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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Eight American Juniors Begin Qualifying at J1 Roehampton Sunday; No US Champions on USTA Pro Circuit This Week; Sectional Closed Updates from Florida, SoCal, Midwest, Texas

Kaja Juvan & Claire Liu at Roehampton J1 trophy ceremony 2017

The grass court season begins for top junior tennis players tomorrow, with the qualifying for the J1 in Roehampton getting underway. I was reminded by 2019 Wimbledon boys champion Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan in his qualifying press conference that a second Grade 1 was introduced in 2019 on grass, in Nottingham. That tournament was not held this year, and it remains to be seen whether it will ever return, but in 2021 it's a two-week grass season, which is normal for recent years. There have been US-Great Britain challenges for teams of top juniors to give them more experience on grass, but those also seem to have been a victim of the pandemic this year.

Because grass opportunities are so limited, the Roehampton field is typically among the best for any J1, and this year the main draw cutoffs are nearly identical to those at Wimbledon. 

Six US boys are in Roehampton qualifying: Aidan Kim, Braden Shick, Benjamin Kittay, Nicholas Godsick, Azuma Visaya and Timothy Phung. The two US girls in qualifying are Clervie Ngounoue and Isabelle Kouzmanov. The main draw begins on Tuesday, with the final scheduled for Sunday, July 4. Sunday's order of play is here.

The last of the Americans in the two USTA Pro Circuit events lost today, with Gage Brymer(UCLA) and Kyle Seelig(Ohio State) going out in the semifinals of the $15,000 tournament in Champaign. Kentucky sophomore Gabriel Diallo of Canada, who won two rounds in qualifying to reach the main draw, defeated Seelig, also a qualifier, 6-4, 6-3. Brymer lost to top seed Jason Kubler of Australia 6-0, 6-3. In the doubles final, Finn Bass(Baylor) and Tom Hands of Great Britain defeated the University of Illinois wild card team of  Kweisi Kenyatte and South Africa's Siphosothando Montsi 7-5, 6-4.

The last Americans in the $60,000 women's tournament in Charleston lost on Friday, with Emma Navarro, Sophie Chang and Alexa Glatch going out. The last collegian lost today, with Vanderbilt alum Fernanda Contreras of Mexico falling to No. 2 seed Despina Papamichail of Greece 6-2, 6-2. Papamichail will play No. 6 seed Gabriela Ce of Brazil for the title Sunday.

Peyton Stearns(Texas) and Rasheeda McAdoo(Georgia Tech) reached the doubles final, but lost to top seeds Fanni Stollar of Hungary and Aldila Sutjiadi(Kentucky) of Indonesia 6-0, 6-4.

In other ITF WTT events outside the US, Omni Kumar is into his first final at the $15,000 tournament in Tunisia. The 19-year-old, who was at Duke for the 2019-20 season but did not return this year, qualified for the tournament with three victories, so now has put together a seven-match winning streak. 

At the women's $15,000 tournament in Italy, 18-year-old Hina Inoue, using the junior reserve method for entry, reached the semifinals, losing to top seed Tatiana Pieri of Italy 6-3, 6-1.

I've found several updates on the Sectional Closed events traditionally held this time of year, which I'm passing along here.

The Southern California sectionals concluded last weekend, with Steve Pratt's recap here. Easter Bowl 14s champion Iva Jovic won the girls 18s, an impressive accomplishment for a 13-year-old, while Learner Tien, the Easter Bowl 16s finalist, won the boys 18s title dethroning the defending champion.

The Bobby Curtis Florida Sectional 16s and 18s winners are here, with photos of all the finalists.

The Midwest Closed 16s and 18s winners are available here.

The Texas Slam results can be found here.