January 29th, 2018

Collins Wins, Osuigwe Surges; Florida USTA Pro Circuit Tennis Wrap-up

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St. Petersburg’s Danielle Collins

A Florida player won the new $150,000 Oracle Challenge Series event, while two USTA Pro Circuit stops in Florida saw another American winner and a surging effort by the 15-year-old world No. 1 junior.

St. Petersburg’s Danielle Collins won the inaugural Oracle Challenge Series-Newport Beach $150,000 WTA pro circuit event in California, in the final beating qualifier Sofya Zhuk of Russia 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The unseeded 24-year-old wild card navigated a difficult field where all four top seeds, including former French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, lost in the opening round. Collins won in three sets in the second and third rounds, and in the semifinals ousted No. 7 seed Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4, 6-3.

“I didn’t start off the match very well today,” Collins told Tennis Panorama after the final. “I got off to a little bit of a rough start. I made some unforced errors. It was very difficult for me at first, but I had some experience playing Sofya. I knew if I could keep my head on right, and be just a little tougher than she was, I would have a chance to win the match.”

The former two-time NCAA champion improved to 5-4 in pro circuit finals, winning her first of 2018 after last year going 2-3 in USTA Pro Circuit finals. The Russian Zhuk, the 2015 Wimbledon junior girls’ winner, fell to 6-4 in career pro circuit finals.

American Taylor Fritz won the all-American men’s final as the No. 3 seed beat unseeded Bradley Klahn 3-6, 7-5, 6-0. 

Left to right: Di Lorenzo and Osuigwe

Fifteen-year-old Whitney Osuigwe of Bradenton made her 2018 USTA Pro Circuit debut a memorable one last week, qualifying then running all the way to the final at the $25,000 event in Wesley Chapel, Fla. On Sunday she was finally stopped by 20-year-old Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

The former Ohio State star Di Lorenzi improved to 3-2 in career ITF/USTA Pro Circuit finals, winning her first title since Winnipeg, Canada in July 2016. Last year she was 0-2 in finals at Sumter, S.C., and Baton Rouge, La., losing to fellow Americans Ashley Lahey and Nicole Gibbs respectively.

It was the first career USTA Pro Circuit final for Osuigwe, who last year finished atop the world junior rankings at only 15. En route to the final in Wesley Chapel she upset Ayla Aksu, the No. 5 seed from Turkey, and in the semifinals she upended No. 2 Irina Maria Bara of Romania without dropping a set. She is expected to leap from No.  1120 to the mid-600s when next week’s WTA rankings are released.

In the doubles championship the No. 4-seeded duo of Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway and Ilona Kremen of Belarus took the title over unseeded Ching-Wen Hsu of Taipei and China’s Wushuang Zheng 7-6(1), 6-3.

Barrios Vera

At the Midtown Weston Futures $15,000 men’s event in Weston, Fla., Chile’s unseeded Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera won his first USTA Pro Circuit title, in the final upsetting No. 7 seed Fred Gil or Portugal 6-2, 6-0 at the Midtown Athletic Club.

The 20-year-old Barrios Vera during the week also upset No. 2 seed Julien Cagnina in the second round and No. 4 seed and former University of South Florida star Roberto Cid Subervi in the semifinals. He did not drop a set all week, improving his career ITF/USTA Pro Circuit record in finals to 4-2, all on clay.

Gil won the doubles title as the top seed with Maxime Chazal, in the final beating the unseeded Colombian squad of Jose Daniel Bendeck and Alejandro Gomez 6-4, 7-6(5).

The USTA Pro Circuit events feature Net Generation, with local children given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in pre-match coin tosses, be a player escort prior to matches, and play tennis during tournament kids’ events and on-court Net Generation demonstrations. To learn more go to www.NetGeneration.com.

For more info on the USTA Pro Circuit visit www.procircuit.usta.com.