Cameron Norrie ran his winning streak to 10 after winning a second straight $100K Challenger with this one coming in Stockton, California. Norrie only dropped four games in his finals win over Darian King which earned the former TCU star a $14,400 paycheck plus 90 ATP ranking points. Norrie's biggest comeback of the week came against Brydan Klein in the second round. Norrie was down a set and a break at 6-4, 4-3 but he managed to take the second set in a tiebreak and then he pulled away in the third set. Norrie, who now has a new career high ranking of 111, talked to Mike Cation after the match with that conversation available at this link.
Cameron Norrie officially started his pro career in June, after three stellar years at TCU, and since then he's won a match at an ATP 250, qualified for the US Open, and made three Challenger finals, two of which he won. The second of those Challenger titles came last week in Tiburon, California, when Norrie dropped just five games in the finals in a straight set win over former Tennessee Volunteer Tennys Sandgren. Norrie was ranked 243 when he turned pro and with these 90 points he now has a new career high ranking of 136. Norrie talked to Mike Cation after the match about his week in Tiburon with those comments available at this link.
Monday was opening day at the 2017 US Open and while the established players like John Isner, Steve Johnson, and Kevin Anderson picked up wins there were several other former collegians that couldn't quite get over the hump. One former collegian that did get over the jump was Cameron Norrie as the 3-time All-American from TCU picked up his first main draw grand slam win after his opponent, Dmitry Tursunov, retired before the start of the third set.
Norrie and Tursunov played a break-free first set though each player had multiple opportunities to pull ahead. Tursunov had two break points on Norrie's opening service game and then another two when Norrie served at 3-4. Norrie had two break points on Tursunov's 2-2 service game and then another when Tursunov served at 4-4. In the tiebreak the opening two points went to the server then the next four went to the returner which made it 3-3 at the changeover. The server won the next nine points which gave Norrie a set point at 6-5 and 8-7 while Tursunov had a set point at 7-6. Norrie managed to win the 16th point of the tiebreak which gave him the set 7-6(7).
Tursunov broke Norrie to start the second set but it was all Norrie the rest of the way. Norrie won the next six games, which included three love holds, to take the set 6-1. Tursunov, who got his right knee taped at 4-1 in the second set, retired before the start of the third set and that was it. Norrie has now picked up 70 ATP points by qualifying and winning today's match plus he has banked just over $100K in prize money. Next up for Norrie will be the No. 12 seed Pablo Carreno Busta after the Spaniard defeated former Michigan Wolverine Evan King in straight sets.
There were seven players with college ties in action on Friday in the final round of the qualifying draw at the US Open and by the time the dust had settled six of them had secured a spot in the main draw. JC Aragone, Evan King, and Danielle Lao will each be making their grand slam debuts next week while Cameron Norrie advanced to his second grand slam main draw, JP Smith his fourth grand slam main draw, and Nicole Gibbs her 13th grand slam main draw.
For the first time since 1987 there will be four men in the main draw that played college tennis in the same year because Aragone and Norrie join Thai Kwiatkowski and Chris Eubanks who were both granted main draw wild cards. In the 1987 US Open there were five same-year college players to make the main draw - Phil Williamson (Columbia), Andrew Burrow (Miami FL), Richey Reneberg (SMU), Shelby Cannon (Tennessee), Rick Leach (USC).
Aragone was the most improbable of the six to qualify after playing at No. 5 and No. 6 for most of his collegiate career at Virginia. In the opening match of the day on court 7, Aragone found himself down a quick break at 2-1 against Australia's Akira Santillan however he'd immediately break back, hold, and then break again to go up 4-2. Santillan got it back on serve with a break for 4-3 but Aragone broke back and then held at love to take the opening set 6-3.
The second set started off with five routine holds before Santillan broke Aragone in a four-deuce game for 4-2 and then two games later he'd break again to take the set 6-2.
Aragone bounced back in the third set by breaking Santillan in a two-deuce game for 1-0 but Santillan broke back from 15/40 to even it at 1-1. Aragone made it three breaks in a row to go up 2-1 and he'd hold on from there to win it 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.
JC Aragone was awarded a last minute wild card into this year's US Open qualifying draw and now he's just one match away from the main draw after a come from behind win over Italy's Riccardo Bellotti. Aragone dropped the opening set 6-3 and went down a break at 3-2 in the second but he broke back in the next game to even it at 3-all. After an exchange of holds, Aragone went up 40/0 on his 4-4 service game but Bellotti took the next four points to take the advantage. Aragone worked it back to deuce but Bellotti would have the advantage three more times until Aragone finally managed to win two straight and then after getting the advantage he held for 5-4. Aragone jumped on Bellotti's 5-6 service game by going up 0/40 and he'd break from 15/40 to send the match to a third set.
