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Monday, December 14, 2015

Fritz, Galfi Finish 2015 as World Junior Champions; ITA Convention Division I Issues Recap; Ulises Blanch Feature

The ITF released the 2015 year-end rankings today, with US Open junior champions Taylor Fritz of the United States and Dalma Galfi of Hungary finishing as ITF World Junior champions.  They will be honored at an ITF dinner in Paris held during the French Open in June.


Fritz very much wanted to win the title, and he admitted when I talked to him in Champaign last month that he was keeping an eye on who had entered the final big junior tournaments of 2015, although, after he won two Challenger titles, there was never a suggestion that he would return to junior competition.  As it happened, the players with the best chance of catching Fritz didn't play in the final clay swing, and the 18-year-old Californian ran away with the title, amassing 1356.88 points compared to No. 2 Casper Ruud's 985.00.

Fritz is the first US boy to finish at No. 1 since Donald Young in 2005.
Here are the boys ITF World champions since 2004, when the ITF first introduced its combined singles and doubles rankings:

2004: Gael Monfils, France
2005: Donald Young, USA
2006: Thiemo De Bakker, The Netherlands
2007: Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania
2008: Tsung-Hua Yang, Taiwan
2009: Daniel Berta, Sweden
2010: Juan Sebastien Gomez, Colombia
2011: Jiri Vesely, Czech Republic
2012: Filip Peliwo, Canada
2013: Alexander Zverev, Germany
2014: Andrey Rublev, Russia


Galfi's win was much closer, as the 17-year-old edged Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who did not play any junior events after the US Open.  Galfi's total of 1168.75 was just 15 points more than Vondrousova's 1153.75.  She is the first Hungarian to be named ITF World Junior champion.

The girls world champions since 2004:

2004: Michaella Krajicek, The Netherlands
2005: Victoria Azarenka, Belarus
2006: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia
2007: Urszula Radwanska, Poland
2008: Noppanwan Lertcheewakarn, Thailand
2009: Kristina Mladenovic, France
2010: Daria Gavrilova, Russia
2011: Irina Khromacheva, Russia
2012: Taylor Townsend, USA
2013: Belinda Bencic, Switzerland
2014: CiCi Bellis, USA

In addition to the prestige, there are tangible benefits for finishing first, second, Top 5 and Top 10, which I'm including below*. The Top 5 girls also benefit from "merited increases" in the number of ITF/WTA tournaments they can play, which are limited according to age.

If you look at the 2015 year-end rankings, you will not find French Open boys champion Tommy Paul or Wimbledon boys champion Reilly Opelka. That's because the ITF has strict requirements for year-end rankings which usually only about 100 players per year meet.  Here is the criteria:

To be eligible for a year-end ranking a junior must have played in a minimum of six individual junior singles tournaments, including at least three Grade A (Super Series) tournaments and including at least three ranking tournaments outside his/her own country. Each Grade A (Super Series) tournament won will count as two tournaments played. Each Grade A (Super Series) tournament won will further count as one foreign tournament played.

*The year-end number 1 ranked girl will be offered direct entry into the Main Draw at one (1) ITF Women’s Circuit tournament up to and including $100,000 prize money level and two (2) ITF Women’s Circuit tournaments up to and including $75,000 prize money level. 

The year-end number 2 ranked girl will be offered direct entry into the Main Draw at two (2) ITF Women’s Circuit tournaments up to and including $75,000 prize money level and direct entry into the Main Draw at one (1) ITF Women’s Circuit tournament up to and including $50,000 prize-money level. 

The year-end number 3-5 ranked girls will be offered direct entry into the Main Draw at two (2) ITF Women’s Circuit tournaments up to and including $50,000 prize money level and direct entry into the Main Draw at one (1) ITF Women’s Circuit tournament up to and including $25,000 prize money level. 

The year-end number 6-10 ranked girls will be offered direct entry into the Main Draw at three (3) ITF Women’s Circuit tournaments up to and including $25,000 prize money level. Should any girl(s) ranked 1-10 not wish to participate in the Junior Exempt Project, their three junior exempt places can be awarded to the next highest year-end ranked player(s) ranked 11-15. Such player(s) will be offered direct entry into the Main Draw at three (3) ITF Women’s Circuit tournaments up to and including $25,000 prize-money level. 

The year-end number 1-2 ranked boys will be offered direct entry into the Main Draw at three (3) ITF Men’s Circuit tournaments up to and including $15,000+H prize-money level. 

The year-end number 3-5 ranked boys will be offered direct entry into the Main Draw at three (3) ITF Men’s Circuit tournaments up to and including $15,000 prize-money level. 

The year-end number 6-10 ranked boys will be offered direct entry into the Main Draw at three (3) ITF Men’s Circuit tournaments at $10,000 prize-money level. 

source: ITF Junior Rules and Regulations

Bobby Knight is attending the ITA Convention in Naples and has written up an account of some of the discussion during the Division I strategy sessions for his College Tennis Today blog.

Ulises Blanch was the subject of this Bradenton Herald feature, which explains why the 17-year-old, who trains in Argentina, is so comfortable traveling all over the world. You're unlikely to find a more global background anywhere. Clever headline too.

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