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Sunday, April 30, 2023

Qualifiers Take ITF J500 Titles in Germany; Navarro, Martin Claim Pro Circuit Titles; Kypson Secures RG Wild Card; Hong, Giurescu IMG Future Stars Champions; Top Seeds Win Big 10, Pac 12 Titles; NCAA Selections Monday at 6 PM

The ITF J500 in Offenbach Germany crowned two unlikely champions today, with qualifiers Charo Esquiva Banuls of Spain and Sebastian Eriksson of Sweden winning their eighth singles matches of the week to earn their biggest titles.
The 15-year-old Esquiva defeated No. 3 seed Nina Vargova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4, while Eriksson cruised past unseeded Federico Bondioli of Italy 6-3, 6-1. Both Esquiva and Eriksson were ranked outside the ITF Top 125 coming into the tournament.

The doubles champions were less surprising, with Vargova and Nikola Daubnerova of Slovakia, the No. 2 seeds, defeating No. 5 seeds Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia and Rose Marie Nijkamp of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-3. No. 4 seeds Alejandro Melero Kretzer of Spain and Austria's Joel Schwaerzler defeated No. 5 seeds Max Dahlin of Sweden and Oliver Ojakaar of Estonia 6-3, 6-2 in the boys doubles final. 

Emma Navarro is playing the best tennis of her career right now, with the 2021 NCAA singles champion capturing her second consecutive USTA Pro Circuit title this week at the $60,000 tournament in her collegiate home of Charlottesville Virginia. The No. 3 seed, Navarro lost just 14 games in her five matches, beating No. 6 seed Ashlyn Krueger 6-1, 6-1 in today's final. In addition to moving Navarro to a career-high of 86 in the WTA rankings, it also puts her in the pole position for the USTA's Roland Garros wild card with one week to go. My back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate that Caroline Dolehide would have to win the $100,000 tournament this coming week in Bonita Springs Florida to exceed Navarro's current total, with Navarro scheduled to play at the WTA 125 in France. If Navarro, the No. 8 seed, makes the quarterfinals there, Dolehide can't catch her.

Two-time Kalamazoo champion Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) secured the USTA men's Roland Garros wild card but not until late in the day, with Tristan Boyer(Stanford) staying alive until the very end. Boyer defeated Calvin Hemery in their rain-delayed semifinal at the ATP Challenger 75 in Savannah this morning 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, but he fell short in the final, which he needed to win to secure the wild card. No. 2 seed Facundo Diaz Acosta of Argentina earned his second career Challenger title with a 6-3, 6-1 victory. The 23-year-old Kypson will play in his first men's slam main draw since the US Open in 2017, when he received a wild card as the Kalamazoo 18s champion.

University of Miami's Dan Martin, a grad transfer from Dartmouth, won his first Pro Circuit title today at the $15,000 USTA tournament in Vero Beach Florida. The unseeded 23-year-old Canadian came back from 5-3 down in the third set to beat wild card Jaycer Lyeons(Tyler JC) 7-5, 1-6, 7-5. Lyeons served for the match at 5-4 in the third, but Martin broke at love, then held at love to go up 6-5. Lyeons saved one match point in the final game, but Martin closed out the title on his second opportunity. 

In the doubles final, No. 2 seed Peter Bertran(Georgia/South Florida) of the Dominican Republic and Lorenzo Claverie of Italy defeated the unseeded team of Jake Bhangdia and Thomas Brown 4-6, 7-6(3), 10-8. 

The IMG Future Stars U12 event in Athens Greece concluded today with 12-year-olds Yeri Hong of Korea and Evan Giurescu of France taking the titles. Hong, the 2022 Eddie Herr 12s champion, defeated Jiayi Lu of China 6-4, 6-1 and Giursecu beat local favorite Rafael Pagonis of Greece 6-2, 6-2. 

After a host of upsets in the Power Five conference finals last weekend, it was all chalk this weekend in the Big Ten and Pac-12. 

Last night in Ojai, the top-seeded Southern California men won their fourth straight title, beating No. 3 Utah 4-2.  Stanford, the top seeds in the women's tournament, shut out No. 6 seed Southern California to finish undefeated in Pac-12 competition this year. 

Today in Indiana, the Big Ten's top teams met, indoors, with the No. 1 Michigan women beating No. 2 Ohio State 4-2 in West Lafayette to finish their season undefeated in Big Ten play. In Bloomington, the No. 1 Ohio State men blanked No. 2 seed Michigan 4-0 to also go undefeated in Big Ten play. Both the Michigan women and the Ohio State men beat their chief conference rivals three times this year.

With the last of the conference championships now complete, the 64-team fields for the NCAA Division I tournament will be announced Monday at NCAA.com. The women's selection show is scheduled to be streamed at 6 p.m. Eastern time, with the men's selection show set for 6:30 p.m. The individual selections will be released on Tuesday.

The NCAA tennis committee has discretion in choosing the final at-large teams, but for an idea of who is on their bubble, see College Tennis Ranks for the men's and women's probable fields and hosts for the Regionals(Top 16) and Super Regionals(Top 8).

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Navarro and Krueger Reach Charlottesville $60K Final; Rain in Savannah Leaves Roland Garros Wild Card Up in Air; Exsted and Urhobo Win J100 Titles in Delray Beach; Ohio State and Michigan Meet Sunday in Both Big Ten Finals

It's difficult to overstate how impressive Emma Navarro has been this week at the $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in her collegiate home of Charlottesville. The 2021 NCAA champion, seeded No. 3, started her week with a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Robin Montgomery and today she defeated qualifier Grace Min 6-0, 6-1 in 45 minutes, winning 51 points to 14 by Min. Navarro, who won last week's $100K in Charleston and is on a nine-match winning streak, will meet No. 6 seed Ashlyn Krueger in the final. Krueger defeated No. 5 seed Carolina Dolehide 6-4, 7-5, aided by a first serve percentage of 82. The 18-year-old Krueger and the 21-year-old Navarro will be meeting for the first time Sunday.

The doubles championship went to Sophie Chang and China's Yue Yuan, who did not lose a set all week. In a battle of unseeded teams, Chang and Yuan defeated Japan's Nao Hibino and Hungary's Fanni Stollar 6-3, 6-3 in today's final. The 25-year-old Chang, who won the Charleston $100K title last week with Angela Kulikov(USC), now has 19 WTA and ITF doubles titles, dating back to 2014.

Rain disrupted the second singles semifinal today at the ATP Challenger 75 in Savannah Georgia, with the USTA's Roland Garros wild card still undecided. Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M), the leader in the race, lost his semifinal match to No. 2 Facundo Diaz Acosta of Argentina 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, so Tristan Boyer(Stanford) is still alive. Boyer, who won the first and only game of his semifinal match played before the rain began, will needed to beat France's Calvin Hemery tomorrow morning's semifinal and Diaz Acosta in tomorrow afternoon's final to secure it. If he loses either match, Kypson will earn the wild card.

Top seeds Will Blumberg(North Carolina) and Luis David Martinez of Venezuela won the doubles title, avenging their loss in last week's Tallahassee final with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Nicolas Kicker and Federico Agustin Gomez(Louisville) of Argentina. This is Blumberg's eighth pro title--3 ATP and 5 Challenger--and the first with a partner other than Max Schnur(Columbia).

Two surprise finalists will play for a first Pro Circuit title Sunday at the $15,000 tournament in Vero Beach Florida. Wild card Jaycer Lyeons(Tyler JC) defeated No. 3 seed Duarte Vale(Florida) of Portugal 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-5 in three hours and 17 minutes to set up a meeting with unseeded Dan Martin(Miami) of Canada, who beat Jacob Brumm(Cal/Baylor) 7-5, 6-1.  

Wild cards Kaylan Bigun and Roy Horovitz have reached the semifinals in doubles and will play that, and, should they win, the final, on Sunday.

Top seed Max Exsted and No. 16 seed Akasha Urhobo won the singles titles today at the ITF J100 in Delray Beach Florida, with neither losing a set in their six victories. 

