Saturday, May 15, 2021

Wiersholm, Kim Win Dominican Republic J3 Titles, Three US Singles Champions in Cancun, Nicaragua; Volynets Advances to Bonita Springs $100K Final; Former Collegians Claim Two Challenger Doubles Titles; Women's Division I Round of 16 Sunday in Lake Nona

Aidan Kim captured his second consecutive J3 title in the Dominican Republic, and Katja Wiersholm ended the streak of Canadian Victoria Mboko today to give Americans the sweep of the singles titles.

Kim, the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Azuma Visaya 6-3, 6-4 to claim his tenth consecutive straight-sets victory in his two weeks in Santo Domingo. 

The unseeded Wiersholm ended a similar streak, taking out the 14-year-old Mboko, the No. 6 seed, 5-7, 7-5, 7-5. Mboko, who won the first two J3s in the Dominican Republic this month, had beaten 16-year-old Wiersholm in the first round of the  IOSC J1 in San Diego back in March. It's Wiersholm's fourth ITF Junior Circuit singles title, but her first since 2018.

The US also swept the singles titles at this week's J5 in Cancun Mexico, with 16-year-old Jonathan Irwanto and 15-year-old Anya Murthy winning their first ITF Junior Circuit titles. The unseeded Irwanto played last week's Cancun J5 champion, No. 4 seed Leanid Boika, in the final, with Boika retiring after dropping the first set 6-2. Murthy beat fellow US qualifier Addison Comiskey 7-6(3), 6-4 in the final. Neither champion lost a set in their runs to titles.

Taylor Goetz swept the championships at the J5 in Nicaragua, with the 15-year-old from New York winning her first two titles on the ITF Junior Circuit. Goetz and partner Linda Ziets Segura, who were unseeded, won the doubles title with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Paloma Goldsmith Weinreich of Chile and American Elizabeth Tindera, also unseeded. In the singles final, Goetz, the younger sister of the University of Virginia's Ryan Goetz, defeated Yichen Zhao of China 6-2, 6-1. Both were unseeded. 

At the J5 in Lima Peru, No. 4 seeds Elizabeth Tkacheno and Peru's Luciana Mendoza won the girls doubles title, beating No. 3 seeds Gabriella Llindgren and Jelena Vico of Canada 7-5, 6-1.

2019 USTA Girls 18s champion Katie Volynets has advanced to the final of the $100,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Bonita Springs Florida, beating qualifier Hanna Chang 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 in this afternoon's semifinal. Wild card Volynets, 19, will face 26-year-old Irina Bara of Romania, the No. 5 seed, who beat qualifier Irina Fetecau, also of Romania, 6-4, 6-1 today. Volynets, who was at a career high of 299 in the WTA rankings coming into this week, has played in only one final on the Pro Circuit, losing to Bianca Turati(Texas) in the final of a $25K in 2019. 

Former American collegians swept the doubles titles at the two ATP Challengers this week.

At the ATP Challenger 100 in Germany, No. 3 seeds Jackson Withrow(Texas A&M) and Nate Lammons(SMU) defeated Andre Goransson(Cal) of Sweden and Sem Verbeek(Pacific) of the Netherlands 6-7(4), 6-4, 10-8 in the final. 

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Croatia, No. 3 seeds Evan King(Michigan) and Hunter Reese(Tennessee) defeated top seeds Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov(Oklahoma State) of Kazakhstan 6-2, 7-6(4) in the final.

Seventeen-year-old Martin Damm won his third ITF Pro Circuit men's doubles title, his second with former TCU All-American Alex Rybakov, at this week's $15,000 WTT tournament in Spain. Damm and Rybakov, who were unseeded, defeated top seeds Francisco Cabral and Goncalo Falcao of Portugal 6-4, 7-6(4) in today's final. 

The round of 16 of the women's NCAA Division I Team Championships begins tomorrow at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida. Below is the schedule, with free streaming available via the TennisONE app. See the tournament website for links to live scoring, which will be provided by TennisTicker.

Women's D-I Round of 16 (all times EDT):

North Carolina[1] v Cal[16] (7 PM)
Central Florida[9] v Duke (7 PM)
Pepperdine[5] v Michigan (4 PM)
Georgia Tech[13] v UCLA[4] (4PM)

Georgia[3] v Virginia[14] (10 AM)
Southern California v NC State[6] (10 AM)
Florida State[7] v Texas A&M[10] (1 PM)
Ohio State[15] v Texas[2] (1 PM)

Friday, May 14, 2021

Talking NCAA Round of 16 at Cracked Racquets; Perego and Macavei Win ITF Plantation J4 Titles; Three Americans Reach J3 Dominican Republic Finals; Volynets Defeats Brengle at Bonita Springs $100K; Gauff and Opelka into Italian Open Semis

I spoke with Alex Gruskin of Cracked Racquets today about Sunday's women's Division I round of 16, while we also talked for a few minutes about Monday's eight men's matches in this Mini-Break podcast. It's always great fun to discuss college tennis with Alex, and I'm glad he found the time in a hectic week for him  before he heads to Lake Nona to help with the TennisONE app's coverage of these early matches. Gruskin, Matt Stachowiak and Chris Halioris take a deep dive into the men's round of 16 in this podcast, and you can find Alex's conversations with all 32 of the head coaches who have earned a spot in the round of 16 at his Cracked Interviews podcast on apple, spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

The third and final week of the J4 ITF Junior Circuit events in Florida concluded today with Italy's Giulio Perego and Sonya Macavei winning the singles titles in Plantation. Top seed Perego, who won the Delray Beach J4 and reached the final of the Coral Gables J4 last week, defeated unseeded Luca Hotze 6-0, 6-3 in the final. The Texas A&M recruit, who also won the J4 in Las Vegas in March, is now 19-2 on the year.

No. 8 seed Sonya Macavei won her first ITF Junior Circuit singles title with a comeback win over unseeded Emma Charney. The 17-year-old, who won the doubles title yesterday with Valeria Ray, defeated Charney 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4. 

No. 2 seeds Sebastian Gorzny and Nathan Cox won the boys doubles title today, beating Perego and Adit Sinha, the No. 1 seeds, 3-6, 6-3, 12-10.

As in Plantation, three Americans advanced to the finals of this week's J3 in the Dominican Republic. The boys final will feature No. 2 seed and last week's Dominican Republic J3 winner Aidan Kim against No. 3 seed Azuma Visaya. Kim defeated unseeded Jonah Braswell 6-3, 6-0, while Visaya beat unseeded Joel Pierleoni of Great Britain 6-2, 6-1. 

Unseeded Katja Wiersholm advanced to the girls final, beating No. 4 seed Alexia Harmon 6-2, 6-0 in an all-US semifinal. Wiersholm had defeated top seed Annabelle Xu of Canada 6-4, 6-4 in the first round. She will face 14-year-old Victoria Mboko of Canada, who is aiming for her third consecutive title in the three weeks of J3s in the Dominican Republic. The No. 6 seed, who also won the Grade 4 in Las Vegas in March, defeated No. 7 seed Mao Mushika of Japan 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 in today's semifinal. Mboko and Wiersholm met in the first round of the J1 in San Diego in March, with Mboko posting a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3  win.

Nineteen-year-old wild card Katie Volynets has reached the semifinals of the $100,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Bonita Spring Florida, picking up her second WTA Top 100 win with a 6-1, 6-2 decision over top seed Madison Brengle. Brengle had taken out Volynets in the quarterfinals of last week's $100K in Charleston. Volynets will play qualifier Hanna Chang, who is making her first appearance in a Pro Circuit semifinal above the $25K level. Chang defeated former Ohio State All-American Francesca Di Lorenzo, playing her second match of the day, 6-3, 6-3. 

It will be USA versus Romania in the final, regardless of the outcome of Saturday's semifinals, with qualifier Irina Fetecau taking on No. 5 seed Irina Bara in the bottom half. Both needed over three hours to win their quarterfinals matches today. 

Although the rain in Rome kept the quarterfinals from being completed today at the Italian Open, two Americans advanced to their first Masters 1000 semifinals before the weather deteriorated. Coco Gauff moved through in the women's draw when No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia retired with an arm injury leading 6-4, 2-1. Gauff will face the winner of the quarterfinal match between No. 15 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland and Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, which was postponed due to rain. 

