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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Orange Bowl Acceptances Include Xu, Bellis, Ostapenko, Bouzkova, Rublev and Kozlov; Harrington and Wagner Top Seeds at USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational

The acceptances for the Metropolia Orange Bowl were released today, with the initial girls field an exceptionally strong one. The top three girls in the ITF Junior rankings--Shilin Xu of China, CiCi Bellis and Wimbledon girls champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia--have all entered, as has US Open girls champion Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.

In addition to Bellis, other US girls in the main draw are Raveena Kingsley, Usue Arconada, 2013 Orange Bowl semifinalist Sonya Kenin, Dasha Ivanova, Michaela Gordon, Jessica Ho and Mia Horvit.  Tornado Alicia Black is not entered, although she could always request a wild card should she decide to play. Although both are still age-eligible, neither of last year's finalists--champion Varvara Flink of Russia and Ivana Jorovic of Serbia--has entered.

Two years ago the Orange Bowl results decided the ITF World Junior champion, with Taylor Townsend clinching it there, and this year's champion could also come down to the 2014 calendar's last Grade A.

This feature on Xu from China Daily says she is scheduled to play the Eddie Herr (although that tournament is a week earlier, the entry deadline is a week later than the Orange Bowl) and will also be defending her singles and doubles titles at the Grade B1 in Korea next month.  Xu is not entered in the Abierto Juvenil Grade A in Mexico City next month however, so Bellis can gain ground there, but as of right now there are way too many tournaments left to even speculate that the top spot will come down to those two players.  But it does make for an interesting six weeks coming up.

Current boys No. 1 is Andrey Rublev of Russia, and he is entered in both upcoming Grade As. 2013 Orange Bowl finalist Stefan Kozlov, a frequent doubles partner of Rublev, is now No. 4 in the ITF rankings and he is entered only in the Orange Bowl.  Rublev, who won the French this year, is the only junior slam champion in the field, with Alexander Zverev of Germany, Noah Rubin and Omar Jasika of Australia not playing.  Defending champion Francis Tiafoe is also not entered in either Grade A, so his current ITF ranking of 7 will drop. Rublev is not defending any points the rest of the year except in doubles, so he is in the good position to retain the top spot.

Other US boys who received direct acceptance into the Orange Bowl are Taylor Fritz, Michael Mmoh, Alex Rybakov, Henrik Wiersholm, Dennis Uspensky, Sameer Kumar, Reilly Opelka, William Blumberg and Kalman Boyd.

The USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational begins tomorrow in Orlando, with live streaming available at ESPN3 beginning at 8 a.m. There is no streaming for Friday and Saturday's matches, but the coverage will return for the finals on Sunday. Clemson's Hunter Harrington and Miami's Stephanie Wagner are the top seeds.  See the Florida State page for links to the draws with match times.