Happy World Tennis Day, everyone. Although Tennis Night in America has been going on for several years, this is the first World Tennis Day, instituted by the ITF as part of the celebration of their 100 years. The two exhibitions in Hong Kong and tonight in New York are included, but Justin Gimelstob's LA Tennis Challenge, also this evening, is not officially a part of the festivities.
On to a recap of the ITF Junior activity last week, and a look ahead to this week's two Grade 1s.
Last week's events produced one United States winner and several finalists. At the Grade 4 in Guatemala, 17-year-old Luke Gamble of the US won his first ITF junior tournament, defeating qualifier Anudeep Kodali, also of the US, 7-5, 5-7, 6-2. In the girls final, qualifier Rosie Johanson of Canada beat unseeded Meghan Kelley of the US 7-5, 6-3. Ally Miller-Krasilnikov of the US took the girls doubles title, partnering Mariana Mayer Humberg of Brazil.
Johnnise Renaud of Florida, the No. 5 seed, reached the final of the Grade 2 in South Africa, where she lost to No. 3 seed Sandra Samir of Egypt 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Andrey Rublev of Russia, the 16s Orange Bowl champion, won the boys singles as the No. 6 seed, and has broken into the Top 100 in the ITF junior rankings at 87.
After an entire month without a Grade 1, that level is back in March, with two this week: one in Thailand and one in Paraguay. The Chang LTAT in Thailand features Borna Coric of Croatia as its top boys seed, the Seongchan Hong No. 2. The girls top seeds are Ching-Wen Hsu of Taiwan and Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia. There are no US boys in Thailand, but three US girls did make the trip: Gabriella Umoquit, Usue Arconada and Katrine Steffensen(11). All won their first round matches.
The American boys are out in force at the Asuncion Bowl in Paraguay, but there are no US girls competing there. For some reason, the draws aren't up at the ITF Junior website, but are available at the tournament website. The US boys competing are: Thai Kwiatkowski(2), Spencer Papa(4), Mackenzie McDonald(6), Luca Corinteli(8), Martin Redlicki(14), Stefan Kozlov(16), Daniel Kerznerman and Justin Butsch. Jorge Brian Panta Herreros of Peru is the top boys seed.
Domenica Gonzalez of Ecuador is the top-seeded girl, with Carolina Alves of Brazil the No. 2 seed.
The BNP Paribas Open women's singles draw was released this afternoon, after a couple of withdrawals had given the US an extra wild card. Melanie Oudin got in on her own ranking, so her wild card went to veteran Jill Craybas. Oudin will play wild card Madison Keys in the opening round.
Wild card Taylor Townsend will make her WTA debut against Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic, Craybas plays a qualifier as does fellow wild card Maria Sanchez.
Draws are available here.
The men's qualifying draw has been released, with wild card Christian Harrison drawing top seed and Delray Beach champion Ernests Gulbis of Latvia. Rhyne Williams will play No. 6 seed Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania, wild card Dennis Novikov of UCLA has drawn No. 8 seed Guillaume Rufin of France and Denis Kudla will play No. 11 seed Jesse Levine of Canada.
Women's qualifying is still going on, but it's been a disappointing day so far for American women. Sachia Vickery had a match point against top seed Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland but lost 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, losing the last four games in both the second and third sets. Irina Falconi, Alexa Glatch, CoCo Vandeweghe and Jessica Pegula also lost their opening matches.
2011 US Open girls champion Grace Min, a wild card, saved match points in her 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-3 win over No. 12 seed Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, and Mallory Burdette defeated No. Jana Cepelova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-3. Min will play Estrella Cabeza Candela of Spain, the No. 18 seed, for a main draw berth. Burdette meets the winner of the Julia Cohen - Melinda Czink match, still in progress.
In a rematch of the 2012 Wimbledon girls final, runner-up Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, the No. 4 seed, got her revenge, defeating Canada's Eugenie Bouchard 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-2. She will play wild card Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia, who defeated Glatch 6-2, 6-4.