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Monday, July 9, 2018

Swiatek Takes Out Top Seed Osuigwe; Roehampton Champions Roll On as First Round of Wimbledon Junior Championships Completed

©Colette Lewis 2018--

Junior tennis aficionados had circled Monday's first round match between top seed Whitney Osuigwe and Iga Swiatek of Poland, knowing that, regardless of the outcome, an upset was not a possibility.

Osuigwe, the 2017 ITF World Junior Champion and still No. 1 in the junior rankings, played her first junior tournament last week in Roehampton, reaching the semifinals, while Swiatek, currently 347 in the WTA rankings, has played only one other junior tournament in 2018, last month's French Open, where she reached the semifinals.

Swiatek had been practicing on grass for a few days, but needed a set to adjust to the courts at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, where she claimed a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

"I had four days to think about the match," said Swiatek, who admitted she was disappointed with the draw, and is not particularly fond of grass. "I don't like it yet, but I hope I will."

Swiatek said she was nervous to start only her second career match at Wimbledon, having lost in the first round in 2016.

"It was really hard for me in the first set to play in the court," said the 17-year-old, who reached the semifinals of a $80,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament this spring in Charleston SC. "I needed some time to feel the ball."

After finishing the second set with an ace, Swiatek started the third by fighting off a break point in the second game and two more serving at 2-3. Her serve, which Swiatek said is where her game has improved the most since returning from injury earlier this year, came through for her. A good, deep second serve saved the first break point and a good first serve saved the second break point, while Osuigwe's serve let her down in the next game, with consecutive double faults making it 15-40. Swiatek hit a great return to convert her break point, held for a 5-3 lead and broke for the win.

"I guess maybe I was stronger in mind," Swiatek said. "I was nervous, but I felt quite good at the end. I was sure I would make it and I was confident the last three games."

Swiatek said her junior ranking is not important to her, but getting an opportunity to play the junior slams via her WTA rankings was a goal.

"I can learn a lot from junior grand slams," Swiatek said. "Because there is a different atmosphere and the pressure is bigger, so it's really important to these tournaments."

Roehampton champions Brandon Nakashima and Coco Gauff extended their grass court winning streaks to seven games, with Nakashima defeating Joao Lucas Reis Da Silva of Brazil 6-2, 6-0 and Gauff beating Gergana Topalova of Bulgaria 6-1, 6-4.

Gauff made her ITF Junior Circuit debut last year at Roehampton, but lost in Wimbledon junior qualifying, so she had not played on the courts of the All England Lawn Tennis Club until today.

"I came to watch some matches last year, to get used to the atmosphere," said the 14-year-old French Open girls champion. "At the time, I wasn't expecting all of this to happen within a year. I knew I would try to get there this year, but I didn't know I'd be seeded or any of that."

Gauff has been impressed with the support and recognition she has received from her home town of Delray Beach since her French Open title

"My grandma set up a watch party [for the French Open girls final] at my dad's restaurant and I was thinking maybe 15, 20 people came, because who wants to watch a junior tennis match early in the  morning? But they told me at least 150 people were there, and I was like, wow. I was really overwhelmed and it was very exciting."

In her match with Topalova, Gauff took the first set easily, but Topalova shook off her nerves, stopped making errors and forced Gauff to earn her points.  Serving for the match, Gauff couldn't convert her first two match points and had to save four break points, but she held on for the win.

"I wasn't really nervous, I just did not want to lose my serve," Gauff said. "I really like my serve and I hate when I get broken. I thought she played pretty good on the big points, she was hitting her shots and playing pretty loose.  My mentality was just keeping my foot on the pedal and keep the pressure on her."

Nakashima hadn't played a grass court match prior to Roehampton last week, and didn't know what to expect.

"I wasn't too sure about the surface when I started," said the 16-year-old from San Diego. "I just got about a week's preparation in California before I came here, but I feel like the surface suits my game well."

Nakashima admitted the grass courts at Sherwood Country Club were much different from what he experienced at Roehampton and in his Wimbledon debut.