In the men's draw, unseeded Reilly Opelka defeated unseeded Federico Delbonis of Argentina 7-5, 7-6(2) and, unlike Gauff, he does know his semifinal opponent: No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Volynets Reaches Quarterfinals of Bonita Springs $100K; Three US Juniors Make Plantation J4 Finals; NCAA Division III Individual Selections; Pegula, Gauff and Opelka Advance to Italian Open Quarterfinals

Katie Volynets, the 2019 USTA 18s National Champion, has advanced to the quarterfinals of the $100,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Bonita Springs Florida, joining fellow Americans Hanna Chang, a qualifier and top seed Madison Brengle. The 19-year-old wild card, who also reached the quarterfinals last week at the $100,000 tournament in Charleston South Carolina, defeated No. 6 seed Renata Zarazua of Mexico 6-1, 6-3 in today's second round action. 

Volynets will face Brengle in the quarterfinals for the second straight week; in Charleston Brengle, who went on to the final, beat Volynets 7-5, 7-6(3).

Chang will play the winner of an unfinished match between Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State) and No. 3 seed Mayar Sherif(Pepperdine) of Egypt. 

Wild card Ashlyn Krueger, the reigning Orange Bowl champion, beat No. 7 seed Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 last night, and put up another good showing today against another WTA Top 200 player in Storm Sanders before falling to the Australian 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(7) in three hours and 14 minutes.

On the other side of the state, the singles semifinals of the ITF Junior Circuit J4 in Plantation were played today, with top seed Giulio Perego of Italy reaching his third final in this three-tournament clay circuit in Florida. Texas A&M recruit Perego, who won in Delray Beach and lost in Coral Gables, will face unseeded Luc Hotze, who won the J4 in Panama last week. Hotze defeated No. 8 seed John Chin of Jamaica 6-4, 7-5, while Perego beat No. 3 seed Sebastian Gorzny 6-4, 6-3

The all-US girls final will feature unseeded Emma Charney, who beat top seed Nevena Carton in the second round, against No. 8 seed Sonya Macavei. Charney took out wild card Valeria Ray 6-1, 6-0, while Macavei won her match the hard way, beating Coral Gables J4 champion Mary Stoiana 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5). 

Macavei and Ray won the girls doubles title today, defeating Stoiana and Ahmani Guichard 7-5, 5-7, 10-4 in a final between two unseeded teams.

The NCAA released the singles and doubles qualifiers for the Division III individual championships last night. Defending champion Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico of Emory is among the 32 women aiming for the 2021 singles title. 2019 men's champion Jonathan Jemison of Emory graduated, but the Eagles will have a chance to retain the singles title, with Hayden Cassone making the men's field. The Division III singles championships are 32-player draws contested over three days, with May 28-30 the dates this year. Unlike NCAA Division I, Division III will use a standard alternate system this year. Seeds are not revealed in Division III until the draw is released on May 26th.

Three Americans have advanced to the quarterfinals at the Masters 1000 tournament in Rome, with Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula and Reilly Opelka getting victories today. The unseeded Gauff defeated No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece in Wednesday's second round, and today took out Madrid champion and No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 7-5, 6-3. Gauff faces top seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia in Friday's quarterfinals. 

Pegula, also unseeded, defeated No. 2 seed Naomi Osaka of Japan in the second round and unseeded Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia 6-2, 6-4 in today's third round. Pegula, who is 21-7 this year on the WTA tour, takes on unseeded Petra Martic of Croatia in the quarterfinals.

The unseeded Opelka has yet to beat a seed this week, but took out Aslan Karatsev of Russia, one of the hottest players on tour this year, 7-6(6), 6-4 in today's third round. Opelka will face unseeded Federico Delbonis of Argentina in Friday's quarterfinals.

The women's draws are here; the men's draws are here.

At the ATP Challenger 100 in Germany, No. 8 seed Mackenzie McDonald has reached the semifinals. The 2016 NCAA champion from UCLA will face No. 4 seed Daniel Galan of Colombia Saturday.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

TennisONE App Announces Streaming Coverage of NCAAs; ITA Summer Circuit Registration Begins Next Week; UTR American Clay Courts Move to North Carolina

The TennisONE application announced today that it would be providing free streaming of the NCAA Division I National Championships in Lake Nona Florida. From the release:

The TennisONE App, a year-round global, mobile platform for all-things-tennis has partnered with the NCAA as their Mobile App and Live Streaming Partner for the 2021 NCAA Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships, which will be held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., from Sunday, May 16, through Friday, May 28.

TennisONE will be the exclusive streaming home for the following matches:

Round of 16: 
All matches
Quarterfinals: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. matches
Semifinals: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. matches

First Round: All singles/doubles matches
Second Round: All singles/doubles matches
Round of 16: All singles/doubles matches
Quarterfinals: All singles/doubles matches
Semifinals: All singles/doubles matches
Finals: All singles/doubles matches

All live video streams will be produced by the USTA, with feature matches including commentary by ESPN’s Sam Gore, current WTA playing-professional CiCi Bellis, and broadcast veteran, Kevin Skinner.  TennisONE’s 13 days of in-app coverage will be anchored on-site by on-air talent Rachel Stuhlmann, a former standout collegiate tennis player at the University of Missouri.

TennisOne is a mobile app, not intended for use on a computer. Tennis Channel will be providing the two late quarterfinal matches for both men and women and the late semifinal matches, with coverage beginning with the women's 5:30 pm quarterfinal on May 19th. For the Tennis Channel schedule, see this release (I can guarantee these matches will not be two hours in duration, which is what the schedule shows).

The ITA Summer Circuit is back for 2021, with six weeks of competition across the country beginning June 19th with 12 events. Registration for the opening week begins next week, with juniors, college players and anyone else interested in competing welcome to enter. A $30 ITA membership is necessary, and unlike last year, the entries will be based on UTRs rather than first-come, first-serve as it was last year. Flights are likely for the most popular events. Doubles were not played last year due to covid concerns but are expected to resume at most locations this year. The entry fee is $65, with some of the events providing prize money.  

These tournaments were a godsend last year, when no USTA events were being held; I covered one in Grand Rapids for the Tennis Recruiting Network, which was the only live tennis I saw for the last 10 months of 2020. They are a great opportunity for younger players to see where they stand in the college tennis hierarchy and an inexpensive way to get a minimum of two matches in the three-day events.

Lisa Stone spoke with the ITA's Caroline Eberhart about this year's Summer Circuit this week and their conversation is available at the Parenting Aces YouTube channel

Another release I received today announced the second annual American Clay Court Nationals, which were held last year at the Greenbriar, and like the ITA Summer Circuit, provided a rare opportunity for organized competition last summer. My article how these tournaments came together last summer is also at the Tennis Recruiting Network. This year the tournaments are moving to Hanes Park, the former location of the B12s Clay Courts, in Winston-Salem North Carolina. The boys and girls 12s and 14s divisions will be June 10-14 and the boys and girls 16s and 18s will be June 17-21. Prize money is being offered, with a round robin format and doubles. For more details, see these UTR links:

Boys and Girls 12s

Boys and Girls 14s

Boys and Girls 16s

Boys and Girls 18s

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

US Teams Out of ITF's Junior Davis and Billie Jean King Cups, World Junior Tennis Competitions; Big 12 Conference Awards; US Teens Awarded Wild Cards at Bonita Springs $100K

A couple of weeks ago the ITF announced that the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Billie Jean King Cup, its 16-and-under international team event, would be held in Turkey this fall, with that country substituting for the USTA, who was supposed to hold the event in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Of course last year both events were canceled, as was the ITF World Junior Tennis team competition for 14-and-under players, and I have yet to hear anything regarding the status of WJT, which usually takes place at the beginning of August. 

I asked the USTA if they had heard anything about that, and I received the following response:

"Due to the ongoing situation surrounding COVID-19, the USTA has made the decision to withdraw from the 2021 ITF Junior Team Competition in Mexico for the U14 event (Junior World Championship) and the U16 event (Junior BJK / Davis Cup). The decision was made with the health and safety of our players and staff as the primary and ultimate concern."

I'm not sure why I so surprised by that, given the extreme caution the USTA has displayed throughout the past 14 months, but it is a shame that the top players from the 2005 and 2007 birth years will not get an opportunity to compete on that international stage. I know it is a highlight for many when they look back on their junior careers, with team events featuring a different kinds of pressure and rewards from what they are accustomed to in standard junior events.

The Big 12 conference announced its awards and all-tournament teams today for both men and women, with the Pac-12 now the only Power 5 conference still to release these honors. For the other conferences, see this post, and this post. You'll notice that the Big 12's Newcomer of the Year awards went to a graduate transfer and a junior transfer, while the SEC confined their NOYs to sophomores. The ACC and Big Ten don't offer that category.

