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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.