ITF Grade 1 in Australia Underway; Bellis Reaches Final in Costa Rica Grade 1; Tennis Channel's Inside College Tennis Debuts Tuesday
The ITF Grade 1 in Traralgon, one of the few ITF tournaments that begins its main draw on a Saturday and ends on a Thursday has begun, with qualifying now compete. As usual, few Americans have made the trip, but Ulises Blanch did and has qualified, joining Stefan Kozlov and Michael Mmoh in the main draw. Kozlov is the No. 2 seed and Mmoh is seeded No. 4. The boys top seed is Germany's Alexander Zverev, who will also be the No. 1 seed in the Australian Open junior championships, which begin next Saturday, January 18th (Friday here in the US). Kozlov has something of a tricky draw, with 18-year-old Australian Brad Mousley in the first round and a possible rematch of the Eddie Herr quarterfinal with Andrey Rublev of Russia looming in the quarterfinals. Kozlov beat Mousley in three sets this summer at the Grade 1 International Hard Courts and lost to Rublev in three at the Eddie Herr last month.
The two US girls in the Traralgon main draw are both seeded: No. 8 Katrine Steffensen and No. 15 Michaela Gordon. Orange Bowl champion Varvara Flink is the top seed, and she will also be the top seed in Melbourne. Orange Bowl runnerup Ivana Jorovic of Serbia and Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, the next highest-ranked juniors entered in the Australian Open Junior Championships, are not playing in Traralgon, leaving Shilin Xu of China as the No. 2 seed this week.
In the Grade 1 Costa Rica Coffee Bowl, No. 8 seed CiCi Bellis has reached the final after defeating No. 7 seed Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov of Spain 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 today. She will play the winner of tonight's match between top seed Maria Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and unseeded Olga Fridman of Ukraine. Jessica Ho and Usue Arconada are still in the girls doubles draw, reaching the semifinals with partners from other countries. Live streaming of the boys semifinals and the Bouzkova - Fridman match can be found at the tournament's website.
The US boys warmed up for the Teen Tennis and Les Petits As tournaments this month by taking 15 of 16 matches played over two days in a "friendly" with Great Britain. Teen Tennis begins on Sunday, with the qualifying now complete. See the Tennis Europe site for draws.
The Tennis Channel will be carrying a new series called Inside College Tennis, which makes its debut Tuesday, January 14th at 9 p.m. EST. It will focus on one school's men's and women's programs each week, with Tulane and TCU the first two featured. For more on the program, see this article about it on the Tennis Recruiting Network.