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Thursday, June 2, 2022

Three Czech Girls, Two Unseeded Boys Reach Roland Garros Junior Semifinals; Godsick Advances in Doubles; Gauff Reaches Women's Final, Shibahara Wins Mixed Title; Shelton and Stearns Finish No. 1 in Final Division I ITA Singles Rankings

With nine girls in the 64-player field, including four seeds, it's no surprise that the Czech Republic would have a semifinalist in the Roland Garros Junior Championships. Brenda Fruhvirtova was the No. 4 seed, so she would have been the likely candidate. She lost in the first round to Solana Sierra of Argentina, who is through to the semifinals, along with the three other seeded girls: Nikola Bartunkova[13], Lucie Havlickova[9] and Sara Bejlek[10].

Sierra advanced to her semifinal with Bartunkova by defeating No. 6 seed Liv Hovde 6-3, 7-5.  Hovde struggled with her serve all day, making less than 50% of her first serves, and had five double faults. Her groundstrokes were often wayward as well, but Hovde had her chances, with three break points at 4-all in the second set. But she couldn't convert them, and then had to save two match points serving at 4-5. At 5-all, Sierra fell behind 0-30, but won the next four points and Hovde was broken at love in the final game. Sierra and Bartunkova, who beat Nikola Daubnerova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-0 today, will be meeting for the first time.

In the all-Czech semifinal, doubles partners Havlickova and Bejlek have met three times on the ITF Junior Circuit, with Havlickova winning two of them, but their last encounter was over a year ago. Bejlek has a higher WTA ranking--270--than ITF Junior ranking--348 and her WTA ranking is how she is seeded in this junior tournament.   

Havlickova was challenged by unseeded Annabelle Xu of Canada, but she got through 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-1, while Bejlek, who has yet to lose a set, defeated No. 14 seed Mirra Andreeva of Russia 6-4, 6-1.

The boys quarterfinals were all decided in straight sets. Gilles Bailly of Belgium beat qualifier Dylan Dietrich of Switzerland 6-3, 7-5 and Martyn Pawelski downed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico 7-6(2), 6-4.  The two seeded boys in the quarterfinals advanced, with No. 10 Dino Prizmic defeating Daniel Merida Aguilar of Spain 6-2, 6-3 No. 14 and Gabriel Debru of France beating Peter Privara of Slovakia 6-1, 6-2.

The lone American remaining in the Roland Garros Junior Championships is Nicolas Godsick, who has advanced to the doubles semifinals with Henrique Rocha of Portugal. They defeated Ozan Colak and Jaden Weekes of Canada 6-4, 6-4 to advance against top seeds Edas Butvilas of Lithuania and Mili Poljicak of Croatia. Butvilas and Poljicak trailed Aidan Kim and Hynek Barton of the Czech 6-2, 4-0 before coming back for a 2-6, 7-6(5), 12-10 victory.

The other semifinal will featured the only boy in both singles and doubles, Pawelski, who is playing with Peter Nad of Slovakia. The  unseeded pair defeated Michael Zheng and Alex Michelsen 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 and will face No. 2 seeds Gonzalo Bueno and Ignacio Buse of Peru. Bueno and Buse defeated Dietrich and Togan Tokac of Turkey 7-6(4), 7-6(6).

Three of the top four seeds have advanced to the girls doubles semifinals, with Hovde and Qavia Lopez, seeded No. 3, the only one missing. They lost to No. 7 seeds Lucija Ciric Bagaric of Croatia and Sofia Costoulas of Belgium 6-3, 3-6, 10-5. Their semifinal opponents will be Bejlek and Havlickova, who beat No. 6 seeds Petra Marcinko of Croatia and Johanne Svendsen of Denmark 6-4, 6-2.

No. 2 seeds Bartunkova and Celine Naef of Switerzland saved a match point in the tiebreaker to beat No. 5 seeds Diana Shnaider of Russia and Hanne Vandewinkel of Belgium 6-4, 0-6, 14-12. They will play No. 4 seeds Yaroslava Bartashevich of France and Ksenia Zaytseva of Russia, who beat Sierra and Chelsea Fontenel of Switzerland 7-5, 7-5.

For more on today's action, see this article from the ITF Junior website. Friday's order of play is here.

Four years after claiming the girls title at Roland Garros, Coco Gauff will play in the women's final against top seed and WTA No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland, who won the Wimbledon girls title that same year. No. 18 seed Gauff, who has yet to drop a set, defeated Martina Trevisan of Italy 6-3, 6-1 in today's semifinal, while Swiatek defeated No. 20 seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-2, 6-1. The 18-year-old Gauff is the youngest woman to reach a slam final since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004. For more on Gauff's and Swiatek's wins today, see this Washington Post article.

Former UCLA star Ena Shibahara won her first slam title today in mixed doubles, with the 2016 US Open girls doubles champion partnering with Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands. The 24-year-old Shibahara, who was born in California but now plays for Japan, has won eight titles on the WTA tour, but this was her first appearance in a slam final. The No. 2 seeds defeated Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway and Joran Vliegen(East Carolina) of Belgium 7-6(5), 6-2. For more on Shibahara and Koolhof's win, see this article from the Roland Garros website.

Three former collegians will be in the men's doubles final, with 2011 NCAA doubles champion Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M) advancing to his first slam final. Krajicek and his partner Ivan Dodig of Croatia, who are unseeded, defeated No. 4 Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-5. Krajicek failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the third, but they got another chance, breaking for a 6-5 lead and closing the door the second time.  They will play No. 12 seeds Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador, who was a standout at Tulsa, and Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands, who played at UCLA. Arevalo was in the mixed final at the US Open last September, but this is his first final in men's doubles. Rojer has two men's doubles titles at slams: Wimbledon 2015 and US Open 2017, both with Horia Tecau of Romania. Dodig also has won title men's doubles titles: 2015 Roland Garros and 2021 Australian Open.

