Friday, July 30, 2021

My Kalamazoo and San Diego Preview on Cracked Racquets Podcast; Nakashima, Loeb and Shelton Reach Semifinals in Atlanta, Charleston and Champaign

Cracked Racquet's Alex Gruskin and I hadn't talked since the NCAAs back in May, but we got together this morning to preview the USTA 18s Nationals in San Diego and Kalamazoo. Although neither the seeds nor the draws are out yet, we highlighted those we thought could contend for the US Open main draw wild cards that are the carrots for most of the top players entering these events. With defending champion Zachary Svajda returning, there isn't much doubt who will be the top seed for the boys, but the girls top seed isn't as clear cut. We speculate on the chances of the two NCAA team champions who received wild cards, Kylie Collins of Texas and Ben Shelton of Florida, and make our predictions.

We also talked about the prospects for American tennis in the coming decade and what the USTA considers as success when it comes to the performance of Americans. The podcast can be found here, or search for Great Shot podcast wherever you get your podcasts. 

Shelton will be coming into Kalamazoo with some impressive results in this week's $25,000 tournament on the USTA Pro Circuit in Champaign. The 18-year-old wild card defeated 2019 NCAA champion Paul Jubb(South Carolina) of Great Britain 6-1, 6-2 in today's quarterfinals, while also reaching the doubles final with Texas rising sophomore Eliot Spizzirri. Shelton will face Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan in the singles semifinals, while he and Spizzirri will take on No. 2 seeds Yunseong Chung of Korean and Rio Noguchi of Japan in the doubles final. 

Brandon Nakashima continues to post wins at the ATP 250 level, beating Jordan Thompson of Australia, whom he defeated last week in Los Cabos, again today in Atlanta. Nakashima did not need a third set tiebreaker this time, earning a 7-6(5), 7-5 win that should put him into the ATP Top 100 for the first time. Nakashima will play Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland in the semifinals, after Ruusuvuori beat No. 3 seed Cameron Norrie(TCU) of Great Britain 7-6(1), 6-3.  Taylor Fritz[5] defeated Reilly Opelka[4] 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-6(4) to advance to the semifinals, where he'll meet the winner of tonight's match between No. 6 seed John Isner(Georgia) and qualifier Christopher O'Connell of Australia.

At the WTA 125 in Charleston South Carolina, Jamie Loeb(UNC) is through to the semifinals after defeating En-Shou Liang of Taiwan 6-3, 6-3. She will play Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine, who prevented an all-US semifinal slate with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Emma Navarro(Virginia). No. 2 seed Lauren Davis beat Maria Mateas 6-3, 7-5 and will play No. 4 seed Varvara Lepchenko, a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Hanna Chang. 

There were no Olympic medals in tennis for the United States this year in Tokyo, but Michael Venus, the former LSU star, earned a bronze medal for New Zealand when he and Marcus Daniell defeated Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren 7-6(3), 6-2. It's the first tennis medal for that country. John Peers(Baylor) of Australia and Luisa Stefani(Pepperdine) of Brazil are playing in the mixed and women's doubles bronze medal matches.

The main draw for next week's ATP Citi Open in Washington DC was released today, with Jenson Brooksby added as a wild card, after the tournament previous awarded wild cards to top seed Rafael Nadal, Feliciano Lopez, Jack Sock and Nakashima. Brooksby will play Kevin Anderson in a rematch of the ATP Hall of Fame Open earlier this month. Unlike Atlanta, which is a 32-draw with four byes, Washington, a 500 level event, is a 64-draw with 16 byes.