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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Quinn, Kalieva Top ITF B1 Pan American Closed Acceptance Lists; Baird Defeats Top Seed Boyer at Champaign $15K; Former Georgetown Coach to Plead Guilty in Varsity Blues Scandal

The next big junior tournament in North America is next month's ITF B1 Pan American Closed in Nicholasville Kentucky, where it moved from its longtime home in Tulsa (and one year in Charlotte in 2018) for the 2019 tournament. 

As usual, the field is mostly Americans, although there is strong representation from Canada this year in the girls acceptances. I had thought with so many good South American boys eligible this year, a few might enter, as this tournament is an excellent opportunity for the 2004s to start building a ranking that will help them qualify for the junior slams next summer. Perhaps the hard indoor courts kept them away, or the opportunity to play clay events closer to home; this lack of South American players is not unusual, but still a bit puzzling to me.

Ethan Quinn heads the boys acceptances, followed by Ozan Colak, Aidan Kim, Ryan Colby and Benjamin Kittay.

Elvina Kalieva, now up to a career-high No. 9 in the ITF junior rankings, is entered in the girls draw. In New York, she told me she didn't think she would continue to play juniors, although she didn't rule it out either. But as a 2003, Kalieva's junior ranking is not important for next year, although the higher she can finish, the bigger ITF Women's Circuit events she will receive direct entry into as a Top 10 junior.

Alexis Blokhina and Katja Wiersholm are the only other Top 100 US girls on the acceptance list.

In first round action today at the $15,000 USTA Men's Pro Circuit tournament in Champaign, half of the seeds were eliminated, including No. 1 seed Dusty Boyer(Nebraska). Qualifier Drew Baird, a junior at UCLA, defeated Boyer 6-4, 6-1; No. 4 seed Alex Brown(Illinois) lost to AJ Catanzariti(Texas A&M) 6-1, 6-2; No. 7 seed Ryan Shane(Virginia) was beaten by Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) 7-5, 6-2 and No. 8 seed Zeke Clark(Illinois) lost to Cannon Kingsley(Ohio State) 6-3, 6-2.

The only junior advancing to the second round was Dali Blanch, who beat Illinois freshman Karlis Ozlins 7-5, 7-6(3). Victor Lilov, Samir Banerjee and Alexander Bernard all lost their first round matches.

The Associated Press is reporting that former Georgetown coach Gordon Ernst will plead guilty to charges that include "conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery."  Ernst, previously the men's and women's coach at Georgetown, was among the coaches arrested in March of 2019 in the Varsity Blues scandal, which involved schemes to secure admission to prestigious schools by inflating the athletic credentials of children of wealthy parents, who paid for that guarantee of admission. Ernest was scheduled to go to trial in November. The plea agreement filed recommends a jail sentence of four years or less.