Wake Forest rising sophomore Borna Gojo is one match away from qualifying for the main draw at the ATP 250 Winston-Salem Open after he picked up his first-ever top 100 win on Saturday. Gojo, who entered the weekend with an ATP ranking of 808, held off Belgium's Ruben Bemelmans (ATP #100) 7-6(3), 3-6, 7-6(6) in 2 hours and 29 minutes. Gojo fell behind 2-0 in the opening set before winning three straight and he'd eventually take the set in a tiebreak. Bemelmans forced a third set after earning the only break in the second at 5-3 and then he'd go up a break in the third at 2-1. Gojo broke back for 3-3 and a few games later he'd have a pair of match points but Bemelmans held for 5-5. After a pair of holds, Gojo went up an early mini-break in the tiebreak and he'd extend his lead to 6-3. Bemelmans evened it up at 6-6 but Gojo won the last two points to close it out.

Gojo will face Australia's Alex Bolt (ATP #299) on Sunday with the winner moving into the main draw. 

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Baylor rising junior Juan Benitez won his first career pro titles over the weekend after sweeping singles and doubles at the Morocco F1 Futures in Tanger. In the doubles final, Benitez teamed with Raleigh Smith (Northwestern '14) to defeat Skander Mansouri (Wake Forest Rising Sr) and Nick Chappell (TCU '15) 6-4, 7-6(3). Benitez and Smith were actually fortunate to make it out of the opening round because they trailed 9-4 in the third set supertiebreak and then after erasing those five match points they fought off one more before winning 13-11. As fate would have it Benitez and Smith would face each other in the singles final with Benitez getting the win 6-2, 7-6(2). Benitez only dropped one set on the week while Smith won only had one match finish in straight sets prior to the final. 

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It'll be an All-ACC singles final on the campus of an ACC school after both Brayden Schnur and JC Aragone won their semifinal matches at the $25K USA F40 Futures in Tallahassee. Aragone (14.25), who had never made it past the first round of a pro event prior to this week, won a break-filled match over recent Tulane graduate Dominik Koepfer (14.43). Aragone started off the match by fighting off four break points to to hold in an eight-deuce game. There would then be five consecutive breaks until Koepfer stopped the streak with a hold for 3-3. Aragone then held, broke from 30/40, and held at love to take the opening set 6-3. Aragone opened up a double-break 3-0 lead in the second set before Koepfer broke and held to pull within 3-2. After three more holds Aragone would break Koepfer in a one-deuce game to close it out 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour and 28 minutes. 

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The $25K USA F40 Futures in Tallahassee is guaranteed to have a singles and doubles champ with college ties after some nice wins by recent Tulane grad Dominik Koepfer and Virginia senior JC Aragone. Koepfer came back from a set and break down and fought off a pair of match points to defeat the third seed Kaichi Uchida 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2. Uchida led 6-4, 5-3 and served for it at 5-4 but Koepfer managed to break in a four-deuce game that included both of those match points for Uchida. Aragone won his second match in a row via a retirement, and advanced to his first-ever semifinal, after the second seed Tim Van Rijthoven threw in the towel down 7-5, 1-0.

On the other side of the draw Brayden Schnur advanced to his third semifinal of the year after ousting the top seed Sekou Bangoura 6-3, 6-4 while Wil Spencer moved into the semis for the fourth time this year after holding off Lukas Ollert 6-3, 7-6(9). Spencer led 6-2 in the second set tiebreak but Ollert won five straight to take a 7-6 lead. Ollert had set points at 7-6, 8-7, and 9-8 but Spencer managed to win the last three points to close it out. 

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The singles final is all set in Waco and it'll be a pair of recent college graduates meeting as Jared Hiltzik squares off against Ryan Shane. Hiltzik (14.57) dropped the opening set 6-1 to recent Tulane graduate Dominik Koepfe (14.31) but the recent Illinois graduate was able to turn the tide in the second and third sets. Hiltzik came back from 0/40 down to hold for 2-1 in the second and fought off another break point to hold for 4-3. Hiltzik then converted his only break point opportunity of the set when he broke Koepfer from 30/40 to go ahead 5-3 and then he served out the set from 40/15 to take it 6-3. In the third set Hiltzik got a huge hold for 3-3 after he went down 0/40 and then a few games later he broke Koepfer from 15/40 to go ahead 5-4. Hiltzik served it out from 40/30 to get the win 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 2 hours and 14 minutes. 

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Friday, 02 December 2016 07:53

Hiltzik, Koepfer, & Shane into semis in Waco

Three of the four semifinalists in Waco just finished up their college eligibility in May but they felt right at home on Thursday on the indoor courts at Baylor University in the $25K USA F39 Futures. Ryan Shane, who won the 2015 NCAA Singles Championship on these same indoor courts, advanced to his first semifinal since Tallahassee last December after defeating the second seed Tim Van Rijthoven in straight sets. Shane started off the match by fighting off four break points and holding in a seven-deuce game (won't see that in college tennis) and then followed that up by breaking for an early 2-0 lead. Van Rijthoven came back and took five of the next six games but Shane held and then broke for 5-5 after Van Rijthoven had three set points up 40/0. Shane held for 6-5 and then went up 0/40 on Van Rijthoven's serve but he couldn't get the break and off to a tiebreak it went.

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USC freshman Brandon Holt won the Southern California Intercollegiate Championships on Monday afternoon with a straight set win over senior teammate Nick Crystal. Holt broke Crystal from 30/40 to take the opening set 6-4 but Crystal looked like he'd take the early break lead in the second after going ahead 0/40 on Holt's 1-1 service game. Holt managed to come back and hold for 2-1 but Crystal would even it at 2-2 after coming back from 15/40 down. Crystal finally got the break, on the deciding point, to go up 3-2 but he wouldn't win another game the rest of the way. Crystal double faulted the break back to Holt and then Holt held on the deciding point to take a 4-3 lead. Holt broke again and then he served it out for a 6-4, 6-3 win. If you wanted to rewatch the match it is available at this link

Holt and Riley Smith were set to play Texas Tech's Alex Sendegeya and Bjorn Thomson in the doubles final however Texas Tech's guys couldn't stay until Monday so the final went unplayed. Full results from all other draws can be found here

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Louisiana Tech Athletics Director Tommy McClelland announced the hiring of Amanda Stone as the Lady Techsters new women's head coach. Stone comes to Ruston via D2's Northeastern State (Okla) where she won 81% of her matches as head coach over the past four seasons. Stone graduated from Northeastern State in 2007 and also spent two seasons as an assistant at the University of Rochester prior to becoming coach at Northeastern State. Stone replaces Chad Camper who departed after three seasons to take the women's head coaching job at Chattanooga.

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Steve Johnson (USC '12) started the day off by losing a heartbreaker to Andy Murray in the quarterfinals of the Olympics singles draw but he rebounded a few hours later in the doubles bronze medal match. Johnson, who was seeded 12th in the singles draw, dropped the opening set 6-0 to the second seed Andy Murray but Johnson fought back and nearly pulled off the upset. Johnson took the second set 6-4 and went up a break at 4-3 in the third but Murray broke back to even it at 4-4. The match went to a third set tiebreak with Murray pulling away for a 7-6(2) win.


Johnson was back on court a short while later with Jack Sock as the American duo took on Canada's Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil in the bronze medal doubles match. It only took 63 minutes for Johnson and Sock to beat Nestor and Pospisil 6-2, 6-4. Johnson became just the second USC tennis player to ever medal at the Olympics with the other being Rafael Osuna (doubles gold) in 1968. Congrats Stevie!!

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