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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:
Jensen Brooksby
Stefan Dostanic
Jake Sands
Ryder Jackson

Boys ITF qualifying wild cards:
Steven Sun (has already moved into qualifying)
Alex Bancilla (has already moved into qualifying)
Miledge 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 Brigforth

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.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Easter Bowl, International Spring Acceptances; McNally Reaches Another Quarterfinal at Tampa $15K; New ITA Rankings for D-III, NAIA, JUCO

The acceptance lists for the upcoming Easter Bowl and International Spring Championships have been up since early this month, and with the tournaments switching places on the calendar this year, I'll be starting my onsite coverage with the Easter Bowl.  The 12s, 14s and 16s will again be a gold ball event this year in the Palm Springs area, with the 12s and 14s beginning on Saturday, March 24.  The 16s begin on Monday the 26th, ending on Saturday March 31st, and ITF B1, which also begins on Monday, ends on Sunday, April 1st. 

The TennisLink site lists the participants; it appears wild cards have been distributed as the competitors' lists all contain 63 or 64 players.

Tristan Boyer, who qualified for the $25,000 Futures in Bakersfield this week but fell short in his attempt for his first ATP point today against fellow qualifier Isaiah Strode, leads the boys field, along with Drew Baird and Andrew Fenty, also in the ITF junior Top 15.

Alexa Noel, No. 10 in the current ITF junior rankings, leads the girls field, followed by Orange Bowl finalist Margaryta Bilokin and Caty McNally. Coco Gauff is not entered nor are Elysia Bolton and Dalayna Hewitt, who had good results at the Australian Open Juniors this year.

16s Easter Bowl champions Emma Navarro and Brandon Nakashima are both playing the ITF tournament this year.

The complete acceptance lists are at the ITF Junior tournament website.

For more on the tournament schedule, practice and competition sites and the Team USA meeting for coaches on Sunday March 25, see the Easter Bowl website.

The International Spring Championships in Carson, usually the week before the Easter Bowl, is now the week after, running from April 2-8. Unlike the Easter Bowl, which is allows only US players, the ISC is a Grade 1 tournament open to all.  Uisung Park of Korea, who trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton is the top-ranked ITF player as of the acceptance date, with Baird, Boyer and Fenty next on the list.  In the girls entries, Noel is missing, with Bilokin and Lea Ma the top ITF players.  Taylor Johnson, who hasn't played since last year's US Open Juniors, is on the acceptance list, but she entered and withdrew from the Easter Bowl, and the Carson withdrawal date isn't until next Tuesday.

Caty McNally, who is not entered in Carson, is warming up for the Easter Bowl at the $15,000 USTA women's Pro Circuit tournament in Tampa this week, where she has reached the quarterfinals. The 16-year-old from Ohio, who is the No. 8 seed, defeated former Georgia Tech standout Rasheeda McAdoo 6-3, 6-4 to advance to her third $15K quarterfinal of the year and fourth of her career. She will look for her first semifinal appearance when she takes on No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula on Friday.  Ingrid Neel[7] and Katarina Stewart[2] will face off in another all-USA quarterfinal, with No. 6 seed Amanda Rodgers the fifth American to advance to the final eight.  McNally and Natasha Subhash have advanced to the semifinals in doubles, as have the teams of McAdoo and Stewart and Neel and Quinn Gleason.

The ITA released its new Division III team rankings, along with NAIA men's and women's singles and doubles rankings and JUCO men's and women's team rankings. Emory remains No. 1 in both men's and women's D-III rankings, but Bowdoin has moved into the No. 2 position in the men's rankings.

