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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Noel Claims Mexico City Grade A Title Over Top Seed Osuigwe; Baird, Korda in Boys Final; Boyer Wins Another Grade 2; Smyczek is Champaign Challenger Champion; Collins and Vickery Play for Norman $25K Title; Blanch Reaches Futures Final in Florida

Unseeded 15-year-old Alexa Noel had a breakout tournament this week at the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City and she topped it off with a 6-2, 6-4 win over the ITF World No. 1 junior Whitney Osuigwe in today's all-American girls singles final. 

Noel, who had not played a tournament since July, didn't drop a set in any of her six victories, and her variety-laden game proved too much for Osuigwe today. Noel was serving particularly well, and when things got tight late in the second set, her first serve and her willingness to use her lethal drop shot against the speedy Osuigwe proved the difference. Noel couldn't consolidate the break she earned for a 4-3 lead, but she broke Osuigwe in a four-deuce game to take a 5-4 lead and served out the match for her first ITF title above the Grade 4 level. Noel, who won the Junior Orange Bowl 14s last year, had lost to Osuigwe in the Easter Bowl 14s final in 2015.

Things didn't get any better for Osuigwe after the singles final, when she and Ellie Douglas, the top seeds, lost in the doubles final to unseeded Peyton Stearns and Dalayna Hewitt 6-4, 6-3.

Like Noel, unseeded Drew Baird is having the tournament of his ITF junior career, reaching Sunday's boys singles final despite his ranking of 192.  Baird, a 17-year-old who is playing in his first Grade A, has won two Grade 4 titles this year but has struggled to post wins at the Grade 1 level.  After dropping a set in his first match, Baird has advanced to the final without losing another, and in today's semifinal against Filip Jianu of Romania, Baird posted a 7-6(2), 7-6(1) victory.  He will face top seed Sebastian Korda, who had his toughest match of the week by far against No. 5 seed Thiago Tirante of Argentina, coming back for a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 victory. 

The boys final will be streamed live, but without commentary, at the tournament's website.

Tristan Boyer is now on a 15-match winning streak at the Grade 2 level, after claiming his second straight ITF singles title in Israel.  The 16-year-old Californian, who won a Grade 2 in Japan last month after reaching the semifinals of the Grade A in Osaka, was the top seed this week, and as was the case last week, he beat No. 2 seed Yanki Erel of Turkey in the final.  After a straight-sets loss last week, Erel did win a set today, but Boyer prevailed 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1.  Already in the Top 50, Boyer will move into the Top 40 with this week's title.  Fifteen-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez won the girls singles title, after she also won the title in the Grade 2 the previous week.

At the Grade 3 in Bolivia, 17-year-old Chloe Hamlin won her first ITF singles title. The No. 6 seed defeated top seed Maria Rivera Corado of Guatemala 7-6(5), 0-6, 7-5 in the final.  Jenna Dean reached the final of the girls doubles.

The USTA Pro Circuit Challenger season came to a close today at the $75,000 tournament in Champaign, with No. 7 seed Tim Smyczek winning the title with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 5 seed Bjorn Fratangelo.  Fratangelo struggled with a back injury throughout the match, so another comeback victory for him wasn't in the cards. The title is the second for Smyczek in the past three weeks, and he will move to around 130 in the ATP rankings with his recent run.

Top seeds Leander Paes and Purav Raja of India won the doubles title, beating No. 3 seeds Ruan Roelofse(Illinois) of South Africa and Joe Salisbury(Memphis) of Great Britain 6-3, 6-7(5), 10-5.

The final is set at the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Norman Oklahoma, with No. 3 seed Danielle Collins facing No. 2 seed Sachia Vickery.  Collins ousted top seed Sonya Kenin 6-1, 6-2, while Vickery needed just short of three hours to beat unseeded Maria Sanchez 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.  Collins won their last meeting two weeks ago in the first round of the $80K in Tyler; Vickery won their previous two meetings last year.  Chiara Scholl and Belgium's Tammy Hendler, who had to qualify into the doubles draw, won the title, beating top seeds Sanchez(USC) and Caitlin Whoriskey(Tennessee) 3-6, 6-3, 10-6.

At the $15,000 Futures in Pensacola Florida, 19-year-old Ulises Blanch will face former USC star Emilio Gomez of Ecuador in Sunday's final.  The fifth-seeded Blanch defeated No. 6 seed Roberto Cid of the Dominican Republic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach his second career Futures final.  The 25-year-old Gomez took out Mississippi State junior Nuno Borges of Portugal, the No. 4 seed, 7-6(5), 7-5. He is looking for his first Futures title since 2015.