BIG 12
Coach of the Year: Bruce Berque, Texas
Player of the Year: Luc Fomba, TCU
Newcomer of the Year: Charlie Broom, Baylor
Freshman of the Year: Micah Braswell, Texas

Coach of the Year: Boomer Saia, Iowa State
Player of the Year: Bunyawi Thamchaiwat, Oklahoma State
Newcomer of the Year: Kaitlin Staines, Texas Tech
Freshman of the Year: Peyton Stearns, Texas

In other Division I college tennis news today, Chris Wooten, who has been the interim head women's coach at Missouri, has been named to the position permanently.  Also, St. Thomas, which is moving from Division III to Division I, announced that it is dropping its men's and women's tennis programs in the transition. Division I Long Island University announced that it is adding a men's tennis program.

Qualifying was completed today at the $100,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Bonita Springs Florida, with Alycia Parks, Hanna Chang and Vicky Duval the Americans to earn their way into the main draw. 

Claire Liu is taking a well-deserved week off after back-to-back titles on the Pro Circuit, but Charleston finalist Madison Brengle is playing and is, as she was in the previous two events, the top seed. Australian Astra Sharma(Vanderbilt), who is back after three weeks off following her first WTA title in Charleston, is the No. 2 seed.

The wild cards all went to teenagers: Robin Montgomery, 16, who plays Brengle in the first round; Katie Volynets, 19, Hailey Baptiste, 19, and Ashlyn Krueger, 17. Volynets is the only one of the four who did not draw a seed.

Monday, May 10, 2021

My Recap of Last Week's USTA B18s Level 1; Three More Americans Win ITF Junior Singles Titles; New J1 Warmup for French Junior Championships; Selections for NCAA Division III Teams Announced

Last Wednesday I went to the B18s USTA Level 1 tournament in Indianapolis and my coverage of the final, with Masato Perera defeating Ryan Torres, is available today at the Tennis Recruiting Network. For the results of the finals in the other age divisions, see this post.

The J4 in Coral Gables received most of the attention I gave to last week's ITF Junior Circuit, but Ethan Quinn and Mary Stoiana were not the only Americans to pick up titles last week.

At the J3 in Santa Domingo Dominican Republic, Aidan Kim won an all-US final, with the 16-year-old from Michigan defeating No. 6 seed Ryan Colby 6-3, 6-4 for his second ITF junior singles title. Kim, the top seed, didn't drop a set in his five victories. Colby did get a winner's trophy however, partnering with Pablo Trochu of France for the doubles title. The unseeded pair defeated Alexander Frusina and his British partner Oliver Tarvet, also unseeded, 6-3, 6-2 in the final. 

The Canadian girls have continued to excel in these Central American/Caribbean ITF Junior events, with 14-year-old Victoria Mboko winning her second consecutive J3 title, again defeating compatriot Mia Kupres. The No. 6 seed, Mboko defeated No. 5 seed Kupres 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 in the final, while partnering with Kayla Cross for another all-Canada final in the doubles. No. 2 seeds Mboko and Cross defeated top seeds Kupres and Annabelle Xu 7-6(7), 7-5 in the final. Mboko is now up to 102 in the ITF World Junior rankings.

At the J4 in Panama, Luca Hotze won his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title and his second doubles title. Seeded No. 2, Hotze defeated No. 3 seed Miguel Angel Alonso of Mexico  6-3, 6-1 in the final. He lost only 16 games in his five victories. In doubles, the second-seeded Hotze and Luis Fernandez of the US, defeated unseeded Lucca Pignaton of Brazil and Limon Rumlova of Mexico 7-6(7), 3-6, 10-4 in the final.

In the girls doubles final, unseeded Yichen Zhao of China and Nishitha Saravanan of the US defeated No. 2 seeds Nicole Alfaro of Costa Rica and Maria Martinez Hernandez of Mexico 7-6(5), 2-6, 12-10.  

The J5 in Cancun Mexico produced the fourth US boys champion of the week, with 16-year-old Floridian Leanid Boika winning his first ITF junior circuit title. Boika, the No. 3 seed, defeated No. 7 seed Alejandro Bancalari of Chile 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Addison Comiskey won the girls doubles title, with partner Mariana Reding of Mexico. The unseeded pair defeated No. 2 seeds Alessandra Caceres of Chile and Amelie Montalvo Lundy of Mexico 7-6(1), 1-6, 10-8 in the final. 

At the J2 in Austria, No. 2 seed Alexis Blokhina reached the semifinals, falling to No. 3 seed Nicole Rivkin of Germany 0-6, 7-6(8), 7-6(4).

The ITF announced that the J2 in Poland will be upgraded to a J1 to serve as the warmup tournament for the French Open Junior Championships, with the postponement of the J1 Astrid Bowl in Belgium, which traditionally serves that role. The deadline for entry for the tournament, which is a 32-draw and runs from June 1 to June 5, is tomorrow. The ITF's article on the change is here.

The NCAA has announced the 37 men's teams and the 42 women's teams that will compete in the 2021 Division III Team Championships, scheduled to begin Thursday and Friday of this week. Unlike the Division I selections, the bulk of those competing qualify by winning their conference, although it is interesting to note that the Williams women received a bid with a record of 2-3. Division III did not hold its Indoor Championships this year, although that competition does not generally draw the best teams from the New England SMAC, which is one of the top conferences in the country. 

Missing this year are top programs CMS, Chicago(although they are hosting matches), Middlebury, Amherst, Bowdoin, MIT, with either the cancellation of the season or insufficient play the reason for their absences. 

The men's and women's team finals, which feature eight teams, are scheduled for May 24-26 at Champions Tennis Club in Chattanooga Tennessee. 

The women's bracket is here; the men's bracket is here. Seeds are not a thing in Division III NCAA championships, but from the draws, but the Washington-St. Louis men and Wesleyan women are at the top left of the draws. The Emory men and Wesleyan women are the defending champions from 2019. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Defending Men's Champion Texas, Top Seed Florida Advance to D-1 Sweet Sixteen; Liu Wins Second Straight USTA Pro Circuit Title at Charleston $100K

The final ten matches to decide the men's Sweet Sixteen participants concluded today, with one unseeded team, Mississippi State ousting a host, and not any host, but the NCAA Championships host, No. 9 seed University of Central Florida by a 4-2 score

The Knights won a fiercely contested doubles point, with all three matches going to a tiebreaker. But in singles, Mississippi State won five first sets in singles, four of them by 7-5 or 7-6 scores, so UCF knew it would need to force third sets in at least two of those matches. Central Florida got its second point from Kento Yamada at line 4, but Mississippi State closed out three of the matches they led in by taking them in straight sets. Down 3-2, Central Florida needed to force two third sets, which they did, with Trey Hilderbrand at line 5 and Gabriel Decamps at line 1 giving the Knights a path. But Hilderbrand got down a break early in the third set and could not come back, with Carles Hernandez posting a 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-2 victory for Mississippi State's fourth point.

The UCF women advanced to the round of 16 yesterday, but it has to be disappointing for the men to squander their chance to play in the round of 16 on their home courts.

Mississippi State is one of three unseeded men's teams who advanced to the round of 16, the same number of unseeded round of 16 participants the women's regionals produced. This is one more than average, I would say, but given how unusual the season was due to the pandemic, it's quite impressive.

None of the men's seeds were forced to come through in a last-match-on situation, with No. 5 Virginia's 4-2 win over Stanford vying with UCF-Mississippi State as the closest match of the day. Stanford won the doubles point, which gave the Cardinal a route to the victory, but Virginia came out strong in the singles, winning five first sets. The bottom half of the Cavaliers lineup all recorded straight-sets victories to give Virginia a 3-1 lead, but that fourth point was elusive, with Arthur Fery at line 2 and Axel Geller at line 1 forcing the third sets Stanford had to have. At line 3, Tristan Boyer was up 5-1 in the third seed against Chris Rodesch, but the freshman was unable to give Stanford than second point. Instead, it was Fery who earned that, beating Jeffrey von der Schulenburg 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, while it Rodesch ended up with Virginia's fourth point, beating Boyer 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(5). Carl Soderlund of Virginia was up 3-0 in the third over Geller when Rodesch clinched.

Many of the other 4-1 and 4-0 matches were much closer than the score would indicate, with both top seed Florida and No. 7 seed TCU recovering after dropping the doubles point. No. 4 Texas, who earned another trip to Lake Nona, the site of their 2019 national title, defeated unranked Northwestern 4-0.

