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Friday, June 18, 2021

College Stars Stearns and Riffice Reach Semifinals at USTA Pro Circuit $25Ks; USTA's Men's Summer Collegiate Team; Florida's Bobby Curtis 12s and 14s Sectional Recap

Texas freshman Peyton Stearns received a wild card into this week's $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Sumter South Carolina, the first event in the US since the NCAA tournament concluded. Stearns, who played No. 1 for the National Champion Longhorns, has made good use of that wild card, advancing to the semifinals.  

The 19-year-old from Ohio defeated No. 7 seed Ana Sofia Sanchez of Mexico 6-2, 6-2 today to reach her second $25K semifinal, where she will play No. 5 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico, who beat Vicky Duval 6-1, 6-2. In Saturday's other semifinal, No. 2 seed Alycia Parks will take on former Vanderbilt All-American Fernanda Contreras of Mexico, with Parks beating Paige Hourigan(Georgia Tech) of New Zealand 5-7, 7-6(0), 6-4 in just over three hours. The unseeded Contreras defeated Fanni Stollar of Hungary 6-4, 0-6, 6-4.

The doubles final Saturday will feature top seeds Emina Bektas(Michigan) and Catherine Harrison(UCLA) against No. 2 seeds Hourigan and Aldila Sutjiadi(Kentucky) of Indonesia.

NCAA singles champion Sam Riffice(Florida) reached the semifinals of the ATP Challenger last week in Orlando, and he has continued his impressive play this week at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Tulsa Oklahoma. A wild card, Riffice defeated No. 2 seed Jason Kubler of Australia in the second round; today he beat lucky loser Gage Brymer(UCLA) 6-0, 7-6(5). Riffice is the only American remaining, with last week's Wichita champion Govind Nanda(UCLA) retiring in today's quarterfinals down 4-0 to Genaro Olivieri of Argentina, who is Riffice's semifinal opponent. In the top half, Nicolas Kicker of Argentina, who received a special exemption into the main draw as the winner of last week's $25K in the Dominican Republic, will face qualifier Nicolas Barrientos of Colombia. Barrientos took out Zeke Clark(Illinois), also a qualifier, 4-6, 6-0, 7-6(7). Clark grew up in Tulsa, so it's a bit of a surprise that he did not receive a main draw wild card, but he did win four matches as he officially begins his professional career.

I haven't received any official notification from the USTA, and there's nothing on the website, but its Summer Collegiate Team is apparently back after being suspended last year due to the pandemic. That information came via this release from Tulane, announcing men's head coach Mark Booras as coach of the team. It's not clear if he's the only coach--often there are two--but this week's Tulsa tournament is the first for the group. 

Members of the team are Riffice, Will Blumberg of North Carolina, Aleks Kovacevic of Illinois and John McNally and Cannon Kingsley of Ohio State. 

This is the month of most of the Sectional Closed events across the country, with Florida's Bobby Curtis 12s and 14s having concluded on Wednesday. The detailed account of the four singles finals is here. You might recognize the name of the 12s finalist Teodor Davidov, who went viral at this year's Easter Bowl for hitting only forehands, with both his left and right hands. Jordan Lee, the No. 2 seed, defeated top seed Davidov 6-1, 6-1 in Wednesday's final, avenging his second round loss to Davidov at the Easter Bowl and his first round loss at the March Level 1 in Rome Georgia.

Play in the Bobby Curtis 16s and 18s Sectional begins Saturday and concludes Wednesday.