Schedule a training visit to the prestigious Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD by clicking on the banner above

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Roland Garros Junior Championships Begin Sunday with 12 Americans in Action; Blanch and Kang Draw No. 1 and No. 2 Seeds; NCAA Champion Tian Reaches Rancho Santa Fe $15K Final; Three US Women, No US Men Make Second Week at Roland Garros

The Roland Garros Junior Championships begin Sunday with 12 of the 17 Americans in first round singles action.

Three-quarters of the 64 singles matches are on Sunday's schedule, including one must-see match in the boys draw: No. 2 seed and reigning Australian Open boys champion Alexander Blockx of Belgium against Stanford rising freshman Kyle Kang.

Kang, who reached a men's ITF World Tennis Tour $25K semifinal last week, received entry into the main draw by virtue of his ATP ranking inside the Top 750, but didn't have a ranking high enough to get seeded by the ITF formula, unlike Dino Prizmic of Croatia, who, due to his ATP ranking of 293, was awarded the No. 3 seed.

Kang leads his head-to-head with Blockx 1-0, beating him 4-6, 6-3, 4-1 ret. in the second round of this year's J300 in Traralgon, the warmup to the Australian Open. 

Although it is not on Sunday's schedule, top seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico has drawn another tough American in 15-year-old Darwin Blanch. Blanch, the reigning Kalamazoo 16s champion, reached the semifinals of a ITF WTT men's $15K in Spain in April, while Pacheco Mendez has picked up a couple of wins at ATP Challengers in Mexico this spring.

ITF J300 Astrid Bowl doubles champion Alexia Harmon did make the main draw by way of a special exemption, as did Wakana Sonobe of Japan, who won the singles title today in Belgium. Sonobe, the No. 8 seed, defeated Elizara Yaneva of Bulgaria 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. The boys champion is unseeded 15-year-old Mees Rottgering of the Netherlands, who is not in the draw at Roland Garros, as his ITF junior ranking of 89 left him outside the qualifying acceptances, thus making him ineligible for a special exemption. Rottgering defeated No. 15 seed Lasse Poertner of Germany, also not competing at Roland Garros, 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match.

Below are the first round matchups for all 17 Americans in the draw, with the asterisks denoting those playing Sunday:

Darwin Blanch v Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez[1](MEX)
*Cooper Williams[9] v Abel Forger(NED)
*Alexander Razeghi v Hayato Matsuoka(JPN)
*Maxwell Exsted[Q] v Oliver Ojakaar[11](EST)
*Kaylan Bigun v Juan Carlos Prado Angelo[8](BOL)
*Alexander Frusina v Fernando Cavallo(ARG)
Roy Horovitz v Yuvan Nandal(IND)
*Learner Tien v Federico Bondioli[13](ITA)
*Kyle Kang v Alexander Blockx[2](BEL)

*Tatum Evans v Melisa Ercan(TUR)
*Ariana Pursoo v Astrid Lew Yan Foon[WC](FRA)
Kaitlin Quevedo[4] v Mingge Xu(GBR)
Tyra Grant[Q] v Renata Jamrichova[7](SVK)
*Valeria Ray v Cara Maria Mester(ROU)
*Mia Slama v Hayu Kinoshita(JPN)
Alexia Harmon[SE] v Tamara Kostic[Q](AUT)
*Clervie Ngounoue[2] v Lucia Pawlak[WC](FRA)

*first round Sunday

Live scoring is available at the Roland Garros website.

The singles finals are set at the SoCal Pro Series men's and women's $15,000 tournament in Rancho Santa Fe. To anyone who watched her play last week in Lake Nona, it's no surprise that NCAA singles champion Fangran Tian is one of the finalists, despite not being seeded. Tian defeated No. 3 seed Solymar Colling(San Diego) 6-2, 7-6(1) today to run her winning streak to 10 matches, all earned without the loss of a set. The 19-year-old from China, a rising sophomore at UCLA, will face No. 2 seed Megan McCray(Oklahoma State), who beat No. 7 seed Haley Giavara(Cal) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the other semifinal.

The women's doubles title went to No. 4 seeds Eryn Cayetano(USC) and Princeton rising freshman Isabella Chhiv, who defeated the unseeded team of McCray and Brandy Walker 6-4, 6-3 in the final. It's the first pro title for Chhiv, while Cayetano now has four, two in singles, two in doubles.

The men's final will feature No. 3 seed Colin Sinclair(Cornell) of the Northern Mariana Islands and No. 4 seed Jaimee Angele of France. Sinclair defeated qualifier Noah Schachter(Texas A&M) 6-3, 7-5, while Angele beat No. 6 seed Keegan Smith(UCLA) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. 

Cracked Racquets is providing semifinal and final round coverage of all seven weeks of the SoCal Pro Series via their YouTube Channel.

The last three US men were eliminated from Roland Garros in today's third round action, with both Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe falling to lower seeds.

The news was better for women, with Coco Gauff getting past fellow teenager Mirra Andreeva and 28-year-old Bernard Pera reaching the second week of a slam for the first time. They join Sloane Stephens, who plays No. 2 seed and Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus Sunday.

Saturday's third round results of Americans:
Coco Gauff[6] d. Mirra Andreeva[Q](RUS) 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-1
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova(SVK) d. Kayla Day[Q] 6-1, 6-3 
Bernarda Pera d. Elisabetta Cocciaretto(ITA) 6-4, 7-6(2)

Francisco Cerundolo[23](ARG) d. Taylor Fritz[9] 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5
Alexander Zverev[22](GER) d. Frances Tiafoe[12] 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1, 7-6(5)
Nicolas Jarry(CHI) d. Marcos Giron 6-2, 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3

Friday, June 2, 2023

May Aces; Shelton Leaves Florida, Saia Joins Clemson; Exsted and Grant Qualify for Roland Garros Junior Championships; Stephens Reaches Fourth Round

May always seems overloaded with tennis, with the NCAA championships in the spotlight throughout the month, while the ITF Junior Circuit's big clay season gets underway in Europe. My monthly Aces column at the Tennis Recruiting Network features 18 of the top performances by current and former college players, as well as multiple titles by top juniors.

Yesterday's big news in Division I college tennis was the announcement that Boomer Saia would be leaving Iowa State to take the position of head coach for the Clemson women's program. In his five years in Ames, Saia took the Iowa State program from the bottom of the Big 12 to the NCAA team quarterfinals, amassing an untold number of firsts for the program. It's always a little bittersweet to see this, as you would hope that any Power Five school would have the resources to keep an outstanding coach, but sadly, that's not always the case, with Clemson's new(less than two years on the job) athletic director obviously willing and able to offer more support to its tennis programs. 

As significant a story as Saia's hiring at Clemson is, today's announcement that Bryan Shelton would be leaving his position as men's head coach at Florida is another level of bombshell. Shelton, who won the 2007 NCAA women's team championship while coaching the Georgia Tech women, took over the Florida job in 2012 and with the Florida men's first NCAA team title in 2021, became the first head coach to win both the women's and men's team titles.  

Shelton will accompanying his son Ben, the 2022 NCAA singles champion, on the ATP Tour, so he will still be coaching, just not a team. College tennis will not be the same without him, but the ATP Tour has gained a great addition to its coaching ranks.

The qualifying for the Roland Garros Junior Championships concluded today, with two Americans reaching the main draw.

Tyra Grant, who was the top seed in qualifying, had no difficulty earning her spot. The 15-year-old, who is currently No. 32 in the ITF junior rankings, defeated her Milan J500 doubles partner Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain 6-0, 6-1 in today's final round of qualifying. Grant lost only one game in her two matches.

Maxwell Exsted, who won three qualifying matches and earned a main draw win in Milan, also reached the main draw in Paris, defeating No. 5 seed Aryan Shah of India 6-3, 6-3.

No. 6 seed Ashton Bowers was beaten 6-1, 6-1 by Mia Ristic of Serbia, who, with a WTA ranking of 425, just missed the WTA Top 400 cutoff for main draw entry. 

Cooper Woestendick lost his final round qualifying match 6-2, 6-0 to Hoyoung Roh of Korea.

The draws are not yet out; with the tournament beginning Sunday, the draws should be available Saturday, as should the order of play, at the Roland Garros website.  Iva Jovic, who would have been seeded, withdrew with an injury last week.

At the J300 Astrid Bowl warmup in Belgium, No. 4 seeds Valeria Ray and Alexia Harmon took the girls doubles title today, defeating unseeded Mia Slama and Rose Marie Nijkamp of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-1. 

Sloane Stephens was the only American to win her third round match today at Roland Garros; six more will try to join her by winning their third round matches Saturday. Below are today's results and Saturday's matchups. This is the third year in a row that Stephens has advanced to the fourth round; she reached the quarterfinals last year.

