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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

First ITA Computer Rankings Place Indoor Champions Oklahoma State and Ohio State at No. 1; Men's Team Indoor Recap at Tennis Recruiting Network; UVA Signee Fonseca Wins First ATP Tour Match in Rio; Michelsen Posts First ATP Top 10 Win

As I mentioned last night, the first ITA rankings done by the computer algorithm were released yesterday, and while the top two stayed did change, there was a lot of movement elsewhere. Chris Halioris of CollegeTennisRanks.com had provided projected rankings on his site for the first time this year in advance of the ITA's first computer rankings, but there were some major discrepancies due to what he explained as missing and/or ambiguous results or errors in entering scores, which are done by the programs themselves.

All that is to say that these rankings are likely to change next week when the errors are corrected, but as for now, this is how the Top 10s look, with links to the other 65 ranked teams available by visiting the ITA Division I ranking page

The individual rankings, which have been done by a computer since last November, also have the same No. 1 and No. 2 singles players as in the last rankings two weeks ago.

Top Ten Division I Team Rankings 
February 20, 2024

Last poll rankings in parentheses.

MEN:
1. Ohio State (1)
2. TCU (2)
3. Wake Forest (9)
4. Columbia (10)
5. Tennessee (7)
6. Kentucky (11)
7. Virginia (6)
8. Harvard (8)
9. Arizona (14)
10. Texas (3)

Top 10 Singles
1. Eliot Spizzirri, Texas
2. Micah Braswell, Texas
3. JJ Trace, Ohio State
4. Ozan Baris, Michigan State
5. Oliver Tarvet, San Diego
6. Colton Smith, Arizona
7. Johannus Monday, Tennessee
8. Jack Pinnington Jones, TCU
9. Murphy Cassone, Arizona State
10. Chris Rodesch, Virginia

Top 5 Doubles:
1. Max Sheldon and Ozan Baris, Michigan State
2. Hunter Heck and Karlis Ozolins, Illinois
3. DK Suresh and Holden Koons, Wake Forest
4. Robert Cash and JJ Tracy, Ohio State
5. Sebastian Gorzny and Pedro Vives, TCU

WOMEN:
1. Oklahoma State (1)
2. Michigan (2)
3. Stanford (3)
4. Texas (6)
5. NC State (4)
6. Virginia (7)
7. Ohio State (9)
8. North Carolina (5)
9. Southern California (17)
10. Georgia (8)

Singles:
1. Mary Stoiana, Texas A&M
2. Reese Brantmeier, North Carolina
3. Amelia Rajecki, NC State
4. Ange Oby Kajuru, Oklahoma State
5. Kari Miller, Michigan
6. Sarah Hamner, South Carolina
7. Ayana Akli, South Carolina
8. Savannah Broadus, Pepperdine
9. Anastasiya Komar, Oklahoma State
10. Alexa Noel, Miami

Doubles:
1. Elizabeth Scotty and Reese Brantmeier, North Carolina
2. Alina Shcherbinina and Dana Guzman, Oklahoma
3. Janice Tjen and Savannah Broadus, Pepperdine
4. Mary Stoiana and Mia Kupres, Texas A&M
5. Jaedan Brown and Kari Miller, Michigan

New York sports journalist Michael Lewis covered the ITA Men's D-I Team Indoor Championships for the Tennis Recruiting Network, traveling to both the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and the Milstein Family Tennis Center from his New York home. Those of us who watched from home, thanks to Cracked Racquets, know that we are bound to miss things we would observe if on site, and he does a good job of describing the experience of following a thriller in person in this article.


Junior slam champions rarely entertain the idea of attending college, which made the decision by 17-year-old US Open champion Joao Fonseca of Brazil to sign with Virginia for this fall all the more newsworthy. One of my Eight Intriguing Questions for 2024 was whether he would actually play college tennis, given his enormous potential, and a Challenger semifinal last month increased the odds that he would turn pro before next fall.

Today, at the ATP 500 in rainy Rio, wild card Fonseca met 19-year-old Arthur Fils of France, seeded seventh, in a first round match postponed from yesterday. Fonseca, currently 655 in the ATP rankings, posted a 6-0, 6-4 victory over the ATP No. 36, for his first ATP Top 100 win. He is the first player born in 2006 to win an ATP main draw match; Fonseca's opponent in the second round is Cristian Garin of Chile. Having seen the fanatical crowds he had in New York at the Open in the juniors, I can't imagine what adoration he is receiving after an ATP win in his home country.

With each win on the professional level, Fonseca, who moved up more than 200 places in the ATP rankings with this victory, seems less likely to enroll at Virginia.

His success is inviting comparisons to Alex Michelsen, although Michelsen was never the can't-miss, hope of a country that Fonseca has been for years. But he did win a junior slam (Wimbledon boys doubles) and had every intention of playing at the University of Georgia until his Challenger title in Chicago last July, followed by an ATP 250 final in Newport.

Several hours after Fonseca had posted his milestone victory, Michelsen earned his first ATP Top 10 win, beating Alex de Minaur of Australia 6-4, 6-1 at the ATP 250 in Los Cabos Mexico. Although he reached the third round of the Australian Open this year, which is arguably more impressive, the 19-year-old from Southern California will be playing in his second ATP 250 quarterfinal this week in Mexico, with Newport his first. His opponent in the quarterfinals is the winner of tonight's match between Emilio Nava and Australia's Jordan Thompson, the No. 8 seed. Thompson beat Michelsen a year ago in the Rome Georgia Challenger final, one of the breakout tournaments for the then 18-year-old.

Earlier in the day, 18-year-old Jakub Mensik of the Czech Republic, the 2023 Australian Open boys finalist, reached his first ATP quarterfinal at the 250 in Doha, beating Andy Murray 7-6(6), 6-7(3), 7-6(4). Like Michelsen, Mensik has already been to the third round of a major, at last year's US Open.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Defending Champion Woestendick, ITF No. 8 Bigun Lead ITF J300 Indian Wells Acceptances; Top Seed Kumstat Retires in Second Round at J500 in Egypt; $25K in Naples Sole USTA Pro Circuit Tournament This Week

In less than three weeks, the Southern California junior swing will begin, with the ITF J300 in Indian Wells the first tournament, starting on March 11, followed by the San Diego J300 and the USTA Level 1 Easter Bowl.

The acceptances for the Indian Wells tournament were released today, with the event open to everyone this year, after being a North American Closed event last year. San Diego will be the Closed event this year, with the Easter Bowl not affiliated with the ITF Junior Circuit.

Although the tournament is open, it is an isolated week for those who do not live in the United States, so the fields are not likely to attract the best players from Europe. The opportunity to be onsite the second week of the BNP Paribas Open is an attraction of course, but there are obviously other considerations, and Americans will always be a large percentage of the participants, as they were when the tournament was the International Spring Championships in Carson California.

Fifteen of the 34 boys accepted into the 48-player draw are Americans, led by No. 8 Kaylan Bigun. No. 13 Cooper Woestendick, who just announced his verbal commitment to TCU this weekend, is back to defend his title, with Alex Razeghi, at No. 20, the third ITF Top 20 boy to enter.

The cutoff for the boys acceptances is 106, which is very high if it doesn't move much; the girls cutoff is 130, also with three Top 20 players: Serbia's Teodora Kostovic, Vlada Mincheva of Russia and 2023 finalist Iva Jovic. Tyra Grant, who is coming off an shoulder injury suffered at the Orange Bowl, is on the mend, but is not planning on competing on this swing.

The US boys currently in the main draw: Bigun, Woestendick, Razeghi, Roy Horovitz, Max Exsted, Matthew Forbes, Jagger Leach, Ian Mayew, Noah Johnston, Nikita Filin, Matisse Farzam, Kase Schinnerer, Jack Kennedy, Maximus Dussault and Jack Secord.

The 16 US girls accepted into the main draw: Jovic, Thea Frodin, Aspen Schuman, Kate Fakih, Shannon Lam, Alanis Hamilton, Ariana Pursoo, Christasha McNeil, Mia Slama, Claire An, Monika Ekstrand, Kristina Penickova, Maya Iyengar, Maya Dutta, Olivia Center and Leena Friedman.

Friedman, who took nearly two months off after winning the Orange Bowl 16s title in December, returned to action this month in Germany, and now in Egypt. The 16-year-old from New York qualified for the J300 warmup in Egypt last week, and went on reach the quarterfinals. She was the only American in either draw at the J500 in Cairo this week, and she lost to No. 2 seed Alena Kovackova of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the second round today. Laura Samson of the Czech Republic is the top seed, and she has reached the third round, but her compatriot, boys top seed and Australian Open boys finalist Jan Kumstat retired in the second round. The 17-year-old retired in his match against Pierluigi Basile of Italy with the score 6-4, 5-7. No. 2 seed Petr Brunclik(CZE), No. 3 seed Maxim Mrva(CZE) and No. 4 seed Luca Preda(ROU) are all through to the third round. The top six seeds in the girls draw have also advanced.

Three US boys and four US girls are through to the second round at the ITF J300 Asuncion Bowl in Paraguay: Noah Johnston, Maximus Dussault, Max Exsted[6], Kaitlyn Rolls[6], Gabriella Mikaul[Q], Maya Dutta and Trinetra Vijayakumar.  Exsted defeated last week's J300 Lima champion Miguel Tobon of Colombia, who was a wild card entry, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round. 

This week's J200 in the Dominican Republic had 30 Americans competing in the main draw; Shannon Lam is the top seed in the girls draw, with Thea Frodin, the champion last week at the J200 there, the No. 2 seed. Kase Schinnerer was the top seed in the boys draw, but he lost in the second round today (his first match in a 48-draw) to qualifier Eyal Shumilov of Israel 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

The ITF Junior Circuit tournament in the United States this week is a J30 in Eau Claire Wisconsin. Both top seeds have already lost, with girls No. 1 Thea Latak retiring in today's second round to qualifier Estela Loureiro 5-7, 6-4, 4-0; boys top seed Zachary Cohen also lost in today's second round, 6-4, 6-1 to Adrian Treacy.

The only USTA Pro Circuit tournament this week is the men's $25,000 event in Naples Florida, where Blaise Bicknell(Florida/Tennessee) of Jamaica and Toby Kodat are the top seeds. The women have not had anything at any level the past two weeks, with the next event a W35 in Spring Texas next week.

