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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Jovic Claims Second Straight ITF J300, Razeghi Wins First in Ecuador; Stearns and Knutson in Rome $60K Final; Kovacevic Advances to Cleveland Challenger Final; Shnaider Debuts for NC State on Busy D-I Saturday

Fifteen-year-old Iva Jovic won her second consecutive
ITF J300 singles title today in Salinas Ecuador, while 16-year-old Alexander Razeghi earned his first at that level, both winning in straight sets over fellow Americans.

Jovic, the No. 3 seed, defeated No. 2 seed Kaitlin Quevedo 7-5, 6-2, while Razeghi took out top seed and fellow left-hander Kaylan Bigun 6-3, 6-0. Jovic, who had the option to play the Australian Open Junior Championships(as did Quevedo), chose to play this Central/South American swing instead and that has proven to be a productive decision. Razeghi, who had not reached a J300 semifinal before this week, should see a nice jump from his current ITF junior ranking of 70.

Both are also entered in next week's J300 in Colombia

Speaking of players who reaped rewards after opting out of a trip to Australia, Peyton Stearns is through to her first Pro Circuit final above the $25K level this week in Rome Georgia after a 7-6(3), 6-3 win over former University of Texas teammate Lulu Sun of Switzerland. Stearns, who had the ranking to play the Australian Open qualifying, chose instead to do an intense training block in Florida prior to her first full years as a WTA professional and is now 15-2 this year on the USTA Pro Circuit and on a nine-match winning streak after taking the title at the $25K in Orlando last week.

Stearns will face former Syracuse All-American Gabriela Knutson of the Czech Republic, who is having a breakout tournament in Rome. A qualifier, the 25-year-old beat Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State) 5-7, 6-2, 6-1. Knutson also advanced to today's doubles final, but she and Mana Ayukawa of Japan lost to the unseeded counterparts Sun and Fanny Stollar of Hungary 6-3, 6-0.

Another former collegian will compete for the ATP Cleveland 75 Challenger title Sunday, with former Illinois All-American Aleks Kovacevic reaching his second Challenger final with a 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 win over top seed Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador. The 24-year-old will face 23-year-old Yibing Wu of China, the No. 2 seed, who defeated Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) 6-3, 6-2 in the other semifinals. Wu and Kovacevic met last year in a remarkable final at the Indianapolis Challenger,  with Wu earning a 6-7(10), 7-6(13), 6-3 victory.

The top two seeds met in today's doubles final, with No. 1 Robert Galloway(Wofford) and Mexico's Hans Hach Verdugo(Abilene Christian) defeating Ruben Gonzales(Illinois) of the Philippines and Reese Stalder(TCU) 3-6, 7-5, 10-6.

There was no lull in Division I tennis after last week's Kickoff Weekend, with a host of intriguing matches today. The most notable of those was the NC State women's match with Oklahoma, despite their current rankings of 10(NC State) and 15(Oklahoma). WTA No. 94 Diana Shnaider made her much-anticipated debut for the Wolfpack as they hosted the 2022 NCAA team finalists and won both her singles and doubles matches. Playing with Alana Smith, Shnaider's first action came at No. 1 doubles, with the NC State pair beating Ivana and Carmen Corley 6-2. Oklahoma took the doubles point with wins at lines 2 and 3, but it was all NC State in singles, with Shnaider beating Layne Sleeth 6-4, 6-0 at line 1 to draw NC State even, and Smith giving the Wolfpack the lead with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Carmen Corley. 

The next two NC State points were much harder to come by, but Amelia Rajecki beat Dana Guzman at line 3 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 and Abigail Rencheli clinched the win with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Emma Staker at line 4. 

With only four indoor courts in Raleigh, the final two matches went on later, but NC State won both of those in straight sets.

For more on the NC State-Oklahoma match, see this article from gopack.com.

Other notable women's results included No. 11 Ohio State's 4-0 win over No. 5 Georgia in Columbus; No. 12 Michigan's 6-1 win over No. 19 Oklahoma State; No. 23 Arizona State's 5-2 win over No. 17 San Diego and No. 1 Texas's 6-1 win over No. 24 Southern California. The match between No. 6 Stanford and No. 8 Pepperdine was rained out in Palo Alto after the Waves had claimed the doubles point.

In men's play at the USTA National Campus Saturday, No. 7 Southern California defeated No. 15 Florida 5-2, without Australian Open boys finalist Learner Tien in the lineup, and No. 13 Georgia defeated No. 16 Stanford 4-3. Stanford played without Nishesh Basavareddy, who has been struggling with a wrist injury after his sensational fall. Philip Henning clinched the win for Georgia at line 2, beating Max Basing 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3. The Pac-12/SEC Challenge will continue Sunday, with Southern Cal playing Georgia and Florida taking on Stanford.

Sunday's biggest match begins at noon in Columbus, with No. 6 Texas at No. 2 Ohio State. Should the Buckeyes prevail, they are likely to ascend to the No. 1 ranking after current No. 1 Virginia's loss to Kentucky Friday night.

For results, as well as live streaming and live scoring links, see collegetennisranks.com.

The USA defeated host Uzbekistan 4-0 this weekend to advance to the Davis Cup's final group stage in September. The American team got wins from Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald(UCLA) in singles, then clinched the victory with a doubles win by Rajeev Ram(Illinois) and Austin Krajicek(Texas A&M).

Friday, February 3, 2023

January Aces; All-USA Finals at ITF J300 in Ecuador; Stearns and Di Lorenzo Reach Rome $60K Semifinals; Kentucky Men Take Down No. 1 Virginia 4-3; Michigan Men Beat Baylor

My monthly column at Tennis Recruiting Network features 18 top performances in January, with many of them college related. Two current collegians won Pro Circuit titles last month, as did three NCAA champions, and juniors made waves in Australia, New Zealand, France and Costa Rica. Two of the Aces in the article have continued their winning streaks this week and are featured below.

Saturday's finals at the ITF J300 in Ecuador will be all-USA contests, with Iva Jovic and Kaitlin Quevedo meeting for the first time in ITF Junior Circuit play and Kaylan Bigun and Alexander Razeghi facing off for a first J300 singles title.

The 15-year-old Jovic defeated top seed Lucciana Perez Alarcon of Peru 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-2 in today's semifinals. The No. 3 seed will be aiming for her second consecutive J300 title after winning the Costa Rica tournament last Saturday.

No. 2 seed Quevedo defeated No. 4 seed Mia Slama 6-0, 6-4 in the semifinals, and the 16-year-old from Florida will also be playing for her second J300 title, after her first came last November in Guadalajara. 

Top seed Bigun defeated No. 8 seed Roy Horovitz 6-1, 6-2 and No. 7 seed Razeghi got past Darwin Blanch 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in a battle of the last two Kalamazoo 16s champions. Bigun and Razeghi, both 16, are playing for the first time on the ITF Junior Circuit.

The only non-American champion in the four draws is TCU signee Duncan Chan of Canada, who partnered with Blanch to take the doubles titles today. The unseeded pair defeated No. 4 seeds Luca Pow and Henry Searle of Great Britain 7-6(7), 6-1.

The girls doubles championship went to unseeded Piper Charney and Valeria Ray, who beat No. 2 seeds Isabelle Lacy and
Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain 6-2, 6-2 in today's final.

Lulu Sun at 2021 NCAA Championships

At the $60,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit tournament in Rome Georgia, three unseeded players and a qualifier have advanced to Saturday's semifinals, one of which will feature two former teammates at Texas. Peyton Stearns defeated qualifier Johanne Svendsen of Denmark 6-2, 6-3 to set up a second meeting this year against former teammate Lulu Sun of Switzerland. Sun, who played at line 3 on the 2021 Texas Longhorn team that won the team title and Stearns, who played at line 1 both in 2021 and 2022, played in the first round of the $25K in Naples last month, with Stearns posting a 6-3, 6-4 victory. Sun advanced to her first semifinal at a $60K with today's 6-4, 6-2 win over Andrea Lazaro Garcia(Florida International) of Spain.

Francesa Di Lorenzo advanced to the semifinals with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over No. 8 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico, with the former Ohio State All-American set to face qualifier Gabriela Knutson of the Czech Republic. The 25-year-old Knutson, who defeated Ashley Lahey(Pepperdine) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 today, did not play competitively from 2016-2021 and went 14-11 on the ITF women's Pro Circuit last year, has reached the first $60K of her career.

Ken Thomas is providing coverage throughout the Rome tournament at radiotennis.com.

The top-ranked Virginia men suffered their first loss of the season this evening in Charlottesville, with No. 5 Kentucky taking a 4-3 decision in the rematch of the NCAA Division I men's team championship last May.  

Unfortunately neither team had their expected lineup available to compete, with both No. 1s not playing: Kentucky's Liam Draxl and Virginia's Chris Rodesch. Virginia also did not play Bar Botzer, who was at line 5 two weeks ago against Baylor.

Kentucky won the doubles point, which didn't happen often against the top teams last year, then went up 2-0 when Charlelie Cosnet defeated Alex Kiefer 7-6(5), 6-3 at line 5. Virginia got on the board with Inaki Montes defeating Alafia Ayeni 6-4, 7-6(6) at line one, then drew even with Jeffrey Von Der Schulenburg's 7-5, 6-4 win over Joshua Lapadat at line 2. Douglas Yaffa made it 3-2 Virginia with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over JJ Mercer at line 6, but Jaden Weekes of Kentucky also got a comeback win at line 4, beating Mans Dahlberg 2-6, 7-5, 6-1. 

