For the second week in a row a former Stanford Cardinal claimed a singles title as Carol Zhao won the biggest singles title of her pro career at the ITF $100K event in Shenzhen, China. Zhao started off the week with a 6-4 (ret.) win over the No. 7 seed Anna Zaja and then in the second round she came back from a 5-1 third set deficit to defeat former top 30 player Laura Robson 6-1, 4-6, 7-5. Zhao defeated Xu Liu Sun 7-5, 6-4 in the quarterfinals and then in the semifinals she won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 over Yuxuan Zhang. In the final, Zhao ousted the No. 4 seed Fangzhou Liu 7-5, 6-2 in 1 hour and 19 minutes. The singles title is the second of Zhao's career with the other coming back in August at a $25K event in Japan.
Zhao entered the week with a WTA ranking of 221 but with the title and corresponding 140 points she moved up 71 spots to a new career high of 150. Zhao also picked up a nice payday of $15,200. Zhao's former teammate Kristie Ahn won an $80K event last week in Tyler, Texas.
It was a busy and successful weekend for several players with college tennis ties. Kevin Anderson (Illinois '07) surged into the fourth round at the French Open, which equals a career-best performance, after defeating Great Britain's Kyle Edmund in five sets. Anderson trailed Edmund two sets to one but he cruised through the fourth set 6-1 and then broke Edmund for 5-4 and served it out to win 6-7, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in 3 hours and 59 minutes. Next up for Anderson will be the No. 8 seed Marin Cilic with Cilic leading the head-to-head 5-1 although Anderson won the last time they met on clay back in 2013.
Both Robert Farah (USC '10) and Michael Venus (LSU '09) have advanced to the quarterfinals of the men's doubles draw for the first-time ever. Farah and his longtime doubles partner Juan Sebastian Cabal pulled out a three set win over Tommy Robredo and David Marrero in the third round and will now face Julio Peralta and Horacio Zeballos. Venus and Ryan Harrison came back from a set and 5-6* down to defeat Purav Raja and Divij Sharan in the third round and now they'll meet the No. 7 seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers in the quarters.
It took about a month but Monmouth Athletic Director Marilyn McNeil announced the hiring of Alex Kasarov as the Hawks new men's head coach. Kasarov was the men's assistant coach at Davidson for the last two season and replaces Kyle Bailey who departed after a few months to become the new men's assistant at South Carolina.
Hofstra Director of Atheltics Jeffrey Hathaway announced the hiring of Jason Pasion as the Pride's new men's and women's head coach. Pasion had a successful two-year stint at D2's NYIT where he won over 70 percent of his matches and led both the men's and women's program to deep runs at the NCAA Tournament. Pasion replaced Jeffrey Menaker who departed after one season for unknown reasons.
Last weekend was a very successful weekend on the Pro Circuit as seven former collegians won pro titles while another eleven finished as runner-up.
The third seed #502 Connor Smith (Ohio State '13) swept both the singles and doubles titles at the $10K Israel F11 Futures in Herzliya. Smith won his first singles title of the year, fifth of his career, with a straight set win over the top seed #321 Yannick Jankovits. There were no breaks of serve in the opening set but Smith earned a mini-break to start the tiebreak and managed to pull it out 8-6. The only break of the second set came when Smith broke from 15/40 to go ahead 5-3 and then he served it out from 40/30 to win it 7-6(6), 6-3.
The US Open National Playoff is down to the final four with the top two seeds still alive on the men's side and only one seed left on the women's side. Nick Meister (UCLA '12) and Gage Brymer (UCLA Sr) both won in straight sets and will face off in the top half semifinal while Evan King (Michigan '13) will meet Jose Statham in the bottom half. Statham fought off match points in his 7-6(6) win in the third over Jesse Witten.
Three of the four semifinalists on the women's side have college ties with the bottom semifinals set to be an All-ACC affair. Sanaz Marand (North Carolina '11) will meet Julia Elbaba (Virginia '16) after each won in straight sets while Nika Kukharchuk (Ole Miss '08) meets Sophie Chang with Chang winning the only three-set match of the day. Chang was originally committed to Virginia but chose to go pro instead.