Qualifying in Naples was completed today, with Trey Hilderbrand(UCF/Texas A&M), Colin Altamirano(Virginia) and Hunter Heck(Illinois) the three Americans to reach the main draw.

Wild cards were given to Axel Nefve(Notre Dame/Florida), Emilio Sanchez Bronzetti, Will Grant(Florida) and Noah Schachter(Texas A&M).

Grant won his first round match today, beating No. 5 seed and two-time Kalamazoo 18s champion Leaner Tien(USC) 6-4, 6-4. Alex Razeghi received entry via one of his Junior Exempt spots he is eligible for after finishing in the 21-30 range in the 2023 ITF junior rankings; he lost to Igor Gimenez of Brazil 0-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the only other main draw match played today.

The ITA D-I rankings came out a day earlier than normal, with the team rankings switching to the computer algorithm now. I'll have a full report on all the changes in Wednesday's post.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Ohio State Beats TCU in Rare 4-3 Thriller to Claim Men's Team Indoor Championship; Kennedy and Frodin Capture ITF J200 Titles, Satterfield and Rodriquez Sweep at J60; Fritz Defends Delray Beach Title

The best was saved for last at the ITA Men's Division I Team Indoor Championships today, with top-seeded Ohio State preventing a third consecutive title for TCU with a dramatic come-from-behind victory. When fifth-year senior Robert Cash defeated Lui Maxted 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3 at line 5 to give the Buckeyes a 4-3 win, it was the first final that had come down to the last match on since 2012, when USC defeated Ohio State in Charlottesville, and the first 4-3 match played in the 2024 Team Indoor Championships.

Neither TCU nor Ohio State had looked good in doubles over the weekend, so there was no obvious favorite there, and although there was singles strength by both teams to point to, the consensus prior to the match deemed TCU more in need of that critical point. They got it, and without much drama, with TCU getting a 6-3 set from Sebastian Gorzny and Pedro Vives at line 1 against Andrew Lutschaunig and Justin Boulais and a 6-4 set from Jake Fearnley and Jack Pinnington Jones against Cannon Kingsley and JJ Tracy at line 2. Ohio State's Cash and Alexander Bernard had blitzed past Maxted and Duncan Chan 6-2 at line 3 in 21 minutes to force TCU to take the top two lines.

The second-seeded Horned Frogs saw their lead doubled less than an hour later, with a surprisingly lopsided 6-1, 6-0 win for Fearnley over Kingsley at line 1 singles. All the first sets were not yet completed when Fearnley closed out Kingsley, but Maxted and Bernard put first sets on the board a few minutes later, for a split of the six singles first sets.

That meant Ohio State would need to hold their advantage on their three positions and force a third in the other two remaining matches, but those calculations are rarely that straightforward.

The Buckeyes did tie the score with nearly simultaneous finishes by Jack Anthrop at line 4 and Tracy at line 3, with Anthrop defeating Gorzny 7-5, 6-2 and Tracy earning a 6-4, 6-4 win over Vives.

The next point belonged to TCU, with Pinnington Jones beating Boulais 6-4, 6-4 at line 2, and minutes later, both remaining matches entered third sets, after Tomas Jirousek took the second set from Bernard at line 6 and Cash forced a third from Maxted at line 5. 

Cash and Bernard, who had delivered quick points for the Buckeyes in their three wins this weekend, were the two players Ohio State fans would want to have in that position, but Cash and Bernard were in pressure situations they had not encountered yet this year. Jirousek got the first break of the third set, but Bernard got it back quickly, while Cash made his early break stand up, staying in front and not deviating from his aggressive net-rushing game. 

Bernard then earned his second break of Jirousek at 3-4 and he served it out for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory and a 3-3 tie.  After holding a tough service game from 15-30 down at 4-3, the pressure was all on Maxted, and although both stayed committed to their aggressive games, at 30-all it was Cash who forced a passing shot wide and then put away a forehand on his first match point to deliver the title.

"I was so nervous, I was trying so hard to focus, taking every point one by one, trying not to think about it," Cash told Alex Gruskin of Cracked Racquets after the match. "Ty (Tucker) was with me every point, told me to breathe, take my time between points, and I just stuck to the game plan, kept it simple."

Cash had committed to Ohio State, but was not yet playing for the Buckeyes when they last won the title in 2019. The 22-year-old from Ohio explained how important this title was to him and the program.

"It means everything," Cash said in his interview. "We've come so close so many times in this event, we've been the 1 seed so many times, we've had such great starts, and to finally cap it off with a national championship, it's the best feeling ever. It just means so much to us. I was one year out when they won it last, so I saw it from the sidelines as a commit, and it just looked so much fun to be a part of that environment, and I just wanted to be a part of it."

Ohio State now has its third ITA Team Indoor title and is a perfect 13-0 to start the season, with its last seven victories over ranked teams.

TCU suffered its first loss, but its 9-1 record includes six wins this month over ranked teams.

ITA Men's Division I Team Indoor Championships

FINAL
February 19, 2024
New York NY

Ohio State[1] 4, TCU[2] 3

Doubles:
1. Sebastian Gorzny and Pedro Vives(TCU) d. Andrew Lutschaunig and Justin Boulais(OSU) 6-3
2. Jake Fearnley and Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) d. JJ Tracy and Cannon Kingsley(OSU) 6-4
3. Alexander Bernard and Robert Cash(OSU) d. Duncan Chan and Lui Maxted(TCU) 6-2

Order of finish: 3, 1, 2

Singles:
1. Jake Fearnley(TCU) d. Cannon Kingsley(OSU) 6-1, 6-0
2. Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) d. Justin Boulais(OSU) 6-4, 6-4
3. JJ Tracy(OSU) d. Pedro Vives(TCU) 6-4, 6-4
4. Jack Anthrop(OSU) d. Sebastian Gorzny(TCU) 7-5, 6-2
5. Robert Cash(OSU) d. Lui Maxted(TCU) 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3
6. Alexander Bernard(OSU) d. Tomas Jirousek(TCU) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3

Order of finish: 1, 4, 3, 2, 6, 5
=====================

The ITF Junior Circuit last week produced plenty of American champions, including a sweep of the four titles at the ITF J200 in the Dominican Republic.

Top seed Thea Frodin eked out a 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(5) win over No. 2 seed Christasha O'Neil in the girls singles final in Santa Domingo, with the 15-year-old Californian now up to a career-high of 46 in the ITF junior rankings with her highest level title to date.

No. 4 seed Jack Kennedy defeated No. 5 seed Rafael Botran Neutze of Guatemala 6-2, retired in the boys final in Santa Domingo after six Americans had advanced to the quarterfinals. Like Frodin, the 15-year-old Kennedy earned his best title by level with that win and is up to a career high of 83 in the ITF junior rankings.

Unseeded Cole Henceroth and Benjamin Willwerth won the boys doubles title, via a walkover from No. 2 seeds Botran Neutze and El Salvador's Cesar Cruz. It's their first ITF Junior Circuit title as a team.

No. 3 seeds Kayla Chung and Maya Iyengar won the girls doubles title, beating top seeds Frodin and McNeil 6-2, 2-6, 10-8 in the final. It's their first title ITF Junior Circuit title as a team.

There were sweeps for Americans at the J60 in Guatemala as well last week, with Jack Satterfield and Ava Rodriguez champions in both singles and doubles. 

The unseeded Satterfield didn't drop a set in claiming his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title, with the 16-year-old from Florida defeating Agassi Rusher 6-4, 6-3 in the all-American final. No. 8 seed Ava Rodriguez, 15, defeated unseeded Zaire Clarke in another all-US final 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 for her second ITF Junior Circuit title.

Rodriguez and Nina Marcela Chavez Vicente of Guatemala, the No. 2 seeds, defeated No. 4 seeds Aida Oviedo and Guatemala's Carlota Balseiro 6-3, 6-4 in the girls doubles final. 

At the J30 in Medford New Jersey, Mark Krupkin swept the titles, with the top-seeded 17-year-old defeating 15-year-old Sebastian Bielen, the No. 5 seed, 6-3, 6-4 in the singles final. He and Nicolas Iantosca, the top seeds, claimed the doubles title when unseeded Gavin Goode and Mason Taube retired trailing 2-0 in the final. 

Unseeded 16-year-old Rachel Smith won her first two titles on the ITF Junior Circuit, beating doubles partner Isabelle DeLuccia, the No. 6 seed, 6-3, 6-4 in the girls singles final. The third-seeded pair then took the doubles title, beating unseeded Anabelle Janczyk and Lauren Zhang 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

Sixteen-year-old Aoife Kuo won her first title at the J60 in Mexico last week, with the No. 15 seed beating No. 8 seed Madelynn Ludwig of Canada 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Fifteen-year-old Yannik Alvarez, who lives in Atlanta but represents Puerto Rico, won his third ITF Junior Circuit singles title, with the No. 6 seed beating unseeded Emilio Camacho of Ecuador 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in the final. Alvarez and Ryan Cozad won the doubles title, their second in the past two weeks, with the No. 5 seeds beating No. 7 seeds Camacho and Tomas Chaves of Colombia 6-2, 6-3 in the final.

At the J300 Inka Bowl in Peru, No. 5 seed Miguel Tabon of Colombia won the boys singles title, beating unseeded William Rejchtman Vinciguerra of Sweden 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 in the final. No. 3 seed Antonia Vergara Rivera of Chile won the girls title, beating unseeded 14-year-old Victoria Barros of Brazil 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 in the championship match.

The rain that postponed the two finals in Florida relented on Monday, and both the $15K in Palm Coast and the ATP 250 in Delray Beach were completed.

No. 2 seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan won his second consecutive $15K on the USTA Pro Circuit, beating No. 8 seed Andres Andrade(Florida) of Ecuador 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in today's final.

At Delray Beach, No. 3 seeds Julian Cash (Mississippi State/Oklahoma State) and Robert Galloway(Wofford) won their first ATP title as a team, defeating top seeds Neal Skupski(LSU) of Great Britain and Mexico's Santiago Gonzalez 5-7, 7-5, 10-2 in this morning's final. For more on the first ATP title for both Cash and Galloway, see this article from the ATP.

