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Monday, January 25, 2016

Caruana Reaches Third Round at Australian Open Juniors; Four Americans Qualify for ITF Masters Tournament; Fields Set for ITA Team Indoor Championships; Les Petits As Update

Liam Caruana was the last direct entry into the Australian Open Junior Championships, but he advanced to Wednesday's third round with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Australian Blake Ellis. Ellis had reached the final at last week's Grade 1 in Traralgon.  Caruana will play No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the third round.

Caruana is one of two American juniors still in singles, with the other, No. 8 seed Ulises Blanch, scheduled to play his second round match tonight against Australian wild card Max Purcell.

Caruana lost his first round doubles match, but the three other American juniors advanced to the second round. Blanch and Gian Marco Moroni of Italy, the No. 5 seeds, beat Chien-hsun Lo of Taiwan and Yosuke Watanuki of Japan 7-6(8), 6-3; Maria Mateas and Anastasia Potapova of Russia, the No. 4 seeds, beat Lara Salden of Belgium and Phillis Vanenburg of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-2, and Zeke (now back to Ezekiel in the draw) Clark and his partner Daisuke Sumizawa of Japan upset No. 2 seeds Tsitsipas and Djurabeck Karimov of Uzbekistan 6-4, 3-6, 10-6.

The only seed to lose in singles on Monday was No. 14 seed Lucie Kankova of the Czech Republic, who was beaten by wild card Baijing Lin of Australia 6-4, 7-6(4).

Draws are available at the Australian Open website.  All matches continue to be streamed in the United States via WatchESPN.

The ITF announced the fields for the April ITF Masters Tournament in China, with four Americans among the 16 players invited to compete in the event's second staging.  William Blumberg, who has not played since the US Open juniors, Sonya Kenin, Kayla Day and Usue Arconada will travel to China for the April 8-10 event, forgoing the Easter Bowl Grade B1 which is that same week.

The other participants are:
Dalma Galfi (HUN)
Katie Swan (GBR)
Anna Blinkova (RUS)
Tereza Mihalikova (SVK)            
Charlotte Robillard-Millette (CAN)

Casper Ruud (NOR)
Mate Valkusz (HUN)
Hong Seong Chan (KOR)
Marcelo Barrios Vera (CHI)
Orlando Luz (BRA)
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB)
Alvaro Lopez San Martin (ESP)

Two of the boys--Hong and Lopez San Martin--turn 19 this year, but are eligible for this competition based on their Top 10 finish to 2015. 

The ITF announced last month the travel grant amounts all participants will receive, which I believe are unchanged from last year. None of the players competing this year played in last year's event.

The fields for the ITA Team Indoor Championships were set after action concluded today at three men's sites. The results of the finals are below.

USC(1) def. Tulane(2) 4-3
Illinois(1) def. Northwestern(2) 4-0
San Diego(2) def. Duke(1) 4-2
North Carolina(1) def. North Carolina St(3) 4-2
Ohio State(1) def. Denver(3) 4-0
UCLA(1) def. Georgia Tech(3) 4-0
Oklahoma(1) def. Troy(3) 4-0
Texas Tech(3) def. Florida(4) 4-3
South Florida(1) def. LSU(3) 4-0
Columbia(1) def. Stanford(2) 4-3
TCU(1) def. Oklahoma State(2) 4-3
Wake Forest(1) def. Tennessee(2) 4-0
Texas A&M(1) def. Boise State(3) 4-0
Baylor(1) def. Oregon(2) 4-2
Georgia(1) def. Memphis(3) 4-1

Virginia advances automatically as host.

Miami(1) def. Auburn(2) 4-2
Oklahoma State(1) def. Northwestern(2) 4-0
Cal(1) def. Washington(3) 4-0
Vanderbilt(1) def. Brown(3) 4-0
Alabama(1) def. Texas(2) 4-3
Georgia(1) def. Old Dominion(2) 4-0
Texas Tech(1) def. Illinois(3) 4-1
Michigan(1) def. Kentucky(2) 4-3
LSU(2) def. Georgia Tech(1) 4-2
Texas A&M(1) def. Wichita State(2) 4-3
Ohio State(2) def. TCU(1) 4-0
Virginia(1) def. Columbia(2) 6-1
North Carolina(1) def. Tulsa(2) 4-0
Duke(1) def. Mississippi State(2) 4-1
Fresno State(3) def. UCLA(1) 4-3

Wisconsin advances automatically as host.

For the ITA release, click here.  Bobby Knight has much more at College Tennis Today.

In first round action at Les Petits As, four of the eight US players lost in the opening round. Zane Khan lost to No. 4 seed Borna Devald of Croatia 6-4, 6-2 and No. 15 seed Faris Khan fell to Lukas Palovic of Slovakia 6-2, 7-5.  

Teen Tennis champion Alexa Noel, the No. 4 seed, was beaten by Sofiya Chekhlystova of Estonia 7-5, 6-3, but the score doesn't convey the struggle that was the final game. That game, which I watched on the tournament's YouTube channel, took 29 minutes to complete. There were no ballrunners, not many first serves and some moonball rallies, but that's still a remarkable length of time.  There were 11 deuces in all, with Noel saving seven match points while serving to stay in the match, losing the eighth.  Both girls will undoubtedly put that one on their memorable games list as they continue their junior tennis careers.

In other US girls action, No. 12 seed Vanessa Ong beat Marta Custic of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Victoria Hu came back for a 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-0 win over Katriin Saar of Estonia. For the second week in a row, Gabby Price lost to Himari Sato of Japan, this time by a 6-2, 6-1 score to the No. 7 seed.

One US boy did win, with Nicholas Garcia getting his first victory of the trip, beating No. 14 seed Maks Kasnikowski of Poland 6-1, 6-1. Stefan Leustian, the No. 8 seed, plays on Tuesday. 

Draws are available at the tournament website.