Aragone held and broke to start the third set but Bellotti broke back and held for 2-2. Aragone rattled off three straight games to go up 5-2 and actually had two match points to win it 6-2 but Bellotti managed to hold. Aragone fell behind 0/30 on his next service game but then won the final four points to close it out 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Aragone will face Japan's Akira Santillan (ATP 171) on Friday morning in the opening match on court 7 which is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. ET.
John Isner (Georgia '07) returned to the state where he had a ton of success in college and proceeded to win his fourth singles title at the BB&T Atlanta Open. Isner, who won the week before in Newport and has now won 12 career singles titles, fired 23 aces and won 85% of the points on his first serve in a 7-6(6), 7-6(7) win over fellow American Ryan Harrison. There were no breaks of serve in the first set, in fact there were no break points either, though Harrison went up a mini-break to start the tiebreak. Isner put it back on serve on the next point and would eventually fight off a set point when serving at 5-6 before taking the tiebreak 8-6.
Harrison jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second set after breaking Isner from 30/40 but Isner broke back in a one-deuce game to make it 2-1. After another nine holds, Harrison went up 4-1 in the tiebreak but Isner took the next three to even it at 4-4. Harrison fought off a set point while serving at 5-6 while Isner fought off one while serving at 6-7. Isner would close out the second set tiebreak just like the first by winning the final three points to take it 9-7.
Isner won $114,595 with the title while collecting 250 ATP points which moved his ranking up from 20 to 18.
Yannick Hanfmann (USC '15) started off 2017 by playing a pair of Futures events in his old college stomping grounds of Los Angeles but seven months later he's two sets away from winning his first ATP singles title. Hanfmann came into the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open in Gstaad, Switzerland, with just three career main draw ATP wins but after breezing through two qualifying matches he's won four straight main draw matches with all four going the full three sets. Hanfmann started off the week with 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4 win over Facundo Bagnis (ATP 109) and then in the second round he knocked out the defending champ Feliciano Lopez (ATP 27) 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1. In the quarterfinals, Hanfmann dispatched Joao Sousa (ATP 61) 6-7(10), 6-2, 6-2 which set up his match today against Robin Haase (ATP 50).
Haase jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the opening set but Hanfmann broke, held, and broke to put it back on serve at 4-3. Haase would break back from 30/40 and then serve out the set from 40/30 to take it 6-3.
Haase broke Hanfmann from 15/40 to start the second set but Hanfmann broke back from 30/40 to even it at 1-all. The rest of the set would be all holds with only two of the next ten service games reaching deuce (Hanfmann held on both occasions). In the second set tiebreak, Haase had a pair of match points after going in front 6-4 but Hanfmann took the next four points to take the tiebreak 8-6 and force a third and deciding set.
William Blumberg continued his strong play at the $75K Levene Gouldin & Thompson Tennis Challenger in Binghamton, New York, as the North Carolina rising sophomore moved into the quarterfinals after defeating Denis Kudla (ATP 172) 6-3, 6-2. Blumberg, who got into the main draw via a wild card, won 81% of the points on his first serve and he broke Kudla six times. Blumberg will have the day off on Thursday and will be back on Friday to take on China's Ze Zhang (ATP 259). Cameron Norrie, who just recently turned pro after his junior season at TCU, also moved into the quarterfinals after he defeated Daniel Nguyen (USC '12) 6-3, 6-3. Norrie's next opponent will be the 2013 NCAA singles champion Blaz Rola after the former Ohio State Buckeye defeated Alex Bolt 6-3, 6-2.
Georgia Tech rising senior Chris Eubanks picked up his first career main draw win at the ATP-level and moved into the second round of the BB&T Atlanta Open with a straight set win over 19-year-old American Taylor Fritz. Both guys served well with each winning over 70% of the points on their serve but it was Eubanks who earned the lone break of the match and came away with the 7-6(5), 6-4 win. Eubanks was playing in the main draw of his hometown event for the third year in a row but this was the first time he was able to come away with the all-important win. Next up for Eubanks is the eighth seed Jared Donaldson.
The opening day of Wimbledon qualies was a good one for those with college tennis ties as 11 of 18 men picked up opening round wins. 2015 USC graduate Roberto Quiroz defeated 2011 Texas graduate Ed Corrie in the only matchup between two former college players. Corrie jumped out to a 6-4, 3-1 lead but Quiroz won 10 straight games to go up 5-0 in the third and would close it out 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Benjamin Becker, who won the 2004 NCAA Singles Championship, moved on to the second round with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Yasutaka Uchiyama. The 36-year old former Baylor Bear broke Uchiyama to go up 5-3 in the second and then in the third set he broke for 3-2.
James McGee, who spent two seasons at the NC State almost 10 years ago, won his first-ever qualifying match at Wimbledon by coming back from 4-1 down in the third to defeat Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4. McGee will try to make it two in a row when he plays Andrey Rublev in the second round.
Full results from Monday are down below along with the second round matchups. The women get started on Tuesday with five former college players in the qualifying draw.