following SLAM Tennis's Bracketology in the past few days, you know there were several tossups as far as seeding goes, not least at the No. 1 spot for women, but Georgia's head-to-head win over North Carolina proved to be the determining factor in that decision. In all honesty, being No. 1 or No. 2 isn't that different, whereas 8 vs 9 can be a significant alteration of the path to the title, especially with the new schedule that includes a Super Regional site for the round of 16 this year on Friday May 10th or Saturday May 11th.

Only eight men's and eight women's teams are going to the USTA's National Campus in Lake Nona for the team championships, with the men beginning with their quarterfinals on Thursday May 16th and the women scheduled for their quarterfinals on Friday May 17th.  The NCAA Host Operations manual is available for more details, and it's a fascinating look at what hosting an NCAA event entails.

As far as the men's seedings go, the committee had a difficult decision between No. 8 and 9, with USC getting the higher seeding over North Carolina. The choice between Wake Forest and Florida for the No. 3 seed went to the Gators, with their win over the Demon Deacons again the deciding factor.

The Tennis Recruiting Network will again feature roundtable discussions that I will participate in, beginning Thursday.

The Men's Division I Top 16 Seeds, all hosting the first two rounds:
1. Ohio State
2. Texas
3. Florida
4. Wake Forest
5. Virginia
6. Baylor
7. Mississippi State
8. Southern Cal
9. North Carolina
10. TCU
11. UCLA
12. Stanford
13. Texas A&M
14. Tennessee
15. Illinois
16. Columbia

The Women's Division I Top 16 Seeds, all hosting the first two rounds:
1. Georgia
2. North Carolina
3. Stanford
4. South Carolina
5. Duke
6. Pepperdine
8. Vanderbilt
9. Texas
10. Washington
11. Florida State
12. NC State
13. Southern Cal
14. Kansas
15. Oklahoma State
16. Michigan

The women's draw is here and the men's draw is here.

SLAM tennis is again offering college tennis fans an opportunity to fill out their own brackets, with those demonstrating the best forecasting receiving prizes of Tennis Recruiting Network Advantage accounts. You have until 8 a.m. Friday to submit your entry here.

On Tuesday, the NCAA will reveal the singles and doubles selections for the individual tournament, May 20-25.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Osuigwe, Li Claim Titles; Big 10, Pac-12 Tournament Champions Crowned; Sell and Jain Capture Ojai Open Titles; Catanzarite Wins Second Straight ITF Grade 5

No. 8 seed Whitney Osuigwe, who turned 17 earlier this month, claimed her second pro title, both at the $80,000 level, with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 win over No. 2 seed Madison Brengle today in Charlottesville Virginia. Osuigwe held for a 3-1 in the third set, the last hold of serve in the match, with Osuigwe breaking Brengle for a third straight time to secure the championship. With the title the 2017 ITF Junior World Champion will move to a WTA career-high ranking around 140 and takes the lead in the USTA's French Open Wild Card Challenge, which has two more weeks left. Osuigwe is among those entered in next week's $100,000 event in Charleston, as is Lauren Davis, who reached the final at the $80,000 tournament in Dothan last week.

In the Charlottesville doubles final, top seeds Taylor Townsend and Asia Muhammad won their first title together since 2016, beating No. 4 seeds Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic and Kataryna Kawa of Poland 4-6, 7-5, 10-3.

At the $25,000 tournament in Osprey Florida, 18-year-old Ann Li won the other all-US singles final today, with the No. 3 seed beating unseeded Usue Arconada 6-3, 7-5.  It's Li's second career title and her first above the $15,000 level. The 2017 Wimbledon girls finalist is 11-2 this month in three $25,000 tournaments and will improve on her current career-high WTA ranking of 254 when the points are added next month.

The doubles title in Osprey went to No. 2 seed Pam Montez(UCLA) and Belinda Woolcock(Florida) of Australia, who beat the unseeded team of Arianne Hartono(Ole Miss) of the Netherlands and Alexandra Perper(Mississippi State) of Moldova 7-6(6), 6-3.

Former USC star Emilio Gomez of Ecuador won his first ATP Challenger title today in Tallahassee, ending the winning streak of Tommy Paul, who had won last week's Challenger in Sarasota. The unseeded 27-year-old, who had reached an ATP 125 Challenger final in Mexico earlier this month, picked up his fifth win over a seed this week, beating No. 9 Paul 6-2, 6-2. With the title, the son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez will move into the ATP Top 200 for the first time.

The doubles title in Tallahassee went to No. 4 seeds Roberto Maytin(Baylor) of Venezuela and Fernando Romboli of Brazil, who beat unseeded Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia) and Noah Rubin(Wake Forest) 6-2, 4-6, 10-7.

At the ATP level, former collegians also claimed both title this week. At the ATP 500 in Barcelona, No. 3 seeds Robert Farah(USC) and Juan Sebastian Cabal of Colombia earned their 12th ATP title, beating No. 2 seeds Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil 6-4, 7-6(4) in the final.  And at the ATP 250 in Budapest, brothers Ken and Neal Skupski of Great Britain, both alumni of LSU, won their second title as a team. The No. 3 seeds defeated unseeded Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Marcus Daniell of New Zealand 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

At the ITF World Tennis Tour 15K this week in Cancun, former UCLA No. 1 Gage Brymer advanced to his first pro final, but the 24-year-old qualifier fell to No. 2 seed Hugo Grenier of France, who has now won back-to-back 15Ks in Mexico, 6-3, 6-2.  The doubles final was an all-collegiate affair, with unseeded George Goldhoff(Texas) and Julian Cash(Oklahoma State) of Great Britain beating No. 4 seeds Austin Rapp(UCLA) and Julian Bradley(North Florida) of Ireland 6-3, 6-7(8), 10-6.

The Pac-12 determined its conference champions Saturday in Ojai, with the Stanford women beating UCLA 4-2 in the afternoon and the USC men shutting out Cal. Saturday evening.

The Big 10 finals were today, with Ohio State beating Illinois 4-1 for its fourth straight men's tournament title and Michigan beating Illinois 4-1 for their second straight women's tournament title.

See the Slam tennis site for all the results from the conference tournaments. The Division I draw will be revealed on Monday beginning at 6:00 p.m. at ncaa.com.

The Men's and Women's Open titles at the Ojai were determined today at Libbey Park, with former UCLA Bruin Karue Sell[3] beating former USC star Raymond Sarmiento 6-4, 6-2. In the women's final No. 2 seed Mahak Jain defeated USC recruit Eryn Cayetano  6-4, 6-4. Sell and Jain will each receive $5300.00, with Sarmiento and Cayetano earning $2600.

For links to all the results from this year's Ojai, see the tournament website.

In addition to the Grade 1 in France this week, won by Holger Rune of Denmark and Elsa Jacquemot of France, there were 15 other tournaments on the ITF Junior Circuit, including three Grade 2s. Will Grant[8] reached the singles final of the Grade 2 in Slovakia, losing to top seed Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-1, and won the doubles title, with Oscar Weightman of Great Britain. The No. 3 seeds defeated No. 2 seeds Cezar Cretu of Romania and Peter Makk of Hungary 2-6, 6-4, 10-8 in the final.

At the Grade 5 in Martinique, Ava Catanzarite swept the titles for the second week in a row. The unseeded 16-year-old defeated unseeded Rose Alix Vidal of France 6-2, 6-4 in the singles final and paired with Maryam to claim the doubles title in an all-US final. The No. 3 seeds defeated top seeds Artemis Pados and Gabriella Soliman 6-2, 6-4. Catanzarite began the month with no ITF Junior titles and now has four.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Osuigwe, Brengle, Li, Arconada and Paul Advance to Sunday Pro Finals; Canada's Girls and USA's Boys Finish No. 1 in ITF Junior Team Qualifying; Fenty Hands Wolf First Loss of Collegiate Season

Five Americans have advanced to title matches at the three USTA Pro Circuit tournaments being played in the United States this week.