At 3-3 the last match to be decided was at line 3, with Kentucky's Taha Baadi holding steady throughout the late stages of his match with Ryan Goetz. Baadi, down 3-1 in the third, had to hold serve at 4-5 and 5-6 to extend the match and in the tiebreaker that decided it, Baadi got out to a big lead and held on, taking a 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) win.

The box score is available here.

In another Top 10-ish men's battle tonight in Waco, No. 4 Michigan defeated No. 11 Baylor 4-1. The Wolverines took the doubles point and got wins from Gavin Young at line 4, Patrick Maloney at line 2 and Andrew Fenty at line 3. Zsombor Velcz picked up the point for the Bears at line 5. 

The box score is here. The final score was 5-2, with the remaining two matches after clinched played to completion.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Seven Americans Reach Semifinals at ITF J300 in Ecuador; Stearns Advances to Quarterfinals at Rome $60K; Michelsen Makes Doubles Semifinals at Cleveland Challenger; Florida, TCU Men Earn Top 20 Wins

With Americans comprising 12 of the 16 quarterfinalists at the ITF J300 in Ecuador, the fact that seven of the eight semifinalists are from the United States isn't exactly a surprise, but there is now a guarantee that an American boy will claim his first J300 title.
Top seed Kaylan Bigun, who defeated qualifier Cooper Woestendick 6-3, 6-1 in today's quarterfinals, will face No. 8 seed Roy Horovitz, who beat Luca Miremont of Argentina 6-3, 6-3.  In the bottom half, unseeded Darwin Blanch, a 7-6(2), 3-6, 2-1 ret. winner over No. 4 seed Meecah Bigun, will play No. 7 seed Alexander Razeghi, who beat unseeded Phoenix Weir of Great Britain 6-4, 6-3. The Blanch-Razeghi match will be a first meeting between the last two Kalamazoo 16s champions.

The only international player remaining is girls top seed Lucciana Perez Alarcon of Peru, who will play last week's champion at the J300 in Costa Rica, No. 3 seed Iva Jovic. Perez Alarcon advanced when No. 6 seed Valeria Ray retired trailing 7-6(6), 2-1. Jovic, the No. 3 seed, repeated her win in the final in Costa Rica, again beating unseeded Mika Buchnik of Israel, this time by a 6-4, 6-1 score, in today's quarterfinals. 

No. 4 seed Mia Slama got past unseeded 14-year-old Tyra Grant 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 to set up a meeting with No. 2 seed Kaitlin Quevedo, who beat unseeded Piper Charney 6-3, 6-2. 

Although they lost in singles, Charney and Ray will be playing in the doubles final, with the unseeded pair facing No. 2 seeds Isabelle Lacy and Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain.

In the boys doubles final, the unseeded team of Blanch and Canada's Duncan Chan will take on No. 4 seeds Henry Searle and Luca Pow of Great Britain.

Friday's quarterfinals at the $60,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Rome Georgia will feature just one seed, No. 8 Marcela Zacarias of Mexico. Zacarias will play Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State), who had beaten No. 2 seed Elli Mandlik in the opening round. Di Lorenzo beat Hina Inoue 6-2, 6-3 today. 

The No. 3, No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 seeds lost today, with Lulu Sun(Texas) of Switzerland beating No. 3 Ann Li 6-4, 3-6, 6-4; No. 4 seed Ashlyn Krueger lost to qualifier Gabriela Knutson of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-5; No. 5 seed and 2022 ITF World Junior champion Petra Marcinko was beaten by Andrea Lazaro Garcia(Florida International) of Spain 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 and No. 6 seed Robin Anderson(UCLA) lost to 2022 NCAA singles champion Peyton Stearns 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in three hours and 34 minutes.

Qualifier Johanne Svendsen of Denmark beat wild card Liv Hovde 7-6(4), 6-4 and will face Stearns next; Sun and Lazaro Garcia are the other quarterfinal in the top half. Ashley Lahey(Pepperdine), who beat Robin Montgomery 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 will face Knutson, while Zarcarias and Di Lorenzo meet in the bottom quarter.

Former Texas Longhorn Stearns, who won the $25K last week in Orlando, has received a wild card into the new WTA 250 in Austin Texas, which begins at the end of the month.

The quarterfinals are set at the ATP Cleveland Challenger 75 with five Americans in the final eight. Two of the matches Friday will be all-US contests, with Steve Johnson[3](USC) playing Aleks Kovacevic[5](Illinois) and Zachary Svajda facing Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee). Svajda defeated wild card Alex Michelsen 7-5, 6-3 in a match that featured nine service breaks; Sandgren got past No. 7 seed Brandon Holt 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

No. 6 seed Stefan Kozlov defeated qualifier Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-4 and will play No. 2 seed Yibing Wu of China, who beat Strong Kirchheimer(Northwestern) 7-6(9), 7-6(1).

In the top quarter, No. 1 seed Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador will face No. 8 seed Gabriel Diallo(Kentucky) of Canada.

Although Georgia signee Michelsen lost in his attempt at his first Challenger quarterfinal, the Wimbledon boys doubles champion moved into the semifinals in doubles, with partner Nick Chappell(TCU). After beating No. 3 seeds Will Blumberg(North Carolina) and Keegan Smith(UCLA) in the first round, Michelsen and Chappell took out veterans Bradley Klahn(Stanford) and Evan King(Michigan) today, setting up a semifinal meeting with top seeds Robert Galloway(Wofford) and Mexico's Hans Hach Verdugo(Abilene Christian).

The ATP provided this feature on Michelsen after his win over No. 4 seed Jack Sock on Tuesday.

Two notable results tonight in men's Division I action, with No. 3 seed TCU going to Knoxville and beating No. 10 Tennessee 4-1. Even without Jack Pinnington Jones, the 2022 National Indoor Champions are looking like top contenders for national championships again this year.

At the College Match Day tonight in Lake Nona, No. 15 Florida beat No. 12 Florida State 4-2 in a tense and well-played match that was streamed live on ESPN Plus. It's been some time since I watched a College Match Day, the numbers of which have definitely decreased since the pandemic, and I was impressed by the production values. Irina Falconi, a former Georgia Tech All-American, provided top-notch color commentary and between the singles and doubles, Ben Shelton dropped by to discuss his recent success and what college tennis has meant, and still means to him. 

The Gators took the doubles point, then got singles wins from freshman Togan Tokac at line 6, sophomore Nate Bonetto at line 3 and the clinch from freshman Jonah Braswell at line 4. Florida State's points came from Antoine Cornut Chauvinc at line 1 and Joshua Dous-Karpenschif at line 5. 

Right now the only other College Match Day on the schedule is the February 18 contest between Navy and Air Force, with both the men's and women's teams competing in Lake Nona. 

I hope more will be added, especially if they can be streamed, as it really does help bring college tennis to a wider audience.

Friday's big match will be a rematch of the 2022 NCAA team final, with No. 5 Kentucky playing No. 1 Virginia in Charlottesville at 5 p.m.  Links to live streaming and live scoring are here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

A Dozen Americans Reach Quarterfinals at ITF J300 in Ecuador; Hovde Beats Top Seed Udvardy at Rome $60K; No. 2 UNC Women Get Past No. 5 Georgia; Vanderbilt Women Make Big Jump in Latest ITA Coaches Poll

The quarterfinals are set at the ITF J300 in Ecuador, and with six US boys and six US girls advancing four of the quarterfinals will be all-American affairs.

Top seed Kaylan Bigun will face qualifier Cooper Woestendick and No. 4 seed Meecah Bigun plays reigning Kalamazoo 16s champion Darwin Blanch. Costa Rica J300 finalist Roy Horovitz, the No. 8 seed, defeated Henry Searle of Great Britain for the second time in two weeks today 6-2, 0-6, 6-2; He beat Searle in the semifinals in Costa Rica. Searle ended the winning streak of Costa Rica champion Thijs Boogaard of the Netherlands in the first round yesterday. Horovitz will play unseeded Luca Miremont of Argentina in the quarterfinals, while No. 7 seed Alexander Razeghi will meet unseeded Phoenix Weir of Great Britain.

In the girls quarterfinals, the two all-US finals are both in the bottom half, so an American finalist is assured. Tyra Grant will play No. 4 seed Mia Slama and Piper Charney will face No. 2 seed Kaitlin Quevedo.

No. 6 seed Valeria Ray plays top seed Lucciana Perez Alarcon of Peru and No. 3 seed and Costa Rica champion Iva Jovic faces unseeded Mika Buchnik of Israel, whom she beat in last week's final. 

Both top seeds have been eliminated by the conclusion of the first round at the $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit women's tournament in Rome Georgia. A day after Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State) defeated No. 2 seed Elli Mandlik, wild card Liv Hovde took out top seed Panna Udvardy of Hungary 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The 17-year-old Hovde, currently 423 in the WTA rankings, had never faced a Top 100 player prior to today's match with No. 95 Udvardy. But the reigning Wimbledon girls champion did play Udvardy's younger sister Luca in that Wimbledon final and will play 18-year-old qualifier Johanne Svendsen of Denmark Thursday with another grass court connection there. Hovde defeated Svendsen 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the ITF Junior J300 in Roehampton the week prior to the Wimbledon Junior Championships.

