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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Opelka Beats Top Seed Luz; Four US Boys, Two US Girls in French Open Junior Quarterfinals; UCLA's Anderson, Oklahoma's Alvarez Finish No. 1 in Final ITA Rankings

Reilly Opelka has always said he loves playing on clay, and the 6-foot-10 17-year-old now has even more reasons to feel affection for the surface after defeating World Junior No. 1 Orlando Luz of Brazil 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 today in the third round of the French Open Junior Championships.

Opelka dominated on serve in the first set, never facing a break point and taking advantage of the first two Luz provided him at 15-40 5-6. Luz however, was not about to panic, having lost the first set in his previous two matches, then winning the third sets of those 6-1 and 6-0.

Opelka's first serve percentage dropped and he was broken in the fifth game, with Luz hanging on to that break to level the match.  Opelka was again broken in the fifth game of the set in the third, and again Luz served for the set, and this time the match, at 5-4. He never got to match point, broken at 15-40, and after Opelka held at love for the second straight service game, Luz found himself down 0-40.  He saved two match points, but not the third, as Opelka closed the match with a down-the-line backhand winner, according to this article from Opelka's hometown newspaper.  Sandra Harwitt talked to Opelka about the match for the ITF junior website.

Opelka's opponent in the quarterfinals is one of the four American boys to reach the final eight, No. 6 seed Michael Mmoh, who needed only 40 minutes to defeat No. 12 seed Theo Fournerie of France 6-1, 6-0.  Opelka and Mmoh last played in the Eddie Herr final last December, on Har-Tru, with Opelka winning 6-4, 6-4.  They also met in the semifinal at the Grade 1 International Hard Courts in College Park, Maryland last year, with Opelka taking that 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

The third American still alive in the top half of the draw is No. 13 seed Tommy Paul, who had no difficulty with Djurabeck Karimov of Uzbekistan, coasting to a 6-1, 6-2 win. Paul will play unseeded Manuel Pena Lopez of Argentina, who needed more than three hours to eliminate No. 11 seed Nam Hoang Ly of Vietnam 6-7(4), 6-3, 10-8.

The fourth American boy to advance to the quarterfinals is No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz, who avenged his Orange Bowl loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-3, 6-2.  Fritz served for the match at 6-3, 5-0, having won eight straight games, but let three match points slip away.  He had two more in the next game, 15-40 on Tsitsipas' serve, but converted neither of those. Serving for the match again at 5-2, he was up 40-15, only to see those two match points, his sixth and seventh, come and go. He then had to save two break points, but Fritz finally converted on his eighth match point. He will play No. 10 seed Marcelo Barrios Vera of Chile, who beat unseeded Alex Molcan of Slovakia 6-4, 6-1.

In the only boys match not featuring an American, unseeded Juan Pablo Ficovich of Argentina will meet No. 4 seed Corentin Denolly of France.

CiCi Bellis and Katerina Stewart, seeded No. 4 and No. 3 respectively based on their WTA rankings, both have advanced to the quarterfinals.  After saving a match point in her second round win on Tuesday, Bellis had an easier time with No. 13 seed Miriam Kolodziejova of the Czech Republic, taking a 6-2, 6-4 decision.  Stewart dropped her first set of the tournament, but got by No. 14 seed Anna Blinkova of Russia 6-1, 5-7, 6-1.

Bellis will play unseeded Jil Teichmann of Switzerland after Teichmann defeating Great Britain's Katie Swan, the No. 8 seed 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.  Stewart meets no. 12 seed Paula Badosa Gibert of Spain, who beat No. 6 seed Charlotte Robillard-Millette of Canada 6-3, 6-3.

Unseeded Caroline Dolehide fell to No. 16 seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia 7-5, 6-3. Kalinskaya faces unseeded Fanni Stollar of Hungary, who beat Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov of Spain 6-4, 6-2.

Top seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic will play unseeded Katharina Hobgarski of Germany in the quarterfinals. Hobgarski, who won the Grade 1 warmup tournament in Belgium last week, beat 15-year-old Olesya Pervushina of Russia 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 to advance.

The US juniors have also had success in doubles, with nine of them still in as the tournament moves to the quarterfinals.  Fritz (with Luz, the top seeded team) advanced to the quarterfinals today as did Usue Arconada, Sonya Kenin and the team of Dolehide and Stewart, who saved a match point in their 6-4, 4-6, 11-9 win over Gabby Ruse of Romania and Bolsova Zadoinov.

All singles and doubles quarterfinals are scheduled for Thursday.  The draws are here.

The ITA released the final individual rankings this year, with UCLA's Robin Anderson and Oklahoma's Axel Alvarez finishing at No. 1.  The Baylor team of Julian Lenz and Diego Galeano claimed the No. 1 ranking in men's doubles, and the two-time NCAA champions from Alabama, Erin Routiliffe and Maya Jansen, ended the year No. 1 in the women's rankings.

The women's singles Top 10:
1. Robin Anderson, UCLA
2. Carol Zhao, Stanford
3. Jamie Loeb, North Carolina
4. Brooke Austin, Florida
5. Julia Elbaba, Virginia
6. Maegan Manasse, Cal
7. Lauren Herring, Georgia
8. Josie Kuhlman, Florida
9. Stephanie Wagner, Miami
10. Sydney Campbell, Vanderbilt

The men's singles Top 10:
1. Axel Alvarez, Oklahoma
2. Ryan Shane, Virginia
3. Mackenzie McDonald, UCLA
4. Julian Lenz, Baylor
5. Noah Rubin, Wake Forest
6. Soren Hess-Olesen, Texas
7. Quentin Monaghan, Notre Dame
8. Andrew Harris, Oklahoma
9. Sebastian Stiefelmeyer, Louisville
10. Gonzales Austin, Vanderbilt

The women's doubles Top 5:
1. Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe, Alabama
2. Carol Zhao and Taylor Davidson, Stanford
3. Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan, Florida
4. Beatrice Gumulya and Jessy Rompies, Clemson
5. Catherine Harrison and Kyle McPhillips

The men's doubles Top 5:
1. Julian Lenz and Diego Galeano, Baylor
2. Austin Smith and Ben Wagland, Georgia
3. Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese, Tennessee
4. Roberto Quiroz and Yannick Hanfmann, Southern Cal
5. Luca Corinteli and Justin Shane, Virginia

The complete rankings can be found at the ITA website.

The draft for next year's Kickoff Weekend started today with the women, and top 20 teams opting out of the draft, and therefore the ITA Team Indoor Championships, include Southern Cal, Florida, Stanford, Baylor and Clemson.  The completed draft can be found on the ITA website.  The men's draft is Thursday.