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Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Americans and Top ITF Juniors Qualify at Women's $60K and $25K USTA Pro Circuit Events; NCAA Division II Round of 16 Begins Thursday in Lake Nona; How Do Coaches Identify Top Pro Prospects in Juniors?

Both USTA Pro Circuit tournaments this week are for women and are in Florida: a $25,000 event at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona and a $60,000 event at the Emilio Sanchez Academy in Naples

Both tournaments completed their qualifying today and played four first round matches, with the 12 second round matches scheduled for Wednesday. 

Six of the eight qualifiers in Naples are Americans: 16-year-old Victoria Osuigwe, Kylie McKenzie, Haley Giavara(Cal), Jaeda Daniel(NC State), Mccartney Kessler(Florida) and Paris Corley(Arizona/LSU). 

Wild cards were awarded to: 17-year-old Kaitlin Quevedo, who lives in Naples and reached the quarterfinals of the $100K in Bonita Springs last week; 16-year-old Akasha Urhobo, four-star high school sophomore Sophia Cisse-Ignatiev and D-III Claremont-Mudd-Scripps recruit Muduo Zhou of China.  Quevedo will play Kessler in the first round Wednesday; Cisse-Ignatiev lost to No. 3 seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico 6-2, 6-0 today. Two seeds lost their first round matches today, with No. 4 seed Gabriela Lee(Texas Tech) of Romania dropping a 7-5, 6-0 decision to Marine Partaud of France and No. 6 seed Gabriela Ce going out to Sophie Chang 6-2, 6-1.  Daria Kudashova of Russia, who signed with Oklahoma, but never competed for the Sooners, beat Ravenna Kingsley 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Caroline Dolehide and Bonita Springs champion Kayla Day are the top seeds. Dolehide is playing for a sixth consecutive week on the US green clay, as is Day.

It's unusual for a $25K to have a top seed with a higher ranking than a $60K, but that's true this week, with Panna Udvardy of Hungary, ranked 91, No. 1 in Lake Nona, with Dolehide's ranking 123. Robin Anderson(UCLA) is the No. 2 seed and Wimbledon girls champion Liv Hovde is seeded No. 3.

Kennedy Shaffer(Georgia) is the only American among the eight qualifiers, but a couple of top juniors from Japan also advanced to the main draw: ITF Junior No. 8 Mayu Crossley and No. 11 Sayaka Ishii.  

Two of the wild cards had a lengthy battle today, with 2022 USTA Girls 18s champion Elena Yu coming out on the losing end against Katerina Stewart. The 25-year-old Stewart defeated the Stanford recruit 6-7(1), 7-5, 6-4 in three hours and 14 minutes.  The other two wild cards were given to Sara Daavettila(North Carolina) and Allura Zamarippa(Texas). Daavettila lost to No. 4 seed Hina Inoue 7-6(3), 7-6(3).

Sixteen-year-old Clervie Ngounoue won her first round match, beating Elysia Bolton(UCLA) of Australia 6-1, 7-6(0).

Division II kicks off the NCAA National Team Championships at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, with the men's round of 16 beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday. The women's round of 16 matches start Friday. Below are the pairings. 

Valdosta St[1] v Fairmont St[16]
Northwest Mo. St[8] v Cameron[9]

Wayne St[5] v Washburn[12]
Barry[4] v Charleston(WV)[13]

U-Indy[3] v Jefferson[14]
Flagler[6] v Azusa Pacific[11]

Hawaii Pacific[7] v UT Tyler[10]
Columbus St[2] v Le Moyne[15]

Barry[1] v Missouri Western[16]
Charleston(WV) v Cameron[9]

Azusa Pacific[5] v Washburn[12]
Flagler[4] v Wilmington(DE)[13]

Hawaii Pacific[3] v St Thomas Aquinas[14]
Wayne St[6] v Indiana(PA)[11]

Columbus St[7] v St. Mary's[TX][10]
Nova Southeastern[2] v Drury[15]

Links to live stats are available at USTA National Campus's tournament page, under How To Watch, which also includes information about the Tennis Channel coverage of the Division I semifinals and finals on May 19 and 20.

I am occasionally asked by friends who are casual tennis fans if there are any good American players coming up. I dodge that question as best I can, having learned, as I say in my twitter profile, the more I know, the more I don't know. Tennis.com's Steve Tignor did get some answers when he asked the question, although he wasn't looking for particular names in this recent article. Tignor talked with development coaches at both the USTA and in the private sector, with the rise of Carlos Alcaraz at such a young age providing the hook for hanging some of those questions.