Three 13-year-olds in Quarters at Waco ITF; Three Former Collegians Named to USA's Pan American Games Team; Will and Sanchez Reach Las Vegas Quarters
For US juniors, the road to a main draw spot in the junior slams starts in places like Waco, Texas, Nassau, Bahamas and Tampico, Mexico. The ITF Grades 4s and 5s rarely require a ranking for qualifying, so they are the first step on the ladder for most players who have decided to pursue the international route.
The ITF Grade 5 in Waco this week is proving an excellent choice for two 13-year-old girls, with Tornado Ali Black and Sydney Riley both reaching the quarterfinals, along with two 14-year-olds--Marie Norris and Olivia Hauger, also both from the US. Black, who hadn't played in a tournament since April, and Riley, who plays USTA tournaments regularly, have little experience in ITFs due to the organization's rule that you must be 13 years old to compete in them U18 events. The most accomplished player in the field is 15-year-old Peggy Porter, the No. 3 seed, who won both the USTA 16s Clay Courts and Hard Courts this year. The oldest of the eight quarterfinalists is No. 2 seed Clementina Eugenia Riobeuno De Paola of Venezuela, who is 17, and she will meet the youngest player, Black, in Friday's contest.
The boys quarterfinalists in Waco are a much older group, with only 13-year-old Stefan Kozlov under the age of 15. Kozlov, due to his success at the Plantation ITF and the Grass Courts, is the No. 6 seed this week. Earlier this month Kozlov won the Boys 14s Nike Junior Tour championship for United States.
The USTA announced the teams for the Pan American games next month in Mexico, with Irina Falconi and Christina McHale giving the United States an outstanding women's team. Sloane Stephens had also agreed to be on the team, but due to an injury she will not be able to play. The men's team, which does not include any Top 100 players, as does the women's team, is made up of 19-year-old Denis Kudla, former Florida All-American Greg Ouellette and former North Carolina All-American Nick Monroe.
Kudla, who is the top seed at the $10,000 Laguna Niguel Futures in California, will play Christian Harrison in Friday's quarterfinals after Harrison upset No. 7 seed Michael Venus today 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.
In the $50,000 Las Vegas Pro Circuit event for women, wild cards Allie Will and Maria Sanchez advanced to Friday's quarterfinals. Florida Gator Will beat No. 6 seed Edina Gallovits-Hall 7-5, 4-1, ret. and former USC star Sanchez beat qualifier Krista Hardebeck 6-3, 6-2. Sanchez will play Alexa Glatch in the quarterfinals, while Will faces top seed Romina Oprandi of Italy. Sanchez has also advanced to the doubles semifinals with former UCLA All-American Yasmin Schnack.
At the $10,000 Amelia Island tournament, Taylor Townsend and Allie Kiick will play in the quarterfinals, a rematch of the Plaza Cup USTA regional final I covered in Florida in January. There are no seeds left in among the quarterfinalists, and the match between Chalena Scholl and Sherry Li will also produce a second junior semifinalist.
For complete results, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.