Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Hance, Montgomery and Hamner Qualify as USTA Pro Circuit Returns at Rome $60K; Korda, Nakashima Advance at French Challenger; Features on USTA Player Development's Michael Joyce, Kathy Rinaldi

The USTA Pro Circuit has finally returned, with the qualifying for the women's $60,000 tournament this week in Rome Georgia concluding today. Three teenagers, South Carolina signee Sarah Hamner, UCLA signee Kimmi Hance, and No. 10 seed Robin Montgomery, won matches Monday and today to earn their place in the main draw.

Hamner, a wild card into qualifying, defeated two seeds, No. 6 seed Mari Osaka of Japan on Monday 7-6(3), 6-4 and No. 9 seed Maria Sanchez(USC) 3-6, 6-1, 10-4 today. She will face Conny Perrin of Switzerland in the first round Wednesday. Hance, who played the UTR $25K in Newport Beach last week, also defeated two seeds, taking out No. 11 seed Sophie Whittle(Gonzaga) 6-0, 6-1 Monday and No. 3 seed Katie Volynets 7-6(3), 3-6, 10-6 today. Hance's first round opponent Wednesday is another recent Orange Bowl champion. Hance, who won the doubles title, will take on 18s singles champion Ashlyn Krueger, who received a main draw wild card.

Montgomery defeated University of Georgia star Katarina Jokic 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 on Monday and former Alabama standout Erin Routliffe 6-1, 6-3 today. Montgomery faces qualifier Tara Moore of Great Britain in the first round.

In addition to Krueger, wild cards were given to Americans Katrina Scott, Alycia Parks and Hanna Chang. Scott plays top seed Olga Govortsova of Belarus in the first round. The seeded Americans in the draw are Francesca Di Lorenzo[3], Usue Arconada[5] and Sachia Vickery[6].

No men's events are on the USTA Pro Circuit schedule until mid-February, but several Americans are playing in the ATP Challengers overseas as they wait for tennis to return in the USA.  Brandon Nakashima, Sebastian Korda and Denis Kudla are competing in the ATP Challenger 100 in France this week, with Nakashima and Korda winning their opening round matches today, while Kudla, the No. 4 seed, lost his first round match to wild card Constant Lestienne of France 6-2, 7-6(6). Korda, the No. 2 seed this week, saved a match point in the third set tiebreaker in his 7-6(3), 4-6, 7-6(7) win over qualifier Tristan Lamasine of France.

Ernesto Escobedo is playing the other ATP Challenger this week, at the 80 level tournament in Turkey. Bad weather been a problem this week, meaning that qualifying matches still need to be played on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, I noted the USTA's release on the hiring of new National Coach Michael Joyce, who I spoke to last fall when he was coaching Sarah Hamner. Last week, Arthur Kapetanakis spoke with Joyce about his new job, his coaching philosophy, his previous coaching jobs and his own professional career in this Q and A.

Joyce's new boss, USTA head of women's tennis Kathy Rinaldi, is the subject of this Tennis.com article by Joel Drucker, which shows how seamlessly she has made the transition from being a top player to being a beloved coach.