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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Hartono Saves Match Points En Route to Women's D-I Singles Final vs Lahey; Gojo Saves Match Points to Advance to Men's Final vs Teammate Chrysochos; Molinero and Andreev Win ITF Grade A Titles in Milan; Three Americans Advance on Roland Garros Opening Day

The finals are set for Monday at the NCAA Division I Individual Championships, after a long and exciting semifinal day at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston Salem North Carolina.

Three of the singles semifinals went three sets, with Arianne Hartono of Ole Miss and Borna Gojo of Wake Forest saving match points in their victories.

While Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey, a 9-16 seed, was closing out her 6-3, 6-3 victory over No. 8 seed Fernanda Contreras, her teammate, Mayar Sherif Ahmed had worked her way to match points against No. 6 seed Hartono. After taking the first set 6-2 and breaking Hartono for a 5-4 lead in the second set, Sherif Ahmed went up 40-15, giving herself three match points. Hartono saved the first with a winner, and Sherif Ahmed netted a forehand volley on the second. On the deciding point, Hartono hit a forehand return winner, getting it to 5-all, but she lost her serve in the next game to give Sherif Ahmed another chance to serve it out. She couldn't take that second chance either, with Hartono breaking at love. At 5-5 in the tiebreaker, Sherif Ahmed netted a slice to give Hartono her first set point, and she converted it when Sherif Ahmed's return went wide.

Sherif Ahmed was up 3-0 in the third set, but Hartono recovered by winning three of four deciding points to make it 5-all.  Sherif Ahmed saved a couple of break points to take a 6-5 lead, and Hartono held for the deciding tiebreaker.  Sherif Ahmed had won her semifinal match with Astra Sharma of Vanderbilt in a third set tiebreaker, but her luck didn't hold. With Hartono leading 4-2 and serving, she ran down every aggressive shot and got several overheads back, and the effort paid off, with Sherif Ahmed eventually missing a putaway. Hartono got a fortunate netcord to go up 6-2 and earned her place in the final on the next point, clocking a backhand winner down the line for an emphatic end to the nearly three hour match.

Hartono, a 22-year-old senior from the Netherlands, is the first woman from Ole Miss to reach an NCAA final and Lahey, an 18-year-old sophomore from Southern California, is the first Pepperdine woman to make an NCAA final, so one of the schools will have their first NCAA women's champion Monday.

Six days after earning its first NCAA team title, Wake Forest is certain to claim its first NCAA singles champion on Monday with Petros Chrysochos and Borna Gojo facing off for the title.  No. 4 seed Chrysochos defeated top seed Martin Redlicki of UCLA 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, while No. 7 seed Gojo beat No. 3 seed Nuno Borges of Mississippi State 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Serving at 4-5 in the second set, Gojo, a sophomore from Croatia, fell behind 30-40 but hit two consecutive aces to hold. He then broke Borges and held to force a third set. Borges was broken on a deciding point serving at 2-3, and Gojo, showing no sign of the fatigue that he (and Chrysochos) must be feeling after playing nine singles matches in 10 days, held, broke, and held to set up the first all-teammate singles final since Stanford's Bob Bryan defeated Paul Goldstein in 1998.

Chrysochos and Gojo are only the fourth pair of teammates to meet for the singles title since 1977 (records before that show only the winner, not the finalist). The other two instances were in the 1980s: in 1985, Georgia's Mikael Pernfors defeated George Bezecny; in 1981, Stanford's Tim Mayotte defeated Jim Gurfein.

With no American in the NCAA men's final for the first time since 2008, the US Open wild card traditionally given to an American winner is not in play.

The doubles finals are set for Monday, with both championship teams guaranteed to be unseeded.

The women's doubles final will feature Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson of LSU against Oklahoma State's Vladica Babic and Sofia Blanco. Golovin and Richardson defeated North Carolina's Sara Daavettila and Alle Sanford 3-6, 6-4, 10-6, while Babic and Blanco eliminated the only seeded team still in action in either draw, No. 5-8 seeds Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy of Duke, 6-1, 7-5.

Although Redlicki's hopes for a singles title were dashed today, the Bruin senior will play for his second NCAA doubles title Monday, with Evan Zhu.  Redlicki, who won the 2016 title with Mackenzie McDonald, and Zhu defeated Memphis's Ryan Peniston and Andrew Watson 6-3, 7-6(6) tonight and will face Ohio State's Martin Joyce and Mikael Torpegaard in the final.  Joyce and Torpegaard prevented another all-teammate final by beating UCLA's Austin Rapp and Keegan Smith 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 10-8.

The NCAA will be broadcasting the finals Monday at noon through a link at ncaa.com.

The ITF Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan wrapped up today with Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria and Eleonora Molinero of Luxembourg capturing their first Grade A titles.  The 17-year-old Andreev, the No. 16 seed, downed top seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina 6-3, 6-3 and No. 13 seed Molinero, also 17, defeated No. 9 seed Yuki Naito of Japan 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

For more on the girls final, see Tommy Hemp's coverage at Tennis Underworld.

