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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

SoCal Pro Series $15Ks in Rancho Santa Fe Underway; Michelsen Among Americans Advancing at Little Rock ATP Challenger; Fifteen Americans Reach Second Round at Roland Garros After Six More Wins Tuesday

Most of the focus of the tennis world is on Paris, but the USTA Pro Circuit is providing opportunities away from the red clay of Europe with three tournaments this week.

The SoCal Pro Series is back, with the men's and women's $15,000 events taking place this week in Rancho Santa Fe, the first of seven such events around Southern California in the next seven weeks.

Qualifying was completed today, with five American men and four American women reaching the main draw.  The men are Noah Schachter(Texas A&M), Phillip Jordan(South Carolina/UC-Santa Barbara), 17-year-old wild card Trevor Svajda, Braden Shick(NC State) and 17-year-old Rudy Quan, who recently announced a verbal commitment to UCLA.

The women reaching the main draw are Anne Christine Lutkemeyer(UCLA), Nikki Redlijk(Pepperdine), Emily Gelber(Brown) and reigning Orange Bowl 16s champion Alexis Nguyen. 

Several players who competed in the NCAA tournament this month in Lake Nona are ready to get back to competition, including women's singles champion Fangran Tian of UCLA, who is unseeded, and will face top seed Eryn Cayetano of USC, who reached the women's doubles semifinals in Lake Nona, if both win their first round matches Wednesday. 

Megan McCray(Oklahoma State) is the No. 2 seed, with wild cards awarded to rising high school juniors Rachel Lee and Emily Deming. Cayetano was the third wild card recipient.

Rising sophomore Jack Anthrop, who competed in the team championships for Ohio State, won his first round match today; Schachter had lost in the second round of the NCAA singles tournament. No. 8 seed Edward Winter of Australia, a rising freshman at Pepperdine, defeated Stanford rising freshman Hudson Rivera 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-0. 

Aidan McHugh of Great Britain is the top seed, with Matias Descotte of Argentina the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to Cal rising freshman Ethan Schiffman, Kent Hunter(Cal/LSU), William Kleege, a rising high school junior, and rising SMU junior Alexander Stafford. Some of the wild cards in the SoCal Pro Series are decided by prequalifying tournaments.

Eighteen-year-old Alex Michelsen played in a couple of the SoCal Pro Series tournament last summer, both before and after his trip to Wimbledon, where he won the boys doubles title with Sebastian Gorzny(TCU). This year, he made the final of the Malibu $25K, which was also part of the SoCal Pro Series, and from there, he has worked his way into ATP Challengers. This week Michelsen is playing the Little Rock Challenger 75, and he advanced to the second round today with a tough 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over Denis Yevseyev of Kazakhstan. 

Michelsen's future has been a topic of conversation lately, particularly with Ethan Quinn's success at Georgia; he is one of the reasons that the Georgia recruiting class was No. 1 in yesterday's rankings. Now 251 in the ATP live rankings, Michelsen has an opportunity to reach the Wimbledon qualifying with a good showing this week, so speculation as to whether he will actually play for Georgia continues. He spoke with Mike Cation prior to this week's Little Rock Challenger about that decision and many other topics for the Behind The Racquet Podcast. It sounds as if he is open to turning pro should he improve his ATP ranking to around 150 this summer, but he is not ruling out college as of now.

Qualifying for Little Rock concluded Monday, with Columbia rising sophmore Michael Zheng reaching the main draw, after advancing to the round of 16 last week at the NCAA singles championships. He lost in his first round main draw match today to Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 7-6(5), 6-3.  

In addition to Michelsen, five other Americans have reached the second round: Evan Zhu(UCLA), who beat wild card Tristan Boyer(Stanford) 6-4, 6-7(7), 7-6(2), wild card Nathan Ponwith(Georgia/Arizona State), who defeated qualifier Christian Langmo(Miami) 2-6, 7-5, 7-5, Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia), Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) and No. 2 seed Nicolas Moreno del Alboran(UC-Santa Barbara).  Moreno del Alboran was in the final round of Roland Garros qualifying on Friday, so he might still be experiencing some jet lag, but he did defeat Marek Gengel of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 today.  Tung-Lin Wu of China is the top seed; he defeated wild card Bruno Kuzuhara 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 yesterday.

After three days of play, the first round at Roland Garros is complete, with a total of 15 Americans advancing to round two. The results from today and the second round matchups for Wednesday are below.

Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva of Russia continued her string of impressive results, with the 2023 Australian Open girls finalist, who ascended to No. 1 in the ITF junior rankings today, defeating Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2, 6-1 in less than an hour.

Tuesday's first round results of Americans:

Holger Rune[6](DEN) d. Christopher Eubanks 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-2
Taylor Fritz[9] d. Michael Mmoh 6-2, 6-1, 6-1
Tommy Paul[16] d. Dominic Stricker(LL)(SUI) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Yoshihito Nishioka[27](JPN) d. JJ Wolf 1-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3

Claire Liu d. Ylena In-Albon[Q](SUI) 6-1, 6-4
Emma Navarro[WC] d. Erika Andreeva[LL](RUS) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
Lauren Davis d. Lin Zhu(CHN) 6-3, 6-3
Mirra Andreeva[Q](RUS) d. Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-2, 6-1
Coco Gauff[6] d. Rebeka Masarova(ESP) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
Petra Martic(CRO) d. Shelby Rogers[32] 3-6, 6-3, 6-2

Wednesday's second round matches featuring Americans:

Jessica Pegula[3] v Camila Giorgi(ITA)
Peyton Stearns v Jelena Ostapenko[17](LAT)
Sloane Stephens v Varvara Gracheva(RUS)

Sebastian Korda[24] v Sebastian Ofner[Q](AUT)


What Gives? said...

How did Bruno Kuzuhara get a "JR" into the Main Draw of the Little Rock Challenger? He turned 19 in April so how could he still be given a "JR" entry? Also, I thought there are no "JR" entries given in the ATP Challenger Level? When the draw came out on the ATP website, he received the position to play the number one seed of the tournament, but the "JR" was removed from his name. What Gives??

Colette Lewis said...

Thanks for pointing that out. This is a new part of the ATP accelerator program, which also now includes college players. Kuzuhara finished 2022 at No. 10 in the ITF junior rankings and won the AO boys title. According to the 2023 ITF Junior Circuit Rules and Regulations, up to eight ATP Challenger 50 and 75 spots are available to those finishing 1-10 in the ITF junior rankings, as well as junior slam champions.
You should be seeing a lot more top juniors in ATP Challengers this summer due to this new program.