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Thursday, June 9, 2022

Three Kentucky Wildcats Reach Quarterfinals at East Lansing $25K; Holmgren Falls, Tien Advances at San Diego $15K; World Tennis Number Now Active on USTA.com; ACC Awards Announced

I had planned to spend the day at the $25,000 USTA Men's Pro Circuit tournament in East Lansing, but have come down with a cold, so I spent most of the day watching various live streams from all over the country instead.

The story in East Lansing is the Kentucky Wildcats, with three of their players, all from Canada, through to the quarterfinals, while three other active collegians also posted wins today. 

Top seed Noah Rubin(Wake Forest) and No. 2 seed Naoki Nakagawa of Japan are through as well, but the only other seed to make Friday's quarterfinals is No. 7 Liam Draxl, Kentucky's No. 1.  He beat compatriot and future teammate Taha Baadi, who is transferring to Kentucky from Wake Forest, 6-1, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Michigan's Jacob Bickersteth, a qualifier this week. Bickersteth, a rising junior, defeated No. 3 seed Felix Corwin(Minnesota) 6-4, 6-3 and has now won his first five matches at the pro level, with this his first Pro Circuit tournament.  

Andres Martin of Georgia Tech, who has received a main draw wild card into next month's ATP 250 Atlanta Open, defeated No. 6 seed Sekou Bangoura(Florida) 7-6(6), 6-3 and will face fellow qualifier Joshua Lapadat, who played No. 5 singles for Kentucky this past season. Lapadat defeated No. 8 seed John McNally(Ohio State) 6-2, 6-4.

Rubin will face the third Wildcat to reach the quarterfinals, Gabriel Diallo, who came back to take out qualifier Cleeve Harper(Texas) of Canada 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan, a rising sophomore at Tennessee, defeated No. 5 seed Roy Smith(Baylor) 6-4, 6-4 and will play Nakagawa in the quarterfinals. 

The quarterfinals at the ATP Challenger 100 in Orlando don't feature any current college players, but there is a quartet of former ones. Top seed JJ Wolf(Ohio State) completed a grueling second round match over Brandon Holt 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, with the lightning and rain delay Wednesday giving him an opportunity to recover from the cramping he was experiencing after nearly three hours of play. He will face Tung-Lin Wu of Taiwan, who was a finalist at the Little Rock Challenger last week.

The other three former collegians are in the bottom half of the draw, with USC alums and cousins Robert Quiroz and Emilio Gomez of Ecuador meeting for the third time in a Challenger, having split their first two matches. Gomez, the No. 2 seed, defeated Malek Jaziri of Turkey 7-6(4), 6-2 and Quiroz beat qualifier Matic Pecotic(Princeton) of Croatia 7-5, 7-6(6).  No. 3 seed Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech), who is the defending champion of the ATP 80 that was played in Orlando last year at this time, defeated qualifier Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 to advance to a meeting with former ITF World Junior No. 1 Wibing Yu of China. Yu defeated Christian Harrison 7-6(2), 6-0 in a second round match today.

Free live streaming, with commentary by Mike Cation on Court 1, is available via the ATP website.

The winning streak of August Holmgren ended today at the $15,000 SoCal Men's Pro Circuit tournament on the San Diego campus, with Baylor All-American Adrian Boitan defeating the 2022 NCAA singles finalist and Rancho Santa Fe $15K champion from the University of San Diego 6-4, 7-5. Boitan is the No. 5 seed. Sixteen-year-old Learner Tien, who used the ITF junior reserved program for entry, took out No. 4 seed Alexander Cozbinov(UNLV) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. Kyle Kang, another SoCal junior, came close to ousting top seed Gage Brymer(UCLA), but fell 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in just under three hours.

In the women's $15K in San Diego, UCLA rising sophomore Kimmi Hance won a nearly three-hour battle with former UNC star Makenna Jones, a lucky loser, 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(1). Qualifier Sabina Zeynalova of Ukraine, who is a rising sophomore for the University of Texas, is through to the quarterfinals for the second straight week, after Bunyawi Thamchaiwat (San Diego State) retired trailing 4-2 in the first set. This article from Steve Pratt on the USTA Southern California website provides details on how Zeynalova got through her first dual match season while her country is under attack, and why she decided to play this SoCal Pro Circuit once she finished competing at the NCAAs.

The USTA sent out a release today announcing that players can now access their World Tennis Number, a rating, similar to UTR, that can be used to assess where a player stands on a competitive ladder. The World Tennis Number, which was develop by the International Tennis Federation and adopted by the USTA, is available in player profiles now. How it will be used going forward remains to be seen, but the release did contain this information:

The ITF World Tennis Number will be introduced in limited fashion in 2022, with more applications in 2023 and beyond. For USTA ranked junior tournaments, it will be used as a tool for seeding criteria, at summer team events, and as part of the wildcard process. USTA Sections may elect to use it as a means to seed, select, and/or group players for other events. For USTA ranked adult tournaments, USTA Sections may elect to use WTN to seed and/or group players for some events.

At long last, the ACC conference awards have been announced. Just as the Pac-12 has gotten it together to do their awards before the NCAAs start, the ACC is now waiting until after the post-season.

See the women's all-Conference teams here; the men's all-Conference teams here.

ACC Women:

Player of the Year: Emma Navarro, Virginia
Freshman of the Year: Priska Nugroho, North Carolina State
Coach of the Year; Jamie Ashworth, Duke

ACC Men:
Player of the Year: Inaki Montes, Virginia
Freshman of the Year: Luca Staeheli, North Carolina State
Coach of the Year: Andres Pedroso, Virginia

I have listed all Power Five conference awards for 2021-22 in this google document.