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Monday, June 14, 2021

Epps Wins Cancun J3, Daryabeigi Claims J4 Title in Guatemala; US Success in Doubles on ITF Junior Circuit; College News Includes All-American Announcements, New Women's Head Coach at Arkansas, Departure of Both Denver Head Coaches

While the French Open Junior Championships took center stage last week, American juniors who didn't qualify for the year's first junior slam picked up titles in Mexico, Guatemala and Ukraine.

Sixteen-year-old Gracie Epps won her first ITF Junior Circuit singles title last week at the J3 in Cancun, defeating top seed Dasha Plekhanova of Canada 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Epps, the No. 2 seed, didn't drop a set throughout the week, adding a singles title to the four doubles title she has won on the ITF Junior Circuit. Epps reached the doubles final this week as well, with partner Sara Cruz Bonilla of El Salvador, with the top seeds falling to No. 2 seeds Mia Slama and Sophie Llewellyn 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

Top seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico won the boys singles title, beating No. 5 seed Alexander Frusina 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the final.  Frusina also lost in the doubles final, with partner Lucas Brown. The No. 2 seeds fell to unseeded Joseph Phillips and his partner, Nicolas Villalon Valdes of Chile, 7-5, 2-6, 10-4.

At the J4 in Guatemala, Sean Daryabeigi won his second ITF singles title of the spring, with the No. 4 seed defeating his doubles partner Jelani Sarr 6-4, 7-6(3) in the final. Daryabeigi and Sarr reached the boys doubles final, but it was not played. 

The girls doubles final was an all-US contest, with Jayna Clemens and Anya Murthy defeating Avery Jennings and Kaitlin Quevedo 5-7, 6-0, 10-6.

At the J4 in Ukraine, 15-year-old twins Meecah and Kaylan Bigun won the doubles title, with the No. 2 seeds needing to win only two matches to do so with walkovers in the semifinals and finals.

At the J2 in Uzbekistan, top seed Azuma Visaya reached the boys singles final, losing to No. 2 seed Erik Arutiunian of Belarus 6-2, 6-0. Fourteen-year-old Victoria Mboko of Canada won the singles and doubles titles, bringing her ITF junior ranking up to No. 57, after starting the year outside the Top 200.

College news that I missed while following the French Open includes the official release of the ITA All-American teams, lots of coaching news and the announcement of the Honda Award winner for tennis. 

After all the confusion at the NCAA individual tournament over what the All-America criteria for this year would be for Division I, it turns out it is the same as it has been for many years: earn a top 16 seed in the NCAA singles championship, advance to the round of 16 at the NCAA championship, or finish in the top 20 of the final ITA singles rankings.

For the men's Division I All-Americans in singles and doubles, see this ITA article. For the women's Division I list, see this article.

Links to the list of All-Americans in Junior College, NAIA and Divisions II are below (Division III teams have not been released):

Men's Junior College

Women's Junior College

Men's NAIA

Women's NAIA

Men's Division II

Women's Division II

While I saw the announcement about Dustin Taylor taking the Oklahoma State men's job, I missed another former top collegiate player getting the women's head coaching job at Arkansas. Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, a former All-American at Texas A&M and a three-sport star for the Aggies, had been the assistant women's coach at the University of Central Florida since 2016. 

Clancy Shields, who has taken the Arizona men's program from Pac-12 doormat to national contender, received a contract extension through the 2026 season.

Colorado will be looking for a women's head coach (there is no men's program), with the resignation of Danielle Steinberg.

Lisa Hart, women's head coach at Washington State since 2003 (there is no men's program), has resigned.

Danielle McNamara, who led the Yale women's program twice, with a brief tenure at Texas in between, has announced she is stepping down.

Although there has been no official announcement, this article from an athletic fan site states that both head coaches at Denver, women's coach Cristian Bass and men's coach Ricardo Rubio, are leaving.

Sara Daavettila of North Carolina has received the 2021 Honda Award for Tennis. From the UNC athletic website releaseThe Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the CWSA for the past 45 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports and signifies "the best of the best in collegiate athletics". The winner of the sport award becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious 2021 Honda Cup, which will be presented on a telecast on CBS Sports Network on June 28th at 9 pm ET.