Taylor Fritz defended his title in singles, with the top seed defeating No. 3 seed Tommy Paul 6-2, 6-3 for his seventh ATP title. Fritz is now 6-0 in his last six ATP finals, with more on the championship match here at the ATP website.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Top Seed Ohio State, Defending Champion TCU Reach Monday's ITA Division I Team Indoor Final; Men's Pro Finals in Florida Postponed Until Monday; USC Women Defeat Michigan in Ann Arbor

Both Ohio State and TCU will be playing for their third ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor title at the Milstein Family Tennis Center at Columbia University Monday, with the Buckeyes, who last won the title in 2019, aiming to end the run of the two-time defending champions Horned Frogs.


Top seed Ohio State earned their place in the final for this first time since that 2019 title with a 4-0 win over No. 4 Virginia, while TCU made it three finals in a row with a 4-2 victory over No. 6 seed Wake Forest.

Ohio State had lost three straight doubles points, including Friday against Alabama and Saturday against Harvard, and they looked to be heading for a fourth consecutive loss of that often key point when Robert Cash and Alex Bernard went down a break to Dylan Dietrich and Inaki Montes at line 3. Montes had not played doubles in the previous two Virginia victories and was still unable to serve with his regular service motion, but did hold his own in the match, and he and Dietrich had two match points with Cash serving at 4-5, after the other two doubles matches had finished. Cash saved both, Montes held serve on a deciding point to go up 6-5 and Bernard held to force the tiebreaker that would determine the point.

On the first point of the tiebreaker, Dietrich hit a second serve to Cash, who replied with backhand return deep at the baseline. Dietrich called it out, and the chair umpire confirmed the call, but Virginia head coach Andres Pedroso corrected his player and told the chair the point should belong to Ohio State. Dietrich and Montes then went down 4-0 and 6-1, and after one hold of serve by Dietrich, the Buckeyes took the set on their second opportunity.

I don't cover college tennis in person as much as I used to, but over the years I've seen too many line call controversies to count, including many overrules on match points and several game penalties that ended matches. Yet I've never seen a college coach correct his or her player's call in a situation like that. In fact, I have rarely seen any of them overrule their own players period, regardless of the significance of the moment. Chair umpires miss calls, as everyone, including the chairs themselves, knows, but it is their job to keep coaches out of situations like the one Pedroso found himself in. 

In this instance, Pedroso certainly had the option of deferring to the chair, but he did not take the easy way out, instead choosing to immediately rectify what he obviously saw as a clear mistake by both his player and the chair umpire. There have been several viral videos of egregious line calls by college players (often when chair umpires are not present) and irate viewers of those videos demand action from the coaches of those players. As I've said, any action of that nature is rare, but this deserves to get equal or greater exposure, to serve as an example of how college tennis might improve its reputation when it comes to line calling.

Now back to the semifinal. The loss of that doubles point wasn't ideal, but Virginia had come back from dropping the doubles point Saturday against Tennessee, who didn't manage another point despite taking three first sets in singles.

But Ohio State has been so rock solid in singles, especially in the bottom two positions, all year, that it proved too much for the Cavaliers, who dropped four first sets. Bernard again got a quick win at line 6, beating Mans Dahlberg 6-0, 6-3 and Cash followed with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Alex Kiefer at line 5 to make it 3-0. The other three matches were all going to third sets, so it was up to JJ Tracy to get the Buckeyes off the court with three straight-sets singles victories and he did, beating Montes 6-3, 6-4 at line 3 to hand the Cavalier senior his first singles loss this weekend, despite his inability to serve normally.


Like Ohio State, TCU has had difficulty with their doubles point, which was so solid last year. They lost their second straight doubles point today against Wake Forest, with the No. 2 team of Jack Pinnington Jones and Jake Fearnley unable to close out a 4-2 lead, losing four straight games to Filippo Moroni and Matthew Thomson of Wake Forest.

But as they had done Saturday against Texas A&M, TCU responded in singles, taking five first sets, and while Wake freshman Luca Pow gave the Demon Deacons a point, briefly tying the match after TCU's Lui Maxted at line 5 and Fearnley at line 1 had made it 2-1 Horned Frogs, 15 minutes later it was over, with Pinnington Jones at 2 and Sebastian Gorzny at 4 getting the third and fourth points within seconds of each other.

Monday's championship match, a rematch of the 2023 NCAA semifinal won by Ohio State, is scheduled for noon, with coverage available at the Cracked Racquets YouTube channel. Mike Cation and Alex Gruskin will provide the commentary.

There has yet to be a 4-3 match at this year's Team Indoor Championships, including in the consolation matches, with one of the latter still ongoing this evening. Could that sort of drama be in the cards for Monday?

ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor Semifinals:
February 18, 2024
New York, NY


Doubles:
1. Andrew Lutschaunig and Justin Boulais(OSU) d. Jeffrey von der Schulenburg and Chris Rodesch(UVA) 6-4
2. Edoardo Graziani and James Hopper(UVA) d. Cannon Kingsley and JJ Tracy 6-2
3. Robert Cash and Alexander Bernard(OSU) d. Dylan Dietrich and Inaki Montes(UVA) 7-6(2)

Order of finish: 2, 1, 3

Singles:

1. Cannon Kingsley(OSU) v Chris Rodesch(UVA) 6-4, 3-6, 1-0, unfinished
2. Dylan Dietrich(UVA) v Justin Boulais(OSU) 6-3, 4-6, 1-0, unfinished
3. JJ Tracy(OSU) d. Inaki Montes(UVA) 6-3, 6-4
4. Jeffrey von der Schulenburg(UVA) v Jack Anthrop(OSU) 6-4, 3-6, 2-0, unfinished
5. Robert Cash(OSU) d. Alexander Kiefer(UVA) 6-2, 6-2
6. Alexander Bernard(OSU) d. Mans Dahlberg(UVA) 6-0, 6-3

Order of finish: 6, 5, 3
=================


Doubles:
1. Holden Koons and DK Suresh(WAKE) d. Sebastian Gorzny and Pedro Vives(TCU) 6-3
2. Filippo Moroni and Matthew Thomson(WAKE) d. Jack Pinnington Jones and Jake Fearnley(TCU) 6-4
3. Duncan Chan and Lui Maxted(TCU) d. Luca Pow and Luciano Tacchi(WAKE) 6-3

Order of finish: 3, 1, 2

Singles:
1. Jake Fearnley(TCU) d. Filippo Moroni(WAKE) 6-2, 6-3
2. Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) d. DK Suresh(WAKE) 7-5, 6-2 
3. Pedro Vives(TCU) v Matthew Thomson(WAKE) 6-4, 5-4, unfinished
4. Sebastian Gorzny(TCU) d. Luciano Tacchi(WAKE) 6-1, 7-6(3) 
5. Lui Maxted(TCU) d. Holden Koons(WAKE) 6-1, 6-2 
6. Luca Pow(WAKE) d. Tomas Jirousek(TCU) 6-1, 6-2

Order of finish: 5, 1, 6, 2, 4

Consolation matches

Arizona State[15] 4, Michigan[11] 2
Tennessee[5] 4, Harvard[9] 0
Texas[3] 4, South Carolina[7] 0
Alabama[16] 4, USC[12] 1
Columbia[8] 4, Duke[13] 0
Arizona[14] 4, Texas A&M[10] 1

====================

None of the three men's professional finals were played today in Florida, with rain washing out all three of the championship matches, singles and doubles at the ATP 250 Delray Beach Open, and singles at USTA Pro Circuit $15,000 tournament in Palm Coast.

The doubles final between top seeds Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Neal Skupski(LSU) of Great Britain and No. 3 seeds Julian Cash(Mississippi State/Oklahoma State) of Great Britain and Robert Galloway(Wofford) is set for 10:30 a.m. Monday, with Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul scheduled to decide the singles championship beginning at 12:30 p.m.

In Palm Coast, No. 8 seed Andres Andrade(Florida) of Ecuador will be facing No. 2 seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan in the final, scheduled for 10:00 a.m.  

The doubles final did get played Saturday in Palm Coast, with Andrade and Alex Rybakov(TCU), the top seeds, winning their second straight title. The Sunrise $15K champions defeated No. 3 seeds Finn Reynolds(Ole Miss) of New Zealand and Juan Sebastian Gomez of Colombia 6-1, 6-3 in the final.

In a notable result today in women's college tennis, No. 17 Southern California defeated No. 2 Michigan 4-2 in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines, finalists last Monday at the Women's Team Indoor in Seattle, dropped the doubles point to USC, with the Trojans winning at lines 5, 6 and 3,  although who was playing what position is unclear with the two schools providing different players in various positions in their recaps. Senior Jaedan Brown did not play singles or doubles for Michigan today.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

No Doubles Point, No Problem as Top Seeds Ohio State and TCU Advance to Men's Team Indoor Semifinals Against Virginia and Wake Forest; Fritz and Paul Meet for ATP Delray Beach Title

After twelve matches at the ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor Championships, we still have yet to get a 4-3, last-match-on nail-biter, but three of the top four seeds will play in the semifinals tomorrow, and there is no questioning their credentials. 


Top seed Ohio State will play No. 4 Virginia in a rematch of last year's NCAA team final, although the Buckeyes have already avenged that loss with a 7-0 victory earlier this month in Columbus. No. 2 seeds and two-time defending champions TCU face No. 6 seed Wake Forest in the nightcap after both picked up 4-2 victories today.

Virginia started the day with a 5-1 win over No. 5 seed Tennessee, introducing the day's theme of advancing despite loss of the doubles point. Tennessee won a tiebreaker at line 1 to get the doubles point after the sets at lines 2 and 3 were split, and had a path to a victory with three first sets in singles. But the Volunteers were unable to put up that second point, while Virginia quickly took two of the singles matches to take the lead, with freshman Dylan Dietrich taking line 2 over Shunsuke Mitsui and Inaki Montes beating Filip Pieczonka at line 3. Montes, who has been out with a shoulder injury most of the year, is back in the lineup, but he is unable to hit a normal serve. He is starting points with a what looks like a practice starter forehand, yet neither of his opponents the past two days has been able to take advantage of that and he is now 2-0.

Those were the only two matches that finished in straight sets, with the other four splitting, and Virginia got a victory from Alex Kiefer at line 6 to go up 3-1. Chris Rodesch won over Johannus Monday at line 1 to clinch it; At line 4, Jeffrey von der Schulenburg was playing a match point against Filip Apltauer at when Rodesch clinched, and he won it, making the final score 5-1.

