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Monday, November 22, 2021

Iyengar, Goetz Sweep Titles on ITF Junior Circuit; Puerto Vallarta Challenger Draws 14 Americans; Tiafoe Replaces Fritz on US Davis Cup Team

In addition to the ITF J1 in Guadalajara and the J5 in San Diego last week, there were 17 other tournaments on the ITF Junior Circuit, with Americans claiming six titles, to add to the three they won in San Diego and the boys doubles title in Mexico.

Fourteen-year-old Maya Iyengar took the singles and doubles titles at the J4 in Guatemala, her first in singles and her second doubles, having won her first earlier this month in El Salvador. Seeded No. 5, Iyengar defeated top seed Ria Bhakta 6-3, 6-2 in an all-American final. Iyengar and partner Jaquelyn Ogunwale of Great Britain won the doubles title, with the No. 3 seeds beating top seeds Bhakta and Maria Castano of the Dominican Republic 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 in the final. That first set in the doubles final was the only set Iyengar, a blue chip from Arizona, lost during the week. She had lost to Bhakta 6-2, 6-0 in the singles semifinals in El Salvador two weeks ago. 

Sixteen-year-old Taylor Goetz swept the singles and doubles titles last week at a J5 in Pakistan, and this week she repeated that accomplishment at another J5 in Islamabad.  Goetz, the No. 2 seed, defeated her doubles partner and top seed Abhilasha Bista of Nepal 6-1, 6-0 in the final, and lost only six games total in her four singles victories. Goetz and Bista, the top seeds in doubles, defeated No. 2 seeds Olga Sorochkina and Ekaterina Suvorova of Russia 6-1, 6-2 for their second consecutive title. 

Eighteen-year-old Mujtaba Ali-Khan won his first ITF Junior Circuit title at the J5 in Pakistan as a qualifier. The four-star from Illinois  defeated the No. 2 seed in the second round and No. 4 seed Amir Asylkozhaev of Russia 7-6(3), 6-3 in the final. 

At the J4 in Egypt, 17-year-old Baylen Brown won the girls doubles title, partnering with Francesca Pace of Italy. The No. 4 seeds defeated the unseeded Egyptian team of Kenzy Sherif Elhamrawy and Sama Hassan Hindawy 6-2, 6-1 in the final. Brown now has two doubles titles on the ITF Junior Circuit.

The last of the USTA Pro Circuit Challengers was the tournament in Champaign last week, but 14 Americans have travelled to Puerto Vallarta Mexico this week for the ATP Challenger 80, trying to earn more points before the Australian Open entry cutoff next month. 

Two Americans qualified with wins today: Christian Langmo(Miami) and Govind Nanda(UCLA).  The seeded Americans this week are Ernesto Escobedo[4], Michael Mmoh[5], and Christian Harrison[6]. Last week's Austin $25K champion Zachary Svajda is in the field, as are Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois), Donald Young, Alex Rybakov(TCU), Nick Chappell(TCU), Alex Sarkissian(Pepperdine), JC Aragone(Virginia), Michael Redlicki(Duke/Arkansas) and wild card Milledge Cossu, a sophomore at Purdue. Former TCU star Jerry Lopez received a wild card, as did ITF No. 1 junior Juncheng Jerry Shang of China.

University of Kentucky junior Liam Draxl of Canada also qualified into the main draw today.

Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay is the top seed, with Daniel Altmaier of Germany seeded No. 2. They are No. 95 and No. 98 in the ATP rankings.

The USTA announced on Saturday that Frances Tiafoe would be replacing Taylor Fritz as a member of the US Davis Cup team, which begins competition Friday in Italy. The USTA announcement:

Frances Tiafoe to Replace Taylor Fritz for U.S. Davis Cup Team in 2021 Finals

November 20, 2021 – Frances Tiafoe will replace Taylor Fritz for the U.S. Davis Cup Team in the 2021 Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals November 25-December 5.


Tiafoe, 23, is ranked No. 38 and joins a team with No. 24 John Isner, No. 26 Reilly Opelka, former world singles No. 8 and doubles No. 2 Jack Sock and current world doubles No. 4 Rajeev Ram.


Team USA will begin its quest for a record-extending 33rd title in Turin, Italy, with group matches against the home Italians on November 26 and Colombia on November 28. Each matchup is a best-of-three tie featuring two singles and one doubles match. Should the U.S. advance out of its group, it would play a Quarterfinal tie in Turin to potentially advance to the semifinals and Finals in Madrid, Spain. The full schedule and field can be viewed on the Davis Cup website.