Collegians in summer ITF/ATP events

jcgatennismom

Hall of Fame
Time for a thread for this summer….

While there are currently 14 former or current collegians in ATP singles top 100, the percentage of collegians playing the summer Open HC series of ATP events is more than double that %-almost 40% of Atlanta 250 MD players had college ties, and even better- 50% of QFs, SF, and finalists were former collegians.

Will 2023 mark the emergence of smart strategic slightly older former Challenger players rocketing to the top 60 and higher? So far we have Chris Eubanks who at #29 is almost 100 rankings points higher than he was at the start of 2023 (#123) after his amazing run at Mallorca and Wimbledon. Hopefully he will have a good run in Citi. Ending his run at QFs in ATL was a disappointment for him, but the expectations of playing as the hometown hero, 200 fans watching his practices, signing autographs, and rain delays before his match vs Vukic probably prevented him from having the focus he needed to have a chance vs Vukic who he’d already lost to earlier in the year

Speaking of the Aussie, Vukic now #61 and former Illini was 130 at start of year, and was 3-8 at ATP level events prior to ATL-losing in the 1st rd in two US 250s (Houston, Newport). 2 of his ATP level wins were vs Eubanks (Delray) and Nakishima (Eastbourne)But in Atlanta, he just couldn’t lose until the final where he put up a great fight vs top 10 Fritz. Lots of TBs, 7-5 sets in his matches-figuring out how to win the 2nd set after an opponent cruised through the 1st. Any pro outside the top 20 who lets him take a 2nd set, better beware. My son who was a hitting partner at ATL was surprised that Vukic got past Frenchmen Humbert who has a wicked lefty serve. Vukic had lost the 1st set 3-6. Will be interesting to see the heights he will reach this summer and the ranking he’ll have in time for his home slam. Eubanks should be seeded in the US Open-if Vukic keeps up his smart play, he could be a seed at his home AO.

Vukic unfortunately only had today to rest before he plays his 1st round at Citi on Tuesday. If he beats Nakishima for the 2nd time this year, he will face Murray in 2nd! Young Ben Shelton has a rematch with younger Jerry Shang, the talented Chinese Qualifier he lost to last week in ATL. Citi being an ATP 500 has a smaller % of former or current collegians in MD (10 players 20%), but the Citi Qualis were full of collegians-Seelig and Trotter of OSU, Fenty of Mich, Holt of USC played but didn’t qualify plus 5 others. The only two former collegians to qualify were Klahn (Stanford) and Pannu (Columbus state Kiwi-top D2 player a few years back)

Seems like it is easier for a collegian to get in the Qualis of a 500 than the MD of a Challenger. The widely touted Accelerator program may be only giving out one MD WC to challengers for some events. I keep seeing guys on the top 20 ITA list playing Futures…

Speaking of Illinis and Aleks-there is another Aleks-Kovacevic who is in MD at Los Cabos 250. Kova was playing all the Challengers with Shelton, Eubanks, and Wolf in 2022. He reached the SFs of a 250 in South Korea in 2022. This year he only has only ATP level win-1st rd in Miami. Hope he does well at Los Cabos and possibly receives MD WC to Open.

ACC reunion at Los Cabos-Mansouri and Gojo from Wake, Rinky from UnC, and Kumar from Duke. Diallo too who at 140 has moved up quite a bit since he left Kentucky in 22. Norrie, Isner (who plays Rinky), Jung of Mich, and Koepfer round out the collegiate crew of 10 at Cabos. Two 250s this summer with close to 40% collegians-bet Winston will be too.

The questions tho does remain to be asked-are collegians making true progress in the ATP ranks or are they the only players desperate enough to play ATP events in the hot humid South? Are most of the Europeans waiting to Cincy to cross the Atlantic? Sure hope that tourney doesnt move to Charlotte...Tsitsi did come over for Cabos-wonder if he brought Badosa for beach time...
 
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jcgatennismom

Hall of Fame
JJ Wolf only collegian in QF of Citi

Aleks Kovacevic (Illinois)#129 in Los Cabos had the biggest win of his career when he beat top 20 Cam Norrie in the 2nd round. Norrie had reached the Cabos finals 3x in a row before this early loss. Unfortunately Kova lose to former collegian Koepfer in the QFs. Koepfer who had fallen to around 250 is now back up to #76 in live rankings; his career high was #50. Koepfer plays de Minaur tonight.

