Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Osuigwe, Cressy and Mmoh Qualify for Australian Open; Lahey, Cukierman Top ITA D-I Singles Rankings; Talking College Tennis on Cracked Racquets Podcast

Three of the four Americans in action today at the Australian Open's final round of qualifying earned places in the main draw, with Whitney Osuigwe, Maxime Cressy and Michael Mmoh now ready to begin their 14 day quarantine in Melbourne.

Osuigwe, still just 18, had the most dramatic victory, coming from 6-2, 5-2 down beat No. 22 seed Michaela Buznarescu of Romania 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-2. Osuigwe, who had a dismal restart, losing in the first round of all five tournaments she played, had not been successful in any of her previous five attempts to qualifying for a slam, although the former ITF World Junior Champion has played both the Australian Open(2019) and US Open(2018, 2019, 2020) main draws as a wild card.

The 23-year-old Cressy, a former UCLA star, will be making his main draw debut in Australia after reaching the second round of the US Open last year. Mmoh, also 23, will be playing in the Australian Open main draw for the fourth time; he earned a first round victory last year in Melbourne.

Other notable qualifiers include former Pepperdine star Mayar Sherif, who will be the first Egyptian woman to play in the main draw of the Australian Open, 2018 ITF World Junior Champion Clara Burel of France, and Rebecca Marino of Canada, who is coming back after 18 months away from the tour.  For more on the women's qualifying, see this article at the Australian Open website.

After a surprising loss in the first round of qualifying at the French Open last fall, 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain made it through his next slam qualifying test and will make his main draw debut in Melbourne. For more on the men's final round of qualifying, see this article from the Australian Open website.

Final round Australian Open qualifying results for Americans:

Whitney Osuigwe d. Michaela Buzarnescu[22](ROU) 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-2

Maxime Cressy d. Dustin Brown(GER) 7-6(5), 6-4

Michael Mmoh d. Arthur Rinderknech(FRA) 6-3, 7-6(3)

Greet Minnen[3](BEL) d. Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 3-6, 6-4

At the WTA 500 in Abu Dhabi, No. 4 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus defeated Veronika Kudermetova of Russia, claiming her third straight title and her 15th match in a row. In the doubles final, No. 5 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara(UCLA) of Japan defeated No. 8 seeds Hayley Carter(UNC) and Brazil's Luisa Stefani(Pepperdine) 7-6(5), 6-4.

The ATP 250 in Delray Beach also concluded today, with No. 4 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland ending the run of unseeded 20-year-old American Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-3 in the final.  In the doubles final, unseeded Ariel Behar of Uruguay and Ecuador's Gonzalo Escobar(Texas Tech) defeated the wild card team of Ryan and Christian Harrison 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 10-4.

The other ATP 250, in Turkey, also ended today, with No. 4 seed Alex De Minaur of Australia earning the title when No. 8 seed Alexander Bublik of Russia retired down 2-0 in the first set. Top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia won the doubles title, defeating No. 2 seeds Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Filip Polasek of Slovakia 6-2, 6-4.

The ITA released the Division I preseason rankings for singles, doubles and newcomers. Below are the Top 10 in singles, all 10 of the newcomers and the Top 5 in doubles. 

Full lists: 

