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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Putintseva Wins $50K Title in Russia; Puig Through to Final Round of Qualifying in Auckland; Last Days to Vote in OTB Annual Awards

Eddie Herr champion and Orange Bowl finalist Yulia Putintseva of Russia won the $50,000 ITF Women's Circuit event this week in Russia, her fourth title of the year and the second $50K. The 16-year-old from Moscow didn't lose a set in her five wins, and in the final, beat 17-year-old Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, the 2010 Roland Garros girls champion, 6-4, 6-2. When I spoke to Putintseva after her win at the Eddie Herr, she said she played the two major junior events in the US primarily because there weren't many significant tournaments going on during that time, and she was close to her maximum of WTA/ITF events, which are limited due to her age. With her current WTA ranking of 246, she is not currently in the Australian Open qualifying, but she certainly would be a threat if she were to gain entry.

Eighteen-year-old Monica Puig of Puerto Rico is much closer to entry into the Australian Open qualifying, with her WTA ranking of 211, and she is already in the area, playing qualifying for the WTA Auckland event, which begins on Monday. Puig, a wild card, has won two rounds in qualifying, beating Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands in the first round, and taking out the fourth seed and No. 78 ranked player in the world, Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden, 6-3, 6-1 in the second round. Puig will play the winner of the match between Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and wild card Claire Feuerstein of France for a place in the main draw. Americans Jamie Hampton, Irina Falconi, CoCo Vandeweghe, and Alison Riske have reached Sunday's second round of qualifying.

Zootennis has been nominated for Best Tennis Blog again this year by On The Baseline, the women's tennis news website. The voting for this and many other categories closes on January 2nd, so head on over to their site and choose your favorites. I appreciate the recognition and hope it helps spread the word that there's more to tennis than just the professional circuit.