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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Collins, Mmoh Advance at Miami Open; Eastern Michigan Cuts Women's Tennis: Barry Men, Hawaii Pacific Women Top ITA Division II Rankings; Johnson Verbally Commits to UCLA

Danielle Collins broke into the WTA Top 100 this week, after reaching the fourth round at the BNP Parbias Open.  Although she has a long history of training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, the two-time NCAA singles champion from St. Petersburg Florida did not receive a wild card into the Miami Open (owned by IMG), so she had to make her way through qualifying. She defeated Tereza Smitkova of the Czech Republic and Jana Cepelova of Slovakia in straight sets to reach the main draw, and in today's first round match, her third in three days, she breezed past Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, ranked 37th, 6-1, 6-1. Currently ranked 93, Collins, who didn't face a break point in the match, will play No. 16 seed CoCo Vandeweghe next.

Michael Mmoh, now 20 years old, earned his first ATP Masters 1000 win today, beating wild card Chris Eubanks 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Mmoh, an IMG client, had received a main draw wild card the past two years but had to qualify this year. He didn't drop a set in his wins over Ramkumar Ramanathan of India and Mirza Basic of Bosnia.  Mmoh will play No. 12 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the second round.

Other Americans winning first round matches today include Varvara Lepchenko, Alison Riske, Sonya Kenin and Jared Donaldson.

Division I Eastern Michigan University announced on Tuesday that it was cutting four sports, including women's tennis. The MAC school, located in Ypsilanti, cut men's tennis back in 2000.  This Detroit News provides details on the funding levels, not including scholarships, for each of the four sports, with the tennis number the lowest.

The ITA's Division II rankings are out, with the computer responsible beginning today and for the rest of the season.  The Barry men and Hawaii Pacific women are No. 1 in the team rankings.  In singles, Sonja Larsen of Barry tops the women's rankings and Thomas Grinberg of St. Leo tops the men's rankings.

The USTA weekly poll continues to have the Wake Forest men and North Carolina women at the No. 1 spot. There are few changes in the Top 10s.

USTA Team Top 10 Men:
1. Wake Forest (1)
2. UCLA (2)
3. Stanford (3)
4. Texas A&M (4)
5. Ohio State (5)
6. North Carolina (6)
7. USC  (7)
8. (10) Illinois (10)
9. Florida State (11)
10. Texas (9)

USTA Team Top 10 Women:
1. North Carolina(1)
2. Pepperdine (2)
3. Duke (4)
4. Vanderbilt (3)
5. Georgia Tech (7)
6. Georgia (6)
7. Oklahoma State (9)
8. South Carolina (T11)
9. Texas Tech (5)
10. Florida (8)

The entire Top 25 poll is available at here.

Rain in Southern California has washed out play at the $25,000 Futures in Calabasas, and likely has disrupted the schedule at the ITF Grade 4 in Newport Beach.

Southern Californian Taylor Johnson announced on twitter a few days ago that she has verbally committed to UCLA for 2019.  Johnson, who's been as high as 8 in the ITF junior rankings, has been out with an injury since last September. She has withdrawn from both the Easter Bowl and the ISC in Carson.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Five Americans Qualify for Miami Open, Liu, Anisimova Post First Round Wins; Top Seeds Out at ITF Grade 4 in Newport Beach; UNC Women, Wake Men Remain No. 1

Five Americans advanced to the main draw of the Miami Open today in Key Biscayne: Bjorn Fratangelo, Michael Mmoh, Sonya Kenin, Alison Riske and Danielle Collins.

Fratangelo, the No. 11 seed, beat No. 20 seed Carlos Berlocq of Argentina 7-6(6), 6-4 and Mmoh defeated No. 2 seed seed Mirza Basic of Bosnia, who has a current ATP ranking of 75, 7-5, 7-6(2).  Patrick Kypson lost to Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1, Denis Kudla lost to Calvin Hemery of France 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, Ernesto Escobedo lost to John Millman of Australia 6-1, 6-2 and Mackenzie McDonald lost to Darian King of Barbados 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Riske advanced when Oceane Dodin of France retired trailing 6-1, Collins defeated Jana Cepelova of Slovakia 7-6(3), 6-4 and Kenin came back for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium. Nicole Gibbs lost to Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia 7-6(3), 6-4.

