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WEEKEND WRAP: Liu, Tiafoe notch titles; UCLA & USC open strong in NCAAs

UCLA duo Evan Zhu (left) and Martin Redlicki helped earn the first point against Army West Point on Friday in Westwood. (SCTA photo)

It was a busy weekend across the tennis world, from NCAA home court advantage to the outskirts of Marseilles. Let’s get caught up with our Weekend Wrap!

Claire Liu (Thousand Oaks) stole the spotlight this weekend at the USTA Pro Circuit event in Naples. Starting with three qualifier wins, Liu also notched a semifinal upset over Kayla Day (Santa Barabara), the number two seed. The win over #7 seed Danielle Collins (USA) in the final was Liu’s second Pro Circuit title, a dominant 6-3, 6-1 triumph.

In Changwon, South Korea, Danielle Lau (Arcadia) reached both the singles final and doubles semifinal of the ITF Pro Circuit event. Lau fell to Great Britain’s Gabriella Taylor in the final.

On the Men’s side, 19-year old Frances Tiafoe reigned in the championship trophy at the ATP clay court Challenger in Aix en Provence, France, over hometown favorite Jeremy Chardy, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6. Tiafoe’s win is his second Challenger event this year (and fourth overall), and boosted his ranking to a career high #65 worldwide. His next step is this week’s Bordeaux event, alongside fellow American Mackenzie McDonald (Los Angeles).

In Rome, many of the top American players are lined up this week for the ATP Masters 1000, including Sam Querrey (Santa Monica), Jared Donaldson (Irvine), and Ernesto Escobedo (West Covina). Former USC Trojan Daniel Nyugen (Los Angeles) looks to emerge from the qualifying rounds at the ATP Busan (South Korea) Open.

Among the women, SoCal standout Julia Boserup (Newport Beach) will look to move into the main draw from the qualifier at Rome, where Americans are well represented. Venus Williams, CiCi Bellis, and Lauren Davis are among eleven Americans at the ATP Masters 1000. Nicole Gibbs (Santa Monica) and Asia Muhammad (Long Beach) play in Slovakia this week.

Coming up in NCAA Championships action, Men’s #4 USC meets #13 Georgia, with #5 UCLA travel to Georgia to meet Texas A&M. Both local teams won on their home court last week, and return to play Thursday at 4pm in Athens, GA. UCLA announced last week that their #1 player Gage Brymer will miss the tournament due to medical issues, concluding the senior’s stellar collegiate career. Both UCSB and San Diego were first round eliminations.

UCLA women triumphed in opening round action against UCSB, then stumbled in the second round by falling to Pepperdine. Behind #14 ranked sophomore Luisa Stefani, the #12 Waves now faces #5 Georgia on Friday in Athens, GA.

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