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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Shelton Extends Pro Circuit Win Streak to Seven with Victory over Bicknell; Qualifiers Nakashima, Brooksby Reach ATP European Open Quarterfinals; Three Pairs of Siblings in Atlanta J4 Doubles Finals; Banerjee's Bombshell

University of Florida sophomore Ben Shelton advanced to the quarterfinals at the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Vero Beach Florida, beating former teammate Blaise Bicknell 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. The All-American champion and Kalamazoo 18s finalist, seeded No. 4, now has a seven-match winning streak on the USTA Pro Circuit, after winning a $25K in Champaign Illinois prior to Kalamazoo this summer. 

Where Shelton will play in the Florida lineup this year is the subject of much speculation among college tennis fans, with the consensus that he won't move ahead of 2021 NCAA champion Sam Riffice or last year's No. 1 singles player Duarte Vale. Vale is also playing in Vero Beach this week and if both win their quarterfinals on Friday, will meet in the semifinals. Shelton played No. 5 for Florida last year, behind Duarte, Riffice, Andy Andrade and Bicknell.

Shelton has to get by the ITA's No. 1 ranked player in the preseason, Canadian Liam Draxl of Kentucky, to reach the semifinals. The two are doubles partners this week and have advanced to the semifinals as the No. 2 seeds. Draxl, the No. 6 seed in singles, defeated Florida State's Loris Pourroy of France 7-5, 6-4 in today's second round action. In order to advance to a meeting with Shelton, Vale must put an end to the streak of 16-year-old ITF World No. 1 junior Juncheng Jerry Shang, who extended his winning streak to seven matches with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over William Bushamuka(Kentucky). Shang won the $15K in Naples last week.

In tonight's feature match in Vero Beach, wild card Matthew Segura upset top seed Donald Young 6-3, 4-0, retired.

I thought it was strange that both Jenson Brooksby(Baylor) and Brandon Nakashima(Virginia) had to qualify for the ATP 250 tournament in Antwerp Belgium this week, but the field was strong, with the main draw cutoff 76. Both Brooksby, the No. 1 seed in qualifying, and Nakashima, the No. 2 seed in qualifying, made it through to the main draw, and both have won two matches this week.  

Brooksby defeated No. 5 seed Reilly Opelka in the first round, and yesterday beat US Open quarterfinalist Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands to reach the quarterfinals.  Nakashima defeated No. 6 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia 6-4, 6-0 in the first round and got past fellow qualifier Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-3 today. Brooksby plays 2017 Wimbledon boys champion Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain Friday, while Nakashima faces No. 2 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina. If they both win, they play each other; they have a rivalry from their junior days that is entirely in Brooksby's favor. He is 4-0, including the 2018 Kalamazoo 18s final.

Friday's singles semifinals and doubles finals at the ITF J4 in Atlanta are set after a long day that included rain.

Top seed Joseph Phillips will take on No. 3 seed Fnu Nidunjianzan of China in the top half of the boys draw Friday. Phillips defeated unseeded Andrew Delgado 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 and Nidunjianzan beat No. 6 seed Felipe Pinzon Moreno 6-2, 6-4. In the bottom half, unseeded Teddy Truwit, who beat No. 8 seed Grant Lothringer 6-3, 6-3, will take on unseeded Ari Cotoulas, who beat wild card Robert Bauer 6-1, 6-4.

Girls No. 1 seed Emma Charney advanced, again with little difficulty, beating qualifier Jo-Yee Chan 6-3, 6-1. She will play unseeded Katie Rolls, who beat qualifier Shannon Lam 6-3, 7-5. No. 2 seed Cadence Brace defeated No. 6 seed Theodora Rabman 6-4, 6-4, while wild card Iva Jovic, who is playing in her first ITF junior tournament, beat No. 10 seed Victoria Osuigwe 6-1, 6-3. 

Charney and her younger sister Piper are through to the doubles final, where the eighth-seeded pair will face the unseeded team of Reya Coe and Brooke Schafer. 

The boys doubles final will feature not one but two pairs of siblings, with Andrew and James Delgado, who are unseeded, taking on Ian and Will Mayew, who are also unseeded.

Parsa Nemati dropped a big bombshell today on Twitter, with the news that Samir Banerjee has decommitted from Columbia and is verbally committing to Stanford for the fall of 2022.