The 15-year-old Exsted defeated No. 12 seed Abishek Thorat 6-2, 6-2, then partnered with Nikita Filin to take the doubles title. San Diego J300 champions Exsted and Filin, the top seeds, defeated No. 8 seeds Ian Mayew and Stefan Regalia 7-6(0), 6-2 in the final.

The 16-year-old Urhobo captured her second ITF Junior Circuit title, when top seed Tyra Grant retired trailing 6-2, 4-1. Grant was unable to play in the doubles final that followed, with unseeded twin sisters Annika and Kristina Penickova getting the walkover over from Grant and Mayu Crossley of Japan. It's the first ITF Junior Circuit title for the 13-year-olds.

The finals of the Pac-12 conference championships are tonight in Ojai; the Big Ten conference championships are tomorrow, with Michigan and Ohio State men and women contesting both. Below are the semifinal results from Friday and Saturday; I will update the Pac-12 final results Sunday morning.

Michigan[1] d. Wisconsin[4] 4-0
Ohio State[2] d. Illinois[3] 4-0

Final (Sunday):
Michigan[1] v. Ohio State[2]

Ohio State[1] d. Illinois[4] 4-1
Michigan[2] d. Northwestern[3] 4-2

Ohio State[1] v Michigan[2]

Pac 12 women:
Stanford[1] d. Washington[4] 4-0
Southern Cal[6] d. Cal[2] 4-2

Final(Saturday night):
Stanford[1] d. Southern Cal[6] 4-0

Pac 12 men:
Southern Cal[1] d. Stanford[4] 4-2
Utah[3] d. Arizona[2] 4-3

Final(Saturday night):
Southern Cal[1] d. Utah[3] 4-2

Friday, April 28, 2023

My Tennis Recruiting Network Article on Colson Wells' Gamble; Arkansas Names New Coach; Big 12, Big Ten Women's Awards; Krueger Beats Shnaider at Charlottesville $60K; Boyer and Kypson Advance at Savannah Challenger

I haven't written many college commitment articles lately, but once I heard about the recruiting journey of Michigan's Colson Wells, I knew there was an interesting backstory in his signing with Nebraska. When I talked with him at the Easter Bowl for this Tennis Recruiting Network article, he spoke candidly about the reality of his position as a senior without the offers he wanted, and the setbacks he experienced before he began posting the results that led him to Nebraska. I hope his experience can serve as an inspiration for other late bloomers who came late to the sport, but aspire to play Division I college tennis.

Another of the SEC women's coaching positions has been filled by the current assistant. Last week, Jonatan Berhane took over from the retiring Jenny Mainz at Alabama; today Tucker Clary was promoted to head coach at Arkansas after serving as the assistant there since December of 2021.

The Big 12 announced its conference awards today and, although I missed the Big Ten women's awards two days ago, they are listed below as well. Of the Power Five conferences, that leaves only the Pac-12 and the ACC yet to announce. Click on the headings for the all-conference teams.

Big Ten women:
Player of the Year: Irina Cantos Siemers, Ohio State
Freshman of the Year: Lily Jones, Michigan
Coach of the Year: Ronni Bernstein, Michigan

Player of the Year: Nicole Khirin, Texas
Freshman of the Year: Nicole Khirin, Texas
Newcomer of the Year: Taisiya Pachkaleva, Texas
Coach of the Year: Boomer Saia, Iowa State

Player of the Year: Eliot Spizzirri, Texas
Freshman of the Year: Sebastian Gorzny, TCU
Newcomer of the Year: Isaac Becroft, Oklahoma State
Coach of the Year: David Roditi, TCU

At the $60,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Charlottesville Virginia, 18-year-old Ashlyn Krueger, the No. 6 seed, defeated top seed Diana Shnaider, the NC State freshman, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals. It's the third WTA Top 100 win for Krueger, who will play No. 5 seed Caroline Dolehide in Saturday's semifinals. No. 3 seed Emma Navarro(Virginia) has been cruising through the draw this week, losing only 11 games in her first three matches; she defeated No. 8 seed Kayla Day 6-3, 6-1 in today's quarterfinal and is now inside the Top 100 in the WTA live rankings. Navarro will face qualifier Grace Min, who beat No. 7 seed Maria Carle(Georgia) of Argentina 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. Today's quarterfinal matches were played indoors today due to persistent rain.

There is still a first round doubles match to be completed at the rain-plagued $15,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Vero Beach Florida, but the singles are back on schedule, with the semifinals set for Saturday.  Wild card Jaycer Lyeons(Tyler JC) defeated top seed Adrian Boitan(Baylor) of Romania 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-6(2) in three hours and 33 minutes in a second round match, then advanced to his second $15K semifinal this month when No. 6 seed Roberto Cid(South Florida) retired at 6-7(4), 6-4 after two hours and 15 minutes of play.

Lyeons will face No. 3 seed Duarte Vale(Florida) of Portugal, who also advanced under similar circumstances. Eighteen-year-old Nico Godsick defeated Chad Kissell(Valparaiso) 6-4, 7-5 to reach his first Pro Circuit quarterfinal, but retired after Vale won the second set 7-6(4), after Godsick had taken the first 6-3. Twenty-four-year-old Jacob Brumm(Cal/Baylor) is through to his first Pro Circuit semifinal, where he will face Miami graduate transfer Dan Martin(Dartmouth) of Canada, who beat No. 2 seed Andres Andrade(Florida) of Ecuador 6-1, 7-5. Martin will also be playing in his first Pro Circuit semifinal Saturday.

The unexpected runs of wild card Patrick Kypson and qualifier Tristan Boyer continued today at the ATP Challenger 75 in Savannah Georgia, with both picking up routine straight-sets wins over seeded players. Kypson(Texas A&M) defeated No. 4 seed Nicolas Kicker of Argentina 6-2, 6-3 and will face No. 2 seed Facundo Diaz Acosta of Argentina in Saturday's semifinal. Boyer(Stanford) took out No. 7 seed Mitchell Krueger 6-4, 6-1 and is the last player who can catch Kypson in the USTA's Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge. Boyer will play the winner of tonight's quarterfinal between top seed Zizou Bergs of Belgium and Calvin Hemery of France.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Monday, Stoiana, and Styler Named Players of the Year as Conference Awards Season Begins; Weiss Out at Clemson; 121st Ojai Underway; Roland Garros Men's Wild Card Down to Three

The Southeastern Conference announced its awards for both men and women, and the Big Ten released its men's awards for 2023 today. Below are the three major awards; click on the heading for the all-conference teams and other awards. The other conferences' announcements will come over the next several weeks, although it last year is any indication, the ACC will not release its awards until June. 

Player of the Year: Johannus Monday, Tennessee
Freshman of the Year: Ethan Quinn, Georgia
Coach of the Year: Manny Diaz, Georgia

Player of the Year: Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M
Freshman of the Year: Carolina Gomez Alonso, Arkansas
Co-Coaches of the Year: Alison Ojeda, Tennessee and Mark Weaver, Texas A&M

Player of the Year: Ondrej Styler, Michigan
Freshman of the Year: Ozan Baris, Michigan State
Coach of the Year: Ty Tucker, Ohio State

In other college news, Clemson has announced the end of the coaching tenure of Robbie Weiss after four years heading up the men's program. The 1988 NCAA singles champion at Pepperdine, Weiss was men's assistant coach at the University of Alabama prior to taking the head coaching job at Clemson. Both the women's and men's head coaching positions are now open at Clemson. Neither Christy Striplin Lynch, who was ousted in November of last year, nor Weiss were hired by the current athletic director Graham Neff, who took over in December of 2021.

The annual Southern California tennis festival that is The Ojai is underway, with early Pac-12 tournament matches highlighting yesterday's action, and most of the other events beginning in earnest today.  

The first two rounds of the Men's Open are on today's schedule, with Karue Sell(UCLA) the top seed and Kent Hunter(Cal/LSU) the No. 2 seed. Top juniors competing are Rudy Quan, Alex Fuchs, a recent Ohio State signee, Saahith Jayaraman, a Duke recruit and UCLA red shirt freshman Emon van Loben Sels. All won their first round matches today. 