Naito did capture a title today, in doubles, with partner Naho Sato, also of Japan. The No. 2 seeds beat unseeded Caty McNally and Switzerland's Leonie Kung 7-6(5), 6-4 in today's final.

Today marked the start of 2018's second major, with Jared Donaldson, Sloane Stephens and Jennifer Brady collecting first round victories at Roland Garros. Venus Williams[9], Madison Brengle, Denis Kudla and Taylor Fritz lost their opening matches. Christina McHale had dropped her second set when play was called because of darkness. Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia was beaten by Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine 7-5, 6-3.

Fourteen Americans are on the schedule for Monday: Danielle Collins, CoCo Vandeweghe[15], Madison Keys[13] v Sachia Vickery, John Isner[9] v Noah Rubin, Frances Tiafoe v Sam Querrey[12], Sonya Kenin, Varvara Lepchenko, Caroline Dolehide, Grace Min, Bernarda Pera and Vania King.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Wesleyan's Chong Wins Fourth Consecutive Division III Singles Title, Urken Claims Men's Title; Pepperdine Women, Wake Forest Men Earn D-I Semifinal Berths; Nanda and Zink Capture Grade A Doubles Title in Milan

For all the excitement of the Division I singles and doubles quarterfinals, and there was plenty, the top story of the day comes from the Division III Championships, which concluded today in Claremont California.  Eudice Chong of Wesleyan won her fourth consecutive women's singles title, the first player ever to accomplish that in the history of the NCAA.  Chong defeated teammate Victoria Yu 7-6(3), 6-2, and although she was never really in trouble once she took the first set, closing out a career undefeated in NCAA competition wasn't going to be easy. She served for the match at 5-1 in the second set, but didn't get to match point, with her unforced error followed by a double fault giving Yu the game. Yu had a game point to force Chong to serve out the match, but Chong saved it, and four points later had closed out her singles career.

The teammates exchanged a long hug at the net, but had little time to reflect on the singles final with their doubles semifinal coming up.  The top seeds won that match to reach the final for the second consecutive year, but the 2017 champions couldn't repeat, with No. 2 seeds Julie Raventos and Julila Cancio of Williams coming from behind to take the title 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. Chong and Yu served for the match at 5-3, but after over three hours, Raventos and Cancio prevailed. Raventos has had a fine career herself, with this her third NCAA Division III women's doubles title.

The men's singles title went to unseeded Bowdoin junior Grant Urken, who defeated unseeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps freshman Jack Katzman 6-3, 6-2.  Lubomir Cuba of Middlebury repeated as doubles champion, with a different teammate as his partner, Kyle Schlanger. Cuba and Schlanger, the top seeds, defeated unseeded Scott Rubinstein and James Spaulding of Emory 6-0, 6-2 in the final.

Host Wake Forest will have two men in the Division I semifinals on Sunday, after No. 7 seed Borna Gojo and No. 4 seed Petros Chrysochos won their quarterfinals matches today.  Rain in the morning set the matches back by two hours, and another brief delay for rain, followed by a third for lightning, had officials deciding to quickly move the remaining matches indoors.

Gojo had completed his 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 2 seed and 2017 finalist William Blumberg of North Carolina before the first delay, but Chrysochos was down 5-2 in the third set to No. 6 seed Mikail Torpegaard of Ohio State, with the Buckeye senior serving for the match. Chrysochos saved a match point on a deciding point at 5-2, then went down 15-40 in the next game.  He saved all three of those match points, buoyed by the vocal home crowd, beginning a run of 11 consecutive points that gave him a 6-5 lead. Torpegaard managed to hold to force the deciding tiebreaker, which hadn't begun when a shower stopped play.  When it resumed about 15 minutes later, Chrysochos took a 5-2 lead in the tiebreaker, only to have lightning stop play.  They quickly moved indoors, with Chrysochos winning the final two points before the live streaming and scoring were available.

Chrysochos will face the last American in the men's draw, top seed Martin Redlicki of UCLA, who beat Mazen Osama of Alabama, a 9-16 seed, 6-4, 7-5. Redlicki was up a break in the second set, lost it, but got another to take a 6-5 lead, closing out the match with an ace.

Gojo will face No. 3 seed Nuno Borges of Mississippi State, who reached his second straight NCAA semifinal with a 7-6(4), 6-4 win over Timo Stodder[9-16] of Tennessee.

As with the Wake Forest men, the Pepperdine women came through in tough matches, although they did lose one of their three quarterfinalists, with Luisa Stefani falling to No. 6 seed Arianne Hartono of Ole Miss 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.  Hartono prevented an all Pepperdine semifinal, because Mayar Sherif Ahmed went on to finish her 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(5) victory over Vanderbilt's Astra Sharma[9-16] indoors. Behind 6-3 in the tiebreaker after Sherif Ahmed hit a great first serve, Sharma saved two match points with aggressive play on her two serves, but she netted a backhand crosscourt pass to end it.

