Saturday, April 30, 2016

USA Junior Teams Advance to ITF World Competition; Bolton, Tsygura Win Grade 4 Titles in Florida; Pro Circuit Update; Big 12, Big Ten Finals Set

Three of the four teams from the United States went undefeated in the North American qualifying for the ITF's junior team competitions, with both 14-and-under teams and the Junior Fed Cup team winning their matches 3-0 today.  The 16-and-under Junior Davis Cup team fell to Canada 2-1, but will still advance to the world finals in Budapest in September.

Canada is the defending Junior Davis Cup champion, so the US boys team of Keenan Mayo, Trey Hilderbrand and Sebastian Korda were the underdogs coming into today's tie. Although Denis Shapovalov is no longer age eligible, Felix Auger-Aliassime is, and his ITF junior ranking, 11, is much higher than any other participant in this year's Boca Raton qualifying. In today's tie, however, Korda got the better of him, posting a 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 win at No. 1 (Hilderbrand had lost to Nicaise Muamba 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2) to send the match to the doubles to decide it.  Muamba and Chih Chi Huang won the doubles over Korda and Mayo 3-6, 6-3, 10-3 to give the Canadian team first place.  This is the first year that the competition's doubles have been played with the no-ad, match tiebreaker format that has been in place for some time on the ITF Junior Circuit.

In the boys 14-and-under competition, Nicholas Garcia and Stefan Leustian won their singles to clinch the win against Canada, who did not qualify for the finals, with Mexico finishing second this year.  In the girls 14-and-under competition, Naomi Cheong and Whitney Osuigwe earned the two singles wins against Puerto Rico. In the Junior Fed Cup, the US team, a heavy favorite this week, had no difficulty with Canada, with Caty McNally and Amanda Anisimova getting singles wins.

Complete results can be found at the ITF tournament page.

Just down I-95 in Coral Gables, the ITF Grade 4 Copa Badia was completed today, with No. 2 seeds taking the titles with wins over the No. 1 seeds.  Elysia Bolton defeated Hurricane Tyra Black 6-4, 6-3, her second win over Black this month, having previously beaten her in the second round at the Carson Grade 1.  It is the 16-year-old's first ITF singles title.

Tsygura, who will turn 17 tomorrow, also claimed his first ITF singles title, beating Alexander Rotsaert 6-2, 6-0.  Rotsaert had beaten Tsygura in the semifinals of the Kalamazoo 16s last summer.

Mac Kiger and Aleksandar Kovacevic won the boys doubles, beating Steven Sun and Michael Heller 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 in a battle between unseeded teams.  The girls doubles champions also were unseeded with  16s Easter Bowl champions Chloe Beck and Emma Navarro beating Bolton (the ITF Easter Bowl doubles champion) and Emma Decoste, the No. 3 seeds, 6-4, 6-2.

Two Americans will play for the championship of the $50,000 Charlottesville event Sunday, with wild card Taylor Townsend and unseeded Grace Min facing off.  Townsend defeated unseeded Elitsa Kostova of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-1, while Min dominated No. 2 seed Anna Tatishvili 6-4, 6-0.  Townsend is the leader in the USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge, and will be very difficult to catch if she wins the title Sunday.  She also is again in the doubles final, with Asia Muhammad, with the pair going for their fifth title on the USTA Pro Circuit since late February. The No. 2 seeds will play unseeded Shelby Rogers and Alexandra Panova of Russia.

The news was not as good for the US boys competing today, with Frances Tiafoe suffering his fourth straight loss to Quentin Halys of France in the final of the Tallahassee Challenger and Vasil Kirkov falling in the semifinals of the $10,000 Vero Beach Futures.

Tiafoe, who is now 0-3 in Challenger finals, didn't hold in his last five service games, falling 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2 to the 19-year-old, who collected his first Challenger title.  In the doubles, Julio Peralta of Chile and Dennis Novikov defended their title, beating Peter Luczak and Marc Polmans of Australia 3-6, 6-4, 12-10.

In Vero Beach, lucky loser Kirkov fell to unseeded Martins Podzus of Latvia 6-2, 6-3.  The other 17-year-old in the draw, No. 3 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada, also lost, going out to former Ole Miss star Jonas Luetjen of Germany 6-0, 4-6, 6-3. Luetjen will also play for the doubles title Sunday, with 16-year-old Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia. They will play top seeds Deiton Baughman and Anderson Reed.

