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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Shelton Claims First ATP Masters 1000 Victory in Cincinnati; Mandlik and Wolf Win US Open Wild Card Challenge; Costoulas and Ghibaudo Take ITF JA South Africa Titles; Multiple J5 Titles for Walker and Ubri

With every professional victory, it's looking less and less likely that Ben Shelton will be returning to the University of Florida for his junior year. The 2022 NCAA singles champion, who turns 20 in October, earned his first victory in an ATP Masters 1000 event today in Cincinnati, beating ATP No. 56 Lorenzo Sonego of Italy 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-5.  

Shelton, whose Western & Southern Open wild card was upgraded from qualifying to main draw after he reached the final of the ATP Challenger 80 in Chicago last week, had a 6-5 lead in the third set when a rain shower disrupted play for around 45 minutes. When the players returned to court, Shelton avoided a tiebreaker by converting his first match point at 30-40, earning the best win, by ranking, of his career.

Shelton is now up to 197 in the live rankings, and will play No. 5 seed Casper Ruud of Norway in the second round tomorrow. For more on today's match, see this article from the ATP website.

I'm expecting the US Open men's and women's wild cards to be announced tomorrow, including Shelton, Peyton Stearns(Texas), Eleana Yu and Learner Tien. Two more were added to the list yesterday, when the USTA announced that JJ Wolf(Ohio State) and Elli Mandlik had won their annual US Open Wild Card Challenge.

Orlando, Fla., August 15, 2022  JJ Wolf and Elizabeth Mandlik earned the rights to US Open main draw wild cards by winning the US Open Men's and Women's Wild Card Challenges.


Wolf, 23 and currently ranked No. 83, finished atop the Challenge standings with 106 points thanks in large part to reaching the quarterfinals at the Citi Open ATP 500. Wolf is also currently five spots out from direct acceptance into the US Open main draw, per the latest entry list. Should Wolf gain direct entry into the US Open, the Challenge wild card would go to the second-place finisher, Aleks Kovacevic. The top three in the final Challenge standings are as follows:




1. JJ Wolf -- 106

2. Aleks Kovacevic -- 96 
3. Evan Zhu -- 40


Mandlik, 21 and currently ranked No. 143, scored 194 points across three tournaments during the Challenge, enough to hold off CoCo Vandeweghe winning the WTA 125K last week in Concord, Mass., and earning 160 points. Mandlik, the daughter of former US Open champion Hana Mandlikova, is 35-16 in singles this year and qualified and reached the second round at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic WTA 500 in San Jose. The final top three in the Challenge standings: 




1. Elizabeth Mandlik -- 194

2. CoCo Vandeweghe -- 160

3. Katrina Scott -- 114

I wasn't able follow the ITF Junior Circuit during Kalamazoo, but the champions of the ITF's Grade A in South Africa should be noted, as well as back-to-back titles at J5s for two Americans.

Sofia Costoulas of Belgium, the top seed in Pretoria, won both girls titles, beating unseeded Melisa Ercan of Turkey 7-5, 6-2 in the singles final. Costoulas and Luca Udvardy of Hungary, the top seeds, won the doubles championship with a 6-0, 6-3 win over No. 2 seeds Yaroslava Bartashevich of France and Zhanel Rustemova of Kazakhstan.  

No. 8 seed Antoine Ghibaudo of France swept the both titles, beating No. 3 seed Badenhorst of South Africa 7-6(5), 6-2 in singles and partnering with Paul Barbier Gazeu of France for the doubles title. Ghibaudo and Barbier Gazeu, the No. 2 seeds, defeated No. 4 seeds Badenhorst and Anro Nel of South Africa 6-2, 6-4 in the final.

No. 4 seed Leanid Boika of the United States, who won the J1 in Durban two weeks ago, lost to Ghibaudo in the quarterfinals. Boika is up to 31 now in the ITF junior rankings, but will need a wild card to play in the main draw of the US Open Junior Championships.

Seventeen-year-old Catherine Walker won her first four ITF Junior Circuit titles the last two weeks at J5s in Nicaragua, taking both singles and doubles, the latter with Maria Miroshnichenko in week one and Madison Smith in week two

Fifteen-year-old Yubel Ubri won his second and third ITF J5 titles in the Dominican Republic the past two weeks, as the No. 2 seed in week one, and as the No. 4 seed in week two. Ubri defeated Americans Noah Johnston and Anirudh Dhanwada by retirement in those two finals.

I've updated the Honor Roll in the left sidebar to include the 2022 USTA National Championships winners. Tennis Recruiting Network is featuring articles on each division throughout the week, with my Boys 16s and Boys 18s recaps scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

I should mention that top seeds Reese Brantmeier and Clervie Ngounoue won the G18s National doubles title and the US Open main draw wild card that goes with it, defeating No. 4 seeds Piper Charney and Natalie Block 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 in the final.