Saturday, April 17, 2021

Brooksby and Kudla Reach Orlando Challenger Final; Sharma Advances to Second WTA Final; Daryabeigi Earns First ITF Title at J4 in Cancun; Doubles Titles for Americans in Cancun and at J3 in Costa Rica

An all-American is final is set for Sunday at the ATP Challenger 80 on the USTA's National Campus in Lake Nona, with unseeded Jenson Brooksby taking on No. 5 seed Denis Kudla.  Brooksby defeated Christian Harrison 7-5, 6-1, rebounding in the first set after letting a 5-1 lead slip away, while Kudla outlasted former USF star Roberto Cid of the Dominican Republic 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. 

Kudla is looking for his second Challenger title since the restart, having won the Cary Challenger last November, while Brooksby is looking for his second career Challenger title, with the first coming in February in South Africa. The 20-year-old, who enrolled at Baylor, but due to injuries and then the pandemic shutdown did not play for the Bears, also reached the final of the Cleveland Challenger last month. 

In today's doubles final, Mitchell Krueger and Jack Sock took the title, saving two match points in the match tiebreaker against Harrison and Dennis Novikov, who were also unseeded. Krueger and Sock had seen three match points slip away when up 9-6, but shook that off to post a 4-6, 7-5, 13-11 win. 

Former Vanderbilt star Astra Sharma advanced to her second career WTA final today at the MUSC Health Women's Open in Charleston, ending the run of Bogota champion Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia 7-6(5), 6-1 in today's semifinal. 

Sharma lost her first WTA final, at the 2019 tournament in Bogota to Amanda Anisimova. I asked her today how the pressure of college matches compared to the pressure of playing in a pro final.

"If anything, I felt a lot more pressure playing in college," said the 25-year-old Australian. "You know six girls, depending on you to win. That always gave me, if anything, more stress or focus; every point counts, I don't want to let anyone down. I think I played really well on a team because of that; I was so focused on every point, not to let the team down."

Sharma said that same mindset wasn't there when she began to play professionally after graduation.

"For a while it was almost a little bit less intense or focused for me, because it was just myself," Sharma said. "If I was down 4-1, it wasn't like someone was counting on you, it would be easier almost to find an excuse to not push myself that extra bit, whereas in college, I felt like, oh man, I'm 4-1 down, it was like, I'd better get my act together, let's go. That was a big learning experience for me, getting out professionally and finding that own fire and support within myself. No one's here, no one's cheering you on, no one's holding you accountable, it's just yourself out there. How do you want to talk to yourself, how do you want to push yourself...I've learned along the way how to be my own little college team, supporting myself on court, honing my focus on each point."

Sharma will face top seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who defeated Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 6-3, 6-0.

Sunday's doubles final will feature two 19-year-old Americans who have been steamrolling through the draw this week. Caty McNally and Hailey Baptiste at one stretch had won 22 consecutive games, with three straight 6-0 sets. Their second set against Bogota champions Elixane Lechemia(South Carolina) and Ingrid Neel(Florida) ended that streak, but their 6-0, 6-2 win put them in the final, where they will face top seeds Ellen Perez(Georgia) and Storm Sanders of Australia. 

Two ITF junior tournaments this week attracted a substantial number of Americans, with the J4 in Cancun and the J3 in Costa Rica featuring three US singles finalists. Sixteen-year-old Sean Daryabeigi was the sole champion, coming through qualifying to earn his first junior circuit title with a 6-4, 6-2 win over top seed Emiliano Aguilera Guerrero of Mexico. The Cancun tournament was just Daryabeigi's fourth ITF tournament, with the other three Grade 4s in Florida, where he lives.

Ashton Bowers, the No. 6 seed, lost 6-1, 6-1 in the Cancun final to top seed Martyna Ostrzygalo of Canada. 

Tianna Rangan partnered with Switzerland's Jade Haller for the Cancun doubles title, beating Leah Kuruvilla and Mexico's Barbara Martinez 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Kurt Miller and Mexico's Santiago Arredondo Delgado won the boys doubles title, beating the American team of Quang Duong and Felipe Pinzon Moreno 6-1, 6-0.

Braden Shick, the No. 3 seed, fell in the final of the J3 in Costa Rica, to top seed Gonzalo Bueno of Peru, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. 

Cooper Williams and Mexico's Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez, the No. 4 seeds, won the Costa Rica doubles title, beating Santiago Giamichelle of Argentina and Luis Carlos Alvarez Valdes of Mexico 6-1, 6-3 in the final. No. 3 seeds Ava Krug and Bolivia's Maria Olivia Castedo won the girls doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Mia Kupres and Victoria Mboko of Canada 6-3, 7-6(5) in the final. Kupres also lost in the singles final, to fellow Canadian and top seed Annabelle Xu.


Tallahassee Challenger said...

The 'Merit Based" Wild Cards for the Tallahassee Challenger have been announced. The Wild Cards for the Tallahassee Challenger Qualifier are Ozan Colak, Bruno Kuzuhara, and Perry Gregg. The Wild Cards for the Main Draw are Martin Damm, Toby Kodat, and Ryan Harrison.

Max Ho said...

The Harrison brothers have def benefited from wild cards, but no one has mentioned Emma Navaro getting WTA 500 and 250 Wild cards last two weeks in charleston where dad is the owner. She won a round in both but not exactly even playing field with billionaire dad.

Anon said...

Emma Navarro wasn't mentioned because she clearly deserved both wild cards.

- Top 5 junior in the world
- #! ranked collegiate player
- Affinity for clay, reached the Roland Garros junior singles final AND won the doubles
- Top 450 in WTA singles on a limited schedule
- Hometown player at both events, which matters in drumming up local interest, news coverage, etc. which is important for these events

She earned those wild cards on the basis of her strong results and promising future and then backed it up by winning rounds in both events.