Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Stanford Signs Ma and Yepifanova; ITF Features Montgomery, Rune, Fruhvirtova, Alcaraz, Sherif in Class of 2020 Articles

I've found only one major Division I women's announcement this week, but it's a big one, with Stanford signing Alexandra Yepifanova and Connie Ma for the fall of 2021.  

Ma has never played regularly on the ITF Junior Circuit, due to her commitment to attend school in person and prioritize academics, but when she has played her results have been impressive. In September of 2019, she led the US Junior Fed Cup team, which included Robin Montgomery and Katrina Scott, to the title; a year earlier, she had been on the 2018 Junior Fed Cup team with Coco Gauff and Alexa Noel that also secured the coveted ITF team title for those 16-and-under. Ma is No. 1 in the Class of 2021 Tennis Recruiting Network ratings, with Yepifanova No. 2. 

Yepifanova made her breakthrough at the 2019 US Open Junior Championships, making the final as an unseeded qualifier. She has been ranked as high as No. 14 in the ITF Junior rankings, and is currently 29. 

There were several men's Division 1 signing announcements in the past week.

Illinois has signed Alex Petrov, who had initially signed with Iowa, which announced this summer that it was cutting men's tennis after this academic year.

Kentucky has signed Yasha Zemel of Israel, who will join the team next month.

Oklahoma has signed Jordan Hasson of Israel.

Tulane has signed Luc Hoeijmans of Switzerland.

Virginia Tech has signed Alvaro Saez-Royuela Ariza of Spain and Hugo Maia of Brazil. Both will join the Hokies next month.

Last week the ITF published a series of five articles called the Class of 2020, highlighting some of the top young players of the year and their relationship with the ITF. 

The first is the announcement of the ITF World Junior Champions for 2020: Elsa Jacquemot and Harold Mayot of France. Jacquemot is the third straight French ITF World Junior Champion, following Clara Burel and Diane Parry, while Mayot is the first boys World Junior Champion from France since Gael Monfils in 2004.

The second article, on the ITF's Player Development Grants, features former Pepperdine star Mayar Sherif of Egypt and Sumit Nagal of India.

The third article shines the spotlight on the breakthrough performances at this year's French Open by Iga Swiatek of Poland and Hugo Gaston of France.

The fourth article focuses on Holger Rune of Denmark and Robin Montgomery of the US, both of whom won ITF World Tennis Tour tournaments this year while using an ITF Junior Exemption for entry. Junior exemptions for WTT events are available to those who finish the year in the Top 20 of the ITF Junior rankings.

The fifth and last article is entitled "Ones to Watch" and features Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, named ATP Newcomer of the Year yesterday, and 13-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, who has won two ITF Junior tournaments since she began competing on circuit this fall.