For more on the men's doubles, see this article from the ATP website.

The women's doubles are at the semifinal stage, and an American team is certain to be in the final, after Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend take on Gauff and Jessica Pegula first thing Friday.

The ITA released its final 2021-2022 rankings for Division I singles and doubles today, with NCAA champions Ben Shelton of Florida and Peyton Stearns of Texas ending the season No. 1 and earning Player of the Year honors. It's great that both NCAA champions ended up being No. 1; that didn't happen last year. The only NCAA champions who didn't finish No. 1 was the Texas team of Cleeve Harper and Richard Ciamarra. They were seeded No. 3 in the tournament(correction: they were seeded No. 4) and beat the current No. 1 team from Ohio State in the final, but somehow fell to No. 4 in the final rankings.

I'm also including the Top 10 team rankings, which were released last week with both NCAA champions No. 1, which is always the case. 

There are three ways to earn all-American status: being seeded at the NCAA individual tournament, reaching the round of 16 in singles and quarterfinals in doubles during the tournament or finishing the season with a Top 20 singles or Top 10 doubles ranking. So that's why I'm showing all those, rather than Top 10 or 5. Although the official All-American teams won't be announced for a few weeks, Chris Rodesch of Virginia should now have earned All-American status in singles; Carmen and Ivana Corley of Oklahoma should be All-Americans now in doubles. I'm unsure if Yulia Starodubtseva of Old Dominion, who was elevated to a seed when Mell Reasco of Georgia pulled out, earned all-American status that way, but she's ranked in the Top 20 now, so she has earned it either way. The complete rankings can be found by clicking on the headers.

Division I Final rankings:

Men's Singles:
1. Ben Shelton, Florida
2. Adam Walton, Tennessee
3.Daniel Rodrigues, South Carolina
4. August Holmgren, San Diego
5. Stefan Dostanic, Southern California
6. Liam Draxl, Kentucky
7. Adrian Boitan, Baylor
8. Gabriel Diallo, Kentucky
9. Cannon Kingsley, Ohio State
10. Hamish Stewart, Georgia
11. Arthur Fery, Stanford
12. Inaki Montes, Virginia
13. Sam Riffice, Florida
14. Clement Chidekh, Washington
15. Matej Vocel, Ohio State
16. Johannus Monday, Tennessee
17. Luc Fomba, TCU
18. Juan Carlos Aguilar, TCU
19. Nikola Slavic, Mississippi
20. Chris Rodesch, Virginia

1. Robert Cash/Matej Vocel, Ohio State
2. Jacob Fearnley/Luc Fomba, TCU
3. Finn Bass/Sven Lah, Baylor
4. Richard Ciamarra/Cleeve Harper, Texas
5. Sam Riffice/Ben Shelton, Florida
6. Daniel Rodrigues/Connor Thomson, South Carolina
7. Stefan Dostanic/Bradley Frye, Southern California
8. Tad Maclean/Finn Murgett, Auburn
9. Eliot Spizzirri/Siem Woldeab, Texas
10. Pat Harper/Adam Walton, Tennessee

Men's Team Top 10
1. Virginia
2. Florida
3. TCU
4. Baylor
5. Ohio State
6. Tennessee
7. Kentucky
8. Michigan
9. Wake Forest
10. South Carolina

1. Peyton Stearns, Texas
2. Emma Navarro, Virginia
3. Eryn Cayetano, Southern California
4. Sarah Hamner, South Carolina
5. Daria Frayman, Princeton
6. Layne Sleeth, Oklahoma
7. Petra Hule, Florida State
8. Chloe Beck, Duke
9. Cameron Morra, North Carolina
10. McCartney Kessler, Florida
11. Jaeda Daniel, NC State
12. Connie Ma, Stanford
13. Georgia Drummy, Duke
14. Shiori Fukuda, Pepperdine
15. Carson Branstine, Texas A&M
16. Irinia Cantos Siemers, Ohio State
17. Lisa Zarr, Pepperdine
18. Yulia Starodubtseva, Old Dominion
19. Michaela Bayerlova, Washington State
20. Elizabeth Scott, North Carolina 

1. Jaeda Daniel/Nell Miller, NC State
2. Fiona Crawley/Elizabeth Scotty, North Carolina
3. Jayci Goldsmith/Tatiana Makarova, Texas A&M
4. Emma Navarro/Hibah Shaikh, Virginia
5. Carol Lee/Kate Sharabura, Georgia Tech
6. Daevenia Achong/Eden Richardson, Miami
7.Tatsiana Sasnouskaya/Yulia Starodubtseva, Old Dominion
8. Ayumi Miyamota/Lisa Marie Rioux, Oklahoma State
9. Carmen Corley/Ivana Corley, Oklahoma
10. Peyton Stearns/Allura Zamarripa, Texas

1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
3. North Carolina
4. Duke
5. Virginia
6. NC State
7. Texas A&M
8. Pepperdine
9. Miami
10. Oklahoma State

I recorded a Cracked Racquets podcast with Alex Gruskin and John Parsons last night, wrapping up the 2022 NCAA championships in Champaign. We had a good time talking about serious and not-so-serious issues and impressions of our time watching the best college players in the nation compete. You can find that podcast here.