Stefan Kozlov, who turned 15 last month, has reached his first Grade A final at the Copa Gerdau in Brazil. Kozlov, who did not play from September's US Open Junior Championships until January's Futures in Florida due to an injury, managed to keep his ITF junior ranking in the Top 70 and some success in the recent South American clay swing has brought him to a career-high of 46.
At the Copa Gerdau, Kozlov is seeded 14th, and he has yet to drop a set, taking out No. 4 seed Guillermo Nunez of Chile 6-3, 6-4 and Naoki Nakagawa of Japan 6-0, 6-3 on Friday, when both the third round and quarterfinals were played, due to rain on Wednesday. But his most satisfying win had to be in today's semifinal, when he defeated No. 6 seed Johan Tatlot of France 6-3, 6-2. Tatlot had won the title the two previous weeks at the Grade 1 Asuncion and Banana Bowls and had a 14-match winning streak on the Souther American clay. Tatlot had beaten Kozlov in the quarterfinals at the Asuncion Bowl, and this week had eliminated both Michael Mmoh and Luca Corinteli prior to today.
Other than Kozlov's performance, not much good happened this week for Americans. Thai Kwiatkowski(3), Spencer Papa(7) and Mackenzie McDonald(8) all lost in the first round, although Javier Restrepo did qualify and win a round, and wild card JC Aragone won two matches, including a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 victory over No. 2 seed and ITF world No. 12 Jorge Panta Herreros of Peru. Papa did reach the doubles final with Alexander Zverev of Germany. The No. 8 seeds, they lost to unseeded Orlando Luz and Marcelo Zormann de Silva of Brazil 3-6, 6-2, 10-5 in today's final.
Only two US girls made it out of the second round, with top seed Christina Makarova losing in the third round, as did unseeded Banana Bowl champion Louisa Chirico. Chirico lost 6-4, 7-5 to No. 5 seed Beatriz Haddad-Maia of Brazil, who will play for the championship on Sunday against No. 2 seed Varvara Flink of Russia. The girls doubles final today went to top seeds Alejandra Cisneros and Victoria Rodriquez of Mexico, who defeated unseeded Haddad-Maia and Ingrid Gammara Martins 2-6, 6-3, 12-10.
Kozlov's opponent in Sunday's final will be world No. 3 and top seed Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy. Quinzi, exactly two years older than Kozlov, had a tough match in today's semifinal, defeating No. 15 seed Quentin Halys of France 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-2. Quinzi beat Kozlov 6-4, 6-0 in their only prior meeting, in last year's first round at the Italian Open, which Quinzi went on to win.
The tournament provides live streaming of stadium court, so both finals will be available, with the girls starting at 9:45 a.m. EDT (CORRECTED: 8:45 EDT) and the boys to follow. The ITF Junior website hasn't been posting the results regularly, but the draws can be found at the tournament website, which is also has the video streaming.
The finals are set at the two Grade 1s taking place this week in the Philippines and Croatia. Great Britain's Luke Bambridge, the No. 4 seed will face No. 3 seed Cameron Norrie of New Zealand for the boys title, and top seed Ipek Soylu of Turkey will play No. 13 seed Katie Boulter of Great Britain for the girls title in the Philippines. There's a fine boys final in Croatia, with No. 1 seed Nikola Milojevic playing fellow Serb and Orange Bowl champion Laslo Djere, the No. 2 seed. The girls final is between Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, the top seed, and qualifier Victoria Kan of Russia. Kan, who played only two junior events last year and has a WTA ranking of 396, was ranked 17 in the ITF junior at the end of 2011.
The first ITF spring tournament on the US junior circuit begins Monday in Claremont, California, with qualifying for the Grade 4 beginning today. There were two rounds of qualifying today, with another one on Sunday, with the main draw starting Monday. The draws and order of play can be found at the tournament website at usta.com.