With 18 tournaments on offer this week, the ITF Pro Circuit has officially kicked into full gear, with hundreds of players looking to continue their arduous road to success as a tennis professional. With the likes of Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer all making their professional debut on this circuit, this tour is designed to be the first step for countless tennis professionals to accumulate enough ranking points that will gain them entry into some of the biggest events the sport has to offer.
Loeb, Rodionova, Bonaventure, Bouzkova Among Female Champions This Week
One of those players is reigning NCAA champion Jamie Loeb, who has enjoyed a rapid rise of more than 200 spots in the rankings in the last twelve months. Loeb, who currently represents the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in collegiate tennis, edged 16-year-old tennis sensation CiCi Bellis 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 to capture the $25,000 title in Surprise, Arizona. With this victory, the 20-year-old has won her fifth ITF singles title, all of which have come in the United States.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Australia's Arina Rodionova was victorious on home soil, defeating Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka 6-1, 6-1 to capture the $25,000 title in Perth. Breaking six times and winning a solid 71% of her first serve points, Rodionova came out of the blocks all guns blazing, and never really gave Sabalenka a chance to dictate proceedings in the very brief 55-minute encounter.
Elsewhere, in the battle of the lefties, it was Belgium's Ysaline Bonaventure who defeated the Netherlands' Arantxa Rus 6-3, 6-3 to capture the $25,000 title in Altenkirchen, Germany. In addition to winning her eighth ITF singles title this weekend, Bonaventure also won the doubles title with Switzerland's Xenia Knoll, only dropping a set en route to both titles.
On one of the few finals that were contested this past Saturday, 17-year-old Czech Marie Bouzkova defeated American Lauren Albanese in one of the most peculiar score lines you will see all year. After dropping the opening set 6-0, Bouzkova responded with a 6-0 set of her own, before racing away with the match to win the $25,000 title in Cuernavaca, Mexico with a 0-6, 6-0, 6-1 victory -- her biggest title to date.
Other winners this week include Croatia's Silvia Njiric, Bulgaria's Julia Terziyska, Italy's Martina Di Giuseppe, France's Victoria Larriere and Romania's Elena Gabriela Ruse, all champions of $10,000 events this weekend.
Medvedev Wins Lone $25,000 Title on Men's Calendar; Weintraub, Diez Among Other Champions This Week
In the lone $25,000 final this weekend, Russia's Daniil Medvedev downed Switzerland's Adrien Bossel 6-1, 6-3 in 46 minutes to win the biggest title of his career to date. Breaking four times and saving the only break point he faced all match, Medvedev looked in imperious form throughout, and never gave Bossel any look at staging a comeback.
Meanwhile, in the Southeastern Spanish city of Murcia, Canada's Steven Diez defeated Australian youngster Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 to capture the $10,000 championship. Diez, a 24-year-old born in Toronto, once represented Spain - the country where he was originally raised - early in his professional career, but decided to represent Canada - his country of birth - in 2010. Despite this, the Canadian still has close ties with Spain, and has now won more than half of his ITF singles title in the European nation.
Elsewhere, Israel's Amir Weintraub was victorious on home soil for a 14th time, defeating France's Yannick Jankovits 6-4, 6-1 to win the $10,000 title in Ramat Gan.
Other winners this week include Chile's Juan Carlos Saez, Serbia's Laslo Djere and Miljan Zekic, and France's Gleb Sakharov.
A Look at Next Week on the ITF Pro Circuit
Next week, the ITF Pro Circuit is showing no signs of slowing down whatsoever, with 19 tournaments - nine for the men and ten for the women - on offer, with the biggest being the $50,000 ITF Women's Circuit UBS Thurgau in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland.
Come back next week to find out what happened at these tournaments and more in VAVEL USA's weekly ITF roundup!