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Thursday, February 1, 2024

Vandecasteele Among Seven Americans in Cleveland Challenger Quarterfinals; Hovde One of Six Americans Advancing at Rome W75; USA Takes 2-0 Lead in Davis Cup; Middle Tennessee Opens New Outdoor Facility

University of Oregon senior Quinn Vandecasteele didn't really begin playing regularly on the Pro Circuit until this summer's USTA SoCal Pro Series of $15,000 tournaments, but just over seven months later, the 21-year-old from Utah has advanced to his first ATP Challenger quarterfinal at the Cleveland 75 this week.

Wild card Vandecasteele, who won his first pro title at a $25K in Edwardsville in July, defeated No. 7 seed Mitchell Krueger 6-4, 6-7(7), 7-5 today in just under three hours, and he will face his first ATP Top 100 player Friday in top seed James Duckworth of Australia.

NCAA singles champion Ethan Quinn(Georgia) has advanced to his fifth Challenger quarterfinal (weirdly all in cities starting with C: Chicago, Charlottesville, Champaign, Charleston), with the 19-year-old from California beating qualifier Stefan Kozlov 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. In the quarterfinals Quinn will face another NCAA singles champion, 2017 winner Thai Kwiatkowski(Virginia), who defeated James Trotter(Ohio State) 6-4, 7-6(3) today. Trotter had beaten No. 2 seed Zachary Svajda 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(1) in the first round. 

The other four Americans in the quarterfinals are No. 6 seed Tennys Sandgren(Tennessee) and No. 4 seed Denis Kudla, who play each other, with No. 5 seed Patrick Kypson(Texas A&M) and No. 3 seed Emilio Nava in the quarterfinal in the top half.

Live streaming is available at the Challenger TV webpage.

Americans have had similar success at the USTA Pro Circuit W75 in Rome Georgia, with six advancing to Friday's quarterfinals. 2022 Wimbledon girls champion Liv Hovde won the battle of the teenagers today, ending the run of 15-year-old qualifier Elizabeth Ionescu 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. Hovde will face No. 8 seed Stacey Fung(Washington) of Canada next. In the other quarterfinal in the top half, Robin Anderson(UCLA) will play top seed Maria Carle(Georgia) of Argentina, who won last week's tournament in Vero Beach. 

The bottom half features four Americans, with No. 5 seed McCartney Kessler(Florida), just returning from her first slam main draw victory in Australia, against No. 4 seed Robin Montgomery. No. 2 seed Hailey Baptiste will face unseeded Victoria Hu(Princeton), who will be aiming for her first Pro Circuit semifinal above the $25K/W35 level.

The US Davis Cup team won both singles matches in the first day of competition against Ukraine, with Sebastian Korda defeating Oleksii Krutykh, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4 at No. 2 singles to start the match, which is being held in Lithuania due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Taylor Fritz was scratched from his No. 1 singles position due to a hip injury, with Christopher Eubanks(Georgia Tech) taking his place. Eubanks, making his Davis Cup debut, beat 2021 Eddie Herr ITF champion Viacheslav Bielinskyi, 6-3, 6-2 to give the US a 2-0 lead

Friday will begin with the doubles, with Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek facing Vitaliy Sachko and Illya Beloborodko; if Ram and Krajicek win that match the US will qualifying for World Group play in September.

Quotes from captain Bob Bryan and Eubanks can be found here.

Middle Tennessee State opened its new $8 million dollar outdoor tennis facility today, with eight courts, spectator seating for 250 fans, new locker rooms, a player lounge and offices. It's very encouraging to see mid major programs invest in new tennis facilities that will help them stay competitive on the recruiting front.