Friday's third round results of Americans:

Elise Mertens[28](BEL) d. Jessica Pegula[3] 6-1, 6-3
Daria Kasatkina[9](RUS) d. Peyton Stearns 6-0, 6-1 
Sloane Stephens d. Yulia Putintseva(KAZ) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2

Saturday's third round matches featuring Americans:
Coco Gauff[6] v Mirra Andreeva[Q](RUS)
Kayla Day[Q] v Anna Karolina Schmiedlova(SVK)
Bernarda Pera v Elisabetta Cocciaretto(ITA)

Taylor Fritz[9] v Francisco Cerundolo[23](ARG)
Frances Tiafoe[12] v Alexander Zverev[22](GER)
Marcos Giron v Nicolas Jarry(CHI)

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Four Americans Reach Final Round Qualifying at Roland Garros Junior Championships; Schachter and Tian Oust Top Seeds at Rancho Santa Fe $15Ks; 21 Collegiate Men Qualify for ATP Accelerator Program; Six More Americans Advance to Third Round at Roland Garros

Friday's final round of qualifying for the Roland Garros Junior Championships will feature four Americans; top seed Tyra Grant, No. 6 seed Ashton Bowers, No. 14 seed Cooper Woestendick and No. 16 seed Maxwell Exsted.

Grant didn't drop a game in getting past wild card Eva Marie Desvignes of France, while Bowers cruised past another French wild card, Zlata Baranusz, 6-1, 6-0. Thea Rabman[5] and Anya Murthy lost their first round qualifying matches today.

Woestendick defeated wild card Felix Balshaw of France 6-0, 6-2 and Exsted beat Zoran Ludoski of Serbia 6-4, 6-2.  Woestendick and Exsted are the only two US boys in qualifying. 

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker.

Alexia Harmon lost her quarterfinal singles match today at the J300 in Belgium, but she and Valeria Ray, the No. 4 seeds, advanced to the girls doubles final, where they'll play unseeded Mia Slama and the Netherlands' Rose Marie Nijkamp. Ray and Slama are in the main draw at Roland Garros; Harmon is hoping for a special exemption to reach the main draw.

Live scores are available at Tennis Ticker.

The top two seeds were eliminated in the second round of the $15,000 men's and women's SoCal Pro Series tournaments in Rancho Santa Fe.  Although USC's Eryn Cayetano was the top seed, it isn't really a surprise that she lost to unseeded Fangran Tian of China, who won the NCAA women's singles title Saturday in Lake Nona. Tian is obviously the in-form player, given her series of straight-sets victories last week, and she took out Cayetano 6-3, 6-2.  Stanford rising freshman Katherine Hui, who defeated No. 4 seed Carolyn Ansari(Auburn) in the first round, advanced to her third $15K quarterfinal with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Madison Bourguignon today.

Qualifier Noah Schachter's two-and-a-half hour 6-3, 7-6(4) win over No. 1 seed Aidan McHugh of Great Britain was arguably more unexpected, although the Texas A&M fifth-year has played at the top of the Aggies lineup for several years and was injured prior to the NCAA individual championships, where he lost in the second round. Ohio State rising sophomore Jack Anthrop is also through to the quarterfinals, after defeating Pepperdine rising freshman and No. 8 seed Edward Winter of Australia 6-3, 6-2.

More attention than usual is directed at this $15K due to the men's doubles draw, which features James Blake, who is teaming up with Stanford rising freshman Hudson Rivera in doubles. The wild card pairing defeated No. 3 seeds Schachter and Trey Hilderbrand(UCF/Texas A&M) 6-4, 1-6, 10-7 last night in the first round; they play Anthrop and rising Ohio State freshman Bryce Nakashima in the quarterfinals later tonight.  For more on their win last night, see this article from Steve Pratt.

The ITA today released a confirmation of the Division I men's players who have qualified for the ATP's new Accelerator program. The criteria for qualification is top 20 in the final ITA rankings or reaching the NCAA singles quarterfinals. The only player who advanced to the quarterfinals but did not make the Top 20 rankings is Ohio State freshman Alexander Bernard. As I mentioned last night, there is currently no comparable program for collegiate women.

The 21 players eligible for the ATP Accelerator program:

1. Eliot Spizzirri, Texas
2. Ethan Quinn, Georgia
3. Arthur Fery, Stanford
4. Ondrej Styler, Michigan
5. Chris Rodesch, Virginia
6. Johannus Monday, Tennessee
7. Melios Efstathiou, Wake Forest
8. Antoine Cornut-Chauvinc, Florida State
9. Andres Martin, Georgia Tech
10. Toby Samuel, South Carolina
11. Liam Draxl, Kentucky
12. Cannon Kingsley, Ohio State
13. Murphy Cassone, Arizona State
14. Andrew Fenty, Michigan
15. Sebastian Dominko, Notre Dame
16. Nishesh Basavareddy, Stanford
17. Connor Thomson, South Carolina
18. Garrett Johns, Duke
19. Jake Fearnley, TCU
20. Alafia Ayeni, Kentucky
21. Alexander Bernard, Ohio State

Six more Americans advanced to the third round at Roland Garros with wins today, with qualifier Kayla Day and Bernarda Pera pulling off upsets. Day defeated No. 20 seed Madison Keys 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 and Pera took out No. 22 seed Donna Vekic of Croatia 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen spoke with Day about all her setbacks in the past seven years, with injuries and the pandemic stalling the progress so many expected after she won the USTA 18s title, a round in the US Open main draw and the US Open girls title in 2016. Day is into the third round of a major for the first time, where she'll face unseeded Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia.

Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva of Russia continues her mastery of the WTA competition, defeating French wild card and 2019 ITF World Junior Champion Diane Parry 6-1, 6-2. She will play Coco Gauff in the third round Saturday.

Thursday's second round results of Americans:

Iga Swiatek[1](POL) d. Claire Liu 6-4, 6-0
Kayla Day[Q] d. Madison Keys[20] 6-2, 4-6, 6-4
Bernarda Pera d. Donna Vekic[22](CRO) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
Coco Gauff[6] d. Julia Grabher(AUT) 6-2, 6-3
Bianca Andreescu(CAN) d. Emma Navarro[WC] 6-1, 6-4
Lesia Tsurenko(UKR) d. Lauren Davis 6-3, 1-0 ret.

Frances Tiafoe[12] d. Aslan Karatsev[Q](RUS) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2
Nicolas Jarry(CHI) d. Tommy Paul[16] 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 
Marcos Giron d. Jiri Lehecka(CZE) 6-2, 6-3, 6-2
Taylor Fritz[9] d. Arthur Rinderknech(FRA) 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4

Friday's third round matches featuring Americans:

Jessica Pegula[3] v Elise Mertens[28](BEL)
Peyton Stearns v Daria Kasatkina[9](RUS)
Sloane Stephens v Yulia Putintseva(KAZ)

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Final ITA Division I Rankings Put NCAA Team Champions No. 1, but Not Individual Winners; Roland Garros Junior Qualifying Begins Thursday with Six Americans in Draw; Stearns Beats Former Champion to Reach Roland Garros Round Three

The final ITA rankings were released today for team, singles and doubles. As is always the case, the NCAA champions finish No. 1 in the team rankings. Not so in the individual rankings, where none of the four NCAA singles and doubles champions finished No. 1. Below are the Top 16 in the final team rankings, with the Top 15 getting to host the Kickoff Weekend in January for the National Team Indoor Championships. (The men are in New York and the women are in Seattle; with No. 13 Columbia men hosting and therefore getting an automatic bid, No. 16 Mississippi State should get the final host spot). I've listed the Top 20 in singles and Top 10 in doubles because those rankings determined All-American status. It looks as if both 19 and 20 in the men's and women's rankings earned All-American status via the Top 20 final ranking criteria. 

The men's top 20 is significant for the ATP Accelerator Program, which you can read about here. A similar program for women has yet to be implemented by the ITF and WTA.

The full ranking lists can be found here.

