Bobby Knight

Bobby Knight

The United States had won the Master'U BNP Paribas for six straight years, and seven of the last eight, but Great Britain put an end to that streak with a 4-2 upset win last Sunday. The US came back from a 2-1 deficit in wins over France and Germany but it couldn't do it a third time against Great Britain. UCLA sophomore Ena Shibahara put Team USA in front 1-0 after coming back from 3-0 down in the third set to win 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 but recent North Florida graduate Jack Findel-Hawkins tied it up after defeating UCLA senior Martin Redlicki 6-4, 6-4. Pepperdine sophomore Ashley Lahey fell 7-6, 7-6 but it looked like USC sophomore Brandon Holt would tie it up when he served for the match up 6-5 (40/0) in the third. However Holt would be unable to close it out and would fall 7-6(3) to GB's Jonny O'Mara. Shibahara and Lahey trimmed the deficit to 3-2 with a 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 win in doubles but Redlicki and Holt fell 6-4, 6-3 to Findel-Hawkins and O'Mara to give Great Britain its first-ever Master'U championship. Former Texas Longhorn Pippa Horn was also a member of Team Great Britain. 

The 12th annual Master'U BNP Paribas is set to begin in France with several current and former US college players set to participate in the eight-team event that Team USA has dominated since 2011. Team USA will be represented by UCLA's Martin Redlicki and Ena Shibahara, USC's Brandon Holt, Pepperdine's Ashley Lahey, Florida's Alfredo Perez, and North Carolina's Alle Sanford. Other players with US college tennis ties are Michael Geerts (Arizona State Sr/Belgium), Louis Cant (Mississippi State '12/Belgium), Jane Fennelly (Notre Dame '17/Ireland), Pippa Horn (Texas '15/Great Britain), and Jack Findel-Hawkins (North Florida '17/Great Britain). The eight countries participating are the United State, France, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, China, Russia, and Ireland. Live scoring will be available at this link and there is a tournament program here though most of it is in French. Boise State head coach Greg Patton is writing a blog for USTA.com so you can check out his Thursday post at this link.

First-Round Pairings:
[1] USA vs. France
[4] Germany vs. Belgium
[3] Great Britain vs. Ireland
[2] Russia vs. China

The USTA announced that the popular College MatchDay series will return to Lake Nona in 2018 with eight matches scheduled between February 3rd and April 15th. The series kicks off with the Florida State and Florida men and women playing simultaneously and then a week later the Georgia and Georgia Tech men will play on February 9. The USTA National Campus drew over 5300 fans a year ago including just under 1800 for Florida State's upset win over Florida. “Last year, College MatchDay cemented itself as the bowl series of college tennis, with marquee matches and elite programs,” said USTA Collegiate Tennis Director Stephen Amritraj via the USTA's release. “It is quickly turning the USTA National Campus into the 'Home of College Tennis,' with a devoted fan base and incredible atmosphere."

The full College MatchDay schedule for next year is listed below plus they'll be plenty of other college matches scheduled for Lake Nona as well. 

Saturday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. ET: Florida vs. Florida State men and women
Friday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. ET: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech men
Saturday, Feb. 24, at 10:30 a.m. ET: Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M men
Saturday, March 3, at 12:30 p.m. ET: UCF vs. Michigan men and women
Sunday, April 1, at 5 p.m. ET: Florida vs. Texas women
Sunday, April 15, at 5:30 p.m. ET: UCF vs. South Florida men

The final women's singles rankings of the fall are out and the top three players are from the unlikely locales of Kansas, Florida Atlantic, and Florida International. Kansas junior Anastasia Rychagova, who won the consolation draw at the All-Americans, jumped from No. 35 to No. 1 after picking up nine ranked wins including three over top 10 opponents. Rychagova becomes the first Kansas player to ever hold the top spot in the singles ranking. 

Florida Atlantic sophomore Aliona Bolsova moved up from No. 30 to No. 2 after making the finals at the All-Americans. Bolsova picked up six ranked wins in her run from the qualifying draw to the final. Florida International senior Andrea Lazaro moved up from No. 29 to No. 3 after winning the National Fall Championships. Lazaro's six wins at Indian Wells all came over top 25 opponents plus she added three additional ranked wins en route to making the semifinals at the All-Americans. 

Duke's Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen are the top ranked doubles team after going 9-2 (seven ranked wins) with semifinals showings at both of the fall majors. The second ranked doubles team is also from Duke with the All-American doubles champs Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy claiming that spot after going 8-2 (five ranked wins). According to Duke's release this is the first time that the top two spots in the doubles rankings have belonged to the same school since Stanford did it in 1990. 

