Pro Circuit Round-up:
Osuigwe, Paul win landmark titles
Arthur Kapetanakis | November 5, 2018
Youth was served last week on the USTA Pro Circuit, as 16-year-old Whitney Osuigwe won her first professional title and 21-year-old Tommy Paul won his first ATP Challenger trophy in a banner week for the Stars and Stripes. Osuigwe’s title came at the $80,000 event in Tyler, Texas, where Nicole Gibbs and Asia Muhammad won the doubles crown, while the biggest title of Paul’s career came at the $75,000 event in Charlottesville, Va.
The road to the title for Osuigwe (pictured above), a former junior world No. 1 and the 2017 junior French Open champion, went through top-seeded Belinda Bencic, who has been ranked as high as No. 7 in the WTA rankings and currently sits at No. 37. The Bradenton, Fla., native toppled the Swiss, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6, in the semifinals before defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in Sunday’s championship match on the Texas hard courts.ADVERTISEMENT
All four of Osuigwe’s victories leading up to the final required three sets, but she handled Haddad Maia in two, with a 6-3, 6-4 result that showcased her veteran-like composure. In the final game of the opening set, she saved multiple break points before holding to secure the opening stanza.
“I just try not to even think about getting nervous,” Osuigwe told the Tyler Morning Telegraph after the match. “I know that’s not going to help me. I just try to do the things my coaches and I are working on and have fun with it.”
The victory moves her into the WTA’s Top 300 for the first time, as her ranking shot up nearly 100 spots, from No. 309 to her new career high of No. 226. Her title also moved her into a tie for first place in the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, level with Varvara Lepchenko on 125 points, with two weeks remaining.
Danielle Lao made the semifinals in the half opposite Osuigwe, while Kayla Day, Caty McNally and Lauren Davis made it five American quarterfinalists.
In the Texas doubles event, Gibbs and Muhammad won the title as the No. 4 seeds, defeating the top-seeded pairing of Desirae Krawczyk and Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos, 3-6, 6-3, [14-12], in the final. The winning pair also won a third-set match tiebreak in the semifinals against the No. 2 seeds.
Paul, himself a former junior French Open champ (2015), entered the $75,000 event in Charlottesville, Va., as a lucky loser, and ran his luck all the way to a title, knocking off four seeded opponents in the process. He took out No. 7 Noah Rubin in the opening round, No. 3 Ivo Karlovic in the quarterfinals and top seed Bradley Klahn in the semis of the indoor hard-court tournament.
It was a fitting conclusion when he took on Canada’s Peter Polanksy, who completed a “lucky loser Grand Slam” with a late entry into the US Open main draw, in the final. Paul remained efficient, winning the title match, 6-2, 6-2, over the No. 8 seed. He did not drop a set in the tournament and lost more than six total games just once in five main-draw matches.
“I was moving pretty well, serving pretty well,” Paul told Charlottesville newspaper The Daily Progress after the final. “I think I just came out with a lot of energy early and set the tone early, which was really important.”
Paul, who now sits at No. 222 in the ATP World Tour rankings, briefly entered the Top 150 when he achieved a career-high ranking of No. 149 in January. His first Challenger trophy is his seventh overall professional title, as the New Jersey native and North Carolina resident previously won six ITF Futures titles, two each in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The Charlottesville title is just the second hard-court title of his career, with the other five coming on clay.
The 80 ATP ranking points that he earned with the title put him in second place in the men's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, behind Jack Sock.
Other notable results for Americans on the USTA and ITF Circuits include:
- Strong Kirchheimer was a singles finalist at the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Birmingham, Ala., where Justin Butsch reached the singles semifinals. Preston Touliatos was a doubles champion, defeating Robert Kelly and Korey Lovett in the final.
- Omni Kumar reached the singles quarterfinals at the $15,000 ITF Futures event in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
- Alec Adamson reached the final in both the singles and doubles competition at the $15,000 ITF Futures event in Meshref, Kuwait, where Dennis Uspenksy was a singles quarterfinalst and Miles Seeman reached the doubles final.
- Jeremy Sonkin was a doubles champion at the $15,000 ITF Futures event in Monastir, Tunisia.
- Robin Anderson was a singles quarterfinalist at the $60,000 ITF event in Toronto, where Maria Sanchez was a doubles champion.
- Jamie Loeb reached the singles quarterfinals at the $25,000 ITF event in Nantes, France.
- Haley Giavara and Josie Kuhlman were singles semifinalists at the $15,000 ITF event in Heraklion, Greece.
- Charlotte Chavatipon reached the singles final at the $15,000 ITF event in Mexico City, where Rushri Wijesundera was a singles quarterfinalist.
- Jessie Aney was a doubles finalist at the $15,000 ITF event in Monastir, Tunisia.
- Results at the Alabama Open ITF Futures event in Tuscaloosa include:
- Conner Stroud – men's open singles and doubles champion
- Chris Herman – men's open singles and doubles finalist
- Jason Keatseangsilp - men's open singles quarterfinals and doubles finalist
- Emmy Kaiser – women's open singles champion and doubles finalist
- Shelby Baron – women's open singles finalist and doubles champion
- Lauren Haneke-Hopps – women's open singles quarterfinals and doubles champion
- Joanna Nieh – women's open singles semifinalist and doubles finalist
- Mackenzie Soldan – women's open singles semifinalist
- Taylor Graham – quad open singles semifinals and doubles champion
(Photo credit: Joey Hanf)