Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Top Seeds Open with Wins as Junior Orange Bowl Begins; Australian Open Junior Championship Acceptances; Kalamazoo Champion Brooksby Signs with Baylor

©Colette Lewis 2018--
Coral Gables, FL--

Opening day at the Junior Orange Bowl saw the top three seeds in all four age divisions advancing to the Thursday's second round.  I split my day between the boys 12s on the clay at Salvadore Park and the girls 14s at the University of Miami, and checked in briefly with the girls 12s at the Biltmore Tennis Center to close out the evening.

Rudy Quan, the top seed in the boys 12s, was drawn against qualifier Ryusei Miyazato of Japan, and after a few tough opening games, Quan found his form to post a 6-2, 6-0 victory.

"I stayed aggressive and maybe started to come in a bit more," Quan said of his plan to shorten some of the rallies against the left-hander. "I just had to remain."

Quan said he understands that his record this year, which includes singles gold balls at the Winter Nationals, Easter Bowl, Clay Courts, and Hard Courts, makes him a target.

"Everyone wants to win, and they are going to raise their game," said Quan, who trains at Johnson Ranch in Roseville California and is coached by Mike Gennette. "I just don't really think about my record or anything, I just go out and play ball."

Quan is playing in his first Orange Bowl, and competed in his first Eddie Herr two weeks ago, his first taste of international competition.

"At first it was pretty overwhelming," Quan said. "But then I got used to it, and I know that I'm just here for a tennis tournament, so I don't want to make it bigger than it is."

Quan lost in the semifinals of the Eddie Herr, not to an international player, but to Maximus Dussault, who he had beaten in the quarterfinals of the Clay Courts this summer. No. 4 seed Dussault, who went on to win the Eddie Herr title, lost in the first round today to Juhun Choo of Korea, 6-4, 6-1.  Dussault fell behind an early break in the first set, got it back to 4-4 but was broken in the next game. Dussault's unforced errors were a major factor in the outcome, but Choo kept his own level high. Choo saved four break points serving for the set, but when he finally got to a set point he converted it, and there was no comeback for Dussault in the second set. The 11-year-old fell behind two breaks at 3-0 and Choo was able to close out the match by staying in points until Dussault made an error.

Dussault and No. 8 seed Andrew Rundle, also in boys 12s, were the only top eight seeds to lose in the first round in the four divisions.

Girls 14s top seed Yayi Yang of Taiwan had the toughest match of the four top seeds, defeating Emma Roeck of the US 6-2, 7-5.  Boys 14s top seed Victor Lilov beat lucky loser Shrish Choudhary of the United States 6-0, 6-1 and girls 12s No. 1 seed Clervie Ngounoue defeated Mary Boyce Deatherage 6-0, 6-0 in another all-US contest. The ITF arranges their junior draws so that players from the same country do not meet in the first round whenever possible, but the Junior Orange Bowl is not an ITF event, and many of the first round matches here are between players from the same country, which is unfortunate, especially if they have travelled here from South America, Asia or Europe.

For complete results from today's first round and times for Thursday's second round matches, see the TennisLink page.

Speaking of traveling, the Australian Open Junior Championship acceptances have been released, with six US girls and seven US boys receiving direct acceptance.  The girls are Hurricane Tyra Black, Lea Ma, Gabby Price, Emma Navarro, Kacie Harvey and Chloe Beck. The boys are Cannon Kingsley, Tristan Boyer, Emilio Nava, Eliot Spizzirri, Zane Khan, Tyler Zink and Toby Kodat.  The boys initial cutoff was 91, with the girls cutoff 75. One player, Moyuka Uchijima of Japan, received main draw acceptance based on a pro ranking. She is 396 WTA, just making the Top 400 cutoff to receive main draw entry.

Denmark's Clara Tauson, who did not play the four North American tournaments that closed out the 2018 ITF Junior Circuit, is the top entrant in the girls draw, with Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria the top entrant in the boys draw.

I expected the ITF's new Transition Tour (now known as the ITF WorldTennisTour), which reserves space in lower level pro events for its Top 100 juniors, to have a positive impact on the fields in the major junior events, but that doesn't appear to be the case in Australia. The girls cutoff is higher, but the boys is about the same, and as usual, many of the top juniors are not making the journey.  It's probably too early to tell, since the cutoffs for the 15Ks and 25Ks under the new system aren't yet known, how important the ITF junior ranking position is, but Australia is an ideal way to secure big points early in the year.

In college signing news, blue chip senior Jenson Brooksby, who won the 18s title in Kalamazoo this year, announced he had signed with Baylor. Brooksby, who had verbally committed to TCU back in May, recently reconsidered, and today announced on Instagram that he had signed with Baylor for 2019-20. For more, see Baylor's release.