All told, seven SEC teams advanced to Lake Nona, with three from the Big 12, and two each from the ACC, Big 10 and Pac-12.

Below are the men's round of 16 match-ups, with the times for Monday, May 17th. Live scoring and live streaming should be available here.

Men's Round of 16: 

Florida[1] v Illinois[16] (7 PM)
Mississippi State v Texas A&M[8] (7 PM)
Virginia[5] v Southern Cal[12] (4 PM)
South Carolina[13] v Texas[4] (4 PM)

Tennessee[3] v Arizona (10 AM)
Georgia[11] v North Carolina[6] (10 AM)
TCU[7] v Ohio State (1 PM)
Mississippi[15] v Baylor[2] (1 PM)

The women's round of 16 is scheduled for next Sunday, May 16th, with the times noted below. I should have more details about the streaming options that will be available this coming week; Tennis Channel is not scheduled to begin its coverage until the quarterfinals.

Women's Round of 16:

North Carolina[1] v Cal[16] (7 PM)
Central Florida[9] v Duke (7 PM)
Pepperdine[5] v Michigan (4 PM)
Georgia Tech[13] v UCLA[4] (4PM)

Georgia[3] v Virginia[14] (10 AM)
Southern California v NC State[6] (10 AM)
Florida State[7] v Texas A&M[10] (1 PM)
Ohio State[15] v Texas[2] (1 PM)

Claire Liu at 2020 Nicholasville $100K, photo ©Scott Gerber

Claire Liu continued her impressive form this spring, winning her tenth consecutive match on the USTA Women's Pro Circuit to capture the title at the $100,000 tournament in Charleston South Carolina. Liu, who turns 21 later this month, avoided qualifying this week in Charleston after winning the $60,000 tournament last week in Charlottesville Virginia, then the biggest title of her career.  Today, against top seed and WTA No. 86 Madison Brengle, Liu squandered a 5-2 lead in the second set, but still got the win in straight sets, beating Brengle 6-2, 7-6(6) in two hours and nine minutes. 

The 2017 Wimbledon girls champion will now move to a career high of around 128 in the rankings, with her previous high of 137 coming back in January of 2019.

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Naples Florida, 22-year-old Panna Udvardy of Hungary won her first pro circuit title since 2017, beating fellow unseeded finalist Irina Fetecau of Romania 6-0, 6-3 in today's championship match.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

D-I Women's Round of 16 Will Not Include Defending Champion; Unseeded Arizona, Ohio State Men Advance to Lake Nona; Liu and Brengle Meet Sunday for $100K Title in Charleston

The women's Sweet Sixteen in Lake Nona is set, with three unseeded teams advancing, and the shutouts that were the norm in the first round much less frequent in today's competition, with only three of the 16 matches decided by a 4-0 score.

Michigan defeated No. 12 seed LSU 4-3 in Baton Rouge, with the match decided in the third set at line 6. Bella Lorenzini defeated LSU's Nina Geissler who served for the match at 5-4 and was up 30-0, but Lorenzini broke, held and broke for a 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 win. Michigan lost the doubles point, but got a three-set win from freshman Kari Miller at line 1, as well as victories from seniors Chiara Lommer at line 2 and Alyvia Jones at line 5.

Southern California, ranked No. 35 and the third seed in the region, defeated No. 11 seed Florida 4-1 in Gainesville, getting wins from Clare McKee at line 6, Eryn Cayetano at line 2 and Summer Dvorak at line 4.

In the day's final match, Duke defeated No. 8 seed Baylor in Waco 4-3, with Kelly Chen putting the Blue Devils in the final 16 with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Mel Krywoj. After dropping the doubles point in a tiebreaker at 3, Duke got straight-sets wins from Georgia Drummy at line 2, Chloe Beck at line 3 and Meible Chi at line 4 to get to three points, but they needed to turn around one of the remaining three matches to stay alive, and it was Chen who accomplished that, winning the only three-set match of the evening, while all eyes were on her.

The fifth-seeded Waves eliminated unseeded Stanford, the defending champions, 4-2. After winning the doubles point, Stanford took three first sets in singles, with veterans Michaela Gordon at 1 and Emma Higuchi at 6, as well as Sara Choy at 5, giving the Cardinal a path to victory. But only Higuchi could close out her match, and Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey ended up clinching the victory, with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Gordon at line 1. According to @jwilsontennis, this is the first time since 1985 that the Stanford women have not won two rounds in the NCAA tournament.

The ACC has been viewed as the top women's conference in the country for some time now, and nothing that happened today casts any doubt on that, with six teams: North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia, NC State, Florida State and Duke advancing to the final 16. The Pac-12 has three teams: Cal, UCLA and USC; the Big Ten with two: Michigan and Ohio State,  the SEC with two: Georgia and Texas A&M and one each from the Big 12 (Texas), the AAC (UCF) and the West Coast (Pepperdine).

The women's round of 16 matchups:
North Carolina[1] v Cal[16]
Central Florida[9] v Duke
Pepperdine[5] v Michigan
Georgia Tech[13] v UCLA[4]

Georgia[3] v Virginia[14]
Southern California v NC State[6]
Florida State[7] v Texas A&M[10]
Ohio State[15] v Texas[2]

Only six of the men's 16 regionals were decided today, but two unseeded teams have already advanced, although both Ohio State and Arizona were popular picks to take out their seeded hosts.

Arizona had defeated Michigan 4-3 Friday in the toughest regional in either the men's and women's competition, and today they validated that win with a 4-2 victory over No. 14 seed Kentucky in Lexington. Arizona won the doubles point and posted victories by Carlos Hassey at line 6 and  Herman Hoeyeraal at line 4 before Jonas Ziverts completed his comeback at line 2, beating Gabriel Diallo 6-7(8), 6-1, 6-4 to put the Pac-12 Wildcats in the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.

Ohio State, who should have been one of the Top 16 seeds, but was not given that status by the NCAA committee, went to Winston-Salem with a chip on its shoulder and came out with a 4-1 win over No. 10 seed Wake Forest. The Buckeyes took the doubles point and got wins from JJ Tracy at line 6, James Trotter at line 3, and Kyle Seelig at line 5. Seelig, if you recall, was on the wrong end of the final match on last Sunday in the Big Ten conference tournament against Zeke Clark of Illinois, so his 7-5, 7-5 victory over Melios Efstathiou had to be particularly satisfying for the sixth-year senior. From the Ohio State website's coverage:

"For me, I was glad I could finish my match and help the team advance,” [Seelig] continued. “I was the last match on in the Big Ten finals and I didn’t get it done. I let the guys down and I didn’t want to do that again. I had a couple of chances with deuce points in the second set and I didn’t play the first one well. But I attacked a little more on the second one and that was the winning point.”

The seeded men's teams advancing to the round of 16 with wins today are No. 16 Illinois, who beat Notre Dame 4-0, No. 8 Texas A&M, who beat Oklahoma 4-1, No. 12 Southern California, a 4-2 winner over Pepperdine and No. 13 seed South Carolina, who defeated North Carolina State 4-0. 

In men's first round action, three No. 3 regional seeds defeated No. 2 seeds, with unranked Northwestern defeating No. 23 UCLA 4-1, No. 37 Oregon beating No. 26 Alabama 4-3 and No. 38 Memphis defeating No. 30 Georgia Tech 4-2. 

See College Tennis Today for the links to the live scoring and live streaming for the ten men's matches on the schedule for Sunday.

Claire Liu will play for her second consecutive title on Sunday at the $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Charleston South Carolina with top seed Madison Brengle her opponent. The unseeded Liu, who turns 21 later this month, defeated unseeded Harriet Dart of Great Britain 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in today's semifinal for her ninth straight win. Brengle, who defeated unseeded Magdalena Frech of Poland 7-6(6), 6-3, beat Liu the only other time they played, but that was back in 2017. 

Caty McNally and her partner Storm Sanders of Australia, the top seeds, won the doubles title, beating the fourth-seeded Japanese team of Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato 7-5, 4-6, 10-6. 

