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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Les Petits As Begins Monday; Top Seed Milojevic Barely Survives in Australia Juniors; Safiullin, Flink Win Grade 1 Titles

The draws have been posted for Les Petits As, one of the most prestigious 14-and-under tournaments in the world. Qualifying is complete and first round action begins Monday in Tarbes, France.

The top two seeds in the girls draw are Andreea Rosca of Romania and Sofya Zhuk of Russia, neither of whom played Teen Tennis or, for that matter, the Junior Orange Bowl.  Rosca just won an ITF Grade 5 in Serbia. For the US, Teen Tennis champion CiCi Bellis of the US is the No. 3 seed, and Michaela Gordon is seeded sixth.  Jaeda Daniel and Claire Liu are the other two US girls in the draw. All but Bellis are scheduled to play Monday.

The top two seeds in the boys draw are Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia and Samuele Ramazzotti of Italy. Kecmanovic was also the top seed at Teen Tennis, losing his first match in the second round, while Ramazzotti did not play in Bolton.  Oddly, the boys Teen Tennis winner, qualifier Corentin Moutet of France, received a wild card into the main draw, but not a seed.

Two of the four US boys are seeded: Gianni Ross is No. 10 and Sam Riffice is No. 14. Noah Makarome and Patrick Kypson are the other two US boys in the draw.  All four will play on Monday.  There is live scoring at the tournament website, as well as draws there, but I find the Tennis Europe draws easier to use.

Monday in Australia, top seed Nikola Milojevic of Serbia barely escaped a major upset in his second round match with Australian wild card Oliver Anderson. Anderson, who finished fifth in the Junior Orange Bowl last month, served for the match at 6-5 in the third, but lost that service game and his next one to fall 6-2, 1-6, 8-6.  Milojevic has lost his No. 1 ranking, according to this article on the Australian Open website, to Loy Yang Grade 1 champion Nick Kyrgios.  Neither player has been beyond the quarterfinals in a junior slam in singles, so they won't stay in the top spot long if they don't improve on that record this week.

American Jamie Loeb lost to No. 7 seed Anna Danilina of Kazakhstan 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 and No. 15 seed Mackenzie McDonald lost to Lucas Miedler of Austria 6-4, 6-2, leaving Allie Kiick the sole American junior still in singles. Kiick, the No. 15 seed, plays later Monday.

There were two other ITF Grade 1 tournaments this week: the Copa Barranquilla in Colombia and the Czech International Indoor.

Roman Safiullin at the International Spring Championships in Carson, Calif.

Roman Safiullin of Russia, who won the 16s International Spring Championships title in Carson last year, claimed his first Grade 1 title in the Czech Republic. The No. 4 seed defeated No. 3 seed Pavel Staubert of the Czech Republic 7-6(3), 6-1.  No. 6 seed Alina Silich of Russia won the girls title, downing Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 6-1, 2-6, 4-0 ret.

At the Copa Barranquilla, Colombian Diego Pedraza, who trains at the IMG Bollettieri Academy, picked up his first ITF Grade 1 title, defeating unseeded Marcelo Zormann da Silva of Brazil 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. Pedraza, the No. 14 seed, was a semifinalist in singles and finalist in doubles last week at the Copa Gatorade, so his ranking is rising quickly now.

Varvara Flink of Russia, who won the Grade 1 Coffee Bowl earlier this month, must have been a late entry in Colombia, because she was forced to qualify.  Once she did (only one win was required), Flink was the No. 3 seed in the draw, and she dropped only one set en route to the final, where she beat No. 2 seed Laura Ucros of Colombia 6-1, 6-3.

After five Grade 1s this month, there are no more on the ITF junior schedule until March.