Sunday, January 10, 2021

Kodat Wins First Pro Singles Title; Brooksby and Duval Claim UTR $25Ks; Five Americans Advance on Day One of Australian Open Qualifying

Since the restart of ITF World Tennis Tour competition last fall, Toby Kodat has played nine events, with several in the Czech Republic and Greece. As the tour has moved to Northern Africa, he has gone with it, and has had his best results recently, making the final of a $15,000 tournament in Egypt a few weeks ago. This week, at a $15,000 tournament in Turkey, also on clay, the 2019 French Open boys finalist earned his first pro singles title. The unseeded 17-year-old, who turns 18 in a few days, defeated No. 2 seed and ATP No. 363 Maxime Hamou of France 6-4, 6-2 in today's final. Kodat, whose older sister is former WTA star Nicole Vaidisova, moved on from junior tennis after helping the US team make the finals of the ITF Junior Davis Cup competition in September of 2019. Even so, he now has his highest ITF junior ranking, at No. 4, one behind longtime friend and frequent doubles partner Martin Damm.

The UTR $25,000 tournaments concluded today, with two former USTA 18s National Champions capturing first place. Top seed Jenson Brooksby, the 2018 Kalamazoo champion, made it look easy in his return to competition following injuries and the shutdown, losing only 24 games in his six matches, three in round robin play and three in the knockout round.  Brooksby, now 20, announced just a few weeks ago that he was leaving Baylor, where he enrolled, but due to injuries, did not play for the team. In the Newport Beach final he defeated No. 2 seed Brandon Holt(USC) 6-1, 6-3.

Vicky Duval, who won the 2012 18s title in San Diego, was herself coming back to competition after a stint as the volunteer assistant at the University of Florida in 2019, with her last match played on the Pro Circuit back in September of 2019. With her UTR ranking dropping last year, she wasn't seeded in the women's event in Naples, but with a WTA career-high of 87 Duval was obviously capable of great tennis when healthy. She did lose one match, to Katerina Stewart, in the round robin phase, but took out top seed Maria Mateas to win her group. With Mateas out, 16-year-old Reese Brantmeier was given the top seed for the knockout round, and in today's final, Duval defeated Brantmeier, the 2019 USTA 16s National champion, 6-1, 6-4. 

Brooksby and Duval receive $4000 for finishing in first place; Holt and Brantmeier earn $2200.

The first day of Australian Open qualifying is complete in Doha and Dubai, with half of the 10 Americans in first round action moving on.

In the all-US matches, Robin Anderson(UCLA) needed nearly three hours to get past Danielle Lao(USC) 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 and Varvara Lepchenko defeated No. 27 seed Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State) 3-6, 6-2, 6-0. Sachia Vickey also won a three-setter, beating Cristina Bucsa of Spain 6-1, 3-6, 6-2, while Hailey Baptiste defeated Victoria Kan of Russia 7-6(2), 6-2.  Caroline Dolehide lost a tough one to former Georgia star Ellen Perez of Australia. Perez was down 1-4 in the third set, with Dolehide serving, but she came back to claim a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 victory. Usue Arconada lost an even tougher one, to No. 20 seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia, 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-6(10-5) in three hours and nine minutes. 

Ulises Blanch, who made the final round of qualifying at the French Open in the fall, won his first match, beating Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia 6-4, 6-1.

Christopher Eubanks lost to North Carolina sophomore Rinky Hijikata of Australia, a wild card, 6-2, 6-3.

In action on Monday are Caty McNally[12], Whitney Osuigwe, Allie Kiick, Asia Muhammad, Claire Liu, Grace Min, Denis Kudla[4], Brandon Nakashima, Maxime Cressy, Michael Mmoh, Mitchell Krueger, Ernesto Escobedo and Thai Kwiatkowski. 

Sofia Kenin advanced to the quarterfinals of the WTA 500 in Abu Dhabi, saving a match point in her 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory over No. 13 seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. Kenin will play No. 9 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece Monday. Hayley Carter(UNC) and Brazil's Luisa Stefani(Pepperdine) have advanced to the doubles semifinals.