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Friday, January 19, 2018

My Annual Intriguing Questions Article; Lilov, Wiersholm Claim Bolton Titles; Nakashima Joins Mayo, Ma and Mandlik in Coffee Bowl Semis; Australian Open Junior Championship Draws

I've been writing an annual Intriguing Questions article for the Tennis Recruiting Network for 13 years now, with this year's edition available today. I cover ATP/WTA format changes, ITF junior points changes, UTR, live streaming and other topics, including what 2018 holds for Whitney Osuigwe and the 20-year-old American men. I am always struck, after I've written this article, how many of these big-picture questions are a result of conversations I've had with players, coaches and administrators during my five weeks in Florida at the end of the year. That suggests a recency bias, but I believe that preparation for and curiosity about a new year's changes is also a factor. I hope you learn something from reading it; I always learn something during my research before writing it.

For the second year in a row, the United States has swept the titles at the Tennis Europe Category 1 tournament in Bolton England. Thirteen-year-old Katja Wiersholm, whose brother Henrik reached the final of the same event back in 2011, avenged her loss to No. 2 seed Katrina Scott in the final of the USA Les Petits As playoff last fall with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.  Wiersholm, the No. 5 seed, beat the No. 4, No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in succession for the title.  Coco Gauff, then 12 years old, won the girls title last year over Alexandra Yepifanova, also of the United States.

No. 7 seed Victor Lilov also avenged a recent loss to his doubles partner Evan Wen, after the No. 4 seed had beaten him at a USTA tournament in Cincinnati.  The 13-year-old Lilov had come from a set down in both his quarterfinal and semifinal victories, and he went three sets again today against Wen in a 6-3, 0-6, 6-3 win.  Toby Kodat won the boys title last year over Martin Damm, also of the United States.

The next stop for the USTA's 14-and-under team is Tarbes France, where the Les Petits As tournament will begin on Monday. 

At the ITF Grade 1 Coffee Bowl in Costa Rica, No. 8 seed Brandon Nakashima defeated top seed Trey Hilderbrand 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach his first Grade 1 semifinal.  The 16-year-old from San Diego will play No. 7 seed Keenan Mayo later tonight.  The other boys semifinal features No. 3 seed Mateus Alves of Brazil and unseeded 15-year-old Harold Mayot of France. Alves defeated No. 6 seed Tyler Zink 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the quarterfinals last night.

No. 4 seed Elli Mandlik will play top seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia this afternoon, after Osorio Serrano breezed past Chloe Beck 6-2, 6-0.  No. 7 seed Lea Ma will face No. 9 seed Alexandra Vagramov of Canada in the other semifinal tonight. 

Streaming will begin around 6:30 p.m. Eastern at the tournament's website.

The draws are out for the Australian Open Junior Championships, which begin Saturday (Friday night in the United States) with eight American girls and six American boys participating.  The fields are similar to those of the Traralgon Grade 1 this week, although the No. 1 seed in the girls draw, Xinyu Wang of China, did not play there, as she won a wild card tournament and played in the women's main draw in Melbourne.  Timofey Skatov of Russia is again the No. 1 boys seed this week.  The US boys in the draw are Sebastian Korda[7], Andrew Fenty[13], Tristan Boyer, Drew Baird, Sangeet Sridhar and qualifier Jaycer Lyeons, who did not play Traralgon.  The US girls in the draw are Alexa Noel[7], Elysia Bolton[12], Hurricane Tyra Black, Coco Gauff, Peyton Stearns, Nicole Mossmer, Dalayna Hewitt and qualifier Niluka Madurawe. 

Streaming of junior matches should be available via WatchESPN

Ryan Harrison lost to No. 6 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia last night, leaving Tennys Sandgren as the last US man in the draw. 

Friday (Thursday night in US)

Marin Cilic[6](CRO) def. Ryan Harrison 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(4)

Saturday(Friday night in US)

Lauren Davis v Simona Halep[1](ROU)
Madison Keys[17] v Ana Bogdan(ROU)
Tennys Sandgren v Maximilian Marterer(GER)
Bernarda Pera v Barbora Strycova[20](CZE)

American Juniors in action Saturday(Friday night in US)

Alexa Noel[7] v Stefania Rogozinska Dzik(POL)
Coco Gauff v Elisabetta Cocciaretto(ITA)
Nicole Mossmer v Myah Petchey(RSA)
Tristan Boyer v Lorenzo Musetti(ITA)
Drew Baird v Juan Cerundolo[10](ARG)
Niluka Madurawe v Daniela Vismane[13](LAT)