The Women's Open has a smaller draw and begins with two rounds Friday, with Chanel Simmonds the No. 1 seed and Columbia recruit Salma Farhat the No. 2 seed. 

Draws and results are here.

In addition to the Pac-12 tournament and the Opens, there are community college, CIF and junior events in the 121st edition of the tournament.

According to this tweet by Damian Kust, just three men remain in contention for the USTA Roland Garros wild card: Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M), Tristan Boyer(Stanford) and Mitchell Krueger. Kypson advanced to the quarterfinals at the Savannah Challenger 75 yesterday; Boyer defeated fellow qualifier Mateus Alves of Brazil 6-1, 6-4 today and No. 7 seed Krueger beat Alex Rybakov(TCU) 6-4, 1-6, 6-0. Krueger and Boyer play each other Friday, so one of them will be eliminated then; if Kypson loses to No. 4 seed Nicolas Kicker of Argentina in tomorrow's quarterfinal, the Boyer/Krueger winner could take the wild card if they reach the final. 

Free live streaming with Mike Cation providing commentary is available at the ATP Challenger website.

The women's Wild Card Challenge still has another week to go after this, but leader Caroline Dolehide and Emma Navarro(Virginia), who is in second place, are both in the quarterfinals of the $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Charlottesville Virginia, so there's been no movement in that race. Top seed Diana Shnaider, the NC State freshman, defeated Ann Li 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and will face No. 6 seed Ashlyn Krueger, who beat Gabriela Lee(Texas Tech) 6-2, 6-2. Dolehide, the No. 5 seed, plays qualifier Renata Zarazua of Mexico. In the bottom half, No. 3 seed Navarro plays No. 8 seed Kayla Day and qualifier Grace Min faces No. 7 seed Maria Carle(Georgia) of Argentina.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Top Seeds, All Seven Americans Ousted at ITF J500 in Germany; Quarterfinals Set at J100 in Delray Beach; Horovitz Earns First ATP Point; Kypson Reaches Savannah Challenger Quarterfinals

The top seeds in both the girls and boys singles draws at this week's J500 in Offenbach Germany lost in the first round Tuesday, with Gloriana Nahum of Benin defeating Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia and Federico Bondioli of Italy beating Iliyan Radulov of Bulgaria. The 16-year-old Nahum, who is 122 in the ITF junior rankings, defeated Jamrichova, ITF No. 18, 6-4, 6-1. Bondioli, who is No. 29 in the ITF junior rankings and won February's J500 in Egypt, defeated No. 4 Radulov 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Both Nahum and Bondioli also won their second round matches today to make the round of 16. Boys No. 2 seed Yaroslav Demin of Russia also exited in the first round, falling to Max Dahlin of Sweden 6-4, 7-6(6).

Just three Americans reached the second round--Darwin Blanch, Meecah Bigun and Alexia Harmon. Blanch lost 6-3, 7-5 to No. 16 seed Joel Schwaerzler of Austria; Bigun lost 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 to No. 15 seed Paul Barbier Gazeu of France and Harmon lost 6-4, 6-1 to Amelia Waligora of Belgium.

Alexander Frusina and his partner, Hoyoung Roh of Korea took out the top seeds in doubles, beating reigning Orange Bowl champions Radulov and Adriano Dzhenev 6-0, 4-6, 10-4 in the first round today.

The quarterfinals are set for Thursday at the J100 this week in Delray Beach Florida, with seven US girls and four US boys still in the hunt for the singles titles.

Top seed Max Exsted will play No. 11 seed Michael Kouame of France; Piotr Andrzejewski will face No. 8 seed Miguel Tobon of Colombia; No. 9 seed Matisse Farzam will play No. 4 seed Bernardo Munk Mesa of Spain and No. 12 seed Abhishek Thorat will face Elias Sumann of Austria.

Top seed Tyra Grant's quarterfinal opponent is Tianmei Wang; No. 13 seed Sophia Webster will face wild card (and Easter Bowl 14s champion) Nancy Lee; Maria Aytoyan will play No. 16 seed Akasha Urhobo and Nicole Okhtenberg will face the only international player left in the girls draw, No. 2 seed Roisin Gilheany of Australia.

Rain has continued to be a problem at the $15,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Vero Beach Florida, with seven of the 16 first round matches unfinished when play was postponed today.  Sixteen-year-old wild card Roy Horovitz, making his Pro Circuit debut this week, earned his first ATP point, beating qualifier Miguel Cabrera of Chile 6-3, 6-3 to reach the second round. 

Top seed Diana Shnaider of Russia defeated wild card Whitney Osuigwe 7-5, 6-3 today at the $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Charlottesville, and will play Ann Lin in the second round Thursday. Shnaider said in this post-match interview that she will probably not return to NC State for her sophomore year. Qualifier Grace Min beat No. 2 seed Nao Hibino of Japan, who is 300 spots above her in the WTA rankings, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3. No. 3 seed Emma Navarro(Virginia) blanked Robin Montgomery 6-0, 6-0.

Patrick Kypson continues to enhance his chances of winning the USTA's Roland Garros wild card race. The former Texas A&M star reached the quarterfinals of the ATP Challenger 75 in Savannah today, beating Evan Zhu(UCLA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Kypson, who plays No. 4 seed Nicolas Kicker of Argentina on Friday, leads in the wild card race, but can be passed by any of the remaining Americans, if they win the title this week: Alex Rybakov, Mitchell Krueger, Martin Damm, Tristan Boyer and Bjorn Fratangelo. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Shnaider Top Seed at Charlottesville $60K; Boyer Beats No. 3 Seed Couacaud at Savannah Challenger; No Changes at No. 1 in ITA D-I Rankings; Another SEC Women's Head Coaching Position Opens Up

NC State freshman Diana Shnaider led her team to its first ACC title Sunday, and can now turn her attention back to the professional circuit. With NC State off until the NCAAs begin May 5th, Shnaider has entered this week's $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Charlottesville Virginia, where she is the No. 1 seed. She will face wild card Whitney Osuigwe in the first round Wednesday.

The other wild cards this week are Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State), who lost in the first round today to No. 6 seed Ashlyn Krueger 6-3, 6-2; Hailey Baptiste and Yuliia Starodubtseva(Old Dominion) of Ukraine, who beat Sophie Chang 7-5, 6-2 in the first round today. Last week's champion at the $25K in Zephyrhills, Makenna Jones, received a special exemption into the main draw, and Wimbledon girls champion Liv Hovde received entry via the junior exempt program.

Nao Hibino of Japan is the No. 2 seed, with former Cavalier Emma Navarro seeded No. 3. 

Among those qualifying today for the main draw were Americans Grace Min, Maria Mateas(Duke) and Allie Kiick. 

Qualifying for the $15,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Vero Beach Florida was not completed today, with rain in the area. Five second round qualifying matches are on Wednesday's schedule, as well as all first round matches.

Former Baylor All-American Adrian Boitan of Romania is the No. 1 seed, with former Florida star Andres Andrade of Ecuador seeded No. 2 and Andrade's teammate Duarte Vale of Portugal the No. 3 seed. 

Junior reserved spots went to Nicholas Godsick, Kaylan Bigun and China's Yi Zhou. Bigun has drawn Boitan in the first round. Wild cards were awarded to San Diego ITF J300 finalist Roy Horovitz, Jaycer Lyeons(Tyler JC), Liam Krall(SMU) and 42-year-old Ryan Haviland(Stanford). Aidan Kim received direct entry based on his ATP ranking.

The last of the three ATP Challengers in the United States on green clay is the Savannah 75, which began its main draw action Monday. Two-time Kalamazoo champion Patrick Kypson (16s 2015, 18s 2017), a wild card, defeated No. 8 seed Alex Michelsen 4-6, 6-3 7-6(5) yesterday, after Michelsen served for the match at 5-4 in the third, with Kypson continuing to post impressive results these past few weeks in clay Challengers. He holds on to his lead the USTA Roland Garros wild card race, with this the last week for the men. Kypson's second round opponent will be former UCLA standout Evan Zhu. 

