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Saturday, November 18, 2023

Fakih Wins Mexico J300 Doubles, Plays for Singles Title Sunday; Tien vs. Fearnley at Columbus $25K; Banerjee, Baris Meet for East Lansing $15K Title; Johns Extends Winning Streak at Boca Raton $15K; Kypson and Michelsen in Champaign Final; UNC College Feature

Seventeen-year-old Kate Fakih, who has signed with UCLA for 2024, has advanced to her first ITF J300 final in Zapopan Mexico. Fakih, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 6 seed Yoana Konstantinova of Bulgaria 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in today's semifinals, after beating No. 4 seed Ekaterina Perelygina of Russia in three sets in the quarterfinals. Fakih will play the No. 2 seed in the championship match Sunday, 15-year-old Luna Maria Cinalli of Argentina. Cinalli, also appearing in her first J300 final, defeated unseeded Dora Miskovic of Croatia 6-4, 6-3 in today's semifinals. Miskovic had beaten No. 3 seed Mia Slama 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

Fakih already has captured her first J300 title this week, partnering with fellow UCLA signee Olivia Center. Fakih and Center, seeded No. 5, defeated top seeds Cinalli and partner Anna Maria Fedotova of the Dominican Republic 6-2, 6-2 in the final. The 2023 USTA National 18s champions did not drop a set all week.

Cooper Woestendick and partner Oliver Bonding of Great Britain made the boys doubles final, but the No. 2 seeds fell to No. 6 seed Maxime Zeitune of Argentina and Miguel Tobon 7-5, 3-6, 10-8.

The boys singles final will feature top seed Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico and No. 7 seed Danil Panarin of Russia, a Vanderbilt signee.

At the $25,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit in Columbus Ohio, No. 2 seed and two-time Kalamazoo champion Learner Tien(USC) will play qualifier Jake Fearnley of Great Britain for the title. Tien defeated Ohio State fifth year and wild card Robert Cash 6-3, 6-3; the 17-year-old has not lost a set all week in reaching his first $25K final. TCU senior Fearnley, who won his first $25K last month in Great Britain, defeated Tennessee junior Shunsuke Mitsui of Japan, the No. 5 seed, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

Cash, who has already won a Challenger doubles title this fall, partnering with former Buckeye James Trotter, picked up this week's title with freshman teammate Bryce Nakashima. Cash and Nakashima, the No. 2 seeds, defeated Tennessee teammates Mitsui and Great Britain's Johannes Monday, the top seeds, 7-5, 7-6(10). The 19-year-old Nakashima now has four pro doubles titles, all with different partners.

There are two all-US finals Sunday, with two of the country's top sophomores facing off at the $15,000 men's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in East Lansing, while the Champaign Challenger final between Alex Michelsen and Patrick Kypson could decide the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge.

No. 2 seed Michelsen, who extended his Challenger winning streak to nine matches with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 4 seed Titouan Droguet of France, is almost certain to make the main draw of the Australian Open, with his ATP Live ranking currently at 92. That means the second place finisher is in line for the wild card, and that is now down to two players: Brandon Nakashima(Virginia) and Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M). Nakashima, who has reached the final of the ATP Challenger in Sweden with a 6-1, 6-2 win over 18-year-old Alexander Blockx of Belgium, has a nine point lead over Kypson in the race, so if he wins the title tomorrow, it doesn't matter who wins the Champaign final. No. 7 seed Kypson, who defeated NCAA champion Ethan Quinn(Georgia) 6-4, 6-2 today, must beat Michelsen to claim the wild card. If both he and Nakashima lose in the final, Nakashima takes it. Kypson won the USTA's Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge this spring.

In East Lansing, Stanford sophomore Samir Banerjee will face Michigan State sophomore Ozan Baris for the title Sunday. The unseeded Banerjee defeated No. 6 seed Will Grant(Florida) 6-2, 6-2 in less than an hour, while No. 2 seed Baris avenged his ITA All-American Championships three-set loss to Texas fifth year Eliot Spizzirri, the No. 3 seed, 6-2, 7-6(5). Spizzirri trailed 4-0 in the second set and won the next five games, but Baris came up big in the tiebreaker to reach his second Pro Circuit final. This is Banerjee's first Pro Circuit final.

The East Lansing doubles title went to NC State's Robin Catry of France and Fons Van Sembeek of the Netherlands, the No. 2 seeds, who defeated unseeded Alafia Ayeni(Cornell/Kentucky) and Kentucky freshman Matthew Rankin 6-3, 6-4 in the final. Catry and Van Sembeek also won the doubles title at the Norman Oklahoma $15K last month.

Top seeds JP Smith(Tennessee) of Australia and Sem Verbeek(Pacific) of the Netherlands won the Champaign Challenger doubles title, beating Illinois teammates Lucas Horve and Great Britain's Oliver Okonkwo 6-2, 7-6(4) in the final. 

Duke senior Garrett Johns will play in his third consecutive $15,000 final in as many weeks tomorrow in Boca Raton Florida, having won two weeks ago in Fayetteville Arkansas and last week in Winston-Salem. Johns, the No. 5 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Victor Lilov 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in today's semifinals and will face No. 6 seed Kilian Feldbausch of Switzerland, an 18-year-old looking for his first Pro Circuit title. Feldbausch, a former Top 10 ITF junior, defeated top seed Federico Agustin Gomez(Louisville) of Argentina 6-1, 6-3.

No. 6 seed Hanna Chang advanced to the final of the $25,000 women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Austin Texas, beating unseeded Madison Sieg(USC) 7-6(4), 6-2 in today's semifinal. Chang will face No. 4 seed Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra, who defeated unseeded Chloe Beck(Duke) 6-4, 6-3. 

China's Snow Han, a junior at USC, and Yujia Huang, a junior at Brigham Young, won the doubles title today in Austin, defeating top seeds Ashley Lahey(Pepperdine) and Maria Kozyreva(St. Mary's) of Russia 7-5, 2-6, 10-8. It's the first Pro Circuit doubles title for Huang, the second for Han.

The University of North Carolina's student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, published an article Thursday examining reasons several UNC players have chosen to both go to college and to retain their amateur status, and how they feel the college atmosphere has helped them. Comments from Reese Brantmeier, Will Jansen and former Tar Heel Rinky Hijikata are included, with Intercollegiate Tennis Association CEO Tim Russell also quoted. 


Guest said...

Current Gamecock, Toby Samuel, and Andre Goransson won the doubles Challenger in Drummondville.