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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl Underway in Costa Rica; Sao Paulo Challenger Coverage

The 12s and 14s champions were crowned today at the USTA Winter Nationals in Tucson, with John McNally (B14s), Keenan Mayo (B12s), Kelly Chen (G14s) and Hurricane Tyra Black (G12s) collecting gold balls. I'll have more on the Winter Nationals after Wednesday's finals in the 16s and 18s divisions, but congratulations to 2013's first champions.
The TennisLink site with complete draws is here for the 12s and 14s and here for the 16s and 18s.

The ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl, always a popular event for US players, began on Monday in Costa Rica.  Seven US girls are among the final 16, including last year's runner-up and No. 1 seed Christina Makarova, Katrine Steffensen(8), Rasheeda McAdoo(9), Dasha Ivanova(12), Madison Bourguignon(14), and unseeded Usue Arconada and Rianna Valdes.

It should be noted that the girls field was very thin this year, with no qualifying whatsoever, rare in a Grade 1, and three byes in the main draw.

There was qualifying for the boys, but most players had to win only one match to advance to the main draw.  Only two US boys have advanced to the final 16 (although Luke Gamble is playing a night match against No. 2 seed Franko Miocic of Croatia): Dennis Uspensky and Justin Butsch, both of whom are unseeded.

The ITF junior website doesn't have any updated results at the moment, so your best bet is the Copa del Cafe tournament website, where they will also feature live streaming of some of the matches later in the week.

Eyewitness accounts of challenger action are not easy to find in my experience, but Jeff Sackmann of the Heavy Topspin blog is in Sao Paulo, Brazil and sent back this post from the $125,000 plus hospitality hard court challenger there.  Sackmann not only discusses the style of many of the players, but has some comments on the no-let-on-serves the ATP is trying out in Challengers for the first three months of 2013. Devin Britton and Austin Krajicek, both of whom qualified, are the only Americans in the singles draw.  The draw is available at the ATP website.