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Friday, November 11, 2022

Nakashima Makes Next Gen ATP Final; Shelton, Mmoh and Eubanks Reach Knoxville Challenger Semifinals; Michelsen, Rodenas Meet in Winston-Salem $15K Semifinals; USA's Les Petits As Qualifiers Decided; BJK Cup Over for Americans

After reaching the semifinals at the Next Gen ATP Finals last year as a 20-year-old, Brandon Nakashima has gone one step beyond that in his final year of eligibility, defeating Jack Draper of Great Britain 4-3(6), 1-4, 4-2, 4-3(5) today to reach Saturday's championship match. The former Virginia Cavalier will face Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic, after Lehecka dealt Dominic Stricker of Switzerland his first loss in the competition 4-1, 4-3(4), 2-4, 4-1.  Nakashima defeated the 21-year-old Lehecka 4-1, 4-3(2), 4-2 in group play on Wednesday.

For more on Nakashima's win today, see this article from the ATP website.

The semifinals are set for the ATP Challenger 80 in Knoxville Tennessee with Charlottesville finalists Chris Eubanks(Georgia Tech) and Ben Shelton(Florida) still in the mix, along with top seed Michael Mmoh. 

No. 4 seed Shelton, who won his first Challenger title last week in Charlottesville, defeated No. 6 seed Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois) 7-5, 6-4 in today's quarterfinals and will face No. 7 seed Enzo Couacaud of France, who beat No. 2 seed Stefan Kozlov 6-3, 7-5. Eubanks, the defending champion in Knoxville, defeated unseeded Lucas Gerch(Oklahoma State) of Germany 6-3, 6-2 and will play Mmoh in the semifinals. Mmoh defeated Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) 6-3, 6-4, a setback for Sandgren in his attempt to catch Shelton in the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, at least this week.

Two ITF Top 40 juniors will face off for the first time tomorrow in the semifinals of the men's $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Winston-Salem North Carolina, with No. 5 seed Alex Michelsen playing No. 6 seed Pedro Rodenas of Spain. Michelsen, who has committed to Georgia for 2023, defeated qualifier James Story(South Carolina) of Great Britain 7-6(8), 7-5 and Rodenas, a freshman at Duke, beat No. 3 seed Alex Knaff(Florida State) of Luxembourg 7-5, 6-4.  The other semifinal will feature South Carolina junior Toby Samuel[2] of Great Britain and qualifier Robin Catry of France.  Catry, a senior at NC State, defeated No. 8 seed Eduardo Nava(TCU/Wake Forest) 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(6) and Samuel beat No. 7 seed Taha Baadi(Wake Forest/Kentucky) of Canada 7-5, 6-4.

Samuel and Ben Jones, also of Great Britain, won the doubles title today. The No. 3 seeds defeated the unseeded team of Catry and teammate Luca Staeheli of Switzerland 6-3, 6-1 in the final. 

Play at the $25,000 men's Pro Circuit tournament in Austin Texas was rained out today, with the singles quarterfinals and semifinals and the doubles semifinals pushed back to Saturday. 

The women's $15,000 Pro Circuit tournament in Champaign Illinois started a day earlier than usual, so the singles final will take place Saturday, with the doubles final played today.

Former North Carolina All-American Sara Daavettila is through to her first Pro Circuit final after beating wild card Kate Duong, an Illinois junior, 6-3, 6-2. Daavettila will face UCLA freshman Fangran Tian of China, also unseeded, for the title. Tian defeated Ania Hertel(Georgia) of Poland 6-3, 6-4.

The Illini did get a title this week, with Duong and partner Megan Heuser taking the doubles championship today, the first pro title for both. Duong and Heuser, who won the doubles title at the Midwest regional championships last month, defeated top seeds Maria Kononova(North Texas) and Maria Kozyreva(St. Mary's) of Russia 6-0, 7-6(5). 

After group play and today's quarterfinals, the United States Les Petits As Playoffs are down to the final four. Once the finals and the third place matches are complete, we'll know the three players who will receive entry into the main draw; the fourth place finisher will receive entry into qualifying. 

Although the draws have not been updated on the website, the four semifinalists were announced on social media. The girls advancing are twins Kristina and Annika Penickova, Zaire Clarke and Julieta Pareja. The boys are Izyan Ahmad, Jordan Lee, Michael Antonius and Marcel Latak. 

The Billie Jean King Cup is over for the United States team, after they lost their second match in group play to the Czech Republic 2-1. Marketa Vondrousova defeated Danielle Collins(Virginia) 6-3, 6-3 and Katerina Siniakova beat Coco Gauff 7-6(1), 6-1 to clinch the top spot in the group. Taylor Townsend and Madison Keys won the dead rubber in doubles, beating Karolina Pliskova and Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-3.