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Saturday, November 13, 2021

Paul Closes with a Flourish to Win First ATP Title; Korda Loses in ATP Next Gen Finals; Eubanks Advances to Knoxville Challenger Final; UCLA/Texas Combo Claims Pro Circuit Title

It wasn't looking good for Tommy Paul in the final of the ATP 250 in Stockholm Sweden, the first ATP final of his career. At 4-all in the third set against defending champion Denis Shapovalov of Canada, Paul was serving, down 15-40. Not only did he win the next four points to hold serve, the 24-year-old American broke Shapovalov at love, then held at love--12 consecutive points won to earn his first ATP title. 

Paul will move to a career-high 43 in the rankings with the title, becoming the sixth American in the Top 50. Of those six, only John Isner is over the age of 24.

The ATP article, along with video highlights of the final, can be found here. The ATP also conducted a "first-time winner" interview with Paul. In addition recognizing the contribution of his coach Brad Stine, Paul mentions others who will be familiar to those who followed Paul's years on the junior circuit. 

With Alison Riske's title at the WTA 250 in Austria yesterday, the US can boast of two champions on tour this weekend, but not a third. Sebastian Korda, who reached the final of the ATP's Next Gen Finals this week in Milan, lost to 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain 4-3(5), 4-2, 4-2. As with Jannik Sinner, who won the Next Gen title as an 18-year-old in 2019, Alcaraz is not expected to compete in future competitions, as he continues his ascent to the ATP Top 10 in 2022.

For more on the final, see this article.

Two more Americans can earn Challenger titles Sunday, with Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) advancing to the final in Knoxville, and Maxime Cressy(UCLA) reaching the final in Italy. Eubanks, who is unseeded, defeated No. 8 seed Bjorn Fratangelo today 7-5, 7-5 to advance to his fourth Challenger final and his second this year. Eubanks will face No. 2 seed Daniel Altmaier of Germany, who beat Michael Mmoh 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Almaier, a 23-year-old who had an unremarkable junior career, should move into the ATP Top 100 for the first time Monday, regardless of the outcome of Sunday's final. 

Eubanks is playing the abbreviated World Team Tennis season the next two weeks in Indian Wells, but with his success this week in Knoxville, he won't be there for the New York Empire for their opening match tonight.  Tommy Paul is also scheduled to play for the Chicago Smash, beginning next Saturday.

No. 2 seed Cressy, who has gone semifinal, final, final the last three weeks in European Challengers, will face No. 1 seed Oscar Otte of Germany in the final of the ATP Challenger 80 in Ortisei. Otte defeated Cressy in the semifinals in Germany two weeks ago en route to the title.

The doubles title was decided today in Knoxville, with the unseeded team of Blaz Rola(Ohio State) of Slovenia and Malek Jaziri of Tunisia beating top seeds Hans Hach Verdugo(Abilene Christian) and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela(Texas) of Mexico 3-6, 6-3, 10-5.

At the $25,000 women's Pro Circuit tournament in Daytona Beach, top seed Alycia Parks advanced to the final, where she will take on No. 2 seed Irina Fetecau of Romania. Parks defeated qualifier Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, while Fetecau beat No. 6 seed Sujeong Jang of Korea 6-4, 7-5.

In the doubles final, two current collegians captured the title. Elysia Bolton, a senior at UCLA (although not currently listed on the 2021-22 roster) and Kylie Collins, a sophomore at Texas, won the battle of unseeded finalists today. Bolton and Collins defeated Parks and Alexandra Osborne of Australia 6-4, 6-7(4), 10-5 in exactly two hours. Bolton won a $25K title last month with Maegan Manasse(Cal), while Collins won a $25K title this summer with Robin Montgomery. 

Another current collegian, Baylor junior Adrian Boitan, has advanced to the final of the $25,000 men's Pro Circuit tournament in Harlingen. The unseeded 22-year-old from Romania defeated No. 3 seed Matias Descotte of Argentina 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 in a nearly three-hour semifinal. He will take on top seed Paul Jubb of Great Britain, the 2019 NCAA singles champion while at South Carolina. Jubb defeated No. 4 seed Christian Langmo(Miami) 7-5, 6-1.

Boitan and former Baylor teammate Constantin Frantzen of Germany reached the doubles final unseeded, but lost in today's final to No. 3 seeds Mark Whitehouse of Great Britain and Francis Alcantara(Pepperdine) of the Philippines 7-6(3), 5-7, 10-7.