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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Six US Players Aim for Australian Open Junior Quarterfinals; Frenkel Upsets No. 2 Seed at Les Petits As

I've returned to Michigan from South Florida and after two days at Pro Circuit events and three days covering the USTA Level 3 Plaza Cup, it's time to catch up on what's happening in the two junior "majors" this week: the Australian Open and Les Petits As.

In Melbourne, six Americans--five girls and one boy--have reached the round of 16 and play Wednesday(Tuesday night in the US) for a place in the quarterfinals.

Qualifier Mackenzie McDonald, pictured above, plays No. 6 seed Andrew Harris of Australia in the third round. The 16-year-old McDonald had an easy 6-2, 6-1 win over Mathias Bourgue of France in the second round.

Krista Hardebeck, who won the Grade 1 Loy Yang Traralgon last week as a qualifier, kept her 2012 winning streak going with a surprisingly easy 6-1, 6-3 victory over No. 9 seed Saisai Zheng of China in the second round. Zheng received main draw entry and her seeding based on her WTA ranking, which is currently 282. Hardebeck, who has yet to drop a set in Australia, now plays No. 8 seed Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia in a rematch of the Traralgon final, which Hardebeck won 7-5, 6-4. No. 14 seed Taylor Townsend will play Orange Bowl champion Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, the No. 3 seed in another Loy Yang rematch. Townsend had beaten Kontaveit 6-1, 7-6(3) in the third round last week before falling to Hardebeck. No. 16 seed Kyle McPhillips takes on doubles partner and No. 4 seed Yulia Putintseva of Russia Wednesday, while Samantha Crawford meets No. 12 seed Sabina Sharapova of Uzbekistan. Christina Makarova, who reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open junior championships last year as a 14-year-old, plays No. 2 seed Eugenie Bouchard in the third round.

Townsend and Gabby Andrews, the 2011 US Open junior doubles finalists, have reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne, as has the team of McPhillips and Putintseva.

For more from the American girls, see Sandra Harwitt's article on the ITF junior website, which also contains photos of Hardebeck and McDonald in competition.

Top seeds Irina Khromacheva of Russia and Luke Saville of Australia have also reached the third round. For live scoring of tonight's third round matches, see the Australian Open website.

In Tarbes, Les Petits As first round is complete, and unseeded American Nicole Frenkel has upset No. 2 seed Karine Sarkisova of Russia 6-4, 6-3 to join the three other US girls on the trip in the second round. Tornado Black, the No. 4 seed, Emma Higuchi, the No. 14 seed, and unseeded Raquel Pedraza all won their opening matches in straight sets.

After their impressive showing at Teen Tennis, when all four made the quarterfinals, the American boys all received seeds at Les Petits As. Nathan Ponwith(10), William Blumberg(15) Teen Tennis finalist Michael Mmoh(5) and Teen Tennis champion Francis Tiafoe(4) all won their opening round matches in straight sets. Like the girls No. 2 seed, the boys No. 2 also went out in the opening round, with Denys Klok of Ukraine falling 6-1, 6-0 to Samuel Ferguson of Great Britain.

The top seeds are the same for Les Petits As as they were at Teen Tennis last week, with Kenneth Raisma of Estonia and Olga Fridman of Ukraine tabbed as No. 1s.

For complete results, and also live scoring throughout the day, see the tournament website.