Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ten Americans in Roland Garros Junior Draws; Townsend Reaches Semis at Carson 50K

Due to the noon start for to the NCAA individual quarterfinals today, there's time for a quick post about the French Open Junior Championships, which begin Sunday in Paris.

Three girls--Vicky Duval, Christina Makarova and Stephanie Nauta--and seven boys--Shane Vinsant, Alexios Halebian, Marcos Giron, Mitchell Krueger, Dennis Novikov, Bjorn Fratangelo and Mac Styslinger--will represent the United States on the red clay of Roland Garros.

Duval, who lost to Australia's Ashleigh Barty of Australia in today's ITF Grade 1 Astrid Bowl final, will play a qualifier in the opening round, probably Monday. Makarova drew No. 2 seed Irina Khromacheva of Russia, the Italian Open junior champion, and they are scheduled to play Sunday, as is Nauta, who got in as a lucky loser, the only one in either draw. That spot is the result of the late withdrawal of Australian Open girls champion and ITF top-ranked junior An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium, who retired from her first match at the Astrid Bowl earlier this week.

Six of the seven American boys, none of them seeded, will play Sunday, with Marcos Giron, Alexios Halebian, Mitchell Krueger, Dennis Novikov, Bjorn Fratangelo and Shane Vinsant in action. Vinsant and Halebian have drawn French wild cards and the other four drew unseeded players. Only Styslinger, who is not on Sunday's schedule, will be a decided underdog. He will play fellow Bollettieri student Hugo Dellien of Bolivia, the No. 2 seed, in the opening round. Based on his performances at the Italian Open last week, where he reached the quarterfinals before losing to eventual winner Filip Horansky of Slovakia, Fratangelo may be poised for a good run in Paris. He feels clay suits his game, despite having grown up on indoor hard courts in Pittsburgh, and since he has been training on Har-Tru in Florida the past few winters, he has really grown comfortable on the surface, as his back-to-back USTA National Clay Court titles in 2009 and 2010 attest.

The ITF junior site posted this preview, and I am again hoping to get updates from Guy McCrea, who is in Paris, and has always taken a keen interest in the juniors. For complete draws and live scoring, see rolandgarros.com.

Fifteen-year-old qualifier Taylor Townsend has reached the semifinals of the $50,000 Pro Circuit event this week in Carson, California. She will play No. 2 seed Alexa Glatch at the Home Depot Center today. USTA press aide Steve Pratt has also uncovered the hockey connection of quarterfinalist Jessica Pegula: her father Terry recently purchased the NHL Buffalo Sabres. The complete story is here.