Monday, February 1, 2021

Stanford Women Top Tennis Recruiting Network's Recruiting Class Rankings; McCray Wins UTR $25K in Newport Beach; 29 Americans Scattered Throughout Five WTA and ATP Events in Australia This Week

For the first time since 2014, a vote for the top women's recruiting class was unanimous, with Stanford earning that distinction in the list released today by the Tennis Recruiting Network. With Connie Ma, Alexandra Yepifanova and Valencia Xu committed for the fall of 2021, the 18 voters (including me) put them as No. 1 on their list.  The rest of the Top 10, in order, are Duke, Texas A&M, UCLA, Arizona State, Georgia, Texas, Columbia, Harvard and Ohio State. The complete list of the Top 25 can be found here.  A note that Maxi Duncan, who I wrote about last week regarding her commitment to Harvard, was not included in the Harvard class because the cutoff date for the polling was January 5th, a few days before Duncan received word that she had been accepted. 

Megan McCray, February 2020, photo courtesy Fred Sidhu

With more rain and bad weather in Southern California on Friday, the UTR $25,000 women's tournament in Newport Beach was unable to finish on Sunday, and the final five matches were completed today. Former Oklahoma State standout Megan McCray, the No. 2 seed, finished in first place, defeating 18-year-old Maya Pitts 6-1, 6-1.  Pitts had defeated Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer, last week's champion in Newport Beach, 6-1, 5-7, 7-5 in the semifinals, while McCray beat Anna Shkudun 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.  

McCray, now 25, has played all three of the $25,000 UTR tournaments in Newport Beach last month, reaching the finals twice.  She receives $4000 as the first place finisher, with Pitts getting $2200.

The UTR Pro Tennis Tour takes a break this week in the United States, but will return with a men's $25,000 tournament in Newport Beach next week. The full schedule is available here.

Trying to keep straight who is playing in what Australian tournament and when has been a challenge, but I've been looking through the draws I can find and have come up with ten US men and 19 US women competing in singles competition this week on the Melbourne Park courts. 

The ATP 250 Great Ocean Road Open features four Americans: Reilly Opelka[6], Tennys Sandgren[9], Sam Querrey[10] and Maxime Cressy. Opelka has a bye as a top 8 seed in the 64-draw; the other three play Tuesday(Monday night here in the US). 

The ATP 250 Murray River Open has six Americans in the draw: Taylor Fritz[6], Tommy Paul[15], Frances Tiafoe, Marcos Giron(UCLA), Michael Mmoh and Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA). Tiafoe lost his first round match Monday to Corentin Moutet of France 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, but Paul and McDonald have both advanced. Paul defeated Cameron Norrie(TCU) of Great Britain 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 and McDonald beat No. 14 seed Richard Gasquet of France 7-6(2), 7-5.  Mmoh and Giron play each other tonight, while Fritz has a bye as a top 8 seed in the 64-draw.

The ATP Cup, a team competition, is also taking place on the Australian Open courts this week, but the US did not qualify for that event, which begins Tuesday with four matches.

There are three WTA 500 events this week, with a third, the Grampians Trophy, added for those women who were not able to practice during the 14-day quarantine due to a positive test on their flight. That 32-player draw includes Americans Jennifer Brady[7], Alison Riske, Christina McHale, Sloane Stephens, Lauren Davis, Ann Li and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who is in Australia as a doubles player. That tournament begins Wednesday, to give those women more practice time.

At the Yarra Valley Classic, the Americans competing are Sofia Kenin[2], Serena Williams[5], Danielle Collins[13], Shelby Rogers, Jessica Pegula, Venus Williams and Madison Brengle. Brengle is the only one to have lost in the first round; Kenin plays her first match Tuesday (tonight).

The Gippsland Trophy features five Americans: Coco Gauff[14], Bernarda Pera, Caty McNally, Varvara Lepchenko and Whitney Osuigwe. McNally received entry as an alternate, since she is in Australia for doubles, Lepchenko did not qualify for the Australian Open, but is among those who were allowed to travel there as lucky losers. McNally, Lepchenko and Osuigwe are all out of the tournament, with McNally losing in the second round and the other two in the first round. 

I don't have Tennis Channel available to me anymore, but I am able to get their streaming service, which includes matches on five or six courts throughout the day. ESPN will be covering the Australian Open, but most of the commentary will be done from Bristol Connecticut, not on site.