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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.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Tien, Evans and Murthy Advance to Australian Open Juniors Second Round; Korda Reaches Men's Quarterfinals; Les Petits As Begins Monday with Four Seeded Americans; Navarro's Winning Streak Ends; Cornell's Papoe Wins Ithaca $15K

Three more Americans reached Tuesday's second round of the Australian Open Junior Championships, with Learner Tien and Tatum Evans getting straight-sets victories and Anya Murthy getting her first junior slam win.

Tien, who reached the semifinals of last week's J300 in Traralgon, defeated No. 7 seed Hayato Matsuoka of Japan 6-0, 6-3, dominating from start to finish. Evans, who won her first junior slam match last September in New York, defeated Lily Taylor of Australia 6-3, 6-1 to earn her second. Murthy, who is playing her first junior slam, courtesy of her run to the semifinals of the Orange Bowl last month, defeated Darja Suvirdjonkova of Serbia 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

Alexander Frusina, the fourth American competing Sunday, was up 6-2, 3-6, 5-0 on Yuvan Nandal of India, but couldn't convert his four match points and late in the third set began to have debilitating cramps, leading him to retire down 6-5 in the third set.

Tien will face Traralgon champion Federico Cina of Italy in the second round; Evans gets Rositsa Dencheva of Bulgaria, who beat 2022 Wimbledon girls finalist and No. 10 seed Luca Udvardy of Hungary 6-3, 7-6(5); Murthy will play No. 15 seed Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia, who defeated Traralgon champion Melisa Ercan of Turkey 6-3, 6-2.

It was a rough first round for girls seeds, with five of the top six, including top seed Sara Saito of Japah, failing to make the second round. Saito lost to Australian wild card Stefani Webb 6-3, 1-6, 6-2; Webb is one of three Australian wild cards to reach the second round--three girls and one boy.

Monday's second round junior matches featuring Americans:
Kyle Kang v Danil Panarin[13](RUS)
Cooper Williams[8] v Hoyoung Roh(KOR)
Theadora Rabman v Rebecca Munk Mortensen[Q](DEN)

Sebastian Korda[29] reached his first slam quarterfinal with a tense 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(7) win over No. 10 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland. Another American will join him: the winner of tonight's match between JJ Wolf and Ben Shelton. Tommy Paul could make it three Americans in the quarterfinals with a win over No. 24 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain; the last time three Americans made a slam quarterfinal was the 2005 US Open, when James Blake, Andre Agassi and Robby Ginepri were in the final eight.

Coco Gauff lost to Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 7-5, 6-3 but Jessica Pegula advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic. 

The prestigious Les Petits As U14 tournament begins Monday in Tarbes France, with four US boys and four US girls aiming for titles. Bolton finalist Marcel Latak is seeded No. 7, with Jordan Lee the No. 8 seed; Kristina Penickova is the No. 7 seed and Julieta Pareja is seeded No. 8. Surprisingly, Bolton champion Annika Penickova, who beat Kristina in the semifinals and the LPA's No. 2 seed Giulia Popa in the final, is not seeded. Live scoring and live streaming is available at the tournament website. The complete list of seeds:

1. Savva Rybkin(RUS)
2. Svit Suljic(SLO)
3. Mark Ceban(GBR)
4. Jan Urbanski(POL)
5. Kaan Isik Kosaner(TUR)
6. Daniel Jade(LBN)
7. Marcel Latak(USA)
8. Jordan Lee(USA)
9. Filip Ladman(CZE)
10. Paul Hjorteland(NOR)
11. Mustafa Ege Sik(TUR)
12. Jakub Kusy(CZE)
13. Itamar Verthaimer(ISR)
14. Samim Filiz(TUR)
15. Marco Ontiveros Castro(GER)
16. Emilio Camacho(ECU)

1. Ksenia Efremova(RUS)
2. Giulia Popa(ROU)
3. Luna Vujovic(SRB)
4. Sofie Hettlerova(CZE)
5. Anna Pushkareva(RUS)
6. Veronika Sekerkova(CZE)
7. Kristina Penickova(USA)
8. Julieta Pareja(USZ)
9. Kali Supova(SVK)
10. Maia Burcescu(ROU)
11. Angelica Sara(ITA)
12. Sara Oliveriusova(CZE)
13. Lucie Slamenikova(CZE)
14. Greta Nemcsek(HUN)
15. Tamina Kochta(GER)
16. Marilyn Van Brempt(BEL)

Emma Navarro's 2023 winning streak ended at nine matches today in the final of the $60,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit tournament in Vero Beach Florida. The 2021 NCAA singles champion, seeded No. 2, lost to unseeded Marie Benoit of Belgium 6-2, 7-5.

