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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Emory Sweeps Washington St. Louis in D-III Men's Team Indoor Final; Princeton Men, Alabama Women Win Blue-Gray Titles; Popko Claims Third Straight USTA Pro Circuit Title; Hui Awarded Main Draw Wild Card at WTA 500 in San Diego

The ITA Division III Men's Team Indoor Championships have been held for 23 years and today a familiar program returned to the winner's circle, with Emory defeating Washington-St. Louis 4-0 to earn its tenth title.
Emory, the No. 3 seed, dropped only one point in its three victories over the weekend, losing No. 6 singles to Gustavus Adolphus in their 6-1 quarterfinal win. The Eagles took out No. 2 seed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 7-0 in Saturday's semifinals and blanked No. 4 Washington-St. Louis today for their first title since 2020. All ten of the titles have come under head coach John Browning, who joined Emory in 2000.

For more on today's final, see this article from the Emory athletic website.

The Blue-Gray Classic is an annual event that brings eight men's and eight women's teams to Montgomery Alabama for three dual matches in a weekend, with a title on the line. This year it was Princeton who took the men's title, beating Michigan State 4-0 in the final after beating Old Dominion 4-0 in the first round and Alabama 4-3 in the semifinals. Princeton's Billy Pate was the head coach for the Crimson Tide for a decade prior to leaving for Princeton in 2013. The Princeton recap is here.

The Alabama women won the women's title, beating Arizona 4-3 in the first round, Illinois 4-1 in the semifinals and Texas Tech 4-2 in the final. It's Alabama's third Blue-Gray title, and the first for Jonatan Berhane, who took over as the Crimson Tide's head coach at the end of last season, after the retirement of Jenny Mainz.  For more on the today's matches, see this Alabama article.

Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan and Andres Andrade(Florida) of Ecuador reprised their $15K final a week ago in Palm Coast Florida at the men's USTA Pro Circuit $25K in Naples Florida today, and once again it was Popko who came out on top in three sets. The No. 2 seed fought back for a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 win, his fifteenth in the last three weeks, with a title at the $15K in Sunrise two weeks ago. 

On Saturday, top seeds and former North Carolina Tar Heels Mac Kiger and Benjamin Sigouin took the doubles title, beating current University of Illinois teammates Hunter Heck and Kenta Miyoshi of Japan 6-2, 6-7(7), 10-6 in the final. It's their second ITF Pro Circuit title as a team.

US Open girls champion Katherine Hui was originally announced as a qualifying wild card at the WTA 500 Cymbiotika San Diego Open but when the qualifying draw was released Friday night the Stanford freshman, who is from the San Diego area, did not appear. She was at that time playing in the Stanford - Texas match, and they needed her point at line 5 to win it, but it turns out she did not have to give up the qualifying wild card to help her team, but rather was upgraded to a main draw wild card. 

Hui will play No. 7 seed Donna Vekic of Croatia, who was a finalist at the San Diego event in 2022 in the first round. The other two main draw wild cards were given to another teenager, Taylah Preston of Australia, and Caroline Wozniacki.

There is also a WTA 250 in Austin Texas this coming week, with Katie Volynets the only American to receive a wild card. Victoria Jimenez Katsintseva of Andorra and former Vanderbilt star Fernanda Contreras are the other two wild cards.