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Monday, August 22, 2016

Wimbledon Girls Champion Potapova Returns to Competition with Win at Grade 1 International Hard Courts, Eight Seeds Fall in Opening Round; 38 Americans in US Open Qualifying; Fritz Tops Tiafoe at ATP Winston-Salem

©Colette Lewis 2016--
College Park, MD--

The top four seeds in the boys and girls draws at the International Hard Court Championships posted straight-sets victories Monday in the opening round of the Grade 1 tournament at the Junior Tennis Champions Center and the University of Maryland.

Ideal weather, with low humidity, partly cloudy skies and a light breeze, provided a perfect backdrop for the competition, which ended Monday evening with five seeded girls and three seeded boys eliminated.

No. 1 girls seed Anastasia Potapova of Russia was tested by 14-year-old Whitney Osuigwe before claiming a 7-6(5), 6-2 victory.

Potapova served for the first set at 5-3, but could not convert, with Osuigwe handling the pace and depth of Potapova's shots, staying in the points long enough to benefit from errors.   Osuigwe saved two set points serving at 4-5 and 5-6, with Potapova failing to get second serves back in play.

In the tiebreaker, Potapova went up 5-1, only to lose three straight points, putting Osuigwe back on serve, but Potapova earned two more set points with a backhand winner.  Osuigwe saved one with a sharply angled forehand crosscourt winner, but her backhand went long on the next point to give Potapova the set.

Potapova began to find her form midway in the second set, breaking and holding for a 4-2 lead and closing out the match with another break of serve.

The 15-year-old Russian had not played since winning the Wimbledon girls championship last month, taking a week off after Wimbledon, then spending the next few weeks training in Moscow.

"The first round is always so tough," Potapova said. "I just got here two days ago. I was trying to play my game, but I just can't do it, and my opponent today was so good, I just tried not to do mistakes."

Potapova agreed that she had played "a little bit" better in the second set, but was glad to finish in straight sets.

"Now I want to sleep so much," said Potapova, who is playing the US Open Juniors, but not the Grade 1 in Canada next week. "Because in Russia now, it's middle of the night."

In Tuesday's second round, Potapova faces another player younger than she it, in 13-year-old wild card Alexa Noel, who beat Jia Qi Ren of China 6-3, 6-2.

No. 2 seed Claire Liu advanced with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Victoria Emma, No. 3 seed Ioana Minca of Romania defeated wild card Gabriella Price 6-2, 6-0 and No. 4 seed Maria Mateas topped wild card Ayana Akli 6-1, 6-0.

No. 6 seed Malene Helgo of Norway was beaten by Alana Smith 6-0, 6-3; No. 8 seed Zhima Du of China fell to Victoria Hu 3-6, 6-1, 6-1; No. 15 seed Natasha Subhash was beaten by Malkia Menguene 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 and No. 12 seed Maria Carle of Argentina lost to wild card Sophia Hatton 6-3, 6-2.

The fifth girls seed to fall was No. 9 Taylor Johnson, who lost to Carson Branstine 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.  The two had played in the first round of the International Spring Championships in Carson back in March, with Branstine again taking a three-set victory, with Johnson seeded eighth then.

Monday's match was again a long, tense struggle, with Branstine unable to consolidate her breaks at 2-1 and 3-2 in the third set, but serving out the match at love after getting a break at 4-all.

"I think the beginning of the match was higher quality from both of us," said the 15-year-old from Orange, California. "It was a little bit ugly from both of us, a lot of errors, doubles faults. But both of us were kind of figuring out ways to correct things we were doing wrong and today, I guess I solved the problems a little bit better."

Branstine had little reaction when Johnson's backhand went wide on the first match point.

"When it's against one of your closest friends, you don't want to celebrate too much, because of course you want the best for them," said Branstine, who finished third at the USTA 18s Nationals in San Diego. "But you want to win at the same time. So I just keep to myself how happy I was."

Boys top seed Genaro Olivieri of Argentina cruised past Nathan Perrone 6-1, 6-0 and No. 2 seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia defeated Sangeet Sridhar 6-3, 6-0.  No. 3 seed Youssef Hossam of Egypt got by Andrew Fenty 6-3, 6-2 and No. 4 seed Alexei Popyrin of Australia eased past Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-3.

Three boys seeds fell, with No. 13 seed Lingxi Zhao of China defeated by qualifier Adam Neff 6-1, 6-1, No. 11 seed Duarte Vale of Portugal lost to Alexandre Rotsaert 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 and No. 15 seed Jonas Eriksson Ziverts of Sweden was beaten by Brian Cernoch 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

The second round of singles and first round of doubles is set for Tuesday.  See the tournament page for complete draws and the order of play.

Qualifying for the US Open begins tomorrow in New York, with 16 Americans on Tuesday's schedule, which features half of the first round matches.  In total 38 US players are competing for a place in the main draw, 19 men and 19 women.  Below are all those in the draws, and you'll notice a few changes from the initial wild card announcement, with junior Usue Arconada and Caroline Dolehide added in place of Jamie Loeb, who got in on her own ranking, and Raveena Kingsley, who withdrew.  Christopher Eubanks, the Georgia Tech junior, received a wild card when Mitchell Krueger moved into the qualifying on his own ranking.

Christian Harrison (wild card)
Austin Krajicek(23)
Noah Rubin
Stefan Kozlov
*Tennys Sandgren (wild card)
*Christopher Eubanks (wild card)
Tommy Paul
*Vasil Kirkov (wild card)
Daniel Nguyen
*Tim Smyczek(10)
*Alexander Sarkissian
*Ryan Harrison(11)
*Thai Kwiatkowski (wild card)
Ryan Shane (wild card)
* Dennis Novikov(13)
* Mitchell Krueger
Jared Donaldson(14)
Reilly Opelka (wild card)
Sekou Bangoura (wild card)

Sachia Vickery
Usue Arconada (wild card)
Jamie Loeb
*Robin Anderson
*Francesca Di Lorenzo (wild card)
*Kristie Ahn
*Amanda Anisimova
CiCi Bellis
Grace Min
Julia Boserup(21)
Taylor Townsend
*Jessica Pegula(28)
Jennifer Brady(18)
*Ellie Halbauer (wild card)
*Asia Muhammad
Caroline Dolehide (wild card)
Melanie Oudin (wild card)
Nicole Frenkel (wild card)
Sophie Chang (won US Open National Playoffs today)

*on Tuesday's schedule

It's somewhat surprising that none of the 19 US men have drawn another American as a first round qualifying opponent, while three all-US women matches are slated for the first round: Dolehide v. Oudin, Di Lorenzo v. Ahn and Min v. Boserup.

Women's draw is here.  Men's draw is here.

All three remaining US women lost at the WTA Connecticut Open, with qualifiers Louisa Chirico and Nicole Gibbs and lucky loser Kayla Day falling in today's first round matches.

At the ATP Winston-Salem Open, Taylor Fritz earned his first win over Frances Tiafoe, with Fritz taking a 6-1, 6-4 decision in their first round match.  Tiafoe had beaten Fritz in their previous junior meetings and in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 this March.  Bjorn Fratangelo and Donald Young have also picked up first round wins, with Steve Johnson(4) and Sam Querrey(6) getting first round byes.