The run of former Vanderbilt star Fernanda Contreras came to an end today at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Naples Florida, with the qualifier losing to unseeded Panna Udvardy of Hungary 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. Udvardy will face unseeded Irina Fetecau of Romania for the title Sunday.  Catherine Harrison(UCLA) and her partner Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway won the doubles title, with the top seeds defeating the third-seeded Japanese team of Erina Hayashi and Kanako Morisaki 6-2, 3-6, 10-2 in the final.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Part II of NCAA Roundtable; My Guest Appearance on Cracked Racquets Podcast; Women's D-I Regionals Finals Set; Quinn and Stoiana Sweep Coral Gables J4 Titles; Brengle and Liu Reach Charleston $100K Semifinals

Part two of the Tennis Recruiting Network's annual NCAA Division I Roundtable was published today, with the panelists naming their dark horses and predicting their champions. In addition to my regular participation in that forum, I also spoke this morning with Alex Gruskin of Cracked Racquets for his Mini-Break podcast. We started with a few minutes about the current junior tennis landscape, then got down to our thoughts on the women's NCAA tournament, with a brief foray into the men's event at the end. Our biggest back-and-forth came in talking about No. 3 seed Georgia, who I believe is one of the three favorites, while he is not as enthusiastic about the Bulldogs' prospects.

All the women's regional finals are set, with all of the Top 16 seeds advancing to the second round by 4-0 scores. There were a few upsets however in the first round matches between No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the regionals, and that's where the close matches were, with 35th-ranked USC defeating No. 22 Oklahoma 4-3, No. 36 Iowa State defeating No. 24 South Carolina 4-2 and, in the day's biggest upset, unranked North Florida taking out No. 25 Mississippi 4-3 for the program's first NCAA tournament win.

Only six men's regionals began play today, with the day starting with the unfortunate news that Florida Gulf Coast, who was taking the place of Liberty due to Liberty's disqualification due to Covid protocols, also had a possible test result among it's traveling party, giving North Carolina State a walkover. 

In the day's most anticipated match, Arizona defeated Michigan 4-3 to reach the second round for the third time in program history, with Gustaf Strom defeating Andrew Fenty 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 at line 1 to secure the win for the Wildcats. They will face No. 14 Kentucky, who came back from dropping the doubles point to Cleveland State to post a 4-1 win, in Saturday's regional final. The other five men's seeds to advance to regional finals are No. 16 Illinois, No. 8 Texas A&M, No. 12 Southern California, No. 13 South Carolina and No. 10 Wake Forest.  Ohio State, who dropped four first sets in singles against VCU before claiming a 4-1 victory, will play Wake Forest in Saturday's marquee men's match. 

The updated women's draw is here; the men's draw is here. See College Tennis Today for links to live streaming and live scoring for Saturday's matches.

In other college news, Baylor has removed the interim tag from Michael Woodson, the men's associate coach who took over the Bears when head coach Brian Boland resigned last summer. 

Unseeded Mary Stoiana and No. 1 seed Ethan Quinn swept the titles today at the ITF J4 in Coral Gables Florida. Quinn won his second straight match from a set down, defeating No. 2 seed Giulio Perego of Italy 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 for the singles title, then partnered with Perego to win the doubles title. The top seeds defeated Kian Vakili and Canada's Maxime St-Hilaire 6-3, 4-6, 10-6 in the final.

Stoiana, a Texas A&M recruit who turned 18 yesterday, dropped her first set of the tournament, in her win over No. 3 seed Martyna Ostrzygalo Canada, but won the next 10 sets she played, beating wild card Valeria Ray 6-1, 6-3 in today's final. Stoiana then defeated Ray again in the doubles final, with Stoiana and Sophie Llewellyn getting the better of Ray and her partner Ahmani Guichard, 6-1, 4-6, 10-6. 

Quinn's two titles should boost his chances of getting direct entry into the Wimbledon Junior Championships, although the details for that tournament have yet to be released.

Top seed Madison Brengle and unseeded Claire Liu are through to the semifinals of the $100,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Charleston South Carolina. Brengle defeated wild card Katie Volynets 7-5, 7-6(3) to set up a meeting with unseeded Magdalena Frech of Poland. Liu, last week's Charlottesville champion, who has now won eight matches in a row, defeated qualifier Jamie Loeb(North Carolina) 6-2, 6-4 in today's quarterfinals. Liu will face unseeded Harriet Dart of Great Britain, who beat No. 7 seed Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3. Liu and Dart were scheduled to play last Friday in Charlottesville, but Dart gave Liu a walkover to the semifinals.

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Naples Florida, Hanna Chang, the last American woman remaining, lost to Jesika Maleckova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Former Vanderbilt star Fernanda Contreras continued her stellar play this week, with the qualifier defeating former WTA No. 60 Vera Lapko of Belarus 6-1, 6-4. Contreras will face unseeded Panna Udvardy of Hungary in Saturday's semifinals.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

NCAA Division I Team Championships Begin Friday; Tennis Recruiting Network's Annual NCAA Roundtable; Three Americans Reach Coral Gables J4 Finals; Women's Pro Circuit Update

The NCAA Division I team championships begin on Friday, with all 16 women's sites hosting first round action and six of the men's sites also beginning play tomorrow. The women play first this year, with the round of 16 (still called the Super Regionals by the NCAA, although those matches are also at the USTA campus at Lake Nona due to the pandemic) for them beginning on Sunday May 16th.  

The six men's regionals kicking off on Friday don't feature any of the top teams, with No. 8 Texas A&M the highest seed among those six. Also starting Friday and concluding Saturday are No. 10 seed Wake Forest, No. 12 seed Southern California, No. 13 seed South Carolina, No. 14 seed Kentucky and No. 16 seed Illinois. 

The most intriguing match of the day will be Arizona versus Michigan in the Kentucky regional, with Arizona at No. 18 in the current rankings, and Michigan at 23 in the last coaches poll, but not recognized as a Top 32 team (and therefore a No. 2 seed, as Arizona is) by the ITA computer or the NCAA committee.

Bobby Knight at CollegeTennisToday has the weekend's schedule, live scoring and live streaming links. He also has all the details on the NCAA Division II tournament, which begins regional play on Friday for both men and women.

Bobby is one of the contributors to the annual Tennis Recruiting Network NCAA Division I Roundtable, as am I. I checked back on my 2019 predictions and they were actually pretty good for a change, but I'm not any more confident than usual this year, especially with all the issues the pandemic has created. The first part of the Roundtable was published today; the upset-dark horse-champion portion of the Roundtable will come out tomorrow morning.

The finals are set for both singles and doubles at the ITF J4 in Coral Gables Florida. Top seed Ethan Quinn won a tough semifinal over No. 4 seed Sebastian Gorzny 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 and will play doubles partner Giulio Perego of Italy, the No. 2 seed, in Friday's final. In the girls final, unseeded Mary Stoiana will face wild card Valeria Ray, after Stoiana defeated unseeded Ahmani Guichard 6-4, 7-6(4) and Ray took out No. 2 seed Dasha Plekhanova of Canada 6-4, 6-4.  

Quinn and Perego, the No. 1 seeds in doubles, will face unseeded Maxime St-Hilaire of Canada and Kian Vakili of the United States in Friday's final. Ray and her partner Guichard will play Stoiana and her partner Sophie Llewellyn in a girls doubles final between two unseeded teams.

Four Americans are through to the quarterfinals of the $100,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Charleston South Carolina, including Claire Liu, last week's $60K Charlottesville champion. Liu, who got a special exemption into the main draw, defeated No. 3 seed Mayar Sherif(Pepperdine) of Egypt 6-3, 6-0 in today's second round. Liu will play qualifier Jamie Loeb(North Carolina), who downed No. 5 seed Irina Bara of Romania 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3. The other two Americans are also facing each other in the quarterfinals, with top seed Madison Brengle taking on wild card Katie Volynets, who beat Storm Sanders of Australia 6-2, 6-0 today.

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Naples Florida, former Vanderbilt star Fernanda Contreras of Mexico posted the best win of her pro career, with the 23-year-old qualifier beating top seed and WTA 180 Mayo Hibi of Japan 6-1, 7-5. Contreras will have another big challenge in the quarterfinals, as she faces former WTA No. 60 Vera Lapko of Belarus. Lapko got past wild card Alexandra Yepifanova 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 today. The two Americans to advance to the quarterfinals are Katerina Stewart and Hanna Chang. There are no seeded players remaining after today's second round.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

USTA Level 1 Results; Final Division I Pre-NCAA Championships Rankings Released; Quinn and Gorzny Meet Thursday in Coral Gables J4 Semifinals

I spent the day in Indianapolis, for the finals of the USTA Sectional Invitational Grade 1 in the Boys 18s division. These eight 128-player tournaments, played over five days, singles only, were added to the junior schedule this year by the USTA, in an attempt to provide more playing opportunities for top national competitors, after the pandemic and the new junior competition structure kept many of them off the courts for significant parts of the past 12 months.