TCU and No. 10 seed Texas A&M were next up, and the Horned Frogs were soundly beaten by the Aggies in doubles, winning at 2 and 3 in half an hour. But TCU won five of six first sets in singles, and didn't let Texas A&M back into four of those matches, taking lines 1, 2, 4 and 6 in straight sets for a 4-2 victory.

For the third match in a row, Ohio State dropped the doubles point, this time to No. 9 Harvard, with the Buckeyes trying yet another combination and still unable to find a way to take more than one doubles set. Harvard drew a big crowd to the Milstein Family Tennis Center at Columbia, and they enjoyed the Crimson's lead, but the Buckeyes quickly silenced them, taking all six first sets in singles and rolling to 4-1 victory in less than two hours. Cannon Kingsley at 1, JJ Tracy at 3, Robert Cash at 5 and Alex Bernard at 6 delivered the points for Ohio State, who lost in the quarterfinals as the No. 1 seed last year.


The doubles point in Wake Forest's 4-2 win over No. 14 seed Arizona took as long as most of the Ohio State singles matches, with both Arizona and Wake Forest having match points in the tiebreaker at No. 1 doubles. But it was Wake who took that tiebreaker, and a second tiebreaker at line 2 for the point, and Arizona was not able to overcome that deficit, as Virginia, TCU and Ohio State had done.

Wake took four first sets in singles, and although Arizona tied the match with Herman Hoeyeraal, the hero of the Wildcats' win over No. 3 Texas Friday, getting a win at line 4. Nick Lagaev, who played at line 4 Friday, was out of the lineup tonight, and Hoeyeraal's replacement at line 5, Inaki Cabrera-Bello lost to Holden Koons 6-2, 6-2 to put Wake Forest back in front. Matthew Thomson made it 3-1 with a routine win over Gustaf Strom at line 3, but Arizona stayed alive when DK Suresh was unable to convert his two match points in the second set tiebreaker in his match with Jay Friend at line 2, and Arizona's Colton Smith closed out Filippo Moroni at line 1 to make it 3-2.

That was as close as Arizona would get, with Wake freshman Luca Pow holding a 3-1 lead in the second set against Casper Christensen as Suresh and Friend entered a third set. Pow went up 4-1, two breaks, so the suspense was muted, but he was unable to serve it out on his first attempt at 5-2. He recovered to break Christensen in the next game however to put Wake Forest, who went 0-3 last year at the Team Indoor Championships, into the semifinals.

The Ohio State - Virginia semifinal is scheduled at noon, with the TCU - Wake Forest semifinal set to start at 3:30 p.m. Both matches will be at Columbia Sunday, with Cracked Racquets providing coverage at their YouTube Channel.

Men's D-I Team Indoor quarterfinals
February 17, 2024
New York, NY


Doubles:
1. Angel Diaz and Johannus Monday(TENN) d. Chris Rodesch and Jeffrey von der Schulenburg(UVA) 7-6(5)
2. Shunsuke Mitsui and Filip Pieczonka(TENN) d. Edoardo Graziani and James Hopper(UVA) 6-1
3. Alexander Kiefer and Dylan Dietrich(UVA) d. Filip Apltauer and Younes Lalami(TENN) 6-1

Order of finish: 2, 3, 1

Singles:
1. Chris Rodesch(UVA) d. Johannus Monday(TENN) 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4
2. Dylan Dietrich(UVA) d. Shunsuke Mitsui(TENN) 6-3, 6-2
3. Inaki Montes(UVA) d. Filip Pieczonka(TENN) 6-3, 6-3
4. Jeffrey von der Schulenburg(UVA) d. Filip Apltauer(TENN) 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-5
5. Christopher Li(TENN) v Edoardo Graziani(UVA) 6-7(4) 6-0, 5-5, unfinished
6. Alexander Kiefer(UVA) d. Angel Diaz(TENN) 4-6, 7-5, 6-2

Order of finish: 2, 3, 6, 1, 4
====================


Doubles:
1. Giulio Perego and Togan Tokac(TAMU) v Sebastian Gorzny and Pedro Vives(TCU) 4-3, unfinished
2. Luke Casper and JC Roddick(TAMU) d. Jake Fearnley and Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) 6-1
3. Raphael Perot and Tiago Pires(TAMU) d. Duncan Chan and Lui Maxted(TCU) 6-4

Order of finish: 3, 2

Singles:
1. Jake Fearnley(TCU) d. Raphael Perot(TAMU) 6-3, 6-2
2. Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) d. JC Roddick(TAMU) 6-2, 6-4
3. Togan Tokac(TAMU) d. Pedro Vives(TCU) 6-3, 7-6(2)
4. Sebastian Gorzny(TCU) d. Giulio Perego(TAMU) 6-4, 7-6(6)
5. Lui Maxted(TCU) v Tiago Pires(TAMU) 6-1, 2-6, 4-4, unfinished
6. Tomas Jirousek(TCU) d. Luke Casper(TAMU) 6-4, 6-4

Order of finish: 1, 2, 4, 3, 6
==================


Doubles
1. Cooper Williams and Daniel Milavsky(HAR) d. Andrew Lutschaunig and Justin Boulais(OSU) 6-3 
2. Cannon Kingsley and JJ Tracy(OSU) d. Ronan Jachuck and Masato Peerera(HAR) 6-1
3. Henry von der Schulenburg and David Lins(HAR) d. Robert Cash and Alexander Bernard(OSU) 6-4

Order of finish: 2, 1, 3

Singles
1. Cannon Kingsley(OSU) d. Cooper Williams(HAR) 6-1, 6-2 
2. Justin Boulais(OSU) v Henry von der Schulenburg(HAR) 7-6(4), 2-1, unfinished
3. JJ Tracy(OSU) d. Daniel Milavsky(HAR) 6-1, 6-1 
4. Jack Anthrop(OSU) v. Ronan Jachuck(HAR) 6-4, 3-2, unfinished
5. Robert Cash(OSU) d. Melchior Delloye(HAR) 6-3, 6-1 
6. Alexander Bernard(OSU) d. Valdemar Pape(HAR) 6-2, 6-0 

Order of finish: 1, 6, 3, 5
==================


Doubles:
1.  Holden Koons and DK Suresh(WAKE) d. Colton Smith and Jay Friend(AZ) 7-6(9)
2. Filippo Moroni and Matthew Thomson(WAKE) d. Herman Hoeyeraal and Eric Padgham(AZ) 7-6(5) 
3. Alexander Rozin and Gustaf Strom(AZ) d. Luca Pow and Luciano Tacchi(WAKE) 6-1

Order of finish: 3, 2, 1

Singles:
1. Colton Smith(AZ) d. Filippo Moroni(WAKE) 6-1, 7-6(5)
2. DK Suresh(WAKE) v Jay Friend(AZ) 6-3, 6-7(6), 3-2, unfinished 
3. Matthew Thomson(WAKE) d. Gustaf Strom(AZ) 6-3, 6-1
4. Herman Hoeyeraal(AZ) d. Luciano Tacchi(WAKE) 6-3, 6-2
5. Holden Koons(WAKE) d. Inaki Cabrera-Bello(AZ) 6-2, 6-2 
6. Luca Pow(WAKE) d. Casper Christensen(AZ) 7-6(4), 6-3

Order of finish: 4, 5, 3, 1, 6

Consolation matches:

South Carolina[7] 4, Arizona State[15] 2
Duke[13] 4, USC[[12] 1
Texas[3] 4, Michigan[11] 0
Columbia[8] 4, Alabama[16] 0

===================

Sunday's final at the ATP 250 in Delray Beach is set for Sunday, with No. 1 seed Taylor Fritz, the defending champion, facing No. 3 seed Tommy Paul, who won the title last week at the ATP 250 in Dallas.  Paul rolled past No. 2 seed Frances Tiafoe 6-2, 6-2 in this afternoon's semifinal; Fritz defeated unseeded Marcos Giron(UCLA), 7-6(8), 6-2 in tonight's semifinal. Fritz and Paul split their two meetings on the ITF Junior Circuit back in 2015, with Paul winning the Roland Garros final over Fritz and Fritz winning the US Open final over Paul. 

In professional play, Paul owns a 4-3 edge in matches that date back to a Futures in 2015; Paul won their only meeting last year, in the semifinals of ATP 500 in Acapulco. The final in Delray Beach is scheduled not before 3 p.m. Sunday, after the doubles final between top seeds Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Neal Skupski(LSU) of Great Britain and No. 3 seeds Julian Cash(Mississippi State/Oklahoma State) of Great Britain and Robert Galloway(Wofford).

Friday, February 16, 2024

My Coverage of the USTA Level 2 Boys 14s Final; Arizona Shocks No. 3 Seed Texas on Opening Day at ITA Men's Team Indoor, Texas A&M Beats No. 7 Seed South Carolina; All US Semifinals at ATP Delray Beach

The past three years I've been covering February's USTA Boys 14s Level 2 in Grand Rapids, which gives me the opportunity to see some of the players that will be competing in Kalamazoo in a year or two. Two years ago 2023 Eddie Herr 16s champion Jack Secord, now 132 in the ITF Junior rankings, won the tournament; last year it was Colin McPeek, currently No. 5 in the Tennis Recruiting Network's Class of 2028.

Both are from the Midwest section, as is this year's champion Luca Sevim, who won four match tiebreakers in his five victories to claim his first Level 2 title. Indoor tennis is obviously the norm in the section, and the tournament is more convenient and less expensive for those who can drive to it, but I'm not sure that explains the (admittedly small sample size) streak of Midwest champions.

My article on Monday's finals for Tennis Recruiting Network can be found here.

Last week in Seattle, the first round of the D-I Women's Team Indoor Championships produced two upsets, with the No. 5 Pepperdine and No. 7 Georgia going out. Today in New York, the Men's Team Indoor Championships  opened with losses by three of the top eight seeds, with No. 3 Texas dropping a 4-2 decision to No. 14 Arizona, No. 7 South Carolina falling to No. 10 Texas A&M 4-1 and No. 8 seed Columbia losing to No. 9 Harvard 4-2.

The women did produce a 4-3 result--Ohio State's win over Georgia--while the men did not, but there was still plenty of drama, mostly from unexpected places.