Ken Thomas is providing commentary all week in Rome at Radiotennis.com.

The North Carolina women shutout Maryland and Charlotte during Kickoff Weekend, but this evening they faced another level of competition with No. 5 Georgia coming to Chapel Hill. The second-ranked Tar Heels won the doubles point, with Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig coming from 5-3 down to take the No. 2 line 7-5 over Meg Kowalski and Mell Reasco. Georgia's Guillermina Grant and Mai Nirundorn had already beaten Reese Brantmeier and Elizabeth Scotty 6-3 at line 1, and North Carolina's Abbey Forbes and Reilly Tran had earned a 6-4 win over Anastasiia Lopata and Ania Hertel at line 3.

The singles all swung in North Carolina's favor to start, with five first sets, but Georgia fought back to force third sets in four of them. Tanguilig's 6-4, 6-2 win over Reasco at line 3 made it 2-0, but it was a long time before UNC's third point came, with Forbes beating Kowalski 7-6(5), 6-4. Dasha Vidmanova had put Georgia on the board with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Brantmeier at line 2, with the other three matches all in third sets. Scotty defeated Hertel 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 at line 5 to clinch it for the Tar Heels, but Georgia's Lea Ma defeated Crawley at line 1, as they played out the remaining singles matches. Tran beat Lopata at line 6 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to make the final score North Carolina 5-2, but there's no question Georgia has put the rest of the teams in the SEC and those traveling to Seattle for the National Team Indoors on notice.

The box score is available here.

The Division I post-Kickoff Weekend rankings are out, and most of the changes were in the women's poll, with the four host teams who lost dropping.

Vanderbilt, who took down NC State in Raleigh, moved into the Top 10 from 21 previously, while the Wolfpack fell from No. 3 to No. 10. Miami, who lost at home to Iowa State, drops from 10 to 16; Cal, who lost to San Diego, falls from 11 to 20 and Oklahoma State, who lost to Michigan, goes from 14 to 19.

The unprecedented Kickoff Weekend for men, in which none of the hosts lost for the first time since the format was introduced in 2009, left the rankings mostly unchanged. Florida State, who lost to Baylor in Baylor, fell from 10 to 12, with Tennessee moving back into the Top 10. 

The complete polls can be found by clicking on the headers. First place votes are in parentheses.

ITA Division I Men's Team Top 10, February 1

1. Virginia(12)
2. Ohio State
3. TCU
4. Michigan
5. Kentucky
6. Texas
7. Southern California
8. South Carolina
9. Wake Forest
10. Tennessee

ITA Women's Division I Team Top 10

1. Texas(8)
2. North Carolina(4)
3. Texas A&M
4. Duke
5. Georgia
6. Stanford
7. Virginia
8. Pepperdine
9. Vanderbilt
10. NC State

In other college news, Universal Tennis announced the UTR College Match Challenge for January 2024 in Australia. According to the release:
the best of U.S. college tennis will be on display with Division I men's and women's college teams traveling to Australia in January to contest NCAA regular-season matchups on Aussie soil.
More details on the event will be released at a later date, but it's encouraging to see Universal Tennis continuing to support college tennis in high visibility initiatives after their partnership with the ITA ended.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Searle Ends Boogaard's ITF Junior Winning Streak at J300 in Ecuador; Michelsen Defeats Sock at Cleveland Challenger; Daavettila, Wolff Among Qualifiers at Rome $60K, Di Lorenzo Beats Mandlik

One of the longest ITF Junior Circuit winning streaks of the past twenty years came to an end today at the ITF J300 in Salinas Ecuador, with Henry Searle of Great Britain defeating Thijs Boogaard of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-0. Boogaard, who won last week's J300 in Costa Rica to extend his winning streak to 30 there, and received a special exemption into this week's main draw, but the 16-year-old Searle made sure the 14-year-old would not claim his seventh straight title on the circuit.

The ITF tweeted this list of the longest junior winning streaks today before Boogaard's loss.

Half of the boys in Wednesday's round of 16 are Americans: Kaylan Bigun[1], Cooper Woestendick[Q], Quang Duong, Stiles Brockett[Q], Roy Horovitz[8], Darwin Blanch, Meecah Bigun[4] and Alexander Razeghi[7].

Seven of the 16 girls in the second round are from the US: Shannon Lam[Q], Valeria Ray[6], Costa Rica champion Iva Jovic[3], Tyra Grant[SE], Mia Slama[4], Piper Charney and Kaitlin Quevedo[2].

The first ATP Challenger of the year in the United States is underway in Cleveland, with just one major upset in first round play.

Eighteen-year-old Alex Michelsen, who won the $15,000 tournament in Edmond Oklahoma Sunday, received a wild card into this week's Cleveland Challenger 75 and proceeded to defeat No. 4 seed Jack Sock 7-6(3), 6-4 in a first round match this evening. Sock served for the first set at 5-4, but was broken at 15-40, and Michelsen played much more aggressively in the tiebreaker. 

Michelsen, who has signed with the University of Georgia this fall, went up a break early in the second set, gave it right back, but got his third break of the match to go up 5-4 and closed it. Michelsen's willingness to come forward was the difference in the match; he rarely missed an opportunity to finish at the net when he had hit a damaging ground stroke. 

Michelsen now has two main draw victories in Challengers; to earn his third he'll need to beat two-time Kalamazoo 18s champion and fellow Southern Californian Zachary Svajda. Svajda beat former Princeton star Matija Pecotic, a qualifier, 6-1, 6-2 in their first round match today. 

Another notable result for a wild card came from TCU freshman Jack Pinnington Jones of Great Britain, who advanced when Ernesto Escobedo of Mexico retired trailing 6-2, 3-1. Pinnington Jones is on the Horned Frogs roster, but questions about his eligibility remain and he has yet to see any collegiate action this year.

Canadian Gabe Diallo, the former Kentucky All-American who turned pro late last year, is the No. 8 seed this week in Cleveland and he defeated Alafia Ayeni, a graduate transfer joining Kentucky this year after graduating from Cornell, 6-1, 6-1 in the first round. 

Emilio Gomez(USC) of Ecuador and Yibing Wu of China are the top two seeds and both won their first round matches. Gomez defeated Zeke Clark 7-5, 6-2 and Wu beat 19-year-old qualifier Aidan Mayo 6-1, 0-6, 6-4. 

The third wild card was given to Stefan Kozlov, who is the No. 6 seed.

Free live streaming is available at the ATP Challenger website.

The women's USTA Pro Circuit schedule this week features just one tournament, the $60,000 event in Rome Georgia. Qualifying concluded today, with two Americans, both former collegians, among the eight qualifiers. Former North Carolina All-American Sara Daavettila defeated University of Southern California freshman and No. 4 seed Madison Sieg 6-4, 6-4 and Vivian Wolff defeated No. 7 seed Katarina Jokic of Serbia 5-7, 6-0, 6-2. (That reminds me I need to point out they are now playing out the third set in qualifying in all ITF tournaments at the $40K level and above; the $15Ks and $25Ks are still using a match tiebreaker for a third set in qualifying). Jokic and Wolff, who at the time represented Germany, were teammates at the University of Georgia before Wolff transferred to UCLA in 2020.

Four main draw matches were played today with former Ohio State All-American Francesca Di Lorenzo taking out No. 2 seed Elli Mandlik 7-6(3), 7-6(5). Ashlyn Krueger, the No. 4 seed, No. 8 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico and Ashley Lahey(Pepperdine) are the other three advancing to the second round.

Wild cards were given to Liv Hovde, who plays top seed Panna Udvardy of Hungary in the first round Wednesday, Victoria Hu(Princeton), who retired today against Krueger, Dalayna Hewitt and Maria Mateas(Duke). 

Canadian Kayla Cross, who has signed with Vanderbilt for this fall, also qualified, beating former Georgia standout Kennedy Shaffer 6-3, 2-6, 6-1. 

Former Old Dominion All-American Yuliia Starodubtseva of Ukraine earned her wild card into qualifying by winning last week's UTR Pro Tennis Tour event in Atlanta. Starodubtseva, who currently does not have a WTA ranking, qualified for the main draw with a 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-4 win over Maria Kononova(North Texas) of Russia.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Texas A&M Women, Georgia and Stanford Men Round out D-I Team Indoor Fields; Georgia Tops Men's Recruiting Class Rankings; Leach and Bittner Win ITF J100 Titles in New Zealand; Junior Orange Bowl Videos

The last three regional finals to determine the Division I National Team Indoor fields concluded today, with no surprises. The top-seeded Texas A&M women defeated No. 2 Florida 4-2 at Baylor's indoor facility (due to inclement weather) to advance to the women's Team Indoor, which begins February 10th in Seattle. Host Washington gets automatic entry into the event; the other 14 teams are North Carolina, Texas, Duke, Georgia, Stanford, Virginia, Pepperdine, Ohio State, Auburn, Oklahoma, Michigan, Iowa State, Vanderbilt and San Diego.