D-I Men's Team Top 16:
1. Virginia
2. Ohio State
3. Texas
4. TCU
5. Kentucky
6. Michigan
7. Georgia
8. South Carolina
9. Tennessee
10. Southern California
11. Duke
12. Harvard
13. Columbia
14. North Carolina
15. Arizona
16. Mississippi State

D-I Women Team Top 16:
1, North Carolina
2. Georgia
3. Texas A&M
4. North Carolina State
5. Stanford
6. Michigan
7. Texas
8. Iowa State
9. Pepperdine
10. Ohio State
11. Duke
12. Virginia
13. Oklahoma
14. Tennessee
15. Florida
16. Miami

D-I women's singles Top 20:
1. Fiona Crawley, North Carolina
2. Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M
3. Lea Ma, Georgia
4. Diana Shnaider, NC State
5. Maddy Sieg, Southern California
6. Alexa Noel, Miami
7. Chloe Beck, Duke
8. Fangran Tian, UCLA
9. Reese Brantmeier, North Carolina
10. Dasha Vidmanova, Georgia
11. Ayana Akli, South Carolina
12. Daria Frayman, Princeton
13. Anastasiya Komar, LSU
14. Carol Lee, Georgia Tech
15. Layne Sleeth, Oklahoma
16. Alana Smith, NC State
17. Amelia Rajecki, NC State
18. Janice Tjen, Pepperdine
19. Celia-Belle Mohr, Vanderbilt
20. Sara Dahlstrom, Florida

D-I women's doubles Top 10:
1. Savannah Broadus/Janice Tjen, Pepperdine
2. Reese Brantmeier/Elizabeth Scotty, North Carolina
3. Carson Tanguilig/Fiona Crawley, North Carolina
4. Kari Miller/Jaedan Brown, Michigan
5. Diana Shnaider/Alana Smith, NC State
6. Julia Adams/Melodie Collard, Virginia
7. Carson Branstine/Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M
8. Kylie Collins/Anastasiya Komar, LSU
9. Eryn Cayetano/Maddy Sieg, Southern California
10. Ivana Corley/Carmen Corley, Oklahoma

D-I men's singles Top 20:
1. Eliot Spizzirri, Texas
2. Ethan Quinn, Georgia
3. Arthur Fery, Stanford
4. Ondrej Styler, Michigan 
5. Chris Rodesch, Virginia
6. Johannus Monday, Tennessee
7. Melios Efstathiou, Wake Forest
8. Antoine Cornut-Chauvinc, Florida State
9. Andres Martin, Georgia Tech
10. Toby Samuel, South Carolina
11. Liam Draxl, Kentucky
12. Cannon Kingsley, Ohio State
13. Murphy Cassone, Arizona State
14. Andrew Fenty, Michigan
15. Sebastian Dominko, Notre Dame
16. Nishesh Basavareddy, Stanford
17. Connor Thomson, South Carolina
18. Garrett Johns, Duke
19. Jake Fearnley, TCU
20. Alafia Ayeni, Kentucky

D-I men's doubles Top 10:
1. Toby Samuel/Connor Thomson, South Carolina
2. Eliot Spizzirri/Cleeve Harper, Texas
3. Ethan Quinn/Trent Bryde, Georgia
4. Jake Fearnley/Luc Fomba, TCU
5. Gavin Young/Andrew Fenty, Michigan
6. Andrew Lutschaunig/James Trotter, Ohio State
7. William Grant/Axel Nefve, Florida
8. Pat Harper/Johannus Monday, Tennessee
9. Natan Rodrigues/Fabien Salle, Louisville
10. Ozan Baris/Max Sheldon, Michigan State

Qualifying for the Roland Garros Junior Championships, which begin Sunday June 4, starts Thursday, with six Americans attempting to make the main draw.

Although Tyra Grant is now 32 in the ITF junior rankings, primarily due to her title at the J300 in Santa Croce, she wasn't even accepted into qualifying at Roland Garros prior to the freeze date. She did get into qualifying, however, and she is, of course, the No. 1 seed. The other American girls in qualifying are Anya Murthy, Thea Rabman[5] and Ashton Bowers[6]. Alexia Harmon was accepted into qualifying, but she is still competing at the J300 in Belgium, reaching the singles quarterfinals and the doubles semifinals. She may be eligible for a special exemption entry into the Roland Garros main draw, but with qualifying beginning so early, there are a lot of players in the running for those two spots so it's impossible to predict. Alanis Hamilton, who had been accepted into qualifying, did not play this week in Belgium and is not in the qualifying draw.

The two US boys in the Roland Garros qualifying are Cooper Woestendick[14] and Maxwell Exsted[16]. Charlie Camus of Australia is the No. 1 seed in the boys qualifying.

The ITF Junior Circuit website's Roland Garros preview is here.

2022 NCAA singles (and team) champion Peyton Stearns was a big story in the women's second round today at Roland Garros, with the 21-year-old American defeating 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, the no. 17 seed, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. According to No-ad, No-problem's John Parsons, the former Texas Longhorn is the first woman's NCAA champion since Stanford's Debbie Graham in 1991 to make the third round at Roland Garros the year after her title. Today was the first time Stearns had played a Top 20 player (she earned her first Top 50 win in the first round over the Czech Republic's Katerina Siniakova); on Friday she will face her first Top 10 opponent in Daria Kasatkina of Russia.

Tennis Channel's Jon Wertheim interviewed Stearns after her win, and when asked how she managed to stay calm in all the chaos, she credited her college tennis experience. The Tennis Channel tweet featuring the brief interview is here.

I interviewed Stearns last fall at the WTA 125 in Midland for the Tennis Recruiting Network. That article can be found here(subscription required for full access.)

Wednesday's second round results of Americans:

Jessica Pegula[3] d. Camila Giorgi(ITA) 6-2, ret.
Peyton Stearns d. Jelena Ostapenko[17](LAT) 6-3, 1-6, 6-2
Sloane Stephens d. Varvara Gracheva(RUS) 6-2, 6-1

Sebastian Ofner[Q](AUT) d. Sebastian Korda[24] 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-4

Thursday's second round matches featuring Americans:

Claire Liu v Iga Swiatek[1](POL)
Kayla Day[Q] v Madison Keys
Bernarda Pera v Donna Vekic[22](CRO)
Coco Gauff[6] v Julia Grabher(AUT)
Emma Navarro[WC] v Bianca Andreescu(CAN)
Lauren Davis v Lesia Tsurenko(UKR)

Frances Tiafoe[12] v Aslan Karatsev[Q](RUS)
Tommy Paul[16] v Nicolas Jarry(CHI)
Marcos Giron v Jiri Lehecka(CZE)
Taylor Fritz[9] v Arthur Rinderknech(FRA)

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

SoCal Pro Series $15Ks in Rancho Santa Fe Underway; Michelsen Among Americans Advancing at Little Rock ATP Challenger; Fifteen Americans Reach Second Round at Roland Garros After Six More Wins Tuesday

Most of the focus of the tennis world is on Paris, but the USTA Pro Circuit is providing opportunities away from the red clay of Europe with three tournaments this week.

The SoCal Pro Series is back, with the men's and women's $15,000 events taking place this week in Rancho Santa Fe, the first of seven such events around Southern California in the next seven weeks.

Qualifying was completed today, with five American men and four American women reaching the main draw.  The men are Noah Schachter(Texas A&M), Phillip Jordan(South Carolina/UC-Santa Barbara), 17-year-old wild card Trevor Svajda, Braden Shick(NC State) and 17-year-old Rudy Quan, who recently announced a verbal commitment to UCLA.

The women reaching the main draw are Anne Christine Lutkemeyer(UCLA), Nikki Redlijk(Pepperdine), Emily Gelber(Brown) and reigning Orange Bowl 16s champion Alexis Nguyen. 

Several players who competed in the NCAA tournament this month in Lake Nona are ready to get back to competition, including women's singles champion Fangran Tian of UCLA, who is unseeded, and will face top seed Eryn Cayetano of USC, who reached the women's doubles semifinals in Lake Nona, if both win their first round matches Wednesday. 

Megan McCray(Oklahoma State) is the No. 2 seed, with wild cards awarded to rising high school juniors Rachel Lee and Emily Deming. Cayetano was the third wild card recipient.

Rising sophomore Jack Anthrop, who competed in the team championships for Ohio State, won his first round match today; Schachter had lost in the second round of the NCAA singles tournament. No. 8 seed Edward Winter of Australia, a rising freshman at Pepperdine, defeated Stanford rising freshman Hudson Rivera 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-0. 

Aidan McHugh of Great Britain is the top seed, with Matias Descotte of Argentina the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to Cal rising freshman Ethan Schiffman, Kent Hunter(Cal/LSU), William Kleege, a rising high school junior, and rising SMU junior Alexander Stafford. Some of the wild cards in the SoCal Pro Series are decided by prequalifying tournaments.

Eighteen-year-old Alex Michelsen played in a couple of the SoCal Pro Series tournament last summer, both before and after his trip to Wimbledon, where he won the boys doubles title with Sebastian Gorzny(TCU). This year, he made the final of the Malibu $25K, which was also part of the SoCal Pro Series, and from there, he has worked his way into ATP Challengers. This week Michelsen is playing the Little Rock Challenger 75, and he advanced to the second round today with a tough 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over Denis Yevseyev of Kazakhstan. 

Michelsen's future has been a topic of conversation lately, particularly with Ethan Quinn's success at Georgia; he is one of the reasons that the Georgia recruiting class was No. 1 in yesterday's rankings. Now 251 in the ATP live rankings, Michelsen has an opportunity to reach the Wimbledon qualifying with a good showing this week, so speculation as to whether he will actually play for Georgia continues. He spoke with Mike Cation prior to this week's Little Rock Challenger about that decision and many other topics for the Behind The Racquet Podcast. It sounds as if he is open to turning pro should he improve his ATP ranking to around 150 this summer, but he is not ruling out college as of now.