No. 4 seed Renata Zarazua of Mexico won the title at the $25,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit tournament in Boca Raton Florida, beating top seed Lulu Sun(Texas) of Switzerland 6-2, 7-5.

At the only men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament this week, the $15,000 event in Ithaca New York, Cornell sophomore Radu Papoe sent the crowd home happy with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Darian King of Barbados. It's the first Pro Circuit title for the 20-year-old from Romania.

In the doubles final last night, No. 2 seeds Nathan Ponwith(Arizona State) and Nick Chappell(TCU) defeated top seeds Mac Kiger and Canada's Benjamin Sigouin, former University of North Carolina teammates, 6-2, 6-4.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Rabman, Kang and Williams Advance to Australian Open Juniors Second Round; Shelton Joins Paul and Wolf in AO Second Week; Navarro Remains Perfect in 2023; Michigan Women Beat No. 4 Oklahoma

Three of the nine Americans in action on the first day of the Australian Open Junior Championships picked up wins, with No. 8 seed Cooper Williams, Traralgon J300 finalist Kyle Kang and North Carolina recruit Theadora Rabman. Williams defeated 2022 Pan American Closed champion Keegan Rice of Canada 6-4, 6-3, Kang breezed past Jan Hrazdil of the Czech Republic 6-0, 6-1 and Rabman came from behind to defeated Malwina Rowinska of Poland 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. It's the second junior slam win for Rabman, who earned her first as a qualifier at the US Open in 2021.

Two other US girls were on the wrong end of 7-5 in the third matches. Ashton Bowers had three match points serving at 5-3 in the the third set, but wild card Zara Larke of Australia rode the support of the home crowd to a 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 victory. Ariana Pursoo, a finalist November's Grade A in Mexico, couldn't hold off No. 2 seed Tereza Valentova of the Czech Republic, who took a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 decision. 

Ahmani Guichard lost to No. 12 seed Sayaka Ishii of Japan 6-3, 6-3 and Ava Krug fell to qualifier Vivian Yang of Australia 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. 

The Bigun twins both lost in third set tiebreakers, with Kaylan going out to No. 15 seed Adriano Dzhenev of Bulgaria 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(7) and Meecah losing to No. 16 Abel Forger of the Netherlands 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(8).

The other four Americans in the singles draws will play their first round matches Sunday: Learner Tien, Alexander Frusina, Anya Murthy and Tatum Evans.

The first round of doubles is also Sunday(Saturday night in the US). Seeded boys teams featuring Americans are No. 7 seeds Tien and Williams, who won the Traralgon title two days ago, and Kang, who is on the third-seeded team with Kilian Feldbausch of Switzerland.

In the girls doubles draw, the only American seeded is Pursoo, who is playing with Japan's Mayu Crossley. No. 6 Crossley was one of three Top 8 seeds to lose in the first round of singles yesterday, with No. 3 Ella McDonald of Great Britain and No. 5 Luciana Moyano of Argentina the other two. All seeded boys in action Saturday won their first round matches.

Three American men were guaranteed to reach the fourth round before Saturday's Australian Open results, with two all-American meetings in the third round. Tommy Paul defeated Jenson Brooksby 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 to make his second fourth round at a major, with his first coming last year at Wimbledon. Former Ohio State All-American JJ Wolf defeated lucky loser Michael Mmoh 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 to get past the third round at major for the first time in his career. 

Wolf will play the fourth American to reach the last 16 in Australia: reigning NCAA champion Ben Shelton, who defeated Alexei Popyrin, a wild card from Australia, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-4. The 20-year-old former Florida Gator is playing outside of the United States for the first time and in just his second major main draw, but has shown himself to be a quick study on the biggest stages.

Sebastian Korda, who advanced to the fourth round on Friday with a win over former ATP No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, is looking to be the first American in the quarterfinals tonight, although the winner of the Wolf-Shelton match will also reach the quarterfinals.

The run of qualifier Katie Volynets ended in the third round, with a 6-3, 6-2 loss to No. 23 seed Shuai Zhang of China, but the 2019 USTA 18s National champion has now broken into the Top 100 of the WTA live rankings for the first time.

