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Monday, September 25, 2017

Giavara, Fordham, Khan Win ITF Junior Titles; Falconi Claims Tampico $100K; Christian and Spadea as Stunt Doubles for Battle of the Sexes Movie

A busy weekend in junior and college tennis is no excuse for neglecting juniors who won titles last weekend in places other than Canada, Hungary and Malibu.

At the ITF Grade 5 in Nicaragua, Zane Khan collected his second consecutive title to run his winning streak to 10 in his first two tournaments since returning from injury.  The 15-year-old, who was seeded No. 2, defeated top seed Alan Sau Franco of Mexico 6-1, 6-7(6), 6-2 in the final.  Sau Franco and his partner Alfredo Casso, also of Mexico, won the doubles, with the top seeds beating No. 2 seeds Niroop Vallabhaneni and Guatemala's Juan Dominguez Collado 6-0, 6-4 in the championship match.

Sixteen-year-old Haley Giavara swept the girls titles in the first ITF tournament of her junior career.  The Californian, who was of course unseeded, won the singles title when No. 3 seed Dianela Rodriguez of Mexico retired in the final trailing 5-0. Giavara and Toni Nelson won the doubles title, beating top seeds Isabella Barrera Aguirre and Mexico's Claudia Rosas Garcia of Mexico 6-3, 6-3 in the final.

At the ITF Grade 4 in South Africa, 15-year-old New Yorker Dakota Fordham swept the titles, earning her first singles title after three previous finals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 4 seed Megan Basson of South Africa. Fordham was the No. 2 seed. In the doubles final, Fordham and South Africa's Maja Gledic, seeded No. 3, beating top seeds Linge Steenkamp and Lara Van der Merwe of South Africa 6-3, 6-3.

This week the ITF junior circuit returns to the United States with a Grade 5 in Austin Texas. Joshua Bode and Chloe Hamlin are the top seeds.

Late last night the $100,000+Hospitality ITF Women's Circuit tournament in Mexico concluded, with Irina Falconi beating No. 4 seed Louisa Chirico 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-1 in an all-American final. The former Georgia Tech star, who was not seeded, won her first title of the year and her first since claiming the title at the WTA tournament in Bogota last April.

Caroline Dolehide won the doubles title with Maria Irigoyen of Argentina, with the top seeds defeating former USC teammates Kaitlyn Christian and Mexico's Giuliana Olmos, the No. 3 seeds, 6-4, 6-4 in the final.  Dolehide is closing in on the Top 100 in doubles; the 19-year-old is now ranked 105.

Speaking of Christian, she has been doing quite a few interviews lately with the opening (in most theaters nationwide Friday) of The Battle of the Sexes movie, featuring Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs. (Easter Bowl and San Diego Hard Court Nationals tournament director Lorne Kuhle was a technical consultant on the film).

Christian, 25, was Stone's stunt double for the tennis scenes, with former ATP pro Vince Spadea the stunt double for Carell.  Christian, the 2013 NCAA doubles champion, is the rare contemporary player who resembles King in game style, but it was her similar body type to Stone that resulted in her casting.  For more on what it was like to work as tennis doubles, see this article on ESPNW.