Four American women played their first round main draw matches today, and all advanced.  Claire Liu picked up her first WTA main draw win (not counting WTA 125 events) against fellow teenager and wild card Whitney Osuigwe 6-3, 6-1.  Liu, the reigning Wimbledon girls champion, beat Osuigwe last spring in the Easter Bowl ITF semifinals, but had lost to her twice since then, in the French Open girls final and the quarterfinals of the USTA National 18s in San Diego.

Amanda Anisimova, the reigning US Open girls champion, defeated Qiang Wang of China 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 to record her fourth WTA Premier level victory of the month. Next up for the 16-year-old Floridian is No. 3 seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

Christina McHale advanced when Kaia Kanepi of Estonia had to retire leading 3-1 in the first set due to an injury.  Wild card Bernarda Pera beat Lara Arruabarrena of Spain 7-5, 6-4.

The ITF Junior Circuit returns to the United States this week for the first time since December's Orange Bowl, with a Grade 4 in Newport Beach California.  As is frequently the case with this event, which used to precede the International Spring Championships, but is now the week before the Easter Bowl, the seeding doesn't have much predictive power. Many top Southern Californian juniors don't play ITF tournaments, so they don't have the requisite rankings for seeding, but are competitive with those who do.  Both No. 1 seeds lost in the first round on Monday, with wild card Siem Woldeab beating Daniel Moreno of Mexico 7-5, 6-1 and Vivian Ovrootsky defeating top seed Mell Reasco Gonzalez of Ecuador 7-5, 6-4.

The latest ITA Division I team and individual rankings are out, with the North Carolina women and Wake Forest men remaining on top. The TCU men have made a big jump this week, going from 32 to 11 and they are currently playing No. 6 Texas A&M in College Station.  Martin Redlicki of UCLA has returned to the top spot in singles. 

The Texas women have moved into the Top 10 this week at No. 8, with Bianca Turati of Texas retaining her No. 1 position in the singles rankings.  Mississippi State, unranked last week, moved up to 24 on the basis of the wins over Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Paige Hourigan and Kenya Jones of Georgia Tech have taken over the top spot in the women's doubles rankings.

Women’s ITA Division I Top 10 Team March 20, 2018 (previous ranking of March 13 in parentheses)
1. North Carolina (1)
2. Pepperdine (4)
3. Vanderbilt (2)
4. Duke (3)
5. Northwestern (5)
6. Georgia Tech (6)
7. Illinois (7)
8. Texas (12)
9. Georgia (8)
10. South Carolina (10)

Women’s Singles: (previous ranking of March 6 in parentheses)
1. Bianca Turati, Texas (1)
2. Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, Florida Atlantic (6)
3. Anastasia Rychagova, Kansas (3)
4. Andrea Lazaro, Florida International (4)
5. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt (5)
6. Katarina Jokic, Georgia (2)
7. Samantha Harris, Duke (7)
8. Gabriela Knutson, Syracuse (11)
9. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami (18)
10. Michaela Gordon, Stanford (17)

Women’s Doubles:
1. Paige Hourigan and Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech (4)
2. Jessie Aney and Alexa Graham, North Carolina (2)
3. Emily Arbuthnott and Michaela Gordon, Stanford (3)
4. Erin Larner and Maddie Lipp, Northwestern (1)
5. Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen, Duke (6)

Men’s ITA Division I Top 10 Team March 13, 2018 (previous ranking of March 6 in parentheses)
1. Wake Forest (1)
2. Ohio State (4)
3. Stanford (2)
4. UCLA (3)
5. North Carolina (5)
6. Texas A&M (6)
7. Illinois (7)
8. Michigan (8)
9. Florida (12)
10. USC (11)

Men’s Singles: (previous ranking of March 6 in parentheses)
1. Martin Redlicki, UCLA (3)
2. William Blumberg, North Carolina (1)
3. Nuno Borges, Mississippi State (4)
4. Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State (2)
5. Alex Knight, Michigan (5)
6. Arthur Rinderknech, Texas A&M (10)
7. Petros Chrysochos, (8)
8. Alfredo Perez, Florida (7)
9. Brandon Holt, USC (12)
10. Tom Fawcett, Stanford (11)

Men’s Doubles:
1. Johannes Ingildsen and Alfredo Perez, Florida (1)
2. Petros Chrysochos and Skander Mansouri, Wake Forest (5)
3. William Blumberg and Robert Kelly, North Carolina (6)
4. Rodrigo Banzer and Leonardo Telles, Texas (3)
5. Chema Carranza and Josef Dodridge, Wisconsin (4)

Monday, March 19, 2018

USTA Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge Begins Next Month; Kypson Downs Smyczek in Miami Open Qualifying; Calabasas $25K Futures Qualifying Complete

The USTA has announced the dates of its seventh annual Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge, which it holds every year to determine the recipient of the USTA's reciprocal wild card. The American man and woman collecting the most ATP and WTA points during the Challenge, using the best two results, will receive entry into the main draw in Paris this spring.

As has been the case for the women since the Wild Card Challenge's inception, four upcoming tournaments on the USTA Pro Circuit will serve as designated events:

Week of April 9: $60,000 Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.
Week of April 16: $80,000 Dothan, Ala.
Week of April 23: $80,000 Charlottesville, Va.
Week of April 30: $80,000 Charleston, S.C.

The American player who earns the most WTA points in two of these events will be awarded the wild card, with the tiebreaker the player with the higher WTA ranking.  Last year Amanda Anisimova won the wild card.  The women's fact sheet is available here.

The men's Wild Card Challenge changed last year from designated USTA Pro Circuit events to any ATP event, Tour or Challenger level being held during the four-week period. This year those events must be on red or green clay.  The four weeks this year begin April 9th and end with tournaments starting on April 30th.  Tennys Sandgren won the wild card last year. The men's fact sheet is available here.

I mentioned in last night's post the beginning of the women's qualifying at the Miami Open, but because the men's qualifying draw had not yet been released, I wasn't aware that the men's qualifying was also beginning today. 

Mackenzie McDonald[24] had a tough first round, drawing 17-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, who qualified and won a round at the BNP Paribas Open earlier this month, but the 2016 NCAA champion managed to earn a 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(6) victory.

Patrick Kypson, the reigning Kalamazoo 18s champion and a freshman at Texas A&M, received a wild card into qualifying and made good use of it, defeating Tim Smyczek[18] 6-4, 6-3.  Kypson, currently ranked 729, has only played one ATP Top 100 player in his career, and while Smyczek was outside that at 117, it is Kypson's best win by ranking by more than 200 spots.  Kypson will play Great Britain's Cameron Norrie[10], the former TCU star for a place in the main draw.  Norrie advanced when Stefan Kozlov retired trailing 6-1, 2-0.  Michael Mmoh beat No. 22 seed Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 7-6(4), 6-4 and No. 13 seed Ernesto Escobedo defeated Gleb Sakharov of France 6-0, 6-3. Bjorn Fratangelo was supposed to play Tommy Paul in the opening round of qualifying, but Paul, who hasn't played since the Dallas Challenger at the end of January, was replaced by Pedja Krstin of Serbia. Fratangelo, the No. 11 seed, beat Krstin 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.  Denis Kudla, who won the Drummondville Challenger title yesterday, had a long trip south for his first round qualifying match, but it was worth it when he defeated No. 5 seed Gastao Elias of Portugal 7-5, 6-4 tonight.

Stanford freshman and 2017 ITF World Junior champion Axel Geller received a wild card into qualifying and drew Alex de Minaur of Australia.  In a rematch of the 2013 Junior Orange Bowl 14s final, de Minaur got his revenge today, beating the 18-year-old from Argentina 6-4, 6-0.

In women's qualifying, Danielle Collins[23], Nicole Gibbs[24], Alison Riske[14] and Sonya Kenin[12] advanced, with Kenin beating wild card Ann Li 6-2, 7-5. Sachia Vickery[10] is still on court.

The qualifying is complete at the $25,000 Calabasas California Futures, with six Americans advancing to the main draw.  Martin Redlicki[3], a senior at UCLA, defeated teammate Evan Zhu[10] 2-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 to reach the main draw, while brother Michael defeated Cornell freshman Alafia Ayeni 6-3, 6-2.  Georgia recruit Trent Bryde beat 17-year-old Govind Nanda 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, and Henry Craig[5] defeated 17-year-old Jenson Brooksby 6-3, 6-3. Harrison Adams[16] downed Or Ram-Harel[6] of Israel 6-4, 6-4 and Isaiah Strode beat Sem Verbeek[12] of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-1. Like all qualifiers except for Strode, the two non-Americans have college ties.  Former Cal star Andre Goransson of Sweden beat top seed Sebastian Fanselow of Germany 7-6(4), 7-6(6) and Ruan Roelofse[4] of South Africa defeated USC recruit Jake Sands 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The top seed in Calabasas is last week's champion in Bakersfield, Matias Bourgue of France, with Alex Sarkissian seeded No. 2.  Wild cards were given to Stanford senior Tom Fawcett; high school junior Jacob Bullard, a Texas recruit; Marcos Giron, who is the No. 4 seed; and Calabasas junior Bruno Krenn.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Miami Open Women's Qualifying Begins Monday; Stewart Wins Tampa $15K; Kudla Takes Drummondville Challenger Title; Division I Upsets Continue

The women's qualifying draw is out for the Miami Open, with matches beginning at 10 a.m. Monday. Former two-time NCAA champions Nicole Gibbs and Danielle Collins are in the draw, as is Wimbledon girls finalist Ann Li, who plays 2015 USTA 18s champion Sonya Kenin.  Kristie Ahn, Taylor Townsend, Alison Riske, Allie Kiick and Sachia Vickery are the other Americans in the qualifying draw.

The women's main draw was also revealed today, with 16-year-old wild card Amanda Anisimova drawing Qiang Wang of China and wild cards Claire Liu and Whitney Osuigwe meeting in a rematch of the 2017 French Open girls final.

Madison Keys[14], Sloane Stephens[13], Venus Williams[8] and CoCo Vandeweghe[16] are the seeded American women with byes.  Serena Williams, who is unseeded in her second tournament back after having a baby, has drawn Naomi Osaka of Japan in the first round. Osaka won the BNP Parbias Open today in Indian Wells, beating fellow 20-year-old Daria Kasatkina of Russia 6-3, 6-2.  Juan Martin del Potro beat Roger Federer in a thrilling men's final, 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(2) to claim his first ATP Masters title.  Jack Sock and John Isner won the men's doubles title Saturday night, beating the Bryan brothers 7-6(4), 7-6(2).

In other tournament finals in North America, Katerina Stewart won her first title of 2018 at the $15,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Tampa Florida. The No. 2 seed, now 20 years old, defeated No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-0 in the final. It's Stewart's tenth career title; nine have come on clay.

At the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Drummondville Canada, Denis Kudla picked up his first Challenger title since 2015.  Kudla, the No. 5 seed, beat unseeded Benjamin Bonzi of France 6-0, 7-5 and will move back into the ATP Top 150 with the title.

The champion at the $150,000 ATP Challenger in Irving Texas is Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, who beat Matteo Berrettini of Italy 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in today's final.