Sunday's fourth round matches featuring Americans:

Coco Gauff[7]
v Jelena Ostapenko[17](LAT)
Jessica Pegula[3] v Barbora Krejcikova[20(CZE)
Sebastian Korda[29] v Hubert Hurkacz[10](POL)

Like Shelton, another recent NCAA champion, 2021 women's winner Emma Navarro, has had a great start to 2023, with the former Virginia Cavalier now on a nine-match winning streak after making the final of this week's $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Vero Beach Florida. Navarro, seeded No. 2, beat 2022 NCAA champion Peyton Stearns in the quarterfinals yesterday, and today advanced to the final when Vera Lapko of Belarus retired after dropping the first set 6-2. Navarro will play unseeded Marie Benoit of Belgium for her second consecutive title, after winning the $25K in Naples Florida last week. 

In the doubles final, the fourth-seeded team of former Ohio State star Francesca DiLorenzo and former North Carolina standout Makenna Jones, both former NCAA doubles champions, defeated top seeds Quinn Gleason(Notre Dame) and Elixane Lechemia(South Carolina) of France 4-6, 6-3, 10-3. 

Both of the American women in the semifinals of the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Boca Raton lost today, with No. 3 seed Ashley Lahey(Pepperdine) falling to top seed Lulu Sun(Texas) of Switzerland 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Wimbledon girls champion Liv Hovde, the No. 8 seed, lost to No. 4 seed Renata Zarazua of Mexico 7-5, 6-1. 

Lahey did pick up the doubles title, with Tiphanie Fiquet(Kentucky, Mississippi) of France. The No. 4 seeds beat the unseeded team of Kayla Cross of Canada and Zarazua 4-6, 6-1, 10-4 in today's final.

Two unseeded players will meet Sunday for the title at the $15,000 USTA men's Pro Circuit tournament in Ithaca New York, including one who will have a definite home court advantage in the final. Radu Papoe of Romania, a sophomore at Cornell, defeated qualifier Chad Kissell(Valparaiso) 6-4, 6-0 to reach his first Pro Circuit final. He'll play Darian King of Barbados, who has been as high as 106 in the ATP rankings in 2017, after King beat qualifier Mac Kiger(North Carolina) 6-1, 6-3.

The University of Michigan's women's team came up with a victory to rival that of the men's team on Thursday over Tennessee, with a 5-2 win over No. 4 Oklahoma in Ann Arbor Friday night. Oklahoma, who reached the final of the National Indoor and the NCAA team championships last year and have nearly everyone back, won the doubles point. But the 20th-ranked Wolverines got the next four points in singles play: Jaedan Brown at line 1, Andrea Cerdan at line 6, Gala Mesochoritou at line 4 and to clinch, Kari Miller at line 2. For more on the match, see this article from Mgoblue.com

Friday, January 20, 2023

My Eight Intriguing Questions for 2023; Thirteen Americans Ready for Australian Open Junior Championships; Korda, Gauff and Pegula Make Second Week at AO; Annika Penickova Wins a Second Bolton 14U Title

After a long stretch of live tennis coverage in Florida in November and December, I always look forward to getting home in January and spending a few weeks thinking about many of the issues in junior and college tennis that come up in the conversations I have during that stretch. That turns into this annual column for the Tennis Recruiting Network, which again features eight questions I'm eager to get the answers to in 2023.

The Australian Open Junior Championships begin in the next hour, with six US boys and seven US girls competing for the year's first junior slam. The American boys are: Cooper Williams, the only seed of the 13 US players, Learner Tien, Alexander Frusina, Kyle Kang, Kaylan Bigun and Meecah Bigun. The American girls are Tatum Evans, Ariana Pursso, Theadora Rabman, Ashton Bowers, Ava Krug, Ahmani Guichard and Anya Murthy.  Below are the seeds, and Saturday's first round matches, with nine of the 13 Americans in action on opening day.

1.Kilian Feldbausch(SUI)
2. Iliyan Radulov(BUL)
3. Alexander Blockx(BEL)
4. Arthur Gea(FRA)
5. Mihai Alexandru Coman(ROU)
6. Rei Sakamoto(JPN)
7. Hayato Matsuoka(JPN)
8. Cooper Williams(USA)
9. Maxim Mrva(CZE)
10. Joao Fonseca(BRA)
11. Yi Zhou(CHN)
12. Hayden Jones(AUS)
13. Danil Panarin(RUS)
14. Kevin Edengren(SWE)
15. Adriano Dzhenev(BUL)
16. Abel Forger(NED)