The other Pepperdine semifinalist is Ashley Lahey, who defeated fellow 9-16 seed Andrea Lazaro of Florida International 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in a match that also was completed indoors.  Lahey had a 5-2 lead in the second set, but Lazaro reeled off five straight games, a scenario that replicated itself in the third set. Up 5-2 in the third set, indoors, Lahey saw Lazaro hold for 5-3, but Lahey ended the drama serving for it at 30-all. Lazaro netted a forehand to give Lahey two match points and she converted the first with a good first serve, which had missing in action in that game until then.

Lahey will face the other American in the draw, No. 8 seed Fernanda Contreras of Vanderbilt. Contreras had the only straight-sets win of the day in the women's quarterfinals, beating Anna Danilina[9-16] of Florida 7-5, 6-1.

Both top seeds in doubles went out today in match tiebreakers.  The No. 1 men's team of Borges and Strahinja of Mississippi State lost to Redlicki and Evan Zhu 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 and the No. 1 women's team of Paige Hourigan and Kenya Jones fell to Sara Daavettila and Alle Sanford of North Carolina 6-4, 1-6, 10-7.  Daavettila and Sanford were the last team in the draw, and were given a chance to play only when No. 4 seeds Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen of Duke withdrew.

Daavettila and Sanford will face another unseeded team, LSU's Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson in the semifinals. The other women's semifinal features the only seeded team left in either doubles draw, No. 5-8 seeds Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy, and Vladica Babic and Sofia Blanco of Oklahoma State.

The third championship that will boast two semifinalists from one school is the men's doubles, with Redlicki and Zhu joined by UCLA teammates Austin Rapp and Keegan Smith. Rapp and Smith defeated No. 2 seeds Blumberg and Robert Kelly of North Carolina 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.  Standing in the way of an all-Bruin doubles final are Ryan Peniston and Andrew Watson of Memphis, who play Redlicki and Zhu, and Torpegaard and Martin Joyce, who face Rapp and Smith.

The semifinals begin tomorrow at noon, with the two women's singles matches.  Draws and links to streaming and scoring are available at the Wake Forest tournament page.

The singles finals are set for the ITF Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Sunday, with the boys doubles final decided today.  In the  championship match between unseeded American teams, Govind Nanda and Tyler Zink defeated Emilio Nava and Cannon Kingsley 6-4, 7-5.  Caty McNally will play for the girls doubles title on Sunday, with she and partner Leonie Kung of Switzerland taking on No. 2 seeds Yuki Naito and Naho Sato of Japan. McNally and Kung defeated Manon Leonard of France and Lenka Stara of Slovakia 7-5, 6-0 today.

In the boys singles final, top seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina will take on No. 16 seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaris. Baez beat No. 13 seed Naoki Tajima of Japan 6-2, 6-2 and Andreev defeated No. 14 seed Facundo Diaz Acosta of Argentina 7-6(5), 6-4.

No. 9 seed Naito defeated No. 5 seed Clara Tauson of Denmark 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3 to reach the girls final, where she will face No. 13 seed Eleonara Molinaro of Luxembourg. Molinaro defeated No. 7 seed Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy 7-6(3), 2-6, 7-6(4).

Tommy Hemp has details and observations on the Molinaro - Cocciaretto match at the Tennis Underworld website.

The $25,000 Women's USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Osprey Florida has had rain for most of two days(not to mention short scoring in the first round early in the week), so only one quarterfinal match has been completed. Ashley Kratzer[2], the reigning USTA Girls 18s champion, has reached the semifinals with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over No. 6 seed Allie Kiick but Usue Arconada[5] and Katarina Stewart are still in their second set, with Hailey Baptiste (vs top seed Deniz Kahzanuik of Israel) and Salma Ewing (vs Sophie Chang[7]) yet to start their quarterfinals.

Friday, May 25, 2018

My USTA Level 2 Girls 18s and 16s Coverage; Pepperdine, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest Place 7 in NCAA D-I Singles Quarterfinals; Chong Goes for Fourth Straight Women's D-3 Title; Dolehide, Min Qualify at Roland Garros; ITF Grade A Update

Although the weather certainly didn't cooperate, I covered the final two days of the USTA National Level 2 for Girls 18s and 16s on Monday and Tuesday, with rain sending play indoors on both days.  Even though I would have preferred being outdoors, I enjoyed seeing live tennis again, which I hadn't experienced since the Easter Bowl, over a month ago.  Top seed Amber O'Dell won the 18s title, and No. 3 seed Daniela Benabraham won the 16s title, with my coverage of the tournament available today at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I singles and doubles tournaments are set for Saturday, with host Wake Forest having two players advancing in men's singles and Pepperdine claiming three of the women's quarterfinalists.