Division III Men’s Top 10 Rankings, March 15, 2018 (previous ranking of March 8 in parentheses)

1. Emory University (1)
2. Bowdoin College (4)
3. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (2)
4. Middlebury University (3)
5. University of Chicago (6)
6. Amherst College (9)
7. Gustavus Adolphus (10)
8. Carnegie Mellon University (12)
9. Washington University-St.Louis (7)
10. Wesleyan University(5)

Division III Top 10 Women’s Rankings, March 15, 2018 (previous ranking of March 8 in parentheses)

1. Emory University (1)
2. Williams College (2)
3. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (3)
4. Middlebury College (4)
5. Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (6)
6. Carnegie Mellon University (9)
7. Bowdoin College (5)
8. Tufts University (7)
9. Wesleyan University (8)
10. University of Chicago (10)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Osuigwe, Anisimova, Liu Receive Miami Open Wild Cards; Chrysochos Gets ATP Top 100 Win at Irving Challenger; Few Changes in USTA College Poll

The Miami Open, which begins with qualifying on Monday March 19, announced its wild card recipients today.  The last three girls junior slam champions have received main draw wild cards: Whitney Osuigwe(French Open), Claire Liu(Wimbledon) and Amanda Anisimova(US Open). Osuigwe, 15, will be making her WTA main draw debut; Liu, 17, received a wild card into the BNP Paribas Open last week and at the Stanford tournament last year, as well as qualifying for the US Open in 2017.  Anisimova, 16, received a wild card into the main draw at last year's Miami Open, played the French Open with the wild card she earned in the USTA's Challenge and made the fourth round of the current BNP Paribas Open.

The other women's main draw wild cards:
Serena Williams
Victoria Azarenka(BLR)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Bernarda Pera
Alja Tomljanovic(AUS)
Roberta Vinci(ITA) (changed to qualifying wild card)

The men's main draw wild cards include former Georgia Tech star Christopher Eubanks, 2016 ITF World Junior champion Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, Nicola Kuhn of Spain, Mikael Ymer of Sweden and Nicolas Jarry of Chile.

The men's qualifying wild cards are Stanford freshman Axel Geller of Argentina, Texas A&M freshman Patrick Kypson, Michael Mmoh, Elias Ymer of Sweden, Casper Ruud of Norway and Joao Souza of Brazil.

The women's qualifying wild cards are Ann Li, Antonia Lottner of Germany, Katie Boulter of Great Britain, Tereza Smitkova of the Czech Republic, Allie Kiick, Emiliana Arango of Colombia and Xiyu Wang of China.

Wake Forest junior Petros Chrysochos picked up his first win over a player in the ATP Top 100 today at the $150,000 Irving Texas Challenger, beating No. 77 Thomas Fabbiano of Italy, the No. 8 seed, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.  Chrysochos, from Cyprus, had previously faced a Top 100 opponent twice, in Davis Cup back in 2013, and at the Winston-Salem Open last fall.  He will play Texas A&M senior Arthur Rinderknech of France, who advanced to the second round with a win yesterday over fellow qualifier Or Ram-Harel of Israel.

The USTA's Division I college poll continues to have the Wake Forest men and North Carolina women at No. 1, the same as the current ITA rankings.  There are few changes from last week's poll, although it is notable that the Stanford women, still languishing outside the Top 20 in the ITA computer rankings, are No. 10 in the voting done by college tennis experts. Florida, another perennial (and reigning) NCAA champion, is No. 8 in the USTA rankings and No. 18 in the ITA computer rankings. Northwestern, No. 5 in the ITA rankings, is No. 15 in the USTA poll.

USTA Men's Division I Top 10 (previous week's ranking in parentheses)

1. Wake Forest (1)
2. UCLA (2)
3. Stanford (4)
4. Texas A&M (5)
5. Ohio State (3)
6. North Carolina (6)
7. USC (7)
8. Columbia (8)
9. Texas (T9)
10. Illinois (11)

USTA Women's Division I Top 10

1. North Carolina (1)
2. Pepperdine (2)
3. Vanderbilt (3)
4. Duke (4)
5. Texas Tech (6)
6. Georgia (7)
7. Georgia Tech (5)
8. Florida (10)
9. Oklahoma State (9)
10. Stanford (14)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Wake Forest Men, North Carolina Women Remain No. 1; New Faces Qualify for Tampa $15K; Ken Flach Passes Away

There are no changes at the top of this week's ITA Division I team rankings, with the North Carolina women and Wake Forest men still No. 1.  There was some shuffling in the Top 10, with Vanderbilt moving to No. 2 in the women's rankings, and Northwestern, which wasn't in the Top 25 in the initial poll back in January up to No. 5.  Ohio State, blanked by Georgia last week, fell from No. 2 to No. 4 in the men's rankings, while Stanford moved into the second spot.

