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Thursday, March 9, 2023

Frusina Beats Top Seed, Reaches J300 Semifinals; Top Three Girls Seeds Advance to Las Vegas J60 Semifinals; Tennis Australia's National Players for 2023; Both 2022 NCAA Champions Win Openers at BNP Paribas Open; Patrick McEnroe Hired at Tennis Hall of Fame

In the final of last week's J200 in Thailand, Alex Frusina lost to top seed Yi Zhou of China in a third set tiebreaker. This week the pair met in the quarterfinals of the J300, also in Nonthaburi Thailand, and it was the 17-year-old blue chip who advanced, with the fifth-seeded Frusina earning a 6-3, 6-3 victory over the top seed.

With his semifinal showing this week, Frusina has matched his best result in a J300, having reached the semifinals in Cairo last month and in Ecuador last year. On Friday, he will face No. 9 seed Patrick Schoen of Switzerland, who defeated him 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in the first round of the Eddie Herr last year.

The semifinals are set at the J60 in Las Vegas, with the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the girls draw still alive for the title. Top seed Tyra Grant will face unseeded Julieta Pareja in a battle of 14-year-olds. In the bottom half, local standout Jessica Bernales, the No. 2 seed, will face doubles partner Kayla Chung, the No. 3 seed. 

Bernales and Chung will play for the doubles title after their semifinal match, with the top seeds taking on No. 2 seeds Neha Malar Guru and Emily Robertson. 

While all eight girls still competing in the two draws are from the United States, the boys singles draw has just one American, local wild card Sanjeev Chundu. Chundu will face No. 2 seed Daniel Phillips of Bermuda, while in the top half, No. 6 seed Boxiong Zhang of China will play No. 4 seed Kaetan Mehta of Canada.

There will be an American boys doubles champion however, with No. 3 seeds Jack Kennedy and Keaton Hance facing unseeded Nicholas Reeves and Roshan Santhosh. 

Tennis Australia announced today the names of the 27 players age 14-23 that are part of its National Tennis Academy for 2023. The list below contains three former collegiate standouts--Adam Walton(Tennessee), Rinky Hijikata(North Carolina) and Petra Hule(Florida State)--and many juniors who have played junior slams in the past several years.  One name I wasn't expecting to see was Melisa Ercan, a 17-year-old who is still representing Turkey, as far as the ITF is concerned. Ercan is also the only one of the 27 players who does not have an Australian state by her name.

Both 2022 NCAA singles champions advanced to the second round today at the BNP Paribas Open, with Ben Shelton(Florida) having the more straightforward victory. Although he trailed former ATP Top 10 Fabio Fognini of Italy 2-0 to start the match, the 20-year-old lost only three more games the rest of the way in a 6-4, 6-1 win. The crowd was with Shelton throughout, and his ability to avoid errors while stay consistently aggressive was impressive.

Peyton Stearns(Texas), who received a wild card into the tournament, needed two-and-a-half hours to get past qualifier Rebeka Masarova of Spain 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Although Masarova had 14 aces to just one for Stearns, it was the serve that let Masarova down at the end, with a double fault giving Stearns the chance to serve it out at 5-3 in the third. Stearns had trouble closing out sets/matches in Austin last week, and she was unable to finish it again, with Masarova playing a great return game. However, Stearns didn't get down on herself and kept going for her shots with Masarova serving at 4-5, and at 15-40, Masarova double faulted to give Stearns her first win at a WTA 1000 level tournament. She will face 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada[32] in second round action.

2016 NCAA champion Mackenzie McDonald also advanced to the second round today, defeating Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-0. He will face No. 7 seed Holger Rune of Denmark Saturday. 

Friday's order of play, which includes a second round evening match between 2014 NCAA champion Marcos Giron(UCLA) and Frances Tiafoe[14], is here.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame lost its CEO Todd Martin at the beginning of this year, and today new leadership was announced, with both the new president and the new CEO formerly with the USTA. Dan Faber, formerly CEO of the USTA Foundation, will take the HOF CEO position, with Patrick McEnroe, who was head of USTA Player Development from 2008 through 2014, taking the new role of president. McEnroe will continue to provide commentary on ESPN, which broadcasts the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open. For more details on the background and new duties, see this article from the International Tennis Hall of Fame website.