Sunday, January 3, 2021

Brooksby, Mateas Head Fields at UTR $25Ks in Newport Beach and Naples; 24 Americans Entered in Australian Open Qualifying; Korda, Nakashima Among ATP's NextGen Contenders

The qualifying for the men's $25,000 UTR Pro Tennis Series in Newport Beach California took place today, with four players earning a spot in one of the eight round robin groups. UCLA signee Karl Lee, Texas A&M signee Luke Casper, Pepperdine sophomore Robert Shelton and Miles Jones earned wins today to qualify. 

The round robin groups are set, except for the placements of the qualifiers, with Jenson Brooksby, Brandon Holt, Joshua Ortlip and Govind Nanda having the top UTRs in the field. Holt and Nanda have already picked up their first round robin wins today, with Holt beating Stanford's Timothy Sah and Nanda, a UCLA junior, taking out former Bruin Martin Redlicki. 

While the men's $25K is structured as planned, the size of the women's $25K in Naples Florida was cut in half, with only 16 players (plus four wild cards) participating now. I understand the players were withdrawn by UTR and were notified that the reduction had to do with Covid. Maria Mateas, Reese Brantmeier, Ayana Akli and Jessica Livianu are the top UTRS in the now four round robin groups. There was no qualifying. 

Intriguing to see Samantha Crawford's name back in the competitive mix. The 2012 US Open girls champion, now 25, hasn't played on tour since 2017.

The qualifying field for any slam is always a moving target, and with it located in the Middle East this year, weeks before the tournament in Melbourne, it's even more difficult to figure out who might be playing it, who could move into the main draw, and who is opting for other competition.  

Last week, the Australian Open website published the list of women in qualifying in Dubai, and that includes 14 Americans: Caty McNally, Cici Bellis, Francesca Di Lorenzo, Caroline Dolehide, Usue Arconada, Sachia Vickery, Whitney Osuigwe, Allie Kiick, Varvara Lepchenko, Asia Muhammad, Robin Anderson, Claire Liu, Danielle Lao and Hailey Baptiste.

The AO website article on the the men's qualifying does not contain a similar list, but these are the US men that are expected to compete in the event, which begins next Sunday in Doha: Denis Kudla, Sebastian Korda, Brandon Nakashima, Maxime Cressy, Michael Mmoh, Mitchell Krueger, Ernesto Escobedo, Thai Kwiatkowski, Christopher Eubanks and Ulises Blanch. 

With the ATP Delray Beach tournament an alternative for the men, some of the above may opt to stay in the US and compete there instead of traveling to Doha. The draw for Delray Beach should be out Monday late afternoon, so a clearer picture should emerge after that.

The ATP is begun 2021 looking ahead to possible qualifiers for its NextGen competition in Milan Italy, which didn't happen last year due to the pandemic. In its first look at the contenders for the 2021 tournament, the ATP highlights Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil, Hugo Gaston of France and two Americans: Sebastian Korda and Brandon Nakashima.