2017 Rule Changes; Branstine Wins Australian Open Doubles Title; Gauff, Bernard Reach Les Petits As Semifinals; Cernoch, Meyer Advance to Finals in Ecuador Grade 1
Changes to junior tennis rules, regulations and competitive structures are nothing new, and 2017 has brought plenty of them in both the USTA and ITF systems. I spoke with the USTA's Lew Brewer about these changes, highlighting some of the significant ones, but this Tennis Recruiting article is no substitute for reading the rules themselves. Parents, coaches and players should take the time to read about these changes and it never hurts to brush up on the rules that haven't changed. Links to the USTA's 2017 Junior Tournament Regulations and Junior National Tournament Structure can be found here. The 2017 ITF Junior Rules and Regulations underline what is new for this year.
Carson Branstine announced last fall that she would be changing her country for competition from the US to Canada as soon as the paperwork could be approved, but as of now, the 16-year-old Southern Californian is still competing under the American flag. Regardless of what country she is playing for, Branstine is now a junior slam champion, winning the Australian Open girls doubles title on Friday with Canadian Bianca Andreescu. The No. 3 seeds defeated unseeded Maja Chwalinska and Iga Swiatek of Poland, last week's doubles champions at the Grade 1 in Traralgon, 6-1, 7-6(4). The boys doubles title went to No. 4 seeds Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan and Lingxi Zhao of China, who defeated unseeded Duarte Vale of Portugal and Finn Reynolds of New Zealand 6-7(8), 6-4, 10-5 in the final.
Congratulations to Bethanie Mattek-Sands for her women's doubles title in Australia. Second seeds Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic picked up their second Australian Open doubles title with a 6-7(4), 6-3 6-3 decision over No. 12 seeds Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic and Peng Shuai of China. For more on the title, see the Australian Open website.
The singles finals are set for Saturday(tonight in the US), with top seed Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland facing No. 11 seed Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine. Masarova was down a set and a break to Andreescu and was two points from losing in straight sets to the 16-year-old Canadian, but the 17-year-old French Open girls champion fought back for a 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-0 win. Kostyuk, who at 14 is playing in her first junior slam, defeated No. 16 seed Elena Rybakina of Russia 6-1, 7-5.
The boys final, which unlike the girls is not going to be played on Rod Laver arena this year, features No. 4 seed Yshai Oliel of Israel against No. 15 seed Zsombor Piros of Hungary. Oliel beat top seed Yibing Wu of China 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, while Piros avenged his lost last week in the Traralgon final, beating No. 5 seed Corentin Moutet of France 6-3, 6-4. Neither 17-year-old has played in a Grade A final until now. The Associate Press has written an article about the hopes for Wu as the first ATP Top 100 player from China. The ITF Junior website has coverage of the semifinals with quotes from Oliel and Masarova.
The finals will be streamed via WatchESPN.
Two Americans have reached the semifinals of Les Petits As, while the boys doubles team of Martin Damm and Toby Kodat will compete for the championship on Saturday.
Bolton champion Cori Gauff, the No. 5 seed, defeated No. 4 seed Noa Krznaric of Croatia 7-5, 6-3, her ninth consecutive straight-sets victory on this European trip. The 2016 Junior Orange Bowl 12s champion will play the 2015 Junior Orange Bowl champion, wild card Dasha Lopatetskaya of Ukraine in Saturday's semifinals. Lopatetskaya took out top seed Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia 7-5, 6-0. The other girls semifinal will be all-Russian: No. 15 seed Polina Kudermetova against No. 2 seed Maria Timofeeva. Timofeeva defeated No. 6 seed Elina Kalieva 7-6(7), 6-1. Kalieva had a set point in the first set at 7-6 but failed to convert it.
No. 4 seed Luca Nardi of Italy defeated Bolton champion and No. 5 seed Toby Kodat 7-5, 6-2 leaving No. 8 seed Alexander Bernard as the sole US boy in singles. Bernard defeated No. 2 seed Elmer Moller of Denmark 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 and will play No. 3 seed Hamad Medjedovic of Serbia in the semifinals Saturday. Top seed Holger Rune of Denmark eliminated the last French player in the draw, beating unseeded Leo Raquin 6-1, 6-2. Rune has lost only 11 games in his four wins this week.
Damm and Kodat, the No. 3 seeds, will face the unseeded Italian team of Nardi and Alessio Tramontin in the boys doubles final. Damm and Kodat, who did not play together in Bolton, defeated top seeds Rune and Carlos Alcaraz Garfia of Spain 7-6(4), 3-6, 10-6 in the semifinals today.
All results from today can be found at the Tennis Europe tournament page.
The finals are set at the ITF Grade 1 in Ecuador, with Brian Cernoch advancing to his first Grade 1 final with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over qualifier Thiago Tirante of Argentina, the 2015 Junior Orange Bowl 14s champion. The previous best Grade 1 performance for Cernoch, the No. 9 seed, was last week's semifinal appearance in Colombia. The 17-year-old left-hander will face No. 10 seed Alex Geller of Argentina in the final. Geller is also a former Junior Orange Bowl 14s champion, back in 2013.
Unseeded Amanda Meyer is also having the best Grade 1 tournament of her career. The Vanderbilt recruit avenged her 2016 USTA 18s Clay Court loss to No. 7 seed Ann Li on Thursday and today ousted top seed Emiliana Arango of Colombia 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. Prior to this week, Meyer's best showing at a Grade 1 is a third round appearance at this same tournament last year. She will play No. 5 seed Francesca Jones of Great Britain in Saturday's final.