In the men's two regional finals, top-seeded Stanford lost the doubles point for the second straight day, but came back to beat No. 3 seed Texas A&M 4-1. Top seed Georgia rounds out the men's Team Indoor field after beating No. 2 seed Louisville 4-1. The men's Team Indoor is scheduled to begin February 17 in Chicago, with the University of Illinois as the host. The other 13 men's teams qualifying are Virginia, Ohio State, Texas, Michigan, Kentucky, TCU, Southern California, Florida, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Baylor, South Carolina and Tennessee.

All 15 hosts won their regional on the men's side, while just 11 of the 15 women's hosts advanced.

For all the results of the Kickoff Weekend, see SLAM tennis.

The first men's recruiting class rankings for the Class of 2023 were published today at Tennis Recruiting Network, with Georgia in the top spot, followed by Stanford, Kentucky, Harvard and South Carolina. The Power Five and the Ivy League conferences dominate, securing 23 of the 25 spots, which has been the case throughout the 18 years TRN has been conducting this poll. As a voter in every one of these (there are two a year, with the next one coming out in May), believe me when I say no one knows whose class will ultimately turn out the best; this is just an educated guess by those who follow college tennis on who is attracting the best talent right now.

The ITF Junior Circuit produced three American champions in doubles and three in singles. Three were in big events I followed throughout last week, with Learner Tien and Cooper Williams capturing the Australian Open boys doubles title, and Iva Jovic winning the singles and, with Tyra Grant, the doubles titles at the Costa Rica J300

The other three came at the J100 (formerly grade 3) ITF tournament in New Zealand, where Jagger Leach won his third straight, and biggest, singles title and Allie Bittner claimed both the singles and doubles titles in Auckland.

The third-seeded Leach, the 15-year-old son of Jon Leach and Lindsay Davenport, did drop his first set during his trip to New Zealand, in the semifinals, but in the final beat No. 5 seed Jake Dembo of Australia 6-0, 6-0. Leach won two J60s, in Christchurch and Wellington the previous two weeks.

The 16-year-old Bittner lost in the final at the middle of the three tournaments, then came back to earn her second singles title and first doubles title of the New Zealand swing last week. Bittner, seeded No. 8, defeated top seed Renee Zhang of New Zealand 7-6(5), 6-1 in the semifinals and No. 6 seed Aishi Das of New Zealand 6-2, 6-1 in the final. Bittner and her partner I Wen Wan of Taiwan, seeded No. 4, defeated top seeds Zhang and Maria Galatescu of New Zealand 2-6, 6-2, 10-6 in the final.

Leach is up to 184 in the ITF junior rankings now, after starting the year at 647.  Bittner has gone from 1232 in the ITF junior rankings at the start of the year to 284 now.

The last of the videos from December's Florida junior swing are up now at the tenniskalamazoo YouTube channel. Four videos, of the finals of both 14s and of the champions of the 12s, are embedded below. The video of Yeri Hong, the girls 12s finalist, is here; the video of Tabb Tuck, the boys 12s finalist, is here.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Stearns, Michelsen and Ponwith Claim Pro Circuit Titles; Ceban and Pushkareva Win Les Petits As Championships; Horovitz Falls to Streaking Boogaard in Costa Rica Final; D-I Women's Team Indoor Field Includes Several Surprises

Americans won singles championships at all three of this week's USTA Pro Circuit events, which isn't surprising, given that five of the six finalists were from the United States.

2022 NCAA champion Peyton Stearns, the No. 6 seed, defeated No. 8 seed Robin Montgomery 6-2, 6-0 in just 51 minutes at the $25,000 tournament at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida. The former Texas Longhorn, who didn't drop a set all week, has lost only two matches this year, both to Emma Navarro, Virginia's 2021 NCAA champion. Now 11-2 this year, Stearns has her fourth $25K title, and will be well inside the WTA Top 200 for the first time in her career, in just eight months as a pro.

At the men's $25,000 tournament in Wesley Chapel Florida, former Arizona State star Nathan Ponwith won the second singles title of his career and the first since 2019 with a 6-3, 6-2 decision over No. 8 seed Christian Langmo(Miami). The unseeded 24-year-old lost his opening set to 16-year-old wild card Abishek Thorat 6-1, but really found his stride in the last two matches, beating No. 3 seed Zachary Svajda 6-2, 6-3 in 65 minutes in the semifinals and needing only 71 minutes to claim the title today.

Eighteen-year-old Alex Michelsen also won his second Pro Circuit singles title today, but unlike Ponwith, it's been only two months since his first one, at a $15K tournament in East Lansing Michigan. Michelsen, the No. 4 seed, defeated unseeded Lucas Renard of Sweden 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-1 to earn the title at the $15,000 tournament in Edmond Oklahoma. The first two sets took nearly two hours to complete, but the University of Georgia recruit blitzed through the third set in just 24 minutes. Michelsen, who received a main draw wild card into next week's Cleveland Challenger, will move into the ATP Top 500 for the first time when these points are added.

Former North Carolina teammates Mac Kiger and Canada's Benjamin Sigouin won the doubles title in Edmond, with the top seeds defeating the unseeded team of Collin Altamirano(Virginia) and Adrian Boitan(Baylor) 7-6(7), 6-4 in Saturday evening's final.

Anna Pushkareva of Russia and Mark Ceban of Great Britain won the Les Petits As U14 championships today in Tarbes France. 

Pushkareva, the No. 5 seed, defeated No. 2 seed Giulia Popa of Romania 6-3, 6-4, becoming the tenth Russian girls champion at the event, which began in 1983.

The third-seeded Ceban, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over No. 6 seed Daniel Jade of Lebanon, is just the second British boys to claim the title. Ceban, who also won the Bolton tournament last week, is the first boys champion from Great Britain since Matthew Smith in 1998.

Last year's Les Petits As boys champion Thijs Boogaard has gone on an astounding run on the ITF Junior Circuit, with the 14-year-old from the Netherlands winning his sixth consecutive title last night at the J300 Copa del Cafe in Costa Rica. Wild card Boogaard, who won a J200 two weeks ago in Europe, defeated No. 5 seed Roy Horovitz of the United States 6-4, 6-4 to extend his winning streak on the ITF Junior Circuit to 30 matches. 

I don't remember anyone going on a run like that, starting at the lowest levels of the ITF Junior Circuit and winning title after title despite stepping up to a higher level each time (he did win two J4s, now known as J60s, during that stretch). Boogaard will move into the Top 50 now, and is likely to receive direct entry into all the junior slams this summer.  He received a special exemption into the main draw at the J300 this coming week in Ecuador

All but three of the participants in the ITA Division I Team Indoor Championships have been determined after a busy Sunday of action across the country. 

Four No. 1 women's seeds hosting regionals were eliminated, with Miami, Oklahoma State and North Carolina State joining Cal, who lost in the first round yesterday, on the sidelines.

Miami and NC State both lost tough 4-3 decisions to Iowa State and Vanderbilt respectively; Michigan defeated Oklahoma State 4-2.

The weather finally cleared in College Station long enough for the first round matches to be played this evening, and host Texas A&M and No. 2 seed Florida will play Monday for the final spot in the women's Team Indoor field.

The men have yet to lose a No. 1 seed (Georgia and Stanford are the last chances for that), and today's finals were all 4-0 decisions for the hosts, except North Carolina, who dropped one point to Harvard.

SLAM Tennis has all the results and links to box scores, and Cracked Racquets will have coverage of Monday's final day of 
action on their YouTube channel.

Finals Sunday:
Virginia[1] d. Princeton[3] 4-0
North Carolina[1] d. Harvard[2] 4-1
Ohio State[1] d. Oregon[3] 4-0
Michigan[1] d. Northwestern[2] 4-0
Texas[1] d. Arizona[2] 4-0
South Carolina[1] d. NC State[2] 4-0
Southern California[1] d. UCLA[3] 4-0
TCU[1] d. Texas Tech[3] 4-0

Finals Monday:
Georgia[1] v Louisville[2]
Stanford[1] v Texas A&M[3]

Finals Saturday:
Tennessee[1] d. Oklahoma[2] 4-3
Florida[1] d. Mississippi State[3] 4-2
Wake Forest[1] d. Middle Tennessee[2] 4-2
Kentucky[1] d. Notre Dame[2] 4-1
Baylor[1] d. Florida State[3] 4-2

Finals Sunday:
Duke[1] d. Wisconsin[3] 4-1
Vanderbilt[2] d. NC State[1] 4-3
Iowa State[3] d. Miami[1] 4-3
Michigan[2] d. Oklahoma State[1] 4-2
Oklahoma[1] d. Texas Tech[2] 4-0
Pepperdine[1] d. Memphis[2] 4-0
Auburn[1] d. Central Florida[3] 4-1

Final Monday:
Texas A&M[1] v Florida[2]

Finals Saturday:
Texas[1] d. Baylor[2] 4-0
Virginia[1] d, South Carolina[2] 4-1
Georgia[1] d. Notre Dame[3] 4-1
Stanford[1] d. Florida State[2] 4-0
North Carolina[1] d. Charlotte[3] 4-0
San Diego[3] d. Cal[1] 4-1 
Ohio State[1] d. Tennessee[3] 4-2

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Jovic Sweeps Costa Rica J300 Titles; Montgomery, Stearns and Michelsen Reach Pro Circuit Finals; Hijikata Claims Australian Open Men's Doubles Title; Les Petits As Finals Set; Twelve Teams Qualify for D-I National Indoors

Iva Jovic swept the girls titles tonight at the ITF J300 in Costa Rica, with her championship Saturday beginning with the doubles title.

