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Monday, December 5, 2016

2016 World Junior Champion Potapova Starts Orange Bowl with Win, Top US Girls Seeds Advance; USA Wins Sixth Straight Master'U Championship; Shane Claims Waco Futures Title

©Colette Lewis 2016--
Plantation, FL--


World No. 1 junior Anastasia Potapova of Russia played her first match as the 2016 ITF World Junior Champion today in the first round of the ITF Grade A Metropolia Orange Bowl, but it wasn't a particularly satisfying victory for the 15-year-old Wimbledon girls champion.

Potapova had drawn, for the second consecutive Grade A in the US, friend Maria Mateas, who had taken Potapova to three sets in the opening round of the US Open Junior Championships back in September.

"We had a practice yesterday and she asked me if we play again," Potapova said. "I and was like, 95 percent yes. And of course, we did. It's always tough to play her, because she's a strong player, so good at tennis, and she's my good friend."

Mateas started the match well, going up a break, but Potapova fought back to take the first set 6-3, and at 2-1 in the second set, down a break, Mateas asked for a trainer, and retired after taking the medical timeout.

"Her shoulder was hurting so much, she can't play," Potapova said. "I'm so sorry for her. It was a good match, and I want to wish her to get better soon."

Despite the unfortunate circumstances that led to the win, Potapova could express her satisfaction at finishing the year as the ITF's No. 1 junior.

"Of course I am so happy," Potapova said. "It was my goal after winning Wimbledon, my goal for the other half of the year and I'm happy that I did it."

Potapova's lead in the points race became insurmountable only when second-ranked Kayla Day withdrew last week.

"She had an amazing year," Potapova said. "She won a $50,000, she won US Open. I wish her luck for next year."

Potapova left the Veltri Tennis Center with a broken finger last year, an injury she suffered in the semifinals against Day, forcing her to retire.

"I am here to finish what I started last year," Potapova said. "Probably this is my last junior tournament, and I want to show amazing here. Not so much pressure now that I am 100 percent the No. 1, but it's always a bit of extra pressure on the first. I feel it, but I'm used to it, so it's ok."

No. 2 seed Amanda Anisimova, who lost to Potapova in a blockbuster first round of the Orange Bowl, had an easier time in her second Orange Bowl singles match, beating Zhibek Kulambayeva of Kazakhstan 6-1, 6-1.  No. 3 seed Claire Liu won the final 11 games in her 6-3, 6-0 win over Himari Sato of Japan and No. 4 seed Taylor Johnson moved past Jia Qi Ren of China 6-3, 6-0.  All four top seeds in the girls draw did not play last week's Grade 1 Eddie Herr.

The United States started with seven of the 16 seeds in the girls draw, but No. 12 seed Caty McNally was beaten by Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 and No. 16 seed Natasha Subhash lost to Emiliana Arango of Colombia 6-3, 6-1. Usue Arconada, the No. 7 seed, and Ellie Douglas, the No. 10 seed, play their first round matches on Tuesday.

Fourteen-year-old wild card Whitney Osuigwe defeated No. 13 seed Yuki Naito of Japan 6-3, 6-0. Wild card Nathalie Finch, Pepperdine freshman Ashley Lahey, Elyisa Bolton and Hurricane Tyra Black are the other US girls to advance to Wednesday's second round.

A rematch of the Eddie Herr final is on Tuesday's schedule, with champion Maria Carle of Argentina again meeting Varvara Gracheva of Russia, who is the No. 14 seed this week. Both were seeded last week, with Carle 12, but she is unseeded this week, with the Eddie Herr not counting for this week's seedings.

The boys draw lost two seeds on Monday, with No. 6 seed Yshai Oliel of Israel falling to Sergio Hernandez Ramirez of Colombia 6-2, 6-2 and No. 10 seed Juan Carlos Aguilar of Bolivia going out to Gianni Ross 6-2, 7-6(5). Only two US boys are seeded, with No. 13 seed Sam Riffice beating Shinji Hazawa of Japan 6-2, 6-1 today, and No. 16 seed Trent Bryde playing on Tuesday. In addition to Ross and Riffice, Patrick Kypson, Oliver Crawford and wild cards Karl Poling and Lukas Greif posted wins on Monday.

No. 2 seed Yibing Wu of China, a late withdrawal at the Eddie Herr, advancing with a 6-0, 6-3 win over wild card Mikael Rodriguez of Ecuador. ITF No. 1 and Eddie Herr champion Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia will play his first round match against wild card Joseph Honorio Tuesday.

The 18s doubles will begin Tuesday, with Eddie Herr champions Kecmanovic and Benjamin Sigouin of Canada the top boys seeds.  Olga Danilovic of Serbia and Potapova are the No. 1 seeds in the girls doubles.

In the 16s, both Eddie Herr champions continued their winning streaks, with Katie Volynets defeating qualifier Makayla Mills 6-0, 6-2 and Great Britain's Anton Matusevich, the No. 3 seed, defeating Blake Croyder 6-2, 6-3.

Both have intriguing second round matches on Tuesday, with Volynets facing Victoria Hu, who she beat yesterday in the Eddie Herr final, and Matusevich meeting 2016 Kalamazoo 16s finalist Jenson Brooksby.

The draws and order of play can be found at the USTA tournament page, where there is also a link to live scoring.

The USA collegiate team of Francesca Di Lorenzo of Ohio State, Ena Shibahara of UCLA, Hayley Carter of North Carolina, Christopher Eubanks of Georgia Tech, Strong Kirchheimer of Northwestern and Tom Fawcett of Stanford won the country's sixth consecutive Master'U BNP Paribas, the international team event for collegiate tennis.  The United States defeated Russia 4-1 in the final, after overcoming a 2-0 deficit against Germany in the semifinals.  For more on the competition, see the USTA College Tennis page and College Tennis Today.

At the $25,000 Waco Futures, 2015 NCAA champion Ryan Shane of Virginia won the second ITF Pro Circuit singles title of his career, with the No. 7 seed saving a match point in his 2-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 win over unseeded Jared Hiltzik, a recent Illinois graduate, in the final.

Mexico's Hans Hach(Abilene Christian) and Great Britain's Farris Gosea(Illinois) won the doubles title, with the No. 2 seeds beating Baylor's Juan Benitez Chavarriaga of Colombia and Julian Lenz of Germany, who were unseeded, 7-5, 6-3.

This week's USTA Pro Circuit event is a $25,000 Futures in Tallahassee, with Sekou Bangoura the No. 1 seed.

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