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Saturday, June 8, 2024

Bigun Claims Roland Garros Boys Title, Valentova Sweeps Girls Championships; Former Tulsa Star Arevalo Wins Men's Doubles; Branstine Reaches Sumter W75 Final; Holt and Trotter Meet in Tyler Challenger Final

Kaylan Bigun joked that he's now a junior clay court specialist, after adding the Roland Garros boys title to the J500 he won last month in Milan. The 18-year-old left-hander from California, who has had some success on Har-Tru, including a semifinal at last year's Orange Bowl, has gotten his best results on hard courts, at least until this spring.
Today in Paris, the No. 5 seed withstood a barrage of huge serves from unseeded Tomasz Berkieta of Poland to come back for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory, becoming the first American boy since Tommy Paul in 2015 to earn the Roland Garros boys title.

Bigun had also come from a set down against No. 2 seed Joel Schwaerzler of Austria in Friday's semifinals, and the had a similar dynamic, although Berkieta will probably look back at the first game of the second set with some regret. After closing out the first set with a love hold, the 17-year-old from Warsaw had four break points in the first game of the second set. Bigun got through that game and didn't face another break point in the rest of the match. Berkieta, who averaged 125 mph on his first serve, topping out at 139 on one serve, did bring some suspense into the final game. After saving three match points in his 7-6(3), 4-6, 7-6(4) semifinal win over Lorenzo Carboni of Italy Friday, Berkieta saved three more serving at 3-5 in the third, but Bigun just shrugged at the ace, forehand winner and backhand that forced an error that saved those match points. With Berkieta's first serve deserting him at the worst possible time, Bigun could wait him out in the rallies, and that's what he did on the fourth match point, with Berkieta making a forehand error after a 10-shot rally. For more on Bigun's win, see this article from the ITF junior website.

Bigun, who now has a 12-match winning streak at the highest two levels of the ITF Junior Circuit, is the fourth US boy to win the Roland Garros singles title in the Open era, along with John McEnroe in 1977, Bjorn Fratangelo in 2011 and Paul in 2015.

Tereza Valentova swept the girls titles, with the No. 12 seed taking the singles championship with a 6-3, 7-6(0) victory over No. 3 seed Laura Samson in the first all-Czech junior slam final in history. A US Open girls finalist in 2023, the 17-year-old Valentova got off to a quick start, taking a 3-0 lead, but Samson shook off her nerves and pulled even before Valentova won the next three games to take the first set. In the second set, Valentova again took the lead and again Samson came back, and when Valentova couldn't serve out the match at 6-5, Samson had reason to be optimistic. The 16-year-old played poorly to start the tiebreaker however, and this time didn't have enough time to recover, with Valentova closing out her sixth straight-sets victory of the week. For more on the girls final, see this article from the ITF junior website.

Valentova, the third Czech girls singles champion in the past four years at Roland Garros, then went on to claim the doubles title with Renata Jamrichova of Slovakia. The No. 3 seeds, who also didn't drop a set all tournament, ended the junior slam run of No. 4 seeds Iva Jovic and Tyra Grant, the Australian Open champions, 6-4, 6-4.

The boys doubles title went to top seeds Nicolai Budkov Kjaer of Norway and Schwaerzler, who came from 5-0 down in the second set to defeat No. 2 seeds Federico Cina of Italy and Rei Sakamoto of Japan 6-4, 7-6(3).

Former Tulsa standout Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador won his second major men's doubles title today at Roland Garros, with partner Mate Pavic of Croatia. No. 9 seeds Pavic and Arevalo, who had won the Roland Garros title in 2022 with Jean-Julien Rojer(UCLA), defeated No. 11 seeds Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori of Italy 7-5, 6-3 in the final. Pavic is now just the sixth man to win all four slams during his career, all with different partners. For more on the men's doubles final, see this article from the Roland Garros website.

Coco Gauff will play for the women's doubles title Sunday, with Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, against the Italian team of Jasmine Paolini, who lost in the women's singles final today to Iga Swiatek, and Sara Errani. 

Carson Branstine, who was instrumental in Texas A&M's first NCAA team title last month, is back on the Pro Circuit this week in Sumter South Carolina and has advanced to the final at the W75 event.  The 23-year-old from Southern California, who represents Canada, defeated top seed Maria Mateas(Duke) 6-3, 6-2 to reach her third final in her last three Pro Circuit tournaments. Branstine will play Sophie Chang, who is also unseeded, in the final after Chang defeated Allie Kiick 6-4, 6-3.

In the doubles final, former Baylor standouts Melany Solange Krywoj of Argentina and Alicia Herrero Liana of Spain, who were unseeded, defeated top seeds Chang and Dalayna Hewitt 6-3, 6-3 for their third and biggest title of the year. Krywoj and Herrero Liana have won five titles on the women's World Tennis Tour in the past four years.

At the ATP Challenger 75 in Tyler Texas, Brandon Holt(USC) and James Trotter(Ohio State) of Japan will play in the final Sunday, with one of them getting his first Challenger title. The 26-year-old Holt, who reached his first Challenger final in January at Indian Wells, got his first straight-sets win of the week in today's semifinal, beating No. 8 seed Liam Draxl(Kentucky) of Canada 6-3, 7-5. The 24-year-old Trotter, also unseeded, beat No. 2 seed Coleman Wong of Hong Kong 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4) to reach his first Challenger final in his first year on the Pro Circuit, after leaving Ohio State with the NCAA doubles title last spring.

While Trotter is just now advancing to a Challenger final in singles, his doubles pedigree has been evident throughout the year, and today he won the fifth Challenger doubles title of his career, but a first with Hans Hach Verdugo(Abilene Christian) of Mexico. Trotter and Hach, seeded No. 2, defeated former Florida Gators Andres Andrade of Ecuador and Abdullah Shelbayh of Jordan, who were unseeded, 7-6(3), 6-4 in this evening's final.

A pair of former Texas A&M Aggies, Hady Habib of Lebanon and Trey Hilderbrand, won their first ATP Challenger doubles titles today at the Challenger 50 in Argentina. The unseeded pair defeated Ignacio Carou of Uruguay and Facundo Mena of Argentina, also unseeded, 6-7(5), 6-2, 10-4 in the final. 

At the SoCal Pro Series in San Diego, Maya Iyengar advanced to her first Pro Circuit final in just her second tournament, with the 16-year-old from Arizona defeating Carolyn Campana(Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Pepperdine) 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 in the women's semifinals. She will face former UNC All-American Sara Daavettila, the No. 3 seed, who defeated Aspen Schuman 6-4, 7-5.

Campana won the doubles title, however, with Pepperdine's All-American Lisa Zaar of Sweden. The No. 2 seeds defeated top seeds and USC teammates Eryn Cayetano and Australia's Lily Fairclough 6-7(3), 6-4, 11-9 in this evening's final.

The men's singles final Sunday will be between the top two seeds, just as it was last week, with No. 1 Learner Tien(USC), who won the title last week in San Diego, facing No. 2 Alafia Ayeni(Cornell/Kentucky). Tien defeated No. 7 seed Noah Schachter 6-3, 6-2, while Ayeni beat Alan Rubio(UCF) of Mexico 7-6(6), 6-2.

Arizona State teammates Max McKennon and Jacob Bullard won their first Pro Circuit titles today in doubles, with the unseeded pair defeating Jeremy Jin(Florida) of Australia and Lui Maxted(TCU) of Great Britain 6-2, 6-3 in this morning's final.