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Friday, April 20, 2018

Di Lorenzo, Opelka, Eubanks, Rubin Advance to ATP and Pro Circuit Semifinals; Team Impact's Partnership with College Tennis; Danielle Collins Feature; US Meets France in Fed Cup Semifinals

Francesca Di Lorenzo, who is in her first full year on the WTA tour after two years at Ohio State, has reached her first semifinal above the $25,000 level at the $80,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Dothan Alabama. The 20-year-old from Ohio, who won three qualifying matches to reach the main draw, defeated Barbara Haas of Austria 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the final four. Di Lorenzo, who should move into the WTA Top 200 with her results this week, will face No. 5 seed Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia, who beat No. 2 seed Sonya Kenin 6-4, 6-1. Taylor Townsend, the No. 4 seed, is playing Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain tonight to decide who will meet unseeded Sesil Karatancheva of Bulgaria in the other semifinal.

At the $100,000 ATP Challenger in Sarasota, Reilly Opelka advanced to the semifinals, beating Guilherme Clezar of Brazil 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.  Stefan Kozlov couldn't join him however, despite holding a match point in his 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(6) loss to Hugo Dellien of Bolivia. Opelka will play Facundo Bagnis of Argentina next, with Dellien taking on Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina in the other semifinal.  All the semifinalists are unseeded.

At the $50,000+H ATP Challenger in Guadalajara Mexico, former Georgia Tech star Chris Eubanks has advanced to the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Danilo Petrovic of Serbia.  Eubanks, who defeated No. 7 seed Victor Estella Burgos of the Dominican Republic 7-6(5), 7-6(6) in the second round, will face another Serbian, Pedja Krstin in Saturday's semifinal.

The rarity of the top four seeds advancing to the semifinals has happened at the $15,000 Futures in Orange Park Florida, with former Wake Forest star Noah Rubin continuing to cruise through the draw.  The top-seeded Rubin, who took a wild card into the event, defeated No. 5 seed Santiago Rodriguez Taverna of Argentina 6-1, 6-3 in today's quarterfinal and will face No. 4 seed Jose Pereira of Brazil Saturday.  No. 2 seed Marcelo Barrios Vera of Chile will play No. 3 seed Samuel Bensoussen of France in the other semifinal.

Two-time NCAA champion Danielle Collins has been the subject of several features since her results in March vaulted her to the WTA Top 50.  This article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch features quotes not just from Collins, but also from her father and former Virginia head coach Mark Guilbeau, who continues to be involved in Collins' coaching.

The Tennis Recruiting Network has posted an article about the college teams who have partnered with sick and disabled children through the non-profit Team IMPACT.  It's an inspiring article on what several collegiate programs have done to reach out to young people in their communities who often don't have teams of their own.

The US women's Fed Cup team is in France this weekend for the semifinals, with the Americans favored, even on red clay, to advance to the final for the second consecutive year. The 2017 champions will send out Sloane Stephens in the first singles match, against France's Pauline Parmentier, while CoCo Vandeweghe will play Kristina Mladenovic in the second singles match.  Also on the team are Madison Keys and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Kathy Rinaldi, who took over as captain last year, has yet to lose a Fed Cup match. The winner of the tie will face the winner of the semifinal between Germany and the Czech Republic. For more on the US-France semifinal, see the Fed Cup website.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Pro Circuit Update; Nine US Men, 17 US Women Accepted into French Open Main Draw; UCLA Women Beat Pepperdine

Three professional events are taking place this week in the US: a $15,000 Men's Futures in Orange Park Florida, an $80,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Dothan Alabama and a $100,000 Men's ATP Challenger in Sarasota Florida.

Only one American remains after two rounds in Orange Park: Noah Rubin, who took a wild card into the event and is the No. 1 seed. Rubin, the former Wake Forest star, hasn't had a great deal of success this year in the ATP qualifying and at the Challenger level, so he decided to get some matches on the Florida Har-Tru.  Rubin defeated former Pepperdine Wave Mousheg Hovhannisyan 6-1, 6-3 in today's second round to reach the quarterfinals.

In Dothan, the second of four events in the USTA Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge, three Americans have advanced to the quarterfinals: No. 2 seed Sonya Kenin, No. 4 seed Taylor Townsend and qualifier Francesca Di Lorenzo. Louisa Chirico is playing No. 5 seed Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia tonight with a chance to join them.  Kenin advanced when Julia Grabher of Austria retired trailing 6-1, 4-6, 2-0; Townsend defeated USTA girls 18s champion Ashley Kratzer, a wild card, 6-4, 7-6(0) and Di Lorenzo downed No. 7 seed Jamie Loeb 7-6(6), 6-4.  Top seed Jennifer Brady(UCLA) lost to Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria 7-5, 6-0 in first round action last night.

