ITF Junior Update; Rogers Takes Lead in French Wild Card Challenge; NCAA Division I Selections Coming Tuesday
The ITF Junior outdoor clay season in Europe is in full swing, with Grade 1s and Grade 2s scheduled there every week between now and Roland Garros, with the Grade A Italian Open in Milan also being played in the next month.
Last week's Grade 1 in France saw 15-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, the No. 1 seed, take the girls title, moving her ranking into the Top 20 for the first time. She defeated No. 2 seed Nina Stojanovic of Serbia 6-0, 6-3 in the final. Germany's Alexander Zverev, who played the Grade 1 International Spring Championships n Carson early this month, won the boys title, downing current 16s Orange Bowl champion Andrey Rublev of Russia. Zverev, the 15th seed, beat Rublev, the 12th seed, 6-4, 7-5. Zverev's title likely puts him in the main draw of the French Open juniors with his ranking rising 45 places to No. 43 this week.
After a two-week hiatus following the ISC and Easter Bowl Grade 1s, the US ITF junior circuit resumes with three Grade 4s in Florida on clay. This week is the first, in Daytona Beach, with Maria Shishkina of Kazakhstan and wild card Martin Redlicki of the US the top seeds. For some reason there were a huge number of lucky losers making it into the draw, with 10 boys and 8 girls receiving entry after losing in qualifying. All the girls who made the final round of qualifying got in, as did all the boys in the final round. Two boys who lost in the second round of qualifying also got in, which is rare indeed.
This is the third and final week of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge with the women competing in a $50,000 event in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida and the men at a $50,000 tournament in Tallahassee.
Alex Kuznetsov, who won the $100,000 Sarasota Challenger, leads the men with 118 points, while 2010 USTA junior champion Shelby Rogers, who just won the $50,000 Charlottesville Challenger with a 6-3, 7-5 win over wild card Allie Kiick, now has the lead in the women's race for the USTA's French Open wild card. Rogers also reached the doubles finals at the Boar's Head Club with Nicole Gibbs, losing to CoCo Vandeweghe and her partner Nicola Slater of Great Britain 6-3, 7-6(4). Both Kuznetsov and Rogers are playing in this week's tournaments, with Kuznetsov needing only to hold off Wayne Odesnik to secure the main draw wild card. The complete standings can be found at the USTA Pro Circuit page.
There is also a $10,000 Futures tournament this week in Vero Beach, Fla., with one of the state's typical 128 qualifying draws. Junior boys winning four matches and making it into the main draw after victories today are Andrew Schafer, Ronnie Schneider, Jose Gracia and Sebastian Beltrame.
Tuesday is the big day for Division I college tennis, with the selections and draws announced for the upcoming tournament. The ITA rankings will not be out until Thursday, but Granger Huntress at the Texas College Tennis blog has crunched the numbers using the ITA's algorithm and process and has come up with a sneak preview of what tomorrow may bring. The first four articles on his website are related to the NCAAs, with one a list of all the automatic qualifiers.
The committee, which has access to the ITA's current rankings, where the public does not, has discretion in seeding, so it will be interesting to see how closely they follow the rankings. Will the Georgia men really bump undefeated Virginia out of the No. 2 spot? Will the short-handed Duke women host a regional? How important will geography be this year?
Go to ncaa.com on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Eastern time for the answers.