US Open Junior Wild Cards Announced; Hibi, Meister in US Open National Playoff Finals; Gibbs, Bouchard Qualify for WTA Events
The USTA announced the wild cards for the US Open Junior Championships today. Six boys and eight girls were given main draw wild cards.
Interesting to note that the philosophy of giving wild cards to younger players seems to have been discarded. Few would argue against 14-year-old Stefan Kozlov, who was already in qualifying on his own ranking, and 15-year-old Henrik Wiersholm won his wild card in Kalamazoo. Baughman is just 16, but Adams, Hiltzik and Schneider are all 1994 birth years. Why only six wild card for the boys, I couldn't say, but Alexios Halebian and Thai Kwiatkowski are the next two players in line for the main draw, so I think they would get in without wild cards, if two are not used. The deadline for withdrawing without penalty is Tuesday.
The two youngest girls receiving wild cards, Gabby Andrews and Kimberly Yee, turn 16 this year.
Only four qualifying wild cards have been announced for the boys, with Jared Donaldson, Martin Redlicki and Mitch Stewart receiving them, along with Shotaro Goto of Japan. (Has anyone ever figured out why Japan gets two US Open junior qualifying wild cards every year?). The release says two additional wild cards will be awarded for the boys. I'm a bit surprised the ITF World Junior Tennis Champion boys, William Blumberg, Michael Mmoh and Francis Tiafoe, aren't among those receiving qualifying wild cards, especially since all three girls on the ITF WJT seventh-place team did.
In addition to Tornado Black, Nicole Frenkel and Emma Higuchi, Katerina Stewart and Louisa Chirico were given qualifying wild cards, along with Japan's Erina Hayashi.
The finals are set for the US Open National Playoffs Monday, which will decide the final wild cards for next week's US Open qualifying. The top two seeds will meet in both the men's and women's final. Recent UCLA graduate Nick Meister will play top seed Clement Reix, a former All-American at Clemson after both won their semifinal matches today in straight sets. The women's final is between top seed Mayo Hibi of Japan, the 16-year-old who trains and plays in Southern California and No. 2 seed Alexandra Mueller of the US. Hibi had a tough semifinal match today with 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year Mary Weatherholt of Nebraska, but pulled out a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 win with a late break and hold.
The mixed doubles National Playoff tournament begins Wednesday, with a main draw US Open wild card on the line. That draw can be found here. Meister will be hanging around regardless of the result of his singles match Monday, as he and Hilary Barte are the top seeds in the mixed competition.
The US Open National Playoffs are taking place at the WTA New Haven Open at Yale, where the final round of qualifying and several first round matches were played today. NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs reached the main draw with a 6-2, 1-0 ret. victory over 94th-ranked Garbine Murguruza of Spain. That is Gibbs' second consecutive Top 100 victory. Sachia Vickery, who also reached the final round of qualifying, lost to top seed Timea Babos of Hungary 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Gibbs will play fellow qualifier and Californian Alexa Glatch in the main draw tomorrow.
Gibbs was asked by reporters for her reaction to the NCAA Division I format changes, and she had plenty to say about it.
Asked if more college players will turn pro if the proposals take place, Gibbs said: “Absolutely! I mean If I had been looking to four-years of 10-point tiebreaks in the third set, I don’t think I would have gone to college in the first place.”
Gibbs talks about the struggle college tennis has had to be seen as a viable developmental option, and now that it is establishing itself, this has come along to derail it. She also makes the point that the change will alienate the fans college tennis now because "it won’t be legitimate grounds for development anymore."
For the complete story, see Karen Pestaina's article at tennispanorama.com.
If you did not read the NCAA's release, which came out last night, it is here. It contains the erroneous statement that a student-athlete could be required to play 12 days in a row under the current format. The maximum number of days is actually nine, and only one player this year, USC's Steve Johnson, played that many consecutive days, as it means reaching both the team and individual final.
The AP today published an article with a slightly different quote from the NCAA, maintaining there was a consensus for this for format change, which is a position difficult to take seriously given the uproar this has caused. If you would like to sign a petition protesting these changes, it can be found here.
Back to professional tennis, where Eugenie Bouchard, the girls Wimbledon champion, continues her stellar summer, qualifying for the WTA Texas Tennis Open this week in Dallas. Bouchard defeated top qualifying seed and WTA No. 90 Melinda Czink 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the main draw. Irina Falconi is the only US player in the 32-player draw.