Texas lost the doubles point, which seemed a necessity for Arizona with the strength of the Longhorns singles lineup, but then Arizona went out and took five first sets in singles, giving them all sorts of paths to the upset. Ironically the one match where Arizona didn't win the first set clinched it for the Wildcats, with Herman Hoeyeraal defeating Cleeve Harper 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) for the fourth point. Texas forced third sets in four matches and won two of them, at lines 1 and 2, but the hole was just too deep, and Arizona came away with the 4-2 decision. Texas, the 2023 Team Indoor finalists, did not have Siem Woldeab in their lineup. Arizona will face No. 6 seed Wake Forest in the quarterfinals, with the Demon Deacons defeating No. 11 Michigan 4-1. That match is at 6:30 p.m.

Top seed Ohio State also had an unexpected battle with No. 16 seed Alabama, although the Buckeyes did manage to secure a 4-2 win. After losing the doubles point and first sets at lines 1 and 2, Ohio State had to rely on their depth, but they got wins from the 3, 4, 5 and 6 spots to advanced to the quarterfinals. Their quarterfinal opponent will be Harvard, who closed out the evening with a tight 4-2 win over host Columbia. Harvard and Ohio State will play at 3:30 p.m Saturday.

The 9 a.m. quarterfinal will feature No. 5 seed Tennessee against No. 4 Virginia and the noon quarterfinal will see No. 2 seed TCU, face No. 10 Texas A&M.

Texas A&M lost the doubles point to South Carolina, but rallied to take five first sets in singles. Unlike Texas, the Gamecocks couldn't force any third sets and the Aggies collected a 4-1 victory. TCU looked like the two-time defending Indoor champions they are, blanking No. 15 seed Arizona State.

Tennessee defeated No. 12 Southern California 4-0 and Virginia took out No. 13 Duke 4-1.

Cracked Racquets is providing its CrossCourt Cast for all four quarterfinals Saturday at their YouTube Channel, with commentary by Alex Gruskin and Mike Cation.

First Round D-I Men's Team Indoor Championships
New York NY
February 16, 2024

TCU[2] 4 Arizona State[15] 0

Doubles:
1. Bor Artnak and Max McKennon(ASU) v Sebastian Gorzny and Pedro Vives(TCU) 4-3, unfinished
2. Jake Fearnley and Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) v Martin Vergara Del Puerto and Murphy Cassone(ASU) 6-1
3. Duncan Chan and Lui Maxted(TCU) d. Constantinos Koshis and Jacob Bullard(ASU) 6-3

Order of finish: 2, 3

Singles:
1. Jake Fearnley(TCU) v Murphy Cassone(ASU) 7-6(3), 6-5 unfinished
2. Bor Artnak(ASU) v Jack Pinnington Jones(TCU) 3-6, 7-5, 1-0, unfinished
3. Max McKennon(ASU) v Pedro Vives(TCU) 2-6, 7-6(5), unfinished
4. Sebastian Gorzny(TCU) d. Martin Vergara Del Puerto(ASU) 6-0, 6-2
5. Lui Maxted(TCU) d. Jacob Bullard(ASU) 6-3, 7-6(5)
6. Tomas Jirousek(TCU) d. Roi Ginat(ASU) 7-5, 6-3

Order of finish: 4, 5, 6
=================
Virginia[4] 4,  Duke[13] 1

Doubles:
1. Chris Rodesch and Jeffrey von der Schulenburg(UVA) d. Michael Heller and Andrew Zhang(DUKE) 6-3
2. Edoardo Graziani and James Hopper(UVA) v Pedro Rodenas and Garret Johns(DUKE) 5-3, unfinished
3. Dylan Dietrich and Alexander Kiefer(UVA) d. Connor Krug and Faris Khan(DUKE) 6-3

Order of finish:
3, 1

Singles:
1. Chris Rodesch(UVA) d. Pedro Rodenas(DUKE) 6-4, 6-4
2. Dylan Dietrich(UVA) d. Garrett Johns(DUKE) 6-2, 6-4 
3. Inaki Montes(UVA) v Andrew Zhang(DUKE) 3-6, 6-2, 2-1, unfinished
4. Jeffrey von der Schulenburg(UVA) d. Coonor Krug(DUKE) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
5. Jake Krug(DUKE v Alexander Kiefer(UVA) 7-5, 5-5, unfinished
6. Alexander Visser(DUKE) d. Mans Dahlberg(UVA) 6-2, 6-4

Order of finish:  1, 2, 6, 4
==================
Tennessee[5] 4, Southern California[12] 0

Doubles:
1. Johannus Monday and Angel Diaz(TENN) d. Peter Makk and Lodewijk Weststrate(SoCal) 6-1
2. Filip Pieczonka and Shunsuke Mitsui(TENN) v Karl Lee and Oscar Weightman(SoCal) 6-5, unfinished
3. Filip Apltauer and Younes Lalami(TENN) d. Volodymyr Iakubenko and Samuel Rubell(SoCal)

Order of finish: 1, 3

Singles:
1. Johannus Monday(TENN) d. Peter Makk(SoCal) 6-1, 6-2
2. Shunsuke Mitsui(TENN) d. Lodewijk Weststrate(SoCal) 6-4, 6-1
3. Oscar Weightman(SoCal) v Filip Pieczonka(TENN) 6-4, 5-3, unfinished
4. Volodymyr Iakubenko(SoCal) v Filip Apltauer(TENN) 6-3, 4-3, unfinished
5. Karl Lee (SoCal) v Younes Lalami(TENN) 6-3, 5-4, unfinished
6. Angel Diaz(TENN) d. Samuel Rubell(So Cal) 6-4, 6-2

Order of finish: 1, 2, 6
=================
Texas A&M[10] 4, South Carolina[7] 1

Doubles:
1. Casey Hoole and Toby Samuel(SC) d. Giulio Perego and Togan Tokac(TAMU) 6-2
2. Luke Casper and JC Roddick(TAMU) d. James Story and Lucas Andrade Da Silva(SC) 6-4
3. Jelani Sarr and Sean Daryabeigi(SC) d. Raphael Perot and Tiago Pires(TAMU) 7-5

Order of finish: 1, 2, 3

Singles:
1. Raphael Perot(TAMU) d. Toby Samuel(SC) 6-4, 7-6(8)
2. JC Roddick(TAMU) d. Casey Hoole(SC) 6-3, 6-1
3. Togan Tokac(TAMU) d. James Story(SC) 6-3, 7-6(5)
4. Giulio Perego(TAMU) d. Jelani Sarr(SC) 6-3, 7-5
5. Lucas Andrade Da Silva(SC) v Tiago Pires(TAMU) 6-3, 5-7, 2-0, unfinished
6. Luke Casper(TAMU) v Sean Daryabeigi(SC) 7-5, 5-5, unfinished

Order of finish: 2, 4, 3, 1
=================
Ohio State[1] 4, Alabama[16] 2

Doubles:
1. Enzo Aguiard and Zach Foster(BAMA) d. Andrew Lutschaunig and Justin Boulais(OSU) 6-4
2. Filip Planinsek and Andri Zimnokh(BANA) d. Robert Cash and Bryce Nakashima(OSU) 7-5 
3. Cannon Kingsley and JJ Tracy(OSU) d. Roan Jones and Matic Dimic(BANA) 6-2

Order of finish: 3, 1, 2

Singles:
1. Filip Planinsek(BAMA) d. Cannon Kinglsey(OSU) 7-6(2), 7-6(5)
2. Justin Boulais(OSU) v Enzo Aguiard(BAMA) 4-6, 7-6(4), unfinished
3. JJ Tracy(OSU) d. Matias Ponce De Leon(BAMA) 6-3, 6-1
4. Jack Anthrop(OSU) d. Andri Zimnokh(BAMA) 7-5, 6-3
5. Robert Cash(OSU) d. Roan Jones(BAMA) 7-5, 7-6(3)
6. Alexander Bernard d. Zach Foster(BAMA) 6-2, 6-0

Order of finish: 6, 3, 4, 1, 5
=================
Arizona[14] 4, Texas[3] 2 

Doubles:

1. Eliot Spizzirri and Cleeve Harper(TEX) d. Jay Friend and Colton Smith 6-3
2. Eric Padgham and Herman Hoeyeraal(AZ) d. Pierre-Yves Bailly and Eshan Talluri(TEX) 6-4
3. Sasha Rozin and Gustaf Strom(AZ) d. Micah Braswell and Jonah Braswell(TEX) 6-3

Order of finish: 1, 2, 3, 

Singles:
1. Eliot Spizzirri(TEX) d. Colton Smith(AZ) 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
2. Micah Braswell(TEX) d. Jay Friend(AZ) 5-7, 6-3, 6-1
3. Gustaf Strom(AZ) d. Gilles-Arnaud Bailly(TEX) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
4. Nick Lagaev(AZ) d. Pierre-Yves Bailly(TEX) 6-3, 6-4
5. Herman Hoeyeraal(AZ) d. Cleeve Harper(TEX) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5)
6. Casper Christensen(AZ) v Lucas Brown(TEX) v  6-2, 6-7(5), 3-2, unfinished

Order of finish:
4, 2, 1, 3
===========
Harvard[9] 4, Columbia[8] 2 

Doubles:
1. Theo Winegar and Michael Zheng(COL) d. Cooper Williams and Daniel Milavsky(HAR) 6-4 
2. Ronan Jachuck and Masato Perera(HAR) d. Nicolas Kotzen and Max Westphal(COL) 7-5
3. Henry von der Schulenburg and David Lins(HAR) d. Alex Kotzen and Sachin Palta(COL) 6-2

Order of finish: 3, 1, 2

Singles:
1. Cooper Williams(HAR) d. Michael Zheng(COL) 6-3, 7-5
2. Henry von der Schulenburg(HAR) v Alex Kotzen(COL)
3. Daniel Milavsky(HAR) d. Nicolas Kotzen(COL) 6-1, 7-5
4. Max Westphal(COL) d. Ronan Jachuck(HAR) 6-2 6-4
5. Hugo Hashimoto(COL) d. Melchior Delloye(HAR) 6-1, 6-4 
6. Valdemar Pape(HAR) d. Sachin Palta(COL) 6-3, 7-6(4)

Order of finish: 5, 3, 4, 1, 6
=================
Wake Forest[6] 4, Michigan[11] 1

Doubles:
1. Jacob Bickersteth and Gavin Young(MICH) v Holden Koons and DK Suresh(WAKE) 6-6 (5-4) unfinished
2. Filippo Moroni and Matthew Thomson(WAKE) d. Patorn Hanchaikul and Will Cooksey(MICH) 6-2
3. Luca Pow and Luciano Tacchi(WAKE) d. Alex Cairo and Nicholas Steiglehner(MICH) 7-6(7)

Order of finish: 2, 3

Singles:
1. Filippo Moroni(WAKE) v Gavin Young(MICH)  7-6(2), 2-1, unfinished
2. DK Suresh(WAKE) d. Jacob Bickersteth(MICH) 6-2, 7-6(9)
3. Patorn Hanchaikul(MICH) d. Matthew Thomson(WAKE) 6-3, 6-3
4. Luciano Tacchi(WAKE) d. Bjorn Swenson(MICH) 6-4, 6-4
5. Will Cooksey(MICH) v Holden Koons(WAKE) 6-3, 5-3, unfinished
6. Luca Pow(WAKE) d. Nicholas Steiglehner(MICH) 6-4, 6-3

Order of finish: 3, 4, 6, 2
=================

The semifinals of the ATP 250 Delray Beach Open feature four Americans, the top three seeds and Marcos Giron(UCLA). Top seed and defending champion Taylor Fritz beat former UNC All-American Rinky Hijikata 6-3, 6-3; No. 2 seed Frances Tiafoe defeated lucky loser Flavio Cobolli of Italy 6-4, 6-2; No. 3 seed Tommy Paul beat Jordan Thompson of Australia 6-2, 6-3, and Giron ended the run of wild card Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) 6-4, 6-4. Fritz will face Giron and Paul will play Tiafoe in Saturday's semifinals, with Paul and Tiafoe scheduled for 3 p.m. and Giron and Fritz set to take the court at 8 p.m.

