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Friday, November 19, 2021

My Conversation with Catherine Harrison; Wolf and Kozlov Meet Saturday for Australian Open Wild Card; Fruhvirtova Sisters Play Each Other for ITF J1 Mexico Title; Sarr Wins San Diego J5; Pro Circuit Update

When I was in Midland earlier this month for the Dow Tennis Classic, I had an opportunity to sit down with Catherine Harrison, the former UCLA All-American. I have been covering Harrison since she was 14, when, as a wild card at her home club at the 2008 Girls 18s National Clay Courts in Memphis, she lost to Danielle Collins, also 13, in a third-set tiebreaker in a first round match. I wrote about her college search for the Tennis Recruiting Network; when I spoke to her for that article, in 2011, UCLA was not in the picture.

Harrison, now 27, was determined to get her degree and to play pro tennis. She has done both, and after we both lamented the loss of the Racquet Club of Memphis to the wrecking ball, our conversation turned to her slow climb up the WTA rankings, which was obviously hampered by the pandemic hiatus. With her finances always a concern, Harrison considered focusing on doubles, and her success there, particularly this summer, has given her a taste of life on the WTA tour. For more on her training, choices, goal and plans, see today's article at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Harrison is hoping to play Australian Open qualifying; Stefan Kozlov and JJ Wolf will be playing tomorrow to determine which one of them will receive the main draw wild card that the USTA is awarding in a competition that ends this week. Both did their part today to set up a dramatic winner-take-all semifinal Saturday at the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign. Wolf, the No. 3 seed, defeated wild card Vasil Kirkov 6-3, 6-2 and Kozlov, the No. 8 seed, beat No. 2 seed Mitchell Krueger 6-4, 6-4. Wolf and Kozlov have already met twice in the four-week stretch that the USTA designated for the wild card challenge, with Wolf beating Kozlov in the final of the Las Vegas Challenger in Week 1, and Kozlov defeating Wolf in the semifinals of the Charlottesville Challenger, which Kozlov went on to win. They also met in the semis of the Columbus Challenger, back in September, before the wild card segment of the Challenger tour, with Kozlov winning both that match and the tournament. The winner of tomorrow's match will have a semifinal, a final(at least) and a title (the three best results in the four weeks count), while the loser will have two semifinals and a title. 

After the doubles final at noon Eastern and the other semifinal between No. 4 seed and former Illini Aleks Vukic of Australia and unseeded Yosuke Watanuki of Japan, Kozlov and Wolf will take the court, with Mike Cation providing the commentary on the ATP's free live stream.

Sisters Linda and Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic will meet for the first time on the ITF Junior Circuit Saturday in the final of the J1 in Guadalajara Mexico. Top seed Linda, 16, defeated No. 10 seed Lucciana Perez Alarcon of Peru 6-0, 6-2 and No. 2 seed Brenda, 14, beat No. 3 seed Marina Stakusic of Canada 6-1, 6-2.

The boys final will feature No. 4 seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico and No. 3 seed Ignacio Buse of Peru.

Two American teams have advanced to the doubles finals. No. 3 seeds Ava Krug and Liv Hovde will play the top-seeded Fruhvirtova sisters for the title. Sebastian Sec and Elias Short, who are unseeded, will face the winner of tonight's semifinal between Pacheco Mendez and Luis Alvarez Valdes of Mexico, the No. 3 seeds, and No. 2 seeds Leo Borg and Michael Minasyan of Sweden.

At the J5 in San Diego, top seed Jelani Sarr won his second J5 title in the past two months, beating unseeded Lucas Andrade Da Silva 6-2, 6-0. No. 6 seed Mayu Crossley of Japan won the girls title, defeating No. 2 seed Iva Jovic 7-5, 6-2. 

The boys doubles title went to wild cards ZhengQing Ji of China and Zachary Peelouchoud, who defeated Eric Kats and Russell Soohoo 6-4, 4-6, 10-7 in a battle of unseeded teams.

Three Buckeyes are through to the semifinals at the $25,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Columbus, with wild card JJ Tracy and No. 6 seed Cannon Kingsley meeting in the top half semifinal, while No. 7 seed John McNally, who beat No. 2 seed Toby Kodat 6-3, 6-2, will take on Taha Baadi(Wake Forest) of Canada in the bottom half. 

At the $25,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Austin, two Longhorns are through to the semifinals. Texas sophomore Eliot Spizzirri, the No. 7 seed, will take on fellow teenager Zachary Svajda, the No. 2 seed, in the bottom half. Former Longhorn Colin Markes, a qualifier, will face lucky loser Eduardo Nava(Wake Forest) in the top half. 

At the $15,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in East Lansing, two current collegians are still in the running for the singles title. No. 3 seed Alex Brown, a fifth-year grad student at Illinois, will take on top seed Raymond Sarmiento(USC).

Kentucky junior Gabriel Diallo of Canada will face qualifier Alex Knaff(Florida State) of Luxembourg in the other semifinal. 

And at the $25,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Naples, qualifier Alexa Graham(North Carolina) is the sole American remaining. Graham will play No. 4 seed Sujeong Jang of Korea in the top half semifinal. The bottom half semifinal will feature No. 8 seed Lulu Sun(Texas) of Switzerland and unseeded Nefisa Berberovic of Bosnia.