Seven Americans Qualify for U.S. Open Junior Championships; Davis vs. Gavrilova Highlights Sunday's Action
©Colette Lewis 2010--
Flushing Meadows, NY--
The qualifying rounds of the U.S. Open junior championships are played outside the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, but they still draw plenty of interest from friends, fans and college coaches. The practice courts used for qualifying are surrounded by trees, which were swaying mightily in the gusty winds. Although it was frustrating for the players, it was pleasant weather for spectators, and the breezy conditions didn't seem to be a huge factor in the two matches I watched. Fourteen-year-old Brooke Austin doesn't have much margin for error on her ground strokes, but the wind didn't seem to have any impact on her flat and deep shots. She defeated Lauren Herring, the No. 14 seed, 6-3, 6-4.
On the next court over, 13-year-old Gabrielle Andrews, who like Austin was a member of the U.S.A.'s World Championship ITF 14-and-under team, was playing Robin Anderson in another all-American match. Andrews would occasionally catch the speedy Anderson with a well-disguised drop shot, but the more consistent and experienced 17-year-old from New Jersey prevailed 6-3, 6-4.
Other U.S. girls to qualify were Julia Elbaba of New York, who beat No. 9 seed Gaia Sanesi of Italy 6-4, 6-3, and top seed Chanelle Van Nguyen of Miami. Van Nguyen beat No. 13 seed Melis Sezer of Turkey 6-4, 7-5.
Three U.S. boys qualified, all of them unseeded. Michael Zhu beat Spencer Papa, also of the U.S., 5-7, 6-3, 7-5. It was the only three-set match of the final round of junior qualifying. Alexios Halebian took out No. 5 seed Giammarco Micolani of Italy 6-3, 6-2, and Mackenzie McDonald defeated No. 10 seed Augusto Laranja of Brazil 6-3, 6-3.
There are a total of 19 girls and 17 boys from the U.S. in the main draw of the juniors.
While I was waiting for the junior draws to come, I went over to Court 7 to watch a few games of the Gullickson sisters doubles match with No. 4 seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik. Peschke and Srebotnik won that 6-2, 6-3. I then went to see the mixed doubles match, with wild cards Jack Sock and Beatrice Capra playing No. 4 seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Canada's Daniel Nestor. (Three of those four are writing player diaries for usopen.org.). After Capra's 6-0, 6-0 loss to Maria Sharapova on Arthur Ashe earlier in the day, I was afraid she was going to be shut out again in doubles, as the two juniors were down 4-0 in a matter of minutes. Nestor completely dominated at the net, and he and Mattek-Sands were in perfect synch. Sock and Capra were not, and of course, mixed doubles is not a game juniors have any experience in. I left after the first set, which Nestor and Mattek-Sands won 6-2, (I also left because I don't like no-ad scoring, and I'd forgotten that mixed doubles was played in that format), fully expecting the second set score to be similar. It was, but it was Capra and Sock who won it 6-2, setting up a match tiebreaker to decide the winner. The pros came through 10-7, but I re-learned a valuable lesson early in this year's tournament: don't judge a match based on one set.
It was also great to see so many people at the match on Court 11. Many were evening Ashe ticket holders who arrived early, and most didn't stay for more than two or four games, but it was more people than I regularly see at a) doubles and b) junior matches.
Tomorrow's schedule features 18 U.S. juniors, not including Monica Puig, who plays Madison Keys in one of the marquee matches of the day.
I've written a what-to-watch entry for the New York Times Straight Sets blog, which focuses on Keys - Puig, Gavrilova - Davis and King - Kubler. And don't miss this excellent New York Times story by Karen Crouse on the college vs. pro choice for development.
For junior draws, click here.
For Sunday's schedule, click here.