Seventeen-year-old Whitney Osuigwe defeated unseeded Katarzyna Kawa of Poland 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(1) to advance to a first meeting with No. 2 seed Madison Brengle at the $80,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in Charlottesville Virginia. Brengle beat No. 4 seed Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the day's second semifinal. Osuigwe, who will move to a career-high in the WTA rankings regardless of the outcome of Sunday's final, won an $80,000 title last fall in Texas, which led her to her winning the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. Osuigwe, the 2017 French Open girls champion, is very much in the hunt for the French Open wild card that is being awarded by the USTA in a similar manner; Lauren Davis, who reached the final last week at the $80,000 in Dothan Alabama, did not play this week. There are two more weeks after this one in the Challenge, with the two $100,000 tournaments in the US likely to decide the winner. Brengle does not need the wild card, as she has received direct entry into the main draw at Roland Garros.

Tommy Paul is definitely the front-runner for the men's French Open wild card after he defeated Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-3 at the ATP 80 Challenger in Tallahassee to reach his second straight Challenger final. No. 9 seed Paul, the 2015 French Open boys champion, beat No. 2 seed Sandgren 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Sarasota Challenger last week. This week Paul will face unseeded Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, with the former USC star taking out his fourth consecutive seed today by defeating No. 3 seed Corentin Moutet of France 6-1, 6-4. One more week remains in the men's USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge.

The third tournament this week, the women's $25,000 tournament in Osprey Florida, is not a part of the Wild Card Challenge, but like the tournament in Charlottesville, it will also be a contest between two Americans. Unseeded Usue Arconada came from 4-0 down in the second set and 3-0 (two breaks) down in the third set to defeat No. 5 seed Olga Govortsova of Belarus 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in today's semifinal, while Ann Li, the No. 3 seed, defeated top seed Gabby Ruse of Romania 7-5, 6-4. Li and Arconada have not played on the ITF Circuit before, but Li does have a win over Arconada in the round of 16 of the USTA Girls 18s Nationals in San Diego back in 2017. It will be the biggest singles title for whoever wins Sunday, with Li having one $15,000 title and Arconada one $10,000 title.

There were mixed results for the US ITF junior teams in Montreal, all four of whom were playing Canada to win their group in the round robin competition. The boys 14-and-under World Junior Tennis team and the 16-and-under Junior Davis Cup team both finished the competition undefeated, but the girls World Junior Tennis team and the Junior Fed Cup team both lost to Canada to put them in second place in the final standings. The top two teams advance to the 16-team world finals later this year.

Learner Tien at 2 and Kyle Kang at 1 took their singles matches to give the 14U boys an insurmountable lead. Dali Blanch at 2 and Martin Damm at 1 won their singles matches to assure first place to the Junior Davis Cup team.

In the girls 14s, the singles were split, with Qavia Lopez losing to Kayla Cross at 2 singles and Clervie Ngounoue beating Victoria Mboko at 1 singles. That meant the doubles would decide who would finish No. 1, with Cross and Mboko beating Tsehay Driscoll and Lopez 4-6, 7-5, 10-7.

The Canadian girls swept the US girls in Junior Fed Cup, with Annabelle Xu beating Charlotte Owensby at 2, Melodie Collard defeating Robin Montgomery at 1 and Marina Stakusic and Collard beating Ellie Coleman and Owensby in doubles, all in straight sets.

For all the results from the three days of competition, see the ITF tournament site.

Both Americans still in the ITF Grade 1 in France won their quarterfinal matches today, but lost in the semifinals.  Unseeded Andres Martin defeated No. 1 seed Bu Yunchaokete of China 6-3, 6-3 but then lost to unseeded Timo Legout of France 7-6(4), 6-1.  No. 2 seed Toby Kodat beat No. 7 seed Arthur Cazaux of France 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, but lost to No. 3 seed Holger Rune of Denmark 6-0, 7-6(1).

At the Big 10 men's conference tournament at the University of Michigan, top seed Ohio State overcame the loss of the doubles point and went on to beat the fourth-seeded hosts 4-2, but the Wolverines second point was certainly notable. Michigan's Andrew Fenty, named Big 10 freshman of the year a couple of days ago, beat JJ Wolf of Ohio State 6-3, 7-5, handing the perennially top-ranked Wolf his first loss of the season, after 30 wins. Fenty started the year at line 3, but has been playing at line 1 the past several dual matches.

Ohio State will play No. 2 seed Illinois in the final, after the Illini beat Penn State 4-2.

Friday, April 26, 2019

USA, Canada Take Suspense Out of ITF Junior Team Qualifying; New Competition Between US and British Boys Introduced; Martin, Kodat Reach Grade 1 Quarterfinals; Osuigwe Advances to Semis in Charlottesville

The United States and Canada remained undefeated in ITF World Junior Tennis and Junior Davis/Fed Cup North and Central American qualifying with wins today in Montreal and will face off to determine the No. 1 spot in the four round robin groups on Saturday.  But because none of the other countries won a match in these first two days, there is no suspense remaining aside from positioning, with the loser of the four US - Canada matches still qualifying for the finals later this year.

The US boys 14-and-under team did have to win a deciding doubles match to beat Mexico today, and the Canadian Junior Davis Cup team also dropped a match to Mexico Thursday, but other than that, the competition has been dominated by the US and Canada. That has been the usual outcome in past years, so it's not surprising, but when Mexico hosted the Junior Davis and Junior Fed Cups, only one of the US and Canada would make the finals, adding some spice to that competition.

The LTA announced today that a new junior boys competition between the United States and Great Britain will take place at the ATP Queen's Club tournament June 21st and June 22nd. The competition for 18-and-under boys is being introduced as a tribute to former British Davis Cup captain Paul Hutchins, who died last month. The US and British girls have long had the Maureen Connolly Challenge during the prelude to the brief junior grass season, but the boys competition has been intermittent at best. I will pass along the names of the US players selected for this tournament when I receive them. For more on the Paul Hutchins Trophy, see this article.

Unseeded Andres Martin and No. 2 seed Toby Kodat advanced to the quarterfinals of the ITF Grade 1 in France this week, which, due to rain, is still a round behind schedule.  Georgia Tech recruit Martin, who has beaten the No. 9 and No. 6 seeds the past two days, will play top seed Bu Yunchaokete of China, while Kodat will play No. 7 seed Arthur Cazaux of France. The semifinals are also scheduled to be played Saturday.

No. 8 seed Whitney Osuigwe defeated top seed Taylor Townsend 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 to advance to the semifinals of the $80,000 women's tournament in Charlottesville Virginia. The 17-year-old Floridian, who had lost to Townsend in three sets in their only previous meeting last year, will play unseeded Kataryna Kawa of Poland for a berth in Sunday's final.  No. 2 seed Madison Brengle will face No. 4 seed Kaja Juvan, who beat unseeded Caty McNally 7-5, 6-1 in today's quarterfinals.

Two Americans have advanced to the semifinals at the $25,000 women's tournament in Osprey Florida. No. 3 seed Ann Li defeated unseeded Gaia Senesi of Italy 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 to set up a meeting with top seed Gabby Ruse of Romania, who needed two-and-a-half hours to get by wild card Elli Mandlik 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.  Unseeded Usue Arconada ended the run of wild card Alexa Glatch with a 6-3, 6-3 victory and will play No. 5 seed Olga Govortsova of Belarus in the semifinals.

