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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Teens Jovic, Urhobo Advance at W75 in Zephyrhills Florida; 15 of 16 Quarterfinalists at ITF J100 Plantation American; Tulsa Men and Women Claim NIT Tournament Titles; Verdict in McKenzie v USTA Lawsuit; D-III Individual Selections

Neither 16-year-old Iva Jovic nor 17-year-old Akasha Urhobo have unlimited opportunities to compete on the women's ITF World Tennis Tour Circuit, with both facing WTA age restrictions. Jovic is allowed to play 12 events before she turns 17 in December and Urhobo is allowed 16 events before she turns 18 next January (Merit increases in those numbers can be added based on junior results; see the WTA Age Eligibilty Rules, which begin on page 171 in the WTA rulebook).
But both are making the most of their tournaments this spring, with qualifier Urhobo, playing in the seventh pro tournament of the 16 she can play this year, getting her best win by WTA ranking in today's first round at the W75 in Zephyrhills Florida. The Fort Lauderdale resident, currently outside the Top 200 in the ITF Junior rankings, defeated No. 5 seed and WTA No. 214 Elvina Kalieva 6-1, 6-1 for her 14th main draw win on the USTA Pro Circuit in those seven tournaments.

Wild card Jovic, who is playing the fourth of the 12 tournaments she is eligible for this year, defeated 2015 NCAA singles champion Jamie Loeb(North Carolina) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, after trailing 4-1 in the final set.

Both Urhobo and Jovic, who made W35 finals this spring, are now inside the WTA Top 500 in the live rankings.

Urhobo will face Maria Okalova(Tulsa) of Slovakia in the second round, while Jovic's second round opponent is Victoria Hu(Princeton), a first meeting in both cases.

Many of today's first round matches were delayed until late afternoon, I believe due to heat, with 18-year-old Liv Hovde yet to play her first round match. Eighteen-year-old Maya Joint of Australia, who reached the final last week at the W100 in Bonita Springs Florida, lost in the first round today to Fanny Stollar of Hungary 7-5, 6-2.

The quarterfinals are set at the ITF J100 in Plantation Florida, with all eight of the boys remaining Americans, and seven of the eight girls.

Top seeds Anita Tu and Benjamin Willwerth have advanced, as have No. 2 seeds Nancy Lee and Calvin Baierl. Baierl will face No. 8 seed Lachlan Gaskell in Thursday's quarterfinal, which will be a contest between the champions of the past two weeks J100 in Delray Beach(Baierl) and Coral Gables(Gaskell). 

The second annual UTR NIT tournament concluded today at the IMG Academy in Bradenton Florida, with the Tulsa men and women claiming the titles.  The Tulsa men, who were the top seeds, defeated No. 2 seeds Pacific 4-1; the Tulsa women, the No. 3 seeds, beat top seed Colorado 4-2.

For more on today's finals, see this article from the UTR website.

A little over two years ago, a New York Times article detailed former junior Kylie McKenzie's sexual abuse by a former USTA National Coach. The jury's verdict yesterday in the lawsuit that McKenzie filed against the USTA awarded her nine million dollars, the USTA said in a statement quoted in this AP article, that it would appeal. 

The Division III individual selections were announced tonight, with 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams selected for the men's and women's championships. The women's event will take place May 25-27, and the men's May 26-28. The two individual tournaments are staggered this year, as are the team championships, with the women finishing the team event and the individual event one day before the men in both cases.