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.
Plenty of current, future, and former college players were in action today at pro events all across the globe. There are a pair of Futures events in the United States this week with one taking place on the clay in Rochester and another on the hard courts in Winston-Salem. Recent Virginia graduate Thai-Son Kwiatkowski won the longest match of the day with the former Hoo defeating TCU's Alex Rybakov in 3 hours and 11 minutes. Rybakov came back from a 4-1 first set deficit to take the set in a tiebreak 7-5 but Kwiatkowski would get a split by taking the second set in a tiebreak 11-9. Rybakov led that second set tiebreak 5-3 but he never had a match point. Kwiatkowski broke Rybakov to start the third set and he'd add another break to go up 5-2 and would close it out with a love hold to win 6-7, 7-6, 6-2.
Kwiatkowski will face recent South Florida graduate Sasha Gozun in the second round after Gozun defeated 16 year-old Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 7-6. Other players with college ties that advanced to the second round are Mikael Torpegaard (Ohio State), Winston Lin (Columbia), Alexander Knight (Michigan), Sam Monette (Indiana), Dennis Nevolo (Illinois), Charles Broom (Dartmouth), Cameron Silverman (Elon). Julian Zlobinsky (Texas), and Ohio State commit John McNally.
Ryan Shane (Virginia), Wil Spencer (Georgia), and Riley Smith (USC) scored upset wins in Winston-Salem to join the nine other players with college ties in the second round.
Shane defeated the No. 2 seed Alex Sarkissian (Pepperdine) in a pair of tiebreak sets. In the first set tiebreak Shane came back from a 4-0 deficit to take it 8-6 but Sarkissian rebounded in the second set and went ahead 3-0. Shane won three straight to even it at 3-3 and he'd break for 5-4 but Sarkissian broke at love to knot it at 5-5. After an exchange of holds, Shane raced out to a 6-0 lead in the tiebreak and ended up winning it 7-4. Shane will meet Henry Craig (Denver) in the second round after Craig defeated last year's Kalamazoo Boys 18 runner-up Vasil Kirkov 6-1, 6-3
It looked like Virginia was playing a dual-match today at USC as five guys played in the singles main draw with four of them on court at the same time. UVA senior JC Aragone was the first off the court after holding off ATP #515 Markos Kalovelonis. Aragone broke from 30/40 to go up 5-4 in the third and then he served it out from 40/15 to take it 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. UVA junior Collin Altamirano pulled off the biggest upset of the day when he beat the top seed ATP #282 Tommy Paul 4-6, 6-0, 6-3. Altamirano was in control of his serve all day winning 50 of 68 points (.735) while he had an amazing 22 break point opportunities converting three in the second set and one in the third.
Brayden Schnur finished off the last US pro event of the year with a three-set win over Virginia senior JC Aragone in the finals of the $25K USA F40 Futures in Tallahassee, Florida. Aragone, who was playing in his first career pro final, broke Schnur at love to go ahead 5-3 in the first set but Schnur broke back from 30/40 and went on to win the final four games of the set. In the second set Aragone fought off a pair of break points on his 2-2 service game and then he broke Schnur at love to make it 4-2. Aragone would hold two more times to take the second set 6-3. Schnur started off the third set by holding in a one-deuce game and then he broke in a one-deuce game to make it 2-0. Aragone managed to break back in a one-deuce game and then he held at love to even it at 2-2. Schnur would hold at love for 3-2, break from 30/40 for 4-2, hold in a one-deuce game for 5-2, and break at love to close out the 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 win.
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.
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.
The USTA College MatchDay Series has already lined up six matches at the soon to be completed 100-court USTA National Campus in Orlando. The first match will take place on January 21st when Adam Steinberg's Michigan Wolverines square off against George Husack's Alabama Crimson Tide and then in February there will be a pair of women's matches including a national championship rematch on February 17th between Stanford and Oklahoma State. In addition to these matches in Orlando there will also be several others in the MatchDay series including Virginia/Wake Forest in Winston-Salem on March 31st.
Six of the eight singles quarterfinalists at the $25K USA F40 Futures in Tallahassee have college ties though only two of them are seeded. Virginia senior JC Aragone booked his first-ever spot in a Futures quarterfinal after a 21-minute 2-1 retirement win over the sixth seed Christian Harrison. Aragone held on a six-deuce game to start the match and then two games later Harrison retired with an injury while serving at 15-30. Aragone will meet the second seed Tim Van Rijthoven on Friday after TVR defeated Florida State junior Guy Iradukunda 7-5, 6-3. Iradukunda earned his first ATP point in over two years when he upset recent Virginia graduate Ryan Shane in the opening round.
The first of two weekends of ITA Regional Championship action concluded on Tuesday. Wake Forest's Skander Mansouri swept singles and doubles (w Christian Seraphim) titles at the Carolina Regional so Wake Forest will now have those two plus Petros Chrysochos entered in the last big tournament of the fall. Virginia only had one player entered in the ITA Atlantic Regional but one was all it needed because senior JC Aragone won the singles title with a straight set win over RIchmond's Jacob Dunbar. Dunbar was able to punch his ticket to the National Indoor Intercollegiates when he and Alexandre Felisa won the doubles title with a straight set win over Virginia Tech's Jai Corbett and Alex Ribeiro. Dunbar and Felisa's win was historic for Richmond because the school had never had an ITA Regional Doubles Champion.
William & Mary senior Marie Faure won a pair of three-set matches on Tuesday to win the women's ITA Atlantic Regional. Faure's title means that William & Mary has won five ITA Region singles titles in the last 14 years.