New collegiate pros to watch — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Aug. 1, 2023

Howdy, y’all, Happy August and Happy Tennis Tuesday! The summer hardcourt swing is my favorite time of year for various reasons. Selfishly, most revolves around the tournaments being in North America but also it’s prime time to see college tennis players test the waters on the pro circuit. Some do alright, some don’t live up to expectations and some flourish — even deciding to leave school early to play full-time. There are three players that have struck out to me that were playing at least a year ago that you probably could catch on your TV screen sooner than later.

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Yuliia Starodubtseva
Starodubtseva is a product of Old Dominion University, where she was a five-time All-Conference USA performer, two-time C-USA Player of the Year and a two-time All-American — one each in singles and doubles her final year in 2022. The Ukrainian played her first ITF World Tour event since 2019 in the beginning of the season, qualifying for the $60k event in Rome, Georgia. She won her next event, a $25k in Spring, Texas to add her name back to the WTA rankings. Since her debut as a professional, she’s been on a tear. She’s only dropped her opening match just once, which I find the most surprising stat in her rise.

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In 2023, she’s captured that $25k title and two $60k crowns on top of reaching another two $60k finals. This past week, she won the title at the $60k in Dallas, Texas to get on the cusp of the Top 200 and sealing a berth in the US Open qualifying later this month. Among her scalps this year are two wins over Madison Brengle, junior Wimbledon champions Liv Hovde and Clervie Ngounoue, Kayla Day and former Top 100 players Tamira Paszek, Ann Li and Wang Yafan. A former NCAA No. 1 in doubles, she’s also performed well in that discipline, currently sitting at No. 319 after going 1-2 and 0-2 in $25k and $60k finals, respectively.

Daria Frayman
Frayman is the first player from the Ivy League to achieve the No. 1 collegiate singles ranking and was a two-time Singles All-American for Princeton University. A two-time runner-up at the ITA Fall Nationals, she was due to use her COVID 5th year at Duke, but decommitted and turned professional. She is making her professional debut this week at a $15k event in Tbilisi, Georgia as a wildcard.

Last year amidst the Russia-Ukraine war, she changed nationalities from Russia to Cyprus, so we’ll have some more representation as Cyprus has one player ranked in No. 158 Raluka Serban. She played her first official matches for Cyprus at the Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers in June, where she won her first four matches dropping six games combined. Frayman changing her plans and turning pro makes me think she might have gotten some funding with her nationality switch or if it was simply easier to travel with a non-Russian passport. She’s earned some great wins in juniors — Clara Tauson (x2), Elina Avanesyan and Zheng Qinwen. In college, she’s beaten Jaeda Daniel, Carson Branstine, Amelia Rajecki (x2) and pushed Starodubtseva, Emma Navarro and Fiona Crawley so my biggest question is if she can truly break through the elite. Her loss at BJK Cup was to a Finnish player ranked outside the Top 500 but in college, she was dominant against players she was supposed to beat and upset or battled players where she was the underdog.

Chloe Beck
Beck was a decorated junior, winning the 2019 Roland Garros title and making the 2019 Australian Open final in girls doubles with Emma Navarro. She made her WTA debut in Charleston in 2019 with Navarro and they won their opening match, helping her peak at No. 400 in the WTA rankings. At Duke, she was a three-time All-American, peaking at No. 2 in singles and No. 9 in doubles. Her fourth year — this past season — was her career-best where she tallied a 33-5 singles record. Her overall record, though, is even more impressive — 107-25 in singles and 91-34 in doubles. She tested the pro waters for the first time since 2019 in April at the $100k in Charleston, South Carolina during the college season and made quite the splash. She qualified for the main draw and made the quarterfinals, trashing Elizabeth Mandlik, 6-1, 6-0, in the process.

After being named the ITA Senior Player of the Year, Beck was also named to the USTA Collegiate Summer Team, where she will get to travel to various tournaments with coaches and have some expenses covered. She qualified for in her first event, the $60k in Evansville, Indiana, and fell to Starodubtseva in three sets. Last week at the $60k in Dallas, Texas, she again qualified defeating former ITA No. 1 Sara Daavettila and then another former No. 1 in Robin Anderson — dropping seven games combined. She lost to Madison Brengle in three sets before moving this week to the $60k in Lexington, Kentucky, where she won her opening qualifying round. While Frayman is for sure going pro, there’s a big question mark over Beck’s name. She was admitted into the Duke Fuqua School of Business after graduating this Spring, but she removed Duke from her Instagram bio and now has “alum” listed instead. I’ve heard rumblings she won’t be returning and her consistent results thus far might give her enough confidence to make the plunge.

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This Week in Women’s Tennis

The WTA released a statement regarding Russian and Belarussian players being banned from entering the Czech Republic:

Iga Swiatek captured her first WTA title on home soil at the BNP Paribas Warsaw Open, demolishing Laura Siegemund in the final, 6-0, 6-1. Heather Watson and Yanina Wickmayer captured the doubles title, defeating the all-Pole duo of Weronika Falkowska and Katarzyna Piter.

Aranxta Rus won her first WTA title above the WTA 125 level at the Hamburg European Open, spoiling surprise finalist, wildcard Noha Akugue’s, dream WTA debut in the final. In doubles, Anna Danilina and Alexandra Panova downed Miriam Kolodziejova and Angela Kulikov in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 final.

At the Ladies Open Lausanne, Elisabetta Cocciaretto was pushed to the brink multiple times, saving match points against both Celine Naef in the first round and again against Anna Bondar in the semifinals. She survived a three-set battle over Clara Burel to win her first WTA crown above the WTA 125 level. Anna Bondar and Diane Parry defeated Amina Anshba and Anastasia Detiuc to win their second WTA doubles title each.

This week’s must-read is from Christopher Clarey, who profiled Jennifer Brady’s long and arduous road back from a two-year injury layoff that battle-tested the 2021 Australian Open runner-up.

Coco Gauff shared that she’s trialing a coaching partnership with former Top 100 player Pere Riba, who’s worked with Zheng Qinwen and Aranxta Rus previously.

Jimmy Arias put his foot in his mouth when he said Iga Swiatek is bad for the game of tennis because she wears her hat too low. Huh?!

Just because points are the same at WTA-ATP combined events doesn’t mean the money is:

On top of her Montreal wildcard, it was announced that Venus Williams will also be awarded a bid into the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Some sad news in the college tennis community with both former USC head coach Dave Borelli and current Virginia Tech assistant coach Martin Sayer both passing away.

Max Eisenbud, the giant IMG Tennis executive who reps Maria Sharapova, Li Na and Emma Raducanu, was on The Tennis Podcast this week and among the discussion included the consistent coaching changes Raducanu goes through.

The Caroline Wozniacki comeback begins next week and she’s getting some pre-Olympics practice already:

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Tweet of the Week

Representation matters, people

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon