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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pro Circuit Update; Top Two Boys Seeds Out at Grass Courts

With the French Open juniors occupying most of my attention last week, I didn't have a chance to note some of the other winners on the Pro Circuit tournaments that finished over the weekend.

Starting in Italy, Christina McHale won a $50,000 challenger on clay, defeating No. 7 seed Ekaterina Ivanova of Russia 6-2 6-4 in the final. Although McHale was an unseeded qualifier, possibly because of a late entry, she had the highest ranking of anyone in the draw, and is now at a career high of 71 in the WTA rankings. She is playing in the WTA tournament in Birmingham England this week on grass, and has adjusted nicely, winning her first round over Anastasia Rodionova of Australia today 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2.

The only event in the United States last week was in Hilton Head, SC. Top seed Alexandra Mueller of the US won the $10,000 tournament, defeating No. 6 seed Bojana Bobusic of Australia 6-2, 6-0 in the final. Sixteen-year-old Jan Abaza of the US reached the semifinals before losing to Mueller. Former Georgia Tech star Amanda McDowell and TCU standout Macall Harkins, seeded second, won the doubles title, over top seeds Mueller and Whitney Jones 6-3, 6-3.

This week in the US, there is a women's $25,000 tournament in El Paso, Texas and a men's $15,000 tournament in Sacramento, Calif. Beatrice Capra is the top seed in El Paso and will play her first round match on Wednesday. No. 2 seed Ashley Weinhold barely escaped qualifier Ellen Tsay in her opening round match today, beating the Stanford recruit 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Philip Bester of Canada and Greg Ouellette of the US are the top two seeds in Sacramento, but all eyes are on USC's Steve Johnson, the NCAA champion and eighth seed in the tournament. Johnson extended his winning streak to 36 matches today when he defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-0, 6-3. Johnson will play Alexandre Lacroix of France, who played No. 1 for Florida, in the second round. Johnson beat Lacroix 6-2, 7-6(4) in a March dual match in Gainesville. Lacroix beat 17-year-old wild card Christian Harrison 6-2, 6-2 in the opening round today. UCLA recruit Dennis Mkrtchian qualified, and in one of the most interesting first round matches yet to come, Mitchell Frank will play Dan Kosakowski. Oklahoma recruit Dane Webb received a wild card and will play a lucky loser Wednesday.

For draws and results, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

Again, I must make clear that I am not in Philadelphia for the Grass Courts this year, the first time since 2004 that I haven't covered the event live, but I'm watching the results closely, and there were some sit-up-and-take-notice ones in today's second round. Stefan Kozlov, 13, beat No. 2 seed and Michigan recruit Alexander Petrone 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, and Austin Siegel defeated top seed William Kwok 7-5, 6-4. The top two seeds in the girls draw, Kyle McPhillips and Julia Elbaba advanced to the third round, as did defending champion Anna Mamalat, who beat McPhillips last year in the semifinals. For complete results, see the ITF junior website.

There are three US girls playing in the Grade 1 clay court event in Germany, with Stephanie Nauta, Lauren Herring and Jennifer Brady all advancing to the second round.

Last week Thai Kwiatkowski beat fellow American Spencer Papa in an important Tennis Europe 16-and-under tournament, the Citta di Montecatini. The pair also reached the doubles final. For more, see the Tennis Europe weekly junior recap.