HOUSTON, TEXAS. November 17, 2018 – The men’s draw for Oracle Challenger Series Houston started with an impressive 17 Americans – players ranging from seasoned players like Tennys Sandgren to newcomers to the tour like Harrison Adams, and everyone in between. This week, which has already seen eight all-American men’s matchups is about to see one more as Oracle Challenger Series veteran Bradley Klahn faces off against one of the Tour’s newest members, Roy Smith.
Klahn is no stranger to the ATP Challenger Tour and has seen great success at Oracle Challenger Series events in particular, making the finals in Newport Beach and receiving one of the 2018 BNP Paribas Open wild cards. The California native’s winning streak continued today as he eliminated German Dominik Koepfer in two sets: 63 64. Klahn is currently ranked inside the top 100 at World No. 97 and looks to gain even more points, as well as a healthy lead in the Road to Indian Wells leaderboard.
Klahn’s opponent on Sunday is 19-year-old Baylor University sophomore and tournament wild card, Roy Smith. Smith has been surprising fans and players alike this week, with his strong serve and his impressive on court power. New to the Challenger Tour, Smith celebrated his first ever Tour win at the beginning of this week and very well may celebrate his first championship by the end. The New Haven, CT native and World No. 870 battled past Darian King, Harrison Adams and Thai-Son Kwiatkowski to reach the semifinals today, where he won in a walkover (his opponent Kamil Majchrzak retired in the middle of the second set, 64 23). Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, this event is sure to have a profound impact on Smith’s ATP rankings.
By reaching the Houston event finals, both Klahn and Smith are currently tied in first place with Chicago finalist Reilly Opelka in the Road to Indian Wells leaderboard, with the winner of tomorrow’s men’s finals match one of them will pull ahead in the race to the BNP Paribas Open.
Kamau Murray, nominated for WTA Coach of the Year award
By Editorial Team
Kamau Murray has been nominated as WTA Coach of the Year with an impressive year following the 2017 US Open title by his prized pupil, Sloane Stephens. Kamau has had a working relationship with Sloane for three years, but her race to the top was heavily influenced by Kamau’s commitment to excellence and encouragement. With Sloane sporting a year-end WTA ranking of 6, French Open, Montreal and Singapore Finals appearances and a Miami Open title, Kamau is definitely well deserving of this year’s prize.
In addition to his coaching promise, Kamau is the Founder of XS Tennis and Education foundation in Chicago, which played host to Chicago’s first professional tennis event in 2018 with its inaugural WTA 125k series tournament.
Match Preview: Roy Smith vs. Kamil Majchrzak
HOUSTON, TEXAS. November 16, 2018 – With Whitney Osuigwe and Heather Watson out in the quaterfinals today, Kamil Majchrzak of Poland and American Roy Smith are making the most out of their first Oracle Challenger Series event, advancing to the semifinals in Houston. 22-year-old Majchrzak started the tournament strong, upsetting number 1 seed and World No. 61 Tennys Sandgren in straight sets (62 75) before duking it out with Roberto Ortega-Olmedo of Spain for three sets in yesterday’s second round. His journey to the semifinals was completed by a three-set quarterfinal defeat of Taipei’s Jason Jung: 76(5) 67(2) 63.
His opponent and Baylor University sophomore, Roy Smith, is a newcomer to the tour. The hard-hitting 19-year-old and World No. 870 has been surprising fans all week, first eliminating Oracle Challenger Series veteran Darian King followed by fellow young American and Series newcomer Harrison Adams.
Having received a wild card into the Houston event, Smith got one step closer on his Road to Indian Wells with a nail-biting three set victory over World No. 310 Thai-Son Kwiatowski. Smith came back fighting after losing the first set, landing an impressive 11 aces and defeating the University of Virginia grad in a three set tie break: 46 76(5) 76(1).
Smith and Osuigwe in Quarterfinals at Oracle Challenger Series
HOUSTON, TEXAS. November 14, 2018 – Wild card Roy Smith, who celebrated his first ever tour win just yesterday against Darian King, can add another match to the win column. He edged past Texan and qualifier Harrison Adams, another newcomer to the tour, to secure the first seat in the Oracle Challenger Series Houston quarterfinals. Smith, who plays tennis for Baylor University and hails from New Haven, CT is the World No. 870.
Smith’s Road to Indian Wells dreams remain alive as he advances to the quarters, which will be played on Friday, where he will meet fellow American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, who defeated number 4 seed Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-4, 6-4. With some Texas love Roy should be able to get the win and be in contention for the title this weekend.
On the women’s side, 16-year-old qualifier Whitney Osuigwe upset number 6 seed Varvara Lepchenko, beating her fellow American in three sets: 26 63 62. Lepchenko and Osuigwe were playing for more than quarterfinal appearances, they were battling the USTA’s 2019 Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. Osuigwe’s vicotry secures her an appearance in Melbourne this January. The Florida native advances to Friday’s quarterfinals and prepares to meet the winner of Bencic vs. Peng, which will be determined tomorrow.
Whitney will most likely have to back up her stellar performance against Belinda Bencic this Friday. Granted, Belinda will be seeking revenge, she will have to become more patient to wear down Whitney’s steady baseline play.
It will very interesting to see if Belinda can make these adjustments while Whitney counteracts power with her sophisticated defensive game. If Whitney is able to improve her record against Bencic she will have an excellent chance to win the $125k event. Whitney has the mental toughness to overcome almost any adverse condition making her a favorite to win it all this week.
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