Monday, October 19, 2020

Qualifying Underway at Macon $80K; 2021 Dow Tennis Classic Moved to November; Gauff Among Ten Americans Competing in WTA, ATP Events in Europe

The first ITF World Tennis Tour matches in the United States in over seven months were played today, at the women's $80,000 tournament in Macon Georgia. The first round of qualifying is complete, with the second and final round of qualifying set for Tuesday. Eight players will qualify, with main draw singles beginning on Wednesday. Misaki Doi of Japan is the top seed, with wild cards going to Emma Navarro(Virginia), Lulu Sun of Switzerland, Cici Bellis and Katerina Stewart.

In today's first round of qualifying, Americans Asia Muhammad, Varvara Lepchenko, Claire Liu, Katie Volynets and Kayla Day advanced to the final round. Day, who received a wild card into qualifying got a big win, beating Mayar Sherif(Pepperdine) of Egypt, currently 163 in the WTA rankings and the No. 4 seed in qualifying 7-6(3), 7-5. It's the 21-year-old Day's best win by ranking since she defeated No. 158 Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands back in April of 2019. 

Free live streaming of the Macon tournament is expected to begin Tuesday at usta.com.

One of the Pro Circuit tournaments I've attending regularly over the years is the Women's $100,000 Dow Tennis Classic in Midland Michigan. Driving there--it's about three hours from where I live in Kalamazoo--is almost always an adventure, with the weather at its worst here at the end of January. Yet I've kept going back, not only to watch great tennis and catch up with the juniors and former college players I covered earlier in their careers, but because the tournament is so well run and has so much support from the community, which really appreciates having world class athletes competing in their small city.

If I go to Midland in 2021, it's unlikely I'll encounter a blizzard, as the tournament announced today that it would be moving to November 1-7, some nine months after its usual date.  For more on the move, see this article from the Midland Daily News

The ATP and WTA action this week is again in Europe, with the women competing in a Premier level event in Ostrava Czech Republic, and the men competing in two 250s, in Antwerp Belgium and Cologne Germany. 

Coco Gauff, who did not initially enter the Ostrava tournament, but would have been in qualifying anyway, received a wild card into qualifying and made it into the main draw with wins over Jana Cepelova and Irina-Camelia Begu. She will face wild card Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic in the first round Tuesday. Other Americans in the main draw are Jennifer Brady(UCLA), who plays Dayana Yastremska Tuesday, and Amanda Anisimova, who plays No. 7 seed Elise Mertens on Wednesday.

In Antwerp, No. 7 seed Taylor Fritz will play good friend Reilly Opelka in the opening round Wednesday. Frances Tiafoe won his first round match today, beating No. 6 seed Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-3, 7-6(6). Tommy Paul lost his first round match to Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-3, 6-2. A fifth American man, Marcos Giron(UCLA), will also compete in the main draw after qualifying today. Giron plays 17-year-old wild card Luca Nardi of Italy in a first round match Tuesday.

Just two Americans are in Cologne: Steve Johnson(USC) and Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee). Johnson got his first win over Marin Cilic in six attempts today in the first round, with a 7-6(3), 6-4 decision over the No. 9 seed. For more from Johnson on his win today, see this article from the ATP. Sandgren will play qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France in the first round Tuesday.