Townsend Reaches Australian Singles Final, Wins Doubles; Historic Day for USA at Les Petits As; ITA Kickoff Weekend Underway
Taylor Townsend defeated Krista Hardebeck Friday 7-6(3), 6-4 to advance to the final of the Australian Open junior championships, where she will play No. 4 seed Yulia Putintseva of Russia. Townsend, the No. 14 seed, is playing in just her second junior slam (although she did play the US Open junior qualifying, losing in the first round, in 2010), while Putintseva is competing in her eighth.
The two met in the semifinals of the Eddie Herr last month, and here is my account of that three-hour battle. Putintseva has the advantage in experience, being more than a year older, but she won't take Townsend lightly after that match, especially with the faster surface in Melbourne favoring Townsend's net game. The match will be held on Rod Laver Arena and will be streamed live at the Australian Open website at 9 p.m. Eastern time tonight.
Against Hardebeck, Townsend fought off two set points serving at 4-5 in the first set and went on to win the tiebreaker. She fell behind 3-1 and 4-2 in the second set, but took the final four games of the match to avenge her quarterfinal loss to Hardebeck at the Loy Yang Grade 1 in Traralgon last week. For more on Townsend's win over Hardebeck, see this ESPNHS article by Sandra Harwitt and this one by Karen Pestaina of Tennis Panorama News, both of whom are in Melbourne.
Putintseva beat No. 2 seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 7-5, 6-1 Friday to advance to her second junior slam final.
The boys final will be a rematch of the Traralgon final, with No. 1 seed Luke Saville of Australia hoping to avenge his three-set loss to Filip Peliwo of Canada. Saville had surprisingly little trouble with No. 10 seed Adam Pavlasek of the Czech Republic, who had beaten Saville in their previous two meeting back in September. Saville, the 2011 finalist, posted a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Pavlasek, who is now one of the world's most famous juniors due to his romantic relationship with Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
Peliwo, unseeded in Melbourne, beat qualifier Mackenzie McDonald of the US 6-4, 6-4 in the other semifinal. There were only four breaks in the match, with McDonald dropping serve in the opening game of each set. He got the break back in the second set, converting his only break point of the match, but lost serve at 4-4, and Peliwo closed it out. For more from the boys semifinals, see this article from the Australian Open website.
Townsend and Gabby Andrews, who were unseeded, won the girls doubles title, beating top seeds Irina Khromacheva of Russia and Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 5-7, 7-5, 10-6. Andrews and Townsend lost to Khromacheva and Demi Schuurs in the final of the US Open girls doubles last year by the similar score of 6-4, 5-7, 10-5.
Orange Bowl champions Liam Broady and Joshua Ward-Hibbert of Great Britain won the boys doubles championship, with the No. 6 seeds defeating unseeded Pavlasek and Filip Veger of Croatia 6-3, 6-2.
Last year Henrik Wiersholm won the boys title at Les Petits As, the pinnacle of 14-and-under tennis tournaments in Europe. A year later, Wiersholm was winning a USTA 18-and-under tournament (see my recap of the Tennis Plaza Cup for the Tennis Recruiting Network), and the United States is already assured of another boys champion, with all four American boys reaching the semifinals.
This is unprecedented in the tournament's 30 year history, according to TennisEurope, and the only other time two players from the same country met in the final, it was also the United States making history, with Donald Young beating Leo Rosenberg for the title.
In one semifinal, No. 10 seed Nathan Ponwith will play No. 4 seed Francis Tiafoe; in the other, No. 5 seed Michael Mmoh will face No. 15 William Blumberg.
The only US girl still remaining is Tornado Ali Black, the No. 4 seed, who will get her rematch with Maia Lumsden of Great Britain, who beat her in the final of Teen Tennis last week, in the semifinals. Unseeded Gabriella Taylor of Great Britain will play Jacqueline Christian of Romania in the other girls semifinal.
They could hold the doubles finals back in the United States if they wished, as all four US teams are in the two finals. Black and Nicole Frenkel will play Emma Higuchi and Raquel Pedraza for the girls championship, while Mmoh and Tiafoe will play Blumberg and Ponwith.
Complete results can be found at the tournament website.
The ITA Kickoff weekend is underway today at various sites across the country, with 15 men's and 15 women's teams earning their spots at the Team Indoor championships next month.
The ITA has a very thorough preview of all 30 regionals going on this weekend on their website, where you can also find the individual sites' information, live scoring and occasionally, live streaming.