In today's first round matches, qualifier Tristan Boyer(Stanford) defeated No. 3 seed Enzo Couacaud of France 6-2, 6-3, his second win over an ATP Top 200 player in the past three weeks. The 22-year-old, who was out basically all last year due to injury, qualified and won a round at both the Sarasota Challenger 125 and this week in Savannah. He will face fellow qualifier Mateus Alves of Brazil in the second round. 

Last week's Tallahassee champion Zizou Bergs of Belgium is the top seed this week in Savannah, with wild cards going to Kypson, Toby Kodat and Martin Damm. Damm, Bjorn Fratangelo, Alex Rybakov(TCU) and Mitchell Krueger all won their matches today to advance to the second round. Krueger, the No. 7 seed, defeated qualifier Bruno Kuzuhara 7-5, 7-6(13).

Despite all of the upsets at in the conference tournaments last weekend, this week's ITA Division I rankings did not change at the No. 1 spots. The North Carolina women and the Texas men, both of whom lost in their conference finals, remain No. 1, as do UNC's Fiona Crawley and Texas's Eliot Spizzirri. North Carolina State, who dealt UNC its first loss of the season, moves up to No. 4, and TCU takes the No. 2 position it had lost to Ohio State after their win over the Longhorns.

Below are the top 16 in team and singles, and the top 8 in doubles. These are the last published rankings before the NCAA fields are released on Monday May 1.

The men's Bubble Watch at College Tennis Crash Course is here. The women's Bubble Watch at CTCC is here.

Men's Division I Team Rankings, April 25
1. Texas
2. TCU
3. Ohio State
4. Kentucky
5. Virginia
6. Georgia
7. Michigan
8. South Carolina
9. Tennessee
10. Southern California
11. Duke
12. Harvard
13. Columbia
14. Arizona
15. North Carolina
16. Mississippi State

1. Eliot Spizzirri, Texas
2. Melios Efstathiou, Wake Forest
3. Ethan Quinn, Georgia
4. Arthur Fery, Stanford
5. Johannus Monday, Tennessee
6. Antoine Cornut-Chauvinc, Florida State
7. Chris Rodesch, Virginia
8. Andres Martin, Georgia Tech
9. Toby Samuel, South Carolina
10. Ondrej Styler, Michigan
11. Garrett Johns, Duke
12. Sebastian Dominko, Notre Dame
13. Liam Draxl, Kentucky
14. Connor Thomson, South Carolina
15. Nishesh Basavareddy, Stanford
16. Andrew Fenty, Michigan

1. Toby Samuel and Connor Thomson, South Carolins
2. Jake Fearnley and Luc Fomba, TCU
3. Eliot Spizzirri and Cleeve Harper, Texas
4. Pat Harper and Johannus Monday, Tennessee
5. Ethan Quinn and Trent Bryde, Georgia
6. Will Grant and Axel Nefve, Florida
7. Gavin Young and Andrew Fenty, Michigan
8. Inaki Montes and Ryan Goetz, Virginia

1. North Carolina
2. Texas A&M
3. Georgia
4. NC State
5. Michigan
6. Duke
7. Pepperdine
8. Stanford
9. Texas
10. Ohio State
11. Virginia
12. Iowa State
13. Oklahoma
14. Miami
15. Tennessee
16. Florida

1. Fiona Crawley, North Carolina
2. Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M
3. Lea Ma, Georgia
4. Dasha Vidmanova, Georgia
5. Chloe Beck, Duke
6. Diana Shnaider, NC State
7. Alexa Noel, Miami
8. Reese Brantmeier, North Carolina
9. Daria Frayman, Princeton
10. Anastasiya Komar, LSU
11. Maddy Sieg, Southern California
12. Ayana Akli, South Carolina
13. Alana Smith, NC State
14. Fangran Tian, UCLA
15. Carol Lee, Georgia Tech
16. Janice Tjen, Pepperdine

1. Savannah Broadus and Janice Tjen, Pepperdine
2. Kari Miller and Jaedan Brown, Michigan
3. Carson Branstine and Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M
4. Elise Wagle and Kimmi Hance, UCLA
5. Diana Shnaider and Alana Smith, NC State
6. Kylie Collins and Anastasiya Komar, LSU
7. Ivana Corley and Carmen Corley, Oklahoma
8. Nell Miller and Amelia Rajecki, NC State

Last Friday, the University of Alabama announced that assistant coach Jonatan Berhane would take over the head coaching position from Jenny Mainz, who announced her retirement after 26 years leading the Crimson Tide in March. Berhane, who has been Mainz's assistant for the past five years, was women's head coach at Western Kentucky from 2014-2018.

While one SEC women's coaching position is now filled, another has just opened, with Kentucky's Carlos Drada resigning after 18 years leading the program. Other SEC women's programs seeking a new head coach are Arkansas and Missouri. On the men's side, Vanderbilt is searching for a new head coach after the retirement of Ian Duvenhage, which he announced prior to the season.

In the ACC, Clemson's women's program announced the departure of Christy Striplin Lynch last November, with Amy Sargeant serving as interim coach this year. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

Friedman, Oyebog Atang Win ITF Junior Circuit Titles; J500 on Tap This Week in Germany; IMG's U12 Future Stars Tournament Underway; Easter Bowl 16s and 18s Videos

Most of the success for Americans last week on the ITF Junior Circuit came at the J100 in Canada, with US players claiming three titles in Burlington Ontario. Unseeded 16-year-old Leena Friedman won the girls singles title, her second on the ITF Circuit this year and third overall. The New Yorker defeated No. 4 seed Scarlett Nicholson of Canada 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 in the final, after defeating top seed Roisin Gilheany of Australia 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals. 

Top seeds Jessica Bernales and Maya Iyengar won the doubles title, beating No. 3 seeds Friedman and Capucine Jauffrey 3-6, 6-3, 10-4 in the final.

Noah Johnston and his partner, Daniel Phillips of Bermuda, took the boys doubles title. The No. 4 seeds beat the unseeded Canadian team of Stefan Simeunovic and Kristian Thomas 3-6, 6-3, 10-8 in the final. It's the second ITF Junior Circuit doubles title for the 15-year-old Johnston.

Simeunovic also lost in the boys singles final, with No. 8 seed Connor Church beating the No. 6 seed 7-5, 7-5.

At the J30 in Cameroon, 14-year-old Lucy Oyebog Atang won her first ITF Junior Circuit singles title, with the top seed defeating No. 2 seed Siliva Caliman of Spain 6-3, 7-6(4) in the final.

At the J30 in Martinique, 15-year-old Emerey Gross and 14-year-old Izabella Tumanyan won their first ITF Junior Circuit titles, taking the girls doubles. The unseeded pair defeated Jaimee Collinson of New Zealand and Farah Heddar of Algeria, also unseeded, 6-1, 6-3 in the championship match.

This week the ITF Junior Circuit returns to the United States, with a J100 in Delray Beach Florida. Max Exsted and Tyra Grant, both of whom competed in the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Billie Jean King Cup North and Central America qualifying at Lake Nona last weekend, are the top seeds. This is the first of three ITF Junior Circuit tournaments on clay in the United States, with a J100 in Coral Gables next week and a J60 in Plantation the week after that.

Seven Americans are competing at the J500 this week in Offenbach Germany, but only one is seeded: Ashton Bowers, who is No. 14. The other two US girls competing are Alexia Harmon and Anya Murthy. The four boys in the draw are Darwin Blanch, Alexander Frusina, Cooper Woestendick and Meecah Bigun. Iliyan Radulov of Bulgaria is the top boys seed, with Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia the No. 1 girls seed. The acceptances for Roland Garros close a week from tomorrow, so the results from this event could have a significant impact on that acceptance list. This is the second year that this tournament has been a J500, after being upgraded from a J300. The ITF's preview is here.

The second annual IMG Future Stars event is underway in Athens Greece with 24 boys and and 24 girls, all 12 and under, competing in a round robin format to decide the quarterfinalists. According to the fact sheet, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe played in an exhibition at the club today.