Friday, November 17, 2017

My Interview with Ronnie Schneider; All-American Finals at Champaign Challenger, Grade A in Mexico City; All-American Semifinals in Norman $25K

While I was in Champaign for the $75,000 ATP Challenger earlier this week, I had an opportunity to talk with Ronnie Schneider, the recent University of North Carolina graduate, who is now pursuing a career as a professional.  I'm always interested in the transition from college to the Pro Circuit, a transition that was complicated for Schneider by surgery after his junior year that left him without an ATP ranking upon graduation. Now inside the Top 600, Schneider will continue playing in Futures the next month, and in our conversation, posted today at the Tennis Recruiting Network, he explains why he's not interested in an off-season right now.

The finals are set in Champaign, with Americans Tim Smyczek and Bjorn Fratangelo advancing via three-set wins today.  No. 7 seed Smyczek defeated No. 4 seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-3 and No. 5 seed Fratangelo beat No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, winning seven straight games from 3-all in the second set. Smyczek clinched the USTA's Australian Open wild card yesterday; Fratangelo would move into the Top 100 with a win tomorrow, which would assure him a place in the main draw. 

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Norman Oklahoma, all four semifinalists are Americans: the top three seeds and unseeded Maria Sanchez.  Top seed Sonya Kenin avenged her May loss to Claire Liu, taking out the Wimbledon girls champion 7-6(6), 7-5 in two hours and 22 minutes. Kenin will play No. 3 seed Danielle Collins next, with Collins defeating No. 5 seed Ulrike Eikeri of Norway 7-6(2), 6-2 in another two-hour-plus contest.  Collins beat Kenin 6-1, 7-6(10) two weeks ago in the semifinals of the $80,000 tournament in Tyler.  Sanchez, who beat No. 7 seed Michaela Honcova of Slovakia6-2, 6-4, will face No. 2 seed Sachia Vickery, who defeated Chiara Scholl 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.

At the $15,000 Futures in Pensacola Florida, Ulises Blanch is the only American to advance to the semifinals.  The 19-year-old, seeded fifth, will face No. 6 seed Roberto Cid, the former South Florida star from the Dominican Republic next. Cid ended the impressive run of 16-year-old wild card Will Grant with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory.

Mississippi State junior Nuno Borges of Portugal, the No. 4 seed, will face former USC standout Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, the No. 7 seed, in the other semifinal.

The girls singles and both doubles finals will be played on Saturday at the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City, with an American guaranteed to win all three titles. 

Fifteen-year-olds Whitney Osuigwe, the top seed, and unseeded Alexa Noel will face off for the girls singles title, the second year in a row that the girls championship match has been between Americans, with Taylor Johnson defeating Ellie Douglas in last year's final.  Osuigwe defeated No. 5 seed Lulu Sun of Switzerland 6-1, 7-5 and Noel beat unseeded Andreea Prisacariu of Romania 7-5, 7-5, Noel's fifth consecutive straight-sets win.  Osuigwe and Noel met in the 2015 Easter Bowl 14s championship match, with Osuigwe managing to post a 4-6, 6-0, 7-6(4) victory.

Osuigwe will also play in an all-American doubles final. Osuigwe and Douglas, the top seeds, will face unseeded Dalayna Hewitt and Peyton Stearns.  The boys doubles final will feature No. 7 seeds Andrew Fenty and William Woodall against top seeds Sebastian Korda and Colombia's Nicolas Mejia.  

Korda, also the top seed in boys singles, has advanced to the semifinals, where he will take on No. 5 seed Thiago Tirante of Argentina. Unseeded Drew Baird continued his impressive run, beating No. 9 seed Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic 6-3, 6-3.  He will face No. 13 seed Filip Jianu of Romania next.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Smyczek Clinches Australian Open Wild Card; Liu Makes Norman $25K Quarterfinals; Grant Reaches Pensacola Futures Quarterfinal; Sock Moves on at World Tour Finals; Osuigwe, Noel Advance to Grade A Semifinals in Mexico

Tim Smyczek earned his way into the Australian Open main draw today at the $75,000 Champaign Challenger, defeating top seed Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-4.  Smyczek, the No. 7 seed, won the Charlottesville Challenger two weeks ago to take the lead in the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge and once he advanced to the semifinals this week, no one else still playing in Champaign could catch him.  The 29-year-old from Wisconsin had played the main draw in Australia four years running from 2013-2016, but this year he lost in the final round of qualifying to Frances Tiafoe.

