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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.


fan said...

Nice to see Knutson doing well, had a big game playing for Syracuse