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Tuesday, November 1, 2022

ITA National Fall Championships Begin Wednesday with Crawley, Johns Top Seeds; Stearns and Krueger Advance at Dow Tennis Classic; McNally Claims USTA Australian Open Wild Card; Charlottesville Challenger Underway

The second of the three NCAA Division I majors begins tomorrow, with the ITA National Fall Championships kicking off at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego California. The fields are now complete, with a few withdrawals and the wild cards resulting in a few big names receiving entry at the last minute.

In the women's draw, All-American finalist Kylie Collins of LSU withdrew, as did Northeast finalist Maria Aguiar of Boston College. Those withdrawals and two wild cards resulted in entry for 2022 NCAA finalist Connie Ma of Stanford, North Carolina's Abbey Forbes, Duke's Cameron Morra and Texas A&M's Mary Stoiana. The draws don't designate which are wild cards and which are replacements for withdrawing players, but those are the four players who did not qualify by the announced criteria. Deniz Khazan of Division II Barry received the women's ITA Cup wild card.

The women's singles seeds:

1. Fiona Crawley, North Carolina
2. Connie Ma, Stanford
3. Abbey Forbes, North Carolina
4. Madison Sieg, Southern California
5. Carol Lee, Georgia Tech
5. Lea Ma, Georgia
5. Carson Tanguilig, North Carolina
5. Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M

The women's doubles seeds:

1. Broadus and Tjen, Pepperdine
2. Crawley and Tanguilig, North Carolina
3. Bryling and Killingsworth, Wake Forest
4. Hance and Wagle, UCLA
5. Beck and Morra, Duke
5. Brown and Miller, Michigan
5. Chervinsky and Subhash, Virginia
5. Miller and Rajecki, NC State

The men's field lost All-American champion Ethan Quinn of Georgia and Inaki Montes of Virginia, who qualified, but opted to take wild cards into the Charlottesville Challenger this week. But three players not initially in the entries were given wild card/alternate entry and ended up seeded, including top seed Garrett Johns of Duke. TCU's Jake Fearnley, Ohio State's JJ Tracy and North Carolina's Ryan Seggerman were the four added to the field at the last minute. Takeshi Taco of Cowley County Community College received the ITA Cup wild card.

The men's singles seeds:

1. Garrett Johns, Duke
2. Antoine Cornut Chauvinc, Florida State
3. Nishesh Basavareddy, Stanford
4. Eliot Spizzirri, Texas
5. Michael Zheng, Columbia
5. Jake Fearnley, TCU
5. Phillip Henning, Georgia
5. JJ Tracy, Ohio State

The men's doubles seeds:

1. Harper and Spizzirri, Texas
2. Dostanic and Frye, Southern California
3. Jong and Maxted, TCU
4. Lutschaunig and Tracy, Ohio State
5. Bass and Grassi Mazzuchi, Baylor
5. Cernoch and Seggerman, North Carolina
5. Bryde and Henning, Georgia
5. De Jong and Zeitvogel, Pepperdine

Complete draws are here. Live scoring, via TennisTicker, is available here. Streaming links are here. Cracked Racquets will begin their coverage at their YouTube channel at noon Eastern Time Wednesday.

I concluded my two and a half days at the WTA 125 Dow Tennis Classic today, but am pleased to report that streaming is now functioning for the event and can be found both at the tournament website and at Tennis Channel Plus. 

NCAA champion Peyton Stearns(Texas) has played in the US Open main draw, so a WTA 125 isn't a particularly daunting task, but I'm sure she was pleased to get her first win at that level nonetheless, beating Asia Muhammad 6-3, 6-4. Stearns, who received a late wild card, trailed 3-0 and 4-2 in the second set, but was the much steadier player down the stretch. Stearns will play 18-year-old Ashlyn Krueger, who defeated No. 8 seed Moyuka Uchijima of Japan 6-1, 7-6(11), saving three set points and converting her fourth match point in that dramatic tiebreaker. 

Robin Montgomery, who is playing doubles with Krueger this week, lost the battle of qualifiers in a nearly three-hour slugfest this morning, with Katherine Sebov of Canada taking a 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-3 decision. Montgomery had three set points in the first set and Sebov had four match points in the second set, with Sebov ultimately prevailing due to her returning prowess. Sebov will play No. 3 seed Lin Zhu of China in the second round.

Caty McNally was officially announced today as the winner of the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. When I spoke to her early this afternoon, she told me she thought she had won it, but hadn't received any official notice. The USTA's release came late this afternoon, so she can begin planning her trip to Melbourne knowing she'll be in the main draw. McNally lost in qualifying the last two Australian Opens, but she did play the main draw in 2020, beating Sam Stosur in the first round. If McNally, who is currently 111 in the WTA rankings, does well this week in Midland (she won the title in 2019, beating Jessica Pegula in the final) she may not need the wild card, so Taylor Townsend or Alycia Parks may receive it instead. McNally defeated Parks today in Midland 6-3, 6-1.

Tennys Sandgren is the leader in the men's Australian Open wild card race after the first week, after earning 84 points at the Las Vegas Challenger, four points for qualifying and 80 for claiming the title. The men's race runs through tournaments of November 14 and includes this week's Charlottesville Challenger, next week's Knoxville Challenger and then the Champaign Challenger. 

Many Americans are in Charlottesville this week hoping to boost their chances for the wild card (or direct acceptance into the main draw), including seven of the eight seeds:

1. Denis Kudla
2. Michael Mmoh
3. Stefan Kozlov
4. Chris Eubanks(Georgia Tech)
6. Ben Shelton(Florida)
7. Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois)
8. Emilio Nava

Sandgren, who received a special exemption into the main draw, is playing tonight, as is Kudla and wild card Ethan Quinn(Georgia). Inaki Montes of Virginia won his opening match Monday, beating fellow wild card Alafia Ayeni(Cornell/Kentucky) 6-2, 6-2.