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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Vickery, Rubin Win Grade 1 Titles in Costa Rica; Vesely Downs Krajicek in China Futures; 2012 Pro Circuit Underway in Florida

Sachia Vickery and Noah Rubin won all-American finals last night at the ITF Grade 1 Copa del Cafe in Costa Rica. Vickery, the No. 5 seed, beat No. 3 seed Christina Makarova 7-5, 6-1, and the unseeded Rubin downed No. 5 seed Connor Farren 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Vickery, who received a walkover into the final from Sweden's Rebecca Peterson, the No. 8 seed, dominated throughout the tournament, recording two double-bagel wins, and, until the final, didn't surrender more than three games in any other set.

She and Makarova played a close first set, with many long points. Makarova excels in counterpunching and misses very little, and while Vickery plays more aggressively most of the time, she was content to rally with Makarova throughout the lengthy first set. Vickery took control in the second set and it resulted in her first ITF junior tournament title since back in 2008, when, as a 13-year-old, she won two Grade 4s and a Grade 5. Vickery is heading to Australia, where she recently moved up to the main draw of the Australian Open Junior Championships. She is also entered in the Grade 1 Loy Yang Traralgon, the warmup for the Australian Open Juniors, which begins next Sunday.

Rubin's win over Farren wasn't a surprise, as he had beaten the 17-year-old Northern Californian 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals of the Pan American Closed back in October, but it was obviously much more competitive than that match had been. Farren came in often, served and volleyed regularly and did anything he could to disrupt Rubin, but the 15-year-old New Yorker never looked flustered or discouraged, even when he was broken to go down 2-0 in the final set.

Rubin's first ITF event was the qualifying of the US Open juniors in September of 2011, and making good use of his wild cards, has won his first ITF title in just six tournaments, and will break into the Top 100 when the rankings are released on Monday. Rubin is not joining Farren in Australia; he will move from Central to South America for the Grade 1 Copa Gatorade in Venezuela next week. Other American boys on the entry list there are Stefan Kozlov and Jordan Daigle, with the American girls in the main draw also few: Makarova, June Lee and Katrine Steffensen. Makarova is entered in the Australian Open, but not in Traralgon.

For the complete results, including doubles, where Vickery also reached the finals, see the ITF junior website.

American Alexandria Stiteler played an ITF Grade 3 in Spain last week and although unseeded, she reached the final, where she lost to No. 4 seed Camilla Rosatello of Italy 6-4, 6-2.

In the only Futures tournament in the world this week, unseeded American Austin Krajicek reached the final in the $15,000 event in China, losing to ITF World Junior Champion Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, also unseeded, 6-4, 7-5. Krajicek, who completed his eligibility at Texas A&M last spring, beat the top seed in the first round. For the complete draws, see the ATP website.

The qualifying is underway for the first two Pro Circuit events of 2012 in the United States: the $25,000 women's event in Innisbrook, Florida and the $10,000 men's Futures in Plantation, Florida. US Open girls champion Grace Min took a wild card into the qualifying and is the top seed in the 64-player qualifying draw. The men's qualifying draw is 128, meaning four wins are necessary just to get into the main draw, and as is usually the case with the first Futures of the year, the draws are full of college players, a great many of whom made it to the final round of qualifying today. One interesting qualifying match finds Virginia teammates Alex Domijan and Jarmere Jenkins playing each other for a berth in the main draw.

I'm still having trouble getting the usta.com site to load, so I'm suggesting either the ATP site (link above) or the ITF men's and women's sites for the qualifying draws and results of these two events in Florida.