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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Five Americans Win Wimbledon Final Round Qualifying Matches, Gauff Youngest Qualifier in Open Era; Scott, Black to Play for Spot in Nottingham Grade 1 Final; Four Americans in Roehampton Grade 1 Qualifying

A year ago, Caty McNally, then 16, and Coco Gauff, then 14, were getting ready to start play at the ITF Junior Circuit Grade 1 in Roehampton, where they went on the singles final, with Gauff taking the title 6-2, 6-3.

Today, at the same venue, McNally and Gauff earned their way into the women's main draw with their third victories in three days, all coming in straight sets. Gauff didn't have any matches on grass prior to learning last week that she would receive a qualifying wild card, but she dominated her opponents this week and is the youngest qualifier to reach Wimbledon's main draw in the Open era.

As a wild card, Gauff played the US Open qualifying last year, losing in the first round, and receiving a wild card into the French Open qualifying this year, she won her first round match, but this will be her main draw slam debut. McNally won a US Open qualifying match back in 2017, but lost in the first round of qualifying last year. McNally reached the semifinals of the ITF World Tennis Tour $100,000 tournament on grass in Surbiton as a qualifier earlier this month, boosting her confidence for this run, and she too will make her main draw debut in a slam next week.

Twenty-seven-year-old Kristie Ahn played her first main draw match at a slam back in 2008, when as a 16-year-old, she made it through qualifying before falling to No. 6 seed Dinara Safina of Russia. Ahn played the 2018 Australian Open after earning the USTA's reciprocal wild card, but the former Stanford All-American will be making her main draw debut at Wimbledon after beating No. 3 seed Lauren Davis 6-4, 7-5 today. 

In addition to Gauff, McNally and Ahn, Davis and Christina McHale have also received entry into the main draw, with the latter two getting in as lucky losers.

Two US men have advanced to the main draw, with 2014 NCAA champion Marcos Giron and 2015 NCAA finalist Noah Rubin earning four-set victories in today's final round of qualifying. Rubin, the 2014 Wimbledon boys champion, and Giron, who reached the third round at the Junior Championships in 2011, will be making their Wimbledon main draw debuts next week.

The men's completed qualifying draw is here; the women's completed qualifying draw is here. The main draw is scheduled for 5:00 a.m. EDT on Friday.

Thursday's final round qualifying results for Americans:

Noah Rubin d. Yannick Hanfmann(GER) 7-6(5), 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
Marcos Giron d. Viktor Galovic(CRO) 7-5, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4
Alexei Popyrin(AUS)[4] d. Bjorn Fratangelo[27] 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 7-6(6)
Jiri Vesely(CZE)[7] d. Tommy Paul[30] 6-2, 6-3 6-3
Ruben Bemelmans(BEL) d. Donald Young 6-4, 6-4, 6-1

Coco Gauff[WC] d. Greet Minnen(BEL)[19] 6-1, 6-1
Kristie Ahn d. Lauren Davis[3] 6-4, 7-5
Caty McNally d. Jana Cepelova(SVK) 6-4, 6-3
Arina Rodionova(AUS) d. Danielle Lao 0-6, 6-1, 6-1
Kaja Juvan(SLO)[20] d. Christina McHale[6]  6-2, 6-1

The semifinals are set for the new ITF Junior Circuit Grade 1 on grass in Nottingham, with unseeded Katrina Scott and No. 2 seed Hurricane Tyra Black advancing to face each other for a place in the final. The unseeded Scott, who just turned 15 this month, defeated No. 3 seed Kamilla Bartone of Latvia 6-2, 6-3 in today's quarterfinals, while Black got by Erin Richardson of Great Britain 6-0, 6-2.  Scott was scheduled to play qualifying at the Grade 1 in Roehampton beginning on Friday and is not in the draw, so I assume she received a special exemption into the main draw, which begins Sunday.

The other girls semifinal in Nottingham will feature No. 14 seed Priska Nugroho of Indonesia, who beat No. 5 seed Sohyun Park 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, against No. 4 seed Sada Nahimana of Burundi, who beat American Alexandra Yepifanova 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-1.

Top boys seed Thiago Tirante of Argentina lost to No. 12 seed Dalibor Svrcina of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-2 today, with Svrcina facing unseeded Jack Pinnington Jones in the top half semifinal. In the bottom half, No. 3 seed Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan will play No. 11 seed Tristan Schoolkate of Australia, who beat No. 2 seed Liam Draxl of Canada 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 today.

Only four Americans are in qualifying at the Roehampton Grade 1: Will Grant[5], Andres Martin[11], Charlotte Owensby[5] and Yepifanova[8]. Neither qualifying draw filled in Roehampton, with two byes in the boys draw and one bye in the girls draw.