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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

All Four US Boys Reach Teen Tennis Quarterfinals; Townsend and Hardebeck Meet in Traralgon for Semifinal Spot; Stephens Talks About New Generation

We're heading to Florida tomorrow for a couple of days at the Futures in Sunrise and Plantation and then down to Coral Gables for the National Level 3 Tennis Plaza Cup, which is Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I don't get to many Futures during the year, but these early ones in Florida have been on the itinerary for many years, and it is always an opportunity to reconnect with some of the junior and college players I've gotten to know over the years. Qualifiers for the $10,000 men's Futures in Sunrise are: Daniel Yoo, Rhyne Williams, Laslo Urrutia Fuentes, Antoine Benneteau, Sekou Bangoura, Guillermo Gomez-Diaz, Ed Corrie and Yoshihito Nishioka. The qualifiers for the $25,000 women's event in Plantation are: Danielle Collins, Allie Kiick, Gabriela Paz, Courtney Colton, Iveta Gerlova, Jovana Jaksic, Elizaveta Ianchuk and Federica Grazioso. For complete draws, see the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

At the Teen Tennis tournament in Bolton, England, all four US boys who made the trip reached the quarterfinals: Michael Mmoh(3), Francis Tiafoe(15), Nathan Ponwith and William Blumberg. They are all in separate quarters, with Blumberg playing the top seed and Ponwith the second seed tomorrow. They have also all reached the doubles semifinals, with Ponwith and Blumberg one team and Mmoh and Tiafoe the other.

The two seeded US girls, Tornado Ali Black(8) and Emma Higuchi(11), reached the quarterfinals. Nicole Frenkel lost today to the top seed, while Raquel Pedraza lost in the second round. Black and Frenkel are in the semifinals of the doubles competition. Complete draws can be found at the Tennis Europe website.

In Australia, the quarterfinals of the ITF Grade 1 Loy Yang at Traralgon are this evening (Wednesday in Australia). Taylor Townsend will face Krista Hardebeck for a spot in the semifinals after both advanced yesterday. Hardebeck, who qualified, received a walkover from the much-injured Belgian An-Sophie Mestach, while No. 13 seed Townsend beat Orange Bowl champion and No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-1, 7-6(3). Townsend is the subject of this ESPN High School feature by Sandra Harwitt, who is currently in Australia, and I'm sure will keep an eye on Townsend's progress in the junior championships.

Kyle McPhillips, the No. 15 seed, advanced to the quarterfinals when top seed Eugenie Bouchard retired trailing 6-2, 3-3. Bouchard later posted a tweet mentioning food poisoning. McPhillips will play unseeded So-Ra Lee of Korea in the quarterfinals.

The only US boy in the main draw, qualifier Mackenzie McDonald, lost in the second round to Borna Coric of Croatia, although he is still alive in doubles with Portugal's Frederico Silva.

For complete draws, see the ITF junior website.

At the Australian Open, Sloane Stephens and Christina McHale have reached the second round for the second consecutive slam (third straight actually for McHale) and they are joined by qualifier Jamie Hampton, Vania King and, of course, Serena Williams. For more on the next generation of US women, see this Associated Press article, which quotes Stephens on the budding rivalries.

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