Saturday, January 16, 2021

Positive Covid Tests Confine Dozens of Australian Open Players to Rooms; Division I Personnel Updates; Top Seeds Volynets, Kozlov Upset in UTR $25K Semifinals

The charter flights to Melbourne arranged by the Australian Open began arriving yesterday and it wasn't long before the worst case scenario became reality. All of those approved for travel to Australia had to present a negative test before boarding (Tennys Sandgren's exceptional case is explained here), but two positive tests upon arrival, from a flight from Los Angeles and one positive test from a flight from Abu Dhabi, meant everyone on those flights was required to quarantine for 14 days. Those who have arrived on flights that did not have a positive test returned are able to leave their rooms for five hours a day to train under strict supervision and restrictions for the 14 days, but that special carveout is not available to anyone on the positive-test flights.

It appears from this AP article that none of the three positives are from players, but that doesn't really matter, as anyone on the plane is a close contact after that lengthy plane trip. A full list of those who are confined to their rooms for the 14 days hasn't been released, but some are obviously Americans taking the flight from Los Angeles. 

With 200,000 cases per day recently in the United States  the strict approach of Australia, which has had less than 1000 deaths, is hard to imagine, but their success in keeping cases down and their strict lockdowns have left Australians with no tolerance for the idea that tennis players could endanger the progress they've made in containing it. There is still a week between the end of their quarantine and the start of the Australian Open, with tournaments planned for that week, but it's obvious that those in strict quarantine the next two weeks will be at a huge disadvantage as far as preparation.

Division I college tennis competition is back this week, and although there have been some covid-related cancellations, my twitter timeline is full of splashy graphics with results from many of the top programs. Signings continue, with several listed below; I also saw in this Stanford women's program article that the return to classes for the school is scheduled for February 13-14, meaning they will begin preparing for the season much later than most other top programs.


I totally missed this back in August, but former ITF Top 10 junior and current WTA 248 Eleonora Molinaro of Luxembourg signed with Tennessee. I'm not sure why she wasn't included among the preseason ITA list of top newcomers.

Arizona has hired former Notre Dame star Monica Robinson-Daly as assistant coach.

Alabama has signed former ITF Top 35 junior Loudmilla Bencheikh of France, who will compete for the Crimson Tide this semester. 

Iowa State has added Ange Oby Kajuru of Japan to its roster. 

Southern California has added as a graduate transfer Summer Dvorak, who played at Vanderbilt and Duke.

Wisconsin has signed Anisha Apte.


Duke has added Faris Khan and Andrew Dale. Khan, the twin brother of Zane Khan, has struggled with injuries for years. Dale was a freshman at Princeton in the fall, but obviously did not compete for the Tigers, with the Ivy League pausing sports, which have yet to resume.

Speaking of Ivy League players, Harvard sophomore Harris Walker, who is currently not on the roster, picked up a huge win today, beating top seed Stefan Kozlov 6-0, 6-2 in the semifinals of the UTR $25,000 tournament in Naples Florida. Walker will face No. 2 seed Noah Rubin, who beat former Florida State star Benjamin Lock 6-3, 6-3, in Sunday's final. 

Katie Volynets, the top seed in the UTR $25,000 tournament in Newport Beach California, was also upset today. Volynets, currently 316 in the WTA rankings, lost to Cal-Berkeley signee Jessica Alsola of Canada 6-2 7-6(5). Alsola will play No. 2 seed Hanna Chang in Sunday's final, after Chang defeated Megan McCray 6-3, 7-6(4).