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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

BNP Paribas Qualifying Wild Card on Line in Upcoming SoCal Pro Series; Exsted Earns First ATP Point; Turati Named to Missouri Head Coaching Position; Memphis' Goebels Retires; Hassenbein and Falkowitz Memorial Fundraisers

I hope you noticed the new advertising today on Zootennis, with all the information on the upcoming SoCal Pro Series available by clicking on the ad to the left. The first tournament in the series was back in January, but it resumes in just a few weeks and extends through mid-July, with seven events in seven weeks in various Southern California locations:

May 29-June 4 – Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club, Rancho Santa Fe
June 5-11 – University of San Diego, San Diego
June 12-18 – Barnes Tennis Center, San Diego
June 19-25 – Jack Kramer Club, Rolling Hills Estates
June 26-July 2 – Racquet Club of Irvine, Irvine
July 3-9 – Lakewood Tennis Center, Lakewood
July 10-16 – Lakewood Tennis Center, Lakewood

The success of last year's inaugural series made its 2023 return  likely, but with all the financial and logistical hurdles that surround $15,000 tournaments, a lot of hard work had to be done to ensure a second year.

An added carrot this year is a qualifying wild card to the 2024 BNP Paribas Open. According to last week's release:

This year, the top men’s and women’s player accumulating the most points throughout the seven events will be granted a wild card into qualifying at next year’s BNP Paribas Open. The “Road to Indian Wells” wild card is available to U.S. citizens who are Southern California residents or full-time Southern California college students.

There are pre-qualifying events still open for all but the first of the seven weeks:

Southern California players can register to play in pre-qualifying events for a chance to make the main draw. The upcoming pre-qualifying schedule includes: Jack Kramer Club in Rolling Hills Estates, May 5-7; University of San Diego, May 12-14; Racquet Club of Irvine, May 19-21; Barnes Tennis Center, May 26-28; Lakewood Tennis Club, June 2-5 and June 20-July 3
The SoCal Pro Series page at ustasocal.com has all the links for registration, as well as a handy review of all of last year's champions. 

Alex Gruskin of Cracked Racquets will be providing streaming coverage of the semifinals and finals, while Ken Thomas of radiotennis.com will also be participating on selected days.

Maxwell Exsted, who won the J100 in Delray Beach last month, is preparing for the Roland Garros junior qualifying in Spain. The 16-year-old received a wild card into the men's $25,000 ITF World Tennis Tour qualifying in Valldoreix, and with three victories, one 12-10 in the match tiebreaker, he advanced to the main draw. Today the 2022 Eddie Herr 16s champion defeated qualifier and ATP No. 845 Aleksandr Braynin of Ukraine 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 to earn his first ATP point. His opponent in the second round is 18-year-old Daniel Merida of Spain, who took out No. 2 seed Alvaro Lopez San Martin of Spain 7-5, 6-3. Merida, who turns 19 this year, reached No. 15 in the ITF Junior rankings at the beginning of last year.

This is the time of year when college coaching news is most prevalent, and today there were two notable announcements. Paul Goebel announced his retirement after 24 years with the men's program at Memphis, the last 19 years as head coach. It looks as if Goebel will stay involved in tennis however, as he is listed as the tournament director of this October's ITF J300 Pan American Closed in Memphis on the USTA National Junior Calendar

Bianca Turati, a former All-American at the University of Texas, has been named head coach at the University of Missouri. The 25-year-old Turati, who had just began her coaching career in January, was named interim head coach in February, after the departure of Chris Wootten. 

SEC head coaching positions still open are Kentucky women, Mississippi State women and Vanderbilt men.

The family of Drew Hassenbein has set up a fund to honor his memory, after his death last Wednesday night. From their gofundme page

Our family is devastated by his loss and is so appreciative of the incredible outpouring of support and people's desire to help. A 5013c is in the process of being set up, but we have created this page in the meantime to honor Drew's passion for tennis and make a difference in the tennis community. Our goal is to help expose underprivileged kids to tennis through lessons and scholarships, and help sponsor elite juniors as they pursue their dream of becoming the next USA Tennis champion. Drew was a former #1 nationally-ranked boys player in the 12s, and with your help, Drew's love of tennis will live on and help develop the next champion. Please help however you can.

An account of Sunday's funeral services for Drew is available here.

A gofundme has been established in memory of Ethan Falkowitz, a high school tennis teammate who also was killed in the crash, and can be found here.