The men's quarterfinals, so often diminished by withdrawals and post-team championships letdown, are stellar this year, with the top six of the top eight seeds, including all of the top four.  After two straight come-from-behind victories, top seed Martin Redlicki of UCLA earned a routine 6-4, 6-1 win over Giovanni Oradini of Mississippi State and No. 2 seed William Blumberg of North Carolina also advanced in straight sets, beating Cameron Klinger of Vanderbilt 6-4, 6-1. In fact, all eight winners on the men's side today advanced in straight sets. All credit to No. 4 seed Petros Chrysochos and No. 7 seed Borna Gojo of Wake Forest, who haven't missed a beat after winning the team championship on Tuesday.

Saturday's men's quarterfinals:

Martin Redlicki[1], UCLA vs Mazen Osama[9-16], Alabama
Petros Chrysochos[4], Wake Forest vs Mikael Torpegaard[6], Ohio St
Timo Stodder[9-16], Tennessee vs Nuno Borges[3], Mississippi St
Borna Gojo[7], Wake Forest vs William Blumberg[2], North Carolina

The women's quarterfinals will feature three Pepperdine Waves, with only one of them seeded, and two Vanderbilt Commodores.  Luisa Stefani of Pepperdine took out top seed Bianca Turati of Texas in the first round and hasn't let up.  Teammate Mayar Sherif Ahmed, also unseeded, today defeated No. 5 seed Gabriela Knutson of Syracuse 6-4, 7-5, and Ashley Lahey, a 9-16 seed, made it three Waves in the last eight with a 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 7 seed Ena Shibahara. Despite the tough loss in the last match on in the NCAA team championship match, Fernanda Contreras[8] of Vanderbilt has rebounded to reach the quarterfinals, joining teammate Astra Sharma[9-16], who has lost only 8 games in her three wins.

Saturday's women's quarterfinals:

Luisa Stefani, Pepperdine vs Arianne Hartono[6], Ole Miss
Astra Sharma[9-16], Vanderbilt vs Mayar Sherif Ahmed, Pepperdine
Ashley Lahey[9-16], Pepperdine vs Andrea Lazaro[9-16], Florida Intl
Fernanda Contreras[8], Vanderbilt vs Anna Danilina[9-16], Florida

All eight matches are scheduled to begin at noon, with live scoring and streaming available through the Wake Forest tournament page. Doubles will follow, with the last matches, those that include singles quarterfinalists, scheduled for 3 p.m.

The singles finals are set at the NCAA Division III championships in Claremont, California, with top seed Eudice Chong of Wesleyan going for her fourth consecutive women's title against unseeded teammate Victoria Yu.  Chong, who has lost only 11 games in her four wins, beat 2016 finalist Julie Raventos of Williams 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals.  The men's tournament lost its No. 1 seed today in the semifinals, with unseeded Grant Urken of Bowdoin defeating Nikolai Parodi of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.  Urken will face unseeded Jack Katzman of CMS in the final. The finals are scheduled for 10 a.m. PDT on Saturday, with doubles semifinals and finals to follow. See the CMS tournament page for links to streams and scoring.

The number of US women in the Roland Garros draw went from 17 to 19 today, with Caroline Dolehide and Grace Min winning their final qualifying matches today.  Dolehide, the No. 17 seed, defeated Irina Bara of Romania 6-4, 6-3, while Min outlasted Martina Trevisan of Italy 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, winning the last six games of the match after falling behind two breaks at 3-0.  Min will play Camila Giorgi of Italy and Dolehide has drawn fellow qualifier Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland in the the first round.

The semifinals are set at the ITF Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan Italy, with top seed Sebastian Baez of Argentina against No. 13 seed Naoki Tajima of Japan and No. 16 seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria against No. 14 seed Facundo Diaz Acosta of Argentina in the boys draw. The girls semifinals will feature No. 5 seed Clara Tauson of Denmark against No. 9 seed Yuki Naito of Japan and No. 7 seed Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy against Eleonora Molinaro of Luxembourg.

It will be an all-American boys final Saturday between two unseeded teams in doubles, with Cannon Kingsley and Emilio Nava taking on Govind Nanda and Tyler Zink. The girls played just one round of doubles today, with Caty McNally and her partner Leonie Kung of Switzerland advancing to Saturday's semifinals.

For more on today's action in Milan, see Tommy Hemp's reporting for Tennis Underworld.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Boland Leaves USTA for Baylor; Ponwith Dismissed from Team at Georgia; CMS Wins Women's D-III Title, Individual Tournament Underway; Chen Ousts No. 2 Seed Jones in Second Round of NCAA D-I Singles; Kudla Qualifies for Roland Garros; Ewing, Baptiste Advance at Osprey $25K

Brian Boland, left, with USTA's Ola Malmqvist and Martin Blackman at 2017 US Open
Brian Boland, who left the University of Virginia one year ago to become head of men's tennis at the USTA, is leaving to become Director of Tennis and men's head coach at Baylor University.

After winning three consecutive NCAA titles, Boland moved to Lake Nona to take over from Jay Berger, who had been head of men's tennis at the USTA for nine years. The reason for Boland's short tenure at the USTA was not addressed in the release from the USTA, which is below.