 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Johnston Reaches Semifinals at ITF J300 Inka Bowl; ITF J300 Pan Am Closed Returns to Houston This Fall; ITA D-I Men's Team Indoor Begins Friday Morning; Peacock Series on Tennis Family Begins Next Month

The ITF J300 Inka Bowl in Lima Peru is at the semifinal stage in singles and the final stage in doubles, with two 16-year-old American boys still competing for the titles. No. 8 seed Noah Johnston won his first match at a J300 last month in Barranquilla Colombia (he had won a match at the J500 Orange Bowl in December), so this is the first deep run for the left-hander from South Carolina at that level. He defeated unseeded Calin Stirbu of Romania in today's quarterfinals 6-3, 6-1.

Johnston will face No. 6 seed William Rejchtman Vinciguerra of Sweden in Friday's semifinal; Vinciguerra took out top seed Timofei Derepasko of Russia 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.  Johnston, who has already won two J300 doubles titles this year in Costa Rica and Colombia, did not play doubles this week, but Maximus Dussault is through to the final, with partner Joaquin Guilleme of Nicaragua. The No. 4 seeds will face top seeds Vinciguerra and Derepasko for the title Friday. 

No. 7 seed Maya Dutta reached the quarterfinals, but lost 6-2, 6-0 today to top seed Mayu Crossley of Japan. 

Four all-USA finals are set for Friday at the ITF J30 in Medford New Jersey, with top seed Mark Krupkin taking on No. 5 seed Sebastian Bielen for the boys singles title and unseeded Rachel Smith facing No. 6 seed Isabelle DeLuccia for the girls singles title. Smith and DeLuccia will play in the doubles final after singles, with the No. 3 seeds taking on the unseeded team of Anabelle Janczyk and Lauren Zhang.

Krupkin will play for the boys doubles title with partner Nicolas Iantosca. The top seeds will face the unseeded team of Gavin Goode and Mason Taube in the final.

The latest version of the 2024 USTA National Junior Tennis Calendar confirms what I had heard in December: the ITF J300 Pan American Closed will return to the Giammalva Racquet Club in Houston this fall. The tournament was held there for the first time last year, and although it was a late substitute for the Leftwich Tennis Center in Memphis, which had initially been announced as the site but was not completed in time, reviews were positive. Tournament director Victor Pinones was eager to bid for 2024, and with the event back to its usual place on the calendar in October, the heat may not be quite as bad as it was last September. The tournament does not yet appear on the ITF Junior Circuit calendar, but the dates and venue are listed here.

The men's ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor Championships begin Friday in New York, with eight matches on the schedule at two sites. Cracked Racquets will be providing coverage via their YouTube Channel. Links to live scoring and live streams can be found here.

Friday's schedule:
9:00 a.m.
Virginia[4] v Duke[13] at Milstein
TCU[2] v Arizona State[15] at BJKNTC

Noon
Tennessee[5] v Southern Cal[12] at Milstein
South Carolina[7] v Texas A&M[10] at BJKNTC

3:30 pm
Ohio State[1] v Alabama[16] at Milstein
Texas[3] v Arizona[14] at BJKNTC

6:30 pm
Columbia[8] v Harvard[9] at Milstein
Wake Forest[6] v Michigan[11] at BJKNTC

I'm not aware of many television series based around sporting families, but there is one coming next month on Peacock that focuses on a tennis family, with Sam Neill and Annette Bening starring as former coaches and academy owners with four adult children who also played. This article features comments from the actors on training for the tennis scenes, and closes with this quote:
Tennis, which showrunner Melanie Marnich described as a "dynamic, sexy, wonderful sport," is key to understanding the Delaneys' family dynamic — and how it may have fueled resentment between them. "When you're in a family of deeply competitive people, raised by deeply competitive people, it's in the blood, it's in the DNA," Marnich told the TCA. At what point are the Delaneys competing for the love of the game, and at what point are they competing for the love of their parents?

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Team Indoor Champion Oklahoma State Takes Over Top Ranking; Few Americans Enter ITF J500 Banana Bowl; Forbes Earns First ATP Point; Hui Awarded WTA 500 Qualifying Wild Card; Kypson Reaches ATP Delray Beach Quarterfinals

The Oklahoma State women's program continues to make history, earning the No. 1 ranking for the first time after winning their first national title Monday in the ITA Women's Team Indoor Championships in Seattle.

These are the last rankings that are done by a poll of the 13 regional ranking chairs, with the computer algorithm taking over, but with their impressive record against top teams this year, the Cowgirls are likely to stay on top no matter what method is used. 

Team Indoor finalists Michigan moved to No. 2, which is also a program high, and North Carolina, a prohibitive favorite before this year began, is now at No. 5. There is a long way to go before the next opportunity for a national team title at the NCAAs in May, but with their two losses over the weekend, North Carolina has opened the door to challengers in the coming months.

As this is the last ranking done by poll, I'm displaying all 25 teams, and all who received votes. When the first computer rankings come out next week, the rankings will extend to the Top 75.  There are no men's rankings this week in advance of the ITA Division I Men's Team Indoor Championships, which begin Friday in New York.

Division I Women's Top 25, February 14, 2024
(first place votes in brackets, previous ranking in parentheses)

1. Oklahoma State[13] (3)
2. Michigan (5)
3. Stanford (2)
4. NC State (4)
5. North Carolina (1)
6. Texas (10)
7. Virginia (11)
8. Georgia (4)
9. Ohio State (12)
10. Pepperdine(6)
11. Texas A&M(9)
12. Auburn (14)
13. Florida (8)
14. Cal (15)
15. Duke (17)
16. San Diego (20)
17. Southern California (16)
18. UCLA (13)
19. Oklahoma (18)
20. Tennessee (19)
21. Vanderbilt (22)
22. Washington (21)
23. Miami
24. South Carolina
25. Arizona State (24)

Receiving votes: Baylor, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Wisconsin

The acceptances for the J500 Banana Bowl in Brazil were released yesterday, with just five US boys and six US girls in the 64-player draws.

One of the reasons for the lack of Americans is undoubtedly the March 4-10 dates, which is the week before the ITF J300 at Indian Wells. Going from clay to hard and from Brazil to Southern California will be a challenge, and with the ITF J300 North American Closed the following week in San Diego, many of the top Americans will be focusing on those two weeks, rather than the two clay events in Brazil the two weeks prior. The chance to be at the BNP Paribas Open during the second week is bound to be an attractive option, and now that the tournament, in its second year, is open to all international players, the fields may end up being stronger there than at the J500 in Brazil.

As of now, these are the American boys entered: Maxwell Exsted, Jagger Leach, Noah Johnston, Maximus Dussault and Jordan Reznik. Calvin Baierl is just two spots out of the main draw.

The American girls entered are: Katie Rolls, Mia Slama, Kate Fakih, Olivia Center, Maya Dutta and Trinetra Vijayakumar.

The fields are not strong for a 500, especially for the girls, with the cutoff for main draw 180 and the qualifying 337.  The boys cutoffs are 112 and 190 respectively. There are no current Top 10 players in either field, with No. 11 Alena Kovackova of the Czech Republic the highest ranked girl and No. 16 Amir Omarkhanov of Kazakhstan the highest ranked boy.


Seventeen-year-old Matthew Forbes, who has signed with North Carolina for this fall, earned his first ATP point today at the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Palm Coast
 Florida. Forbes, who received a wild card into qualifying, defeated fellow qualifier Ryan Dickerson(Duke, Baylor) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Last week's $15K in Sunrise was Forbes' first USTA Pro Circuit event, which he entered via the ITF's Top 100 Junior Reserved program, and he drew top seed Toby Kodat in his first attempt at collecting an ATP point. Forbes, the brother of UNC's Abbey Forbes, will play No. 6 seed Alex Rybakov(TCU), who was a finalist last week in Sunrise, Thursday.

University of Virginia recruit Roy Horovitz, who received his main draw entry this week via a Junior Reserved slot, defeated qualifier Evan Bynoe(Cornell) 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 to earn his second ATP point; the 17-year-old had earned his first point last spring at a $15K in Vero Beach. He will face top seed Kodat in the second round. 

Nineteen-year-old wild card Aidan Kim, a freshman at the University of Florida, defeated No. 7 seed Marlon Vankan of Germany 6-3, 6-3 to reach the second round.

US Open girls champion Katherine Hui has been awarded a qualifying wild card for the WTA 500 Cymbiotika Open in San Diego later the month. Hui, a freshman at Stanford playing at line 5 singles and line 3 doubles, is from San Diego and reached the final of the USTA National 18s Championships at the Barnes Tennis Center, site of the WTA tournament, last year. The full release on Hui's wild card can be found here.