Qualifying for Little Rock concluded Monday, with Columbia rising sophmore Michael Zheng reaching the main draw, after advancing to the round of 16 last week at the NCAA singles championships. He lost in his first round main draw match today to Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 7-6(5), 6-3.  

In addition to Michelsen, five other Americans have reached the second round: Evan Zhu(UCLA), who beat wild card Tristan Boyer(Stanford) 6-4, 6-7(7), 7-6(2), wild card Nathan Ponwith(Georgia/Arizona State), who defeated qualifier Christian Langmo(Miami) 2-6, 7-5, 7-5, Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia), Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) and No. 2 seed Nicolas Moreno del Alboran(UC-Santa Barbara).  Moreno del Alboran was in the final round of Roland Garros qualifying on Friday, so he might still be experiencing some jet lag, but he did defeat Marek Gengel of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 today.  Tung-Lin Wu of China is the top seed; he defeated wild card Bruno Kuzuhara 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 yesterday.

After three days of play, the first round at Roland Garros is complete, with a total of 15 Americans advancing to round two. The results from today and the second round matchups for Wednesday are below.

Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva of Russia continued her string of impressive results, with the 2023 Australian Open girls finalist, who ascended to No. 1 in the ITF junior rankings today, defeating Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2, 6-1 in less than an hour.

Tuesday's first round results of Americans:

Holger Rune[6](DEN) d. Christopher Eubanks 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-2
Taylor Fritz[9] d. Michael Mmoh 6-2, 6-1, 6-1
Tommy Paul[16] d. Dominic Stricker(LL)(SUI) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Yoshihito Nishioka[27](JPN) d. JJ Wolf 1-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3

Claire Liu d. Ylena In-Albon[Q](SUI) 6-1, 6-4
Emma Navarro[WC] d. Erika Andreeva[LL](RUS) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
Lauren Davis d. Lin Zhu(CHN) 6-3, 6-3
Mirra Andreeva[Q](RUS) d. Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2, 6-1
Coco Gauff[6] d. Rebeka Masarova(ESP) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
Petra Martic(CRO) d. Shelby Rogers[32] 3-6, 6-3, 6-2

Wednesday's second round matches featuring Americans:

Jessica Pegula[3] v Camila Giorgi(ITA)
Peyton Stearns v Jelena Ostapenko[17](LAT)
Sloane Stephens v Varvara Gracheva(RUS)

Sebastian Korda[24] v Sebastian Ofner[Q](AUT)

Monday, May 29, 2023

Georgia Tops 2023 Men's Recruiting Class Rankings; Snell Sweeps, Kennedy Claims Second Straight Title on ITF Junior Circuit; Stearns, Shnaider Post Opening Round Victories at Roland Garros; US Players Get Seven Wins in Paris

The final edition of the Tennis Recruiting Network's men's rankings for the 2023 recruiting class was published today, with Georgia retaining its position at No. 1, having been in the top spot in January as well. Stanford stayed at No. 2, but several teams improved their positions in the four months since the first rankings were released, including No. 3 Tennessee, No. 4 Florida and No. 5 Princeton. The rest of the top ten, in order, are Harvard, Kentucky, Pepperdine, South Carolina and Ohio State. Three schools gathered No. 1 votes, and three schools posted their best rankings ever; those and other tidbits can be found in the article's notes.

In addition to Kaitlin Quevedo's singles title at the J500 in Milan, there were seven other championships claimed by Americans last week on the ITF Junior Circuit. 

I don't think the top American boys from the 2008 birth year expected to be playing each other most of the time on their spring trip to Spain, but for the third week in a row it was an all-US final there. This week's J60 in Les Franqueses Del Valles saw the four Americans facing off in the semifinals, with unseeded Jack Secord defeating No. 3 seed Keaton Hance 6-4, 6-3 and No. 2 seed Jack Kennedy beating No. 7 seed Ford McCollum 6-3, 7-5. Secord and Kennedy had met in the previous week's final, and Kennedy again came through in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1.

The 14-year-old from New York reached all three singles finals and also won two doubles titles with Hance at J60s this month, the first two on clay and the most recent on hard courts.

The other singles title came from Holland Snell, who also took the doubles championship at the J60 in El Salvador. The 18-year-old  top seed defeated No. 2 seed Boxiong Zhang of China 6-1, 6-2 for his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title of the year and second overall. Snell and partner Juan Carlos Fuentes Vasquez of El Salvador, the No. 2 seeds, defeated unseeded Zhang and Zhangsiqi Zhou of China 6-4, 7-6(9) in the doubles final.

Seventeen-year-old Yontha Tadoum won her first ITF Junior Circuit title in doubles, with partner Michelle Irigoyen of El Salvador. The unseeded pair took out top seeds Valentina Vargas of Ecuador and Yasmin Vavrova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-4 in the championship match.

Katie Rolls won the J100 doubles title last week in Bolivia, but the results of the singles finals, scheduled for Saturday, were never posted. Rolls, the top seed, reached the singles final, and has so far not received any ITF ranking points, which would be expected if the match was abandoned. Rolls has already won two J100 singles titles this month. In the doubles final, played Friday, Rolls and partner Catalina Padilla Udaeta of Bolivia, the top seeds, defeated No. 3 seeds Francesca Maguina Bunikowska of Peru and Natalia Trigosso of Bolivia 6-2, 6-0.  UPDATE: As of Tuesday morning, Rolls shows as the singles winner, beating No. 4 seed Bunikowska 6-2, 6-3.

Two more doubles titles for Americans were collected in Canada and Georgia. At the J60 in Fredericton New Brunswick, Mark Krupkin reached the singles final and won the doubles title. The 16-year-old from New Jersey and his partner Volodymyr Gurenko of Ukraine, seeded No. 2, defeated the unseeded Canadian pair of  Alec Anghel and Aidan Wang-Fan 6-2, 6-1 in the final. 

At the J30 in Tbilisi Georgia, 17-year-old Seth Sadikov won his second ITF Junior Circuit doubles title, with Itay Cohen of Israel. The top seeds defeated unseeded Nikoloz Gurgenidze and Alexsandre Shvangiradze of Georgia 6-4, 7-5 in the final. 

This week's warmup for the Roland Garros Junior Championships is the ITF J300 Astrid Bowl in Belgium. There were five American boys and 11 American girls in the main draw when play began this morning. Fully half the 16 girls seeds are Americans; seeds begin play on Tuesday in the 48-player singles draws. 

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker.

After disappointing American results Sunday on the first day of Roland Garros, Monday proved more successful, with seven of the 11 Americans in action earning victories. 2022 NCAA champion Peyton Stearns(Texas) got her first victory at a major in just her second attempt, beating Katarina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 7-6(7), 6-2.  NC State's Diana Shnaider, who was playing in the NCAA women's team final nine days ago, earned her second victory in a major in her second appearance, defeating Rebecca Marino of Canada 6-3, 7-5. 

Qualifier Kayla Day earned her first win in a major since 2016, when the USTA National 18s champion, aged 16, beat Madison Brengle in the first round of the US Open. Day beat former WTA Top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic of France, a wild card, 7-5, 6-1.

Monday's first round results featuring Americans:

Sloane Stephens d. Karolina Pliskova[16](CZE) 6-0, 6-4
Kayla Day[Q] d. Kristina Mladenovic[WC](FRA) 7-5, 6-1
Madison Keys[20] d. Kaia Kanepi(EST) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1
Bernarda Pera d. Anett Kontaveit(EST) 7-6(6), 6-2
Marketa Vondrousova(CZE) d. Alycia Parks 6-4, 6-0
Peyton Stearns d. Katerina Siniakova(CZE) 7-6(7), 6-2
Simona Waltert[Q](SUI) d. Elli Mandlik[Q] 6-1, 4-6, 6-2

Novak Djokovic[3](SRB) d. Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6[1]
Denis Shapovalov[26](CAN) d. Brandon Nakashima 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3
Frances Tiafoe[12] d. Filip Krajinovic(SRB) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
Marcos Giron d. Hamad Medjedovic[Q](SRB) 6-0, 6-2, 1-6, 6-0

Tuesday's first round matches featuring Americans:

Claire Liu v Ylena In-Albon[Q](SUI)
Emma Navarro[WC] v Erika Andreeva[LL](RUS)
Lauren Davis v Lin Zhu(CHN)
Alison Riske-Amritraj v Mirra Andreeva[Q](RUS)
Coco Gauff[6] v Rebeka Masarova(ESP)
Shelby Rogers[32] v Petra Martic(CRO)

Christopher Eubanks v Holger Rune[6](DEN)
Michael Mmoh v Taylor Fritz[9]
Tommy Paul[16] v Dominic Stricker(LL)(SUI)
JJ Wolf v Yoshihito Nishioka[27](JPN)

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Quevedo Claims ITF J500 Trofeo Bonfiglio Title in Milan; Princeton Freshman, TCU Senior Take $15K USTA Pro Circuit Titles in Huntsville; Ten of Twelve Americans Drop First Round Roland Garros Matches Sunday

Last year Kaitlin Quevedo competed in the ITF Junior Circuit clay swing prior to Roland Garros, but had limited success, falling in the first round of both the J300 in Santa Croce and the J500 in Milan, although she did go on to qualify for both Roland Garros and Wimbledon. But that was before she had won three $15K titles last fall, as well as her first J300 in Mexico last November.  The 17-year-old from Naples Florida again showed how much she has improved in the past twelve months at this week's Trofeo Bonfiglio J500 in Milan, winning one of the most prestigious titles in junior tennis while dropping just one set in her six victories.

