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Monday, April 10, 2017

Qualifying Complete at USTA Pro Circuit Events in Pelham and Little Rock; Signing Week Begins at the Tennis Recruiting Network; Tennis on Campus National Championships Begin Thursday in Orlando

Usually qualifying at women's USTA Pro Circuit events doesn't finish until Tuesday, but this week there are two such events, the $25,000 tournament in Pelham Alabama and the $80,000 tournament in Indian Harbour Beach Florida, and the Alabama tournament's qualifying began on Saturday, not Sunday as usual.

Earning places in the main draw in Pelham are four Americans: Madeline Kobelt(Syracuse), Keri Wong(Clemson), Frances Altick(Vanderbilt) and Georgia Tech recruit Victoria Flores. Three of the other qualifiers have college ties: Alabama senior Erin Routliffe of Canada, former Clemson star Beatrice Gumulya of Indonesia and former St. Mary's College standout Catherine Leduc of Canada. The eighth qualifier is Turkey's Cagla Buyukakcay, who is currently 106 in the WTA rankings and six months ago was No. 60. Buyukakcay took a wild card into qualifying, but unlike the ITF Men's Circuit, which waits to do the draw when such a highly ranked player is in qualifying, the Women's Circuit doesn't wait, with the result that Buyukakcay is unseeded in the main draw, where she would have been the top seed had she not been in qualifying.

As a junior, Maria Mateas had terrible luck in ITF junior circuit draws last year, drawing the number one seed in the first round at the last three Grade As she played: Wimbledon, the US Open and the Orange Bowl (for an interesting look at another player who has had bad draws this year, see this Heavy Topspin article). Although her draws have been better on the USTA Pro Circuit, where she's played exclusively this year, her luck ran out this week, and Mateas, who received a wild card, has drawn Buyukakcay.  Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal is the top seed this week, with the other wild cards given to Alexa Guarachi Mathison of Chile, Ashley Kratzer and Cameron Morra. Sophie Chang, a finalist last week in Jackson Mississippi received a special exemption. There is a lucky loser spot not yet filled that will also go to an American.

The Indian Harbour Beach qualifying will finish on Tuesday. That tournament features Genie Bouchard of Canada, who took a wild card and will be the No. 1 seed and Madison Brengle, the No. 2 seed. Wild cards were given to Vicky Duval, who is coming back from injury, Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia and Nicole Coopersmith. This is the first of four women's Pro Circuit events that will count toward the race for the French Open reciprocal wild card the USTA distributes every year.

At the $25,000 Men's Futures in Little Rock, seven of the eight qualifiers are Americans, all with college ties: Henry Craig(Denver), Christopher Haworth(Oklahoma State), John Lamble(Santa Clara), Winston Lin(Columbia), Tim Kopinski(Illinois) and recruits Mac Kiger(Illinois) and John McNally(Ohio State).  The eighth qualifier, Alastair Gray of Great Britain, is a TCU recruit.  Junior Danny Thomas got in as a lucky loser. The top seed is Yannick Mertens of Belgium, and wild cards went to Julio Olaya, Alexandre Rotsaert, Ulises Blanch and Kevin King.

A few US women are also in Mexico for the $25,000 ITF Women's Circuit tournament there. Ellie Douglas received a main draw wild card, with Alexa Ryngler, Alexandra Riley, Desirae Krawczyk and Akiko Okuda the Americans who advanced via qualifying.

Signing Week has begun over at the Tennis Recruiting Network, and they will have several features each day, some commitment announcements, others articles that highlight an already announced choice. I will have one of the latter Friday, on Amanda Meyer's decision to join Vanderbilt this fall.

This year's USTA Tennis on Campus National Championships will be held beginning Thursday at the new USTA Campus in Lake Nona.  This competition for club teams at universities across the country has grown dramatically since its inception in 2000, with more than 35,000 students now participating.  Sixty-four teams will travel to Orlando for the Nationals; the list of those teams can be found here.

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