Two days after winning his first ATP level match, 24-year-old wild card Patrick Kypson has added another, defeating Constant Lestienne of France 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals at the ATP 250 in Delray Beach Florida. The former Texas A&M All-American now moves up to 143 in the ATP Live rankings with the victory. Former North Carolina All-American Rinky Hijikata is also through to the quarterfinals, beating No. 6 seed Matteo Arnaldi of Italy 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 earlier today.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Ohio State No. 1 Seed for This Weekend's Men's Team Indoor Championships; Forbes Qualifies, Bigun Picks Up First Round Win at Palm Coast $15K; Svajda and Kypson Defeat Seeds to Advance to Second Round at ATP Delray Beach

With barely 24 hours having passed since Oklahoma State defeated Michigan in the final of the ITA Division I Women's Team Indoor Championships, the draw for the men's version has been released, with Ohio State again at No. 1. Last year Ohio State was the top seed, but lost 4-3 to Texas in the quarterfinals; this year the Buckeyes will take on Alabama in the first round, with the winner of the all-Ivy league battle between No. 8 Columbia and No. 9 Harvard their quarterfinal opponent. Columbia is hosting the tournament this year at the Milstein Family Tennis Center, their new facility, with the USTA's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center serving as the secondary site.

There a couple of differences between the men's and women's tournaments, with the men seeding all 16 teams, while the women only seed eight. That means that unlike the women's draw, there is no opportunity to adjust opponents to avoid first round conference matches, hence the Harvard - Columbia first round, the Duke - Virginia first round and the Texas A&M - South Carolina first round. 

I was a bit surprised to see both Harvard and Southern Cal as high as they are in the seedings, as both lost last weekend, with Harvard falling to Kentucky in Lexington and Southern Cal losing to both Oklahoma State and Baylor on the road. The Trojans did fall from 5 to 12, and Harvard went from 8 to 9, so neither are expected to reach the quarterfinals. 

The good news for Virginia fans is that Inaki Montes is listed in Virginia's lineup; he has yet to play a singles match for the Cavaliers this year. There is bad news for both USCs however, with Connor Thomson, South Carolina's No. 2, not listed their Team Indoor lineup and Stefan Dostanic, Southern Cal's No. 1, not in the lineup the Trojans submitted. Dostanic did not play in either of their losses this past weekend. 

ITA Men's Division I Team Indoor Championships Seeds
1. Ohio State
2. TCU
3. Texas
4. Virginia
5. Tennessee
6. Wake Forest
7. South Carolina
8. Columbia
9. Harvard
10. Texas A&M
11. Michigan
12. Southern Cal
13. Duke
14. Arizona
15. Arizona State
16. Alabama

Friday's Schedule:
9:00 a.m.
Virginia[4] v Duke[13] at Milstein
TCU[2] v Arizona State[15] at BJKNTC

Noon
Tennessee[5] v Southern Cal[12] at Milstein
South Carolina[7] v Texas A&M[10] at BJKNTC

3:30 pm
Ohio State[1] v Alabama[16] at Milstein
Texas[3] v Arizona[14] at BJKNTC

6:30 pm
Columbia[8] v Harvard[9] at Milstein
Wake Forest[6] v Michigan[11] at BJKNTC

There is just one USTA Pro Circuit tournament this week, a $15,000 event in Palm Coast Florida. Qualifying concluded today, with seven of the eight players reaching the main draw from the United States. There are Will Grant(Florida), Patrick Maloney(Michigan), Ryan Dickerson(Duke/Baylor), Henrik Wiersholm(Virginia), Thomas Brown(South Carolina/UNC-Charlotte), Evan Bynoe(Cornell) and 17-year-old Matthew Forbes.
For the second week in a row, Jaycer Lyeons(Tyler JC) received entry into the main draw as a lucky loser.

North Carolina signee Forbes, who doesn't have an ATP ranking and was a wild card into qualifying, will face Dickerson in the first round Wednesday. 

Other teens in the main draw are three who received entry via the ITF's junior reserved program: Roy Horovitz, Alexander Razeghi and Kaylan Bigun. Bigun played his first round match today, beating Dan Martin(Dartmouth/Miami) of Canada 6-3, 7-5. Wild cards were given to University of Florida freshman Adithya Ganesan and Aidan Kim, Axel Nefve(Notre Dame/Florida) and Dian Nedev of Bulgaria.

As was the case last week at the $15K in Sunrise, Toby Kodat and Kazakhstan's Dimitry Popko are the top two seeds. 

In addition to the $15K in Florida, the second ATP 250 of the year in the United States is underway in Delray Beach, with Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and Adrian Mannarino of France the top four seeds, with byes into the second round.

Wild cards were given to Emilio Nava, Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) and Aleks Kovacevic(Illinois) with Kypson, who won the Cleveland Challenger two weeks ago, getting his first ATP level main draw win last night. The 2017 Kalamazoo 18s champion defeated No. 5 seed Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 7-6(3), earning his best win by ranking over the ATP No. 40 from Serbia. Nava lost to Dallas Open finalist Marcos Giron(UCLA) 6-4, 7-6(5) tonight and Kovacevic was beaten by qualifier Nicolas Moreno de Alboran(UC-Santa Barbara) 6-2, 7-6(3).

Another Kalamazoo 18s champion, Zachary Svajda, who won in both 2019 and 2021, got through qualifying with wins over Ethan Quinn(Georgia) and Gabriel Diallo(Kentucky) of Canada. The 21-year-old then claimed his best win by ATP ranking, beating No. 8 seed Max Purcell of Australia, currently No. 41, 7-5, 6-3 in today's first round. Svajda's previous best win by ATP ranking was also Purcell, who was No. 78 when Svajda defeated him in the first round of the ATP 500 in Washington DC last summer. Svajda will play lucky loser Flavio Cobolli of Italy in the second round.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Oklahoma State Fights Off Furious Michigan Comeback for First ITA Women's Team Indoor Championship; US Juniors Leach, Cozad and Cedeno Win ITF J100 Titles


Today's final at the ITA Women's Team Indoor Championships was guaranteed to produce a first-time champion, with the University of Michigan and Oklahoma State both reaching the final for the first time in their programs' history. It was the Cowgirls who will be hanging the championship banner in Stillwater, but their 4-3 victory was full of all the twists and turns that make national championships such a special accomplishment and so much fun to witness.

The match certainly didn't start out looking like a classic, with Oklahoma State taking the doubles point, as they had done in their previous three matches. Their No. 1 team of Anastasiya Komar and Ange Oby Kajuru had lost only four games in their first three wins, and they kept right on rolling in the final, beating Jaedan Brown and Kari Miller 6-2, while Ayumi Miyamoto and Racquel Gonzalez secured the point with a 6-3 win over Anna Ross and Lily Jones at line 2.

The next half hour was a discouraging one for Michigan, who had come back from the loss of the doubles point in the first round against Cal, so were not likely to let that carry over into singles. But Oby Kajuru rolled through her first set, taking it 6-0 from Julia Fliegner, and Oklahoma State got the next two first sets as well, with Lucia Peyre topping Michigan's Gala Mesochoritou 6-1 at line 3, and Kristina Novak taking a 6-2 set from Lily Jones at line 6. Both Mesochoritou and Jones were playing in different spots in the lineup, with Mesochoritou normally at 4 and Jones at 5, with the top two spots in singles the only matchups that were the same as when Oklahoma State beat Michigan 4-2 in Stillwater last month.

So with a clear path to the title, Oklahoma State was eyeing a dominant victory, but Michigan began to work its way back into the match and ended up with first sets from Piper Charney at line 5, Miller at line 1 and Brown at 4.

That still meant a three-set victory would be necessary for the Wolverines to pull off the comeback, and when Oby Kajuru, the Iowa State transfer, closed out Fliegner 6-0, 6-1, that narrowed their path even more. Oklahoma State took a 3-0 lead when Novak, who had played at line 1 for the Cowgirls last year, took out Jones 6-2, 6-4, so now Oklahoma State had to win just one of the remaining four matches to clinch the win. 

Charney put Michigan on the board with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Miyamoto at 5, and moments later Mesochoritou earned a split with Peyre at 3, giving Michigan hope. With Brown up a set and 5-1 on Carrington at 4, the Wolverines' second point seemed eminent, but she could not convert either of her match points at 5-1, double faulting on the second, and Komar had taken the second set from Miller to put Oklahoma State back in control. 

Brown could not closed out Carrington serving at 5-3, and again let two match points get away at 4-5, and they went to a second set tiebreaker.

Mesochoritou had failed to serve out her match at 5-3, but she broke Peyre serving at 4-5, while moments before, Brown had finally converted her seventh match point, in a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Carrington. 

Meanwhile, at line 1, Komar had held on to her early break of Miller in the third set, then got a second break for a 5-2 lead and a chance to serve out the championship. She was broken without getting to match point, but Miller had to save two match points in her 3-5 service game, the first with a volley winner and the second with an unforced error on the forehand from Komar. Komar, like Carrington a transfer from LSU, could have been shaken by letting those two match points slip, but the physically imposing redshirt sophomore hit and an ace and an unreturnable serve for her first two points, and after a backhand error, blasted a forehand that forced an error from Miller. On her third match point, but the first on her serve, Komar showed she wasn't all power, putting away a tricky ball on top of the net on a ball Miller had barely managed to get back in play.

With wins over No. 6 Texas, No. 2 Stanford and No. 4 Michigan this tournament, Oklahoma State added to their already glittering resume, which also includes wins over No. 5 Pepperdine No. 12 Ohio State and No. 13 UCLA, assuring they will ascend to the No. 1 spot in the rankings. They also have all but guaranteed that they'll host a Super Regional in Stillwater, which is the site of the NCAA championships this year.

But no matter what happens in the remainder of the season, Oklahoma State is now, for the first time in program history, a national champion. 