There are no new individual rankings this week.

Women’s ITA Division I Top 10 March 13, 2018 (previous ranking of March 6 in parentheses)

1. North Carolina (1)

2. Vanderbilt (4)

3. Duke (3)

4. Pepperdine (2)

5. Northwestern (8)

6. Georgia Tech (5)

7. Illinois (6)

8. Georgia (7)

9. Texas Tech (9)

10. South Carolina (11)

Men’s ITA Division I Top 10 March 13, 2018 (previous ranking of March 6 in parentheses)

1. Wake Forest (1)

2. Stanford (3)

3. UCLA (4)

4. Ohio State (2)

5. North Carolina (8)

6. Texas A&M (5)

7. Illinois (6)

8. Michigan (7)

9. Columbia (11)

10. Texas (10)

The qualifying is complete at the $15,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Tampa, with 16-year-olds Hailey Baptiste and Natasha Subhash and 15-year-old Jaleesa Leslie advancing to the main draw with wins today.  Baptiste and Leslie will be making their Pro Circuit main draw debuts Wednesday, with Baptiste facing No. 4 seed Quinn Gleason, the former Notre Dame standout, and Leslie playing Anca Cracuin of Canada. Subhash, who qualified last year in Tampa but lost in the first round, will play qualifier Emannuelle Salas of France.

Sad news today, when word of the death of Ken Flach was made public. The former Southern Illinois-Edwardsville star, six-time Grand Slam doubles champion, Olympic gold medalist and former Vanderbilt head coach passed away at the age of 54 from complications due to pneumonia.

The ATP published a lengthy obituary today, and Vanderbilt also released a statement focusing on Flach's contributions to the men's program there. Flach was inducted into the ITA College Tennis Hall of Fame, along with longtime doubles partner Robert Seguso, in 1998.

Amanda Anisimova lost 6-1, 7-6(2) to No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in today's fourth round at the BNP Paribas Open in Indiana Wells.  Venus Williams, who beat sister Serena last night, defeated Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 7-6(6), 6-4 tonight to move into the quarterfinals.  Sam Querrey[18] beat Yuki Bhambri of India 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the round of 16.

Danielle Collins and Jack Sock[8] have yet to take the court for their Tuesday evening matches. Querrey will play the winner of the Sock match with Feliciano Lopez of Spain.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Collins, Fritz Reach Round of 16 at BNP Paribas Open; Qualifying Complete at Bakersfield $25K Futures, Irving Challenger

Wild cards Danielle Collins and Sofya Zhuk had met in the final of January's Oracle Challenger Series, a WTA 125 event in Newport Beach California. Collins was forced to fight back after dropping the first set to the 2015 Wimbledon girls champion, beating the 19-year-old Russian 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.  Today at the BNP Parbias Open in Indian Wells, Collins didn't need three sets, beating Zhuk 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the round of 16, where she will play Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain. The 24-year-old Floridian, who graduated from Virginia in 2016, after winning her second NCAA singles title that year, should move into the WTA Top 100 with her recent results.  Courtney Nguyen of the WTA Tour spoke to Collins after her win over Madison Keys two days ago for the tour's "Getting to Know" feature, and Collins discusses why she went to college in the first place and why she stayed to get her degree after winning the NCAAs the first time in 2014.

Taylor Fritz, who won the Easter Bowl at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden three years ago,  has advanced to the fourth round of a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career, defeating Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(1). Fritz failed to convert two match points with Verdasco serving at 15-40, 4-5 in the third set, but he showed no sign of frustration after that and played an excellent tiebreaker to defeat the Spanish veteran. Fritz will play Borna Coric of Croatia, who has been impressive in his first three wins, including today's 6-1, 6-3 beatdown of No. 13 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.

The USTA Pro Circuit is back for the men this week, with a $25,000 Futures in Bakersfield California.  Sixteen-year-old Tristan Boyer is among the Americans qualifying. He joins Sekou Bangoura[2], Tyler Lu[9] and Isaiah Strode[10] in the main draw.