1. Sara Saito(JPN)
2. Tereza Valentova(CZE)
3. Ella McDonald(GBR)
4. Nikola Daubnerova(SVK)
5. Luciana Moyano(ARG)
6. Mayu Crossley(JPN)
7. Mirra Andreeva(RUS)
8. Nina Vargova(SVK)
9. Alina Korneeva(RUS)
10. Luca Udvardy(HUN)
11. Ena Koike(JPN)
12. Sayaka Ishii(JPN)
13. Ranah Stoiber(GBR)
14. Yaroslava Bartashevich(FRA)
15. Renata Jamrichova(SVK)
16. Hayu Kinoshita(JPN)

Saturday's first round junior matches featuring Americans:

Zara Larke[WC](AUS) d. Ashton Bowers 7-5, 2-6, 7-5
Sayaka Ishii(JPN)[12] d. Ahmani Guichard 6-3, 6-3
Theadora Rabman v Malwina Rowinska(POL)
Ariana Pursoo v Tereza Valentova[2](CZE)
Ava Krug v Vivian Yang[Q](AUS)

Kyle Kang d. Jan Hrazdil(CZE) 6-1, 6-0
Cooper Williams[8] d. Keegan Rice(CAN) 6-4, 6-3
Adriano Dzhenev[15](BUL) d. Kaylan Bigun 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(7)
Meecah Bigun v Abel Forger[16](NED)

The ITF's preview of the Junior Championships can be found here.

Live scoring is available on the Australian Open website, with ESPN+ providing live streaming in the US.

Sebastian Korda, Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff are into the second week of the Australian Open after wins Friday. Korda, the 2018 Australian Open boys champion, took out 2022 finalist and No. 7 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia in straight sets 7-6(7), 6-3, 7-6(4). It's the fourth Top 10 win for the 22-year-old from Florida, who also has a victory over ATP No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz last spring, when the Spaniard was No. 11 in the ATP rankings.

Friday's third round matches featuring Americans:

Elena Rybakina[22](KAZ) d. Danielle Collins[13] 6-2, 5-7, 6-2
Coco Gauff[7] d. Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-2
Jessica Pegula[3] d. Marta Kostyuk(UKR) 6-0, 6-2
Victoria Azarenka[24](BLR) d. Madison Keys[10] 1-6, 6-2, 6-1

Yoshihito Nishioka[31](JPN) d. Mackenzie McDonald  7-6(6), 6-3, 6-2
Karen Khachanov[18](RUS) d. Frances Tiafoe[16] 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9)
Sebastian Korda[29] d. Daniil Medvedev[7](RUS) 7-6(7), 6-3, 7-6(4)

Saturday's third round matches featuring Americans:

JJ Wolf v Michael Mmoh[LL]
Jenson Brooksby v Tommy Paul
Ben Shelton v Alexei Popyrin[WC](AUS)

Katie Volynets[Q] v Shuai Zhang[23](CHN)

Annika Penickova added the Tennis Europe Category 1 singles title in Bolton England to the doubles title she won with her twin sister Kristina yesterday. The 13-year-old from Northern California, seeded No. 5, defeated top seed Giulia Popa of Romania 6-1, 6-1 in today's final.  Top seed Mark Ceban of Great Britain defeated No. 9 seed Marcel Latak of Illinois 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to earn the boys singles title.

Les Petits As tournament begins Monday in Tarbes France, with qualifying beginning on Saturday.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Fourteen Americans Reach Australian Open Third Round, Including Volynets and Mmoh; Two Americans Advance to Bolton Finals; Division III Team Preseason Rankings; Michigan Men Defeat Tennessee in Top Ten Battle

Upsets were everywhere at the Australian Open Thursday, with Americans responsible for many notable ones as the second round concluded after 4 a.m. in Melbourne with fourteen Americans--8 men and 6 women--through to the third round. That's the most since 1996, when 15 advanced.

USTA National champions Jenson Brooksby, qualifier Katie Volynets (both coached by Joe Gilbert in Sacramento) and lucky loser Michael Mmoh earned three of the biggest upsets. Brooksby, the 2018 Kalamazoo 18s champion, defeated No. 2 seed Casper Ruud of Norway 6-3, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2 in just shy of four hours; 2016 Kalamazoo 18s champion Mmoh, the fourth and last man to receive entry as a lucky loser, took out No. 12 seed Alexander Zverev 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 and Volynets, the 2019 San Diego 18s champion, ousted No. 9 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

The upset bug hit Americans as well, with No. 8 seed Taylor Fritz losing early for the second consecutive slam, with Australian wild card Alexei Popyrin beating him 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2.