At the ATP 80 Challenger in Tallahassee, the finalists at last week's Sarasota Challenger will face off in the semifinals as No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) and No. 9 seed Tommy Paul picked up victories today. Sandgren beat No. 5 seed and 2018 champion Noah Rubin(Wake Forest) 7-5, 6-1, while Paul beat No. 13 seed Mikael Torpegaard(Ohio State) of Denmark 6-4, 6-1. Former USC star Emilio Gomez of Ecuador is in the top half semifinal and will take on No. 3 seed Corentin Moutet of France.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

US Teams Get Four Sweeps as ITF Junior Team Qualifying Begins; SEC, ACC Announce Conference Awards; McNally, Osuigwe Advance to Quarterfinals at Charlotte $80K

North/Central America and Caribbean regional qualifying began today for the ITF's junior team events: the 14-and-under World Junior Tennis competition, held in the Czech Republic in August, and the Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup competition, held this year at the end of September in Lake Nona.

This weekend's event, taking place in Montreal, will decide which two teams in each category will advance to the above finals, although the US Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup teams are already certain of places in the 16-team event because they are the hosts. 

The US teams are off to a perfect start, with all four earning 3-0 victories today.

The Junior Fed Cup team of Ellie Coleman, Charlotte Owensby and Robin Montgomery defeated El Salvador, with Coleman winning at No. 2 singles, Owensby at No. 1 singles and Owensby and Montgomery taking the doubles.

The Junior Davis Cup team of Martin Damm, Alexander Bernard and Dali Blanch beat Costa Rica 3-0, with Bernard winning at No. 2 singles, Blanch at No. 1 singles and Damm and Blanch taking the doubles.

In the girls World Junior Tennis, Qavia Lopez won at No. 2 singles, Clervie Ngounoue took No. 1 singles and Tsehay Driscoll and Lopez claimed the doubles in a 3-0 win over Guatemala.

The boys World Junior Tennis team also beat Guatemala 3-0, with Cooper Williams getting the win at No. 2 singles, Kyle Kang at No. 1 singles and Kang and Williams teaming for the doubles win.

Tomorrow all four teams will face teams from Mexico in the second of the three round robin matches. See the ITF tournament website for updates.

The SEC and ACC have announced their conference tennis awards, with the all-conference teams, all-freshmen teams, and individual awards. Below are the three major awards, with links to the full array of awards in the headings.

SEC Men:
Player of the Year: Nuno Borges, Mississippi State
Freshman of the Year: Sam Riffice, Florida
Coach of the Year: Bryan Shelton, Florida

SEC Women:
Player of the Year: Ingrid Martins, South Carolina
Freshman of the Year: Meg Kowalski, Georgia
Coach of the Year: Kevin Epley, South Carolina

ACC Men:
Player of the Year: Carl Soderlund, Virginia
Freshman of the Year: Brandon Nakashima, Virginia
Coach of the Year: Andres Pedroso, Virginia

ACC Women:
ACC Women: Player of the Year: Estela Perez Somarriba, Miami
Freshman of the Year: Cameron Morra, North Carolina
Coach of the Year: Simon Earnshaw, North Carolina State

Seventeen-year-olds Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe have advanced to the quarterfinals of the $80,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Charlottesville Virginia

McNally, who is unseeded, earned her second consecutive three-set victory today, beating unseeded Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, her second win over Karatancheva in the past two months. McNally will face 18-year-old Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, the No. 4 seed, next.

Osuigwe, the No. 8 seed, beat Zoe Hives of Australia 6-2, 7-5 and will take on top seed Taylor Townsend in Friday's quarterfinal. Last year Townsend and Osuigwe met in the quarterfinals of the Charleston $80K, with Townsend winning 7-5 in the third.

Other Americans to advance to the quarterfinals are No. 2 seed Madison Brengle and unseeded Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame).

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

ITF World No. 1 Junior Tauson Enters Milan Grade A, Fourteen Americans Receive Main Draw Acceptance; Ohio State Men and North Carolina Women No. 1 in USTA/Tennis Channel Poll

photo by Samuel Elias via Unsplash

Acceptances for the Grade A in Milan, one of the biggest tournaments on the ITF Junior Circuit, were released today by the ITF, with the girls field led by World No. 1 and Australian Open champion Clara Tauson of Denmark.  Although boys No. 1 Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan has not entered, nor has Australian Open champion and No. 2 Lorenzo Musetti of Italy (something of a surprise given the tournament's location and the fact that Musetti just turned 17), seven of the current boys Top 10 have.

Among those are defending champion and World No. 3 Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria, who has not played a junior event this year, and No. 6 Emilio Nava, who has not played a junior tournament since reaching the Australian Open boys final in January.

In addition to Nava, the six other American boys entered (with their current ITF junior rankings) are: Cannon Kingsley(13), Martin Damm(19), Zane Khan(20), Eliot Spizzirri(26), Toby Kodat(28) and Tyler Zink(35). The ranking cutoff for the boys was 59. US boys in qualifying are Dali Blanch, Jacob Bullard, Andrew Dale, Will Grant, Mark Mandlik, Ronan Jachuck, Andres Martin and Blaise Bicknell.

Aside from Tauson, just one other Top 10 girl is entered: Qinwen Zheng of China.

The US girls receiving direct acceptance into the main draw are Hurricane Tyra Black(13), Emma Navarro(15), Alexa Noel(19), Elli Mandlik(21), Lea Ma(27), Robin Montgomery(60) and Chloe Beck(63). The cutoff for girls was 67.  US girls in qualifying are Charlotte Chavatipon, Charlotte Owensby, Kylie Collins, Skyler Grishuk, Jenna DeFalco, Ellie Coleman, Hibah Shaikh, Katrina Scott, Madison Sieg and Tara Malik.

The tournament is scheduled from May 20-26.

A few Americans have already made their way over to Europe for the clay season, with this week's Grade 1 in France featuring four US boys and two US girls. Unfortunately, two days of rain have prevented the second round of singles from beginning, with No. 2 seed Toby Kodat and No. 5 seed Tyler Zink yet to play a match in the 48-player singles draw. The two US girls, qualifier Rebecca Lynn and Michelle Sorokko, did win their first round matches, as did unseeded Andres Martin. The top seeds are Bu Yunchaokete of China and Anastasia Tikhonova of Russia.

The latest USTA/Tennis Channel Division I poll is out, with the Ohio State men remaining at No. 1 and North Carolina taking over the top spot after Georgia's loss to South Carolina in the SEC tournament final.  The top 16 teams in the men's poll are the same as in this week's ITA rankings, just rearranged, but the women's Top 16 has three different teams, with Michigan, UCF and Miami in the USTA/TC poll, replacing USC, Cal and NC State, all in the ITA's Top 16.

USTA/Tennis Channel Division I Men's Top 16, April 24, 2019
(previous week's rankings in parentheses):
1. Ohio State (1)
2. Wake Forest (2)
3. Texas (3)
4. Florida (4)
5. Mississippi State (9)
6. Virginia (5)
7. Baylor (10)
8. UCLA (6)
9. North Carolina (7)
10. USC (11)
11. Columbia (12)
12. TCU (8)
13. Stanford (14)
14. Tennessee  (16)
15. Illinois (15)
16. Texas A&M (13)

USTA/Tennis Channel Division I Women's Top 16, April 24, 2019
1. North Carolina (2)
2. Georgia (1)
3. Stanford (3)
4. South Carolina (6)
5. Duke (4)
6. Pepperdine (5)
7. Texas (7)
8. Kansas (16)
9. Vanderbilt (8)
10. Oklahoma State (10)
11. Michigan (11)
12. UCLA (13)
13. Florida State (12)
14. Washington (15)
15. UCF (18)
16. Miami (17)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Ohio State Men, North Carolina Women No. 1 in New ITA Oracle Rankings; 119th Edition of The Ojai Underway; Women Competing in Two ITF World Tennis Tour Events This Week in USA

The Ohio State men and the North Carolina women are No. 1 in the ITA Division I rankings revealed today. The Buckeyes remain in the top spot, while the Tar Heels, who won the ACC tournament Sunday, take over from Georgia, who lost in the SEC tournament final.  The Big Ten and the Pac-12 will be playing their conference tournaments this weekend, and the NCAA team selections will be live streamed on ncaa.com Monday April 29 at 6 p.m. for the men and 6:30 for the women.

