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Sunday, March 12, 2023

Fenty and Stearns Named Hurd Award Winners; UCLA Women Shock No. 4 Ohio State; Jimenez Kasintseva Takes Boca Raton $25K Title; Pegula, Gauff and Tiafoe Advance at BNP Paribas Open

The winners of the 2023 Universal Tennis Hurd Awards were announced today at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, with former University of Texas Longhorn Peyton Stearns and current University of Michigan Wolverine Andrew Fenty receiving the $100,000 grants.

Stearns, who lost in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open to 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu[32] last night 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 but is still competing in doubles with former Hurd winner Danielle Collins(Virginia), was an obvious choice, given her two team titles and the NCAA singles title while at Texas. Fenty, in his fifth year at Michigan and currently No. 9 in both singles and doubles in the ITA rankings, is a less obvious choice. But with Ben Shelton, who has already won over $700,000 in prize money, not needing the financial assistance, the field for the men's award was wide open.

I wrote Andrew Fenty's commitment article for the Tennis Recruiting Network back in 2017, and he told me then he was interested in a professional career after attending college, although he mentioned staying for a year or two or three, never imagining that the pandemic would allow him to extend his collegiate career into 2023. 

Here is the video from Tennis Channel on today's announcement. 
Sunday is a big day for Division I college tennis this time of year, and two upsets in women's competition will help two teams that were struggling to start the dual match season.

No. 4 Ohio State traveled to No. 64 UCLA today and were ambushed by the Bruins 4-3. After UCLA took the doubles point, the teams split the first sets. Ohio State forced third sets at lines 1 and 4, but Fangran Tian and Sasha Vagramov both recovered to win their third sets, with Ohio State then leading 3-2. Vagramov clinched with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 win over Isabelle Boulais at line 4. With the Pac-12 featuring just one Top 20 women's team right now, UCLA has few opportunities to get a significant win in the conference, so getting a victory like this is huge for their NCAA tournament outlook. The details on the match can be found here.

No. 34 Oklahoma State, who, like UCLA, did not make the Team Indoor Championships, will also see its ranking rise after the Cowgirls defeated two-time NCAA defending champion Texas, now ranked 12th, 4-3 in Austin. Similar to UCLA, Oklahoma State took the doubles point and won three first sets; unlike the Ohio State, Texas couldn't force a third set in any of the matches, with Oklahoma State taking three close two-set matches at lines 4, 5, and 6 to close out the Longhorns. Raquel Gonzalez clinched the victory at line 6. More on the match can be found here.

Seventeen-year-old Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra won the singles title at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Boca Raton Florida today, winning the battle of former junior slam champions. The fifth-seeded Jimenez Kasintseva, the 2020 Australian Open champion and current European Junior Champion, defeated 2017 Roland Garros champion Whitney Osuigwe 6-2, 6-2 in the final. It's the third pro singles title, all at the $25K level.

The ITF J300 Fila International Championships begin tomorrow at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, although the draws have yet to be released. The BNP Paribas Open published this preview, failing to notice that Kyle Kang withdrew several days ago. I will be onsite to cover the tournament beginning Tuesday. It will be my first trip to the BNP Paribas Open, although I have spent many spring weeks at the IWTG covering the Easter Bowl.

Three Americans advanced to the fourth round at Indian Wells, with No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula, No. 6 seed Coco Gauff and No. 14 seed Frances Tiafoe into the second week with wins today. Pegula defeated No. 26 seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia 3-6, 6-4, 7-5; Gauff beat Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3 and Tiafoe defeated Jason Kubler of Australia 6-3, 6-2.