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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Kuzuhara Defeats Cuenin at Roland Garros; Xu, Fonseca Post Upsets; Three US Boys Reach Doubles Quarterfinals; Gauff Makes First Slam Semifinal; Cassone Beats Mmoh at Little Rock Challenger; Bryan Returns to LSU as Head Coach

Tuesday's second round Roland Garros boys match between top seed Bruno Kuzuhara and Sean Cuenin of France was one of the most intriguing on paper, particularly with Cuenin's recent form. A semifinalist at the 2021 Roland Garros Junior Championships, Cuenin had won his first ITF $15K title earlier this month and advanced to the final round of men's qualifying with the wild card he received from the French Tennis Federation.

But the 18-year-old right-hander wasn't at his best today, and Kuzuhara advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 7-5 victory. Kuzuhara certainly helped his own cause by getting 84% of his first serves in, and he was broken just once in the match at 1-2 in the second set. Cuenin occasionally hit a big forehand winner, but Kuzuhara was definitely more consistent, while also closing the net when the opportunity arose. Next up for the 2022 Australian Open boys champion is unseeded Gilles Bailly of Belgium, the younger brother of the University of Texas's rising sophomore Pierre Yves Bailly.

Ozan Colak, the only other American in singles action today, lost to No. 14 seed Gabriel Debru of France, the younger brother of the University of Georgia's rising sophomore Mathis Debru 6-3, 6-2. 

Debru was expected to face No. 2 seed Daniel Vallejo of Paraguay, but Joao Fonseca of Brazil took out the Orange Bowl champion 6-3, 6-4. Fonseca, 15, received a wild card into the main draw in an arrangement between the federations of Brazil and France.

Only six seeds have advanced to the Round of 16: Kuzuhara, Debru, No. 9 Edas Butvilas of Lithuania, No. 7 Kilian Feldbausch of Switzerland, No. 10 Dino Prizmic of Croatia and No. 3 Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic. 

Michael Zheng, who eliminated No. 4 seed Mili Poljicak of Croatia in the second round yesterday, will play unseeded Martyn Pawelski of Poland Wednesday.

No. 6 seed Liv Hovde, the only US girl remaining, will play No. 11 seed Victoria Mboko of Canada. Hovde defeated Mboko  6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals of the ITF JB1 in Nicholasville Kentucky last fall.

The shock of the day in the girls draw was the loss of Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra, who was beaten by Canadian Annabelle Xu 6-2, 6-4. The 16-year-old Jimenez Kasintseva, the 2020 Australian Open girls champion, was the No. 3 seed in the junior tournament based on her WTA ranking of 156, but in the five junior slams she's played since that AO title, her best result is the semifinals of Wimbledon last year. The 18-year-old Xu, who has verbally committed to Virginia, will play unseeded Johanne Svendsen of Denmark Wednesday.

In girls doubles, Hovde and Qavia Lopez, the No. 3 seeds, saved two match points at 9-7 in the deciding tiebreaker to win their first round contest with Xu and her partner Ekaterina Khayrutdinova of Russia 6-2, 4-6, 11-9.

In the second round, Sonya Macavei and Alexis Blokhina lost to Chelsea Fontenel of Switzerland and Solana Sierra of Argentina 4-6, 6-3, 10-7. Macavei and Blokhina trailed 4-0 in the opening set, but couldn't sustain the momentum of that six-game run into the second set.

In boys doubles, Aidan Kim and his partner Hynek Barton of the Czech Republic won their first round match over Erik Arutiunian of Belarus and Kalin Ivanovski of Macedonia 7-6(5), 7-6(1).

Colak and his partner Jaden Weekes of Canada reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 2-6, 10-5 win over Sebastian Eriksson of Sweden and Connor Henry Van Schalkwyk of Namibia.

Zheng and Alex Michelsen also advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 1-6, 10-7 win over Florida recruit Tanapatt Nirundorn of Thailand and Borys Zgola of Poland.

Wednesday's schedule is here.

Given all the success she's had since she won the Roland Garros girls title in 2018, it's jarring to remember that Coco Gauff, at age 18, would still be eligible to compete in the Junior Championships this year. After reaching the quarterfinals in Paris last June, Gauff has improved on that showing, advancing to the semifinals with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Sloane Stephens today. Gauff will face surprise semifinalist Martina Trevisan of Italy, who beat 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez of Canada 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-3. Gauff has also made the quarterfinals of doubles with Jessica Pegula, who will play her quarterfinal singles match against top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland Wednesday. For more on Gauff's run this year at Roland Garros, see this article from ESPN.

Arizona State rising sophomore Murphy Cassone had not been able to earn an ATP point in his previous appearances on the Pro Circuit, but this week has taken full advantage of the wild card he received into the qualifying at the ATP 100 Challenger in Little Rock. After picking up two wins over seeds in qualifying Sunday and Monday, the 19-year-old from Kansas had earned 5 ATP points and today he collected nine more, defeating No. 5 seed Michael Mmoh 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Cassone looked to be down and out serving at 1-2 in the second set, but he saved two break points in the five-deuce game and got a second wind from there.

Last night former Illinois star Aleks Kovacevic took out top seed JJ Wolf(Ohio State) 6-2, 5-7, 6-4; wild card Brandon Holt(USC), another college All-American, won his first round match today, beating Andrew Harris(Oklahoma) of Australia 6-1, 6-4. NCAA singles champion Ben Shelton is the late match tonight. 

In other college news, one of the open Power Five coaching jobs was filled today, with Danny Bryan returning to his alma mater LSU as the men's head coach, replacing Andy Brandi, who retired earlier this month. Bryan, who was the assistant at LSU for eight years under Jeff Brown, took the head coaching position at Wichita State, leading the program for the last six years.  For more, see this article from the LSU website.