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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vesely Tightens Grip on ITF Juniors Top Spot with Win at Osaka Grade A; Embree and Gullickson Meet in Regional Final Monday

Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic moved closer to clinching the year-end ITF World Junior championship, winning both the singles and the doubles at the Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup this weekend. Vesely, the No. 1 seed, beat unseeded Lucas Pouille of France 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 in the final. He partnered with Kaichi Uchida of Japan to take the doubles title, with the top seeds beating No. 2 seeds Luke Saville and Andrew Harris of Australia 1-6, 7-5, 10-4.

Vesely, who won the Australian Open boys championship this year and reached the final of the US Open juniors, had less than a 100-point lead on US Open boys champion Oliver Golding of Great Britain prior to this week's tournament, but will expand that lead considerably when the new rankings are released Monday. Golding has been playing only Futures since his win in New York, going 3-4 in four tournaments; Osaka was Vesely's first ITF men's or juniors competition since the US Open.

The girls title went to No. 12 seed Zuzanna Maciejewska of Poland, who was ranked No. 95 in the ITF junior girls rankings last week. The 16-year-old left-hander defeated No. 7 seed Makoto Ninomiya of Japan 7-6(5), 6-1. The Osaka Mayor's Cup is Maciejewska's first trip outside Europe for ITF junior competition.

Japan did get a home country champion, with No. 8 seeds Mami Adachi and Eri Hozumi downing No. 6 seeds Miyu Kato and Riko Sawayanagi 5-7, 7-5, 10-7 in an all-Japanese final.

For more on the final day, see the article at the ITF junior website.

After a week's break, the US ITF junior circuit resumes at the Grade 4 in Atlanta. The qualifying is complete, but the main draw has not yet been posted.

At the Futures tournament in Mansfield, Texas, fourth-seeded Jesse Levine won his third singles title at that level in the past two months, beating unseeded JP Smith of Australia 6-4, 6-3. Levine did not lose a set in his five victories. Jordan Cox and Devin Britton beat Sekou Bangoura, Jr. and Blake Strode in the final 2-6, 6-2, 10-7 in a battle of unseeded teams.

At the women's tournament in Rock Hill, SC, top seed Romina Oprandi of Italy defeated qualifier Grace Min 7-5, 6-1 to claim her second consecutive Pro Circuit title. Top seeds Maria Abramovic of Croatia and Roxane Vaisemberg of Brazil won the doubles title 3-6, 6-3, 10-5 over the unseeded team of Madison Brengle of the US and Gabriela Paz of Venezuela.

Complete draws are available at the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

Also this week, former Pepperdine Wave Anamika Bhargava reached the final of the $10,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event in Jamaica. She had to qualify into this week's tournament in Jamaica, where she joins Chalena Scholl and Jennifer Brady in the main draw, along with former UCLA standout Noelle Hickey.

The ITA regionals are still in various stages throughout the country, with some not finishing until Tuesday, so a comprehensive look at those results will have to wait. But there's a marquee final at the women's Southeast regional Monday morning with top seed Lauren Embree of Florida, the 2011 NCAA Team Championships Most Outstanding Player, facing No. 4 seed Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia, the 2010 NCAA champion. See the gatorzone.com for more about their previous match last year.

In an unusual circumstance, the top four seeds have advanced to the semifinals of the women's Northwest regional at Stanford. Top seed Jana Juricova of Cal will meet No. 4 seed Nicole Gibbs of Stanford in a repeat of the NCAA semifinals this year, and No. 3 seed Denise Dy of Washington will play No. 2 seed Mallory Burdette of Stanford.

In the women's Southwest regional, it will be an all-Trojan affair, as freshmen Sabrina Santamaria and Zoe Scandalis of USC will meet in the final to decide who gets the automatic bid to the USTA/ITA Indoor in New York.

Not all the draws are updated, but for a complete list of the regionals, see the ITA Regional Tournament Central page.