Men's singles

Men's doubles

Women's singles

Women's doubles



1. Ashley Lahey, Pepperdine

2. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami

3. Alexa Graham, North Carolina

4. Sara Daavettila, North Carolina

5. Anna Turati, Texas

6. Caeron Morra, North Carolina

7. Abbey Forbes, UCLA

8. Kelly Chen, Duke

9. Elysia Bolton, UCLA

10. Michaela Gordon, Stanford


1. Peyton Stearns, Texas

2. Taisya Pachkaleva, Pepperdine

3. Lulu Sun, Texas

4. Sada Nahimana, NC State

5. Emma Navarro, Virginia

6. Karolina Berankova, Duke

7. Alexa Noel, Iowa

8. Fiona Crawley, North Carolina

9. Vanessa Ong, UCLA

10. Naomi Cheong, USC


1. Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart, UCLA

2. Anna Rogers and Alana Smith, NC State

3. Alexa Graham and Sara Daavettila, North Carolina

4. Samantha Martinelli and Jessie Gong, Yale

5. Kenya Jones and Victoria Flores, Georgia Tech



1. Daniel Cukierman, USC

2. William Blumberg, North Carolina

3. Alexandre Rotsaert, Stanford

4. Valentin Vacherot, Texas A&M

5. Cannon Kingsley, Ohio State

6. Richard Ciamarra, Notre Dame

7. Alexis Galarneau, NC State

8. Sam Riffice, Florida

9. Trent Bryde, Georgia

10. Keegan Smith, UCLA


1. Arthur Fery, Stanford

2. Gustaf Strom, Arizona

3. Jeffrey Von Der Schulenburg, Virginia

4. Tristan Boyer, Stanford

5. Micah Braswell, Texas

6. Luciano Tacchi, Wake Forest

7. Joshua Lapadat, Kentucky

8. Clement Chidekh, Washington

9. Filippo Moroni, Wake Forest

10. Gey Den Ouden, Pepperdine


1. Daniel Cukierman and Riley Smith, USC

2. Andrew Fenty and Mattias Siimar, Michigan

3. Matej Vocel and Dominik Kellovsky, Oklahoma State

4. Robert Cash and John McNally, Ohio State

5. Mac Kiger and Simon Soendergaard, North Carolina

Late last week I spoke with Alex Gruskin of Cracked Racquets about the upcoming Division I college season, the top teams and players and what the long term prospects are for college tennis given the financial squeeze the pandemic has caused. We also spoke about no-ad, which I still do not support; Gruskin provides a counterpoint to my argument. Listen to the podcast here.


Jeff said...

Seems like Freshman Eleonora Molinari of Tennessee, WTA 248, would be in the top 10 newcomers as she is set to begin playing this spring.

USCwtennisfan said...

The ITA rankings don't accuractely show the caliber of the players. USC's Salma Ewing was No. 34 at the start of last season. Now, she isn't in the rankings shown here at all. Just because she was injured last year doesn't mean she isn't one of the top players in the country.

SeminoleG said...

Alexa Noel is #97. Guaranteed she will be in Top 25 before March. Honestly she is a 2020 kid, that played and beat most of the Top 10 as a Junior. She would've kept beating them but they went to College.

fan said...

if we consider injured players UVA should be top 5 what with Car Branstine joining the team, but she hasn't played a single match so far(unlike Navarro), dunno her form after injury.

Molinaro seems to be a tremendous get, not sure she'll play NTI regional though, she hasn't played today?

Noel hasn't exactly excelled in the G18 National tournaments including Hard at San Diego(lost to Karina Miller last time), but she did have an illustrious junior career. And in lieu of Chloe Beck doing well thus far(who has a similar style, slicing and dicing), certainly could do well.
Problem is she has limited opportunities for a scalp, she hasn't played Fall tournaments(NFC would've been great), and Big Ten have few(or none?) highly ranked singles players(in fact the highest ranked player is Byrne of NU, at #57? Pairone transferred to FSU).

fan said...

The ideal scenario for Noel would be Big Ten #1s doing well at NTI(for example Michigan plays Duke in the 1st rd), then beat those #1s. Rematch with Karina Miller, for example, could be interesting.

By the by the safest bet among the Freshman to be highly ranked would be Emma Navarro, who was National finalist last year, and who also played pretty well against Claire Liu this Fall.

fan said...

So Noel was losing to Stearns(Fairly getting overpowered) till the match got suspended; the problem for her getting highly ranked. Can she beat a highly ranked player BEFORE the team loses?
Miller won a set from #8 Chen, and she will have a chance to beat #34 Horvit tomorrow. Noel likewise will have a chance to beat #37 Hattingh.

Max Ho said...

I don't really understand why with the shortened doubles format and no add scoring, they end singles matches after the team match has been decided. In the old days, they finished doubles even if the team match was decided just for rankings. It's crazy to think you play short doubles and 1 and a half sets of tennis and that is a wrap.

I will be first to admit that 6-hour matches with 2 out of 3 formats for both singles were painful, one singles and doubles match would always go long meaning the team matches would take forever. By playing doubles first in the short format you should be able to finish all singles matches.

fan said...

I think except in Tournaments like NTI and NCAA, it's up to coaches' discretion whether or not to finish singles. For example Oklahoma vs TCU played till the end, #1 singles, after the match was decided(it was especially important for Ellie Douglas, she needed that ranked win).

The more preposterous is actually DOUBLES not finishing. Because in many cases the remaining match is at the literal end stage. Chance of upset but can't do it, so not fair to them, also it's really no big deal in terms of time. I mean you already cut doubles to 6 game and no ad, so why not let doubles finish lol.

Today, Noel again was trailing;

1. #37 Hattingh,Ilze (ASU) vs. #97 Alexa Noel (IOWA) 7-5, 2-0, unfinished

and lost dbls to #50 team(good team though). Really college tennis is no joke..!
Shusharina(NU) and Allen(OSU), both #1s lost today. If NU wins tomorrow, both can again have a chance to beat highly ranked opponents at NTI.