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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sean Karl Diagnosed with Cancer; Wimbledon Junior Champions Reach Pro Circuit Finals

Sad news began circulating last night that 18-year-old Sean Karl of Nashville, one of the top players in the high school class of 2013, had been diagnosed with cancer.  I have no additional details on his diagnosis, but there has been an open Facebook group set up called Pray for Sean Karl that is providing a way to show support for him and for his family. There is also a site for Sean at caringbridge.org. He verbally committed to the University of Tennessee this summer.

There's no appropriate way to transition from that difficult news to a recap of tennis results today, so I'll just acknowledge that and plunge forward.

The weekend has been good for Wimbledon junior champions, with current girls champion Eugenie Bouchard, 2011 girls champion Ashleigh Barty and 2011 boys champion Luke Saville all reaching ITF Pro Circuit finals.  Bouchard, the No. 6 seed at the $50,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Canada, cruised past top seed Melanie Oudin 6-2, 6-2 today and will play 17-year-old Madison Keys in Sunday's final.  Keys, the No. 7 seed, defeated unseeded Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals. Back in 2009, the 14-year-old Keys made a stunning WTA debut at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.. beating Kudryavtseva, then No. 81, in the first round.

The 18-year-old Bouchard has continued to play major junior events in 2012, while Keys has not, and the two have not met since the quarterfinals of the 2009 Banana Bowl, which Keys won in three sets.

Saville, as I mentioned in my post last week on teenagers in the ATP/WTA rankings, has had an excellent autumn (spring in Australia) and he has continued that this week, reaching the final of a $15,000 Futures in Australia as the No. 7 seed. He will face Ben Mitchell, the No. 4 seed, who reached the Wimbledon boys final in 2010, losing there to Hungary's Marton Fucsovics. 2011 girls champion Barty, who did not compete between this year's Wimbledon (where she received a main draw wild card) and this month, has reached the final of the $25,000 ITF Women's tournament in Australia.  The 16-year-old, seeded No. 2, will play No. 7 seed Arina Rodionova of Russia in the final.

French Open girls champion Annika Beck is likely to move into the Top 100 after reaching the final of the $75,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Germany this week. The 18-year-old German will be the youngest player (by a month, over Laura Robson) in the WTA Top 100.

Puerto Rico's Monica Puig, who just turned 19 a month ago, has had a fantastic two weeks in France. Last week she won the $50,000 ITF Women's Pro Circuit event there, and this week she has reached the final of a $100,000 tournament that features a very tough field.  Unseeded, Puig defeated Virginie Razzano (who beat Serena Williams in the first round of the French Open this year), in the first round, then No. 5 seed Johanna Larsson, Stefanie Voegele and today, No. 4 seed Magdelena Rybarikova. Puig will play No. 2 seed and WTA No. 79 Elena Vesnina of Russia in Sunday's final.  Puig has lost only one set, to Razzano, in her four wins.

At the $10,000 Futures in Birmingham, Ala., Great Britain's Kyle Edmund avenged his first round Wimbledon Juniors loss to Mitchell Krueger today in the semifinals, defeating Krueger 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. The 17-year-old will play his first Futures final against No. 3 seed Chase Buchanan, who is in his fourth Futures final since he completed his eligibility at Ohio State in May. Buchanan beat top seed Daniel Garza of Mexico today 6-4, 7-5, and will be going for his second Futures title of the year Sunday. 

Krueger did pick up a win today in doubles. He and Bjorn Fratangelo, who were unseeded, beat top seeds Buchanan and Vahid Mirzadeh 6-2, 6-3 to take the doubles title.

The qualifying is underway at the $75,000 Charlottesville Challenger, which is this year offering free admission throughout the tournament thanks to a new sponsor, and at the $10,000 Futures in Pensacola. See the USTA Pro Circuit page for the draws.

The women are in New Braunfels Texas for a $50,000 tournament, with qualifying scheduled to begin on Sunday. For that draw and for the results of the semifinals today at the Florence $25,000 tournament, see the USTA Pro Circuit site.