The finals are set for the Big 12 and Big Ten Conference Championships on Sunday.

In the Big 12, Texas Tech can take both the men's and women's titles, with the third-seeded women meeting top seed Oklahoma State and the No. 1-seeded men taking on No. 2 seed TCU. Both tournaments are being held in Stillwater.  The women's final will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2 at 1 p.m. Central.

In the Big Ten, Ohio State can take both the men's and women's titles, with the top-seeded women facing No. 3 seed Michigan in East Lansing, and the No. 1-seeded men taking on No. 3 seed Illinois in Minneapolis.

Friday, April 29, 2016

April Aces; Asics Easter Bowl Slideshow; USA Rolls on in ITF Junior Team Qualifying; Kirkov into Futures Semifinal; Tiafoe Advances to Tallahassee Challenger Final

Usually my Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network is published early in the following month, but with 18 aces for April already, there was no need to include this weekend's results too. Check out the notable performances from the first four weeks of April here.

I finished the slideshow of the singles semifinalists and the doubles finalists from all eight Asics Easter Bowl divisions, which is below. I still have all 16 Easter Bowl videos to process, and currently I don't have an estimate for when I'll be posting those. The link to the album for mobile devices is here.

At the North American qualifying for the ITF Junior Team events, the United States again won all four of its matches, although in the boys 14-and-under event, the USA team needed to win the doubles point to advance over Guatemala. In the girls 14-and-under World Junior Tennis competition, Naomi Cheong and Alexa Noel won singles matches to defeat Mexico. In the Junior Davis Cup, Sebastian Korda and Keenan Mayo won singles matches to defeat the Dominican Republic and in Junior Fed Cup, Caty McNally and Amanda Anisimova surrendered just one game between them in singles against Puerto Rico. Saturday's final day will see the USA play Canada for first place in both the Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup, but regardless of the results Saturday, all four US teams have qualified for the 16-team world competitions in August and September.

Complete results can be found at the ITF tournament page.

At the $10,000 Vero Beach Futures, lucky loser Vasil Kirkov continues his run. A win on Thursday put the 17-year-old from Tampa Florida in a Futures quarterfinal for the first time, and now he is into his first semifinal after defeating Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador 7-6(5), 6-4. He will play unseeded Martins Podzus of Latvia in Saturday's semifinal. The only seed remaining is No. 3 Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who will play Jonas Luetjen of Germany, a former Ole Miss standout.

At the $50,000 tournament in Charlottesville, the women were required to play two rounds today, with wild card Kayla Day winning her first match 6-2, 6-4 over Jennifer Brady, but falling to Elitsa Kostova of Bulgaria 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. The semifinals will see Kostova play wild card Taylor Townsend in the top half, and Grace Min will meet No. 2 seed Anna Tatishvili in the bottom half.

Frances Tiafoe defeated Ryan Harrison 7-6(4), 6-4 tonight at the $50,000 Tallahassee Challenger to return to the final for the second straight year. Last night Tiafoe defeated top seed Donald Young 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 for his sixth career ATP Top 100 win.  Tiafoe will play 19-year-old Quentin Halys of France for the second time in three weeks in Saturday's final. Halys, who beat Tiafoe twice at the US Open in the Junior Championships, posted a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over the 18-year-old from Maryland in the second round of the Sarasota Challenger.

Tiafoe will be playing in his third Challenger final, having lost in both previous appearances, including last year in Tallahassee to Facundo Arguello of Argentina.  Halys will be playing in his first career Challenger final after beating James McGee of Ireland 6-4, 6-1 in today's semifinal.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

USA Dominates First Day of ITF Junior Team North American Qualifying; Kirkov Reaches Vero Beach Futures Quarterfinals; Emory Men, Women Top Division III Rankings; Men's SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Ivy Year End Awards

Last year I was in Boca Raton for the North American qualifying for the ITF World Junior Tennis competition for 14-and-unders and the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup for the 16-and-unders. The drama was minimal, with the US finishing first in all four events and Canada finishing second, with both qualifying for the World Finals.

