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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Qualifying Complete for 12s, 14s, 16s at Eddie Herr; Branstine's Switch to Canada Imminent; Anisimova Reaches Grade 1 Yucatan Final

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Bradenton, FL--

The final round of qualifying was completed today for the 12s, 14s and 16s divisions at the Eddie Herr International Championships at IMG Academy.  Eight players in each division earned their places in the main draw, which begins Monday.

Boys 16s qualifiers:
Ivan Yatsuk, USA
Jackson Ross, USA
Harry Cacciatore, USA
Heman Nama, IND
Jose Galvez, USA
Liam Draxl, CAN
Maxwell Benson, USA
Patrick Sebastian, USA

Boys 14s qualifiers:
Aaron Cohen, ISR
Joshua Miller, USA
Saud Alhogbani, USA
Ryota Kaneda, JPN
Sebastian Gima, ROU
Filipe Costa, USA
Daniel Webb, GBR
Niroop Vallabhaneni, USA

Boys 12s qualifiers:
Gunuk Kang, KOR
Luka Butera, USA
Henry Ren, CAN
Nemanja Stefanovic, CAN
Leanid Boika, USA
Peter Anastasakis, USA
Jayson Mbogoro, KEN
Minseong Kim, KOR

Girls 16s qualifiers:
Saki Oyama, JPN
Elizabeth Verizova, USA
Elvina Kalieva, USA
Ali Despain, USA
Harris Caldwell, USA
Kiana Rizzolo, USA
Rosie Dickson, USA
Nina Gulbransen, USA

Girls 14s qualifiers:
Lisa Pigato, ITA
Zhenghui Tian, USA
Ayshe Can, USA
Leena Bennetto, CAN
Roopa Bains, AUS
Abigail Renchell, USA
Anna Babayan, USA
Matilde Paoletti, ITA

Girls 12s qualifiers:
Sophia Wang, USA
Alexia Harmon, USA
Sarah Liu, CAN
Ava Grnja, USA
Stefanya Shalakhova, KAZ
Daria Zykova, RUS
Sayaka Ishii, JPN
Polina Yatsenko, USA

Complete results can be found at the TennisLink site.

The first round of the qualifying for the ITF Grade 1 was completed today, with two rounds scheduled for Sunday.  All but one of the 16 boys seeds advanced to the second round, with No. 15 Lucca Takeda Baptista of Brazil falling to Timothy Sah 6-3, 6-1.

The top 10 seeds in the girls qualifying didn't play today, but of the six seeds that did play, three lost, with Katarina Drazic of Serbia defeating No. 16 seed Savannah Williams 7-5, 6-1, Jada Robinson beating No. 13 seed Ruoyu Chen of China 6-4, 6-2 and Mya Bui of Canada downing No. 15 seed Camille Townsend.

To clarify some of the wild card information in yesterday's post, after talking with the tournament referee, Gabrielle Goldin did not get a main draw wild card, but played qualifying today. Lea Ma used her wild card, with Anhzelika Isaeva of Russia moving into the main draw with Amanda Anisimova's withdrawal, and Katya Townsend avoiding qualifying due to the use of just one of the two special exemptions available.  Maileen Nuudi of Estonia, who is in the Yucatan doubles final tonight, received the sole special exemption.

Three late withdrawals from the boys draw, one after the qualifying draw was made, means four players moved into the main draw and there will be a lucky loser.  There are no special exemptions into the boys main draw.  Yibing Wu of China, Yshai Oliel of Israel and Rudolph Molleker of Germany are out, so Kristjan Tamm of Estonia, Ray Ho of Taiwan, Nick Hardt of the Dominican Republic and Keenan Mayo moved into the main draw. With Ho moving into the main draw, Diaki Yoshimura received Ho's previously announced wild card.

While I was watching the last few matches of the ITF qualifying this afternoon, Carson Branstine arrived for a practice session, and I took the opportunity to talk to her about her decision to represent Canada going forward.

The 16-year-old Southern Californian said she first began to consider her option of representing Canada back in February, after she defeated Canadian Carol Zhao, Stanford's 2015 NCAA singles finalist, in the first round of qualifying at the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Rancho Santa Fe.

"That was kind of how I met them," Branstine said of her first encounter with TennisCanada. "I talked to the coaches and I really liked them, so I said, hey, my mom's Canadian and I do have that option to play with them, so maybe I'll try it out and go up there."

"Basically, after US Open (where she reached the quarterfinals of the junior championships), I went up there a few weeks later and kind of fell in love with it. I just felt like in my heart, it was the right thing to do."

Branstine's family is staying in California, and Branstine intends to spend half of her time at the National Centre in Montreal, and the other half in Southern California.

"I'll be staying with a housing family up in Montreal and that's where I'll be a lot of the time. I still have my private coach in California that I want to work with."

"Tennis Canada seemed like it was a better fit when it came to schedule, funding and everything else. They're very organized with what tournaments I'm going to play, and when I'm going to have training blocks, which really works for me. I like having things planned ahead of time, and that's what they're about. That's one of the main reasons I fit in there."

Branstine is expecting to receive her Canadian passport "anytime now. It's definitely a long process to get everything set, but it's a good process and everything's going smoothly."

Branstine said her mother's country has always been a part of her life.

"We still have a lot of family in the Toronto area," said Branstine, who is the cousin of Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. "Because my mom grew up there, she talked very highly of the country and the area and it's beautiful. I love Canada and I feel at home when I'm there."

The winter in Canada will not feel like home, but Branstine is looking forward to experiencing a climate different from the one she has always known.

"I usually wear shorts and a shirt on Christmas Day," Branstine said. "I'll definitely feel the seasons, but I'm looking forward to it. I'm not going to have to be in it too much, because I will be going to Australia in January. I'll feel the winter in February, but I'm kind of excited. I've seen snow three times in my life, so it's going to be fun. I'm excited to experience new things."

Branstine will be working with TennisCanada's Ralph Platz, who is currently traveling with her, and Simon Larose.

The finals of the Grade 1 Yucatan Cup are late tonight, with No. 2 seed Yshai Oliel of Israel taking on No. 7 seed Gabriel Decamps of Brazil in the boys final, and No. 1 seed Amanda Anisimova facing No. 2 seed Jodie Burrage of Great Britain in the girls championship match.

No. 6 seeds Andrew Fenty and Oliel, who won last week's Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicano, will play unseeded William Woodall and Brian Cernoch for a second straight doubles title.

Sofia Sewing, playing this week with Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico, reached the girls doubles finals, facing Nuudi and Sada Nahimana of Burundi.