Escobedo Downs Tiafoe in Third Set Breaker to Win Lexington Challenger; Eubanks Qualifies for ATP Atlanta Open; Sandgren Wins Second Straight Futures in Illinois; Bellis Verbally Commits to Stanford
Ernesto Escobedo hasn't had the best of luck in pro finals. From 2013-15, he reached the final of five Futures events, losing them all. This year he made his first Challenger final and lost that too. When he broke a string at 6-6 in the second set tiebreaker against Frances Tiafoe in today's $50,000 ATP Challenger final in Lexington, he could have viewed it as the tennis fates again conspiring to deny him his first title. But instead, the 20-year-old from California put that misfortune behind him, claiming a 6-2, 6-7(6), 7-6(3) win over Tiafoe, who now has lost in five Challenger finals in the last 17 months without securing a title.
There were no breaks in the final set, and both players had good serving days, with Escobedo hitting 17 aces and Tiafoe 15, with each having three double faults. Escobedo played the more error-free tiebreaker, while also hitting two winners to take a 6-1 lead. Tiafoe saved two match points on his serve, but Escobedo closed out the match with a confident overhead winner to claim his first professional title. He will now move within a few spots of the ATP Top 200 and he takes the lead in the USTA US Open Wild Card Challenge, which will be decided in two weeks at the $100,000 Aptos Challenger.
|Georgia Tech's Chris Eubanks at BB&T Atlanta Open|
Tennys Sandgren ran his Futures winning streak to 10 today at the $25,000 Edwardsville, Illinois Futures. The 25-year-old former Tennessee Volunteer, seeded No. 2, beat No. 8 seed Marc Polmans of Australia 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-3 in the final. No. 4 seeds Connor Smith(Ohio State) and Jackson Withrow(Texas A&M), won the doubles title, beating top seeds Polmans and Luke Bambridge of Great Britain 6-3, 6-2 in the final.
At the Austin, Texas $10,000 Pro Circuit event for women, top seed Marcela Zacarias of Mexico defeated 17-year-old Californian Ashley Kratzer 7-5, 6-4 in today's singles final.
The women's singles title at the women's $50,000 tournament in Lexington went to Michaela Krajicek of the Netherlands, who defeated Arina Rodionova of Australia 6-0, 2-6, 6-2. Neither player was seeded.
At the ITF Grade 2 in Switzerland, No. 4 seed Ashley Lahey lost to top seed Ylena In-Albon of Switzerland 7-5, 7-6(3) in the final. No. 3 seed August Holmgren of Denmark won the boys title, beating No. 2 seed Constantin Bittoun Kouzmine of France 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2.
CiCi Bellis announced during the WTA Bank of the West Classic at Stanford that she had given a verbal commitment to Stanford. I hadn't read a nuanced look at that announcement until a few days ago, which can be found here. With so few juniors in the 150s even contemplating college, there isn't a lot of precedent, but many in the 250s, 300s, etc., set a ranking target for their final year before entering college with the understanding that if they reach it, they will not go. Bellis says she doesn't want to wait that long, mentioning the beginning of 2017 as a potential date for a decision.