Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Grade A Barranquilla Acceptances; Harrison Outlasts Khan to Qualify for Delray Beach; Turati Makes WTA Debut in Abu Dhabi; Rest In Peace Tom Perotta

The acceptance lists for the new ITF Grade A in Barranquilla Colombia late this month were released today, with five US boys and four US girls receiving entry into the main draw. With so many tournaments canceled last fall and the Grade 1 in Costa Rica, which is usually full of Americans, not scheduled, this is one of the few big tournaments available. Unfortunately, the draws were reduced to 32, which is half of what they usually are for Grade As; last month's Grade A Orange Bowl draw size was reduced from 64 to 48.

The US boys in the main draw are Dali Blanch, who is up to No. 5 in the ITF Junior rankings after all the 2002 birth year players aged out; Alexander Bernard; Bruno Kuzuhara; Aidan Mayo and Jack Anthrop.

The US girls in the main draw are Elvina Kalieva, Ellie Coleman, Madison Sieg and Ashlyn Krueger. All nine Americans competed in the Orange Bowl last month, with Blanch and Bernard making the quarterfinals and Krueger, of course, the girls champion.

The tournament begins Monday January 25th, with qualifying starting on Saturday, January 23rd.

The qualifying is complete at the ATP 250 in Delray Beach, with Donald Young, Christian Harrison and Kevin King(Georgia Tech) the Americans reaching the main draw, along with former USC star Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador.

Young defeated Stefan Kozlov 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 and King defeated Goncalo Oliveira of Portugal 6-3, 6-3. Quiroz got past Viktor Galovic of Croatia 6-3, 7-5, and Harrison defeated 18-year-old Zane Khan 6-1, 6-7(9), 7-6(4). The 26-year-old Harrison, who used a protected ranking for entry, has been through countless injuries and illnesses in the past decade, and was out nearly 18 months in 2019-20. When I spoke to him just over a year ago, he thought he might have to settle for a career in doubles, so it's great to see that he is back to winning singles matches again. He qualified for three Challengers last fall, and although he didn't advance in the main draw, he obviously built some confidence in both his game and his health. In today's match, he wasn't able to convert a match point in the second set, but did regroup to reach his first ATP main draw since 2018.

Main draw matches begin on Thursday, with five first round matches. Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA) will face No. 6 seed Sam Querrey in the night match; wild card Ryan Harrison will play Gianluca Mager of Italy; Sebastian Korda takes on Soonwoo Kwon of Korea and No. 5 seed Tommy Paul plays Ji Sung Nam of Korea.

Qualifying concluded at the WTA 500 in Abu Dhabi today, with former Texas star Bianca Turati of Italy advancing to the main draw of a WTA event for the first time in her career. The 23-year-old, who decided last spring not to take advantage of a fifth year of college eligibility, defeated Martina Caregaro of Italy 6-0, 6-3. On Thursday, she will face 33-year-old Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan in the first round.  

Only two Americans were in action today: Bernarda Pera, who defeated No. 16 seed Donna Vekic of Croatia 7-6(10), 2-6, 6-4 in just over three hours, and Jamie Loeb, who lost to Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-3.

Top seed Sofia Kenin and Coco Gauff are among the Americans scheduled to play their first singles matches of the year on Thursday.

The community of tennis journalists lost one of its best writers and reporters today, with the Wall Street Journal's Tom Perotta dying from brain cancer at the age of 44. As I said earlier today in a tweet, I always enjoyed talking with Tom about up and coming players when we see each other at Wimbledon and the US Open, and I learned a lot from him from my first days as a reporter in New York. When I spoke to him in 2019, he was honest about his prognosis, yet was an inspiration to everyone he encountered with the grace and determination he displayed as he continued to do his job, and do it well.

He wrote an outstanding column around Thanksgiving, appreciating that the pandemic had given him so much time to spend with his young family. It's heart wrenching, but a gift to all of us as we reassess our lives during all this uncertainty.


And the Wild Card Goes To..... said...

Wild Card, Ryan Harrison loses to Italian Mager in Delray Beach ATP 250, 3-6,6-1,6-4... First ever wild card for Harrison?..... ha, right.... first of 2021.

Rick V said...

RIP Tom, what a sad loss. 2021 is losing it's luster as the year to put 2020 sadness behind us in so many aspects. But keep the faith.