In the Champaign semifinals, Smyczek will play No. 4 seed Cameron Norrie, who beat Mackenzie McDonald 6-2, 6-0.

No. 5 seed Bjorn Fratangelo, who was eliminated from the wild card race today, could still qualify for the main draw of the Australian Open if he wins the tournament. For the second time this week, Fratangelo was on the brink of defeat, but recovered, beating Knoxville champion Filip Peliwo of Canada 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4).  Today Fratangelo trailed 4-6, 2-4 0-40, although he was not quite as far down as he was in the first round against Sebastian Fanselow, when he trailed by a set and two breaks before winning in three.  Fratangelo will face No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz, who reached the semifinals with a 6-1, 3-0 retired victory over No. 8 seed Tommy Paul.  Paul had treatment for a back problem and retired after Fritz earned a second break of serve.

At the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Norman Oklahoma, Wimbledon girls champion Claire Liu, who has not played since September, has reached the quarterfinals, where she'll face top seed Sonya Kenin.  Liu defeated Connie Hsu of Taiwan 6-1, 6-4, while Kenin dismissed Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-2, 6-3. Liu and Kenin have played four times on the ITF Circuits, with Kenin winning the two junior matches and Liu winning the two pro matches, with the most recent win coming this spring at a $25,000 tournament in Florida.  Other US players to advance to the quarterfinals are Danielle Collins[3], Maria Sanchez, Chiara Scholl and Sachia Vickery[2].

The Futures event this week is again a $15,000 tournament, this time in Pensacola Florida.  Sixteen-year-old Will Grant earned his first ATP point with a win over fellow wild card Collin Johns in a first round match on Tuesday, then got two more points today via a victory over top seed Sekou Bangoura.  Bangoura retired in the match trailing 7-5, 2-1.  Other Americans reaching the quarterfinals are wild card Jonathan Chang and No. 5 seed Ulises Blanch.  Florida freshman Duarte Vale of Portugal, a qualifier, beat No. 2 seed Fabrizio Ornago of Italy 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-0.  ITA Fall National champion Nuno Borges of Mississippi State, the No. 4 seed, has also advanced to the quarterfinals, beating last week's Futures champion Patrick Kypson 6-4, 6-2 today.

At the ATP World Tour Finals in London today, Jack Sock, the No. 8 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 to advance out of his round robin group and into the semifinals, where he'll play No. 6 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.  The other semifinal will feature top seed Roger Federer and the winner of the Dominic Thiem-David Goffin match on Friday. For more on Sock's win today, see the ATP website's article.

The girls semifinals are set at the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City, with Americans Whitney Osuigwe and Alexa Noel into the final four.  Top seed Osuigwe had to come from behind to beat unseeded Peyton Stearns, but posted a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory and will face No. 5 seed Lulu Sun of Switzerland.  The unseeded Noel, who like Osuigwe is 15 years old, has yet to lose a set this week, beating Diae El Jardi of Morocco 6-4, 6-4 in today's quarterfinal.  Noel will face another surprise semifinalist in 17-year-old Andreea Prisacariu of Romania, who beat No. 8 seed Nicole Mossmer 6-0, 6-2.

Two American boys have advanced to the quarterfinals in Mexico City, top seed Sebastian Korda and unseeded Drew Baird.  Korda defeated wild card Eliot Spizzirri 6-2, 6-0 in today's third round and will play No. 8 seed Stefan Palosi of Romania, who beat qualifier Jaycer Lyeons 6-2, 6-2. Baird downed wild card Alan Magadan of Mexico 6-2, 6-3 and will face No. 9 seed Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic in the quarterfinals.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Four US Girls Advance to Quarterfinals at Grade A Abierto Juvenil; Paul and Fritz Meet in Champaign Challenger Quarterfinals; Fratangelo, Sandgren, Smyczek and McDonald Also Advance

The girls quarterfinals are set at the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City, with four US girls still in the running for the title.  Top seed Whitney Osuigwe defeated No. 13 seed Diane Parry of France 6-1, 6-2 to advance to a meeting with unseeded Peyton Stearns. Stearns defeated doubles partner Dalayna Hewitt 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3 to reach her first Grade A quarterfinal.

