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Wednesday, June 1, 2022

My NCAA D-I Singles and Doubles Recap; Top Seeds Kuzuhara and Marcinko Out in Third Round of Roland Garros Juniors; Cassone Reaches Quarterfinals of Little Rock Challenger; SoCal Pro Circuit Underway

The NCAA Division I individual championships are in the rear view mirror, and I thoroughly enjoyed my opportunity to cover them for the Tennis Recruiting Network this year. If you didn't catch my daily coverage here, check out my article on the singles titles for Americans Ben Shelton of Florida and Peyton Stearns of Texas, and the doubles titles for the teams from North Carolina State and Texas here.

It was another day of upsets in the Junior Championships at Roland Garros, with both ITF World No. 1s and Australian Open champions Bruno Kuzuhara and Petra Marcinko going out in today's third round action.

Kuzuhara led unseeded Gilles Bailly of Belgium 6-3, 4-2 when Bailly began to raise his level, and the 16-year-old's confidence rose with every point. He got the break back, but Kuzuhara still looked likely to get out of the tight second set, when he led 6-3 in the second set tiebreaker. But errors that he wasn't making early in the match surfaced at the worst time and Bailly gave him nothing, taking the last five points of the set. Kuzuhara fell behind 5-1 in the third set, but fought back to take the next three games. Bailly didn't blink on his second opportunity to serve it out, converting his first match point at 40-30 for a 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-4.

Bailly will face qualifier Dylan Dietrich of Switzerland in Thursday's quarterfinals, with Dietrich defeating No. 9 seed Edas Butvilas of Lithuania 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-4.

No. 13 seed Nikola Bartunkova of the Czech Republic , who saved a match point in her first round win over qualifier Sonya Macavei, defeated Marcinko 7-6(5), 7-5, and will face No 12 seed Nikola Daubnerova of Slovakia for a place in the semifinals.

For more from winners Bailly and Bartunkova, see this article from the ITF Juniors website.

The other US boy in the third round, unseeded Michael Zheng, lost to unseeded Martyn Pawelski of Poland 6-2, 7-6(4). 

That leaves just one American in singles, with No. 6 seed Liv Hovde advancing the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 11 seed Victoria Mboko of Canada. Hovde's opponent Thursday will be unseeded Solana Sierra of Argentina, who beat No. 16 seed Yaroslava Barashevich of France 6-2, 7-5. Hovde is the highest seed remaining, with the other seeded quarterfinalists No. 9, No. 10 and No. 14.  The other North American to reach the quarterfinals is unseeded, with Annabelle Xu of Canada advancing with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Johanne Svendsen of Denmark.

Only two of the boys quarterfinalists are seeded: No. 10 Dino Prizmic of Croatia and No. 14 seed Gabriel Debru of France.  Daniel Merida Aguilar of Spain's 7-6(5), 7-6(6) upset of No. 3 seed and Australian Open finalist Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic would have been the top story on a normal day; he will face Prizmic in the quarterfinals. Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico took out No. 7 seed Kilian Feldbausch of Switzerland 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 and will play Pawelski next. Debru's opponent is Peter Privara of Slovakia, who came back to take a tense battle with qualifier Hynek Barton of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(1).

All the US boys may be out of singles, but five have advanced to the doubles quarterfinals, and at least one will be in the semifinals. Nicholas Godsick and Portugal's Henrique Rocha defeated Joao Fonseca of Brazil and Juan Carlos Prado Angelo of Bolivia 6-1, 6-0 today to set up a quarterfinal match with Ozan Colak and Canada's Jaden Weekes, who won their second round match on Tuesday. Aidan Kim, playing with Barton, defeated No. 8 seeds Daniel Vallejo and Martin Vergara Del Puerto of Paraguay 6-4, 6-3 today and will play top seeds Butvilas and Mili Poljicak of Croatia in the quarterfinals.

Zheng will be out for revenge when he and Alex Michelsen, who won their second round doubles match on Tuesday, face Pawelski and Peter Nad of Slovakia Thursday. Pawelski and Nad ended the hopes for a second junior slam for No. 3 seeds Kuzuhara and Coleman Wong of Hong Kong 6-3, 6-4. Aside from Butvilas and Poljicak, the only other seeded team in the quarterfinals is No. 2 Gonzalo Bueno and Ignacio Buse of Peru, who saved five match points in their 1-6, 7-6(3), 13-11 win over Pacheco Mendez and Cooper Williams. 

Hovde and her partner Qavia Lopez are through to the quarterfinals after coming from behind for the second straight day, after saving match points in the first round Tuesday. The No. 3 seeds defeated Elle Seidel and Joelle Steur of Germany 4-6, 6-1, 10-8. They will play No. 7 seeds Lucija Ciric Bagaric of Croatia and Sofia Costoulas of Belgium, who won the title at the Grade A in Milan last month.

Thursday's schedule, which includes the mixed doubles final with former collegians Ena Shibahara(UCLA) and Joran Vliegen(East Carolina) on opposite sides of the net, is here.  Former Texas A&M star and 2011 NCAA doubles champion Austin Krajicek is playing in the men's doubles semifinals Thursday, with partner Ivan Dodig of Croatia.

Arizona State rising sophomore Murphy Cassone keeps winning at this week's ATP Challenger 100 in Little Rock, reaching the quarterfinals today with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Kaichi Uchida of Japan. After playing now four days in a row, the 19-year-old from Kansas should get a day off on Thursday; he will face former Illinois star Aleks Kovacevic, who defeated Ulises Blanch 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 today, on Friday.

NCAA singles champion Ben Shelton defeated Christian Harrison 7-6(4), 6-4 late last night and will play No. 2 seed Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador in the second round Thursday.

The first tournaments in this summer's new SoCal Pro Circuit is underway in Rancho Santa Fe, with NCAA singles finalist August Holmgren of Denmark already making a big splash in the men's tournament with a 6-4, 6-1 win over top seed Felix Corwin(Minnesota) today. Holmgren is staying in the area for several of the upcoming tournaments on this new circuit after receiving his degree at San Diego last month. Other prominent names from D-I college tennis this past season in the draw include Duarte Vale(Florida), Adrian Boitan(Baylor) and Tadeus Paroulek(Baylor).

UCLA senior Elysia Bolton, the top seed in the women's tournament, also went out today, losing to wild card Megan McCray(Oklahoma State) 6-4, 4-1, retired. Other prominent names from D-I college tennis in the draw are Sabina Zeynalova(Texas), Mariia Kozyreva(Saint Mary's), Haley Giavara(Cal) and Victoria Hu(Princeton).

For more from Steve Pratt, the press aide for the event, see this recap of today's action.