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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Robson Draws McHale in Australian Open Junior First Round

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.


Plotinus said...

It will be interesting to see how Carlos Boluda does in the Aussie Open. Has he played a Jr. Slam before?

Colette Lewis said...

Boluda received a wild card into Wimbledon last year and lost in the first round to Tomic.

AndrewD said...

Beatrice Capra was very disappointing and a bit of a puzzle in her first-round loss. She looked quite good hitting the ball but, when it came to playing the game, she was an absent presence on court. Her serve was exceptionally weak (got a lot in won very few points when serving) and there was little sting to her ground game. Not what I was expecting at all. It wasn't a case of her playing an older, more experienced opponent as Vriens, who is unranked on the WTA computer, is a few months younger than and has considerably less professional/big-match experience than the Capra (believe she's around 750). It was hot but I'd rate conditions during the US Open (heat and extreme humidity) as far more difficult.

Also happened to see Ester Goldfield who lost in 3 sets but had her chances against the number 15 seed. Played a bad second set but, to her credit, came back strongly in the third and only went down 4-6. Excepting that second set there wasn't much to separate the two players.

On the boy's front, Harry Fowler had a good start winning the first set of his match 6-3 but faded over the last two sets. Again, as with Capra, made a high percentage of his first serves but didn't win a high percentage of the points. Let his opponent, Hoh, off the hook by missing an absolute plethora of break-points. Couldn't say how many he had but think it must have been more than a dozen. Hoh threw in quite a few double-faults by Fowler didn't punish him and, at the end of the day, it was probably the lack of venom in Fowler's serve that cost him the match.

scott said...

Robson took down McHale 5 & 3

Anyone who has seen Lauren Embree play, what kind of game does she play?