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Friday, January 22, 2016

My Australian Open Junior Preview; Noel Wins Nike Teen Tennis Title; ITA Kickoff Weekend Underway; Rotsaert, Johnson in Colombia G1 Quarterfinals; Kenin Advances to Wesley Chapel $25K Semis

My preview of the Australian Open Junior Championships, which begin Saturday (tonight in the US) is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network.  Two American boys will be making their junior slam main draw debuts tonight in Melbourne, with qualifier Zeke (he's back to Zeke in Australia, after having been formalized as Ezekiel recently by the ITF) Clark taking on No. 7 seed Djurabeck Karimov of Uzbekistan, a semifinalist last year, and Liam Caruana playing qualifier Rio Noguchi of Japan. The other two US players competing, Traralgon champion Ulises Blanch, and Maria Mateas, will open play Sunday.

Top seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada plays a lucky loser, Satoko Sueno of Japan tonight; boys top seed Mate Valkusz of Hungary is not scheduled.

All courts are showing as being streamed at WatchESPN, even those with junior matches only, so check out that option at 7 p.m. Eastern tonight.

Lauren Davis lost to Maria Sharapova in three sets, leaving Serena Williams the only US player still alive in singles in the top half of either draw.  John Isner(10), Steve Johnson(31) Madison Keys(15), Vavara Lepchenko and Madison Brengle will try to join Williams in the second week with wins tonight.

Draws are available at the Australian Open website.

Another big junior event, this one for 14-and-under players, concluded today in Bolton, England, with Alexa Noel, the No. 5 seed, taking the Nike International Teen Tennis girls singles title.  Noel avenged her lost to Qinwen Zheng of China at the Junior Orange Bowl last month, claiming a 6-0, 2-6, 7-5 victory.  Noel and Vanessa Ong also won the doubles title, with Victoria Hu claiming the consolation tournament.

Harold Mayot of France, the No. 2 seed, defeated top seed Borna Devald of Croatia 6-2, 6-3 to sweep the boys titles.

Next up is Les Petits As, where the fields are usually stronger than those in Bolton. Eddie Herr and Junior Orange Bowl champion Marta Kostyuk is scheduled to compete there. Qualifying begins in Tarbes on Saturday.

In college tennis, the Division I ITA Kickoff Weekend is underway, although weather issues have delayed the start of several of the 16 four-team tournaments. Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today is providing previews for the men's sites, the winners of which will go on to the ITA Indoor Team Championships in Charlottesville Virginia in February.  Joey Dillon has prepared a preview of the women's regionals, also at College Tennis Today. The women will play their Team Indoor Championships at the University of Wisconsin this year.

In other college tennis news, this article from the Palo Alto newspaper states that junior Carol Zhao will not be competing for the Cardinal until March, and is likely to turn pro after that. She has not played a college match, that I'm aware of, since the NCAA women's singles final back in May.

Taylor Johnson and Alexandre Rotsaert have reached the quarterfinals of the Grade 1 Barranquilla Cup in Colombia.  Johnson, who is unseeded, has beaten No. 5 seed Emiliana Arango of Colombia and No. 10 seed Yang Lee of Taiwan to reach today's quarterfinals. Rotsaert, the No. 14 seed, defeated No. 3 seed Lucas Koelle of Brazil 7-6(0), 7-6(1) in Thursday's third round.

Qualifier Sonya Kenin has advanced to the semifinals of the $25,000 Pro Circuit event in Wesley Chapel Florida, defeating wild card Kayla Day 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-2. Kenin, in her first semifinal at the $25K level, will play top seed Shelby Rogers, who beat Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-5 today.  Kat Stewart, the No. 2 seed, will play unseeded Jesika Maleckova of the Czech Republic in the other semifinal.

Rain the Miami area washed out all quarterfinal matches at the $10,000 Sunrise men's Futures tournament, so two matches will be played on Saturday.