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Sunday, September 25, 2022

US Open Junior Championships Photo Gallery; Hovde, Riffice Claim $15K Titles; Nakashima Defeats Giron for First ATP Title; Tiafoe Clinches Laver Cup for Team World

All 37 competitors from the United States who appeared in the main draw of singles at the US Open Junior Championships earlier this month are featured today in the zootennis.com photo gallery at the Tennis Recruiting Network. As always, a huge thank you to Paul Ballard for all his hard work and dedication as he photographed every player, whether American or international, who competed in the main draw this year. 

Liv Hovde, who turns 17 next month, won her first Pro Circuit event today at the $15,000 tournament in Lubbock Texas. The reigning Wimbledon girls champion, seeded No. 7, defeated No. 8 seed Carson Branstine of Canada, a senior at Texas A&M, 7-6(2), 6-1 in the final. Hovde, who did not drop a set in her five victories, had played in the main draw of just three pro events prior to this week, a $15K, a $25K and a $60K. She should move into the 700s in the WTA rankings when the points are added.

The singles title in the men's $15,000 tournament in Lubbock went to qualifier Olle Wallin of Sweden, a junior at Texas Tech, who defeated No. 2 seed Blaise Bicknell(Florida/Tennessee) of Jamaica 6-4, 6-2 in today's final. Wallin, who played one season at UNC-Charlotte, didn't drop a set in his seven victories, playing just one tiebreaker in those 14 sets.

Sam Riffice captured his second pro singles title today at the $15,000 tournament in Fayetteville Arkansas. The 2021 NCAA singles champion for the Florida Gators, Riffice took the title when No. 2 seed Blu Baker of Great Britain retired trailing 5-1 in the first set. It was Riffice's sixth Pro Circuit final and his first since 2019.

At the ATP Challenger 80 in Columbus, top seed Jordan Thompson of Australia defeated No. 2 seed Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador 7-6(6), 6-2. Thompson didn't drop a set in his five victories, winning all three tiebreakers he played.

At the $60,000 women's Pro Circuit tournament in Berkeley California, 2022 NCAA champion Peyton Stearns won the doubles title, the second of her career, with Elvina Kalieva. Stearns and Kalieva defeated Stearns' former University of Texas teammates Allura and Maribella Zamarripa 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in today's final. It's the first pro title for the 19-year-old Kalieva. 

Top seed Madison Brengle won the singles title in Berkeley, defeating No. 2 seed Yue Yuan of China 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2. 

Tonight at the ATP 250 in his hometown of San Diego, No. 5 seed Brandon Nakashima(Virginia) won his first ATP title, defeating No. 3 seed Marcos Giron(UCLA) 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Nakashima was playing in his third ATP final, having lost in back-to-back finals last year in Los Cabos and Atlanta, while 2014 NCAA champion Giron was playing in his first ATP final. Nakashima, whose previous ATP career-high was 49, will be at 48 as of tomorrow, joining eight other US men in the ATP Top 50. John Isner is the only one older than 25.

Americans also captured the doubles title in San Diego, with No. 2 seeds Jackson Withrow(Texas A&M) and Nate Lammons(SMU) defeating the unseeded Australian pair of Luke Saville and Jason Kubler 7-6(5), 6-2. It's the second ATP title for Withrow and the first for Lammons.

It's been quite a month for 2015 Kalamazoo 18s champion Frances Tiafoe, with a win over Rafael Nadal and his first slam semifinal at the US Open, and a win in Laver Cup doubles, with Jack Sock, over Nadal and Roger Federer, playing in the last match of his career. He finished the Laver Cup today, saving four match points in a 1-6, 7-6(11), 10-8 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece to give Team World an insurmountable lead over Team Europe. Europe lead 8-4 after the first two days of competition in London, but with each match worth three points today it meant Europe had to win two of the four matches, while World had to win three of four. Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada partnered with Jack Sock in doubles to start the day, and they beat Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 to make it 8-7. Then Auger-Aliassime defeated Novak Djokovic 6-3, 7-6(3) to give World a 10-8 lead, and Tiafoe finished the job, leaving the final match between Taylor Fritz and Casper Ruud unplayed. 

It's the first time in five Laver Cup competitions that Team World has beaten Team Europe.