Women's Team Indoor Final
Seattle Washington
February 12, 2024

Oklahoma State[3] 4, Michigan[4] 3

Doubles:
1. Anastasiya Komar and Ange Oby Kajuru(Okla ST) d. Jaedan Brown and Kari Miller(MICH) 6-2
2. Ayumi Miyamoto and Raquel Gonzalez(Okla ST) d. Anna Ross and Lily Jones(MICH) 6-3
3. Safiya Carrington and Kristina Novak(Okla ST) v Piper Charney and Reese Miller(MICH) 5-5, unfinished

Order of finish: 1, 2

Singles:
1. Anastasiya Komar(Okla ST) d. Kari Miller(MICH) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
2. Ange Oby Kajuru(Okla ST) d. Julia Fliegner(MICH) 6-0, 6-1
3. Gala Mesochoritou(MICH) d. Lucia Peyre(Okla ST) 1-6, 6-3, 6-4
4. Jaedan Brown(MICH) d. Safiya Carrington(Okla ST) 6-4, 7-6(4)
5. Piper Charney(MICH) d. Ayumi Miyamoto(Okla ST) 6-3, 6-2
6. Kristina Novak(Okla ST) d. Lily Jones(MICH) 6-2, 6-4

Order of finish: 2, 6, 5, 4, 3, 1

Replays of all the Cracked Racquets Crosscourt Cast of the Women's Team Indoor matches can be found at their YouTube channel. The Men's Team Indoor begins Friday in New York, and they will also be providing coverage of that tournament.
========================================

There were no J300s last week on the ITF Junior Circuit, but Americans did have success at two J100s.  Jagger Leach stayed in Australia after the Australia Open Junior Championships to play two J100s in Brisbane the past two weeks. He added a second title Sunday, beating the same two Australians in the semifinals and finals as he had the previous week. The top-seeded Leach defeated No. 4 seed Cruz Hewitt, Lleyton Hewitt's son, 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals and No. 11 seed Brendan Loh 1-6, 6-2, 7-6(2) in the final, with both matches played on Sunday due to rain. Leach is now at a career-high ITF junior ranking of 39.

At the J100 in Mexico, unseeded Ryan Cozad reached the singles final and won the doubles title, with regular partner Yannik Alvarez of Puerto Rico. The 15-year-old 2023 Orange Bowl 16s doubles champions, who were unseeded, defeated top seeds Abhinav Chunduru and Prathinav Chunduru 6-4, 7-5 in the final for their first ITF Junior Circuit title as a team. Cozad lost to No. 2 seed Glib Sekachov of Ukraine 6-3, 6-4 in the singles final.

Sophia Cedeno partnered with Maria Fuenzalida Higareda of Mexico for the girls doubles title, with the No. 5 seeds beating No. 2 seeds Nicole Okhtenberg and Mexico's Pamela Badillo Hernandez 6-1, 6-2 in the final. The 16-year-old Cedeno now has seven ITF Junior Circuit doubles titles, all with different partners.

The ITF Junior Circuit returns to the United States this week, with a J30 on indoor hard courts in Medford New Jersey

There are also a handful of Americans competing this week at the J300 Inka Bowl in Peru. Mayu Crossley of Japan, who recently verbally committed to UCLA, is returning to competition there for the first time since an injury took her off the circuit last August. She is the top seed.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Michigan and Oklahoma State Meet Monday for a First Women's Team Indoor Title; Ohio State Men Beat South Carolina to Stay Unbeaten; Paul Wins ATP Dallas Open; Pro Circuit Update

No matter who wins the ITA Women's Division I Team Indoor title Monday, history will be made, with both No. 4 Michigan and No. 3 Oklahoma State advancing to their first finals after tense victories in Seattle. Michigan defeated North Carolina State 4-1 in the early match, while Oklahoma State closed out Super Bowl Sunday with a 4-2 win over No. 2 seed Stanford. 

NC State had had very little time to digest or celebrate their surprising 4-3 quarterfinals victory over four-time defending champion North Carolina, which ended after 6:30 p.m. local time Saturday. The eighth-seeded Wolfpack had to be back and ready to rebound emotionally and physically less than 18 hours later, and they did show a few signs of that understandable fatigue, with Michigan taking the double point and three first sets in singles. 

But as they showed Saturday, NC State is not a team to concede a loss while they still have a chance, and they rebounded to force Michigan to dig in, even with a 3-0 lead. After Julia Fliegner and Piper Charney posted straight-sets wins to provide that margin, there wasn't an obvious court that would deliver the fourth point. Lily Jones, who had the third first set for Michigan, lost her second set to fellow Michigan native Maddy Zampardo at line 5, although NC State's Sophie Abrams had also lost her set advantage over Gala Mesochoritou at line 4. 

NC State's Amelia Rajecki, who is playing as well as anyone in the country right now, did finally post a point for the Wolfpack with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Kari Miller at line 1, and Saturday's hero Anna Zyryanova looked poised to add a second, with two match points serving at 5-4 in the second set against Jaedan Brown. But some untimely double faults, including on one of the match points, gave Brown new life and she forced a third set at line 3.

Abrams had served for the set at 5-4 in the third set, but Mesochoritou had broken for 5-all and they were in a final set tiebreaker when Jones got a break to go up 4-3 and held for 5-3 against Zampardo. The freshman Zampardo never stopped swinging away, but two forehand errors when she was serving at 30-30 gave Michigan the deceptive 4-1 victory.

Michigan[4] 4, NC State[8] 1

Doubles:
1. Jaedan Brown and Kari Miller(MICH) v Sophie Abrams and Anna Zyryanova(NCST) 6-4
2. Amelia Rajecki and Maddy Zampardo(NCST) d. Lily Jones and Anna Ross(MICH) 6-3
3. Piper Charney and Reese Miller(MICH) d. Gabriella Broadfoot and Abigail Rencheli(NCST) 6-2

Order of finish: 3, 2, 1

Singles:
1. Amelia Rajecki(NCST) d. Kari Miller(MICH) 7-5, 6-4
2. Julia Fliegner(MICH) d. Abigail Renchli(NCST) 6-2, 6-3
3. Anna Zyryanova(NCST) v Jaedan Brown(MICH) 6-4, 6-7(6), 1-1, unfinished
4. Sophie Abrams(NCST) v Gala Mesochoritou(MICH) 4-6, 6-4, 6-6 (3-4), unfinished
5. Lily Jones(MICH) d. Maddy Zampardo(NCST) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
6. Piper Charney(MICH) d. Gina Dittman(NCST) 6-2, 6-2

Order of finish: 2, 6, 1, 5
=================

In the nightcap, Oklahoma State took the doubles point from Stanford, showing no indication that their emotional late night 4-3 win over Texas in the quarterfinals had depleted their resources.

The Cowgirls were able to squeeze out the three first sets they needed, with Saturday's hero Safiya Carrington taking a first set tiebreaker over Alexis Blokhina at line 4 to give her team a clear path to the win. Stanford did earn a third set at line 5, with Katherine Hui rebounding from losing the first set to Ayumi Miyamoto 6-0, but ten minutes later Oklahoma State's Anastasiya Komar forced a third set in her match with Angelica Blake at line 1.  Alexandra Yepifanova got Stanford on the board with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Ange Oby Kajuru at line 3, but Kristina Novak put Oklahoma State up 2-1 with a win over Valencia Xu at line 6. Carrington put the Cowgirls on the verge with her victory over Blokhina right before Connie Ma narrowed the gap with a win over Lucia Peyre at line 2. But US Open girls champion Hui found herself down in the third set and Miyamoto put her team in their first final with a 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 victory.

Oklahoma State and Michigan met last month in Stillwater, with the Cowgirls taking a 4-2 decision.

The final, Monday at noon Pacific time, will be available at the Cracked Racquets YouTube channel with Alex Gruskin and Peri Sheinin providing commentary.


Doubles:
1. Anastasiya Komar and Ange Oby Kajuru(Okla ST) d. Angelica Blake and Alexis Blokhina(STAN) 6-0
2. Alexandra Yepifanova and Connie Ma(STAN) d. Ayumi Miyamoto and Raquel Gonzales(Okla ST) 6-2
3. Safiya Carrington and Kristina Novak(Okla ST) d. Valencia Xu and Katherine Hui(STAN) 6-3

Order of finish: 1, 3, 2

Singles:
1. Angelica Blake(STAN) d. Anastasiya Komar(Okla ST) 6-3, 3-6, 3-2
2. Connie Ma(STAN) d. Lucia Peyre(Okla ST) 6-3, 6-4
3. Alexandra Yepifanova(STAN) d. Ange Oby Kajuru(Okla ST) 6-3, 7-5 
4. Safiya Carrington(Okla ST) d. Alexis Blokhina(STAN) 7-6(3), 6-4
5. Ayumi Miyamoto(Okla ST) d. Katherine Hui(STAN) 6-0, 2-6, 6-2
6. Kristina Novak(Okla ST) d. Valencia Xu(STAN) 6-3, 6-4

Order of finish: 3, 6, 4, 2, 5
=================
Consolation matches:

Auburn 4, Florida 0
Virginia 4, North Carolina[1] 0
Georgia[7] 4, Texas A&M 2
Pepperdine[5] 4, USC 2
Texas[6] 4, Ohio State 3
Cal 4, Washington 1
=================

In a Top Five men's match today in Columbus, Ohio State remained undefeated with a 6-1 win over No. 4 South Carolina. The Buckeyes dropped the doubles point, but collected four quick singles wins to shut the door any possibility of another upset by the Gamecocks. South Carolina had beaten Ohio State last March outdoors in Columbia. 

At the ATP 250 Dallas Open, Tommy Paul collected his second ATP title, with the 26-year-old defeating 2014 NCAA singles champion Marcos Giron 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-3 in just over two-and-a-half hours. Paul, whose first title came in November 2021 at a 250 in Stockholm Sweden, will move ahead of Frances Tiafoe to No. 14 in the ATP rankings. Giron, the 30-year-old former UCLA Bruin, is up to 52 in the ATP rankings, just three spots off his career-high of 49, which came in May of 2022. For more on the final, and the obvious affection and respect that Paul and Giron have for each other, see this article from the ATP.

No. 4 seeds Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell of Australia won the doubles title in Dallas, beating former North Carolina teammates Will Blumberg and Australia's Rinky Hijikata 6-4, 2-6, 10-0 in this evening's final. 

While the Dallas final featured two Americans, players from the United States came up short in the two USTA Pro Circuit singles finals today.

No. 2 seed Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan need just under two hours to defeat No. 6 seed and fellow 27-year-old Alex Rybakov 7-5, 6-2 in the final of the $15,000 tournament in Sunrise Florida.

At the W35 in Wesley Chapel Florida, No. 6 seed Leonie Kung of Switzerland defeated No. 7 seed Sophie Chang 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in today's final. 

No. 3 seeds Whitney Osuigwe and Hailey Baptiste won the doubles title at the ITF W100 in Mexico, beating Rebecca Marino of Canada and Ann Li 7-5, 6-4 in the final. It's their fifth Pro Circuit title as a team, all coming since 2022.