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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

ITF Junior Circuit Update, with Jeanette Mireles Winning Back-to Back Grade 5s; Anisimova, Keys Make it Nine US Women in French Open Second Round


I tried to keep up with the bigger ITF Junior Circuit tournaments in Europe while the NCAA Division I and Division III championships were going on, but with the exception of the Grade 4 in Plantation, I didn't have time to stay current with the 4s and 5s in the Caribbean and Central America the past two weeks. There are no ITF World Tennis Tour events this week in the United States, so let's dive into all the results for American juniors the past two weeks in the Caribbean.

Fifteen-year-old Calissa Dellabarca won her first ITF Junior Circuit title two weeks ago at the Grade 5 in the Virgin Islands, with the No. 4 seed beating wild card Nishitha Saravanan, also of the US and also 15 years old, 6-2, 6-0 in the final. Dellabarca, seeded No. 2, then made the final last week in the second of the two ITF Grade 5s in the Virgin Islands, losing to unseeded Jeanette Mireles 6-1, 6-0.  Mireles, born in 2003, lost only five total games in her five wins, having come into that tournament off a title in a Grade 5 in the Cayman Islands a week before. Mireles, a blue chip from Texas, won that title, her first on the ITF junior circuit, with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Mary Jean Brumfield. The unseeeded Mireles lost a few more games in her five victories in the Caymans, but didn't lose a set, so she now has a 10-match winning streak, all coming in straight sets.

Fifteen-year-old blue chip Azuma Visaya of Hawaii won his first ITF Junior Circuit ever in the boys singles in the Caymans. The No. 4 seed defeated No. 3 seed Gabriellus Guzauskas, also of the US, 6-4, 6-4 in the singles final, while also reaching the final in doubles.  Sophie Williams of the US, playing with Kayla Cross of Canada, won the girls doubles, with the No. 2 seeds defeated Luciana Kunkel of Australian and Lauren Rha, the top seeds, 6-3, 6-2 in the finals.

In the first Virgin Islands Grade 5, JJ Tracy won the doubles with Sam Paquette of Canada, who was the singles champion. Paquette and Tracy, the No. 2 seeds, beat the unseeded American team of Ekansh Kumar and Sam Scherer 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

In the second Virgin Islands Grade 5, Alex Finkelstein swept the boys titles, his first on the ITF Junior Circuit, with the unseeded 16-year-old beating top seed Benjamin Kittay 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 7-5 in the singles final. Finkelstein partnered with Jake Sweeney to take the doubles title, with the unseeded pair beating No. 2 seeds Mark Dancuart of Peru and Richard Mallory of Bermuda 6-2, 7-5 in the final.  The girls doubles title went to unseeded Ashton Bowers and Maya Joint, who beat Olivia Lincer and Puerto Rico's Natalia Perez 6-0, 2-6, 10-7 in the final.

At the Grade 5 in Nicaragua two weeks ago, 15-year-old Benjamin Kittay won his first ITF Junior Circuit singles title, with the top seed beating No 8 seed Edson Sanchez Elizondo of Mexico 6-0, 6-1 in the final. Kittay also reached the doubles final.

Sixteen-year-old Kailey Evans took the girls title at last week's Grade 4 in Costa Rica, with the top seed beating No. 4 seed Maria Aguiar of Puerto Rico 6-4, 6-1 in the final. Evans lost in the girls doubles final, partnering with Leyden Games. The top seeds fell to No. 3 seeds Romary Cardenas Rifka of Mexico and Leah Kuruvilla 7-6(2), 7-5 in the final.

The big tournament this week on the ITF Junior Circuit is the Grade 1 in Belgium, the traditional lead-in to the French Open junior championships, which begin Sunday.

Most of the Americans who played in Milan and are playing in Paris opted to take this week off, with the exception of Hurricane Tyra Black, the No. 2 seed this week in Belgium, and Katrina Scott. Both Black and Scott have made the third round this week, as has Elvina Kalieva. Scott defeated No. 5 seed Shavit Kimchi of Israel 6-1, 6-0. The only US boy still in the Belgium draw is Ronan Jachuck, who beat No. 12 seed Kevin Chahoud of Sweden today 6-4, 6-3.

Brandon Nakashima was entered in Belgium this week, but withdrew, but the 2018 ITF Junior Masters champion is still in the entries for the French Open.  Alexa Noel, who won the Grade A in Milan and has returned the Top 10 in the ITF junior rankings, is the defending champion in singles and doubles in Belgium, but she did not enter it this year.

Top seed Bu Yunchaokete of China lost to unseeded Stefan Storch of Australia 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 today, with the ninth-ranked ITF junior now 0-3 in the past three big European clay tournaments as either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed. The girls top seed is Australian Open girls finalist Leylah Fernandez of Canada, who got by Gabby Price today 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.

Tommy Hemp of TennisUnderworld has posted his overall impressions of last week's Grade A Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan in this article.

Seventeen-year-old Amanda Anisimova picked up her first win in the women's main draw at Roland Garros today, beating French wild card Harmony Tan 6-3, 6-1. Madison Keys, the No. 14 seed, also got through in straight sets, beating Evgeniya Rodina of Russia 6-1, 6-2. Anisimova and Keys join seven other American women in the second round. Those playing their second matches on Wednesday are Sloane Stephens[7], Lauren Davis, Jennifer Brady and Shelby Rogers.

Taylor Fritz defeated Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-1, 6-4, 6-1, the only US man to advance out of the ten who played in the first round. Fritz will face No. 18 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the second round. Fritz defeated Bautista Agut in three sets last week in the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 in Lyon France.

Sixteen-year-old French wild card Diane Parry, No. 8 in the ITF junior rankings, takes on Elise Mertens of Belgium, the No. 20 seed, on Wednesday. Parry beat Vera Lapko of Belarus 6-2, 6-4 in the first round Monday. For more on Parry's achievements at her home major, see this article from the WTA website.

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