The Australian Open Junior Championships get underway in less than an hour, with 40 of the 64 first round matches scheduled for Sunday at Melbourne Park. The only U.S. player not taking the court is Christina McHale, who was drawn to 2008 Wimbledon girls champion and No. 5 seed Laura Robson. McHale, who reached the women's main draw by winning the wild card tournament the USTA conducts, is actually ranked higher than Robson in the WTA rankings--374 to 514--but is not within the top 325, which could have allowed her a seed in the juniors. Russian Ksenia Pervak, who has a junior ranking near 200 (McHale's is 76), decided to make the best use of her trip to Australia for the women's qualifying by signing up for the juniors, and with her 156 WTA ranking, the 17-year-old received the No. 3 ranking in the juniors, behind Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand and Ana Bogdan of Romania.
Eddie Herr champion Lauren Embree, seeded 8th, is also in the top half with Robson and McHale. Embree plays 151st-ranked qualifier Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand today in her opening match. Qualifier Alexandra Cercone plays Ukrainian Lyudmyla Kichenok, twin sister of Nadiya, who won the Grade 1 warm-up at Nottinghill. Beatrice Capra plays Mia Vriens of Australia, and Ester Goldfeld has drawn No. 15 seed Beatrice Gumulya of Indonesia. Harry Fowler, the lone U.S. boy competing, is first on against Australian wild card Stephen Hoh. For complete draws, see the Australian Open website.
The ITF Junior website's preview is here.
Six junior players competing for the U.S. puts in on par with India, but the difference in perspectives can be seen in this article from india enews, entitled "A big junior contingent for the Australian Open."
In other news from Australia, Bernard Tomic has announced he will be leaving Australia to train in the U.S. or Great Britain, according to this story from the Herald Sun.
And Chris Johnston of The Age files this feature on the Parent Education initiative that Tennis Australia has implemented for the families of promising players.
Saturday, January 24, 2009