Schedule a training visit to the prestigious Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD by clicking on the banner above

Friday, June 10, 2022

Diallo and Mitsui Beat Top Two Seeds at East Lansing $25K, with Bickersteth and Martin also Reaching Semifinals; Wolf Advances at Orlando Challenger; Semifinals Set at San Diego $15Ks

I spent most of the day in bed with a box of Kleenex and my iPad, but fortunately the live streaming kept me entertained between naps.

I had planned to attend the new $25,000 Men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in East Lansing, before I got this cold, and I would have loved to have been there today, with four current college players, three of them qualifiers, advancing to the semifinals.

The least surprising result today might have been Gabriel Diallo's 7-6(3), 6-3 win over top seed Noah Rubin(Wake Forest), as the 6-foot-7 rising senior at Kentucky has already made two Pro Circuit finals at the $15K level, one last fall indoors in East Lansing.  Diallo was down a break early in the first set, but got it back, and was a bit steadier in the tiebreaker.

Diallo went up 2-0 in the second set, but the game that probably decided the match was the fourth game of the second set, which went to ten deuces, with the 20-year-old from Canada saving all nine break points he faced, some with monster serves. Rubin was able to convert only 1 of 14 break points, while Diallo went 4 for 7 in that category.

Next up for Diallo is University of Michigan rising junior Jacob Bickersteth, who defeated No. 7 seed Liam Draxl(Kentucky) of Canada 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. I only saw the last two games of that match, but Bickersteth played like the underdog he was, swinging away and he broke Draxl to go up 5-4. Often the final game is a tough one if a big win is on the line, but Bickersteth kept cracking serves and pounding winners to give Draxl no chance for one of his dramatic comebacks.

Tennessee rising sophomore Shunsuke Mitsui did not close out his 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 2 seed Naoki Nakagawa of Japan with nearly the same aplomb. The 20-year-old qualifier served for the match two times, at 5-2 and 5-4 without even getting to match points, but his relentless determination to get to the net finally paid off in the final game, when serving for the match for a third time, he saved two break points and converted his first match point.

Georgia Tech rising junior Andres Martin defeated fellow qualifier Joshua Lapadat of Canada, a rising junior at Kentucky 6-3 5-7, 7-6(4) in three hours and four minutes.

Both Martin and Bickersteth are playing in their first Pro Circuit event; Mitsui will be making his first appearance in a semifinal.

Top seed JJ Wolf was down a set and break today against Tung-Lin Wu of Taiwan at the ATP Challenger 100 in Orlando, but the former Ohio State All-American won nine games in a row from 3-1 down in the second set for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win. He will face Little Rock Challenger champion Jason Kubler of Australia, the No. 4 seed, who beat Ulises Blanch 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

Former ITF Junior No. 1 Yibing Wu of China, the 2017 US Open Boys champion, defeated No. 3 seed Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) 6-4, 7-6(6) and will face No. 2 seed Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador in the final. Gomez advanced when his cousin and former teammate Robert Quiroz retired trailing 6-2, 3-1.

At the women's $15K in San Diego this week, St. Mary's All-American Mariia Kozyreva of Russia is continuing her fine form, with last week's Rancho Santa Fe finalist advancing to the semifinals this week with a 6-2, 6-0 win over qualifier Sabina Zeynalova(Texas) of Ukraine. Kozyreva will play rising USC sophomore Jiangxue (Snow) Han, who beat UCLA rising sophomore Kimmi Hance 6-1, 6-4.

Top seed Jessica Failla(Pepperdine), who did not play last week in Rancho Santa Fe, defeated Midori Castillo Meza(Arizona) of Mexico 6-2, 6-2 to set up a contest with RSF semifinalist Ya Yi Yang of Taiwan, the No. 5 seed. The 18-year-old defeated lucky loser Daria Kuczer(Tennessee) of Poland 6-3, 7-6(5).

In the men's $15,000 tournament in San Diego, No. 3 seed Duarte Vale(Florida) of Portugal is the only man to make it to both semifinals. He defeated No. 5 seed Adrian Boitan(Baylor) of Romania 6-2, 6-2 in today's quarterfinals and will play No. 2 seed Zhe Li of China. Li defeated qualifier Eric Hadigian(Pepperdine) 6-4, 6-3.

The other semifinal will feature No. 6 seed Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) and wild card Ryan Seggerman. Ponwith defeated top seed Gage Brymer(UCLA) 6-4, 6-4, while Seggerman, a recent Princeton graduate, defeated Learner Tien 6-3, 6-2.

Cracked Racquets will have coverage of the San Diego semifinals and finals on their YouTube Channel.