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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Twenty-one Americans Reach Quarterfinals in Four USTA Pro Circuit Tournaments; Forbes, Fakih and Slama Reach Quarterfinals at ITF J300 in Mexico; Top ITF Juniors Withdraw from Merida Mexico J500 and Eddie Herr J300

The heavy rains in south Florida have been a major national news story, but they did play some tennis today at the men's $15,000 tournament in Boca Raton, and managed to complete the qualifying. Sixteen-year-old Max Exsted was among the qualifiers, but as he played two qualifying matches today, I don't know that his first round match with Cornell junior Adit Sinha will be played today. Alex Razeghi won his first round match, beating wild card Rudy Quan 3-6, 6-3, 10-6(I'm not sure why this match was decided via a match tiebreaker, with another first round match playing a full third set), but he gave his second round opponent a walkover.

The other four events on the USTA Pro Circuit schedule this week have moved through each round normally, with the quarterfinals set for Friday.

At the ATP Challenger 75 in Champaign Illinois, there is extra intrigue, with the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge going to be decided there or at the Challenger 75 in Sweden, where Brandon Nakashima and Maxime Cressy have reached the quarterfinals. There are six Americans in the quarterfinals in Champaign, and assuming Alex Michelesen won't need the main draw wild card, five are still playing for it.

Top seed Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois) will face No. 7 seed Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M), with the loser eliminated from the wild card race, and wild card Ethan Quinn(Georgia) needs to defeat Nino Serdarusic of Croatia to stay in contention. Mitchell Krueger will play No. 4 seed Titouan Drouget of France, and he too needs a victory to have any chance at the wild card.

Alex Michelsen, the No. 3 seed, takes on No. 8 seed Martin Damm, who is also still alive in the race for the wild card, which ends this week.

In second round action today, Michelsen defeated Sebastian Fanselow(Pepperdine) of Germany 6-3, 6-2; Drouget beat Brandon Holt(USC) 6-4, 6-3; Krueger downed qualifier Alex Rybakov(TCU) 7-6(5), 6-1 and Damm defeated Mats Rosenkranz of Germany 6-3, 6-4.

At the $25,000 men's tournament in Columbus Ohio, three Americans have reached the quarterfinals, with No. 2 seed Learner Tien(USC) and No. 8 seed Adam Neff(SMU) facing off Friday. Tien defeated qualifier Luc Fomba(TCU) of France 6-3, 6-1, while Neff beat qualifier Finn Murgett(Auburn) of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4. The third American in the quarterfinals is wild card Robert Cash, the only Ohio State Buckeye still alive for the title. Cash defeated No. 7 seed Karue Sell(UCLA) of Brazil 6-2, 6-3 and will play Pawit Sornlaksup(Toledo) of Thailand in the quarterfinals. Cash also made the quarterfinals of the Columbus $25K two years ago, where he fell to teammate Cannon Kingsley.

Six Americans are through to the quarterfinals of the $15,000 men's tournament in East Lansing, including two Michigan State Spartans.

No. 2 seed Ozan Baris, an MSU sophomore, will face Perry Gregg, a junior at Holy Cross, and No. 3 seed Eliot Spizzirri, a fifth year at Texas, will play MSU redshirt freshman Aristotelis Thanos of Greece, a wild card. In the top half, No. 1 seed Alafia Ayeni(Cornell/Kentucky) plays Stanford sophomore Samir Banerjee and No. 6 seed Will Grant(Florida) takes on Arda Azkara(New Mexico) of Turkey.

Six Americans are also through to the quarterfinals at the $25,000 women's tournament in Austin Texas, and one is guaranteed to reach the final.

The top two seeds--Nigina Abduraimova of Uzbekistan and Stacey Fung(Washington) of Canada--lost in the first round, and two recent collegians have assumed their place in the draw. Madison Sieg(USC) will face wild card Catherine Harrison(UCLA) in the top half, while in the bottom half, Chloe Beck(Duke) plays wild card Ashley Lahey. The two other Americans, in the top half, are Ellie Douglas(TCU), who beat No. 3 seed Grace Min 6-4, 6-0, and No. 6 seed Hanna Chang, who defeated Stefani Webb(Central Florida) of Australia 5-7, 6-2, 6-4. 

The winner of the Beck - Lahey match will face the winner of the non-American quarterfinal between No. 4 seed Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra and Martina Okalova(Tulsa) of Slovakia. Jimenez Kasintseva defeated Mary Stoiana(Texas A&M) 6-4, 6-0; Okalova beat Clervie Ngounoue 6-2, 6-1.

Today was doubles only at the ITF J300 in Zapopan Mexico, so it's a good time to catch up on the singles quarterfinals, which will be played Friday.

Two girls have moved into the quarterfinals, No. 3 seed Mia Slama and No. 8 seed Kate Fakih. Slama faces unseeded Dora Miskovic of Croatia, the only unseeded player in the girls quarterfinals. Fakih will play No. 4 seed Ekaterina Perelygina of Russia.

The sole US boy in the quarterfinals is No. 10 seed Matthew Forbes. Forbes goes up against top seed and ITF World No. 2 Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez of Mexico next.

No. 2 seed Alex Frusina lost in the second round, his first match, and has withdrawn from the J500 in Merida Mexico next week. Adhithya Ganesan, who was the No. 4 seed, withdrew at the last-minute. He had played five straight weeks on the ITF Junior Circuit and had won the last four tournaments, all in Asia, so he was due for a week off.

Next week's fields in Merida have lost a lot of their luster, with many of the top juniors withdrawing, although Pacheco Mendez is still entered. In addition to Frusina, No. 3 Joel Schwaerzler of Austria and No. 10 Federico Cina of Italy withdrew, as did No. 18 Rei Sakamoto of Japan. The cutoff, was 98 on the day the acceptances were published; at the freeze date, the cutoff was 179. 

The Top 20 girls withdrawing are Iva Jovic, Tereza Valentova of the Czech Republic and Mingge Xu of Great Britain. US girls who have withdrawn, in addition to Jovic, are Kaitlyn Rolls, Anya Murthy and Victoria Osuigwe. The initial cutoff of 116 is now at 218.

The withdrawal deadline for the ITF J300 Eddie Herr was Tuesday, and neither of the girls finalists from 2022 will return. Valentova, the runnerup, has pulled out of everything since the US Open girls final, so she is likely injured; champion Mayu Crossley of Japan has not played since the College Park J300 in August, and she too is out of the Eddie Herr. 

Cina and Sakamoto also out of the Eddie Herr, as is Juan Carlos Prado Angelo of Bolivia, No. 8 in the ITF rankings. 

The withdrawal date for the J500 Orange Bowl is not until next Tuesday, but I would say it doesn't look promising for those fields either. No. 4 Yaroslav Demin of Russia has already withdrawn and with Cina and Schwaerzler not in any of the other tournaments hopes that they will play it are fading.