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Thursday, November 17, 2022

Six Buckeyes Reach Quarterfinals at Columbus $25K; Teens Schuman and Reed Clash in Waco $15K Quarterfinals; Shelton Beats Quinn at Champaign Challenger; Striplin Lynch Out at Clemson; Fritz Reaches Semifinals at ATP Finals

Ohio State's many USTA Pro Circuit tournaments have proven to be an important recruiting tool for the Buckeyes, with the wild cards and the geographic advantage helping Ohio State players in their quest for ATP points. 

This week's $25,000 tournament in Columbus has certainly paid off, with two former and four current Ohio State players advancing to Friday's quarterfinals. 

Qualifier Matej Vocel of the Czech Republic, who played his final season of college tennis at Ohio State in 2021-22, and No. 4 seed John McNally are the two formers. Vocel, who transferred to Ohio State from Oklahoma State, defeated No. 7 seed Eduardo Nava(TCU/Wake Forest) 6-1, 6-4 and McNally beat qualifier Youssef Kadiri Hassani (Oregon) 6-3, 6-2.  

Top seed Cannon Kingsley, a senior at Ohio State, advanced to the quarterfinals when 15-year-old qualifier Evan Sharygin retired after dropping the first set 6-0. No. 6 seed JJ Tracy, a junior at Ohio State, defeated Piotr Pawlak(Texas Tech) of Poland 6-2, 6-2; redshirt freshman Jack Anthrop beat Charlelie Cosnet(Kentucky) of France 7-5, 6-0 and true freshman Alexander Bernard, the No. 5 seed, defeated Joshua Charlton(Oregon) of Australia 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. 

With that many Ohio State quarterfinalists, Buckeye semifinalists are guaranteed and the two all-OSU quarterfinals will feature Kingsley versus Vocel and McNally versus Anthrop. Tracy will face wild card Alexander Cozbinov(UNLV) of Moldova and Bernard will play No. 2 seed Aidan Mayo in a rematch of the 2019 Kalamazoo 16s final, which Bernard won 5-7, 6-2, 7-5, saving a match point.

At the $15,000 men's tournament in East Lansing, two Spartans have advanced to the quarterfinals, freshmen Ozan Baris and David Saye. Baris defeated MSU sophomore Max Sheldon, a wild card, 7-6(3), 6-2, and wild card Saye defeated lucky loser Patrick Fletchall(Indiana) 6-4, 6-4. It's the first Pro Circuit quarterfinal for Baris, while Saye is playing in his first Pro Circuit tournament this week. 

Other Americans advancing to the quarterfinals are Alex Michelsen[3], qualifier Ron Hohmann(LSU) and Alex Kotzen(Columbia). 

At the $15,000 men's tournament in Boca Raton, Axel Nefve(Notre Dame/Florida) is the only American remaining. Nefve defeated No. 3 seed Andres Andrade(Florida) of Ecuador 6-7(2), 7-6(8), 6-4 in three hours and 33 minutes. Andrade's teammate Duarte Vale of Portugal, the No. 1 seed, lost to Justin Roberts(South Florida/Arizona St) of the Bahamas 6-3, 6-3.

Fifteen-year-old Aspen Schuman and 16-year-old Lexington Reed have advanced to a meeting in the quarterfinals of the $15,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit tournament in Waco Texas, with both defeating seeds today.

Schuman, who already has a win this fall over WTA Top 250 player Eudice Chong, defeated No. 2 seed Jessica Hinojosa Gomez(Baylor) of Mexico 6-3, 6-3; Reed, who reached the semifinals of a $15K in September, defeated No. 6 seed Tori Kinard 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5). 

The other American advancing to the quarterfinals in Waco is No. 8 seed Victoria Hu(Princeton).

Ben Shelton extended his Challenger winning streak to 12 matches today at the ATP Challenger 80 in Champaign, with the 20-year-old NCAA singles champion defeating University of Georgia freshman Ethan Quinn 6-4, 6-4. Shelton, the No. 4 seed, saved all seven break points he faced, many times with unreturnable serves. Quinn faced only four break points, but Shelton converted twice, which was all he needed. Shelton will face unseeded Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India in the quarterfinals Friday, and if he wins that match, he will clinch the USTA's Australian Open wild card. 

Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) eliminated Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) from contention for the wild card, beating him in tonight's second round match 6-4, 6-3. Eubanks is now in sole possession of second place in the wild card race, and should Shelton get into the Australian Open on his own ranking, the wild card would go to him. Eubanks plays lucky loser Evan Zhu(UCLA) in Friday's quarterfinals. 

Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois)[7] and Steve Johnson(USC)[2] will play for a spot in the semifinals, with the other quarterfinal featuring Aleks Vukic(Illinois)[6] of Australia and Nicolas Alvarez Varona of Spain.

This is not the time of year when coaching changes happen, but Clemson announced a "change of leadership," with Christy Striplin Lynch leaving the women's program. Striplin Lynch, who played at Georgia Tech, took over from longtime Clemson coach Nancy Harris in 2020. Clemson has a new athletic director since Striplin Lynch's hiring, Graham Neff, who is quoted in today's release saying, “We feel it is in the best interest of Clemson Athletics to seek a new perspective at this time. We will conduct a national search for our next leader after the spring season, and are committed to winning at the highest level within this historic program.” Assistant Amy Sargeant will take over the program on an interim basis for the spring season.

Taylor Fritz defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-2 in group play today at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, to earn a place in the semifinals. Fritz, who finished second to Casper Ruud in the group, will face Novak Djokovic Saturday in the semifinals. On Friday, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev will play for the final spot in the semifinals against Ruud. Fritz is the first American to reach the semifinals in the ATP Finals since Jack Sock in 2017.