Saturday, October 24, 2020

Bellis Reaches Macon $80K Final Versus Kostyuk; Brady Falls in WTA Ostrava Semis; Pinnington Jones Wins ITF Grade 1 Title in Bulgaria; Qualifying Underway at Grade 4 in Orlando

Cici Bellis this summer at Lexington Exhibition
©Scott Gerber, OhioTennisZone.com

Cici Bellis last reached a singles final way back in November of 2016, when she won her biggest title at the WTA 125 in Honolulu. The 21-year-old, who was out most of 2018 and 2019 with multiple wrist and elbow surgeries, earned the opportunity to raise the winner's trophy again today at the $80,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Macon Georgia, advancing to the final with a 6-3, 1-0 ret. win over qualifier Varvara Lepchenko.

Bellis, a wild card who has looked dialed in throughout the week, wasn't quite as sharp today, but Lepchenko was noticeably off her game. The 34-year-old had to win three matches just to get into the main draw, and once there she had two three-hour-plus victories, including yesterday's quarterfinal over Sachia Vickery. After Bellis closed out the first set, Lepchenko took a medical timeout, but she didn't look physically able to move from side to side in the first two games, and after eight points were played in the second set, she retired.

Bellis will face 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk of Belarus, who ended the run of qualifier Magdalena Frech of Poland in today's other semifinal 6-3, 6-2. The sixth-seeded Kostyuk, who made a huge breakthrough at the Australian Open in 2018, qualifying and reaching the third round, had a few injury issues of her own and couldn't consistently locate that early form, but she is currently at her career-high of 113 and gave eventual champion Naomi Osaka all she could handle in the third round at this year's US Open. Like Bellis, Kostyuk has not dropped a set all week, so their first meeting should be an interesting one.

The final is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, with live streaming available here

The doubles championship was decided this afternoon, with Frech and her partner Katarzyna Kawa, also of Poland, defeating Jamie Loeb(North Carolina) and Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State) 7-5, 6-1 in the final. 

Jennifer Brady's run at the WTA Premier in Ostrava Czech Republic ended today against No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, with Sabalenka just too powerful and to consistent today in her 6-4, 6-4 win. Sabalenka will play Victoria Azarenka in the first WTA final between two players from Belarus, after Azarenka defeated Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 6-3. 

The boys finals were played today at the ITF Grade 1 in Bulgaria, with unseeded 17-year-old Jack Pinnington Jones of Great Britain defeating unseeded Pierre Yves Bailly of Belgium 6-1, 6-2 for his first ITF Grade 1 title.  In the doubles final, Peter Fajta and Zsombor Velcz of Hungary beat Pinnington Jones and Angel Guerrero Melgar of Spain 6-1, 7-6(2) in a battle of unseeded teams.

Top seeds Ellie Coleman and Madison Sieg are through to Sunday's girls doubles final after defeating Sofia Costoulas of Belgium and Fatima Keita of Romania 6-2, 6-4 in today's semifinal. They will play the unseeded team of Anaelle LeClercq of France and Radka Zelnickova of of Slovakia for the title. 

The girls singles final will feature Costoulas, seeded No. 7, and top seed Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra.

Qualifying began today at the ITF Grade 4 in Orlando, which was moved from Lexington South Carolina to the USTA National Campus last month. As with the Grade 4 just completed in Atlanta, the qualifying draws were full and it takes three wins to advance to the main draw, which has just 32 spots. All first round and most second round qualifying results are posted now at the ITF Junior Circuit website