USTA Announces Players for ITF Team Competition Qualifying; USC vs. UCLA Squared in Big Dual Matches Friday
The USTA released the names of those participating in the qualifying next week for the ITF World Team competitions that take place in August and September. The North/Central American Caribbean qualifying for the two 16-and-under teams and the two 14-and-under teams will take place in Merida, Mexico April 26-28.
Unlike past years, when Mexico received an automatic spot because they were serving as host for the Junior Fed and Davis Cups, this year those competitions have moved to Barcelona, Spain, freeing up a second qualifying spot in the regional qualifying, and virtually guaranteeing both US 16-and-under teams will make it to the world finals. With only one spot available the past few years, the US occasionally found themselves second to Canada and not eligible for the finals.
The 14-and-under competition will be held in August in Prostejov, Czech Republic, which has hosted since 1999. The downside for those competing for the US is that the tournament either overlaps or coincides with the USTA National Hard Court championships.
Junior Davis Cup
Jared Donaldson, Cumberland, R.I.
Ernesto Escobedo, West Covina, Calif.
Stefan Kozlov, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Coach: Nicolas Todero
Other countries in 4-team round robin: Canada, Mexico, Domincan Republic
Junior Fed Cup
Gabrielle Andrews, Pomona, Calif.
Brooke Austin, Indianapolis
Taylor Townsend, Stockbridge, Ga.
Coach: Kathy Rinaldi
Other countries in 4-team round robin: Canada, Mexico and Cuba
World Junior Tennis - Boys
William Blumberg, Greenwich, Conn.
Michael Mmoh, Temple Hills, Md.
Frances Tiafoe, College Park, Md.
Coach: Ricardo Acuna
Other countries in 4-team round robin: Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica
World Junior Tennis - Girls
Jada Hart, Colton, Calif.
Emma Higuchi, Los Angeles
Raquel Pedraza-Simpson, Claremont, Calif.
Coach: Sylvain Guichard
Other countries in 4-team round robin: Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico
The Junior Fed Cup team is obviously extremely strong, and given their 2010 14-and-under ITF World Junior Tennis championship, they will be one of the favorites in Barcelona. The same three girls represented the US in the Czech Republic, although Townsend was primarily playing doubles. This is their second chance to play for the Junior Fed Cup; last year Andrews, Austin and Townsend qualified, but did not go to Mexico for the finals at the last minute due to security concerns.
There's news in who is not named too, of course. Henrik Weirsholm and Noah Rubin would certainly have been considered for the Junior Davis Cup team, but both suffered injuries at the Easter Bowl. Kozlov is still young enough to compete for the 14-and-under team, but has shown with his recent results that he is ready for the older division. Tornado Ali Black is not on the 14-and-under team, nor is Nicole Frenkel, who withdrew from the Easter Bowl with an injury.
These teams are for qualifying only, and countries are free to select other players for the competitions after the qualifying is complete.
On Friday, two important matches in Los Angeles will overshadow the rest of the college tennis action around the country, with the No. 1 UCLA women hosting No. 4 USC and the No. 1 USC men hosting No. 5 UCLA. Both women's teams are 8-1 in conference play, and the winner is guaranteed a share of the conference title. There will be no outright conference champion, with Stanford and Cal also each having one loss and playing each other on Saturday in their final conference match. For more on Friday's match, click here.
The USC-UCLA men's rivalry rarely disappoints, regardless of where the teams are in the rankings (here's a link to the account of last year's 4-3 USC win). With Dennis Novikov now in the lineup at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles, the Bruins are not the same team that lost 6-1 to the Trojans in February. For more on tomorrow's match, which will decide the No. 1 seed for the first-ever Pac-12 conference team tournament in Ojai, click here. And for more on UCLA's trend away from international players and toward Southern California recruits, see this Daily Bruin article.