Kenin, Paul Reach Pro Circuit Finals; Rotsaert, Johnson into Barranquilla G1 Semis; Caruana Wins Opener in Australia
Sonya Kenin decided not to compete in the Australian Open Junior Championships this, opting instead to stay in Florida and play in the $25,000 tournaments there.
That choice has turned out well, with the 2015 USTA National 18s champion picking up the best win of her career today, beating WTA No. 154 and top seed Shelby Rogers 6-3, 7-5 in the semifinals of the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Wesley Chapel.
Kenin, who lost in the second round of qualifying last week in Daytona Beach, made it through qualifying in Wesley Chapel and defeated No. 6 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who won Daytona Beach, in the second round. The 17-year-old from Pembroke Pines, Florida will be going for her first title on the professional level Sunday against unseeded Jesika Maleckova of the Czech Republic, who beat No. 2 seed Katerina Stewart 6-2, 6-3. Kenin's only previous Pro Circuit final was at last year's $10,000 tournament in Gainesville, where she lost to Stewart.
Another Florida teenager, Ingrid Neel, won the doubles title, her first at the $25,000 level, partnering Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia. The unseeded pair defeated No. 3 seeds Natela Dzalamidze and Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 4-6, 7-6(4), 10-6 in the final.
Tommy Paul and Adrien Puget will meet again in the final of the $10,000 Sunrise Futures after both recorded two wins today. Top seed Paul, who defeated Puget 7-6(4), 6-0 last week in the Plantation Futures final, downed No. 6 seed Tigre Hank of Mexico 7-6(9), 6-2 in the quarterfinals and Peter Nagy of Hungary 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals. Puget, seeded third this week, defeated Gianni Mina of France 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(1) in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seed Sekou Bangoura 6-2, 6-3 in the semifinals.
Paul will be heading to the $50,000 Challenger in Colombia after Sunday's final, having received a main draw wild card.
In the ITF junior tournament in Colombia, Taylor Johnson and Alexandre Rotsaert have both reached their first Grade 1 semifinals at the Copa Barranquilla. The 16-year-old Rotsaert, the No. 14 seed, defeated No. 10 seed Duarte Vale of Portugal 6-4, 7-6(6), and the 15-year-old Johnson, who is unseeded, beat wild card Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia 7-6(4), 6-1. Top girls seed Olesya Pervushina of Russia was beaten by unseeded Shelly Krolitzky of Israel 0-6, 6-4, 6-2. Krolitzky is Johnson's semifinal opponent.
The first day of the Australian Open junior championships didn't produce many surprises. In the 16 girls matches, four seeds went out, but only two played, as Australians Kimberly Birrell(7) and Priscilla Hon(11) withdrew before play began. Australian qualifier Sara Tomic joined brother Bernard in the winners circle Saturday, beat No. 6 seed Wushuang Zheng of China 7-5, 7-5. No. 13 seed Mai Hontama of Japan lost to Lara Salden of Belgium 6-3, 6-2. Top seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada and No. 2 seed and defending champion Tereza Mihalikova of Slovakia advanced in straight sets.
In the 16 boys matches, two seeds were eliminated. No. 9 seed Jay Clarke of Great Britain was beaten by Mattias Siimar of Estonia 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and No. 16 seed Yibing Wu of China fell to Traralgon finalist Blake Ellis of Australia 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. No. 2 seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia won in straight sets, with top seed Mate Valkusz of Hungary opening play tonight.
Liam Caruana made a successful junior slam debut, beating qualifier Rio Noguchi of Japan 6-1, 7-6(2). Caruana will play Ellis next. Qualifier Zeke Clark lost to Djurabeck Karimov of Uzbekistan 6-1, 6-3. Maria Mateas and Ulises Blanch(8) take the court for their first round matches tonight.
All four Americans are entered in doubles, although none are on the schedule for Sunday. Mateas is playing with Russian Anastasia Potapova and they are seeded fourth. Andreescu and Charlotte Robillard-Millette are the top seeds. In the boys doubles, Blanch is playing with Gian Marco Moroni of Italy and they are seeded fifth. Valkusz and Yunseong Chung of Korea are the top boys seeds. Caruana is partnering Andres Ciurletti of Italy and Clark is playing with fellow qualifier Daisuke Sumizawa of Japan.
My preview of the Australian Open junior championships is available at the Tennis Recruiting Network, where they have also published their predictions for the tournament.
The ITF report on the first day of the junior championships is here.