With five American men in the bottom half, there's no surprise that there will be two all-US third rounders Saturday, with Brooksby playing Tommy Paul and Mmoh taking on JJ Wolf.

Thursday's second round matches featuring Americans:
Katie Volynets[Q] d. Veronika Kudermetova[9](RUS) 6-4, 2-6, 6-2
Ekaterina Alexandrova[19](RUS) d. Taylor Townsend[WC] 1-6, 6-2, 6-3
Aryna Sabalenka[5](BLR) d. Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-1
Elise Mertens[26](BEL) d. Lauren Davis 6-4, 6-3
Belinda Bencic[12](SUI) d. Claire Liu 7-6(3), 6-3

Ugo Humbert(FRA) d. Denis Kudla[LL] 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-4 
Holger Rune[9](DEN) d. Maxime Cressy 7-5, 6-4, 6-4
Alexei Popyrin[WC](AUS) d. Taylor Fritz[8] 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2
Ben Shelton d. Nicolas Jarry[Q](CHI) 7-6(3), 7-6(3), 7-5
JJ Wolf d. Diego Schwartzman[23](ARG) 6-1, 6-4, 6-4
Michael Mmoh[LL] d. Alexander Zverev[12](GER) 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-3, 6-2
Roberto Bautista Agut[24](ESP) d. Brandon Holt[Q] 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Tommy Paul d. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina[30](ESP) 6-2, 2-6, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4
Jenson Brooksby d. Casper Ruud[2](NOR) 6-3, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2

Friday's third round matches featuring Americans:
Danielle Collins[13] v Elena Rybakina[22](KAZ)
Coco Gauff[7] v Bernarda Pera 
Jessica Pegula[3] v Marta Kostyuk(UKR)
Madison Keys[10] v Victoria Azarenka[24](BLR)

Mackenzie McDonald v Yoshihito Nishioka[31](JPN)
Frances Tiafoe[16] v Karen Khachanov[18](RUS)
Sebastian Korda[28] v Daniil Medvedev[7](RUS)

Qualifying for the Australian Open Junior Championships finished Thursday, with none of the four Americans advancing to the main draw. Adhithya Ganesan and Aayush Bhat lost in the final round of qualifying; Taylor Goetz and Martina Marica lost in the first round.

Main draw play begins Saturday (Friday night in the US). Draws are up now, with Kilian Feldbausch of Switzerland and Sara Saito of Japan the top seeds.

Two Americans have advanced at the Tennis Europe Category 1 tournament in Bolton England, where they will take on the top seeds in Friday's singles championship matches.

No. 5 seed Annika Penickova defeated twin sister Kristina Penickova, the No. 13 seed, 7-6(6), 6-1 in the semifinals and will face No. 1 seed Giulia Popa of Romania for the title. Popa defeated No. 4 seed Julieta Pareja 6-1, 6-1 to prevent an all-US final.

No. 9 seed Marcel Latak earned his spot in the final by defeating Michael Antonius, the No. 8 seed, 6-3, 6-1. Latak, who is a year older than the other three US boys on this trip, also beat Antonius in the semifinals of the USA Les Petits As Playoffs last fall. Latak will face top seed Mark Ceban of Great Britain, who beat No. 12 seed Jules Rimbaud of France 6-1, 7-6(5).

The Penickovas won the doubles title today, with the sisters, seeded No. 5, beating top seeds Popa and Sofie Hettlerova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2. 

Live scoring for tomorrow's finals is available at TennisTicker.

Division III preseason team rankings were released Tuesday, with Chicago No. 1 in the men's rankings and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps No. 1 in the women's rankings. As with Division I, these rankings are done by coaches voting this early in the season. The list of all 40 nationally ranked teams can be found by clicking on the heading.

1. Chicago
2. Case Western
3. Middlebury
4. Tufts
5. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
6. Williams
7. Washington-St Louis
8. North Carolina Wesleyan
9. Pomona-Pitzer
10. Emory

1. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
2. Chicago
3. Wesleyan
4. Pomona-Pitzer
5. Middlebury
6. MIT
7. Amherst
8. Tufts
9. Emory
10. University of the South

The only Top 10 clash this week in Division I took place tonight in Ann Arbor, with No. 5 Michigan defeating No. 6 Tennessee 4-1. The Wolverines took the doubles point and got singles wins from Patrick Maloney at line 1, Ondrej Styler at line 3 and Gavin Young at line 4. Johannes Monday earned the only point for Tennessee at line 2.

The rest of the ITA's Matches of Week can be found here.