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Friday, June 1, 2018

May Aces; Stearns and Zink Qualify for French Open Juniors; Noel Reaches Grade 1 Final in Belgium, Wins Doubles; ITA Summer Circuit Registration Open; Rinaldi Feature

My May Aces column is up today at the Tennis Recruiting Network, with 18 players featured, and still I wasn't able to highlight every former college player that had success during the month. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the other photographers who provide photos to me for this column. Their efforts are much appreciated.

Qualifying is complete for the French Open Junior Championships, with Peyton Stearns and Tyler Zink advancing to the main draw with wins today.  Stearns, seeded fifth, defeated 13-year-old wild card Alexandra Eala of the Philippines 6-2, 6-4. Eala is the reigning Junior Orange Bowl 12s champion and received a wild card for winning the Les Petits As in February.  Last year's Les Petits As champion, No. 3 seed Maria Timofeeva of Russia, did advance to the main draw. She is one of five Russian girls earning a place in the main draw with wins today.

Tyler Zink, the top seed in qualifying, came back to defeat French wild card Lilian Marmousez 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 and will make his junior slam debut. Stearns played the Australian Open this year, her only other junior slam appearance. The main draw begins on Sunday.

Only two Americans were on Friday's singles schedule at Roland Garros and only one played, with Madison Keys[13] advancing to the fourth round with a 6-1, 7-6(7) win over Naomi Osaka[21] of Japan. Sloane Stephens did not begin her third round match with Camila Giorgi of Italy before rain ended play for the day. She is first on Saturday. Serena Williams, Steve Johnson and John Isner[9] are scheduled to play their third round matches on Saturday.

At the ITF Grade 1 in Belgium, top seed Alexa Noel advanced to the final with a 6-4, 7-5 win over unseeded Emma Navarro.  Noel will face No. 6 seed Viktoriia Dema of Ukraine in Saturday's final. This is Noel's fifth Grade 1 final, all since November of last year. The boys final will feature unseeded Anton Matusevich of Great Britain against No. 12 seed Damien Wenger of Switzerland.

Noel and her partner Naho Sato of Japan claimed the doubles title today. The No. 1 seeds defeated No. 2 seeds Joanna Garland of Taiwan and Himari Sato of Japan 7-6(5), 7-6(4) in the final. The boys doubles title went to No. 5 seeds Pavel Shumeiko of Ukraine and Henri Squire of Germany who beat top seeds Rinky Hijikata of Australia and Naoki Tajima of Japan 7-6(5), 6-3 in the final.

The ITA Summer Circuit begins in a couple of weeks, with registration now open for the events, which run through July and culminate in a ITA National Summer Championship held in August at TCU.  These tournaments are a great way to get matches for juniors and college players and they are spread out geographically so that driving to them is feasible. The explanation of the circuit, how UTR is used for grouping and seeding and a full list of sites can be found at the ITA website.

The New York Times spent some time with US Fed Cup captain Kathy Rinaldi at the French Open for this feature. After observing Rinaldi with USTA juniors over the years, I have no doubt her approach to the broader duties of her new position is equally effective and appreciated.