Monday, December 13, 2010

Three Spots for USTA's U14 Boys Team Decided; Nike Masters, Little Mo In Progress; Shabaz in College Spotlight

Another cold front has come through South Florida, with the same record low temperatures and stiff wind that accompanied the previous one last week. Fortunately, I didn't have to be outside covering tennis today. After 17 straight days reporting live from the Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl, I had the day off.

But just because I was working on my Eddie Herr slideshow, after washing suitcases full of laundry, doesn't mean there wasn't junior tennis being played. The finals of the round robin tournament the USTA holds each year for the 14-and-under trip to Teen Tennis and Les Petits As next month were held today in Boca Raton. Henrik Wiersholm defeated Eduardo Nava 6-4, 7-5 to take one of the two spots reserved for participants in the tournament. Francis Tiafoe defeated Aron Pierce 7-5, 6-1 to secure the other one. The other four players competing this weekend were Reilly Opelka, Robert Levine, Sameer Kumar and Tommy Paul. Stefan Kozlov, who is playing in the Nike Junior Masters tournament in the Bahamas this week (see below) will receive one of the two wild cards. The fourth player will be named during the Junior Orange Bowl, the main draw of which begins on Friday.

The Nike Junior Tennis International Masters tournament for 12s and 14s, boys and girls has completed its third day. Just 12, Kozlov, the 12s champion last year when the tournament was held in October, has reached the quarterfinals of the 14s this year. Nathan Ponwith, who won the U.S. B12s national competition Elizabeth Profit, who won the G14s national and Zandrix Acob, who won the B14s national, have been eliminated in the main draw. Cristina Rovira, the national 12s champion from the U.S., is in the semifinals, where she will face Eddie Herr 12s champion Katarina Jokic of Bosnia. For complete draws, see the tournament website.

The Little Mo International tournament, with divisions for 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 year olds, began today at the IMG/Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Fla. For draws for that event, click here.

Qualifying for the Junior Orange Bowl 12s and 14s, which I'll be covering beginning Thursday, starts tomorrow morning, when temperatures are expected to be in the 30s. Draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

The USTA's Australian Open wild card tournament begins on Friday, and Michael Shabaz of the University of Virginia will be among the eight participants. This USTA College Spotlight Q and A explores his choice of college over pro tennis, why he selected Virginia and also how he came to be invited to compete for a place in the main draw of the Australian Open.