I am writing an article on the final for the Tennis Recruiting Network, which will be up next week, but congratulations to champion Masato Perera and finalist Ryan Torres for a great tournament despite the challenging weather conditions.

Finalist Ryan Torres, tournament official Alex Gruskin of Cracked Racquets, champion Masato Perera

The results of the final are below for all but the G14s in Tucson, which hasn't been posted yet. To get to the tournament draws(not easy to navigate on the new playtennis site), click on the headings.

B18s Indianapolis
Masato Perera[22] d. Ryan Torres 6-2, 6-2

G18s Mobile
Akari Matsuno[3] d. Theadora Rabman[4] 6-4, 6-2

B16s San Diego
Landon Ardila[1] d. Quang Duong[2] 6-3, 6-4

G16s Tulsa
Kinaa Graham[6] d. Amber Lin[1] 1-6, 6-4, 6-3

B14s Cary
Nicholas Patrick[7] d. Braeden Gelletich[2] 6-4, 6-4

G14s Tucson
Iva Jovic[1] d. Aspen Schuman[4] 7-5, 4-6, 6-4

B12s Austin
Jack Secord[2] d. Navneet Raghuram[4] 6-1, 6-3

G12s Virginia Beach

Thea Frodin[1] d. Isabelle DeLuccia[4] 6-4, 3-6, 6-0

The ITA Division I team and individual rankings that include all the results pre-NCAA championships were published today. The NCAA committee had access to these rankings prior to the release of their fields for the team and individual events, and although some of the questions about the changes they made are answered, others are not, including the switch to put UNC's Sara Daavettila as the No. 1 seed over top-ranked Estela Perez-Somarriba of Miami, and the decision to give the Florida men the No. 1 seed over Baylor, who remains No. 1 in the computer rankings.

With all the college tennis news the past several days, I haven't been able to focus much on the ITF Junior Circuit J4 in Coral Gables Florida this week. The quarterfinals were played today, with two of the American boys who excelled in the San Diego Grade 1s meeting tomorrow in the semifinals. Top seed Ethan Quinn, who won the IOSC and made the Easter Bowl final, will play No. 4 seed Sebastian Gorzny, who won the IOSC doubles title and made the singles quarterfinals at the Easter Bowl. Gorzny beat Quinn in the quarterfinals of the J4 in Las Vegas the week prior to the San Diego events. In the bottom half, last week's Delray Beach champion Giulio Perego of Italy, the No. 3 seed, will face unseeded Maxime St-Hilaire of Canada.

Only one seed remains in the girls draw, with No. 2 seed Dasha Plekhanova of Canada taking on wild card Valeria Ray, the reigning 16s Orange Bowl champion. In the top half, Ahmani Guichard will play Mary Stoiana for a spot in the final. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Kentucky's Draxl and North Carolina's Daavettila Top Seeds in Division I Singles Fields; Liberty Men Out Due to Covid Contract Tracing; Oklahoma State's Udwadia Resigns

The individual selections for NCAA Division I were announced this evening, as well as the seedings for the singles and doubles competitions. 

The NCAA tennis committee knew that it had several top players, especially those from the Pac-12 and Big Ten, who were either unranked or ranked way below the traditional cutoff in the mid-50s, so they had to evaluate those cases separately, making their task was much more difficult this year than usual.

It appears the men's ranking cutoff for singles(and again, I have to go by last week's rankings, as this week's have not yet been released) was 51, with No. 52 Blaise Bicknell of Florida the No. 6 alternate.

Players who were added to the men's field by the committee were Ohio State's Cannon Kingsley and John McNally, who were unranked, No. 118 Aleks Kovacevic of Illinois, No. 101 Siphosothando Montsi of Illinois, No. 60 Keegan Smith of UCLA and No. 63 Arthur Fery of Stanford. Smith is unlikely to play, of course, due to his serious injury from a skateboard accident last month.  Govind Nanda of UCLA, Axel Geller of Stanford and Nathan Ponwith of Arizona State are among the first five alternates, placed above those behind Bicknell in the rankings.

How the alternates are going to work, I can't figure out, with the announcement stating that this year only, alternates will not fill a place in the draw after this coming Sunday. With so many late withdrawals commonplace after the team event, I'm not sure what the procedure is for filling spots, but if anyone knows please leave a comment.

Although selections went outside the usual parameters, seeding did not, with the top 16 players in the computer rankings getting seeded, and thereby earning All-American honors. As I mentioned last week when posting the individual rankings, the men's selections were heavily skewed in the SEC's favor, with that conference receiving 25 (thanks to @Jwilsontennis for that stat) of the 64 slots, while the Big Ten got just five, four of those due to the committee's discretion.

Men's Division I seeds:
1. Liam Draxl, Kentucky
2. Daniel Rodrigues, South Carolina
3. Hady Habib, Texas A&M
4. Valentin Vacherot, Texas A&M
5. Duarte Vale, Florida
6. Sam Riffice, Florida
7. Carl Soderlund, Virginia
8. Johannus Monday, Tennessee

9-16 alphabetical:
Trent Bryde, Georgia
Gabriel Decamps, Central Florida
Gabriel Diallo, Kentucky
Luca Fomba, TCU
Alistair Gray, TCU
Matias Soto, Baylor
Henri Squire, Wake Forest
Adam Walton, Tennessee

The top four seeds in doubles:
1. Tim Sandkaulen and Finn Reynolds, Mississippi
2. William Blumberg and Brian Cernoch, North Carolina
3. Adam Walton and Pat Harper, Tennessee
4. Alastair Gray and Luc Fomba, TCU

The women's field also has its share of entrants who had to rely on the committee for entry: Georgia's Lea Ma[63], San Diego's Solymar Colling, Oklahoma State's Alana Wolfberg, Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey, the 2018 NCAA singles finalist, and Arizona State's Ilze Hattingh.  Duke's Meible Chi, ranked No. 39, is the first alternate, but the actual cutoff for the women appears to be 56, with Selin Ovunc of Auburn the last ranking in, although No. 59 Taylor Bridges of LSU also was selected.

The women's seeds did see some adjustments. Sara Daavettila of North Carolina moved to No. 1, past Miami's Estela Perez-Somarriba, the 2019 singles champion. No. 8 McCartney Kessler moved into the Top 8, over Natasha Subhash of Virginia. Iowa's Alexa Noel, No. 18, received a seed, as did No. 20 Katarina Kozarov of Furman.

Women's Division I seeds:
1. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina
2. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami
3. Emma Navarro, Virginia
4. Katarina Jokic, Georgia
5. Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech
6. Anna Rogers, North Carolina Stat
7. Abigail Forbes, UCLA
8. McCartney Kessler, Florida

9-16 alphabetical
Carolyn Campana, Wake Forest
Victoria Flores, Georgia Tech
Viktoriya Kanapatskaya, Syracuse
Katarina Kozarov, Furman
Alexa Noel, Iowa
Giulia Pairone, Florida State
Isabella Pfenning, Miami
Natasha Subhash, Virginia

The top four seeds in doubles:
1. AkvilÄ— Parazinskaite and Fiona Arrese, Kentucky
2. Sara Daavettila and Cameron Morra, North Carolina
3. Victoria Flores and Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech
4. Makenna Jones and Elizabeth Scotty, North Carolina

The first team to see their NCAA tournament experience cut short due to the Covid-19 virus is Liberty, the ASUN conference men's champion, who was making their first NCAA appearance in program history. The Flames were forced to withdraw from the tournament due to contract tracing. Florida Gulf Coast, the conference tournament finalists, will take their place, playing North Carolina State at the South Carolina regional. For more on this unfortunate turn of events, see this article from The News and Advance.

Oklahoma State will begin its search for a new men's head coach after it was announced on Monday that Jay Udwadia has resigned. Udwadia, who had been in Stillwater since 2012, took a leave of absence earlier this year, with assistant Scoville Jenkins serving as interim head coach. Oklahoma State will take on Navy in the first round of the North Carolina regional on Saturday.

Monday, May 3, 2021

NCAA Division I Seeds, Draws Revealed, with Florida Men and North Carolina Women No. 1; SEC Men's, Big Ten Women's Conference Awards

For all the caveats that the ITA and NCAA Division I committee communicated over the past several weeks, the lack of deviation from the most recent computer rankings was the primary surprise this evening when the seeds and brackets were revealed.