Quevedo, seeded No. 8, earned the title when No. 12 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia retired after losing the first set 7-5. It marked the first time Quevedo had advanced past the third round at a J500 event, and she will move into the ITF Junior Top 10 with this title, which marks her as one of the favorites going into the Roland Garros Junior Championships in two weeks.

No. 12 seed Cooper Williams, also playing in his first J500 final, lost to top seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico 6-4, 7-5. Pacheco, who last year lost in the first round of the Trofeo Bonfiglio J500 in Milan to NCAA singles champion Ethan Quinn, now holds two J500 titles, having won last November's tournament at that level in Mexico; he also reached the final at the 2022 Orange Bowl. The 18-year-old left-hander should move to No. 1 in the ITF Junior rankings next week.

With the NCAA Division I singles and doubles championships going on late into the night most of last week, I wasn't able to follow the results from the two $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournaments in Huntsville Alabama, but two collegians did end up taking the singles titles today.

Princeton rising sophomore Fnu "Top" Nidunjianzan of China, who did not qualify for the NCAAs, won the men's singles title, beating No. 4 seed Roberto Cid(South Florida) of the Dominican Republic 7-5, 6-3 in the final. The unseeded 19-year-old's best finish in a pro event prior to today was a semifinal last summer at a $15K tournament in the SoCal Pro Series.

He defeated No. 3 seed and 2017 NCAA champion Thai Kwiatkowski 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 in the first round, one of three three-set victories he posted during the week.

The women's singles title in Huntsville went to TCU senior and top seed Tiphanie Lemaitre of France, who ended the impressive run of Auburn rising sophomore DJ Bennett with a 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-2 victory that was nearly three hours in duration. Bennett, who played No. 3 for Auburn this year as a freshman, did not qualify for the NCAA individual tournament, but her teammates Carolyn Ansari and Ariana Arseneault did, meaning they could not compete in Huntsville. Their consolation was a run to the round of 16 in singles, so both earned All-American status.

Bennett, 19, won six matches in Huntsville, a week after qualifying and winning a round at the $60K tournament in Pelham. Those were her first two professional level tournaments.

Sixteen-year-old Mia Yamakita won her first professional title Saturday, taking the women's doubles title with Rhiann Newborn(Baylor). The No. 4 seeds defeated No. 2 seeds Kolie Allen(Ohio State) and Paris Corley(LSU) 7-5, 6-3 in the final. Texas Tech teammates Lorenzo Esquici of Brazil and Franco Ribero of Argentina won the men's doubles title, beating Elijah and Isaiah Strode 6-4, 6-3 in the final. Neither team was seeded.

Also of note, Kyle Kang warmed up for the Roland Garros Junior Championships not in Milan, but at a $25,000 ITF Men's Tennis Tour tournament in Spain, where he reached the semifinals after coming through qualifying. Kang lost to eventual champion and No. 2 seed Nikolas Sanchez Izquierdo of Spain 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-2.

Nineteen-year-old Elvina Kalieva won her first professional singles title yesterday at the $25,000 ITF Women's Tennis Tour tournament in Austria. The top-seeded Kalieva defeated 18-year-old Julie Struplova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the final. 

The first day of the Roland Garros main draw competition proved to be a disappointing one for Americans, who went 2-10 on the day and got those two wins at the expense of other Americans. Eleven more Americans are on Monday's schedule, with the remaining 11 matches featuring Americans on Tuesday. Caty McNally withdrew today, so there were 34 Americans in the first round.

The NCAA Division I Most Outstanding Player of the team event, Diana Shnaider of North Carolina State, will play Rebecca Marino of Canada on Monday.

Sunday's first round results of Americans:

Jessica Pegula[3] d. Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-2
Anastasia Potapova[24](RUS) d. Taylor Townsend[Q] 6-1, 6-2
Mayar Sherif(EGY) d. Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-1
Liudmila Samsonova[15](RUS) d. Katie Volynets 6-0, 6-1

Sebastian Ofner[Q](AUT) d. Maxime Cressy 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-2
Sebastian Korda[24] d. Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 7-5, 6-4
Radu Albot[Q](MDA) d. Patrick Kypson[WC] 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
Roberto Carballes Baena(ESP) d. Emilio Nava[Q] 7-6(7), 6-3, 6-2
Nuno Borges(POR) d. John Isner 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(9)
Lorenzo Sonego(ITA) d. Ben Shelton[30] 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3

Monday's first round matches featuring Americans:

Sloane Stephens v Karolina Pliskova[16](CZE)
Kayla Day[Q] v Kristina Mladenovic[WC](FRA)
Madison Keys[20] v Kaia Kanepi(EST)
Bernarda Pera v Anett Kontaveit(EST)
Alycia Parks v Marketa Vondrousova(CZE)
Peyton Stearns v Katerina Siniakova(CZE)
Elli Mandlik[Q] v Simona Waltert[Q](SUI)

Aleksandar Kovacevic v Novak Djokovic[3](SRB)
Brandon Nakashima v Denis Shapovalov[26](CAN)
Frances Tiafoe[12] v Filip Krajinovic(SRB)
Marcos Giron v Hamad Medjedovic[Q](SRB)

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Quinn Saves Four Match Points to Claim D-I Men's Singles Title; Tian Takes Women's Championship; Ohio State Men, UNC Women Win Doubles Titles; Quevedo and Williams Reach ITF J500 Milan Finals; 12 Americans Kick Off Roland Garros Action Sunday

Freshmen champions are rare in NCAA singles competition, with their lack of experience the obvious explanation. Yet 2023 winners Ethan Quinn of Georgia and Fangran Tian of UCLA, both in their first year of collegiate competition, proved up to the task against more seasoned opponents Saturday, becoming the first freshman pair to hoist the singles trophies since 2009.

No. 2 seed Quinn had the far more dramatic victory, saving four match points in his 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-2 win over Michigan's Ondrej Styler, on a rare sunny day at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida. 

The redshirt freshman, who joined Georgia in January of 2022 but did not play for the Bulldogs until this past fall, got off to a quick start, taking a 5-2, two-break lead over the senior from the Czech Republic, seeded eighth. The second break came thanks to Styler, who conceded a game point to Quinn on a backhand lob that had been called out by the line umpire. While that unusually generous gesture cost him the game, Styler did raise his level after that, while Quinn's, not high to begin with, dropped.

Neither player was employing his forehand effectively, and despite the lead he had built, Quinn didn't look comfortable trying to serve out the set, failing to earn a set point in either the 5-2 or 5-4 game, as the forehand remained erratic. Styler won his fourth straight game to go up 6-5, and although Quinn held to force a tiebreaker, Styler took control in the final game of the set, winning the last five points to take the lead. 

Quinn was broken, with two double faults contributing, in the opening game of the second set, but the 19-year-old from Fresno California got it back to 3-3, only to get broken in the next game on a deciding point. After Styler held for 5-3, Quinn followed with a hold for 5-4, forcing Styler to serve out the championship. Styler went up 40-0, giving himself four match points in the no-ad format. Quinn hit a forehand volley winner to save the first, then forced an error from Styler with a big forehand. Match point No. 3 will probably be the one Styler regrets most, as he missed a routine forehand wide to set up a deciding point. Styler hit a good first serve, but Quinn, who had been returning well throughout the match, made another fine return that Styler couldn't keep in the court, with his forehand again going wide. 

In the second set tiebreaker, Quinn went up 5-3 with a great cross court forehand winner, but he double faulted on the next point. Styler hit a forehand on the line, a call Quinn didn't agree with, to make 5-5, but shanked a forehand on the next point to give Quinn his first set point of the day. He hit a forehand volley winner to take the set, and after securing that, Quinn appeared to relax.

He lost a 2-0 lead in the third set, but got the break right back for a 3-2 lead. Quinn was making fewer unforced errors and swinging more freely, and he eventually built another 5-2 lead. This time however, Quinn looked more confident, starting with a backhand winner, a forehand winner and a good first serve for a 40-0 lead. He missed a backhand long on the first match point, but put away a forehand volley into the open court to secure the first NCAA singles title for Georgia since Matias Boeker won his second straight in 2002.