USTA Player Development to Seek New Head of Men’s Tennis

Orlando, Fla., May 24, 2018 -- The USTA today announced effective June 1, Brian Boland will leave his position as Head of Men’s Tennis for USTA Player Development.

According to USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman, the USTA will begin a search for Boland’s replacement immediately.

"We thank Brian for his service to American tennis, and I couldn't be more optimistic about the momentum that we have on the men's side here in the U.S.,” said Blackman. “We look forward to building on that momentum to leverage our staff and resources to serve and support our juniors, collegians and professional players." 

The announcement from Baylor is here, and it includes comments on his hiring from Dick Gould, John Isner, UVA basketball coach Tony Bennett and Boland's proteges Andres Pedroso and Tony Bresky.  Boland doesn't give any reason for his departure from the USTA, although his comments about his time there are positive.  In my interview with Boland last year at the US Open, he seemed excited about the opportunity to work with the best American men. I don't know what intervened to make that prospect less attractive in the past eight months, but he is back in college coaching now, replacing Matt Knoll, who was at Baylor for 22 years.

Earlier this week, the Athens Banner Herald broke the news that sophomore Nathan Ponwith had been dismissed from the team at the University of Georgia after drug charges. I tweeted this when I saw it, but forgot to post it here with all the other on-court news from the NCAAs.

The NCAA Division III Women's National Championship finished late last night in Claremont California, and just as with the Men's D-I title, the home team earned their first title in program history.  Claremont-Mudd-Scripps took out top seed and perennial champion Emory 5-4 to win the title and break the stranglehold Emory and Williams have had on the title over the years. CMS had defeated Williams, the defending champion, in the semifinals.  For more on the Athenas first NCAA team title, see Rhiannon Potkey's article at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

The individual tournament is underway, with two rounds of singles today at CMS.  Three-time defending women's champion and top seed Eudice Chong of Wesleyan won her first round match, but No. 2 seed Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico of Emory lost to Katherine Hughes of Middlebury 6-2, 6-3.  Top seed Nikolai Parodi of CMS has advanced to the quarterfinals but defending champion and No. 2 seed Lubomir Cuba of Middlebury lost in the first round to Emory's Jonathan Jemison.

The women's singles draw is here; the men's singles draw is here.  Scores are updated at the CMS tournament page.

Today was "All-American Day" for those in the NCAA Division I singles tournament.  Any player who was not already an All-American by virtue of being seeded at the NCAAs can earn that honor by reaching the round of 16.  Six men and six women reached that coveted status with wins today: Vanderbilt's Cameron Klinger, Memphis's Ryan Peniston, Michigan's Runhao Hua, Arkansas's Jose Salazar, Texas A&M's Valentin Vacherot and Giovanni Oradini of Mississippi State for the men, Stanford's Emily Arbuthnott, Pepperdine's Luisa Stefani and Mayar Sherif Ahmed, Loyola Marymount's Veronica Miroshnichenko, Texas Tech's Gabriela Talaba and Duke's Kelly Chen.

Chen, a freshman who played at line 4 for Duke, defeated No. 2 seed Makenna Jones of North Carolina 6-3, 6-4.  Vacherot, another No. 4, was not even an alternate when selections were first announced and was the last player receiving entry when he replaced teammate Arthur Rinderknech, who pulled out at the last minute.

In addition to Jones, other seeds falling today were Stacy Fung[9-16] of Washington, who lost to Miroshnichenko, Michaela Gordon[9-16] of Stanford, who lost to Talaba, Patrick Kypson[5] of Texas A&M, who lost to Hua and Constantin Schmitz of Tulane, who lost to Peniston.

Doubles play began today, with men's top seeds Nuno Borges and Strahinja Rakic of Mississippi State surviving the Louisville team of Christopher Morin-Kougoucheff and Parker Wynn 3-6, 7-5, 10-8. The women's top seeds, Paige Hourigan and Kenya Jones of Georgia Tech, also were forced to a match tiebreaker, beating Bianca Mok and Julia O'Loughlin of Denver 6-3 ,3-6, 10-7.  No. 2 seeds Jessie Aney and Alexa Graham of North Carolina lost their opening match to Fernanda Contreras and Astra Sharma of Vanderbilt 6-2, 6-4.

Complete draws can be found at the Wake Forest tournament page.

The draws were posted for Roland Garros, which begins Sunday in Paris.  Four American men have draw each other, with John Isner[9] playing wild card Noah Rubin and Frances Tiafoe playing Sam Querrey[12].  Other US men in the draw are Jack Sock[14], Ryan Harrison, Taylor Fritz, Jared Donaldson, Tennys Sandgren, Steve Johnson and Denis Kudla, who qualified today. The complete draw is here.

Despite the larger number of US women, 17, only one all-American first rounder is on tap, with Madison Keys[13] facing Sachia Vickery. The other American women in the draw: Serena Williams, Venus Williams[9], Sloane Stephens[10], CoCo Vandeweghe[15], Taylor Townsend, Danielle Collins, Varvara Lepchenko, Madison Brengle, Jennifer Brady, Sonya Kenin, Christina McHale, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Bernarda Pera, Alison Riske and Vania King.  Riske drew top seed Simona Halep and Collins drew No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki. The complete draw is here.

