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Friday, November 3, 2023

October Aces; Bowers Reaches $15K Semifinal in Norman; Joint Advances to Semis at $60K in Australia; Seeds Assert Themselves at ITA Fall Nats; Quinn Makes First Challenger Semifinal; US Boys Reach Junior Davis Cup Semifinals

My monthly Tennis Recruiting Network column centered on the top performances of junior and college players over the preceding month is up today, and the number of juniors and current and former college stars that were left out seems to get bigger as the years progress. The college players are taking advantage of the opportunities on the many college campuses hosting tournaments, and with the junior reserved and exempt programs the ITF has introduced in the past several years, juniors are also getting chances to compete regularly in pro events and making the most of them.

One of those juniors, Auburn recruit Ashton Bowers, picked up her first USTA Pro Circuit win early this week at the $15,000 tournament in Norman Oklahoma, and she has continued to progress through the draw with a third straight victory over a young American. In the first round, the 18-year-old blue chip from Georgia defeated 14-year-old qualifier Annika Penickova 6-3, 6-4; in the second round, she beat 2022 16s Orange Bowl champion Alexis Nguyen, another qualifier, 6-1, 6-2; in the quarterfinals today, Bowers defeated 20-year-old wild card Emma Staker, a junior at Oklahoma, 6-0, 6-2. In Saturday's semifinals, she'll face No. 5 seed Maria Kononova(North Texas) of Russia, who beat top seed Jessica Failla(USC/Pepperdine) 7-6(7), 6-2.
The other semifinal will feature two current collegians: Oklahoma State sophomore Lucia Peyre of Argentina, the No. 3 seed, and No. 7 seed Anna Zyryanova of Russia, a sophomore at North Carolina State. Zyryanova defeated North Carolina recruit Tatum Evans 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.

Maya Joint, who won the ITF J300 Pan American Closed singles and doubles titles in September, left for Australia shortly thereafter to prepare for the Australian summer tournaments there. Joint, who switched her country representation from the United States to Australia, her father's home country, earlier this year received a wild card into this week's $60,000 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Sydney and has advanced to the semifinals. The 17-year-old University of Texas recruit defeated No. 4 seed and WTA 202 Priscilla Hon in the first round and No. 5 seed and WTA 212 Jaimee Fourlis in Friday's quarterfinals. Joint will face another Australian seed, No. 6 Destanee Aiava, in the semifinals. Former Vanderbilt All-American Astra Sharma of Australia, the No. 2 seed, will play qualifier Hikaru Sato of Japan in the other semifinal.

Two current collegians are also in the semifinals of the men's $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Fayetteville Arkansas. Unseeded Oklahoma State freshman Derek Pham of Australia, who has a win over Learner Tien this summer, will face former Texas A&M star Noah Schachter. Pham defeated No. 7 seed Alex Martinez(Oklahoma) of Spain 6-3, 6-1, while Schachter needed nearly three hours to get past University of Arkansas wild card Gerard Planelles Ripoll of Spain 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. 

Duke senior Garrett Johns, the No. 3 seed, defeated Auburn fifth year Tyler Stice, a qualifier, 6-2, 6-2 and will play former Baylor standout Matias Soto of Chile, the No. 8 seed. Soto beat qualifier Alex Petrov, a senior at Illinois, 6-2, 6-0.

The semifinals are set at the ITA National Fall Championships in San Diego, and after a rough couple of days for seeded players, regular programming has resumed. Three of the four semifinalists in both the men's and women's singles draws have advanced, the best possible outcome given all the early upsets.

Southern California's Emma Charney is the only unseeded player to advance to the semifinals, with the sophomore defeating Celia-Belle Mohr of Vanderbilt, also unseeded, 6-2, 7-5. Charney will play No. 4 seed Ayana Akli of South Carolina, who beat North Carolina's Anika Yarlagadda 6-2, 6-3. Akli is the only player, man or woman, to advance to the semifinals of both the All-American Championships and the Fall Nationals.

In the bottom half, No. 3 seed Ange Oby Kajuru of Oklahoma State advanced to the final four, coming from behind to defeat Cal's Hannah Viller Moeller 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. She will play No. 2 seed Reese Brantmeier of North Carolina, who defeated No. 5-8 seed Sarah Hamner of South Carolina 6-4, 6-2.

