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Sunday, November 5, 2023

Brantmeier and Braswell Triumph at ITA National Fall Championships; Peyre and Johns Earn $15K Titles; Czech Republic Wins Junior Davis Cup Title, Junior BJK Cup Begins Monday; European 14s and 16s Masters Champions Crowned

North Carolina collected two more ITA major titles today, with Reese Brantmeier taking the singles title at the National Fall Championships and partnering with Elizabeth Scotty for the doubles title. In the men's final, Texas senior Micah Braswell delivered the program's second consecutive major in the fall season.

No. 2 seed Brantmeier, a 19-year-old sophomore, defeated No. 4 seed Ayana Akli of South Carolina 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 to start her ultimately undefeated day. The Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego was the site of Brantmeier's USTA 16s title back in 2019, but in her last three appearances there in the USTA 18s, she lost in the final(2021), the quarterfinals(2022) and the quarterfinals(2023). If those losses weighed on her after dropping the first set, she quickly shrugged off any negativity, taking a 4-0 lead in the second set and holding serve to level the match. The third set was a nailbiter, with no breaks of serve through the first ten games. But with Akli serving at 5-all 30-all, Brantmeier hit a good return to earn two break points, and she only needed one, pounding an overhead winner to put herself in position to serve for the match.

Relying on her forehand in the final game, Brantmeier closed with confidence with a winner in the corner securing her first collegiate major. 

The second would soon follow, with top seeds Brantmeier and Scotty taking an early lead over Ange Oby Kajuru and Anastasiya Komar of Oklahoma State, seeded 5-8, and cruising to a 6-1, 6-2 victory.

Brantmeier is the fourth Tar Heel in the last five years to take the singles title at the National Fall Championships; Scotty won the doubles title with Fiona Crawley in 2021.

In the men's singles final, which was played after the women's final, a scheduling decision I fully support, No. 3 seed Braswell defeated Jack Pinnington Jones of TCU, a 5-8 seed, 6-4, 6-4 for his first collegiate major.

Neither player appeared to be thrown off by the change of courts, with the match moved from Stadium Court with Braswell serving at 1-2 in the first, due to an issue with the court behind the baseline. But it was Braswell, a senior, who won a couple of key points two games later. He saved two break points serving at 2-3 in the first set, then broke Pinnington Jones, a sophomore, in the next game and held without much drama in his next two service games to claim the set. 

Braswell saved two break points again early in the second set, holding for 2-2, but after that the match went way off script. Braswell broke Pinnington Jones on a deciding point to take a 3-2 lead, but that was the first of five consecutive breaks. That did give Braswell a 5-4 lead and a chance to serve out the match, but with what had happened in his previous two service games, the outcome was by no means assured. Braswell did take a 40-0 lead, but Pinnington Jones forced an error and Braswell chipped in a couple of unforced errors, leading to a deciding point. It was probably the longest point of the match, with neither player taking much risk after the opposite was the case during most of the match. Eventually Pinnington Jones tried a drop shot, which he missed, and Braswell had escaped with a straight-sets victory.

Texas has now swept the ITA Fall Majors, with Eliot Spizzirri winning the All-American title last month, and Braswell is the second Longhorn to capture a National Fall singles title, with Yuya Ito the champion in 2019.

The men's doubles title was one for the history books, with No. 3 seeds Ozan Baris and Max Sheldon of Michigan State earning the first collegiate major for the program with a 7-5, 6-3 win over the unseeded team of Codie and Connor Van Schalkwyk of Old Dominion.

Petar Jovanovic of Mississippi State won the consolation tournament for those losing in the first round, beating Leo Raquin of Middle Tennessee State 6-2, 6-3.

Connie Ma of Stanford took the women's consolation title, beating Jessica Alsola of Cal 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Hunter Heck and Karlis Ozolins of Illinois, who were the No. 1 seeds but lost in the first round, won the consolation title, beating Colton Smith and Jay Friend of Arizona 6-3, 6-4.

Abbey Forbes and Reilly Tran won the women's consolation doubles, beating Melodie Collard and Annabelle Xu of Virginia 6-4, 6-3.

Two current collegians, both No. 3 seeds, claimed USTA Pro Circuit $15K singles titles today, with Oklahoma State's Lucia Peyre winning in Norman Oklahoma and Duke's Garrett Johns earning the title in Fayetteville Arkansas.