Jovic and Tyra Grant, the Orange Bowl champions last month, defeated fellow Americans Claire An and Alanis Hamilton 6-3, 6-3 in the doubles final. Then, after the boys doubles final, won by Henry Searle of Great Britain and Nikolai Budlov of Norway, Jovic played the singles final, beating unseeded Mika Buchnik of Israel 6-3, 6-2.

It's the first J300 title for the 15-year-old from Torrance California, seeded No. 3, and she didn't drop a set in her five victories.

I'll have the results of the boys final between Roy Horovitz and Thijs Boogaard of the Netherlands, played late Saturday night, in tomorrow's post.

Eighteen-year-old Robin Montgomery and reigning NCAA singles champion Peyton Stearns will play for the title Sunday at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona Florida. Montgomery, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 2 seed Ann Li, who took a wild card into the tournament, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 today and will be playing for her third Pro Circuit singles title.  The sixth-seeded Stearns, who left Texas after her sophomore year with two team titles and the singles championship, defeated former Michigan star Emina Bektas 6-3, 6-1 today and will be playing for her fourth Pro Circuit singles title Sunday.

The doubles title went to Jada Hart(UCLA) and Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech), with the unseeded pair defeating No. 4 seeds Haruna Arakawa and Natsuo Arakawa of Japan 6-3, 6-3 in this afternoon's final.

Two former collegians will meet for the title at the $25,000 men's tournament in Wesley Chapel Florida Sunday, with Christian Langmo(Miami) taking on Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State). Langmo, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 6 seed Alfredo Perez(Florida) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in today's semifinal, while the unseeded Ponwith took out No. 3 seed and two-time Kalamazoo 18s champion Zachary Svajda 6-2, 6-3. Ponwith leads 1-0 in the head-to-head, but that match was over three years ago.

Perez and the Dominican Republic's Roberto Cid(South Florida) won the doubles title, beating another unseeded pair in Canadian Roy Stepanov(Southeastern) and Sekou Bangoura(Florida) 6-3, 6-2.

At the $15,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit tournament in Edmond Oklahoma, 18-year-old Alex Michelsen has reached his second final in his two tournaments this year, beating wild card Chad Kissell(Valparaiso) 6-2, 6-2 today. Michelsen, the No. 4 seed, will face unseeded 30-year-old Lucas Renard of Sweden, who beat former Baylor All-American Adrian Boitan of Romania, the No. 6 seed, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Michelsen, who lost in the final of the $25,000 tournament in Malibu to start the year, will be looking for his second singles title on the Pro Circuit.

There are improbable slam titles and then there's the one former North Carolina All-American Rinky Hijikata won overnight in Melbourne. The 21-year-old from Australia, who received a wild card into the main draw in both singles and doubles, paired with Jason Kubler to win the Australian Open men's doubles title overnight. Hijikata and Kubler defeated Hugo Nys of Monaco and former Georgia star Jan Zielinski of Poland 6-4, 7-6(4) in the final to become just the second wild card team to take the title after Australians Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis did it just last year.  Here's a look at the outstanding championship point.

It wasn't as if Hijikata and Kubler, playing together for the first time, had an easy draw either. They defeated three seeded teams, including No. 1 seeds Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Neal Skupski of Great Britain in the quarterfinals. They also were a point from elimination in the third round, saving a match point in their 1-6, 7-6(8), 6-4 win over Tomislav Brkic and Gonzalo Escobar(Texas Tech).

Hijikata was playing in only the third ATP tour-level event of his career, and came into the Australian Open with a doubles ranking of 277; Kubler, who reached two ATP doubles finals last year, had an ATP ranking of 163.

North Carolina has posted an excellent article on Hijikata's slam title, (he is the second former Tar Heel to win one) and he talks about how his college coaches were instrumental in preparing him for the sport's highest level.

Hijikata joins Luisa Stefani(Pepperdine), who won the mixed title, as a former collegian champion at this year's Australian Open; Ena Shibahara(UCLA) plays for the women's doubles title tonight.

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus won her first major title, defeating reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 for the women's singles title.

The singles finals are set for Sunday at Les Petits As in Tarbes France. No. 6 seed Daniel Jade of Lebanon will face No. 3 seed Mark Ceban of Great Britain for the boys title and No. 5 seed Anna Pushkareva of Russia will play No. 2 seed Giulia Popa of Romania for the girls title.

Jade defeated American Marcel Latak, the No. 7 seed, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 in today's semifinal, avenging his three-set quarterfinal loss to Latak last week at the Bolton tournament. Latak was up 6-1, 4-3 and serving, but Jade won three consecutive deuce games to force a third set, then took control with an early break in the second set. After dropping six straight games, Latak finally got on the board in the third set, but Jade played too well to give Latak any chance of mounting a comeback.  Ceban, who won the Bolton title last week, also had to come back from a rocky start, defeating No. 5 seed Kaan Isik Kosaner of Turkey 1-6, 6-1, 7-5. 

American Michael Antonius, who lost to Jade in three sets in the first round, won the consolation tournament, beating Arthur Lenglet of France 2-4, 4-1, 4-1.

The boys doubles title went to No. 5 seeds Moise Kouame of France and Svit Suljic of Slovenia. They defeated No. 6 seeds Jakub Kusy and Tomas Krejci of the Czech Republic 6-7(7), 6-4, 10-3.

Pushkareva defeated top seed Ksenia Efremova 6-0, 6-2 to reach the final, while Bolton finalist Popa defeated No. 3 seed Luna Vujovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-4.

No. 5 seeds Sara Oliveriusova and Lucie Slamenikova of the Czech Republic won the girls doubles title, beating unseeded Lia Belibova of Moldova and Oliwia Sybicka of Poland 5-7, 7-6(8), 10-2 in the final.

The ITA Division I Kickoff Weekend produced its first barnburner Saturday, with the Tennessee men claiming a four-hour, 4-3 win over Oklahoma that put the Volunteers in next month's National Team Indoor field. Johannus Monday earned Tennessee's fourth point with a 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(2) win at No. 1 singles over the Sooners' Alex Martinez.

In Berkley, the first host lost, with the Cal women falling to San Diego 4-1.  Below are the results from today's regional finals with the teams seeded 1 all hosting. The winners have advanced to the National Team Indoors next month.

Saturday's regional finals

Tennessee[1] d. Oklahoma[2] 4-3
Florida[1] d. Mississippi State[3] 4-2
Wake Forest[1] d. Middle Tennessee[2] 4-2
Kentucky[1] d. Notre Dame[2] 4-1
Baylor[1] d. Florida State[3] 4-2

Texas[1] d. Baylor[2] 4-0
Virginia[1] d. South Carolina[2] 4-1
Georgia[1] d. Notre Dame[3] 4-1
Stanford[1] d. Florida State[2] 4-0
North Carolina[1] d. Charlotte[3] 4-0
San Diego[3] d. Cal[1] 4-1 
Ohio State[1] d. Tennessee[3] 4-2

Sunday's regional finals

Virginia[1] v Princeton[3]
North Carolina[1] v Harvard[2]
Ohio State[1] v. Oregon[3]
Michigan[1] v Northwestern[2]
Texas[1] v Arizona[2]
South Carolina[1] v NC State[2]
Southern California[1] v UCLA[3]
TCU[1] v Texas Tech[3]

Sunday - Monday dates for men's sites Georgia and Stanford

Duke[1] v Wisconsin[3]
NC State[1] v Vanderbilt[2]
Miami[1] v Iowa State[3]
Oklahoma State[1] v Michigan[2]
Oklahoma[1] v Texas Tech[2]
Pepperdine[1] v Memphis[2]
Auburn[1] v Central Florida[3]

Texas A&M women's regional round 1 was rained out Saturday, but still scheduled to finish on Sunday.

See SLAM Tennis for scores and links; check out Cracked Racquets coverage on YouTube.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Tien Falls to Blockx in Third Set Tiebreaker at Australian Open Boys Final, Korneeva Takes Girls Title; Jovic and Horovitz Reach Costa Rica J300 Finals; Latak Advances to Les Petits As Semifinals; Five Upsets on First Day of D-I Kickoff Weekend

Alexander Blockx and Learner Tien

The Australian Open Junior Championships provided nearly five and a half hours of excitement Saturday in Rod Laver Arena, finishing with a scintillating boys final that ended with Alexander Blockx of Belgium defeating Learner Tien of the United States 6-1, 2-6, 7-6(9).
Blockx, the No. 3 seed, started the boys final with an impressive array of forehand winners, while Tien made an uncharacteristic number of unforced errors. After dominating his opponents in the previous three matches, Tien could sympathize when he was in a similar position, going down 4-0 and unable to take Blockx out of his zone.

But all that changed in the second set, when Tien stopped making unforced errors and Blockx began to donate a few. Tien saw his first break point in the third game of the second set, and while he didn't convert it, he broke Blockx in his next opportunity and then for a second time before serving out the set.

The third set was close throughout, with both players finding their form and holding serve, although Tien generally had the easier holds. The key game came at 4-all, with Blockx serving, when Tien had two break points among the six deuces. Blockx saved one with an ace--he had three of his 10 aces in that game--and didn't hold back on his ground strokes when it mattered, letting out a huge roar when he held.