Typically the ITA only releases one set of individual rankings in the fall, with those being preseason rankings in early September, but today they released a second set of individual rankings which took into account all the results from the past two months. UCLA senior Martin Redlicki jumped up from No. 24 to No. 1 in the men's singles rankings after going 9-2 with a finals appearance at the All-Americans in Tulsa and a semifinal appearance at the National Fall Championships in California. Redlicki picked up four top 10 wins during the fall with wins over Wake's Petros Chrysochos, Oregon's Thomas Laurent, Florida's Alfredo Perez, and Michigan's Alex Knight. Redlicki's only losses came to No. 2 William Blumberg (UNC) and No. 3 Nuno Borges (Miss St). 

Florida's Johannes Ingildsen and Alfredo Perez were the top ranked doubles team after going 7-1. The Florida duo won the All-Americans with wins over three top 10 teams plus they made it to the quarterfinals at the National Fall Championships. 

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. 

Friday, 10 November 2017 20:06

National Signing Day

National Signing Day was this past Wednesday with hundreds of high school seniors signing their national letters of intent. The Tennis Recruiting Network has been doing a tremendous job with its Fall Signing Week coverage with article after article profiling several of the signees so if you haven't visited their site recently I highly recommend doing so.

It's always interesting to look back at the recruiting rankings from years past to see who excelled and who did not. If you look back at TRN's Blue Chips from 2014 several of them are top of the lineup players, some are solid contributors in the middle to lower part of the lineup, and a few quit playing. 

I put all the blue chip, five-star, and some of the known international signees from TRN into a spreadsheet and added their respective Universal Tennis Ratings. There aren't any sure things but several of these guys and girls look like can't miss prospects. 

Kristie Ahn won her second singles title of the year, seventh career, after defeating two-time NCAA singles champion Danielle Collins in the final of the $80K RBC Pro Challenge in Tyler, Texas. The match started off with three consecutive breaks until Ahn held for 3-1. The rest of the opening set was all holds, including a six-deuce hold by Ahn for 5-3, as Ahn would go on to take it 6-4. Ahn went up an early break in the second set but Collins back on serve at 4-4. However Ahn would break back at love for 5-4 and then go on to serve it out in a one-deuce game to claim the title with a 6-4, 6-4 win. 

Ahn earned $12,000 and picked up 115 WTA ranking points which moved her ranking up to a new career of 106. As the runner-up Collins earned $6,500 and picked up 70 WTA ranking points which moved her ranking up from 206 to 167. 

Mississippi State junior Nuno Borges finished off a dominating week in California by winning the men's singles title at the Oracle/ITA National Fall Championships. Borges hadn't dropped a set all week entering Sunday's final against Wake Forest junior Petros Chrysochos and that wouldn't change in the 1 hour and 10 minute match. 

Borges faced an early break point on his 1-1 service game but he managed to hold on the no-ad point when Chrysochos missed a forehand wide. Borges had three break points on Chrysochos's 2-3 service game but the Wake junior fought them off to hold for 3-3. Borges had a pair of set points on Chrysochos's 4-5 service game but Chrysochos hit an overhead to bring up the no-ad point and then he hit a service winner to get the hold for 5-5. Borges held easily for 6-5 and then he went up 15/40 and would get the break from 30/40 to take the opening set 7-5. 

Borges fought off a pair of break points to start the second set and then he had four break points himself but Chrysochos came back from 0/40 down to hold for 1-1. Borges held on the no-ad point, with a service winner, for 2-1 and then he broke Chrysochos from 15/40 for 3-1. Borges held for 4-1 and then Chrysochos fought off a break point to hold for 2-4. After an exchange of holds, Borges came back from 0/30 down to hold on the no-ad point, via a service winner, to clinch the championship. 

The finals are set at the Oracle/ITA National Fall Championships with Mississippi State junior Nuno Borges set to meet Wake Forest junior Petros Chrysochos in the men's final while Duke senior Samantha Harris and Florida International senior Andrea Lazaro will meet in the women's final. 

Nuno Borges rolled through the first set against UCLA senior Martin Redlicki taking it 6-2 but Redlicki turned the tide in the second set and went in front 4-1. Borges fought back and after holding for 2-4 he'd break from 30/40 to put it back on serve at 3-4. Borges held for 4-4 and then broke on the no-ad point after a good angled forehand forced a Redlicki backhand miss. Borges would make it five straight games and would close it out when a drop shot skimmed the net cord and fell in for a winner. 

Petros Chrysochos came out of the gates a little slow against Thomas Laurent with the Oregon junior taking an early 2-0 lead but the match would take a sharp turn in Chrysochos's favor. The Wake Forest junior went on to win 12 of the next 14 games to close out Laurent 6-2, 6-2.

Chrysochos was back on the court later in the day as he and senior Skander Mansouri advanced to the doubles final with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Louisville's Chris Kougoucheff and Parker Wynn. Chrysochos and Mansouri will meet Texas's Rodrigo Banzer and Leo Telles in the final after the Texas duo held on to defeat Wisconsin's Chema Carranza and Josef Dodridge 6-2, 3-6, 12-10. Banzer and Telles had match points at 9-7, 9-8, and 10-9 before finally converting at 11-10.

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