For the complete list of rankings, see the ITA website.

ITA Division I Men’s Top 16 Rankings, April 23, 2019

1. Ohio State (1)
2. Texas (2)
3. Wake Forest (4)
4. Florida (3)
5. Virginia (5)
6. Baylor (8)
7. Mississippi State (6)
8. USC (10)
9. TCU (7)
10. North Carolina (9)
11. Texas A&M (11)
12. Tennessee (13)
13. UCLA (14)
14. Stanford (12)
15. Illinois (15)
16. Columbia (16)

ITA Division I Women’s Top 16 Rankings, April 23, 2019
1. North Carolina (2)
2. Georgia (1)
3. South Carolina (5)
4. Duke (3)
5. Stanford (4)
6. Pepperdine (6)
7. Vanderbilt (8)
8. Texas (7)
9. UCLA (10)
10. Florida State (11)
11. Washington (13)
12. NC State (9)
13. Kansas (20)
14. Oklahoma State (12)
15. USC (15)
16. Cal (14)

Women’s Top 10 singles:
1. Katarina Jokic, Georgia (1)
2. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami (2)
3. Kate Fahey, Michigan (3)
4. Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina (4)
5. Makenna Jones, UNC (6)
6. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt (5)
7. Alexa Graham, UNC (7)
8. Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech (8)
9. Anna Rogers, NC State (10)
10. Sophie Whittle, Gonzaga (11)

Women’s Top 5 doubles:
1. Lauryn John-Baptiste and Ilze Hattingh, Arizona State (2)
2. Angela Kulikov and Rianna Valdes, USC (4)
3. Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia, Kansas (3)
4. Gabby Andrews and Ayan Broomfield, UCLA (8)
5. Jessie Aney and Alexa Graham, UNC (7)

Men’s Top 10 singles:
1. JJ Wolf, Ohio State (1)
2. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (2)
3. Carl Soderlund, Virginia (5)
4. Paul Jubb, South Carolina (6)
5. Alex Rybakov, TCU (3)
6. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest (4)
7. Oliver Crawford, Florida (11)
8. Christian Sigsgaard, Texas (9)
9. Aleks Kovacevic, Illinois (8)
10. Brandon Holt, USC (10)

Men’s Top 5 doubles:
1. Sven Lah and Jimmy Bendeck, Baylor (1)
2. Henry Patten and Oli Nolan, UNC-Asheville (2)
3. Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic, Mississippi St (3)
4. Maxime Cressy and Keegan Smith, UCLA (5)
5. Christian Sigsgaard and Harrison Scott, Texas (6)

Libbey Park, Ojai California
The Pac-12 team tournaments will be held once again at The Ojai, in Ojai California, now in its 119th year.  The variety of tennis on display at this event is incredible, from junior, high school and junior college championships, to Pac-12 team and men's and women's Open competitions. The latter always draw good fields due to the the prize money at stake and this year the top seeds in the Open draws are touring pros Jared Hiltzik and Hanna Chang. Although most events don't start until Wednesday, the qualifying for the Open events began today.  For more on the top players in their respective draws, see this preview article by Steve Pratt.

The two ITF World Tennis Tour events in the United States this week are both women's tournaments, with a $25,000 tournament in Osprey Florida and an $80,000 tournament in Charlottesville Virginia.

With qualifying now complete at Osprey, six Americans advanced to the main draw: Pam Montez(UCLA), Jessica Ho(Duke), Brynn Boren(Tennessee/USC), Emerald Able(Georgia Gwinnett) and juniors Kylie Collins and Katie Volynets. Wild cards were given to Alexa Glatch, a 29-year-old who, until this month, had not played on the circuit since October of 2017, and juniors Elli Mandlik, Alexa Noel and Hurricane Tyra Black. Black and Glatch played today in the first round, with Glatch winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. Hailey Baptiste won her first round match today 6-3, 6-4 over University of Texas No. 1 Bianca Turati. The top seed is Gabby Ruse of Romania.

In Charlottesville, the six qualifiers include three Americans: Sanaz Marand(UNC), Ingrid Neel(Florida) and Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech).  Wild cards were given to Virginia recruit Natasha Subhash, Duke recruit Emma Navarro, top seed Taylor Townsend and Loraine Guillermo(Pepperdine). Coco Gauff entered via a junior exemption, but lost today in the first round to Zoe Hives of Australia 6-4, 7-6(3). Whitney Osuigwe, the No. 8 seed, defeated Kayla Day 6-0, 6-4 in a rematch of last year's USTA National 18s final in San Diego, also won by Osuigwe.

The men's tournament this week in the US is the ATP 80 Challenger in Tallahassee, where Paolo Lorenzi of Italy is the top seed. Wild cards were given to Sekou Bangoura(Florida), Alexander Ritschard(Virginia), Dennis Novikov(UCLA), Zane Khan and Sebastian Korda. Bangoura, Novikov and Khan lost first round matches, while Ritschard and Korda won first round matches yesterday before losing their second round matches today.

Ritschard lost to recent Texas A&M graduate Jordi Arconada, who was given a wild card into qualifying and beat top seed Aleks Vukic(Illinois) of Australia yesterday to advance to the main draw. After getting a bye into the second round due to the withdrawal of Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia, Arconada, who won his first ITF World Tennis Tour singles title earlier this month, defeated Ritschard 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 for his first Challenger-level win.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Videos of Adidas Easter Bowl Finals

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden is host site for the Adidas Easter Bowl

The videos I took of the eight Adidas Easter Bowl finals are below. As for photos from the tournament, the Tennis Recruiting Network has recently published a lengthy photo gallery by Dave Kenas, a professional who has been photographing the Easter Bowl tournament for many years. I am still working on the videos of the International Spring Championships, held earlier this month in Carson. My photo gallery from that event will be available at the Tennis Recruiting Network later this month.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Kenin's Win Keeps US in Fed Cup World Group; Paul Claims Sarasota Challenger; South Carolina Women Beat No. 1 Georgia to Win SEC Conference Tournament Title, Top-seeded Longhorns Fall in Both Big-12 Finals

Sonya Kenin had played valiantly in her previous two Fed Cup appearances, but the 20-year-old Floridian had lost both her matches in the final last year against the Czech Republic and her one match in this year's quarterfinal against Australia.  Today, with the US team leading Switzerland 2-1 thanks to Sloane Stephens two victories this weekend, Kenin was called on by captain Kathy Rinaldi to substitute for Madison Keys, who had lost the first singles match Saturday. Kenin came through, beating Timea Bacsinszky 6-3, 7-6(3) to keep the US in the World Group for 2020. For more on Kenin's clinching victory, see this article from the Fed Cup website.