The Americans participating this year are Leigh Oyebog(younger sister of Lucy and Joseph), Tyson Grant(younger brother of Tyra) and Nadia Poznik. The only player other than the Americans that I'm familiar with is Yeri Hong, the Eddie Herr 12s champion from Korea. 

I've finished processing all the Easter Bowl videos now, with excerpts from the 16s and 18s finals below. Complete replays of the 18s finals are available on demand at the Easter Bowl website.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Navarro Defeats Stearns Again, Wins Charleston $100K; Jones Earns First $25K Title in Zephyrhills; No. 1s UNC and Texas Lose to In-State Rivals in Conference Championships; Georgia Women, Kentucky Men Earn SEC Titles

The last time Emma Navarro and Peyton Stearns met in a USTA Pro Circuit final, back in January, Navarro came away with a 6-3, 7-5 victory. Since then, 2022 NCAA singles champion Stearns has won two USTA Pro Circuit titles and moved ahead of 2021 NCAA singles champion Navarro in the WTA rankings, but today Navarro earned her third victory over Stearns this year, taking the title at the $100,000 tournament in her hometown of Charleston South Carolina.

Stearns got off to a great start in the championship match, needing just 34 minutes to claim the first set 6-2, but Navarro rebounded for a 6-2 set of her own in the second and took a 4-2 lead in the third set. Serving for the match at 5-4, Navarro was broken before reaching match point, but she broke Stearns at love in the next game and made good on her second chance to serve out the championship. Navarro, now 101 in the WTA Live rankings and entered in the $60,000 event next week in her collegiate hometown of Charlottesville, moves into contention for the USTA's Roland Garros wild card with two weeks left for the women. (Stearns is technically the leader, but has already received direct entry into the Roland Garros main draw).

While Navarro was claiming her second USTA Pro Circuit title of the 2023, another NCAA champion earned her first of the year, with 2021 NCAA doubles champion Makenna Jones taking the singles title at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Zephyrhills Florida. Jones, a former No. 2 in the ITA singles rankings while at North Carolina who was unseeded this week, defeated No. 5 seed Hanna Chang 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 to win the first $25,000 final she had competed in. Jones won her first singles title as a professional last year at the $15K in San Diego.

At the ATP Challenger 75 in Tallahassee Florida, No. 6 seed Zizou Bergs of Belgium defeated No. 5 seed Tung-Lin Wu of Taiwan 7-5, 6-2 to take the title without the loss of a set. 

The doubles title went to the unseeded team from Argentina, with Federico Agustin Gomez(Louisville) and Nicolas Kicker defeating top seeds Will Blumberg(North Carolina) and Luis David Martinez of Venezuela 7-6(2), 4-6, 13-11 in Saturday's final. 

In the six Power 5 conference finals played today, only two favorites left with with championships, both the defending NCAA champions: No. 1 seed Virginia, who defeated No. 2 seed Duke 4-1 for the ACC men's title and No. 1 seed Texas, who beat No. 2 seed Oklahoma 4-2 for the Big 12 women's title.

The top two teams in the country, the Texas men and the North Carolina women, both lost, with TCU avenging its loss eight days ago in Austin, and North Carolina State avenging its loss two weeks ago in Chapel Hill.

TCU took the doubles point, as it had also done last Saturday, but Texas put five first sets on the board in singles. Yet once Texas's Eliot Spizzirri had given the Longhorns their first point with a straight-sets win at line 1 over Jake Fearnley, there was no further momentum to be had, and TCU's Lui Maxted, who did not play in the previous meeting, countered with a win at line 6 over Nevin Arimilli. TCU forced third sets on the other four courts, and when Sebastian Gorzny beat Cleeve Harper 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 at line 5, TCU needed only one of the remaining three matches. It was senior Luc Fomba who delivered, beating Pierre-Yves Bailly at line 2 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to secure the 4-1 decision.

TCU and Texas are now 2-2 in their four meetings this year, and could meet a fifth time in the NCAA team championships, in either the semifinals or finals.

North Carolina State had not had freshman Diana Shnaider available in their previous match with UNC, with Shnaider competing at the WTA 500 in Charleston that week and reaching the quarterfinals. Shnaider was definitely a factor today, defeating ITA No. 1 Fiona Crawley 6-2, 6-1, after the Wolfpack had taken the doubles point and Amelia Rajecki had beaten Carson Tanguilig 6-3, 6-1 at line 3, making it 3-0. Reese Brantmeier kept the Tar Heels from being shut out with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Alana Smith at line 2, but Sophie Abrams closed out Elizabeth Scotty at line 5 7-5, 6-1 to give NC State a 4-1 victory, the program's first ACC title and its first win over UNC in 25 years. It's the first loss of the season for North Carolina.

Both undefeated SEC regular season champions were dealt their first losses by a conference opponent in today's finals, with top seed Texas A&M falling to No. 2 seed Georgia 4-2 in the women's final, and No. 3 seed Kentucky saving three championship points in its 4-3 win over No. 1 seed Georgia in the men's final. 

The Georgia women, who have struggled in doubles all season, did take it today, which was a huge boost to their chances of avenging their regular season loss to the Aggies. The Bulldogs got wins from Gigi Grant at line 6, Mell Reasco at line 3, and Meg Kowalski at 5, with A&M earning points at line 1 and line 4 before Kowalski clinched. Lea Ma injured her knee in the second set against Mary Stoiana at line 1, and although she continued to play, she was obviously hampered, so her health will be a question heading into the NCAAs in two weeks.

The Georgia men were in good position to close out the Wildcats, with both Miguel Perez Pena at line 5 and Blake Croyder at line 4 serving for their matches in the third sets. But Taha Baadi got the break back, held and broke again to beat Croyder 7-6(5), 2-6, 7-5 to make it 3-3. Freshman Jaden Weekes, who had failed to finish his match against Tennessee in the semifinals despite having a match point and was bailed out by Alafia Ayeni's heroics, also broke and held, meaning the match would come down to a third set tiebreaker.

Weekes saved a championship point with a good second serve down 5-6, and the 18-year-old Canadian came up with the clutch volley and the big serve to close out the 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(7) victory. The 4-3 decision gave the Wildcats their first SEC title since 1992 and just their second ever.

The conference tournaments for the Big Ten and Pac-12 are scheduled for next week. 

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Stearns and Navarro Meet for Charleston $100K Title; Jones Reaches First $25K Final; All Four US Teams Qualify for ITF Junior Team Finals; Conference Tournament Finals Set in SEC, Big 12, ACC

Less than a year ago, both Emma Navarro(Virginia) and Peyton Stearns(Texas) were competing in the NCAA Division I Team Championships, with Stearns' Longhorns beating Navarro's Cavaliers 4-2 in the quarterfinals in Champaign, although Stearns lost her match with Navarro 6-1, 6-0.  Stearns, who lost only two matches all season, went on to win the NCAA singles title, with an expected rematch with Navarro failing to materialize after Navarro was upset by Abigail Rencheli of NC State in the round of 16.

Since then, with both turning pro after their sophomore years, Navarro and Stearns have met twice, in back-to-back $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournaments in Florida in January. Navarro won both, 7-5, 6-3 in the Naples final and 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in the Vero Beach quarterfinals. Stearns has had the better results since however, and she comes into their Sunday final at the $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Charleston South Carolina, Navarro's hometown, as the No. 1 seed after a recent run to a WTA 250 final in Bogota. Stearns defeated No. 7 seed Caroline Dolehide 6-2, 7-5 in today's semifinal.

Navarro, the No. 3 seed, continued her dominance over Madison Brengle, the No. 2 seed, dispatching the WTA Top 100 fixture 6-3, 6-0 in 52 minutes in today's semifinal. Stearns is now up to 72 in the live ATP rankings; Navarro will also be at her career-high after this week; she is currently up to 105. She is also still very much in the race for the USTA's Roland Garros main draw wild card now, with two weeks left for the women.

In the doubles final today, top seeds Sophie Chang and Angela Kulikov(USC) defeated unseeded 18-year-olds Ashlyn Krueger and Robin Montgomery 6-3, 6-4.

