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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Metropolia Orange Bowl Acceptances Feature Top Two Boys and Top Two Girls in ITF Junior Rankings; Ohio State's Di Lorenzo Among Five Americans Advancing at Macon $50K

Acceptances for the final ITF Grade A tournament of 2016, the Metropolia Orange Bowl, were released today, with the No. 1 and No. 2 players in both the boys and the girls rankings entered.

This is highly unusual, particularly on the boys side.  No. 1 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who is 18 and 207 in the ATP rankings after an excellent year on the Pro Circuit, has lost in the Orange Bowl final the last two years. In 2015, it was No. 2 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia who defeated Tsitsipas, in a third-set tiebreaker; in 2014, in was Stefan Kozlov who beat him.  Most top boys do not a) defend a major title and b) play junior events if they are in the Top Five, opting instead to concentrate on moving up in the ATP rankings.  Securing the ITF year-end World Junior Champion title appears to be Tsitsipas' motive for continuing to play junior events, although it must be said he likes to play a lot period. In the first 10 months of 2016, he has played 26 tournaments, 18 pro and 8 junior, going 77-20 (which does not include qualifying). 

Kecmanovic, who is 17, with another year of junior eligibility, is not entered in the Grade A in Mexico City next month, and because he trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, defending his title in Plantation may be the least difficult path to assuming the ITF No. 1 ranking at the beginning of 2017.

Wimbledon girls champion Anastasia Potapova of Russia, who took over the No. 1 spot with her recent title at the Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup, is just 15, so she needs all the extra entries she can get if she would like to begin working on a WTA ranking, which she currently does not have.  Seventeen-year-old Kayla Day, who took over the No. 1 ranking when she won the US Open, fell to No. 2 after Potapova's recent title. Day has almost another whole year of WTA age restrictions, having just turned 17, and at 268 in the WTA rankings,  she too would like the additional "merited increases" and exempt entries into higher level ITF Women's Pro Circuit events that come with finishing the year as a top junior.  Both Potapova and Day are entered in Mexico City's Grade A as well as the Orange Bowl.  Potapova is only defending 150 points(not including doubles) until season end; Day, a finalist at last year's Orange Bowl, is defending 375.

The boys entries have only one other Top 10 player, French Open boys champion Geoffrey Blancaneaux of France, with the ranking cutoff 135. The highly regarded Canadian juniors, Wimbledon champion Denis Shapovalov and US Open champion Felix Auger-Aliassime, did not enter, as expected.

The girls entries show seven of the Top 10 competing. Aside from Potapova and Day, they are Olesya Pervushina of Russia(3), Amanda Anisimova(4), Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine(8), Usue Arconada(9) and Claire Liu(10).  Yastremska's entry is something of a surprise, as the 16-year-old has not played a junior event since reaching the final at Wimbledon and has had enough success on the ITF Women's Circuit to improve her WTA ranking nearly 150 points, to 341.  The girls ranking cutoff is a very impressive 93. For comparison, the Mexico City Grade A's initial cutoff was 151.

In addition to the four Top 10 US girls in the acceptances, ten more received entry: Taylor Johnson, Caty McNally, Ellie Douglas, Maria Mateas, Natasha Subhash, Morgan Coppoc, Sofia Sewing, Michaela Gordon, Ashley Lahey and Carson Branstine.  Gordon and Lahey, who just won the ITA Southwest Regional title as a Pepperdine freshman, are not entered in the Mexico Grade A, while the rest are.  Hurricane Tyra Black is next in, with Abigail Desiatnikov third out.

The US boys receiving direct entry into the Orange Bowl are: Sam Riffice, Gianni Ross, Trent Bryde, Oliver Crawford, Vasil Kirkov, Patrick Kypson, Alexandre Rotsaert and Brian Cernoch.  Alafia Ayeni is two places out.  Riffice, Ross, Crawford and Kirkov are not entered in the Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano.

Entries for the 16s Orange Bowl have closed, but the acceptances are not yet out.  Go to the USTA's Orange Bowl tournament page for more information.

Five Americans joined Tuesday winners Kayla Day, Samantha Crawford(1), Jamie Loeb, Grace Min(4) and Danielle Lao in the second round of the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament in Macon, Georgia. Qualifiers Danielle Collins and Emina Bektas earned victories, as did lucky loser Ronit Yurovsky, with Ohio State sophomore Francesca Di Lorenzo and No. 2 seed Jennifer Brady also advancing.  Collins defeated Robin Anderson 6-2, 6-3 and will play Brady, another former UCLA star, next. Brady defeated qualifier Alexandra Mueller 6-1, 6-2. Although the ITF shows only one head-to-head meeting between Collins and Brady, back in 2011 junior competition, they did meet in the third round of the 2015 NCAA championships, with Collins winning 6-1, 7-5.  

Bektas defeated wild card Jessica Wacnik 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 and Yurovsky advanced over Ellie Halbauer 6-1, 6-3.  Di Lorenzo outlasted No. 7 seed Sachia Vickery, with Vickery retiring down 6-1, 4-6, 5-0.  All ten US women will be in action on Thursday, with Day playing Crawford, Collins playing Brady and Loeb playing Lao in the all-US matchups.

At the $25,000 Futures in Burlingame California, No. 5 seed Peter Kobelt, Marcos Giron and qualifier Michael Zhu won their matches today, joining Americans Connor Farren, Raymond Sarmiento(4), wild card Tom Fawcett and Mico Santiago in the second round.  Wild card Andre Goransson, the Cal senior who reached the final last week in Berkeley, losing to Giron, also advanced. For the second straight week Goransson defeated Lucas Gomez of Mexico, the No. 8 seed this week. Last week it was 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals, this week Goransson won their first round encounter 6-3, 7-6(1).