Monday, April 5, 2021

Volvo Open Takes Center Stage This Week in Charleston, with Navarro and Gauff on Tuesday's Schedule; Just One American ITF Junior Circuit Champion Last Week Outside US with Tournament Cancellations Increasing

I'm back from two weeks in San Diego covering the big junior events there and I will be writing more about my impressions, as well processing photos and videos of the IOSC and Easter Bowl, in the weeks to come. 

And it might be weeks, not days, as I'm excited to have received a credential to cover the WTA Volvo Car Open this week in Charleston South Carolina, remotely of course, as they are not allowing fans or media onsite this year.

The USTA sends out an email every Monday with the names of the top 500 Americans competing in professional events that week, and there aren't too many of those lists that are longer than that of the Volvo Car Open. Former Arizona State star Desirae Krawczyk, who is one of the WTA's top doubles players, got into qualifying and won two matches to make her first main draw in WTA singles. She lost to No. 15 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 6-1, 6-2 and she wasn't alone, with the other two American qualifiers, Asia Muhammad and Grace Min, also falling in straight sets. 

Americans in main draw:
Sofia Kenin[2]
Madison Keys[8]
Amanda Anisimova[13]**
Coco Gauff[14]
Sloane Stephens
Shelby Rogers
Bernarda Pera*
Madison Brengle*
Lauren Davis**
Christina McHale*
Caty McNally**
Francesca Di Lorenzo*
Asia Muhammad[Q]*
Grace Min[Q]*
Hailey Baptiste[WC]
Emma Navarro [WC]
Desirae Krawczyk (qualifier)*
Caroline Dolehide (lucky loser)

*lost first round Monday
**won first round Monday

Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs
Desirae Krawczyk and Alexa Guarachi
Kenin and Mattek-Sands
Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova
CoCo Vandweghe and Ellen Perez

Kenin and Keys are not on Tuesday's schedule, but Rogers, Stephens, Dolehide, Baptiste, Gauff and Navarro are, with Navarro playing the first night match against Renata Zarazua of Mexico, followed by Gauff, who will play Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria.

Navarro, who won the 2019 Easter Bowl and received a wild card into the Volvo Car Open that year after winning the USTA Clay Courts in 2018, is now a freshman at the University of Virginia. Navarro had won her first 14 matches in collegiate competition at the top of the lineup until yesterday, when she lost to 2019 NCAA Singles Champion Estella Perez-Somarriba of Miami 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.

For more on Navarro's wild card, see this article from Virginia's website.

The turn for the worse that the Covid pandemic has taken recently in Europe and South America caused the cancellation of several ITF Junior Circuit events there, including a J2 in Italy, a J3 in Paraguay and a J5 in Great Britain last week. Two J2s in the next two weeks in France have been canceled, but the J1 in Bulgaria is on for next week. 

The sole American to win a title outside of San Diego last week was Maximilian Wuelfing, who won the doubles title at the J5 in Cairo Egypt. Wuelfing and partner Joan Torres Espinosa of Spain, seeded No. 7, defeated No. 3 seeds Jan Kobierski of Austria and Aleksa Pisaric of Serbia 7-6(5), 6-7(8), 10-4 in the final. Wuelfing also reached the singles semifinals.