Tommy Paul won his second career ATP Challenger today in Sarasota, with the No. 15 seed beating No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren 6-3, 6-4 in the 100 level tournament. The 21-year-old Paul, playing in just his second tournament since January, moves to 158 in the ATP rankings, just nine spots below his career high of 149. He takes the lead in the USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge, which continues for two more weeks. Both Paul, seeded ninth, and Sandgren, seeded second, are scheduled to compete in next week's Tallahassee tournament, an ATP 80 Challenger. For more on Paul's win, see this article from the ATP website.

Lauren Davis will lead the women's USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge, but the No. 6 seed lost today in the final of the $80,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in Dothan Alabama. Qualifier Kristina Kucova of Slovakia defeated Davis 3-6, 7-6(9), 6-2.

At the $15,000 ITF Men's World Tennis Tour tournament in Orange Park, Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan won his second title in as many weeks on the Florida clay. The unseeded 22-year-old defeated No. 4 seed Agustin Velotti of Argentina 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 in the final. In the doubles final, Velotti and Juan Ignacio Galarza, also of Argentina, beat No. 3 seeds and former Texas A&M Aggies Harrison Adams and Junior Ore 7-6(6), 6-7(3), 10-5 for the title.

Of the three Power Five conferences holding their tournaments this weekend, only the ACC saw the top seeds win the titles.  The North Carolina women won their fourth straight conference title, beating No. 2 seed Duke 4-2, with freshman Cameron Morra clinching for the Tar Heels at line 4.  The Wake Forest men won their second straight tournament title, defeating No. 2 seed Virginia 4-2, with Bar Botzer clinching at line 3 for the Demon Deacons.

Mississippi State, the No. 2 seed, won the men's SEC title, with the Bulldogs taking out No. 4 seed Tennessee 4-1 for their second consecutive tournament title. Nuno Borges clinched for Mississippi State at line 1, coming back from a set down against Timo Stodder.

The top-seeded Georgia women, undefeated this season, lost to South Carolina 4-3, with the match coming down to No. 1 singles. Georgia's Katarina Jokic, who has been the top-ranked woman in Division I for most of the year, had clinched the Team Indoor title for the Bulldogs in a third set tiebreaker, but she could not get there in today's high-pressure situation, getting broken on the deciding point serving at 4-5 in the third set against Ingrid Gamarra Martins.  South Carolina, the No. 2 seed, had never won the SEC tournament prior to today.

In the Big 12, top seed Texas fell to No. 2 seed Baylor 4-1, with Adrian Boitan clinching for the Bears at line 3. It's the ninth conference tournament title for Baylor and the first since 2014.  The news was no better for the Longhorn women, with the top seeds falling 4-2 to No. 3 Kansas on the Jayhawks home courts. Maria Toran Ribas clinched for 20th-ranked Kansas at line 6.

For scores from all today's conference tournament finals, see the SLAM tennis website.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Sandgren, Paul Meet in Sarasota Challenger Final Sunday; Davis Advances at Dothan $80K; Catanzarite Sweeps Grade 5 Titles in Guadeloupe; Tennessee Men Upset Florida in SEC Conference Tournament

The lead in the USTA's French Open Wild Card Card Challenge will go to the winner of tomorrow's final at the ATP 100 Challenger in Sarasota Florida, after wins today by No. 15 seed Tommy Paul and No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren.

Sandgren, who is the tenth alternate for the main draw of the French Open, defeated No. 11 seed Marcos Giron 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-2 on a windy day at the Laurel Oak Country Club, while Paul had considerably less trouble getting past unseeded Andrea Collarini of Argentina 6-1, 6-3. Paul, who is playing in only his second tournament since January, is currently 204 in the ATP rankings, so would definitely need to win that wild card to avoid French Open qualifying. Paul won the French Open boys title in 2015.

The women's final at the $80,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in Dothan Alabama will feature just one American, with No. 6 seed Lauren Davis advancing to the final with a 6-1, 7-6(3) win over unseeded Gabby Ruse of Romania. Davis, who has not lost a set all week, will face qualifier Kristina Kucova of Slovakia, the 2007 US Open girls champion, in the final. Kucova defeated Francesca Di Lorenzo 7-6(3), 7-5. Regardless of the result tomorrow, Davis will lead in the women's French Open Wild Card Challenge.

The doubles final was played this afternoon in Dothan, with Usue Arconada and Caroline Dolehide taking the title, their second in as many weeks. The unseeded Americans, who won the doubles at the $25,000 in Pelham last week, defeated the unseeded Australian pair of Destanee Aiava and Astra Sharma 7-6(5), 6-4 in today's final.

Sixteen-year-old Ava Catanzarite won her first ITF Junior Circuit titles this week at the Grade 5 in Guadeloupe, taking the singles championship unseeded, and partnering with Sonya Macavei for the doubles crown.  Catanzarite dropped only 11 games in her five wins, with half of the 10 sets she won earned with 6-0 scores. She defeated unseeded Jade Psonka of France 6-0, 6-2 in the final. In doubles, No. 4 seeds Macavei and Catanzarite also did not drop a set, beating unseeded Emma Jouy and Tiantsoa Rakotomanga Rajaonah of France 6-2, 6-1 in the final.

The other Americans to win a title in ITF Junior play this week are No. 4 seeds Maryam Ahmad and Sasha Wood, who took the doubles at the Grade 4 in Barbados. The No. 4 seeds beat top seeds from Great Britain, Jasmine Conway and Charlotte Russell 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Unseeded Carrington Hayes made the girls singles final, falling to top seed Conway 6-0, 6-7(5), 6-2.

The finals of the conference tournaments in the ACC, Big 12 and SEC are set for Sunday, with 1 vs 2 seeds meeting in four of the six. The ACC women's final will be between No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Duke. The ACC men's final will pit No. 1 Wake Forest and No. 2 Virginia. The SEC women's final has No. 1 Georgia against No. 2 South Carolina and the Big 12 men's final has No. 1 Texas facing No. 2 Baylor.

The Kansas women, seeded No. 3, beat No. 2 Oklahoma State 4-2 and will face top seed Texas in Sunday's final.

The most surprising result came in the men's SEC semifinals, where No. 4 seed Tennessee defeated host and top seed Florida 4-3 to advance to the final against No. 2 seed Mississippi State. Down 3-1, with the their only point from doubles, the Volunteers won at lines 3, 4 and 2, with Adam Walton getting the clinching point for Tennessee in the third set against Sam Riffice.

For all the other action today in conference tournaments, see the SLAM tennis website.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Dostanic's Commitment to USC Goes Back Years; NCAA Recruiting Rules Change Again; Perkins Jasper to Leave ITA for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps; Korda Falls to Giron at Sarasota Challenger; US Open Qualifying Extended to Five Days

While I was covering the ITF Grade 1 in Carson, I had an opportunity to sit down with blue chip Stefan Dostanic, who will be joining the USC Trojans this fall. The 2017 Kalamazoo 16s finalist and 2018 Kalamazoo 18s semifinalist has two more years of eligibility for the 18s Nationals, as he does not turn 19 until November of 2020. I was curious why he decided to attend USC, particularly what was behind his early verbal commitment. He explained how a friendship with Peter Smith's son Colter played a role, and also emphasized his certainty that his game would improve under Smith's guidance.  My article for the Tennis Recruiting Network is here.

Dostanic was recruited under the old rules, but the NCAA has, after just one year, made another change to dates in an effort to stem early recruiting. With an effective date of May 1, 2019, communication to or from a coach to a prospective student-athlete can begin June 15th, after the sophomore year of high school, and allows visits beginning August 1 before the junior year of high school. Previously both those dates were September 1 before the junior year. See this NCAA.org article for more on this change.