Quinn, who also saved a match point in his first round win over Luc Fomba of TCU, is the third straight American to win the NCAA singles title, following Sam Riffice and Ben Shelton of Florida. Like Shelton, Quinn was a runnerup at the previous year's Kalamazoo 18s final and won the ITA All-American championship in the fall portion of the season. Although the wild card is discretionary, Quinn is expected to receive a US Open main draw wild card as an American champion.

Quotes from Quinn and the Georgia coaches can be found in this article from georgiadogs.com.

Women's champion Tian didn't come into the NCAA tournament in the best of form. While the 19-year-old from Beijing had gone undefeated in the dual match portion of the season heading into the NCAA team event, she had suffered losses to Chloe Beck of Duke and Thasaporn Naklo of Iowa State in UCLA's regional and super regional dual matches. 

That all changed in Orlando, where Tian, a 9-16 seed, did not drop a set in her six victories, including her 6-2, 6-4 win over unseeded Layne Sleeth of Oklahoma in the championship match.

Tian found the right balance of patience and aggression against Sleeth, who is more than happy to play long points and defend brilliantly until her opponent feels the pressure to go for too much. 

After a quick exchange of breaks, the first set was poised on the edge the rest of the way, with Sleeth broken serving at 4-5. Sleeth saved two set points with winners from 15-40 down, but Tian got the biggest one of the set with a backhand down the line winner on the deciding point. 

Tian broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set, then went up 5-1 with another break on a deciding point. Serving for the championship, Tian showed her first sign of nerves, making three unforced errors to give Sleeth hope of a comeback. But the Canadian was unable to force Tian to serve for the match a second time, with Tian breaking to take the nearly two-hour championship match 6-4, 6-2.

Tian is the first collegian from China to capture an NCAA individual title and the first woman from UCLA to claim the singles title since Keri Phebus in 1995.

The last time two freshmen won the singles titles in the same year was 2009, when Ole Miss's Devin Britton and Duke's Mallory Cecil were the champions.

The North Carolina Tar Heels were assured of their third NCAA women's doubles title before today's final, and it was the unseeded team of Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig who will have their name on the winners' trophies, after they defeated No. 8 seeds Elizabeth Scotty and Reese Brantmeier 6-1, 2-6, 11-9.  Given the circumstances, which was the first final between teams from the same school since Stanford did it in 2005, the atmosphere was subdued, and even after the tense tiebreaker, neither team had much of a reaction when it ended.

Crawley and Tanguilig, who did not play together in UNC's run to its first team title last week, went up 5-1 in the match tiebreaker, but Brantmeier and Scotty won five of the next six points for a 6-6 score at the second change of ends. At 8-all, Tanguilig poached to set up a match point on her serve, but she double faulted and it was 9-9. Crawley hit a volley winner for 10-9, and then came up with a service return winner on Scotty's serve to seal the title and deny Scotty her second NCAA doubles title. Scotty won the title with Makenna Jones in 2019 at the National Campus; the first UNC doubles title came in 2007, with Sara Anundsen(now O'Leary, women's head coach at Virginia) and Jenna Long the champions.

For all its doubles prowess throughout the past several decades, Ohio State had only one NCAA men's title to show for it--until today. The unseeded team of Andrew Lutschaunig and James Trotter defeated No. 3 seeds Eliot Spizzirri and Cleeve Harper 6-4, 6-4 to join Buckeyes Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola as NCAA doubles champions.

Both sets followed a similar pattern, with Lutschaunig and Trotter getting a late break and serving out the sets. They won a deciding point on Spizzirri's serve at 4-4 in the first set, with Lutschaunig finishing it with no drama.

After an exchange of breaks to open the second set, holds continued until, at 4-4, Spizzirri was broken again. This time, with Trotter serving, the Buckeyes fell behind 15-40 in the final game, but they worked their way to a deciding point/match point, which Trotter converted with an ace.

Trotter and Lutschaunig avenged last year's finals loss by Robert Cash and Matej Vocel to Texas's Harper and Richard Ciamarra. Since Buchanan and Rola's 2012 title, Ohio State teams had lost three NCAA men's doubles finals.

Although the draws have yet to be updated with the final results, the men's D-I draws are here and the women's D-I draws are here.

At the ITF J500 Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy, Americans Cooper Williams and Kaitlin Quevedo will play for the singles titles Sunday.  

No. 12 seed Williams, who is set to join the Harvard team this fall, avenged his Australian Open Juniors loss to No. 2 seed Yi Zhou of China, with Zhou retiring trailing 6-3, 4-0 in today's semifinal. Williams will face top seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico, who defeated No. 16 seed Joel Schwaerzler of Austria 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. Williams and Pacheco have met three times on the ITF Junior Circuit, with Pacheco winning two, most recently a 6-4, 6-4 quarterfinal victory at last fall's J500 in Mexico. 

Quevedo, the No. 8 seed, cruised past No. 6 seed Sayaka Ishii of Japan 6-1, 6-1 and will play No. 12 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia in Sunday's final. Jamrichova prevented an all-US girls final by defeating No. 2 seed Clervie Ngounoue 6-1, 2-6, 6-1.

Tyra Grant and her partner Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain lost in the girls doubles final today, with wild cards Noemi Basiletti and Gaia Maduzzi of Italy taking the title with a 6-0, 6-3 victory.

Top seeds Pacheco and Russia's Yaroslav Demin won the boys doubles title, beating No. 5 seeds Federico Cina of Italy and Rei Sakamoto of Japan 6-3, 6-3 in the final. 

Live scoring is available via Tennis Ticker.

The first day of the 2023 Roland Garros main draw begins Sunday, with a dozen Americans in action. Below are the matchups, with Sunday's full order of play available here.

Sunday's first round matches featuring Americans:

Danielle Collins v Jessica Pegula[3]
Taylor Townsend[Q] v Anastasia Potapova[24](RUS)
Madison Brengle v Mayar Sherif(EGY)
Katie Volynets v Liudmila Samsonova[15](RUS)

Maxime Cressy v Sebastian Ofner[Q](AUT)
Mackenzie McDonald v Sebastian Korda[24]
Patrick Kypson[WC] v Radu Albot[Q](MDA)
Emilio Nava[Q] v Roberto Carballes Baena(ESP)
John Isner v Nuno Borges(POR)
Ben Shelton[30] v Lorenzo Sonego(ITA)

Friday, May 26, 2023

My Conversation with USC's Learner Tien; Quinn and Styler, Sleeth and Tian Reach NCAA Singles Finals; All-UNC Doubles Final; D-I Coaching News; Williams, Quevedo and Ngounoue into J500 Milan Semis; Townsend and Nava Qualify at Roland Garros

Before recapping all the semifinal action today in the NCAA Division I singles and doubles, I have other college tennis news, which comes from my conversation two weeks ago with University of Southern California freshman Learner Tien. In my article posted today at the Tennis Recruiting Network, the 2022 Kalamazoo 18s champion reflects on his long wait to compete, his college experience, his adjustment to no-ad, his plans for this summer and whether he plans to return to compete as a Trojan next season.

The player Tien beat to win the Kalamazoo title will play for the NCAA singles title Saturday, after No. 2 seed Ethan Quinn of Georgia came back to defeat No. 9-16 seed Chris Rodesch of Virginia 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

For the fourth time in the five days of the individual tournament, rain again disrupted play, this time in the morning instead of the afternoon. Quinn and Rodesch played their entire match indoors, which would seem to favor Rodesch, and that appeared to be the case in the first set, with Rodesch not making errors and routinely holding serve, while Quinn was not quite settled in. But Quinn got an immediate break to open the second set, his first of the match, and when Rodesch lost his serve a second time, a third set was just three games away.

The key stage of the final set came with Quinn serving down 2-3. Up 40-0, Quinn saw his lead disappear and faced a deciding point. He went to his potent forehand and it didn't let him down, with the clean winner pulling him even. Rodesch, who had been in action nine straight days, began to look a little weary and when he went down 0-40, the hole he had dug himself was too deep. Quinn held for 5-3 and after Rodesch put the pressure back on, the 19-year-old redshirt freshman served it out at love, becoming the first Georgia man to reach an NCAA singles final since John Isner in 2007.

Quinn will face No. 8 seed Ondrej Styler of Michigan, who rolled past Arizona State sophomore Murphy Cassone 6-1, 6-2. Styler, who defeated top seed Eliot Spizzirri of Texas 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals, looked extremely comfortable indoors, where the senior has played the bulk of his collegiate career.  Styler is the first Michigan man to play in an NCAA singles final since Dan Goldberg in 1987. 

As was the case for Quinn last August in Kalamazoo, a US Open main draw wild card will be on the line; Styler, who is from the Czech Republic, is extremely unlikely to receive a US Open wild card should he take the title.

The women's final will feature two international players: Canada's Layne Sleeth of Oklahoma and China's Fangran Tian of UCLA.

