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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My Ojai Recap; French Open Junior Championships Acceptances Include 19 Americans and Both ITF No. 1s; Top Seeds Out at Grade 4 Copa Badia

Putting together an article trying to explain what makes The Ojai such a special tournament isn't easy. I admit I was on sensory overload for much of my first two days there, just trying to wrap my head around everything that was going on and where.  But with the help of the players and organizers, who put into words for me what the event means to both the town and the Southern California tennis community, I think I was able to get some of that into this piece for the Tennis Recruiting Network.  I think the photos help too.  Above is one of my favorites; it didn't fit into the article but evokes the feeling of Ojai on a beautiful spring morning.

In what has to be record time, with the entries closing earlier today, the acceptances for the French Open Junior Championships have been posted on the ITF Junior website.  Nineteen Americans--10 boys and 9 girls--have received direct entry into the main draw.

The girls:
Kayla Day
Amanda Anisimova
Claire Liu
Taylor Johnson
Whitney Osuigwe
Sofia Sewing
Ellie Douglas
Elysia Bolton
Hailey Baptiste

The boys:
Trent Bryde
Oliver Crawford
Alafia Ayeni
Vasil Kirkov
Sam Riffice
Danny Thomas
Alexandre Rotsaert
Gianni Ross
Patrick Kypson
Sebastian Korda

The French typically has a very high ranking cutoff, but this year the girls number was an astronomical 43.  Only 1 girl in the top 43 did not enter, defending champion Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland, and four players received entry based on special qualifications.  Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez of Mexico received direct entry as the only player from her region (Central America) to be in the ITF Top 80, and Jaimee Fourlis of Australia, Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine and Martina Paigina of Russia received main draw entry via their WTA rankings inside the Top 400.  This leaves Caty McNally, ranked 48th, spots out of the main draw. She is joined in qualifying by Hurricane Tyra Black, Nicole Mossmer, Amanda Meyer, Natasha Subhash and Ann Li.

At the top of the acceptances, ITF No. 1 and Wimbledon champion Anastasia Potapova of Russia, US Open champion Day, and Australian Open champion Marta Kostyuk would already be an incredible field; add 2016 French finalist Anisimova, who will be playing in the main draw this year after winning the USTA's Wild Card Challenge, and it's hard to imagine how the field could be much better.

The boys field is missing three of its top names and two of the the last three slam champions with Wimbledon champion Denis Shapovalov and US Open champion Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, as well as Orange Bowl finalist Yibing Wu of China, not entered.  Despite not having played a junior event this year, ITF world No. 1 Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia is entered, as is Australian Open champion Zsombor Piros of Hungary, who also has not played a junior match this year.

The cutoff for the boys is 48, with no players getting into the main draw with their ATP ranking. Mohamed Ali Bellalouna of Tunisia received main draw entry as the only Top 80 player from his region (Africa).

Brian Cernoch and Andrew Fenty are the only two US boys in qualifying.

At this week's ITF Grade 4 in Coral Gables Florida, both top seeds have been eliminated in the first two rounds.  Mackenzie Clark took out top seed Rut Galindo of Guatemala 6-2, 6-4 on Monday and advanced to the third round with a  3-6, 7-6(1), 6-1 win over Maria Natalia Lyven of Ukraine today.   Alex Lee, who received a special exemption into the main draw after reaching the finals of the Grade 4 last week in Delray Beach, defeated top seed Axel Nefve in the second round today 4-6, 6-3. 6-0.  No. 2 seeds Boris Kozlov and Jimena Rodriguez Benito have both advanced to the third round.