2021 NCAA doubles champion Makenna Jones, the former North Carolina standout, has reached her first final at the $25,000 level on the Pro Circuit, in Zephyrhills Florida. The unseeded 25-year-old, the daughter of former ATP No. 1 in doubles Kelly Jones, defeated No. 7 seed Fanni Stollar of Hungary 7-6(2), 6-4 in today's semifinal. She will face No. 5 seed Hanna Chang, who ended the run of qualifier Allura Zamirripa(Texas) 6-3, 6-4.  

The doubles title in Zephyrhills went to the unseeded team of 
Maria Kononova(North Texas) of Russia and Yulia Starodubtseva of Ukraine(Old Dominion). They defeated No. 2 seeds Jada Hart(UCLA) and Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech) 7-5, 6-3. It's the first ITF Women's doubles title for Starodubtseva and the third for Kononova.

USA Junior Davis Cup team:
Captain Sylvain Guichard, Matisse Farzam,
Jagger Leach and Max Exsted

The ITF Junior Team North/Central American and Caribbean qualifying tournament that took place the past three days at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona has concluded, with all four teams from the United States earning their spots in the Finals. The USA's U16 Junior Davis Cup and Junior Billie Jean King Cup teams and the U14 Boys World Junior Tennis team did not drop a point in finishing at the top of their groups in the four-team round robin competition. The U14 Girls World Junior Tennis team lost to Canada 2-1, but still qualified, with the top two teams in each group earning a spot in the 16-team Finals later this summer and fall. 

The results of all the matches featuring USA teams can be found here.

The conference tournament finals for the SEC, the Big 12 and the ACC are Sunday, after several routine and several exciting semifinals Saturday.

Big 12 Men:

Texas[1] v TCU[2]

Big 12 Women:

North Carolina[1] v NC State[3]


Georgia[1] v Kentucky[3]


Texas A&M[1] v Georgia[2]

Friday, April 21, 2023

Only Americans Remain in Contention at Charleston $100K; Duke Women Lose Without Beck; Zamarripa, Jones Reach First $25K Semifinals in Zephyrhills; Blanch Advances to Semifinals at $15K in Spain

The $100,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Charleston South Carolina will have American champions in both singles and doubles after today's action eliminated the seven international players who had reached the singles quarterfinals and doubles semifinals.

Top seed Peyton Stearns(Texas) defeated Duke's Chloe Beck 6-1, 6-2 in 59 minutes, ending the senior's four-match winning streak in her first professional competition in four years. Stearns will play No. 7 seed Caroline Dolehide, who defeated No. 4 seed Nao Hibino of Japan 6-2, 6-3.

In the bottom half, hometown hope Emma Navarro(Virginia), the No. 3 seed, defeated No. 5 seed Yue Yuan of China 6-3, 6-2, setting up another meeting with No. 2 seed Madison Brengle. Brengle, who beat qualifier Storm Hunter of Australia 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, has lost both her previous matches against Navarro, in the first round of Charleston last year and, in August, in the quarterfinals of the WTA 125 in Vancouver.

In the doubles final tomorrow, 2021 USTA National 18s (and US Open girls) doubles champions Robin Montgomery and Ashlyn Krueger will face top seeds Sophie Chang and Angela Kulikov(USC). The unseeded 18-year-olds defeated Jessy Rompies(Clemson) of Indonesia and Prarthana Thombare of India, also unseeded, 6-7(5), 6-4, 10-5, while Chang and Kulikov beat No. 3 seeds En-Shuo Liang of Taiwan and Olivia Tjandramulia of Australia 6-2, 6-0.

Beck's run in Charleston left her unable to play for the Blue Devils in today's quarterfinals of the ACC tournament, and No. 2 seed Duke lost 4-3 to No. 7 seed Georgia Tech. The Yellowjackets won the doubles point and got singles points at lines 1, 2 and 4, with Kylie Bilchev at line 2 getting the clinching point over Emma Jackson. Duke, currently No. 6 in the ITA rankings, won the ACC tournament last year, beating Virginia in the final.

Stearns isn't the only member of the 2022 Texas Longhorn National Championship team to reach a semifinal on the USTA Pro Circuit this week, with Allura Zamarripa continuing her run at the $25,000 tournament in Zephyrhills Florida. The 2022 Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA team championships as a freshman, Zamarripa has now won five matches, including two in qualifying, to reach her first semifinal at the $25K level. The 20-year-old left-hander defeated No. 8 seed Oana Georgeta Simion of Romania 6-1, 6-2 in today's quarterfinal and will face No. 5 seed Hanna Chang for a place in the final. Hungary's Fanni Stollar, the only international player to make the semifinals in either women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament this week, will play unseeded Makenna Jones(UNC), who won the 2021 NCAA doubles title. Stollar, the No. 7 seed, defeated No. 2 seed Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State) 6-2, 6-3, while Jones reached her first $25K semifinal with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Yuliia Starodubtseva(Old Dominion) of Ukraine.

Starodubtseva and Russia's Maria Kononova(North Texas) advanced to the doubles final with a 6-3, 6-3 win over the No. 4 seeds Allura and Bella Zamarripa and will play No. 2 seeds Jada Hart(UCLA) and Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech) for the title. Hart and McAdoo defeated Canadian teens Kayla Cross and Victoria Mboko 7-6(5), 6-4. 

Both Americans in the quarterfinals of the ATP Tallahassee Challenger 75 lost today, with wild card Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia) dropping a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 decision to No. 5 seed Tung-Lin Wu of Taiwan. Eighteen-year-old Alex Michelsen was beated by No. 7 seed Enzo Couacaud of France 7-5, 7-5.

Darwin Blanch became the first player born in 2007 to reach the semifinals of an ITF men's World Tennis Tour tournament today with a win at the $15,000 event in Telde Spain. The 15-year-old left-hander, who will not turn 16 until September, defeated No. 8 seed Sergi Perez Contri of Spain 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 and will face unseeded 20-year-old Alejandro Manzanera Pertusa of Spain, a former Top 15 ITF junior, in the semifinals. Two qualifiers are playing in the top half semifinal. 

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Beck Wins Again at Charleston $100K; Zamarripa Upsets Top Seed at $25K; Blanch Reaches First Men's Pro Circuit Quarterfinal in Spain; Michelsen Advances to Tallahassee Challenger Quarterfinals

Duke senior Chloe Beck received a wild card into the qualifying at this week's $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Charleston South Carolina, and she has advanced to the quarterfinals in her first professional event since 2019. Beck then 17, lost in the first round of qualifying of the Charleston $100K that year, and had not played a pro event since. Today she defeated WTA No. 145 Elli Mandlik 6-1, 6-0 in one hour flat to advance to a meeting with top seed Peyton Stearns, the reigning NCAA singles champion. Stearns, who defeated Sachia Vickery 7-5, 6-2 in the second round today, and Beck have never played, in juniors or college, despite being the same age.

After moving into the No. 1 singles slot at Duke late last season, Beck has been a sure point for the Blue Devils all season; she has lost just one dual match this year, to Miami's Alexa Noel, and is currently No. 4 in the ITA singles rankings.

Although Mandlik will show as her best professional win ranking-rise, Beck did defeat NC State's Diana Shnaider, currently WTA No. 88, 6-3, 6-3 less than two weeks ago in a dual match. The 21-year-old Beck, who has never had a WTA ranking, has earned enough points this week make her debut in the Top 800, regardless of the outcome of the quarterfinal with Stearns.

At the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Zephyrhills Florida, qualifier Allura Zamarripa defeated top seed Yuki Naito of Japan 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals. It's the second quarterfinal of the year at a $25K for the 20-year-old, who turned pro last May, after her freshman year at the University of Texas. Three other Americans have advanced to the quarterfinals: No. 2 seed Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State), No. 5 seed Hanna Chang and unseeded Makenna Jones(North Carolina). 

Reigning Kalamazoo 16s champion Darwin Blanch is through to his first ITF men's World Tennis Tour quarterfinal, advancing when Tom Gentzsch of Germany retired trailing 6-2, 5-1 at the $15,000 tournament in Spain. The 15-year-old Blanch, who trains in Spain, beat No. 3 seed RrezartCungu(Wake Forest) of Montenegro 6-0, 6-3 in the first round. He plays No. 8 seed Sergi Perez Contri of Spain in the quarterfinals. Perez, 25, has played 408 ITF professional matches, while Blanch has played 21.

