ITF Junior Update, Non-Wimbledon Edition; USTA's US Open Wild Card Challenge; Robbye Poole's Role in Serena's Grand Slam Quest; World University Games Medal Results
While Sofya Zhuk and Reilly Opelka's Wimbledon titles highlighted last week's ITF Junior competition, plenty of junior tennis competition took place away from the purple and green of the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
The Caribbean is a popular destination this time of year for US players looking to collect points at lower level events, and Kariann Pierre-Louis swept the titles at the Grade 4 in the Bahamas. The 16-year-old, seeded third, defeated No. 2 seed Hurricane Tyra Black 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the final, her second win in three meetings this year with the 14-year-old. Pierre-Louis partnered Naomi Waters to also take the doubles championship, with the top seeds beating No. 2 seed Rika Tanaka and Saya Usui of Japan 6-0, 6-4 in the final.
At the Grade 4 in Canada, Americans Paris Corley and Michelle Wang won the girls doubles title in a walkover, with Canadians Stacey Fung and Katarina Kopcalic unable to compete in the final.
There is a Grade 1 on clay in Austria this week, with two American girls through to the second round. Nada Dimovska qualified and won her first round match; Victoria Emma will play No. 10 seed Jade Lewis of New Zealand after winning her first round match. Emily Arbuthnott of Great Britain in the top girls seed, with Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece the No. 1 boys seed. Sami Kirberg and Sean Hill, the two American boys in the draw, lost their first round matches.
In US Pro Circuit action last week, two-time NCAA champion Somdev Devvarman of India won the $50,000 Challenger in Winnetka, beating former USC star Daniel Nguyen 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(5) in the longest final in ATP Challenger history, a three hour and 31 minute match that ended at 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Jonathan Kelley covered the tournament throughout the week (although not the final) for his On The Rise blog, so check out his coverage and interviews from the only Pro Circuit event in the US last week.
This week marks the beginning of the USTA's US Open Wild Card Challenge for women, which kicks off at the $50,000 Stockton, California tournament. The best two results in three events, with Sacramento and Lexington Challengers in the following two weeks will earn one American woman a place in the US Open main draw. For more on the Wild Card Challenge (the men's version begins next week in Binghamton, New York), see usta.com.
In today's action in Stockton, former Stanford Kristie Ahn qualified for the main draw, and Jamie Loeb, Jennifer Brady and Danielle Lao advanced to the second round. Wild card Loeb defeated Caitlin Whoriskey 7-6(5), 7-6(4), Brady took out No. 2 seed Eri Hozumi of Japan 6-3, 6-3, and wild card Lao beat Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-1.
When I was at Wimbledon I saw former Clemson and Ole Miss star Robbye Poole at several junior matches, on the days when his new employer, Serena Williams, was not playing. Now serving as her hitting partner, a position he first took this spring at Indian Wells thanks to a referral from John Isner, Poole will be on the inside while the world's No. 1 attempts to complete the Grand Slam in New York next month. For more on how he got the job, see this article on the Ole Miss website.
The World University Games in Korea are wrapping up, with the tennis competition completed over the weekend. The medal results are available here. Former University of Memphis star Joe Salisbury and Darren Walsh, who played at SMU, won the gold medal in men's doubles for Great Britain, and recent Clemson standout Beatrice Gumulya of Indonesia took the bronze in women's singles. Hyeon Chung of Korea won the men's singles gold and Kai-chen Chang of Taiwan the women's singles gold.