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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bellis Reaches Teen Tennis Final, Wins Doubles Title; Australian Open Junior Wild Cards; My Eight Intriguing Questions for 2013

California's CiCi Bellis has reached the final of the Aegon Teen Tennis tournament in Bolton, England, where she will meet fellow 13-year-old Lucie Wargnier of France in Friday's final. Bellis, the No. 5 seed, reached the quarterfinals of the Junior Orange Bowl 14s last month, so her performance is not unexpected, but Wargnier is something of a surprise finalist, as she lost in the first round of the Junior Orange Bowl to Alexis Nelson of the US.

Wargneir prevented an all-American (and all-Northern California) final today when she defeated No. 8 seed Michaela Gordon 6-4, 6-2, and also defeated No. 16 Claire Liu of the US earlier. Bellis, who has yet to drop a set, downed No. 2 seed Eva Guerrero Alvarez of Spain 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals.

Bellis teamed with Jaeda Daniel to claim the doubles title in what was an all-American final, with Bellis and Daniel, the No. 4 seeds, beating No. 8 seeds Gordon and Liu 7-5, 6-3.

The US boys did not reach the later stages of the tournament in singles or doubles.  The boys final will be between qualifier Corentin Moutet of France and Ergi Kirkin of Turkey. Moutet defeated No. 2 seed Kacper Zuk of Poland 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals, while No. 3 seed Kirkin downed  Matteo Martineau, another French qualifier, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.  Like Bellis, Kirkin has already claimed one title; winning the doubles with Alexei Popyrin of Australia. The No. 2 seeds defeated No. 7 seeds Jonas Eriksson Ziverts and Karl Friberg of Sweden 6-4, 6-0 in today's final.

Complete draws can be found on the Tennis Europe website.

Draws for the Australian Open Junior Championships should be out in the wee hours of Friday morning and I will tweet them as soon as I can, but I do have news of qualifiers and wild cards.  The wild cards, who are all Australian, are:

Jake Delaney
Jacob Grills
Daniel Guccione
Thanasi Kokkinakis
Oliver Anderson
Blake Mott
Marc Polmans
Akira Santillan

Obviously Kokkinankis, the 16-year-old who went 17-15 in the third with Steve Johnson in the opening round of men's qualifying, immediately becomes one of the favorites for the boys title.

Zoe Hives
Priscilla Hon
Ellen Perez
Olivia Tjandramulia
Sara Tomic
Belinda Woolcock
Naiktha Bains
Kimberly Burrell

Tomic, the 14-year-old sister of Bernard, the last Australian standing in the pro singles, reached the quarterfinals of the Grade 1 Loy Yang in Traralgon as a wild card, losing to eventual champion Anna Danilina of Kazakhstan. Danilina, seeded No. 5, defeated No. 2 seed Antonia Lottner 6-4, 6-2, and in the boys final, Nick Kyrgios of Australia, the No. 2 seed, beat No. 6 seed Wayne Montgomery of South Africa 6-1, 6-2.

The qualifiers for the Australian Open juniors are:

Siyu Liu China
Petros Chrysochos Cyprus
Paul Woerner, Germany
Alexander Zverev, Germany
Pak Long Yeung, Hong Kong
Naoki Nakagawa, Japan
Duck Hee Lee, Korea
Gustav Hansson, Sweden

Fang Ying Xun, China
Eliza Long, Australia
Stefani Stojic, Australia
Danielle Wagland, Australia
Paige Mary Hourigan, New Zealand
Zuzanna Maciejewska, Poland
Nicoleta-Catalina Dascalu, Romania
Olga Fridman, Ukraine

The list of entrants I received does not contain Sachia Vickery of the US, and there is already a lucky loser in the draw, Australia's Brooke Rischbieth, who I am assuming took Vickery's place.  That leaves six American juniors total in the main draw: Christina Makarova, Allie Kiick, Jamie Loeb, Thai Kwiatkowski, Mackenzie McDonald and Martin Redlicki.

Eighteen-year-old Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, who lost in the second round of the women's draw Thursday, is still scheduled to compete, and she will be seeking that elusive junior slam title as the top seed due to her WTA ranking inside the top 150. The ITF junior No. 1 is automatically the top seed regardless of the WTA ranking of any entered girl, but because Taylor Townsend, the current No. 1 (and defending champion, who beat Putintseva in last year's final) isn't playing, Putintseva will be No. 1.

My weekly article for the Tennis Recruiting Network continues a tradition I established many years ago--looking ahead to the new year in college and junior tennis with eight questions I'm eager to have answered. This year I discuss formats and schedules, big shoes to fill in college and the new young women poised for breakthroughs.