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Sunday, June 12, 2022

First Pro Circuit Titles for Diallo, Duarte and Han; 2017 US Open Boys Champion Wu Takes Challenger 100 in Orlando; Ray Sweeps Titles at Grade 3 in Mexico

Twenty-year-old Canadian Gabriel Diallo claimed his first title on the professional circuit today at the $25,000 USTA men's pro circuit tournament in East Lansing Michigan, while 23-year-old Duarte Vale of Portugal won his first singles title at the $15,000 SoCal Pro Circuit tournament in San Diego.

The 6-foot-7 Diallo, a rising senior at the University of Kentucky, defeated qualifier Andres Martin, a rising junior at Georgia Tech 6-3, 7-6(4) in the championship match. Diallo won all three of the tiebreakers he played during the week, and dropped only one set in his five victories. The match was close and well-played with lots of first serves made and a total of only six break points, so it finished in an hour and a half.

In contrast, the third-seeded Vale, a recent University of Florida graduate, needed three hours and 45 minutes to get past No. 6 seed Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) 4-6, 7-6(7), 7-5, saving four match points in the last two games of the second set. There were 37 break points in the match, with ten converted, and no sense at any stage of the match who might emerge as the winner 

But regardless of the method, both Diallo and Vale are now singles champions on the Pro Circuit, a great way to start their summers.

In the just concluded women's singles final at the $15K in San Diego, rising USC sophomore Jiangxue (Snow) Han of China claimed her first Pro Circuit title, defeating 18-year-old Ya Yi Yang of Taiwan, the No. 5 seed, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

A week after Yibing Wu won the US Open boys championship in 2017, he won his first Challenger title in Shanghai and he looked to be on his way to a great professional career, one that would put Chinese men's tennis on the ATP map.  Although the former ITF Junior No. 1 did reach 298 in the ATP rankings in 2019, serious injury and covid restrictions kept him from competing for almost three years. He won the $15K in Orange Park Florida in April, beating Michael Zheng 7-6(4), 7-5 in the final, and today won his first Challenger since that Shanghai title at the ATP 100 in Orlando. Wu, now 22, was leading No. 4 seed Jason Kubler 6-7(5), 6-4, 3-1 when the Australian retired. Kubler had won last week's Challenger in Little Rock Arkansas. Wu will not reach his ATP career high with the title, but at 332 now, it isn't far off.

There were only seven ITF Junior Circuit tournaments this week, so not many US junior titles to highlight, although Vanderbilt recruit Valeria Ray had a big week, sweeping the titles at the Grade 3 in Cancun Mexico.

Ray, the No. 15 seed, powered through the field, with her closest match coming in the final, where she took out No. 6 seed Emily Sartz-Lunde of Norway 6-4, 6-4. It's the 17-year-old Floridian's second singles title on the ITF Junior Circuit, with the first also coming in Cancun at a Grade 5 last year.

Adhithya Ganesan, also a No. 15 seed, reached the boys singles final, losing to No. 14 seed Atakan Karahan of Turkey 6-7(2,) 6-2, 6-3.

In doubles, Ray partnered with Cindy Zhao of China, with the No. 2 seeds defeated No. 1 seeds Maria Fernanda Martinez Hernandez of Mexico and Arina Valitova of St. Kitts and Nevis 6-4, 6-7(4), 10-8. It's Ray's fourth doubles title on the ITF Junior Circuit and her first with Zhao.

At the Grade 4 in Guatemala, two Americans were part of  doubles championship teams. Tyler Nguyen and Egor Kirakosov of Russia, the No. 2 seeds, defeated unseeded Abhinav and Prathinav Chunduru 6-4, 6-4 in the boys final. In the girls final, top seeds Vessa Turley and Guatemala's Deborah Dominguez Collado beat Maya Dutta and Catherine Walker 4-1, 4-0. I'm not sure why the girls played short format in the semis and finals, while the boys did not.