"Over here is definitely better grass," Nakashima said. "In California, the ball doesn't really bounce that much, so when I got here I thought it was a lot easier to play. I've been serving really well and my return suits the grass well. And taking the ball early and not giving my opponent too much time also helps a lot."

Nakashima said that by the time he got to the Roehampton final he no longer had any doubts about the surface.

"I definitely had a lot of confidence coming in here and I knew I was playing good tennis," Nakashima said. "I knew I had to play the same as I was doing last week. This is such a great experience, it's such a prestigious tournament. Everything is like so classy here, they are so organized and stuff, it's really a good experience."

While the top seed in the girls draw is out, the boys No. 1, French Open champion Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, did advance to Tuesday's second round, beating Wojciech Marek of Poland 6-2, 6-4. Boys seeds falling today included No. 16 Aidan McHugh of Great Britain and No. 9 seed Facundo Diaz Acosta of Argentina, who lost to American qualifier Govind Nanda 7-6(5), 6-2.  The only girls seed other than Osuigwe to go out today was No. 6 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia, who was beaten by qualifier Leonie Kung of Switzerland.

Overall, Americans went 9-4 today and 14-7 in first round singles matches.

Monday's first round results in junior singles matches featuring Americans:

Arnaud Bovy(BEL) def. Keenan Mayo[Q] 6-4, 6-2
Emma Raducanu(GBR) def. Gabby Price 6-1, 6-4
Brandon Nakashima def. Joao Lucas Reis Da Silva(BRA) 6-2, 6-0
Drew Baird[15] def. Simon Ivanov[Q](BUL) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
Coco Gauff[3] def. Gergana Topalova(BUL) 6-1, 6-4
Dalayna Hewitt def. Maria Rivera Corado(GUA) 6-3, 6-2
Alexa Noel[5] def. Manon Leonard(FRA) 6-3, 6-1
Yuki Naito[9](JPN) def. Hurricane Tyra Black 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
Iga Swiatek(POL) def. Whitney Osuigwe[1] 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
Caty McNally[13] def. Daria Frayman[Q](RUS) 5-7, 6-0, 6-1
Peyton Stearns[Q] def.  Adrienn Nagy(HUN) 6-4, 7-5
Govind Nanda[Q] def. Facundo Diaz Acosta[9](ARG) 7-6(5), 6-2
Emilio Nava def. Leopold Zima(GER) 7-6(3), 6-4

John Isner and Serena Williams have advanced to the quarterfinals with straight-sets wins today.  Mackenzie McDonald took the third set from No. 13 seed Milos Raonic of Canada, but fell in four sets to end his impressive Wimbledon run. I spoke with the 2016 NCAA champion after his match and I will have more about his breakthrough week in an interview later this month at the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Americans Fourth Round Singles Results from Monday:
Serena Williams[25] def. Evgeniya Rodina[Q](RUS) 6-2, 6-2
John Isner[9] def, Stefanos Tsitsipas[31](GRE) 6-4, 7-6(8), 7-6(4)
Milos Raonic[13](CAN) def. Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2

Tuesday's quarterfinal singles matches featuring Americans:
Serena Williams[25] vs Camila Giorgi(ITA)

American juniors in second round singles action Tuesday:

Caty McNally[13] v Destinee Martin[WC](GBR)
Peyton Stearns[Q] v Xiyu Wang[10](CHN)
Brandon Nakashima v Timofei Skatov[6](KAZ)
Alexa Noel[5] v Viktoriia Dema(UKR)
Cannon Kingsley v Taisei Ichikawa(JPN)
Govind Nanda[Q] v Nicolas Alvarez Varona(ESP)
Emilio Nava v Hugo Gaston[4](FRA)
Katie Volynets v Elisabetta Cocciaretto[14](ITA)
Coco Gauff[3] v Lenka Stara(SVK)
Lea Ma v Clara Tauson[8](DEN)
Drew Baird[15] v Ondrej Styler(CZE)
Dalayna Hewitt v Maria Carle[15](ARG)
Trey Hilderbrand v Louis Herman(BEL)
Tristan Boyer[11] v Jesper De Jong(NED)

The complete order of play is here, with some first round doubles matches also on the schedule.