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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Juniors Kuzuhara and Gailis Reach $15K Quarterfinals; Collegians Chavatipon, Failla and Seelig Advance at Dominican Republic $25Ks; New ITF Grade A Tournament Added in Europe; Five More US Women Move into French Open Third Round

The ITF upgraded a tournament in Poland this week to a J1 in order to provide a warmup for the French Open Juniors, which starts Sunday, but few in the main draw in Paris signed up and none of the top players played it. Only one American was in the draw, Qavia Lopez, and she is not playing the French.

Bruno Kuzuhara, who will be the No. 2 seed in Paris, is getting ready at a $15,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Finland, and he has made the quarterfinals, posting his first two wins on the professional circuit. In the first round, the 17-year-old from Florida, who used a junior exemption for entry, defeated No. 6 seed Anton Matusevich of Great Britain, last week's Finland $15K champion, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. Today Kuzuhara beat qualifier Yannik Steinegger of Switzerland 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. 

Sixteen-year-old Rachel Gailis, who has not played a junior event in over 14 months, has advanced to the quarterfinals of the $15,000 ITF WTT tournament in Turkey. Hurricane Tyra Black, who was working as a travel coach when I spoke to her at the Easter Bowl to earn enough money to get back out on the circuit, is the No. 2 seed in the Turkey tournament, and has advanced to the quarterfinals. She and Gailis will meet if both win Friday.

At the $25,000 men's and women's ITF WTT tournaments this week in the Dominican Republic, three qualifiers from the college ranks have advanced to the quarterfinals. Texas freshman Charlotte Chavatipon, who played No. 4 on the NCAA National Championship team, defeated No. 4 seed Andrea Lazaro Garcia, a former star at Florida International, 6-4, 6-4 to earn her first quarterfinal berth at a $25K tournament. She plays former Vanderbilt star Fernanda Contreras of Mexico next.

Jessica Failla of Pepperdine, who, like Chavatipon, played in the Team Championship final, is also through to the quarterfinals, defeating fellow qualifier Emiliana Arango of Colombia 6-2, 6-2 today. Failla, a fifth-year senior last season, will face top seed Conny Perrin of Switzerland in the quarterfinals.

Kyle Seelig, who completed his eligibility at Ohio State this spring, defeated No. 2 seed Diego Hidalgo(Florida) 6-2, 6-4 to move into the quarterfinals. Former Miami star Christian Langmo took out top seed Shintaro Imai of Japan 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-5 in a nearly four-hour marathon. Former Baylor standout Roy Smith defeated No. 3 seed Yshai Oliel of Israel 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, leaving No. 5 seed Calvin Hemery of France as the highest seed remaining.

The ITF announced today that a new Grade A tournament has been approved for Europe in 2022, with the Offenbach Germany Grade 1 receiving the upgrade. The tournament, which has been canceled in each of the last two years due to the pandemic, is scheduled to take place next April, the week of the 25th. The Grade 1 clay event was previously held in June, after the French Open; I have my doubts about the expectation of playable weather in Germany in April, but I certainly don't object to more opportunities for players to earn substantial points prior to the cutoffs for the summer slams. A Grade A was added a few years ago in South Africa, so there will be seven in 2022, not including the four slams. 

Five more US women advanced to the third round of the French Open today, for a total of eight, the most since nine US women did so in 2003. Unseeded Sloane Stephens was particularly impressive in her 7-5, 6-1 win over No. 9 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Jennifer Brady won a second round match at the French for the first time in her career, coming from a break down in the third set to defeat Fiona Ferro of France 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, much to the disappointment of the vocal French spectators.

Thursday's second round results featuring Americans:

Sloane Stephens d. Karolina Pliskova[9](CZE) 7-5, 6-1
Elina Svitolina[5](UKR) d. Ann Li 6-0, 6-4
Jennifer Brady[13] d. Fiona Ferro(FRA) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5
Karolina Muchova[18](CZE) d. Varvara Lepchenko[Q] 6-3, 6-4
Dominik Koepfer(GER) d. Taylor Fritz[31] 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
Coco Gauff[24] d. Qiang Wang(CHN) 6-3, 7-6(1)
Jessica Pegula[28] d. Tereza Martincova(CZE) 6-3, 6-3
Sofia Kenin[4] d. Hailey Baptiste[Q] 7-5, 6-3

Friday's third round matches featuring Americans:

Madison Keys[23] v Victoria Azarenka[15](BLR)
Serena Williams[7] v Danielle Collins
John Isner[31] v Stefanos Tsitsipas[5](GRE)
Reilly Opelka[32] v Daniil Medvedev[2](RUS)
Steve Johnson v Pablo Carreno Busta[12](ESP)
Marcos Giron v Cristian Garin[22](CHI)