Erica Perkins Jasper, the Chief Operation Officer at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, has accepted the position of Director of Athletics at Division III Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Jasper was on the USTA's Player Development staff prior to becoming the women's head tennis coach at New Mexico, and she joined the ITA in 2015. Although she will certainly continue to be involved in college tennis, with CMS regularly in the hunt for an NCAA title, obviously her focus will no longer be on the national level, and that will leave a void hard to fill. For more on Jasper's new position, which begins on June 1, see the CMS athletics website.

Three Americans have advanced to the semifinals of the ATP 100 Challenger in Sarasota Florida, with No. 11 seed Marcos Giron and No. 2 Tennys Sandgren scheduled to play for a place in the final Saturday. Former UCLA Bruin Giron, the 2014 NCAA singles champion, defeated wild card Sebastian Korda 6-1, 6-4, while former Tennessee Volunteer Sandgren, a 2011 NCAA semifinalist, defeated No. 8 seed Peter Polansky 7-6(4), 6-3.

In the top half, Tommy Paul, the No. 15 seed, advanced to the semifinals with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over No. 5 seed Paolo Lorenzi of Italy. Paul will face unseeded Andrea Collarini of Argentina.

The USTA announced yesterday that US Open qualifying will begin on Monday and extend through Friday this year, rather than the previous Tuesday through Friday schedule of past years. The first two days often saw matches going past 9 p.m., so this change should help with that issue. US Open qualifying continues to be free to the public.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Arias Takes Over as Director of Tennis at IMG, Harrison Promoted to Director of Tennis Operations; Korda Advances to Quarterfinals at Sarasota Challenger

The IMG Academy announced today that former Top 5 ATP pro Jimmy Arias has been named Director of Tennis at the Bradenton Florida facility, replacing Rohan Goetzke, who took that position in 2012.  The IMG release states that Goetzke has "moved on to pursue other opportunities in tennis."

Arias, one of the first players to attend the academy when it was owned by Nick Bollettieri, had been named to the post of Director of Player Development there just a few months ago, in November of 2018.

IMG also announced that Pat Harrison, the father of Ryan and Christian Harrison, will become Director of Tennis Operations. Harrison, who has been a coach at the Academy since 2008, has been working with Danielle Collins and Madison Brengle, as well as Michael Venus, his son Christian and many, many other top level players who populate the academy during the off-season.

2018 Australian Open boys champion Sebastian Korda continues to shine at this week's ATP 100 Challenger in Sarasota Florida, reaching the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win over former Illinois star Aleks Vukic of Australia. Korda, who trains at IMG, received a wild card into the event and has now won three matches, his first three on the Challenger level.  Korda will play No. 11 seed Marcos Giron(UCLA), who defeated No. 6 seed Henri Laaksonen 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-3 earlier today.

Jenson Brooksby came up just short in his quest to match Korda, falling to No. 8 seed Peter Polansky of Canada 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(6). Brooksby was twice up a break in the final set, but Polansky broke back immediately both times. The 30-year-old Canadian then went up 6-2 in the final set tiebreaker, only to see Brooksby save all four of those match points, but the Kalamazoo 18s champion lost the fifth.

Other Americans advancing to the quarterfinals in Sarasota are No. 2 seed Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee), who beat Guilherme Clezar of Brazil 7-6(5), 6-2.  No. 15 seed Tommy Paul, playing in just his second tournament since January, defeated last week's ATP Houston semifinalist Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.  Paul is the only American in the top half.  Live streaming is available, with Mike Cation doing the commentary, here.

Usue Arconada and Lauren Davis have advanced to the quarterfinals at the $80,000 women's ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Dothan Alabama.  Wild card Arconada defeated No. 8 seed Claire Liu 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(1) in a three-hour battle. Davis, the No. 6 seed, beat Renata Zarazua of Mexico 6-3, 6-2. Arconada faces Gabby Ruse of Romania in the quarterfinals, while Davis plays unseeded Sofya Zhuk of Russia, who beat No. 2 seed Madison Brengle in the first round.  Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State) is the third American into the quarterfinals, beating Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria, who took out top seed Taylor Townsend in the first round, 6-2, 7-6(3) tonight.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

USTA Announces Junior Davis and Fed Cup, World Junior Tennis Teams for Upcoming Qualifying; USTA/Tennis Channel Rankings Mostly Unchanged; Brooksby, Korda Move into Third Round at Sarasota Challenger

The USTA announced today the teams that will represent the United States in the North American qualifying for the ITF's Junior Davis Cup, Junior Fed Cup and World Junior Tennis to be held April 25-27 in Montreal Canada.

World Junior Tennis (14-and-under) Girls:
Tsehay Driscoll
Qavia Lopez
Clervie Ngounoue
Captain: Maureen Diaz

World Junior Tennis Boys:
Kyle Kang
Learner Tien
Cooper Williams
Captain: Jon Glover

Junior Fed Cup (16-and-under):
Ellie Coleman
Robin Montgomery
Charlotte Owensby
Captain: Erik Kortland

Junior Davis Cup:
Alexander Bernard
Dali Blanch
Martin Damm
Captain: Phillippe Oudshoorn

Because the United States is hosting the Junior Davis and Junior Fed Cup competitions at Lake Nona September 25-30 2019, the US teams are assured a place in the final 16, but are playing the regional qualifying for seeding purposes.

The World Junior Tennis event always conflicts with the USTA National Championships in August, and it will again this year, taking place once again in Prostejov, Czech Republic August 5-10, 2019.

This week's Tennis Channel/USTA Division I team poll is out, with few changes. As with the ITA rankings, the Ohio State men and Georgia women are No. 1. Below are the Top 16 teams, with the complete list of each Top 25 available at usta.com.

Men’s USTA/Tennis Channel Top 16 Rankings, April 17, 2019
1. Ohio State (1)
2. Wake Forest (2)
3. Texas (3)
4. Florida (4)
5. Virginia (5)
6. UCLA (8)
7. North Carolina (7)
8. TCU (9)
9. Mississippi State (T10)
10. Baylor (6)
11. USC (T10)
12. Columbia (12)
13. Texas A&M (13)
14. Stanford (15)
15. Illinois (14)
16. Tennessee (16)

Women’s USTA/Tennis Channel Top 16 Rankings, April 17, 2019
1. Georgia (1)
2. North Carolina (2)
3. Stanford (3)
4. Duke (4)
5. Pepperdine (5)
6. South Carolina (6)
7. Texas (7)
8. Vanderbilt (8)
9. Ohio State (11)
10. Oklahoma State (12)
11. Michigan (9)
12. Florida State (13)
13. UCLA (10)
14. NC State (14)
15. Washington (15)
16. Kansas (16)

Neither Jenson Brooksby or Sebastian Korda had won a match at the ATP Challenger main draw level before this week, but both 18-year-old wild cards now have two after posting ATP Top 200 wins today at the ATP 100 Challenger in Sarasota.

Brooksby, the reigning Kalamazoo 18s champion, defeated Jared Hiltzik(Illinois) in the first round Monday and today took out ATP 163 and No. 10 seed Marc Polmans of Australia 6-3, 6-0. Korda defeated Ulises Blanch 7-6(7), 6-3 in the first round yesterday and today defeated ATP 187 and No. 14 seed James Ward of Great Britain 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-1. Both of today's wins are the best, ranking-wise, of their careers.

