The Midwesterns Men's and Women's Grand Prix Preview

January 12, 2021
Cincinnati, OH

Women's Preview

After a break for the holidays, the APTA Grand Prix Tour is set to resume this weekend in Cincinnati. The 24-team women’s draw has a good mix of players from different areas of the country, a rarity in this Covid-plagued season. The top seeds, Annica Cooper and Myrthe Molenveld, looked sharp in their last appearance in Long Island, and they know they will have to stay that way to vanquish the field in Cincinnati.

Although they are the top seeds, Cooper/Molenveld actually are not the highest ranked team in the draw. That distinction goes to sixth-ranked Alison Morgan and Charlotte Sikora. The seeding system has been altered because of Covid, decreasing players’ ability to travel, and National Ranking Tournaments are being seeded using combined individual player points. This makes Cooper (#3) and Molenveld (#14) the top seeds. Cooper/Molenveld didn’t have a great start to the season at the Darien Grand Prix, where they lost in the quarterfinals, but they played well in Long Island, beating former National Champions Liz Cruz and Gabriela Niculescu in the quarters before falling in a close two-set match to the top ranked team, Florentina Hanisch and Ana Marija Zubori. Cooper was last season’s runner-up at The Midwesterns with Florentina Hanisch, losing in a third-set tiebreaker to Cynthia Dardis and Amy Shay.

After a breakout season in 2019-2020, Alison Morgan and Charlotte Sikora haven’t had the chance to play much together because Morgan lives in Chicago and Sikora in the Philadelphia area. Morgan has posted some notable results this season, winning the Indy Grand Prix (with Alice Tunaru) and reaching the finals of Chicago Charities (with Chelsea Mittal). With styles of play that complement each other, the second-seeded Morgan/Sikora have a great shot at surpassing their semifinalist showing here last year.

Jessica Guyaux and Jaclyn Williamson showed the paddle world that they were a team to be reckoned with when the season began in Darien. Unseeded, they gained a berth in the semifinals by beating the third seeds, Cooper/Molenveld. They followed that up with a runner-up finish at the Indy Grand Prix. As the third seeds themselves in Cincy, this hard-hitting team could find themselves holding the winner’s trophy on Friday night.

Spencer Caravaggio and Heather Prop, the fourth seeds, have both posted good results this season, albeit with different partners. Caravaggio won Chicago Charities with Sandy Cvetkovic and was a semifinalist at Indy with Denise Murphy. Prop and Chris Maglocci also reached the semis of Indy. A semifinalist at The Midwesterns last year with Wendy Shpiz, Prop looks good to match that result or better with Caravaggio.

Other teams to watch in the draw include Denise Murphy and Indy Grand Prix winner Alice Tunaru, Chicago Charities semifinalists Hallie Bodman and Marina Ohlmuller, and former National Champions Cindy Prendergast and Lauren Zink.

You can watch the women’s action on Friday on the APTA YouTube channel.

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Alison Morgan, photo credit Scott Gerber

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Myrthe Molenveld, photo credit Scott Gerber

Men's Preview

The draws are smaller at the APTA Grand Prix tournaments this season to accommodate Covid protocols, generating many competitive matches from the very beginning of each tournament. The Midwesterns men’s 16-team draw will definitely showcase some highly contested early round matches, and while the two seeded teams are favorites to reach the finals, there are many teams capable of getting in their way.

Scott Kahler and Filip Rams are the top seeds at The Midwesterns and the 12th ranked team in the country. They started off the year with a bang, taking out the second-ranked team of John Hughes and Marc Powers in the quarterfinals of the Darien Grand Prix before a Rams injury forced them to retire while leading Juna Arraya and Mark Parsons in the semis. Kahler/Rams were finalists at the Indy Grand Prix, losing to Marek Czerwinski and Graham McNerney, and won the West Penn Open. Kahler is the two-time defending champion at The Midwesterns (both times with Brian Compton) and is favored to win it a third time in a row with Rams.

Tyler Fraser and Adam Morgan, the second seeds, were both semifinalists at The Midwesterns last season, but with different partners (Fraser with Rob Bakker and Morgan with William Colmar). Fraser also took The Midwesterns title in 2018 (with Bakker). This season, they teamed up to reach the finals at the Indianapolis Open. Morgan was also a semifinalist at Chicago Charities (with Paget Neave).

Nathan Crick and Randy Lofgren have had a stellar season and are currently the ninth ranked team in the country. They won the Indianapolis Open and the Charlotte Open, were finalists at the West Penn Open, and semifinalists at the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Although unseeded because Fraser/Morgan’s combined individual rankings are higher than theirs, this team is one of the favorites to reach The Midwesterns final.

William Colmar and Paul Rose are also strong contenders in Cincinnati. The pair won the Chicago (previously Milwaukee) Open. Rose also reached the finals of Chicago Charities with his brother Pete, losing to Compton/McNerney.

Other teams in the draw to look out for include Rob Bakker/Wil Lofgren (Bakker was a semifinalist last year and won the tournament in 2018), Ryan Baxter/Ricky Heath, Brian Hagman/Tom Murphy, and Zachary Held/David Held.

You can watch the men’s action on Saturday on the APTA YouTube channel.

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Filip Rams, photo credit Scott Gerber

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Scott Kahler, photo credit Scott Gerber

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