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Friday, October 29, 2021

USC's Kwinta Named Men's Head Coach at Cal; Ngounoue Reaches ITF JA Final in South Africa; Four Americans Advance to Semifinals at Las Vegas Challenger; Pro Circuit Update; Fritz and Tiafoe Move into ATP Semifinals

The sudden retirement of Peter Wright at the end of August left the men's program at Cal without a head coach for the past two months, until today, when University of Southern California Associate Head Coach Kris Kwinta was named to lead the Bears. Kwinta played for UCLA and was an assistant coach there from 2008 until 2012, when he moved to crosstown rival USC for a similar position under Peter Smith. Kwinta stayed on as associate head coach when former associate head coach Brett Masi took over for Smith at USC in 2019. For more on the Kwinta, with quotes from Billy Martin and Brett Masi, see this article from the Cal website. There are currently seven players on Cal's roster, including three freshmen.

Clervie Ngounoue has advanced to her first ITF JA final today in South Africa, with the 15-year-old from Washington DC defeating No. 2 seed Ksenia Zaytseva of Russia 7-5, 6-2. No. 6 seed Ngounoue, who reached the semifinals of the JA in Milan this summer, will face No. 3 seed Petra Marcinko of Croatia in the championship match. Marcinko defeated No. 7 seed Yaroslava Bartashevich of Russia 6-4, 6-2.

The boys final will feature top seed Leo Borg, the son of Bjorn Borg, and No. 3 seed Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic. The 18-year-old from Sweden defeated No. 7 seed Neo Niedner of Germany 6-3, 6-1, while Mensik came back to beat unseeded Borys Zgola of Poland 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2. 

In the doubles finals today, No. 2 seeds Marcinko and her partner Johanne Svendsen of Denmark won the girls title, beating top seeds Brenda Fruhvirtova and Barbora Palicova of the Czech Republc 6-3, 6-2. The boys title went to the unseeded team of Paul Inchauspe of France and Tanapatt Nirundorn of Thailand, who defeated top seeds Mensik and Slovakia's Peter Privara 6-3, 6-4.

Four of the five Americans, all unseeded, who contested quarterfinals today at the ATP Challenger 80 in Las Vegas advanced.  In the only all-American quarterfinal, JJ Wolf (Ohio State) defeated Ernesto Escobedo 6-3, 6-3 to earn a semifinal berth against Michael Mmoh, who beat Mikael Torpegaard (Ohio State) of Denmark, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-1. 

In the top half, alternate Stefan Kozlov, who saved eight match points in his 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(13) second round win over lucky loser Aidan McHugh of Great Britain, had an easier time of it today. Kozlov, who now has an eight-match Challenger winning streak after winning the Columbus Challenger last month, defeated No. 7 seed Emilio Gomez (USC) of Ecuador 7-6(3), 6-4. Kozlov will face wild card Aleks Kovacevic, a recent Illinois graduate, who beat No. 5 seed Taro Daniel of Japan 6-3, 6-2. 

Unlike Las Vegas, Americans are nowhere to be found at the $80,000 women's Pro Circuit tournament in Tyler Texas. Top seed Madison Brengle lost to unseeded Marcela Zacarias of Mexico 6-4, 6-3; No. 2 seed Claire Liu was beaten by No. 5 seed Harriet Dart of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4 and No. 7 seed Caty McNally lost to No. 3 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-4, 6-4. Haddad Maia and Dart will meet in one semifinal Saturday, in the other, Zacarias will face No. 4 seed Misaki Doi of Japan, who beat No. 8 seed Katarzyna Kawa of Poland 6-3, 6-4.

At the $25,000 tournament in Austin Texas, wild card Kylie Collins and Kayla Day will meet in an all-American semifinal. Collins, a sophomore at Texas, defeated teammate and doubles partner Lulu Sun of Switzerland 6-4, 6-2 to reach her first semifinal at the $25K level. Day, also unseeded, defeated Sofia Shapatava of Georgia 6-1, 6-2. The top half semifinal will feature No. 6 seed Mirjam Bjorklund of Sweden and former Vanderbilt star Fernanda Contreras of Mexico. Bjorklund defeated qualifier Chanelle Van Nguyen(UCLA) 6-4, 6-3 and Contreras beat Ivana Popovic of Australia 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-2. 

Ryan Shane and Vasil Kirkov are the two Americans remaining at the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Tallahassee. Shane, the 2015 NCAA singles champion while at Virginia, defeated top seed Antoine Cornut Chauvinc (Florida State) of France 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and will take on qualifier Johannes Ingildsen (Florida) of Denmark. Kirkov, the No. 3 seed, beat unseeded Ben Shelton (Florida) 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-3 and will play Henry Patten (UNC-Asheville) of Great Britain, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over No. 2 seed Sho Shimabukuro of Japan. 

The quarterfinals of the $25,000 men's tournament in Calabasas will extend into tonight, but the top half semifinal is set, with No. 1 seed Rinky Hijikata (North Carolina) of Australia facing Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State). Hijikata defeated Omni Kumar (Duke) 6-3, 7-5, while Ponwith beat qualifier Max Basing (Stanford) of Great Britain 6-4, 6-4.

Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz have reached the semifinals of two different ATP tournaments in Europe. Tiafoe defeated No. 8 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-4, 7-6(6) for his second Top 20 win in a row, after taking out top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece yesterday. Tiafoe will face No. 7 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy in the semifinals of the ATP 500 in Vienna. Fritz, the No. 5 seed at the ATP 250 in St. Petersburg, defeated John Millman of Australia 6-4, 6-2 today and will face unseeded Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany in Saturday's semifinal.