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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.