Tien negotiated the tricky 4-5 and 5-6 service games with no trouble, so a tiebreaker would decide the championship.

After an incredible first point, a mini-break that even elicited a fist pump from the normally stoic Tien, and a forehand winner, Tien led 2-0, but that advantage didn't last, and it was 3-3 and 6-6 at the change of ends. Tien made two unforced errors on the forehand, the second giving Blockx a 8-7 lead, with two serves coming for the tall Belgian. He cranked a backhand winner to give himself two championship points, but Tien saved them both, with Blockx sending a backhand wide on the first and Tien outlasting Blockx in a long rally on the second.  At 9-all, Tien missed a pass wide, and looked incredulous that he could have failed to convert that opportunity. Instead of having a match point, Tien faced one, and Blockx hit a service winner up the T to become the first Belgian boy to win an Australian Open singles final.

The final was reminiscent of 2019's, when Lorenzo Musetti of Italy beat Emilio Nava 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(12), with that tiebreaker before the 10-point tiebreaker was instituted.  Last year's final was also memorable with Bruno Kuzuhara beating a cramping Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic 7-6(4), 6-7(6), 7-5.

Alina Korneeva, 2023 Australian Open Girls Champion

The girls final was a grueling three-hour and 18 minute affair, prior to the boys taking the court, with Alina Korneeva defeating fellow 15-year-old Russian and doubles partner Mirra Andreeva 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-5.

Korneeva, playing in her first junior slam, had let a 4-1, two-break lead slip away in the final set, then missed out on two match points at 5-4 in the third, but hung in there, got another break and, with a second chance, closed out the championship.

After so many extended rallies within multi-deuce games, a love hold in the final game seemed unlikely, but when Andreeva netted a backhand, Korneeva had done it. The friends and rivals, who played in the Eddie Herr 12s final in 2019, with Korneeva also taking that title, shared a long embrace and conversation at the net.

Tien is going home with a winner's trophy however, after he and partner Cooper Williams became the third consecutive American team to win a boys doubles title at a junior slam Friday, with the No. 7 seeds defeating top seeds Blockx and Joao Fonseca of Brazil 6-4, 6-4 in the Australian Open Junior Championships final. 

After failing to convert a match point/deciding point with Blockx serving at 3-5 in the second set, Tien went down 15-40 trying to serve it out. But Tien hit two good first serves to get to the deciding point, then ended a short cross court rally with Fonseca  with a forehand winner that went outside the post and landed in the alley. (See that match point here).

Tien and Williams join Alex Michelsen and Sebastian Gorzny(Wimbledon) and Ozan Baris and Nishesh Basavareddy(US Open) as junior slam champions.

The girls doubles title went to an unseeded team, with Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia and Federica Urgesi of Italy defeating No. 4 seeds Hayu Kinoshita and Sara Saito of Japan 7-6(5), 1-6, 10-7.

In the men's semifinals, nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic ended Tommy Paul's breakout slam, beating the 25-year-old 7-5, 6-1, 6-2. Djokovic, the No. 4 seed, will play No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greek for the title, after Tsitsipas defeated No. 18 seed Karen Khachanov 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3. The two met in the 2021 final at Roland Garros, with Djokovic coming back for a 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory.

Fifteen-year-old Iva Jovic is through to her first J300 singles final, with the No. 3 seed defeating unseeded Alanis Hamilton 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Copa del Cafe in Costa Rica. She and Tyra Grant are also through to the girls doubles final, where they will play Hamilton and her partner Claire An.

Jovic will face another 15-year-old, unseeded Mika Buchnik of Israel, who beat No. 2 seed Kaitlin Quevedo 6-4, 6-4. Buchnik is playing in just her second J300-level event this week.

Roy Horovitz has also reached his first J300 final, with the 16-year-old from Florida, seeded No. 5, defeating No. 7 seed Henry Searle of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4 in tonight's late match. Horovitz will play the streaking Thijs Boogaard of the Netherlands, who ended the run of qualifier Max Exsted 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 in the earlier boys semifinal. The 14-year-old Boogaard has now won 29 consecutive matches on the ITF Junior Circuit, dating back to last October.

Marcel Latak is the sole American in the semifinals at Les Petits As with the 13-year-old from Illinois earning a tough 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4 decision over No. 4 seed Jan Urbanski of Poland. Latak served for the match at 5-3 in the second set and at 5-2 in the third set before he finally finished the job with a love hold at 5-4.  

Latak will face No. 6 seed Daniel Jade of Lebanon, who defeated No. 16 seed Emilio Camacho of Ecuador 6-4, 6-0 in today's quarterfinals. Latak defeated Jade 6-0, 4-6, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Tennis Europe Category 1 in Bolton last week. In the other boys semifinal, Bolton champion Mark Ceban, the No. 3 seed, will face No. 5 seed Kaan Isik Kosaner of Turkey after Ceban defeated No. 12 seed Jakub Kusy of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3 and Kosaner took out No. 2 seed Svit Suljic of Slovenia 2-6, 6-2, 6-2. 

Both US girls in the quarterfinals were beaten today, with No. 8 seed Julieta Pareja falling to No. 2 seed and Bolton finalist Giulia Popa of Romania 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-3. No. 7 seed Kristina Penickova lost to top seed Ksenia Efremova of Russia 7-5, 6-0. 

Both US doubles teams still alive fell in the semifinals, with Kristinia and Annika Penickova losing 6-3, 7-6(3) to Lia Belibova of Moldova and Oliwia Sybicka of Poland, who, like the Penickovas, were unseeded.

Unseeded Izyan Ahmad and Michael Antonius lost 6-4, 6-3 in the boys doubles semifinals to No. 6 seeds Tomas Krejci and Jakub Kusy of the Czech Republic.

Antonius, who lost to Jade in the first round in three sets, is through to the singles consolation final.

Live streaming(which was a little glitchy for me today) and live scoring is available at the tournament website.

The ITA Division I Kickoff Weekend began today with 12 of the 30 regionals playing their opening round matches. All the host schools, who are seeded No. 1, have won their matches against the No. 4 seeds, but not so with the matches between No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, with five of the lowers seeds advancing to a match against the host school Saturday. The winners of those matches advance to the ITA Team Indoor Championships next month, with the men in Chicago and the women in Seattle.

No. 3 Notre Dame d. No. 2 Southern California 4-3 (Georgia host)
No. 3 UNC Charlotte d. No. 2 Utah 4-0 (North Carolina host)
No. 3 San Diego d. No. 2 Georgia Tech 4-1 (Cal host)

No. 3 Mississippi State d. No. 2 SMU 4-3 (Florida host)
No. 3 Florida State d. No. 2 San Diego 4-2 (Baylor host)

Cracked Racquets is providing Cross Court coverage of many of the regionals throughout the four-day event at their YouTube channel.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Tien Advances to Australian Open Boys Final; Stefani Claims AO Mixed Doubles Title; Three Americans Reach Les Petits As Quarterfinals; Hamilton and Jovic Meet in Costa Rica ITF J300 Semifinals

Learner Tien has reached the final of the Australian Open Junior Championships, defeating unseeded Tomasz Berkieta of Poland 6-4, 6-2 Friday in Melbourne.

Tien, who had breezed through his quarterfinal match against No. 2 seed Ilyan Radulov of Bulgaria 6-0, 6-0 in 40 minutes Thursday, had more of a challenge in Friday's semifinal, but the 17-year-old left-hander didn't face a break point until he was up 3-0 in the second set, and he saved both of those. Berkieta, playing in his first junior slam, hit 25 winners compared to 15 for Tien, but the powerful 16-year-old had 38 unforced errors, while Tien had only 13.

Tien will play No. 3 seed Alexander Blockx of Belgium, who defeated No. 11 seed Yi Zhou of China 6-4, 6-1, with both boys semifinals playing out quite similarly. 

Blockx is the first Belgian to reach the boys singles final in Australia, while Tien is the second American to do so in as many years, after Bruno Kuzuhara won both the singles and doubles in Melbourne last January. 

Tien has also reached the doubles final, with partner Cooper Williams, with two wins on Thursday. The No. 7 seeds defeated unseeded Ruslan Tiukaev of Russia and Tianhui Zhang of China 3-6, 6-1, 10-8 in the quarterfinals and unseeded Matic Kriznik of Slovenia and Federico Bondioli of Italy 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals. Kriznik and Bondioli had beaten Alexander Frusina and his partner Jan Hradzil of the Czech Republic 7-6(10), 5-7, 10-7 in the quarterfinals.

Tien and Williams face top seeds Blockx and Joao Fonseca of Brazil for the doubles title, which would be the third straight for an American team at a junior slam.

In the mixed doubles final Friday, former Pepperdine standout Luisa Stefani of Brazil claimed her first major title, with partner Rafael Matos, also of Brazil. The unseeded pair defeated Sania Mirza, playing in the one of the final matches of her career, and Rohan Bopanna of India, 7-6(2), 6-2 in the championship match. Stefani had a serious knee injury, suffered in the wome's doubles semifinals at the 2021 US Open, keeping her out of competition for nearly a year.

