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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Black, Jackson, Spizzirri Qualify for US Open Junior Championships; Top Seeds Gauff and Tseng Open Main Draw Play Sunday; Top Seeds Tauson and Gaston Win Grade 1 Titles in Canada

©Colette Lewis--
New York, NY--

Stadium Court 1 at Cary Leeds Tennis and Learning Center

I spent the day at the Cary Leeds Center in the Bronx, the new site of the US Open Junior Qualifying and it is an impressive facility.  The viewing is excellent, with an observation deck and plenty of seating, and two spacious stadium courts. Main draw players had courts to practice on, but a row away from the five main courts. There are negatives of having the qualifying no longer just outside the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, one of which is an additional headache for the USTA: transportation logistics. The center is not near midtown, where the players and coaches stay, nor the BJKNTC, so bus rides are long and there are probably not scheduled as frequently as they should be.  The center is isolated, and with little to no food on site, so finding something to eat was a challenge for coaches, players and spectators, which is obviously not the case at the BJKNTC.  And lastly, there was no windscreen signage suggesting the tournament was part of the US Open.  All these deficiencies can be addressed for next year's tournament, and I'm sure they will be, but I can't help but wish that somehow more practice courts can be found at the US Open and the juniors can return to being a part of that scene.

Three Americans earned places in the main draw today, and two more will have a chance to do so on Sunday, when the remaining seven qualifying matches are played, at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Hurricane Tyra Black, the No. 2 seed, and a finalist a week ago at the ITF Grade 1 in College Park, reached the main draw with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Daniella Dimitrova of Bulgaria, the No. 15 seed.  No. 15 seed Eliot Spizzirri, a New Yorker who had a small cheering section supporting him, defeated Igor Gimenez of Brazil 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to earn his first berth in a junior slam.

Also making her junior slam debut is 15-year-old Emma Jackson, who defeated No. 1 seed Hong Yi Cody Wong of Hong Kong 7-5, 7-6(3). Jackson received a wild card at the last minute, after Savannah Broadus moved into the qualifying draw and no longer needed a wild card.

"I was the first alternate for a wild card, so I was kind of debating on coming," said Jackson, who returned home to Illinois after playing the ITF Grade 1 in College Park. "I was so nervous the whole week and when I got it, I was screaming, it was amazing."

Jackson saw a 5-1 lead in the third set of her match with No. 16 seed Joanne Zuger of Switzerland Friday, lost four straight games, but was able to right herself just in time.  In today's win over Wong, Jackson again had some difficulty closing, failing to convert two match points serving at 5-4 and two more serving at 6-5.

"The fact that I could be qualifying for the main draw of the US Open just came into my head," Jackson said. "But I focused back into the moment and stayed in it."

Jackson knew she had the advantage in the tiebreaker.

"I just felt like I had no pressure," Jackson said. "She was the No. 1 seed, I wasn't expecting anything, I was just out there playing my hardest."

Jackson will not play on Sunday, so she is looking to making her first trip to the US Open and the National Tennis Center.

"I've been to New York on vacation, but I've never been to the US Open," Jackson said. "I'll probably go tomorrow and watch some pros, I'm really excited for that."

The two US boys who are hoping to join the 17 other American boys in the main draw are wild cards Alexander Bernard and Axel Nefve. Nefve defeated No. 16 seed Siddhant  Banthia of India 6-3, 6-3 and Bernard defeated No. 10 seed Matteo Arnaldi of Italy 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in their first round matches today.

In addition to the seven qualifying matches left to be played, 28 main draw matches are scheduled for Sunday, 14 girls and 14 boys.  Top girls seed Coco Gauff is in action, as is boys No. 1 Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan.  Below are the American juniors in action on Sunday.

Axel Nefve[WC] vs Erik Grevelius(SWE) Final Round Qualifying
Alexander Bernard[WC] vs Valentin Royer[1](FRA) Final Round Qualifying
Trey Hilderbrand vs Tao Mu[12](CHN)
Stefan Dostancic[WC] vs Lorenzo Musetti(ITA)
Zane Khan[WC] vs Thiago Seyboth Wild[6](BRA)
Toby Kodat[WC] vs Chun Hsin Tseng[1](CHN)
Cannon Kingsley vs Gilbert Soares Klier Junior[9](BRA)
Tristan Boyer[11] vs Jesper De Jong(NED)
Martin Damm[WC] vs Timofei Skatov[5](KAZ)
Tyler Zink vs Dalibor Svrcina(CZE)

Lea Ma[16] vs Francesca Curmi(MLT)
Natasha Subhash vs Maria Camila Osorio Serrano[4](COL)
Emma Navarro[WC] vs Xiyu Wang[3](CHN)
Peyton Stearns vs Kamilla Rakhimova(RUS)
Hailey Baptiste[WC] vs Ana Makatsaria(GEO)
Elysia Bolton[WC] vs Leylah Fernandez[8](CAN)
Coco Gauf[1] vs Lulu Sun(SUI)
Vanessa Ong[WC] vs Adrienn Nagy(HUN)
Abigail Forbes[WC] vs Taisya Pachkaleva(RUS)

Madison Keys won her match today to move into the fourth round, with three Americans on the schedule Sunday.

Saturday’s third round matches featuring Americans:

Madison Keys[14] def. Aleksandra Krunic(SRB) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2

Sunday’s fourth round matches featuring Americans:

Serena Williams[17] vs Kaia Kanepi(EST)
Sloane Stephens[3] vs Elise Mertens(BEL)
John Isner[11] vs Milos Raonic[25](CAN)

At the ITF Grade 1 in Canada, top seeds Hugo Gaston of France and Clara Tauson of Denmark won the singles titles today. 2017 Orange Bowl champion Gaston defeated No. 14 seed Rinky Hijikata of Australia 6-3, 6-4 and is the No. 3 seed this week at the US Open Junior Championships.  Tauson, the No. 6 seed this week in New York, defeated No. 8 seed Viktoriia Dema of Ukraine 2-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 in the Repentigny final.