At the $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Mexico, 2014 US Open girls champion Maria Bouzkova of the Czech Republic won the singles title.  The 19-year-old, seeded No. 3, beat unseeded Kristina Kucova of Slovakia, the 2007 US Open girls champion, 6-4, 6-0.  Former Alabama stars Alexa Guarachi Matheson of Chile and Erin Routliffe of New Zealand won the doubles title, with the unseeded pair defeating top seeds Desirae Krawczyk (Arizona State) and Mexico's Giuliana Olmos(USC) 4-6, 6-2, 10-6.

I neglected to mention last week's sweep of ITF Women's Circuit titles by Ellie Halbauer, who began playing again in late January after months off due to injury. The 20-year-old Halbauer, the No. 8 seed, beat No. 3 seed Lucrezia Stefanini of Italy 6-3, 6-3 in the $15,000 Tunisia tournament's singles final and partnered with Julia Stamatova of Bulgaria for the doubles title.

The $25,000 Bakersfield Futures finished today, with top seed Mathias Bourgue of France beating No. 3 seed Jan Choinski of Germany 6-2, 6-3 for the singles title.  The doubles title went to No. 2 seeds Bernardo Saraiva(San Francisco) of Portugal and Sem Verbeek(Pacific) of the Netherlands beating top seeds Boris Arias(LSU) and Federico Zeballos of Bolivia 7-6(2), 6-3 in the final.

It was an eventful weekend in Division I college tennis, with the parity that's been evident throughout the season continuing.

The Arkansas men, ranked 49th, beat No. 14 Georgia 4-3, coming from 3-1 down in Fayetteville and unranked Virginia (can't say I've typed that before) beat No. 18 Notre Dame 5-2 in Charlottesville. TCU, currently ranked 32, blanked No. 9 Columbia in Fort Worth, earning its third straight Top 20 win.

No. 3 seed Cal won the men's Oracle Collegiate Challenge, which takes place at Indian Wells on the final weekend of the BNP Paribas Open. The Bears, ranked 39th, defeated Purdue, Baylor and Arizona State for the title.

Top-ranked Wake Forest took down No. 11 USC at home 4-1, with the Trojans not having Brandon Holt or Daniel Cukierman, their top two players, in the lineup due to injury.

In women's action, No. 10 South Carolina beat No. 8 Georgia 4-1 in Athens despite losing the doubles point. South Carolina got wins in the straight-sets wins at the top three singles positions and at No. 6.  Georgia had beaten No. 18 Florida 4-1 on Friday.  Unranked Mississippi State followed up its 4-3 victory Thursday over No. 2 Vanderbilt with a 4-0 win over No. 14 Kentucky on Saturday.  South Carolina is the only women's team still undefeated in SEC play, so they are in the driver's seat, although as Mississippi State has shown, there are few easy wins in the conference.

The top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels were taken to the limit by No. 22 Florida State today in Tallahassee, but UNC's Alexa Graham won in a third set at No. 4 singles, the only match to go three sets, to get the 4-3 victory.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

McNally Claims Second Straight Pro Circuit Doubles Title in Tampa, Pegula and Stewart in All-US Final in Singles; Dale Wins ITF Grade 4 in Panama

Caty McNally is only 16 years old, but she has already won four ITF Pro Circuit doubles titles including two in the last two weeks, with two different partners.

McNally, who has reached the Wimbledon girls doubles final the past two years, won the $15,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit doubles title in Tampa Florida today.  With University of Virginia recruit Natasha Subhash, a regular partner of McNally's during her junior career, McNally defeated No. 4 seeds Rasheeda McAdoo and Katerina Stewart 3-6, 6-3, 10-6 in the final.

The first set was the only set the unseeded pair lost in the tournament, and last week in Orlando, with Whitney Osuigwe, another regular junior partner, McNally took the doubles title without the loss of a set.  Prior to this month, McNally has won two other $15,000 tournament titles, with Emily Appleton of Great Britain.

McNally reached the quarterfinals of the singles in Tampa, falling to No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula, who will play in the final on Sunday.  Pegula defeated former Syracuse standout Amanda Rodgers, the No. 6 seed, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 in today's semifinals and will face No. 2 seed Katarina Stewart, who beat unseeded Ilona Kremen of Belarus 6-1, 6-0.