Another former collegian will be a first time slam champion when Jan Zielinski(Georgia) of Poland and his partner Hugo Nys of Monaco take on Australian wild cards Rinky Hijikata(North Carolina) and his partner Jason Kubler for the men's doubles title Saturday.

Ena Shibihara(UCLA) is also in the women's doubles semifinals, later tonight, with partner Shuko Aoyama of Japan.

Kristina Penickova, Julieta Pareja and Marcel Latak have advanced to the quarterfinals of the Les Petits As Super Category 14U tournament this week in Tarbes France after wins in Thursday's third round. Penickova, the No. 7 seed, defeated No. 9 seed Kali Supova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal match with top seed Ksenia Efremova of Russia. Pareja, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 12 seed Sara Oliveriusova of the Czech Republic 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3. Pareja will play No. 2 seed Giulia Popa of Romania, who posted a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Pareja in the semifinals of the Bolton warmup tournament last week.

All eight girls quarterfinalists are seeded, with seven of the top eight advancing. 

Latak, the No. 7 seed, earned his third round win past 9 p.m. tonight, beating unseeded Andy Tchinda Kepche of Canada 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. Latak, who reached the Bolton final last week, will face No. 4 seed Jan Urbanski of Poland next.

Top seed Savva Rybkin of Russia was upset by No. 16 seed Emilio Camacho of Ecuador 7-5, 7-6(3) but he and Jordan Lee[8] are the only top eight seeds missing from the quarterfinals.

Kristina and twin sister Annika have advanced to the doubles semifinals, as have Michael Antonius and Izyan Ahmad. Both teams are unseeded, despite the Penickovas' title last week in Bolton. Antonius also reached the doubles final in Bolton, playing with Lee.

Live streaming and live scoring are available at the tournament website.

Last year's Les Petits As boys champion Thijs Boogaard of the Netherlands has had a remarkable run in ITF Junior Circuit play, winning four straight titles in four weeks last fall, then starting 2023 with a J200 title in Slovakia. Playing in his first J300 tournament this week in Costa Rica, the 14-year-old has just kept on winning, beating No. 4 seed and 2021 Kalamazoo 16s champion Alexander Razeghi 6-2, 6-2 in today's quarterfinals. That is 28 straight ITF Junior Circuit victories for Boogaard, who also won the European 14s championship last year.

Nikita Filin won his late second round match to reach the quarterfinals, but lost to No. 7 seed Henry Searle of Great Britain. That loss leaves No. 5 seed Roy Horovitz, a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 winner over Petr Brunclik of the Czech Republic as the only American boy in the quarterfinals, pending the result of the night match between qualifier Max Exsted and Benjamin Torrealba of Chile. 

Alanis Hamilton and No. 3 seed Iva Jovic will play in the girls semifinals Friday, after Hamilton defeated No. 6 seed Valeria Ray 6-2, 6-3 and Jovic advanced when her doubles partner, qualifier Tyra Grant, retired trailing 6-2, 3-0.  

The girls doubles final will be an all-USA affair, with Orange Bowl champions Jovic and Grant taking on Hamilton and Claire An. Neither team is seeded.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Tien Reaches Australian Open Junior Quarterfinals; Paul Defeats Shelton to Reach Men's Semifinals; Americans Abound in Costa Rica ITF J300 Quarterfinals; Three Americans Reach Les Petits As Third Round; Virginia Men, Texas Women Remain No. 1

2022 USTA National 18s champion Learner Tien is the last American in singles at the Australian Open Junior Championships, with the 17-year-old USC freshman defeating unseeded Jakub Filip of the Czech Republic 6-0, 6-2 in Wednesday's third round. Tien, also unseeded, was never challenged in the match, with Filip struggling on serve and with unforced errors. 

Tien, who also reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year in his first junior slam, faces No. 2 seed Ilyan Radulov of Bulgaria in Thursday's quarterfinals. Radulov, also 17, is playing in his first junior slam.

The other two American boys in the third round were not as fortunate, with No. 8 seed Cooper Williams beaten by No. 11 seed Yi Zhou of China 6-1, 6-4, and Kyle Kang losing a heartbreaker to top seed Kilian Feldbausch of Switzerland 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-4. Kang appeared to be cramping throughout much of the third set, and at times hit underhand serves, but his ground strokes held up and he had three break points with Feldbausch serving at 4-all in the third. Feldbausch held for a 5-4 lead, and Kang managed to save two match points in the final game, even getting a game point after the second deuce, but succumbed on his third.

Williams and Tien have advanced to the quarterfinals in doubles, as has Alexander Frusina, with his partner Jan Hrazdil of the Czech Republic. Both the quarterfinals and semifinals of doubles are on the schedule for Thursday(tonight in the US) after rain Tuesday pushed the second round to Wednesday.

In the all-American men's singles quarterfinal, Tommy Paul defeated Florida's 2022 NCAA champion Ben Shelton 7-6(6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to advanced to a semifinal meeting with Novak Djokovic Friday. Shelton will move into the ATP Top 50 after this week, and will be one of 10 Americans there when the new rankings are release Monday; Paul will reach the Top 20 for the first time. For more on Shelton's assessment of his quarterfinal run, see this article from the ATP website. For more on Paul's win, see this article from the ATP website.

The top half of the girls draw at the ITF J300 in Costa Rica has four US girls, assuring an American finalist before Thursday's quarterfinals even begin. Alanis Hamilton will face No. 6 seed Valeria Ray and No. 3 seed Iva Jovic will take on her doubles partner, qualifier Tyra Grant. No. 2 seed Kaitlin Quevedo, the only American in the bottom half, also has advanced to the quarterfinals.

The US boys reaching the quarterfinals are No. 5 seed Roy Horovitz, No. 4 seed Alexander Razeghi and qualifier Max Exsted. Nikita Filin, who defeated the top seed on Monday, is playing his second round match late tonight. All four are in separate quarters of the draw.

Three Americans are through to the round of 16 at Les Petits As: No. 7 seed Kristina Penickova, No. 8 seed Julieta Pareja and No. 7 seed Marcel Latak. No. 8 seed Jordan Lee lost to qualifier Motoharu Abe of Japan 6-3, 6-4. Zaire Clarke and Annika Penickova also lost their second round matches today.

A new set of Division I team rankings were released today, in advance of the ITA Kickoff Weekend, which begins Friday. See Slam Tennis for all the matchups for the 15 regionals being held around the country. Cracked Racquets will be providing live coverage at its YouTube Channel and John Parsons and Alex Gruskin previewed the women's Kickoff Weekend in this Deciding Point.

The Virginia men remain the unanimous No. 1 from the 12 coaches who vote in the ITA's poll; the Texas women are No. 1 with eight first place votes and North Carolina getting the other four. 

Although it's still very early in the season, there have been some notable moves, up and down, after the past three weeks of action. The Tennessee men, No. 6 in the preseason poll at the beginning of the month, have fallen to No. 11 after losses last week to Michigan and Wake Forest. Georgia, No. 7 in the preseason rankings, has lost to Florida State and Texas and is now at No. 15. Florida State and Wake Forest move into the Top 10 with the two SEC teams dropping out.

The Oklahoma women, No. 4 in the preseason rankings, lost to Michigan and Ohio State over the weekend and have now fallen to No. 17. Miami moves into the Top 10 with the Sooners dropping out.

The complete rankings of all 25 teams can be found by clicking on the headings. 

Division I Men's Team Top Ten:

1. Virginia (12)
2. Ohio State
3. TCU
4. Michigan
5. Kentucky
6. Texas
7. Southern California
8. South Carolina
9. Florida State
10. Wake Forest

1. Texas (8)
2. North Carolina (4)
3. NC State
4. Texas A&M
5. Duke
6. Georgia
7. Stanford
8. Virginia
9. Pepperdine
10. Miami

In other college news, the University of Southern California's men's program announced that Eric Johnson will be returning to Los Angeles as the assistant coach, after the recent departure of Rich Bonfiglio for the head coaching job at Penn. Johnson, who was briefly an assistant at Columbia, played for the Trojans from 2011-2015. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Tien Joins Williams and Kang in Australian Open Juniors Third Round; Filin and Exsted Beat Top Two Seeds at Costa Rica ITF J300; Three USTA Pro Circuit Tournaments in Florida, Oklahoma This Week

The number of Americans in the Australian Open Junior Championships has been reduced from 13 to three now that two rounds of singles have been completed. All three are boys, with 2022 USTA 18s National champion Learner Tien joining Cooper Williams[8] and Kyle Kang in Wednesday's round of 16.

Tien, who is in the bottom half of the draw, took out unseeded Federico Cina of Italy 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, with a hour-plus rain delay between the second and third sets. The 15-year-old Cina, who won the Traralgon J300 warmup title, was impressive, hitting with great power and depth, and displaying an admirable commitment to finishing at the net. But the 17-year-old Tien got an early break in the third set and held on, converting his second match point serving at 5-4. Tien will face unseeded Jakub Filip of the Czech Republic for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Williams and Kang, who won their second round matches Monday, also play for places in the quarterfinals Wednesday(tonight in the US). Kang plays doubles partner and top seed Kilian Feldbausch of Switzerland, while Williams faces No. 11 seed Yi Zhou of China. If they both win, they will play each other, a rematch of the quarterfinals at last month's Orange Bowl, which Williams won 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. 

