Thursday, September 24, 2020

Thirteen-year-old Fruhvirtova Receives French Open Junior Wild Card; 10 US Men, 18 US Women in Singles Main Draws; Ginsberg's Tennis Connection

The wild cards for the French Open Junior Championships were released today by the French Tennis Federation, with 15 of the 16 going to French juniors. The one exception was a wild card granted to 13-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic, who won the only ITF junior tournament she's played since becoming eligible in April, earlier this month at the Grade 2 in Egypt. It's not unheard of for a player outside of France to receive a wild card--Alexandra Eala, who won Les Petits As in 2018 received a qualifying wild card to the French Open that year, but it is unusual. Whether she would have received a wild card without her performance in Czech exhibitions this summer, which included a win over WTA No. 62 Katerina Siniakova, is hard to say, but it certainly bolstered her case.

ITF Junior World No. 5 Robin Montgomery has withdrawn, leaving four US girls and four US boys in the French Open junior fields.

Roland Garros girls singles wild cards:

Océane Babel (FRA)                    

Flavie Brugnone (FRA)                                

Brenda Fruhvirtova (CZE)                          

Sarah Iliev (FRA)                       

Anaëlle Leclercq (FRA)                               

Laia Petretic (FRA)                   

Shanice Roignot (FRA)                       

Winner of the Roland-Garros Wild Card Series by OPPO  

Roland Garros boys singles wild cards:

Sean Cuenin (FRA)                     

Arthur Fils (FRA)                                 

Axel Garcian (FRA) 

Antoine Ghibaudo (FRA)                               

Mehdi Sadaoui (FRA)                               

Luca Van Assche (FRA)                                           

Max Westphal (FRA)

Winner of the Roland-Garros Wild Card Series by OPPO

The men's and women's doubles wild cards were also announced, with all players from France, except Leylah Fernandez of Canada, last year's girls champion, who received entry with fellow 18-year-old Diane Parry. The list of wild cards can be found here.

Day four of French Open qualifying didn't go well for the Americans on the schedule, with top seed Ann Li, No. 3 seed Caty McNally and Asia Muhammad all losing their second round matches. Varvara Lepchenko, who beat Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 6-2, 7-5, is the only American woman remaining with a chance to reach the main draw. The 34-year-old will take on 2015 US Open girls champion Dalma Galfi of Hungary in Friday's third and final round

Ulises Blanch was the only American man who played his third round match Thursday. He lost to No. 2 seed Pedro Martinez of Spain 6-2, 6-3, but will take home 25,600 for making the third round of qualifying.

The three remaining American men will play on Friday, with Michael Mmoh playing Renzo Olivo of Argentina, Sebastian Korda facing No. 7 seed Aslan Karatsev of Russia and Jack Sock taking on Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia. 

Two former college players will be making their slam main draw debuts at Roland Garros after picking up wins today. Former Illinois star Aleks Vukic of Australia defeated former Michigan star Jason Jung 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to qualify, while former USC standout Emilio Gomez of Ecuador saved two match points and beat Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(1) to earn his place in the main draw. Gomez, who had taken out top seed Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil in the first round, qualified for Roland Garros for the first time 30 years after his father Andres won the men's singles title in Paris over Andre Agassi. 

The qualifying draws can be found here.

The men's and women's singles draws were released today, with 18 US women and 10 US men competing for the title. 

I'll have the first round matchups for them this weekend, but these are the women: Cici Bellis, Bernarda Pera, Amanda Anisimova[25], Coco Gauff, Shelby Rogers, Lauren Davis, Venus Williams, Serena Williams[6], Kristie Ahn, Jessica Pegula, Jennifer Brady[21], Danielle Collins, Christina McHale, Sofia Kenin[4], Madison Keys[12], Alison Riske[19], Sloane Stephens[29], Madison Brengle.  Bellis and Bernard will play each other, with Ahn drawing Serena in the first round for the second straight slam. Simona Halep, who did not play the US Open, is the top women's seed.

The men are Tennys Sandgren, Frances Tiafoe, Marcos Giron, Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson, Taylor Fritz[27], Tommy Paul, Reilly Opelka, John Isner[21], Mackenzie McDonald. Novak Djokovic is the top men's seed.

As the country mourns the death last week of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, hundreds of stories of her impact have been recounted, including this one, from the New York Times, involving tennis in the pre-Title IX era. Abbe Seldin, a high school girl from New Jersey, had no girls tennis team to compete on, so she sued, with Ginsberg as one of her attorneys, to join the boys team. Although the lawsuit was decided in her favor, a change in coaches and less than a warm welcome from the boys on the team resulted in Seldin never playing on the team, but she had earned the opportunity thanks in no small part to Ginsberg.

This is the second time in two days I've referenced Roberta Alison Baumgardner, who played on the men's team at Alabama in the 1960s, but the opening of the article on Seldin struck me as similar to what I learned about Alison.
Abbe Seldin didn’t know or care too much about gender discrimination or equal rights or other weighty subjects.

She just wanted to play tennis.
That was the same impression I got from talking to those who knew Alison; the chance to compete was the motive, not any desire to pursue the cause of equal opportunity for all women. Alison had the good fortune to have a supportive coach, who had in fact recruited her to join the team, and accepting teammates, although she certainly encountered her share of sexism from opposing teams. For more on Alison Baumgardner, see my article for Tennis Recruiting Network.