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Friday, January 17, 2014

Australian Open Junior Preview; Kuhn, Tanasescu Win Teen Tennis Titles; Rubin, Abanda Reach Florida Pro Circuit Semis

My preview of the Australian Open junior championships, which begin Saturday (tonight in the US), is now available at the Tennis Recruiting Network.  Three of the five Americans in the draw are on the opening day schedule, with No. 5 seed Michael Mmoh taking on Daniel Windahl of Sweden, No. 14 seed Katrine Steffensen facing Simran Kaur Sethi of India and Michaela Gordon meeting Jasmine Paolini of Italy.  Olivia Hauger, who plays wild card Perra Hule of Australia, and No. 2 seed Stefan Kozlov, who plays wild card Blake Mott, will play Sunday.

It's the second week in a row that Kozlov has drawn an Australian wild card, with the 17-year-old Mott sporting one of the best ATP rankings in the field at 653, which is not quite high enough to earn seeding at a junior slam (550 is the cutoff). Kozlov, whose own ATP ranking is 1080, lost to Brad Mousley of Australia in the first round of the Grade 1 in Traralgon last week.  For more in depth coverage of the Australian junior in the draws (18 girls and 13 boys) see the Aceland Tennis website.

An interesting note in the girls draw involves No. 7 seed Ziyue Sun of China, who missed the sign-in deadline and was given a wild card into qualifying (as was Qiu Yu Ye of China). With Sun and Ye qualifying, China now has seven girls in the main draw.  Sun's seeding, which couldn't be projected until she qualified, cost Great Britain's Isabelle Wallace the No. 16 seed.

The junior draws are available at the tournament website.

In the men's and women's draws, the Thursday losses of Sam Querrey, Alison Riske and Lauren Davis leave just three Americans left in singles: Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens and Donald Young.  The latter two play Saturday, with Stephens taking on former Roland Garros girls champion and Wimbledon girls finalist Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, while Young meets No. 16 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan.

All the US juniors are out of singles at the Grade 1 Copa Gatorade in Venezuela, but unseeded 15-year-old Raveena Kingsley has reached the final of the Grade 2 this week in India.

At the Nike International Junior Teen Tennis in Bolton, England, Germany's Nicola Kuhn and Canada's Maria Tanasescu took the titles, with No. 2 seed Kuhn beating No. 8 seed Andrew Fenty of the US 6-3, 6-1 and the unseeded Tanasescu outlasting top seed Anda Karanusic of Croatia 7-6(3), 6-7(6), 7-6(4). Add that to the archives of all-tiebreaker major finals, along with last year's Eddie Herr ITF final between Andrey Rublev and Kamil Majchrzak.  This is the first year since 2009 that the United States failed to win at least one of the singles titles.  Complete results can be found at the Tennis Europe tournament website.

At the Pro Circuit events in Florida, the last player from the United States still alive is 17-year-old Noah Rubin, who reached the semifinals of the $10,000 Sunrise Futures with a 6-3, 6-3 victory today over No. 6 seed Adam Pavlasek of the Czech Republic.  Rubin will play unseeded 18-year-old Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan, who beat him in three sets in the first round last week in the Plantation Futures, for a spot in his second Futures final.

Former Michigan teammates Evan King and Jason Jung won the doubles in Sunrise, with the No. 2 seeds beating unseeded 15-year-olds Francis Tiafoe and William Blumberg 6-7(4), 6-4, 10-6.

At the $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Port Saint Lucie, wild card Jamie Loeb(UNC) lost to 16-year-old Francoise Abanda of Canada 6-4, 6-2 in today's quarterfinals, with Loeb the last American in the draw.  Abanda will play fellow qualifier Teodora Mircic of Serbia in the semifinals.  Jan Abaza and Louisa Chirico of the US have reached the doubles final.