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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Pro Circuit Update; ITF Announces More Details of New Transition Tour; Appalachian State Tennis Player Suspended in Racial Incident; Ohio State Men, Stanford Women Top USTA Collegiate Rankings

My coverage of the Dow Tennis Classic in Midland will now be based on the live stream, with my trip there complete after the day matches yesterday.  Ken Thomas of RadioTennis.com is handling the commentary for the women's matches this week.

Seven of the eight quarterfinalists have been decided with No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady and No. 3 seed Madison Brengle advancing in straight sets.  A third American will join them, the winner of tonight's match between No. 4 seed Sonya Kenin and Jamie Loeb.

In addition to the women's $100,000 event this week, the men are in Dallas for the $125,000 ATP Challenger there, with three of the four semifinals now decided.  Former UCLA Bruin Mackenzie McDonald, who defeated No. 2 seed Frances Tiafoe 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 in the second round, cruised past No. 7 seed Tim Smyczek in today's quarterfinals 6-4, 6-2 and will face Denis Kudla, who beat No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz 6-3, 6-3. Former Michigan star Jason Jung of Taiwan reached the semifinals with an impressive 6-1, 6-1 victory over Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia and will face the winner of tonight's match between top seed Kei Nishikori and former Tulane star Dominic Koepfer of Germany.

The live streaming for Dallas, with commentary by Mike Cation, is available here.

The other USTA Pro Circuit event this week is a $15,000 men's Futures in Palm Coast Florida.  Qualifier Strong Kirchheimer (Northwestern) and Junior Ore (Texas A&M) are the Americans in the quarterfinals.  Ore ousted No. 2 seed Pedro Sakamoto of Brazil in the first round.

The ITF released more information on the Transition Tour, part of the restructuring of the ITF Pro Circuit that was announced last year.  The $15,000 events like Palm Coast will be radically changed beginning in 2019 and they will no longer offer ATP ranking points.  That goes for women's $15,000 events as well, most of which are in the summer here in the United States.  These events will no longer be 9 or 10 days in length but will be limited to 7 days, including qualifying, so the 128-draws, so common in Florida this time of year, will be reduced to 24.  Places will be reserved for Top 100 juniors in these events, which could lead to more interest in ITF Junior Circuit competition, which a number of young players with pro aspirations have begun to bypass in recent years.  In order to make these events cheaper to stage, there will also be fewer officials employed. Whether this is a net gain for the sport remains to be seen.  The stated goal in these changes is to have 750 men and 750 women considered as professionals, rather than the thousands who now currently have an ATP or WTA point.

Here is the information the ITF sent out today, and there is a short video with a broader overview available here.

Appalachian State tennis player Spencer Brown has been suspended from the team indefinitely due to remarks he made to an opponent from North Carolina A&T in a match on Sunday.  The Winston-Salem Journal has details on how the incident came to light and Brown's current status.  I would imagine that most people who read this 2015 article about Brown from USTA South Carolina are surprised that he is involved in an incident like this.

The USTA conducts Division I team rankings separately from those produced by the ITA, with their first ranking poll released yesterday. The women's rankings are nearly identical, but the men's rankings contain some variation, especially at No. 1.

The USTA men's top 10:


1. Ohio State
2. North Carolina
3. Wake Forest
4. Georgia
5. USC
6. UCLA
7. Texas A&M
8. Florida
9. Baylor
10. Stanford

The women's Top 10:


1. Stanford
2. Vanderbilt
3. Florida
4. Georgia
5. North Carolina
6. Pepperdine
7. Texas Tech
8. Georgia Tech
9. Duke
10. Michigan

The ITA rankings had no changes in the women's Top 10, even after last weekend's Kickoff results:

1. Stanford
2. Vanderbilt
3. Florida
4. Georgia
5. North Carolina
6. Pepperdine
7. Georgia Tech
8. Texas Tech
9. Duke
10. Michigan

The men's ITA rankings this week are the same for the Top 7.  Two teams, TCU and Texas, fell out of the Top 10, with Baylor and Stanford moving up.

1. Wake Forest
2. Ohio State
3. North Carolina
4. Georgia
5. USC
6. UCLA
7. Texas A&M
8. Florida
9. Baylor
10. Stanford

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