After checking that off my bucket list last year, I didn't make the trip this year, but after today's first round robin results, it appears to be more of the same for the US and Canada.  The US won all four of its matches 3-0, with only one of those against Canada. In the 14U girls event, Whitney Osuigwe and Alexa Noel got the singles wins against Canada.  In the Junior Fed Cup, Claire Liu and Amanda Anisimova won their singles matches against Mexico and in Junior Davis Cup, Keenan Mayo and Sebastian Korda picked up singles wins, also against Mexico. In the boys 14U event, Nicholas Garcia and Stefan Leustian won their singles matches against Mexico.

Friday's matches do not feature any US vs Canada matches, with those coming on Saturday, the final day of competition.  For today's complete results and tomorrow schedule, see the ITF tournament website.

Vasil Kirkov lost in the final round of qualifying to fellow teen Hady Habib at the $10,000 Vero Beach Futures, but received entry as a lucky loser when Alejandro Gomez of Colombia withdrew. The 17-year-old from Florida is now into his first Futures quarterfinal after beating Daniel Garza of Mexico, 4-6, 6-4, 4-1 ret.  Kirkov will play former USC star Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador, who outlasted wild card Gianni Ross 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-5. Eighteen-year-old Marcelo Barrios Vera of Chile defeated top seed Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals, and the third teenager in the quarterfinals is last week's Orange Park Futures winner Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who squeezed past former Michigan standout Michael Zhu, a qualifier, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(1).

The last rankings for Division III before the NCAAs were released today, with the Emory men and women staying at No. 1.  The NCAAs are here in Kalamazoo this year, and I'll be staying home to cover them instead of traveling to Tulsa for the Division I tournament this year. It's only a six-day tournament, compared to the 12-day Division I NCAAs, with eight men's and women's teams, instead of 16 of each. The individual tournament is a 32 draw that is completed in three days, with first and second rounds on the first day and quarterfinals and semifinals on the second day. The manual for the tournament can be found at

The men's Top 10 (previous week)
1. Emory (1)
2. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (3)
3. Middlebury (4)
4. Bowdoin (2)
5. Carnegie Mellon (8)
6 Washington St. Louis (7)
7. Case Western (6)
8. Chicago (5)
9. Williams (9)
10. Pomona-Pitzer

The women's Top 10 (previous week)
1. Emory (1)
2. Williams (2)
3. Pomona-Pitzer (3)
4. Claremonth-Mudd-Scripps (4)
5. Middlebury (7)
6. Bowdoin (6)
7. Amherst (5)
8. Wesleyan (8)
9. Chicago (16)
10. Washington St Louis (12)

The ACC, SEC, Big Ten and Ivy League released their men's year-end awards today. You can view the all-conference teams by using the link in the header.

Player of the Year: Chris Eubanks, Georgia Tech
Freshman of the Year: Petros Chrysochos Wake Forest
Coach of the Year: Tony Bresky, Wake Forest

Player of the Year: Diego Hidalgo, Florida
Co-Freshmen of the Year: Alfredo Perez, Florida and Ryotaro Matsumura, Kentucky
Coach of the Year: Bryan Shelton, Florida

Big Ten:
Player of the Year: Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State
Freshman of the Year: Hugo Di Feo, Ohio State
Coach of the Year: Ty Tucker, Ohio State

Ivy League:
Player of the Year: Shawn Hadavi, Columbia
Freshman of the Year: David Wolfson, Cornell
Coach of the Year: Chris Drake, Dartmouth

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kozlov, Tiafoe Reach Tallahassee Challenger Quarterfinals; Ross, Kirkov Advance at Vero Beach Futures; Carter, Austin Win ACC, SEC POY Awards

Stefan Kozlov continued his outstanding play this month at the $50,000 Tallahassee Challenger, beating No. 2 seed Gerald Melzer of Austria 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 today to reach the quarterfinals of the $50,000 event. Kozlov, who reached the $100,000 Guadeloupe Challenger final at the beginning of the month, and won the $25,000 Futures in Little Rock the following week, took last week off, but was right back in qualifying for Tallahassee. The 18-year-old will break into the ATP Top 200 with this week's results, and has also been accepted into the French Open qualifying next month.  He will play fellow qualifier James McGee of Ireland in Thursday's quarterfinals.

