My Australian Open Junior Preview; McNally and Matusevich Win Teen Tennis Titles; Tiafoe Defeats Paul to Reach Futures Semifinal; ITA Kickoff Weekend Underway
The draws are out for the Australian Open junior championships, and my preview of the tournament is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network. First round action, which is split over two days, begins tonight in the US, with five of the nine American juniors and both No. 1 seeds on the Day One schedule.
Olivia Hauger, a quarterfinalist last year, plays Ojasvinee Singh of India, Jessica Ho faces Australian wild card Jaimee Fourlis and William Blumberg meets qualifier William Matheson of New Zealand. Two of the three seeded Americans are also in action, with No. 11 Raveena Kingsley playing Orange Bowl semifinalist Monika Kilnarova of the Czech Republic and No. 5 seed Michael Mmoh taking on Sumit Nagal of India, who reached the semifinals at the warmup Grade 1 in Traralgon.
That leaves Taylor Fritz(3), Sameer Kumar, Mia Horvit and Raquel Pedraza to play on Sunday in Melbourne(Saturday night here in the US).
Complete draws are at the tournament website, with live scoring also available.
In addition to the five junior matches, eight other Americans will be playing singles matches, with John Isner(19) taking on Gilles Muller of Luxembourg and Steve Johnson playing No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan and on the women's side, Serena Williams(1) playing Elina Svitolina(26) of Ukraine, No. 30 seed Varvara Lepchenko playing Agnieszka Radwanska(6) of Poland, Madison Keys meeting No. 4 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, Venus Williams(18) facing Camila Giorgi of Italy, and CoCo Vandeweghe and Madison Brengle squaring off.
At the Nike Junior International Teen Tennis tournament in Bolton, England, the US swept the singles titles, with No. 2 seed Caty McNally beating doubles partner Amanda Anisimova, the No. 8 seed, 6-1, 6-3 and wild card Anton Matusevich defeating No. 10 seed Lodewijk Weststrate of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-1. This is the first sweep of the singles titles by the US since 2010, when Gabby Andrews and Stefan Kozlov were the Bolton champions. The successful US contingent now moves on to Tarbes, France for Les Petits As, with qualifying beginning there on Saturday.
Former Bolton champion Francis Tiafoe is playing this week at the $10,000 Futures in Weston, and he has reached the semifinals for the second consecutive week with a 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-1 win over fellow 17-year-old Tommy Paul. Tiafoe, a wild card, battled back from 5-2 down in the second set, and had a match point with Paul serving at 5-6 in the tiebreaker, but didn't convert it. Tiafoe went up 4-0 in the third set, but was broken in a long fifth game, momentarily giving Paul hope of recovering. But Paul was broken in the next game and Tiafoe served out the match, with No. 6 seed Markus Eriksson of Sweden awaiting him in the semifinals. Tiafoe beat Eriksson 6-1, 6-2 last week in the Sunrise Futures quarterfinals, and also beat the 25-year-old Swede last year in the Palm Coast Futures.
In Daytona Beach, Samantha Crawford lost to Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Pro Circuit event, so all Americans are out of singles there.
At the ITF Grade 1 in Colombia, Americans Emil Reinberg(5), Ulises Blanch(3) and Hady Habib(15) have reached the quarterfinals in the boys draw. Francesca Di Lorenzo(7) and Maria Mateas(14) are also into the girls final eight. Top seed Evgeniya Levashova of Russia lost in the second round to qualifier Melany Krywoj of Argentina. Top boys seed Casper Ruud of Norway's quest for a third straight Grade 1 title is still alive.
The ITA Kick-off Weekend, which will decide the 15 men's and 15 women's teams that will participate in next month's National Team Indoor Championships (hosts Virginia women and Illinois men are automatically granted the 16th place), is underway. See the ITA hub page for the participating schools and the results throughout the weekend.
The Mississippi men's team is traveling to Florida for a first round match with the Gators on Saturday, and senior Nik Scholtz has bolstered the Rebels prospects for the season by returning to school for his senior year. Scholtz, who won three Futures title while taking the fall off, is now 462 in the ATP rankings, but he decided to return to Oxford, with finishing his degree a major factor. For more on his decision, see this article from the Ole Miss website.