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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Teen Tennis Begins Sunday; Five Americans Qualify at AO; Grade 1 Loy Yang Underway in Australia; Min vs Brodsky, Sock vs Kubler in Pro Circuit Finals

The draws for Aegon Junior International Teen Tennis Bolton, which I'll shorten to Teen Tennis, came out today, and each of the boys and the girls 14-and-under draws have four US players, two of them seeded. Tornado Ali Black, known as Alicia Black in the draw, is seeded No. 8 and wild card Emma Higuchi is seeded No. 11 in the girls 48 player field, while Michael Mmoh is seeded No. 3 and Francis Tiafoe No. 15 in the boys. Nicole Frenkel, Raquel Pedraza, Nathan Ponwith and William Blumberg are the unseeded Americans, and they will begin play on Sunday, while the seeds have first round byes. The top-seeded girl is Olga Fridman of Ukraine and the No. 1 boys seed is Kenneth Raisma of Estonia. I am a little surprised at how low Black is seeded, but she won the Eddie Herr 16s as an unseeded wild card, so it's not as if it will seriously damage her chance of winning.

The complete draws can be found at the Tennis Europe website.

Five Americans reached the main draw of the Australian Open through qualifying on Saturday. Denis Kudla will make his main draw debut at a slam against Tommy Haas on Monday after beating Australian Carsten Ball 7-6(1), 7-5. Alex Kuznetsov beat Yuichi Sugita of Japan 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 and now faces No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal on Monday. In the unlikely event that they both win, Kudla and Kuznetsov will play each other in the second round. The women's qualifiers are Alison Riske, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Alexandra Panova of Russia, Jamie Hampton, who beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 7-5, 6-4, and Varvara Lepchenko, who defeated Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 6-1, 6-2. Laura Robson of Great Britain also qualified, but Irina Khromacheva of Russia fell one match short.

Lepchenko drew No. 20 seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, Riske will play Urszula Radwanska of Poland and Hampton meets Mandy Minella of Luxembourg.

Complete draws can be found at the Australian Open website. And for more on the men's qualifying, see this blog post from Shank Tennis.

The qualifying is complete at the ITF Grade 1 Loy Yang in Traralgon Australia, with three Americans making it through to the main draw: Krista Hardebeck, Catherine Harrison and Mackenzie McDonald. Other US players in the draw, which is always strong due to the tournament's timing right before the Australian Open juniors are: Kyle McPhillips(15), Samantha Crawford, Gabby Andrews, Sachia Vickery(16) and Taylor Townsend(13). Connor Farren is in Australia, but not playing this tournament, resting a sore wrist in hopes of being able to compete in Melbourne.

In the $25,000 Women's Pro Circuit event in Innisbrook, Grace Min beat Lauren Davis 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5 in today's semifinal to claim her seventh straight win. She will play No. 2 seed Gail Brodsky, who defeated Lauren Embree 7-6(3), 6-0. It is Min's second Pro Circuit final; she lost in the final of the $25,000 Rock Hill event last October. Brodsky won a $25,000 event in Spain in July for her first championship above the $10,000 level.

Jack Sock reached the final of the $10,000 Plantation Futures, advancing when No. 5 seed Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands retired trailing 6-3, 4-1. The eighth-seeded Sock will play unseeded 18-year-old Jason Kubler of Australia, who won back-to-back Futures events on the same Har-Tru surface as Plantation last October and November. Kubler beat No. 6 seed Nicolas Devilder of France 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(4).

For complete draws, including the qualifying draws of the two Florida Pro Circuit events next week, see the page at usta.com.