Frances Tiafoe is no longer required to qualify for Challenger events, but he is defending finalist points from last year at Tallahassee, where he lost to Facundo Arguello of Argentina 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.  As luck would have it, he drew Arguello in the first round this year, getting his revenge with a 6-3, 6-3 win yesterday over the No. 6 seed. Today Tiafoe defeated Mitchell Krueger 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals, where he'll meet top seed Donald Young for the first time. An American finalist is certain in Tallahassee, with Ryan Harrison also advancing in the top half, to play the winner of tonight's match, currently in a rain delay, between Brian Baker and Noah Rubin. Kozlov is the sole American in the bottom half.

Two 17-year-olds have picked up their second ATP points at the $10,000 Vero Beach Futures, now sponsored by Mardy Fish's Children's Foundation.  Yesterday, lucky loser Vasil Kirkov advanced to the second round with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Alejandro Mendoza of Bolivia; Kirkov had previous collected his first point in January at the Weston Futures. Today, wild card Gianni Ross got his second point by beating former Illinois star Dennis Nevolo, the No. 4 seed, 6-3, 6-3.  Ross's first ATP point came last November in the Pensacola Futures. You can read about Kirkov, Ross and other players with local ties to event at the Tennis Vero Beach website.  For more on Ross and his plans for the summer, see this recent article from the Chicago Tribune.

The first round is nearly complete at the women's $50,000 tournament in Charlottesville, Virginia, with no fewer than 11 US women into Thursday's second round.  Qualifier Raveena Kingsley and wild card Danielle Collins were on serve at 3-4 in the first set when rain interrupted the match.  On Tuesday, Kayla Day got her first win at the $50,000 level, beating former USC star Maria Sanchez 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1, a match that was over three hours in duration. Day will play former UCLA Bruin Jennifer Brady next, who took out top seed Shelby Rogers 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

The year end conference awards are beginning to be released. The ACC women's awards were announced last week, with Hayley Carter of North Carolina the Player of the Year, Ayan Broomfield of Clemson the Freshman of the Year and Rodney Harmon of Georgia Tech the Coach of the Year.  The all-ACC teams can be found here.

The SEC announced its women's awards today, with Florida's Brooke Austin named Player of the Year, Alabama's Andie Daniell named Freshman of the Year and Florida's Roland Thornqvist named Coach of the Year. Austin was also SEC Player of the Year last year. The all-SEC teams can be found here.

The Ivy League's women's awards were also announced today. Columbia's  Kanika Vaidya is Player of the Year, Erica Oosterhout of Harvard is Rookie of the Year and Princeton's Laura Granville is Coach of the Year.  The all-Ivy teams can be found here.

The Ivy League does not have a conference tournament, so the Princeton women and Columbia men will advance to the NCAAs as regular season champions.

The Tulsa women and South Florida men won the American Athletic Conference tournaments last weekend.

The final conference tournaments, including those of the Big 12 and Big Ten, are this weekend.  Ohio State's men and women both won outright regular season championships last week, with the men going through the conference season without dropping a point in their 11 matches. I would have expected this to be Ohio State's first women's conference title, but that's not really the case, according to this article, as they won the regular season title back in 2000.

The Oklahoma State women won the regular season conference title in the Big 12, going undefeated, with TCU and Texas Tech sharing the men's regular season conference title after Tech beat TCU in the final match.

Check out the ITA Conference Central page for other conference tournament winners and links.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fratangelo Wins USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge; Florida Women Take Over No. 1 in Latest ITA Division I Rankings

Five years ago, Bjorn Fratangelo won the French Open boys singles title, beating Dominic Thiem of Austria 3-6, 6-3, 8-6, to become the first American boy to claim the title since John McEnroe in 1977. This year he will be playing in the men's main draw for the first time after winning the USTA's French Open Wild Card Challenge, which concluded today for the men in the first round of the $50,000 Tallahassee Challenger.

Fratangelo, who reached the semifinals of the $100,000 Challenger in Sarasota two weeks ago and won the $50,000 Savannah Challenger on Sunday, could only be caught by Jared Donaldson, and when Donaldson lost to Calvin Hemery of France today in the first round, Fratangelo officially clinched the wild card. Fratangelo went on to lose his own first round match to Quentin Halys of France, but that result was not pertinent to the wild card, although it crimped Fratangelo's hopes of moving into the ATP Top 100.

