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Monday, October 15, 2018

Grade A Osaka Mayor's Cup Underway in Japan; Houghton's ITF Junior Debut Results in Two Titles; Nine Other Americans Claim Championships on ITF Junior Circuit

The ITF Grade A tournaments are coming in bunches now, with the Osaka Mayor's Cup in Japan underway now, just a week after the Youth Olympic Games. The ITF Grade A in Mexico has moved from Mexico City to Yucatan this year, and is scheduled for November 19-25, with the Orange Bowl ending the ITF Junior Circuit season December 3-9.

As is usually the case with this Grade A, Americans are scarce.  Gabby Price took a wild card into Osaka and is the No. 3 seed, with Robin Montgomery, Sasha Wood and qualifier Ayana Akli the US girls in the main draw. Montgomery, who turned 14 last month, has already won her first round match, her first win at a Grade A.

Four US boys are also in the main draw, including No. 12 seed Zane Khan, who is through to the second round. Murphy Cassone, who played at the Pan American Closed last week in Charlotte, lost his first round match, while Trinity Grear and Muhammad Dossani earned their spots through qualifying.

Grear drew top seed Valentin Royer of France. Clara Tauson of Denmark, who was initially scheduled to compete in the Youth Olympics but withdrew, is the top seed in the girls draw.

Americans won both titles at the Pan American Closed last week, but Govind Nanda and Elli Mandlik were joined by nine other US juniors who collected winner's trophies over the weekend.

Sixteen-year-old India Houghton made her ITF Junior Circuit debut last week at the Grade 5 in Vancouver Canada and swept both titles. After winning two qualifying matches 6-0, 6-0, Houghton lost only five games in her next three wins, before needing three sets to beat the No. 7 seed in the semifinals. In the final, Houghton took on doubles partner and top seed Leena Bennetto of Canada and squeezed out a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(2) victory.  Bennetto and Houghton were not seeded in doubles but won the title with a 3-6, 6-1, 10-7 victory over No. 2 seeds Alexandra Nielsen and Chae Eun Yoo of Canada.

Cash Hanzlik lost in the finals of both the boys singles and doubles.

At the Grade 5 in the Dominican Republic, 17-year-old Randy Wilson, seeded No. 3, won his first ITF Junior circuit title with a 7-6(6), 6-2 win over No. 6 seed Joaquin Caballer of Spain. All six of Wilson's victories came in straight sets. Sisters Kiana and Maria Rizzolo won the girls doubles title, with the unseeded pair defeating top seeds Sofia Cabezas Dominguez of Venezuela and Laura Quezada Martinez of the Dominican Republic 3-6, 6-3, 11-9.

The Grade 5 in Curacao produced American winners in three categories, with 15-year-old Alexandra Centra capturing her first ITF Junior Circuit title in the girls singles.  Centra, the No. 3 seed, defeated unseeded Xintong Zhou of China 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Artemis Pados and Adele Fernandez LeCaroz of Puerto Rico won the girls doubles when No. 2 seeds Shirley Liang of Canada and Aleksa Marquez of Peru retired in the final.

The boys doubles title went to No. 2 seeds Benjamin Kittay and Milledge Cossu, although they needed to win only one full match to claim the title. Their semifinal and final opponents both retired.  Kittay, the No. 2 seed, reached the singles final, losing to No. 3 seed Derrick Chen of Great Britain 6-4, 6-3.

Fifteen-year-old Michelle Tikhonko continued her winning streak in doubles at the Grade 5 in the Netherlands. After winning two titles with two different partners in Montenegro, Tikhonko made it three titles in three weeks, this time with Zuzanna Kubacha of Poland. The unseeded pair beat top seeds Zoe Billon of France and Melissa Boyden of the Netherlands 6-4, 7-6(2) in the championship match.