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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Farhat Defeats Top Seed as 16s Quarterfinals Set at Orange Bowl; Brooksby Turns Pro; Kenin Named WTA Player of the Year

While the seeded players in the 18s still haven't played a match at the 2020 Orange Bowl, the quarterfinals in the 16s division are set for Wednesday at the Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation Florida.  Four unseeded girls are still in the running for the title, while all eight boys in the quarterfinals are seeded.

Sixteen-year-old Salma Farhat earned the biggest win of the day, defeating top seed Rebecca Lynn 6-4, 6-2. The No. 16 seed, who trains at  Northwest High Performance in Washington, is obviously not accustomed to clay, but she has drawn confidence from her coach, former top junior Gail Brodsky Hanson, who is traveling with her. Farhat lost in qualifying at the ITF Grade 4 on clay in Daytona Beach, but believes those two matches helped her heading into this week.

"In Daytona, playing on clay, adjusting, was a little bit difficult," said Farhat, who started training full time at Northwest in September. "But when I came here, for Orange Bowl, my coach Gail Brodsky and I worked really hard to try to make me believe I could play really well on clay. She's always believed in me, from the very first day we started working together....that she could see me going big places. I trusted her and her judgment, because she's been through it all. She's played tough matches, played top players in the world and hearing her believe in me really made me believe in myself."

Farhat was up a set and a break against Lynn, whom she had never played. Serving at 3-2 in the second set, Farhat saved several break points in the lengthy game, but holding for a 4-2 lead proved decisive. 

"I just kept believing that I could win that game," Farhat said. "I knew it was an important game. I told myself I am going to run for every ball, I'm going to hit every single ball with purpose and that's what I tried to do."

Farhat will face No. 8 seed Elisabeth Jones in the quarterfinals, after Jones came back against qualifier Kate Kim for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory. Jones and Farhat have never played, but know each other well.

"We're very good friends," Farhat said. "I hit with her a lot, so we both know each other's game pretty well. It should be a great match, she's a great player, a great fighter, so it's going to be so much fun to play her."

The three other seeds who lost today included No. 4 Brooklyn Olson, who was beaten by Maya Joint 6-4, 6-1 and No. 10 seed Lara Smejkal, who lost to Valeria Ray by the same score. The only qualifier remaining is Taylor Goetz, who won the last eight games from No. 9 seed Olivia Lincer in her 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 victory. No. 2 seed Gabriella Broadfoot of South Africa had tough battle with Jayna Clemens before coming out with a 6-7(1), 6-1, 6-4 win. 

Top seed Sam Scherer won a second consecutive close two-set battle, beating No. 13 seed Marko Mesarovic 6-4, 7-5. No. 8 seed Nicolas Godsick saved at least one match point while I was tracking, at 5-6 in the third set tiebreaker in his 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(6) win over No. 11 seed Brayden Michna. No. 2 seed Lucas Brown outlasted No. 16 seed Jelani Sarr 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-3.  The only international player to reach the boys 16s quarterfinals, is No. 5 seed Ignacio Buse of Peru, who will play No. 4 seed Cooper Williams on Wednesday.

The 16s doubles are also now in the quarterfinals, with those also scheduled for Wednesday.

The 18s first round was completed today, with the second round scheduled for both singles and doubles Wednesday.

Links to the Wednesday order of play, draws and live scoring is here.

Baylor announced today that 2018 Kalamazoo 18s champion Jenson Brooksby, who signed with Baylor two years ago, but did not join the team until January of this year, has turned pro. Due to injuries, he did not play even one match for the Bears prior to the pandemic shutdown, and did not play any collegiate events this fall. The fact that Brian Boland, who signed Brooksby, resigned his head coaching position this summer may have contributed to Brooksby's decision. The 20-year-old from California is currently 307 in the ATP rankings, but has not competed on tour this year.

The WTA announced its annual awards today, with Sofia Kenin named Player of the Year. Kenin, who turned 22 last month, won the Australian Open and reached the French Open final, finishing this disjointed year at No. 4 in the rankings. For a rundown of all the WTA 2020 awards, see this WTA article.