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.
The opening round of qualifying at the US Open wrapped up on Wednesday with the guys with college ties going 12-14 while the girls went 5-5. UCLA and USC were the only schools to put more than one player through to the men's second round while on the women's side Stanford was the only school to do the same. Those that played college tennis last season went 2-4 with Cameron Norrie and JC Aragone picking up wins while JJ Wolf, William Blumberg, Francesca Di Lorenzo, and Ashley Lahey came up short. Second round matches will be played on Thursday with live scoring available here.
It'll be a busy week for many current and former collegians as they try to qualify for the 2017 US Open. There are 26 players with college ties in the men's qualifying draw with two first round matches pitting one against another. There are 10 players with college ties in the women's draw with the only college versus college match coming when Francesca Di Lorenzo faces Nicole Gibbs. To see all the first round matchups scroll down and to see the order of play for Tuesday click here and to track the live scoring click here.
The World University Games are underway in Taiwan with plenty of representation from college tennis players here in the United States. The draws, which are a little tricky to find, are available at this link (click Sport Reports) plus you can get full stats from each match by going through the list of results. UCLA Martin Redlicki, Florida State's Lucas Poullain, Baylor's Jimmy Bendeck, Old Dominion's Adam Moundir, and former UNC Tar Heel Esben Hess-Olesen have each advanced to the third round of the men's draw with the top half to be played late Monday night/early Tuesday morning in the US. The requirements to play in the WUG are listed at this link.
Rutgers Director of Athletics Patrick Hobbs announced that Hilary Ritchie had been elevated from acting women's head coach to full-time head coach. Ritchie, who played at Iowa and Colorado State, had been the assistant coach at Rutgers for the past six years under Benjamin Bucca who recently stepped down after 13 years to become a New Jersey Superior Court judge.
George Washington Director of Athletics Patrick Nero announced the hiring of David Macpherson as the Colonials new men's tennis coach. Macpherson had been the Bryan Brothers coach since 2005 after having a successful pro career that lasted almost 20 years. Macpherson replaces Greg Munoz who resigned in the middle of his 10th season to become the Tennis Director at the Jakarta Tennis Academy in Indonesia. Torrie Browning, who recently became the women's head coach at GW, served as the interim coach and guided the team to a third straight conference title.
Tuesday was a great day for a couple of former collegians as Jacqueline Cako (Arizona St '13) and Danielle Lao (USC '13) earned a main draw doubles wild card into this year's US Open after winning the US Open National Playoff Women's Doubles draw. Cako and Lao, who were the second seed, broke the top seed Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey (Tennessee '10) six times in route to a 6-2, 7-5 win in 1 hour and 23 minutes. Lao will make her Grand Slam debut while it'll be Cako's second appearance after playing in the 2014 US Open mixed doubles draw.
New Oklahoma men's head coach Nick Crowell announced the hiring of Nate Feldman as the Sooners' new assistant coach. Feldman, who played at Minnesota from 2002 to 2004, was the assistant coach under Jay Udwadia at Oklahoma State for the last two seasons. He also has head coaching experience after leading both the men's and women's teams at Norfolk State from 2011 to 2014. Bobby Reynolds, who was OU's assistant last year, is now the head coach at Auburn.
The US Open National Playoff singles tournament wrapped up today with both former collegians remaining in the draw falling in the finals. Jose Statham claimed the men's title with a 6-1, 6-2 over Nick Meister (UCLA '12) while Sophie Chang took the women's title with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Sanaz Marand (North Carolina '11).
Both Statham and Chang earned wild cards into the US Open qualifying tournament, which begins tomorrow, although it doesn't look like they'll play their first round match until Wednesday. The women's doubles tournament will be decided on Tuesday between the top two seeds as both Ashley Weinhold/Caitlin Whoriskey (Tenn '10) and Jacqueline Cako (Arizona St '13)/Daniell Lao (USC '13) pulled through today.