Alex Michelsen is through to his third ATP Challenger quarterfinal, all since February, at this week's Tallahassee 75. The 18-year-old University of Georgia signee trailed former ATP Top 10 player Lucas Pouille of France 5-3, in the second set, but won the final four games of the match for a 6-3, 7-5 victory. Michelsen, now up to 262 in the ATP live rankings, plays No. 7 seed Enzo Couacaud of France in Friday's quarterfinals. 

The other American to reach the quarterfinals is Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia), who won a battle between wild cards tonight. The 2017 NCAA singles champion, who captured last week's $15K in Sunrise Florida, defeated 18-year-old Stanford recruit Kyle Kang 6-4, 6-4.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

ITF Announces Return of Junior Masters This Fall; North/Central American ITF Junior Team Qualifying Begins Thursday in Lake Nona; Videos of Easter Bowl 12s and 14s Finals

After a three-year hiatus, the ITF announced that its Junior Masters competition will return this fall, and will be held again in Chengdu China. The tournament began in 2015 and was last played in 2019.

The top eight juniors in the ITF juniors rankings as of September 11, two days after the conclusion of the US Open Junior Championships, will receive invitations to compete in the event, although a Chinese player in the Top 25 would bump out No. 8. Currently Yi Zhou of China is No. 6 in the ITF rankings, but there is no girl from China in the Top 100 right now, let alone Top 25.

In the past, not every player eligible has accepted the invitation, but there are financial incentives, with the minimum travel grant payout of $8,500 for eighth place, up to $17,000 for the champions. The tournament is a 750, which is midway between the 500 points awarded the winner of what were previously known as Grade As, and the junior slams, which are worth 1000 points to the champion.

The tournament is scheduled to take place October 16-22. 

The ITF release is available here.

As I mentioned in my post last week, the regional qualifying for the North/Central America and Caribbean ITF junior team tournaments takes place beginning tomorrow at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona. 

There has been one change in the four US teams, which are listed in my post last Wednesday. In the girls 14U World Junior Tennis competition, Easter Bowl champion Nancy Lee is replacing Harper Stone.  

The United States is among four teams competing in the three-day event, with the top two teams advancing to the Finals this summer or fall. Canada and Mexico join the US in competing in all four events; Guatemala and Puerto Rico are the other two participants. The players, the draws and the results of each day's matches can be found at the ITF tournament site.

I'm working my way through the Easter Bowl video processing, with the 12s and 14s now complete. As all four matches were played at once, some videos are unavoidably more complete than others. The entire Girls 12s final, with commentary by Ken Thomas, is available on demand on YouTube here, starting at the 3:00 mark.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Michelsen Takes Out No. 2 Seed at Tallahassee Challenger; Qualifying Complete at Charleston $100K, Zephyrhills $25K; Texas Men and UNC Women Remain No. 1

I was a bit surprised that Alex Michelsen didn't play the ATP Challenger in Sarasota last week, but the 18-year-old from Southern California easily made this week's Tallahassee Challenger 75 main draw, and in his first round match today, defeated No. 2 seed and ATP No. 130 Camilo Ugo Carabelli 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. Ugo Carabelli is the highest ranked player the University of Georgia signee has beaten; Michelsen's live ranking of 265 is getting him close to the cutoff for Roland Garros qualifying. He will face former ATP Top 10 player Lucas Pouille of France next.

Eighteen-year-old wild card Kyle Kang saved three match points in picking up his first ATP Challenger win. The Stanford recruit defeated Colin Sinclair(Cornell) of Northern Mariana Islands 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-4, after trailing 6-3 in the second set tiebreaker. 

The other teenaged wild card, 19-year-old Bruno Kuzuhara, lost to qualifier Kyrian Jacquet of France 6-2, 6-1. The third wild card, Sunrise $15K champion Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia), plays his first round match tonight against former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany, the No. 3 seed.

In addition to Michelsen and Kang, other Americans advancing to the second round are Mitchell Krueger and qualifier Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M). Live streaming is available at the ATP Challenger TV website, with Mike Cation providing commentary on Stadium court.

There are two USTA Pro Circuit tournaments for women this week: a $25,000 tournament in Zephyrhills Florida and a $100,000 tournament in Charleston South Carolina.

Reigning NCAA champion Peyton Stearns is the top seed in South Carolina, with Madison Brengle the No. 2 seed and Emma Navarro(Virginia) seeded No. 3.

Wild cards were given to Sophie Chang, Whitney Osuigwe, Elvina Kalieva and Maria Mateas(Duke).

Four of the eight Charleston qualifiers are Americans: Grace Min, Taylor Ng(Dartmouth), Wimbledon girls champion Liv Hovde and Duke senior Chloe Beck, who received a wild card into qualifying. 

Four former college stars from the United States qualified today in Zephyrhills, which had a rare 64-player draw. Advancing to the main draw are Kennedy Shaffer(Georgia), Allura Zamarripa(Texas), Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech) and Mccartney Kessler(Florida).  Three Japanese juniors training in the US also made the main draw: Sayaka Ishii, Wakana Sonobe and Mayu Crossley. Stanford recruit Katherine Hui made the main draw as a lucky loser, having lost to Ishii, the top seed in qualifying.

Seventeen-year-old Thea Rabman received a wild card and lost her first round match to Dia Evtimova of Bulgaria 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. Fourteen-year-old Shannon Lam, a wild card recipient, played wild card Elizabeth Danailova(Virginia Tech) of Bulgaria and won 6-4, 6-1 to earn her second victory on the USTA women's Pro Circuit this year.

The top seed in Zephyrhills is Yuki Naito of Japan, with Francesca Di Lorenzo(Ohio State) the No. 2 seed. Both won their opening round matches today.

The postseason begins this week with the ACC, SEC and Big 12 tournaments on tap; see Collegetennisranks.com for the schedules by day; the ITA has links to the individual conference pages here.

Below are this week's ITA Division I rankings, with few changes from last week. The Texas men and North Carolina women both won big conference matches over TCU and Duke to solidify their No. 1 rankings, while the Longhorns' Eliot Spizzirri and Tar Heels' Fiona Crawley continue to sit atop the singles rankings. I've expanded from Top 10 to Top 16; with less than two weeks before the NCAA selections, that has implications for who will host the first two rounds and in the team competition and who will be seeded in the individual competition.

If you are interested in the teams on the bubble, Tanner Stump and Chris Halioris have their analysis of those men's teams who are fighting for a spot in the 64-team field here. Stump and John Parsons have the rundown on the women's bubble teams here.

ITA Division I rankings, April 18, 2023

Men's Team Top 16:
1. Texas
2. Ohio State
3. TCU
4. Georgia
5. Kentucky
6. South Carolina
7. Michigan
8. Virginia
9. Tennessee
10. Harvard
11. Southern California
12. Duke
13. Columbia
14. North Carolina
15. Mississippi State
16. Arizona

Singles Top 16:
1. Eliot Spizzirri, Texas
2. Johannes Monday, Tennessee
3. Arthur Fery, Stanford
4. Ethan Quinn, Georgia
5. Melios Efstathiou, Wake Forest
6. Antoine Cornut-Chauvinc, Florida State
7. Ondrej Styler, Michigan
8. Toby Samuel, South Carolina
9. Andres Martin, Georgia Tech
10. Chris Rodesch, Virginia
11. Andrew Fenty, Michigan
12. Nishesh Basavareddy, Stanford
13. Garrett Johns, Duke
14. Sebastian Dominko, Notre Dame
15. Philip Henning, Georgia
16. JJ Tracy, Ohio State

Doubles Top 8:
1. Toby Samuel and Connor Thomson, South Carolina
2. Jacob Fearnley and Luc Fomba, TCU
3. Eliot Spizzirri and Cleeve Harper, Texas
4. Will Grant and Axel Nefve, Florida
5. Pat Harper and Johannus Monday, Tennessee
6. Ozan Baris and Max Sheldon, Michigan State
7. Ethan Quinn and Trent Bryde, Georgia
8. Gavin Young and Andrew Fenty, Michigan

