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Sunday, March 5, 2023

Blanch Wins First J300 Title in Brazil; Kovacevic Earns Second Challenger Title in Waco; Wild Card Starodubtseva Captures Texas $25K; Chicago Women Repeat at Division III Team Indoor Championships

Darwin Blanch captured his first ITF J300 title today, with the unseeded 15-year-old defeating unseeded Emilien Demanet of Belgium 6-4, 6-1 in today's championship match in Porto Alegre Brazil. Reigning Kalamazoo 16s champion Blanch, who lost just one set this week, ended the nine-match winning streak of the 17-year-old Demanet, who had won the J300 last week in Paraguay. 

Top seed Sara Saito of Japan ended an even longer winning streak today, defeating No. 2 seed Lucciana Perez Alarcon of Peru 7-6(4), 7-5 in the girls final. Perez Alarcon, who won the J300s in Peru and Colombia last month, had won 14 consecutive matches.

The draws for next week's J500 Banana Bowl are out, with just three US boys and five US girls in the draws. The boys are Blanch, who is the No. 14 seed, Cyrus Mahjoob and Jordan Reznik. The girls are Alexia Harmon, the No. 11 seed, Sage Loudon, Martina Marica, Athena Rosas Pacifico and Gabriella Mikaul.

The top two girls seeds are Saito and Perez Alarcon; the top two boys seeds are Rei Sakamoto of Japan and Yaroslav Demin of Russia.

Aleks Kovacevic is edging closer to the ATP Top 100, with the former Illinois All-American now at 107 in the rankings after winning the title today at the ATP Challenger 75 in Waco Texas. The 24-year-old from New York, seeded No. 3, defeated No. 8 seed Alexandre Muller of France 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 and is now 12-1 in Challenger level play this year. He won his first Challenger title in Cleveland a month ago.

There was no singles final today at the women's $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Arcadia California, with No. 3 seed Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands giving No. 1 seed Sara Errani of Italy a walkover due to an injury. 

Wild card Yulia Starodubtseva of Ukraine won her first Pro Circuit title today at the women's $25,000 tournament in Spring Texas. The 23-year-old, who was an All-American last year at Old Dominion, did not have a WTA ranking coming into the tournament, but she should have one later this month after this performance. In today's final, Starodubtseva defeated No. 5 seed Maria Mateas(Duke) 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, a day after dropping the doubles final to Mateas and Clervie Ngounoue.

Another Ukrainian earned a career first today at the WTA 250 in Austin Texas, with 20-year-old Marta Kostyuk defeating Varvara Gracheva of Russia 6-3, 7-5 for her first WTA title. The eighth-seeded Kostyuk had beaten No. 4 seed Danielle Collins(Virginia) in the semifinals, while Gracheva ended the run of Katie Volynets 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

No. 2 seeds Erin Routliffe(Alabama) of New Zealand and Aldila Sutjiadi(Kentucky) of Indonesia took the doubles title, beating top seeds Ellen Perez(Georgia) of Australia and Nicole Melichar-Martinez 6-4, 3-6, 10-8.

Former Louisville standout Federico Gomez of Argentina added the singles title to the doubles title he won yesterday at the men's $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Naples Florida. The 26-year-old defeated top seed Matias Descotte of Argentina 6-4, 6-0 in todays final for his first singles title on the Pro Circuit.

At the ATP 500 in Acapulco, Tommy Paul lost in the final to Alex de Minaur of Australia 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Nate Lammons(SMU) and Jackson Withrow(Texas A&M) lost 7-6(9), 7-6(3) in the doubles final to Lucas Miedler and Alexander Erler of Austria. Neither team was seeded.

All four of the ITA Team Indoor Championships in Division I and Division III were won by the defending champions this year, after the University of Chicago women completed that streak with a 5-1 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps today at the ITA Women's Division III tournament at the Top Seed Tennis Club in Nicholasville Kentucky. Chicago, the No. 2 seeds, took two doubles points, then won singles matches at lines 3, 4 and 6, all in straight sets, to clinch the repeat. The box score can be found here.

For more on the Chicago title, see this recap from the university's athletic website.