Natasha Subhash, the No. 4 seed, lost to No. 15 seed Sada Nahimana of Burundi  7-5, 6-4.  The two US girls in the bottom half of the draw do not play each other, with unseeded Alexa Noel facing unseeded Diae El Jardi of Morocco and No. 8 seed Nicole Mossmer playing unseeded Andreea Prisacariu of Romania.  Prisacariu defeated No. 2 seed Maria Carle of Argentina, who had taken a wild card into the tournament, 6-3, 7-5 and is known for her prowess on clay. Mossmer also reached the quarterfinals in Mexico City last year before falling to Amanda Anisimova.

Fifteen-year-old Noel, who has not played a tournament since July's USTA Clay Courts, will be playing in her first Grade A quarterfinal. She advanced with a 6-2, 6-0 win over 2016 finalist Ellie Douglas, the No. 3 seed.

The boys are a round behind, with the round of 16 matchups now set. Six US boys have advanced, but five of them are in the top half.  Top seed Sebastian Korda will face wild card Eliot Spizzirri in the only all-American contest.  Qualifier Jaycer Lyeons defeated No. 12 seed Leonid Sheyngezikht of Bulgaria 7-6(10), 6-2.  No. 16 seed Axel Nefve and No. 10 seed Sangeet Sridhar moved into the third round with straight-sets wins.

The only American boy in the bottom half is unseeded Drew Baird. No. 3 seed Andrew Fenty, who was awarded a wild card into the event, lost to unseeded Justin Schlageter of Germany 6-1, 7-6(3).

Live scoring is available here. 

I've completed my brief trip to the $75,000 ATP Champaign Challenger, where six of the quarterfinalist are Americans.  Top seed Tennys Sandgren, who told me he played this week in spite of his ranking of 85 because he has finalist points coming off from last year's Columbus Challenger and wants to make sure he is safe for main draw for the Australian Open.  Sandgren has played seven of the last eight weeks, going 17-6 in that span, so getting a walkover from Christian Harrison today, which was announced after the warm-up, was a break for him.  He plays No. 7 seed Tim Smyczek, who beat wild card Dennis Nevolo 6-3, 7-6(4). Smyczek is in the driver's seat for the USTA's Australian Open wild card, having won the title in Charlottesville over Sandgren in the final. I believe that if Smyczek wins Thursday, he'll clinch the wild card.

If Smyczek doesn't win Thursday, Bjorn Fratangelo still has an opportunity to tie him and Fratangelo wins the tiebreaker, which is ATP ranking. But taking the title, which Fratangelo has to do, would probably boost Fratangelo's ranking high enough so he wouldn't need the wild card.  Fratangelo defeated Bradley Klahn 6-4, 6-4 today, getting his second win over the 2010 NCAA singles champion this year.

"It's always difficult to play a really good friend," said Fratangelo, the No. 5 seed. "Brad's probably one of my best friends out here, but I know his game well and I match up pretty well with him. I just tried to execute, and I think it was a pretty straightforward match."

Fratangelo will face Filip Peliwo of Canada, last week's champion at the Knoxville Challenger, after Peliwo ousted two-time defending champion Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland 6-3, 7-5. 

No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz and No. 8 seed Tommy Paul will renew their rivalry in the quarterfinals after advancing in opposite fashion.  Fritz did not face a break point in his 6-4, 6-3 win over qualifier Ronnie Schneider, while Paul was pushed to the limit by qualifier Mikael Ymer of Sweden before taking a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(0) decision.  Nothing separated Paul, the 2015 French Open boys champion, and Ymer, the 2015 Wimbledon boys finalist, until the final set tiebreaker, and suddenly the errors Ymer avoided down the stretch appeared.  Down 3-0, Ymer double faulted and the errors snowballed from there, providing a letdown of an ending to the nearly three-hour contest.

Paul's title in Paris came over Fritz, who then returned the favor in the final of the US Open boys championship in 2015.  They played in the round of 16 of the Winnetka Challenger this summer, with Paul earning a 7-6(7), 7-5 victory. 

The fourth quarterfinal will feature Mackenzie McDonald and No. 4 seed Cameron Norrie. McDonald defeated JP Smith of Australia 7-5, 7-6(5) and Norrie eliminated wild card Jared Hiltzik 6-2, 6-4.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wild Card Hiltzik Saves Three Match Points to Defeat Krueger at Champaign Challenger; Fritz Eyes Australian Open Main Draw

©Colette Lewis 2017--
Champaign-Urbana IL--

Jared Hiltzik fought his way back into his match against Mitchell Krueger Tuesday evening in the first round of the $75,000 ATP Challenger in Champaign, and it was a battle of wills in the final set, with both players getting service hold after service hold. The scores of orange-clad fans cheering the former Illini All-American at the Atkins Tennis Center didn't make much noise when he fell behind 0-40 serving at 5-6 in the third set, however.  If that silence bothered Hiltzik, he showed no sign of it, hitting one of his six third-set aces to save the first match point.