At the Sarasota Challenger, two Americans have advanced to the quarterfinals: Stefan Kozlov and Reilly Opelka.  Kozlov defeated No. 3 seed Donald Young yesterday 6-4, 6-4 and Opelka beat 2013 NCAA champion and No. 8 seed Blaz Rola of Slovenia 7-6(6), 6-3 today.  The only seeded player remaining in Sarasota is No. 5 seed Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland.

The entries for the French Open were posted on Wednesday, with nine US men and 17 US women receiving entry.

The US men:
John Isner
Sam Querrey
Jack Sock
Tennys Sandgren
Steve Johnson
Jared Donaldson
Ryan Harrison
Frances Tiafoe
Taylor Fritz

The US women:
Serena Williams*
Venus Williams
Sloane Stephens
Madison Keys
CoCo Vandeweghe
Cici Bellis
Danielle Collins
Varvara Lepchenko
Sachia Vickery
Madison Brengle
Jennifer Brady
Sonya Kenin
Christina McHale
Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Bernarda Pera
Alison Riske
Vania King*

*used protected ranking for entry

The complete men's list is here.  The complete women's list is here.

In college tennis action last night, the UCLA women got a big win, coming from 3-1 down to take out Pepperdine 4-3 in Malibu.  The Bruins won the doubles point, but lost in straight sets at lines 3, 4 and 5 to go down 3-1.  But they got three-set wins from Alaina Miller at line 6 and Jada Hart at line 2 to tie it, with Ena Shibahara clinching for UCLA with a 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3 win over Luisa Stefani at line 1.  It's just the second loss of the year for the Waves, who lost to North Carolina in the National Team Indoor final back in February.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Boys Team USA Set; Carle Heads Spring Signing Announcements; UCLA Men, Pepperdine Women Continue as No. 1 in USTA Division I Poll

The USTA's playoffs to decide the members of this summer's Team USA was completed today in Lake Nona, with the following boys earning spots on the team:

Jack Anthrop (14, Orlando, Fla.; Coach: John Roddick)

Alexander Bernard (14, Bonita Springs, Fla.; Coach: Rene Gomez)

Hunter Heck (15, New Brighton, Minn.; Coach: Viet Pham)

Toby Kodat (15, Bradenton, Fla.; Coach: Ales Kodat)

Alex Lee (16, Oak Brook, Ill.; Coach: Tom Lockhart)

Marcus McDaniel (15, Vacaville, Calif.; Coach: Phil Cello)

J.C. Roddick (15, Helotes, Texas; Coach: Mark Hilderbrand)

Niroop Vallabhaneni (15, Paradise Valley, Ariz.; Coach: Jeremy Coll)
USTA Player Development provides those on the team with training opportunities, coaching and travel assistance to select USTA National and ITF junior tournaments throughout the summer.

Complete round robin results can be found here.  Those who finished in the top two in their group then played a tournament, with those results here.

More Division I spring signing announcements have been posted in the past week, with a big one today from Georgia, who has signed former ITF Top 10 junior Maria Carle of Argentina.  Carle, currently ranked No. 14, reached the semifinals of the US Open Junior championships last year and was the Eddie Herr champion in 2016.

Other women's signings:

Florida State has signed Emmanuelle Salas of France. 

Men's signings:
Arizona has signed Conner Olsen.

Louisville has signed Fabien Salle of Switzerland

Florida has signed Grey and Harry Cacciatore.

The USTA Division I weekly poll continues to have the UCLA men and Pepperdine women at No. 1.  Pepperdine is way down at No. 10 in the ITA rankings, which are done by computer, and their relatively weak conference costs them in that algorithm. Stanford is also ranked much higher by the humans, coming in at No. 7 this week, with their ITA ranking at 20. The complete Top 25 poll is available at usta.com.

