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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Five US Boys, Three US Girls Reach Quarterfinals at Colombia J1; All-US Finals at New Jersey J5; Anthrop, Bernard Receive Columbus Challenger Wild Cards; Cressy, Fritz, Collins Through to Australian Open Third Round; Michael Center Gives Sports Illustrated His View of Varsity Blues Scandal

There is no order of play posted for today's quarterfinals at the ITF J1 in Barranquilla Colombia, but since I didn't report on it yesterday, it's a good time to catch up on what's happening there. Five of the eight boys quarterfinalists are from the United States, with just one of the quarterfinals between Americans, with top seed Cooper Williams playing No. 12 seed Jonah Braswell. No. 5 seed Michael Zheng faces No. 4 seed Martin Vergara Del Puerto of Paraguay, No. 3 seed Nicholas Godsick plays unseeded Paul Barbier Gazeu of France and No. 14 seed Alexander Frusina takes on No. 8 seed Jan Hrazdil of the Czech Republic.

Three US girls have reached the quarterfinals; No. 9 seed Olivia Lincer, No. 5 seed Mia Slama and No. 2 seed Krystal Blanch. Lincer, who had to qualify, I assume due to a late entry, faces unseeded Ena Koike of Japan; Slama plays No. 13 seed Madeleine Jessup, formerly of the US, but now representing Taiwan, and Blanch takes on unseeded Ellie Daniels of Canada.

The finals are set for the J5 in Medford New Jersey, with Maya Joint going for a second straight title, while Cooper Woestendick is hoping to improve on his appearance in the final last week at the J5 in Wisconsin. 

Joint, the No. 3 seed, defeated qualifier Erin Ha 6-1, 6-3 to run her 2022 winning streak to nine matches. Joint will play qualifier Esha Velaga, who defeated 13-year-old wild card Shannon Lam 6-3, 7-5. The 17-year-old Velaga is playing in just her second ITF Junior Circuit tournament, after qualifying for the J1 in College Park Maryland last summer.

The 15-year-old Woestendick defeated No. 3 seed Shrikeshav Murugesan 7-5, 6-2 for his fourth consecutive straight-sets win. He will play No. 5 seed Evan Wen, who came back to defeat No. 4 seed Eric Lin 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-2. The 18-year-old Wen will be playing in his first ITF Junior Circuit final.

Bernard has signed with Ohio State and will join the Buckeyes this fall 

The ATP 80 Challenger in Columbus, the first men's pro event in the United States in 2022, announced the wild cards for next week's tournament. 

Jenson Brooksby, who tested positive for Covid-19 prior to leaving for Australia, has received a wild card, as has Ohio State freshman Jack Anthrop and recruit Alex Bernard. The qualifying wild cards were given to Keegan Smith, Preston Stearns, Chad Miller, Alexander Cozbinov. Obviously most of the wild cards have ties to the Ohio State men's program. I'm surprised that no current players were among the wild card recipients. 

The full release from yesterday:

Columbus, OH. (January 19th, 2022) - Professional tennis returns to Columbus next week, as the Tennis Ohio Championships are set to take place January 24th-January 30th. Hosted at Tennis Ohio, Columbus will welcome world-class players, as they compete for a $54,000 purse and valuable ATP ranking points. The tournament, which has become a staple on the USTA Pro Circuit over the last several years, is excited to host one of its strongest player fields to date. 

Headlining the 2022 player field is USTA Wildcard recipient, Jenson Brooksby (USA). Brooksby is currently ranked 58th in the world and represents to top ranked player to ever play the event. Tennys Sandgren (USA), currently ranked 94 in the ATP World Tour rankings, represents the 2nd highest ranked player. Other top players in the field include Sam Querrey (USA), Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN), Jack Sock (USA) and Andreas Seppi (ITA). 

The field also features numerous players with Ohio ties. Former Ohio State standout, JJ Wolf (USA) (who trains at Tennis Ohio), will look to capture his third Tennis Ohio Championships. Wolf looks to build off a strong fall on the ATP Challenger Tour, which featured a title (Las Vegas) and three other semi-final appearances. Mikael Torpegaard (DEN), who also trains at Tennis Ohio, has won the Tennis Ohio Championships two times himself, and will look to build momentum. Future and current Ohio State Buckeyes will also compete, as Jack Anthrop (current Ohio State freshman), Alexander Bernard (Ohio State commit) and Preston Stearns (Ohio State commit) will all make their ATP Challenger Tour debut. Cincinnati native and Northwestern commit, Chad Miller, will compete in the qualifying singles. 

Main Draw Singles Wildcards: Jenson Brooksby (USTA), Jack Anthrop, Alexander Bernard
Qualifying Singles Wildcards: Keegan Smith (USTA), Preston Stearns, Chad Miller, Alexander Cozbinov

Held since 2015, this is the 10th edition of the Columbus ATP Challenger Tour event. Entry is free to the public and matches can be livestreamed on the ATP Challenger Tour website. Due to ATP Challenger Tour requirements, all fans must wear a mask when at the facility. 

About Tennis Ohio:
The mission of Tennis Ohio is to improve the junior tennis experience for kids and their families. Tennis Ohio works to create a space where local individuals, groups, and tennis interact and engage with each other to improve the quality of our greater community. Based at Tennis Ohio, Kass Tennis Academy is a high-performance training base for juniors and professional players with on and off-court programming orient ed to maximize each player's long-term potential.

Three more Americans have reached the third round of the Australian Open, with Danielle Collins, Taylor Fritz and Maxime Cressy advancing with wins Thursday. I was able to watch the Collins win over Ana Konjuh of Croatia, but it was extremely frustrating that ESPN+ was unable to provide a feed of the Fritz-Tiafoe match. I did see games here and there when ESPN 2 would check in on the match, but "technical issues" made watching two of the best young Americans all but impossible. Here's an article on the problems, with a response from the network.

Cressy, the former UCLA Bruin, is through to the third round of a major for the first time. Here is an ATP article on Cressy's improbable rise from the bottom of the UCLA depth chart to the ATP Top 100, with insights from his former teammate Austin Rapp, now the volunteer assistant at Texas (and part-time coach of Catherine Harrison).

Thursday's second round results:
Jannik Sinner[11](ITA) d. Steve Johnson 6-2, 6-4, 6-3
Taylor Fritz[20] d. Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(5)
Maxime Cressy d. Tomas Machac[Q](CZE) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5)

Danielle Collins[27] d. Ana Konjuh(CRO) 6-4, 6-3
Maddison Inglis[WC](AUS) d. Hailey Baptiste[Q] 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2 

Friday's third round matches featuring Americans:

Amanda Anisimova d. Naomi Osaka[13](JPN) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5)
Jessica Pegula[21] d. Nuria Parrizas Diaz(ESP) 7-6(3), 6-2
Madison Keys d. Qiang Wang(CHN) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2)

Pablo Carreno Busta[19](ESP) d. Sebastian Korda 6-4, 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-3
Denis Shapovalov[14](CAN) d. Reilly Opelka[23] 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Former University of Texas men's head coach Michael Center was the most prominent tennis coach charged in the Varsity Blues scandal and he spent six months in jail for his role in admitting a student as a tennis recruit who had no credentials nor any interest in playing on the men's team. Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated spoke to Center about how Center became involved with Rick Singer, the central figure in the scandal and how Center managed to navigate through the process at Texas. Center accepts responsibility for his actions, but doesn't understand how he could be the only person at the University who paid any price for what happened. 

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