Hiltzik saved the second match point with a forehand pass and the third and last match point he saved with a backhand pass. After one more deuce Hiltzik forced the tiebreaker and he ran away with that final game to post a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) victory.

"I think you play better when you're down," said the 23-year-old from Illinois, who had lost to Krueger in all four of their previous Pro Circuit contests. "You have no other choice than to play free. I got pretty lucky today, but I fought hard."

Although he appreciated the efficiency of an ace in that crucial situation, Hiltzik said the two winning passes he made to save the second and third match points were won on instinct.

"He doesn't really give you a chance to think," said Hiltzik, who has recently bought a house in Orlando and is now training at the USTA National Campus. "You react, and I got lucky there."

In the tiebreaker, Krueger lost the first three points on his serve, all on forehand errors and Hiltzik ran out to a 6-0 lead.

"I think that kind of carried over from that previous game," Hiltzik said. "It's a tough thing to do. I've been there, when you have a chance to break to win the match, it's really tough."

Hiltzik, who received a wild card into the main draw, said winning a match at his former home courts always feels good.

"I've had many here before and to be given the opportunity to continue to play here is pretty special."

Hiltzik will face No. 4 seed Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, who defeated another Illinois wild card, senior Aleks Vukic of Australia, 6-2, 6-3. 

While Hiltzik was playing on Court 2, another former Illinois star who also received a wild card, Dennis Nevolo, was fashioning his own comeback against qualifier Samuel Monette of Canada in his 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory. After failing to serve out the second set at 5-3 despite earning a set point, Nevolo broke the former standout at the University of Indiana in the next game to even the match. Once the third set began, Nevolo found his form, while Monette was finding it difficult to move to balls he had easily tracked down before. Nevolo held, broke and held to take a 3-0 lead, and ended the match by winning the final 15 points.

Nevolo's second round opponent is No. 7 seed Tim Smyczek, who defeated qualifier Alex Ward of Great Britain 6-4, 7-6(4) in a high-quality match that featured an abundance of lengthy rallies.

The day's shortest match was No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz's 6-2, 6-1 win over Alex Sarkissian, which lasted just 42 minutes.  The 20-year-old Californian had 11 aces and no double faults, and has been happy with his play over the past few weeks.

"I usually play pretty well indoors, I think," said Fritz, who reached the final of the 2015 Champaign Challenger. "The ball moves through the court here and it's easier to serve, hit winners. It's not too fast, it's like medium, so it's easy for me to put the ball away."

Fritz is currently at 110 in the rankings, so his performance this week will go a long way to deciding whether he gets into the main draw of the Australian Open, but he is confident now that he's returned to the racquet he had used prior to this year.

"I've been playing well over the past two weeks," Fritz said. "Last week I thought I was playing really well; unfortunately I played Peliwo who was way too good last week, to be honest. He was incredible. I played great. I switched back to my old racquet. I was using a heavier racquet all this year. I've always been with Head, and it was the same racquet, just added some weight for this year. I've had an ok year, but it just didn't feel right and after Vietnam [Challenger] I said that's it. I don't think I can control the ball off the ground, it's too heavy and I'm late on my shots. So I switched back, had a training week at Carson and it's been great since. Better than ever."

Fritz will play qualifier Ronnie Schneider, who claimed his second ATP Challenger victory, with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 decision over Bruno Santanna of Brazil.

No. 5 seed Bjorn Fratangelo versus Bradley Klahn and No. 1 seed Tennys Sandgren versus Christian Harrison are the other two all-American second round matches Wednesday.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Osuigwe, Korda Top Seeds in Grade A Abierto Juvenil; NLI Announcements Continue; Georgia's Hodge in Plea Deal; Duke's Furman Provisionally Suspended by ITF Anti-Doping

The first round of the ITF Grade A Abierto Juvenil in Mexico City is underway, with Americans at the top of both draws.  ITF No. 1 Whitney Osuigwe, who has set a goal of being the 2017 World Junior Champion, took a wild card into the tournament and is, of course, the No. 1 seed. Sebastian Korda, who has not played a junior event since the US Open, is the boys top seed.  Both Osuigwe and Korda earned straight-sets wins in their first round matches today.

