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Friday, June 21, 2024

Qualifier Kotzen Ousts Top Seed Krueger at Tulsa $25K, Spizzirri Avenges Last Week's Loss; 15-Year-Old Pareja Beats No. 2 Seed at Rancho Santa Fe W15; Rajecki Wins Wimbledon Qualifying Wild Card in Playoff

The Kotzen family makes up half of the semifinalists at the men's $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Tulsa after 23-year-old Alex and 21-year-old Nick won their quarterfinal matches today in contrasting fashion. Alex, who completed his Ivy League eligibility this year at Columbia, but will be using a fifth year at Tennessee, defeated Hawaii All-American Andre Ilagan, the No. 7 seed, 6-1, 6-3 in an hour and 21 minutes.  In the meantime, Nick, a rising junior at Columbia, was facing top seed Mitchell Krueger, currently 189 in the ATP ranking, and it was the qualifier who came out on top in the three-hour and 10-minute battle, 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(5). 

The Kotzens are still one more win away from a family final, with Alex facing No. 2 seed Bernard Tomic of Australia, the only seed remaining, and Nick taking on Eliot Spizzirri(Texas). Tomic took out Govind Nanda(UCLA) 6-3, 6-1; Spizzirri avenged his loss in Sunday's Wichita $25K final, beating teammate Micah Braswell 6-3, 6-2. Alex beat Nick last week in the first round of Wichita.

Fifteen-year-old Julieta Pareja has advanced to her first semifinal at a women's W15 tournament, beating No. 2 seed Sara Daavettila(North Carolina) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 today at the SoCal Pro Series tournament in Rancho Santa Fe. Wild card Pareja, who reached her first Pro Circuit quarterfinal two weeks ago in San Diego, will play Australian Lily Fairclough, a rising sophomore at USC, who defeated Brandy Walker(Northern Arizona) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2). In the top half, UCLA teammates and doubles partners Anne Lutkemeyer and Kimmi Hance will meet for the first time on the Pro Circuit after quarterfinal wins today. No. 7 seed Hance defeated No. 3 seed Basak Eraydin of Turkey 6-3, 6-3; Lukemeyer continued her dominance over Anna Campana(Wake Forest, Pepperdine) getting her second win in two weeks and third straight in the past year, this one by a score of 6-3, 7-5.

A rematch of the 2023 Kalamazoo 18s final is on tap for Saturday at the men's $15K in Rancho Santa Fe, with top seed Learner Tien(USC) taking on No. 6 seed Trevor Svajda(SMU). Tien, who has sailed through his first three matches this week and has now won 13 consecutive matches on the SoCal Pro Series, defeated No. 8 seed Jacob Brumm(Cal,Baylor) 6-0, 6-1. Svajda beat 2021 Division III champion Leo Vittoontien(Carelton College) of Japan 6-3, 6-1 to set up a second meeting with Tien since the Kalamazoo final, which Tien won 6-0, 6-4, 6-4. Tien won their second round match in the Austin $25K last fall 6-4, 5-7, 10-1, with rain forcing match tiebreakers in lieu of a third set that day.

In the bottom half, two qualifiers will meet in the semifinals, not all that surprising given that seven of the 16 players in the bottom half came through qualifying. Arizona rising senior Jay Friend of Japan defeated UCLA rising junior Aadarth Tripathi 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) in today's quarterfinals and will face Matthew Summers(Denver) of Great Britain.  Summers defeated 2013 Kalamazoo champion Collin Altamirano(Virginia) 7-6(3), 7-5.

In addition to Tien, the other top seed still alive is Victoria Hu(Princeton), who barely survived her quarterfinal encounter with Hiroko Kuwata of Japan 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7) at the W35 in Wichita.  Hu will play No. 3 seed Sahaja Yamalapalli of India, who beat UCF rising sophomore Oliver Lincer of Poland 6-1, 6-1. In the bottom half, No. 5 seed Jessica Failla(USC, Pepperdine) will play No. 8 seed Cadence Brace of Canada after Failla defeated Kayla Cross of Canada 6-4 retired and Brace ended the run of Kate Fakih 6-2, 6-1.

Recent NC State graduate Amelia Rajecki, who did not initally receive a qualifying wild card into Wimbledon, won one instead in the LTA Wimbledon qualifying wild card playoff, which began Thursday and concluded today. The unseeded Rajecki, the ITA National Senior Player of the Year, defeated the No. 2 and No. 4 seeds, as well as an unseeded player in between to earn one of the two qualifying wild cards. Top seed Katy Dunne earned the other. 

The men's winners from today's results are Anton Matusevich and Stuart Parker. Information circulating today indicates that Charlie Broom(Dartmouth, Baylor), originally given a qualifying wild card, has had that upgraded to the one remaining men's main draw wild card.