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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Rain in Orlando Cancels First Round of Girls 16s at USTA Winter Nationals; College Tennis Now Becoming Popular Pathway for Arab Players; Querrey, Collins Win Hawaii Open Exhibition

The rain in Florida this month has been a headache for all the tournaments there and today's first day at the USTA 16s and 18s Winter Nationals in Orlando continues that unfortunate trend. Wet courts set singles times back to the afternoon and the first round of girls 16s singles were cancelled for the day, as were doubles. Some of the girls 18s singles matches were scheduled at 7:30 p.m., so there aren't any updates for them, but top boys 18s seed Logan Zapp advanced, as did Louis Cloud, the top seed in the boys 16s, although Cloud barely survived Dylan Tsoi 6-0, 4-6, 7-6(4) in his opening match.
No. 4 seed Walker Oberg and No. 7 seed Sebastian Gorzny lost in the first round in the 16s. The top 8 seeds for all eight divisions can be found in my post from yesterday.

High temperatures in the 40s have caused problems for the 12s and 14s Winter Nationals in Tucson, and the doubles were cancelled for today. All four of the No. 1 seeds in singles did play and advanced to the second round.

Pepperdine's Mayar Sherif reached the NCAA singles semifinals in 2018
A recent article by Reem Abulleil for The Guardian explores the trend of Arab players joining collegiate teams in the United States as an alternative to immediately going from junior to pro tennis. With most of their federations unwilling or unable to provide financial support for the training required at during the crucial late-teens, early-20s years, these players are turning to US colleges to fill the gap. Abulleil speaks with former Wake Forest star Skander Mansouri of Tunisia and former Pepperdine standout Mayar Sherif of Egypt about their decision to attend college and play in the US and what they gained from taking that route. Several other Arab players are also interviewed about their collegiate tennis experience here in the United States.

Exhibitions are not uncommon any time of year in the sport of tennis, and this week's Hawaii Open could have been a high-profile one, with Maria Sharapova, Bianca Andreescu, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori all announced as participants. They withdrew at various times this month, and although Angelique Kerber did show up, she was injured in the warmup prior to her final against Danielle Collins and Collins received a walkover to the title. Brandon Nakashima received a wild card, and he defeated Taylor Fritz in the semifinals 7-6(4), 6-4 yesterday. In today's men's final, Sam Querrey defeated Nakashima 6-4, 6-7(7), 13-11. For more on the reaction to all the withdrawals, see this article from Hawaii News Now.