Two other US women can join the main draw with qualifying victories on Friday: Caroline Dolehide and Grace Min. Min will face Martina Trevisan of Italy, while Dolehide, the No. 17 seed, plays Irina Bara of Romania.

Both US boys lost in the third round of the ITF Grade A in Milan. Keenan Mayo fell to No. 13 seed Naoki Tajima of Japan 6-2, 7-6(5) and Tyler Zink was beaten by No. 16 seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria 6-3, 6-1. Zink and Govind Nanda have reached the doubles quarterfinals, as have the team of Cannon Kingsley and Emilio Nava. Drew Baird has also advanced to the quarterfinals with partner Nicolas Mejia of Colombia.  Caty McNally, with Leonie Kung of Switzerland, defeated top seeds Xinyu Wang of China and Lulu Sun of Switzerland today to reach the quarterfinals. Lea Ma, playing with Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia, is also into the quarterfinals in doubles. Live scoring is available here.

At the $25,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event in Osprey Florida, qualifier Hailey Baptiste, 16,  and wild card Salma Ewing, 17, have advanced to the quarterfinals, along with five other Americans:  No. 4 seed Katerina Stewart, who beat Coco Gauff 7-6(3), 6-3 today; Usue Arconada[5], Sophie Chang[7], Allie Kiick[6] and Ashley Kratzer[2].

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Pepperdine's Stefani Beats Top Seed Turati in First Round of NCAA Singles; Middlebury Captures D-III Men's Title; Two US Boys Reach Third Round at Milan Grade A; Roland Garros Qualifying Update; Gauff Earns First Pro Win

The day after the team finals can be deflating for those who put their energy into the team event, but for many players, it's a chance to show off their games without the pressure that accompanies playing for others.  Upsets are not rare in these conditions, and today's first round produced a big one, with Pepperdine's Luisa Stefani beating No. 1 seed Bianca Turati of Texas 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3.  Stefani was up 4-2 in the second set, but then proceeded to lose four straight games and the set. Stefani got back on track in the third set, broke at 3-all and held for 5-3, completing the upset with a break in the next game. Turati had been the nation's top ranked player since March; Stefani, who played No. 1 for Pepperdine, is ranked 27th.

Men's top seed Martin Redlicki of UCLA received a scare from Tim Sandkaulen of Ole Miss but came away with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory. With Redlicki holding for 5-4 in the second set, Sandkaulen went up 40-30, but Redlicki won the deciding point with a winner, and Sandkaulen never recovered. North Carolina's Makenna Jones, the No. 2 seed in the women's draw, was pushed to the limit by Gabby Smith of USC but managed to post a 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) victory.

Other than Turati, two seeded women are out, with No. 4 seed Samantha Harris of Duke withdrawing before her match and Katarina Jokic of Georgia, a 9-16 seed, losing to Mayar Sherif Ahmed of Pepperdine 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.

Men's seeds to fall in the first round were Michigan's Alex Knight, who lost to Cameron Klinger of Vanderbilt 6-4, 6-0; Ryotaro Matsumura of Kentucky, who lost to Billy Griffith of Cal 6-4, 6-3 and Tom Fawcett of Stanford, who lost to Mississippi State's Giovanni Oradini 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The members of teams that were in yesterday's finals had mixed results. Stanford's Michaela Gordon[9-16] and Emily Arbuthnott advanced, but title clincher Melissa Lord lost to Andrea Lazaro, a 9-16 seed from Florida International, 6-4, 6-1.  Vanderbilt's Astra Sharma[9-16], and Fernanda Contreras[8] advanced, while Christina Rosca lost to Ena Shibahara[7] of UCLA.

Ohio State's Mikael Torpegaard[6] won his first round match, but JJ Wolf was beaten by Alfredo Perez of Florida, a 9-16 seed, 6-4, 6-4. Champion Wake Forest went 3-0 in singles Wednesday, with Skander Mansouri advancing after Johannes Schretter of Baylor retired trailing 7-5. No. 7 seed Borna Gojo beat Guanarteme Nuez of Texas-Arlington 6-3, 6-4 and No. 4 seed Petros Chrysochos closed out play for the night with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 win over Michail Pervolarakis of Portland.

The updated men's draw is here; the women's draw is here.

At the Division III Men's Team Championships in Claremont California, Middlebury and Bowdoin met for the title for the second time in three years, with Middlebury avenging their 5-0 loss in 2016 by taking out the Polar Bears 5-3. For more on the men's final, see Rhiannon Potkey's article at the Tennis Recruiting Network.  The women's final between Emory and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is still in progress.  See the CMS tournament page for updates.