Collegians in MD of Toronto 1000: Norrie, Eubanks, Shelton, Wolf, Mackie, Diallo of Kentucky (WC), Galarneau of NC State (WC). Nakishima, Cressy, and Giron are in the top 4 alternates so one or more of those will probably get in MD; Cressy and Giron are also listed in Qualis. Vukic is top seed in Qualis. Gojo, Kovacevic, plus WCs Boulais (OSU), Draxl (KY), Dan Martin ( Dartmouth, Miami), Chappell (TCU), Thai K (UVA)and Schnur (UNC) round out the collegians in Qualis

Rinderknech (Texas A&M) lost in QF of Austrian Open 250 to the resurging Thiem.

I remember watching NCAA 2017 R16 matches of Illinois vs TCU and OSU vs OK on the backcourts at Athens. Wolf and Kovacevic were freshmen on their respective teams. Norrie defeated Vukic. Rinderknech won Texas A&M's only point vs UCLA (d Redlicki). Now all 5 of those guys have reached the QFs of 250s or better.
 

jcgatennismom

Hall of Fame
12 college guys in Toronto Qualis-only 4 make it to 2nd round. Vukic and Schnur already lost. Pecotic- the 30ish Miami finance/real estate guy who got in Qualis as an alternate lost 1 set but was on serve early in 2nd-(updated) now I see he has lost. Giron was the only former collegian to qualify. .

Speaking of Pecotic, does anyone know of younger former collegians who have tried balancing tennis tourneys with working at least 20 hours on a regular job? Seems like it could be possible with Florida or California as a base combining Future play with prize $ and UTR PTT events. It could make sense for a young single guy with a remote flexible job to try until he starts going deep in Futures. Now for the top collegians it make sense to go full throttle with possible access to WCs to Challengers. However, for former collegians outside the top 20 without wealthy parents or national federation support or wild cards maybe it could be an option. There are former collegians who go back and forth from coaching to playing Futures and prize $ and those that spend a year or two in a Finance job, get the itch, play tourneys, and then end up as an assistant college coach or academy coach (or both). However are there any younger than Pecotic who have kept up their skills and still play Futures regularly (not just 2-4 a year) while working a professional non-tennis job (outside of a family business) at least part-time?

In Europe, do the club players work regular job too or do they just play club tennis for income? It seems like it would be easier in Europe to work and play Futures-tourneys are closer together, players could work on laptop while on train, have nationalized healthcare for injuries...
 
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jcgatennismom

Hall of Fame
Shelton and Eubanks are dubs partners in Cincy and play tomo. Today they play each other at 2 on Center court. Should be fun match to watch on TV
 

Sureshot

Professional
Shelbayh (former Gator) beat Quinn 2&4 at the Charleston Challenger QF. Must be playing really well. Another real talent lost to UF
 

Sureshot

Professional
It’ll be Shelbayh going up against Crawford for an all-Gator final in Charleston. Shelbayh isn’t physically imposing which makes his rapid climb up the ranks even more impressive
 

Sureshot

Professional
How much did Shelbayh play for Florida? Not many dual matches was it? I don’t recall seeing his name in match reports much.
I think he was a Class of ‘21 recruit and might have played only a few matches for the team. Iirc he didn’t return for his sophomore year
 
Not a collegian but almost one Alex Michelsen has really struggled on the clay.

Lost to Purcell, Moutet (1 and 3), Garin, Fonseca, Sonego and got rocked 6-1 6-1 by Kotov in Rome today. Only one win which came over the 470th ranked player.

Not a shock for a young guy who’s game is for hard courts and has played almost exclusively on hard before this.
 

Sureshot

Professional
Not a collegian but almost one Alex Michelsen has really struggled on the clay.

Lost to Purcell, Moutet (1 and 3), Garin, Fonseca, Sonego and got rocked 6-1 6-1 by Kotov in Rome today. Only one win which came over the 470th ranked player.

Not a shock for a young guy who’s game is for hard courts and has played almost exclusively on hard before this.
He could get by as a hard and grass specialist. Plenty of opportunities to make a living avoiding clay
 
It's actually kinda mind boggling that Novak is good on clay to me, he hits relatively flat, doesn't hit super big, has issues generating pace, and yet he's probably at worst a top 5 clay courter of all time...Andy obviously isn't as good but that Rome 2016 masters W is insanely impressive
Also, anyone know what happened to Learner Tien? hasn't played in months and has nothing in his upcoming schedule...
 
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