Sunday, July 26, 2020

Philadelphia, Chicago Clinch World Team Tennis Playoff Spots; Miyazaki, Broom Take British Tour Titles; Alcaraz Wins Spanish Exhibition; ITA Summer Circuit Update

Unlike most of the pro sports leagues gearing up right now, World Team Tennis is playing its regular schedule this year, at its regular time of year, with the only difference from the past four-plus decades coming in the location, with all matches held at The Greenbrier resort, rather than in the nine cities that are fielding teams this year. The season, always confined to three weeks with a final weekend playoff, is drawing to a close this week, with the semifinals and finals set for August 1st and 2nd.

Two teams clinched their places in the playoffs today, with the Philadelphia Freedoms and the expansion franchise Chicago Smash assured of a place in the semifinals. Philadelphia, which is playing tonight, is currently a half game behind Chicago, which stands at 9-2 and has won four matches in a row. Eighteen-year-old Brandon Nakashima of Chicago is currently No. 2 in the WTT men's singles rankings, trailing only Taylor Fritz of the Freedoms.

For complete standings and the schedule for the coming week, along with the broadcast details, see the World Team Tennis website.

While World Team Tennis has been the primary focus of the sport in the United States this month, Great Britain's LTA has continued to hold competitions for players from those in the Top 100 to those much farther removed from the ATP or WTA. The Week 4 events were captured by former Oklahoma star Lily Miyazaki and recent Darthmouth graduate Charlie Broom.  The 24-year-old Miyazaki, seeded No. 1, defeated Grace Piper 6-0, 6-2 in the women's final. Broom, a 22-year-old who will take a fifth year at Baylor in 2020-21, beat Henry Patten 7-6(3), 6-1 in the men's final. For more on this week's British Tour events, see this article.

Carlos Alcaraz, one of the most promising teenagers in the junior ranks, won an exhibition event in his home country of Spain this week. The 17-year-old, who is currently 318 in the ATP rankings, defeated ATP 220 Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6(1), 6-4 in today's final. Alcaraz won five matches in this week's tournament; he did not play in the two prior weeks.

Because there are nine ITA Summer Circuit events to report on this week, I'm going to review them over the next two or three days, starting with the two that concluded today.

At the tournament at Wichita State, top seed Bradley Frye took the men's top flight, with the USC rising junior defeating No. 2 seed Marius Frosa 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Frosa is returning for a fifth year for the Wichita State Shockers.

Unseeded Abidullina Adel-Byanu, a rising junior at Division II Central Oklahoma, won the women's top flight, beating rising UC-Santa Barbara freshman Camille Kiss 3-6, 6-4, 10-7 in the final. Adel-Byanu had taken out top seed Sofia Smagina, a University of Kansas rising junior 6-3, 3-6, 11-9 in the semifinals.

Both Frye and Adel-Byanu took home $375 in prize money, while Forsa and Kiss collected $275.

In contrast to the collegians that came through in Kansas, teenagers were the winners at the Weil Tennis Academy in Ojai California. Division III Middlebury rising freshman Noah Laber, the No. 1 seed, took the men's title, beating Trinity(CT) rising freshman Henry Bilicic 6-2, 6-2 in the final.  Blue chip rising sophomore Mika Ikemori, the No. 5 seed, won the women's title, beating No. 8 seed Velizara Fileva, a rising senior, 1-6, 7-5, 10-7 in the final.