The rain came at a bad time for Tian, who led fellow freshman Maddy Seig of USC  6-3, 4-1 when play was stopped. It was over 90 minutes when they resumed the match indoors, and Sieg did get one of the two breaks back for 4-2. But Tian, who had two wins over Sieg in the past two months, immediately broke back on a deciding point and held in the final game, becoming the first UCLA women's singles finalist since Keri Phebus won the title in 1995.

Sleeth's 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 victory over NC State's Amelia Rajecki made even more history, with the senior the first Sooner to reach the final, although Oklahoma head coach Audra Cohen will have some wisdom to impart to Sleeth after reaching the final while at Northwestern in 2005 and winning the title after transferring to Miami in 2007. 

Sleeth might have been at a disadvantage indoors, and she did trail the big-hitting Rajecki 3-1 in the third set, but she got it back to 3-3, and won a deciding point to take her first lead since the first game of the set. Rajecki held for 4-all, but after an easy hold for Sleeth, the pressure was right back on Rajecki serving at 4-5. Her first serve was nowhere to be found and a double fault and a backhand error gave Sleeth three match points at 15-40. Rajecki saved the first, scrambling and defending, but not the second, as she tried to shorten the next point and hit her backhand volley wide. 

The weather cleared for the semifinals of doubles, which were played outdoors, and North Carolina has assured itself of another National Championship before the final, with both their teams getting wins today.

No. 8 seeds Reese Brantmeier and Elizabeth Scotty, the only seeds to reach the semifinals, defeated Sieg and Eryn Cayetano of USC 6-4, 6-3, while Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig earned a 6-4, 7-6(3) win over Virginia's Julia Adams and Melodie Collard. Scotty won the 2021 NCAA women's doubles title at the USTA National Campus in 2021, with Makenna Jones. It will be the first time that teammates played each other in the final since 2005, when Stanford's Alice Barnes and Erin Burdette defeated Amber Liu and Anne Yelsey. As with UNC, Stanford also won the team title that year.

Ohio State and Texas will meet for the men's doubles title Saturday for the second straight year, with the only player in common 2022 champion Cleeve Harper. Harper, who won the title last year when he and Richard Ciamarra defeated Robert Cash and Matej Vocel of Ohio State, is partnering with Eliot Spizzirri this year. The No. 3 seeds, and the only seeds in the semifinals, defeated Andres Martin and Marcus McDaniel of Georgia Tech 6-1, 7-5 this evening in Lake Nona. Ohio State's James Trotter and Andrew Lutschaunig needed to win two tiebreakers in their comeback win over Pepperdine's Daniel De Jong and Tim Zeitvogel, taking the match 3-6, 7-6(2), 10-4.

The singles finals are both scheduled for 10:00 a.m., with the doubles following, not before 11:30 a.m.  Cracked Racquets will provide coverage via their YouTube Channel. Live scoring and results are here, and individual courts are available via Playsight.

A quick update on two SEC coaching hires announced recently, with University of Virginia associate head coach Scott Brown taking over the men's program at Vanderbilt, his alma mater, and James Madison's Shelly Jaudon named to lead the women's program at Kentucky.  Earlier this month, Texas Tech removed the interim tag from men's coach Michael Breler and announced that volunteer assistant Parker Wynne would be promoted to assistant coach.

There is a new Power Five opening today however, with Nebraska's Scott Jacobson announcing his retirement after 32 years guiding the women's program in Lincoln.

All three Americans competing in today's quarterfinals at the ITF J500 Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy have advanced to Saturday's semifinals. No. 12 seed Cooper Williams defeated No. 3 seed Branko Djuric of Serbia 6-2, 7-6(4) and will look to avenge his third round loss at this year's Australian Open Junior Championships when he faces No. 2 seed Yi Zhou of China.

No. 8 seed Kaitlin Quevedo beat unseeded Iva Ivanova of Bulgaria 6-0, 6-7(5), 6-4 to advance to a meeting with No. 6 seed Sayaka Ishii of Japan. No. 2 seed Clervie Ngounoue rebounded for a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over No. 10 seed Ena Koike of Japan and will face No. 12 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia for a place in the final. 

Tyra Grant and her partner Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain have advanced to the girls doubles final, where they will play another unseeded team, wild cards Noemi Basiletti and Gaia Maduzzi of Italy. 

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker.

Two more Americans won their final round qualifying matches as the qualifying tournament concluded today at Roland Garros. Two-time junior slam singles finalist Emilio Nava defeated home favorite Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to reach his first slam main draw outside of the United States. Taylor Townsend defeated teenager Maria Timofeeva of Russia 7-5, 6-2 to reach the main draw. Ashlyn Krueger lost to Storm Hunter of Australia 7-6(3), 7-5 and Nicolas Moreno de Alboran(UC-Santa Barbara) lost to top seed Aslan Karatsev of Russia 6-4, 6-3. 

The two Americans qualifying today brings the number of players from the US in the main draw up to 35: 19 women and 16 men. That's the most since 39 Americans made the Roland Garros main draw in 1995.

Czech teens Brenda Fruhvirtova and Sara Bejlek both qualified for the main draw with wins today.

Play begins Sunday; I'll have the matchups of Americans playing Sunday in Saturday's post. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Styler Takes Down Top Seed Spizzirri to Make D-I Final Four; Freshman Sieg Reaches Singles and Doubles Semifinals; Williams, Quevedo and Ngounoue Advance to ITF J500 Milan Quarterfinals; Day and Mandlik Qualify at Roland Garros

The quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I singles produced only one three-set match, so the drama was limited Thursday, but the upsets were not, with top seed Eliot Spizzirri of Texas and No. 3 seed Arthur Fery of Stanford eliminated.

Spizzirri, who had lost only one match this year, to Rafa Izquierdo Luque of NC State, suffered loss No. 2 to Michigan's Ondrej Styler, the No. 8 seed, by a 6-4, 6-3 score. Styler will face Arizona State sophomore Murphy Cassone, who avenged his straight-sets Pac-12 conference loss to Fery with a 7-6(5), 7-5 victory today.

Georgia redshirt freshman Ethan Quinn, the No. 2 seed, defeated Michigan's Andrew Fenty 6-2, 6-4 to book his place in the semifinals, where he'll face the NCAA team tournament's Most Outstanding Player Chris Rodesch of Virginia. Rodesch, a 9-16 seed, defeated Ohio State freshman Alexander Bernard 6-3, 6-4.

An unseeded finalist in the women's singles championship was guaranteed after Amelia Rajecki of North Carolina State defeated Georgia Tech's Carol Lee, a 9-16 seed, 6-4, 6-3. Rajecki will play unseeded Layne Sleeth of Oklahoma, who kept her court time under three hours today in a 7-6(4), 6-4 win over unseeded Angelica Blake of Stanford. 

University of Southern California's Madison Sieg won the only three-setter of the day, defeating Ayana Akli of South Carolina, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, and she will be looking for revenge in the semifinals against fellow freshman Fangran Tian of UCLA. Tian, who defeated Michigan's Kari Miller 6-4, 6-2, has beaten Sieg both times the Pac-12 rivals have played: a 6-3, 1-0, retired decision in March and by a 6-4, 6-3 score in April. 

Sieg is the only player left who is still in contention for two titles, after she and Eryn Cayetano advanced to the doubles semifinals with a 5-7, 6-3, 10-3 win over Akli and Sarah Hamner. The USC pair will take on the only seeded team left in women's doubles, No. 8 Reese Brantmeier and Elizabeth Scotty of North Carolina, who beat No. 2 seeds Miller and Jaedan Brown of Michigan 7-6(7), 6-7(5), 10-8. Scotty won the 2021 NCAA doubles title with Makenna Jones.

Another Tar Heels team reached the semifinals, with Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig defeating Alicia Dudeney and Bente Spee of Florida 6-1, 6-2. They will face Virginia's Melanie Collard and Julia Adams, who beat Illinois's Katherine Duong and Megan Heuser 6-1, 6-3.

With men's doubles cancelled Tuesday due to rain, today was the makeup day, with both the round of 16 and quarterfinals on the schedule. The weather cooperated, allowing all matches to be played outdoors for the first time this week, and when the 12 men's doubles matches were completed, only one seeded team remained.  That team is No. 3 Texas, with Cleeve Harper still in the hunt for his second consecutive NCAA doubles title, this time with Spizzirri. They defeated Natan Rodrigues and Fabien Salle of Louisville 6-2, 6-7(0) 10-4 in the quarterfinals. They will face Georgia Tech's Andres Martin and Marcus McDaniel, who beat Fenty and Gavin Young of Michigan, No. 5-8 seeds, 6-2, 6-3.

The bottom half semifinal will feature two unseeded teams: Pepperdine's Daniel De Jonge and Tim Zeitvogel and Ohio State's Andrew Lutschaunig and James Trotter.  De Jonge and Zeitvogel beat NC State's Izquierdo Luque and Joseph Wayand 6-3, 6-2, while Lutschaunig and Trotter squeaked past the last team to get into the draw, Hunter Heck and Karlis Ozolins of Illinois, 6-2, 6-7(0), 10-8.  

