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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chung, Kalinskaya Top Seeds at ITF Grade 1 in College Park; Finals of US Open National Playoffs Set; Tiafoe Defeats Harrison to Qualify at Winston-Salem

I've arrived in College Park, Maryland, where my coverage of the ITF Grade 1 International Hard Court Championships will begin on Monday, and I've just had a look at the draws and the order of play.

Yunseong Chung of Korea is the top seed, and reaching a Futures final two weeks ago and a semifinal last week in Korea should have him full of confidence if not a bit jet-lagged for his first round match against Trent Bryde. Casper Ruud of Norway is seeded No. 2, and will face Alex Phillips in the opening round.

Only two US boys are seeded: No. 5 Nathan Ponwith and No. 13 Sam Riffice.  Ponwith plays Ammar Alhogbani and Riffice faces qualifier Oliver Crawford.

Anna Kalinskaya of Russia is back to defend her title, with the French Open finalist playing qualifier Elysia Bolton.  Australian Open girls champion Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia is the No. 2 seed, and will face Juliana Valero of Colombia in the opening round.

The only seeded US girl is Alexandra Sanford, at No. 15. She will play Karman Thandi of India in the opening round of play.

Half of Monday's matches are at the University of Maryland courts, but I'll be sticking to the action taking place at the Junior Tennis Champions Center.  I intend to watch 14-year-old Anastasia Potapova of Russia, the No. 7 seed play Amanda Anisimova, who will turn 14 at the end of the month. Anisimova and Potapova did not play at the World Junior Tennis team competition final earlier this month in the Czech Republic, with Hurricane Tyra Black going up against the Russian No. 1, but I'm sure Anisimova knows what to expect.

I also plan to watch No. 7 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, the 15-year-old who has so much success on the ATP Challenger tour. I've seen Auger-Aliassime play only briefly at the Junior Orange Bowl and last year's 16s Orange Bowl, so I hope to have an opportunity to see more this week. He plays Brian Shi in the first round.

The finals of the US Open National Playoffs are set, with Monday's winners receiving wild cards into the US Open qualifying draws.

Top seed Matija Pecotic of Croatia will play No. 2 seed Jesse Witten in the men's final.  Pecotic, the former All-American at Princeton, defeated Hleb Maslau of Belarus 6-3, 6-1, while Witten downed Minnesota sophomore Felix Corwin 6-1, 6-3.

Unseeded Virginia senior Julia Elbaba will take on No. 4 seed Jennifer Elie in the women's final. Elbaba defeated No. 3 seed Ashley Weinhold 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 and Elie beat No. 2 seed Jacqueline Cako 6-4, 6-2.

Kalamazoo champion Frances Tiafoe qualified for the main draw of an ATP event for the first time, beating Ryan Harrison 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the third and final round of qualifying at the Winston-Salem Open at Wake Forest. The 17-year-old will play Australian James Duckworth in the first round. Duckworth defeated Tiafoe in the first round of the ATP even in Nice back in May 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-2. For more on Tiafoe's win today, see this article from the tournament.  The other Americans in the final round of qualifying lost, with Bjorn Fratangelo, Wil Spencer and Sekou Bangoura all dropping their matches.

Wild card Jared Donaldson played his first round match tonight against Sam Groth and lost a tough one to the Australian 6-7(4), 7-6(8), 7-6(5). Donaldson was up a break in both the second and third sets.