At the ITF Grade A in Milan, just two Americans are left in the singles draw, both unseeded.  Tyler Zink beat Flavio Cobolli of Italy 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, and Keenan Mayo defeated Yannik Steinegger of Switzerland 7-6(4), 6-1, with both now advancing to the third round. Live scoring is available at Tennis Ticker.

At Roland Garros, Denis Kudla advanced to the final round of qualifying, while Reilly Opelka will play his second round on Thursday. In women's first round qualifying action, Claire Liu, Jamie Loeb and Francesca Di Lorenzo won, with Liu beating No. 9 seed seed Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 6-2, 6-1. Liu, Loeb and Di Lorenzo will play their second round matches on Thursday, as will Nicole Gibbs[8], Caroline Dolehide[17] and Grace Min.

The USTA Pro Circuit is back with a $25,000 Women's tournament in Osprey Florida.  Playing in her first pro tournament, 14-year-old Coco Gauff qualified today (rain pushed qualifying into today) and then won her first round match over 26-year-old Alexandra Perper of Moldova, a Mississippi State alum, 6-2, 6-3.  Sixteen-year-old Hailey Baptiste also qualified and won her first round match, and 17-year-olds Salma Ewing(USC recruit) and Ann Li(LSU recruit) also advanced to the second round.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Stanford Wins Another, Wake Forest Claims First NCAA Team Championship; D-I Singles Championships Begin Wednesday; Defending Champions Fall in D-III Semifinals; Few American Left in Milan Grade A; Roland Garros Qualifying Continues

One of the two NCAA Division I team champions crowned today was a No. 15 seed and one was a top seed, but determining which was most unexpected winner isn't an easy task.

On the one hand, Wake Forest, who beat No. 3 seed Ohio State 4-2 for the men's title, was the top seed, the ITA National Indoor champion and playing at home, but until this week they had never reached the NCAA semifinals, let alone played in the title match. On the other hand, Stanford, who beat top seed Vanderbilt 4-3, had lost to the Commodores 7-0 earlier this year, didn't play the ITA National Indoor and kept losing the doubles point, but they were playing in their third straight final, and have a long history of coming through at the end of the season.

The Cardinal again lost the doubles point, for the third time in their four matches at the Wake Forest finals site, with Vanderbilt winning at lines 1 and 2 to counter Vanderbilt's win at line 3.

But it didn't take long for Stanford to assert itself in singles, winning five first sets, while Vanderbilt's Astra Sharma got their only first set at line 1 against Michaela Gordon.

Emma Higuchi tied the match with a 6-3, 6-2 win at line 6, with Higuchi winning her 17th straight match.  Caroline Lampl closed out Vanderbilt's Christina Rosca 6-4, 6-2 to give Stanford a 2-1 lead, but it didn't last long, with Sharma, who was cramping at the end, managing a 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Gordon to make it 2-2.

Stanford's road got a little rockier when Vanderbilt's Fernanda Contreras earned a split over Melissa Lord at line 2 and Amanda Meyer took the second set from Stanford's Emily Arbuthnott at line 4.

Janice Shin gave the Cardinal a little breathing room by beating Emma Kurtz 6-3, 6-3 at line 5, so Vanderbilt needed the last two matches.  Meyer delivered one, beating Arbuthnott 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, but Lord had already had a championship point come and go in her match with Contreras, serving for the match at 5-3 in the third after winning three straight deciding points for that lead. Down 15-40 serving for the title, Lord hit two big first serves to get to yet another deciding point, but this one she lost, with Contreras putting away a forehand winner to deny Lord the championship point.

In the rare game that didn't go to a deciding point, Contreras held for 5-5, but returning to the theme of the match, Lord held for 6-5 on yet another deciding point (I don't know how, as the stream went out right at that juncture). That meant Contreras had to hold serve to force a tiebreaker, but she fell behind 15-40. Contreras saved the first of those three match points with a backhand into the open court, but at 30-40, her forehand clipped the tape and fell back on her side to give Stanford its 19th NCAA team title and second in the past three years.

No. 15 Stanford 4, No. 2 Vanderbilt 3
1) No. 11 Contreras/Sharma (VANDY) d. No. 3 Arbuthnott/Gordon (STAN) 6-3
2) No. 69 Kurtz/Smith (VANDY) d. No. 84 Lampl/Kimberly Yee (STAN) 6-4
3) Lord/Shin (STAN) d. Meyer/Rosca (VANDY) 6-4
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2

1) No. 11 Astra Sharma (VANDY) d. No. 15 Michaela Gordon (STAN) 7-6 (3), 6-3
2) No. 40 Melissa Lord (STAN) d. No. 10 Fernanda Contreras (VANDY) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5
3) No. 93 Caroline Lampl (STAN) d. No. 44 Chris Rosca (VANDY) 6-4, 6-2
4) Amanda Meyer (VANDY) d. No. 43 Emily Arbuthnott (STAN) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
5) No. 96 Janice Shin (STAN) d. Emma Kurtz (VANDY) 6-3, 6-3
6) No. 102 Emma Higuchi (STAN) d. Summer Dvorak (VANDY) 6-3, 6-2

Order of Finish: 6, 3, 1, 5, 4, 2

The crowds were large for the home team, and fortunately, after a frustratingly wet weekend and a late night on Monday due to rain and lightning delays, the weather cooperated. With fans supporting them from all over the Tennis Complex, Wake Forest took the doubles point, with wins at 1 and 2, with line 3 in a tiebreaker when Wake clinched.

