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Friday, January 14, 2022

Banerjee Practices with ATP Top Players; Macavei Reaches Costa Rica J1 Final; Joint and Mesarovic Win J5 Titles in Wisconsin; Volynets, Dolehide, Baptiste and Bektas Qualify for Australian Open; Kalieva Advances at Vero Beach $25K

I had an opportunity to talk with Wimbledon boys champion Samir Banerjee last month at the Orange Bowl, his last ITF junior tournament (he is eligible to compete in Kalamazoo this year), about his two weeks in Italy as a practice partner at the ATP Tour Finals. It was fascinating to hear how he interacted with the very best of the best, hitting with Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and many others. He admitted it wasn't the best preparation for the Orange Bowl, but he doesn't regret it for a second. The article for the Tennis Recruiting Network is available here.

The boys semifinals at the ITF J1 Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica are being played tonight, but the girls final is set, with Sonya Macavei, the No. 8 seed, set to take on 15-year-old Canadian Naomi Xu Saturday. Macavei, the 17-year-old Vanderbilt signee, defeated No. 7 seed Sayaka Ishii of Japan 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals; the unseeded Xu beat No. 6 seed Luca Udvardy 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Tonight's boys semifinals feature top seed Cooper Williams and No. 5 seed Michael Zheng and qualifier Learner Tien and No. 7 seed Sebastian Gorzny. Tien defeated No. 3 seed Nico Godsick 6-1, 6-3 last night.

Williams and Zheng, the No. 1 seeds in doubles, will face No. 2 seeds Gorzny and Godsick for the title Saturday. 

The ITF J5 in Eau Claire Wisconsin concluded today, with top seed Marko Mesarovic and No. 2 seed Maya Joint taking the titles. It was the first ITF Junior Circuit title for Mesarovic, who defeated his doubles partner, unseeded 15-year-old Cooper Woestendick 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the final. Mesarovic got his second title in a hurry, with he and Woestendick, the top seeds, taking the doubles with a 2-6, 6-4, 10-5 win over unseeded Maxwell Exsted and Matisse Farzam. The 15-year-old Joint defeated unseeded Selah Stibbins 6-0, 6-0 to claim her second ITF Junior Circuit singles title to go with her three doubles titles. Joint wasn't able to add another doubles title to her total; she and partner Natalie Stasny, the No. 3 seeds, lost to the unseeded team of Susanna Maltby and Amber Yin 7-6(5), 6-2 in today's final. 

The first round of the J1 in Traralgon was not completed as planned Friday, with many of the girls first round matches unfinished. In the boys draw, qualifier Alex Michelsen defeated No. 13 seed Dino Prizmic of Croatia 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to join Bruno Kuzuhara[1], Ozan Colak[12] and Aidan Kim in the second round. 

The final round of qualifying at the Australian Open saw four American women advancing to the main draw, as well as the only man competing Friday, Ernesto Escobedo. Escobedo lost to Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, but received entry into the main draw as a lucky loser. Escobedo will face another player from Kazakhstan Alexander Bublik, in the main draw. Katie Volynets has drawn Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil, who she defeated in the final round of qualifying at Wimbledon last summer; Caroline Dolehide plays Danielle Collins[27], Hailey Baptiste faces Caroline Garcia of France and Emina Bektas plays Liudmila Samsonova of Russia.

Friday's final round of qualifying results for Americans:

Mikhail Kukushkin(KAZ) d. Ernesto Escobedo 6-4, 5-7, 7-5

Katie Volynets d. Mirjam Bjorklund(SWE) 7-5, 6-2
Caroline Dolehide d. Julia Grabher(AUT) 7-6(5), 6-2
Hailey Baptiste d. Yue Yuan(CHN) 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3
Emina Bektas d. Christina McHale 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(7)

Madison Keys and Alison Riske will play for the WTA 250 title in Adelaide Saturday.

At the USTA Pro Circuit women's $25,000 tournament in Vero Beach, 18-year-old Elvina Kalieva is through to the semifinals. The No. 6 seed defeated No. 3 seed Louisa Chirico 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) and will face No. 7 seed Sophie Chang, who beat qualifier Reese Brantmeier 1-6, 7-6(7), 6-0. Unseeded Chanelle Van Nguyen(UCLA) and No. 4 seed Vera Lapko of Belarus will meet in the other semifinal.