The men's semifinals will also feature the No. 2 seed versus the No. 3 seed, with Texas's Micah Braswell, the No. 3, repeating his Texas regional final mastery of TCU's Pedro Vives with a 6-2, 6-3 quarterfinal win. No. 2 seed JJ Tracy of Ohio State seemed to be behind the 8-ball throughout his match with Radu Papoe of Cornell, but he managed to eke out a 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 victory.

In the top half, it will be two sophomores in the semifinals. TCU's Jack Pinnington Jones, a No. 5-8 seed, defeated unseeded Pablo Masjuan of UC Santa Barbara 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Ohio State's redshirt sophomore Jack Anthrop, the only unseeded player in the semifinals. Anthrop defeated Alvin Tudorica of South Florida 6-2, 7-6(8).

Two unseeded teams have reached the semifinals in men's doubles. Cesar Bouchelaghem and Dzianis Zharyn of Washington will face No. 3 seeds Ozan Baris and Max Shelton of Michigan State Saturday, while brothers Connor Van Schalkwyk and Cod Van Schalkwyk of Old Dominion will play No. 5-8 seeds Sebastian Gorzny and Pedro Vives of TCU. 

All four of the women's doubles semifinalists are seeded, and feature two of the women's singles semifinalists. Top seeds  Brantmeier and Elizabeth Scotty of North Carolina will play No. 4 seeds Alina Shcherbinina and Dana Guzman of Oklahoma; No. 5-8 seeds Kajuru and Anastasiya Komar will take on No. 2 seeds Janice Tjen and Savannah Broadus of Pepperdine in the other semifinal.

For semifinal coverage, see the ITA event page for links to the draws, live streaming, live scoring and the Cracked Racquets CrossCourt coverage.

With so much going on in junior and college tennis, it's been tough to focus on the two biggest events in the United States this week, but I do have to note the results today from two NCAA singles champions.

Ethan Quinn, the 2023 NCAA singles champion from Georgia, qualified for the ATP Challenger 75 in Charlottesville and has advanced to the semifinals, for the first time in his career. The 19-year-old defeated No. 3 seed Benoit Paire of France 7-6(5), 6-2 this evening, setting up a meeting with fellow qualifier Aidan Mayo. Mayo defeated former Virginia star Alexander Ritschard of Switzerland 6-3, 6-4.  The other semifinal will feature two additional unseeded players: former Texas A&M standout Patrick Kypson, who had 12 aces in his 6-1, 6-4 win over Brandon Holt(USC), and Beibit Zhukayev of Kazakhstan, who defeated Nino Serdarusic of Croatia 6-3, 6-4.

Former Virginia Cavalier Emma Navarro, the 2021 NCAA singles champion, has kept rolling along at the WTA 125 Dow Tennis Classic in Midland Michigan. Navarro, the top seed, defeated No. 7 seed Emina Bektas(Michigan) 6-2, 6-3 in today's quarterfinals, and has yet to surrender a set. Both had won titles coming into this tournament (see the Aces), but Navarro has looked to be at a different level from the rest of the field this week in Midland.

Taylor Townsend, the No. 4 seed, gave a walkover to Jana Fett of Croatia, so Fett is the next opponent for Navarro. In the bottom half, Hailey Baptiste served for the match against Anna Kalinskaya of Russia at 6-5, 40-0 in the third set but Kalinskaya saved the three match points and went to earn a 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(5) victory. She will play No. 3 seed Alycia Parks, who defeated Katherine Sebov of Canada 7-5, 6-1.

The United States' team advanced to Saturday's semifinals of the Junior Davis Cup in Spain, beating the Netherlands 3-0. Jagger Leach got the first point for the United States at No. 2 singles, beating Sander Paradis 7-5, 6-2. Darwin Blanch clinched the tie with a 6-3, 7-6(7) win over Mees Rottgering at No. 1 singles. Leach and Maxwell Exsted lost the first set the US has dropped all week in the dead doubles rubber, but rebounded for a 6-3, 1-6, 10-6 win over Paradis and Rottgering.

The United States will play Italy in the semifinals, after the Italians took a hard-fought 2-1 victory over previously undefeated Germany.

The other semifinal will feature Spain and the Czech Republic.  Both matches are scheduled for 10 a.m. local time Saturday, which is 5 a.m. Eastern.

All the Junior Davis Cup results can be found here. Live streaming is available here. Live scoring is here.