The men also have a $150,000 ATP Challenger in Irving Texas this week, but it hasn't drawn the players one would expect for that kind of prize money.  Only 10 places in the 16-player qualifying draw were filled, meaning most played only one match to qualify and earn 5 ATP points. And in the main draw, although the top two players--Yuichi Sugita of Japan and Jared Donaldson--are in the ATP Top 50, 10 players received entry as alternates.  Three current college players qualified: Texas A&M's Arthur Rinderknech and Patrick Kypson and Wake Forest's Petros Chrysochos. 

In addition to Bakersfield, another reason for the sparse field in Irving is another ATP Challenger this week in Drummondville Canada, this one featuring $75,000 in prize money.  The only Top 100 ATP player in the draw is top seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada. North Carolina freshman Benjamin Sigouin received a wild card; Illinois senior Aleks Vukic[6] won three matches in qualifying to reach the main draw.

The women have moved west from Orlando to Tampa for another $15,000 Pro Circuit event.  Portugal's Michelle Larcher de Brito and Katerina Stewart are the top two seeds. Wild cards were given to Elli Mandlik, Emory's Daniella Moreno-Kaste, Victoria Hu and 2017 Orange Bowl finalist Margaryta Bilokin of Ukraine, who has not played since falling to Whitney Osuigwe in the championship match in December. Qualifying will be completed on Tuesday.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Anisimova Beats Kvitova in Indian Wells; Koepfer Claims Futures Title in Canada; Chang Wins Orlando $15K; Cataldi Takes Another ITF Grade 5 Title

Wild card Amanda Anisimova earned her first WTA Top 10 victory today in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, beating two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the No. 9 seed, 6-2. 6-4.  The Czech left-hander didn't play well, with her serve the primary reason, but she had won two Premier events this year and with a 14-match winning streak, she was certainly confident coming in.  Anisimova demonstrated that, like Kvitova, she can beat anyone when she is playing well, and the 16-year-old Floridian will now face a third consecutive seed and a second straight Top 10 opponent when she plays No. 5 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic Tuesday.  According to the WTA, Anisimova is the first 16-year-old to reach the fourth round of the tournament since 2005.

Caroline Dolehide, who beat No. 30 seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia on Friday, came close to a huge upset against top seed and world No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania tonight, but Halep recovered for a 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-2 victory.  Sloane Stephens and Sam Querrey posted victories today, with the No. 13-seeded Stephens defeating Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-1, 7-5 and the No. 18-seeded Querrey downing Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-4, 7-5.

At the $25,000 Futures in Canada, former Tulane star Dominik Koepfer of Germany won his fourth career Futures title, beating qualifier Michael Redlicki 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-2. 

At the $15,000 Futures in Japan, former USC star Daniel Nguyen won his first title of the year and the 12th of career, with the No. 3 seed beating No. 5 seed Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul of Thailand 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-4.

Sophie Chang won the first singles title of her career, with the 20 year-old claiming the winner's trophy at the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Orlando.  The third-seeded Chang defeated Vanderbilt senior Astra Sharma of Australia, the No. 6 seed, 6-3, 7-6(6).

Fourteen-year-old Californian Taylor Cataldi won the first ITF Junior Circuit tournament she played back in January and this week won her second tournament in as many attempts, taking the Grade 5 in Zimbabwe.  Cataldi, the No. 2 seed, beat top seed MJ Changwereza of Great Britain 7-5, 6-2 in the final. She also won the doubles title, with Mieke Van Deventer of South Africa.

At the ITF Grade B1 for South American players, top seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia and No. 13 seed Gilbert Soares Klier Junior of Brazil swept the titles, with Osorio Serrano beating No. 2 seed Maria Carle of Argentina in the singles final, while partnering with Carle for the doubles championship.  Soares Klier Junior, who beat top seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina in the singles final, partnered with Natan Rodrigues of Brazil for the boys doubles title.  Osorio Serrano has now won five Grade 1 titles this year and is 29-1 in ITF Junior Circuit matches.