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Monday, May 8, 2023

Navarro Claims USTA's Roland Garros Wild Card; Bernstein Named to Succeed Wallace at Georgia; Leach and Schinnerer Win ITF J100 Singles Titles, Clarke Sweeps Titles at J30 in Jamaica

The USTA's Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge for women concluded last week and the official announcement of the winner was released this afternoon, with 2021 NCAA singles champion Emma Navarro now into a slam main draw outside of the United States for the first time in her career.

The former Virginia Cavalier clinched the wild card when she reached the quarterfinals of the WTA 125 in France last Thursday, with Caroline Dolehide no longer able to catch her, even with a title at the $100,000 tournament in Bonita Springs Florida. Dolehide lost to Kayla Day in the Bonita Springs semifinals, and it was Day who finished in second place, with Dolehide coming in third.

The 21-year-old Navarro has played the US Open twice, losing in the first round of qualifying in 2019 to Elena Rybakina and in the first round of the main draw in 2021, with a wild card courtesy of her NCAA title, to Christina McHale.

Women's Standings -- Final (Current ranking in parentheses)
1. Emma Navarro (83) -- 249
2. Kayla Day (137) -- 180
3. Caroline Dolehide (112) -- 155

Men's Standings -- Final (Current ranking in parentheses)

1. Patrick Kypson (378) -- 75
2. Tristan Boyer (863) -- 70
3. Mitchell Krueger (269) -- 34

The University of Georgia wasted no time in announcing their new women's head coach, after Jeff Wallace revealed last Friday that he was retiring at the conclusion of this season. Today Drake Bernstein, who has been the Bulldogs' associate head coach since 2015, was named as Wallace's successor. The University of Georgia always does a fantastic job with their tennis coverage, and this article on Bernstein, by John Frierson, is a splendid example of that commitment to telling their programs' stories.

Saturday's three titles at the J100 in Coral Gables, which I covered then, was just a part of the success for American juniors last week on the ITF Junior Circuit. Nine more, including two additional J100 singles titles, were collected last weekend, all in North, Central, and South America.

At the J100 in Quebec, Kase Schinnerer won his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title, with the 16-year-old blue chip from Pennsylvania, seeded No. 2, beating top seed and doubles partner Rohan Belday 7-6(6), 7-5 in the final. Unseeded 15-year-old Elizabeth Ionescu reached the girls final, falling to No. 3 seed Nadia Lagaev of Canada 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Bianca Molnar won the girls doubles title in Quebec, partnering with Sara Kostic of Canada. The No. 3 seeds defeated the unseeded pair of Ionescu and Sydney Jara 0-6, 6-3, 11-9 in the final. It's Iowa State recruit Molnar's first doubles title on the ITF Junior Circuit; she had previously won two singles titles.

Americans claimed three titles at the J100 in Costa Rica, with top seed Jagger Leach winning his fourth singles title, and second at the J100 level. The 15-year-old, who didn't drop a set all week, defeated qualifier Ryan Szilagy of Romania 6-1, 6-1 in the final.

Humza Noor won the boys doubles title, partnering with Joaquin Guilleme of Nicaragua. The 18-year-old from Kansas and Guilleme defeated the 16-year-old twins Abhinav and Prathinva Chunduru 6-7(3), 6-2, 10-7 in a final between two unseeded teams.

No. 8 seed Allie Bittner lost in the singles final to No. 5 seed Krisha Mahendran of India 1-6, 6-2, 6-4.  No. 3 seeds Leena Friedman and her partner Anna-Raphaelle Serghi of Canada won the girls doubles title, beating No. 2 seeds Maya Dutta and Korea's Nahyeong Cho 7-5, 6-4 in the final. 

Thirteen-year-old Zaire Clarke won her first titles on the ITF Junior Circuit, sweeping the singles and doubles at the J30 in Jamaica. Unseeded in her first ITF Junior Circuit main draw, Clarke lost only one set, and defeated unseeded Sarai Dorismond, also from the US, 6-0, 6-1 in the final.

In doubles, the unseeded pair of Clarke and Gianna Graci took the title, defeating No. 3 seeds Dorismond and Alexandra Cordero of Costa Rica 7-6(9), 6-2 in the final. 

The last two titles were in doubles. Holland Snell reached the singles final at the J60 in Panama and won the doubles with partner Guillermo Alfonso Bennaton of Honduras. The top seeds didn't have to complete the final, with Ecuador's Alfredo Gallegos and Colombia's Juan David Robayo Arias, the No. 3 seeds, retiring.

At the J60 in Peru, Vessa Turley won the girls doubles title with Sara Alba Verastegui of Colombia. The No. 2 seeds defeated top seeds Elizaveta Castillo of Peru and Maria Paula Vargas Triana of Colombia 3-6, 6-3, 10-5 in the final. Turley now has seven ITF Junior Circuit doubles titles. 

This week's final spring ITF Junior Circuit tournament on Florida clay is a J60 in Plantation. Top boys seed Yubel Ubri lost to qualifier Ilija Palavestra 7-5, 6-4 in first round action today.