Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Recap of ITA Summer Circuit Week 5; Collins Dismissed From World Team Tennis for Leaving Bubble; ATP Citi Open in Washington Canceled

I attended the ITA Summer Circuit finals in Grand Rapids yesterday, and wrote in detail about the titles for Ellie Coleman and Ekansh Kumar in last night's post. I will also have more on the tournament in an article for the Tennis Recruiting Network Friday.

Three other tournaments on the circuit also concluded, and as with the Grand Rapids event, the competition in Lake Nona Florida also produced to winners from the junior ranks.

Blue chip Sonya Macavei, a rising high school junior, defeated five-star rising senior Kate Sharabura 6-2, 6-2 to win the women's title at the USTA National Campus. The draws from the event didn't show seeds, but Macavei had the fifth best Universal Tennis Rating in the field, while Sharabura's UTR was the sixth best. Macavei defeated Rachel Gailis, who had the top UTR in the women's draw, 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals.

Five-star Jelani Sarr, a rising sophomore, won the men's event, beating rising senior Jake Fellows, who had the men's top UTR, 6-1, 6-2 in the final. Sarr, with the fourth best UTR in the men's field, had reached the final of the ITA Summer Circuit event in Lake Nona the previous week, but gave a walkover to Ozan Colak. According to Sarr's UTR record, they played a match a few days later, with Colak winning that match 6-2, 6-7(3), 10-4.

The tournament in Houston, which paid prize money, had more mature champions.  Baylor graduate Rhiann Newborn, now 26, defeated 25-year-old Ayaka Okuno, who played briefly at Georgia, 7-5, 7-6(1) in the women's final. Newborn had the best UTR and Okuno the second best UTR in the women's field.

Texas A&M rising junior Austin Abbrat, who had the second best UTR, defeated Tyler Junior College rising sophomore Jaycer Lyeons 6-3, 7-5 for the men's title. Lyeons had the fourth best UTR in the men's field.

The champions collected $375, while the finalists received $275.

Unlike most of the ITA events this summer, the event in Lubbock Texas did not attract many entries. Lubbock resident Harrison Bennett, a four-star rising sophomore, won the men's event, beating two-star Andrew Azatian, also from Lubbock 6-3, 6-1 in the final.

Maria Kononova, who played at the University of North Texas, didn't have much competition in the thin women's draw. Kononova, with a 10.09 UTR, lost only two games total in her two matches. She defeated Rachel Homan, whose UTR is 6.42, 6-0, 6-0 in the final.

World Team Tennis has entered its second week of competition without any reports of positive Covid-19 tests, but Danielle Collins was dismissed from her team, the Orlando Storm, for violating the safety protocols. Collins left the premises of The Greenbrier during the team's day off Sunday.  Jessica Pegula is the other singles player on the Storm, and she played in their match this morning, losing in singles, but winning both her doubles matches to lead the Storm to a 23-17 win over the Washington Kastles.

The brief statement provided by the league said only that the 2014 and 2016 NCAA singles champion had left the site and the state; given Collins' connection with the University of Virginia a couple of hours away, speculation was that she had traveled there. That was confirmed later by teammate Tennys Sandgren and coach Jay Gooding in this article about Collins' dismissal at tennis.com.

The USTA, ATP and WTA have not yet provided any information on how they might handle a similar breach at the upcoming Western & Southern Open and US Open, but the WTT has set a standard that they would be wise to adopt.

The return of ATP tennis will now be delayed yet again, when it was announced today that the Citi Open in Washington DC would be canceled. Scheduled to start on August 13, the tournament was not a part of any bubble environment, and with so much uncertainty Chairman Mark Ein made the decision to pull the plug, stating, "With only 23 days left until the start of the tournament, there are too many unresolved external issues, including various international travel restrictions as well as troubling health and safety trends, that have forced us to make this decision now in fairness to our players, suppliers and partners, so that they can have certainty around their planning.”

The USTA immediately sent out a statement that this decision has no implications for the Western & Southern Open and the US Open:
"This decision in no way impacts the US Open or the Western & Southern Open. The USTA will create a safe and controlled environment for players and everyone else involved in both tournaments that mitigates health risks that was approved by the State of New York and also conforms to the standards put forth by New York City and the federal government. We constantly base our decisions regarding hosting these tournaments on our three guiding principles that include safety and health of all involved, whether hosting these events are in the best interest in the sport of tennis and whether this decision is financially viable. We are confident we remain in-line with all three guiding principles."