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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Five US Players Advance to Second Round at French Open Junior Championships; No. 2 Seed Xu Out to Wild Card Yerolymos

The first round of the French Open Junior Championships was interrupted by rain early Sunday in Paris, but five US juniors advanced to the second round, with two others halfway through their matches when darkness caused postponement.

Ulises Blanch was the most dominant, taking out Argentina's Franco Capalbo of Argentina 6-1, 6-1. Capalbo, No. 17 in the ITF Junior rankings, is the highest ranked player not to be seeded in Paris.  No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz also had little trouble, needing less than an hour to get by wild card Gabriel Decamps of Brazil 6-1, 6-4.  Nathan Ponwith, up 5-2 in the second set against qualifier Louis Wessels of Germany, saw that lead evaporate, but a late break gave him the set 7-5, after Wessels had won the first 6-3. The match was suspended for darkness after Ponwith took the second set.

Michael Mmoh(6) and William Blumberg(9) had late matches that were cancelled midday when it was obvious that darkness would prevent the day's original schedule from being completed.

The US girls to advance included Caroline Dolehide, who defeated Seone Mendez of Australian 6-4, 6-4, No. 7 seed Usue Arconada, who edged Emilie Francati of Denmark 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, and No. 3 seed Katerina Stewart, who cruised past wild card Lucie Wargnier of France 6-1, 6-2.

Raveena Kingsley took the first set from top seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 7-5, but trailed 4-1 in the second set when play was suspended due to darkness.

Michaela Gordon lost a heart-breaker to No. 8 seed Katie Swan of Great Britain, letting a match point and a 5-1 third set lead slip away in Swan's 4-6, 6-4, 8-6 victory.  Although Gordon served for the set twice, it was on Swan's serve at 3-5, 30-40 that the match point surfaced, but the Australian Open girls finalist saved it and broke in the next game.  Although Gordon did hold to continue the match, she lost her serve quickly at 6-7 to drop the match. Francesca Di Lorenzo lost to Evgeniya Levashova of Russia 6-4, 7-6(2), the only other US loss of the day.

No. 2 seed Shilin Xu led 5-2 in the third, but failed to convert a match point against Margot Yerolymos with the French wild card saving a match point at 3-5 and winning the final five games of the match in a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory. Xu, who also lost in the first round of the Orange Bowl last year, has always played her best tennis on hard courts, not clay. So instead of Xu, Dolehide's opponent is Yerolymos, and their second round match, as well as three other girls second matches, are on the schedule for Monday.

Although top seed Orlando Luz of Brazil, No. 3 seed Seong-chan Hong of Korea and No. 5 seed Viktor Durasovic of Norway were taken to three sets, the only boys seed to lose Sunday was No. 7 seed Akira Santillan of Japan, who lost to Alex Molcan of Slovakia 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Xu was the only girls seed to fall Sunday.

In addition to the completion of Ponwith's and Kingsley's matches, US juniors in first round action on Monday are CiCi Bellis(4), Sonya Kenin(11), Tommy Paul(13), Alex Rybakov, Reilly Opelka as well as Blumberg(9) and Mmoh(6). Dolehide is scheduled for her second round match.

Doubles begins on Monday as well, with 14 Americans in the draws, but only three all-American teams: Paul and Blumberg(4), Rybakov and Ponwith, and Dolehide and Stewart(6).  Fritz is playing with Luz, and they are the top seeds, with Mmoh and Santillan seeded No. 4. Blanch is partnering Juan Pablo Ficovich of Argentina.

Kenin and Swan are the No. 2 seeds, Gordon and Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada are No. 4, and Arconada and Nadia Podoroska of Argentina are No. 5.  Di Lorenzo and Luisa Stefani of Brazil, who won the Grade 1 Banana Bowl, Grade A Porto Alegre and last week's Grade 1 Astrid Bowl, are not seeded, but are obviously an excellent team on clay.  Alexandra Sanford, who lost in the final round of singles qualifying, received entry as an alternate. She is playing with Thaisa Pedretti of Brazil.

Opelka, Kingsley and Bellis are not entered in doubles.

Monday's schedule is here.  The draws are are here.