USTA Poll Division I Top 10, April 18, 2019 (previous April 11 rankings in parentheses):

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

1. Pepperdine (1)
2. North Carolina (2)
3. Vanderbilt (3)
4. Duke (4)
5. Texas (5)
6. Georgia Tech (6)
7. Stanford (10)
8. Georgia (11)
9. South Carolina (7)
10. Florida (T8)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

US Teams for Upcoming Junior Davis, Fed Cup and World Junior Tennis Qualifying; USTA Girls Nationals in San Diego Named for Billie Jean King; Few Changes in ITA D-I Rankings

The North and Central American and Caribbean qualifying for the Junior Fed Cup, Junior Davis Cup and World Junior Tennis competitions begins next week in Mexico City and the teams representing the United States are:

World Junior Tennis Girls (14-and-under):
Reese Brantmeier
Robin Montgomery
Katrina Scott
Captain: Jean Desdunes

World Junior Tennis Boys:
Evan Wen
Victor Lilov
Bruno Kuzuhara
Captain: Jon Glover

Junior Fed Cup (16-and-under)
Fiona Crawley
Alexa Noel
Gabby Price
Captain: Erik Kortland

Junior Davis Cup
Toby Kodat
Alex Lee
Marcus McDaniel
Captain: Eric Nunez

If the USA qualifies as expected, the makeup of the teams could change for the finals, which for the World Junior Tennis competition is August 6-11 in the Czech Republic and for the Junior Fed and Davis Cups is September 25-39 in Hungary.

The USTA announced Monday that the USTA Girls National 18 and 16 National Championships in San Diego would be named for Billie Jean King, as will the Intersectionals, the team competitions held every summer in the 16s and 14s divisions.  The official name, beginning this year, will be The USTA Billie Jean King Girls’ 18s and 16s National Championships presented by adidas.  The Intersectionals will be named The USTA Billie Jean King Team Championshipsbeginning in 2019. 

The weekly ITA Division I rankings have very few changes from last week's edition, with the Vanderbilt women's move to No. 2 following their win over Florida the most notable.  For complete rankings, click on the heading to go to the ITA rankings page.

Women’s Division I Top 10 Team Rankings April 17, 2018 (previous rankings from April 10 in parentheses)
1. North Carolina (1)
2. Vanderbilt (3)
3. Georgia Tech (2)
2. Duke (4)
5. Texas (5)
6. Ole Miss (6)
7. South Carolina (7)
8. Georgia (8)
9. Florida (10)
10. Pepperdine (9)

Women’s Division I Top 10 Singles Rankings April 17, 2018
1. Bianca Turati, Texas (1)
2. Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov, Florida Atlantic (2)
3. Estela Perez-Somarriba, Miami (3)
4. Samantha Harris, Duke (5)
5. Gabriela Knutson, Syracuse (4)
6. Anastasia Rychagova, Kansas (10)
7. Fernanda Contreras, Vanderbilt (6)
8. Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt (8)
9. Andrea Lazaro, Florida International (7)
10. Katerina Jokic, Georgia (9)

Women’s Division I Top 5 Doubles Rankings April 17, 2018
1. Jessie Aney and Alexa Graham, North Carolina (2)
2. Paige Hourigan and Kenya Jones, Georgia Tech (1)
3. Emily Arbuthnott and Michaela Gordon, Stanford (3)
4. Erin Larner and Maddie Lipp, Northwestern (4)
5. Arianne Hartono and Alexas Bortles, Ole Miss (5)

Men’s Division I Top 10 Team Rankings April 17, 2018
1. Wake Forest (1)
2. UCLA (2)
3. Ohio State (3)
4. Stanford (4)
5. Texas A&M (5)
6. TCU (9)
7. North Carolina (8)
8. Illinois (6)
9. Mississippi State (7)
10. Florida (10)

Men’s Division I Top 10 Singles Rankings April 17, 2018
1. Martin Redlicki, UCLA (1)
2. William Blumberg, North Carolina (2)
3. Nuno Borges, Mississippi St (3)
4. Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio St (4)
5. Petros Chrysochos, Wake Forest (5)
6. Borna Gojo, Wake Forest (7)
7. Patrick Kypson, Texas A&M (6)
8. Tom Fawcett, Stanford (8)
9. Ryotaro Matsumura, Kentucky (9)
10. Arthur Rinderknech, Texas A&M (10)

Men’s Division I Top 5 Doubles Rankings April 17, 2018
1. William Blumberg and Robert Kelly, North Carolina (1)
2. Petros Chrysochos and Skander Mansouri, Wake Forest (2)
3. Korey Lovett and Eero Vasa, Central Florida (3)
4. Johannes Ingildsen and Alfredo Perez, Florida (5)
5. Guillermo Nunez and Alex Rybakov, TCU (6)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Easter Bowl 12s and 14s Photos and Videos

Below are photos of all the Easter Bowl singles semifinalists and doubles finalists in the 12s and 14s divisions. Videos of the 14s boys and girls finals and of the two 12s champions are also included, with links to videos of the 12s finalists.  My recap for the Tennis Recruiting Network is available here.