In the men's announcement, the biggest deviation from the computer came right at the beginning, with Florida named the No. 1 seed, over Baylor, who topped both the computer rankings and the coaches poll last week. That, of course, isn't a big deal, but the opportunity to host a regional is a significant perk, and there the committee made no adjustments, with every top 16 team in the final published computer rankings who put in a bid to host selected to do so. I had thought that Mississippi or Kentucky might give way to Ohio State, but the Buckeyes loss in the Big Ten final yesterday may have kept that from happening, and they are now set to travel, not to Kentucky, which is closer, but to Wake Forest, the No. 10 seed.  Stanford, also approved to host, was one of the four not selected (Texas Tech and Michigan are the other two), and they travel to Virginia, while Michigan and Arizona head to Kentucky for another great regional.  

The Big Ten hasn't had the same presence in the rankings this year as usual for several reasons, including losses by Ohio State and Michigan during the Kickoff Weekend that proved particularly damaging. But the committee did put Northwestern and Michigan in the tournament, which the computer would not have done.

The men's bracket is here.

The men's seeds:

1. Florida 
2. Baylor
3. Tennessee
4. Texas 
5. Virginia 
6. UNC 
7. TCU 
8. Texas A&M 
9. Central Florida 
10. Wake Forest 
11. Georgia 
12. USC 
13. South Carolina 
14. Kentucky 
15. Mississippi 
16. Illinois

The women's bracket features the only unseeded team to host a regional, with Northwestern, No. 17 in last week's rankings, getting the nod over No. 10 Texas A&M. Texas A&M was not approved for a regional; I assume they didn't submit an application to host. Stanford, Michigan, Tennessee and Duke, all approved for regionals, are instead being sent elsewhere. Stanford, the reigning NCAA champions, will play at  No. 5 seed's Pepperdine regional; Michigan is going to No. 12 LSU and Tennessee, which is No. 15 in the most recently published ranking, is traveling to No. 14 seed Virginia. Duke is going to No. 8 seed Baylor.

Ohio State, the No. 15 seed, is the other Big Ten school hosting; Iowa, which made the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament and has one of the country's top players in Alexa Noel, was not selected.  I know my bias is showing, but it's really a shame that the beautiful University of Michigan facility will be quiet this coming weekend. 

Cal was elevated to the No. 16 seed in order to host, with the Bears most recent computer ranking No. 25, but that may have been calculated before they beat UCLA in the Pac-12 final last Monday. 

The women's announcement is here, and the bracket is here.

The women's seeds:
1. UNC 
2. Texas 
3. Georgia 
4. UCLA 
5. Pepperdine 
6. NC State 
7. Florida State 
8. Baylor 
9. Central Florida 
10. Texas A&M 
11. Florida 
12. LSU 
13. Georgia Tech 
14. Virginia 
15. Ohio State 
16. Cal

The lineups are up right now, with the men's here and the women's here, but they will be taken down shortly, once the challenges are underway.

The singles and doubles selections are scheduled to be announced Tuesday ncaa.com; given today's decisions, I'm not feeling great about the best players in the Big Ten getting into the draws.

Speaking of the Big Ten, the women's conference awards were announced today, including the all-conference teams. 

Athlete of the Year: Alexa Noel, Iowa
Freshman of the Year: Alexa Noel, Iowa
Coach of the Year: Melissa Schaub, Ohio State

The men's SEC awards were announced a few days ago:

Player of the Year: Valentin Vacherot, Texas A&M
Freshman of the Year: Johannus Monday, Tennessee
Newcomer of the Year: Liam Draxl
Coach of the Year: Bryan Shelton

The Big Ten men's, SEC women's and ACC men's and women's awards can be found here.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Illinois Takes Men's Big Ten Title in Third Set Tiebreaker; Ohio State Wins Women's Big Ten Conference Tournament; Liu Claims Charlottesville $60K Title; USTA Level 1 Update

photo via Illinois men's tennis twitter

Illinois won the Big Ten Conference tournament Sunday afternoon in Lincoln Nebraska in the most dramatic fashion possible, with Zeke Clark defeating Ohio State's Kyle Seelig 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-6(4) in the last match on at No. 4 singles. 

After Illinois took the doubles point without much drama, getting wins at No. 2 and No. 3, giving the Illini a point they were glad to have when the Buckeyes put two quick points on the board in singles, with Cannon Kingsley defeating Siphosothando Montsi 6-1, 6-2 at line 2 and James Trotter beating Alex Brown 6-3, 6-4 at line 3. The other sure point for Ohio State all year, JJ Tracy, had blitzed past Hunter Heck 6-0 in the first set at line 5, but Heck fought back to win the second set.  John McNally dropped the first set to Aleks Kovacevic at line 1, the only first set the Buckeyes lost in singles, but forced a third, while Seelig dropped the second set to Clark and Robert Cash gave up his advantage over Noe Khlif at line 6. When Heck finally put Illinois' second point on the board, with a 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over the previously undefeated Tracy after trailing 3-1 in the final set, the momentum tipped to Illinois, even after McNally dealt Kovacevic his first loss of the year 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

With Ohio State leading 3-2, Khlif kept the Illini alive with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Cash at 6, leaving it all up to the veterans at line 4. Seelig, a sixth-year senior, and Clark, a fifth-year senior, have been through countless big matches throughout their careers, and have always been considered rocks for their teams. With the conference title on the line, there was virtually nothing to separate the two and at the first changeover it was 3-3. Seelig looked more committed to an aggressive strategy and he hit a winner to take a 4-3 lead, but that was the last point he could tally, with Clark keeping the ball in play and Seelig making four consecutive errors to end the four-hour contest.

For more on the match, see this article from the Illinois website. A replay of the match is available to watch, at no cost, at BigTen+.

Ohio State did pick up a conference title today in Madison Wisconsin, with the women defeating Michigan 4-1. Ohio State took the doubles point with wins at lines 2 and 3 and won three first sets in singles, giving them an advantage. But after splitting two 4-3 matches this year, it was unlikely that either team would cruise, although it was Michigan that had trouble closing out their leads. Kari Miller took the first set at line 1 against Irina Cantos Siemers and Jaedan Brown took the first set at line 3 against Lisa Hofbauer, but neither could finish in straight sets. Meanwhile Ohio State's Lucia Marzal had beaten Andrea Cerdan 6-3, 6-4 at line 4 and Luna Dormet had defeated Alyvia Jones 6-3, 6-4 at line 5 to give Ohio State a 3-0 lead. Michigan's Bella Lorenzini picked up a point at line 6, beating Madeline Atway 7-6, 6-2, but Hofbauer closed out her comeback over Brown 6-7, 6-2, 6-2 to deliver the title and the automatic NCAA bid to Ohio State. Box score is here. 

Claire Liu won her biggest pro title and her first since 2019 today at the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Charlottesville Virginia, hoisting the trophy after No. 6 seed Xinyu Wang of China retired trailing 3-6, 6-4, 4-1.

Liu was up 3-1 in the first set, only to lose five straight games, then found herself down 3-1 in the second set before taking eight of the next nine games to take a 3-0 lead in the third set. She converted just four of 17 break points, but it was enough to break her four-final losing streak.  Liu is schedule to compete in next week's $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Charleston.

At the ATP 250 in Estoril, former TCU All-American Cameron Norrie of Great Britain fell just short of his first title, losing to No. 7 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3).

Three rounds of the USTA National Level 1 tournaments were scheduled to be completed by this evening, although rain in some parts of the country have caused some rescheduling, including at the Boys 12s in Austin. Below I've noted how the top 8 seeds have fared in the first three rounds, although not all today's results from the non-eastern time zones have been posted. Headings are links to the full draws.

