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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Nationals Begin Sunday; Riccardi and Elbaba Take Costa Rica Titles; Scholl Earns Grade 1 Championship in Paraguay

Rain on Friday stymied some of the early arrivals for the USTA 18s Spring National Championships, so the 60 courts at the Mobile Tennis Center were especially busy this warm and overcast afternoon, especially prior to the 4 p.m. registration. The long sleeve Nike Dri-Fit shirts are always one of the prize possessions here, since most junior tournaments provide only T-shirts, but the individual photo session required for each player is not quite as popular as the clothing offered. Each player has a head shot taken, and when they go to their court Sunday morning, those photos will appear on velcro boards attached to the gate, giving spectators, college coaches and media a big assist in identifying the competitors.

After the player meeting, the draws were distributed, with the boys playing first this year, at 8:30 a.m. Top seed Jared Hiltzik will play Thomas Caputo in one of the 40 matches scheduled for that time. No. 2 seed Brett Clark plays Brendon Kempin at 10:30 a.m.

The girls begin play at 10:30 a.m. with top seed Jamie Loeb playing Hai-Li Kong and No. 2 seed Whitney Kay scheduled to play Cassie Pough at 12:30 p.m. I will be interested to see the matches between No. 16 seed Taylor Davidson and unseeded wild card Josie Kuhlman and Lauren Marker, a No. 17 seed, against unseeded Katerina Stewart, the reigning Junior Orange Bowl 14s champion.

The complete draws can be found at the TennisLink site.

I mentioned yesterday that Ciro Riccardi was still entered in Mobile, despite his success at the ITF Grade 3 in Costa Rica. As a qualifier, he swept both titles at the tournament today, beating No. 4 seed Robert Livi, also of the US, 6-4, 6-2 for the singles championship. He was not able to get to Mobile until 5 p.m. on Sunday, too late for his singles match, so he had to withdraw. Of all the reasons to have to pull out of a tournament, that's certainly the best one. Riccardi and Justin Butsch won the doubles title over Jordi Arconada of Argentina and Alp Horoz of Turkey, the No. 4 seeds, 6-4, 7-5.

In the girls singles final, No. 2 seed Julia Elbaba of US, the defending champion, took the title with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over qualifier Valentini Grammtikopoulou of Greece, but she couldn't match Riccardi's sweep, losing in the doubles final. Elbaba and Camila Fuentes of the US, the top seeds, lost to unseeded Britt Geukens of Belgium and Petra Piirtola of Finland 6-4, 6-4.

Chalena Scholl has found the South American clay to her liking, as the 16-year-old American has won 10 consecutive matches and two straight titles there after today's win at the Grade 1 Asuncion Bowl in Paraguay. Scholl, the No. 11 seed, beat no. 15 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-2, 6-1 in the final. Haddad Maia did get a title however, teaming with Montserrat Gonzalez of Paraguay to beat Sweden's Ellen Allgurin and Blair Shankle of the US 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

No. 2 seed Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy won the boys singles, beating No. 5 seed Mateo Nicolas Martinez of Argentina 7-6(3), 6-7(2), 7-5. Martinez and compatriot Juan Ignacio Galarza won the doubles, receiving a walkover from Rodrigo Encinas of Chile and Stefan Kozlov of the US.