In my post on Fratangelo's title in Paris, a dispute arose regarding a quote that appeared on the French website, which engendered some additional comments on the unlikelihood of anyone quickly moving through the ATP rankings into the Top 50.  Since then, Borna Coric, Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev and Taylor Fritz (who is not there yet) have changed that narrative, which just illustrates once again, that when I think I know something, I probably haven't actually uncovered some basic reality, but rather some trends that may or may not continue.

The ITA released the Division I team and individual rankings today, with the big news the climb of Florida to the No. 1 position, taking over from Cal, who had held the top spot since March 8th, and also was No. 1 for the three weeks after the Bears won the Team Indoor in February. Cal does have a 4-3 win over Florida at home in February and both have lost to Stanford, now ranked 12th.

The top spots in singles and doubles, for men and women, did not change this week.

Bobby Knight has projections for the NCAA team tournament for both men and women at his College Tennis Today blog.

Full rankings can be accessed by clicking on the links in the headings below.

April 26                                         April 19
    North Carolina
    Ohio State
    Wake Forest 
    Texas Tech 

April 26                                         April 19
    North Carolina
    Ohio State
10    Auburn                          12

Women (previous ranking):
1. Hayley Carter, North Carolina (1)
2. Danielle Collins, Virginia (2)
3. Brooke Austin, Florida (7)
4. Ellen Perez, Georgia (3)
5. Francesca Di Lorenzo, Ohio State (4)
6. Luisa Stefani, Pepperdine  (5)
7. Maegan Manasse, Cal (11)
8. Stephanie Wagner, Miami (6)
9. Sinead Lohan, Miami (8)
10. Breaunna Addison, Texas (10)

Men (previous ranking):
1. Mikael Torpegaard, Ohio State (1)
2. Roberto Cid, South Florida (4)
3. Dominik Koepfer, Tulane (2)
4. Aleks Vukic, Illinois (3)
5. Mackenzie McDonald, UCLA (10)
6. Cameron Norrie, TCU (5)
7. Christopher Eubanks, Georgia Tech (7)
8. Ryan Shane, Virginia (8)
9. Thai Kwiatkowski, Virginia (6)
10. Diego Hidalgo, Florida (11)

1. Aldila Sutjiadi and Mami Adachi, Kentucky
2. Whitney Kay and Hayley Carter, North Carolina
3. Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan, Florida
4. Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith, Southern Cal
5. Maegan Manasse and Denise Starr, Cal

1. Gordon Watson and Diego Hidalgo, Florida
2. Brett Clark and Robert Kelly, North Carolina
3. Luca Corinteli and Ryan Shane, Virginia
4. Mackenzie McDonald and Martin Redlicki, UCLA
5. Korey Lovett and Mazen Osama, Alabama

Monday, April 25, 2016

Lauren Embree Retires; Chi's Signing with Duke Highlights Latest Announcements

One of the University of Florida's greatest players, which is high praise indeed given the stature of that program, announced her retirement from professional tennis today.  Lauren Embree, who led the Gators to two NCAA titles and delivered one of the program's most memorable moments, will be leaving the pro tour.  The 25-year-old from Marco Island, Florida reached a career-high of 232 in the WTA rankings last summer, but injuries have been her constant companion. (For more details on that struggle, here's my interview with her for the Tennis Recruiting Network a little over a year ago.) Undefeated in SEC play during her career and the only woman to be named SEC player of the year three times, Embree was also MVP of the NCAA team tournament in 2011 and 2012.

In my years covering the NCAA team championships, I've seen a handful of unforgettable finishes, but at the top of the list (along with the 2013 men's final) is Embree's comeback from 4-0 down in the final set against Mallory Burdette to give Florida the 2011 team title, a 4-3 win over defending champion Stanford that ended the Cardinal's 184-match winning streak at home.

Embree, who I've covered for a decade as she went from junior to college to pro tennis, describes her own personality better than I ever could in her retirement statement, which she posted on Facebook today, and I am including in its entirety, below:

“If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”

20 years of my life have been solely dedicated to this sport that has shaped me into the person I am and is literally a part of my identity as a human being.  I fell in love with tennis, and it has given me experiences, friendships, wins, losses, NCAA championships, irreplaceable teammates, being a Florida Gator, independence, facing adversity, taught me commitment, dedication, hardwork, along with heartache, tears, sweat, and joy that will never be able to be taken away from me for as long as I live.   With that being said, and with a ton of thought, I have made the decision to stop playing professional tennis and move on to the next chapter of my life. 

