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Saturday, March 4, 2023

Blanch Reaches ITF J300 Final in Brazil; Kovacevic Advances to Waco Challenger Final; Mateas Plays for Title at Texas $25K; No. 9 Pepperdine Women Defeat No.5 Michigan in Malibu

Fifteen-year-old Darwin Blanch advanced to his first ITF J300 final at the Porto Alegre Brazil tournament today, defeating qualifier Maximo Zeitune of Argentina 6-2, 6-0. The reigning Kalamazoo 16s champion will face unseeded Emilien Demanet of Belgium, who won last week's J300 in Paraguay, for the title. The 17-year-old Demanet defeated No. 6 seed Danil Panarin of Russia 6-3, 6-3 for his ninth consecutive win.

The girls final will feature the top two seeds, with No. 1 Sara Saito of Japan taking on No. 2 Lucciana Perez Alarcon of Peru. Saito defeated qualifier Alessandra Teodosescu of Italy 6-7(8), 6-4, 6-1, while Perez Alarcon avenged her 2022 Eddie Herr loss to No. 3 seed Mayu Crossley of Japan 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. 

Saito won the doubles title today, partnering with Malwina Rowinska of Poland. The No. 2 seeds defeated the unseeded pair of Naomi Xu of Canada and Anastasia Grechkina of Russia 6-4, 6-1.

Exsted, Woestendick, USTA's Sylvain Guichard, Horovitz, Razeghi

In the all-US boys doubles final, unseeded Maxwell Exsted and Cooper Woestendick defeated No. 3 seeds Alexander Razeghi and Roy Horovitz 7-6(5), 3-6, 10-6. It's the first J300 title for 15-year-old Exsted and 16-year-old Woestendick. 

This week's Porto Alegre tournament serves as a warmup for the J500 Banana Bowl next week and qualifying is underway there, but the fields are not strong.  Nearly all of those in the qualifying draws, which did not fill, are Brazilians and the girls main draw cutoff was 966. Most J500s cutoffs are in the 180-250 range, and last year the cutoffs for the J500 in Brazil, which was in February, were 88 for boys (304 this year) and 132 for the girls.

Alex Michelsen's run at the ATP Challenger 75 in Waco came to an end today, with the 18-year-old University of Georgia signee falling to No. 8 seed Alexandre Muller of France 6-3, 6-0. Muller played extremely well, while Michelsen couldn't find any Plan B to get Muller out of rhythm. The drop shots that Michelsen usually employs weren't effective against Muller, who was just as quick to and at the net as Michelsen, who often saw Muller place a winner out of his reach.

Muller will face No. 3 seed Aleks Kovacevic, the former Illinois star, in Sunday's final after Kovacevic defeated former Wake Forest All-American Borna Gojo of Croatia 6-3, 7-6(7). It's the third Challenger final for the 24-year-old Kovacevic, who won his first Challenger title early last month in Cleveland. 

In today's doubles final in Waco, twin brothers Ivan and Matej Sabanov of Serbia, the No. 1 seeds, defeated unseeded Evan King(Michigan) and Mitchell Krueger 6-1, 3-6, 12-10.

Maria Mateas already has captured the doubles title at the women's $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Spring Texas, partnering with Clervie Ngounoue this evening to defeat wild cards and Old Dominion teammates Sofia Johnson of Great Britain and Yulia Starodubtseva of Ukraine 6-4, 2-6, 10-4 in the final.

The 23-year-old Mateas, a former All-American at Duke who last won a singles title in 2018, will play wild card 23-year-old Starodubtseva, a recent Old Dominion graduate, who was an All-American last year.  Starodubtseva, who is just beginning her professional career, advanced when qualifier Maria Kononova(North Texas) of Russia retired trailing 4-1 in the first set. Mateas, the No. 5 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Jia-Jing Lu of China 6-4, 6-4.

At the women's $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Arcadia California, no Americans made it past the quarterfinals, with top seed Sara Errani of Italy and No. 3 seed Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands reaching Sunday's singles final.

But an American team did win the doubles title, with No. 2 seeds Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State) and Christina Rosca(Vanderbilt) defeating Rina and Yukina Saigo of Japan 6-1, 6-1 in the final. It's the fourth Pro Circuit doubles title for Di Lorenzo and the tenth for Rosca. 

It will be an Argentinian sweep at the men's $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Naples Florida, where former Louisville standout Federico Agustin Gomez and No. 1 seed Matias Franco Descotte will play for the title Sunday. The unseeded Gomez, who will be seeking his first pro singles title Sunday, defeated No. 7 seed Tristan McCormick(Notre Dame/Georgia) 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, while Descotte beat 18-year-old Gonzalo Bueno of Peru 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4. 

Gomez and Ignacio Monzon won the doubles title today, with the top seeds defeating No. 3 seeds Bueno and Alvaro Guillen Meza of Ecuador 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

Pepperdine hosted Michigan in a Top Ten women's match today in Malibu, with the ninth-ranked Waves defeating the fifth-ranked Wolverines 4-0. After taking the doubles point with wins at lines 1 and 3, Pepperdine won four first sets in singles. Michigan, who was playing without their No. 1 Jaedan Brown in singles, couldn't get a point from either of the matches where they won the first set, while Pepperdine closed out two of their four with straight-sets victories. Three of the other four matches went to third sets, with the fourth still in the second set, when graduate transfer Bunyawi Thamchaiwat defeated Andrea Cerdan 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 at line 4 to clinch the win for the Waves.

The box score can be found here.