Sunday, March 7, 2021

Lao Defeats Liu in Newport Beach $25K Final; Khan Wins First ITF Pro Circuit Title in India; Challenger Doubles Championships for Former Collegians; Tauson Earns First WTA Title

Danielle Lao won her first title since 2015 today at the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Newport Beach California. The 29-year-old former University of Southern California star, seeded No. 7, defeated No. 5 seed Claire Liu 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in today's final, handing Liu her second consecutive loss in a final. Lao, who played the Australian Open qualifying in January, but nothing else since the restart back in August, now has three ITF World Tennis Tour singles titles, with the previous two a $15K and a $25K in 2015. She has been as high as 152 in the WTA rankings and has qualified for the US Open twice; she is now at 233 in the rankings.

Zane Khan, who turned 19 last month, played in both of the $25,000 USTA Men's Pro Circuit events in Naples last month, winning just one match, but he got to India in time for this week's $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament and, unseeded, won his first title. Khan defeated four seeds in his five victories: No. 8, No. 4, No. 5, and in the final, No. 1 Saketh Myneni, the former University of Alabama standout. Khan, who had previously not gone past the quarterfinals in a men's pro circuit tournament, didn't lose a set all week; he defeated Myneni 7-6(3), 6-3 in the championship match. 

There was no singles success for Americans in this week's three ATP Challengers, but three players from the US won doubles titles, all of them former collegians. At the ATP Challenger 125 in Kazakhstan, Jackson Withrow(Texas A&M) and Nathaniel Lammons(SMU) defeated another all-American collegiate team in the final, with the top seeds beating No. 2 seeds Nathan Pasha(Georgia) and Max Schnur(Columbia) 6-4, 6-2 in the championship match. 

At the ATP Challenger 50 in Russia, Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) and Ecuador's Roberto Quiroz(USC) won the doubles title, in what I believe was their first tournament as a team. The No. 2 seeds defeated top seeds Jesper De Jong and Sem Verbeek(Pacific) of Netherlands 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

Eighteen-year-old Clara Tauson of Denmark won her first WTA title today at the WTA 250 in France, beating Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland 6-4, 6-1 in the first all-qualifier final on the WTA tour since 2017. Tauson, who had success on the ITF Pro Circuit immediately after winning the Australian Open girls title in 2019, had been 9-3 in finals prior to today. Tauson, who won all seven of her matches this week in straight sets, will move into the WTA Top 100 for the first time Monday.