Brooksby will face No. 8 seed Peter Polansky of Canada in the round of 16, while Korda's third round opponent is former Illinois star Aleks Vukic of Australia, who received entry as an alternate when Casper Ruud withdrew after making the ATP Houston final last week.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Ohio State Men, Georgia Women Return to Top of ITA Rankings; Wolf and Jokic Remain No. 1 in Singles; SLAM Tennis Reveals Division I Conference Tournament Projections for Wednesday's Matches

The weekly ITA Division I team rankings are out, and once again, the No. 1 teams have changed. Bumped by Texas last week, the Ohio State men return to the top spot, as do the Georgia women, who lost their No. 1 ranking last week to North Carolina, despite a direct head-to-head win over the Tar Heels in February's Team Indoor Championships. Because we are getting close to the cutoff for hosting regionals in next month's NCAA tournament, I'm expanding this to the Top 16 from the usual Top 10. Full lists can be found by clicking on the headings.

The ITA Men's Division I Top 16, April 16, 2019
(previous week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Ohio State (2)
2. Texas (1)
3. Florida (3)
4. Wake Forest (4)
5. Virginia (5)
6. Mississippi State (7)
7. TCU (10)
8. Baylor (6)
9. North Carolina (9)
10. USC (11)
11. Texas A&M (8)
12. Stanford (12)
13. Tennessee (15)
14. UCLA (13)
15. Illinois (14)
16. Columbia (16)

The ITA Women's Division I Top 16, April 16, 2019:
1. Georgia (2)
2. North Carolina (1)
3. Duke (4)
4. Stanford (3)
5. South Carolina (5)
6. Pepperdine (8)
7. Texas (6)
8. Vanderbilt (7)
9. NC State (9)
10. UCLA (10)
11. Florida State (12)
12. Oklahoma State (11)
13. Washington (15)
14. California (17)
15. USC (13)
16. Michigan (14)

The individual rankings have had less volatility than the team rankings this year, with Ohio State's JJ Wolf and Georgia's Katarina Jokic staying No. 1 in singles again this week.

JJ Wolf, photo courtesy Scott Gerber, OhioTennisZone.com

ITA Men's Division I Top 10 singles, April 16, 2019:

1. JJ Wolf, Ohio State (1)
2. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (2)
3. Alex Rybakov, TCU (4)
4. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest (3)
5. Carl Soderlund, Virginia (5)
6. Paul Jubb, South Carolina (9)
7. Yuya Ito, Texas (7)
8. Aleks Kovacevic, Illinois (6)
9. Christian Sigsgaard, Texas(8)
10. Brandon Holt, USC (12)

ITA Men's Division I Top 5 doubles, April 16, 2019:

1. Sven Lah and Jimmy Bendeck, Baylor (1)
2. Henry Patten and Oli Nolan, UNC-Asheville (2)
3. Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic, Mississippi St (3)
4. Parker Wynn and Bjorn Thomson, Texas Tech (7)
5. Maxime Cressy and Keegan Smith, UCLA (4)

Katarina Jokic, photo courtesy ITA
ITA Women's Division I Top 10 singles, April 16, 2019:

1. Katarina Jokic, Georgia (1)
2. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami (2)
3. Kate Fahey, Michigan (3)
4. Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina (4)
5. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt (7)
6. Makenna Jones, North Carolina (5)
7. Alexa Graham, North Carolina (6)
T8. Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech (14)
T8. Eden Richardson, LSU (9)
10. Anna Rogers, North Carolina State (8)

ITA Women's Division I Top 5 doubles, April 16 2019:

1. Mia Horvit and Ingrid Gamarra Martins, South Carolina
2. Lauryn John-Baptiste and Ilze Hattingh, Arizona State
3. Janet Koch and Nina Khmelnitckaia, Kansas
4. Angela Kulikov and Rianna Valdes, USC
5. Ashley Lahey and Evgeniya Levashova, Pepperdine

Although some conference tournaments started before today, the competitions that decide the who gets automatic bids to the NCAA tournament begin in earnest on Wednesday, with the SEC and the ACC both having early round matches.

Tennis Recruiting Network's SLAM tennis is tracking the conference tournaments, and you can see projections now and scores later from all the matches on their Championship Central page. They also provide a Bracketology feature, projecting which schools will receive invitations to the NCAA tournament, which teams are on the bubble and even what the draw might look like.

Bobby Knight will also be following the results this weekend at College Tennis Today, and College Tennis Ranks is also a place to dive deeply into the projected rankings and selections for the Division I NCAA tournament.

With the NCAA Division I tournament hosted this year at the USTA's National Campus in Lake Nona, usta.com has undertaken a series looking at several of the teams expecting to be contend for the titles next month.

Today's article focuses on the Vanderbilt women, last year's finalists. They have also highlighted the Stanford women, the Duke women, the Michigan women, the North Carolina women and the Virginia men.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Zane Khan Qualifies for Sarasota Challenger; Alabama, Florida Host ITF World Tennis Tour Events Again This Week; More ITF World Tennis Tour Adjustments Coming?

Orange Bowl finalist Zane Khan won his qualifying match today at the ATP 100 Challenger in Sarasota Florida, with the 17-year-old wild card defeating ATP No. 369 Benjamin Hassan of Germany 6-3, 6-2.  Khan will face unseeded Daniel Galan of Colombia, a semifinalist at last week's ATP 250 in Houston, in the first round Tuesday.

Khan is one of 20 American men in the Sarasota main draw this week, with Tennys Sandgren the No. 2 seed and Bradley Klahn the No. 3 seed (Hugo Dellien of Bolivia is the top seed.) Wild cards went to Noah Rubin[9], Sebastian Korda, last week's runnerup at the Sunrise $15K, Jared Hiltzik and Jenson Brooksby. Brooksby and Hiltzik played each other today, with the reigning Kalamazoo champion picking up his first Challenger-level by a 6-1, 6-2 score.

This is also the second week of the men's USTA's French Open Wild Card Challenge, with little happening in the first week. No American men played in the two clay Challengers or the ATP in Morocco last week, and only Ryan Harrison, now 109 in the ATP rankings, picked up any points at the ATP in Houston, with a first round win. Sam Querrey made the semifinals in Houston, but he is not likely to need the French Open wild card.

This week most of the Americans are in Sarasota, although a few are playing at the ATP 80 Challenger in Mexico: Evan King, Kevin King (who played each other in the first round today, with Kevin King winning), Ernesto Escobedo and 17-year-old wild card Emilio Nava.

With Fed Cup taking place this week, there are no WTA events, and the biggest tournament on the schedule is the $80,000 tournament in Dothan Alabama, which kicks off the women's USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge.

Taylor Townsend and Madison Brengle are the top two seeds in Dothan, among the 11 Americans in the main draw prior to the completion of qualifying.  There will be at least one more, with Ingrid Neel(Florida) and Hanna Chang meeting in the final round of qualifying Tuesday, with Katie Volynets and Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame) also able to advance to the main draw with a win Tuesday.

The main draw wild cards were given to Alexa Guarachi, a former University of Alabama star, Usue Arconada, Sophie Chang and Louisa Chirico. Bogota finalist Astra Sharma(Vanderbilt) of Australia is also in the draw this week and is the No. 4 seed.

The ITF World Tennis Tour continues on the Florida clay this week in Orange Park, where Bastian Malla of Chile is the top seed at the $15,000 tournament. Harrison Adams(Texas A&M) is the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to Junior Ore(Texas A&M), Emmett Ward, Logan Zapp and Easter Bowl champion Ronald Hohmann.

For many years, Egypt and Turkey have had a series of low level ITF Pro Circuit events, with tournament after tournament in the same location in those countries, presumably so players don't have to travel so much. Cancun Mexico may not be in that mode quite yet, but that popular resort city will be hosting three combined men's and women's $15,000 events this month, and they have attracted a handful of Americans in these first two weeks. Tom Fawcett[3](Stanford) and Evan Zhu[7](UCLA) are the seeded American men this week in Cancun, with Pamela Montez[3](UCLA) and Sabastiani Leon[7] the two seeded American women this week in Cancun.