The last two girls in the singles draw, Tatum Evans and Anya Murthy lost in the second round, with unseeded 15-year-old Rositsa Dencheva of Bulgaria beating Evans 6-2, 6-2 and No. 15 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia defeating Murthy 6-3, 6-0. 

More rain later in the day Tuesday led to the postponement of the second round of doubles; just one second round doubles match finished Tuesday.

The two Americans in men's and women's Australian Open quarterfinal action Tuesday lost, with Jessica Pegula[3] falling to two-time Australian Open champion (and 2005 girls AO winner) Victoria Azarenka[24] of Belarus 6-4, 6-1, and Sebastian Korda[29] retiring with a wrist injury trailing No. 18 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-0.

Wednesday's daytime quarterfinal match between Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul(late tonight in the US) will decided which American advances to the semifinals against the winner of the night quarterfinal match between Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev. 

After Alanis Hamilton defeated top seed Lucianna Perez Alarcon of Peru in the first round of the ITF J300 in Costa Rica, two US boys pulled off similar upsets. Last night, Nikita Filin defeated top seed Josue Guzman of Peru 6-1, 7-6(6); today qualifier Maxwell Exsted beat No. 2 seed Phoenix Weir of Great Britain 7-6, 6-2. Exsted will play Stiles Brockett in the second round; Filin, Roy Horovitz[5] and Alexander Razeghi[4] are the other three US boys in the second round.

Qualifiers Tyra Grant, 14, and Capucine Jauffret, 15, both won their matches today, with Grant beating qualifier Emma Dong of Canada 6-1, 6-3 and Jauffret defeating No. 7 seed Hephzibah Oluwadare of Great Britain 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. They will play each other for a spot in the quarterfinals. Also through to the second round are Hamilton, Piper Charney, No. 2 seed Kaitlin Quevedo, No. 3 seed Iva Jovic, and No. 6 seed Valeria Ray. 

Scores are updated throughout at the day at the tournament's website.

Last week there were two women's USTA Pro Circuit tournaments and one for men; this week the men have two and the women one.

The women's is a $25,000 tournament on hard courts of the USTA National Campus in Orlando, with qualifying completed today. Several juniors who have made their collegiate commitments qualified, including American Jessica Bernales(Michigan), Canadian Kayla Cross(Vanderbilt) and Olivia Lincer(UCF), who now represents Poland. The other qualifiers are former Tar Heels Sara Daavettila and Makenna Jones, Dasha Ivanova, Victoria Hu(Princeton) and Denmark's Johanne Svendsen.

Reka Luca Jani of Hungary is the top seed, with Ann Li seeded No. 2. Wild cards were given to Li, Robin Anderson[3], Samantha Crawford and Irina Hartman. The latter is the married name of 32-year-old Irina Falconi, who had a baby in 2021 and is competing for the first time since 2020. The former Georgia Tech All-American reached a career-high ranking of 63 in 2016. She plays 18-year-old Robin Montgomery[8] in the first round.

The men's $25,000 tournament is also in Florida, at Wesley Chapel's Saddlebrook Resort.

American qualifiers are wild card Timothy Phung, Matthew Segura, Thomas Brown, Stefan Menichella(Pepperdine), Isaiah Strode and Connor Farren(USC). 

The top two seeds are 2019 US Open boys champion Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic and Timo Stodder(Tennessee) of Germany. Wild cards were awarded to 16-year-old junior Abishek Thorat, Gianni Ross(Virginia) and Miami recruit Yannick Rahman. Rahman beat No. 7 seed Gage Brymer(UCLA) in the first round today 7-5, 6-2; Thorat lost to Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) 1-6, 6-1, 6-4. 

The other men's tournament is a $15,000 tournament in Edmond Oklahoma

The top seeds are Kyle Seelig(Ohio State) and Nick Chappell(TCU). Receiving wild cards are Abhishek Bastola(St. Mary's), Collin Altamirano(Virginia), Jake Van Emburgh(Oklahoma/Ohio State) and Chad Kissell(Valparaiso).

The American qualifiers are 16-year-old blue chip Ian Bracks, 15-year-old blue chip Evan Sharygin, 18-year-old Alex Visser, a Duke recruit, 18-year-old Marko Mesarovic, a Clemson recruit, Baylor freshman Arman Zamani and Cameron Muller. 

Monday, January 23, 2023

Shelton and Paul to Meet in Australian Open Quarterfinals; Kang and Williams Advance to AO Junior Round of 16; Hamilton Ousts Top Seed at Costa Rica ITF J300; Leach, Wang Take J60 Titles; Five Americans Post Wins at Les Petits As

There is a lot going on this week in junior tennis, with the Australian Open Junior Championships, the ITF J300 in Costa Rica, usually a week or two earlier than it is this year, and Les Petits As all in progress at the same time in extremely diverse time zones.

There is also the success of young American men at the Australian Open, with three of them reaching the quarterfinals in Melbourne for the first time since 2000. On Monday, 20-year-old Ben Shelton defeated former Ohio State All-American JJ Wolf 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals, where Florida's 2022 NCAA champion will face Tommy Paul. The 25-year-old Paul defeated No. 24 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 to set up an all-American quarterfinal Wednesday.

No. 29 seed Sebastian Korda, who is 22 years old, faces No. 18 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia Tuesday(tonight in the US).  No. 3 Jessica Pegula is the lone US women to reach the quarterfinals; she plays two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, the No. 24 seed, also Tuesday.

Two US boys advanced to Wednesday's round of 16 at the Australian Open Junior Championships with second round wins Monday.  No. 8 seed Cooper Williams defeated Hoyoung Roh of Korea 6-4, 6-3 and unseeded Kyle Kang beat No. 13 seed Danil Panarin of Russia 6-3, 6-3. Learner Tien plays his second round match Tuesday(tonight) against Traralgon champion Federico Cina of Italy.

Theadora Rabman lost to qualifier Rebecca Munk Mortensen of Denmark 6-3, 6-1; two other American girls will play their second round matches Tuesday(tonight), with Tatum Evans facing Rositsa Dencheva of Bulgaria and Anya Murthy playing No. 15 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia.

All junior matches are available for streaming at ESPN+.

The Costa Rica tournament always draws dozens of Americans, and that didn't change this year, even with the calendar move. 

Ten US boys and 11 US girls made the 32-player draws.  The boys: Nikita Filin, Cyrus Mahjoob, Darwin Blanch, Cooper Woestendick, Roy Horovitz[5], Tristan Stringer, Alexander Razeghi[4], Quang Duong[8], Stiles Brockett and qualifier Maxwell Exsted.

The girls: Alanis Hamilton, Katie Rolls, Valeria Ray[6], Iva Jovic[3], qualifiers Tyra Grant and Capucine Jauffret, wild card Tianmei Wang, Mia Slama[4], Sage Loudon, Piper Charney and Kaitlin Quevedo[2].

Many of the boys have lost in the first round today: Mahjoob, Blanch, Woestendick, Stringer and Duong have been eliminated. Horovitz and Brockett advanced to the second round, while Filin, Razeghi and Exsted have yet to play.

US girls who have won today include Jovic, Ray and Hamilton, with Hamilton defeating top seed Lucianna Perez of Peru 6-1, 7-6. Rolls, Loudon and Slama have lost their opening matches, with the rest still to play.

Wang received a wild card, I'm assuming, because she won the ITF J60 tournament last week in Costa Rica. The USTA Winter Nationals 18s champion was unseeded, but didn't drop a set until the final, where she beat No. 7 seed Brooklyn Olson 1-6, 6-2, 6-1. The 15-year-old from Southern California now has two ITF singles titles at the J60 (formerly Grade 4) level.

Wang also reached the girls doubles final, with Krisha Mahendran of India, but Sophia Webster and Emily Robertson won by retirement, with no score posted.

The third title for Americans last week on the ITF Junior Circuit, not including the doubles titles for Williams and Tien at Traralgon, was claimed by 15-year-old Jagger Leach, who won his second straight J60 tournament in New Zealand. As was the case the previous week, Leach, who now trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, didn't drop a set throughout the tournament. Seeded No. 3, he defeated No. 4 seed Rintaro Shukuda of Japan 7-5, 6-2 in the championship match.

The opening day of play at Les Petits As saw five of the eight Americans pick up first round victories. Zaire Clarke, who qualified for Les Petits As last November, but didn't play the warmup event in Bolton last week, defeated No. 16 seed Marilyn Van Brempt of Belgium 6-4, 6-1.  Bolton champion Annika Penickova, who is unseeded this week, defeated wild card Alix Rios of France 6-1, 6-3; Annika's twin sister Kristina, the No. 7 seed, beat Oliwia Sybicka of Poland 6-2, 6-3. No. 8 seed Julieta Pareja, the fourth US girl in the draw, plays her first round match Tuesday.

The two seeded American boys won their matches today. No. 7 seed Marcel Latak defeated Louis Sallard of France 6-0, 6-2 and No. 8 seed Jordan Lee beat Joachim Walker-Viry of France 3-6, 6-2, 6-0. Michael Antonius lost to No. 6 seed Daniel Jade of Lebanon 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2 and Izyan Ahmad was beaten by Aleksandar Tolev of Bulgaria 6-3, 7-5. Latak is the only US boy born in 2009 among the Americans on this trip; the others are 2010 birth years. All four US girls were born in 2009.