Thursday, February 4, 2021

Talking Women's Division I National Team Indoor Championships with Alex Gruskin; Brooksby and Nava Advance to $25K Quarterfinals; Nakashima Moves on at Quimper Challenger

Alex Gruskin of Cracked Racquets is on his way to the ITA Division I Women's National Team Indoor Championships in Stillwater Oklahoma to provide the commentary, but before he left I had an opportunity to talk with him about the prospects of each of the eight teams for one of his many podcasts, this one the Great Shot Podcast. Although I am always reluctant to make predictions, and it seems even more foolish than usual this year, with reduced individual fall play and not many dual matches to learn from, Alex got me to do it. I'm not spoiling much by revealing I didn't go out on any limbs, but I do expect some exciting matches throughout the weekend. Free live streaming is available via Playsight, and I'm sure the Cracked Racquets coverage link will be posted tonight or first thing tomorrow.  The ITA announced today an extension of their partnership with Playsight, which has been in place since 2015. Friday's schedule is below:

Friday, February 5, 2021
9 AM CT – North Carolina[1] vs. Ohio State
12 PM CT – Georgia Tech vs. Pepperdine[4]
3:30 PM CT – Oklahoma State vs. UCLA[2]
6:30 PM CT – Texas[3] vs. Northwestern

Very few men's ITF World Tennis Tour events at the $25,000 level have been held since the restart, with the first one of 2021 taking place this week in Villena Spain. With college tennis in full swing, the Australian Open warmups happening and at least two Challengers each week, it's not surprising that the quarterfinals feature six players 21-and-under, including two Americans, Jenson Brooksby and Emilio Nava.  The 20-year-old Brooksby, seeded No. 4, decided to turn pro late last year, leaving Baylor without having played a match. He won a UTR $25K in California last month but this is his first appearance in a tournament offering ATP points since November of 2019. Brooksby will face 19-year-old Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic, the No. 8 seed, who was a ITF Top 10 junior in 2019. 

Nava, who received a wild card, defeated No. 7 seed Alessandro Bega of Italy 6-3, 6-2. The 19-year-old Californian will face unseeded Antoine Escoffier of France, aged 28, in the quarterfinals Friday. 

The other young players in the quarterfinals include two junior slam champions: 17-year-old Holger Rune of Denmark(French 2019) and Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic(US Open 2019). Dan Added of France, who is 21, plays a true veteran in the draw, 30-year-old Gastao Elias of Portugal. 

I had an opportunity to watch the stream of the last two sets of the second round match between qualifier Evan Furness and Brandon Nakashima this morning, with Nakashima taking a 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-1 victory at the Qimper France ATP Challenger 80. Furness, 22, was at no disadvantage during the baseline rallies, but Nakashima was able to attack his second serve, and that eventually began to have its effect, with Furness double faulting seven times in the third set. Nakashima won 62 percent of his second serve points, while Furness could manage only 39 percent overall, and just 3 of 13 (23 percent) in the third set. Nakashima's opponent in the quarterfinals is unseeded Maximilian Marterer of Germany. No. 8 seed Federico Gaio of Italy is the only seed to advance to the quarterfinals.