Peyre, an 18-year-old sophomore from Argentina defeated Auburn recruit Ashton Bowers 6-2, 6-2 in today's final for her second career title, with the first coming a little over a year ago at a $15K  in Spain.

Johns, a 22-year-old in his fifth year, defeated Oklahoma State freshman Derek Pham of Australia 6-4, 6-2 for his third career $15K title and the second this year.

Another current collegian, Ohio State's Justin Boulais, won a title in North America today, with the Buckeye fifth-year claiming the $25,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event in Edmonton. The 22-year-old Canadian, seeded No. 6, defeated No. 5 seed Gilles Hussey(Georgia State/Tennessee) 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-0 in this afternoon's final. It's the second Pro Circuit title for Boulais, and the first at the $25K level.

At the WTA 125 Dow Tennis Classic in Midland, Anna Kalinskaya of Russia defated Jana Fett of Croatia 7-5, 6-4 for her first title since 2019. The 24-year-old reached the final of the WTA 125 a week ago in Tampico Mexico, losing in a third set tiebreaker to Emina Bektas(Michigan).

Qualifier Aidan Mayo came up short in his first Challenger final at the ATP 75 in Charlottesville. The 20-year-old, who reached the Kalamazoo 16s final in 2019, lost to Beibit Zhukayev of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-4. 

The Czech Republic is now three for three in ITF junior team tennis events this year after today's 2-1 victory over Italy in the Junior Davis Cup final in Cordoba Spain. The Czechs, who swept the ITF World Junior Tennis 14 and under team events this summer, dropped the No. 2 singles match to start the final, with Andrea De Marchi of Italy defeating Jan Kumstat 6-4, 7-6(5). But it was Maxim Mrva to the rescue again, with Mrva beating Federico Cina at No. 1 singles 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 and partnering with Kumstat to take the deciding doubles 6-4, 6-4 over De Marchi and Cina. Mrva went 9-0, winning five singles matches at No. 1 and four doubles matches, including the clinchers in the semifinals and finals.

The United States finished third, beating Spain 2-1 today. Jagger Leach lost to Andres Santamarta Roig 6-1, 7-6(4) at No. 2 singles, but they won two final set tiebreakers to get the victory. Darwin Blanch defeated Sergio Planella Hernandez 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(5) at No. 1 singles to pull the US even; Leach and Max Exsted then defeated Sergi Fita Juan and Santamarta Roig 6-3, 4-6, 11-9 to get the victory.

All that's left for the Czech Republic to complete their sweep of the junior team titles is the Junior Billie Jean King Cup, which begins Monday with the Czechs as the top seed. The groups, with seedings, are below:

Group A
Czech Republic[1]

Group B
Great Britain[3]

Group C

Group D
United States[2]

The full list of players isn't posted yet, but these are the players who were announced back in September. As Mrva just showed, and Clervie Ngounoue also demonstrated last year in leading the United States to the title, one great week by a single player can be the difference, and there are a host of excellent girls who could find themselves in that role next week: Iva Jovic, a veteran on last year's champion team, Great Britain's Hannah Klugman, Australia's Emerson Jones, Czech Republic's Laura Samsonova. The preview from the ITF is here.

The United States plays Serbia on Monday.

The Tennis Europe Junior Masters were held this week in Monte Carlo for the 14s and 16s age divisions. This is a year-end points race, much like the WTA and ATP's Finals, although confined to European players. 

France's Daniel Jade, the Les Petits As runner-up this year and the No. 4 seed this week, won the boys 14s title, beating No. 1 seed Kaan Isik Kosaner of Turkey 6-1, 6-1 in today's final. 

No. 2 seed Jana Kovackova, a 13-year-old from the Czech Republic, won the girls 14s title, beating unseeded Barbara Kostecka of Poland 6-4, 6-1.

No. 2 seed Kolos Kincses of Hungary won the boys 16s title, defeating unseeded Linus Lagerbohm of Finland 7-6(6), 6-1 in today's final.

The only player to capture both the European Championships and the Masters title is the girls 16s champion Jeline Vandromme of Belgium, who was unseeded despite her title at the European Championships in September. Vandromme defeated No. 4 seed Gala Vanovic of Serbia 6-0, 7-5. Vandromme is the first player to win both titles in the same year since Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain in 2012.

A photo of the four champions can be found at the Tennis Europe Live page.