This has been the most difficult, uneasy, painful, scary, but in my mind most courageous, brave, and sure decision I think I have made so far in my life.  To be able to come to terms with this and understand that this chapter is over is something I am proud of myself for facing.  I don’t think people understand how surreal it really is until it actually happens to you.  You don’t just wake up and are automatically happier, or automatically have your life figured out…. not how it works. You in a sense have to start all over.  There has been a lot of questions, tears, judgment, other people’s opinions thrown at me,  and a lot of other emotions that all come with it that can’t be put into words.  For 20 years, I have stepped on every practice court, competed in every match, entered every gym, showed up at any track, listened to every coach, with the intention to learn, work, be a good example, be unselfish, be a team player, do the right thing, come in with a good attitude, and always give 110%. Sometimes I think I tried too hard, cared too much, wanted it too badly, maybe a little too stubborn (some would say Roland Thornqvist & Julie Steven), but I can honestly say I fought, competed, and worked to the best of my ability day in and day out. By no means was I perfect or anywhere close to it (& I think my coaches can attest to what a nightmare I was at times) but they knew my drive and passion for this sport was something that couldn’t be taught.   

Every coach I have ever had, MOST IMPORTANTLY starting with my pops has instilled a work ethic and mindset in me to carry on in life in order to even have a chance to be successful, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the mentors and amazing humans I have had to look up to to become the person I am today.  No words can express how thankful I am or will ever be for the time and love you have invested in me, and these individuals  know exactly who they are. 

Throughout this entire journey from junior to pro tennis, I hope I can be remembered as an average tennis player but someone who fought no matter the score, competed for every point, had the biggest heart of anyone, ran down every ball, was annoying as hell to play against,  feisty I guess you could say, on (and off) the court, and attempted to do it all with class and character.  I definitely had my moments of sub par attitude, talking back, making refs feel terrible about themselves, and my fair share of cuss words, mental breakdowns, and broken rackets along the way….but really who doesn’t love a little girl drama???  If you took it personal, then I guess now I can say I am sorry =) 

Lastly, my family. All I can really say is I love you guys. Without your sacrifice, support, confidence, and belief in me, none of these 20 plus years would be even close to as successful as they have been..  I am not sure how I got so lucky to have my dad as my coach and an older brother to beat me to the ground every day growing up,(Keith Embree) but something clicked and whatever you did worked, and I owe you guys the world for that.

So if you made it through all that, yes I am putting tennis to rest.  It has been one hell of a ride, with memories and moments I will take to my grave.  I cannot be more excited for the next phase of my life and the beginning of a new chapter.  I have worked my very best and invested my entire life to this sport, and now I am excited to bring that same work ethic, passion, and love to something else and enjoy the next phase of my career. 

Thank you again to every single human being that has been part of this journey with me. It has been an unforgettable, amazing life people can only dream of and I am forever grateful for the opportunities that have come my way because of this sport. Time to look for a new love….and Go Gators <3

Knowing Embree as I do, I have no doubt she'll find that new love and continue to inspire others as she always did, with her grit and determination, on the tennis court.  And for another look at her mindset, check out this Athletic DNA ad, always one of my favorites, which perfectly captured her approach to the sport.

After saying goodbye to a great college tennis player, it seems appropriate to include the hellos that have been extended with the latest spring signings.  

Duke announced that blue chip Meible Chi has signed and will be joining the Blue Devils this fall.

Texas A&M is welcoming two transfers for the fall, Tina Bokhua and Macarena Olivares.

Miami has signed Dominika Paterova and Estela Perez-Somarriba, with Sara Culbertson joining the team as a walk-on.

In men's signings, Tennessee has posted the details of their two new players, Scott Jones and Luca Wiedenmann, after announcing their signings on twitter last week.  

San Diego has signed Joel Gamerov and Nico Borter, while announcing Garrett Kurtz will join the team as a walk-on.

And, although he will not be joining Ohio State until 2017, JJ Wolf talks about his commitment to the Buckeyes in today's article on the Tennis Recruiting Network.