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Monday, May 30, 2022

Zheng Ousts No. 4 Seed Poljicak, Hovde Thorough to Roland Garros Juniors Third Round; Fruhvirtova, Shnaider and Basavareddy Lose; Cassone Qualifies at Little Rock Challenger; Stanford Tops Men's Spring Recruiting Class Rankings; Introducing New Sponsor

Seeds and favorites went by the wayside on the second day of the Roland Garros Junior Championships, with both No. 4 seeds and both No. 5 seeds eliminated.

Michael Zheng defeated No. 4 seed Mili Poljicak of Croatia 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in a second round match, breaking the big serving right-hander five times. Poljicak was one of the favorites coming into the tournament after reaching the final of an ATP Challenger 80 just two weeks ago in his home country as a wild card.

Solana Sierra of Argentina defeated No. 4 seed Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in a first round match. The 15-year-old Fruhvirtova has now played three junior slams, but has yet to win a match, losing in the first round at 2020 Roland Garros as a wild card and in the first round of qualifying at the US Open last year. 

Another one of the pre-tournament favorites was No. 5 seed Diana Shnaider of Russia, who won an ITF Women's World Tennis Tour $60K early this month in Turkey. The 18-year-old left-hander lost today in the second round to Germany's Joelle Steur 6-3, 6-4.

And No. 5 seed Nishesh Basavareddy, who won the Grade A in Milan two weeks ago, lost his first round match to Mika Brunold of Switzerland 7-6(4), 6-3.

Ozan Colak won his first round match today over qualifier Borys Zgola of Poland 7-6(10), 6-2 and will face No. 14 seed Gabriel Debru of France Tuesday.

Bruno Kuzuhara, who did not play singles today, faces Sean Cuenin of France Tuesday. Cuenin made the semifinals at Roland Garros last year, but hasn't played a junior tournament since the US Open last September. He won his first ITF WTT Men's title at a $15K early this month and reached the final round of men's qualifying in Paris. For more from both players on that marquee match, see this article from the ITF Juniors website.

Liv Hovde, the No. 6 seed, is through to the third round, beating Carolina Kuhl of Germany 6-3, 6-0. Unlike Sunday, Hovde didn't play particularly well, but she found her form at the end to advance.

There are now four Americans remaining in singles: Kuzuhara, Colak, Zheng and Hovde.

Top seed Petra Marcinko of Croatia defeated Angella Okutoyi of Kenya 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the third round, with her opponent yet to be determined.

Roland Garros juniors singles results of Americans on Monday:

First round:
Ozan Colak(USA) d. Borys Zgola[Q](POL) 7-6(10), 6-2
Mika Brunold(SUI) d. Nishesh Basavareddy[5](USA) 7-6(4), 6-3
Hanne Vandewinkel(BEL) d. Ahmani Guichard[SE](USA) 6-4, 6-1

Second round:
Michael Zheng(USA) d. Mili Poljicak[4](CRO) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Liv Hovde[6](USA) d. Carolina Kuhl(GER) 6-3, 6-0

Doubles began today, with five boys teams with at least one American advancing to the second round. Nicholas Godsick and Portugal's Henrique Rocha defeated No. 3 seeds Basavareddy and Victor Lilov 7-5, 3-6, 10-8; Colak and Canada's Jaden Weekes defeated No. 7 seeds Peter Privara of Slovakia and Dino Prizmic of Croatia 6-2, 6-3; Zheng and Alex Michelsen beat No. 6 seeds Kilian Feldbausch of Switzerland and Paul Inchauspe of France 6-4, 6-4 and Cooper Williams and Mexico's Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez defeated Juan Manuel La Serna and Lautaro Midon of Argentina 6-3, 6-4. Australian Open champions Kuzuhara and Coleman Wong of Hong Kong advanced to the second round with a 7-6(3), 6-1 victory over Leanid Boika and Australia's Jeremy Jin. 

Aidan Kim, who got into doubles despite falling in the final round of qualifying, is playing with qualifier Hynek Barton of the Czech Republic, and they are on Tuesday's schedule for their first round match. Colak and Weekes and Zheng and Michelsen play their second round doubles matches Tuesday.

In girls doubles, Alexis Blokhina and Sonya Macavei won their first round match 6-2, 7-5 over the French wild card team of Ophelie Boullay and Thessy Ntondele Zinga. Kaitlin Quevedo and her partner from Morocco, Aya El Aouni, lost to Mia Kupres of Canada and Ranah Stoiber of Great Britain 6-3, 6-2.  

Mia Slama and her partner Lucia Peyre of Argentina play their first round match Tuesday, as do No. 3 seeds Hovde and Qavia Lopez. Blokhina and Macavei play their second round match Tuesday.

Wild card Murphy Cassone, a freshman at Arizona State, qualified for the ATP Challenger 100 in Little Rock Arkansas today, defeating former UCLA star Evan Zhu, the No. 7 seed in qualifying, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year (and frontrunner for the ITA National Rookie of the Year award) beat Bulgaria's Adrian Andreev, the No. 2 seed in qualifying, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round.

The 19-year-old Cassone, who lost in the first round of the NCAA singles championships last week to Matej Vocel of Ohio State, plays No. 5 seed Michael Mmoh at 11 am CDT Tuesday.

NCAA champion Ben Shelton(Florida), who received a main draw wild card, will face Christian Harrison in the night match Tuesday. Brandon Holt(USC) and Donald Young received the other wild cards. JJ Wolf(Ohio State) is the top seed.

Two-time Kalamazoo champion Zachary Svajda qualified and will play Nicolas Mejia of Colombia in the first round. 

Tennis Recruiting Network's spring recruiting class rankings for men were released today, with Stanford remaining at the top. The Cardinal, who also were No. 1 in the January rankings, have Basavareddy and Samir Banerjee joining them this fall.

The Ivy League has the next three top classes: Columbia,  Princeton and Harvard, with San Diego's incoming class ranked No. 5.

I've been voting of these classes ever since TRN introduced the concept, and while these ranking don't always have predictive value, it is a good overview of who is going where, at least as of now.

I'm excited to announce that I have a new sponsor in the Southern California Tennis Association Foundation in San Diego. The SCTA Foundation is an integral part of the tennis community throughout the section, providing funding for all levels of junior tennis, from after-school programs to the USTA Girls 16s and 18s Nationals, which is featured in the current banner ad to the left. It's just over two months until that exciting event begins, so mark your calendars, and if you are in the area, make plans to attend.