June Aces; Kudla and Stephens Fall in Wimbledon Jr. Quarterfinals, while Britain's Golding and Robson Advance to Semis
The first Thursday comes early this month, and along with it comes June's aces, the collection of accomplishments by junior, college and former college tennis players that I compile for Tennis Recruiting Network.
At the Wimbledon Junior Championships today, the U.S. lost its last two entries in singles, with Sloane Stephens and Denis Kudla exiting in the quarterfinals.
Stephens came back from a break down early in the third set, but she was unable to hold off No. 9 Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who came away with a 4-6, 6-1, 9-7 victory. There was only one break in the opening set, with Stephens getting it at 4-4. After cruising in the second set, Pliskova took a 2-0 in the third, but Stephens got it back in the sixth game. From then on, neither blinked until 7-7, when Stephens failed two convert two game points and was broken after three deuces. Serving at 8-7, Pliskova ran out to a 40-15 lead, but Stephens saved those two match points, giving herself hope that she could repeat her win from Wednesday when she saved two match points against No. 3 Timea Babos. But Pliskova, the Roehampton champion, won the next two points to run her winning streak on grass to ten matches. In the semifinals, Pliskova will play No. 15 seed Yulia Putintseva of Russia, whom she defeated in three sets en route to her Roehampton win last week. Putintseva beat No. 12 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 7-5, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
The other girls semifinal will feature No. 8 seed Laura Robson of Great Britain, the 2008 girls Wimbledon champion, against No. 10 seed Sachie Ishizu of Japan. Robson trailed wild card Tara Moore, also of Great Britain, 5-3 in the first set, but came back to record a 7-5, 6-1 victory. Ishizu dispatched No. 2 seed Irina Khromacheva 6-1, 6-2, but it would be stretching it to call that an upset. The 17-year-old from Japan has won three ITF Women's Circuit events since March and is nearing the WTA Top 300, while Khromacheva, 15, is playing almost exclusively on the ITF Junior Circuit.
Seventh seed Kudla lost 6-3, 6-3 to unseeded Facundo Arguello of Argentina, one of the three unseeded boys to advance to Friday's semifinals. Kudla was ever so briefly up a break in the second set at 2-1, but couldn't hold in the next game, and Arguello got his second break with Kudla serving at 3-4. Arguello, a finalist at Roehampton last week, will play No. 13 seed Marton Fucsovics of Hungary for a spot in the final.
Great Britain's Oliver Golding, who was already known to British fans as a former child actor, has reached the other boys semifinal, coming from a set down from the second straight day. Golding lost the first set to No. 9 seed Renzo Olivo of Argentina 6-4, and was down a break in the second, but fought back for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win. He will play qualifier Ben Mitchell of Australia, who also was a set down in his match with No. 6 seed Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia before posting a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory.
Mitchell and Putintseva are the focus of the ITF Junior website's article. For more on Golding's win, see the wimbledon.org article, although I will quibble with their description of his or any other 6-4 in the third match as "epic," especially with what we've seen over the past ten days.
The news in the second round of doubles was also disappointing for the U.S. players. No. 3 seeds Kudla and Raymond Sarmiento lost to the unseeded British team of Liam Broady and Tom Farquharson 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, and Mitchell Frank and Junior Ore lost to No. 5 seeds Peter Heller and Kevin Krawietz of Germany 7-6(5), 6-2. It was an unbelievable slate of results for unseeded British teams in boys doubles today, however, as in addition to taking down the No. 3 seeds, the home favorites ousted the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams as well. Richard Gabb and Ashley Hewitt beat No. 2 seeds Dzumhur and Mate Pavic of Croatia by the epic score of 7-6(3), 4-6, 16-14 and Lewis Burton and George Morgan took out French Open champions Duilio Beretta of Peru and Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador 4-6 ,7-5, 11-9.
In the girls doubles, Ester Goldfeld and Chanelle Van Nguyen lost to the second-seeded Pliskova twins 6-0, 4-6, 6-3. Only Monica Puig, who reached the third round of doubles on Wednesday with partner Jabeur, and Stephens still remain in doubles. No. 4 seeds Stephens and Babos closed today's action at Wimbledon with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and Ulrikke Eikeri of Norway.
For complete draws, see wimbledon.org.