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Saturday, April 30, 2016

USA Junior Teams Advance to ITF World Competition; Bolton, Tsygura Win Grade 4 Titles in Florida; Pro Circuit Update; Big 12, Big Ten Finals Set

Three of the four teams from the United States went undefeated in the North American qualifying for the ITF's junior team competitions, with both 14-and-under teams and the Junior Fed Cup team winning their matches 3-0 today.  The 16-and-under Junior Davis Cup team fell to Canada 2-1, but will still advance to the world finals in Budapest in September.

Canada is the defending Junior Davis Cup champion, so the US boys team of Keenan Mayo, Trey Hilderbrand and Sebastian Korda were the underdogs coming into today's tie. Although Denis Shapovalov is no longer age eligible, Felix Auger-Aliassime is, and his ITF junior ranking, 11, is much higher than any other participant in this year's Boca Raton qualifying. In today's tie, however, Korda got the better of him, posting a 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 win at No. 1 (Hilderbrand had lost to Nicaise Muamba 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2) to send the match to the doubles to decide it.  Muamba and Chih Chi Huang won the doubles over Korda and Mayo 3-6, 6-3, 10-3 to give the Canadian team first place.  This is the first year that the competition's doubles have been played with the no-ad, match tiebreaker format that has been in place for some time on the ITF Junior Circuit.

In the boys 14-and-under competition, Nicholas Garcia and Stefan Leustian won their singles to clinch the win against Canada, who did not qualify for the finals, with Mexico finishing second this year.  In the girls 14-and-under competition, Naomi Cheong and Whitney Osuigwe earned the two singles wins against Puerto Rico. In the Junior Fed Cup, the US team, a heavy favorite this week, had no difficulty with Canada, with Caty McNally and Amanda Anisimova getting singles wins.

Complete results can be found at the ITF tournament page.

Just down I-95 in Coral Gables, the ITF Grade 4 Copa Badia was completed today, with No. 2 seeds taking the titles with wins over the No. 1 seeds.  Elysia Bolton defeated Hurricane Tyra Black 6-4, 6-3, her second win over Black this month, having previously beaten her in the second round at the Carson Grade 1.  It is the 16-year-old's first ITF singles title.

Tsygura, who will turn 17 tomorrow, also claimed his first ITF singles title, beating Alexander Rotsaert 6-2, 6-0.  Rotsaert had beaten Tsygura in the semifinals of the Kalamazoo 16s last summer.

Mac Kiger and Aleksandar Kovacevic won the boys doubles, beating Steven Sun and Michael Heller 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 in a battle between unseeded teams.  The girls doubles champions also were unseeded with  16s Easter Bowl champions Chloe Beck and Emma Navarro beating Bolton (the ITF Easter Bowl doubles champion) and Emma Decoste, the No. 3 seeds, 6-4, 6-2.

Two Americans will play for the championship of the $50,000 Charlottesville event Sunday, with wild card Taylor Townsend and unseeded Grace Min facing off.  Townsend defeated unseeded Elitsa Kostova of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-1, while Min dominated No. 2 seed Anna Tatishvili 6-4, 6-0.  Townsend is the leader in the USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge, and will be very difficult to catch if she wins the title Sunday.  She also is again in the doubles final, with Asia Muhammad, with the pair going for their fifth title on the USTA Pro Circuit since late February. The No. 2 seeds will play unseeded Shelby Rogers and Alexandra Panova of Russia.

The news was not as good for the US boys competing today, with Frances Tiafoe suffering his fourth straight loss to Quentin Halys of France in the final of the Tallahassee Challenger and Vasil Kirkov falling in the semifinals of the $10,000 Vero Beach Futures.

Tiafoe, who is now 0-3 in Challenger finals, didn't hold in his last five service games, falling 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2 to the 19-year-old, who collected his first Challenger title.  In the doubles, Julio Peralta of Chile and Dennis Novikov defended their title, beating Peter Luczak and Marc Polmans of Australia 3-6, 6-4, 12-10.

In Vero Beach, lucky loser Kirkov fell to unseeded Martins Podzus of Latvia 6-2, 6-3.  The other 17-year-old in the draw, No. 3 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada, also lost, going out to former Ole Miss star Jonas Luetjen of Germany 6-0, 4-6, 6-3. Luetjen will also play for the doubles title Sunday, with 16-year-old Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia. They will play top seeds Deiton Baughman and Anderson Reed.

The finals are set for the Big 12 and Big Ten Conference Championships on Sunday.

In the Big 12, Texas Tech can take both the men's and women's titles, with the third-seeded women meeting top seed Oklahoma State and the No. 1-seeded men taking on No. 2 seed TCU. Both tournaments are being held in Stillwater.  The women's final will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2 at 1 p.m. Central.

In the Big Ten, Ohio State can take both the men's and women's titles, with the top-seeded women facing No. 3 seed Michigan in East Lansing, and the No. 1-seeded men taking on No. 3 seed Illinois in Minneapolis.