Indian Wells Tennis Garden, site of Easter Bowl 12s & 14s Finals
Brooklyn Olson 12s semifinalist

Elisabeth Dunac 12s third place
Stephanie Yakoff 12s finalist
Clervie Ngounoue 12s champion
Meecah Bigun 12s semifinalist
Alexander Frusina 12s third place
Raghav Jangbahadur 12s finalist
Rudy Quan 12s champion
Natalia Perez, Brooklyn Olson (finalists), Stephanie Yakoff, Clervie Ngounoue (champions)
Nicholas Mangiapane, Andrew Salu (champions) Adhithya Ganesan, Maxim Michaels (finalists)
Alexandra Torre 14s semifinalist
Reese Brantmeier 14s third place
Sophie Williams 14s finalist
Eleana Yu 14s champion
Jiaxi Ma 14s semifinalist
Evan Wen 14s third place
Samir Banerjee 14s finalist
Bruno Kuzuhara 14s champion
Anushka Khune, Tomi Main (finalists) Kate Sharabura, Ann Guerry (champions)
Evan Wen, Samir Banerjee (finalists) Isaac Smith, Alexander Karman (champions) 

Video of B12s finalist Raghav Hangbahadur: https://youtu.be/QoScQ5plX60

Video of G12s finalist Stephanie Yakoff https://youtu.be/yKojrsvSRdQ

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Dolehide Claims Title at $60K Indian Harbour Beach; Johnson Beats Sandgren to Defend ATP Houston Title; Ohio State Surprise Winner of Tennis On Campus Nationals

Nineteen-year-old Caroline Dolehide won the biggest singles title of her pro career today at the $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit tournament in Indian Harbour Beach Florida.  Dolehide, the No. 7 seed, beat unseeded Irina Bara of Romania 6-4, 7-5 in the final, after trailing 4-2 in the first set and 5-3 in the second set.  With the title, her fourth, with two at the $25,000 level and one at the $10,000 level, Dolehide will move to 120 in the WTA rankings, which means she still may need the USTA's wild card into the main draw at Roland Garros. She is now leading that race, with three more tournaments left, with the $80,000 tournament in Dothan Alabama next week.

This week's $25,000 tournament in Pelham Alabama, not a part of the USTA Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge, went to 16-year-old qualifier Iga Swiatek of Poland, who defeated Allie Kiick 6-2, 6-0 in today's final. Swiatek led Poland to the Junior Fed Cup title back in 2016, winning all of her matches, including both singles and doubles in the 2-1 victory over the US in the final.  Swiatek, who was out with injury for six months in the last half of 2017, now has five singles titles on the Pro Circuit, with this her first above the 10/15K level. 

At the $25,000 Futures in Little Rock, former UCLA Bruin Karue Sell of Brazil won his third career Pro Circuit singles title, all in the past seven months, beating former Ole Miss star Nik Scholtz of South Africa 7-5, 6-2 in the final.  The 24-year-old Sell was unseeded, while Scholtz was the No. 5 seed.

At the US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, an ATP 250 event, Steve Johnson defended his title with a 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-4 win over Tennys Sandgren. Johnson, the No. 6 seed, defeated five Americans in taking the title: Ernesto Escobedo, Frances Tiafoe, John Isner[1], Taylor Fritz and Sandgren, the No. 8 seed.  The win was an emotional one for Johnson, who lost his father Steve Sr., a prominent Southern Californian tennis coach, shortly after his title in Houston last year.  Johnson and Sandgren were in college together, Johnson at USC and Sandgren at Tennessee, from 2009-2011, with their teams squaring off for the NCAA team title in 2010 (Sophomore Johnson played at line 2, freshman Sandgren at line 5) and both making the semifinals of the singles tournament in 2011 (Johnson won the title, Sandgren lost to teammate Rhyne Williams in the semifinals).  The hug at the net after the tense match (Johnson saved a break point serving for the match with a forehand on the line) provided a glimpse of the connection the two share and not just in tennis; Sandgren also lost his father unexpectedly several years ago.  For more on the final, see this article on the ATP website.

The Ohio State varsity tennis programs are among the country's best, but their club team was not expected to be a contender this year at the USTA's Tennis On Campus Nationals in Lake Nona Florida.  The Buckeyes finished third in the Midwest section and the team president said she was hoping for a Top 10 finish at Nationals, but last night on the courts of the USTA's National Campus, Ohio State defeated North Carolina 27-13 to claim their first national title.  For more on the finals, see this article at usta.com.