Last week the Telegraph detailed Tennis Europe's objections to the ITF's new World Tennis Tour and this article floats the possibility that the ATP will once again grant ATP points to players at the WTT level if the ITF agrees to several changes, including larger qualifying draws. Recently the ITF expanded the qualifying from 24 to 32, with 48 the latest number suggested.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Anisimova Defeats Sharma to Claim First WTA Title; Arconada Earns His First Title in Cancun; Carton Takes ITF Grade 4 in Trinidad; Baylor Falls to Texas Tech; Georgia Women, Florida Men Win SEC Regular Season Titles, Michigan Women Also Finish Conference Play Undefeated

Seventeen-year-old Amanda Anisimova came from behind once again today at the WTA's Claro Open Colsanitas in Bogota Colombia to claim her first WTA title in her second final.

No. 6 seed Anisimova, the 2017 US Open girls champion, defeated recent Vanderbilt graduate Astra Sharma of Australia 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in today's final, becoming the youngest American to win a WTA tour title since Serena Williams in 1999. Anisimova, who won four of her five matches in three sets, with three of those from a set down, will now move to a career-high of 54 in the WTA rankings.

Sharma, who had a set and a break lead before Anisimova's comeback, will be at 102 in the WTA rankings after her run the week.

See the WTA website for this article on Anisimova's title, her thoughts on Sharma's game and her plans for the upcoming clay season. Throughout her junior career, Anisimova had great success on the South American, Mexican and European clay, so it's no surprise to hear her call it her "favorite surface."

Wimbledon girls champion Iga Swiatek of Poland could not join Anisimova in the winner's circle today, with the 17-year-old losing to Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the final of the WTA International in Switzerland. 

Jordi Arconada, the recent Texas A&M graduate, won his first ITF World Tennis Tour singles title today at the $15,000 event in Cancun Mexico. Arconada, who was unseeded, defeated No. 5 seed Nicolas Alvarez(Duke) of Peru 6-4, 6-2 in the final. Arconada beat four seeds and didn't drop a set all week to add a singles title to his four doubles title on the ITF Pro Circuit.

The other two Americans in singles finals today were beaten, with No. 8 seed Sebastian Korda falling to unseeded Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the Sunrise Florida $15K and No. 2 seed Caroline Dolehide losing to No. 7 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3 at the $25K in Pelham Alabama.

The ITF Junior Circuit left the United States this week, but Americans still competed in several tournaments, earning a total of four titles. Unseeded 15-year-old Nevena Carton won her first ITF Junior Circuit title at the Grade 4 in Trinidad and Tobago, beating No. 3 seed Jackeline Lopez 6-0, 6-1 in the all-American girls singles final. Unseeded Victor Lilov lost in the boys singles final to top seed Angel Diaz Jalil of Ecudor 6-2, 7-6(1).  Unseeded Jameson Corsillo and Andrew Pereverzev beat No. 3 seeds Lilov and Canada's Christopher Heck 6-2, 6-3 in the doubles final.  The girls doubles title went to Elan Mnatsakanov and Jamilah Snells, who beat Cecilia Alcobe Garibay and Great Britain's Jasmine Conway 7-5, 4-6, 10-7 in the final.

At the ITF Grade 3 in Canada, unseeded Matthew Che and James Tracy won the boys doubles title, beating top seeds Blaise Bicknell and Great Britain's Blu Baker 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

The No. 6 Baylor men lost 4-3 today to No. 23 Texas Tech in Lubbock to conclude the Big 12 regular season. The conference tournament begins Friday in Kansas.

The SEC produced two undefeated regular season champions, with the Florida men and the Georgia women both sweeping all of their conference matches. No. 3 Florida defeated No. 18 South Carolina 6-1 to win their first SEC title outright in 16 years. No. 2 Georgia beat No. 7 Vanderbilt 4-1 to deny South Carolina any share of the regular season title and joined the 2002 team in going undefeated throughout the regular season.

The Ohio State men defeated Illinois 4-2 today in Champaign in the match that will probably decide the Big Ten title, but the men's Big Ten regular season extends through next weekend, so nothing is official there.

The Michigan women won 5-1 at Maryland and clinched their regular season title, going 11-0 in conference play.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Sharma, Anisimova Play for WTA Bogota Title Sunday; Swiatek Through to WTA Lugano Final; Dolehide, Korda, Arconada Play for ITF World Tennis Tour Titles

Either Astra Sharma or Amanda Anisimova will win her first WTA Tour title Sunday after the pair advanced to the final with wins Saturday at the Claro Open Colsanitas in Bogota Colombia. The 17-year-old Anisimova will be playing in her second WTA tour final, having lost in the final of the Hiroshima Japan International last September. She defeated qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2 in over two-and-a-half hours. The 23-year-old Sharma, who was playing No. 1 for Vanderbilt last year at this time, had never reached the quarterfinals of a WTA event until this week, but the Australian was able to eliminate 2012 champion and 2017 and 2018 finalist Lara Arruabarrena 7-5, 6-1 in just over an hour. With her run this week, Sharma is now on the cusp of the WTA Top 100 and the main draw of the French Open. For more on Sharma's win today, see this article from the WTA website.

Sharma has already earned her first WTA title, regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's singles final. She and Zoe Hives, also of Australia, beat Hayley Carter(UNC) and Ena Shibahara(UCLA) 6-1, 6-2 in the Bogota doubles final.
Iga Swiatek won the Wimbledon Girls title in 2018
Current girls Wimbledon champion Iga Swiatek of Poland has advanced to her first WTA final, with the 17-year-old beating another Wimbledon junior champion, Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 6-0, 6-1 in less than an hour in today's Samsung Open in Lugano Switzerland. Swiatek will face unseeded Polona Hercog of Slovenia, who beat unseeded Fiona Ferro of France 7-5, 6-4 in the other semifinal. Swiatek will break into the WTA Top 100 regardless of Sunday's result.

Exactly a year ago, Swiatek was winning the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Pelham Alabama. Tomorrow, the final at that tournament will feature No. 2 seed Caroline Dolehide and No. 7 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic. Dolehide defeated No. 4 seed Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria 6-3, 7-6(4) while Krejcikova, last week's champion of the $80,000 tournament in Palm Harbor Florida, beat qualifier Hailey Baptiste 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Dolehide already has earned one title this week, taking the doubles championship today with Usue Arconada. The No. 3 seeds defeated the unseeded Romanian team of Oana Simion and Gabriela Talaba(Texas Tech) 6-3, 6-0 in today's final.

Two American men will play for ITF World Tennis Tour $15K titles Sunday, with No. 8 seed Sebastian Korda playing Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan in the Sunrise Florida final, and Jordi Arconada facing No. 5 seed and former Duke star Nicolas Alvarez of Peru in the Cancun Mexico final.

Korda defeated No. 2 seed Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in today's Sunrise semifinal, while Arconada, a former Texas A&M star, beat No. 8 seed Lorenzo Frigerio of Italy 6-4, 6-3 in the Cancun semifinal.

Both the 18-year-old Korda and the 22-year-old Arconada are looking for their first singles titles on the ITF World Tennis Tour.

The doubles title in Cancun went to No. 4 seeds Henry Craig(Denver) and Julian Bradley(North Florida) of Ireland, who beat Ecuador's Ivan Endara and Peru's Jorge Panta 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

No. 2 seeds Justin Butsch(LSU) and Alexander Ritschard(Virginia) won the Sunrise doubles title, beating Argentina's Maximiliano Estevez and Chile's Bastian Malla 3-6, 6-3, 10-2. It's Butsch's third ITF WTT doubles title and the first for Ritschard.