B12s (Austin TX):
1. Trenton Kanchanakomtorn
2. Jack Secord
3. Liam Alvarez
4. Navneet Raghurman
5. Elliott Awomoyi (out rd 1)
6. Izyan Ahmad
7. Colin McPeek
8. Drew Hassenbein

G12s (Virginia Beach VA):
1. Thea Frodin
2. Ciara Harding (out rd 2)
3. Sena Yoon
4. Isabelle DeLuccia
5. Nancy Lee
6. Ana Avramovic (out rd 3)
7. Maria Aytoyan
8. Filipa Delgado

B14s (Cary NC)
1. A Filer
2. Braeden Gelletich
3. Nicolas Iantosca (out rd 3)
4. Jimin Jung (out rd 3)
5. Evan Sharygin
6. Dominick Mosejczuk (out rd 2)
7. Nicholas Patrick
8. Calvin Baierl

G14s (Tucson AZ)
1. Iva Jovic
2. Sydney Jara (out rd 2)
3. Elena Zhao
4. Aspen Schuman
5. Addison Bowman (out rd 1)
6. Claire Hill
7. Lauren Zhang
8. Capucine Jauffret

B16s (San Diego CA)
1. Landon Ardila
2. Quang Duong
3. Stephan Gershfeld (out rd 2)
4. Creed Skinner
5. Dylan Tsoi
6. Mikkel Zinder (out rd 1)
7. Cyrus Mahjoob
8. Xavier Calvelo

G16s (Tulsa OK)
1. Amber Yin
2. Audrey Spencer
3. Arina Oreshchenkova (out rd 3)
4. Brooke Lynn Schafer
5. Tola Glowacka
6. Kinaa Graham
7. Diya Challa
8. Clara Zou

B18s (Indianapolis IN)
1. Alejandro Moreno
2. Nicholas Heng (out rd 2)
3. Aadarsh Tripathi
4. Bjorn Swenson
5. Rohan Sachdev
6. Eric Li (out rd 3)
7. Joshua Portnoy (out rd 3)
8. Chad Miller (out rd 2)

G18s (Mobile AL)
1. Kaitlyn Carnicella (out rd 2)
2. Amelia Honer
3. Akari Matsuno
4. Theadora Rabman
5. Helen Sarikulaya (out rd 3)
6. Natalie Stasny (out rd 1)
7. Reya Coe (out rd 3)
8. Bayley Sheinin

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Both Ohio State Teams, Michigan Women, Illinois Men Reach Big Ten Tournament Finals; Liu Advances to Charlottesville $60K Final; Norrie Seeks First ATP Title in Estoril

Ohio State will have two opportunities to win a conference tournament on Sunday, with both the men's and women's programs winning their semifinal matches today. 

At the men's tournament in Lincoln Nebraska, the Buckeyes defeated Northwestern 4-0, winning the doubles point and getting victories from JJ Tracy at line 6, John McNally at line 1 and Kyle Seelig at line 5. Ohio State will meet Illinois in the final, after they defeated Michigan 4-2. Illinois lost the doubles point, but posted wins in singles by Aleks Kovacevic at line 1, Alex Brown at line 3, Siphosothando Montsi at line 2 and Noe Khlif at line 6. Ohio State won the regular season meeting with Illinois in Champaign 4-1.

At the women's tournament in Madison Wisconsin, Ohio State took down Iowa 4-2, winning the doubles point and getting victories from Lucia Marzal at line 5, Luna Dormet at line 6, and Isabelle Boulais at line 2.  One of Iowa's points came at No. 1, where freshman Alexa Noel is now 23-0 on the season. The Buckeyes will take on Michigan, who defeated Northwestern 4-1. The Wolverines captured the doubles point and got wins from Kari Miller at line 1, Andrea Cerdan at line 3 and Alyvia Jones at line 5. Michigan is into the conference tournament final for the 16th consecutive time. Ohio State and Michigan split two 4-3 decisions this year, each winning on the road. 

Claire Liu at Lexington $100K, Feb. 2020, photo ©Scott Gerber 

Claire Liu advanced to the final of the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Charlottesville Virginia, beating Sachia Vickery 6-3, 6-3. The 2017 Wimbledon girls singles champion will face No. 6 seed Xinyu Wang of China, a Wimbledon girls doubles champion in 2018, after Wang advanced when qualifier Katie Boulter retired after losing the first set 6-3.  This is Liu's second pro final above the $25K level; she reached the Lexington $100K final back in February of 2020. The 20-year-old Californian has lost her last four finals, including back-to-back finals in $25Ks earlier this year. 

Top seeds Anna Danilina(Florida) of Kazakhstan and Arina Rodionova of Australia won the doubles title, beating unseeded Erin Routliffe(Alabama) of New Zealand and Aldila Sutjiadi(Kentucky) of Indonesia 6-1, 6-3 in the today's final.

At the ATP 250 in Estoril Portugal, former TCU star Cameron Norrie of Great Britain has advanced to the second ATP final of his career. The 25-year-old left-hander, who defeated No. 2 seed Cristian Garin of Chile 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in Friday's quarterfinals, backed up that win today against No. 6 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, beating the 2014 US Open champion 7-6(5), 7-5. He will play No. 7 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in Ramos-Vinolas's 10th ATP final and Norrie's second. Norrie, currently No. 50 in the ATP rankings, has 18 wins on the ATP tour already this year.  For more on Norrie's great week and great season so far, see this article from the ATP website.

Friday, April 30, 2021

April Aces; NCAA Tickets Go On Sale; Evans and Perego Win J4 Delray Beach Singles Titles; Liu and Vickery to Meet in Charlottesville $60K Semifinal; List of Seeds for USTA Level 1s Beginning Saturday

My monthly column for Tennis Recruiting Network is up today, with 16 of April's top performances. It includes all eight Easter Bowl singles champions, in case you missed that coverage earlier, and significant milestones for many former college players. In May, current college players will step into the spotlight.

If you want to see some of those players in person, the USTA National Campus has announced that tickets are available for the NCAA team and individual championships, beginning with the team round of 16 matches May 16 and extending through the singles and doubles finals May 28th. The NCAA is allowing 50% capacity for spring championships this year due to the pandemic. Tickets can be purchased here.

Qualifier Tatum Evans and No. 3 seed Giulio Perego of Italy won the singles titles at the J4 in Delray Beach. Evans, who won eight matches over the course of the past seven days, all in straight sets, defeated No. 8 seed Sonya Macavei 6-3, 7-6(5) in today's final for her first ITF Junior Circuit title. Perego, who has signed with Texas A&M for this fall, defeated No. 5 seed Jayden Templeman of Canada 6-1, 6-4 for his third ITF Junior Circuit singles title.

Samir Banerjee is through to the semifinals at the only J1 this week, in the Czech Republic.

The semifinals are set at the $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit women's tournament in Charlottesville Virginia, with Claire Liu and Sachia Vickery meeting Saturday for a place in the final. Liu advanced when No. 7 seed Harriet Dart of Great Britain gave her a walkover, while Vickery beat Allie Kiick 6-3, 7-5. The other semifinal will feature qualifier Katie Boulter, who beat wild card Alycia Parks 6-2, 6-3, against No. 6 seed Xinyu Wang of China.

The level 1 Sectional invitational tournaments the USTA added this spring begin tomorrow in eight locations across the country. Below is a list of the top eight seeds in each division. Click on the heading to see the draws.

B12s (Austin TX):
1. Trenton Kanchanakomtorn
2. Jack Secord
3. Liam Alvarez
4. Navneet Raghurman
5. Elliott Awomoyi
6. Izyan Ahmad
7. Colin McPeek
8. Drew Hassenbein

G12s (Virginia Beach VA):
1. Thea Frodin
2. Ciara Harding
3. Sena Yoon
4. Isabelle DeLuccia
5. Nancy Lee
6. Ana Avramovic
7. Maria Aytoyan
8. Filipa Delgado

B14s (Cary NC)
1. A Filer
2. Braeden Gelletich
3. Nicolas Iantosca
4. Jimin Jung
5. Evan Sharygin
6. Dominick Mosejczuk
7. Nicholas Patrick
8. Calvin Baierl

G14s (Tucson AZ)
1. Iva Jovic
2. Sydney Jara
3. Elena Zhao
4. Aspen Schuman
5. Addison Bowman
6. Claire Hill
7. Lauren Zhang
8. Capucine Jauffret

B16s (San Diego CA)
1. Landon Ardila
2. Quang Duong
3. Stephan Gershfeld
4. Creed Skinner
5. Dylan Tsoi
6. Mikkel Zinder
7. Cyrus Mahjoob
8. Xavier Calvelo

G16s (Tulsa OK)
1. Amber Yin
2. Audrey Spencer
3. Arina Oreshchenkova
4. Brooke Lynn Schafer
5. Tola Glowacka
6. Kinaa Graham
7. Diya Challa
8. Clara Zou

B18s (Indianapolis IN)
1. Alejandro Moreno
2. Nicholas Heng
3. Aadarsh Tripathi
4. Bjorn Swenson
5. Rohan Sachdev
6. Eric Li
7. Joshua Portnoy
8. Chad Miller

G18s (Mobile AL)
1. Kaitlyn Carnicella
2. Amelia Honer
3. Akari Matsuno
4. Theadora Rabman
5. Helen Sarikulaya
6. Natalie Stasny
7. Reya Coe
8. Bayley Sheinin