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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Four Americans Selected for ITF Junior Masters Next Month; Whittle Stuns Abanda in Templeton $60K; Donaldson Reaches ATP Chengdu Quarterfinals; Christian's Role in Battle of the Sexes Film

The fields for the ITF Junior Masters next month in Chengdu China have been announced, with three US girls--Whitney Osuigwe, Sofia Sewing and Taylor Johnson--and one US boy--Trent Bryde--among the 16 competitors.  The eight-player draws are divided into two groups with the top two finishers advancing to the semifinals. A total of $160,000 of travel grants will be awarded based on where the players finish in the competition.

Both fields had to go 14 deep to get their eight participants. In the boys field, invitations were declined by Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic, the 2016 ITF World Champion, Australian Open boys champion Zsombor Piros of Hungary, French Open boys champion Alexei Popyrin of Australia, Wimbledon boys champion Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain, Yuta Shimizu of Japan and Corentin Moutet of France. Wu Yibing of China, who won the US Open boys title earlier this month, is the only boys slam winner in the field.

The girls have two slam champions in the field, Osuigwe(French) and Marta Kostyuk(Australia).  Claire Liu(Wimbledon) and Amanda Anisimova(US Open) declined invitations, as did Canada's Carson Branstine, Olga Danilovic of Serbia, Emiliana Arango of Colombia and Simona Waltert of Switzerland.

The boys[current ranking in brackets]:
Wu Yibing (CHN)[1]
Axel Geller (ARG)[2]
Yu Hsiou Hsu (TPE)[7]
Jurij Rodionov (AUT)[8]
Marko Miladinovic (SRB)[9]
Sebastian Baez (ARG)[11]
Trent Bryde (USA)[12]
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)[14]

The girls:
Whitney Osuigwe (USA)[2]
Marta Kostyuk (UKR)[3]
Elena Rybakina (RUS)[5]
Kaja Juvan (SLO)[8]
Sofia Sewing (USA)[9]
Xin Yu Wang (CHN)[10]
Maria Lourdes Carle (ARG)[12]
Taylor Johnson (USA)[14]

Sophie Wittle at Templeton $60K   photo credit: Mike Peeples
Local wild cards are not expected to challenge any of the players in the main draw of a $60,000 USTA Women's Pro Circuit event, but Sophie Whittle did not get the memo. The Gonzaga junior, who lives less than an hour south of Templeton, in Nipomo California, played her first pro match yesterday, in doubles. Today, Whittle shocked WTA 114 and No. 3 seed Francoise Abanda of Canada 6-2, 6-3, one of the most unlikely results of the year on the ITF Women's Pro Circuit.

"I'm really happy," Whittle told Templeton tournament media aide Steve Pratt. "I think I played the best I've ever played, or at least the smartest I've ever played...She probably thought that she would roll over me, I don't have any ranking or anything, but I just knew that I could beat anyone if I just set my mind to it."

Serving for the match at 6-2, 5-2, Whittle went up 40-0, but Abanda won five straight points to make it 5-3. Despite that disappointment, Whittle didn't flinch, earning another match point with Abanda serving at 3-5, 30-40 and converting it to complete the upset.

Whittle, who is the first player from Gonzaga to earn an ITA ranking, will be competing in the pre-qualifying at the upcoming ITA Riviera All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades, unless, of course, her improbable success in Templeton continues.

Jared Donaldson has continued to build on his impressive results this summer, reaching the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 in Chengdu with a 6-0, 1-6, 6-4 win over No. 6 seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain. Donaldson, who turns 21 next month, plays Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan next.  For more on Donaldson's win see the ATP website.

I linked to a story a couple of days ago about Kaitlyn Christian and Vince Spadea and their roles as tennis doubles in the film Battle of the Sexes, which opens nationwide on Friday.  Tennis Recruiting Network's Rhiannon Potkey has a much more detailed look at Christian's path to the silver screen: how she got the role, how much she was paid for it, what it was like working with Emma Stone, and many other interesting insider details.

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