Women's Team Top 16:
1. North Carolina
2. Texas A&M
3. Michigan
4. Georgia
5. North Carolina State
6. Duke
7. Stanford
8. Pepperdine
9. Ohio State
10. Virginia
11. Iowa State
12. Texas
13. Miami
14. Oklahoma
15. Tennessee
16. Auburn

Singles Top 16:
1. Fiona Crawley, North Carolina
2. Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M
3. Lea Ma, Georgia
4. Chloe Beck, Duke
5. Alexa Noel, Miami
6. Dasha Vidmanova, Georgia
7. Daria Frayman, Princeton
8. Madison Sieg, Southern California
9. Ayana Akli, South Carolina
10. Reese Brantmeier, North Carolina
11. Janice Tjen, Pepperdine
12. Diana Shnaider, NC State
13. Carol Lee, Georgia Tech
14. Anastasiya Komar, LSU
15. Alana Smith, NC State
16. Connie Ma, Stanford

Doubles Top 8:
1. Savannah Broadus and Janice Tjen, Pepperdine
2. Kari Miller and Jaedan Brown, Michigan
3. Carson Branstine and Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M
4. Kylie Collins and Anastasiya Komar, LSU
5. Diana Shnaider and Alana Smith, NC State
6. Elise Wagle and Kimmi Hance, UCLA
7. Veronica Miroshnichenko and Eva Maria, Loyola Marymount
8. Nell Miller and Amelia Rajecki, NC State

Monday, April 17, 2023

Mosejczuk and Dunyon Sweep ITF Junior Circuit Titles; Videos of ITF J300 San Diego Finals

In addition to the three titles won by Americans at the J200 last week in Canada, which I covered in Friday's post, there were seven additional titles for US players on the ITF Junior Circuit last week: two in singles and five in doubles.

Three were earned at the J60 in the Dominican Republic, with 16-year-old Dominick Mosejczuk taking both the singles and doubles. Mosejczuk, seeded 10th, defeated No. 11 seed Yannic Nittmann of Germany 7-5, 6-2 in the final, after avenging his loss to Maximus Dussault in last week's final in this week's semifinals. No. 4 seeds Mosejczuk and Dussault won the doubles title by defeating No. 7 seeds Cesar Mahecha and Juan Esteban Trujillo Hernandez of Colombia 6-1, 6-3 in the final. 

The unseeded team of Nina Costalas and Trinetra Vijayakumar won the girls doubles title, beating No. 4 seeds Jordane Dookie of Trinidad and Tobago and Fernanda Sandoval of Mexico 6-1, 6-2 in the final. It's the first ITF Junior Circuit title for the 16-year-olds. 

Jane Dunyon earned a sweep of the titles at the J30 in Austria. The 16-year-old from Utah, seeded No. 4, defeated top seed Ema Mravcova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-1 in the championship match for her third ITF Junior Circuit singles title. Dunyon claimed her first ITF Junior Circuit doubles title with Mariella Thamm of Germany, with the top seeds beating the unseeded Czech team of Amelie Brozova and Anna Jelinkova 6-1, 4-6, 10-6. 

At the J30 in Belgium, 15-year-old Stoney Cooks and 17-year-old Nadia Rodewald won their first ITF Junior Circuit titles in doubles, with the No. 4 seeds defeating the unseeded Belgian team of Hannah Claes and Marie Eennaes 6-2, 3-6, 10-4 in the final. 

Fourteen-year-old Sean Grosman and 15-year-old Zavier Augustin won their first ITF Junior Circuit titles at the J30 in Guadeloupe in doubles. The unseeded pair defeated No. 3 seeds Lucca Lafrance of Canada and Alessandro Sciacca of Italy 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 in the final.

Below are the videos of the finals of the J300 in San Diego last month. The girls final was played on a court that doesn't have access from behind the baseline, so there are separate videos for Clervie Ngounoue and Iva Jovic, while Kaylan Bigun and Roy Horovitz both appear in the third video.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Kwiatkowski and Dolehide Win USTA Pro Circuit Titles; Krajicek Claims First Masters 1000 Title in Monte Carlo; Texas Men, Michigan Women Earn Top 10 Wins, Conference Championships

2017 NCAA singles champion Thai Kwiatkowski won his first title since 2020 today at the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Sunrise Florida. The 28-year-old University of Virginia graduate's previous title came at an ATP Challenger 125 right before the pandemic, and he got to a career-high of 181 in the ATP rankings right after that, but did not have the same success post-pandemic and played sparingly, using a protected ranking, in 2022.

Kwiatkowski, who received a wild card into the Sunrise tournament, defeated No. 3 seed Tristan McCormick 6-4, 7-6(5) in today's final and did not drop a set in his five victories.

Caroline Dolehide ended an even longer title drought today at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Boca Raton, with the No. 5 seed defeating unseeded Hailey Baptiste 6-4, 6-4. The 24-year-old, whose WTA career-high ranking is 102, dropped just one set, to top seed Emma Navarro, during the week.

Former North Carolina Tar Heels Jamie Loeb and Makenna Jones won the doubles title today, with the No. 2 seeds defeating No. 4 seeds Sofia Sewing(Miami) and Fanni Stollar of Hungary 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 in today's final.

At the ATP Challenger 125 in Sarasota, no Americans reached the quarterfinals in singles. In today's final, No. 5 seed Daniel Altmaier of Germany defeated No. 3 seed Daniel Elahi Galan of Colombia 7-6(1), 6-1.  Top seeds Julian Cash(Mississippi State/Oklahoma State) and Henry Patten(UNC-Asheville) won the doubles title without dropping a set, beating the unseeded team of Guido Andreozzi and Guillermo Duran of Argentina 7-6(4), 6-4 in the final. 

A second NCAA champion won a title today, with 2011 doubles champion Austin Krajicek earning his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo. The former Texas A&M star and partner Ivan Dodig of Croatia, seeded fifth, saved two match points in the final, defeating the unseeded wild card team of Romain Arneodo of Monaco and Sam Weissborn of Austria 6-0, 4-6, 14-12.  The 32-year-old Krajicek is now up to No. 3 in the ATP doubles rankings, a career-high. For more on the final, see this article from the ATP website.

Friday's match between the No. 3 Duke and No. 1 North Carolina women wasn't as close as expected, and No. 8 NC State handled No. 9 Virginia with no problems, but the other two Top 10 battles this weekend produced some tension.

Last night's 5-2 win by the top-ranked Texas men over No. 3 TCU in front of a record crowd in Austin, saw five of the six singles matches go to a third set, after the Horned Frogs had taken the double point. The Longhorns, who had beaten TCU 4-1 last month in Fort Worth, clinched the regular season conference title with the win and have likely secured the top seed in the NCAA team championships. 

Today's 4-1 win by the sixth-ranked Michigan women over No. 7 Ohio State was closer than the score might suggest. Michigan took the doubles point and four first sets in singles, but Ohio State fought back to force third sets at lines 5 and 6. After Kari Miller had made it 2-0 Michigan, Ohio State got on the board at line 2, but Lily Jones came back from a set down to win at line 4 to make it 3-1 and Julia Fliegner clinched at line 3, with Ohio State close to victories at lines 5 and 6.

With the win, Michigan clinched the Big Ten regular season title.

The second-ranked Texas A&M women completed their second straight undefeated SEC regular season, securing the conference title with a 4-1 win over Vanderbilt. The Georgia men also finished the SEC regular season undefeated in conference play.

The Big 12 women's regular season title is shared by Oklahoma and Texas, both of whom had 8-1 records. Texas beat Oklahoma, but lost to Oklahoma State in conference play.

The Virginia men, like the North Carolina women, finished ACC regular season play undefeated, with the Cavaliers beating Georgia Tech 6-1 today in Charlottesville to end conference play with a 12-0 record.

The Pac-12 has another weekend of conference matches before their regular season champions are determined.