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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Nakashima Advances to Round of 16 at Cary Challenger; Teen Qualifiers Advance at Redding $25K; Nava, Svajda Win at Champaign $15K

The USTA Pro Circuit is back in full force this week after a lull around the US Open, with $15,000 events for men and women, a $25K for women in Redding California, and the ATP Challenger 80 in Cary North Carolina.

As I tweeted after he lost his US Open Junior Championships semifinal match to eventual champion Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic, Brandon Nakashima received a wild card into the Cary Challenger and he has made good use of it. The 18-year-old from San Diego picked up his first Challenger-level win yesterday, beating North Carolina State junior Tadas Babelis of Lithuania, also a wild card, 6-3, 6-2 in just under an hour. Today the University of Virginia sophomore earned his best win by ATP ranking, beating No. 13 seed Thai Kwiatkowski, the 2017 NCAA singles champion as a senior at Virginia, 7-6(4), 6-4. Nakashima's win over Kwiatkowski, at ATP 206, is better than his win in the first round of US Open qualifying last year, where he beat No. 250 Ante Pavic of Croatia. Nakashima will compete against an ATP Top 100 player for the second time on Friday when he takes on No. 92 Tommy Paul, who won the New Haven Challenger last week and is seeded No. 2 in this tournament. Nakashima lost to No. 75 Vasek Pospisil of Canada last year in Indian Wells qualifying.

The other wild cards also went to collegiate players, but Benjamin Sigouin of Canada(North Carolina), Alex Rybakov(TCU) and Omni Kumar(Duke) all fell in the first round.

In Redding, several teenagers have posted impressive results, with the youngest being 16-year-old Kimmi Hance. Hance, who started qualifying by beating her older sister Kenadi, a recent Washington graduate, defeated former USC star Zoe Scandalis to qualify for the main draw. Today, Hance beat No. 8 seed Connie Hsu of Taiwan(Penn) 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 for her first main draw win at the $25,000 level. Qualifier Elysia Bolton, a sophomore at UCLA, TCU sophomore Ellie Douglas, a lucky loser, 18-year-old Alycia Parks and 17-year-old qualifier Peyton Stearns are the other teens advancing to the second round.  Canadian Katherine Sebov is the top seed, with No. 2 seed Catherine Harrison(UCLA) falling to 2017 USTA National 18s champion Ashley Kratzer in the first round today.

At the men's $15,000 tournament in Champaign Illinois, 18-year-old Brazilian Matheus Pucnielli de Almeida took out top seed Takuto Niki of Japan 6-1, 7-5 in today's first round, and although that was the most notable win by a teenager, it was hardly the only one. Sixteen-year-old wild card Zachary Svajda, the reigning Kalamazoo champion, beat Florida freshman Will Grant; 17-year-old qualifier Gabriel Diallo of Canada, a freshman at Kentucky, won his first round match; 17-year-old Liam Draxl, another Canadian who is a freshman at Kentucky advanced; 19-year-old qualifier Alexandre Rotsaert beat wild card Vik Budic(Illinois) and Emilio Nava, fresh from his loss in the US Open boys final Sunday, beat AJ Catanzariti(Texas A&M).

The women's $15,000 event in Lawrence Kansas has also produced first round wins for several teenagers including Nebraska freshman Isabel Adrover Gallego of Spain, a qualifier; 17-year-old Charlotte Chavatipon, UCLA recruit Vanessa Ong, a 17-year-old qualifier; 18-year-olds Dalayna Hewitt and qualifier Elizabeth Scotty and Kansas freshman Carmen Manu of Romania, a qualifier. Americans Dasha Ivanova and Anastasia Nefedova are the top seeds.