The teams split first sets, meaning Ohio State had to force a third set in order to win, but the Buckeyes were unable to do that. Wake Forest couldn't accomplish that either, with all five completed matches ending in straight sets.  

Ohio State got on the board quickly with Kyle Seelig's 6-2, 6-2 win over Alan Gadjiev at line 5, followed closely by Wake's Petros Chrysochos's 6-1, 6-3 victory over JJ Wolf at line 2. Martin Joyce made it 2-2 with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Christian Seraphim at line 6, but Skander Mansouri put Wake back on top 3-2 with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over John McNally at line 3.  

Ohio State looked to be heading to that third set they had to have when Tim Seibert went up 5-2 on Bar Botzer in the second set, after Botzer had taken the first set 6-4.  Seibert, who hadn't played in the previous three matches at the finals site, couldn't serve out the set at 5-3, with Botzer's passes just too precise for the net-charging freshman. Botzer held for 5-all, then broke Seibert, who missed an easy putaway volley well wide to give Botzer a chance to serve it out.  He did, triggering a celebration befitting a home team's win, the first since the Georgia men won in Athens in 2007.  Botzer was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

1. #21 Borna Gojo/Skander Mansouri (WF) def. JJ Wolf/Martin Joyce (OSU) 7-5
2. #35 Petros Chrysochos/Bar Botzer (WF) def. #61 Mikael Torpegaard/John McNally (OSU) 7-5
3. #48 Ian Dempster/Christian Seraphim (WF) vs. Matt Mendez/Hunter Tubert (OSU) 6-6, unfinished

1. #7 Borna Gojo (WF) vs. #6 Mikael Torpegaard (OSU) 4-6, 6-6, unfinished
2. #4 Petros Chrysochos (WF) def. #41 JJ Wolf (OSU) 6-1, 6-3
3. #38 Skander Mansouri (WF) def. #92 John McNally (OSU) 6-2, 6-2
4. Bar Botzer (WF) def. Tim Seibert (OSU) 6-4, 7-5
5. #96 Kyle Seelig (OSU) def. Alan Gadjiev (WF) 6-2, 6-2
6. Martin Joyce (OSU) def. Christian Seraphim (WF) 6-1, 6-3

Match Notes:
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (5,2,3,6,4)

The NCAA singles championships begin tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.  Bianca Turati of Texas is the top seed in the women's event.  The men's event has seen a large number of withdrawals, with the alternate list now exhausted.  Martin Redlicki of UCLA is the No. 1 seed. Live scores and streaming is available at the Wake Forest tournament page.

The Division III Team Championship finals will be held on Wednesday in Claremont California.  In the men's final, the top seed Bowdoin will square off against No. 2 seed Middlebury.  Bowdoin beat No. 5 seed Chicago 5-0 and Middlebury took out defending champion and No. 6 seed Emory 5-3, after Emory had taken two of three doubles points.

The women's D-III final, will, like the men's D-I final, feature the home team, with No.  2 seed Claremont-Mudd-Scripps facing top seed Emory.  CMS defeated defending champion Williams 5-3, while Emory squeezed past No. 5 seed Middlebury 5-4.  See the CMS tournament page for links to video and scoring for the finals, which begin with the men's championship at 11 a.m. Pacific on Wednesday. 

At the Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan, only one US girl remains: unseeded Peyton Stearns.  Caty McNally, Katie Volynets and Gabby Price lost first round matches today, while Kacie Harvey lost in the second round.  Three US boys have advanced to the second round: Keenan Mayo won yesterday and he is joined by Govind Nanda and Tyler Zink.  Drew Baird[9] and qualifier Siem Woldeab lost first round matches today, while Cannon Kingsley and Tristan Boyer[6] lost in the second round.  

Live scoring for the tournament is at Tennis Ticker.  Tommy Hemp has more coverage from today's matches in Milan at Tennis Underworld.

Rain cut short qualifying today at Roland Garros, with some women's first round matches being postponed. The men completed their first round, but only one American was able to advance to the second round, Reilly Opelka. Kevin King, Bradley Klahn and Stefan Kozlov lost their opening matches, with Denis Kudla[7], who won yesterday, the only other American to advance. He plays again on Wednesday.

Caroline Dolehide[17], Nicole Gibbs[8] and Grace Min are through to the second round, with Jamie Loeb up a set in her first round match when play was cancelled for the day.  Irina Falconi, who lost to Dolehide, and Kayla Day are out, with Danielle Lao, Claire Liu, Francesca DiLorenzo and Kristie Ahn on the schedule for Wednesday.