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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Qualifying Draws for Australian Open Junior Championships; Six Americans Reach Teen Tennis Quarterfinals; USC Men, UCLA Women Stay No. 1 in ITA Rankings

The qualifying draws for the Australian Open Junior Championships were released Tuesday, with play beginning tonight (Wednesday in Australia) and finishing tomorrow night.  This year the draw is a standard 32, the same as the other junior slams, with two wins required to reach the main draw. In past years, the Australian junior qualifying has been larger.

Three Americans are in the qualifying--Madison Bourguignon(3), Ally Miller-Krasilnikov and Stephanie Hazell.  Olivia Hauger was one spot out of the main draw at the freeze deadline, but she is not in the qualifying draw, so I assume last year's quarterfinalist moved in when the special exemptions weren't used. There are no US boys in qualifying this year.

At the Grade 1 in Traralgon, the upsets continued, with No. 10 seed Tim Van Rijthoven of the Netherlands taking out No. 2 seed Roman Safiullin of Russia 7-6(6), 7-5 to reach the semifinals. No. 3 seed Taylor Fritz gave a walkover to unseeded Sumit Nagal of India, but no reason was provided.  Nagal will play No. 6 seed Seong Chan Hong of Korea and Van Rijthoven will play unseeded Alexander Bublik of Russia. Rijthoven beat Bublik in three tough sets in the quarterfinals of the Grade 1 International Hard Courts last August, where he reached the final.

Australian Kimberly Birrell, a wild card seeded No. 5, reached the girls semifinal with a tough win over Eddie Herr champion Dalma Galfi, the No. 4 seed from Hungary. Birrell will face unseeded Tessah Andrianjafitrimo of France, while two unseeded players will meet in the other semifinal. Canadian Katherine Sebov, who received a walkover, again unexplained, from No. 2 seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, will face Vera Lapko of Belarus in the other semifinal.

Raveena Kingsley and Jessica Ho have reached the doubles semifinals, after the No. 5 seeds defeated top seeds Galfi and Anna Blinkova of Russia 6-2, 3-6, 10-8. It was Kingsley and Ho's third straight win in a match tiebreaker.

A total of 16 Americans have reached the second round of the Australian Open--12 women and four men, including two-time NCAA champions Steve Johnson and Nicole Gibbs. A recap of the Americans' Day Two action is available at usta.com.  Among the biggest wins was Madison Brengle's 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory over No. 13 seed Andrea Petkovic of Germany.  In the post match news conference, Brengle revealed she had recently had skin cancer, jeopardizing her trip to Australia, and has a benign growth in her jaw which will require reconstructive surgery.  For more on Brengle's match, see the website's article. Quotes from Brengle on her health scare can be found at the Wall Street Journal.

In Bolton, England, six US players--3 boys and 3 girls--have reached the quarterfinals of the Nike Junior International Teen Tennis tournament for 14-and-under players.  No. 2 seed Caty McNally needed three sets to get by Eddie Herr 12s champion Himari Sato of Japan 6-1, 5-7, 6-1.  Amanda Anisimova(8) and Tyra Hurricane Black(14) both won their matches in straight sets.   The US boys advancing to the final eight are Nathan Han(12), Cannon Kingsley(16) and wild card Anton Matusevich, all of whom won today in straight sets. Han will play top seed Jack Draper of Great Britain Wednesday.

Han and Govind Nanda, the No. 4 seeds, have reached the doubles semifinals, as have McNally and Anisimova, the No. 2 seeds.  Complete draws are available at the Tennis Europe tournament page.

The second Division I team rankings of the year were released today, with the Southern Cal men and UCLA women remaining atop the polls. With most teams just beginning to play dual matches, there wasn't likely to be a dramatic change, but the Duke women's 4-3 win over William and Mary caused their ranking to drop from 2 to 4. The Georgia women's loss to Baylor sent them from 5 to 10, with Baylor moving from 15 to 9.  The ITA release is here.

In the first day of main draw singles at the $10,000 Weston Futures, wild card Alex Rybakov and lucky loser Tommy Paul picked up victories. Rybakov defeated David Vega Hernandez of Spain 6-3, 6-2 and Paul outlasted wild card Walker Duncan 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.  Wild card Francis Tiafoe and qualifiers Dennis Uspensky and Reilly Opelka are American teens on Wednesday's schedule.

At the $25,000 women's event in Daytona Beach, qualifying was completed today with former Florida star Lauren Embree and Russian teenager Natalia Vikhlyantseva among those reaching the main draw. World No. 1 junior CiCi Bellis was defeated in her first round match, one of four main draw matches played today, losing to 24-year-old Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, herself a former junior No. 1, 6-2, 6-4.