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Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Miller Ousts Top Seed Borg at Mexico J1; Shelton Earns First Challenger Victory; Collegians, Juniors Plentiful at Last Four USTA Pro Circuit Tournaments of 2021

Kurt Miller won the doubles title last week at the J2 in Bolivia, but in his 21 tournaments this year on the ITF Junior Circuit, the 17-year-old Californian hasn't had a victory like the one he earned today, beating top seed Leo Borg of Sweden 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of the J1 in Guadalajara Mexico. Miller, who has claimed one J4 singles title, is ranked a career-high 196 now, while Borg is 16 in the ITF World Junior Rankings.

He will play No. 15 seed Sebastian Sec in an all-US third round match. Other US boys advancing to the round of 16 are: Joseph Phillips, Azuma Visaya[9], Jonah Braswell and Cooper Williams[14].

The girls top seeds, Linda and Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, are through to the round of 16, with the loss of just one game between them in today's second round contests. US girls advancing to the round of 16 are: Qavia Lopez[5], Liv Hovde[6], Krystal Blanch[7] and Ava Krug[14].

University of Florida sophomore Ben Shelton, who qualified for the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign yesterday, won his first main draw match at that level today, beating No. 7 seed Blaz Rola(Ohio State) of Slovenia 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. Shelton broke Rola serving at 4-5 in second set; in the third set, the 19-year-old from Florida saved break points at 3-3 and 4-4 before again breaking Rola serving at 4-5 for the win. Shelton will face Pedja Krstin of Serbia for a spot in the quarterfinals. Champaign has been good to Shelton, as the outdoor courts on the University of Illinois campus were the site of his first title on the USTA Pro Circuit this summer.

Another qualifier, Keegan Smith(UCLA), also advanced to the second round. Smith, who reached the quarterfinals of the Champaign Challenger in 2019, moved on when Michael Mmoh retired trailing 5-3 in the first set. Mmoh is now out of the Australian Open wild card challenge; Smith will take on Stefan Kozlov Wednesday. No. 3 seed JJ Wolf, who plays Kaichi Uchida of Japan Wednesday, and Kozlov are the two Champaign competitors still in the running for that wild card.

This is the last week of the USTA Pro Circuit, with four tournaments on the schedule, not including the Champaign Challenger. Qualifying concluded today, and some first round matches were played as well.

There are three men's events: a $25,000 tournament in Austin Texas, a $25,000 tournament in Columbus Ohio and a $15,000 tournament in East Lansing Michigan

The women are competing at a $25,000 event in Naples Florida.

In Austin, the Americans who qualified are Gabriel Evans(Incarnate Word) and Colin Markes(Texas). I believe Paul Jubb(South Carolina) of Great Britain, last week's champion in Harlingen, was supposed to be the No. 1 seed, but there is now a lucky loser (Eduardo Nava) at the top of the draw. Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda is the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to Philip Henning(Georgia) of South Africa, Joubert Klopper(Vanderbilt) of South Africa and Texas sophomore Micah Braswell. 

In Columbus, the American qualifiers were Drew Van Orderlain, Matthew Terry(Cleveland State/Kennesaw State) and Ohio State freshman Reece Yakubov.

The top seeds are teenagers Martin Damm and Toby Kodat. Wild cards recipients are Notre Dame senior Axel Nefve and three Ohio State Buckeyes: junior Robert Cash, junior Andrew Lutschaunig, and sophomore JJ Tracy. 

In East Lansing, four Americans qualified: Matt Kuhar(Bryant), Ronald Hohmann(LSU), Niroop Vallabhaneni(Duke) and Nico Mostardi(Cleveland State). 

Raymond Sarmiento(USC) is the top seed, with Jean Thirouin(Harvard) of France the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to Carson Gates, a senior at Michigan State, Max Sheldon, a freshman at Michigan State, Alex Rotsaert(Stanford) and Matthew Che(Notre Dame). 

In a match tonight between two of the top juniors in the country, both of whom received entry based on the ITF Top 100 junior rankings, local favorite Ozan Colak defeated Jack Anthrop(Ohio State) 6-2, 6-3.

Six of the eight qualifiers in Naples are from the US: Alexa Graham(North Carolina), Kylie Collins(Texas), Alexis Blokhina, Jessica Livianu(St. Johns), Tori Kinard and Kennedy Shaffer(Georgia).

The top seed is last week's champion in Daytona Beach, Irina Fetecau of Romania, with Hanna Chang the No. 2 seed. Wild card recipients were Haley Giavara(Cal), Ellie Douglas(TCU), Victoria Sanchez Bronzetti(Bradley) and Sonya Macavei. Macavei, who just signed with Vanderbilt for next fall, got her first main draw win on the pro circuit today, beating WTA 392 Sophie Chang 6-4, 6-0. Macavei (who I profiled for the Tennis Recruiting Network last month) will face 18-year-old Elvina Kalieva, who today beat No. 3 seed Na-Lae Han of Korea 6-3, 6-2, in Thursday's second round action.