Andrew Fenty also received a wild card into the tournament and is the No. 3 seed. Eliot Spizzirri, who reached the final of the Grade 2 in Bolivia last week, also received a wild card.  Other US boys who are seeded: Sangeet Sridhar[10], Brian Shi[14] and Axel Nefve[16].  US girls who are seeded in addition to Osuigwe: Ellie Douglas[3], Natasha Subhash[4], Nicole Mossmer[8], Elli Mandlik[12], Lea Ma[16].  In all, there were 23 US boys and 21 US girls in the 64-player singles draws at the start of play today.. 

Maria Carle of Argentina, the No. 2 seed, also accepted a wild card into the event.

Live scoring is available at the Tennis Ticker.

The early signing announcements are continuing, with those below in addition to the links I posted on Wednesday and Friday. If no country is given, the player is from the US.


Brigham Young has signed Brigham Andrus.

Duke has signed Robert Maciag.

Florida has signed Sam Riffice and Lukas Greif.

Florida State has signed Sebastian Arcila and Jorge Martinez Martinez of Spain.

Indiana has signed Carson Haskins and Patrick Fletchall.

Iowa has signed Oliver Okonkwo of Great Britain.

Louisville has signed Alex Wesbrooks.

LSU has signed Boris Kozlov.

Michigan has signed Andrew Fenty, Steven Forman, Ryan Fu and Patrick Maloney.

Mississippi State has signed Gregor Ramskogler of Austria.

North Carolina has signed Brian Cernoch.

Oklahoma State has signed Emile Hudd of Great Britain.

South Florida has signed Niels Van Noord of Canada, Sergio Gomez-Montesa of Spain and Ivan Yatsuk.

Southern California has signed Jake Sands and Bradley Frye.


Arizona has signed Csenge Furak of Hungary.

Arkansas has signed Thea Rice.

Florida has signed McCartney Kessler, who will start in January, and Marlee Zein.

Georgia has signed Meg Kowalski.

Indiana has signed Somer Henry.

Iowa has signed Michelle Bacalla and Samantha Mannix.

Kentucky has signed Yang Lee of Taiwan and  Alexis Merrill. Diana Tkachenko is transferring in January, after Evansville dropped their women's program this fall.

Minnesota has signed Isabella Lambert.

Nebraska has signed Jessica Aragon.

North Carolina has signed Cameron Morra.

North Carolina State has signed Helene Grimm of Germany, who will start in January.

Ole Miss has signed Isolde de Jong of the Netherlands.

Rice has signed twins Anastasia and Victoria Smirnova of Belgium.

Tennessee has signed Kaitlin Staines of Australia.

Texas A&M has signed Brindtha Ramasamy of Canada, Jayci Goldsmith and Katya Townsend.

Texas Tech has added Denise-Antonella Stoica of Romania to their previously announced recruits Sydney Jones, Nell Miller and Olivia Peet.

UCLA has signed Elysia Bolton.

Wake Forest has signed Anna Brylin and Peyton Pesavento.

Washington has signed Sedona Gallagher.

In less happy news in college tennis, former Georgia men's associate head coach Bo Hodge has pleaded guilty to possession of a schedule II controlled substance, a felony.  Sentenced as first time offender, Hodge was given three years of probation and must undergo a rehabilitation program. He is banned from coaching college tennis for 12 months.  See the Athens Banner-Herald for more on the sentencing.  The controlled substance in question is said to be Adderall.

Spencer Furman, a sophomore on the Duke team, has been provisionally suspended by the ITF for failing a drug test earlier this fall. Furman, who was competing in the qualifying of the Cary Challenger back in September, was found to have the stimulant Damphetamine in his system.  I have been told that Furman has a prescription for the medication, commonly prescribed to treat ADHD, but did not have the required Theraputic Use Exemption on file.  The ITF's new commitment to transparency, which has been in response to the awkward "silent bans" of the past, means that failing a test will be reported, regardless of the circumstances. 

In any case, Furman's predicament, which will not affect his collegiate eligibility, is a lesson for all players who are just beginning to play pro events and may not have read the regulations pertaining to this facet of the sport.  It's imperative to understand what the anti-doping rules require of you if you are taking any medication or you could face a lengthy suspension from ITF sanctioned events.