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Saturday, July 30, 2022

USTA's New Battle of the Sections Begins Sunday; Teens Scott and Kalieva Reach Dallas $25K Final; Ponwith and Trotter Meet for Edwardsville $25K Title; Galarneau and Gomez in Winnipeg Challenger Final

Team competition for the 18s age division the week before the USTA Nationals is a well established tradition, and after a two-year hiatus it returns beginning tomorrow outside Grand Rapids Michigan and in Claremont California.

For many years, the boys tournament was played at the University of Illinois, with teams from each USTA section facing off against each other in a four-day event. Byron Center, which is much closer to Kalamazoo than Champaign, will be site of this year's boys tournament for the first time. The girls tournament moved to Southern California when the Nationals moved from Northern California to San Diego, with Claremont serving as host for that event since.

The format has changed this year to include 16s, with their  Intersectionals competition discontinued. It is no longer in the standard college format with three doubles and six singles, but according to the PlayTennis website, "This is a team tournament where each USTA Sectional Association will have a team represented in a compass draw. Each Section team will be composed of four 16s players and four 18s players and a team match will be composed of 4 doubles matches and 8 singles matches. Participants will play a total of 4 singles and 4 doubles matches throughout the competition."

Because that opens up the possibility of a tie, "If teams are tied at 6-6 after singles and doubles, then coaches pick one 16s and one 18s player to play ONE doubles super TB (no ranking points) to determine which team advances."

The matchups will be decided based on the new World Tennis Number that the USTA has adopted (the boys site shows those numbers, the girls site does not). It doesn't appear to me that the teams are attracting as many top players as they were previously, but it's the first year after two years of no team events at all, so it's hard to be sure.

I plan to go up one day next week to have a look; I never went to Champaign in past years because I'm so busy getting ready for Kalamazoo, but it's so close now, I should be able to fit it in.

The boys PlayTennis site is here; the girls is here. The Southern California section is seeded No. 1 in both events.

Two teenagers have advanced to the final of the $25,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit tournament in Dallas Texas, with Katrina Scott aiming for her second title of the month Sunday and Elvina Kalieva for her first Pro Circuit title.

For the second time in two weeks, Scott, the No. 5 seed this week, defeated Robin Anderson(UCLA), the No. 1 seed this week. Last week at the $60,000 tournament in Evansville, Scott won their first round match 6-1, 5-7, 6-4; today the 18-year-old needed only 67 minutes to get past the former Bruin star 6-1, 6-3.

Kalieva, the No. 6 seed, defeated fellow 19-year-old Hina Inoue 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to reach her third Pro Circuit final, with the previous two coming at the $60K level. 

Scott and Kalieva haven't played in the pros, but Kalieva has a 2-0 record over Scott in two lower level ITF junior tournaments way back in 2018.

In the Dallas doubles final today, Maria Kozyreva(St. Mary's) and Veronica Miroshnichenko(Loyola Marymount) of Russia defeated Jessie Aney(North Carolina) and Jessica Failla(Pepperdine) 6-4, 6-7(7), 10-5. Neither team was seeded.

At the $25,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit tournament in Edwardsville Illinois, Ohio State's James Trotter of Japan and former Arizona State Sun Devil Nathan Ponwith will meet for the singles title. Ponwith, the No. 8 seed, will be the more rested, as he defeated 2021 NCAA singles champion Sam Riffice(Florida) 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 44 minutes, while qualifier Trotter needed nearly two hours more than that to beat Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 7-6(4).

Ponwith reached singles final and won the doubles title at the Edwardsville tournament back in 2019, after winning his first and only singles title two months earlier at a $15,000 tournament in Champaign. Trotter is looking for his first singles title on the Pro Circuit after winning two doubles titles this summer.

In the Edwardsville doubles final this evening, No. 2 seeds Makoto Ochi and Seita Watanabe of Japan defeated unseeded Cooper Williams and Kweisi Kenyatte(Illinois) 7-6(1), 6-3. Williams and Kenyatte had three set points at 5-6 in the first set, but could not get the break, and Ochi and Watanabe dominated the tiebreaker.

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Winnipeg, former North Carolina State star Alexis Galarneau of Canada has advanced to his first Challenger final, defeating qualifier Evan Zhu(UCLA) 6-3, 7-5 into today's semifinal. In Friday's quarterfinal, the unseeded Galarneau beat top seed Liam Broady of Great Britain 7-6(5), 6-7(1), 6-3. He will play No. 2 seed Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador, who beat unseeded Enzo Couacaud of France 6-3, 6-4. 

Regardless of the outcome of the final, Galarneau will move to a career high of ~238, assuring himself of a place in the US Open qualifying, with Monday the ranking date for that entry.

Stanford rising junior Arthur Fery of Great Britain won his first ITF World Tennis Tour singles tournament today on the grass of a $25,000 tournament in Nottingham. Fery, 20, defeated top seed Alastair Gray(TCU) in the first round and No. 6 seed Dan Cox 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 in today's final.