All the quarterfinalists mentioned above have earned All-American status, if they hadn't already earned that status by being seeded.

The women's singles semifinals are scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday and the men's semifinals are not before 11:30 a.m. The women's doubles are not before 1 p.m. and men's doubles not before 2:30. Cracked Racquets will provide coverage via their YouTube Channel. Live scoring and results are here, and individual courts are available at Playsight.

Three Americans have advanced to Friday's quarterfinals at the ITF J500 Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy.  No. 12 seed Cooper Williams, playing his first junior event since the Australian Open  in January, defeated No. 8 seed Adriano Dzhenev of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-2 in today's third round and will face No. 3 seed Branko Djuric of Serbia. Unseeded Darwin Blanch lost to No. 5 seed Juan Carlos Prado Angelo of Bolivia 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. 

No. 8 seed Kaitlin Quevedo defeated unseeded Hannah Klugman of Great Britain 6-3, 6-2 and will play unseeded Iva Ivanova of Bulgaria. Ivanova had beaten top seed Sara Saito of Japan in the second round. No. 2 seed Clervie Ngounoue defeated Italian wild card Vittoria Paganetti 6-3, 6-3 and will take on No. 10 seed Ena Koike of Japan in the quarterfinals. 

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker

The draws were released today for Roland Garros with 16 American women and 15 American men receiving direct entry. Two more American women reached the main draw today, with Kayla Day and Elli Mandlik winning their final round qualifying matches.  Day won a three-hour and nine-minute nail-biter over Elina Avanesyan of Russia 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(7) to reach her first slam main draw since the 2017 Australian Open. Mandlik made the Australian Open main draw this year as a lucky loser, but in her next slam she cleared that final hurdle, beating Laura Pigossi of Brazil 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. 

The remaining four Americans in qualifying play for a place in the main draw Friday: Emilio Nava, Nicolas Moreno de Alboran, Taylor Townsend and Ashlyn Kreuger.  The order of play is here.

Teenagers Jerry Shang of China and Mirra Andreeva of Russia both won their final round qualifying matches today; Brenda Fruhvirtova plays for a place in the main draw Friday, as does fellow Czech teen Sara Bejlek.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Rajecki Ousts Women's No. 1 Seed Crawley in NCAA Division I Third Round; Top Three Men's Seeds Reach Quarterfinals; Four US Juniors Make Third Round at ITF J500 in Milan; Six Americans Advance to Final Round of Roland Garros Qualifying

Wednesday's competition at the NCAA Division I individual  championships again finished indoors due to rain. But for the first time this week, all singles matches were started and finished outdoors at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida, with only doubles matches forced indoors after more afternoon rain.

The women's singles quarterfinals feature none, as in zero, of the top eight seeds, with the No. 1, 3, 4 and 6 seeds falling today.  Amelia Rajecki of North Carolina State produced the biggest surprise, defeating No. 1 seed Fiona Crawley of North Carolina 6-1, 1-6, 6-3. Rajecki, who was on the wrong side of the clinching match in the team final Saturday at line 3, got some measure of revenge on the Tar Heels, who placed none of their five singles competitors in the singles quarterfinals this year.

The match of the day was unquestionably Oklahoma senior Layne Sleeth's 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(2) win over No. 6 seed Chloe Beck of Duke, which was nearly four hours in duration. Sleeth served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, but Beck forced a final tiebreaker. Although Beck had the momentum, it was Sleeth, with her exceptional defense, who prevailed, with the Canadian refusing to make an error and refusing to concede any point.

The quarterfinal matchups, which feature four unseeded players and four No. 9 seeds, are below:

Women's Round of 16 results:
Amelia Rajecki(NC State) d. Fiona Crawley(North Carolina)[1] 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
Carol Lee(Georgia Tech)[9] d. Carolyn Ansari(Auburn) 3-6, 7-5, 6-0
Angelica Blake(Stanford) d. Lea Ma(Georgia)[3] 6-4, 7-6(0)
Layne Sleeth(Oklahoma) d. Chloe Beck(Duke)[6] 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(2)

Ayana Akli(South Carolina)[9] d. Carly Briggs(Florida) 6-4, 7-5
Madison Sieg(Southern Cal)[9] d. Dasha Vidmanova[4](Georgia) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
Fangran Tian(UCLA)[9] d. Alexandra Yepifanova(Stanford) 7-5, 6-3
Kari Miller(Michigan) d. Ariana Arseneault(Auburn) 6-1, 6-2 

As someone who had recently covered both Ethan Quinn and Nishesh Basavareddy in the juniors, I was most interested in their round of 16 match, and it didn't disappoint. I don't think either of the 2022 ITA fall major champions played his best, but neither could establish any superiority over the course of three sets, and it came down to a deciding point with Basavareddy serving at 5-6. Quinn has come up big in those points all week, and he got a shank error from Basavareddy, giving the No. 2 seed a nearly three-hour win over his fellow teenager.

The other freshman in the quarterfinals is a surprise, with Alexander Bernard, who played at line 5 for Ohio State, advancing with a 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-4 win over Andre Ilagan of Hawaii. The 2019 Kalamazoo 16s champion trailed 4-2 in the final set, but took the last four games to post the victory.

All eight of the men's quarterfinalists have qualified for the ATP's collegiate Accelerator program, which was introduced late last year and implemented for this sesaon. For more on what Challenger wild cards will be forthcoming for these quarterfinalists and when they can be used, see this article.

Men's Round of 16 results:
Eliot Spizzirri(Texas)[1] d. Pedro Rodenas(Duke) 7-5, 7-6(3)
Ondrej Styler(Michigan)[8] d. Michael Zheng(Columbia) 7-6(5), 7-6(5)
Arthur Fery(Stanford)[3] d. Liam Draxl(Kentucky)[9] 6-1, 6-1
Murphy Cassone(Arizona State) d. Micah Braswell(Texas) 6-2, 6-3

Chris Rodesch(Virginia)[9] d. Axel Nefve(Florida) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Alexander Bernard(Ohio State) d. Andre Ilagan(Hawaii) 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-4
Andrew Fenty(Michigan) d. James Trotter(Ohio State) 6-2, 7-6(3)
Ethan Quinn(Georgia)[2] d. Nishesh Basavareddy(Stanford)[9] 6-3, 4-6, 7-5

The women's doubles quarterfinals feature just two seeds and they will play each other Thursday. UNC's Crawley and Carson Tanguilig defeated top seeds Savannah Broadus and Janice Tjen of Pepperdine 6-1, 6-1, giving the Tar Heels two teams in the quarterfinals. Reese Brantmeier and Elizabeth Scott, a 5-8 seed, will play No. 2 seeds Jaedan Brown and Kari Miller in the quarterfinals.

Three women are in both the singles and doubles quarterfinals: Miller, Akli and Sieg.

With last night's cancellation of the men's doubles, all 16 first round matches were played today, many of them indoors, and few seeds survived.  Top seeds Toby Samuel and Connor Thomson of South Carolina lost to Ozan Baris and Max Sheldon of Michigan State 6-4, 6-2, and with the withdrawal of TCU's Luc Fomba and Jacob Fearnley, that leaves No. 3 seeds Cleeve Harper, the 2022 doubles champion, and Eliot Spizzirri of Texas as the top remaining seeds. 

Men still in both singles are doubles are Spizzirri, Fery and Fenty.

Two rounds of men's doubles are scheduled for Thursday.

Live scoring, results and the day's schedule can be found here. Playsight cameras for individual courts are available here, with a free registration necessary to view. Cracked Racquets will continue their coverage of the individual championships at their YouTube Channel.

Of the 14 Americans who reached the second round at the ITF J500 Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan, just four were able to advance to the round of 16, three of them seeded: No. 12 seed Cooper Williams, No. 2 seed Clervie Ngounoue and No. 8 seed Kaitlin Quevedo. Unseeded Darwin Blanch is the fourth player to reach the third round. 

Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker.

The final round of qualifying at Roland Garros will feature six of the seven Americans who played second round matches today.

Emilio Nava defeated Liam Broady of Great Britain 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 and will face Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France, the 2016 Roland Garros boys champion, in the final round. Nicolas Moreno de Alboran(UC-Santa Barbara) beat Aleks Vukic(Illinois) of Australia 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 to advance to a meeting with top qualifying seed Aslan Karatsev of Russia.

Taylor Townsend defeated Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, Elli Mandlik beat Arina Rodionova of Australia 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, Kayla Day defeated Miriam Bulgaru of Romania 6-4, 6-1 and Ashlyn Krueger held on for a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(6) win over Katie Boulter of Great Britain.

Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva of Russia will face top seed Camila Osorio of Colombia for a place in the main draw Thursday, while 18-year-old Jerry Shang is also on Thursday's schedule, playing Renzo Olivo of Argentina.

Day and Mandlik are the only Americans on Thursday's schedule.