The singles final of the $25,000 men's Futures in Bakersfield California will feature No. 1 seed Mathias Bourgue of France and No. 3 seed Jan Choinski of Germany.  Wake Forest sophomore Borna Gojo reached the semifinals, but fell in a second match today to Choinski.  Rain kept the quarterfinal round from being completed on Friday.

Denis Kudla[5] has advanced to the final of the $75,000 ATP Drummondville Challenger, where he'll face unseeded Benjamin Bonzi of France.

Steve Johnson[3] was the last American standing at the $150,000 ATP 
Challenger in Irving Texas, but he lost today to Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.  The unseeded Kukushkin will face alternate Mateo Berrettini of Italy in the final.

Andrew Dale, who played for the USTA National Spring Team Champions the Titans last week in Mobile, went to Panama for an ITF Grade 4 tournament this week and came away with his fourth ITF singles title.  The 16-year-old left-hander, seeded No. 2, defeated top seed Vikash Singh of India 6-4, 6-0 in the final. Dale's previous three ITF junior titles were in Grade 5 tournaments.

Camille Townsend, the No. 2 seed, lost to No. 3 seed Jada Bui of Canada in the girls final, 6-2, 6-0.  Top seeds Bui and Townsend lost in the doubles final to No. 3 seeds Jackeline Lopez and El Salvador's Sara Cruz Bonilla 6-2, 2-6, 10-7.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Malaysia, Skyler Grishuk reached the singles quarterfinals, and at the ITF Grade 2 in Spain, Zane Khan advanced to the singles semifinals.

Friday, March 16, 2018

My Article on Trice Pickens' Commitment to Northwestern; Easter Bowl ITF B1 Wild Cards; Di Lorenzo and Eubanks Receive Oracle $100K Grants

While I was in Mobile, I had an opportunity to talk with two top juniors who have committed to Big Ten schools for Tennis Recruiting Network features. The first, five-star Trice Pickens of North Carolina, is heading northwest to Northwestern University this fall .  Next week, blue chip Andrea Cerdan will detail her reasons for selecting Michigan, joining the Wolverines in 2019. I always enjoy speaking with juniors about their college choice and the process they employed to make that important decision.

I mentioned in Thursday's post that the Easter Bowl ITF wild cards hadn't been announced, but I did receive that information today, along with the names of those who received 16s wild cards. With more than a week before the start of the tournament, these will likely change some with late withdrawals, but here's the list as of now:

Boys Easter Bowl ITF main draw wild cards:
Jenson Brooksby
Stefan Dostanic
Jake Sands
Ryder Jackson

Boys ITF qualifying wild cards:
Steven Sun (has already moved into qualifying)
Alex Bancila (has already moved into qualifying)
Milledge Cossu
Julian Steinhausen
Andre Saleh (has already moved into qualifying)

Girls Easter Bowl ITF main draw wild cards:
Jaeden Brown
Imani Graham
Elvina Kalieva
Charlotte Owensby
Alexandra Yepifanova
Sara Choy

Girls ITF qualifying wild cards:
Elaine Chervinsky
Nina Gulbransen
Isabelle Kouzmanov
Maya Rukosuev (has already moved into qualifying)
Kennedy Bridgforth

The 16s wild cards are:
Carson Tanguilig
Danielle Benabraham
Gianna Pielet
Nika Vesley

Andrew Chang
Jameson Corsillo
Alex Lin

Today Oracle announced the recipients of its annual grants to a men's and women's college player.  Ohio State's Francesca Di Lorenzo, who turned pro last year after two years in Columbus, and Georgia Tech's Christopher Eubanks, who turned pro this fall with one year of eligibility left, each will receive $100,000 grants to assist them in their transition to the professional tours.  

This is the second year these grants have been awarded. The first recipients were Danielle Collins and Mackenzie McDonald. 

The complete release, which includes the names of the members of the committee that choose the recipients, is available here.